Thesaurus

Those of us who write sometime find a thesaurus to be useful for suggesting synonyms, euphemisms or similar alternatives to words that we are trying to avoid the use of. Synonyms might be useful to avert the redundancy of using a particular prominent word a few times in a single paragraph. Euphemisms might be less objectionable synonymous options to unpleasant words.

A thesaurus does not directly define words like a dictionary does, but by providing words of similar meanings, a thesaurus indirectly demonstrates how words are perceived by society. Such perceptions may be significantly different from actual definitions. Some may be completely inaccurate. Some synonyms, whether accurate or not, are potentially objectionable dysphemisms.

A comment in one of the newspapers I work for in Southern California described those who lived in homes destroyed by the Getty Fire as ‘outside the gates’. It took me a while to determine that this is a polite way of saying that they are homeless. To me, it seems to be more exclusionary than polite, but I have never tried the phrase. It prompted me to inquire with a thesaurus.

‘Homeless’ was the basic word I inquired the thesaurus about. Some alternatives are actually phrases that are too cumbersome to substitute for a single word.

“houseless, unhoused, displaced, unplaced, unestablished, unsettled” are simple euphemisms. Some of us are familiar with the first few.

“wandering, itinerant, vagabond, vagrant” are words that describe those who are transient, so do not apply to any of us who live here.

“destitute, estranged, desolate” could be accurate for some of us, although not contingent of homelessness. The last one seems . . . odd.

“derelict” seems to be more relevant to a carcass of an old Pontiac.

“disinherited, dispossessed” are more relevant to relationships with family and friends than a domestic situation.

“exiled, banished, outcast”?! We are not political refugees! (Okay, one of us is.)

“unwelcome, forsaken, friendless, uncared-for”?! How are these words even relevant to our respective domestic situations? Furthermore, how can any homeless (or houseless or unhoused or displaced or . . . ) person experience any of this here in our remarkably welcoming and caring Community of friends in Felton?!

Chili Cook Off

The Sixth Annual San Lorenzo Valley Chili Cook Off yesterday at Felton Covered Bridge Park was a fund raiser hosted by Felton Library Friends to benefit the new Felton Library and Nature Discovery Park. That is why tasting kits that were needed to participate were sold for $5. All of those $5 charges were collectively the funds that the fund raiser raised.

Of course, there was much more to it than that. No one would have attended if it was just about collecting funds. It was about a good time, with food, beverages and live music. A dozen or so chili chefs competed for prizes. Local business donated even more prizes for a raffle later in the day.

Contestants, volunteers and just about everyone who attends such events knows how to have a good time. $5 is a trivial charge to participate. Not many who pay put much though into it as contribution to fund raising. Procurement of resources for the Felton Library and Nature Discovery Park is very important, but so is doing the event right.

For several, doing the event right entailed including those who had neither the intention of participating, nor the minimal resources to do so. They delivered several and various bowls of chili to a few of us who were gathered at the picnic table closest to the parking lot. That is being seriously Community oriented!

I know this is not the best picture of a bunch of empty bowls and a few that I snatched from those who were still eating out of them, but it shows the variety of the chili. These were not contributed by one chef who wanted to lighten his load of leftovers, but from at least six different chefs. There were more empty bowls that had already been discarded.

Audience

Why is someone in Ecuador reading about us? What about France? Did they just come here expecting to find information about Tom Felton who acted as Draco Malfoy of those creepy Harry Potter movies? There is certainly no problem with anyone reading what they want to on the internet. It just seems odd that there are others outside our Community who take interest in us.

Do any of us know much, or anything at all, about others like us in the Philippines? What about those in Nigeria? Do we read about others like us in other regions of California? How are they like us? How are they different? There are many variables, such as culture, climate, resources and government. Some may be in better situations than we are in. It is likely worse for most.

Ironically, we become less interesting as our situations improve. Those coming here for insight into our unique lifestyles will find less to read about as our individual lifestyles become less . . . unique. So many of us have regained domestic lifestyles and gainful employment during the past few years that there are only a few of us who still need to do so. That is not very interesting.

What is almost as good as a lack of interesting issues within our own group, is a lack of drama from outside. Hate groups are being recognized for what they are, and are alienating associates.

In this regard, boring is good. We know that things change, and that there will always be new issues developing. For now, we should just appreciate the slow but steady improvement, while new issues develop slightly slower than old issues get resolved. Perhaps our episodic improvements and good news are rare commodities that some of our audience come here to read about.

Too Much Of A Good Thing

Generosity is a good thing. There happens to be an abundance of it here. In conjunction with the many other good things about our Community, the abundant generosity is what keeps a few of us from going hungry. Those who might happen to get into a bad situation several days before food distribution can easily find other meal and food programs nearby to stay well fed.

Sometimes, food even gets left for us at the picnic table near the parking lot at Felton Covered Bridge Park. Some of it is surplus from earlier events in the park, such as a birthday party or a picnic. On rare occasion, surplus food is delivered from events somewhere else, such as a wedding reception or a staff meeting. People actually go ‘that’ out of their way to share surplus food!

Generosity is certainly nothing new here. I wrote about it not too long ago. It sometimes involves other minor resources besides food, including clothing, bedding, tents, kitchen utensils, fuel, pet supplies, tarps, and on rare occasion, employment and housing opportunities. If too abundant, some of the non-perishable items can be stored until until someone has need for them.

Surplus perishable food that is not consumed in a timely manner is not so easy to accommodate. If we get to it quickly enough, some can be taken by those who can freeze or refrigerate it for later. Regardless of what happens to it, perishable food left in Felton Covered Bridge Park must be taken before wildlife makes a mess of it. Fortunately, so far, that has not been a problem.

However, there is slight but well founded concern that with such generosity and abundance of surplus, but fewer of us to benefit from it, there might eventually be potential for contributions of perishable food to attract undesirable wildlife. Ravens are notorious for taking unattended food, and leaving the wrappings strewn about. Raccoons and rats take what remains overnight.

Within the context of the collective ecosystem, scavenging surplus food is probably not a problem for the wildlife. The remaining mess of wrappings, and the waste of such graciously shared surplus, are the potential problems. Since the surplus food is being left for us, we must be attentive to how it might affect the environment, and not allow it to become a problem for others.

There certainly was no problem with this surplus food that was left early today. The fancy dried apricots and shelled walnuts to the right were quite a score. The sandwiches to the upper left were timely for lunch. Someone later brought salami and cheese to go with the remaining mixed crackers that were snacked on by many. Generosity and abundance go a long way in Felton.

An Uneventful Week

There is not much to write about today. The weather has been warm, but for those of us who live outside, pleasantly mild at night. None of us are in need of anything that can not be readily procured from our collective resources. The Community is as supportive as it always is. Some of us have been spending a bit more time at odd jobs. We should enjoy the calm while we can.

One from our group has been in Montana for work for at least two months. He must be doing well there, or he would have returned already, as expected. Perhaps one temporary assignment led to another. Someone else is in Santa Cruz for temporary work, but should return on Monday or so. It is unfortunate that some must leave the area for work, but it is better than nothing.

During this next week, another one from our group will likely be interviewing for regular (not temporary) part time employment, which could develop into full time employment. The work is within walking distance from town. The schedule is flexible. It is not the most lucrative sort of employment, but involves benefits that would be useful to someone who has been unemployed.

This is the time of year that the few of us who live outside should start to prepare for autumn. There is a 39% chance of rain early Monday morning, which is not much to be concerned with, but there will eventually be more. It will be increasingly difficult for those lacking adequate shelter to stay dry. We are fortunate that this is such a mild climate, without snow or hard frost.

Here in Felton and the San Lorenzo Valley, we are also very fortunate to be part of such an extremely compassionate, supportive and generous Community.

Honk If You’re Hateful

This is not another of several updates to the original ‘Honk If You’re Hateful’. This is an explanation of why that series of posts was deleted. The title is the same merely to put it into context.

The original post was about someone who regularly honked the horn of a vehicle when driving over a local bridge, presumably to annoy the homeless who were believed to live underneath. The honking was executed on such a precise schedule that it was recorded on sequential videos, which were shared within the context of the original post, as well as the subsequent updates.

A previous request for deletion of these videos, by the person who had been honking, had been denied.

However, something happened this morning that compelled compliance to that earlier request. A big pile of bedding, canned food, ramen, hashbrowns, bottled water, a jacket, a water bottle, a tarp, a flashlight and perhaps a few other items, was left at a gate near the bridge where the honking had been occurring. This message was with the pile of goods:

Aug 12

This is a peace offering. Please give these items to anyone you think needs them. I am not hateful, just upset and frustrated about some things that relate directly to this bridge. I won’t explain further because I just want to resolve this in a peaceful manner. I saw that you took down that misc. info today so this is my peaceful reaction to that. I would like to say that I have been randomly helping people in Felton who needed it for years with sandwiches, coffee ect. My most recent act was Easter morning at 6:45 am to an older gentleman who had no jacket. I gave him the 120.oo jacket off my back (in front of the coffee shop). We may or may not agree about a lot of things but I gave it some thought. What you are doing is sticking up for the little guy and that is something that I admire actually. [peace sign]

We all know what it is like to be ‘upset and frustrated’. We also know that we all sometimes express such frustration inappropriately. I posted the videos and associated unpleasantries online because I was frustrated by what was happening, but lacked a means for constructive expression of that frustration. That is no excuse, but merely an explanation.

Although vague in this regard, the letter seems to indicate that there is a possibility that the honking was not necessarily intended to annoy any of us directly, but was merely an expression of frustration ‘about some things that relate directly to this bridge’. I believe that we all know how justifiable that is!

There is nothing vague about the jacket given to one of our veteran friends on Easter morning. If I remember correctly, it included coffee and doughnuts.

In the picture below, of the goods delivered this morning, there are four big cans of beef stew to the upper right. These cans may seem to be too big for those of us who lack refrigeration. However, with a bit more added, they will work nicely for luncheon at Felton Presbyterian Church at noon on Tuesdays. There is always plenty to go around, and everyone is welcome.

Memorial Tree Update

This is the best season so far! Because this is the first update on this blog, there is nothing here to compare the progress of this small Memorial Tree to; but links to older updates on another blog can be found at the older (reblogged) article, ‘May 2‘. Some of those updates link to even more updates. This little Memorial Tree has had quite a history in Felton Covered Bridge Park.

It is actually the fourth tree in this particular spot. The original black oak was run over by a car many years ago, leaving the site vacant for a long time. An Eastern red cedar was planted on New Year’s Day in 2013, but later the following summer, succumbed to what dogs do to small trees. A bigleaf maple was planted the following winter, but also succumbed in its second year.

In the last few years since then, this little valley oak has contended with major difficulties too. Until recently, it had been gouged regularly by weed eaters when the weeds around it were cut down, even though we regularly pull the weeds around it so that the weed eater does not need to get so close. Before it could recover from getting gouged, it got gouged again, several times!

This is why it is still so puny. Every year, it puts out only a few inches of new growth. In fact, that is how it started out this year, with only a few inches of new spring growth that blinded out too early in the season. Then, for no apparent reason, it put out a second phase of summer growth, with an abundance of vigorous shoots that are about a foot long! This is very encouraging.

Although still puny, the little Memorial Tree is exhibiting the sort of resilience and vigor that it needs to survive in this less than optimal situation. As the bark of the lower trunk matures, it will be less susceptible to damage caused by weed eaters. As the tree grows up and above pedestrian traffic, the limbs will be less susceptible to breakage. The next few years will be critical.

No more growth is expected this late in summer, although the small new leaves will likely continue to expand for a while. Terminal buds are likely in the process of blinding out for the year. When the tree is dormant and defoliated in autumn, lower limbs will get pruned away, and the main trunk will get bound and staked. There will be no rush, as long as it is done before spring.

The picture above shows how long the new growth is. The picture below shows how this new growth looks on the small tree. The picture at the bottom shows how much smaller the tree was not too long ago. It also shows that weeds are pulled around the tree.