First Rain

Weather forecast at about 8:00 this morning, October 17, 2021 (which is incidentally the anniversary of the Loma Prieta Earthquake).

According to the weather forecast from this morning, as illustrated above, rain should start to fall at any time, now that it is after four. It is delayed by about two hours according to the current forecast. Clouds are already here, with more arriving over Bonny Doon.

This first episode of rain is not expected to last more than three hours, with only a forty percent chance of rain for the last hour. It will not be much. Nonetheless, it will be the first of the rainy season. More sustained rain showers are predicted for Wednesday, Friday and afterward.

Some of us who enjoy such weather are pleased with the first rain. It freshens the forests and home gardens, and can be a good excuse to stay inside and cozy by a warm fire and under a dry roof.

Those who are not so pleased with rain are aware that it is how seasons progress here. The weather is excellent for most of the time, but for a few brief months annually, it gets cool and rainy. Such cool and rain weather is unpleasant for those who lack the option of staying inside and cozy by a warm fire, or under a reliably dry roof.

That is why so many within our esteemed Community provide tents and tarps for those who lack domestic situations. Such provisions can not solve homelessness, but can make it a bit more bearable for those experiencing it. Fortunately, there are not as many who need such provisions here as there had been only a few years ago.

It will be a while before the rainy season ends next spring. Until then, some degree of damp and uncomfortably cool weather are will be unavoidable. Our resourceful Community will do what it must to contend with it.

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.

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.

Cost of Living

While looking at real estate in Oklahoma, it is apparent why homelessness in not so prevalent there. It is probably similar to many other places in America. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that this region and a few others are not so similar to the rest of America. After all, there are more of those places than there are of these. They are what is more normal. This is not normal.

It is easy to imagine that harsh climate would be a deterrent to homelessness. It probably is to transient homeless people who migrate to climates that are more conducive to homelessness. However, there really are not many homeless people who are transient, even here. Almost all homeless people live in their respective Communities, where they were before homelessness.

The cost of living is more relevant to homelessness than climate. There are not as many homeless people in Oklahoma simply because rent and real estate is so much more affordable there, even relative to the lower regional average of wages. Many more people who want to purchase a home can. Just about anyone with an average job can afford the regionally inexpensive rent.

Another dynamic that is not often considered is that people in Oklahoma and many other regions can live on their own property, even without what would be considered to be a habitable or ‘compliant’ residence. Those who own property might live in recycled mobile homes that may not comply to local building codes. Some might live in less than that, rather than be homeless.

There would be so much less homelessness in some parts of California if that were possible here. Some of the homeless in Felton own undeveloped and otherwise useless parcels that could accommodate all of the few who presently remain homeless here.

San Lorenzo Valley & Scott’s Valley Meal and Food Programs – September 2019

This updated list was printed and distributed last Tuesday at Luncheon at Felton Presbyterian Church, which is listed here as ‘Free Lunch Tuesday’. This list is likely more comprehensive than any of us need it to be, since almost all of us can procure more than what we need without ever leaving Felton. Nonetheless, for those who may find it useful, the list is posted verbatim:

San Lorenzo Valley & Scott’s Valley Meal and Food Programs

September 2019

Tuesdays through Saturdays (also 4th Mondays). Valley Churches United, Food Pantry and Food Distribution programs. Tues – Thurs 9 – 11:45 and Saturday 10 – 11:45. 1st and 3rd Fridays 9 – 11 are for seniors only. USDA Distribution on 4th Monday 10 – 1. For SLV, Scotts Valley, and Bonny Doon residents. Ben Lomond, corner of Highway 9 across from Ben Lomond Market, 336-8258.

Tuesdays, noon. Felton Presbyterian Church, 6090 Highway 9, across fro Rite-Aid, 335-6900. “Free Lunch Tuesday

Tuesdays, 2:30 – 6:30. Felton Farmers’ Market, Hwy 9 and Russell. Up to $10 matched when customers use their Cal Fresh (EBT/SNAP) cards. The extra money must be used for fresh produce at the market. (May – Oct)

Wednesdays, 12 – 2. San Agustin Catholic Church, 257 Glenwood Dr. Scotts Valley (next to the fire station). 438 3633. Food Distribution.

Thursdays, 10:30 – 1:30 (doors open 9:00 – 3:00). St. John’s Catholic Church, down from Rite-Aid, Highway 9 and Russell, Felton. 335-4657 . “Thursday Lunch.”

Thursdays, 11 – 12. Mountain Community Resources (a Community Bridges program), 6134 Highway 9, across from Rite Aid, Felton 335-6600 Food Distribution.

Thursdays, 5:00 – 6:30, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, 5271 Scotts Valley Drive, Scotts Valley. 438-4360 Food Distribution.

Fridays, 5 – 5:30 p.m.. GateWay Bible Church, 5000 Granite Creek Road, Scotts Valley, CA 95066. 438-0646. “Fridays at Five” food distribution.

Sunday, September 29, 2:00 SS Peter & Paul Orthodox Church, 9980 Highway 9, Ben Lomond, north of town, 336-2228. Dinner.

Meals on Wheels (a Community Bridges program), hot meals at dining centers in Ben Lomond (M-F, 336-5366) and Scotts Valley (Wednesdays, 438-8666). Reservations required, $2.50 requested donation, for age 60+ (limited exceptions). Meals delivered if eligible, 464-3180.

Grey Bears Brown Bag Program, weekly bag of produce to be picked up in Boulder Creek, Ben Lomond, Felton or Scotts Valley. Delivery available for homebound seniors. $30 annual membership fee, for age 55+. www.greybears.org (479-1055).

Except as noted, all programs are free of charge – Schedules are subject to change.

Submit Changes/Additions to slvsvmeals@gmail.com

(Please note that dinner on Sunday [September 29] at Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church is not a recurring event, although other dinners will be scheduled later.)

Generosity

Felton is no place to go hungry. There is too much generosity and abundance for that. Those of us who need more produce than we can afford might get the rest of what we need from ‘Food Distribution‘. Neighbors and local stores regularly bring surpluses to the homeless. There is very often excess that must be taken and stored by those of us with freezers and refrigerators.

The big pile of goods that was delivered to the Graham Hill Road Bridge over Zayante Creek almost two weeks ago has not yet been completely distributed to those who can use it. It will most certainly be distributed as the message that was delivered with it instructed. It will just take a bit more time for such a generous contribution. It included so much more than groceries!

Clothing and bedding are often donated to those who can use them. They are not perishable like fresh groceries are. In fact, there is presently some minor clothing and a little bit of bedding in storage. Recently, someone who was emptying out a barn brought a pickup full of bicycles to Felton Covered Bridge Park for anyone who could use one. Yes, the generosity is astounding!

That is not even the total extent of it! (But wait! There’s more!) People sometimes seek out the unemployed around town, whom they can hire for odd jobs around the farm or home. On rare occasion, some are offered more permanent jobs. Over the past many years, a few of the homeless here have even been offered temporary shelter until they found more permanent homes.

Perhaps we should not be surprised by such generosity. Many of us were generous when we had resources to share with the less fortunate. Besides, we all know what sort of Community Felton is.