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Coastal Voices: Things to consider about jetty access

I was very disappointed to see the results of the Triplicate’s online poll regarding whether or not walking onto the jetty should be illegal.

As of this writing, over 60 percent of the voters believe that being out on the jetty should be legal. That being said, I realize that many are unlikely to agree with my opinion. However, I feel that there are aspects of our community’s well-being and safety of which many are unaware.

Let me preface my statement by saying that I think all people should be able to enjoy the beauty that our area has to offer. However, I would ask Crescent City residents to consider the lives of people that have been lost or those who have been injured as a result of being swept off the jetty before you make up your mind as to whether it is worth the risk to continue to lose members of our community to the dangerous conditions (sometimes foreseeable, sometimes not) that occur on the jetty.

Another point to consider is that it is not only the lives of those who walk out onto the jetty that are at risk. We must also consider the lives of those who respond to try to save people once they have been swept into the rough waters. The boating safety deputies and civilian volunteers, the Search and Rescue volunteers, Fire Department volunteers, Coast Guard rescue swimmers and helicopter pilots also put their own lives at risk every time they respond to these types of incidents.

We also have to think about the city and county resources that are used to deploy police officers, deputies, fire rescue resources, and paramedics to the scene.

As a part-time dispatcher for the Sheriff’s Department, I am able to observe that these incidents do not occur within a bubble. They are happening at the same time that your mother is having difficulty breathing, your son gets in a car accident, or your house gets burglarized.

Many times, the resources that would ordinarily be dispatched immediately in such circumstances are delayed due to the fact that our dispatch center (staffed by one person) is trying to dispatch Search and Rescue, boating safety, etc., at the same time that we are trying to answer your 911 call for assistance.

Secret sister identities revealed today

The national news just keeps getting worse — every day, there seems to be another shooting, too often with  children as the victims.

If ever there was a time to embrace our faith, it is now.  Throughout our history, we have had memorable preachers and musicians who focused on our need for faith to sustain us in hard times. Those folks back in the late 1800s and early 1900s wrote some of the most wonderful  hymns, and each one has a story.

Here’s another  of one of my favorites, one that I can never sing enough, “His Eye is on the Sparrow.”

The words were written by Civilla D. Martin, a Canadian music schoolteacher who married an evangelist. They were inspired by a visit to an older couple in upstate New York, in 1905.

The couple were both handicapped, but managed to present a happy outlook despite their situation. Civilla asked them how they were able to do so, and was told by the wife, “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me.”

Those words became the seed for the song, and after completing the words, she sent them to famous Gospel composer Charles Gabriel, who set them to music. Not only are the words inspiring, but the melody is just beautiful. Take a look in your church hymnal — you just might find it — and then sing it!

• This morning, the ladies of New Life Community Church will include a Secret Sister revealing party with their 9 a.m. monthly meeting. They will learn who their sisters have been for the past year, and draw the name of their new sister for the coming year. Small gifts and encouragement given anonymously, once a month, and attempts to guess the identity of the giver throughout the year make for fun and fellowship.

House Calls: The family that cooks together...

Amira Long and her girls.
House Calls runs every other Saturday. Today’s column is written by Amira Long.

One of my favorite things to do on a weekend afternoon with my daughters is cooking.

I really feel that little ones need to learn how to do things when they’re interested and not when they’re “old enough,” so Helena, 5, was learning the same things as Sophie, 7, right next to her at the counter. There is a lot of learning to be had in cooking.

One of the first things they start to learn, without even realizing they are learning, is math. We measure things all the time. I always ask them to help me find measurements on the side of our measuring cup. Helena only recognizes whole numbers right now, so I ask her to find “1, 2” if I want ½, for instance.

We also do a lot of counting when we add ingredients — whether it’s three cups, two eggs, or “one big spoon and one little spoon” of vanilla. We count pieces of carrot as we put them into the pot. We talk about time and watch our kitchen timer count down the minutes until our rolls will be ready to come out of the oven.

In addition to learning math, they’re also learning science. Some of their questions knock my socks off. “Why did the dough get big?” (After we let our pizza dough rise.) “What made it turn brown?” (When we pulled muffins from the oven.)  “How hot does the water have to get before it makes steam?” 

All very good questions that I tried to give very simple answers to. “The yeast is like little guys. They ate the sugar and had to burp. See all of the burp bubbles in this dough that weren’t there before?” 

And, “Remember the butter and eggs we put into the batter? They have something called proteins. When proteins get very hot, like in our oven, they turn brown. If we kept letting them cook, they would burn and turn black.”

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.


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

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.

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