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.