All posts by quesadagardens

Memories of Jeffrey Betcher

Footprints will be publishing our memories of Jeffrey Betcher as they arrive. It has taken a little longer than I thought to start this written memorial, but some things take a while. Many of you have sent your condolences and informal thoughts to me in emails, and I thank you for that. Jeffrey is sorely missed.
-Elizabeth Skow
From Ann Kim
Our neighbor, Jeffrey, died.  His friends say he was a truthteller, that he had a deliberate way with words, that he did not tolerate accepting people for less that who they were in their entirety.  To us new neighbors, Jeffrey was welcoming, gentle, affirming, nurturing.  Our chick who grew up to be a rooster crowed incessantly by his back porch and, though he was in the midst of battling cancer, Jeffrey only said that he found it charming.  He offered lemons from his tree.  He responded to my kids’ random questions with a tilt of his head and pause of real consideration.  He checked in to see how we were with his solar panel project and a random stray palm frond that drifted down into our yard from his magnificent tree.  He refused to complain one bit about our entire house being remodeled all day long for over 3 months.
Jeffrey was a gentleman in the best sense of the word.  Though literally wounded from the cancer in its last stages, he offered to weed an elderly neighbor’s plot in front of her house, then lovingly added mulch to the plot to prevent future weed growth.  That mulch is there now. This was his way and I’m glad we were there to learn from him.
Jeffrey was a good friend.  I know this because as he died his friends stayed with him and cared for him.  They cleaned his house.  They gathered to plan the memorial.  They made hearts out of hand crafted paper that hung by loops of brown twine and passed them out with multicolored pens so all could write thoughts about Jeffrey and hang them on the lemon tree planted in his honor in the community garden.  I have seen them making arrangements, and grieving on his back porch.  They have looked out for his legacy and his finances.  Oh, the friend that Jeffrey must have been to have gathered such a loving and wonderful and bereft collection of people!
“Who will live in Jeffrey’s house?” my daughter asked plaintively one day as we drove away from the block.  “I don’t know,” I said blinking back tears.  Jeffrey was the finest of neighbors.  We miss him.
 Quick sketch by Craig Cannon
I have known Jeffrey for maybe 25 years, from when I still lived in Australia and worked as a researcher for The Center for Conflict Resolution, in MacQuarie University. I was passing through S.F. and dropped in to interview his then housemate, Jim Shattuck, about his Men Against Violence project. My first impressions were of a gentle introvert with whom we’d share cigarettes, coffee and talk about writing out in the piercing humidity of their patio.
With the passing years, my friendship with Jim retreated and that with Jeffrey grew, so that he became my primary contact whenever I passed through town, maybe every couple of years.
His poet’s soul and his activist’s resolve weren’t always smoothely combined and I felt at times like his writer’s conscience as I prodded and urged that he should commit more to the vagaries and toil of writing. He was always warmly appreciative and responsive to what he called my European sensibility as I was, eventually, to his decision in favour of full time, grassroots activism, which, I would tell him, “you Americans do exceptionally well.” I do remember his pride when he took me on a tour of Quesada gardens a couple of years back, and his jovial, friendly manner with the people we met on the streets.
“Kin spirit” seems a term coined for how I regarded Jeffrey. Ours was an intermittent contact that never lost its lustre. One of his most lasting gifts to me personally was his hospital blog which included me in the stations of his physical decline. It was a privilege to be included in the process of someone’s dying so soberly, with all the feelings of awkardness and awe that elicited. I am ever thankful I was able to be part of that waif’s journey into manhood and into such a solid community member, and, then, his passing. There was a kind of remerkable completeess to it all.

News from the 1700 block

By Elizabeth Skow

As February looms large, the garden is turning bright green, bulbs are pushing up, and tiny nubs are forming at the ends of deciduous trees, waiting to flower or to become leaves. Weeds push up through the dirt, taking advantage of our winter downtime. QGI is busy coordinating some volunteer days to keep the weeds at bay, stay tuned.

Tai Tran and husband Mark have adopted a lovely, fuzzy green girrafe who now lives in the garden in front of their home! The grassy camelopard sports moss and live plantings, as well as fancy eyeballs. Do not be alarmed by our garden’s new denizen. Giraffes are friendly and supposedly quiet (no vocal chords on this one, anyway). Thanks, Tai and Mark, for bringing this attractive, fun new garden feature to our little median.
Top: A mysterious, hand made street sign has been installed at the bottom of the Quesada Ave. median
Bottom: This lovely giraffe/garden now graces the lower garden, watching over the flowers and vegetables
Photos: Mike McKevitt
A large, hand-painted NO EXIT sign has also been added, mysteriously, right next to the NO OUTLET sign at the bottom of Quesada avenue. To alert drivers from outside the neighborhood who missed the first sign, one would assume.
New business, ForageDaddy, run by Quesada dad Carlos J. Davila, promises to bring food, knowledge of the outdoors and foraging to Bayview kids and adults. He was inspired by the natural, edible bounty that surrounds us here in old butcher town. Crabs, snapper, fish roe, fennel, chanterelles, morels and mussels, just to name a few.
Davila will lead foraging groups while teaching participants where to find and how to prepare these succulent, native treasures.
Look forward to more news from ForageDaddy!

Post-it sketches by Craig Cannon

 Drawings and images by Craig Cannon
 Text: Elizabeth Skow
Artist Craig Cannon lives here on Quesada Ave., where he bought a home several years ago. He is involved in leading volunteer groups in the garden, as well as creating the design of the future Quesada Gardens sign, which will honor the garden’s history and founders.
Craig began drawing on Post-its when he worked in studio production, post-production and editing. He worked on many well known films, such as James and the Giant Peach, The South Park Movie and Kung Fu Panda. Follow this link to view his IMDB listing.
Cannon eventually became a visual effects artist and scored a job at Dreamworks.  He would sketch co-workers while his work was processing. He always had access to post-it notes, so he used them, developing this sketch style in the process.
These sketches of a jazz band at Cafe International were completed in under 5 minutes each. 
Below: Cannon’s sketch sits on the table in front of its subject. Cannon says he has to work quickly to catch a “mental snapshot” of each subject, which can mean he sees somebody once while walking by, catalogues it in his mind, and draws it later. Even when he has his subject in front of him, he says it’s hard to look but not stare.
Cannon made a resolution this year to draw every day. He said it wasn’t going very well until he remembered the Post-it sketches he used to do at work. He decided to try those again. “It’s an easy, portable way to sketch with small materials that fit into a shirt pocket,” he said.
Stay tuned to Footprints to see more of these delightful little drawings!

Jeffrey Betcher to join NEN hall of fame

Jeffrey Betcher, late Footprints Editor/co-founder and Quesada Gardens Initiative co-founder, will be inducted to the NEN Hall of Fame with a Lifetime Achievement award this Friday at 6pm at City Hall. Jeffrey will be honored along with nominee May Wong.
Everyone is welcome. If you wish to attend please RSVP here.
Jeffrey was nominated by his friends and neighbors for his continued community building work with Bayview Footprints and Quesada Gardens Initiative, which he helped to found in 2006, along with Annette Smith, Karl Paige and Shane King.
The lifetime achievement award honors community members who have passed and who have contributed consistently over many years, putting their time, love and energy into their communities.

Injured Conure Parrot rescued

By Elizabeth Skow
We found one of the wild Quesada Conure parrots injured in our yard about two months ago. My cousin Hummingbird found him lying on his back with his head all twisted around. His left leg didn’t work and his left foot couldn’t seem to grip. He tried to fly away and fell to the ground directly in front of our curious feral cat friend, who immediately crouched down into attack position.
We snatched the bird up and brought him into the kitchen, prompting a chorus of squawks from his fellow parrots, perched in a tree nearby.
I didn’t really know what to do, but I figured leaving the bird alone in a safe, dark place was probably best. I expected it to die overnight, but I figured I’d take it to Wildcare in San Rafael if it were still alive in the morning. Its friends remained in my tree uttering muted squawks of concern until night fell.


A pair of Cherry-headed Conure parrots hang out on an electric wire over Quesada garden, where they come during the day, from about February to about September every year. 
These parrots are descendants of the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, which has now grown to around 300 in San Francisco.
Photo: Shane King


The next morning I went into my garage to check on the little guy, and he was still breathing. His friends were right outside in the tree, still conducting their vigil, squawking at him through the wall.
I drove the parrot to San Rafael, checked out the Wildcare facility for a few minutes, dropped him off with a promise from them that they’d call if they had news, drove home and promptly forgot about him.
I called a couple of days later, and the certified wildlife rehabilitators there told me that he had suffered a head or spinal injury and that he was depressed. They planned to send him to a rehabilitation facility in Sebastopol if he lasted a couple of days. Then the North Bay fires happened, spreading almost to Sebastopol and displacing numerous other birds that needed his spot, so the lonely little Conure waited at Wildcare, slowly regaining his strength and healing.
I didn’t call for weeks after that. My life got busy, lots of crises to handle, our beloved Jeffrey Betcher passed away, Halloween passed, and winter came. It’s been a glum season for me. I am distraught about our political situation, sad about Jeffrey’s death, and stressed out for numerous other mundane reasons. The parrot’s recovery slipped to the back of my mind.
I thought about him once or twice, but didn’t call to inquire. Perhaps I was too afraid of another sad disappointment; I didn’t call.
Finally, the day after our Thanksgiving feast, I gathered my courage and called the aviary in Sebastopol where the little parrot was recovering. I was thrilled to hear that he is almost fully recovered, and that next week, another San Francisco Conure will be joining him in the aviary. He still has a bit of trouble landing, but his feet and legs work, and he can fly again.
It turns out we all saved his life, thanks to collective efforts of Wildcare and Hummingbird and myself, as well as the aviary in Sebastopol, he will be released back to his flock in late January, just in time for breeding season.

Senior travel tips

By Marie Villeza
Now that retirement is finally here, you can start planning those vacations you’ve always dreamed about. Maybe you’ve always wanted to visit Paris, spend a week in the Caribbean, or just see the sights in the US.
Seniors should travel and take vacations, but they need to be smart about it. There are steps you can take to make sure your trip is enjoyable. It starts by knowing how to stay safe.

Safety Concerns For Traveling Seniors
Smarter Travel has a few recommendations specifically for seniors who travel. Two important ones concern food and medication.
  • Even if they’re not on a restricted diet, seniors have to be careful about what they eat since their digestive systems tend to be more sensitive. Eating heavy or spicy local cuisines might sound tasty, but it could lead to stomach problems.
  • It’s easy to forget to take prescribed medications when traveling with all the changes and things to do. Seniors need to make sure they’re taking their medications as prescribed.
Physical safety for seniors is another concern. Seniors need to stay in regular contact with the family. They also need to schedule some downtime during the vacation. Scheduling too many tours, dinners, and so on can lead to feeling overtired and even sore.
The Trip Should Be Relaxing
In addition to staying safe on your trip, remember to take necessary steps to keep your home safe while you’re gone. Knowing your belongings are secured will provide peace of mind, which is what vacation is all about!
Before you leave home, invest in these 5 home security essentials suggested by HomeAdvisor:
  • Security systems: Choose between unmonitored, self-monitored and fully-monitored systems.
  • New locks: Replacing locks is important, especially if the locks are old or flimsy. Newer locks can be rekeyed, which keeps the original lock, but changes the keys needed to open it.
  • Motion-activated lights: An affordable way to increase home security, motion-activated lights are especially important around your garage, front porch and other dimly-lit locations.
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: Protect the inside of your house from potential dangers by replacing any dated or missing detectors.
  • Light timers: Modern light timers allow you to set your lights to come on (and turn off) without you being there, which can help ward off potential burglars.
Destinations Perfect For Seniors
Even the best precautions in the world don’t matter much if you head to the wrong location. Spring Break in Daytona Beach would probably be more annoying than fun for seniors. Trips To Discover has a list of vacations that seniors will love.
  • Cruises are great choices for seniors. Some are designed specifically for older adults as well. Destinations like the Caribbean and Alaska are very popular.
  • A road trip along the California coast has plenty of sights at the senior’s own pace. Renting a convertible can make it even more memorable.
  • Sedona, AZ might not be a well-known destination, but it has plenty of spas, resorts, and shops great for seniors.
  • Many seniors are familiar with Florida, but few reach Key West. That’s a shame because there are enough beaches, small cruises, shopping, and restaurants that seniors will love.
One destination that many seniors don’t consider is Disney World. Chances are, seniors have been there with family when they were younger. This theme park is made for adults as well as kids, so going there without family can be a perfect vacation.
Start Planning That Vacation
Retirement is a reward for working so hard for many years. That’s why seniors deserve a fun, relaxing trip. By paying attention to safety concerns, keeping travel stress-free, and picking the right destination, that’s exactly what seniors can get.

Jeffrey Betcher RIP

By Elizabeth Skow
Jeffrey Betcher, founder and editor of Bayview Footprints, passed away on October 21st, 2017, after a long illness.
A framed magazine photo of jeffrey 
was among other photos hung in the 
entryway of his home during his 
life celebration, Saturday Nov. 17th.
Those of you who knew Jeffrey know what a huge loss his passing is for our community, where Jeffrey made his life lovingly building community and diligently documenting news and events, writing grants for gardening projects, gathering volunteers and supporting the arts in Bayview Hunters Point.
Jeffrey was a relentlessly positive force. He loved Bayview, and Quesada Garden, and he dedicated his life to community building here. He was a wonderful neighbor and a generous, selfless person. He was a great writer of poetry and an accomplished journalist as well, and I feel really lucky to have known him and worked with him on Footprints.
Friends and neighbors gathered Saturday, Nov. 17th to celebrate Jeffrey’s life and to mourn his passing. Friends had lovingly covered the garden in cut flowers. Loved ones read Jeffrey’s sublime poems and spoke of what he meant to them, sharing a meal together after the sharing of memories. It was moving, and terribly sad.
Friends, neighbors and loved ones gathered at Jeffrey’s home on Quesada Avenue on Sat. Nov. 17th, to celebrate Jeffrey’s life and share memories together.
I realized that I needed to write about Jeffrey’s passing, but I’ve been having a hard time with it. I had no idea where to start to eulogize someone who meant so much to all of us. After speaking to other friends and neighbors and attending his life celebration last weekend, I realized that the best thing to do would be to invite everyone to share their memories of Jeffrey here in Footprints.
Did Jeffrey touch your life in a small or large way? Please write and share that memory with us. Pictures and anecdotes are welcome. We will publish a special issue of Footprints in mid-December dedicated to our memories of Jeffrey Betcher. After that, I will always be happy to print any memories of Jeffrey in any issue of Footprints.
Please send your memories to: by December 20th, so I can put it all together. No story or memory is too insignificant. We would really like to hear from you, to help us all process this loss, and to pay tribute to this wonderful friend and neighbor.