Lifestyles

As a casual and almost outside observer, I am fascinated by the lifestyles of others. I happen to be quite pleased with my lifestyle, but can totally understand why it would be unappealing to most. Also, I can understand why others are pleased with their particular lifestyles, although such lifestyles do not appeal to me.

It baffles me though, that some believe that their particular lifestyles should be desirable to everyone else. I would not recommend a lifestyle as simple and primitive as mine to anyone who would not appreciate it. I appreciate the same courtesy. It is presumptuous for someone to recommend a more complicated and modern lifestyle to me merely because it is what most supposedly prefer.

Besides, I do not observe many who are any happier with their particular lifestyle than I am with mine. To the contrary, I observe many who are less satisfied with their seemingly preferable lifestyles.

I do believe that most who lack domestic situations should prefer at least a bit more comfort in their lifestyles. When the weather gets as cool as it has been, warmth and some sort of enclosure to contain such warmth should be preferable. I also assume that plumbing is desirable, even though my own homes are equipped with only minimal plumbing. I really do not know though. Some or many of my presumptions could be partially or even mostly inaccurate.

I also believe that those who live in luxurious penthouses on top of skyscrapers in big cities should be happier with homes on ground level with spacious gardens. It is difficult for me to imagine why they choose to live in such expensive homes that lack so much. Nonetheless, they do so, while they can afford to live almost anywhere. Obviously, their chosen lifestyles appeal to them.

Privilege

Anyone can complain. Almost all of us do at one time or another. Some complain more than others, and a few complain much more than they should.

Conversely, anyone can be grateful. However, more of us complain than express gratitude or appreciation for countless privileges that are easily taken for granted.

Privilege becomes more obvious after observing cultures or lifestyles that lack such privilege. Refugees from Ukraine demonstrate how difficult deprivation of a stable lifestyle is. So do the houseless within our own Community.

This article, ’40+ People Are Sharing the Signs of Privilege That Often Go Unnoticed’ by Dawn Schuster, August 12, 2021, lists several privileges that are commonly taken for granted within almost all of modern American Society. It is difficult to imagine life without some of them. Nonetheless, some within our Community presently survive without several of the most basic of these privilege. These are a few examples:

privacy or abode – Regardless of their effort, the houseless live in public. There is nothing private about it. Some live in remote areas. Some construct rudimentary structures. However, any of such abodes can be violated at any time.

running water – Although water is available to most of the houseless, it is generally inconvenient to access, or is very limited. It is not easily transported to remote locations where many houseless live. The houseless must go to the sources of water to use it, or collect what they can transport.

uninterrupted power supply – Compensation for a lack of utilities in conjunction with an unstable lifestyle is not as easy as it might seem to be. Fuel for heat is expensive and cumbersome to transport for those who lack a vehicle. Because abodes lack insulation, significant volumes of such fuel are necessary. Batteries for lighting are expensive.

food and choices – Although there is generally sufficient food for the locally houseless who can not afford much, choices are rather limited. Without utilities, frozen food can not be stored for long, and cooking may not be possible.

personal transportation – A vehicle is a major expense that most of the houseless can not afford. For those who can afford a vehicle, parking without a garage or designated parking space can be quite difficult.

physical safety – The houseless are the most vulnerable of society. They are outside and exposed to the elements most of the time. While inside, their abodes generally lack the security of conventional homes.

garbage disposal – Although the houseless generate less trash than those who reside in homes, they certainly generate some. Such trash is cumbersome to remove from some of the isolated situations which some of the houseless are compelled to inhabit. Fortunately, some neighbors allow the houseless to use their dumpsters, or procure dumpsters for large encampments of the houseless.

sewage system – Although not much of a problem in smaller Communities, where business owners and even some homeowners can allow the few local unhoused to use their bathrooms, it is a major problem for more significant Communities, in which there are too many housless to accommodate.

washing machines – A washing machine would not be much use without water or electricity anyway. Laundromats are so expensive.

internet – Although available to the houseless who have use for it, the internet is not as readily available as it is for those who reside in homes. Some use it at resource centers. Some rely on libraries. Those who own laptop computers sometimes use Wi-Fi at coffee shoppes or fast food establishments.

fridge – Like a washing machine, a refrigerator is not much use without electricity. This limits the potential for the storage of food.

enough money – This is one of the primary causes of houselesness. Many people with significant resources and income lack sufficient money for rent or a mortgage.

no discrimination – Houseless people are regularly victims of discrimination. It is as if many of those who would have been racist years ago, but can not be so in modern society, discriminate against the unhoused. It is as wrong as any other form of discrimination.

no trauma – Houslessness is traumatic. In conclusion of this seemingly extensive but actually brief list, this should be obvious, and necessitates no additional explanation.

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.

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.

Fuentes Residence – Pacoima

This is just too delightful to not share. The video in the original article is even better.

By CHELSEA EDWARDS Published June 18 (2021)

A homeless encampment in Pacoima, California has turned into an art piece after a homeless man turned a hillside along a freeway into a home that comes complete with art and gardens.

The property was build and landscaped along the 118 Freeway by 65-year-old Jose Fuentes. He’s originally from Colima, Mexico.

Nathaniel Padilla is the owner of Taco El Canelo, a restaurant that is next to the encampment.

Padilla says, “He said he was a gardener. So he did landscaping, so he got really good with his hands.”

He says it is becoming something legendary.

Padilla says, “People love it. I have people climbing up the mountain to go give them gifts like he’s like he’s baby Jesus almost. I have many people come out and ask me questions about what’s going on. ‘What is this? Is this like a memorial?’ No, it’s not. It’s just a creative man at work.”

Padilla says Fuentes helps keep the shopping center clean and they have a great relationship.

“Honestly, he never does anything to offend anybody. So we don’t have any reason to call any police or anyone to remove him from here. He’s a really, genuinely nice guy, and we’re happy to have him here,” Padilla says.

City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez addressed the encampment in a statement, accusing the state highway department of being negligent in maintaining the area and says that she, “continues to seek Caltrans cooperation and support to maintain their right of ways and work with appropriate agencies to coordinate services for the unhoused who are living on state property.”

Caltrans says it is working with various partners to moved the unhoused into safer situations and that due to COVID-19: “Caltrans is proceeding with the encampment cleanups if there was an immediate safety concern or threat to critical infrastructure.”

Fuentes says that no one has ever asked him to leave The hillside or has offered him housing but whatever happens, he’ll keep his creative flair.

He says, “They take it away. We move on. We build another place.”

Evacuation Warning

It just never ends here.

Many people lost their homes to the CZU Fire last summer.

A few homes were damaged or destroyed by trees and debris that were blown down by strong winds early last week.

Before all the damage could be repaired, and all the mess and clogged drainage could be mitigated, the rain started.

Now, an evacuation warning has been issued because wind and rain predicted for Tuesday night is likely to cause debris flows and perhaps flooding within or downstream from areas affected by the CZU Fire.

It seems to be so unfair that homes, which we expect to be reasonably safe and secure, can be so vulnerable.

We all know the risks associated with living here, but such risks do not often affect so many within such a short time.

In fact, the CZU Fire was the most destructive fire in local history, and involved the most significant evacuations.

Those of us who lack homes must contend with the risks associated with living here as well. Just as rain is a problem for anyone who can not repair a damaged roof in a timely manner, it is a problem for anyone who lacks a roof. The current evacuation warning is unlikely to affect locations inhabited by those who lack homes, but flooding of creeks or the San Lorenzo River might.

Most of those who had recently been deprived of their homes have fortunately procured residency elsewhere, even if just temporarily. Very few lack adequate shelter here. Of those who do, some inhabit sites that are close to water. Those who are in situations that will likely be inundated as creeks and the San Lorenzo River rise need to relocate. This will not be easy in the rain.

Fortunately, rain is not predicted for tomorrow (Monday).

Out In Nature

The forest is doing well.

Felton has certainly changed since my grandparents arrived in the early 1940s. So many more homes have been built around their formerly isolated home on Ashley Street. A supermarket and two big drug stores are within walking distance of Downtown. There are more people and traffic here in Felton now than there were in Sunnyvale when they left.

Wow, Sunnyvale has certainly changed as well.

Yet, nature is still natural. The second growth redwoods are getting to be eighty years older than they were back then. So are some of the old oaks and firs. Otherwise, the forest and all the flora and fauna in it function now like they did back then.

Dogs enjoy nature too.

It has been slightly more than a year since I wrote ‘Fake Environmentalism‘, about the misconception that homelessness is more detrimental to the environment than domestic lifestyles are. That article was more about how domestic lifestyles affect the environment in ways that few of us give much thought to, rather than the relatively minimal impact of homelessness.

We all have seen pictures of the most horrendous of homeless encampments, which are typically inhabited by those afflicted by functionality compromising mental disorder. Encampments such as these exemplify homelessness no more accurately than the White House exemplifies all domestic situations. They are rare, and still less polluting than average domestic lifestyles.

Most homeless encampments are not much to get pictures of. Many homeless people leave nothing where they sleep for the night, but instead take everything with them when they leave in the morning, even if they return at the end of the day.

I could see no evidence of encampments while walking with Rhody through an area where a few homeless people live. I might have found minor evidence if I had looked for it, but that was not my intention. If I had wanted to see evidence of human habitation, we would have walked on one of the several suburban streets in town.

No Vacation

Some have said that those who ridicule the homeless should try being homeless. I disagree. For several reasons, I do not believe that any more people than absolutely necessary should ever attempt homelessness. As long as someone who is homeless would prefer to be sheltered, there is more homelessness than there should be. This is something that society needs no more of.

There really is no way to ‘try’ homelessness anyway. Someone is either homeless or not. Spending a night under a bridge without losing the security of a home to return to afterward will by no means makes someone an expert. Spending a few or several nights under a bridge might provide more insight into the basics of such a lifestyle, but is still no substitute for the real thing.

Homelessness in no vacation. Otherwise, it would be more popular. Backpacking and camping are popular only because those who do it start out well outfitted, and get to go home afterward. Traveling to places far away from home is popular too, but is preferably done with even more than the comforts of home. Someone who vacations in Paris is no more homeless than Parisian.

Those who are inexperienced with homelessness are fortunate. Hopefully, none of them will ever need to experience it nearly as intimately as a tourist experiences Paris. Those who are so deficient of civility and compassion for humanity as to ridicule or otherwise express unfounded disdain for all collective homeless people should instead be examining their own inadequacies.

That seems to be a common theme. Those who complain the most have the most to complain about. Even if it were possible to ‘try’ homelessness, doing so would not provide much practical insight for those unwilling to use it, who are so intent on contempt of others.

“STAY AT HOME”

The font of the sermonette on the other side is too small to get a good picture of.

That is an order! . . . but not just any order. It is an official California State Order. Most of us have been doing rather well with it from the onset. Many of us are unable to go to work anyway. We might be catching up on some of the many chores we have been neglecting, and maybe wondering how to pay the bills if our income stops. It is a uniquely troubling time, to say the least.

What about those of us who lack homes? Avoidance of others is facilitated by so many others staying at home where they belong. Otherwise, social distancing is the best we can do. Even that is quite difficult for those who live in very close proximity to others in the same situation. Because of the trouble of storing what we need, we must shop for food more frequently than others.

Larger Communities, such as Santa Cruz, are attempting to shelter more of those who lack shelter, particularly those who are classified as ‘high risk’. Hotels should be commended for their cooperation with this endeavor, and for providing uncrowded individual accommodations to the elderly! Many prefer to avoid crowded shelters where practical social distancing is impossible.

Lunches at both Felton Presbyterian Church and Saint John’s Catholic Church can not be served to our significant groups, although Felton Presbyterian Church continues to provide bagged individual lunches. As their flier in the picture above indicates, showers at Felton Presbyterian Church have been canceled. Fortunately, we have other meager resources, and adequate food.

We know how to work with limited assets.

News is confusing. We all know why it is so very important now though. There is no need to say so. Nor must we read about it in the flier above. There are plenty of other credible resources.

Actually, the font is not all that bad.

Better Homeless Gardens

‘Better Homes & Gardens’ appeals to those with homes and perhaps associated gardens that are, well . . . better. It also appeals to those of us who would prefer our homes and gardens to be better than they presently are. Those of us who lack home or garden space are likely more concerned with basic survival than the latest fads and trends of contemporary domestic lifestyles.

Of course, that does not dictate that none of us are interested in domestic issues or gardening. Every one of us has lived in a home at one time or another, and intends to do so again. Many of us have likewise enjoyed gardening, and intend to do so again. In fact, a few of us presently enjoy gardening without our own garden spaces. Some of our gardens are remarkably productive!

Garden spaces are are not as difficult to procure as domestic situations are. Some of us who reside in homes but do not enjoy gardening are pleased for others to utilize some of our otherwise unused garden space, rather than allow it to remain fallow. Some even consider the cost of water consumed by a garden to be worth the incidental management of unwanted wild vegetation.

This happens to be the time of year for warm season vegetables to get started for summer and into autumn. None of us really need to grow any vegetables. We have access to more than we need from food distribution and donations. We just enjoy growing a few vegetables that are not commonly provided by the typical sources, such as tomatoes, green beans, peas and corn.

Some of us just enjoy gardening for the sake of gardening, and share the vegetables, fruits and even a few flowers with anyone in the Community who appreciates the produce.