Pioneers

Pioneers made America what it is now, and continue to do so. The first migrated from northeastern Asia many thousands of years ago. During the past several centuries, many more migrated from Europe. More migrated from Asia during the past few centuries. They all came for something better than what they had where they came from, although few knew what that entailed. Slaves from Africa had no choice about coming here, but their descendants eventually also participated in pursuit of legendary American opportunity.

Arrival was merely the beginning for earlier pioneers here. Many arrived with minimal resources. Many were unhoused when they arrived. They all needed to go somewhere. Many migrated west into regions that were inhabited by descendants of earlier pioneers. They built homes, farms, industries and towns as they went. This is how every American industry and city began. Actually, this is how every industry and every city in the World began at one time or another.

Everyone is a descendent of someone who lacked resources. Many are direct descendents of pioneers who arrived in America with nothing more than aspiration. Many actually are such pioneers. Many are direct descendents of slaves who were freed into an oppressively bigoted society, but were compelled to be circumstantial pioneers.

Many of our pioneer ancestors were unhoused as they migrated across America. Many were unhoused as they prospected for gold during the Gold Rush. Many were unhoused as they harvested timber from American forests.

Houselessness is a common theme within American history and culture. However, it has become less respectable over time. Ancient tribes that were formerly nomadic within America were considered to be uncivilized savages early within American history. Refugees of the Dust Bowl were shunned as they migrated mostly to California and Arizona. Even the formerly glamorized undomesticated lifestyles of traditional American cowboys who prefer a home on the range is now difficult for most to understand.

Kahramanmaras Earthquake

So far, the Kahramanmaras Earthquake in Turkey and Syria two weeks ago killed more than 46,800 people. That is significantly more than the combined populations of Los Gatos and Scott’s Valley. More than 1.05 million people were left homeless. That is significantly more than the population of San Jose. These incomprehensible statistics are likely to increase.

Adjacent societies are unable to accommodate so many displaced survivors. Many survivors need to relocate very far from home merely to survive. This is why so many other societies of other regions are so graciously and generously accommodating survivors and sharing resources.

Very few within our local Community have experienced such major disasters. Of those who have, some arrived here as refugees from such disasters. None have experienced such disasters locally, because nothing so majorly disastrous has ever happened here.

Fortunately, graciousness and generosity seem to be very common human attributes, even if resources are limited, and even among those who lack experience with disastrous events. This is very obvious within our own Community, and is why we help each other during and after storms, floods, mudslides, fires and earthquakes. Of course, difficulties need not be catastrophic to justify gracious response. Many provide food, clothing, shelter, bedding and all sorts of other resources for the less fortunate who are not necessarily affected by catastrophes.

It never gets old. Sometimes, the extreme generosity of the local Community seems to be very unique, and we are honored to benefit from it. Sometimes, other Communities throughout the World are just as remarkably generous.

News from Turkey and Syria will be unpleasant for quite a while. Recovery will be slow. Also, within our own Community, some will always be in need of assistance. There will always be difficulties somewhere. There will always be opportunities for generosity and graciousness.

Real Estate

Real estate is depreciating significantly. There is no easier manner in which to say so. Some predict that this will be the most significant adjustment of the real estate market in modern American history. This adjustment is expected to be most severe within the first year, and then to continue for a few years. The more overpriced markets and overpriced properties will likely be affected most.

Recession, inflation, interest rates and the many economic variables that affect the real estate market are all so confusing. Their influences are undeniable though. Real estate investments are losing value. Rental properties will likely be generating less revenue soon. It all seems to be so unpleasant.

However, depreciation of real estate may improve the potential for some who would like to purchase a home to do so. Also, declining rental rates may facilitate procurement of rented domestic situations by some who would benefit from them.

The local real estate market has been unreal for quite a while. Average and better than average incomes have been insufficient to sustain mortgages or rents. Although declines of real estate markets are considered to be detrimental to the economies of their respective societies, they make real estate more realistic.

It will be interesting to observe the results of the declining real estate market, particularly in conjunction with what already seems to be a declining rate of houselessness. Any benefits from such loss would be gratifying.

Meanwhile, although many homes were damaged by severe weather since the end of December, only about eight were destroyed within all of Santa Cruz County. Those that were damaged should be repairable, so those who inhabit them should not lack them for too long.

The innate risks associated with real estate here do not deter many of us from continuing to live here.

There’s No Place Like Home . . . Really!

Prior to March, I intend to return to the Pacific Northwest for two weeks. Prior to May, I hope to return to Southern California and continue almost to Phoenix for two weeks. I am confident that both trips will be very enjoyable. They always are. I should enjoy such trips more often, and perhaps go to a few places that I have not been to yet.

I have already been to some rather excellent places, and experienced many of them more intimately than average tourists do. I explored Steinbeck’s favorite sites in Monterey with a direct descendent of some of the first Spanish people to arrive there. I camped in an abandoned home with rain seeping through the ceiling west of Portland just to enjoy time with my uncle. I have visited homes of celebrities in the Los Angeles region simply by following my colleague to his projects. All of these experiences were excellent, even Las Vegas. However, none were here.

I really can not say that ‘here’ is necessarily any better than ‘there’, wherever ‘there’ is. Nor can I say that ‘there’ is any better than ‘here’. I only know I enjoyed every ‘there’ that I have been to, but the one ‘here’ that I know is home.

Houselessness is certainly no vacation. Yet, like vacation and travel, it instills a unique appreciation for home. For residential or employment opportunities, some who lack a stable domestic situation may decide to relocate and make their home somewhere else, even if they eventually return to their original or previous home because it is where they prefer to be. Some may lack such options, so simply stay within their respective home region. Every situation and every individual is different. Ultimately, whether within a domestic situation or not, there’s no place like home.

January 1982 III

Actually, it was more like January 1987, five years after the floods that I mentioned last week. Actually, both the weather and the date are irrelevant. It was a long time ago, but at the time, it was the present. We lived in it. We had some minor plans for our futures and careers, but not much more. We were more concerned with enjoying our next few years at college.

At that time, my experience with racism was limited mostly to the animosity of a few of the older generation for the Vietnamese refugees whom I grew up with. Observing comparably limited but similarly barbaric behavior directed at my colleague because of his African American ancestry was like a different flavor of the same old hooey.

Our parents raised us better than that because of the time that they lived through. My colleague’s father graduated from law school and eventually became a Los Angeles County Judge through the Civil Rights Movement. Our parents did not want racism to be as difficult for us as it was for them. It was not. However, a few older people within our Community were still quite comfortable with their outdated racism.

Sexism was a completely new concept to both of us. Women’s liberation started about the time we were born, and had evolved significantly by the time we were in the third or fourth grade. However, we attended a college that had been an exclusively men’s school only three decades earlier. A few of our oldest professors were students there prior to that, and resented the admission of women.

Both racism and sexism have improved over the years, although racism fluctuates significantly more, and made a resurgence in recent years. However, about a decade ago, discrimination against the impoverished and unhoused became much more prevalent. It is as if those who hate must hate someone, or a group of someones. If they can not attach their innate hatred to race or gender, they direct it to a particular social class.

Fortunately, this sort of discrimination is declining much more readily than other forms of discrimination. After only a decade, it is beginning to become vilified like racism and sexism should have been a very long time ago.

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2023!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! The first day of it was certainly better than the last day of last year. It was so clear and sunny, and completely opposite of the torrential rain of the day earlier. The San Lorenzo River and Zayante Creek flowed at normal levels, without indication that they flooded less than a day ago.

Earlier flooding and mudslides were reminders of the potential for instability of stable domestic situations. Most homes within Felton Grove are elevated above such floods, but were evacuated nonetheless. Vehicles there needed to be parked elsewhere. A few roads nearby were blocked by erosion or fallen trees.

More storms are predicted for next week. Now that so much soil is becoming saturated, such storms could contribute to more erosion, mudslides and fallen trees, particularly in conjunction with wind. Additional flooding could also be possible.

Even if familiarity with the risks associated with living here is no deterrent, it makes such risks no easier. Evacuation is difficult. Flood damage or worse is even more difficult.

In some ways, such difficulties are more difficult for a few of those with more stability than for those with less. After all, such difficulties are much more likely to cause more substantial loss for those with more to lose.

Those who lack stable domestic situations may be very inconvenienced by severe weather and flooding, but they are somewhat inconvenienced regardless of the weather. Although most who reside within stable domestic situations are not even slightly inconvenienced by severe weather, a few may be severely inconvenienced, and some even lose their home entirely. It is how some people become unhoused!

Stability is generally preferable to instability. It is never absolute though. We all assume risks associated with living here, and do our best with what we have to work with.

December 18, 2022 – Memorial Grove Update

These three young Monterey cypress trees of the Memorial Grove have been doing quite well. Consequently, there is not much to write about them. Two were installed scarcely more than a year ago. The other was installed about two and a half years ago. All three were dinky seedlings when installed, so are less demanding than larger specimens would have been as they dispersed their roots to get established. Although still young, small and vulnerable, their only minor difficulty has been the partial shade of larger endemic box elder and cottonwood trees that have not yet been pruned for clearance. Such pruning has been delayed until the new trees become established, which they seem to have been doing quite efficiently. Although they lack supplemental irrigation, they would likely appreciate increased exposure to sunlight more than shelter from potentially desiccating warm breezes. I intend to increase clearance for the oldest of the three trees this winter for next year. I should do the same for the other two trees by next winter. Adjacent vegetation will subordinate to these three trees as they mature. They are only rarely irrigated by bucket and even more rarely fertilized. Lack of irrigation promotes deeper root dispersion. Since they are a nearly native species from Carmel, they actually require no assistance now that their roots are adequately dispersed. Unfortunately, I did not get good pictures of any of the trees.

The Steven Michael Ralls Memorial Tree is the oldest of the three Monterey cypress trees within the Memorial Grove. It was installed on May 2, 2020, three years after Steven Michael Ralls passed away. It is now almost six feet tall.

Steven Michael Ralls Memorial Tree

The David Noel Riddell Memorial Tree was installed in conjunction with the David Fritiof Lindberg Memorial Tree a few days after David Fritiof Lindberg passed away on November 13, 2021. It is the smallest of the three trees, so is only slightly taller than three feet. Monterey cypress is coincidentally an ideal species for this particular Memorial, since David Noel Riddell is a direct descendent of some of the first Spanish people to arrive in California. His ancestors have inhabited Monterey continuously since then.

David Noel Riddell Memorial Tree

The David Fritiof Lindberg Memorial Tree, as mentioned above, was installed a few days after David Fritiof Lindberg passed away on November 13, 2021. It is about four feet tall now.

David Fritiof Lindberg Memorial Tree

These three trees were installed in memory of three members of our Community who, at one time or another, had been unhoused. Actually, this Memorial Grove is coincidentally developing on a former camp site of Steven Michael Ralls. A fourth tree will be installed for another deceased and formerly unhoused member of our Community as more of the endemic vegetation is subordinated. This fourth tree and any subsequent trees may not necessarily be Monterey cypress, but will be evergreen and coniferous, since the Memorial Grove happens to be a component of a landscape that is designed to replace deciduous endemic vegetation with densely evergreen vegetation, and ultimately obscure the view of nearby industrial buildings.

Discontinuance

Discontinuance of my other primary blog will be completely different from discontinuance of this blog last July. Articles from my weekly column will continue to post on that blog on Mondays and Tuesdays, so even without recycled old articles and all that other hooey in the future, some readers may not notice much of a difference. Realistically, that was what the blog was originally intended for.

Actually, I discontinued writing for the other blog quite a while ago. As for this blog, posts there are mostly recycled. Recycling is cheating, but writing occupies too much time that I could devote to other more important interests, such as gardening and travel. If I were to continue to devote so much time to writing, I should write books instead.

What makes discontinuance of each of these two blogs so completely different is that the primary remains relevant while the secondary does not remain as relevant as it originally was. The secondary was intended to “feature articles and insight about the distinguished small group of displaced or socially marginalized people and their friends in Felton”. So, there is not much to feature now that so few remain displaced or socially marginalized.

Of course, the situation is dynamic. A scant few remain displaced, although less socially marginalized than prior. A few others become displaced about as often as those who are already displaced procure domestic situations, although they are likely to encounter less competition for limited resources. Regardless, pursuit to obtain insight from so few would be intrusive.

Insight regarding those who had formerly been displaced or socially marginalized would be more relevant, but eventually, would not be particularly interesting. Many of us inhabit comfortable homes with modern utilities and conveniences. Many of us are gainfully and gratifyingly employed. Others doing so becomes mundane.

Good Times

Goodness!! Because this blog is now officially discontinued, I felt that I could write about anything that I wanted to write about. For tonight, I briefly explained why my other blog is also about to be discontinued. Well, at least the recycling of old articles and other hooey will be discontinued, while the timely posting of articles from my column will continue. By the time I finished, I realized that I wrote more about why this blog is discontinued, and it was not at all interesting. I delayed it until next week, and just might delete it before then.

Good Times seemed to be more appropriate for now. I was reminded of the old television show while in the Los Angeles region in September. My colleague pointed out J. J. in the neighborhood, but I embarrassingly could not remember who he is. Dynomite! Well, I will get over it. Anyway, the show was about the good times of a working class but somewhat impoverished family. I do not remember that their poverty was obvious, but am told that it was a prominent premise of the show. Some of us may identify with understated poverty.

Good Times was a spinoff of Maude, which was a spinoff of All In The Family, which was the show that The Jeffersons was also a spinoff of. That is too much confusing history for me to process, which is likely why I somehow mistook J. J. for a member of a family who lived in a deluxe apartment in the sky. That show was about a prosperous working class family who relocated to a more luxurious neighborhood while maintaining affiliation with their former Community. Some of us may identify with such affiliation for our Community, even after major modifications of lifestyle and possible relocation for such modifications.

So many of us who lacked domestic situations only a few years ago are doing well now. Some are doing remarkably well, and are remarkably prosperous. We know because we remain in contact with them. A formerly unhoused couple from our Community now owns a disproportionately large and unmortgaged home in Fremont, and restored their camper that they formerly lived in so that they can return to Felton to camp on their vacant parcel. They brought unhoused friends back to live in unused portions of their house. Another of our Community is a realtor, and lives in a luxurious home in a scenic region of Sedona in Arizona. A friend lives in another home nearby, but will likely return to Felton, particularly now that real estate is becoming more affordable. Another of our Community resides in a historic apartment in Watsonville, with the intention of returning to Ben Lomond or Felton. These are a few examples of those who are no longer unhoused within Our Community.

There‚Äôs No Place Like Home

Some of us do not get out much. Perhaps the expense is unjustifiable or prohibitive. Perhaps work is too demanding. There are as many reasons for not getting out and about as there are for doing so. We all know that it can be fun, relaxing and healthy. We must also be realistic.

Realistically though, many or most of us realize that we happen to be in the best place that we could be in. Otherwise, we would be somewhere else that is perceived to be better. This is why those who indulge in vacations in other places return afterward. Not only is this home, but it is an excellent home. After all, many other people come here from elsewhere for their vacations.

Yes, this is biased, since most believe that their particular home is the best place to be. Most people who inhabit Los Angeles actually believe that they are in the best place to be; which is fortuitous, since millions of people searching for someplace better could cause this region to become unpleasantly crowded. Obviously, we tend to believe that there is no place like home.

Yet, regardless of obvious bias, it is impossible to deny that, besides being the best place for those of us who live here, this really is among the most excellent places in the entire Universe. The climate is perfect, with just enough winter without too much chill, just enough summer without too much heat, plenty of sunny weather, and only mild storms within a brief rainy season. Scenery is exquisite, with grand redwoods and the coast of the Pacific Ocean nearby. Society is remarkably diverse, accommodating and generous. There are too many advantages to being here to list. Even those who lack domestic situations know how fortunate we are to be here.