You Tubers The Piano Guys: "O come, O come, Emmanuel"

The Piano Guys are an American musical group consisting of pianist Jon Schmidt, cellist Steven Sharp Nelson, videographer Paul Anderson, and music producer Al van der Beek,” as Wikipedia reports. “They gained popularity through YouTube, where in 2010 they began posting piano and cello compositions combining classical, contemporary, and rock and roll music, accompanied by professional-quality videos. As of August 2018 the group had surpassed 1.6 billion views on their YouTube channel and had 6.2 million subscribers. To date, they have topped the Billboard Classical Albums chart six times and the New Age Albums chart eight times.”

"It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas"

We cut a beautiful Douglas Fir tree at McBurney’s Tree Farm in Cedar Ridge this afternoon (while enjoying the crackling outdoor fire and hot chocolate); brought it home in our Chevy pickup (free netting and loading, as always); and hung its branches with our beloved collection of hand-blown glass ornaments. Each one has a “story.” We wrap them in tissue paper like jewels and store them in big, sturdy boxes in the garage.

It is an eclectic collection: Some of them date back to my grandma Ella’s childhood in Park City, Utah (fragile!). Others come from the famed Podesta Baldocchi Flowers in San Francisco (a fabulous store that made a cameo appearance in Hitchcock’s Vertigo), the striking Neiman Marcus Rotunda, fabled Bullock’s Wilshire in Los Angeles, and joyous FAO Schwarz in Manhattan, as well as our trips to Europe. One is from Tokyo, a harrowing journey for such a fragile thing.

Our son Mitchell made some of the ornaments in grade school at Mt. St. Mary Academy (one reads “I love everyone in the world”). Others are vintage hand-painted ornaments from the iconic De Carlini in Italy (…/artisan/the-de-carlini-family) and  The Christopher Radko Company (…/christopher-radko-the-man-who-super-siz…).

Some have nicknames, such as “Icicle Man.” And I’m sad to say that a few (like “Mr. Octopus” with its fragile tentacles) broke in past years.

As a child, I used to lie down on the floor under the tree and look up into the ornaments and lights, imagining a magical world. Now it’s an opportunity to reflect upon the past and contemplate another New Year.

PG&E reaches $13.5 billion deal with wildfire victims

“After months of tense negotiations, Pacific Gas & Electric and lawyers for victims of wildfires that killed dozens of people and destroyed tens of thousands of homes and businesses have agreed Friday to a multibillion-dollar legal settlement,” as The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting.

“The victims would not receive all of the $13.5 billion that is being made available under the agreement. Some of it would go toward paying the claims of federal and state agencies, and the victims’ lawyers would receive a portion.

“The accord is a big step forward for PG&E, whose response to wildfires has often faltered. For victims, the money would help them rebuild homes and lives after months of uncertainty, though many would most likely get a lot less than they had hoped for or need.

“And a settlement would significantly increase the likelihood that PG&E will emerge from bankruptcy before a crucial deadline in June. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in January, saying it faced an estimated $30 billion in wildfire claims.”

The rest of the article is here.

Heidi Hall announces re-election bid for 2020

Heidi Hall released this press release:

Heidi Hall is pleased to announce that she is running for a second term for the Nevada County Supervisor’s seat in District 1.   In her first term, she advanced important issues that benefit the citizens of Nevada County, including work on homelessness, fire safety, cannabis and broadband, among others. She looks forward to continue providing leadership addressing these and other challenges, while protecting Nevada County’s distinctive rural character. Everyone in the County benefits from a Board that works well together and a community that participates.

“I am proud of my first-term successes, seeing the County much more engaged in meeting our challenges with creative and collaborative solutions.  There is more to do to on our key priorities, while upping our game to support our beleaguered small businesses.  I work hard, and I persist, and I look forward to seeing real achievements in the next four years,” she said.

California’s primary has been moved forward, and the final date to vote is March 3, 2020.  Nevada County is a vote by mail County, and ballots for the primary will be mailed out in early February, according to the Elections office. 

Heidi’s endorsements include the State Controller Betty Yee, California’s Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, and State Senator Mike McGuire, who is a statewide champion for rural issues and has asked Heidi to work with him on cannabis issues.

“I look forward to our challenges in the coming years, and I plan to run on the merits of my work completed so far and my vision of a thriving County moving forward.  I hope to see a good turnout on March 3.” To contact Heidi, go to or email her campaign at ###

Doctor Dogs

“Doctor dogs are amazing dogs on the cutting edge of medicine,” according to Maria Goodavage, author of a new book “Doctor Dogs.” “They help keep people safe from a growing variety of physical and mental health issues, often by virtue of their incredible sense of smell. And of course, their bond with the people they love.

“This video — with music by Emmy-winning singer-songwriter Parry Gripp — features real dogs who detect cancer and Parkinson’s in fun research settings, and dogs who alert people to seizures and diabetic lows or highs and other life-threatening physical ailments.

“Doctor dogs are also helping people with autism, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Other intrepid canines who are protecting people from antibiotic-resistant bugs, and to dogs may one day help keep us safe from epidemic catastrophe. Their paycheck for their lifesaving work? Heartfelt praise and a tasty treat or favorite toy.

“For more on these dogs and the people whose lives they save, pick up a copy of the book, Doctor Dogs: How Our Best Friends Are Becoming Our Best Medicine, by New York Times bestselling author Maria Goodavage. It’s available on Amazon and other online retailers, as well as bookstores and libraries.”

GV planning wisdom: Send a retiree up three flights of stairs with their groceries

The Grass Valley Planning Commission approved the Dorsey Marketplace mall, as expected: A mix of a 172-unit apartment complex with 104,350 square feet of commercial and retail space on the 28.6 acre site near the southeast corner of Dorsey Drive and the northbound Highway 49 off-ramp, as The Union reports.

Whether the big-box shopping cannibalizes downtown shopping remains an open question. (In the lastest warning sign, Pine Street Burger is consolidating to one location “because the population in Nevada County is not quite enough to operate both locations.”)

But wait, there’s more:

“(Commissioner Terry) McAteer also recommended adding an elevator to the proposed three-story housing complexes, but that motion was not supported by a majority of the council. ‘I think you made a terrible decision in not putting elevators in this project,’ McAteer said. ‘Americans aren’t used to walking up three stories.’

Good point. We are an aging and declining demographic, not a town of millennials and boomers. Imagine a retiree lugging his/her groceries up three flights of stairs. I guess it’s now up to the ERC to reel in those youngsters. Dream on.