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Coastal Voices: The budget? Rain? Keep perspective

When I arise on Monday morning last week, I turn on my TV as usual. As I listen to the angry words, from both sides of the aisle, I fume. Here we are, $16 trillion-plus in debt, and yet we are going to borrow more money. Wish I could just pay my bills like that and kick the final payment down the road for my kids to take care of.

I turn it off and go to my favorite spot for viewing the world around me. As I look out, there is a thin layer of clouds, and on the horizon I can see yellows, purples and blues along that horizon. I draw my view a short distance closer and see the fishermen and their boats plowing furrows in the sea as if farming it. As they plow they pull their pots and harvest the crabs there, reseed the pot and drop it in the furrow to farm more crabs.

I can also see from shore to horizon a sparkling path, caused by the sun shining on the ripples of the ocean. I wonder if the fishermen are viewing the beauty that surrounds them or are their views drawn only to the row of floats that mark their furrow in the sea.

I draw my gaze closer to the shore and notice the rocks around Brother Jonathan Viewpoint are exposed, not dry, yet not really wet. I have not looked at the tide data, so I do not know if it is coming or going.

A few hours later I am interrupted by a big bird flying up into a tree close by my viewing place. It is being chased by a swarm of crows and ravens. It lands on one of the highest branches of a dying tree close by. And the crows and ravens bombard it with their rancorous cries and flying action.

On closer inspection, this is a bald eagle, the emblem of our United States. It sits there seemingly undisturbed by all the action around it, as if to say, “This is my place and I’m going to stay here.” So for several hours it remains there, oblivious to the birds around.

On Tuesday morning, again the same is being spewed from the TV, so I turn it off and go to my favorite viewing spot. To my surprise, there is the eagle again up on that top branch, but surprise, surprise, down the beach in the next tree sits another large bird. Today the crows and ravens are not present, so both birds are left to enjoy the sun’s warmth.


Brown has actually kept his promises

The decisive moment of Jerry Brown’s 2010 campaign for governor came that September, when he looked straight into a camera for the simplest of political commercials.

“No new taxes without a vote of the people,” he declared. Brown kept that promise. When Republicans in the Legislature stymied his attempt to put a tax-increase proposition before voters the easy way, without an initiative petition campaign, Brown raised well over $1 million and put his proposal on the ballot the hard way.

The decisive message of last fall’s campaign over his measure, by then called Proposition 30, again had Brown looking straight into a camera, this time pledging that much of the money from his initiative would go to public schools.

He wasn’t precisely calling commercials for the rival Proposition 38 lies when he did that, but one of their frequent claims has now been debunked. Some ads for 38 — which would have raised $10 billion a year, almost all earmarked for public schools — claimed none of the approximately $6 billion from Prop. 30 was assured for schools.

The budget Brown proposed early this month essentially gives about half the proceeds of Prop. 30 to elementary and high schools, providing them $2.7 billion more than last year’s austerity budget.

So Brown kept another campaign promise, a stark contrast with the way some of his predecessors treated campaign commitments. He also said he’d use some Prop. 30 money to restore other programs, observing that “other worthy things also have been cut.” Things like in-home care for frail seniors and the disabled, the CalWorks welfare to work program, child care and Medi-Cal all are now slated for budget increases or at least maintenance of last year’s levels. Again, a promise kept.


Church Notebook: Old-time music at Methodist church

Music, to me, is one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind. It comes in various types to fill all the different portions of our lives.

We all have likes and dislikes — that’s the thing that makes us different and more interesting as individuals.

My phone rings with “Für Elise,” a Beethoven composition I played at piano recital as a teenager, and still play today for my own enjoyment. I like good jazz and bluegrass, but I’m not much for rock, and I can’t stand rap. If I’m subjected to it involuntarily for any length of time, I find myself getting angry — and when I hear today’s youngsters referred to as the angry generation, I wonder if that could be partly to blame.

As a member of my church praise team, I love the old hymns. A lot of our churches today don’t seen to sing many of the old ones very often, but we do. Have you ever wondered about the stories behind some of those wonderful old songs?

One of my favorites is “It is Well With My Soul,” by Horatio G. Spafford. This hymn came out of a traumatic time in his life, and reflects his faith in God.

In 1871, he suffered losses in business, and his 4-year-old son died of scarlet fever.

In 1873, he planned a visit to England with his family- his wife and four daughters. At the last minute, he was detained by a business matter, and sent his family on ahead, on the Ville du Havre, planning to take a later vessel to join them.


MUSING AT THE OCEAN’S EDGE

Longtime Del Norte County resident Chuck Blackburn’s column appears monthly.

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In the winter, storms sweep out the sand, exposing bedrock on Pebble Beach. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
Over the past 60 years, I have visited or seen many special places in Del Norte County. You could say many of these places haven’t changed over the years, but we know that the forces of nature are always doing their work.

Today, in January 2013, I am sitting at a parking lot due east of Castle Rock just south of the airport runway. I have watched the ocean so many times from here over the years. Just north of this location is Garth’s Beach, which I am sure takes on the name of Garth McNamara of the long-standing McNamara family in this community.

I see two surfers trying to catch waves that are remnants of a rough ocean that breaks over a submerged reef that runs north-to-south toward Castle Rock.

When the ocean is calm there is no break on this reef unless there is a really low tide. When the ocean is rough, usually during the winter months, I have seen breakers 20-30 feet tall.

It is awesome to watch the surf break at that level. There is deep water west of Castle Rock and outside of this reef so the waves form quickly and build to great heights as they strike the shallow water of the reef. This same big surf strikes Castle Rock and the tall rocks that are off the coast west of Pebble Beach Drive.

During big winter storms I’ve watched waves rise 20-40 feet to strike these rocks.

In contrast, years ago I put in a drift boat at Marhaufer Creek during a calm summer ocean and rowed out behind Castle Rock and fished to the east of all these rocks.


Coastal Voices: ‘Beautiful people’ right here in DN

It is said that in Hollywood live the beautiful people. It is true, their thin, tan bodies and pretty faces are beautiful to look at.

To me, however, the beautiful people are right here in Crescent City. I’ll give you some examples.

One afternoon during the last days counting down until Christmas, a harried young woman came through my grocery check-out line with about 10 gift cards. She looked tired yet relieved to be “finished.” As I bid her good day, she plunked down a Starbucks card and said, “Here, this one is for you. You’re my favorite checker.”

I was moved to tears. Her gift to me was from the heart. When it’s not expected or an exchange with no hope of getting anything back, that is a true gift. And after a long day of standing and repetition, her kindness to me validated that perhaps my job matters in some small way. Thank you, Ms. Horton.

Then there is Mr. Harrington, a very kind, older gentleman with a twinkle in his eyes. One day he came in to buy a whole bag of cat food cans. I asked if he’d gotten a cat. 

“No, I’m taking care of my friend’s cat in Smith River.”


Church Notebook: Film coming up at Pelican Bay Evangelical Free Church

We all expect that people will get confused from time to time — especially when we get older.

We forget things, confuse dates, and then have to realize that we goofed.

But at my house the reigning confusion is in the plant kingdom. I have two uncommon apple trees, called “single-stem” apples. They came from a nursery in Canandaigua, N.Y., nine years ago.

They’re rather interesting if, like me, you find things that are different interesting.  They do not have branches, but short “spurs” a few inches long. The blossoms come at the end of them, and the fruit is normal. One is a Macintosh, the other Golden Delicious. They grow, not in the ground, but in big pots in my back yard.

For some reason, the last couple years, we have had some “seasonal confusion” — they have bloomed starting in December! The first year that happened, I thought, “Well, that’s all she wrote — no apples this year!”

But, another surprise was forthcoming — they bloomed again at the proper time, producing some nice apples (which, unfortunately, were made to disappear by some masked, ring-tailed bandits!)

Maybe they are just confused, moving from one side of the country to the other.


House Calls: Treatment changes for disease’s end stage

House Calls runs every other Saturday. Today’s column is written by Trish Walker, a registered nurse with Sutter Coast Home Care. It is the final intallment of a four-part series about congestive heart failure.

As with most diseases, heart failure often gets worse over time, especially when you don’t participate in self care. The five-year survival rate is worse than for most common types of cancer.

Obtaining knowledge about the disease allows you and your family to know what to expect as the disease progresses. Planning for this eventual outcome of decline enables you to take control of certain aspects of your life, including making end of life decisions.

Most of us don’t want to have these conversations with our loved ones, but they are important. You need to be open and honest with your doctor, family, caregivers, health care personnel, and most of all yourself. It is imperative that you make end of life decisions while you are still able. This allows your loved ones to care for you without the added burden of making these decisions.

End stage heart failure has specific characteristics that doctors look for. They include multiple hospital admissions for exacerbations or kidney failure, maximum tolerated medications, worsening kidney function, and slow or no response to diuretics.

Patients will have unrelieved symptoms of shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, swelling that won’t resolve with diuretics, and the inability to exert any energy. As it worsens, both sudden cardiac death and multi-organ failure are common due to the prolonged deterioration of your heart and electrolyte imbalances.


Pages of History: Living through freakishly cold winter of 1930

From the pages of the Crescent City American, January 1930.

What is said to be the coldest spell, for the Pacific Coast region, in the past 20 years, has visited Crescent City and the coast during the past week, and Crescent City people are suffering from the extreme cold that has frozen ice a quarter of an inch thick and yesterday failed to thaw all day where the ground was shaded. 

During the fore part of the week, telephone communications were cut off from the outside world, due to the storms in the mountains putting telephone lines out of commission. Stages running in from Grants Pass were hung up for three days, where the snow was said to have been 3 feet deep. The Grants Pass country is blanketed under snow that is 6–8 eight inches deep, the most snow for that section in years. 

Snow reached down toward Crescent City as far as Gasquet and Patrick’s Creek. Many people have driven their children out to see and play in their first snow. 

It is true that Crescent City is having “unusual” weather, but unusual weather is existing all over the country. Alaska is enjoying spring while Seattle is shivering in sub-zero weather and Florida has had killing frosts. The weather just seems to be freakish this winter. 

Old-timer is found

In a story written by Fred Lockley, in the Oregon Journal under the caption, “Impressions and Observations of the Journal Man,” Mr. Lockley has found one Abner Hall at Helena, Mont., who claims that he was born in Crescent City on May 1, 1859, and that just prior to 1862 his father, Solen Hall, who then lived at Eureka, was county assessor for Del Norte County.


Coastal Voices: Is Calif. a model for mental health?

One of the first bits of advice Vice President Joe Biden received after becoming the point person for shaping new federal gun control and mental health proposals in the wake of December’s mass shootings in a Newtown, Conn., elementary school was to follow the California example.

Copy this state’s strategy for funding mental health programs, suggested Darrell Steinberg, Democratic leader of the state Senate. That’s one way, he said, to lessen the chance of deranged individuals blasting dozens of children and teachers with assault rifles or machine pistols.

There was more than a little irony in Steinberg’s suggestion. Only last August, he formally requested a formal audit of billions of dollars in mental health funds raised by the 2004 Proposition 63, which imposes a 1 percent supplemental tax for mental health care on incomes over $1 million.

So far, this levy has taken more than $8 billion from high-income Californians.

 But last summer, the Associated Press reported that tens of millions of Prop. 63 dollars have gone to programs aiding state residents not diagnosed as mentally ill, including yoga, art and drama classes, horseback riding and gardening.

The audit results are not yet in, and there are explanations for some of the expenditures the AP noted. Gardening, for example, was to attract Cambodian immigrants who might otherwise avoid mental health services for cultural reasons. Yoga and art therapy can help stave off some forms of mental illness.

 There’s no doubt the Proposition 63 money has been helpful in keeping government-funded mental health care alive while other programs like in-home care for frail or disabled senior citizens were severely truncated during half a decade of severe state budget crises.

In 2011, Patricia Ryan, executive director of the California Mental Health Directors Assn., reported that “The programs made possible…are as varied as California is diverse.”

She cited the highly-individualized Vietnamese Full Service Partnership in Santa Clara County, aiming to help Vietnamese adults with serious mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Within a year after that program started in 2006, participants were using emergency psychiatric services 28 percent less than before and were hospitalized 65 percent less, while using long-term care facilities 82 percent less than before.


Artisan Cuisine: DO-IT-YOURSELF SEA SALT FLAKES

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Sea salt. Special to the Triplicate / Anne Boulley
It’s sort of fun experimenting with making things even when they’re cheap and readily available at the store. It helps you understand how they are made and gives you a sense of satisfaction in knowing the process.

One thing I have made that does that for me is making my own sea salt. The first time I made it, it was very strong and had a metallic flavor to it. I have since made it with a better technique and it comes out flakier and cleaner tasting.

If you’d like to give it a try it’s easy and just requires a bit of patience.

The best place to get salt water is deep in the ocean. If you know a fisherman who can gather some for you or if you have a boat, gather up several gallons when you’re out fishing. Otherwise, you’ll have to scope out an area that has less traffic from boats and people, but look out for potential farm runoff areas.

You won’t be ingesting a lot of the salt, and salt, by its very nature, does not harbor much in the way of bacteria, but you still want the cleanest available. 

I gather salt water in clean gallon milk jugs. Then I take it home and carefully strain it twice through coffee filters. You could use a fine cheesecloth or muslin if you have it.

Then pour salt water into a glass or Pyrex baking dish to the brim and put it into the oven for 3–4 hours at 350 degrees. Keep an eye on it every so often as it gets toward the end.

You will see the salt collecting on the sides and bottom of the dish. If you see flakes on the top of the salt water when you check on it, you can use a strainer to collect the crystals and lay them on a cookie sheet to finish air drying. These, when they occur, are the flakiest pieces and great for topping truffles or using at the table to use as a finishing salt.

How long it takes depends on the temperature of your oven, the amount of water you’re trying to evaporate and the salinity of the water. With the amount of rain we get in this area it can take longer sometimes.


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