It has been mentioned before how I always felt, and had support of some readers, that the photo that accompanied this column just was not how I appear to the world. I wore a mustache without beard for only about five weeks and with rare exceptions, performing onstage for example, I am always seen wearing eyeglasses. And a hat or cap are nearly always on my head, so the photo — although a nice one — just did not represent the norm. Now, you will have observed, that photo has been replaced with a caricature of me, and I feel it is a good likeness.
It is true that at the time the image was drawn I had a bit of a beard and it was bright daylight, so my gradient lenses were nearly black, but this is how I often look right down to the straw hat. The caricature is an Elliot Riley original and was done while he and I were both volunteers at a fundraiser for 5-year-old Kyle Doan, who was lost to the waters during the floods.
It was not the only caricature Elliot did that day under a small shade cover; he is quite well known for his drawings, one of the attributes that led to his receiving the inaugural King City Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture Hermie Robles Youth Award for 2023. I’ll mention here Elliot and I have been around each other for a decade or more, and so he has allowed use of this artwork for which I am appreciative.
Their names were Svetlana and, if spelled correctly, Termiza, sisters, ages 19 and 17, who declined passage out of their troubled country when offered but chose instead to stay and play guitar duets to village people in the area where they grew up. They became celebrities in the villages and were always welcome as they traveled town to town playing on streetcorners and parks, where ever a crowd could gather. After a performance they chose to stay overnight instead of moving on and were welcomed into a home. The two sisters and other occupants never heard the bomb that killed them. Such is war.
Since humankind has existed, alliances and aggressions among various peoples have been evident; history teaches us we associate with those we find ourselves most compatible to and we eschew those with standards and norms not in sync with ours. In the seven decades since I have breathed Earth’s air, the United States has allied with some countries and stood against others all based on our system of governance. But for a very brief time, Russia has always been a nation we found adversarial, a nation that allowed autocratic rule to return when Vladmir Putin took over 23 years ago, with no restrictions on his reign.
On the flip side of the coin, Volodymyr Zelenskyy is the democratically elected leader of Ukraine; he has a five-year term up in 2024 and is eligible but limited to one more term. I am aware there is a greater number of Americans who are not in favor of future assistance to these people. Are we now all supposed to switch sides, to turn against what we always stood for? If as a free nation we abandon those fighting for its continued freedom we will pay for it in the long run; or maybe the short run.
They live across the country from each other and both work away from home. Both come from states with diverse economies but where agriculture plays a major role. Both took the time out of their lives to serve areas where they live and were elected to office. Both congressmen’s names appear on the Preserving Family Farm Act, which includes Section 2032A, the Special Use Valuation provision. In a nutshell: “The provision allows farmers and ranchers to pay estate taxes on the value of farmland based on agricultural use, rather than what it would be worth if it were sold for development.”
Both are now re-introducing the bill after it stalled last session (you know how that Ways and Means committee can be). This is good news for many ag families in both states. Oh, those two congressmen? Mr. Kelly, Pennsylvania Republican, Mr. Panetta, California Democrat; two men worlds apart but on the same page. And this sort of bipartisan leadership takes place across the land; but ya won’t know if ya don’t look for it.
Speaking of farms and crops, if cannabis had been listed among crop reports of last season it would have ranked third; now down to sixth after a reduction of 54% cultivation, from $618 in 2021 to $282 in 2022. I suspect the fault of that boondoggle falls somewhere in the realm of agricultural economics; something no doubt a local FFAer could speak about as they study all aspects of ag life. For the information above, I referred to the August 2023 Focus on Agriculture addition in the Rustler.
Also last month was an addition touting National Non-Profit Day. This area is rife with non-profit organizations and becoming active in one or two (or six) is a wonderful way to work with a variety of personalities while benefitting some aspect of the community. I recommend volunteerism for young and old and in between; and I know others do the same. The number of volunteers for myriad non-profits in South County must reach into the thousands, but they can always use one more. Get involved, you won’t regret it.
I usually don’t range further north than Greenfield or Arroyo Seco or further south than San Ardo or Paso, but something under Public Notices in the classified and legal section recently caught my eye and I am curious. A Fictitious Business Name Statement lists “Gonzales Dingers Baseball.” Not, apparently, a non-profit but a business. Does that mean there is a league somewhere close by? I’ll have to look into that.
Take care. Peace.