Tangled Web

IMG_3732 Cal Pines.jpg

For about two years I’ve been evaluating real estate in Northeastern California. But before I get into that, I need to preface the conversation by saying that I was a real estate agent/broker for 37 years.

During that time I thought I learned a lot about real estate sales. In fact, I did. However, there is an entirely different world of real estate out there. The real estate world in which I operated was legal, ethical and conscientious.

Real estate transactions in Northeastern California are mostly different. The genetic makeup of real estate in Northeastern California, and particularly Modoc County, is infected with corrupt motives. Much of the county is owned by Southern California corporations that operate on a basis not normally seen in California’s real estate industry. And, one of the most prominent owners and sellers of real estate in Modoc County is the county itself.

It appears to me that Modoc County is in the middle of a major conflict of interest.

The properties of which I speak are generally “recreational properties.” Lots range from an acre to a few acres. They were created in mass at a time when land was cheap, laws were lax and oversite was non-existent.

The worst offenders were and still are sub-dividers whose corporations exist only by a continuous chain of “fishing” activities. Lots are mostly void of value because Modoc County has a very limited economic base. The corporations “fish” for inexperienced buyers, who think big brother is watching out for them.

The very worst case scenario is one where the landowner (often Modoc County) offers lots, but not title. This is very common.

The ongoing tax sale in Modoc County is a testimony to the case I am making. Hundreds of lots are for sale and the Modoc County tax collector is offering them at prices three or four times their economic value.

Notice to bidders. If you purchase one of these lots, you may be contributing to the tax sale of 2025.

The lots of which I’m speaking would be more valuable to society if they were all recombined and resold in economically viable units.

What’s going on here? I’m watching.

And, I’m going to purchase a lot. Call it education.



Always Wanted to Live by a Creek

The only creek I ever lived by was Butt Creek in Plumas County. And, I only lived by it for a month each summer when my brother and I would camp out with my grandparents.

Maybe that’s why I started thinking about adding a creek to my yard. Been thinking about it for years.

Now there is a creek in my back yard. Here’s how it went down.

First I hired my rancher to haul three giant boulders down from our ranch.

IMG_5034 boulders

Then I hired a landscape contractor to build the creek. The contractor purchased the pump, creek rocks and liner in a kit. He added Sonoma field stones in the creek and around it. The kit contained a liner to hold the water.

IMG_5036 liner

A submersible pump sits in the hole at the bottom of the photo. The creek is “pondless” so no water stays on the surface for long. The pump moves water at 6000 gallons per hour. (100 gallons per minute). Water is stored inside the underground containers, shown in the photo, when the pump is turned off.

IMG_5172 water

We tested the pump and liner before adding more rocks.

IMG_5179 rocks

At this point, we began to leak water underneath the large bolder farthest to the left. It took about two days to solve the problem, but now it’s looking good.


My granddaughters like it. Creeks are like a magnet for kids. Can’t wait till the three and four-year-olds arrive. They already have plans to sit under to falls.

Here’s how it looks today. Planting done.

IMG_5198 finished

Sounds like a real creek too.






How to cook a roast so it is done rare and medium at the same time.

Roasts are great, especially a prime rib roast, but I can never satisfy everybody. Mostly the guys, like their meat rare or medium rare. The ladies, especially my wife, like their meat cooked to at least medium if not well done.

Until yesterday, I could never solve the problem. In an effort to keep half of the roast from over cooking, I cut the roast in half and put the rare portion in foil. The remainder portion, I left on the Traeger grill to cook longer (thinking it would be more well done).

After a about 20 minutes I removed the portion intended to be medium from the grill and opened the foil on the half that was intended to remain rare.

To my surprise, the half that was in foil was medium and the portion on the Traeger was medium rare. Exactly the opposite of what I was trying to do.

So in failing, I succeeded. And, I learned how to solve my problem.

Pretty simple solution, but not intuitive.

The Kite Nest

Over a month ago, a pair of white-tailed kites moved into our neighborhood. They were very visible and very out of place.

The neighbors behind me have a large back yard with redwood trees and live oaks. They were selling their house and had moved out, leaving it vacant. The house sold quickly and nobody appeared for several weeks.

The kites took over one of the live oak trees and seemed to be building a nest and mating activities began.

Then, after a couple weeks, although the nest was not visible to us, it seemed that eggs must present. Several times, we observed the kites chasing off invading ravens.

Three or four times I nearly retrieved my camera during moments when the kites perched on the very top of the large redwoods.

I feared that the new neighbors would move in and disturb the nest before the chicks were hatched and gone. It seemed unlikely that the duo would succeed in their efforts.

Escrow closed last Friday and yesterday the new neighbors hired a tree service to trim the trees in their new back yard. At 8:00 AM, the chain saws began to buzz.

An army of tree trimmers invaded the live oaks.

The kites are gone now, which is not surprising. Wish I’d taken that picture.


Born On A Friday

Dad was born on a Friday in a Colusa hospital and was raised an only child.

His was a very close-knit family with relatives scattered throughout gold country.

Lived in Livermore at a time when he helped Holdener’s Dairy deliver milk to people’s door steps.

Was lucky enough to board his horse off College Avenue and ride with his buddy Dick to the Famaris Ranch near Coral Hollow.

He was a gifted athlete in high school and was recruited to play football and baseball by several California colleges.

Graduated with the Livermore High School class of 1940.

Entered the Marine Corps in 1942 and qualified to land a Corsair on a carrier.

Celebrated VJ Day with his buddies including Ted Williams as they awaited transport to the South Pacific.

Married Betty Sills in June of 1947.

Had sons born in 1949 and 1951.

Was activated back to duty in Korea after being re-trained to fly helicopters, later carrying out nighttime  medi-vac operations.

Returned home and continued to raise his family while starting two separate and successful businesses.

In his senior years he and mom traveled the world and enjoyed contentment.

He now lives at Heritage Estates in Livermore where he goes about his daily life as a unintentional mentor for many.

He’s too modest to boast of any of his achievements.

Tell Nelson Fletcher that Friday the thirteenth is unlucky.

Happy 95th birthday Dad.


Monday on the Bay

Got an early start fishing out of Berkley. Picked up bait in SF and ran back past Treasure Island to the Alameda Rock Wall.

Hooked up on quite a few shakers, which reduced our boredom. Then we caught two keeper stripers.

IMG_4843 undersize halibut ARW 4-9-18

Almost legal, but not quite. I posed for a picture anyway. Captain Bob laughed at me.

Looked like the highlight of the day might be the baseball we netted about mid day.

Unfortunately it was a little league model and not one that came the way of AT&T Park.

Then we boated a halibut over the minimum. It was almost a day worthy of remembering.

About 2:00 PM, we decided to shift from the Alameda Rock Wall over to the Berkley flats. On our way we passed a party boat.

“California Dawn,” said Captain Bob. “They’ve been doing well in this area lately.”

Time to pull over and give it a try. Ten minutes later my rod dipped and my reel began to  pay out line.

“This is a real fish,” I said, as a maneuvered my rod over the engine to face the fish.

We soon had a couple good looks at it and we knew it was special. I let it play out a ways from the boat, not wanting it to get close until it was worn down a bit.

When it was time to net the fish, Captain Bob was ready and did a great job of making sure we didn’t have one of those “at-the-boat” events.

The fish was 38.5 inches long and weighed in at 20 pounds. Long and not fat, but a great fish. Suddenly the fishing had gone from good to great.

Had our best success at the end of the low slack tide.

IMG_4846 38 in striper ARW 4-9-18

Biggest striper I’ve caught. And, I’ve logged in a lot of hours fishing for them.

Now he’s shrink-wrapped.