Our happiest times in the Sierra — where we’ve been coming since childhood — are at our cabin at Lake Tahoe more than our home in Nevada City.
We hope that changes some day, but our memories here are clouded by the lingering death of our parents (and our 13-year-old dog), too many encounters with duplicitous people and just plain nasty people who shout too much. (Mud slinging is relatively new to us).
It’s also a hard place for any family to scratch out a living, no matter what your resume says. Too often, it seems, it’s not what you know but who you know.
It’s easy to see why families pull the plug and bail. One story — told to me by the county Economic Resource Council — sticks in my mind: A couple, where the husband’s father ran an accounting firm here, moved up to be close to their parents.
Trouble is, the couple found the lifestyle they were looking for — children who ran their Big Wheels around on a cul de sac — was noticeably absent. They also disliked the political nastiness. So they moved to Roseville instead and commuted “up the hill.” How sad is that?
As for us, being an independent minded journalist — what you’re trained to be — doesn’t always help either. We’re an awfully insular bunch. But my wife and I understand the fallout: You make your bed, so you have to rest in it.
A few months ago, I expressed interest in buying a local business publication. I could see how you could ramp it up to be a real community-wide B-to-B publication, offering a more analytical voice than “meet your merchant.” I also wanted to expand it to Truckee; as I’ve said, we’re too insular.
But the owner sold it to her friend, partly because her friends in the 49er Rotary Club spoke out against me for some pointed columns I wrote. She made a point of this.
(The 49er Club is where the courts and law enforcement types hang out, and I have written openly about “conflicts of interest” and the “revolving door” of our justice system. It’s ironic because the group meets for breakfast just a block from my home. Some nice people, but I’m sticking to my opinion. Aren’t I entitled to one?)
“It’s a small town,” she said. “And that’s why it will stay small,” I told her. Since then, other opportunities to launch a media business here have popped up, but it was a telling story about what I and others see as a lingering “good old boys/girls network.”
I’m working with an out-of-town startup now, but the response to this blog alone indicates the demand for an honest approach to journalism from a stakeholder in our community. (The traffic and comments are growing; it seems that more people than we think feel “disenfranchised” from the “powers that be.”)
Still, we love our neighbors and have forged some excellent friendships. Waking up in a forest (with no fog like S.F.) is a treat. We’re doing just fine, compared with most people.
It was with pleasure, though, that we holed up in our place on the West Shore of Tahoe — my wife, myself, our son and our new puppy — for a quiet weekend. The heating was out, so we stoked the fire instead.
In Tahoe, we’ve noticed, people get along better: We think the cold weather and relative remoteness of the place is a bond.
During the day, we swept some pine needles, walked the dog, and I showed my son — again — how to play a record.
We have a good record collection up here — ranging from Bing Crosby and Leroy Anderson to Puff the Magic Dragon — and an old player, with a soft cloth to clean the LPs. (My favorite remains Elton John’s “Madman Across the Water.”)
“Dad, sorry I scratched it,” my son said as he dragged the needle across “Puff the Magic Dragon & Other Friends from Fairyland.” No problem.
Playing records is an art, I reminded him, at least compared with an iPod or Mac. (He’s adept at both). I guess plunking down a needle in the right spot to play a song is a dying art.
Boy, it’s quiet up here. Reminds me of the last recession, in 1983. On the one hand, I hope things perk up. On the other, we’re enjoying the solitude, with all the simple pleasures, including our LPs.
We hope you enjoyed your weekend. It’s good to know summer is just around the corner. There’s so much to do outdoors.