hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sound of Music

Lucy Williams impressario-ed another fine concert at the Lutheran Church this weekend: she persuaded a Vancouver small chorus and quartet  (The Gospel Boys and the VIP's) to come down and provide us with 90 minutes of very classy gospel music (most of it less commonly heard pieces) largely arranged with barbershop harmonies.

The average age of the men's choir was about 74 and it was a wonder to see--no, to hear--how well these guys had kept their voices in condition.  My own son (now nearing 50) has had a long career in barbershopping.  (I used to observe to relatives, in his high school days when he was doing a lot of performing, that his entire wardrobe consisted of 6 Mickey Mouse t-shirts and 4 tuxedos in different colors.)  But, I know something about barbershopping, including that these people know how to work together, they know how to work to high standards, and they know how to have a lot of fun.  All in evidence tonight.  All easily spilling over to the audience of about 100, nearly filling the church.  It is interesting, the way that an audience who is enjoying a good performance of any kind becomes, at least for that little time, a group, with something in common, a sense of sharedness, of being in the moment together.  That's what it was tonight.  And I'm very grateful for such moments.

After a morning at the hot Saturday Market (more of that later), it was an especially cool way to spend the evening.  Thanks to the guys for making their way down for our dining and dancing pleasure!  And thanks to Lucy for making it happen.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Background on a Cow

We were sitting in our living room post-dinner the other night, reading and computing, when came a knock at the door.  Unknown people with wine glasses in hand  appeared.  Not exactly a standard event in Point Roberts, but not inexplicable.  Neighbors out taking a walk, but in this case, neighbors we've never met.

They came to us because they recognized the knit neckties on the firs in our front yard.  Said Mr. Drew to his wife, "This must be Judy Ross's house."  And they knocked.  And indeed it was.

The company turned out to be the owners of Scarlett O'Holstein, Point Roberts' iconic cow who lives within the walls of Drewhenge on Benson.  Picture below:

As one can imagine, we were interested in them and their background and in Scarlett and her background.  Mr. Drew of Drewhenge will be happy to change the world by reintroducing arches to (relatively) short bridges (see Drewhenge arch at entryway): they last centuries, unlike the way they currently build overpasses of various sorts.  Etc.

Scarlett is an orphan whom they adopted after the cow had a brief history of kidnapping and abandonment.  At one point, she was left in a snowdrift in the street mid-way of Tsawwassen.  She ended up at something like a dump, and it was from there that she was rescued by Mr. Drewhenge in the early 2000's.

But that is the mid-part of her story; a bleak part, certainly, but only part of the narrative arc.  Long before that dump experience, she had had a successful career on stage and screen which, like many a celebrity career ultimately went south when unexpected event occurred.  In Scarlett's case, she was kidnapped by wild and willful teenagers and then moved about, left on lawns as a morning surprise and then disappearing a few nights later only to be left on someone else's lawn.  And then the snowdrift...Sigh.

In her early glory days, though, she was an animatronic cow (many cables where her tail exits, her guardian says) for Dairyland and the Fraser Valley Milk Producers.  She performed at trade shows, she starred in commercials ('Got Milk' campaign), she had her own dressing room, I imagine.  She was well cared for, with a host of technical caregivers and operators.  Then disaster, but then rescue!

And now, since 2004, she lives in decent and modestly celebrated retirement with us here in P.R.  It seems an appropriate end.  I mean, it's a retirement community, really.  And a community actively involved in animal welfare, even animatronic animal welfare.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


I usually think that hydrangeas are the best floral crop on the Point, but--at least in July--lilies might be even more impressive.  We took a little walk today and found lots of lilies in peoples' yards, but the best were on Burns (north on Mill, east on Johnson, north on Burns, 2nd house on left).  Here's a mixed bag of pictures from the walk.

If you click on the picture, you should get a bigger version.  Happy sunny days!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Saturday Market Grows

Yesterday's Saturday Market was the best so far in the number of vendors (about 12) and without question the best in terms of weather.  For the first time this summer, it was held outside and there was even enough sun to make it a little uncomfortable for those without tents or floppy hats.  You live, you learn.  (A message to me, certainly, who had neither while discussing library fund donations, leaving me looking squinty-eyed all the time and probably not very friendly.)

The buyers were largely cottagers, it seemed to me, because I was surveying people about whether anyone in their family had a library card, which required me to first ask if he/she was a resident/cottager or short-term/day visitor.  Lots of kids there on summer week-long trips.  Whoever they were, they are welcome; and whoever they are, they bought up all the produce from the Cooperative Garden people long before 1:00 pm.  So, if you've an interest in fresh, organic produce, come early: opens at 10.  Next Market Day: July 28th.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Superiority of Point Roberts!

This morning's Seattle PI informs me that there is a scheduled outdoor movie every night for the rest of July what with the excellent weather forecasts.  Well, that's better than Point Roberts, where it's more like every other Saturday at Brewster's.  In Seattle, though, they urge you to just sit on the grass.  You bring a chair, you have to sit in the back row or, says the news, you may not be allowed to use it at all.

Proudly, Brewster's urges those of us in Point Roberts to bring our own chair and blanket to the movie and sit anywhere we want.  And this Saturday, you bring your chair and watch "Ghostbusters."  Proceeds to the new library fund.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Funny Faces

The Blue Heron is running an exhibit this July of the fiber art work of Joyce Wensley, a member in good standing of the Point Roberts Quilt Group.  Joyce's work is very contemporary, whimsical, and spontaneous.  The quilted pieces are all small (as befits the gallery setting) and very nicely priced, as evidenced by the fact that so many of them are already sold.

Even if you can't buy the one you want most, there may well be one you want second most.  Surely just the pleasure of seeing good design, pleasing color, and funny ideas is worth the visit.  Joyce has placed one of the larger of the pieces as a silent auction to benefit the Library Building Fund.  (Thanks you, Joyce!).

Anyway, it's a nice show and if you're around, check it out.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

An Encounter with the Law, Sort of

Saturday morning, 10 a.m.: I'm sitting at my computer, next to a window.  Outside the window, I notice a big, black, short-haired dog walking into my backyard.  In a few moments, he's on the porch.  I yell at him and he goes back into the yard.  Then, another dog, same kind but shorter and stockier, shows up.  Then there's a third one, more of the same kind, but this time with a distinct curl to his tail.  And then, I realize that the Deputy Sheriff's dogs are on the loose.

These are barkers, normally.  You walk by their steel-fenced-in yard, they carry on at full voice until you go away.  Which is more than a little trying if you live across the street from them, as I do, and frequently go in and out of your yard toward the street.  I yell at them, with great regularity, to "STFU" (but only with the letters, not the words since they obviously don't understand either one), and they keep on barking.

Maybe they are phenomenally, beautifully trained animals.  But, so far, I've seen no sign of this, so I suspect they may not be too good at just roaming around.  Unfortunately, though it's 10 a.m., I'm still in my bathrobe but nevertheless I put on shoes and trail outdoors to see what I can do to get them to put themselves back inside their fence.

The Sheriff's Steel Gate has been left open and, as far as I can tell, it opens and shuts only with electric signals.  I have no such signals to offer it, and even if it could be closed by hand, my hand probably wouldn't be strong enough to close it.  What to do?  What to do in my bathrobe at the side of the street on a Saturday morning?

I yelled at the dogs and waved my hands around in the direction of their returning home and, to my surprise, they sort of move in that direction.  More yelling, more waving, and they reluctantly get themselves inside the fence.  BUT, when I started inside the fence to go to their owners to tell them the gate was open, they let out their full barking capacity very quickly and the biggest of them started charging me in short thrusts.  I got back into the road quickly and started yelling, "Sheriff people!  Your dogs are out, your gates are open!"  No response, so I yelled louder a few more times while the dog continued his mini-thrusts at me as I got too close for his comfort.

A truck passed by, slowed down, apparently confused by the crazy lady yelling in the street with dogs barking at her.  I waved, pointed at the dogs, conveyed the message, "What to do?" by gesture.  He shrugged his shoulders and drove away.  The dogs, meanwhile made their way to the farthest-back house.  And so, realizing I had no further options, I made my way back home.

If they were real neighbors, I would be able to call them on the phone or send them an email or text them or something.  But they aren't; so I left them to their own devices, as they seem to want to be left.  A half-hour later when I check, the gate is closed. "It's Chinatown, Jake," I say to myself; not my problem.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Here's a piece of the grand finale:

Fourth of July Parade AND Fireworks!

For the first time in years, we got to have fireworks as well as a parade for the Fourth of July.  The parade was a little thinner than in some recent years (no choreographed police motorcycles, e.g.), but it featured a significant area of local folks who put on costumes and walked the (unusually) warm streets.  With sun, everybody turned out either to participate or watch and an excellent array of dogs showed up in both those categories.  (Although, we still miss that corps of white dogs that used to all march together.  But that's what July 4th Parades are: an opportunity to see something old and to remember what went before.  Might as well combine it with Memorial Day and be done with it, no?)

In any case, there's a collection of almost random photos here.  The theme this year was 'heroes,' and since everyone is a hero in his/her own story (what would it mean to be the villain in your own life story?), I think you could have entered in any form you chose for the day.  The mowers drill team mowed, the bicyclers biked, the cars drove at funereal pace.  Less candy throwing than usual, which seems a good thing.  The guitar heroes cornered the market on lycra outfits and wild (especially black) wigs making them look like the Alice Cooper brigade with strong support from the Ozzy Osbourne backup group.

And, absolutely steadfast in their attendance at our July 4th Parade, the Delta Shriners came in their camel car: the Gazeh Geezers.  Those guys are really not getting any younger.  Do they have new members coming up?  Guys who aren't already in their 80's?

And, in the evening, very late, which is to say after 10 p.m. when it was getting pretty cool at the beach and when a full moon suddenly showed up as a late guest to say "Happy Birthday, U.S.A.," the Pier at the Marina presented Fireworks.  I haven't seen fireworks for awhile and whoever is designing them has made some real breakthroughs.  In the late 40's, we had firecrackers, sparklers, fountains, sky rockets and cherry bombs/aerial bombs.  Now the sky is filled with multicolored flowers, with dancing and sparkling drawings, with stuff you can hardly see it is so amazing.  Thanks to all of those designers wherever they come from, and thanks to The Pier for bringing their good work to us last night!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Two Farewells.

In the past ten days, we have many of us here on the Point had to say farewell to people who have done a lot for our perilous community.  'Perilous' in the sense that it is hard to really maintain a sense of community where so many among us are migratory and where the age distribution is so uneven (we have lots more old people than young people).

There are, of course, people who really stand out, who give and who work to benefit others.  One was Robin Lamb, who maintained a private airport in Point Roberts for the easy use of anyone who could fly here in a small, fixed-wing plane or in a small helicopter.  He died in May and a memorial service was held for him at the Community Center on June 23.  And, it was wonderfully attended, including lots of people who never flew a plane anywhere, but knew Robin as a good citizen and a good person, as well as people who had flown with him throughout their adult lives or who been the beneficiary of his good will because they had used his airport for takeoffs and landings.  We will miss him.

And then, on June 30, an enormous crowd (the most I've ever seen at the Community Center, bigger even than when the border people show up to listen to us complain) came to say a different kind of farewell to Virginia and Ed Lester, who are retiring from taking care of us all and of the local health clinic.  (Here's a link to dozens of photos of the celebration.)  It has not been many years since there was no clinic in Point Roberts.  When locals finally were able to raise enough money to get the clinic started, it fell to Virginia and Ed to make it an enterprise we could trust, that we could have confidence.  And did they ever do a bang-up job!

They are going to continue caring for us awhile during the transition to new staffing, so they are still with us in every way.  But, for me at least, their departure is now real because ceremonially marked.  I can only thank them from the heart for what they created in this relatively short time.  They set a standard that can only be admired, and the large numbers that attended their retirement celebration last Saturday attest to the fact that I am not the only one here who appreciates what they did.

Robin, Virginia, and Ed all worked to benefit all of us: and people who do that are people who build a community.  Good show, all three!