Last week, I decided that summer had finally arrived, in spite of the recent wave of inclement weather, these benign fronts that resulted in cool, overcast, skies, while passing by one another without consummating their relationship. Following that brief but empty threat of rain, it actually got so hot the other day that my daughter asked when I intended to get her pool ready.
Our backyard isn’t quite big enough for a “built-in” pool, so, a few summers ago, I took the equivalent of a few years of Cabana Club dues and bought the biggest doughboy that would fit back there, in the one stretch of open space that we have behind our home. While it’s definitely not something that would ever land us a feature in Metropolitan Home, our setup does the trick of keeping us cool and providing hours of aquatic recreation for the kids quite well. Twelve feet in diameter, four-and-a-half feet in depth, with a wide rim that’s strong enough for the kids to stand on, our “Old Swimmin’ Hole,” as I like to refer to it, stretches from within a single inch of our back fence to the very foot of the steps that lead to the slider in our main bedroom.
The thing is, during the winter months, rainwater kind of accumulates in the cover, and the water in the actual pool turns kind of murky. A few branches of our orange tree provide a natural canopy over a portion of the pool, but the oranges that plop into the pool not only contribute to the murk if you don’t stay on top of ladling them out, but they also caused their share of false prowler alarms, as my wife, with her bat-like, sonar hearing, will detect a muffled splash in the middle of the night, figure it for an intruder, and instantly dispatch me from a dead sleep to the backyard in my underwear with my fungo.
To time the cleaning of the pool late enough so that you avoid any rain and early enough to have it crystal clear in time for the start of swim season in earnest is a bit if a trick. Get it done too early, and you wind up with gallons of rainwater stagnating on your pool cover. Do it too late, and you incubate an entire ecosystem, and your backyard looks like the set of an “OFF” commercial.
So when I decided the time was right to prepare the pool for m’lady, I got out a sump pump, hooked a hose up to it, and ran the hose along the side of the house through the front yard and out to the gutter. Surveying the weakness of the stream coming out of the hose, I calculated that it would take a good amount of time to empty the pool at that rate, and I let the thing run all day, while I went off to work.
That afternoon when I returned home, I rounded the corner down my street and saw that several of my neighbors were out, as they usually are, taking out the garbage, visiting with one another, working in their front yards. I waved as I passed each set, but I didn’t get the usual polite return wave that people who don’t really know each other usually offer. Far from it. These folks were actually scowling at me.
As I pulled into my driveway and hopped out of my car, there was a small crowd of neighbors across the street looking furtively at me and speaking to each other in hushed tones. While I strode toward the hose I’d put out that morning, it dawned on me why I’d gotten such a cold reception on my own street: my neighbors all thought I’d left the water running onto the sidewalk all day.
I looked down the street at the stream in the gutter starting at my house and extending past the homes of several of my neighbors to the drain a good hundred yards away. I wanted to explain to everyone that this was pool water, not water from the spigot, but, by now, they had all turned to retreat back into their homes. Thinking quickly, I cupped my hands to my mouth and screamed to my wife who wasn’t even home from work yet, “Honey! The pool’s almost empty!” It was no good. They’d all gone in.
OK, so we’re in the middle of a drought. But even if I did leave my hose on—which I didn’t—is that reason enough to make me feel like Hester Prynne crossing through Town Square with a big “A” sewn on my shirt? Apparently it is. This drought is no joke. Both 2013 and 2014 were California’s first and third driest winters on record. In response, the Sacramento City Council has implemented some pretty strict water-rationing measures. That I appeared to be flouting the new ordinance has (at least briefly) resulted in a predictable impact on my popularity among everyone who saw the hose and the stream in the gutter. My neighbor across the street was friendlier even after my wife had backed out of our driveway and directly into his new Lexus last fall.

After that day, I made an effort to familiarize myself with the whole water code of conduct in the Pocket/Greenhaven area. It’s pretty thorough, and actually kind of strict. First of all, we can only water our lawns two days a week. My days, because my street address ends in an even number, are Wednesdays and Sundays. But, even on those days, we of the even-numbered addresses can’t just water all footloose and fancy free. All watering must take place either before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m.
Residents of odd-numbered homes can water during those hours on Tuesdays and Saturdays. This means, of course, that, if you ever see anyone watering their lawn on a Monday, Thursday, or Friday, they’re breaking the law! Feel free to scowl at them as they pull into their driveways. Or, if you really don’t like your neighbor, you can report him/her to the City of Sacramento. The fines for water-related offenses can run as high as $1,000 per incident! The ordinance also restricts washing our cars to our watering days, as well. When you do wash your car, you have to be using some kind of on/off nozzle attached to your hose, and the hose can never be left running. 
My grandpa always used to tell me that you don’t have to be smart to be honest, but you do have to be smart to be crooked. I don’t think that adage applies to the water ordinance. In order to adhere to the law where watering is concerned, you really have to educate yourself and plan accordingly. It takes a little effort, but the effort is well worth it.
Probably the most important lesson I learned through this incident is something I’ll use for next year, when it comes time to empty the pool of that murky green water. I’m going to run that hose alongside the house, but instead of throwing the end out in the gutter, I’m going to snake it up through my bathroom window to my bathtub drain, undetected for potential misinterpretation by my neighbors. Otherwise, like Hester, I just might find myself being forced to pack up the kids, leave town, and never be heard from again…
The Pocket Watch appears in every issue of the Pocket News. Jeff Dominguez can be reached at

Darrell’s Notes

Water Shortage

Folsom Lake dry.

Folsom Lake dry.

The City Council is being asked to adopt a Water Shortage Contingency Plan, which includes declaring a water shortage and implementing stage 2 of our water shortage contingency plan. This means we need to really do our best to conserve water. Make sure your sprinklers are only coming on once a week on either Saturday or Sunday. Also, for those of us who wash our cars regularly at home, please only use a bucket to wash your car. I am going to do my part, and keep my car dirty until it needs a wash. A quick note, many of the car washes in Sacramento operate on a recycled water system. It’s an alternative to consider if you need to wash the car.

The State 2 Water Shortage Plan includes the following measures:
Stage 2 – All customers would be required to reduce consumption by 20 to 30 percent. Customers would be requested to implement Stage 1 and 2 water conservation measures and adhere to the City’s Outdoor Water Conservation provisions.

Actions: Continue existing conservation programs, and:
1. Intensify the public information campaign to inform customers the need for water conservation and explain the water conservation measures.
2. Further increase water waste patrols to enforce the City’s outdoor water conservation provisions in the City code.
3. Limit outdoor irrigation during daylight saving time to two days per week.
4. Limit irrigation hours.
5. Further reduce irrigation of parks and cemeteries.
6. Allow car washing with the use of a bucket only.
7. Prohibit all public water uses not required for health and safety.
8. Allow main flushing only for emergency purposes.

Let’s do our best to make sure we conserve water. I also want to challenge you to hold the City of Sacramento to the same standards the community is being held to. If you see a median being watered, any of our parks being watered in the middle of the day, or something you think is wasteful, give me a call and we will make sure it is reported. My number is 808-7007.

Sacramento Soccer Alliance Tryouts

The Sacramento Soccer Alliance has announced the tryouts schedule for the season. You can register at the website, Tryouts will be held at Sacramento City College’s Hughes Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 1 and Sunday, Feb. 9. U9 will be held from 10 to 11:30 a.m.; U10, noon to 1:30 p.m.; U11, 2-3:30 p.m.
• Pre-registration is REQUIRED.
• All players must attend at least one tryout.
• Bring water, a soccer ball and wear a white shirt.
• Be prepared for rain/cold weather.
• Arrive 20 minutes early.

School of Engineering and Sciences to hold e-waste drive and car wash

On Feb. 1, SES will hold a car wash from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will be collecting e-waste from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the school, located at 7345 Gloria Dr.

They will accept: Monitors, televisions, desktop and notebook PCs, VCRs, stereo equipment, CD’s, speakers, keyboards, mice, PDAs, digital cameras, zip drives, telephones, cell phones, printers, copiers, laser and multifunction scanners and fax machines, small household appliances such as toasters, mixers and blenders, vacuum cleaners with the dust bag removed.

They cannot accept: Large household appliances (i.e. refrigerators, washers, dryers, etc.), furniture, hazardous household waste including batteries, car batteries, paint, pesticides, used oil, cleaning supplies, fluorescent light bulbs, water heaters, tires, etc.

Questions regarding this event? Contact event coordinator Olivia Wong at 616-2886 or Renee Quan at 402-3965.

311 app for Android and iPhone now available

At your fingertips, you can report issues or get your questions answered–all from your smartphone device. This will eliminate the need to call the 3-11 call center and avoid wait times during peak hours. This service is fast, convenient, and FREE.

The app allows you to:
Report issues where and when you see them–from missed garbage, recycle and yard waste to code violations, broken parking meters, and stray animals.

Sign up for messaging service to receive a text or email reminder to set out your recycle container for collection. Intended to make life a little easier for Sacramento residents, businesses and visitors, the 311 app will help you find the answers or the people you need quickly and easily.

Neighborhood Watch Training Program

The Sacramento Police Department is hosting several trainings at different locations for the month of January and February. The focus topic for these trainings will be “Scams and Schemes.” Get tips and tricks on how to stay safe and keep yourself protected. Learn valuable information about identity theft, pyramids, telemarketing, and other illegal activities. To reserve please contact Barbara Falcon at 808-1221 or email

Capitol March for the Dream

You are the dream, and the dream is now! Stand up and speak out! Join the 33rd Annual Capitol March for the Dream that will include two events: Freedom March and the Diversity Expo. This free event honors the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and the never ending issues that can impact our future. The Freedom March is a 6-mile march and parade that will begin on 3425 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. with check-in beginning at 8 a.m. and the march at 8:30 a.m. If you would like to join the march later in the day, meet at Sacramento City College, 3835 Freeport Blvd. or the West Steps of State Capitol, 1315 10th Street. The march will end at the Convention Center, 1400 J St.

The Diversity Expo will be held at the Convention Center from 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and will celebrate the collective power of our diversity and the transformative values of Martin Luther King Jr. Lots of great things to do with speakers, talent show, arts and crafts, face-painting, vendors, and more!

For more information call 698-5147 or email You may also visit