Consider The Source

While most of us are willing to comply with social distancing standards, a few complain vehemently about it. Of these, some blame President Trump for the current situation. Some blame the Liberals. Some insist that it is a conspiracy to destroy the economy. Yet, they all lack the education and experience of those who developed and implemented the social distancing standards.

In other words, they do not know what they are talking about, but they all think that they are experts.

Understandably, many of us want to return to work! Many are frustrated by confinement and want to get out and about like we did prior to this situation. The rational among us do what we must until that is again possible. The irrational sort can potentially prolong this situation by noncompliance to social distancing standards. Society suffers the consequences of their ignorance.

The ignorance of those who lack practical experience with homelessness, but believe that they are qualified to make recommendations about it, is just as irrational. Although such ignorance is rare, we all have encountered it at one time or another. Those who express the most extreme of ignorance and irrationality are too ignorant and irrational to realize it. Consider the source.

For example, some have made the recommendation that homeless people should just relocate to where they would not be homeless, but do not reveal where such a place is. Some homeless people do relocate for a home that happens to be available. It would however be pointless to relocate to be homeless in an unfamiliar situation. Nor should anyone relocate to be unemployed.

How many of those who make such trivializing recommendation had been homeless, and tried to find a home without a deposit, exemplary credit, sufficient income or stable renting history? How many are even aware that many of the homeless lack a combination of these assets? What qualifies anyone lacking such relevant experience or insight to make such recommendations?

What About Everyone Else?

Life is difficult sometimes. It is certainly less difficult for some than it is for others. Nonetheless, no one gets through from beginning to end without some degree of difficulty. Those of us who have experienced significant difficulty may believe that others have better situations, and there are always many who do, but our perceptions of their respective situations really are limited.

Nowadays, many of those who have had better situations than some of us will be experiencing formerly unforseen difficulties. For many, such difficulties will be more stressful than for those of us who have experienced them previously. Most of us crave and strive for stability and security. Many had done well with achieving a better than average degree of stability and security.

So much of that is compromised or challenged now. Some of us with formerly stable employment have been unemployed for quite a while. Some will remain unemployed for a while longer. A few will be without employment to return to. Consequently, some will be unable to pay mortgages, rents and other important bills. Consequences of this are still unknown, but will be severe.

Our minor group has been fortunate for the past many years. So many who formerly lacked homes have procured domestic situations. So many who lacked employment are now lucratively employed. Fewer of us are utilizing the resources that were so helpful to so many more years ago. Fortunately, some of these resources are still available for a different demographic in need.

Hopefully, this current situation does not get as unpleasant as it has potential to. It is already very difficult for some, and in some regards, will likely get significantly worse before improving. Many of us are already doing what we can to help alleviate the severity of this major disruption of normalcy.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

Dedication of the Steven Michael Ralls Memorial Tree on May 2 brought back memories. That should probably be expected from a memorial. However, the tree is new. The site of the dedication is what we remembered. It was a campsite where Steven temporarily lived while homeless in the autumn of 2012. It has changed significantly since then, but is still recognizable.

Homelessness is generally not a preferred alternative to a domestic lifestyle, at least within local cultures and societies. Otherwise, more of us would be homeless. Those who are experienced with homelessness would not recommend it to those who are not. There are just too many advantages associated with domestic lifestyles. Homelessness is just too challenging and arduous.

Yet, at the Dedication of the Steven Michael Ralls Memorial Tree, we remembered many of the pleasant experiences associated with Steven’s former campsite back in the autumn of 2012. Homelessness really is challenging and arduous, and can be downright oppressive, but it does not necessarily deprive those who experience it of all opportunities to also experience pleasure.

Homelessness can be incredibly enlightening. It can expose the best and worst of humanity; and just might demonstrate how some of the worst is not as bad as it is commonly believed to be. Homelessness is certainly an adventure, which compels participants to formerly unrealized resourcefulness. It really can be the best of times, right in the middle of the worst chapter of life.

It is worth considering that anyone can attend a concert of the Oakland Symphony, and thousands do; but very few were privileged to attend intimate and exclusive solo concerts by Steven Michael Ralls with his tired old guitar, at his dusty campsite where his Memorial Tree was recently installed. Those uniquely privileged few are among the more fortunate of our Community.

Steven Michael Ralls Memorial Tree

Steven Michael Ralls Memorial Tree is happy in its new home.

Steven Michel Ralls was memorialized by the installation of his own Steven Michael Ralls Memorial Tree this morning on the third anniversary of his passing. Several circumstances coincided to make this event not only possible, but righteously appropriate, much like the original Memorial Tree that replaced a conspicuously missing oak in Felton Covered Bridge Park.

This little Monterey cypress, Cupressus macrocarpa, grew from seed into a situation where it could not stay. There was initially no place to relocate it to, since it will eventually get too big and too shady for most landscapes. Ironically these disadvantages are attributes where it will be added to an end of a row of other cypress that are intended to obscure unappealing scenery.

The location is perfect! It is offset from the adjoining straight row of five Arizona cypress, where it can get bigger and broader than the others, as it naturally does. A larger and bulkier tree is preferred there to compensate for a slightly lower elevation. What is even more ideal about the location is that it is precisely where Steven Michael Ralls camped while homeless late in 2012.

Steven Michael Ralls did not live there for long, before relocating to comfortable homes in Murphys, and ultimately Aptos. The site has change significantly since then. The upper portion has been buried by excavation for the expansion of the adjacent utility yard that the cypress are intended to obscure. A perimeter fence was installed around the yard. Vegetation is diminished.

It was gratifying to install the new Steven Michael Ralls Memorial Tree this morning. It will need to be irrigated occasionally by bucket through summer, but will need nothing after the rain starts next autumn. It knows how to grow up fast to become a big and prominent asset to the forest.

Another Memorial Tree

There are big plans for this little tree.

Felton will be getting another Memorial Tree next Saturday. Unlike our small Memorial Tree valley oak in Felton Covered Bridge Park, which is a Memorial Tree of several people, among several other Memorial Tree redwoods, this new Memorial Tree will be for a specific person, in a specific locale. It will be planted on May 2, which is the anniversary of the deceased’s death.

The little tree is a Monterey cypress, Cupressus macrocarpa, that grew from a self sown seed too close to a building, and within a landscape that it could not have stayed in. When pulled out of the ground last autumn, it came up with an intact root system. It was too exemplary of a specimen to discard. It instead got canned, recovered through winter, and is now starting to grow.

Monterey cypress is endemic to a very confined range on the coast of Monterey County, between Point Cypress and Pescadero Point, and on Point Lobos. However, it is naturalized where it had been planted locally, which is why this particular specimen grew where it could not stay. It should be happy where it will be planted, and has plenty of space to grow as big as it wants to.

Ideally, this little tree should have been planted directly into the new location immediately after it was removed from its original location. It could have settled in through winter, to be ready to resume growth now. Since it is instead being planted now, it will need to be watered occasionally until rain resumes next autumn. Once established, it will need no supplemental irrigation.

Although not horticulturally ideal, delaying the planting until May 2 is very appropriate. The location of planting also just happens to be very appropriate. The appropriateness of it all will be explained next Saturday.

Reallocation

Food Distribution at Community Bridges, which most of us still know as Mountain Community Resources, or simply MCR, is still the most reliable and most abundant source of food for those who need it. It continues to operate between 11:00 a.m. and noon on Thursdays, although the procedure for retrieving food has changed to comply with social distancing.

Participants are unable to wait in queue to select the particular produce, canned food and dry goods they desire from tables that are stocked with what is available. Instead, volunteers assemble packages containing an assortment of what is available, and then load them into vehicles as they drive through the parking lot. It is significantly more effort, but effective.

There are less of us who lack homes and need to obtain food from Food Distribution than there has been in a very long time. However, there are a few more who benefit form this resource, but do not lack homes. The demographics have changes somewhat, but Food Distribution had been as popular as it ever was.

More recently, it has become even more popular. So many otherwise lucratively employed people have been unemployed for a month. Some will remain unemployed for a while longer. Many are without income while unemployed, so are unable to afford some of what was so easily obtainable only a few weeks ago. Food Distribution is nothing fancy, but it helps.

Food Distribution volunteers have always been very generous with surpluses of produce and perishable food items after participants have obtained what they can use. Those who had use for it took large volumes of it for canning or freezing, or for smaller volumes of it to be refrigerated for those who lack homes or refrigeration. What was leftover went to goats and swine.

The incentive to take significant volumes of surpluses to distribute to those who lack refrigeration has been diminishing for quite some time. Now, there is suddenly more incentive to take surpluses to those who had no prior use for it.

Because the various food items are divided somewhat evenly as they are packaged by volunteers, there are no large volumes of surpluses remaining after Food Distribution. Even if there were minor surpluses, they can not be obtained without violating social distancing standards, although volunteers might offer them to those who often take them.

However, the packages of food typically contain more than what some of us need. Rather than deliver what we do not need directly to those who can use it, some of us have been leaving it out where they can get it later, but hopefully where animals do not get to it first.

One More

One more of us who had been lacking a home is presently in the process of procuring a stable domestic situation. It is all happening in a rather circuitous manner, but at least it is happening.

Because of the current pandemic, state and county agencies are desperately trying to shelter more of the homeless populace, while also expanding the space available for those already residing in shelters, so that they are not so crowded. It is a monumental task to say the least. Temporary shelters have been added to established shelters, and in other locations.

Homeless people who are elderly or otherwise classified as ‘high risk’ are being accommodated individually in motels and other available buildings. Generally, that would not concern us here in Felton, since even the elderly of the homeless do not reside in crowded conditions, and are able to maintain reasonable distance from others in the Community.

However, one within our Community was in a dangerous situation prior to the onset of this pandemic. He had been without a home, not because of a lack of resources, but because of an inability to manage resources. Dementia had compromised his rationality to the extent that he could neither maintain his prior domestic situation, nor accept assistance from case workers.

He was not sheltered as a direct result of the state and county efforts to shelter the homeless, but happened to deteriorate to the extent that case workers were finally able to compel him to accept immediate medical assistance. He was then transferred to a residential healthcare center, from where his case workers will arrange for a more permanent domestic situation.

It is difficult to be optimistic in regard to dementia. Life will not be easy.

Fortunately, he collects sufficient income in retirement to sustain a reasonably comfortable lifestyle.