hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Friday, November 30, 2012

Nexus Outdoes Itself! More or Less.

After warning us that Nexus renewals required action on our part three months in advance, the chiefs in Vermont who run Nexus have informed us, after only two weeks have passed since we filled out our renewal applications, that we have both been provisionally approved pending an interview.  We are to request an interview within 30 days of receiving news of this provisional approval.  Until we complete the interview, we can use our expiring Nexus Cards.  Excellent Work, Nexus!

Next step is to schedule an interview.  The first interview slot available at Blaine is toward the end of March, some four months from now.  Although, they tell us on the phone, we can just drop in at our convenience in advance of that time and see if they can fit us in.  It's not a viable business model and it's not a viable governing model.  It does seem to be the reigning Global War on Terror model, though...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Interviewing Cat, Part VII, a Conclusion of Sorts

About an hour after we returned home, we received a call from our cat consultant, asking if she could come by and explain or discuss a few things.  I don't exactly remember what verb she used, but it was something like one of those.  It stirred no warning signs for me, however.  She's a wonderful person and I'm always happy to see her.

She arrived, sat down, and started by explaining that she had called the shelter and talked to the person in charge and there were a few problems.  "First," she said, '"You probably filled out the form a little too truthfully, and raised alarms by saying you would return the cat if you were allergic to it.  And....by other things."

Apparently the biting, the vomiting were not good.  It suggested that we didn't know that cats sometimes bite, sometimes vomit and, when they happened inevitably, would be so appalled we would immediately drive the cat back into the Shelter's arms.  Further, our somewhat flippant comment that we would return the cat if we both died was not taken well.  Perhaps we might have better responded that one of our children would take the cat on.

And the reluctance to make the drive back to the shelter to pay the fee...Well, we didn't seem all that cooperative, you know?  The bottom line? Well, the nice cat was not going to be coming to live with us.

And so, for the moment, we have given up interviewing cats because there are other projects that need our attention.  I could send to the Shelter our C.V.'s, reputable people could go and plead our case, perhaps we could persuade the cat itself to speak on our behalf.  Or perhaps not.

I continue to believe that somewhere, out there, the grey cat named Charles is making his way toward us.  We await his arrival hopefully.  But, I must say, I had not expected this project to be so difficult.  I would have thought that, compared to obtaining hundreds of thousands of dollars for a new library, obtaining a cat would be a piece of cake.  You live, you learn...

(The end of Interviewing Cats, at least for now.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Interviewing Cats, Part VI

I return from grocery tasks with a blue litter box.  There were no other colors, but I hope it doesn't matter.  Not clear to me whether cats even see color.  When I get back to the pet store, Ed is already there, having managed another round with the cat, and now conducting the 'adoption' business.  He has persuaded Maya to get the Shelter (it turns out to be the same one that we went to the previous week) to fax their forms to her, have us fill them out, and then she will fax them back to the shelter.  And then we will pay the fee and take the cat home.

We are filling out the forms--an odd lot of questions, I think--when Maya returns with the information that the Shelter does not allow the pet store to take the fee that goes to the Shelter for the cat.  The Shelter says we must drive there and pay the fee in person.

What could possibly be the reason for such a demand?  Do they not trust the pet store?  (They trust it with the cat but not with the money for the cat?)  I don't get it; Ed doesn't get it.  But more to the point, the car has about 4 tablespoons of gas and I'm not buying gas in Canada for $7/gallon when I can buy it a few blocks away in the U.S. for $4/gallon.  More critically, I've got a meeting in a half-hour and by the time the meeting is over, the Shelter will be closed.

Me, I just defer to the irrational demands of the world most of the time, but Ed is more inclined to believe that humans can be persuaded by reason.  He urges Maya to call the Shelter so he can talk to them and offer them some reasonable alternatives.  They are not, however, in the business of being persuaded of anything.  And now, one of those perky young women at the desk tells him, there are others who have asked to adopt this cat.  (Ahhhh, it is to be a contest?  Is it Let's Make a Deal?  Or is it Lotto?  Why does Maya not know this?)  And somehow, this feeds, in Shelter-hive mind, into why we have to drive back there to pay the fee.  Even Ed gives up.  He will drive there the following day with the fee and he will then pick up the cat at the pet store on his way back home.

Meanwhile, we complete the forms.  Beyond the obvious questions, there is a strange series of question about returning the cat.  Under what circumstances would we return the cat, they want to know, and offer us the following choices: vomiting, scratching, biting, sleeping, allergies, etc.  (I don't have the form before me so I am doing my best to remember the specific words.)  We address these questions seriously.  'Well," I say to Ed, "if the cat is vomiting all the time, and it doesn't have some illness that can be treated, then I'd return it as having been misrepresented as a normal/healthy cat."  He circles vomiting.  "Biting," I remember.  "We don't want a biting cat, so if they don't tell me the cat bites and it takes to biting constantly, then the cat has been misrepresented to me, so I would return it."  He adds a comment to the allergies section, noting that I have had occasions of allergy with cats, but it is not my usual experience.  Nevertheless, if  I developed an asthmatic reaction to the cat, I would have to return it.

As a final question about returning the cat, we are invited to consider any other possible circumstances in which we would return the cat.  "Well," I say, "If we both die, then we'd have to return the cat."  Ed writes it down.  And the final question on the page asks for a reference, presumably someone who would recommend us as a cat owner.  We put down the name of one of our cat consultants who will be known to the Shelter people.  We assume they will know her phone number as we do not have it with us.

Maya goes away to fax this response to the Shelter, and we go home with our blue litter box, taking the time to bid the cat a fond adieu before parting, and promising Maya that we will be back tomorrow.  When we get home, we call the cat consultant whose name we had used for a reference to tell her what had transpired, and awaited the morrow.

(The end of Interviewing Cats, Part VI)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cat Interviewing, Part V

We recover from this disappointment.  The cat was greyish and looked like it would be willing to change its name to Charles.  Perhaps it will work out later.  I email my multiple consultants.  They reply with advice about how to care for a cat with such problems.  They are not too discouraging; they propose care that is not too demanding upon the owners (that is to say, us).  They say, wait and see.

Although, by contrast, one writes to advise us that there is a pretty nice cat in a local pet shop.  By local, I mean a nearby town in British Columbia, because we have very few local shops of any sort and certainly no local pet shops here in Point Roberts.  We make plans to visit the pet store the next time we go cross the border.

A few days later, we do have plans to cross the border and we drop in at the pet shop.  Ed is immediately charmed by the cat (who also has some dopey and disrespectful name).  He's a very big cat, 4 or 5 years old, grey and brown (clearly not the grey cat from the dream, but perhaps the grey cat has gone to live with someone else?).  He climbs all over you, hangs on to your shoulders, purrs, appears to be doing whatever is possible to say, "I'm yours!  Make a deal!"

The shop worker, a beautiful young woman named Maya has had considerable experience with this cat and assures us that if she didn't already have several cats, she would keep this one. (Or maybe that's what they always say about all the cats, even the biters?)  We are enthusiastic about this cat, but I have to go to the grocery store before I take on a cat.  It seems unkind to initiate a cat adoption by leaving the cat alone in a car while I go grocery shopping.  We assure Maya that we will be back in a bit to spirit the cat a way.  She says, "Great!" and we are reassured by her.  She will contact the shelter that actually is responsible for this cat and get the paperwork started.  It does not occur to us that a warning light has just gone on.  Clueless, we walk away to conduct our chores, now adding to them the obtaining of a litter box.

(The end of Cat Interviewing, Part V)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cat Interviewing, Part IV

A week has passed without any cats crossing my path.  Then, I get a call from another knowledgeable friend/consultant that we might try one of the B.C. animal shelters.  She gives us a link to its website.  It has pictures of cats, she adds.  I look at the site; I look at the pictures.  Well, there they are, each with a name more disrespectful than the next, in my view.  They are called "Pounce" and "Scratchy" and "Inkblot" and "Boots." These are names largely like tribal names (which might actually be appropriate if the tribe had bestowed them, but it is instead the humans who are bestowing them as if the cat could be reduced to its appearance or a single behavior).  Alternatively, these are the kind of names given to the seven dwarves, and not as a gesture of respect.

Since I am a human taking this fur animal into my culture, I tend to look at them, look deep into their eyes, and over time I am able to discern their essential name, and their essential name will have to be, largely in human form because that is the language I speak.  Thus, the cat will be understood, e.g., to be named Howard, which in Cat is pronounced Hoosfoos, say.  You could also just name and call the cat Hoosfoos if you wanted to advertise your bilingual skill, but most of us are unsure of how to know OR pronounce cats' real names in Cat.  So, if we are careful, we will just name the cat Howard.

I look at the site, Ed looks at the site.  He finds favorites; I am suspicious as to (a) what I can discern from a photo and (b) how much of the puff piece written to accompany the picture is true.  I am willing to wait until an interview is conducted and I can have some first-hand knowledge.

We drive to the shelter, borders and miles away.  A perky young person sends us to the cat rooms to do the interviewing.  Ed inquires about one of his pictorial favorites, but that cat has been sent out to a petstore for better showing, I guess.  Some cat rooms have loose cats, some have cats in tiered metal cages.  It feels a little more like visiting a prison (my only experience with that would be from the movies) than I expected.  We visit the cages and Ed takes a cat out of the cage even though a sign says "Do not put your hands in the cages."  He holds him, pets him.  The cat is cheerful enough but does not purr, Ed reports.  I look at and read about the other cats.  I do not put my hands in the cages.

Mostly, I don't know quite what to do with the cat information.  That it appeared without identification: should I be concerned about this?  Would it be a more reliable/friendly/ healthy cat if it had a microchip or a tattoo or a wallet with ID? (Some seem to have these ID's, but if that is so, why is the cat in the shelter?  Well, there are a million stories in the naked city, so why not in an cat shelter?)  None of the signs say things like, "This cat will bite you as soon as look at you."  One cat is identified as feral, so I strike it off my mental list.

We visit the loose cats (2 of them) in a room with many cat toys.  Ed plays with them, using a fishing rod with feathers attached.  They carry on with the feathers as if they were birds.  I have played with toy-like stuff with kittens (stuff hanging from strings, paper bags), but I never did with grown up cats.  I would have thought adults cats were beyond that sort of thing.  That they could spot the difference between a bunch of feathers on a string and a bird.

But this is now.  My guess is that cats nowadays, like children, have much higher expectations about their needs and their equipment.  That they tend not to go outside to catch real birds and thus do not, indeed, know the difference.  I begin to make a mental list of what we will need for a cat: special beds, toys, blankets, toothbrushes, hairbrushes, clothing, etc.  Something beyond food and water dishes and a litter box.  I make a mental note to ask one of my consultants about cat needs in the 21st Century.

The interview ends after we have both sat with, held, petted, and talked to the cats.  We settle on the older of the loose cats; he is big and grey.  I am a little hesitant because he seems to prefer me to Ed, which is clearly a sign of bad judgment on the cat's part.  I appreciate cats, but I will largely express that appreciation by providing necessary food and care and by talking to them.  Ed will hold them, pet them, roll around with them if they like that sort of thing.  He is enormously more fun than I am.  This cat does not seem instantly to notice this difference between us.  But this cat is perhaps somewhat institutionalized and will be clearer when back in the real world.  At least that is what I think.

We go to the perky girl at the entrance and announce we will be happy to adopt this cat.  She gives us a somewhat disappointed look.  "Oh, I'm sorry, but that cat just came back from vet's and she has a bladder problem and will need special food and treatment and if she recovers well then she could be adopted.  But if she doesn't recover from that, she will need a $2,000 surgery and it doesn't seem fair to stick you with that."  No, it doesn't.  She's definitely right about that.

"Call back in a week or two and we'll know more," she advises us.  We leave and make the half hour drive including border crossings back to Point Roberts to our cat-less home.  Which is OK, at least for now.

(The end of Interviewing Cats, Part IV)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Interviewing Cats, Part III

We got to a street that I've never been on in Point Roberts.  It puzzles me that I could have lived in such a tiny place for almost 20 years and still find myself on streets that I've never seen.  'Don't get around much, anymore,' must be my theme song.

We knock, a nice lady opens the door, explains the situation with the cat to us.  She has taken the black cat in as a fostering situation to get him past his medical procedure.  It has now healed and she now has to leave for some considerable time so the cat needs to move on.  She has named the cat Smidge.  I guess it was she, since the cat did not come with a name.  And the reason is that the cat is a feral cat.  There are a lot of those around here.  I know several people who have indoor cats AND 4 or 5 feral cats as well that they feed.  They are truly wild.  This house has a bunch of them outside and they are lively and absolutely uninterested in having a random human get too close to them.  They bounce about behind a bunch of wood, outside, and seem to be exploding with astonishment at the thought of us coming nearer.

The Black Cat, however, is not outside.  She is living inside a small kennel box with wire windows, inside a lovely glass shower which, in turn, is inside a bathroom where she can be alone (and definitely not in communication with the house cats that are elsewhere inside the house).  Ed takes a first turn sitting with her.  Smidge stays in her box; indeed in the back of her box.  She tolerates his petting her (which is to say she didn't do anything to object to it).  Then I sat inside the shower stall for awhile with her in her box.  I didn't try to pet her; just sat there.  She didn't come out or even move closer to her box's exit door.  She was clearly aware of me, however.  'What,' I thought, is it to me if she wants to live in a box?'  She turned her head and I glimpsed her eyes briefly: gold-ish.  I spoke to her; she did not speak back nor move toward me.

An hour or so of this cat interviewing and we were ready to move on back to our other tasks.  We were advised that we would need to come and sit with her like this for several more days while she (perhaps) got used to us.  We made an appointment to return the next day.

When I got home, I wrote an email to my daughter-consultant who quickly replied (after consulting with her consultant--no one does anything anymore without a consultant, I guess) that this did not seem like a good idea for a cat for me to live with, although it might be OK for Ed who, as she put it, likes taming wild birds.  He, she thought, might want to rise to this challenge, but I, she was pretty sure, had enough other challenges already that were claiming my attention.  Taming a wild cat probably did not need to be added to that list of challenges.  Her shelter manager consultant concurred: a feral cat is best trapped, neutered, and released.  That is, released to continue being a feral cat.

Ed and I talked, considered, cancelled our appointment for the next day, and wrote to our knowledgeable local friend to confess our inability to rise to this challenge.  She replied that she understood completely and that there were other cats to be had.  Just be patient, I said to myself.

(The end of Cat Interviewing, Part III)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Interviewing Cats, Part II

A few weeks passed and no cat appeared; not that we did anything to make it happen.  If you have lived for 20 years without a cat, another day of living without a cat doesn't seem too difficult, or even particularly noticeable.  When a cat is being obtained because of a child, the child is happy to remind you every twenty minutes.  "I thought we were going to get a cat today, Mom..."  And you get around to finding a cat so you don't have to be the constant source of disappointment.  But I am not disappointed; just mildly anticipatory of the possible grey cat I may soon see.

I mention the future cat to our knowledgeable friend and she assures me she has not forgotten, offers us the possibility in a few weeks of a kitten that is being raised for a bit by others and who needs to get past a cold before it can be transferred to a new home.  Kittens are charmers, of course, just as are puppies and babies of any kind.  Actually, probably better to stay away from natural charmers, I think.  I write my older daughter again.  What about a kitten? I ask her.  She writes back promptly and, as she herself is currently fosterparenting four kittens, she is absolutely on top of the relevant issues.  She writes me back: "Mom, not a kitten, I think.  Not for you.  They are into everything; they are trying to drown themselves in the toilet.  They knock everything off of everything.  They will be into your yarn in ways you will not be happy with.  A nice older cat would be better.  Especially one that will be hard to adopt because of its age.  You'll be doing it and the shelter a favor."

I tell our knowledgeable friend what my daughter says I want because my daughter is doubtless right.  I am trusting that this older cat will be named Charles or willing to be renamed Charles.

A few days go by and the friend emails us with the news that there is an older cat that needs a home on the Point.  It is black, rather than grey, however.  The more serious downside is that the cat has had a bad experience with a raccoon, probably, and has lost its tale tail to the encounter.  It has had surgical intervention and is now healed but is rather traumatized by the experience.  It is in a foster home and we are invited to go visit it.  We gear ourselves up for a morning cat visit and begin our first attempt at cat interviewing.

(The end of Part II)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Interviewing Cats, Part I

Our lives very recently have been somewhat consumed by the issue of cats, so this long story will cover a number of intermittent posts.  I don't know how many because the story has not yet come to a conclusion, but this is how it starts, anyway.

 Awhile back, we made a somewhat vague decision that we'd like to have a cat come and live with us.  Both Ed and I have had animals around for most of our lives--cats, dogs, rabbits, turtles, fish, rats, birds, what have you.  For the past 20 years, however, we have been pet-less, largely because we were moving around between B.C. and P.R. so regularly.  Hard enough for us to make that adjustment constantly without imposing it on a fur person.

In the days when we did have pets, the pets mostly just came to us.  The kid comes home from school bringing a cat that 'followed them."  Or at least that was the story.  Or a friend moved and couldn't take her dog with her and we took her in.  Or a dog just walked up to the door saying, "Hi, I'm yours."  Like those things.  It's possible that we sometime actually went to an animal shelter to select a cat or dog, but I don't have any memory of that.

Here on the Point, I wasn't quite sure how to proceed, so I conveyed our interest in a cat to a knowledgeable friend who emailed me back: "What kind of cat do you want?"  Oh. Uhh.  Gosh.  I considered.  "One that understands English?  One that doesn't want to go outside?"  Not a good enough answer, perhaps.  I then wrote my older daughter who is highly knowledgeable about animal pets and asked her what kind of cat did I want.  She replies, "well, you don't want one that bites, for example."  To myself I say, "Does anyone want a cat that bites?"

She also suggested I consider age, and kinds of cats I might be more likely to be allergic to.  I continue a little unclear about what to answer and I'm a little fixated on the idea of someone wanting a 'cat that bites.'  Kittens are nice, I thought.  The only cat I've ever been severely allergic to was one that belonged to my younger daughter, but I'm not sure what characterized that cat other than the fact that it triggered a considerable asthmatic reaction and I normally don't have asthma.

I wrote back to my friend, telling her that I had had a dream the night after I wrote to her about wanting a cat and that in the dream there was a grey cat named Charles.  "Perhaps," I confided, "that is the kind of cat that I want."

And I sat back, child of the 60's that I am, and awaited the arrival of a grey cat named Charles.  Weeks passed.  (End of Part I: Interviewing Cats)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Too Much at Once

Last night, here in Point Roberts, you could go to Family Game Night at the Library, a concert by Mama and the Oom-Pa-Pa's (a tuba quartet) at the Trinity Lutheran Church, or a Library Benefit 'Tiny Art Auction' at Auntie Pam's Country Store.  All beginning at 7 p.m.  I saw that a few people left one event early and shot over to a second event at half-time, but it really is too hard to have to CHOOSE between events here in the near winter when there are so few events, generally, to choose among.

What we don't have is a Community Calendar on the Net so that people planning events can see what others are planning.  At a monthly level, the All Point Bulletin does a fine job, but if you are planning something three or four months ahead of time (which is typical for bigger public events), you have nothing to look at, nothing to refer to.  And it is just too difficult to call around to every single group that might be planning something to find out whether they're using the date you have in mind.

What we need is a Community Calendar.  Why don't we have one?

I hear the game night was fun, the concert was terrific and danceable and entertaining, and the tiny auction (where I was) was chock-a-block people talking to each other among the food and art.  All good events.  But too much to have to choose from among...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


The point of much of life is accountability, in public matters and in private matters.  You do things, those things have consequences, you accept responsibility for the consequences when the consequences are things you could have been expected reasonably to know would occur.  It's a simple concept, but not one of which we any longer seem to have intimate knowledge.

Going to the Fire District Meetings provides a ready reminder of how people seek to avoid accountability in the instant.  For example, last night the Commissioners approved their 2013 budget for the Fire District.  For a change (and to their great credit), they had copies of the budget available to those of us in attendance.  This was scarcely a speculative move insofar as there are about a dozen people who nowadays attend every meeting and mostly bringing a critical eye, but this is the first time they've supplied us with any information.

What of course the Commissioners did not provide was a copy of last year's budget so those of us attending and on the watch for the taxpayers could see where there were differences.  Thus, we were significantly limited in how we could respond (when Ringmaster Meursing allowed us to speak) to budget items.

In addition, we were significantly limited in other ways.  When I arrived at the meeting, I sat at one of the 8 or so tables that face the Commissioners' chairs.  On that table was a piece of paper that had a few names on it.  I glanced at it and thought it was asking for a list of attendees (which are sometimes posted in the minutes).  I signed it.  A friend sitting nearby who had not signed it corrected my thinking: it was to say whether you wanted to speak during the meeting.  She wasn't signing it because she didn't know whether she wanted to speak: would have to wait to see what they said or did.

As it turned out, Meursing's view was that if you didn't sign the paper, you're not allowed to say a word.  Later in the meeting, Arthur Reber, e.g., a member of the Board of the Taxpayers' Association and the Chair of the Community Advisory Committee was told by Meursing that Reber's failure to sign the paper was too bad for him.  And though Reber pursued a brief comment, Meursing cut him down.  The 'Little People' were not to speak when Meursing says, "NO!"

As it turned out, only four of the 12-14 attendees signed the paper, and two of them had come to congratulate the Commissioners on the sterling manner in which they had bravely--even heroically- led the Fire District during the Times of Trouble.  The other two were Mr. Gott (who is very critical of the Commissioners usually) and me (I'm not acutely critical at the meetings: more like faintly disbelieving of what they are saying).  And we both spoke.  Mr. Gott wished for some clarification on a couple of line items as to what they meant.

I, alas, wanted something more.  Meursing gave me four minutes  Although I have access to last year's budget, I did not bring a copy of it with me to the meeting.  So, depending on my memory, I noted that this year's budget involved a 135% increase in legal fees and inquired about it.

Me: Why, e.g., is there such an increase in legal fees?  Do you expect lots more legal need?
Meursing: I don't know whether it's going to rain next week.
Me:  Well, yes, I understand that these are estimates, but what do you base them on.
Meursing: This is a budget, Mrs. Ross.  You put numbers in.
Me: Yes, I understand what a budget is.  What do you base the numbers on? Presumably you don't just draw them out of a hat.
Meursing: It's an educated guess.
Me: Yes, I understand that.  What I am asking is what educated you with respect to this $7,000 number, this 135% increase.
Meursing: I've never been an educator.

This is what it's like talking to Bill about anything specific.  I can never tell whether he doesn't want to let you know anything or whether he, himself, actually doesn't know anything.  In this case, the Financial Manager of the District intervened in Meursing's failure to know anything, and explained that she and the Fire Chief had come up with the figure.  It was based on the fact that they had overshot last year's budgeted $3,000 legal costs by several thousand because of the "difficulties" of this past summer and to be on the safe side added a bit more to 2012's actual costs in case more was needed next year.  Good response.

Unfortunately, that was about the only specific number I could remember from last year's budget.  However, now that I am home and can compare the two budgets, I am able to see that the 2012 total budget for the Fire District was $375,000 (rounded) and the projected 2013 budget is $445,000, a $70,000 (19%) increase. The state allows the districts, according to Meursing, to increase their levy each year by 1% to cover increasing costs (to keep up with inflation, essentially).  But the District's increased costs are closer to 19% than 1%.

What to do?  The Commissioners boldly moved to reject the 1% levy increase and to accommodate their 19% spending increase from the mighty capital and reserve funds generated by their 2010 excessive levy increase.  These two funds (money that the district is holding in reserve for a rainy day, as we say) currently total over $358,000.  (By the end of next year, it will be over $450,000.)  So to make up for their increased $70,000 of spending, they'll have to cut back a little on their contributions to the capital/reserve funds next year from $169,000/year to $95,000/year.

Not clear at all what is being gained from that extra spending that will improve the services we receive.  But it doesn't matter what we understand because as Mr. Meursing will doubtless say if anyone complains, 'You had the opportunity to speak on this issue at the meeting but you failed to say anything persuasive or you failed to take that opportunity."  So, it's the public's fault that they do these things...That's the Chairman's idea of accountability.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Poor Little Fire District

Special Meeting (again, $104 extra for each Commissioner) to discuss whether they need more money.  They got an enormous (and even unexpectedly large) increase in the tax levy a couple of years ago.  Because of that, they are socking away $15,000 every month for their rainy day funds.  And now they are thinking they need some more.  We should all have such reserves.  Oh, wait, we would have such reserves if we weren't paying the Fire District all our extra money.

If you'd like to see how the Fire District works in its policy mode (frankly, not a pretty sight), this might be a very good meeting to attend.  7 pm, Monday, November 12th, at the firehall.  See ya'  The agenda does not include "Public Comment.'  So presumably Mr. Meursing will be frequently telling us to shut up or threatening us with expulsion from His Meeting.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Nexus, the Sequel

I have completed my on-line application to renew my nexus card, as has Ed.  I can only say that there is no logical reason in the world for WHY this fairly routine act generates so much anxiety.  But it does and now I would have a stiff drink, if only I drank.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Be Aware, Nexus Edition

In December of 2008, Ed and I went down to Peace Arch and got our Nexus cards renewed.  We went at that time because they sent us information that it was time to get the cards renewed.  We filled out the forms they sent us and they eventually gave us an appointment date.  We paid our $50 each for a 5-year renewal.  That would be December of 2008, not yet four years ago.

This past weekend, while going somewhere, I noticed the expiration date on my Nexus card.  January 24, 2013.  My birthday and exactly four years and six weeks since I obtained my most recent Nexus card.  Not five years.  Four years and six weeks.  I checked Ed's card, obtained that same day in December 2008 as mine was.  His expires November 30, 2012: exactly three years and eleven months after the December 2008 "five -year" renewal.

So now it is barely two weeks before his expires and barely 2 months before mine expires.  We have had no warning from Nexus.  We have had no mail informing us that it is time to renew.  We regularly go through both the Point Roberts and the Peace Arch border and there has been no comment by border people as to the cards being close to their expiration date,

You can pursue renewal on-line.  They advise you to begin the renewal process three months in advance.  I can't even begin to describe how angry I am.  But at least I can advise you to check your expiration dates.  They're in very small print on the back of the card.

(Correction: the expiration date is on the front of the card; the issue date is on the back.)

Lily Point Trail Is Beautiful

(The last sunflowers of the summer-fall)

I finally made it over to Lily Point this past week to see the new trail (and, at 4:30 in the afternoon, the raft of visitors and their dogs that were also on site).  The hand-hold-rail at the top is wonderful, the step height at the top is surprisingly high, the switchbacks are impressive.  The whole thing looks to be a fine piece of design that makes it both easier and safer to get down to the beach.

I say 'looks like' because, due to a knee injury, I didn't make it all the way down.  But, on a lower pain threshhold day and with a neoprene brace, I could have done it and I will do it.  But I could watch my companions on their way down and see how it worked.

The parking lot and restrooms all (still) seem a bit too much for the space, but we will all get used to that over time.  It is so quiet there (even the dogs were all very quiet and even when meeting one another) and you are in the midst of a beautiful maple forest and the ocean is endless.  A fine place to be, a place where you are reminded that the earth abides.

A fine place to have as the crown jewel of our tiny home.  Thanks to the State, to the County, to the Nature Conservancy, to the Whatcom Land Trust, and to the individual donors who worked to give this to us.  Remember to mention Lily Point when Thanksgiving time comes.  Or even right this minute.

Monday, November 5, 2012

We Are the Clear Winner in This Race

Gasoline prices in California have sunk to under $4.00 over the past three weeks, so California no longer is in the competition for highest gasoline prices in the U.S..  That honor continues to go to Point Roberts, Washington, where gasoline stations continue to proudly offer their wares to us for over $4.00 gallon.