Sep 25, 2007


Here's a juxtaposition for you. I took this photo at our local cemetery the other day. The headstone in the front is one for some members of the Frost family. The ones in the background are for members of the Coates family. You can read about the shootout that happened in 1865 between these families at the link above. Ironic isn't it, that they're placed right next to each other? I was struck by the irony and sadness of the situation. People can be so stupid.

Small Town Life

I've been thinking for quite some time to write about life in our little town and a recent post on BabsRN's site has given me the impetus I've needed.

I've been very blessed to have lived in the areas in which I've lived. My first 25 years were spent in San Jose, California. I saw the area go through major changes during that time. We moved there in 1957, when the population was around 200,000, when San Jose was still a major agricultural area with lots of fields, cool old houses and creeks. We used to take tin cans down to the creek near us and catch frogs and tadpoles. We'd ride our bikes through the fields and pick wild mustard bouquets for our mom. There were definite boundaries of green space between the various towns back then, not all jumbled together and unidentifiable as to where you are when you drive around there now. I watched the mustard fields and the orchards get swallowed up by houses and businesses and I saw the blue sky and beautiful views of all the mountains surrounding the valley vanish away to brown skies and blocked views. That's not to say it always has brown skies . . . just seems like that's more the rule than the exception now. I remember looking up at the sky and not being able to count the stars because there were too many where now you look up at the sky and you can count the stars because you can see so few. This was a place where we'd play outside until late at night (in the summer), playing kick the can and hide and go seek in our neighborhoods. A place where you had to behave because the neighbors would call your folks and tell them if you'd done something you shouldn't have.

But then it began to grow. It grew and grew and, I suppose, is still growing. Few people can afford to buy homes there any more unless they have a ton of money. It's unfortunate. I like going back for an occasional visit as my sister still lives there, but I'm glad I don't live there any more. I'm very thankful for being raised there and thankful for where I am now.

Maybe it's because of my growing up experiences in San Jose that make me like our little town all the more. I never, ever for a moment thought I would live in a small town with a population of right around 5,000. I'm glad I'm here, though. It's a beautiful little town. We have the coastal mountains to our west and other mountains (big ones!) to our east, with our little valley in the middle. We're surrounded by redwood, pine and oak trees and have several good-sized creeks that run through town. We have deer constantly in our yards and gardens (check out some of my earlier posts), mountain lions, coyotes, foxes, and all sorts of other critters.

Being a rural town with plenty of wildlife around, sometimes some of that wildlife introduces itself to you. We had a grey tree squirrel fall out of one of our trees from probably 30+ feet up a few weeks ago. I heard some screaming sort of sound and thought it was one of the chickens so went out to check. There was this little baby squirrel squirming around on the ground just making the worst-sounding racket. I picked it up, brought it inside and ended up taking care of it for the next three weeks. I just gave it to one of the local wildlife rehab people yesterday. It was pretty cool feeding it and taking care of it for a while, but then it started to become pretty attached to me and I was afraid it would forget it was a squirrel meant for the outside squirrel world so I gave it to the rehabber sooner than I had planned. Emma was the only other one Pongo (she named him) would allow to touch him as she kept climbing up on my lap when I would feed him. He got used to her and she got used to him.

One of our other wildlife encounters was a little scarier . . . or maybe it should be "potentially scarier." We had a pool in the background several years ago during the summertime that was about 3 feet deep and maybe 12 feet across. I went outside one morning and found mountain lion tracks in the wet dirt around it and found it partially deflated where it looked as if something large had leaned on it and maybe had a drink from it. We took the pool down that day. Don't really want to invite the mountain lions to make this their nighttime haunt. We don't go out to the woods to walk around at dusk or dawn as we're not all that crazy about turning ourselves into mountain lion chow. We also had a cat disappear around the same time.

The kids in town who are the children of old-time farmers and ranchers, folks who've been here for forty plus years, still are brought up to say sir and ma'am and to respect their elders. Conversely, the kids in town whose parents moved here to grow weed or to become radical environmentalists are definitely NOT brought up that way. I'm not talking normal environmentalists who believe in good stewardship of the land and responsible use, putting back what your take from the land. These are the folks who believe that spiking trees, among other things, is reasonable. Fortunately, those tactics don't seem to happen much any more but the mentality is still there. Anyway, I'm getting off track. To be fair, though, it's not all that black and white. Kids are kids. Some are rude, some have manners.

This being a small town, you have to watch your behavior because someone you know is always around. This goes for both adults and the kids. If you're going to cheat on your wife, it would be foolish and stupid to parade around town with your girlfriend. Secrets don't stay secret for long in a small town. If you're a kid and you cut school and race around in your car, you have to expect that your folks are going to find out.

If you live in town and you're out for a walk, people smile and wave at you. Going to Safeway often ends up being a major social event as you will ALWAYS see someone you know. When we first moved here and I would go to the grocery store, it was always an experience of frustration. I was so used to the checker just checking the groceries and doing it as quickly as possible. There was no chatter. There were no 'hellos' or 'how are you's' or 'what are the kids doing'? It's just the opposite here. We know almost all of the employees by first name and they know us. Our kids go to school with their kids (or, in some cases, with them) and we all share news of what's happening in each others' lives. We ask because we care and we listen because we care.

If something catastrophic is happening, we empathize with each other and we pray for each other. We take meals to folks who are going through bad times and we celebrate with those who have good things happen to them. At Christmas, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Halloween (among other times), people (ones we know) bake goodies and bring them to the police department for the officers to snack on. They send cards and write friendly notes and say thank you. Lots of businesses listen to police scanners during their days to find out more about what's going on in town as well as to pay attention to the fire calls. Since we have a volunteer fire department, and many businesses have a firefighter or two working for them, this becomes a wise idea. When there is a fire or an accident, everyone pays attention and asks around about it because if it happened to someone local, it very well could be someone you know.

Many, many of our kids join the military. Last time I checked there were about 75 kids currently serving. It's seen as a good way to get life experience and to serve. We're proud of our heroes and like to keep up on how they're doing wherever they may be stationed. Being the mom of a daughter in the Air Force and another daughter considering the Marines, I make it a point to ask other military parents how their kids are doing. I know I appreciate it when they ask me. In fact, I just started reading a book about how the small town kids are the majority of the kids who join the military while the big city kids are the ones who typically do not. That sure is true here.

We have some real negatives that happen here and rather than rewrite them, take a look in the labels under "marijuana" or "police department." One of the negatives just started up his street bike (very loudly, as usual) and left (again very loudly). Are they still dopers if they've had their dope taken away from them? I wish he would just MOVE.

I think some of my small town mentality comes from my folks . . . probably more my mom. Or maybe it's just their generational thing. My mom was raised in a little tiny town in southern Iowa (I was born in Iowa). We were brought up to have manners; to get up and get out of a chair for either our Mom or Dad when they came into the living room. We ate dinner together every night. Oh, I'm a PK, too. My dad was ordained a Baptist minister and he also worked with kids for years and years. He was ordained and raised Baptist, but we were pretty much nondenominational for the majority of our lives. I have good memories of those years. My folks were generally very good at not expecting us kids to be perfect. I would say we had a very normal upbringing for our generation. Think The Walton's. :0) When he stopped being a pastor, at about 55, he went into the training and teaching field for Orchard Supply Hardware, which was later bought by Sears. He ran the training department for both organizations and really stressed customer service for all of the managers he trained. You can still see it if you go into any of those stores and deal with people who went through his training program. I digress again, don't I?

I just popped into Babs' site again to reread something she'd written about the South. Check it out here. Much of it really is appropriate for our area, too. They have catfish, we have crawdads (ok, we have to get them from somewhere else), trout and abalone. We definitely DO have vegetarian and vegan and all that stuff. In fact, you can find several organic and vegetarian restaurants in town. Hippies gotta eat somewhere. And the people who drive the expensive cars here are more than likely to be the growers. Here's why.

Let's say that Joe Neighbor grows marijuana for fun and profit. Let's also say that each plant produces 5 pounds . . . shoot, let's be conservative and say that each plant only produces 1 pound (I know of a grower recently whose plants were producing 7 pounds of quality "bud" per plant). Joe N. sells his pound of processed bud for $2,000. That's his return on ONE plant. Now. Say Joe N. follows our county's guidelines and he has 25 plants, all for his own medicinal use, of course. He has an indoor grow so he's able to have about 4 harvests a year. For each harvest, he's getting, VERY CONSERVATIVELY, $2,000 per plant. That's $50,000 per harvest times 4 harvests equals $200,000 a year. If you want to look at it a little more realistically, multiply it by 5 so that each plant produces 5 pounds instead of 1. THAT'S why we have so much growing here. That's also why some people have $10,000/month (no mistake on the number of zeroes) electric bills, too. So there is some overhead you have to pay for. Well, I said I wouldn't talk about the pot, but there I am. Oh well.

Marijuana for profit (I'm not talking TRUE medicinal needs) is a scourge on society. We have more murders and crimes relating to marijuana but if you want to talk about a drug that ruins lives, then you're talking methamphetamine. Unfortunately, this being a rural area, meth is manufactured here and readily available. It truly ruins peoples' lives. All of the foster kids we had over the years had parents who were hooked. I've seen normal people with jobs and families start to use and then just lose everything that had ever been important to them. Unfortunately, it seems like so many of them never quit. So now I've REALLY digressed. Must close this out and this is as good a time as any.

Sep 22, 2007

It's almost here . . .

Just three weeks until we leave for Okinawa!

More tomorrow, when I'm not so tired.

Sep 16, 2007

Ironies of Distraction: The Way Of Who?

Jon had an interesting post to which I commented. I think my comments stand alone so I just pasted them here. Call me lazy. :0)

Melodee said...

I think a lot of people don't realize (maybe mostly the parents) how much partying and sex is happening at Christian schools. Our main Christian school, that serves our area up here in the boonies/aka wild west, has just as many wild kids as our high school does. The kids have just learned to hide it better. For example, going out behind the Ag farm to drink Jack Daniels is just plain dumb. Spending the night at Susie's house (because Susie and her family go to X church and Susie's parents just KNOW she'd never ever do anything wrong) and getting drunk there when her parents are out of town (because her parents trust her to stay at home alone because little Susie would never ever do anything wrong) is the "smart" plan. Live in a small town. You get wised up (wised up?) quickly.

Do they require any thinking types of book at VC? C.S. Lewis? Dr. Francis Schaeffer? Os Guinness? G.K. Chesterton? George MacDonald? Kids may not be interested in those books at that age, or they may be over their heads, but later on something might click and they might have an aha! moment. Plus, someone might just enjoy them. Screwtape Letters should be mandatory reading.

For the record, I think that the whole "why didn't anyone tell me that before" thing has been going on for years (forever maybe?). I think it's just when we grow up and start to think for ourselves (and you could be really old when this happens . . . like even 30) is when our faith gets to that make or break point. I think most everyone needs to go through that so that they're thinking for themselves and they choose to believe on their own, not because someone told them they'd burn in Hell for all eternity if they didn't choose Jesus.

8:27 AM


Will wonders never cease. Our local boys in beige (boys in beige?) paid a visit to the neighbor yesterday and carted him off to jail for his gardening activities. They also removed drying weed that was hanging in the master bedroom in the beautiful home, which he RENTS. Because of their visit there, they also visited the neighbor's sister where they carted off 50-100 POUNDS of weed, along with $17,000 in cash. She, meanwhile, ranted and raved because the deputies chose to do this in front of her children. Boohoo. Moron. She and her brother live in houses where they grow pot, subjecting the residents to the dangers inherent in such a lifestyle. The neighbor was already robbed at gunpoint when he was in the process of price negotiations for his product AND there have been a number of home invasion style robberies in the area of homes where people are growing. Dumb. Just plain dumb. Well, they both got to spend the night in jail, they lost their pot, they will probably lose their permission under the law to grow, and they lost their $17,000. Now if he would just move. Maybe the landlord will evict him. Doubtful in my mind, though, since the landlord already knew that he was growing. Perhaps he was benefiting from the arrangement.

Sep 13, 2007

Favorite Book Quote and Religious Ranting

"Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys." The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis

Mother Teresa was a saint.  I don't know that I could go for 50 years of doubting and feeling alone and still believe and act upon those beliefs.  I would like to think I would, but I don't think you could know unless you'd done it.  And to those people who say she must not have been a Christian, I say SHAME, SHAME, SHAME ON YOU.

Don't let anyone try to tell you what God sees in someone else's heart.  He's the only one who knows.  NO ONE has the inside scoop.  No one but God has the right to make judgments.  If someone tells you that Catholics, Orthodox, Mormons, Buddhists, etc., or any group of people or an individual or anyone is going to Hell, reject what that person says.  They can keep their opinions to themselves.

Sep 10, 2007

Just stuff

My favorite blog (other than Cherlyn's, of course), BabsRN, is taking a break. Apparently, a few idiots have taken the fun out of blogging for her. I will miss reading her. Because of a few comments, though, on her site, I checked out Night Lighting Woman and she, too, is interesting.

A strange dog was just here and then I heard you-know-who calling for, what appeared to me to sound like, a dog. Go figure. Dope grower with a big dog. And now I get to rant.

Author: Linda Staff Writer
Date: August 31, 2007
Publication: X News, The (CA)
A Sacramento man was arrested last week for the July armed robbery in X. X Bad guy, 26, was arrested August 20 in Sacramento on suspicion of committing the X robbery. Bad guy was brought to the X County jail on August 24 and was released August 28 on $150,000 bail. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for September 5.

The second suspect remains at-large.
According to the police, the July robbery involved two men from the Sacramento area who met with Arnold

That's just the beginning. The two Sacramento men met with two of our locals and, when price negotiations fell through on the weed they were buying, proceeded to rob them of said weed at gunpoint. Now here's the rub. We all know that two men (we'll call them victims) were robbed at gunpoint and that there are now two people in jail for robbing said two victims at gunpoint. We all know WHY two victims were being robbed at gunpoint and WHAT was taken from them. WHERE did said robbed weed come from you might ask? Well, one of the "victims" grows it. At his house. Next door to us. For "medicinal" purposes. Then you might find yourself asking, "What the hell? Medicinal purposes?!" You'd be with me at that point.

So WHY, WHY, WHY, I want to know is nothing being done about this alleged "medicinal" weed that one of the victims is obviously not growing for medicinal purposes? WHY, WHY, WHY is nothing being done about the illegal grow that is going on so that this "victim" can sell his weed to a couple of buyers who are then turning around and selling the weed to folks over in Sacramento? NOT for medicine. I thought our 215 laws were so that Joe Blow could grow his weed for his own medicinal purposes, NOT so that Joe Blow could SAY that he's growing it for medicinal purposes and then turn around and sell it to dopers.

I don't understand. I just don't. I'm tired of it. I'm tired of the smell. I'm tired of the fact that he grows next door to me. I'm tired of the smell more. I'm tired of the fact that because he grows next door to me, it opens me and my family up to the danger of a botched home invasion robbery. I feel like putting a sign out in front of my house that says, "No dope here. He lives next door." Why can't all the growers just go away.

Sep 8, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle

One of my most favorite authors of all time, Madeleine L'Engle died yesterday.   She is a great woman.  There's really nothing more I can add to the obituary except to say that she made a great impact on my life.  I believe she's the only author I ever wrote a letter to . . . AND SHE ANSWERED IT.   I look forward to the day that I get to sit and visit with her over a cup of tea or, better yet, supper.  In honor of her, I'm going to re-read her books . . . ALL of them.  

She's also one of the two authors I've ever made into an audio book.  I read Wrinkle In Time on tape and I read Magician's Nephew, by C.S. Lewis, on tape.  

Mike and I went to our first meeting of the Photography Club this morning.  It was good.  Looks like we're off to do stuff today, his first WEEKEND day off in nearly nine years.  Cool.  I'll write more later.

Oh.  I'll also tell you about Pongo then, too.
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