Category Archives: A Pocket of Resistance

What?

i was looking to order some cotton polo shirts.

Mine wore out. i’m not too particular, but i do want them to be cotton. Oh, i’ve got several of those micro-fiber things for golf. i sweat a lot ’cause i’m chubby and old and have always sweat alot. Like my daddy but he was far from chubby. So i wear that micro-stuff on warmer golf days even if it does make me feel a bit like a lab experiment. Those Navy plastic thingies they called uniforms in the 70’s and 80’s made me leery of anything not natural fiber.

Now my closet of cotton polos are wearing out. They are from just about everywhere because i buy them when they are 100% cotton. And cheap. i have several go-to places for my cotton shirts, but i’ve been lazy and not particular fond of shopping at anytime. So i hit the web.

And there was this box in my google shirt search about whether a man should tuck in his shirt or not. i previously have been amazed that people, especially men, actually put some merit to whether it’s cool to tuck in your shirt or not. The latest fad is apparently to not tuck it in, like they’ve always done in the Philippines and the Caribbean states. i don’t have a problem with it if someone wants to wear their shirt untucked. My lord, they even have a company name “Untuckit” that claims their shirts are best for wearing untucked. They better be. Those damned things cost over fifty dollars. Huh?

So i’m searching and i keep going back to that box about tuck or untuck. And one of the answers comes from a link…are you ready for this? “www.artofmanliness.com.” i mean apparently men now need some one to tell them how they can conform to being a man of artfulness.

i admit i am old fashioned, but man, i thought men just did their thing. i like Levis, old comfortable tees, nice golf shirts, shorts and pants that fit, preferably a natural fiber. i wear ties. i like blue blazers. i would even wear seersucker suits in the summer but my wife has said she would divorce me even if i am old enough to do anything weird i choose.

But i don’t think i’m even going to check out “art of manliness.”

i don’t want to know.

Ahh, Forget It

i started a post about winter back home and in the Southwest corner. Of course, it had a lot of other ideas interrupting the chain of thought. Goofy guy stuff.

i wanted to add some photos that showed how it is so weirdly green out here. In the winter.

And how you can play golf twelve months out of the year including winter, like at the Bonita Golf Club.

i wanted to explain how our slope, the one we cleared last summer has been totally bare but went crazy with the rain we’ve had this year. i mean it was flat bare.

But it exploded with all sorts of green stuff, like wild mustard. i wanted to explain though the mustard is pretty, how it dries out and then is prickly and a real fire hazard and how we will clear it in the next couple of weeks.

i wanted to include all of that in a post.

But things kept getting in the way. After all, it really is turning spring. The rain is all but gone, a piddling amount for back home and most of the country, but if Noah had lived in the Southwest corner, he would have been building an ark. So i had lots of things to do i had put off. And there is this thing about writing a book. And of course, there is golf.

And then doing all of those spring things are wearing on an old man. So i did what comes naturally:

More later…

After my nap.

“Lonely, Lonely Me”…Not

For those who were not around in 1958 or didn’t have access to Nashville’s 50,000 watt, clear channel WLAC at night from around 9:00 p.m. until the wee hours of the morning, 4:00 a.m., i think, it is sad you were not mesmerized by Hoss Allen, Gene Nobles, and Big John R playing Lonesome Sundown’s two sided 45 rpm hit when it was released on Excello Records, a label i probably had at one time on  about 100 blues records — they were good deals from Randy’s Record Shop in Gallatin and beat the hell of  the baby chicks Wolfman Jack sold on the Mexican 250,000 watt station after being mentored by Hoss Allen.

Lonesome Sundown’s 45 is still in my record collection. “I’m a Mojo Man” and “Lonely, Lonely Me” have been at the top of my play list since the late nights in the upstairs bedroom i shared with my brother Joe when i hid the radio under my covers with me at 14 testosterone charged days of a 14-year old and listened to the blues.

“I’m  a Mojo Man” was what i longed to be.

“Lonely, Lonely Me” was what i believed i was and what would be my fate.

Recently, i have felt i might have returned to my prediction of lonely, lonely me. But then, i discovered friends, Tom Bradley and Frank Kerrigan have, in their own way, expressed their idea of the way our politicians (and their supporters) should interact.

i recently shared the link Tom sent me, a column from David Brooks. Then he doubled down and shared a column by Albert Brooks: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/02/opinion/sunday/political-polarization.html?fbclid=IwAR10uHJtYNJIfcph51KdxBk3oaFWGKXGV9tfYFSNeRyAm5xbmgQIEpSt9rQ

Both articles are thoughtful, insightful and to me comforting. There are some folks out there who can articulate how i feel about this mess we have gotten ourselves into and there are even more who apparently agree with the two Brooks and me.

Then Frank posted a bunch of photos he took in Washington, D.C. and his sentiments expressed in his captions echoed the articles of the two Brooks. i was encouraged again. i’m not a lonely, lonely me.

While Tom and Frank (and the Brooks, not brothers) were revealing my relevance to me, i am in the midst of reading Gordon S. Wood’s Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. i have always been intrigued with the two statesmen and contributors to the founding of our country. When i saw it on the shelf at my favorite bookstore (yes, they still have a few privately owned bookstores in San Diego), the Book Catapult in North Park, i grabbed it. After finishing a couple of other books on my side table, including Slavish Shore: The Odyssey of Richard Henry Dana Jr. by Jeffrey Amestoy, i picked up Wood’s tome and began. i am about half way through.

It is very thorough, not something i normally get into. It’s lengthy. Unexpectedly, i am entranced. Wood uses quotes from both Adams, Jefferson and their peers to delve into how our government, specifically our constitution was created. The way their world worked compared to ours today was different, even the cultures of Virginia and Massachusetts were different as well as the other states to be.

What is most impressive is these two men and the other statesmen from the thirteen commonwealths wanted to create a government that worked, recognized such a government needed checks and balances, and even though there were significant differences in their opinions about what their future should be, created what i believe is the best solution for a working, effective government ever. Ever. And Amestoy’s book on Dana demonstrates the desire to do what was right continued to be woven into the fabric of our country even though one-sided ambitions were also prevalent.

Being people, we have skewed the workings into something that doesn’t seem to be working now. Our politics, our culture has created “my way or the highway” operation. Lines are not drawn in the sand. They are drawn what scarily look like battle lines. Denigration of those with differences of opinion, denial of the obvious, passion for causes with no consideration of the ramifications, yes, and even lying are all aimed to get what one segment or another wants. What i learned in McClain Elementary School about the communists believed the ends justified the means seems to have been adopted by all of our current political positions. i was taught just the opposite, and still believe we must do what’s right, not what’s wrong to achieve our goals. There are good (and bad) folks on all sides. Deal with the issues in the right way.

i am hoping there are enough sane folks out there who, along with David Brooks, Albert Brooks, Tom Bradley, and Frank Kerrigan who will not allow this…this…i struggled to find the right noun here but finally agreed with myself my first inclination was correct…insanity to rule our lives.

Thank you, guys, and of course, Lonesome Sundown.

To Maureen on Our Painting i Bought in Hong Kong

On a roll i am.

Daylight Silly Time could have done it. i don’t know. i do know i did the taxes today. i filed away a whole bunch of stuff. i entered a few posts, including a chapter of my book. i organized. i filed. i threw away stuff, lots of stuff, paper mostly. i watched a little golf. Then toward the end of the day, i pulled out a folder labeled “False Starts.” Damn, i wrote a lot of crap. But amongst the throwaways, i found a couple worth saving. 

One was to Maureen i wrote in 1988. On my last Navy port visit to Hong Kong in 1981, i went  to a market area on the Kowloon side close to the Star Ferry pier. i stumbled around and ended up in an art studio. i saw this painting and was entranced. i bought it. i don’t remember what it cost, but it was likely a good deal. It wasn’t Stanley Market good, but it wasn’t outrageous. i had it framed cheaply and it was in my home office of our first home.

When we moved it went into hiding. But i pulled it out a year or so ago, and Maureen agreed it would look good in our living room. She had it reframed. The photo here doesn’t do it justice, but it did prompt me to write this poem one night years ago

you sleep in the next room;
i, tired from weekend tasks
start to bed but stop
to look at Lisi Tang’s painting
striking me as a “lonely” painting;
a beautiful tribute
to the loneliness of
the vast and omnipotent sea
yet
there are two gulls,
beautiful in their flight together,
graceful, in syncopation,
juxtaposed against the vastness of the sea;
i see us, the gulls,
flying into the mist of the morning sea
aware of its vastness, its cruelty
flying toward infinity together:
a significant moment:
the two of us
on the sea of time.

David Brooks, Tom Bradley, and i: Like Minds

First off, thank you, Tom Bradley.

i read David Brooks with regularity, but somehow had not read this one yet. i found his book, Bobos in Paradise, as engaging and insightful as Frederick Lewis Allen’s Only Yesterday,  a wonderful commentary on the 1920’s, which captivated me during my college years. Maureen and i watch “PBS News Hour” every Friday because Brooks seems to always be a voice of reason, at least one that resonates with me.

And in this article Tom posted on Facebook, Brooks nailed it:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/25/opinion/moderate-politics.html?fbclid=IwAR2hfl0x5qZQbls-dUkNSZ88KgUgegqAVl4icuwAP26TAlU42t4eo_HxAZM

i have been trying to express the thoughts Brooks writes about in this column in my writing and in my discussions with others. i am not close to being as articulate as David Brooks, but folks, this column is exactly how i feel about where we are, where we are going, and how we might change it. i didn’t realize i am a moderate, but if Brooks says his comments are for the moderates, well, i is one.

i am not too optimistic about how we might change it. The elephants on the right and left are thumping big time and their lemming followers are thumping with their elephant. Anyone who raises a difference of opinion is most likely to get stomped to death. The tribes  are not interested in considering another opinion. They have drawn their lines in the sand. Their desire to wipe out the other side has all the potential for destroying the real greatness of America the Beautiful. No, not “MAGA,”that is only for one of the tribes.

i am coming more and more to believe, as i watch, read, and listen, it is too late.

Thank you, Mister Brooks, and again, thank you, Tom Bradley, for putting out what i believe is our only hope.

fantasy: it really didn’t happen that way

It seems the more i try to clean out and organize, the more clutter i create. The workshop in my garage is almost to the point i can’t walk through it. But then, there are some gems. Like i found this poem i wrote in October 1982. It was the time when Maureen’s and my relationship had grown into something serious. In four months, we would be engaged. In nine months, we would be married. And come to think of it, maybe it really wasn’t a fantasy.

a fantasy; it really didn’t happen that way

lie close, lie still;
do not touch; do not touch;
the full moon whispers
whiteness to the clouds:
it is cold; it is hot;
sweat beads on my brow
matting the thinning fringes of hair;
do not touch; do not touch;
the bed and us are detached,
hanging suspended from the mirrored windowed room;
dog walkers pass below the bay window
talking prattle;
cars ease away from and close to the curbs;
we steal the conversations, the dog yapping
at the cars curbing
from the still night air
strange the wind lies dormant
in this sailboat community, mercedes encrusted beachfront
where it should always have
wind for sailing with properly tanned people
drinking martinis cocked at the proper angle;
where’s the wind? where’s the wind?
do not decide to bring your breeze now;
lie still; lie still;
do not touch; do not touch:
for if we touch, the mood will shift to another rapture;
for now, let’s lie
silhouetted against the ghostly white sheet
below the whispering moon, white clouds,
above prattling walkers, yapping dogs, curbing cars;
lie close; lie still;
touching.

In the same shoe box, i found a wedding card from Ray Boggs. Maureen’s father was famous for his gift wrappings and his card. i can seem him poring over a bin of cards to find the right one…and he did.

 

 

 

 

 

And in another box, i found this  telegram:

My Aunt Naomi sent this to my father (it was in the box my father gave to me of his keepsakes from the war). When he received it, his buddies gave him their liberty passes so he could cobble enough liberty passes together to catch a train to Lebanon, be there for my birth (more stories), and return to Gulfport before being declared “UA” (an unauthorized absence). i still marvel at that time of uncertainty and personal sacrifice and how they all did what was necessary to make it work.

i may not be getting closer to organized.

But damn, it’s fun.

 

Ramblings of a Mildly Soaked Vagabond

Tuesday, a typical Southwest corner winter day snuck between the rolling storms from the Pacific.

It has been a while. Back years ago, i expected with justification about thirty damp, rainy days clustered together sometime between November and March. For a number of years, with those belonging to el niña being the exceptions, it has been dry winters.

Not this year. The rainy season is working hard on two months. The weather guessers say it will end sometime next week. i’m not betting on it. But there are good signs. Like Tuesday.

Now before continuing, i wish to pronounce i’m not complaining. Compared to the rest of the country, the Southwest corner comes out okay. i watch the news of the extreme weather in my old haunts north and south, east of the Mississippi and feel sad for those who have been caught in the catastrophes. The past two months in the Southwest corner have produced a bit of discomfort but nothing compared to back east.

Tuesday, we got a reminder of our weather. When i write “we,” i’m talking about my golfing buddies, Rod Stark, Marty Linville, and Pete Toennies. The four of us played Sea ‘n Air, the Navy’s course on the Naval Air Station, North Island. It was in the 60’s with a breeze and clear, San Diego all around us, the Pacific in clarity to our west so clear the Los Coronados Islands stand out on the horizon. There are no photos of that day. i posted enough photos of San Diego in its glory. That was a respite.

And even though the dark clouds were rolling across the heavens Monday night, i received a harbinger of what was to come. i was grilling pollo asada for a Maureen dinner delight. The sunset on our hill above was going to be spectacular, perhaps even a green flash possible, but i had chores to tend to, like grilling.

Even the backyard in its seemingly endless state of repair, glowed in the last moments of sunset.

Grilling at this time of day is one of the more relaxing moments in my life. The world is mine and with my iPod and bluetooth speakers, i’m listening to my favorites, enjoying the evening setting in, and perhaps a glass of wine.

The clouds send their ominous warning, but before the setting of the sun, there is another moment of reflection: looking east, the glow off the neighbors’ Mexican fan palms give hope.

Darkness from the east and clouds from the west capture the night from the sun. Twilight is gone. And in the last throes of my grilling, i am greeted by a familiar whir to me. In the clouds directly overhead, i her ear the thump, thump, thump of rotor blades. The sound was not up close like it had so many times on flight decks, or over them, on my ships of the past. i look up and sea the Navy helicopter a whirring east, probably some pilot trying to make sure he has completed the required flight hours for the month. But impressive never the less, symbolic even, the clouds setting in, but the helo there as if protecting us from something worse, much worse.

The dinner was delicious, and we had a fire in the hearth. The world was good. And i played golf in damn near perfect weather.

With rain predicted on Wednesday, we said the heck with it and went to the zoo, my getaway place like Bugs Bunny’s briar patch. Even the orangutans had figured out how to ward off the rain. But it wasn’t bad, almost pleasant. If you are a zoo person as i am, Sarah more so, Maureen appreciative but not nutty like Sarah and i, you like going in weather like this. The nice weather thousands in the Southwest corner don’t go. The crowds are few and this time in the cloudy weather, many more of the animals were out for us to see.

And the zoo was the zoo. Always different. Always see something new. Always hit the spots we love. Like Albert’s, the restaurant in the middle of the zoo that makes you feel like you are on a safari. We even sat outside our favorite. i was blessed with two beautiful women as my companions.

It was a short visit. The kind i like. That all day thing can wear you out. Twenty years and more ago, one of my favorite things was to pick Sarah up at elementary school and get there about four. For an hour, we would go to see a half dozen or more exhibits we wanted to see that day (Sarah would always want to go the bat exhibit first). The newbie folks or tourists had been there all day: the kids were grumpy and tired, many asleep on a shoulder or in a stroller. The adults were worn out. We would pass them with Sarah on my shoulders and we were singing and laughing or excited about something we saw. All those other folks would look at us like we had lost our minds. Fun.

But this trip was even more special. We ran into, of all things, several groups of young women with black athletic gear. It was the Vanderbilt women’s lacrosse team, currently undefeated and playing San Diego State tomorrow night. We explained our connection. And, and Sarah took a picture.

And guess where i’m going to be tomorrow night?

Anchor Down!

The Tech World Bit Me Again

This started out with a “Sean of the South” post i wanted to share with my wife, my sister Martha Duff, and Maren Hicks. i thought of some others and decided to repost it here:

https://seandietrich.com/tennessee/

But as i was working on the email before determining it should be a post, i decided to once again straighten out my account with PayPal. It has been hosed up since my friend Alan Hicks transferred some money to me via PayPal for his share of the condo we rented in Scottsdale with Alan’s brother Jim Hicks where we spent a weekend of Vanderbilt baseball.

PayPal’s website kept giving me a notice something was screwy with my account and i needed a new password. It turned out the password generator i used generated a most secure password but it was too long for PayPal to digest. i tried about forty times before i began to call them. So as i was waiting for a half-hour to get to a human, i wrote this email, which is now the other half of this post:

i thought you three would enjoy this while i listen to the most awful phone muzak on-hold music ever known to man, modern or otherwise, because i am afraid to hang up and have them call me because this is my sixth attempt to talk to a human being at PayPal in their office somewhere in outer space not fully manned because of inclement weather and they have cut me off two times , and some nice woman from some foreign country who i could not understand and i’m pretty sure she couldn’t understand me put me on hold with a bunch of clicks and voices in the background before she transferred me to eBay who tried to set me up with some guy named principle or something and then the eBay folks transferred me back to PayPal and i had to start over again and then they said they would call me back so i thought no-way, ain’t taking that chance and, hence the muzak that even the dog couldn’t bear and left the room and i wished i could for over a half hour for someone on the depleted staff in someplace far away with inclement weather to actually turn off that damn muzak and talk to me.

She finally did cut it off and talk and we finally got it straightened out but not in the way i originally desired because you can’t do those sort of things like having a password too long because PayPal apparently thinks they are special and do things differently and it only took me about two hours to resolve something that should have taken five minutes, but that is okay because i will not use their services again unless i want to listen to the most awful muzak on-hold music ever known to man and my account will lie there fallow with my hope it gets them screwed up like they did to my phone number, which quite possibly was the real problem in the first place.

But Sean had a very nice article, and i too love fires in the hearth, especially in a cabin in the woods even with coyotes, and i am a huge fan of cast iron skillets of all kinds.

And oh yes, ESPN’s muzak for waiting through never ending commercials you can’t see when streaming rivals PayPal’s.

Well, Shut My Mouth

i am too much of a purist in a sports world where purists apparently don’t exist.

i also am faced with whether i should eat my words or not.

Last year, i lambasted the Boston Red Sox’s exorbitant spending leading to another World Series championship. i escorciated Larry Lucchino, who as president of the Padres had beat up the Yankees for spending such money as the “evil empire” and then turning around when he moved on to Boston and creating another “evil empire.”

i took umbrage for that blasting of the Sox. My brother Joe, who is one heck of a lot smarter than me, and my sister-in-law Carla, who is as equally smart as her spouse, rightfully gave me crap for dousing cold water on their (and the Red Sox nation of fans) World Series Championship while they still were celebrating. They were correct. There was no need for me to blast the run away spending of baseball management at that time.

Now, i am faced with a dilemma. i am in a quandary, in fact several quandaries.

My San Diego Padres just signed super star (maybe) Manny Machado, who i don’t particularly like for his questionable sportsmanship, to a ten-year, $300 Million contract, setting a record for a professional baseball player’s contract. There is even speculation the Friars are still considering signing Bryce Harper, another super star also with some question about his sportsmanship, to an equally outrageously ginormous contract.

By forking out so many coins, the Padres have greatly improved their chances of winning according to all the talking heads and sports journalists who claim to be experts. i suspect such predictions are a  bit premature as winning teams have great pitching staffs, and the Padres are far from proving they have that quality on the mound. The amount of payroll, although still well short of the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, etc. moves the Padres toward becoming yet another “evil empire.”

It is a financial world i do not comprehend, can’t fathom. Would anyone of these big spenders drop about a million in my pocket for being a fan? They wouldn’t miss it and i need it more than they do apparently. i would even try to help others with mine.

The Padres have built up a superb minor league system often being rated as the number one potential among MLB clubs. i liked that. i liked watching youngsters learn in the show. Only bad thing has been they didn’t win often.

That just changed. Oh, we’ve been through this before.

The Padres pulled off some extraordinary trades in the early nineties with a major spending and got to the World Series in 1998, losing to the original evil empire in a four-game sweep. Still, Maureen and i rejoiced at the community spirit and joy the Padres brought to us. The post-game reaction of the fans remains a wonderful experience in our minds.

So?

After the season, the Padres had a fire sale to end all fire sales…well except for the dozen or so the Florida Marlins have conducted.

i love baseball as baseball. My buddy, Jim Hileman and i got Padre full season tickets after  together we watched Orel Hershiser break the consecutive scoreless innings record in a game the Padres won 1-0 in fifteen innings. Turns out Jim and i were both huge Pittsburgh Pirate fans. Jim and Sharon would go to one game in a three-game series, Maureen and i would attend one, and then Jim and i would go to the third. That became tough later, so we went to half-season tickets. We were season ticket holders for 25 years. i loved to watch the game played at the highest level.

Then, the Padres played the city-assist-poor-owners game. After a lot of resistance from the Libertarians, creating a four-year delay and preventing Mr. Padre, Tony Gwynn, perhaps my favorite player ever, although Dick Hoak and Roberto Clemente could compete for first in my book, from playing in the new stadium. The Padres moved to Petco Park downtown.

Petco Park is a wonderful venue for baseball. i had half-season tickets there for a decade. But there were some things that bothered me. First, i knew we would never be able to afford seats similar to the ones we had at Jack Murphy Stadium (my favorite of  at least four monikers for the Mission Valley stadium). It didn’t disturb me so much, rightfully so. We got great seats, just not as great as our previous ones in the old park. What bothered me is there were a whole lot of folks with season tickets in the old park who would not be able to afford the seat pricing in the new park. Now i’m close to being one of those folks. My season ticket buying dried up in 2014. To go to a game with two tickets, two hot dogs,  two beers,  a bottle of water, a bag of peanuts, and parking would cost me more than $100/game. Crazy.

So now, San Diego is ga-ga over the new situation. Money, money, money. i either have to quit watching or eat my words. The entire MLB is all about the money. Since i turned my wife into a big Padre fan and my younger daughter has been one all of her life: she went to her first Padre game when she was five months old, i’m pretty sure i’ll be watching, even going to some games. But wife and daughter are not an excuse. i am excited too. It will be interesting to watch how the Friars fare in the next several seasons.

So shut my mouth.

And after all, it’s not my money…oops, oh yes it is.

Good Stuff

It was a long time ago, seemingly forever in a good way. We are steaming toward our thirty-sixth anniversary at the end of July, but it seems like it’s been about forever we’ve been together. Our families have melded. We know pretty much all of each others faults and strengths (she has much more of the latter than moi). i could go on. It’s worked.

i was writing something else and needed to check on a fact. i opened a file drawer in the old oak file cabinet next to my desk. It’s where we keep stuff we know we might need. Next to the hanging folder i was looking for there was another i moved and saw the list.

It was the caterer’s list of food for our wedding.

We initially were planning for the wedding to be a relatively big affair at a beautiful venue in La Jolla. Then we realized how much it would cost. So we opted for a somewhat less expensive venue. Free. Maureen’s father, Ray Boggs’ back yard on a hill in Lemon Grove. It was a nice and actually fitting place for us. Maureen wished it to be in line with our romance. That is, food. Our time together was spent mostly dining. A good meal with good service in a place with good atmosphere was where we spent most of our time. So she dedicated all of our wedding costs to a superb caterer.

It was a hot day. It was also probably the only time i saw my mother tipsy. Champagne. Lots of it. For everyone. Oldies but goodies from my reel to reel. Our daughter Blythe was there for Maureen, her other mother, and me. Navy folks. Maureen’s work. Family. Brother Joe performed the ceremony. Blessed. Aunt Fran still blamed Hileman for something JD did. There are many stories, but working on thirty-six years, we still are foodies together.

It started well.