The Good Life

We have it good here. It is not always easy, and it sometimes gets difficult, but generally, we have it good.

That is not much consolation for many of those who formerly inhabited homes that were destroyed by the CZU Fire more than a year ago. Nor does it seem like much help to those who were deprived of their former domestic situations for other reasons, or are currently involved with such processes. It might not become apparent until after recovery. 

The potential for recovery might be an early clue to how good the situation here is. The Community is so remarkably compassionate and supportive. That is why so few of us lacked domestic situations prior to the CZU Fire. The Community commonly assists the unhoused with procurement of habitation, even if just temporarily. Also, the Community sometimes assists the unemployed with employment to sustain such habitation.

Furthermore, no one goes hungry for long here. Food Distribution (between 11:00 a.m. and noon on Thursdays) at Community Bridges provides supplemental sustenance for those who have need for it, and is remarkably generous with surplus produce. Although it can not supply all necessary sustenance, it assists those with limited resources by offsetting their expenditure on particular grocery items. Although Felton Presbyterian Church and Saint John’s Church are still (temporarily) unable to serve Community lunches at noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays respectively, both continue to provide bagged lunches at the same times.

Not all Communities are so compassionate or accommodating. Some Communities are unable to accommodate everyone who is in need and receptive to assistance. It is saddening to observe the substantially more deplorable situations that some of the unhoused of Santa Cruz, Watsonville and San Jose must contend with. However, it does remind us that we have it good here.

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.

A New Surplus

Yellow summer squash is almost as abundant as zucchini.

Felton is certainly no place to go hungry in. The generosity here can be a bit overwhelming at times. Surplus of perishable food that must be frozen almost exceeds the capacity of the freezers that we use. Some of the non perishable food gets transferred to a somewhat well stocked pantry where it is shared with anyone in the Community who wants it, regardless of need.

Food distribution between 11:00 and noon on Thursday at Community Bridges still helps by providing more variety of food, but what is procured is shared amongst more significant groups. Some of us take what we get to share with those we work with, because some have not been working as much as they typically do lately. Nonetheless, there is still sometimes a bit of surplus.

Now, there is about to be a little bit more. The vegetable plants that some of us started in various small garden plots have been producing a few minor vegetables, and are just about to start producing more significantly. Even vegetable plants that got started late are catching up with a normal schedule now that days are longer and the weather is warming. It is that time of year.

Frequent harvest of zucchini promotes continual production.

Unfortunately, there could be a slight increase in the need for this minor bit of surplus at about the same time that it becomes available. So many in the Community who rely on tourism and associated industries for revenue will be earning less than normal during what should be the busiest season. Although more can return to work now, fewer tourists can afford to spend much.

Diminished revenue limits any expenditure on the necessities of life. A few of those who are so very generous to us might now benefit from the minor surplus that they helped us to generate.

To enhance production, a few bits of corn tassel will get snipped to dust the silks.

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.

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.

Social Distancing

While so many of those with homes to go home to are not out socializing, social distancing should be easier for the rest of us. In many regards it is. Although some who lack homes live within very minimal proximity of others in the same situation, the innate crowding is no worse than it is for families with children living in the same home. Some have dispersed to avoid socializing.

Of course, because of the difficulty of storing food, most of those who lack kitchens must still shop for food more frequently than most. Some manage to store a bit more than typical, in order to avoid shopping. Some are even consuming more of the edible but undesirable vegetation that grows wildly along the roads. It is better for stinging nettle to be harvested from trails anyway.

It is amazing that both Felton Presbyterian Church and Saint John’s Catholic Church continue to serve lunch. Felton Presbyterian Church serves lunch right around noon on Tuesday, starting a bit earlier and continuing a bit later so that a large group does not need to arrive at the same time. Saint John’s Catholic Church serves lunch between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on Thursday.

The most important stipulation is that bagged lunches are served to go only. No one can stay to eat. The hours from which lunch is served at Saint John’s Catholic Church are abbreviated for now as well, starting half an hour later, and ending an hour and a half earlier. Of course that can change. Those preparing lunches for us really should be isolating at home, not out socializing.

Even with all that is going on in Felton and the rest of the World, it is amazing that the Community continues to provide for those who need it most.

“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.

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.