I have this up-coming week off for mid-winter break, which used to be known as “ski week” in the better sections of California. Decades ago, so many family took their children out of school at some point during the year to go skiing that many school districts decided to just take a week off in the middle of February. I’ve only ever gone skiing once in my life.
It was fun.
Today, I plan on reading a lot instead of skiing. It’s my understanding that there will be very little skiing this year anyway due to lack of snow. I’m just under one hundred pages into Silver Light, David Thomson’s novel about a woman photographer in the early days of the westward expansion.
Our house has been rich in the history of the American west these days because C.J. is reading California, Kevin Starr’s history of our state. C.J. has been feeding me bits of information as he goes along. For example, when the first large-scale agricultural projects began in California, the ground in the San Joaquin valley was so hard from years of drought that it had to be dynamited before it could be plowed.
I’ve always argued that it’s all about water in California, the state is really one big desert.
In addition to Mr. Starr’s history, and our frequent trips to various former Gold Rush towns, we’ve started collecting bits of California history. We just purchased an 1898 marriage license from San Francisco and are waiting to see if we’ve won the deed for a Central Valley estate. You can get lots of very interesting old documents on eBay for under ten dollars is you look around. They are quite beautiful, too, handwritten information on illustrated forms.
Later this week C.J. and I are off to Mendocino for a two night stay at a Bed and Breakfast with a view of the ocean. We didn’t plan for this, but it turns out the first night will be the tenth anniversary of our first wedding. Ten years ago, we got married in San Francisco’s City Hall after a full day of waiting inline no knowing if we were going to get in or have to stay overnight camped out on the sidewalks. We were married for almost a full six months before the State Supreme Court ruled our marriage invalid because if two men were allowed to marry hell-fire would rain down from the sky.
We got married a few years later after the state legislature passed a law over-ruling the state supreme court. This marriage was in St. Peter’s, a very nice old church on the Mare Island Naval Base here in Vallejo. The church is fully stocked with Tiffany windows and lots of Navel memorabilia. We were the first same-sex wedding in St. Peter’s Chapel. Proposition 8 stopped marriage in California, but our marriage was not ruled invalid. Years and years passed until the federal Supreme Court finally over-turned Proposition 8 and now the city of Las Vegas Nevada is losing millions of dollars in wedding business anuually. It’s true. I bet you dollars-to-doughnuts that’s one major reason why the State of Nevada’s Attorney General has stopped defending their anti-marriage law in court.
As for the hell-fire raining down from the sky, to be honest, at this point California will take all the rain we can get.