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Stone and Cottonwood
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This new droid maxx seems cool, but it may take awhile before I can reliably use the vast array of Google services it offers efficiently. There is a great deal to learn about.

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Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, today I would like to tell you the story of a tree. Actually, I will tell you the story of the tree AND the story of a man who briefly (as measured by the life of the tree) came into the tree's story.
     The tree in question is rather typical of coastal California. It grows in the hills between the Central Valley, and the Pacific Ocean, and has grown there for between 350 and 500 years. You see, this queen of the forest is not quite ready to tell us her age exactly, and I am too much of a gentleman to ask. Most likely, Her beginnings date back to the same time as Sir Francis Drake's voyage up the coast of California to "discover" this land. However, Drake most certainly did not discover Her Majesty. That was most likely a group of folks who at the same time were walking around in the hills, collecting food to eat (including acorns), and generally having a good time. They and their ancestors had been doing much the same thing generation after generation, for at least 10,000 years in and among those hills. Nowadays we would call these people "Coast Miwok", but what they called themselves in those ancient times may be lost to the mists of history. Back in those days, Her Majesty was just a young sprout. One of millions of little princesses just taking root in the forest. The folks living in the hills at the time likely were aware of every twig, branch, rock, and creature of the forest. Since they depended on the forest for their food every day, they had no choice but to know it very well. They may have taken note of the young princess as they took note of all the other trees that took root, and those that fell due to age. The rhythm of death and rebirth that played in their very bones.
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     As the years went by and the young princess took her place in the forest, he life became intimately woven into the tapestry of life. For the people in particular, she provided the acorns. Acorns were one of the only foods which would keep for months, which were plentiful, and which people could rely on when the land was dry, brown, and cold. In those months, the acorns were good in hot mush, warm bread, stew, and soup. When it is cold and nasty outside, there is nothing like hot soup, and a good story by a warm fire inside. It was hard work to make the acorns good to eat though. Here is a good link to the story of how to make good food from acorns: . That web page leads to many more very interesting pages about these folks, and how they lived in California before the Europeans came.
     After the Europeans came, things changed alot in California. The people of the hills and valleys mostly died. Measles, smallpox, and the flu were all diseases that the Europeans carried. While these diseases made Europeans sick, the native Californians had never seen these germs before, and so they were rapidly fatal for them. The Europeans moved in across the land, and they went about things a bit differently.
<a href="" title="Redwood forest clear cut around a mill Humboldt County"><img src="" width="400" height="288" alt="The Old Photo Guy: Historical Logging &emdash; Redwood forest clear cut around a mill Humboldt County" /></a>
     As the Europeans moved in across the land, things changed. At first, they were mainly interested in well watered bottom land, in which they could graze livestock, and raise crops. Clearing forest was hard work, and so they left California's climax forests of oak and redwood alone, for the most part. In 1849 things changed again when gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill. Europeans largely believe that there is no sacrifice too great for gold, or it's surrogate, money. Gold mining led to many new industries for California, and the fires of industry had to be fed. The fuel for those fires was in that day and age, wood. The thickly forested foothills surrounding the Central Valley, and the San Francisco Bay were harvested of their trees, and left naked and desolate within a few decades. However, every once in awhile a person comes along who sees the world a bit differently from most of his countrymen. If that person also has the gift to share that vision, either through art, poetry, or a good story, sometimes he can inspire an entire people to be a bit better. One such child was born near 3rd and Brannan in San Francisco January 12th, 1876. John Griffith Cheney, whom came to be known as Jack London grew up looking at what was left of the Bay Area's native hills, wondering what they must have looked like "before all of this".
     By 1905 the hills between the great valley and the ocean had been overgrazed, overfarmed, and used badly. The Queen of the forest was still a powerful figure though, between 250 and 350 years old. Jack London went to Glen Ellen from San Francisco and bought the land where Her Majesty was growing. He must have had some inkling to what the land was like before, and could see clearly the state to which it had been brought. Here is a quote detailing his vision of what it could be:
     “I bought the place to live and write in.  The region was a back-water district.  Most of the ranchers were poor and hopeless, no one could make any money ranching there, they told me.  I am rebuilding worn-out hillside lands that were worked out and destroyed by our wasteful pioneer farmers.  I am not using commercial fertilizer. I believe the soil is our one indestructible asset, and by green manures, nitrogen gathering crops, animal manures, rotation of crops, proper tillage and draining, I’m getting results which the Chinese have demonstrated for forty centuries.”
    Here is a link to a more in depth article about Jack London, and his vision to enable modern Californians to live with the land. The man was living and demonstrating the concept of sustainability in the early 1900's.
     One of London's first ventures to make the ranch economically viable was to grow Eucalyptus as wharf pilings for the ever expanding California seaports. As part of this, he and his staff planted 100,000 Eucalyptus seedlings of a few varieties carefully selected for resistance to rot and boring worms (teredos). The plantations were placed in the denuded hillsides, and did an excellent job of quickly stopping the erosion, and providing cover for the animal life. The idea here was that lumber for California's growth should come from managed plantations designed to produce lumber sustainably, and not from clear-cutting virgin and old growth forests, which cannot be replaced.
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     Fast forward to 2013. Her Majesty still stands, outside the cottage where Jack London Lived and wrote. On nice days, London would sit out under her shade and write. He is long since dead and buried, but he and his heirs have made sure the entire ranch, including Her Majesty were protected from destruction during California's continued development. The Ranch is now a State Park, and visitors from all over the world can come to visit and to enjoy the environment.
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     The forest is a series of life cycles. No individual animal or plant persists in the forest forever. Even Her Majesty. Many young oaks have taken root since this monarch began growing. During her time, the Europeans have brought many diseases to these shores. Influenza, measles, and smallpox killed of most of the people who lived in the hills when Drake arrived. Chestnut blight was brought from Europe to wipe out the great overstory trees that provided food for the peoples of the eastern part of the country. Dutch Elm disease destroyed most of the large American elms. Twenty years ago the California Nursery industry managed to introduce an exotic fungus into California's native oaks, Phytophthora ramorum. This fungus causes the disease, sudden oak death, which is destroying vast areas of California's oaks now. Her Majesty is infected, and her health is declining.
     Experts have been called in: Arborists and plant pathologists have rendered opinions. The question is not whether she will die, but when she will fall. The land on which she took root hundreds of years ago has become part of the "managed lands" of the new Californians. As such, she is now part of the urban forest, like it or not. The usual fate of a tree which becomes diseased or dies in the urban forest is that the tree is felled, and ground up for wood chips. Occasionally they are cut up for firewood. It is difficult to stand under the branches of Her Majesty and contemplate such a fate. Surely, there must be a better option. Something a little more dignified?
     The first Californians were given her acorns. They thanked her for the gift, and used them for the food they needed. It is a good lesson, one that Jack London could appreciate. For a forest to remain a forest, we humans can accept the gifts offered up by the forest. Once we start taking what is NOT offered, we destroy the forest. One day, this year, next year, or 20 years from now, the forest will offer up the body of Her Majesty. While she lies In State, we will sit in front of computer screens and click on things.
     Our clicks will be transmitted to companies, showing our desires and demands. Payments will be transmitted, and orders filled. As a result, men will enter the heart of the forest in the Amazon, or Borneo, Indonesia, or The Congo. The forest Monarchs will be assassinated, and someone down the line will receive their demand from FEDEX, or UPS. A large cardboard box, containing a dining room set from Pottery Barn. Meanwhile, the gifts offered up by our own urban forests are ground up for wood chips, or split for firewood.
     Trees which are felled in our parks, along city streets, in back yards and front yards are almost never perfect for lumber. The trees have twists, and splits, and knots. They would yield perhaps not a single straight board. To accept such gifts of the forest, and to use them to make things useful to the new Californians would take vision, skill, and courage.
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However, every such vision reduces by one "click" the demands on the world's rainforests. It is the courage which allows the new Californians to use the gifts given by their own forests, instead of taking from someone else's. Many may look at the body of Her Majesty, lying beside Jack London's cottage and shake their heads at the loss and the tragedy. However, some young person may visit the park and stand next to Her. The kid may feel that hum or vibration in the back of the mind: The mana of The Queen. What will be seen in that particular section of branch? In that bent and gnarly crotch? Will her beauty be rediscovered, and revealed to the new Californians? This story, is not yet finished.......

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A pizza peel this beautiful will make your pizzas come out even better!
Stuff for chefs, and chef wannabes
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Elm island top for school teachers in Louisville.
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