hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Encore, Une Fois!

Apparently the goofy Atlantic Cities post about Point Roberts triggered a new story on Point Robers from Canada's National Post.   This one features a little more sensible talk, arising from interviews with proprietors of various businesses around the Point (Neilson's, Brewster's, Jim Julius Realty, TSB Shipping, etc.), but it yet again gives us an advert for the urban legend Witness Protection Program.  I suppose if you are a journalist on a slow day with a pointless (pun intended) story, it must be hard to resist the WPA.

If you are interested in a rehearsal of recent criminals racing cross the Point, you get that.  And a terrific account of a road grader chase from back in the 70's.

Jim Julius weighs in with his assertion that Canadians come here only for milk, gas, and cheese, forgetting the thriving business in butter and poultry.  They come for all those things of course because they're much cheaper here.  But it made me think about the things we go to Tswwassen to buy, things we could buy in Point Roberts if we wanted to.  Nothing is likely to be cheaper.  But it can be better: e.g., Canadian flour is, to my taste, vastlynsuperior to American flour, not least because it doesn't have so many additives (barley, in particular) and it is made from harder wheat/higher protein.  Bread made from Canadian flour has a much better flavor than from U.S. flour.  Demerrara sugar is another favorite.  Can hardly get it in the U.S., I know not why, unless it's a historic victim of the Cuba foolishness.  It's a very soft and crystalline brown sugar.  And not to overlook Sultana raisins.  So much jucier and tastier and sweeter than Thompson's seedless, which is pretty all the U.S. has to offer.  Canadian grocers, to my amazement carry and charge more for the remarkable not-privilege of having Thompson's, instead.  And finally there are all of the fruits of the Okanagan in the summer which so vastly surpass the taste of whatever fruit comes through U.S. shipping to us here.  Washington and Oregon fruits are pretty good at that time, but they show up here weeks from the picking, whereas the Okanagan produce is more timely arrived.

So, think about what you get over there because you prefer it to the variety you could get down here.  And then offer to write an article for the National Post.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chocolates for All!

Here come the visitors, alas, out to share our particularly unpleasant weather this weekend: rainy, windy, very cold.  Definitely not putting the best face on our very early spring.  But they came anyway and were cheerful despite being somewhat housebound.

There were some sunny spots when the daughter and granddaughter got to go visit Lily the llama and her goats.  And quick visits to the beach to gather up rocks for special rock polishing when they returned to Michigan.  And a visit to Brewsters to obtain an excellent pineapple and  a box of Lindabelle chocolates, made by our own resident chocolatiere.  I was delighted to find that you could buy Linda Dyde's chocolates at Brewsters.  We have had a long tradition of having a drawn-out dessert experience with her chocolates when we have a few visitors for a few days.

What we do is buy enough for a night or two such that everyone will have at least one or two entire chocolates after dinner.  But not directly, not just choosing one and stuffing it in your mouth.  Depending on the number at the table, it goes like this:

Two guests plus us means you start with 4 or 8 chocolates, all of different kinds (and Linda makes many different and exotic kinds so this is easy to have happen).  You pick one chocolate and carefully cut it in four equal parts.  Her chocolates are mostly pretty square so this is not too hard.  Then each of you takes one of the quarters, eats it slowly and one-at-a-time discusses its flavor(s) and texture(s).  When everyone has had his/her say and the chocolate is well gone from the mouth, you take a second chocolate and do the same thing again.  The eating of 4 chocolates, in this manner, easily takes 20-30 minutes, because after the first round, you not only have this chocolate to discuss but you also have to do comparisons with the previous chocolate(s).    And when all four (or eight) are gone, you are sorry that this experience is over and you have to discuss which one is your own favorite.

There are variations for different numbers, and it is also very nice to have a cup of tea to sip in between chocolates, but it is not essential.

Try it with your favorite guests, like a daughter and a granddaughter!  Especially during times of bad weather.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


About every 5 or 6 years, some writer in ROTUS (rest of the U.S.) discovers Point Roberts and then publishes some cutesy article about us.  The last one, I think was the National Geographic, whose article particularly irritated our Canadians neighbors by describing Tsawwassen, as I recall, as "strip mall hell."

This week's article is in some internet journal called Atlantic Cities and you can find it here.  Turns out we have 50 people in the U.S. Marshal's witness protection program living up here.  (I thought it was the FBI that ran witness protection?  It turns out that Justice Department has one such program and the U.S. Marshals have a different one.)  Turns out some lady named Kathryn Booth has appointed herself as our unofficial public relations representative.  Who knew?  That we had one or that we needed one or that she was the one we would want?  Ms. Booth thinks that in some ways, living here feels 'like a police state.'  She's been here a couple of years.  Too bad she wasn't here in the first few years after 9/11.

Talking to journalists is always a dicey matter.  You say what you say and they write what they write and the distance between the two may be big or it may be little.  However, I would like to know who it was (other than Ms. Booth) who "rated" Point Roberts 'the safest community.'  Who even managed to find it to do the rating?

Ah, well, famous again.  Steve O'Neill is quoted saying that Point Roberts doesn't promote its businesses because it has no businesses to promote.  Okay.  Got it.

The author seems to think reasonably well of us: pretty and all that.  But I'm glad that the publication didn't require the death of any trees.  There's that for digital writing...

Meanwhile, I'm thinking about those 50 witnesses being protected among us.  If they cross the border, do they lose their protection?

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Letdown

Now we are finished with the Fiber Arts Festival and the Selling of Raffle Tickets and all that.  Saturday, a day of typically grievously gray sky dawned, and we opened the doors at 10 am and many people arrived to take part in the day.  I have no way of estimating crowds (or better, I have no skill), but I would guess maybe 200-250 people came by and spent an hour or two looking at, trying their hand at, or buying some kind of fiber work.  There was quilting and knitting and crocheting and weaving and spinning and embroidery and darning and braiding and sewing more generally on view and, to some extent, on experimentation.

Ed was recruited at the last moment to perform needle felting.  It's an easy activity to learn at a basic level so the fact that he learned it only a day before he arrived to teach it was OK.  For me (and independent of the fact that he's my spouse), this kind of participation was the best.  He had 1-3 people sitting across the table from him all day, from 7-year-olds to very fully grown old people, making little felt name tags with pictures on them and using barbed needles safely.   They were virtually all doing something they had never done before.  And, for the most part, I'm a believer in doing being better than watching.

And the raffle raised about $1600 dollars for the new library renovation (only $498,400.00 to go).  And four happy people won the four quilts (including the head teacher at the local K-3 school and the new checker at the grocery store), and I don't have to sell raffle tickets any more.  I see people who bought raffle tickets and I feel vaguely guilty, somehow, that they didn't all win.  But it is, as with much in life, all a matter of luck.

Putting on an event like this is a tiny place like Point Roberts is possible because there are so few events (especially at this time of the year) that one can pretty much get information out.  You put signs up on Tyee and Gulf and pretty much everyone in Point Roberts is going to pass by those signs within a 72-hour period.  So, thanks to everyone who made it come together, to everyone who participated, and especially to everyone who bought the raffle tickets and thus supported the library building renovation.

Now, the post-adrenaline letdown, and the waiting for spring.  This morning, I looked out the kitchen window and there was a coyote standing in my backyard, looking around.  After a few minutes, he turned around and walked out the way he came: didn't find spring here, certainly.  Although, the crocuses and tulips and daffs are at least all coming up, finally.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Oh, Deer?

This past week, a couple of people have talked to me about deer hunting on the Point.  Apparently, people do it.  One person seemed to be saying it was illegal; the other that it was legal with bow and arrows for a brief period in the fall.

I spent an hour or so on the net reading about hunting regulations in Washington State.  I grew up with a father who hunted large animals (and ducks and pheasants) so I'm vaguely familiar with how it works.  But I was certainly surprised to see the great variety not only of animals that are hunted but of weapons used to hunt them: each weapon with its own week or so season in specified GMU's.  A GMU is a Game Management Unit, and I take it that it is a specific area managed by the State hunting agency.  Each GMU has a number and when you look up when you can hunt, it will give you a lot of GMU numbers, specific kind of animal, and dates.

I did go through every GMU in Whatcom County (which is to say I looked at a very long list of them).  Not a one of them was specified as being in Point Roberts, which suggests that you can't hunt deer or anything else here.  But maybe there is some common law that permits you to hunt in your back yard?

Certainly deer traipse through my back yard on a regular basis.  But it seems very unlikely that anybody could follow them around and be legally shooting at them in my back yard.  And it seems very unlikely that anybody would let me be shooting guns or muskets or AK47's or cross bows or bows and arrows in my back yard, given that my neighbors back yard is only feet away.  I know that people get irritated by deer eating things they plant, but the deer live here; they've gotta eat too.  And there aren't so many of them that we can't all feed them a bit now and then and not be a great loser for it.  For example, they eat tulips about 1 out of 6 or 7 years, in my experience...at least they eat mine at that rate.  The other years, presumably, they're eating someone else's.

So this is puzzling stuff.  I need to get help from a hunter, I guess, to explain to me how it all works.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Coming Up

The last bit of time has involved a lot of preparation for the upcoming, 18 February (Saturday) 'Fiber Arts Festival' here in Point Roberts.  It's a day-long (10-4) deal at the Community Center with fiber exhibits and demonstrations and opportunities to make things, plus a small quilt show (our bigger quilt show is in the summer), and craft sales (our bigger craft sale is at Christmas), etc. etc.  Also, it will be the occasion of drawing the four winning tickets for the four quilts that we are raffling to benefit the P.R. Library Building Fund.  But even though this is a relatively small event, it involves a lot of preparation by the P.R. Quilt Group, mostly.

There will be what is called a 'new to you' table, which is a kind of smaller fiber thrift shop.  These are generally easy to stock because everybody who works in fiber has too much fiber.  You never know when you will need what, and so everybody has pretty much everything.  It is good, on occasion, to take stock and get rid of some things.  So that has been mostly what I've been doing.  Very strenuous work because it involves a decision about every 30 seconds.  And the point is, the reason I have all this stuff is that I might need it.  And so, deciding that I won't need it is problematic because I might.  Given my advanced age, I am working on probabilities I will need it within the next 10 years, which may be about as long as either I or my eyes will hold out.    Come and get some of our stuff.  The price is definitely right.

But there's other stuff as well.  Last week, a member of the Point Roberts community who works in the movies/TV world bestowed upon us all the leftover fabrics from a TV film that had been being made in Vancouver.  It turns out that the movies, when they strike the set, have a lot of stuff left over.  They don't (as I realized when I tried to imagine what happens at the end of a filming) use up all the stuff they need to make that film.  And they don't, apparently, have any idea as to how much stuff they are actually going to need to make that film.

Our benefactor brought us many, many boxes of stuff, including entire bolts of fabrics.  We spent Saturday morning sorting through it all, putting it up into smaller packets (say 3-5 yards) and sending about a third of it off to the real thrift store (mostly knit fabrics which seemed of more use to people making clothes than to people doing arts/crafts).  But there are still many, many packets of beautiful fabrics coming to the 'new to you' table.  Take them off our hands; please do!

Among other things, this awesome gift helped me to understand why movies cost so much to make.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

End of Winter?

It's 60 degrees in Bellingham and in Seattle (even if it isn't that here).  That's warm for February.  Last week, there was one day so warm that it seemed reasonable to spend a couple of hours out cleaning up fallen branches in the garden.  And once I get out there, there is much to be seen that suggests winter is not calling the shots right now.

Of course, all those leaves that are coming up and out may be in for a rude awakening, but there are plenty of roses unleafing, not to mention Indian plum, columbine, Autumn Joy sedum, day lilies, and such things.  What I don't see is tulips, daffodils, or crocuses, but I'm in a pretty shady area, and I've seen plenty of them in my sunnier neighbors' yards.  So, I'm hoping for the best.

Each year, I dread the winter's arrival more.  I am stunned to think that winter would be such a downer in a place where there is, really, so little winter.  I grew up with real winter; I know what it's like, and it isn't like what we have here.  And yet, I am discontent.  The nature of humans.  And yet, I think about my parents who lived for 85+ years in Idaho and the dreadful cold winter and never took vacations to sunnier climes during those bitter months.  Who drove in the snow and the ice for 3 or 4 months every year.  What a wimp am I.

Nevertheless, I'm glad to see signs of spring; very glad.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

We've Come A Long Way

Today at the thrift store, I bought $1.50 worth of curtain.  My dry goods (think of that: dry goods, hardware--it took a long time for us to need the word software) were returned to me in a reusable cloth back bag originally sold/supplied by the B.C. Liquor Store.  It's hardly been any time at all since we were begging people to buy/use reusable cloth bags, and now they're being given away free.