hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

More About Voting

It's Time to Do It here in the Excited States of America.  So this is just a reminder in case you can do it by mail and haven't done it already.  Or in case you've forgotten about doing it at all.  Which could be because you recently moved into a tree and then built a large silo around it so you wouldn't be disturbed?

It's hard to know whether it makes a difference or not, but if it does, then you'll be sorry if you didn't.  I think.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Moose and Election

Perhaps our visiting moose has come to the Point to vote, not realizing that it is all done by mail nowadays.

Somehow in the past week, we lost track of one of our ballots and feared that it had accidentally been sent to the recycle container and from thence on to recycle heaven (or hell, depending upon your theology).  We looked and looked.  I grew weary of looking through wastebaskets and paper stacks and magazine stacks.  And fell into subsidiary questions of whether there is any point in keeping hold of New Yorkers that are over a year old on the off chance that the one of us who hasn't read it will get around to reading it?  And whether I really need to keep every credit card monthly statement that I have ever received given that I have never had occasion to need it and that it is all on the web anyway.

It makes one feel that life may have come to the point where what is needed is a minder of some sort.

Nevertheless, we did not find the ballot and began to pursue alternatives.  Ed was under the impression (like the moose) that he could just go down to the Community Center and vote there if it was absolutely necessary.  And I had to tell him the unhappy news that the only alternative was a drive to Bellingham's City Hall.  Consternation, disorder, and early sorrow.  But, enough motivation that the ballot finally turned up.

So, we sat down yesterday morning and voted in order to avoid any opportunity of losing it again or losing both of them to the maw of disorder in which we apparently live.  AND I HAVE TO SAY, that voting has become ever more difficult, given that we are people with postgraduate educations and thus presumably capable of reading and understanding a ballot.  These crazed Tim Eyeman-mandated votes in which we have to vote 'maintain' or 'get rid of'  some law that the legislature has already passed.  Thanks, Tim Eyeman for making everything a little worse each year.  There's a man with a mission that he has definitely managed to keep on course throughout his adult life.  I'd like to send him an adult moose.

And the many initiatives; my theory is vote no on them on principle.  The public does not need to be passing legislation.  But yes, we need to legalize marijuana and free up the prisons so there's room for financial fraudsters.

Yikes!  The election is driving me mad and I don't even have a TV.  Bring me a moose!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Living Remote

Here is one of the problems in living somewhere like Point Roberts.  Well, there is no 'somewhere like P.R.'; there is just Point Roberts.  But there are other somewheres that are isolated, rural, where things are not easily available because you can't just drive down to the store or the mall or the wherever.

This comes up for me especially with sewing machines.  I have several of them because I use them a lot for various kinds of specialty sewing, but when I need one of them I need it right now.  But they are machines and they don't always work right and, although my brother knew how to fix a car, I don't know now, and never did know, how to fix a sewing machine.  Unlike a car's parts, its parts are enclosed, hidden: the makers do not want you messing with them for the most part. They are girls' machines and noone really expects girls to do anything like that.   Like Imacs, they virtually come with a note saying that there is nothing you can do to fix this so don't try taking them apart.  Take them to a Professional.

But Point Roberts has no Professional of this sort.  Nor does the neighboring Canadian town Tsawassen.  Nor the next Canadian town Ladner, nor the next over the two borders U.S. town of Blaine.  I can transport my machine to a store in Ladner, 20 miles away round trip, which will let a man 30 miles away know that at his convenience he can drop by and take it away to fix it and then at his convenience return it those 30 miles to that store weeks later, and if I am lucky someone will let me know it has returned.  And there I am, with my machine repaired and only three or four weeks passed, except that 6 weeks later, it happens again, and we do another three weeks of no machine.  And now eight weeks later, it has again malfunctioned in the same way and I cannot go through another repair

And I say to myself, it is dead, or as good as, and it is time to replace it because I can't deal with these long periods of absence for repair that doesn't last.  But there is nowhere near me where I can go and buy such a machine.  In large part, this is because there are, of course, no local sewing machine stores at all.  But worse, there are no stores anywhere that any longer sell good electrical sewing machines.  There are cheap and shabby ones or there are good computerized sewing machines.  That is not what I want or need.

So I go to E-Bay and I find an exact clone of this machine I love but that will not have its wornoutness because it has been "little used", as advertised.  Assuming that is true.  And I bid on it and next day I have been declared the winner.  I have paid a good deal of money for a machine I have never laid eyes on that is coming to me from a person in Indiana to whom I have never spoken.  And I wonder, "Good lord, what have I done?"

Today, the machine arrived in a box that formerly housed bananas, packed with a little bubble wrap, and marked in big letters on the outside, 'FRAGILE.'  I hope not too fragile.  It does not look like a Professional wrapping job.  I open it, take the machine out and collect its accessories which have spilled around inside the bubble wrap.  I set it up, plug it in, get it threaded and coax it to work.  It is slow but it is cold.  I coax it along some more.  It begins to function better.  I set a button that I have forgotten needs setting and an essential function begins to actually function.  I am beginning to feel released from the fear of having made an ill-omened purchase.  And a few hours later, I am pretty confident that it is, as advertised, "little used," and is also fully functional.

Whew!  If I still lived in L.A., I would not be having this experience.  And, living rural and isolated, I do hope I do not have to be having it too frequently.  And yet, and yet, that is a big feature of living in a place like Point Roberts; one does have it frequently, in one form or another.  Living without easy access to things is not the worst challenge in the world, but the abundant availability of things is such a basic feature of living in cities that one forgets in coming here that one has given it up.

And when you need something, you may have to take a kind of risk that you have entirely forgotten about.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Embarrassment for All

Last night's Fire Commission meeting seemed to have hit a new low.  It's main features included:

1.  A Commissioner attempted to amend the last meeting's minutes to show that, despite the Commissioners approving the placement of Public Comments at the end of the Agenda, the Public refused to obey and continued to ask questions/make comments throughout the meeting.  When it was noted that as Chairperson of that meeting, Commissioner Riffle had a responsibility to control the meeting, he whined, "So now it's all my fault?"  In addition, he complained that Mr. Wilmot had made the motion to adjourn the meeting, whereas he should have been the one to make that motion because he was the Chair.  And that complaint was also to be put into the minutes.  Although, eventually, he withdrew his motion, I think, and the minutes were just approved.

2.  There was discussion of a motion to increase the number of Commissioners to 5 in order to alleviate the problems of any two commissioners not being able to talk to one another because if they do it constitutes a Public Meeting according to Washington State Regulations.  The motion failed, but not before Mr. Meursing placed his position on record:  "The fewer Commissioners the better," he said.  One, he seemed to be implying, would be best of all, and he would be that one.

3.  The attempt to hold an Executive Session on Personnel Matters was dropped when (a) the personnel were revealed to be the Commissioners and the topics their own difficulties in working with one another; and (b) Mr. Grubb of the APB persuaded Mr. Meursing that Washington State Regulations do not permit Executive Sessions (not open to the public) for such purposes because 'personnel' refers to employees, not to the Commissioners.  Mr. Meursing viewed this as a mere technicality, at which point Mr. Grubb pointed out that it was not a technicality but a state law.  The attempt to hold an Executive Session was finally dropped, but not before one Commissioner plaintively called out, "Well, how are we to discuss these matters without embarrassing ourselves in public?"  Indeed, public embarrassment seemed to be the chief feature of the meeting.

4.  A considerable amount of time was devoted to articulating a letter that was written to the Fire District from a P.R. resident (who was named during the meeting).  The  Chief regarded the letter as endangering the safety of his volunteer firefighters and he went to the Sheriff, who investigated and apparently felt that the matter was adequately resolved; there were no charges of any sort laid.  The discussion at the meeting centered largely on why this letter and its author were being identified in a public meeting.  That is, the matter had been clarified by the Deputy Sheriff, so what could be the purpose of this public exposure of the matter other than to harass the individual?  The Commissioners asserted that the letter was a public record; the public said, "Okay, but why do WE need to discuss it at this meeting?"  The Chief claimed that his first duty was to protect his volunteers.  Except that I thought his first duty was to protect the citizens of Point Roberts.  If his first duty is to protect his volunteer firefighters, he should simply advise them to go into another line of work where the risk is lower.  And then get back to protecting us.  In his job, these duties will occasionally come into conflict.  He needs to figure out which is his primary duty.  And the Commissioners need to discuss the laws of privacy with their lawyer.

5.  There was, again, discussion of a new procurement policy, written by the fire district's lawyer, who will, doubtless, be sending another handsome bill next month.  Despite the Commissioners having agreed at the last meeting to provide the 'audience' with copies of complex documents that are under discussion, no copies of the new procurement policy were available.  Thus, though the policy was passed, I don't know much about what was in it as the Chief read quickly through three pages of text in a room with poor acoustics.  I did attempt to obtain some idea of how the Commissioners viewed the difference between their responsibilities and the Chief's responsibilities.  Mr. Meursing said that they must bow to the Chief's technical knowledge on procurement policy because he is a professional.  Mr. Wilmot read from the State Regs which state that the Commissioners themselves are responsible for policy decisions.  Because the Commissioners are passing off responsibility to the Chief, and because the Chief can cite state law regarding the Commissioners' responsibility, we can proceed with the assumption that no one, really is responsible, and that no one will be accountable for making responsible procurement decisions.  Trust the Chief (and then one is supposed to Verify).  Maybe the Verification policy will be on the agenda next month.

6.  Finally, there were repeated responses from Mr. Meursing that 'That's not the way we do things here."  Which claim I take to mean, "That's not how I say we do things here."

We're three months into this crisis of confidence in Fire District #5, and things are not improving.  At some point, the State via the State Auditor's office, will become involved, I'd think.  That's who is responsible for oversight of Commissions and Commissioners.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Looking at Point Roberts

I was at the market yesterday, standing by the door to introduce the Grocery Receipts Library Fundraiser to folks coming to the market, when one Canadian woman I was talking to said, "Tell me about Point Roberts.  How long have you lived here?  Whenever I come down here, I think this is just about the most unusual place I've ever been.  How did you get here to live?"

Not an unusual question in the sense that most of us who live here full-time probably ask ourselves that question regularly.  And ask it as well (at least internally) about people we have met casually who are our fellow-residents.  I am never really able to settle on an answer although I doubt if there is just one answer.  There are many Point Robertses here in these almost-five-square-miles just as there are many microclimates here.

This question was part of my original attraction to the abandoned houses here.  How is it that there were so many houses in such a tiny place that just fall into decades of disuse.  How is it that there is no one who cares enough to care or to convey it to someone who does or will.  How does one lose such vital contact with what has been a home?  I have never understood it, even as I have watched these houses collapse under their own weight and the external weather, and watched, as well, other houses start into that downward process.  (Photo on left is an abandoned mail box at work, I think.)

A young man from Emily Carr is currently doing a photography thesis project on Point Roberts. We met with him recently to talk about his project and it brought up in me, again, many of those thoughts and the statement that the lady at the market had made about this being an extremely unusual place did as well.

Is it unusual because it's so small?  Because it is divided between part-time and full-time residents?  Because the border influences our lives so strongly, especially since 9/11?  Because it has so many different divisions: part-timers/full-timers, tourists/residentes, Canadian/American, boaters/nonboaters, old people/younger people, east side/west side, housing developers/conservationists, economic developers/artists and the like, old families/the rest of us, longtime residents/new residents, cottagers/big housers, the voters' association/the taxpayers' association, the people who go to town meetings/the people who don't.  That's just a quick gathering of kinds of divisions that come to mind.  The divisions are not deadly; are often wonderfully entertaining.  But they do contain a certain kind of trapped community energy that might usefully be released to better purposes.

Ah, well, it's Sunday morning in the fall and we are about our unusual lives in our unusual home spots, thinking our usual thoughts.  Unusually, the sun is shining and the sky is blue, but it's time for coffee.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Great Loss

The news that long-time Pt. Roberts' resident Davea Fisher had suffered a massive stroke and was not expected to recover was followed by the news that life-support measures would be terminated this weekend by which time her children would all be able to reach the hospital.

Davea was an amazing force for good here in Point Roberts and will surely be missed.  I don't know how many people have said to me since I started helping to raise funds for the new library, "Have you talked to Davea?  She's raised more money over the years here than anybody."  And indeed she probably has.

She was probably best known for her work with "Dollars for Scholars," an engaging program that starts with the premise that the Community of Point Roberts ought to make a statement to its kids when they graduated from high school and made the decision to go on to college.  And the statement Davea was helping all of us to make through this fundraising was "We support you in this decision and we are happy to be able to give you some money to start you out on that journey."  A program like that?  Well, that's what it means to live in a community, as opposed to living in a zip code.

But Davea did not limit herself to that program.  When we were getting the library fundraising beginning, she was there to propose that she organize her annual 'Joke-Telling Contest' for the benefit of the new library.  And she had other ideas.  Only two weeks ago, I was writing her about her proposal to do a "Tall-Tales Night" for the library fund in January.  And barely 3 or 4 days ago, she was proposing to us a project called "Taking the Toonies out for a Walk" which would somehow produce a line of toonies between the current library and the Julius Firehall.  She commented that this was something she liked because kids could participate at that level.

We wrote back to her with enthusiasm, asking questions about how exactly it would work.  Unfortunately, her reply never came.  But I think we will figure out what it was she had in mind, and one day soon, there will be a "Taking the Toonies for a Walk" event, not only to benefit the library but to say a heartfelt 'thank you' to Davea for all she did, and for the example she set for all of us as we, in our turn, try to make sure that we live in a community that cares about its members and not just in a zip code named Point Roberts.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

And Now for Something Completely Different

As many of you know, I am working with others to raise funds to renovate the building next door to the P.R. Community Center for a New and Improved library here on the Point.  The old library (in the Community Center) has been there for over 60 years.  And not much has changed with that physical structure over that time.

But much HAS changed in the way of what libraries do and what they need in the way of physical space to do it.  Alas, the 1,000 square feet of our charming, almost Dickensian library isn't enough to do those things.  The library is no longer just a place where you check books in and out.  It's doing much more educating of kids, it's providing broad-band access to people who don't otherwise have it, it's providing computers for those who don't have them, and it needs rooms and tables and chairs and open spaces for all that to happen.  And, at least for a starter, that's why we need to have a new library that will provide 2,500 square feet of space.

There's a donation button on this blog, as well as on the fund-raising blog at foprl.blogspot.com, for the library campaign.  The donations go to the Whatcom County Library Foundation, which is a 501(c)3 group, solely for the purpose of a new library in P.R.  That means you will receive a receipt that provides eligibility for a U.S. charitable donation deduction.  We do not have any way of providing comparable Canadian charitable donation deductions, unfortunately.  But we are continuing to look for a way.

In our first 6 months of serious fundraising efforts, we have raised over $60,000 dollars.  We have a long way to go but we are trying everything we can think of.  And here is a thought not only for the Canadians who would like to support this project but can't get a Canadian charitable tax deduction but also for Americans who aren't able to use a charitable tax deduction for their U.S. tax returns for technical reasons.

In December (specifically Dec. 1 and 2), the Fundraising arm of the Friends of the Point Roberts Library will have a table at the Christmas Craft Fair filled with delights donated by Point Roberts artists and crafters, everything handmade.  There will be quilts, clothing, jewelry, fiber art, accessories, photographs, Christmas ornaments, paintings, and on.

If you come, look, and buy an object that pleases you, all the proceeds go to the library building fund.  Thus, although you won't get a charitable tax exemption receipt, you will get an object you like, perhaps love, and have personally chosen: probably worth far more than the tax exemption would be, and your money will go to the library and it will be doubled because we have a $5,000 matching gift for the month of December.

We've asked you for your loose change, for your grocery receipts, and now for some of your Christmas shopping experience.  You'd think I'd be appalled always to be asking.  But, I'm not, because I'm asking you to help your community, a place you live or visit, for a library that makes us a better place.  We're lucky that we have to finance only a building space and that the County Library will pay for all the staff and people that turn a building into a functioning library.  It's our job to create the building because having a library benefits us as individuals, as families, and as a community.  There are lots of ways for you to participate in this and we hope you find one that works for you.

You can reach the Friends of the P.R. Library fundraising group at foprl1@gmail.com if you have questions.

If you want more information about the actual renovation plans, you can see the architect's feasibility study here.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Confusion Reigning?

Yesterday, Point-Interface (don't shoot the messenger: they publish what they get) published four different messages from the Fire Commissioners informing us of their upcoming meeting(s)/meeting.  There was one special meeting; then there was another special meeting; then the agenda for the first special meeting was changed somewhat; then one of the special meetings was cancelled and the agenda of one added to the agenda of the other.  So I wouldn't rush to schedule next week's evening entertainment until they get themselves sorted out.  But it makes one feel that there is some internal disagreement here.  Mr. Meursing missed the last meeting so perhaps he is making up for that.

I am making some headway on understanding local commissions/Special Districts.  There appear to be five of them here (Water (3 commissioners), Hospital (3 commissioners), Cemetery (3), Park and Recreation (5), and Fire (3).  All but the Park Commissioners receive payment for meetings; the Park folk have traditionally turned it down.  The state regs permit anyone holding a Commission position to turn it down, it would appear.

It also appears from the regs that the Commissioners can increase their numbers by proposing to do so, or the public can do it by petition, but in either case, the increased numbers must be put to the public for a vote.  It also appears, with respect to Commissioner payments, that if a person sits on two District Boards at the same time, he/she may receive payment only from one of them.  (RCW 52.14.00  [   A person holding office as commissioner for two or more special purpose districts shall receive only that per diem compensation authorized for one of his or her commissioner positions as compensation for attending an official meeting or conducting official services or duties while representing more than one of his or her districts. However, such commissioner may receive additional per diem compensation if approved by resolution of all boards of the affected commissions.]  )  Mr. Meursing is both a Fire Commissioner and a Water Commissioner.

Sunday morning straightening out done.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Encouragement, of a Sort, I Guess

The Fire Commissioners' meeting last night: It was mostly comedy last night, so perhaps tragedy tonight.  These meetings really are the closest we get to a legitimate theater company, I think.

I don't really know what to say: In some ways, it was like watching some kindergardeners on their first day trying to figure out how to do what the rest of us figured out a hundred years ago.  Specifically, to conduct a meeting.  We got an agenda, which was a good start, but we were missing Meursing (a phrase I thought I would probably never write, but it is meant only in the sense that he was not in attendance).  And it was Mr. Wilcott's first meeting as a Commissioner and, although it was clear that he knew how meetings were supposed to work, it was not clear he had yet figured out how to make this particular kind of meeting work.  I wish him good luck with this.  And Mr. Riffle, in charge for the first time, seemed fairly flummoxed at various times.  At one point, when he voted against his own motion, I couldn't tell whether he had changed his mind or didn't know what was being voted upon.  Periodically, when something worked, all the way through introduction, motions, discussion, and calls for the vote which were then followed by an actual vote, I wanted to run up and say, cheerfully, in my best teacher voice, "Good Job!!!"

There were of course no documents that were available for the dozen or so attendees to look at while the topics were being discussed and largely tabled (same result but in a different spirit at the Community Advisory Committee).  Perhaps next time we get documents, maybe even on the web in advance.  People had written letters it was announced and if you wanted to see them, you had to make an official records request, but we did not know why we would want to see them, or why we wouldn't as far as that goes.)  Someone had written a letter demanding back pay and that went to the lawyer (why?) but not to Mr. Wilcott.  Do we want to see it?  Could we see it if we wanted to?  Who knows?

There was a financial report in which the month's expenditures were about $15,000, almost $5,000 of which went to the lawyer; last month he only got $2,000, so his situation is improving.   There is an announcement that they are not going to repave the parking lot but just coat and stripe it.  Etc.

Two resolutions were introduced: one to increase the number of Commissioners to five, and a second to have the Commissioners stop getting paid for attendance at the meetings, not least because they have had so many special meetings that they are way over  budget for these payments.  [I spent about an hour today with Google trying to locate the practices of the other Pt. Roberts Commissions but you would be lucky to be able to find the names of the Commissioners on the other Districts.  So that research will require more personal attention.  At the moment, the only thing I know for sure is that the Parks Dept. Commissioners DON'T accept any payment. And I think i know there is a Health District, a Cemetery District, a Water District, and a Parks District, in addition to the Fire District, but I know the names of only a few Commissioners of any of them.)

Now, those resolutions would have been worth discussing, but they were put off until there was 'A Committee of the Whole,' which would be when Meursing too was in attendance.  Which leads one to believe that the two present Commissioners were split on their votes on this matter, although Mr. Riffle did not ever say anything in opposition.  So, who knows?  This did not cause me to want to say, "Good Job!"

Finally, the entire meeting almost collapsed on a proposal to increase the Chief's authority to buy things for the Fire Department.  It didn't increase his total budget, just the amount he could spend on various items in a single month without getting Commissioner approval.

Now, I would expect that such a request would note the fact that the current policy is to allow such purchases up to the amount of $2,500/month, and the Chief was asking for an increase to $10,000/per month.  Further, it would explain exactly why this four-fold increase was necessary.  For example, experience in the previous 6 months where $2,500 was clearly inadequate and when it was difficult to locate the Commissioners for approval and approvals needed to given quickly.  Or, perhaps, a survey of other Whatcom Fire Departments showing that Fire Chiefs routinely had such discretion at the $10,000 level.  But there was nothing at all of that sort.  Chief Carleton said he needed it and he didn't know how previous fire chiefs had done it because he hadn't been the fire chief here previously.  (Although, Meursing said emphatically, several months ago, that Carleton's experience as the substitute fire chief when Kiniski was off being paramedic trained was a big reason for making him the new fire chief.)

In any case, there was no case made by anybody for this increase.  The Lawyer had been consulted as to whether it was an out of line figure, but the lawyer is a lawyer, not a public policy expert, so I am confused about why you would want to be paying for that kind of advice.

There was a lot of excited discussion about this issue among the Commissioners, and among and with the attendees, even though there wasn't a comment period at this part of the agenda.  At one point there was a motion to do what Carleton wanted; at another point the motion was amended, and then the amendment was withdrawn; later on, the Chair said the motion was dead, although I actually did not spot the moment of death.  Eventually there was an attempt to make a deal with Carleton, asking him whether he would settle for $7,500.  (NOT a Good Job! moment, definitely.)

At the end, the whole thing, the motion or the topic at least appeared to have survived its near death experience and was to be brought back next month when Meursing returns to provide a second vote, I guess.   And the meeting was adjourned because there had already been enough public comment according to the Commissioners.  Probably enough for me, too.

It's a learning process to run an open meeting, to run a meeting where discussions are open to public view.  It's messy--nobody ever said transparency of public policy decisions was efficient or that the process was easy to understand or to conduct.   However, I am hoping that what I was seeing was the beginning of that learning process.  For a first step, Good Job!, I guess.  Though I do see a very long road ahead.  Another regular meeting in November, on Monday the 12th.  Do come; there are seats available in all the first four rows!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Meetings from Hell...

Is somebody putting something in the coffee?  Is it terminal loopiness after a summer of excessive sun and insufficient rain?  It's just one crazy meeting after another.  Maybe it's just the universe's way of suggesting that meetings, democracy-style, just aren't the way to get anything done.  It's certainly not a good sign of our ability to live together in any kind of cooperative manner.

Back in the spring, I think, folks from the County Council came up and advised us that we need to learn to work together.  Fortunately, they were not at the meeting of the Community Advisory Committee last night to see how well that advice worked.

The meeting started off well with a quorum of 3 members present, an 'audience' of about a dozen, and a sizable agenda.  Only then did it go wrong.  

The first item was public parking at Maple Beach.  Here we have a public beach with no public parking.  Roosevelt, which would be a sensible place for parking is controlled by the Border Commission, including Canada and the U.S., and for all practical purposes by Homeland Security.  They, you will not be surprised to hear, want nothing on that land including no cars.  The County doesn't want any parking on Bayview (the main, waterfront street), and the local homeowners aren't crazy about your parking on their lawns which grow right up to the fairly narrow streets.  So not crazy about it that many put stuff--driftwood, big rocks, signs-- in that area to keep you from parking on their lawns, leaving outlanders feeling like they're probably not supposed to be parking there, anyway.

But here's the kicker and the Chinese puzzle aspect: it is perfectly legal to park on their lawns because the County has an easement for parking.  Which means that those rocks and signs and driftwood piles are illegal.  But the County chooses not to enforce that illegality, leaving the place looking like it would be the parkers that are engaged in illegality.  Although, the Sheriff's deputies will not ticket you if you DO park on those lawn edges because there is an easement for parking.  Got it?  

So, the 'solution' (which is not much of a solution) is to counsel people in cars to park wherever,however you might do that.  Which does not necessarily please the people in Maple Beach who are of the opinion that there is no need of a solution because there is no problem.

I don't think this is likely to be a place where minds can come together on some compromise or anything.  It's either a problem without a solution or a solution without a problem.  Where's the common ground there?  Nonetheless, voices were somewhat heated.

I was at this meeting because I wanted to offer to the Committee the possibility of its using some of its gas tax moneys/monies for a pocket park in front of the new library.  The gas tax money, which increases every month and in the near future will hit a million dollars, can be used for only very limited purposes having to do with road improvements, roadway beautification, roadway signage, like that.  There had been for some time consideration of a small park at the end of Gulf Rd, but that was proving difficult because of the specific property owners's concerns.  It had occurred to me that if they moved that little imagined park up to the new library frontage, it would be a perfect place to have a pocket park with some overhead protection and seating and 24 hour a day wifi availability, which the library provides.

So I was on the agenda to present this idea, which had occurred to me only three days ago.  Nevertheless, before I got to present my idea, the Committee's representative from the Voters' Association, got up and read a manifesto from the Board of Directors of the Voters' Association.  This manifesto had been determined at a closed meeting of the Board held, apparently, hours earlier as it was dated October 9.  The manifesto opposed my proposal, along with a bunch of other things they felt a sincere need to oppose.  With regard to the pocket park which was the subject of my  proposal, they stated that their opposition was based upon their belief that "until there is an actual need that would truly benefit the community we should not fund this project."

Needless to say, it's hard to imagine what "actual need" would satisfy them.  I'm impressed, I guess, with their efficiency in opposing things that haven't even been officially proposed.  It suggests an amazing commitment to opposing things, at least.  Which would, of course, be in line with much of what voting is about in some segments of the population nowadays.

But, when there was some questioning of the relevance of opposing things that hadn't yet been proposed, as well as some other technical problems involving terms of office for the Committee, the aforementioned Representative from the voters stormed out and, with his back at the door, announced that he had not come there to have the Chairperson argue with him.  I think his future in politics is limited.  But what do I know?

Anyway, if you belong to the Voters' Association and you think a pocket park at the library might be a nice thing, you might mention it to the Board of Directors members.  Unfortunately, I can't give you a link to their website because they don't seem to have one; and I can't give you an email address because their material in the most recent APB doesn't include any email contact, at least not that I could find.  So you may have to wait until you run into them, whoever they may be other than Elizabeth Lanz (she signed the manifesto of opposition) and Dwayne Hunt (he presented it).  I imagine there are more than two of them, but who knows?

Not clear that anybody left on the floor at the Community Advisory Committee Meeting had any ideas about anything by the end of it all.

Nevertheless!  The Community Advisory Committee will meet again next month on November 13th at 7 p.m.  It might be the best entertainment on the Point that week.  On the other hand, we have the Fire Commissioners performing again tonight, 7 pm, at the Firehall on Benson.  It's a horse race, as they say about politics.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Tail-less Raccoon

We haven't seen Uncle Charlie, the big, tail-less raccoon for many weeks.  He doesn't do well in the tree-climbing department, alas.  But he just walked by (it's more of a strange waddle, actually), stopped for a drink from the bird bath, and then moved out to the front of the house and the street.  Of course, before I could get my hands on a camera.  It's not enough to have the camera with you at all times when you leave the house; it's got to be there when you're in the house, too, nowadays with this non-stop raccoon trail that we're running.  But if I'm going to do that, it's got to be a much smaller camera!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

On the Price of Gas

According to the L.A. Times, gas prices have suddenly shot up in California as a result of refinery shortages down there.  Says the newspaper:  "Friday's average price for a gallon of unleaded regular in California is $4.486 a gallon, which is by far the highest in the nation."

Obviously, the L.A. Times and whoever provides them with information, is not a regular visitor to Point Roberts...  Although it's possible that the Times, like me, is not sure what is the exact factor to use in order to convert liter prices to gallon equivalents.   

And why don't we ever get per gallon prices, anyway?  Because then we would OF 
COURSE know how much more we pay than those in ROTUS?

Today, at the Shell station, regular is listed at $1.249/liter.  Which would, according to my converter, mean $4.73/gallon.  Somewhat higher than Los Angeles' piddling $4.48/gallon, which is getting national news coverage and all that.  Poor babes!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Five-Raccoon Day

This afternoon, I look out into the yard and I see one raccoon at the base of a plum tree and a second raccoon racing up the trunk.  But these two raccoons are pretty big: like medium-sized raccoons.  And then I see there was already one up in the plum tree so now there are three raccoons.  I race to get my camera which does not have image stabilization but I am going to have to get a new one if I get a new life that features regular raccoon visits.

So, I'm outside now with the camera and the down on the ground raccoon moves across the yard and away from me and goes up the trunk of the pecan tree.  And one of the raccoons in the plum tree comes down and goes up the pecan tree trunk, making a brief stop to whack the clothespin bag on this way up.  And then the one on the ground stands up and takes a good, long look at me and I wonder what are the chances he is going to come at me?

He doesn't.  Just stands up, paws off the ground, and stares while I move over to the plum tree where the other raccoon is eating plums.  But when I get there, I see one raccoon and an extra tail;  then I see two raccoons and still an extra tail.  So now there are three raccoons in the plum tree and two raccoons in/around the pecan tree.  I am awash in raccoons, all of them staring at me as if I might be up to no good.  I take a dozen photos, almost all of which don't turn out to be much.

After awhile, the three in the plum tree come down and join the two at the pecan tree and for awhile they are all in the pecan tree, which has no pecans, of course. And then one of the them comes down from the pecan tree backwards (so much for Wikipedia).  And the rest come down forwards.  And they line up and go climb over the fence in the back of the yard, setting out to entertain my neighbors, I guess.

All five are medium-sized raccoons.  I've never seen five together before up here: always before, it has been either a mom with kids or a single guy, like Uncle Charlie who has no tail. A band of guys?  A team of some sort?  Or just plum eaters?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

They're Back for More

Yesterday afternoon the threesome returned for more plums.  The two babies went up the tree; the mom stayed, calling them down, I think.  Bigger baby came back down the trunk (head first: they  can do this, says Wikipedia, because they can swivel their hip joints such that they can go either direction, head first).  But Littler Baby stayed up there and waited around for Ed to go get his camera which has a pretty good zoom.  But she certainly wasn't afraid of having her picture taken.  Note the toes on the left back foot sticking out behind the branch.  (click on photo to enlarge it.)  And the plums surrounding her.

No sign of them today, though.  Not hungry for plums.  Gone somewhere else to eat pears, maybe.