Next Books & Sources

Books are one thing I don’t feel too guilty about buying. After all, each one is like a Vulcan Mind Meld.

After my last post about book discovery on Sheperd.com, I decided to keep track of the other sources I use to find them.

Since my year usually begins with the Sierra Writers Conference, it’s a good bet that multiple reads will come from that source. Other recent ones include Bluesky (social), YouTube book reviews, and ‘like’ research on Amazon.

When you see and hear authors talking about their work, their enthusiasm rubs off. These first two books are by authors I watched in Zoom presentations during the 2024 Sierra Writers Conference.

Climate Change | Sea Level Rise | California Homeowners

In California Against the Sea, Rosanna’s coverage of climate change, sea level rise, and resilience/adaptation in the cities along the California coast is carefully considered and compassionate. Her writing is clear and the material is not too emotionally overwhelming. As I was reading, I wished this book was also NOVA series.

Rosanna begins her California story at the Mexican border and works her way
North. Having visited and vacationed in many, it’s easy to envision each place. The fresh perspective I gained is what it’s like to be a permanent resident with the ocean constantly eroding your roads and property lines. What happens if your city condemns your home, or your insurance company stops coverage?

[Watch “Pacifica fly over video” in resources below.]

Living in California’s forests, we have different issues – wildfire and
smoke – but the questions are the same. As a society, we can’t keep
turning away from change brought on extreme weather.

In city, county, state, and national governance, we must match desired
behaviors (moving or not allowing new building in frought places) with
incentives to act.

Animals | Night | Photography

Nocturnalia  – When Charles Hood described wrap-around model lighting used to highlight animals active at night, I was already ordering his book! (Hood is a wildlife photographer). I was also intrigued when he said that California has over a hundred bat species…something I’ve not had much luck researching.

Book quote: “Bats! Are! Great!” The first photograph for this chapter is a stunning image of a bat in flight taking a sip from a pond with sharp splash droplets and a mirror image of the animal reflected in the water.

The humor and enthusiasm Hood uses to tell his stories are easily detectable
in his writing. His book will make you smile.

The images and descriptions are big book, hard bound, coffee table quality
but are packaged in a soft-cover compact package at a reasonable price. For
animal lovers, explorers, photographers, and naturalists, it’s a book they’ll
appreciate.

The next two titles were Blue Sky recommendations. Bluesky is a Twitter spin-off from when it was fun. The new platform has a nice vibe (so far). Connecting with academics, naturalists, and photographers, especially folks who enjoy posting pictures of #moss is great.

The Modern Bestiary by Joanna Bagniewska.
This book is entertaining and has cool graphics. It has quirky information about weird animals and is written in short segments. 

The first animal I read about was the Atlantic horseshoe crab. The bleeding industry, which Bagniewska mentions, first came to my attention in a news article with a graphic photo showing how this is done. In a media environment saturated with war and human despair, the picture of the crabs strapped in with tubes sucking out their blue blood took my breath away and had me reaching for a tissue. I still don’t fully understand my strong visceral reaction, but an affection for ‘ugly’ animals is here to stay.

If you have an animal or trivia lover, or a zoology student in your life, The
Modern Bestiary
would make a lovely gift. (If I were the gift giver, I’d pair Nocturnalia and The Modern Bestiary together.)

Hard Science Fiction | More Animals |Apocalypse

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky was a recommended read by Jay, CEO of Blue Sky. Her comment about characters based on octopi sold me. It’s a long book, the first of three. Normally, I steer clear of science fiction because it’s difficult to imagine off-world settings.

When my husband, who has an extensive science fiction library, saw me reading it, he stopped in his tracks saying, “We already have that e-book series, and why
are you reading it?”

My reply, “I don’t care about the human characters, but I’m loving
the (jumping) spider civilization.”

Tchaikovsky’s description of what drove humanity into space is bleak, but
also fitting for today, even though he wrote and published it before 2015.

Romance | Entertainment | Light Reading | Historical Fiction

I discovered The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston from YouTube book reviewer, gabbyreads. Since I also enjoyed We Spread by Ian Reid, I took Gabby’s recommendation for The Dead Romantics.

Dead Romantics is something light and easy to counterbalance some of the heavier topics I choose. Anything with ghosts and romance, published by an imprint of Penguin Random House is bound to be a winner.

Finally, Amazon. Sigh. It’s a market dominator for a reason…

A perk of being a supporting member of Shepherd.com, is a book launch program. A participation requirement is to submit ten author names with books ‘like’ yours. While doing this research, I discovered two more titles that I’ll keep in my library (a pile next to my bed) ready to read when the next ‘hole’ appears.

My historical fiction novel, Crossing: A Chinese Family Railroad Novel is quietly rolling out. Once it appears in the Amazon system, I will send it to the launch program.

A Girl Called Samson by Amy Harmon  – an indentured servant in Massachusetts disguises herself as a man and joins the Continental Army.

The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi – Set in the 1950s in India, a young woman escapes an abusive marriage and begins working as a henna artist for the upper class. Keeping secrets is a must.

Seven new books before February ends is satisfying!

Happy 2024 reading to one and all.

Resources

Article Authors on Bluesky

[California Against the Sea: Visions for Our Vanishing Coastline]
Rosanna Xia
@rosannaxia.bsky.social
https://bsky.app/profile/rosannaxia.bsky.social

[The Modern Bestiary]
Joanna Bagniewska
@joannabagniewska.com
https://bsky.app/profile/joannabagniewska

[Children of Time]
Adrian Tchaikovsky
@aptshadow.bsky.social
https://bsky.app/profile/aptshadow.bsky.social

Jay, CEO of Bluesky
@jay.bsky.team
https://bsky.app/profile/jay.bsky.team

[The Dead Romantics]
Ashley Poston
@ashleyposton.bsky.social
https://bsky.app/profile/ashleyposton.bsky.social

[Crossing: A Chinese Family Railroad Novel]
Lisa Redfern
@lisaredfern.bsky.social
https://bsky.app/profile/lisaredfern.bsky.social

 

Shepherd is a FUN Book Discovery Website

Last year, I got a detailed e-mail that I thought was probably spam. Since I wasn’t completely sure, I asked my husband – a seasoned Silicon Valley veteran – to have a look.

He said, “It’s not spam. They’re building something.”

Once Ben Fox, the architect of Shepherd (a non-faith-based book-finding website) got my attention, I started reading his updates about the newest progress with site construction.

It’s been a blast watching (and taking part in!) the site’s growth.

Shepherd keeps getting better and more FUN.

Because I know the books I’ve recommended are the best-of-the-best, I’ve read many titles on their reading lists, and I’ve also bought and read books that Fox and other Shepherd authors have recommended, I can say, with certainty, this website is a good source of quality books.

One of my recent, soothing activities has been creating this collection of animated backgrounds to play on my living room screen.

The Shepherd website reminds me of this. It is a cozy virtual space that feels like a bookshop filled with friends who are sophisticated readers.

History is Essential. Here’s Why.

by Gary Noy

Read the article.


Sierra Writers Conference (SWC) Website

(SWC) Pathfinders page with historical and
social justice recommended reads

© Gary Noy 2023
No part of Gary Noy‘s written or audio article may be reproduced without his express written consent.

The audio version of this article was produced with A.I.-generated voices.

Shepherd’s Best Reads of 2023

My most satisfying reads come as recommendations from friends and their book clubs.

As a supplement to the book pointers from friends, this website is one I’ve been checking out when there’s an open space in my reading queue. A recent feature is a massive book list, the result of asking 9,000+ authors to recommend their favorite reads of the year.

Reviewing the entire list, I can vouch for its quality. On it, are many titles and authors I’ve read and enjoy.

Ben Fox is the builder behind Shepherd (a non-religious book-finding website).

When describing books, Fox quotes Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, “What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”

“When I look for a new book online, it feels soulless,” Fox says. “Online bookstores sell books like toothpaste or powdered gravy mix. Something about that is profoundly wrong.”

About his website, Fox says, “We give readers fun and unique ways to follow their curiosity down rabbit holes. Try our bookshelf on science fiction or life satisfaction. At every step, you can meet the person who recommended that book, the book list it came from, and what they are passionate about.”

 As we head into gifting season, the Shepherd website is worth a visit if book lovers are on your list.

Sierra College & Litton Trail Loop Hiking & History Tour

This self-guided tour was created for the 2023 Sierra Writers Conference. The conference theme celebrates the 20th Anniversary of Sierra College Press and the first publication of Standing Guard: Telling Our Stories, a beautifully photographed and formatted remembrance book about Placer County Japanese families, many of them fruit farmers, who were incarcerated during WW II.

After researching the Litton Hill land, people, and plants, it was noteworthy to learn that the Nevada County Campus of Sierra College shares WW II, fruit growing, farming, and publishing history with its Rocklin sister site.

Below, you will find tour components that include videos, podcasts, maps, and music.

Explore and enjoy the journey!

Download Interactive PDFs, with live links, to take on the go.

Phone Recommended Media PDF – podcasts, maps, and a time travel playlist

Large Screen Recommended Media PDF – videos & maps

Prior to the Gold Rush

Litton Hill Farming Families – 1850s – 1930/40s

podcast | newspaper printing history

Sierra College Campus Walking Tour – 1950s – 1990s

podcast | campus map | koi fish documentary | koi fish custom art | Gerald Angove interview

Writers Conference Materials

Campus Walking Tour-related writing prompts

Sierra College & Litton Loop Trail Sights

podcast | map | time travel playlist

Recent Sierra College Nature Observations

More Sierra College & Litton Hill Resources

Resources for Sierra College & Litton Hill Tour

Articles

Charles V. LittonHistory of talent and innovation in Nevada County: Grass Valley video industry | The Union (2014)
Grass Valley Hospital is Sold to Electronics Firm | The Sacramento Bee (1953)
Sierra College to assume property under eminent domain | The Press Tribune (1993)
Richard NoellDeath by Rail Car (1915 – page 8)
James Hughes Disposes of Orchard Property | The Union (1922)
William F. Prisk, Early Union Editor |The Morning Union (1893)
Robert Ross RoadRoss Helped Establish Local Campus of Sierra College | The Union (2005)
Sierra College celebrates 20 years in Nevada County (Interactive Timeline) | The Union (2016)

Videos & Reference Books

ANNOTATED NEVADA COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY INTERVIEW

Gerald Angove, Sierra College President 1975 – 1993

0:04:20 – 1940s Hughes Road. 0:04:45 – Golf course caddy & fish bait
0:10:27 – Hills Flat community, gas plant, and Nevada County Narrow-Gauge Railroad
0:42:02  – Pollution and Lake Olympia
0:48:00 – 1975 President of Sierra College
0:49:00 – Twelve-year legislative process to build Nevada County Campus
0:49:40 – Nevada County Campus
0:50:16 – First phase of NCC Construction

Printing Press History

0:02:07 – Washington Press

Koi Fish Documentary

Briar Patch Supporting Local Farmers

Playlist Links

Precious Waters – Carlos Nakai
Yuba – Mary Youngblood
The Singing of the Travels – The Folksongs of Britain (Cornwall)
Six Jolly Miners – The Folksongs of Britain (Cornwall)
Who Threw the Overalls in Mrs. Murphy‘s Chowder – George L Giefer (Ireland)
President Grant Newcastle – Angus Chisolm
Mule Train – Frankie Laine
Railroad Boomer – Bud Billings & Carson Robinson
Joplin  – Maple Leaf


Places to Visit

HISTORIC CEMETERIES

Boundy – Newcastle Cemetery 
Hughes – Pine Grove (Nevada City) & Odd Fellows (Grass Valley)
Noell – Odd Fellows (Grass Valley)
Ross – Rough & Ready Historic Cemetery
Worthington – Pine Grove (Nevada City)

MUSEUMS

Nevada County Historical Society

Nevada County Narrow-Gauge Railroad Museum

Georgie Porgie – Arnold Johnson
Glow Worm – Dawn of the Century
Foxtrot – Michael Jary
Nature Boy – Nat King Cole
Simple Melody – Bing Crosby
Dating Game TV Show Theme Song
Dr. Who TV Show Theme Song
Sun Song – Nick Castro
Black or White – Michael Jackson
Cover – Patrick Patrikios

Custom Hiking & History Trail Art

Backtracking “If you build it, they will come.”

 There’s been a movie line running through my mind like an earworm since I finished Crossings: A Chinese Odyssey on Donner Summit. The line is, “If you build it, they will come.”

David Rumsey Map Collection, David Rumsey Map Center, Stanford Libraries

 I repurposed it from a baseball diamond in a cornfield to maps and roads; footpaths, wagon roads, sail and overland maps, railways, highways, and high-speed jets.

 

Humans really can move mountains if we put our attention to it as the recent article How the Transcontinental railroad forever transformed US points out.

The Chinese railroad story called to me because the marginalized people who accomplished this herculean task deserve to be known and recognized for their contributions.

The image above shows nineteenth-century political cartoonists poking at the railroad monopoly. It’s no joke that it, and many other of our systems, have become monstrous.

 The bigger issue I grapple with now is the systems we’ve established and how to backtrack from there. 

Those of us living in developed countries exist at an apex of technology and structures designed for easy living (and buying). But we are also at a point where most of us understand this way of living is not sustainable. 

Just this last year, we saw Congress avert economic devastation when the national railroad workers threatened to strike. Stronger-than-ever storms are shredding housing and infrastructure and in California, Earth-scorching firestorms and drought are constant worries.

Established infastructure is fragile and revealing weak spots.

A Barbara Kingsolver book I read recently provided an idea I’ve latched onto for backtracking some of my own contributions to Western culture’s ever-expanding quest for growth.


In the book, a middle-aged woman, Willa, grapples with dissatisfaction after a lifetime spent following the rules and doing what’s expected. Along with supporting adult children, a grandchild, and an aging parent, her historic home is falling to pieces around her.

 

Willa’s epiphany comes when she releases ‘American Dream’ ideas about family constructs, retirement security, and wealth. Once she does, the solution to her house problem becomes obvious. Not to reveal spoilers, but with Gen. Z guidance,  part of her land is repurposed to serve community needs.

In her book, Kingsolver demonstrates ways to reformulate ingrained expectations. She gives examples of how to reduce one’s lifetime footprint, leaving the world different and, hopefully, better. 

“If you build it, they will come,” happened with the railroad and other developed living, transportation, energy, judicial, and healthcare systems. Now we must work to change collective expectations and redesign the way we live on planet Earth.

Rough & Ready Cemetery – Filling in the Plot

Self-Guided Tour

Plan a visit between sunrise and sunset hours.


14474 Stagecoach Way
Rough & Ready, CA 95973


Select your preferred audio or visual media and travel back in time with a Randolph Flat family where you’ll learn about living with a handicap, problems with open mine shafts, women’s voting, love, and loss.

While visiting the cemetery, please demonstrate abundant respect for the Stagecoach Way neighbors, for those at eternal rest, and for their stone markers.

Download the single-page tour sheet PDF that includes GPS coordinates, a topographic map, and all tour links.

The podcast features period music and folk songs. (Same narration as the video.)

Soundcloud Podcast

Video includes
U.S. Census records, newspaper articles, and emotive video clips.
(Same narration as the podcast.)

YouTube video

“It was a perfect day to be out in person and in reverence for those hard working ancestors that came before us. The creative historical podcast was so interesting I had to watch the u-tube video.”

Mary Jo Curtin



Randolph Flat area
Images photographed from the big maps at the Searls Historical Library in Nevada City
https://nevadacountyhistory.org/searls-historical-library


Jenny Lind mining claim
Images photographed from the big maps at the Searls Historical Library in Nevada City
https://nevadacountyhistory.org/searls-historical-library

Bertha Cleveland mining claim
Images photographed from the big maps at the Searls Historical Library in Nevada City
https://nevadacountyhistory.org/searls-historical-library

Letter to Living Descentands:

Dear Clendenen and Cleveland descendants,

The self-guided tour media was produced by a genealogy volunteer for educational purposes only. All of the support documentation is available on Ancestry in a public tree named, “Filling in the Plot – RR Cemetery.”

While researching and pulling together public domain elements for this presentation, you were always in our thoughts.

There are so many relatable and engaging aspects of this story, it is sure to spark conversations and make Nevada County history even more memorable for its residents and visitors.

EXTRA

Create your own Cemetery Story (article) How-to Research in Three Steps (at bottom of page) – Full Circle Living and Dying

Links mentioned in the audio and video presentations:

 Jack London short story  –  PDF |  audio recording (YouTube).

Research Resources:

Find A Grave
Ancestry
Family Search
California Digital Newspaper Collection
Newspapers.com
The Grass Valley Daily Union archives
Doris Foley Library
Searls Historic Library

Referenced Nevada County Cemeteries 

St. Canice Cemetery
634 – 636 W. Broad St.
Nevada City, CA 95959

Pine Grove Cemetery
100500 – 18049 Red Dog Rd.
Nevada City, CA 95959

New Elm Cemetery
Kidder Street
Grass Valley, CA 95945

FullCircleLivingDyingCollective.com
http://followingdeercreek.com/

Free History Talk at the Rough and Ready Cemetery

Join me on March 26th at 1 p.m. for a free history talk where I will be presenting the story of the Clendenen and Cleveland family of Randoph Flat. 

The first members of this family traveled to California by overland trail. The last generation had radios at home and women who could vote.

Readings from the Grass Valley Morning Union and other newspapers will illustrate the happenings of their lives.

Click here for details and to sign-up.

 

Georgetown & Volcanoville

History and Hiking

Learn the history, then hike through where it happened.

This post includes Georgetown and Volcanoville newspaper clippings from 1896 – 1958.

A trails list and links to additional reading and community resources are at the end.

Enjoy!

iPad Users:
Save this
presentation
to your device!

Click here to download the interactive PDF.

Georgetown

Is the Georgetown Hotel Haunted? [FrightFind.com]

White-crowned sparrow | iNaturalist, user radrat
American Booklime | Photo credit iNaturalist, user LisaRedfern

Volcanoville

1896 Chico Weekly
California Sister | Photo credit: iNaturalist, user rawcomposition


1897 Oakdale Graphic

Convergent ladybeetles | Photo credit: iNaturalist, user scotwegner

1909 El Dorado Republican

1903 Marysville Evening Democrat

Emery Rock Tripe Lichen | Photo credit: iNaturalist, user LisaRedfern

Hiking Trails

Quarry Trail
This wide, level and easy, 5.6-mile trail connects Hwy. 49 to Poverty Bar. It follows the route of an old, Gold Rush-era flume – a man-made channel used to convey and harness the power of river water for hydraulic gold mining operations. Part of this trail was later used as the Mountain Quarries railroad, which transported limestone from the adjacent quarry. Elevations average approximately 700’ along the length of the trail.

Stagecoach Trail
Originally a stagecoach line built in 1852, this “moderate up, easy down,” 1.8-mile trail connects the Confluence to Russel Rd. and offers spectacular bird’s eye views of the Confluence Area and the American River canyon. From the Confluence, the Stagecoach Trail begins at an elevation of 567’, climbing to a maximum, ending elevation of 1,256’.

PG&E Road Trail
This “moderate-up, easy-down,” 1.3-mile trail offers spectacular views of the Middle Fork American River, as well as present and past limestone quarrying operations. This trail is best accessed from the Quarry Trail. There is no parking available at the upper end of the trail. Elevations range from approximately 700’ to 1,300’.

Olmstead Loop Trail
This easy to moderate, 8.8-mile loop parallels Hwy. 49 near the Town of Cool on one side and the American River Canyon on the other. It passes through rolling oak woodlands and includes canyon

More Local Links


Sierra Nevada Geotourism

Georgetown

Articles, Books & Blogs

Adventures in History – Trey & Monica Pitsenberger

Legends of America – Volcanoville

Miscellaneous

Mine Data – Josephine & Shields Mine

Georgetown Divide History Facebook Group

1958 Jeep Jamboree photos

Map of Georgetown Divide, El Dorado County showing portions of the Placerville and Forest Hill Divide with the ditches, mines, and other properties of the California Water Company.

University Falls YouTube Video

University Falls is 11 miles east of Georgetown, Ca. About a 3-mile hike down to the falls themselves, the last 30 – 400 yards is pretty steep with a rutted trail.

Publication researched and prepared by Lisa Redfern