hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Friday, March 30, 2012

Old Electronics and the Electronic Burial Ground

We are computer users.  Ed first started working with mainframe computers in the late 1960's.  I bought my first home computer, a Kaypro, 26 pounds and a 6 inch screen, as I recall, in 1983.  I had a hand-held computer from Radio Shack (a TR-30, or something like that) a few years later.  And several more Kaypros.  And then Microsofts.  And Mac's.  And Palm Pilots.  And now we have Ipads.  We have gone through many computers.  And because Ed knows how to put various computer parts together, people give us their old computers when they move up or shift to Mac's.  And every computer has its own printer and although the printer usually collapses long before the computer does, sometimes you have just replaced the printer when the machine collapses and then the new computer doesn't work with that printer.  And the monitors, too. Many, many of them.

And because we had two houses, each of the houses had its own set of current and former computers and monitors and printers and the thousands of cords that keep them attached.  And it was getting to be close to an entire room devoted to computers and their peripherals. In the olden days, you could occasionally give them away to someone who didn't have a computer.  But not really any more.  Everyone has one and your old one is not the new one they were hoping for.

But there comes a time when all this gathering of computers must come to a stop and the sheep and the goats need to be separated and it turns out that almost all of them are goats either because they don't actually work or they do work but they are so out of date that nothing works with them.  And then a decision is made to get rid of the goats.  All of them. Dozens of them.  And then you begin to think about how to make that happen, how to make them Go Away.

We got to that point this week.  A car full of electronics with nowhere exactly to go.  But what we found is that the Goodwill in Bellingham will quickly and competently sort what you have and put them into various places, some of which involve resale and some of which involve other kinds of recycling and none of which involves landfills and all at no cost to you.  It is a state-run program and you go around the back of the Goodwill store at Sunset Plaza in Bellingham and nice people help you unload them or unload them for you.  You don't have to call ahead: you just have to come during store hours. They offer you a receipt.  And then you are on your way with an empty car and, at home, a newly emptied closet or room ready to take in more stuff.

Thank you, Goodwill!  Thank you State of Washington!  You have made my life much better today.  Maybe they can help you readers out there, too.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

More Bad Behavior

The raccoons, my cute raccoons including the poor raccoon without a tail, have come like a thief in the night or more particularly a vandal in the night, and dug up all my garlics, which were about 7 inches high of leaves, strewing them around in the garlic bed.  They didn't eat them; they just dug 'em and tossed them.  I'm outraged: after I spoke so well of them.  If I knew their names, I'd publicize them, as in public shaming.

Last year, the deer came through and ate the tops, but the plucky garlic grew new tops.  I re-planted the garlics, but I don't know how badly this exposure discouraged the bulbs.  Winter wasn't bad enough?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Parking at Maple Beach

A month or so ago, I mentioned various peoples' concerns about the fact that there is effectively no public parking at Maple Beach, even though it is a Public Beach which you might think would require it to have some public parking during the second century of the automobile.  Which absence makes it problematic, especially in the summer for tourists, but also for people who don't live within easy walking distance of Maple Beach.  For example, Me.  The natural area for parking would be along Roosevelt, which is to say, along the border.  I brought that issue to the Community Advisory Committee (which advises the County on Point Roberts' concerns), and Chairperson Reber then kindly mentioned the issue to the County Public Works Department in a message including a variety of other concerns.

I was pretty taken with the Public Works guy's reply to this particular query, which reply was distributed to the people who came to the last CAC meeting (the one that adjourned abruptly).  Thus, I am reprinting it in its entirety below:

"Parking along Roosevelt: The ten-foot wide grass strip along the US side of the border is the International Boundary Commission Exclusionary Zone.  Whatcom County has a long record of being instructed by the multiple agencies involved that nothing is to be constructed within this zone.  I can not tell you why they [the Canadians] have been allowed to build right up to the border on the Canadian side. In addition, our Sheriff's Office has recently been contacted by Homeland Security for assistance in preventing parking that is currently occurring at the extreme east end of Roosevelt Way.  The challenges in attempting to create parking within this zone are monumental if even possible."

Although there is every reason for Point Roberts residents to think, feel, and believe that it makes sense to allow beachgoers to park cars there-- reasons that in a debate or a logic contest would probably be easy winners--we are, alas, not in a debate or logic contest.  We are in a power contest and the Dept. of Homeland Security has repeatedly shown itself to have vastly more power than do mere citizens.  I'm not in favor of that, but in the absence of having a law degree so that I could devote myself full-time to this issue (and coubtless losing, even then), I am willing to give up.  Shakespeare, that guy, said something about 'discretion being the greater part of valor.'  That's not 'discretion' as in 'being discrete'; that's 'discretion' as in knowing when/where to pick your battles.

No parking at Maple Beach, I'm afraid.  Very sorry about that.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Community Advisory Committee Suffers a Defeat

Only briefly, i assume.  I went to the CAC meeting Tuesday night.  There were only three of the members there, but three is a quorum and there were also three community members, so an agenda was passed around.  After the first item (an update on the Friends of the Point Roberts Library's work on raising funds for a newly renovated library), one of the three committee members asked to make a statement about, as I understood it, his previous vote on a previous discussion about four-way stop signs.  He announced that he regretted his vote because, as internet research has led him to believe, traffic engineers are not confident that four-way stop signs are a useful solution to traffic problems.

When asked whether traffic engineers were asserting this position based on research in small, rural communities like Point Roberts (there are other small rural communities like Point Roberts?), the member (the rep from the Voters Association) stood up, announced he had other important engagements, and left, leaving the CAC quorom-less.

A dramatic depiction of the meaning of the phrase 'high dudgeon.'  Or perhaps a distinctive case of fit of pique (or perhaps pique of fit).  In any case, the meeting then adjourned at the suggestion of the stunned chairman.  No further resolution for the various problems of Point Roberts.

I've been to several difficult meetings this past few weeks.  Perhaps people are having more social problems as we struggle through these dead end days of winter.  Perhaps we need to have a psycho-therapeutic arts festival.

On the good side, though, is that I'm home in time to watch a movie.  The bad side is that the movie was pretty useless ('Young Adult,' with Charlize Theron).   And on to the Ides of March.  Watch out Caesar!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Danger Everywhere!

Night before last, we had a big and unexpected (at least to me) windstorm.  It just howled all night.  Occasionally, I'd wake up and wonder why it sounded like there were people walking on the roof.  Not people, of course, tree branches breaking off and plummeting down.

It happens periodically and sometimes takes the power out.  But given the number of tall cedars and firs (and it is mostly the fir, maple, and alder breaking off, or at least in our yard), I am surprised that there is not more damage than seems to happen.  A few years back, two of our neighbors had branches plummet down like spears and go through their rooves: in one case, right through into a bedroom--with no one sleeping in the bed, fortunately.

This time, we got one of those branches: about 8 feet, maybe 40 pounds, and standing right there in the dirt outside our front gate.  (about 8 inches of the branch was in the ground.) Scarey stuff.  But the power stayed on around our side of the Point, anyway.  There are big branches down here and there as I walk around the roads, but I haven't heard of any serious damage.  I am hoping this is the last big windstorm for this winter.  Who knows, though; this morning, about 8:30 a.m., I looked out the window to see a heavy snowfall, which lasted for about 15 minutes.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


I was out for a walk today and on my way back ran into a couple of teenage boys (15-ish) coming out of a local woods that has pretty marginal paths for walking.  They're looking pretty cheerful, up to good (as opposed to no-good), and we have a brief conversation in the late afternoon remaining sun.

'Hi!,' the first one says.
'Hi!,' says I.  And I notice that they are both carrying skateboards that looks almost home-made.  At least they don't look as high-tech as the ones I'm used to seeing in the towns.
'Not very good skateboarding in the woods, surely,' says I.
"No, it's great,' says the taller one.  'Really great.'
'You must be pretty good then,' says I, thinking of the wet and rutty paths that i've been on through that woods.
'Yes!' they say together, and they beam, beamish boys, delighted with their competence and delighted to be telling me of it.
And we part company at that.

It reminded me of how fun teenage years can occasionally be.  Lots of unpleasant parts of course, but the ones where you actually see and have confidence in your own competence.  Where there was no competence, then there is, and it's because you worked at it.  And you feel good about yourself.

Also, the skunk cabbage is coming up along Benson.

Friday, March 9, 2012

No Good Deed, Etc.

Took a walk along Benson Road today in the late afternoon sun.  Benson has a very nice walking shoulder, recently done up for us by the County with the encouragement of the Community Advisory Committee.  And the County didn't even charge us (from our Gas Tax Fund moneys) for doing the work.  It is one of the few wide, paved-sort-of-with-grindings) shoulders in the Point, and one sees young women with big strollers walking along it.

It's a nice piece of work and both CAC and the County should be thanked for it.  However, in the Department of No Good Deed goes unpunished, I surely noticed that it was the trashiest roadside I've seen in Point Roberts.  Not just snack wrappers and drink bottles, but actual mailing boxes: pick up your new clothes from the mail place and toss the box out beside the road.  Such efficiency!

So, although it is a very good walkway, more walkers, more trash.  They can't put trash barrels out because they would quickly be filled up by people who don't want to pay to take their disposables to the Transfer Station.  So there's not much pre-planning that could have avoided this collateral damage.

Maybe time for folks to go down on a sunny day and do some trash clean up.  Including me.  It's only the South side of Benson that needs to be attended to and only up to South Beach, I'd guess.  OR.  Maybe the Community Advisory Committee could recommend that the County clean up that section of the road, using some of our fabled gas tax money to pay for their good work.  The idea is that we are supposed to get that money to make up for the additional burdens of cross boarder traffic.  This is surely one of the burdens.  Let's have the gas tax money lift it from us.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Politics, Briefly

Whatcom County voted for Rick Santorum in the Washington strawpoll.  As well to know where you are moving before you get here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Adjusting to Difference

I've lived up here back and forth between B.C. and the U.S. (mostly Point Roberts) for over 20 years, and I've pretty much learned to work with the constant need to convert things: money, distance, yard goods, dollars, temperatures whatever difference needs to be accommodated.  The temperature I'm the worst at, where mostly I just convert 0, 10 and 20 degrees C. to  32, 50, and 70 degrees F.  Any numbers in between I just estimate.  For other things, I usually have a conversion number that I just multiply by, depending upon the direction.  The money, like the temperature, changes regularly, so those are the most difficult and are more likely to just get estimated.

However, I may have reached a new level of adjusting to the need to understand difference.  Today, we were driving down to Bellingham, and shortly after we crossed the border (I wasn't driving), I made a mental note of the speed sign for cars: 70 mph.  I automatically converted it to the appropriate speed by multiplying by .8.  In Canada, I multiply kilometer speed signs by .6, but I guess I was thinking that since it was the U.S., I probably ought to use a higher number.  56 mph, I thought to myself: slow for a freeway.

This may just be the loopiness of age, but it seemed like a new level of understanding; not necessarily a better one, but at least new.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Welcome Sight

Seen yesterday in an enclosed yard on the south side of APA.  Even though it's cold, it does its duty.  Doubtless, a lesson to us all.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sunday Thoughts

Yesterday morning, I was trying to get a book read before its due date and as a result was sitting in the living room at about 11:30 still in my bathrobe.  I did have my hair combed, though.  Thus arrayed, I heard a knock on the door, which is a pretty rare event at our house.  Fortunately, Ed went to the door where he found a nicely dressed pair of ladies who had come to bring us the Word of the Jehovah's Witnesses.  This is about the second time in almost 20 years that they’ve come a knocking at our door here in Point Roberts.  Which is about often enough.

In fact, the book I was trying to finish is about the problems of proselytizing religions in Africa and the Middle East, particularly, both Christian and Islamic, so religious visiting of this sort was at least a topic on my mind.  However, Ed handled the conversation graciously and I think maybe another 10 years would be good before the next visit.
But it did remind me of the Jehovah’s Witness visitor we used to have up on the Sunshine Coast, north of Vancouver, where we had a house.  She came about once every month for almost 20 years.  The first time she came, she and Ed had a little talk about all this bringing of the good word and in some way they came to an agreement: he and she would talk about conservation and animal preservation and, on the occasions when I would be the one to talk with her, we would trade animal stories.  I don’t think they actually agreed to that last part, but that’s how it worked out.
Her name was Barbara and by the time we saw her last, a year ago, she must have been close to 85 years old, still straight as a pin, still neat as a pin, still talking to us about animals, still delivering us the monthly issue of The Watch Tower (which Ed looked at, although I did not), still walking her route.  I never resented her coming but I did wonder how she squared her religious duty to bring others to her way of thinking and her agreement with Ed to talk about animals.  Whatever, good for her.
In all those years, I never learned much more about her than the above.  Ours was a meeting in the moment.  Someone did tell me that her son had been killed in the World Trade Center collapse.  What a strange pair of things--that and her views/experiences with animals--to know about a person over so many years, given that they were the only things I knew.  I would have been happy to know more about her, but in the circumstances, I felt that the animal agreement was a binding limitation.  What strange rules we live by, given that we make them up.  Barbara was probably a better improviser than we were.
Also this week, a friend brought us a box of fresh eggs from their now-laying chickens.  I opened the box up and it looked to be full of Easter eggs, pink and blue and cream shells.  Why don’t commercial eggs ever come in colors, I’d like to know.  Why don’t I raise chickens?  

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Fame for Me!

I was at the grocery store today, paying for my fruits and vegetables, when one of the checkers (whom I know only because she is a checker at the grocery store and because I show up there a couple of times a week all year long), said, "Do you live on South (whatever street)?"
"Yes, I do," I says.
"Did you knit the covering for the stop sign?" she says.
"I did," I says.
"I knew it," she says.  "A friend mentioned it to me recently and I bet anything it was you who had done it."

So there it is: small town fame.  Who would have guessed it would be for knitting stop sign covers?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

About Deer Hunting: Some Official Info

Renee Coe provided me with the following information about hunting on the Point:

"I spoke to Washington Fish and Wildlife (Mill Creek office).  Here is some additional information in case you were interested."

Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Hunting Publication 
(See page 18 for Archery General Deer Season - Point Roberts is Game Management Units (GMUs)/Deer Areas number 407).

  • All hunters, regardless of age, must have in their possession a valid hunting license and any required tags, permits, or stamps to hunt wildlife.
  • You can apply for a second deer license if selected for special permit.
  • One hunter report is required for each transport tag and permit acquired.
  • It is recommended to require permission from a landowner to hunt on private property.

Whatcom County Code, Firearm Regulations are the following:

  • Firearm means any weapon or device from which a projectile may be fired by an explosive such as gunpowder
  • There is a *no shooting zone* for all of Point Roberts. The only way to hunt deer is with bow and arrow. 
  • Must have permission from property owner if on private property
  • It is unlawful within a county-owned park for any person to:  Discharge or propel across, in, or into any county-owned park a firearm, bow and arrow, spear gun, harpoon, or air or gas weapon, or any similar dangerous device capable of injuring or killing any person or animal, or damaging or destroying any public or private property.