Sunday, July 5, 2020

Did This Bald Eagle Meet Its Match?!

This tree is close enough to the lake that the Bald Eagle can see any nearby osprey that have caught a fish the Eagle can steal. Yes, mama nature is unfair that way. The osprey does the work, then the larger raptor swoops in and takes it away. A metaphor for many unfair aspects of life.

But take a closer look. On each side of the huge eagle is a Steller's Jay. Two of them, harassing the eagle, letting it know that if it tries to come for their chicks, it will have a fight on its hands, no matter how David-vs-Goliath the odds are.

We once had a Steller's Jay fly through an open door into our house. It went to a window only to discover that glass is a strong barrier. I gently caught it with a cloth and carried it outside. It was not much heavier than air. But as I carried it, I could sense the power in its feather-weight body.

That eagle should think twice about its dinner plans. A dead fished, washed up on the beach, is the safest, least-stressful meal.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Yes, Tahoe Hit Will Be Available In Paper

Because so many people get book news from Amazon...
And because Amazon is only showing "Pre-order" status for the Kindle version of Tahoe Hit...

I want to reassure that Tahoe Hit will be available in the regular paper version. Come August, you should be able to find it wherever you normally get your Tahoe mysteries!

Thanks for your interest!!

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Our Amazing Moonless Sky

Who cares about a moonless sky compared to the wonders of a Moon? I do.

We were sitting out on the deck last night and enjoying the stars. When the Moon is "new," (when it is not out at night because it's near the sun during the day, hence invisible to our naked eyes) the stars are amazing.

Also amazing were the satellites. In the space of a few minutes we counted six of them. Three moving more or less north and three more more or less south. (North and south orbits allow satellites to see the entire planet as it rotates west-to-east beneath the satellites.)

If your next trip to Tahoe comes during a time when the moon isn't bright, take time to sit out in the dark and admire the stars. It is an amazing sight to look up at the universe and contemplate its astonishing show.

P.S. Happy Summer Solstice

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Chicks The Size Of Chickens

Today, we saw Canadian Goose chicks the size of chickens.
They don't appear to have feathers, yet. Just big balls of fuzz.
Mom watches us without concern, a trait that went away when she discovered that if you're cute, people will throw you food.

People think they are being nice to the animals. Or maybe they just don't think at all. Despite being entertaining to watch, feeding wild animals is bad for the animals. It produces dependency and, after the humans leave, hunger in animals that have lost the knowledge or motivation to fend for themselves. And, in the case of bears, feeding them intentionally or unintentionally motivates them to break into our houses and cars and make a huge mess as they empty our cupboards.

Let's enjoy animals by taking their picture and having no other engagement.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Tahoe Hit Is Now Available For Preorder

The 18th Owen McKenna mystery is now available for preorder!

 A Sophisticated Killer With A Fixation On Shakespeare's Hamlet...
Deadly Past Secrets...
The Ultimate Revenge...

Check it out at Amazon:

And check it out on my website:

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Glen Alpine Falls From 1 Mile Away!

Along with Eagle Falls tumbling down to Emerald Bay, Glen Alpine Falls brings water to Fallen Leaf Lake. For much of the year, they are the two biggest falls feeding Lake Tahoe.

Most photos of them are taken up close. In the spring and early summer they are amazing sights.

Yet there is another perspective of Glen Alpine Falls.

From up at Angora Lookout, there is a pervasive white noise filling the air. It sounds a little like a jet plane. It takes a little visual searching to locate the source of sound. Most people won't find it because source of the sound, Glen Alpine Falls, is a mile or more away.

At the center top of the photo, the highest point is Mt. Price, just 25 feet shy of 10,000 feet.
Near the center of the photo, 1/4 way up from the bottom, is a white slash/arrow shape.
That is Angora Falls, over 1 mile away.
Despite the distance, the air is filled with the white noise from
the roar of the falls. Amazing!

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Amazing South Shore Hiking

Some hikes are worth going back to again and again. One of those is Angora Ridge. I wrote about it before. Here's the link to that posting:

However, that write-up was about going up Angora Ridge Road, a pleasant walk but one with few views until you get near the Angora Fire Lookout.

Since that time, a "single track" trail was built to the northwest of the road. And the views from that trail are amazing all the way up.

To get to the single track, go to the entrance to Angora Ridge Road. (Google Maps 'Angora Ridge Road, Dundee Circle, Tahoe') Zoom in to the intersection where Angora Ridge goes southwest from Dundee Circle.

At that intersection, look for the Forest Service gate, which is only open during summer months. To the right side (west) of the gate is the hiking/biking single track. It doesn't have a super obvious trailhead sign. But it isn't hard to find.

While Angora Ridge Road follows a shallow valley (blocking the views), the single track goes up the ridge just north of the road.

The lake directly below is Fallen Leaf. The lake in the distance is Tahoe.
The mountains in the distance are the North Shore mountains, 30 miles away.
This is Mt. Tallac, directly across Fallen Leaf Lake, which is directly below us,
visible all along the hike, but out of this picture unless you look almost straight down.

This is Pyramid Peak, part of the Crystal Range,
all of which is visible from the Angora Fire Lookout.

Trust me, you will be amazed at the views, and they continue all the way up to the fire lookout, which of course has its own amazing views.

By any measure, The Angora Ridge Single Track is one of the Top 10 best view hikes in all of Tahoe. If you're looking for short view hikes, I put it in the Top 3.

P.S., Yes, a few mountain bikers use the trail, but we've found them to be courteous. We just step off the trail and let them pass.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Tahoe Deep Is Now Available On Nook

My most recent title, TAHOE DEEP, is now available on Nook, (the ebook format sold by Barnes and Noble).

Thanks to all of you Nook readers who've been patient for so long. I appreciate your support!

Here's the link to TAHOE DEEP on NOOK.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Asian Giant Hornets In Tahoe?

Whole lotta fuss about giant hornets goin' on. Are there giant hornets in Tahoe?

Photo credit: By Yasunori Koide -
CC BY-SA 4.0,

The short answer is No.

I thought I'd consult local entomologist Street Casey. (I know that some of you readers are sticklers for full disclosure, so I'll admit up front that Ms. Casey is fictional.) Having said that, I believe her information to be reliable.

First of all, yes, the giant hornets from Asia that can be as long as two inches are formidable critters. However, the current media buzz is as much sensationalism as anything. They've only been spotted in a couple of places near Vancouver Island. They may never establish a beachhead. And even if they do, it probably won't be as worrisome as the media suggest.

Remember the big uproar about African killer bees? Their rep had us envisioning swarms that would carry away your dachshund.

Remember fire ants? Their rep had us envisioning a future where the only surviving humans would be on submarines.

So don't worry about giant hornets. Especially not in Tahoe, where they'll probably never be. Why?

*They don't like high altitude. And they've not been reported at high altitude anywhere in Asia.

*They are picky eaters, and they mostly only live where they can prey on their preferred food source, which is honey bees. (Adult giant hornets don't actually eat bees themselves, but they kill bees and bring them back to their nests to feed to their children (larva), who apparently love bee steak. We don't have honey bees to speak of in Tahoe, thus Tahoe ain't a good place for giant hornets to set up housekeeping.

So even if the giant hornets make inroads into our continent, don't worry when you come to Tahoe. We have lots of yellow jackets. And they can be pests and hassle you during outdoor picnics. But the next time you are buzzed by a yellow jacket, just think about a hornet three times that size. Yellow jackets will never again seem like that big of a deal.

P.S. For what it's worth, most hornets and wasps are beneficial creatures feeding on flies and other insects that can carry disease. Let's see their good side.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

A Little Bit Of Norway

One thing I remember about Norway was hiking through the forest and always seeing and hearing waterfalls.

Tahoe isn't especially similar to Norway, we don't have fjords but we have a huge lake. However, in the spring, wherever we hike, we see and hear waterfalls. This one is in the woods behind our house. It reminds me of Norway. Sweet.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Creative? Trapped At Home? Read This

Thoughts for creative people on being forced to stay at home:

Some people talk about writing, others do it.
Same for painting, composing, dancing, drawing, jewelry-making, pottery, clothing design, etc.

These times of pandemic stress, staying home and such, can be hard to get through.

One thought that has helped me is to imagine myself ten years from now, looking back, thinking about how I spent my time during the pandemic. Did I lose a lot of time to stress and worry? Sure I did. But did I also seize the opportunity to be creative?

When you look back from the distant future, you will almost certainly want to think that you didn't squander the time. You will want to recall that you didn't just talk about writing, you wrote. And wrote.

Another helpful thought for me is that I've often had the idea that it would be wonderful to be able to take a sabbatical and stay home from most of my obligations. I've imagined all that I could get done if only I were given the gift of extra time. Well, here it is. Is it all easy? Of course not. But could we use the time productively if we were focused? Definitely.

Every writer who's seen Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical Hamilton remembers the haunting line, "Write Like You're Running Out Of Time." That line is the stuff of anthems, and one of the most memorable from a show that won every theatrical award including the Pulitzer for Best Drama and Tony for Best Musical.

Another line with a similar message comes from Jonathan Larson's musical Rent and the song No Day But Today. Give it a listen.

Like Hamilton, Rent won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Original Score, Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, Obie Awards for Outstanding Lyrics. The list goes on. Why was the show such a huge hit? The message of that song - that NOW is what matters -  helped propel the raves.

The song, and message, can make you cry. But it can also make you get out of your funk and create something valuable.

It's a compelling concept, this notion of turning distress into productivity, this idea of writing like you're running out of time. Don't put it off. Don't wait to start. Don't wait for inspiration. Don't wait for the right feeling or the right place or the best approach or the perfect company. And never ever think to yourself, 'I'll get going on that good idea tomorrow.'

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Tahoe Bobcat!

In Tahoe we often see Bear and Coyote. But in 30 years, I've only seen a bobcat twice and both times it was at some distance.

Until this week.

I was looking out my window when a bobcat came up on our deck, walked in front of me, and then hunkered down next to our house.

It was twice the size of a house cat, about 20 inches tall and 30 inches long. It had a short little tail, 4 inches long, and held tucked in.

This guy sensed me on the other side of the window,
and turned just so for a portrait.
When I looked closely at the photo, it appeared that the bobcat's eyes had elliptical pupils. Because I'd always thought that the only cat species that had slit pupils were house cats, that sent me on a research mission. Several internet sources erroneously said what I'd previously thought, that all cat species bigger than house cats had round pupils.

But more research claimed otherwise. According to more detailed and authoritative sources, Bobcats, and their cousins the Lynx, do in fact have elliptical pupils, although apparently not quite the dramatically-narrow slits that house cats have. And when I spent some time on Google Images, I found multiple photos of bobcats with vertically-narrow pupils. Just to be sure, I verified that those cats had all the other characteristics of bobcats, stripes on the backs of the ears, pointed ear tufts, rear legs longer than forelegs, and the heavy fur on the lower sides of their faces that make them look a little like '50's beatniks with sideburns down onto their necks.

Check out those ear tufts!
What a treat.