hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Goodbye! And, Hello!

Back in 2002, I began a long series of wall quilts based upon what I called abandoned houses here in Point Roberts, although they were more accurately described as houses that no one lived in.  There were an unusually large number of these houses for such a small place and because there was some threat of their being torn down because of County ordinances, I used such quiltmaking skills as I had at the time (never having previously made a pictorial quilt) to try to document these beautiful buildings. 

Over the several years that I worked on this series of 18 pieces, I got better at making fabric look like wood and trees and yards.  The quilts have been exhibited as a group a number of times and individual ones have received awards.  One of them is regularly on display at the Aydon Wellness Clinic in the reception area.

I was not interested in the quilts leaving the Point as a permanent matter nor in their being separated.  More recently, I began to think more seriously about what was to happen to them.  I am of an age where death could not be said to be premature.  And the disposal of such items could be burdensome for those who would survive me.  So, I decided that the best home for them would be the Point Roberts Historical Society.  Upon inquiry, I found it would be happy to accept them.

Last week, I bundled them all up and delivered them to one of the Society members.  They were already at work on figuring out how to display them in the Community Center.  I looked through the window of the area past the library today and saw some of them were already up on the wall.  The Society plans to have an opening for them at some point and I hope those in this area will come by to take a look.

To my great pleasure, I found it easy to have them leave my custody, because they go to the hands of those who will take care and, in the greater sense, to all the people of Point Roberts.  As their creator, I bid them goodbye; as a resident, I'm happy to say, 'Hello!' 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

What Kind of Progress Is This?

I noticed at the local post office the other day a small sign announcing that every male citizen (not every mail, as I first typed) had to register with the U.S. government by his 18th birthday.  Now, I imagine this sign can be found at every post office in the U.S. (or at least at any post office in the U.S.), so this is not strictly a Point Roberts story.

But the thing is how surprising this relatively new sign is.  We have an all-volunteer army and have had such for several decades.  Why is the government still requiring registration by 18-year-olds?  And, my equally surprised response, Why is the government requiring that 18-year-old males register but not 18-year-old-females?

This seems about as goofy a government policy (on both counts) as I can imagine.  What do they do with those registrations?  Who presides over them?  And has anybody considered whether there is any point at all to this?

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Worrisome Event

The New York Times reports this morning that U.S. intelligence analysts deciding about whom to send to Guantanamo had, as one indication, that the individual was wearing a a Casio F-91 watch.  I hardly knew what to think when I looked at my own wrist and found on it a Casio F-91 watch!  And to know that I bought it at the Point Roberts International Marketplace before 9/11.  I'm wondering about wearing it when I traverse the border, although I have been doing so for over ten years.  So maybe it's okay; but I'm wondering about the International Marketplace...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Marketing

Yesterday, the April Easter Saturday Market kicked off the Return of the Canadians.  Friday and Saturday were both sunny days and the Canadians were everywhere: shopping at the grocery, riding their bicycles, aimlessly walking, and even visiting the Saturday Market which was, still, held indoors despite the deceptive sun (it looked warm, but it was only moderately so).  Presumably, they were also dusting out their cottages.

The vendors at the Market were scant this month, partly I suppose because of the dissenting views about how the market should be conducted.  No 'used goods,' so those folks weren't there.  The County's concerns about food meant that virtually no baked goods were available: no nice pies, no nice cookies.  There were a few Easter cupcakes in search of donations for the Friends of the Library, which group also had a big book sale, all of which were, of course, used, but not 'used' in the sense that other peoples' goods are 'used', apparently.  Don't ask me; I just report the rules.  Goods for resale also have to meet some standard (standard unknown), but some nice purses, earrings, and metalwork found their way from Central Mexico up here and apparently met that standard.

What there really was was a big presence of fresh vegetables from Sagewood Farms.  Not, alas, grown here in Point Roberts, or at least not yet.  I bought a bunch of organic cilentro ($2.75) and was told that it came from the Co-Op in Bellingham.  Wherever it came from, it had a lovely fresh look to it and great taste.  And it appeared that the majority of the buying (we did not participate as vendors this month) was focused on the vegetables.  Which they richly deserved.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Daughter Replies

lol. Well, you probably could feed them tarantulas. But don't they exude some attractant substance that affects certain insects, so the insects would not want to leave?

What you need is flies. Tarantula breeders sometimes used to attract house flies in order to breed maggots, using various substances. Rino used rotting raw liver. I promise you I will not send you a maggot-infested piece of rotting raw liver; okay?

Otherwise, you can buy a culture of wingless fruit flies from Carolina Biological Supply for $6.95 plus shipping. That's what we used to do when we were raising some kinds of very small arthropods. Or hit a pet store and see what kinds of crickets they have available. Crickets are easy to lame; I've done it lots of times. You can usually buy a dozen for maybe a couple of dollars. This may not work because of the border, though.

Or you could put the plants inside a container the insects can't get out of, and see if eventually the plants get the insects that way.

Googling a bit, I note that at least one person thinks wingless fruit flies are a great food for carnivorous plants. Also, here's a post about how you can buy canned crickets or canned caterpillars and use those as food. You can freeze the rest after you open the can. In fact, freezing is a classic way to kill insects for various entomological reasons. If you did this in the warm months, you'd have food for later.

For that matter, we used to sometimes just chop up raw beef and feed that to tarantulas. Generally speaking though it's best to stick with something that more or less resembles the natural food sources.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Becoming a Hunter

Mostly, I'm a gatherer, though the daughter of a hunter.  I grew up with hunting rifles and hunting dogs and all that, but although I liked the dogs, I didn't like the hunting.  I don't like hunting slugs, even.  Several years ago, I went out every night in the summer and hunted them in the twilight.  I would find and kill maybe 100-200 each night, my weapon of destruction a pair of scissors.  And after about two weeks of that, I decided to stop growing plants that slugs wanted to eat because I got weary of having killing on my mind and in my eyes.

But now, I find myself back in the game, sort of.  A month ago, my middle child sent me the gift of six carniverous plants.  They're little guys, in 3-inch pots: a venus fly trap, two butterworts, a pitcher plant, and two sundews. (Here's a picture of a sundew.)   All very different, all very committed to eating insects.  Which is okay with me.  Except that, this early in the spring, and in a very cold spring, we are short of insects, especially in the house.  There aren't yet any gnats flying about that might find their way indoors and then into (or onto) the reaching sticky arms of a tiny butterwort plant or an even smaller sundew.  The pitcher plant is too young yet to have any pitchers, even, so I don't know what it's doing for food: photosynthesis, says my son.

But what we, unfortunately, do have this spring is the occasional carpenter ant finding its way into the house.  They are easy to spot on the beige carpet and I'm more than willing to bring an end to their lives.  It occurred to me, however, that I might be able to feed them to the venus fly trap.  The trap plant has maybe a half-dozen actual traps, each about 1/2-3/4 inch long.  That's actually smaller than the carpenter ant.  Already, a problem.

But the larger problem is that the ants are very fast and even if I drop them into the flytrap's open trap, they scamper right out.  Thus, in order to make it possible for the flytrap to have a chance at dinner, I am obliged to lame the ant some.  I am even obliged to hold the lamed ant with a pair of tweezers and drop it into the open trap, holding it there until the trap closes.

I might as well go back to cutting slugs in half.

On the other hand, the plants are pretty interesting.  Just keeping them alive, even without having to hunt for them, is a challenge because they would like it to be warmer than it is.  They probably don't mind it being so damp, though.  It's a new challenge.  I just hope that my oldest child, who used to raise tarantulas, doesn't get it into her mind to send her dear old mom a little gift.  There's simply no way that you could get a venus fly trap to eat a tarantula, even a baby one.  I just don't have the heart for that work, I think.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Weariness of Governing

I put in about 90 minutes tonight at the Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee Meeting.  The Gas Tax fund is now creeping up to a half million (Thanks, Canadians!), but the Committee is still churning around with what will be done with the funds.  It is possible that as a result of tonight's meeting, the Committee members will come up with a half dozen, more or less, actual, possible, fitting-the-guidelines projects that the funds could be used for.  Then, they'll go to the community to see which of these they are most interested in pursuing.  Better than the vague, 'what do you want?' kinds of surveys, but it is hard to know whether Point Roberts residents are actually reachable for opinions on such things.  Apathy?  Or just, 'who knows?  who cares?'  Or is that apathy?

The other useful piece of information was that the County Planning Office is informally continuing to accept comments regarding citizen views on the Lily Point Beach Club plans, including the widening of APA Road and the accompanying tree cutting along APA Road.  Make your views known to: akeenan@co.whatcom.wa.us

No news on possible grant funds to replace the dock/pier in Lighthouse Park.  No news on the zoning issues that render Point Roberts, temporarily at least, a place where decisions about zoning are to be made as they have been historically made,  whatever that phrase might encompass.

And, finally, Lily Point State Park is going to get a parking lot, whether Point Roberts residents want it or not: approximately 30 cars worth.  I love how disputes with the County often get resolved by the County announcing that there are State and County Regulations that require it be done their way.  I'm sure there are.  It's like Groucho Marx saying, "Those are my principles; if you don't like them, I have others."  The County too seems to have lots of 'other' regulations when there is need for them.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Easter Advisory

We're coming up on Easter and with Easter comes the Easter eggs and the traditional Easter Egg Hunt.  In past years, the site of the hunt here has often been the beach, which seems to me so untraditional that it appears to be an inspired choice.

Anyway, I heard this fine story today from a friend.  The parents at the local school who, I take it, are sponsoring this year's hunt have the task of stuffing a thousand plastic Easter eggs for this adventure.  Each egg gets a piece of candy, and a small toy, and, for all I know, a copy of the New York Times.  Whatever. But the point of the story is that each of these thousand plastic eggs has to be filled and then to be taped shut in order to foil the efforts of gulls and crows to open the eggs before the child hunters get to them.

Which may be why the beach, in those places where there are beaches, is not the traditional site of Easter Egg hunts.  But, I do wonder what Saint Francis would have said to it all?

Friday, April 15, 2011

More About Maintaining That Natural Beauty

Point Interface alerted us this morning to a further bit of news about the Lily Point Beach Club (without a beach) development.  One of the developers said that tree cutting would be held to 50% by County rules, but that the developers would try to retain 90% of the trees.  An enterprising concerned resident inquired of Mr. Knowles as to whether the trees along APA would remain.  Knowles said that the County was requiring that APA be widened, which would require the elimination of those trees.

Which, in my view, would mean losing the best trees in that area.

The concerned resident then contacted the County Planning Office, where someone told her that only 10% of the trees would be cut, but that was on the site, not as to the trees on APA.  Because this is a County requirement, it might have some impact on the final decision if Point Roberts residents wrote to the Planning Office about this matter of the retention of the trees on APA.  Here is that email address: akeenan@co.whatcom.wa.us   The deadline for comments is April 18 (this Tuesday).  If we're going to do anything about maintaining some of that 'natural beauty,' saving those trees would be an important step.  

Here's a photo of the APA trees that front the development, taken by Ed this morning:

For more photos of that area, click here.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

They're Trying!

Barely forty degrees F. today.  Very discouraging.  But the plant world is really trying, as below.

 Red Currant with forsythia in background.
 Red Currant on its own.
 Tiny forget-me-nots.
 Alpine Primroses.
Pieris.  All pictures taken in the early evening of a cloudy day, and thus overly dependent on flash.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What's Wrong with This Sentence?

One of the developers in the Lily Point Beach Club Without a beach development, Wayne Knowles, has offered the following reassurances to the residents of Point Roberts.

"I have lived in Point Roberts for 18 years and I love the natural setting here. I hope to maintain that natural beauty with this development."

Why is it that developers always seem to think that, as a result of their personal occupational exuberance and financial well-being, more houses will "maintain natural beauty"? Building more houses might be a good idea or it might not, but it is hard to imagine how the "natural beauty" could be "maintained" with the addition of 62 additional houses.   It could be more or less diminished, depending upon how the development is done, but 'maintained"? I don't think so...

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Earth Abides

Sun at last, and all day long: the kind of spring day we have been longing for. You get out in the yard as quick as you can and then last as long as you can, which may not be as long as you'd like. It is clear to me that I have not spent my winter ensuring that my legs were ready for all that getting up and down that the garden requires when spring arrives in a single day.

What I am mostly doing is removing shallow-rooted, aggressive early spring weeds. I'm trying not to disturb the soil too much, and i can hear my father telling me i should not be messing in the garden at all when the soil is still pretty much mud. But, but, but, I say, it is the first nice day we've had, and besides my father never gardened in wetlands with buttercups and pop weed and dandelions, so perhaps his rules don't apply, perhaps the mud won't lose its oxygen by being further compacted.  In fact, I don't really know whether this abysmal soil ever had any oxygen in it, so I don't know whether it is possible for me to make it worse by mere mucking about with a trowel.

I was talking to one of the old timers here the other day and he said he didn't think he would be able to till his fields before the first of May. Clearly he is of my father's school. Another friend used today's gracious sun to plant his peas. Poking those little soaked pellets into theground is surely not going to be doing any harm to the soil and doubtless the extra moisture will be very useful to the peas in their yearning to get back up above ground. But there I am, trowel in hand anyway, poking about in the ground, and gathering bucket after bucket of leafy weeds.

And comes nightime, those unused muscles will be complaining bitterly to me about their recent ill use. And, Hallelujah! We will be back in the endless toil of the garden. I believe we come from gatherers, not hunters, and that explains all the difference.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Birds Arrive for Spring

Living so near the beach, there is a lot of driftwood around up here.  I think it's illegal to remove it from the beach because it presumably belongs to whoever owns the beach, but there's surely enough for everyone and most everyone has some of it around in his/her yard.  I myself have used it to make driftwood gates that sit here and there about the property.  They are gates, without sides/connecting fences, so they don't operate to shut anything in or out.  They just stand as lovely sculptures, sort of, or at least as a place to hang little mirrors or other things that sparkle and shine in the sun.

Most of them are back in the property, where you wouldn't see them from the road, but there is one right on the street near the front of the house.  It has a painted parrot and a little driftwood frame studded with beach glass hanging from it.  And it stands in wild ground, with lots of trees above it and oregon grape below it.

Yesterday, I was walking by it and noticed that the driftwood frame was askew.  And when I walked right up to it, I saw that there were two tiny little white birds affixed to the gate: one in the frame and one on the gate itself.  Never saw those little white birds before.  I guess someone walking by thought that was their home.  So, thank you, whomever you are!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Market Updates

The people directing the Saturday Market have announced their decisions, which at the moment include having the market open every other Saturday from Easter weekend (April 23) to Labor Day (Sept. 3).  They hope to get permission to have it every Saturday, but the Parks Board has not yet been heard from on that matter.

They have noted that the County's regulations about the selling of prepared food are sufficiently onerous that there may be some considerable diminution of such sales, although the County is okay with one's selling baked goods for charity causes other than one's own pocketbook.  Further, they have stated their displeasure with the selling of used goods which will only be allowed twice during the summer (once early and once late) but only if one's used goods have been vetted with the administrators.  (It's okay: I was pretty much through with selling my used CD's, but I take the implied insult.)  And they have encouraged the growers of vegetables to come forth.  If the weather doesn't sometime improve, there will be passing few vegetables of any kind around this summer: at least home grown ones.

This banning of the used goods seems to me a bad idea, not least because the market last summer had some difficulties with having enough vendors in the first place.  The administrators seem to think that there are vast numbers of people with exquisite original (make it, bake it, grow it) goods here on the Point and, furthermore, so exquisite that they will command the attention of vast numbers of buyers who will want to make a foray cross border to get what cannot be obtained more easily in greater Vancouver.  I doubt it.  My guess is that the  used goods (flea market/thrift shop) have the best chance of being a going concern for such a market.  That is, that you could use that as the base and work the other stuff up around it.  But I didn't volunteer to be an administrator and, though that point of view has been put forward, the decision went the other way.  We shall see.

I'm doing my part by taking my eight grown-from-seed potted kale plants outdoors to adjust to reality.  I have told them that they are very cool weather plants and they should do their best.  If all goes well, I could have a few bunches of kale to sell, although we do tend to eat them ourselves, of course.  Well, that's the problem with depending on home gardeners to buttress the community garden output.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Only Minutes Ago...

Hardly have I finished writing about the Point's apparent inclination not to change things much if it involves more people or more houses, when the issue of the Point Roberts Beach Club is back on our plates.  Or on someone's plate.  Last year, the section of the proposed Beach Club nearest to Lily Point was sold at auction and the guy who bought it (a Canadian, part-time resident) announced that he just planned to look at the land.  Which pleased us quite a bit here in Point Roberts, as most residents seemed not too interested in having a 100+ new houses built next door to Lily Point, even if you called it a Beach Club, and even if it was substantially above the beach.

And now, the same bunch (at least the same names arise) that had originally hoped to build that 'beach club' has amended its plan and is at the County urging it to approve their new and revised 'Beach Club'  plan to build (only) 62 houses on 62 small lots crammed up near the bluff in three rows on acreage (62 acres) next door to the kindly Canadian part-time resident who rescued us from this dread plan last year.  The new and revised Beach Club is generally south of APA, and between Boundary and Paul's Road, as far as I can tell from the maps in the plan.

Someday, it may be a good idea to build a bunch more houses in Point Roberts (from a profit-perspective), but it's hard to believe that this is the time.  Lots of houses for sale currently, but they don't look to be selling very fast.  I believe the two houses on our street have been for sale for well over a year and the multiple lots nearby on South Beach have been there for more than that.  The 'for sale' signs even look weary.  But even if it were an idea with a money upside (for someone), I doubt if it is what the community would be looking forward to.

There is this to be said for the plan.  Given that the Beach Club lots are about 100 feet above the beach (and the water), the prospective new owners would doubtless be safe from a tsumami.  Maybe that's the selling point.  "Beach houses in Point Roberts, way above the beach: No Tsunami Concerns."

Friday, April 1, 2011

Minimal Change

The County has come up a couple of times recently to see what Point Roberts people want done with the new Lily Point Park.  Usually, the County isn't all that fascinated with what we up here think, or at least it seems like that to me.  And suddenly, here they are more than once.  Coming up here for an evening program means a considerable drive coming and going and a total of four border crossings as well as doing it all at night since the meetings are always around 7 p.m.  It's extra work for them, surely.

And, alas, we have not been anywhere near appreciative enough of all this effort.  People come to the meetings. Not dozens and dozens, but maybe one dozen.  I didn't go; I didn't go because I don't have some grand vision of what Lily Point Park should look like other than what it currently looks like.  And, it turns out, even the dozen folks that show up for the meeting pretty much share that idea.  It is entirely possible that all anyone ever wanted was for the property not to turn into a housing development.

Perhaps what people in Point Roberts actually want generally is for there to be no more people or houses than are already here.  We aren't particularly interested, e.g., in having numbers of tour buses showing up to look at things, whether it's Lily Point or Lighthouse Park.  We mostly want it to be just like it already is.  And what that runs flat into is the idea that there ought to be some way to have economic development in Point Roberts.  It may be that we would be enthusiastic about an economic development plan as long as it didn't change anything and didn't involve a lot more people being here.  How's that going to work?