Workday Update from October 19

Finally! The flowering crabapple in front of Felton Presbyterian Church is properly pruned! It is a bit early in autumn for such pruning, and the pruning is a bit more severe than it should have been, but it is finally done! The tree should bloom well in spring, and grow normally through summer. It is what I concentrated on, but is really only one of several workday projects.

Most of the work involved maintenance and cleaning of the facilities, which must be done even when all goes well in the minimal landscape. A big refrigerator from Taylor Hall was brought outside where it was defrosted and cleaned. Cobwebs were brought down. Debris from the trees was blown and removed. A skylight was repaired. There were quite a few chores on the list.

The most unusual task, which was added to the original list, was the cleaning of the darkened dusty spots on the insulated ceiling of Taylor Hall. No one really knows how they got there, or what to do about them, or even what the strange insulation of the ceiling consists of. Ultimately, after washing was found to be impractical, a distinctly dusty patch was effectively vacuumed.

The few remaining cypress trees between the north boundary of the parking lot and A&W still need significant work. It would not be practical to prune them completely, since they will likely be removed as they succumb to disease within the next few years. However, lower growth that is either obtrusive to adjacent parking spaces, or just plain unsightly, should be pruned away.

It is a significant project that I could use some help with during the next workday.

The next work day has not yet been scheduled. I hope to be informed about it soon enough to write about it here.

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.

Trendsetters

Fashion trendsetters we are not. Some of us wear clothing that was donated by others partly because it was no longer in style. We take what we can get.

Nor do we start trends of electronics technology. Most of us are satisfied with the basics, or none at all.

Most of us are not at all interested in keeping up with the trends that others indulge in.

Yet, somehow, we inadvertently started a culinary trend that we probably should have kept as our secret.

Black elderberry had already become a culinary and medicinal fad. It started with medicinal black elderberry products, such as herbal extracts and tinctures, to stimulate the immune system. From there, black elderberry tea, syrup, candy and (cooked) juice were popularized as more culinarily appealing options for exploiting the health benefits of this rediscovered fruit. Even old fashioned products made from the flowers became trendy.

All the while, the black elderberries that these products were made from came almost exclusively from eastern North America and Europe, within or somewhere close to regions that they are naturally native to. Black elderberry plants that are grown for fruit production are quarantined from import into California.

No one seemed to notice the native blue elderberries that grow wild here. Well, no one noticed until our blue elderberry jelly started wining ribbons annually at the Jelly & Jam Competition of the Santa Cruz Mountains Harvest Festival several years ago. Winning ribbons was no big deal when there were only a few entries, but it did bring attention to the formerly ignored native blue elderberries.

Suddenly, blue elderberries are getting harvested so thoroughly that it is not so easy to get enough to make jelly for the Jelly & Jam Competition this autumn. Besides jelly, people are making syrup, wine and even a distilled brandy like concoction from them. We can only hope that fermentation of the wine denatures the toxins of the raw juice like cooking does. (Raw elderberries are toxic.)

Those who had invited some of us to collect berries from their properties in the past are finding that the berries are getting collected by neighbors before we can get to them. After seeing the berries ignored for as long as anyone can remember, the neighbors are not likely aware that blue elderberries are now in demand. Fortunately, we have multiple sources, and we do not need many.

Crime Report

Law enforcement agencies, such as our Santa Cruz County Sheriffs’ Office, tend to report crime accurrately. Those who write such reports are trained on how to do so, so do not embelish with speculation or bias. Because their reports are available to everyone in the Community, they are likely to be confronted with even the slightest of innaccuracies, or anything that can be remotely percieved as an innaccuracy. It can not be an easy process.

Many law enforement agencies, such as ours, share some of their information about crime on social media. They sometimes ask the Commmunity for information that might be useful for a partiuclar investgation or locating a missing person. Sometimes, they just want to allert the Community to an escallation of a particular type of crime in a partiular neighborhood. Sometimes, they merely want to share a bit of what they do to protect and serve.

Unfortunately, as useful as social media and networking is, it it where all the work that goes into accuracy without speculation or bias is ignored, as anyone with any random gripe can respond with distirubingly vitriolic and typically irrelevant accusations, judgments, criticism, threats and name calling. The creativity of such comments is as impressive as the ridiculousness. The unhappiest and most hateful of people have very active imaginations.

Of course, the homeless and societally oppressed are almost always the victims of their creative imaginations.

When the Ox sculpture in Felton Covered Bridge Park was vandalized, the homeless were immediately blamed. In fact, Felton League was implicated specifically, without explanation. What was even sillier was that after witnessing the crime, one of our associates went to find someone with a telephone to call for a sheriff deputy, while another pursued the vandals until deputies arrived. The vandals, who were not homeless, were arrested.

Yes, there are a few doozies out there.

One of the all time oddest was more than a year and half ago, when the Sheriffs’ Office described on their Facebook page how they had apprehended the man who started the Bear Fire by burning down his home. Someone, who likely has serious issue with the classic ‘chicken or the egg dilemma of causality’, actually replied to that very same post by blaming the fire on the homeless!

Hypocrisy – Mugshot

There is a reason why no illustration accompanies this post. The picture that I wanted to use is just too unflattering.

It is a mugshot of an old friend who had been arrested for trying to get into a car that he believed belonged to his nephew, and then getting combative with Santa Cruz Police Officers who tried to stop him from doing so. He had been missing for three days prior to that, after escaping from the post acute care facility where he lived near the end of his life as he succumbed to a variety of ailments, particularly lung cancer and dementia.

We do not know where he had been or what he had been doing during those days that he was missing. He could not explain any of it. He was very tired and very hungry, and looked ghastly by the time he was found. Fortunately, the Police Officers who arrested him were quick to determine who he was and that he was missing, and then return him to the post acute care facility from where he had escaped. It was an efficient process.

He would have been located much sooner if only the haters had helped. They found his mugshot immediately. Within hours, they had paraded it thoroughly over Facebook and perhaps other social networks, complete with the typical vitriolic accusations, blaming, judging, criticizing, threatening and name calling that they are so proficient and indulgent with. Is dementia really that serious of a crime?

Perhaps it does not matter. To get the process started, haters need only a mention of a crime that includes the names of the perpetrators to find their mugshots online. They often take useful information that is posted on the Facebook page of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, and embellish it for their own sadistic entertainment. The rest of us simply want to know about crime in our Community, and maybe, who to be wary of.

After noticing the potential beginning of another display of public ridicule following a post on the Facebook page of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office a few months ago, a former neighbor questioned one of the main participants in this routine derision, in regard to particular mugshots that she had neglected. This particular hater had always been the most proficient at procuring and exhibiting mugshots for public disparagement.

The hater immediately became hostile to the former neighbor who questioned her, and predictably initiated the typical vitriolic accusations, blaming, judging, criticizing, threatening and name calling that only haters employ to demonstrate their exemplary civility and concern for the Community. Despite her attempts to redirect and end discussion, the former neighbor limited his questions to the topic of the neglected mugshots, but to no avail.

Just as predictably, after failing to dissuade the former neighbor from continuing to ask why the neglected mugshots were not discussed, the hater blocked him from responding, without acknowledgment of the mugshots.

The mugshots in question are of a young lady who had been arrested for DUI (Driving Under the Influence of an inebriant), which really seems like it should be a more serious crime than dementia. I mean, those who drive while inebriated sometimes kill people! However, the young lady who was arrested for DUI is a daughter of another main participant in the routine derision and disparagement of ‘other’ people with mugshots.

World Wide Web

We never know who will read what we post online. It is not like old fashioned newspapers that could only be read as far away as the printed pages got dispersed. Everyone with access to the internet has access to this.

Nowadays, there is nothing unusual about that. Just about everything is online. What is unusual is that so many outside of our distinguished Community are interested in reading about us.

This ‘blog’ (Gads! I hate that word!) is not even a month old, and contains only a few brief posts that are not particularly compelling. Yet, posts have been read by quite a few visitors, including some who are nowhere near here. There is certainly nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is rather gratifying. It is just unexpected.

Many of the issues that concern our minor local Community are common concerns that affect many other Communities all over the World. Nonetheless, different societies contend with such issues in their own unique ways. Are our techniques somehow relevant to other cultures and other societies? How similar are they? How are they different?

It will be interesting to see where outside of America our posts get read. So far, they have been read in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, India, France, Switzerland and China. If it were possible, it would also be interesting to see where within American the vast majority of those reading our posts are located.

Furthermore, all this interest in our distinguished Community stimulates interest in others who are concerned with some of the same issues that concern us, but from within the context of potentially very differnt cultures. Is homelessness really as tolerable in India as so many of us believe it to be? How do the homeless of Switzerland survive the dangerously harsh winters? That is what the World Wide Web is for.