hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Going to Bed

It is the time of putting the garden to bed.  You really need to get it done before spring comes, or at least the absolutely essential part needs to be done.  But it really would be best to get out there in the rain and grey and cold and do it all now, not in the spring.  But it's really hard.  Because it's cold and it's grey, and it's wet, and no immediate good will come of it.

Thus have I tried these last ten days to get at least some of those essential chores done.  There will be no tulips in the spring if I do not plant them in the fall, of course, and so that is the very highest of the priorities.  I have managed 4.5 dozen tulip and daffodil bulbs and 4 dozen crocuses.  It's not as easy as just digging a hole and dropping them in, unfortunately, because during the last part of the summer, I quit weeding (I take Ira Gershwin very seriously when he says, Summertime and the living is easy).  Of course, the weeds didn't quit growing, so before bulbs can be planted, weeds have to be unplanted.

Also of high importance is the planting of garlic which is not of the highest importance because you can buy garlic easily in the summer when it ripens, but you can't buy a yardful of tulips anytime unless you plant them in the fall.  In Idaho and Massachusetts, I planted bulbs about once in my lifetime (each place) and they came up every spring thence.  But here, they may come back one or two years with actual flowers, but mostly it's just leaves the second year and then nothing.  Perhaps the somethings eat them, but I think it more likely that they get too wet over the summer in our very wet yard.  Fertilizing them does not seem to make any particular difference.  I have adjusted, have gotten used to the idea that I need to procure 4-6 dozen bulbs, sometime around October 1 and get them in the ground sometime before November 1.  And I planted a dozen garlic bulbs, which will provide a lot of garlic next fall, but probably not enough.  But then there's the grocery store for a backup.

By now, however, there's a bunch of stuff that has gotten done: the bulbs; the raspberries are mostly cut back (although we were still getting about a cup of raspberries every few days up until the last two weeks from the everbearing berry plants.  They don't seem to care that it rarely gets above 55 and that they see sun only rarely.  The lilies and the hydrangeas are mostly cut back.  The kitchen is full of seed pods from various plants, awaiting my collecting and bagging them for spring planting.  The fruit trees need work, the forsythia needs work, the day lilies, crycosmia, shastas, lunarias all call to me as I go by, 'Please so kind as to make me shorter!'  But they are yet tall.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace, but not enough gets done.  The list gets longer, the days get shorter.  Oh, Garden!  Just go to bed.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Government Strikes Back

After that nice Whatcome County officials' visitation on Monday, we were next visited, somewhat more indirectly but much more unpleasantly, by the state, in the form if its Department of Archeology and Historical Preservation.

The news came via Point Interface, which had been asked to broadcast the reply of the Department to a local entrepreneur who does something about consulting on coastlands and such.  The entrepreneur had requested a little information about what, exactly, the DAHP (that's archeology etc., above) expected regarding digging into the ground in Point Roberts.  Now, I think it's safe to say that most people here know that there has been, in years past, some fussiness about digging large holes in the ground, say for swimming pools, and in particular over in Maple Beach because of there being Indian remains in that area.

What I think most of us don't know and would have no reason to know is that the whole 4+square miles is a giant archeological site and that, strictly speaking/black-letter law, we aren't allowed to plant our garlic bulbs today without getting a permit from the state and buying an archeologist to stand by our side to make sure that no bones are appearing in the shoveled dirt.  At least that's what the archeologist said, the one who works for the state and is responsible for this law.  Not for its existence, but for its application.  You can read the text of the email she sent to the entrepreneur here at the All Point Bulletin.

Now, in all fairness, she does say that they have never interfered with gardening,  per se, although it appears to be covered by the law, but she does claim that so much as a post hole being dug anywhere on the Point requires both the permit and the archeologist, both of which come at a price.  (Maybe this will discourage the radio station with its desire to put up five towers on Tyee?)

Yesterday, I was at the local grocery, parked between a County Planning and Development truck, and an SUV.  The SUV's driver got out and strolled over to the County truck and inquired of the driver whether he knew anything about these requirements for archeologists and permits in Point Roberts.  The Planning and Development guy replied, 'Oh, there are lots of state requirements, etc.," and effectively blew him off.  But I'd guess that is just one of many inquiries coming government's way.

It's hard to imagine what inspired the state archeologist person to commit her views to print, since they are done in about the most irritating manner possible.  If you've been feeling some irritation with government here during the anti-government election season, you could scarcely find a finer example of what's wrong with government regulation and of why so many people are so furious about it.  Well, we live and learn.  Both us and the archeologist, I'd guess.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


So, last night the suits came up from Bellingham to entertain us in dialogue as to what Point Roberts needs from them (but not so much what they need from Point Roberts).  About thirty locals showed up for the experience, most of which was spent on the issues surrounding the missing dock at Lighthouse Park.  That is, how the dock could be made to reappear.  That was not so much dialogue as it was informational, but for those who missed the information, there were some dialogue attempts.  One fellow was puzzled as to why everybody kept talking about a dock at Lighthouse Park when as far as he was concerned there was no dock to speak of there.  In trying to straighten him out on this point, he drifted even farther away when one of the suits appeared to say that there had been no maintenance on this sorry excuse for a dock for the past fifteen years.  Right to the end, I think, the fellow never got much clarification as to the problem and the solution.

The problem is that the dock was removed three years ago because it was beyond repair, and the solution is that the County will put up some money, and the County and Chairperson Reber will try to get the Port of Bellingham to put up some money, and then they all three entities, assuming we can consider Reber an entity in this sentence rather than a person, will try to get the State of Washington, via some relevant agency to give some money, and voila (with the missing accent added), a new dock will come into existence.  And individuals are encouraged to write letters of support to everyone and to donate any money toward the project that they can find it in their hearts to donate.

The second hour was spent more on the dialogue part.  A woman from the Voters' Association, or maybe the Taxpayers, Association (I wish they would unite just so that we can stop having to keep them straight), spoke of the many reasons why it would be a feature and not a bug to have a foot passenger ferry between here and Blaine.  She was heavily infused with the "If you build it, they will come" vision of how things work.  Unfortunately, that vision probably involves a capital commitment that would guarantee losing money for at least the first five years, and probably forever.  The dialogue part was the suits saying, in various ways, "You go for it, Ma'am, but I wouldn't be looking for County dollars in these trying times of no County dollars."  Reber was pleased that no one outright laughed at the proposal.  The Taxpayers/Voters, whichever it is, will do more research on this issue.

And there was a little information about a small advance on getting a lighthouse for Lighthouse Park.  And there was considerable discouragement about a Bond Issue for Point Roberts which would raise large funds and would then be paid back by the income stream from the gas tax.  (Better to lease those funds, I say.  Abu Dhabi might still be interested, but Chicago, it appears, is now suffering from having people rip up the Abu Dhabi-leased parking meters.  The equivalent here, I suppose, would be angry constituents ripping up the gas pumps.  Not that!!)

And then we closed on the perennial whimper about Pt. Roberts becoming its own little municipality with its own little City Hall and its own little taxing authority.  The suits looked very dimly on this, largely based on the interesting information that municipalities' funding base is almost exclusively business fees.  They used to get money from the state, but no longer.  So, looking at the business base in Point Roberts, their advice was, "Not Enough Business..not now, maybe not ever."

And then we all went home suitably entertained.  Oh, also, the current gas tax revenues will go to some walking path shoulders on Benson and somewhere else, as I vaguely recall, to be worked on in the spring at the same time that Tyee is re-asphalted.

Monday, October 25, 2010

All Together Now

You could live in Los Angeles for your whole adult life and never feel the need to join a group, I think. Except for things related to work in fact, I think that's pretty much what I did. But move to Point Roberts and group joining becomes, it appears, a major life activity. There's the Voters' Association, and the Taxpayers' Association, right at the top. If you are Canadian, you might lean toward joining up with taxpayers, whereas if you're American, you might be more inclined to go with the voters. Or the two groups might be united, as they frequently threaten to do, and you could join both.

Beyond civic duties, you could participate in doing some kind of active good, which might lead you to becoming a member of the church or the Food Bank group, or the Prep group, the last of which is dedicated to getting us through a disaster. In fact, if we had a real disaster. we might require the services of the food bank and the church as well. PAWS membership would enable you to help out with unexpected dog and cat needs: lostness, foundness, illness, maternityness, and orphanhood, especially.

The Historical Society and The Friends of the Library are a little harder to classify, because they seem sort of civic, but also sort of do-good, with a dollope of hobby on the side. If they have legal status, they are surely not-for-profit, anyway.

And then there are the activities groups, which might also be described as 'interest groups,' if the phrase had not been entirely taken over by politics. The Garden Club, the Beekeepers, the Rose Society, the church choir, the Sustainability Group (which may or may not overlap with the inventors group), the community garden participants (which might overlap with the sustainability people), the book clubs, the knitting group, the horse association, somebody's poker group, and the quilting group.  Doubtless more, but these are the ones I know about.  Really, quite a lot for a place with only 1500 permanent residents.

It is, of course, the quilting group that I belong to, and it has managed a continuous existence now for about fourteen or fifteen years. At its peak, it has about 14 members, but this number waxes and wanes with the seasons. It is a group with a strong presence on the Point. Over the years, we have made and donated a lot of quilts for community events or projects, or places. Our quilts can be seen in the Community Center, the Library, and the Aydon Wellness Clinic. At the Lutheran Church, there are four of our quilts on the walls of the great hall, "The Four Seasons of Point Roberts."  Last week, the church raffled off another of our quilts in order to raise money for a generator to help save us in a disaster. The quilters aren't the only people I know on the Point, but they are all good friends in the truest sense of the words. Couldn't get along without them.

Maybe all this group joining is a function of the age of Point Roberts residents. It is largely composed of older people, of retirees, who come here and need to find some kind of niche to begin their new life. Back in Los Angeles, or wherever, they already had a life whose boxes were already filled and one would hardly be looking for yet more boxes to fill. And maybe it has something to do with the isolation that is such an essential quality of Point Roberts. Whatever the cause, it is another good feature of the Point.  Here we are, like the pieces of a quilt, all separate, all different, and all together.

Friday, October 22, 2010

At Last: Separateness

On Tuesday, I observed that not only in Point Roberts but also in Bellingham, road workers were out painting yellow lines down the middle of all our roads.  They'd been getting fainter and fainter and we might have thought, reasonably, that the County no longer had enough money to buy paint to paint us into separate directions, given its budget difficulties.  Or we might have thought, less reasonably, that the County had figured out that we were all smart enough or not-British enough to know which half of the road we were supposed to be driving on (although knowing your half obviously isn't quite enough on a more than 2-lane road).  Or something else.

But what actually explained this lack of yellow lines and now this presence of yellow lines is that the national shortage of yellow-line street paint which began last spring has, at last, been reversed.

"Dow Construction Chemicals, one of the largest producers of the compounds that go into pavement-marking products, experienced plant breakdowns in April and May, according to the contractors group. Along with Dow's reduced production, shortages of other chemicals and rising demand from roadway projects in Asia have contributed to the problem. Industry experts also say the shortage has been heightened because of demand from street projects funded through American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus money."

(Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2010/08/12/20100812phoenix-road-paint.html#ixzz138mPD3YU).

Actually, if you Google "national shortage yellow street line paint" you will find the shortage cited even earlier than April of 2010, but whenever it began, at least seven months later, it has ended.  You might think that the free market and capitalism and supply and demand and all that would have permitted a more rapid recovery, but then you might have thought that big banks would have good and legal processes for mortgages and foreclosures of same.  I find myself, day after day, being astonished to discover things that I would have thought were obviously true to be absolutely NOT true.  I'm not sure that I can bear getting any older if the learning proceeds at this pace.

In any case, rejoice at those yellow lines.  Or stay on your own side, at least.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Down in the Big City

I was down in Bellingham yesterday, checking out what people more in touch with the modern world were experiencing. Lots of stuff happening to them. Mostly, I was at Trader Joe's and in various medical offices, but even there and on my way to those theres, lots of stuff to notice.

At one place, they had a newspaper and I was amazed at how awkward it was to read something so big and floppy. Surely that would be much better on the I-Pad, and the office had wi-fi, so why not just get it in an easier format? But I stuck with it, in all its size, and discovered (amazing!) that the airlines find it too costly as well as ineffective to haul U.S. Air Marshals around in first class seats and would like to require them to fly in the cattle section of the aircraft. I think no comment is needed there, except to note that I would never have known about this if I had not chanced upon this newspaper in the big city.

Later in my travels, I found another piece of news that reminded me about Point Roberts. Last year, the fine city of Chicago sold the revenue for the next 75 years from its parking meters to a brokerage bank..Morgan Stanley?   JP Morgan?...which in turn sold the revenue stream to Abu Dhabi. So, now, if Chicago wants to make parking free during some city event, Abu Dhabi has to say they're OK with losing those parking revenues, which they might understandably be not willing to say. And now NYC is considering selling/leasing long-term their parking meter revenues.

I just had not grasped how thoroughly privatization had taken hold. I know about all the military stuff, but I assumed cities, counties, states were privatizing only actual services, like garbage collection, prisons and schools. This parking meter revenue sale though was something different: like banks selling and securitizing mortgages, cities were now selling revenue streams in order to fill their budget gaps.

Chicago got over a billion dollars for their parking meter quarters. NYC is thinking five billion dollars.  So what kind of revenue streams does Point Roberts have that we could be thinking about selling, leasing, securitizing, slicing and dicing, and then insuring to hedge the down side?  First thought that comes to my mind is the penny per gallon on the gas tax.  Since we have almost $400,000 now, in ten years it would be $4 million, no?  And with two-thirds of that amount, we could have a ferry to go back and forth to Bellingham or Blaine (a small ferry, and it would have to largely be paying its own way since we would have sold our revenues in advance).

The City Manager is going to be up in Point Roberts on Monday night to meet with us.  Maybe we need to get somebody there from Abu Dhabi to discuss leasing our revenue stream?  And if that doesn't work out, we could maybe sell library fines?  This kind of thinking is what comes from going to the big city, I'm afraid.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Half an Apple, Better than None?

According to the news, it's a good apple crop this year, although less so in Washington State.  In fact, the crop here is likely to come in lower than predictions due to apples being small.  Which, apparently, is a result of colder weather and rain in September.  Also, it was pretty cold during spring bloom.

Here in Point Roberts, it has been considerably worse than just less than predicted, although I doubt that anyone of any importance was doing any predicting about our crop.  Our crop is, I am pretty sure, entirely a matter of personal apple trees for, more or less, personal use.  The original Icelandic settlers here planted lots of apple trees; so many that there must have been some for commercial use.  But the orchard tenders have moved on to other worlds and now there are just lots of untended apple trees in largely vacant lots with absentee owners of some sort.

In any case, and for whatever reason, there are lots of apple trees all around.  Ed and I have four apple trees (one of which is multi-grafted and has four different varieties, which might mean we have seven apple crops that can can fail).  Of the seven, this year's Transparent crop was small in quantity, but the right size.  The Jonagolds were right in quantity, but very small in individual volume.  The Red Delicious, which are ripening now, are tiny in number and small in size.  The Golden Delicious are not only small in number and size, but also seem to have some kind of internal brown fleck problem.  The Pippins, also ripening this month, are small in size but about average in quantity.  And the other two, whose varietal name I do not know:  well, one doesn't ripen until late November and never has much, and the other, which is an early russeted apple of some sort, set not one single fruit this year.  (The pippins in the picture at left are about 2 inches high, each, and with flaws.)

So, we are pretty much reduced to buying apples.  "What a revolting development this is!" as William Bendix used to say on The Life Of Riley, which was a very popular radio show in the Neolithic Era when I was growing up.

Worse yet, we are going to be pretty much, which is to say entirely reduced to buying apple juice.  For the first year since our friends George and Rose bartered a quilt for an apple press, we will not be invited to make apple juice with them (bring your own apples if you've got them), because nobody has any apples to bring.  Not only global warming but also no fresh apple juice.  Revolting doesn't even begin to cover the situation.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Commerce in Our Times and Place

I really don't have an entrepreneurial bone in my body (as Walt Disney was once alleged to have said, so it's hard to know whether it's a sentence ethat really can be taken seriously, but I really don't have any peddler inclinations).  Thus my summer and early fall's experience with Pt. Robert's Farmers'/Community Market is pretty unusual for me.  I found, over the 4 or 5 times I was there, selling the 4/5 of my fabulous CD collection, that I kind of liked the interchange, the process, the (mini)adventure of it.  I didn't wake up on Saturday mornings delighted to be rushing through my breakfast so I could get there by 9 a.m., but I didn't turn over in bed and decide to sell CD's some other Saturday, either.

The CD's have  been steady sellers, even as I point out to people that it's a dying (if not quite dead) technology, to be replaced by all the music that is available to anyone via the web.  As an almost former technology, it has to its credit that it really doesn't take up a lot of room...CED's are small, they're, eponymously, compact, right?  So, I imagine people will still have them hanging around on shelves for decades to come, but I doubt if they'll be playing them.  Given that, I'm particularly grateful that people buy them and take them to hang around on their shelves so I don't have to have them on mine.

Ed has also enjoyed selling his postcards of Point Roberts.  Link to many of the cards here and here.  We can only hope that the Post Office has been helped by an increase in postcard stamp sales.

The overall success of the market is reflected in our experience (or vice versa).  It was pretty fun.  Not too much work.  Generally enough buyers, although it would have been nice to have a few more sellers.  The growing season here is fairly short so a farmers' market isn't going to extend into the fall much unless you want to buy a lot of different kinds of apples, maybe.  There are meetings to decide what to do next, how to get it to continue to exist.  Depending on volunteerism is probably the worst way to bring something to an extended life, but here it's about the only way.  And if it is successful, it's usually because one mortal person has decided to really make it work, but then its existence depends upon that one mortal person, which is to make the event/institution/whatever a hostage to fortune.

I don't think I've got anything to sell on a regular basis once the CD's are done, and they will make it through only a few more market days.  I think Ed's are the only uniquely Point Roberts postcards on the Point, so they will probably have a longer shelf life.  I'm sorry we can't contribute more, but I hope the organizers can keep it going.  And I'd like to extend our thanks for their having made it happen this year.  It was an occasional event that had, at least as far as I could tell, absolutely no downside, and any number of small and pleasant upsides.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Stand Tall!

Three or four years ago, maybe even five years ago, the local Parks Board got into negotiations with Verizon about the building of a cell phone tower in Point Roberts.  They Parks Board was going to rent some land to Verizon in order for them to build the tower that would provide us with cell phone access, which we did not have.

It's not clear to me how it is that someplace this small has no access when a mile away they have plenty of access, but no one has seen fit to explain this to me, and I take it as one of life's eternal verities.  If you live in Point Roberts, you don't have cell phone access.  True then, true now, although my teenage grandchildren, when they visit, have found that if you go down and stand on the beaches of Point Roberts, you do indeed have something that responds such that you can call your friends on your cell and do whatever else cell phones do.  Not having one because of not having any practical access means that I don't really know exactly what they do...phones, email, word games, music, photography, and in fact maybe they just do everything.  So we probably should have one.

So why are we so deprived?  After Verizon and the Parks Board came to an agreement about the rental, the locals who did not like either the idea or the reality of cell phone towers gathered themselves together to oppose this agreement.  Eventually, they got themselves in court over it.  They were concerned about health issues (its placement was too close to the K-2 school building), about aesthetics, and for all I know about the rental terms themselves.  This dispute dragged on for quite awhile, but the County hearing officer eventually told the objectors to go away.  But by that time, Verizon apparently had forgotten why it ever wanted to put a cell phone tower in Point Roberts, although it still had some kind of option to do so.

But it hasn't done so, and now their option is running out.  And if it runs out, they would have to go back  and reapply for all the needed permits.

I recount this piece of history to explain why we don't have cell phone access and to explain why we are now about to have 5 radio towers built here on the main road into the peninsula, just south of the border.  The radio company wishes to expand its reach, particularly in order to get it in better contact not with the residents of Point Roberts but with the East Indian community of southern Vancouver.   A local resident has pointed out succinctly that surely the place for those radio towers is in the southern part of Vancouver, perhaps Delta (the large municipality immediately north of our peninsula), which is to say in Canada.

Unlike the Verizon request, which would have provided some kind of local benefit, the radio tower request would appear to have no benefit to the Point Roberts community, which is pretty short on East Indians.  The reason, I am told by those closer to power, that Point Roberts is a desired locale is that the radio company, by locating itself outside of Canada, frees itself from having to deal with Canadian radio regulations, which includes a bunch of requirements for 'Canadian content,' the kind of requirements that would probably appear to be Socialism if practiced in the U.S.  So, that is the service we could be providing this corporation, although what service they are providing us is not known.  It's not even Parks Board land that the towers are slated for, so there's not public rental fees coming to us.  Just the towers.

Well, they'll be tall (150 feet, as I recall), and they'll be easy to spot, so we can always say to our newcomer friends, 'Hey, we'll meet you at the radio towers.'  I guess I could contemplate knitting sweaters for the towers thus making them an art project, but I don't think I'll ever collect that much excess yarn again.  Local horse owners could, maybe, hitch their horses to the tower legs?  No, probably not.  At the very least, I guess we can listen to those programs that are designed for East Indians and expand our multiculturalism skills.

On the other hand, maybe someone will ask Whatcom County why they would approve this.  Of course, Whatcom County might answer this question.  The County is the third approval needed, after the FAA (danger to airplanes?) and the Federal Communications Commission.

For the most recent word on the Verizon tower, see here.  For the most recent All Point Bulletin coverage of the radio towers, see here.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Be Thankful! It's the Law.

Yesterday, our Deputy Sheriff was lurking about 20 feet from his home/compound on South Beach, looking to cite drivers on Benson Road.  (That would be on Saturday, on a weekend in which the tourist traffic re-increases because we have arrived almost at Canadian Thanksgiving and on which day Canadian cottagers often come back for a family turkey dinner.)  Today, Sunday, he was sitting just out of sight on Benson, looking to observe (?) folks running the red light there, or perhaps just making rolling stops at the stop sign.  Same tourists, still here.  Same virtually no-traffic on the Point.  Well, there are rules and there are laws and all that.

I am reminded, however, that the lowest level of moral development is that of  'you have to follow the rules.'  Preferably to the letter.  This is the moral judgment of five-year-olds.  And, I suppose some folks never really get beyond that stage.  I was reading an article the other day about the current Acting Director of the DEA in our federal government (that's the Drug Enforcement Administration).  She was appointed to be Director by Bush but the appointment never got approved.  But now, Obama the Disappointer, has reappointed her to head that Agency, notwithstanding the fact that she believes the federal government should continue to enforce marijuana laws even when they fly in the face of state-approved medical marijuana laws, and even when the U.S. Attorney General has said that the federal government should not do that.

What can you say?  Well, there are rules and laws and all that.  And I guess we can be thankful for them on Thanksgiving Day.  Even Canadian Thanksgiving Day.

Friday, October 8, 2010

In the Grey, Good News

So it's fall, and the grocery store is kind of emptied out and the weekend walkers are spare on the side streets, but enough to keep the Sheriff's three large black dogs barking on a regular basis.  A fellow resident, at the end of his first summer here, once told me how astonished he was when the tourists all cleared out, and how quiet it seemed.  Pleasantly so and then some, he thought.  I would imagine we could stop worrying about all those traffic dangers for awhile at least.  Although I believe the Sheriff is still making his laying-in-wait sorties, out to get the people doing 35 in a 30 mph zone.

And the rain has returned, along with the grey skies.  That 10-12 week summer we get here with all that sun inevitably makes me forget that it rains here.  Perhaps that is because I spent my life in either a high or a low desert: that is, I basically assume that there won't be rain because there never was.  Left in the sun, I expect it to continue to be sunny.  But it is not.  There have been many days of heavy rain and the back yard has reverted to its vaguely marshland feel.  The thousands of plums that fell from the tree and never made it into anyone's mouth (not for lack of my trying to accomplish that feat) have dissolved into the grounds and into the wet ground and it is purple and slippery with plums when I walk between houses.

I'll get used to the rain again; at least I have every year in the last couple of decades.  And I'll also remember that I'm used to the threats of big developments in Point Roberts that never quite make it to fruition.  The Point Roberts Lily Point Beach Club has now sunk bank into the dream world from which it came. After a springtime of agitation about what could be done to stop it from happening, life stopped it.  It turned out that the people who were making all those plans last spring actually weren't paying the mortgage on the property and the bank decided to foreclose and sell it at auction.  Which it did, and at the auction the winning bidder was an art gallery owner in Vancouver who already owns a place in the near vicinity of the property.

He says he might build a house on the property some time, but has no immediate plans to do so, and that he bought it to keep it from turning into a development.  That is, to conserve it, in the best sense of conservatism.  So that is a bright light shining here in the fall.  If we can just remember that, the next time somebody decides to announce they want to put a racetrack on Tyee, or a Wikkininish-type resort on the beach, or five radio towers on Tyee.  Probably not going to happen.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Problem, the Solution

Okay, I think I'm finally back with everything working.  Several events and what I took to be a few day's hiatus from the blog turned into about a month.  Maybe not a bad idea to take a vacation.

What happened was this:  we have a lot of computers around, probably nine of them in Point Roberts.  But that is not just because we like them but because Ed is a computer guy.  He has computers that are named 'cardboard' because they are a lot of different parts that sit together in a cardboard box and function as a server for some purpose.  I have no idea why we either have or need a server, but apparently we do.  It's okay to have a lot of computers; I usually only work on 3 of them, including my I-Pad.  But one day in September, one of them I work on stopped working.  We had recently moved it down from the coast in order to upgrade the one I was using in the quilt workshop.  It had all my current files on it.  So when it refused to boot despite all Ed's coaxing, he transferred its files onto an external drive via our main computer.

And then the main computer refused to boot.  So he went back to the computer that had been replaced at the quilt workshop, but it had had its network card replaced in the exchange, so it was back to looking at the main computer.  Many tricks, all unsuccessful.  Finally, he replaced the battery in the C-Mos, and it booted up successfully.  But then, in about 24 hours, it quit again and refused to boot.  There was concern about highly problematic viruses, but given that this computer, although a PC, was running Windows 2000 made that seem a little less likely.  Nevertheless, an upgrade to XP.  No significant result.

Now a decision to upgrade the whole system to a better monitor, a better graphics card.  About this time, I made the decision to bail out on PC's after all these years.  I ordered an I-Mac.  Time is passing during all this ordering and upgrading.  I have the I-Pad, but it's hard to write much on if you don't have a keyboard and dock.  I don't.

The I-Mac comes.  I set it up all by myself.  This is a big deal because over the past 2 decades, Ed has taken over all computer maintenance and I don't suppose I've ever even installed a program.  I just use it.  The happiest news I have read in some time was the section of the tiny manual that came with the I-Mac that says something like 'Except for memory chips, nothing in this computer can be serviced or dealt with by you.  Don't even think about it.'  I am smiling.

  I am also figuring out how to use the Mac with help of my son, particularly.  It's all foreign stuff to me: the language, the syntax, the 'intuitiveness.'  My intuitions have all been shaped by PC's.  'So, how do I learn this?'  is the beginning of every email I write to the son.  He answers, usually, 'It's in the dock.'  I write another email, 'What is the dock?  Where would I find it?  Is it a program?  A place?  A manual?'  He replies; rinse and repeat.

Then, just when I'm beginning to feel I can get back to blogging, we went up to the Coast to the house for sale where DCC Cable Company had disconnected our internet connection because we had asked them last month to disconnect our TV connection and we hadn't been back at that house since we had requested that.  We called the cable people Friday afternoon and their friendly phone person in Ontario or somewhere explained that nobody could do anything about our situation before Monday.  Maybe DCC Cable Company ought to think about having an ER room with at least Saturday hours of availability?

Monday, Andrew arrived and apologized for having cut it all off.  'It shouldn't have happened,' he said.  Right, but that's what happens in life.  But rapid correction could have happened if DCC Cable cared the least about its customers, which it doesn't, of course.

Anyway, anyway, now we're back in Point Roberts.  The I-Mac is working; I am feeling I can use it; Ed has spread the entrails of the 'main' computer out on the slate kitchen counter and is now inserting a new motherboard (which arrived during our absence).  If this doesn't work, he says, perhaps a new power source since the new graphics card and monitor require more power.  He is not abandoning his commitment to PC's, I take it.

And what has been happening in Point Roberts while I have been engaged in my own problems?  Well, fall has come.  And thus everything has changed.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sterling Reverts to Sterling Status, We Guess

This past week, it was officially announced that Sterling Savings Bank was no longer on the 'bad bank' or 'troubled bank' list.  That list is now about 880 banks spread throughout the U.S.  The FDIC removes a bank from the troubled bank list when the bank is taken over by the FDIC (or sold to some other bank), or when the FDIC concludes that the bank has managed to alter its financial position sufficiently to return to serving the public, or whatever it is that banks advertise themselves as doing.  In this case, Sterling got a lot of new money from private investors.  And thus is its position improved.  It's still a penny stock, though, selling under a dollar.

Friday, October 1, 2010

No end to problems with computers

So, we have come up to the sunshine coast this weekend to visit our house for sale that has not yet sold. For unknown reasons, the internet service is not functioning. Thus, resuming blogging is a little difficult. As i write this, i am sitting in the dusk on my absent neighbor's porch, sponging off their wifi network. But it's too dark and cold to do much of this.

I hope they are not away for a long time; alternatively, i hope the internet connection comes back up, but the cable company offers help, well, maybe moday, if we are lucky.