hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Gone But Lights Remain





Apparently the big new thing in Christmas decorations since icicle lights (in my view, the very highest point of aesthetic decorations) is giant blow-up figures, most of which look as if they're about to take off to make a late appearance in the Thanksgiving Day Macy's Parade. I'm not sure that they are an improvement, except for their capacity to take up a lot of space.


On the other hand, the mixed blue/red LED strings of lights provide a strangely intense sense of color, with a feeling of mystery about them, more like a solstice evocation than Christmas, though. Other light bonanzas seem not so much festive as like a visit to downtown Tokyo. Candy cane shaped lights seemed a new entry in the field, but I'm not sure they work that well, although we did see one wall of green net lights with lighted candy canes at the bottom that really stood out. The candy canes looked sort of like tree trunks for the green net hedge.

We don't do Christmas lights at our house, although we do have some 'colored winter lights,' which get turned on when daylight savings ends and then get turned off when daylight savings starts. And they're always on their respective trees, so we just have to turn on the timer switch when the right time arrivess

For a lot of those light shows that we came across the other night, I imagined a wife calling out in early December, "Joe, it's time to put up the Christmas lights." And then Joe goes to the basement to find the box and spreads them around with all the enthusiasm that my father used to show during the annual placement of storm windows for the winter. But for many other light shows we saw, it was more like some other Joe was saying, 'Come on, kids, let's put them everywhere; let's light up the sky!' And they sure did.

Friday, December 23, 2011

What Are We Come To?

Ed is involved in a kind of game project with a bunch of other photographers on Flickr wherein you take pictures of items that involve specific numbers. The group starts with somebody taking a picture of one item; then somebody does two, and on to much higher numbers. You are on your honor to photograph things that already exist in the number; i.e., you are not supposed to group, say, 15 items when you need a 15 photograph. You have to find an existing 15. I spend a lot of my time these days reflexively counting whatever is in front of me. "Oh, there are 14 towhees outside the window. Alas, we need a picture of 13; will one, but only one leave? No, alas."

Below is a photo of a quilt that Ed used for the number 14: there are 14 appliqued sailboats in this quilt, which is titled: "The Way We Live Now." But it should be retitled "The Way We used to Live."


In pursuit of this very minor activity, Ed dropped into the Blaine Post Office the other day because there are many banks of countable post office boxes there and he happened to be there. And he took a few pictures. But then a postal clerk came up and told him that he had to stop because postal patrons had complained that 'someone was taking photographs of post office boxes.' True enough, but, SO WHAT?

Well, I guess we know. Blaine; gateway for terrorists; post office boxes; favorite haunt for terrorists; photographs, cameras, what have you: Be Very Afraid. How are we ever going to regain our senses?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Home Free at the Post Office

It's impossible at post offices everywhere in the Western World, at least, at Christmas time. It's a little more impossible here in Point Roberts because our post office, designed for a town of 1000 people, is, in point of fact, serving the southern end of Metropolitan Vancouver, in addition to those 1,000 residents of Point Roberts. It makes for severe lines, you know?

Normally, I just plan to get everything ready before Dec. 7, which is usually before the massive rush. Except this year the impressive lines started even earlier than usual. I managed to stand in line only for 20 minutes on December 5th or so, but it was just luck because there was only one clerk at the time and the guy behind me (but no one of the 7 people ahead of me) was a mass mailer with 50 or so packages to be weighed individually. If I'd arrived 2 minutes later, I would have been behind that guy with his 50 packages and 20 minutes is not what we would have been even dreaming of.

That one good-luck package went on to the youngest grandchildren who pretty much still think of Christmas as the day you get the presents. For everybody else, however, I made an executive decision absolutely lacking in sentimentality. From here on, I said to the world at large, New Year's Day shall be the day you get the presents. And, Lo! it was as I said.

And, in that spirit, I today mailed a half-dozen or so packets of New Year's Day Presents: Guaranteed to arrive on time! Merry New Year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Not Point Roberts Moment

I was at the library the other day, checking out all the new books by writers I've never heard of (another one of those facets of old age that nobody ever tells you about), when a lady of 60-ish years with blonded hair made a crisp entrance. She enquired of the main librarian whether she (the librarian) would like a large bag of silver tinsel. "No," she quickly replied (the librarian), "we have nowhere to put it, but thank you."

The entering lady made a few more comments about what nice tinsel it was and how useful it would be and then offered the following, as if she were negotiating her position: "Well, what if I just leave it outside and either someone will take it or the weather will do what it does?"

I really couldn't keep out of it. "If that's the option, why not just leave it outside your own house?" "No, No!" she came back. "I live in a condo and they are very strict about what you can leave outside." In a somewhat sotto voce (was this my battle?), I speculated that the Parks Board also had very strict rules about what you can leave at the Community Center. And, having completed my library tasks, I exited, leaving the lady with the continuing problem of her trash.

In fact, even the thrift stores won't take Christmas decorations at this time of year. I guess the alternative is just to dump it by the side of the road. At least for some. But that is not how we live in Point Roberts. At least not usually.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Soon on the Silver Screen

The Barefoot Bandit, who about 18 months ago made a brief passage through Point Roberts (how could it not be brief? We're too small to spend too much time here while the police are trailing you), has plead guilty to many counts of burglary and theft and the like in both federal and state courts and will now get to go to jail for some years. But we'll get to see him in the movies! A film is now in the works about the sad life (or the antic adventures) of the now-20-year-old. Read all about it here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sail Away

The Community Advisory Committee last night revisited at some considerable length the possibility of more walking paths (that is to say, paths at the side of the roads like the new one along the south side of Benson from Tyee to South Beach).  There seemed to be general support for trying to determine what areas might benefit from path work so that when people walk along the road there is a continuous/clear shoulder to provide some measure of safety.  There are those who think it is unsafe to walk in Point Roberts and there are those who think that people in Point Roberts seem to have mastered finding a way to walk safely along the roads in Point Roberts.  The meeting included one difficult to process section in which the Committee was urged to use walking paths (?) or signage (?) to protect both domestic and wild animals from being killed by cars.  Maybe it was about speeding?  I couldn't figure it out.

Then for a grand finale, we were informed that the Director of the Port in Bellingham ( who either has too much money in his budget or knows very little about Point Roberts) is contemplating funding a $20,000 feasibility study to determine whether it would make economic sense to have some kind of water taxi service at the P.R. waterside.  Apparently, the Port of Bellingham has signed a contract with an outfit called Leap Frog Water Taxi to provide some kind of service to the Gulf Islands.  But Leap Frog has one 32-foot boat and it's difficult to imagine the business plan that has it providing too much daily taxi service as well as cargo delivery for the Islands and the Point.

Maybe it's all feasible.  Maybe Point Roberts will someday become a thriving little business community, replete with tourists (at which point we will all doubtless complain full-time about all the tourists).  But it seems unlikely.  I'd bet on sewers first; or the long pipe to Blaine for water.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Winter of Our Discontent?

We keep awaking to a frost wonderland.  Then it goes away by noon, only to return twelve hours later.  This is a lot more -32 degree F. weather than we usually get.  But no snow yet, which is a blessing.

I got an email recently from a Canadian who had had the misfortune to fall into Officer Slick's speed trap busy work.  A first trip to Point Roberts for lunch, then a $200 ticket, and a quick return to Canada.  The Canadian wondered if this kind of thing was really good for business down here.  I doubt it.  I think it's largely a matter of revenue raising and, perhaps, a solution to not-enough-real-police work required at this posting.  God knows we have a lot of law enforcement available to us.

I thought about asking the Community Advisory Committee to look into it.  But, it turns out that, although the people I talk to think the speed trap activity is undesired and undesirable, other people think it is saving us from mayhem on the roadways: too much speeding going on here, accidents just waiting to happen (although they seem a little in short supply, actually).  It is possible that what we actually have is posted speed limits that are too low.  I don't know.  But, that kind of community division on this kind of issue (the discussion of which will quickly turn into a fact/data-less talk undergirded by a lot of high-toned moral opinions--mine and theirs) is exactly what you don't want to start up in a small community unless you have more stomach for dissension than I have.

So, I can write about it, but I am unlikely to do more than that, coward that I am.  And also, I'm cold.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Act Two, the Stop Sign

Another good feature of the Christmas Craft Fair was that it allowed me to spend about 16 hours sitting in a chair, most of which time I was able work on my knit scarf for my most local stop sign.  When last we visited this project, I had finished about 8 feet of scarf, but over the weekend with all that time, I was able to complete another 13 feet.  And so, today I took it out to have the stop sign try it on.

Fit perfectly!  So, now it's warm for the winter.  And speaking of the winter: for the first time in 20 years up here, I have taken out my down jacket to wear.  It seems much colder than other years, although perhaps I am just weakening.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Ups, the Downs

It is Monday, and I am just about back up to moderate speed after the Point Roberts Christmas Craft Faire.  There were lots of people there, they bought lots of things, it was all decorated in a very Christmas-y manner, people sang and played various kinds of music, the food was good (especially the soup; Thank You, Seniors Group!).  That was one set of ups.

On the other hand, you have to sit there next to your table for many, many hours, tending to the selling activity.  It's certainly pleasant enough to talk to people who are interested in what you have, but a little less pleasant to be sitting there watching people come by (as many do at every table) casting a disapproving (at best) eye at your goods.  The worst is total indifference; as if you had brought bags of old newspapers for their contemplation.  I don't think I am really much made for this kind of activity, but what I would like to have is a table that sold only to kids, maybe under the age of 12, and with all goods under $5-7, and with wrapping on site so they could take things home and their mom would not see it.

The kids were the very best to sell to.  They are indeed discerning; they look carefully and then, without too much trouble, they make up their minds.  I had this tree branch with owl decorations made of felted llama, buffalo, and goat hair.  The owls had big eyes, which is an attention grabber all by itself.  I'm putting a picture here.

Grownups who were about to buy an owl would look and look; there were (at least at the beginning) 24 different owls and they had to pick just one out of all the owls.  They looked and looked and finally, mostly without conviction, settled on one or two.  Kids though, speed lookers.  They did look and then without hesitation they pointed to "that one."  And they weren't the least ambivalent.  I want to sell little things to them because they really like what they buy; it's not just for somebody else; it's mostly for their moms, who I am sure deserve every bit of that intense focus.  And they are imagining as they make their minds up to part with a little cash the exact look on their mom's face when she sees it on Christmas morning.

I remember that kind of shopping when I was 6 or 7; shopping at the dime store, not only for my mom, but also my dad, and my grandmother (for some reason, we were spared trying to figure out a present for my grandfather), and for my four brothers and sisters.  That week of shopping: the hardest week of the year, but also the week of the year that was most engaging.  I like that feeling, that remembering, about kids when they are shopping.

So maybe next year I'll just make things for kids and sell just to kids and that could be a very fun and less stressful thing.

All that notwithstanding, thanks to all those who bought from me and from all the other vendors at the weekend event.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

It's Buying Time and the Christmas Craft Fair


Friday night, the Craft Fair opened with a 5-7 wine and cheese event in which the vendors could drink and munch and buy from one another.  Seems to lack proper respect for the customers, in some way.  The best things, potentially, could be gone before they even get there at the opening bell on Saturday morning.

The Christmas Craft Fair is a big event here in Point Roberts: everything has to be made by locals and sold by people who are legally in the U.S.  Canadians, on the other hand, are free to buy as much as they want and, if they take it with them back to Canada, deal with the border people as to taxes in whatever way is required.  Or, if they've got places down here, they can just leave the new goods in their cottages and that's the end of it.

The quilt group had hoped to sell raffle tickets for its set of quilts.  But the Fair organizers did not allow that because they are also having a raffle (goods supplied by local business and Fair vendors) and they didn't want the competition, assuming there would be any serious competition.  In any case, they don't allow it, although they are letting us have the raffle quilts there with a sign saying that interested folks can buy raffle tickets at the Blue Heron.  Nevertheless, the quilt group will be represented by four of its members with the wonders of quilts and quilted goods.  Like these things:

Friday, December 2, 2011

Keeping the Trees Warm


The leaves are all gone, so it's time to put the tree scarves back on the trees to help them feel better throughout the winter.  I knit these many yards of scarf 3 years ago and this is the third year they will have warmed the trees in front of our house.  We take them down in the spring when the bark needs to do a little breathing on its own but I never remember to mark them in some way as to which scarves go on which trunk.  So, the color arrangement is a little different each year.  And this year, we put some of them on different trees.

This is very small time 'guerilla knitting.'  In urban areas, knitters are filling pot holes and covering entire buildings.  Very committed stuff.  It's not very hard knitting usually, but in these projects it is very often enormously time consuming.  Check out these guerilla knitters:  here and here, in Seattle.

I also began a little knit scarf for the stop sign on the corner, but apparently I seriously misjudged the size of the stop sign post and how much scarf I would need, because this is what I got on my first application.  Pretty pathetic!  (It's down there at the bottom of the post.)  We've now started a seriously longer scarf for this poor, cold stop sign.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Trapped by Language

Yesterday, I made my way across the border to buy some Canadian flour (so much better than U.S. for breadmaking: harder wheat, no barley).  I cross the border regularly of course for one reason or another and I know how it is supposed to work and, for the most part, how it works.  Yesterday, however, it didn't work quite right.

Here's how it works: I approach the border, I open my car window, I hold my Nexus card out to the reader, and I drive up to the booth wherein resides the Canadian border person, still holding out my Nexus card.  Then, he says, "What are you bringing in today?"  Or something very much like that.  It might be just "Bringing anything in?" or "Leaving anything in Canada?"  But that is what they are supposed to say to me because they are looking at their information on me: they know where I live, that I'm an American, and that I'm driving a Washington-registered car.  If I were Canadian or something other than what I am, they might say something else, but I don't know what that would be.  I know what they are supposed to say to me.

And, when they say it, I say, "nothing today."  Or I say, "Just a quilt that I'm taking to a quilt group and that is coming back with me at the end of the day."  Like those things.  And then, the Canadian border guy says, 'Go ahead,' and I say, "Thanks," and we're done.

Yesterday, however, he had a little brain loss experience as I got there and instead of saying what he's supposed to say, he said, "What are you bringing back?"  And I was struck speechless.  I couldn't say "Not a thing," which was sort of accurate, because my brain got fixated on the "bringing back" part.  I wasn't coming "back," after all, I was "coming in."  And as I sat there speechless, he realized his error but was having no better luck trying to rescue this conversation.  Finally, as I was saying "Nothing," he said, "Bringing In," and we skipped the 'go ahead' and the 'thank you,' grateful the both of us to have managed to get past such a miscommunication difficulty.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What Is This?


Ed found this on the beach this week during a Thanksgiving walk (west-facing beach).  You can see that there is a kind of groove in the center hole.  The rock itself seems to be some kind of conglomerate or aggregate.  It's pitted and has a slight metallic sheen.  It is about 3 inches across and, as in the picture, mostly hexagonal.

A spindle whorl?  A net anchor?  Some kind of boat equipment?  Help?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

No Place to Hide

The phone rings midday.  I answer it with my name.  Comes back at me?  "Hello, this is Newt Gingrich.  Like you, I love..." blah, blah, blah.

Why am I not safe in my home from the likes of Newt Gingrich?  Apparently, even Point Roberts is not far enough away to escape fools and knaves like him.  An island?  Or just phoneless forever?  Slam.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Beginning

The selling of the raffle tickets for the quilts was something of a big deal for me.  I'm moderately accustomed to selling my own work (quilts, various fabric things), but it's always stressful: I do not have the soul of an entrepreneur or the outward-oriented nature of a good sales person.  One thing about selling goods in Point Roberts, though, is that I often know the people I am selling to, even if only casually.

My life-time experience with retail sales is decidedly limited, but largely not so pleasant.  People can be rude, short-tempered, strangely critical and thoughtless when they are buying things.  The Saturday experience, however, was absolutely lovely: people were kind, pleasant, cheerful.  They spoke admiringly of the three quilts that we had on display and were generally enthusiastic about buying tickets.

It was a somewhat small turnout for the book sale/bake sale/quilt raffle ticket event, probably because the weather had turned brutally cold (for here: high 20's, F.).  Nevertheless, the people who did come, man, woman and child, all bought lots of books and a really large quantity of baked goods.  I talked to one lady, urging her to buy a German chocolate cake which looked very appealing.  She said it was her husband's birthday and that's his favorite kind of cake, but he was away right now.  I suggested she buy it anyway and invite the neighbors in to share.  'You'd be one of the neighbors,' she laughed, at which point I realized I had failed to recognize one of my across the street neighbors, all dressed up in winter coat and hat.

I spent the slow time knitting a long red and white piece, about 4 inches across.  A little girl, maybe 6 or 7, asked me what I was knitting?  'A scarf for the stop sign at the end of my street,' I said.  'Why?' she countered.  'Because it's cold,' I said.  'Oh,' she said.  And then she bought one ticket on the 'I Spy' quilt and went on her way.

I'm thinking that, given the number of tickets we sold, if we had 3,000 more days like this, the quilt group would be able single-handedly to fund the $500,000 library renovation.  Others' help in fund-raising would probably be a good idea, though.  I don't know that I've got 3,000 sales days in me.

If you want to buy tickets on the quilts, you can do so until the end of December at The Blue Heron on Gulf Road.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Take a Chance!

All day Saturday, it will be the coldest day we've had so far this fall.

And much of the day, there will be a Bake Sale and a chance to buy a raffle ticket on four different quilts.  All at the Community Center; all to benefit our Public Library.

Here are the quilts, but I'll leave you to imagine the baked goods yourselves.



Well, it's not four quilts: it's three.  But the fourth one, a pictorial quilt with scenes from Lily Point isn't finished quite yet.  At least not enough to take a picture.  That will come soon, though.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Getting in Shape

I'm not sure that I will live long enough to be able to enjoy the fruits of the labors of this kind of work, but it does seems a natural activity for those of us in Point Roberts who have a lot of time on our hands and trees in our yard, though you'd have to start with young ones.

The idea is: since trees are going to grow anyway, you might as well have them grow in a shape that provides uses to you while it does its growing.  E.g., a tree that is also a chair, or a table.    Lots of pictures here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Good News for the Point

According to the All Point Bulletin, the Parks Board levy has been resoundingly approved by local voters. Good sense prevails. Let the maintenance begin!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

On Being a Campfire Girl...

Here is one of the things I get to do because I live in Point Roberts: fall and spring burning.  The photo, of course, last week's fall burning.  What with an acre of land, and dozens of trees and bushes, there is more than enough prunings and fallen branches and weeds in general and canes from numerous plants (raspberries, Japanese knotweed, etc.) to make it possible to burn for about 8 hours at a time.

Ed chose a sunny, wind-less day to get it all started up and then we dragged things to the fire all day long Usually, I don't get too much involved in this because usually we schedule this when there are grandchildren around.  These are city children who think being allowed to burn things is an amazing amount of freedom.  (But they were all in school this week.)

And, of course, they're right about the freedom.  The reason we get to do this in Point Roberts is because it's not a city where they couldn't possibly allow it.  Furthermore, the local trash haulers would be appalled at the idea of their having to pick up all this yard trash and dispose of it themselves.  So we get to do it ourselves.  This is a mixed blessing, of course.  You get to do it, but you also have to do it if you have much land at your disposal.

And so you pick a day when there is no wind and maybe even the threat of a little rain (without wind), and you buy yourself a 2-day burn permit for $5 (Ed says $3 for 3 days) from the local hardware store, post it at the front of your property, and you burn, and burn, and burn.  Fortunately, I was a campfire girl as a kid and a camp counsellor later and one of my jobs was to get fires to burn.  Of course, since I've lived here, I've also had the opportunity to live with a wood stove for heat (not now, but originally) which means even more opportunity to exercise those campfire skills.

Still, on the whole, I wish somebody would just come and take all this yard trash away, instead.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished or Unappreciated or Something

There's been a move to get the community involved in cleaning up Baker Field (the area adjacent to the primary school here on the Point) and some considerable progress with what can be done by volunteer labor workdays.  The field lies under the jurisdiction of the Parks Board but what with its need to use its limited funds to get the Community Center's immediate problems (ceiling leaks, water pooling under the foundation)  under control, there's little actual dollars left over to work on Baker Field.  Thus the turn to volunteer work.

All that good work has now paid off with more people actual going to and using the area in some way because it is more inviting.  Alas, we are greeted this morning by a note from the primary school on Point Interface with the news that the expanded use has resulted in things both dangerous and not very pleasant being left about for the school children to experience when they use the Field.

Maybe we need to have a national self-governance day where we talk about the importance of responsibility for our own daily actions and their consequences.  I'm all for a social safety net, but people, all people--school kids to grownups to old people, ought to be able at a minimum to clean up after themselves.  Maybe it means keeping a trash bag in your car; maybe it means finding the trash receptacles around; maybe it involves taking things to the transfer station; mostly it involves remembering to do it.  I don't know what the pragmatic problem might be, but we need to be thinking more consciously about the basic rules of living together, especially in such a tiny place as this where we ought to be able to get it right.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Local Dangers

Yesterday, Ed was out for a walk and as he came back home, he ran into a small critter that appeared to be just resting in the middle of the street where a vehicle could easily run over it.  He picked it up, brought it home, and we both inspected it.  That's him (or her) in the picture below.  Maybe 3-4 inches, brown nubbly skin on top and gorgeous orange skin on the underside.



We poked and prodded a bit, trying to get him to turn over so we could inspect the soft, moist orange side.  He/she was not cooperative.  I checked out 'salamander images' and found the critter pretty quickly.  Turns out, it's one of the most toxic wild animals in the world:

"The rough-skin newt (Taricha granulosa) is one of the most toxic animals known to science. One case involved a 29-year-old man who had been drinking heavily and swallowed a newt on a dare in Coos Bay, Oregon. Within 10 minutes, he complained of tingling in the lips. During the next two hours he complained of numbness and weakness and then experienced cardiopulmonary arrest. He died later during the day (despite hospital treatment). In another case, toxin from a Taricha entered a puncture wound on a scientist's index finger, and he suffered 30 minutes of numbness up the arm into the shoulder, and some accompanying nausea and light-headedness.  It can emit, from its skin, a milky fluid that contains a neurotoxin that is fatal to larger animals including people. " Source here.

It seems quite amazing that we would never have heard of a local creature with such toxicity.  It's said to be quite docile and exudes its poison only if you irritate it sufficiently.  I guess we weren't irritating enough in our attempts to turn him over.  At least, we are both still alive 30 hours later.  But best not to mess much with newts with orange undersides.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Life's Little Indignities

I feel kind of bad about people in the post-70 age group who are very technophobic about computers.  There's a lot of wonderful stuff that they don't have access to because of that.  I'm not talking about Farmville or Bejeweled or the endless recountings of the misadventures of Lindsey Lohan.  The things I care most about are (1) the quick email access to my kids, my grandchildren, and my friends who are still living one of the various places where I used to live; and (2) the ability to find information easily, and especially when the information is something I used to know but because of my brain files having all filled up, I can no longer get access to.

I can do without Facebook; I don't really care much about everybody's minute to minute status.  I can even do without Jon Stewart (we have no TV).   But the email and the information (think 'Wikipedia'), I would really miss.  And so I'm sorry that my age-group acquaintances and friends are missing out on that, even if they aren't sorry.

What they are not missing out on, however, is a few experiences I have had, the most recent one yesterday.  I have to admit that I read a lot of politics on the Web.  A really lot, in truth.  I've got a dozen or so blogs that I attend to regularly (reading not writing, but I do write on three regularly), and various newspapers both here and outside the U.S. (as long as they are written in English) are regularly before my eyes.   I have one child (when will I stop calling an almost 50-year-old 'a child'?) who is very much on top of the technology and always telling me what to be attending to.  As a result, I was on Twitter and Reddit and Dig long before most people had ever heard of them.  And very long before I had much idea of what to do with them.  (Twitter?  Do nothing.)

Similarly, when Daily Kos showed up in the world, he became a writer there and urged me to do the same.  I joined up, wrote a few 'diaries' about healthcare reform and the need for same, and read many other writers' views on various public issues and on politics more generally.  (For those who don't follow this stuff, 'Daily Kos' is a sprawling kind of network for people of the progressive or leftist persuasion.  Or at least it is said to be that, although in recent times, it has become much more centrist in some ways. )

Anyway, another of my children followed us on to the Daily Kos site and she wrote with great frequency there, formed lots of cyber-relationships, had a good time.  But, she's more inclined to argue with people than either her brother or I am, and she got into some kind of shouting match with various other writers and the upshot was she was banned from the site.  So, since I rarely wrote anything there, I told her to use my account instead, writing under my name.  And then, I got banned yesterday for letting her do that.

So there you go: this is not going to happen to any of my friends who don't fool with computers and the net.  But it happened to me.  I have lived long enough to be banned, literally, by some group.  Me, personally.  Not only BANNED by Daily Kos; I have also had the peculiar experience of being Unfriended on Facebook--and by a relative.    This is also what technology is bringing us.  Too strange.

It may be enough to make me reconsider the virtues of information and email, but probably not.  And it definitely would have happened even if I didn't live in Point Roberts.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Getting the EPA Out of Our Land and One Other Thing

A little entertainment for those of us close to the border:  The Republicans want border agents to roam around a little more freely within 100 miles of the Canadian and the Mexican border.  Not a law; just a proposed law in the U.S. Congress.  But it just goes to show how important we are to those in places of power.

Another thing that has to do with elections and politics.  We don't have much local government up here: there's the water board and the fire department and the clinic board and the Parks Board.  All of them of considerable importance to our daily lives.  No one more important than the other, but....

The Parks Board operates the Community Center which is called that because it is that.  It has to have enough funds to pay for the utilities and upkeep.  It has to ask us for those funds every so often.  This year is the year to ask.  So, it's up to the voters of Point Roberts to say yes to those funds or else there won't be any Community Center or any of the things that go on there (public meetings, public programs, library, seniors' programs, Saturday markets, etc.).  And, for no useful reason, it requires a 60% 'yes' vote.  Don't not vote at all, please; and please vote yes on this levy which will cost property owners very little (a total of $49,000/year split among 3,000 properties amounts to about $16 per property on average, with more expensive property owners paying more, less expensive property owners paying less).

If we don't pass this, the center of the community will be gone.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Return of the Racoons

(And other wild life).

It is the fall harvest season and it would be the time that the squirrels were making off with all the walnuts from the walnut tree.  Except that...well, following the general rule that the right time to prune is when  you have a pruning instrument in your hand, we severely pruned the walnut tree this spring after it bloomed.  It was really just all over the place and we had to walk around it.  The result, of course, was no walnuts for the squirrels.  No way to communicate the reasons for this action to the squirrels, of course.  By now, they've discovered the result for themselves.

However, since these walnuts have come to be a major part of their winter diet (they clean the tree out every year), I needed to find some other nutrition for them.  As it happened, I had several bags of pecans in my neighbor's freezer and my neighbor needed me to remove them from her freezer...they'd been there over a year and she might reasonably have thought that was long enough, but it was really more that they were thinking of selling the property and I was thinking about a source of nuts.

I have all these pecans because my older daughter owns a pecan tree in New Mexico and sends me many pounds of pecans each January.  Usually, I manage to allot the pecans (which I must shell; she's a wonderful daughter, but she doesn't shell 30-40 pounds of pecans for her dear old mother, or at least not yet) over the year, coming to the end of the supply about the time the new year's supply arrives.  But a couple of years ago, that didn't happen and I was still working on that year's supply when the new supply arrived.

Possibly, nuts in shells are okay for years when they are living in the freezer, but this particular lot had been a little dry in the first place and more difficult than usual to shell.  Sitting in the freezer was probably making them yet drier and it wasn't making them easier to shell.  So, it's almost November; I have yet two big bags of this year's pecans to get me through the next two months; and the squirrels can have the old pecans from the freezer.

I put out the first quart of nuts under the walnut tree about four days ago.  The next morning, nothing had happened.  The pecans were just where I put them.  Then, mid-day I saw the squirrel in the walnut tree.  And in the morning,  all pecans were gone.  So, I kept putting out more quarts as soon as the previously placed ones disappeared.  I never saw the squirrel touch them, but they would disappear.  Then, yesterday, after putting out a new bunch, two of our three raccoons showed up to poke around the pecans.  I didn't see them put them in their mouths but they did bat them around with their paws, as if trying to figure out what they could do with them.  Unsuccessfully.  And then two black cats appeared to take in the game.  And then, there was the squirrel up in the tree, his tail waving frantically, but not coming to ground.

Finally, I went out and the sight of me sent cats and raccoons racing away, while the squirrel went into hiding among the tree leaves higher up.  By nightfall, the last of about a gallon of pecans had disappeared.  The larder well stacked, the squirrel is likely to do all right this winter.  While the raccoons think about all the apples they could have stock-piled.  And the cats?  I don't know who they belong to, but they sure spend a lot of time in our yard as if they think we ought to be provisioning them.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Puzzle

We are heading for an election in which, fortunately, there are very few people to vote for and very few issues to vote on.  Nevertheless, the mail box and the p.o. box and the telephone are unusually full of voices and papers urging me to champion one person, one issue or another  Most of the championing is over a proposition which, as I understand it, will take the state out of running liquor stores and open the running of liquor stores to the wonders of the free market.  Well, fairly regulated free market.  The people who support this assure me that competition will do wonders for the sale of liquor and that the state surely ought not to be in the business of selling anything.

I am guessing that the wonders of competition means that prices will be lower, not that thousands more gallons of liquor will be sold.  At least they don't mention that the outcome would be much more drinking going on in the state, but if prices were lower, surely consumption would increase.

They haven't, at least so far, mentioned that the state shouldn't be in the business of selling liquor because the state is too incompetent to do so, but I suppose that is at the bottom of their reasoning; that and the idea that if there is any money to be made here, the state ought not to be making it when liquor store owners, instead, could be making it.  Thus reducing the unemployment rate.

Right now it's hard to say whether we would be better off if more people were working or if the state had more revenue.  Of course, if more people were working that would produce more revenue.  But if the state had more revenue, it could hire more workers.  Like teachers, particularly the ones they are busy laying off.

Well, it's a hard question, especially for someone who doesn't buy liquor in the first place.  But, it does seem to me that if the state is competent to run a prison system of vast size, it is surely up to the much simpler task of running liquor stores.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Masked!

I went over to the library today because they were having a mask-making session, presumably in honor of the upcoming Halloween season.  I noticed the newspaper announcement of this event and checked with the library to see whether I was welcome or whether this was just a kids' event.  Graciously, they said they expected only kids, but I was welcome to come if I were in the mask-making market.  I felt like being behind a mask at the moment, so I made my way over, grateful that they hadn't asked me to volunteer my services in helping the kids make masks.

I got there just before the kids arrived: all 13 of them from the local K-3 school.  Then another little girl arrived a bit later; home schooler?  They all got themselves arranged at tables where the priority was eating something.  Everyone had some apple juice and an oatmeal or a pumpkin/chocolate chip cookies.  Then the leader began the explanation of what was going to happen next.  Tables had been set up with supplies and each table had slightly different supplies, depending upon what the kids wanted to make.

"Any questions?"
"Can we make more than one?" from a little boy.
"Can we have another cupcake," from a little girl.
"I want to make a bat," from another boy.  (There were about 10 girls and 4 boys; Point Roberts making up for the reverse ratios in India and China.)

The extra cupcake issue was generously addressed (everybody got one more cupcake OR one more cookie) and then we (the 14 kids and me) were set free to do our will with the goods.

In no time at all, masks were on faces, finger puppets were produced, and addition rounds of masks were being undertaken.  I had the advantage of being an adult (only adults were allowed to use glue guns, which were required for feather use; a rule objected to by one little boy who noted to his seat partner that he used glue guns all the time).  Not only was I an adults with privileges but I also carry a good pair of scissors in my puirse for cloth cutting, which possibility the kids were entirely bereft of.

I completed my project (an owl finger puppet) and made my way to my car.  In the hallway, four little girl escapees from the mask making were painting one another's fingernails with a sparkly lavender polish.  Alas, they were missing a good thing, I thought, but maybe they already lead lives filled with creative endeavours and didn't need any more.

Monday, October 17, 2011

In Which We Run Out of Our Sense of Humor

For 17 years now, I've been being generally good humored, I think, about the vagaries of the border people and their agricultural prohibitions. I memorize the rules they give to me, I am tediously meticulous about telling them what food products I am transporting into the U.S. from Tsawwassen's markets. In fact, the guards usually stop listening while I am reciting my list: ten Canadian apples in season, six bananas, six pounds of peaches, 436 blueberries (no, that last one is a joke).

And for 17 years, long before 9/11, I've been bringing in Canadian apples and pears in season, which is to say in the fall, without any questions being asked. Today, however, some otherwise bored dude who asked me "Where are you going?" (note that he has on his computer monitor the information that I live in P.R., but he hasn't bothered to look), wanted proof that my six apples and my four pears were grown in Canada. And what he wanted was stickers. I pointed out that at this time of the year, they would only come from the U.S. or Canada, because Ukraine isn't trying to break into the northern American apple market and Mexico isn't growing them. (I didn't actually say that about Ukraine, but I did about Mexico.). He graciously granted my point, but insisted tht they could have come from anywhere, and only a sticker would show otherwise.

Only a sticker would show that I had not injected the apple with nanobot terrorists, I suppose.

Now if I buy the apples and pears at Thrifty or Safeway, they will have stickers, but if I go to the Farm Market, where the fruits are fresher and from local sources, they will not have stickers. The solution to this problem, obviously, is to save my fruit stickers, carry them with me at all times, and apply as necessary.

I do grow weary of people pretending that their pronouncements/solutions are based on anything other than a pretense at rationality. The Age of Reason. Wish I'd been there for it.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ingrates!

Three raccoons just walked through the yard and by my kitchen window: a mom and her two midsized offspring. On their way, they had to walk virtually through a two-foot pile of apples that I'm not using because they are small, but I am a lot bigger than a raccoon. Apples not good enough for the wildlife? Probably they were hoping we would be growing salmon or fried chicken or chocolate ice-cream.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cleaning Up the Garden

It's that time of year when there is almost nothing to feel about the garden but guilt. Everything that is going to bloom or produce something has done it. The raspberries have not been able to produce their fall crop because everything got pushed back too far, and there is just no way that all the miniscule berries covering the branches are going to get bigger and turn red when the highs are barely in the 60's. Alas.

I have bought three dozen+ tulips and managed to get them under the gound here and there and next spring I will be saying, "What was I thinking putting them there where the water pools, or where there is no sun or some such. This past summer, I saw a wonderful lily garden here on the Point and decided I needed to have some lilies in my yard. We might say I was inspired by what I saw, but it was actually more like great envy. Then, scouting someplace on the net where I could order a raft of lily bulbs, I discovered why there aren't lots of lily gardens: at $6-$8 a bulb, it's going to take awhile to have a big bank of 8-foot tall fragrant lilies. I may not live long enough to get such a collection. A few this year; a few more next.

My 15 lily bulbs will be arriving in a few weeks, so there is going to have to be a big push to clear out an area to plant them so that like army recruits, they can be all they can be. One more item on an endless list including cut back campion, Shasta daisies; fertilize peonies and iris; cut back every thing, really. Rake leaves. Get rid of lingering weeds. Do all the things that every year I swear I'm going to do, but that I never quite get done. Guilt is my companion as I don't get these things done.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Pleasures and Problems of Maple Beach

First of all, it's a lovely beach; and second of all, it's tides are so far out and back that it is always a surprise to see it.  On the other hand, given that I don't live in that area of the Point, I seldom go there.  And that is not because I'm a masochist.  It's because there is no place to park there except in someone else's yard.

We used to have good friends who lived right down on the beachfront, and I usually felt okay about asking them to let us park in their driveway.  But they have gone elsewhere and so, in the summer when our grandchildren are around, one of us, Ed or me, agrees not to go to the beach with the crew but instead to drive everyone down there and in a specified time drive back and pick them all up.

When the summer is gone and all the tourists with it, it's a little easier.  There still isn't any real public parking but every cottager is not having to host some unknown person's automobile full time, so it feels a little less of an infringement to park on the edge of the street/lawn/easement for an hour or so in midday.  We were there both last week and the week before with visitors and it was lovely both times.  We spent the second trip down at what we call Shady Beach, which is to the south, just before the corner where Point Roberts shore turns more or less west.  There are trees that are growing out of the hillside and whose branches come down and shade that section of beach.  It's rocky and odd, with bouncy branches that you can ride.

Last week, the big red jelly fish (lion jelly fish?) were plunked about the beach in great abundance, separated by big wrapped/twisted quantities of eel grass.  The jelly fish with their beautiful red gelatinous shapes are not to be touched, I'm told.  And then, the rest of the U.S., right there before your eyes.

But why isn't there any parking?  That beach area is our fourth County Park.  Over at Lily Point Reserve, they are hell-bent on getting in parking, even though the number of people who go there is remarkably small and for all I can tell well within what the shoulder parking on APA can handle.  At Maple Beach, the number of visitors is very large, and the County doesn't seem to care at all.

I'm told that the County is thinking about something that would involve some one-way streets in that area that would free up room on Roosevelt for parking on one side.  They ought to be thinking a little harder, I would say.  They ought to be getting a little more encouragement to think harder.  For my part, I'd like to say, "HEY, COUNTY PEOPLE!  THINK HARDER ABOUT GETTING SOME PUBLIC PARKING ON MAPLE BEACH BEFORE NEXT SUMMER COMES ROUND!  AND THEN DO SOMETHING, FOR AN ENCORE PERFORMANCE."  You're welcome.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Worthy Projects

The Community Advisory Committee (it advocates for the Point with the County by mission, but also works with other agencies whose work affects life here on the Point) met last night with the goal of discussing possible funding mechanisms for what were described as 'three worthy projects.'  These included the necessary repairs to the Community Center, the renovation of the Julius Firehall for a new library, and the production of a lighthouse at Lighthouse Point.  Each will ultimately involve costs of about a half million dollars.

The discussion part never mentioned the Community Center repairs and I had thought that the Parks Board had developed a plan for that which would not, at least currently, involve seeking either new taxes or an additional levy.   Nevertheless, it does seem to me that the community ought to be prepared to cover maintenance costs for the main community building in Point Roberts via the tax system.  But that is not going to happen now.  So people who resist having taxes pay for anything can sleep well in their beds.

Indeed, all three projects involve funding outside of raising taxes.  There are private institutions that provide grants, there are private donors, there is grassroots' fundraising, and, to a small degree, there are government agencies that provide funds for such projects (e.g., restoration of historical buildings).

Unfortunately, the discussion seemed to drift into peoples' feeling that the projects were not the projects they wanted, sort of.  One discussant pointed out that, although he had no data, he felt the price tag of renovations for the Firehall was too high.  Thanks for sharing, was my inner response.  Another voice urged thinking 'out of the box,' and suggested putting the library in Baker Field.   Not exactly a vital location for a community library, I'd say, but definitely out of the box.  Way out of the box.  Someone expressed the view that the new library would be just the same as the old library and we would be out a half million.  However, when asked whether she had looked at the architectural plans, her reply was a succinct, 'No.'  And with an implied 'and I have no plans to do so.'

The Lighthouse Project simply presented its status and its plans.  Nobody objected, at least.

The most useful information of the evening was that the Point Roberts PREP group (which encompasses both the Food Bank and Emergency Preparedness) is currently using the Julius Firehall as a storage site for its supplies.  Obviously, if the Library project is to proceed, some other storage will need to be found for them.  

Given that my focus and interests are largely on the Library Improvement Project, I can't exactly conclude that it was an evening well spent, but maybe just hearing these dissenting voices will tell me something that I need to know.  Or, maybe not.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hard Times for Blogging

Many days involved in guests and rain and internet problems has left me writing not at all.  But, I am back in the internet business, I think, and tomorrow I will begin posting again.  Tonight is the Community Advisory Committee Meeting where the Point's many needs will be discussed anew.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Very Short Story with a Good Ending


Yesterday, a hermit thrush flew into our kitchen window, stunned himself (sitting upright still), lost some feathers (including a tail feather) from the shock of it all (?), got his picture taken, got warmed up a bit, recovered, and flew away with a pair of fledglings in tow.

Drama in the woods with windows.  The birds seem, sometimes, to be as out of it as I sometimes seem to be.  But I probably wouldn't have recovered as well as she did.

[Forgot to say that Ed did that excellent photography up there.]

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Such Service!

Not only do we get new pavement on Tyee and a hard surface on the south shoulder of Benson to South Beach, but now they've come round and painted white and yellow lines all over the place.  It's a remarkable sign of urban life, somehow, at least here on South Beach.  It looks entirely out of place.  But I appreciate the thought and the work nevertheless.  I suppose it is possible that, now that Whatcom Public Works has been up here doing this road work, they'll have fallen in love with us and be hanging around all the time, trying to figure out what else we might need that would require them to come up here and hang out.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Everything Going Wrong

Today, the October issue of the All Point Bulletin arrived, providing us with a disastrous report of what happened to this community in September.  Usually, the Sheriff's Report includes just a few items, most of them involving a domestic agitation or more liquor than appropriate under the circumstances.  But this September...Well, My Gracious!

September starts with excess alcohol and a silver pick-up running into a large rock in a yard just a little down the street from me, and ends with someone stealing a bag of dog food from a car parked in front of the car owner's house in the middle of the night.  And in between?  $16 worth of hard lemonade stolen from a porch, attempted invasion of the local school, a guy in custody who punched his fist through a reinforced glass window resulting in both the fist and window in need of repair, kids drinking and doping around a bonfire in a State Reserve, the poisonings of two willow trees, the discovery of some 500-year-old remains, a sudden death, and a lewd exposure.

I don't know whether to consider this just end-of-summer excitement, a statistical anomaly, or a harbinger of things to come during the bad times of a double dip recession (stealing dogfood already?).  But it is hard to believe that the Sheriff's Deputies who live amongst us would really have time to be lurking in driveways looking for speeders.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Weather Gods Look Down Upon Us

And are not so pleased, I guess.  Yesterday was like receiving a sharp rap on the knuckles.  As if they were saying, "Yes, we've been busy making other peoples' lives wretched, what with droughts and hurricanes and giant winds and floods, but don't think we've forgotten about you up here.  Here's a day of rain that will remind you, despite the calm and mild summer weeks you've been living and dreaming through, where you come from and what is your lot in life."

On Sunday, it was windy but sunny and the windsurfers were out in force in Boundary Bay. [I'm told they were 'kiteboarders' not windsurfers.]  But on Monday, it was just clouds and greyness and off and on heavy rain all day.  Easing off Tuesday, and some sun promised on Wednesday.  But the message was sent; and received.  It's fall, and don't be forgetting it!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Different Strokes

We are in to the quiet time.  The wet days, the grey days, the quiet days (well, now that the big trucks have left off restoring the walking path shoulder on Benson).  The Saturday Market is over, but the rush to the International Market and the gas stations continues, at least on the weekend.  There are still a few tourists around, but with the rain, that will wither away.  It is so slow that last weekend the Seafood Festival was held without any publicity.  I saw a picture of attendants, so I know it happened, but I never saw any announcement on the Community Events Sign.  In fact, I thought it must have been cancelled for some reason.

In mid-week, we had a little Let's Hear It For Peace occasion.  The Lutheran Church folk organized a pot-luck dinner and a peace celebration.  They distributed fabric flags and invited us all to write messages of peace on them and then they intended to fly them at the beach, at Lighthouse Park.  Except that it rained and they moved indoors to the Church.  But peace would be good, regardless of the weather.

The strange part, is that the weather is warm.  We spend our days in the 70's with high, very high humidity, and on-and-ff overcast skies.  It feels like weather I've never felt here before.  Although, having said that, someone will immediately remind me that it was just like that 14 years ago when some event happened during a warm humid September.

The Community Events Sign when I saw it last had no signs on it.  We are closed down for the moment, I think.  But, for something to think about, read this.  The guy who writes this blog wrote to me awhile back to comment that I was a city person living in a strange place and he was an Alaskan living in Yucatan and that there were some things we had in common.  In this case, though, I suspect we are mostly like the foreigners.  Probably to our loss.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Plus or Minus

The big trucks were back on South Beach yesterday as they got ready to continue work on the shoulder walking path on South Beach.  Ed went out to take photos of the trucks because he likes to take photos of out of the usual objects.  It was around lunchtime when he started taking pictures and none of the workers was around.

Then a border patrol car arrived and parked.  And then a Public Works employee came up to him and engaged in a little small talk.  It felt a bit as if they felt he needed to be investigated for taking pictures of the public works truck.  And it reminded me of the time that the local Deputy Sheriff responded to a local resident's call about "a man walking fast with a suitcase," and conducted a little conversation with Ed about where he was going.  (This was pre 9/11 even!) (He was walking to the border to catch a bus to the airport.)

So, I don't know whether it's a good thing that people are suspicious or not such a good thing.  No harm, no foul, I guess.

But it also reminds me that if you spend much time on South Beach near Benson, you will get to see one of the current Deputy Sheriffs sitting in his residential driveway, just barely outside the fence, where he can ticket any driver driving too fast on Benson.  Just enforcing the law, I know.  But I wish he had something a little more useful to engage his skills than running a speed trap from his driveway, especially at this time of year when the traffic is negligible and the probability of people driving over the speed limit is perhaps higher just because of that.

A plus? A minus?  Life in Point Roberts.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How About That Paint?

Updated below.

Down the south side of Benson, from Tyee to South Beach, someone has painted blue and orange stripes on the shoulder of the road.  The blue stripes are a particularly attractive color in this setting.  Here it is:



And what does it mean?  I think the blue stripes are indicators of water lines and the orange stripes may be phone lines, and the painters are communicating some important information to somebody who might be digging there.  And why would they be digging?  Perhaps to restore the walking path along the shoulder.  That work was scheduled to be done after the Tyee road repair.  And it looks like it's about to get under way!

The walking path was established some years back, but then it was never maintained and the endless growth took it over.  Hope maintenance is part of the budget this time.

Update: And there they were, from the Whatcom Co. Public Works Dept, first thing Monday morning, scraping and filling.  Starting at South Beach and then down Benson to Tyee.

Friday, September 16, 2011

About the Post Office


News is out that the post office will be closing over 250 post offices nationwide.  Normally, in such a move, I'd expect that small rural post offices would be first in line for evictions.  At best, they'd be turned into a counter in a local grocery store.  And Point Roberts would be an easy target because there aren't enough voters here to complain sufficiently to change the P.O.'s point of view.

But our little post office is probably safe through a lot of closings because it is a big money maker for the P.O.  As critical as we may be sometimes of the Canadian mailers in line, we need to remember that they are the ones that are protecting us.

Eight of the post offices that will be closed are are in Washington State and include offices in Everett, Olympia, Pasco, Redmond, Fife, Kent, Tacoma, and Wenatchee.  The list of all post offices being closed can be found here.



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Not Enough Water...Someplaces

If it turns out that the Pacific Northwest gets less rain as a result of climate change, our acute dependence on Vancouver might get to be a real problem, not only in terms of cost but of actual availability.  Our isolation with respect to water makes me somewhat attentive to what's happening in other places with respect to water issues.

My older daughter lives in Carlsbad, New Mexico, which is sharing Texas's current severe drought conditions.  The City Council there, she tells me, has just passed a law seriously restricting water use.  From April 1 to September 30 of every year, outdoor watering is limited to three days a week between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. a.m.   The restrictions also prohibit the planting of lawn, trees or shrubs during that 6-month period.  Unfortunately, she says, April is when everybody plants because it's too hot from May on and too cold in the other six months.  Those are pretty harsh restrictions.

Washington State recently passed legislation legitimizing use of rain barrels.  That would be a good start here in Point Roberts: i.e., for people to install rain barrels.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ride That Ferry!

CNN has offered us a little news analysis or something about the effects of 9/11 on the border.  Included in its report is a section on Point Roberts.

Apparently, someone actually came up here and actually looked around and actually talked to some people, including people who had not lived here prior to 9/11, to find out what the effects of 9/11 were.  And then its intrepid reporter (after experiencing lack of sufficient respect by the CBP) points out that one of the essentially worrisome problems of Point Roberts is that a terrorist could come here and then take a ferry to the mainland.

Is it that there is a ferry to the mainland from Point Roberts and Homeland Security has kept it secret from us P.R. residents?  Or is it that CNN does not know what it is talking about?

CNN reports; you be the judge.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Small Town

Yesterday afternoon, I showed up at the post office around 2:15 in order to make the 3 pm mail.  one guy in line ahead of me with about 25 packages.  Oh, dear.  Well, I've got time.  Then, about five minutes later, an older woman walked in, thanked the guy with the packages and entered the line ahead of me.  Then, as he had tended to her, she tended to him and he disappeared to re-appear with another cart and another 25 or so packages.  Jeez...maybe I'll make the 3:15 mail, maybe not at this rate.  Maybe they'll open another line?

But, not to be.  Turns out the evening power outage (what was that about?  Grid problems from some San Diego outage?) had disabled all but one of the post office's computers and thus only one line was the story of our lives today.  And we began to talk to one another about our plight or at least about our lives in Point Roberts.  Such talk always starts with stories about the border.  Apparently it was problematic that day coming in.  The day before it had been absolutely awful going out.  There remains some kind of road work that can bollix it all up for us all.

The guy with all the packages inquired of me whether I had only one thing.  Alas, I had three small packages and he gave me a look, the equivalent of 'not going to be able to help you today, and tomorrow doesn't look too good either...'  We drifted off in our conversation to the lines in the grocery store, and eventually found ourselves off into the weekend's quilt show, when one guy asked what we did here in Point Roberts on a weekend, those of us who actually lived here.  The quilt show was an event nobody in the post office line had attended, but they wanted to know about it; from boredom or from interest?  Well, hard to know.

Then we discussed the summer weather and its strangeness...too warm too long.  But, the lady in front me said it had been just like this the year of Expo (maybe 20+ years ago).  And another woman agreed with that memory, thus leading us to conclude that it wasn't unusual.  And yet, once every 20+ years seems unusual to me.  Unusual enough to be caused by different things.  We didn't discuss global warming or climate change.   Too worrisome for an afternoon at the post office.  But there had been an earthquake in the vicinity a few hours earlier, but we didn't feel it, even though it was 6.4.  Not going to happen here, one woman said.  Like, right.

It's now 2:40 and we discuss whether we'll make the mail deadline at 3:15 and conclude we will.  And the guy at the head of the line slowly processes his massive pile of packages.  Lisa, the post office clerk, apologizes to the rest of us, but the guy never turns around.  We are not there, apparently, for him.

Fiinally, he is done, and turns to see the half dozen of us behind him.  He looks amazed.  I wish him a nice day, acknowledging that there had been some hard feelings during the past half hour.  But now,  I said, we were all past that.  And he smiled and said, 'thanks,' and left.  And we moved through our own processing steps.  And Lisa thanked us again for our patience and apologized for it all.

I know all the post office peoples' names here.  I never knew a single name of a post office employee in any of the many places I have lived previously.  If I keep at it, maybe I'll get to know the names of all the people in line at the post office too, and we can learn to work out our differences.  Small town.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Strange Days

More sun, day after day.  Hardly even could call it Indian Summer.  And then, this afternoon, the wind came up and it was a warm wind from the west.  Westerlies are never warm up here, it's my impression.  Sitting on the porch tonight with the warm breezes still coming, I felt like we were living in a moment that we wouldn't see again.  But maybe that's what climate change will bring us: warm westerlies coming in over the warm northwest Pacific Ocean?

It's time to start on the end of summer gardening chores.  Yesterday, I pruned the summer raspberry canes, to give some room for the fall raspberry crop which is, usually, not much of a crop; but if this weather continues, it could come through unexpectedly well.  And, today, I began transplanting a large crop of 2-year plants that will bloom next year: lunaria and digitalis seedlings, especially; and then it's time to spread the crocosmyia bulbs around, and do the autumn fertilizing of the peonies and lilies.  And in no time, it will be time to plant tulip and daff bulbs.  And if it's still sunny and warm then, well, I think we may be in trouble.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Out of One, Two and It's Legal

The big news from the Border Conference with the Community Advisory Committee is this:
We can now bring tomatoes and peppers over the border but only if we slice them at least in half, first.  (Presumably, the CBP will not get agitated if they discover that we are now traveling with sharp knives.)  And, somewhat more, if the tomatoes and peppers are clearly marked grown in the U.S., they don't have to be sliced or even halved.

Also, which is probably a big deal especially for Canadian cottagers who come down for a chilly weekend in the fall-spring seasons, we may all bring firewood in from Canada if it is for one's personal use.  I don't have a wood-burning stove, so this part is not such an improvement for me.  But it is for lots of people.  And we rejoice for all improvements, small and large.  The Advisory Committee deserves a lot of support both for taking this issue on and for making some headway.

In other news, the last Saturday Market was held with something less than a full pack of vendors.  But there were some and there were lots of visitors to the market, at least in part drawn by the Point Roberts Quilt Group's Quilt Show, which was fabulously attended.  The quilters send out their thanks to everybody who came.  We had a lot of fun, and it seemed like our guests did too.

It's something of a challenge for just a dozen people to put on a substantial quilt show, but we managed it with great variety this year.  Maybe next year, again.

Friday, September 2, 2011

An Event on Saturday

Tomorrow, Saturday, from 10-2, the Point Roberts Quilt Group will have its occasionally annual Quilt Show and, in this case, sale.  I'm busy, with the other members of the group, getting this put together today and then doing it tomorrow, so I don't have time to write much except to say that it is happening and that we all hope, if you are in the vicinity, that you come and see what we have been doing over the past year.

And say hello!

"To the Nines," 2011, an Improvisational Quilt based on the traditional 9-patch block.  44"x64"

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Wonders of Point Roberts

Earlier this week, I was about ten minutes early for a meeting at the Community Center, so I stopped to investigate the 'new' McFrugal's, which recently announced its grand opening.  It's in the Miller building on Gulf, where Heather McPhee used to have her real estate office.  I don't know where she's gone, although she's still here and still in the real estate business, such as it is nowadays.

But, the 'old' McFrugals was up on Tyee, near the border and, apparently, is still up there.  The 'old' McFrugals was sort of like a very small dollar store.  Handy enough, but probably too small to be a big draw.  It had small things, odd packets of foods, envelopes, t-shirts, crayons, stuff like that.  I assumed that it had moved its stock down to the Miller Bldg.  But when I went in, I was surprised to find multiple rooms, 5? 6?, filled with a very large number of objects.  Less a Dollar Store than Liquidation World.  There were sets of dishes, nice looking sets of cooking pans, stainless steel bowl sets, silverware, leather aprons (leather!), fishing tackle, boat stuff including a pup tent with pontoons for use on land and sea (perhaps for a real pup?), dehumidifiers, coffee makers, a vast selection of fleece blankets and pillows, and a good deal more.

I've never been a big fan of Dollar Stores, although useful enough, like the Kress and Woolworths of my youth (where I had my first actual job).  There used to be a Liquidation World in Tsawwassen and there was also one on the Sunshine Coast and I found them both providers of extremely entertaining shopping when one is in that mood.  They might have anything and it probably will be at an excellent price.  But I never imagined that Point Roberts would have such entertainment.  Seems a real addition to the commercial scene here: for those days when you'd like to shop but don't want to cross the border.

I even went back today and purchased one of those fleece blankets: 60x80" for $10--I can't buy the fleece for $10.  It's a very useful addition underneath a quilt for that season (which is now) when a down comforter is too warm but a quilt is not warm enough and a quilt plus a regular blanket is too heavy.  Welcome to fall, I'm afraid, looking at the last two mornings.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Apples Falling Down

Each morning, the grass is now littered with apples that just betake themselves from their attachment to their respective trees.  We have about five apple trees, each with a somewhat different schedule and each with a different apple, most of them unrecognized by me.  Our most productive tree is a four-graft, and those apples I do know: transparent, jonagold, red delicious, and golden delicious.  But the rest?  Hard to tell.





This year, they are all behaving somewhat peculiarly.  They bloom roughly at the same time, but historically, their ripening time is quite different.  This year, though, four of them are ripening pretty much at once.  The transparents were only slightly ahead of the jonagolds, and the round red apples, which are usually in between those two have been ripening at the same time.  And their sizes are all weird.  The transparents are all stretched out and skinny, whereas the round red apples are round and red but tiny...barely 2" across, though they are usually more like 3.5 inches.  The jonagolds, too, are small this year, and another tree, which usually has large red and green apples this year has even tinier apples, all of which are falling off the tree before they ripen.

The red and golden delicious haven't ripened yet, which is typical, and the final tree, which normally ripens in November or even December has precious few apples of any size or color.  So, it's looking like a disappointing apple year in our yard anyway.  The transparents have provided us with apple pies and applesauce of fine quality, but the rest look like they may have a future mainly as apple juice.  I put a 5-gallon barrel out near the trees so that all the windfalls (even though there is no wind, I guess that's what you call them) can be easily gathered up and delivered to the apple juice machine.

Hard to be a farmer, especially if you're a farmer who doesn't really know much about the crops you are growing and harvesting.  I am, at best I fear, only an incidental farmer.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New Residents

The 2010 Census showed that Point Roberts had a population increase over ten years of 6 people, a pitiful .45%.  But what the census didn't even look at was the horse population.  It, too, had an increase of at least 6.  I know that because I met six new residents this afternoon.

Yesterday, driving down Benson, I passed the corral wherein six little donkeys are more or less securely held.  Next door, at the entrance to what had been the nursery, was a big grey horse.  A big, grey, commanding horse, standing right next to the fence.  I was taken aback at seeing there a horse where I had never before seen a horse, especially not such a good looking horse.  When I got home and tried to describe him to Ed, I felt like I wanted to say that he had had a feather headpiece, like the big horses at the circus, but that wasn't really true.  But it felt true.

I went back today and met him up close, as they say in TV, as well as his five horse colleagues and his owner.  She, too, is a new resident of Point Roberts and has come to provide a home for her rescued horse group.  Increasingly used to Icelandic ponies, I kept thinking how big these horses were.  The lovely grey horse, named Lance, is an Arabian, with a brown freckled coat (his mother was grey; his father was brown, but the freckles go away in the winter), and is elderly, 28(?), but doesn't look a day over 15.  As if I knew what age a horse looked.

All six of them are terrifically friendly, anxious to get close to you and see how you are doing.  They were having bad lives somewhere else, or at least difficult lives.  Now they have retired to Point Roberts and, like the rest of us here who are retirees, are living lives that are very different from our prior lives.  And, like the rest of us, need special papers to cross the border.