Firewood

Some of us have done good business with firewood. Only a few have cut, split and sold it as a career. More have done so temporarily between occupations. There are always trees that need to be removed. There is also a seasonal need for firewood. The work is not easy, but it can be somewhat lucrative, which is helpful for those lacking better income.

The quantity of firewood consumed locally must be significantly less than what is consumed in harsher climates. Winters are neither very cold, nor very long here. That is why trees need not be cut down just for firewood. Plenty of firewood is retrieved from trees that fall or need to be removed. Nonetheless, there is plenty of work processing firewood for those who want it.

Firewood season never ends here. No one is in a rush to get their wood stacked before spring so that it is seasoned prior to the following autumn. Much of the firewood available is already seasoned. As long as there is enough seasoned firewood, a bit of green wood that is procured too late can be left for the winter afterward.

Not many here seem to be particularly discriminating about the type of firewood they burn. Oak and tan oak are typically preferred, but anything combustible seems to do, even fir.

Those who purchase firewood here are likely to purchase if from someone who happens to have a pickup full of it for sale, rather than make arrangements with a more reputable supplier. It makes business a bit easier for those who just cut firewood between other occupations. Of course, many woodcutters have regular clientele, just like more significant firewood businesses.

A healthy society does more than support local business, by also supporting those who lack full time businesses or employment.

Big City Homelessness

Homelessness may not be more prevalent in all big cities than it is here, but it can be more visible where it is more concentrated. Nearly one percent of the populace of California is currently homeless. If that many are homeless in Felton, they are not obvious about it. Some reside with friends, or camp out discretely in their vehicles. Others make camp where obscured by forest.

Residing temporarily with friends may be no more difficult in big cities than it is here, but the other options are. There are fewer places to park discretely, and fewer forests to obscure even a minimal campsite. Furthermore, there are many more homeless people competing for the same very limited supply of discrete and obscured real estate in which to park or establish camp.

The ratio of homeless people relative to the rest of the populace may be no greater in big cities, but the total number of homeless people is overwhelming. One percent of the million people in San Jose is ten thousand, although not so many there are homeless. The population of Los Angeles is four times that of San Jose! Sadly, more than forty thousand people are homeless there.

Vast residential areas within these big cities lack resources that homeless people need to be close to, so in that regard, are inhospitable to homelessness. Consequently, the homeless populace tends to congregate where resources and campsites that are perceived to be discrete are more available. However, it is impossible for so many congregated homeless people to stay discrete.

We are very fortunate to reside within a Community that is so generously accommodating, and where those who want to assist homeless people are more able to do so. Homelessness here is not such a daunting problem like it is in bigger cities.

Vandalism

The little Memorial Tree was found to be askew late Wednesday afternoon.

This would have been an ideal time for a seasonal update on the little Memorial Tree in Felton Covered Bridge Park. Until recently, it had been healthier and growing more vigorously than it had since it was installed a few years ago. It had survived major accidental damage, and was just beginning to thrive. Sadly though, it was so severely vandalized that recovery is unlikely.

About a month ago, someone was seen briefly rummaging about the base of the tree, as if retrieving something that was dropped. Upon closer inspection, the observer noticed what seemed to be some sort of fertilizer, which was not considered to be a problem. A few days later, someone else recognized it as common salt, which is toxic to young plants, and promptly removed it.

Last Wednesday, the Memorial Tree was observed to be askew and separated from its supportive stake, which seemed to be the sort of minor damage incurred by something as simple as a dog getting its leash tangled with it. However, as the tree was straightened and staked, three fresh saw cuts were observed in the trunk. Each cut severed the trunk about half way through.

A vandal is intent on depriving the Community of this Memorial Tree. That is what vandals do. They destroy assets, which are very commonly assets of Society. Of all the Memorial Trees in Felton Covered Bridge Park, this specific vandal specifically targeted the Memorial Tree that was contributed to Society by the Homeless of Felton, who innately have the least to contribute.

We will consult with the Santa Cruz County Parks Department this week about the future of this Memorial Tree or its potential replacement. However, the next Memorial Tree will likely be a Memorial Grove of several coast live oaks, perhaps with cedars to the east and west, in a less accessible but very visually prominent location near the western end of Mount Hermon Road.

Although the Memorial Tree initially seemed to be undamaged, three major cuts were found in the trunk.

Eviction Moratorium

There are no simple solutions to all the financial difficulties associated with the inability of so many to earn their normal income during this current situation with Coronavirus. So many of us simply can not afford what we could previously afford. Mortgages and rents are the most significant expenses for many who are now unemployed, so many of us will be unable to pay them.

The current eviction moratorium protects those who might otherwise be evicted from their homes or commercial properties for their inability to pay their mortgages or rents. However, it is no remedy for the disruption of revenue that those who own the mortgages or rental properties rely on. Many of them also need to pay mortgages and rents. Everyone has innate expenses.

It will take a while for those who own rental properties to recover from any lapse of revenue, but it will likely be easier than renting to new tenants while so few can afford to rent. Similarly, it will be easier for lending institutions to recover from delinquencies of mortgage revenue than to foreclose on so many properties simultaneously. It is no simple solution, but it likely helps.

The main advantages of eviction moratoriums are that fewer businesses will need to vacate commercial properties, and fewer people will become homeless. These are significant advantages! Homelessness is already a problem for those who are currently experiencing it. Society can certainly do without more functional and formerly gainfully employed people becoming homeless.

We are so fortunate to live within a society that is both very generous to those who lack homes, and proactive in facilitating the retention of homes for those who have them. Otherwise, more of us would likely be homeless soon. Recovery from this currently unpleasant situation will be a long and difficult process.

Discrimination of Discrimination

Civilization has always been been influenced by various forms of discrimination. Even in modern America, where we like to believe that most types of discrimination have been dispelled, we are regularly reminded that some of the worst remain. Some forms of discrimination get recycled and reassigned, as if they will be more tolerable if applied to more appropriate victims.

Society can be rather discriminating about who it discriminates against.

People of African descent have always been discriminated against in America. Racists who justify such discrimination might consider them collectively to be more innately prone to thievery, as well as violence, vandalism, addiction, exploitation of social services, and any other social transgression that imaginative racists can conceive. It is what justifies racism and discrimination.

Historically, people of Asian descent, particularly Chinese descent, were collectively considered by racists to be more innately prone to addiction (to opium), as well as thievery and squalorly lifestyles. For a disgraceful period of American history, people of Japanese descent were incarcerated merely because they were racially related to enemies of America during World War II.

Many racists still consider Indigenous People of North America to collectively be more innately prone to alcoholism, as well as the many other transgressions that people of African and Asian descent are similarly blamed for. It is a common and typical pattern of racism and discrimination. Behavior that should be attributed to environment is instead attributed to genetics, or race.

It is easy enough to find pictures or other documentation of people conforming to the stereotypes of their respective racial designation. ‘Nature versus Nurture’ need not be mentioned if the objective is to justify racism and discrimination; although disproportionate conformation typically is mentioned. Justification of racism and discrimination rarely involves the use of any logic.

Now that racial discrimination is very slowly becoming less socially acceptable among common American society, some of those who might otherwise be racist are directing more unfounded hostility to other groups, such as those who are wealthier or more impoverished, including the homeless. Because this sort of discrimination is not racist, society is slightly more tolerant of it.

However, modern American society is realizing that unfounded discrimination against some of the homeless is merely a different flavor of the same recycled racial discrimination that is now so stigmatized. The irrational hostility and lack of logic eventually make it obvious. We have seen it all before, continue to see it, and sometimes see it in initially unrecognizable incarnations.

Consider The Source

While most of us are willing to comply with social distancing standards, a few complain vehemently about it. Of these, some blame President Trump for the current situation. Some blame the Liberals. Some insist that it is a conspiracy to destroy the economy. Yet, they all lack the education and experience of those who developed and implemented the social distancing standards.

In other words, they do not know what they are talking about, but they all think that they are experts.

Understandably, many of us want to return to work! Many are frustrated by confinement and want to get out and about like we did prior to this situation. The rational among us do what we must until that is again possible. The irrational sort can potentially prolong this situation by noncompliance to social distancing standards. Society suffers the consequences of their ignorance.

The ignorance of those who lack practical experience with homelessness, but believe that they are qualified to make recommendations about it, is just as irrational. Although such ignorance is rare, we all have encountered it at one time or another. Those who express the most extreme of ignorance and irrationality are too ignorant and irrational to realize it. Consider the source.

For example, some have made the recommendation that homeless people should just relocate to where they would not be homeless, but do not reveal where such a place is. Some homeless people do relocate for a home that happens to be available. It would however be pointless to relocate to be homeless in an unfamiliar situation. Nor should anyone relocate to be unemployed.

How many of those who make such trivializing recommendation had been homeless, and tried to find a home without a deposit, exemplary credit, sufficient income or stable renting history? How many are even aware that many of the homeless lack a combination of these assets? What qualifies anyone lacking such relevant experience or insight to make such recommendations?

Liberalism Is A Mental Disorder

Michael Savage wrote the book. It is supposed to be well worth reading. I have never done so. Nor do I intend to. I know I would not enjoy it. My prejudice is not based on what I believe the book to be about. It is derived more from the expectation of an objectionably straightforward presentation of accurate but unpleasant information that really should be common knowledge.

Yuck!

Conservatism is not perfect either. If extremist liberals could compose more than a few coherent sentences, one might write a book about it. Neither conservatism nor liberalism is the worst of the many social complications that those who identify with one but most definitely not the vilified other should be concerned about though. Extremism is what enhances the worst of both.

Homelessness and all the problems associated with it are social problems. They affect all of society. They are neither liberal nor conservative. Yet, extremists so readily blame politicians for causing such problems or allowing them to continue, as if they do so intentionally. Conservative extremist blame liberal politicians just like liberal extremists blame conservative politicians.

How many of those who blame others for homelessness actually do anything about it? Do any of them help the homeless procure domestic situations? Do any of them help the unemployed procure employment? Do they donate food or clothing to those who are in need of such resources? It seems that most are pleased to continue to complain about what others are not doing.

Fortunately, there are many within our Community who are very supportive in regard to helping the homeless, unemployed and needy. We do not hear much from them because they are not so unconstructively outspoken. They do not so blatantly blame others for problems that they are not willing to help out with.

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.