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Amazon, boo. Apples and friends, yay.

Knowing Amazon, I didn’t intend to appeal the shut-down of my blog Associates account, but at the urging of a kind reader, I ended up giving it a shot. The message that belatedly came back to me from the Associates program began:

Dear Sir or Madam,

We received your appeal regarding the termination of your Associates account. A specialist has reviewed your account and the decision to terminate your account was found to be correct. As stated previously, under the terms of the Operating Agreement (https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/help/operating/agreement), we may terminate your account at any time, with or without cause [my emphasis]. This termination is final and not subject to appeal.

To prove just how thoroughly they didn’t investigate, the remainder of Amazon’s email was nothing but a cut-and-paste, complete with the “warmest regards,” from their original FU notice.

“With or without cause” says it all. Deliberate deplatforming or routine bureaucratic whacking, take your pick. Doesn’t matter.

I was expecting this. I’ve never heard of an Amazon Associate successfully appealing any decision; the company is as notoriously nasty to its subordinates as it is glowingly good to its customers. I’d have been shocked by any other decision.

Nevertheless, I felt drenched with ickiness after reading “Warmest Regards MkII.”

I was at the library planning to post something to the blog, but after that I couldn’t think of anything to say and couldn’t even find any good links.

I went so far as to draft a post saying it was time for me to wind down the blog. But then I remembered friends and angels and I couldn’t do it.

—–

I also remembered that our local Catholic church was holding a rummage sale that day. The Catholics always do the best sales, beating the local Lutherans by a length and leaving the poor old Baptists in the dust.

One hour later and a mere $12 lighter, I walked out with four DVDs, eight Sue Grafton alphabet mysteries, three hardback history books, one sweatshirt with a rhinestone dog face outline, two pairs of nearly new shoes, and a Dean Russo plaque redundantly claiming “All you need is love and a dog.”

I felt better. Somewhat.

—–

The next day I met up with Furrydoc and her husband and we picked apples.

The picture doesn’t begin to convey the awesomeness of that one rather small tree. I’ve never seen apples growing in such profusion. The weight of them was such that every branch but one was bent earthward, a couple actually touching the ground. The tree belonged to their neighbor, a sweet Scandinavian lady who has grown too old to pick and process fruits from her own garden. I believe they had already picked a share for her.

With Furrydoc’s giant cart and all the buckets and bags we brought we were able to take away about 1/3 of the remaining fruit. Both they and I had plenty to share with other friends and neighbors.

Although this isn’t an apple growing region there are lots of stray apple trees about, some growing wild and some as ornamentals and shade trees in yards. But year after year, nobody seems to care much about picking most of them. Every fall, thousands of apples within our little community splat unappreciated onto sidewalks and lawns.

As we were picking, I mused, “It’s too bad people can’t, say, register their trees so somebody could come out each fall and pick the fruit for poor people.”

Furrydoc, a church volunteer, who talks with everybody in town including the operators of all the local charities, said, “Guess which items are always the least popular at food banks.”

“Fresh fruits and vegetables?”

“You got it.”

Damn shame. But this one apple tree was certainly popular with us. And also with Neighbor J when I left a five-gallon bucket of apples on her porch.

Oh, and I also came home with a tip, courtesy of Furrydoc’s father-in-law, who’s a retired food chemist. Maybe you knew this, but I didn’t. Unlike most other fruits, apples don’t lose their sweetness after picking; on the contrary, they develop more sweetness a week or two afterward. These particular apples (whose variety I unfortunately can’t recall; it’s not a common one) are also supposed to be good winter keepers.

So I’m leaving my 10 gallons out for a week before drying some and maybe making apple butter with the rest and keeping a few for cold-weather snacks.

—–

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9 Comments

  1. WolfSong
    WolfSong October 7, 2019 9:44 am

    We have a local program here, FruitShare, that does just what you suggest…volunteers come out, pick the fruit and it’s split 3 ways. 1/3 to the home owner, 1/3 to the pickers and the final 1/3 goes to a local homeless shelter/soup kitchen.
    They found that worked out better than sending to the food bank, because at the shelter they’d cook with the bulk of what they received.
    Pies and such are easier to feed to folks it seems.

  2. ellendra
    ellendra October 7, 2019 10:14 am

    I vaguely recall a few websites where people can “register” their fruit trees (or unsprayed fruit trees on public land) for people to harvest from. At the time, none of the trees were near me, so I didn’t bother saving the bookmarks.

    But, I just did a quick check and found 3 that look similar: http://fallingfruit.org/ (which actually does show stuff in my area! Cool!) https://www.ripenear.me/ (which includes, but is not restricted to, free foods. Some of the listings may be from people who are selling their excess.) And an attempt by Berkeley: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/project/1659

    ——————

    My father was once working on a construction project that was across the street from the local food bank. One of the apple orchards in the area donated an entire semi truck load of apples. Dad watched as nearly every person came out with their box of food, took the apples out, and threw them in the dumpster. By the end of the day, the dumpster was overflowing with apples.

    To be honest, even thinking about that story makes me sick. I must not be the only one, because shortly after that, the food banks in WI switched to a points system, letting people choose for themselves what went in their box. But the best food still gets left behind. A friend of mine says the food bank he volunteers at has had a pallet load of 5-lb bags of pinto beans there for 3 years now. (Mylar packed, they’ll be good for another 10 years still.) They cost zero points, so people could take as many beans as they can carry, but he’s only seen 2 bags taken. A friend in another part of the state just had to toss out 15 cases of canned chickpeas because nobody would take them, not even other food banks or charities, and they just didn’t have room to store them anymore.

    I was recently introduced to the term “Deep Wealth”. It refers to the mix of attitudes, values, and skill-sets, that allow people to make the most of what they’ve got, and increase it as they go. Deep Wealth means that even if you’re financially screwed, you’re still likely to do better than someone in the next bracket up who doesn’t have those skills.

    This is opposed to “Shallow Wealth”, which is just money.

    A person with deep wealth would take those apples or pinto beans, and make dozens of tasty meals out of them. They might even make something they can sell, and they’ll use that money to buy a tool or a how-to book that will help them do even more.

    A person without deep wealth tosses good food, eats junk, and complains that they can’t afford to eat healthy.

  3. Joel
    Joel October 7, 2019 10:31 am

    That’s a seriously awesome apple tree. Lots of apples in Michigan but I never saw a tree as pregnant as that one.

  4. Val E. Forge
    Val E. Forge October 7, 2019 11:49 am

    Sorry about the Amazon debacle Claire. I guess Amazon is proof that the French novelist Balzac was right: “Behind every great fortune lies a great crime.”

  5. Comrade X
    Comrade X October 7, 2019 12:34 pm

    I never liked Amazon anyway, to heck with them!

    We have a crab apple tree which was loaded this year, all got picked and are now in the woods feeding the deer and with some of the signs maybe even the elk.

    We also found an orange tree (why it is here I don’t know) with some very small oranges, we are giving it some TLC to see if next year the oranges can get bigger but maybe it is only for show. Oranges in southern Oregon!

  6. David M. Gross
    David M. Gross October 7, 2019 10:37 pm

    I volunteer with a group called “Glean SLO” in my town. We glean food from home fruit trees, farmers’ fields, and (my specialty) what doesn’t get sold at farmers’ markets, and take what we glean to local food bank pantries. We haven’t noticed any difficulty giving away fresh produce to hungry people in our community. For some people who are really on the down-and-out, there’s a problem of not having access to a kitchen (or gas/electricity/refrigeration), which would make it difficult to prep & cook some raw foods. But for people with kitchens, fresh produce is just what they’re after so far as we can tell.

  7. The Real Kurt
    The Real Kurt October 9, 2019 11:04 pm

    I have one word for what you probably won’t be able to make out of those apples, but would be lovely if you could:

    Applejack.

    It’s a beautiful thing, to be savored slowly.

    The Real Kurt

  8. Claire
    Claire October 12, 2019 12:51 pm

    I’m glad to know that there are so many options for fruit-sharing/gleaning/distributing.

    But yeah … probably no Applejack. You know, I’ve never had that (and not being much of a drinker, I doubt I ever will). But Kurt, you make it sound worth savoring.

  9. The Real Kurt
    The Real Kurt October 12, 2019 2:27 pm

    Well, I’m reminded of another delicacy from apples: Apple Butter.

    Also an amazing treat, and non-alcoholic. There are lots of recipes out there.

    The Real Kurt

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