First Rain

Weather forecast at about 8:00 this morning, October 17, 2021 (which is incidentally the anniversary of the Loma Prieta Earthquake).

According to the weather forecast from this morning, as illustrated above, rain should start to fall at any time, now that it is after four. It is delayed by about two hours according to the current forecast. Clouds are already here, with more arriving over Bonny Doon.

This first episode of rain is not expected to last more than three hours, with only a forty percent chance of rain for the last hour. It will not be much. Nonetheless, it will be the first of the rainy season. More sustained rain showers are predicted for Wednesday, Friday and afterward.

Some of us who enjoy such weather are pleased with the first rain. It freshens the forests and home gardens, and can be a good excuse to stay inside and cozy by a warm fire and under a dry roof.

Those who are not so pleased with rain are aware that it is how seasons progress here. The weather is excellent for most of the time, but for a few brief months annually, it gets cool and rainy. Such cool and rain weather is unpleasant for those who lack the option of staying inside and cozy by a warm fire, or under a reliably dry roof.

That is why so many within our esteemed Community provide tents and tarps for those who lack domestic situations. Such provisions can not solve homelessness, but can make it a bit more bearable for those experiencing it. Fortunately, there are not as many who need such provisions here as there had been only a few years ago.

It will be a while before the rainy season ends next spring. Until then, some degree of damp and uncomfortably cool weather are will be unavoidable. Our resourceful Community will do what it must to contend with it.

October 10, 2021 – Memorial Tree Update

Memorial Tree – July 12, 2021

November 1, 2020, almost a year ago, was the last update for the resilient little Memorial Tree in Felton Covered Bridge Park. Since then, it began to develop a form that is more appropriate to the park parking lot that it inhabits, with a single straight trunk and a reasonably well structured canopy. (The illustration above is about three months old, from July 12, but the Tree has not grown much since then.)

Of course, the canopy will need to be pruned for continued structural development after it defoliates for winter. For now, lower growth remains somewhat obtrusive within the associated curbed parking lot island. This growth will be pruned up high enough so that no one must duck under it. As the tree matures, limbs that extend into the driveway beyond the curb must be higher than fourteen feet, so that they will not be obstructive to large vehicles. Slightly lower limbs are tolerable but undesirable over the adjacent parking spaces. Since the main trunk divides at about six feet above grade, main limbs must ascend rather steeply to attain clearance of more than fourteen feet above the adjacent parking spaces, which are only about three feet from the main trunk. Fortunately, the roadway is a bit farther than the adjacent parking spaces.

Sadly, the Memorial Tree was damaged as it was struck by a freighter truck that was too large to turn around in the parking lot. Fortunately, the damage is not as severe as it could have been. Only a bit of bark was scraped from the main trunk. The worst of the damage is a basal fracture, which should compartmentalize efficiently as growth resumes next spring. The Memorial Tree was staked and bound with a more resilient stake. Although such binding is not arboriculturally correct, it will be temporarily helpful through recovery. Hopefully, all binding can be removed within a year, but the new stake may remain with a loose strap afterward.

It has been gratifying to observe the Community popularity of the young Memorial Tree through all of its hardships. The Maintenance Staff of Felton Covered Bridge Park (the Santa Cruz County Department of Parks, Open Space and Cultural Services) has been very protective of it, and offered to replace it if it had been too severely distressed to recover from various former damages, as well as its recent altercation. While it was not expected to recover from brutal vandalism in June of 2020, a few members of the Community, including someone who now resides in Southern California, likewise offered to replace it. No replacement is necessary. It survives and somehow thrives.

Bad Journalism

There are two primary reasons why the brief articles that post here have been of less than exemplary quality for the past year or so. Actually, they have been of rather substandard quality. (Okay, they have been downright ‘bad’.) I would prefer to avoid such unpleasant description; but that would merely defer the obvious.

Firstly, the second of the two primary reasons for the compromised quality of posts here is the lack of time to devote to composing them. I am simply overworked. It is a long and irrelevant story. To be brief, I continue to write horticultural articles for a few newspapers between San Francisco and the Los Angeles Region, while also working as many as three days weekly to help maintain landscapes at a local Conference Center. I know that I should retire from such writing, but can not bear to do so. Nor do I want to relinquish the landscape maintenance work, which was actually intended to be only temporary (a long time ago). Both are very enjoyable, but also limit my potential for other obligations.

Secondly, the first of the two primary reasons for the compromised quality of posts here is the lack of subject matter. There simply is not much to write about like there had been only a few years ago. This blog was originally intended to provide insight regarding the homeless and socially disadvantaged Community of Felton. However, so many of those who had previously lacked domestic situations presently reside in comfortable and safe homes, with stable lifestyles. Many who had previously been unemployed are presently gainfully employed, and therefore able to sustain their respective lifestyles. Relatively fewer have become deprived of domestic situations or employment while relatively more have procured the same. The socially disadvantages Community of Felton has been doing remarkably well. Ultimately, this is a good problem to contend with.

Summer House

Because so much of my work is online, I can do it anywhere. Therefore, for the past many years, I have considered the acquisition of a so-called ‘summer house’ in another region, where I can live for parts of the year when I do not need to be here. Of course, and contrary to the seasonal designation, I would be more likely to go there during autumn or early winter rather than during the busy summer season. Such acquisition has always been delayed by local obligations, as well as other unrelated travel. There is no need to work remotely when I already work remotely.

Nonetheless, the investigation of real estate in other regions has been interesting. Although many of the properties that appealed to me were very small and isolated homes in (horrid) desert regions (because such regions lack vegetation that is so distracting to horticulturists like me), some of the properties could have been useful for other purposes. Several were more ‘normal’ homes that could be inhabited by a few people. A few were quite large buildings that could have been subdivided into a few or even several apartments. Such apartments could have provided homes for any or all of the unhoused residents of Felton who would not mind relocation, even if merely temporarily.

For example, I investigated an abandoned Methodist Church that was about as big as a large apartment building. It could have been divided into a several studios. I only desired a single small studio within the building. There was also an industrial building that was much larger, with seven floors that could have been divided into two spacious apartments each. Real estate listings make it seem so simple.

Sadly, it is not so simple. Renovation of such buildings is expensive. So is maintenance. Furthermore, the properties that I investigated were not local. They were nowhere close to such. Anyone who chose to relocate to them would be a very long way from home until he or she were able to return, if returning were even an option. It would be easier to merely not leave. For most of us, it would be better to be homeless at home than stranded in a home away from home.

Autumn 2021

Wednesday, September 22, will be the first day of autumn. The nights have been getting a bit longer and a bit cooler for a while already, and will continue to do so for a while more. The rainy season could begin at any time. Although days begin to get longer on December 21, the first day of winter, weather continues to get cooler through the early part of winter. Indian summer may or may not delay the inevitable prior to November.

Most of us will spend more time inside as the seasons progress, perhaps with a fire in a stove or fireplace. Walls and ceilings retain warmth. Roofs exclude rain. The cooler and wetter weather of autumn and winter is generally not a serious problem. It is an asset to gardens and forests, and temporarily relieves the anxiety of fire season.

However, for those who lack walls, ceilings and roofs, the impending cooler and wetter weather can be very unpleasant. Options for generation of warmth, and the retention of such warmth, are both limited. Exclusion of rain may necessitate the use of obtrusively visible tents or tarps, which draw attention to already precarious situations. Those who reside temporarily within the dry spaces below bridges might be displaced if substantial rainfall overwhelms the drainage capacity of the associated creeks or river.

Several families who formerly inhabited homes that were destroyed by the CZU Fire last summer will continue to inhabit their respective properties without their homes through this autumn and winter. Some inhabit campers or similar vehicles, which are significantly more comfortable than tents. Regardless, houseless lifestyles of any sort are certainly not easy. Some who were deprived of their former domestic situations by the Fire are unable to inhabit their respective properties, so needed to relocate, even if just temporarily.

Personal Aversion

As much as I want to go, I also slightly dread returning to Los Angeles next February. I have more than four months to plan my trip, in order to accomplish what I intend to do while there. It will be a vacation of sorts, with only limited professional obligations. There are a few touristy follies that I have somehow always neglected, which I will now prioritize. I should be completely pleased with anticipation. I almost am.

However, I do not want to observe the situation with the unhoused Community there. It has become so prevalent. It can be oppressively saddening to see so many people in such unpleasant conditions. Although most other social conditions of many regions of Los Angeles have improved since I first visited in about 1986, homelessness has increased substantially. It can not be ignored.

Some encampments of the unhoused have become somewhat perennial within their respective situations. Some have been established long enough for vegetable gardens to produce vegetables for more than a single season. Although most encampments are reasonably neat, some that are inhabited by those afflicted with severe mental illness are deplorable and hazardous. People should not live like that.

Furthermore, those who work and inhabit residential buildings (such as houses and apartments) in regions where homeless encampments are established should not need to contend with such hazardous and unsightly conditions, especially since living there requires such significant expenditure.

As difficult as homelessness seems to be in our Community, it is overwhelming in more populous Communities. There are no simple solutions.

That is the source of the slight dread associated with my return to Los Angeles. I intend to enjoy my vacation, but I also expect to be somewhat saddened at times. Society should have evolved enough by now to remedy such problems.

Gentrification

Clients sometimes ask me if I can recommend a qualified arborist, gardener or landscape designer. (I am a horticulturist and consulting arborist.) For many years, I have been unable to do so. Some clients inform me that they spent millions of dollars on their home, so are willing to spend whatever is necessary to maintain the associated trees and gardens. Their expenditure is irrelevant. I still can not recommend qualified horticultural professionals who are not already overwhelmed with the demand for their respective expertise.

The problem is that horticultural industries are not lucrative. Most who are employed with such industries do not earn income that is sufficient to afford to live here or anywhere within practical proximity. (It is rather ironic for a region that had formerly been famous for horticultural commodities.) Consequently, they must live and work elsewhere.

This is one of the few problems associated with gentrification. Those who can afford to purchase expensive homes can not purchase what is not available to them. That is why so many formerly elaborate home landscapes now appear to be inadequately maintained. People who might be wealthy by the standards of other Communities seem to live in squalor locally. Their equity would be more useful and enjoyable elsewhere.

Gentrification also contributes to increasing rates of houselessness, as many more of those who become deprived of a respective domestic situation, for any reason, are unable to procure another. Not only are mortgages and rents prohibitively expensive, but they are reserved for those who are already established within a Community, with exemplary credit and comparably exemplary rental history. Sadly, the loss of a domestic situation typically compromises both credit and rental history.

Gentrification certainly has many advantages. However, those who benefit from it must unfortunately contend with a few of its innate disadvantages.

Live In Fear IV

This is becoming too much like a miniseries. To disrupt the monotony, we could consider the alternative to choosing to living in fear. After all, that is what most people prefer to do. They appreciate the Community in which we live. The climate and scenery are certainly assets also. Actually, there are many reasons why we live where we do. There are a few unpleasantries that occasionally instill major fear, such as the CZU Fire, the Loma Prieta Earthquake and the Love Creek Mudslide; but most of us prefer to fear them only when justified.

Society is certainly not perfect. That applies everywhere. There is always some degree of social problems such as crime, mental illness and homelessness. Few choose to live in fear of these imperfections. Most prefer to enjoy their particular society, and contend with social problems only as necessary. Precautionary measures, such as home security systems, are not necessarily indications of irrational fear, but are generally employed by those who prefer to be less concerned with undeniably present social problems.

Society certainly should not be completely derided for its innate imperfections. It is more than redeemed by its assets. Otherwise, people would not want to live in societies or Communities such as ours. To the contrary, most people in most Communities believe that their respective Community is the best of all, simply because they would prefer no other. That is likely how it should be, in a Community in which most choose to not live in fear.

Those with the least, particularly those lacking a domestic situation (the unhoused), can attest to how exemplary our local Community is. The graciousness and generosity exhibited here is astounding. It is understandable that so many of us believe that this is the best Community in which to live and participate.

Live In Fear III

As mentioned last week, “Those who choose to live in unrealistic or unjustified fear seem to be rather deficient of common logic.” This is exacerbated by their ignorance of such deficiency, or worse, by their innate but unfounded belief that they are somehow more logical than others of the Community.

For example, many of those who choose to live in unrealistic or unjustified fear want all homeless encampments to be demolished without a plan for those who would be displaced by such demolition. They simply do not understand how important planning is, or that a lack of planning is contrary to the intended results of the unplanned demolition that they want.

No one wants homeless encampments within the Community. Those who inhabit such encampments, including the few who do not require domestic situations, would prefer more stable lifestyles. Neighbors understandably dislike the unsightliness. In some regions, the associated fire hazard is a major concern.

Logical people realize that the unplanned demolition of homeless encampments will not help any of the inhabitants of such encampments be any less homeless than they already were. They understand that the expensive process merely relocates the unsightliness of homelessness, but does not eliminate it. Logical people who are truly concerned about the fire hazard associated with homeless encampments would prefer to confine such hazard to less combustible and relatively manageable regions, rather than relocating such hazards to more combustible forested regions outside of town.

There are no simple remedies for all homelessness. Logical people understand that. Those who choose to live in unrealistic or unjustified fear do not, and some seem to be intent on preserving the very same dysfunction that they choose to fear with such dedication. Perhaps that is quite sensible. What would they do without the unrealistic or unjustified fear that they choose to live in?

Live In Fear II

“Those who choose to live in fear have the option of relocating to someplace where they do not need to live in fear.” I mentioned this last week, with a few examples of unpleasantries that those who choose to live in fear might otherwise choose to emigrate from. One example that I mentioned was, “If they fear houseless people, (…), they can relocate to someplace that is unpopular with (…) houseless people (…).

Does that seem harsh? It should not. Some of those who choose live in fear of the houseless commonly suggest that the houseless should relocate in order to accommodate them. If this is so easy or such a practical concept, then it should be just as easy or practical for those who choose to live in fear of the houseless.

After all, and contrary to what those who live in fear of the houseless claim, the majority of those who are houseless here are either native or have been here significantly longer than most of those who choose to live in fear of them. Many of those who live in fear of the houseless start complaining about it as soon as they arrive from somewhere else.

Those who choose to live in fear of the houseless should have become familiar with the local Community and society prior to deciding to immigrate. They should not have immigrated to a Community or society that is unsatisfactory for them.

Since so many of them believe that the houseless migrate here, they should migrate to where they believe the houseless migrate from. The houseless whom they choose to fear should be gone from there, since, according to those who choose to live in fear of them, they came here.

Those who choose to live in unrealistic or unjustified fear seem to be rather deficient of common logic.