Discrimination Never Gets Old

Indigenous People of North America were perceived to be primitive barbarians by the first Europeans who encountered them. Some of European descent wanted to civilize them. Some just wanted them out of their way. Few had much regard for their culture. By the time modern American culture evolved enough to appreciate what was here before, the damage had been done.

People from Africa who were sold as slaves through almost two and a half centuries of American history were similarly considered to be primitive barbarians. Much of society justified their exploitation, but then wanted them segregated after their emancipation. American culture should have evolved beyond discrimination against those of African descent by now, but it has not.

Although technically not enslaved, American immigrants from China were exploited for their willingness to perform very demanding and often very dangerous manual labor for minimal pay. Yet, they were systematically discriminated against. Many were compelled to reside in neighborhoods on floodplains of cities they inhabited, merely because no one else wanted to be there.

There are too many examples of social discrimination in American history to list. The worst of them are difficult to comprehend. We like to think that, although American society engaged in such abhorrent conduct in the distant past, such discrimination could not be repeated. Yet, Americans of Japanese descent were released from internment camps just seventy-five years ago.

There are always new victims. At a time when ethnic discrimination is less socially acceptable than it had formerly been, it has become easier to persecute, vilify and discriminate against the homeless. Regardless of the original justification for such behavior, the patterns are the same. We are fortunate in Felton that these patterns are not as common as they are elsewhere, and that we recognize the perpetrators for what they are.

GREEN

GREEN, Greening Residential Environments Empowering Neighborhoods, will be planting at least fifty-two street trees in Los Angeles in less than three weeks, on January 18. Sadly, none of us will attend this year.

Only one of us attended the first tree planting project by GREEN twenty-two years ago. One may not seem like an impressive number, but it was half of the two who started what has become an annual tradition. Back then, we were committed only to plant thirty trees, and then planted about twice that many by the time the project was completed.

Now that GREEN has organized an impressive crew of local volunteers, it is not so important for any of us to go all the way to Los Angeles to help. Besides, we can be more helpful here, by growing some of the trees that GREEN will eventually plant.

After all, the first large groups of trees, as well as a few individual trees, came from here. In fact, on West 21st Street, between South La Brea Avenue and (coincidentally) South Sycamore Avenue, there might be as many as four sycamores that were grown from suckers that were removed from the massive sycamore in Felton Covered Bridge Park.

It would be nice to grow more sycamores because they are remarkably complaisant as street trees where parkstrips are wide enough. They do not get as big in such exposed situations as they do here. They are easily grown from cutting, and can be passively field grown on a vacant parcel in Brookdale, to be dug and relocated bare root to Los Angeles.

Deodar cedars would be nice for a section of Masselin Avenue in the Miracle Mile District. We happen to have access to a significant herd of feral seedlings here that need to be removed. The problem with them is that they can not be so passively field grown, so must instead be canned and irrigated. Bulky canned trees are not as easily delivered to Los Angeles as bare root trees.

There is plenty of space available for such a crop. There is plenty of water, growing media and cans. Even labor is not lacking. The difficulty will be getting all the assets together. Most of us do not get very far from Felton. The best space available for such projects in past Zayante or outside of Scott’s Valley. Available space that is closer lacks water for irrigation.

We will figure something out. We typically do. The young cedars will not occupy so much space during their first year, so can probably stay in Felton. More space will likely become available by the time we need it. If the finished crop does not fit into one pickup like more than sixty manna gums fit into one station wagon, we can simply rent a moving van. We will make it work.

Note: Metro Rail was not built into the medians of San Vicente Boulevard as described in the article ‘Birthday Trees’, so many of the original trees remain.

Roy – Obituary

Roy T-10 Blazer Chevrolet of Felton succumbed to complications associated with a blown head gasket, and passed away on December 16, 2019, near his home, at the age of thirty. Born in about January of 1989 in Shreveport, Louisiana, and purchased immediately afterward at Los Gatos Chevrolet, Roy lived most of his life at the same stable home in western San Jose. He graciously parked in a driveway so that a younger Honda Accord could park inside the garage, next to a pile of junk that occupied another parking space that Roy silently coveted. It was there that he began to develop peeling paint, which afflicted him for the rest of his life. When his only former employer relocated to Ohio in the summer of 2012, and the Accord went to live with a neighbor, Roy came to live in Felton, near Zayante and in Brookdale. Shortly after arrival in Felton, Roy made the epic journey to Newalla in Oklahoma for which he became famous. More recently, he made more trips to Beverly Hills than he should have been expected to make after so many years and miles of reliable service. During one such trip, Roy met the young convertible, Lee Sebring Chrysler, who relocated to Felton to be with him. Sadly, Lee preceded Roy in death. Roy was something of a nonconformist. He was like public transit for those who lack transportation or are unable to drive. Most considered him to be a truncated station wagon. To others, he was a diminutive modified pickup. To Bill the terrier, who was promised an Oldsmobile, but could neither perceive color nor read what was so prominently printed on his tailgate, Roy was the ‘red Bravada’. Most importantly, Roy was here to take so many of us where we needed to go.

Frio de Ausencia

‘Cold of Absence’. That is the direct translation. Is sounds prettier in Spanish, perhaps alluringly exotic. In reality, it is a sad song of unrequited love, composed by Gali Galeano of Columbia in 1981. I knew none of that until I looked it up online a moment ago. I knew ‘Frio de Ausencia’ only as the name of a tired old Chevrolet on a farm I worked on after I graduated high school.

No one knows why it was named ‘Frio de Ausencia’. I asked. The name was painted in black letters across the front of the gray hood. It makes no more sense to me all these years later than it did then. I do miss it though. It was such a simple and somehow stylish old pickup, at a time when contemporary vehicles innately lacked such qualities. It did anything we needed it to do.

I went off to college and never saw Frio de Ausencia again. A young man whom I worked with, who was a few years older than I was at the time, took it with him when he relocated to Gilroy. Everyone else I worked with there that summer is now deceased. The farm was developed into a tract of homes, where many more people are now enjoying their respective place and time.

In this place and time, here and now, absence is something we often notice. It is not necessarily cold though. Over the years, some of us have relocated for employment or more comfortable domestic situations. Some of us who are still here are too busy with resumption of careers and domestic lifestyles to socialize like we did when we lacked to some degree in such obligations.

As much as we might miss our friends, and notice their absence, it is gratifying to know that they are generally much happier and healthier than they were before improving their respective situations. Such absence is a tolerable consequence of progress. As silly as it might seem to those unfamiliar with our society, we would rather notice their absence than enjoy their presence.

Apologies for the delay of posting an article this week. It became necessary to postpone the topic I started writing about.

Rainy Season

The first storm since spring left more than an inch and a half of rain by the time the sun came up on Wednesday morning. Rain that started with the second storm that arrived this morning, and is still falling as I write this, is expected to continue through Monday, followed by showers through the foreseeable forecast. The dry summer is over. It is now officially the rainy season.

Are we concerned about those lacking adequate shelter? Well, of course we are. It is terribly uncomfortable and potentially dangerous to be out in the weather when the weather is like this. Those who live out in forested areas are vulnerable to falling limbs and trees, as well as potential flooding. While cold and wet, it is more difficult to recover from illness, or just avoid illness.

However, the situation is not as bad as it could be, or as bad as it was years ago, when there were many more of us without homes, and lacking resources. This season, there are fewer of us lacking shelter than there have been in a very long time. The same resources that have always been available are still there for those who need them. More of us have resources of our own.

We must still watch out for each other. This is just the beginning of what will become a more difficult rainy season. When it does not rain, it will likely be cold. That is just how weather works. At least we happen to live in a relatively temperate climate. It does not get as rainy as Western Washington, or as cold as Minnesota. We will get through it as well as we somehow always do.

Perhaps, this year, we will get through the rainy season even better than we typically do.

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.