Random Rants of a Curmudgeon on a Cloudy Saturday Morning

The promise of heavy rain didn’t quite meet the prognostications. We got enough to dampen the hardscape, maybe as much as a quarter of an inch. Boo. As much as i brag about the weather in the Southwest corner, lack of rain is a dangerous thing in the high desert. Then i wonder, as i have many times,  why we humans decide to take a place so charming it is almost perfect and ruin it by overpopulation.

Richard Henry Dana published Two Years Before the Mast in 1840. It remains one of Alan Hicks and my favorites. We discuss it, read it again, try to figure out what the West Coast cities were like in 1832-1834 when he sailed into what is now called Dana Point, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and San Diego. When he arrived on his merchant ships, the population of San Diego was about 200, everyone included. In Los Angeles was about 400, and  Santa Barbara had in the neighborhood of 600 souls. In San Francisco Bay, Dana and his shipmates found one deserted log cabin.

When Dana returned in 1874, thirty years later, San Francisco’s population had grown to 100,000; Los Angeles had over 10,000; Santa Barbara had grown to 2,000; and San Diego? Well, Dana reported it was pretty much the same, about 200. Why? High desert. That is about all the folks the water supply could support.

So we pumped water in from the Colorado River, came up with air conditioning to expand development into the hot of the desert, away from the coast, and Voila! We got about about three million in the county, about half of whom live in the city proper.


Yesterday, another of my friends took a swipe at California. It seems like everyone i know east of Yuma has this hate thing for anything Californian. Those knocks at California, by the way, doesn’t exclude me from the attack.

It was Lebanon High School’s Class of 1962 forty-fifth reunion, 2007. i was there for the second time having been included by those generous and caring folks because i grew up with them but attended Castle Heights Military Academy instead of the public high school (my mother got a deal; i bitterly opposed the idea but my pleas went unheard and going to Castle Heights was one of the best things that has ever happened to me: still, i felt very much a part of those high school contemporaries and was honored to be included). i’ve gone to all of the succeeding reunions except last year when i fell ill just before departing the Southwest corner.

Anyhow, i was there in May of 2007, when i struck up a conversation with the venerable Stratton Bone, someone whom i respect a great deal and who is married to the beautiful Marty Smith, one of my favorite women of our class and who, by some marriage twists is a relative.

Stratton was his usual congenial self until right at the conclusion when he seemed to find my choice of a place to live as bad. He belittled the state of California, its politics, its politicians, and by extension, its voters, regardless for whom they voted.

Since i’ve began using email and been on Facebook every so often, good friends put in some nasty comments about California and its policies. Some very recently. Some of these emails and posts make fun, but most are ugly and mean spirited, like the senders (or copiers and pasters) are superior and Californians are evil.

My initial reaction is to get angry and respond. i don’t like to be hated. i initially consider the rocks over the wall to be hateful, but then i just feel sad. Ignorance needs an outlet apparently and folks need to feel superior like they know the answer. Can’t say i’ve seen anyone come up with an answer that works yet.

i have, because of the roving nature i didn’t even realize i had, been to many places. i have spent significant time in my hometown of Lebanon, Tennessee. Newspapering took me to Watertown, New York, at the edge of a Thousand Islands and queen of the snow belt. The Navy allowed me to learn about Newport, Rhode Island; Norfolk, Virginia; Long Beach and Los Angeles, California; my Southwest Corner; College Station, Texas; Sasebo, Japan; and Jacksonville, Florida; Since the Navy, i’ve added Tri-Cities (Kennewick, Richland, and Pasco), Washington to the list. There are many other places i have visited.

You know what? i’ve found all of them to be places i could live. Yes, they had their faults, their drawbacks for my ideas about living and government, even weather — even the Southwest corner has some weather drawbacks; but not many — but i found really nice things about each of those locales, things i would enjoy like landscape, weather, attractions, and yes, even people. i could throw rocks at each of them, but i choose to remember them as good places to live with good people, and like everywhere some pretty bad human acts as well.

In this vagabond life of mine, i have been lucky enough to have wonderful relationships with a number of women before ending up with my soulmate, an incredible woman who has a few faults — she and i love each other and understand the nature of what each of us find are not particularly pleasing about each other. With those other women in my life, most have continued a strong bond with me. They are friends, not just friends, close friends, who remember the good times and the continuing good things about our relationship.

Back many years ago, a woman rejected me. i certainly wasn’t the best mate one could hope for, but i had tried to make the relationship work. i committed to it and i kept finding good things about this woman, in spite of some things of which i was not…er, enamored. She dumped me, professing not to love me. She then spent the rest of the time i knew her looking for, inventing, revising history, to prove i was something despicable, something to hate. She finally made it. We no longer have a relationship. It hurt. No, it still hurts. i’ve gotten smart enough in my old age to realize any attempt to reach out to be friends would only cause more negative, hurtful reaction. It ain’t worth it.

Sort of like people inventing and repeating negative things about where i live.

i have friends out here in the Southwest corner who are not thrilled, no, abhor the politics of California, not to mention the crazy costs of living here. There are a number of things i don’t like about California politics, just like there are a number of things i don’t like about any state’s politics (that i know enough about to have an opinion). Because of the financial climate, Maureen and i have often discussed moving. In 2014, we even scouted out homes in Middle Tennessee, and looked at homes for sale on Signal Mountain during many Christmas trips. My friends bitch about living here, some even have researched preferred places for relocation.

None of them have left, and i will be surprised if many do. We certainly have decided to live here for the rest of our lives, barring unexpected events.

You see, the Southwest corner is a nice place to live, just like all of those other places. There are good people here, even people with whom i disagree on several issues who are trying to do what’s right for all of our inhabitants. And yes, there are some pretty self centered, despicable characters who are only interested in themselves and amassing great amounts of wealth for themselves. Just like everywhere else.

The most surprising thing about this to me is so many of those folks who throw hate at anything with which, or anyone with whom they disagree claim they are Christians. Oh yeh, some of their stuff sounds like it came from the Bible, but just like the hateful group of people in the Muslim religion, they rely on sound bites, incomplete quotes, and a massive twisting of the words to come up with their hate. And that stuff the supposed Christians claim for support comes mostly from the Old Testament, like “and eye for an eye…” and slaying lambs, even sons to gain favor with the higher being.

i’m too old to try and change them. i’ve lived my life attempting to do the right thing. For everyone. Some people have interpreted that to fit their needs. Okay, i can live with that.

You see, one of my patron saints is Mose Allison, the Mississippi bred jazz and blues piano player who wrote many songs i found meaningful. i remember two of his songs when i get those nasty, uninformed generalized comments about where i live or even when someone finds my behavior or words lacking.

You got it, Mose:




i feel a bit better now.

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