hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve

A brand-new quilt to warm me in our sudden wintry weather.  It is made of a big array of fabrics, many of them supplied to me by my excellent quilting colleagues in the Point Roberts Quilt Group.  The fabrics include cottons, velvet, velveteen, raw silk, necktie silk, linen, wool, voile, flannel, satin, taffeta, rayon, and corduroy.  Machine-pieced, hand-embroidered along all the seams, hand-quilted next to all the seams.  This is my idea of what 19th Century crazy quilters would have done if they'd lived in the 21st Century with the vast array of fabrics that we have access to nowadays.

Also a gift for New Years Eve, the two best movies I've seen this year: 'The Footnote' (an Israeli film about fathers and sons and the ways they compete-among many other subjects'', and "A Separation,' an Iranian film about the complexities of being Iranian in the current climate.  And the two best books I've read this year: both by British novelist, Hilary Mantel, and both winners of the Booker Prize (2011, 2012): 'Wolf Hall' and 'Bring Up the Bodies."  I waited about a year to read the earlier one because I'm not usually a big fan of historical novels.  But these just have the form of historical novels: they are as contemporary as they could be.  Read them and learn what the residents of the D.C. Corridor know and we out here don't.

And may we all look forward to a good new year, although all of us are bound to be disappointed now and then.  But spring will come and be heartbreakingly beautiful and summer will come and we will be surprised once again that every day in July and August is sunny and warm.  Why does that happen every year?  How fortunate we are to live in a place that is spectacularly welcoming most of the year.  And in the cold, grey times, we can have a red quilt to keep us in brightness and warmth.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

We Bought them, But Why?

One of the many purchases announced by the new fire chief at the last meeting is a quartet of artificial external defibrillators.  My understanding from previous conversations with the chief is that there were already four such AED's on the Point, including at Lighthouse Park and the Community Center.  The purpose of the AED is to improve the survival chances of an individual suffering an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: it's essentially a portable electric shock to the heart machine in order to restore a stable rhythmn.  In such a situation, the first thing to do is call 911, then begin CPR and then after a series of CPR cyles, use the AED.  The AED won't work with all cardiac arrests: only if the cause is ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia.  But, in those instances, it can be helpful if 8 minutes haven't already passed before it is applied.

Now, the unfortunate fact is that chances of survival in an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest are not very good, regardless of what is done.  That's largely because if emergency treatment is going to work, it needs to be done within 8 minutes.  Alas, 85% of all cardiac arrests occur within private homes and its easy to imagine (especially here) that those 8 minutes might pass pretty quickly before an emergency response is on the scene.

When the AED's were first put on the market there was a lot of enthusiasm for them, but over time, research has shown that their effectiveness is pretty limited.  If you put them in the hands of trained EMTs or paramedics or nurses in clinics, they're reasonably useful, pretty cost-effective.  They're not terribly expensive: about $1,000/unit, but you have to train all the individuals who are likely to be using to use them, you have to maintain them, etc.  All time, and thus money consuming items.

Over the past ten years, with a lot of experience, the technology assessment researchers have made it pretty clear where these devices should be placed in the public arena: only at public sites with large populations (where it is likely that the device will occasionally be needed).  For example, they site sports arenas and casinos as examples of such places.  They do not suggest that local libraries, or small unattended parks, or local grocery stores (where one of our newest AED's is destined to call its home) are good locales.  In fact, they specifically say they are not.

Strangely, the cumulative judgment of our past and present fire chief is that there should be such devices at the Community Center, the International Marketplace, and Lighthouse Park.  How about the Wellness Clinic?  Tiny population, but at least people who might be trained to use them.  I'd be interested in knowing what was the rate of cardiac arrest at the clinic in its ten years of existence.  The Sheriff's Deputies are to have them: are they responding to 911 cardiac arrest calls instead of the Fire Dept. EMT's now?

Where is the responsibility for good judgment in such decisions?  With the Fire Commissioners who seem only to rubber-stamp the Chief's already-made purchases by approving the warrants?  With the Chief who is doing the planning and buying?  Got me.  Maybe nobody.

If you are interested in reading the Province of Ontario's Technology Assessment of the appropriateness of AED's, it's here.  Maybe the Commissioners and the Fire Chief should be the ones reading it.  Is the effectiveness of all the technology that is available to them an issue in their decisions about how to spend public funds?  Or is the only relevant fact that such technology is around to be bought, is fun to have, and sounds good when they describe it:  "Life-Saving," for example.  Maybe not so much.  Just money spending.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Check Your Gold & Silver Supply, Folks

Unfortunately, one of the proponents of this crazy action is our very own state legislative representative Jason Overstreet.  I don't know what it is we have done to deserve such a representative but those who voted for him might want to check their mirrors.  Unless, of course, you are of the opinion that we need to be trading dollars made of gold and silver because they, of course, have real value, whereas paper backed by nothing more important than the U.S. government, the most powerful country in the world, is clearly fraudulent and worthless.

Do they have nothing better to do while drawing a paycheck provided by the people of the state of Washington?  Aux barricades!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

There Is a Cat

A cat arrived at our house two weeks ago on trial.  One of our cat consultants arranged for us to try out this cat (and, perhaps, this cat to try us out) without the kind of personal interview that we might again fail or might, perhaps worse, lie our way through.  So the cat is here.

For the first ten days, I practically never saw her. She quickly moved upstairs under our bed and after a few days discovered there was a closet she could get into and retreat equally thoroughly.  When under the bed, Ed would lie on the floor next to her.  More philosophical, I incline toward the view that should she ever want to know me, she will come out from under the bed to the downstairs where mostly I am.

And over time, she has made herself slightly more apparent.  She clearly appreciates Ed having made the effort on her behalf and looks for him when she is downstairs, although she does spot me as the one who will get her food in the early morning when I am up and he is not.

She's uninclined to be held although doesn't mind being petted as long as all four of her feet are on the floor.  She miaows with information, but I rarely know what information she is seeking.  Around 11 pm, she comes downstairs and stands in front of me and says, 'miaew.'  If i don't get up, she walks toward the stairs, looks back at me, and says, 'miaew,' again: a gentle sound.  If I do get up, she shepherds me toward and up the stairs, as if to say, "Time for us all to go to bed." And so we do.

But she repeats this behavior the following morning at 8 am, after her breakfast.  She goes back to bed but we don't.

She is four-years-old and of a tortoise shell appearance.  Mostly she looks like a dark-colored owl with an orange scarf and too many legs.  Name of Zoe.

Three guests came for Christmas and she hasn't been seen since.  Under the bed, in the closet.  In retirement.  Giving new meaning to the descriptor 'indoor cat'--deeply indoors.

I think the cat stays.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Many Christmas Parties

We've been invited to a bunch of Christmas/Solstice/Holiday parties this year and happy to be/have been in attendance.  I was talking with someone last night about how parties in one's somewhat younger days were so much centered on everyone drinking a lot and staying very late; and then there was a phase when we had dinner parties in which a lot of women knocked themselves out cooking foods that were not part of their native cuisine.  But now, we are older, and we are more sedate, and we have a few snacks and a little eggnog or something lightly alcoholic, and sit about and talk about the Fire District or about library fundraising or gun control.  Are We Getting More Fun All The Time?  I guess so.

So, maybe it's time to think up at least one fun topic per party?  At today's, I think i will insist that everyone--at their convenience-- take the necessary 4 minutes to look at the most widely viewed youtube of all time, featuring PSY doing the horse dance in 'Gangnam Style.'  That would be here.  Now at 1 billion-127-million viewers.

Or, maybe I'll offer an alternative: Henri, le Chat Noir.  Henri is an existentialist cat and famous on the internet: he regrets nothing.  If you haven't seen him (or even if you have), be sure to catch his new video, 'The Worst Noel.'  Only a hundred thousand viewers so far, but moving up.

And those are my Christmas gifts to readers, as well.  Thanks for coming by.  I hope you, too, regret nothing, or better yet, having nothing to regret.

Update: a friend writes with the following link if you want to learn to dance gangnam style by doing the horse dance.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

No Floods Yet

Happily, the predicted high tide and big winds from the south did not materialize on Monday and we escaped the flooding on Maple Beach that is likely under those circumstances.  I need to ask the Community Advisory people if the County has studied what could be done to keep the sea wall from being breached under those circumstances.  It's not a large area that floods, but it will happen time and again with high tides and winds from the south.  Surely, somebody down in Bellingham has thought about this and has a reason for why no abatement exists?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Garden Club At It Again

This photo doesn't do their work justice, though.  It's more like a quick exemplar.  What they have done is brought in a lot of soil/mulch/something very dark and good looking; planted in a gracegul grouping at least seven goodly-sized rhododendrons with maybe some small azaleas or other low bushes around them; and set them off with large boulders.  You can see examples of each in the picture.

It makes me long for spring even more just to see how lovely it will all be: the radiant color of grouped rhodos, azaleas and spring bulbs after the long grey fall, winter, and early spring.  You certainly have to notice about the garden club that they know how to GET THINGS DONE.

And I see that there is yet another big mound of that dark soil, so perhaps there is more yet to come.  We all owe them a vote of thanks for using their time and energy and vision to make all of our lives more beautiful.  Gardening is a lot of work and the members do it themselves and I think they pay for their materials with the money they make on the garden tour.  It is a great act of generosity, a great and lasting gift to Point Roberts that is and that will be.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Total Arrogance Program--But No Information

Last night, the Fire District's Terrible Twosome provided us with yet another demonstration of why no one should ever vote for them and why they should never have been elected in the first place.  And that it should arise in the context of the Pledge of Allegiance only adds to the bizarreness of their actions.

What happened was this.  Commissioner Wilmot brought to the meeting a U.S. Flag that had been flown over the U.S. Capitol and suggested that the District begin its meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance: a practice, he said, that was followed in many fire districts in the U.S.  The Terrible Two were simply flummoxed by such a suggestion, with Meursing pointing out that he was opposed to the idea because it wasn't required and This District did what it wanted, and Riffle vamping for time with a bold declaration that "[he] appreciates [Mr. Wilmot's] approval of America, but..."  (But he, himself, doesn't share this approval? )  Then, Wilmot's suggestion was tabled while, at least in Riffle's view, someone would investigate what other fire districts do.  Who would do this investigating was not established, because 'tabling' is what the twosome do when they want things to go away and stay away.

Then, Wilmot simply stood up and began to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, while the half-dozen meeting attendees joined in, and Riffle and Meursing remained speechless (or voiceless, anyway).  What an opening act!

And then the meeting turned to serious business.  Now that the Commissioners have given the Fire Chief full access to the Fire District's more than ample budget,   the spending has begun.  Last month's invoices for office furniture, carpet cleaning, printing, more equipment upgrades, more equipment and then some more equipment, added up to almost $53,000 in shopping.  The Chief, of course, has hired 11 new firefighters and they must be dressed right and all that.  Soon, we will have a firefighting department on a par with Blaine (four times the population, twice the geographical area).  I recall the days not long ago when the Libertarians of P.R. were admiring Commissioner Meursing's commitment to saving the taxpayers' moneys.  Where are they now?  Not attending these meetings, I'm afraid.

To add to the overall ambience on general incompetence, Mr. Riffle attended only by telephone (he wasn't at the local kids' holiday performance, I assure you).  The telephone connection didn't work because Riffle could never hear very well and then the connection was interrupted by the amplified sound of dialing repeatedly from the phone (who was dialing and where was not investigated).  While all this went on, the Assistant Fire Chief (new shirt with his name and title embroidered on it--more new equipment?) was moving the phone around the room constantly in hopes of giving Riffle a chance of knowing what he was or was not voting for and against.  I would think that if there is a possibility that there will be other meetings in the future with telephonic attendance (and there will be because the twosome cannot allow a meeting in which they are not able to outvote Mr. Wilmot), there will be a serious need for some serious new equipment.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Christmas Spirit

There has been a certain pleasantness in not dwelling upon the Fire District's affairs of the past few weeks but today a notice arrived that they would be meeting again this Wednesday at 7 p.m.  Their normal meeting time is the second Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m., but they also have numerous 'special' meetings on other Wednesdays, and meetings at other times of the day on various Wednesdays or even other days in order to suit their own varied schedules.

Thus, it appeared that they might be open to a little modification since their meeting conflicted with the Elementary School's Christmas Program, one of the very well-attended events on the Point each year.  The kids practice for weeks, volunteers as well as teachers help with costumes and music and dramatic arts. It's a big deal.  I would be very sorry to miss it;  indeed, I have not missed it in all the years I have lived here.

So, when someone wrote the Commissioners an email inquiring whether there could be some leeway to hold the meeting at a different day or time (e.g., starting on Wednesday at 8, an hour later than the usual time and after the kids' show was over), I was pretty impressed by the Ebenezer Scrooge-style response from Commissioner Riffle:

"Your thoughts are welcome........However we are a County commission and have to schedule our regular meetings annually  by law. The primary school has the liberty of scheduling whenever. Let them change."

And let them eat cake while they're at it.

Mr. Meursing and Mr. Riffle frequently remind local residents that if we write to them, anything we say is a public record.  I'm happy to assume that anything they write back is also a public record because Mr. Meursing, too, wanted to convey his good wishes to those of us requesting a little flexibility on their parts:

"What in heavens does it take for you and your buddies to adapt some
flexibility in your lives....live and let live comes to mind
immediately....Stan is absolutely correct regarding the meeting schedule,
there is protocol to be followed and that is what this commission is
doing....life is full of choices, and it seems some of you will have to
pursue this on Wednesday....good luck....bill m"

And then, in case we hadn't understood his message, he followed up with a second one:

"Grow up children, there are other folks to be considered.....the time and date stand and will not be changed....bill m..."

God bless us, Every One!" said Tiny Tim.

And if you're around the Point and not going to the kid's Christmas program, you might drop in at the Firehall this Wednesday at 7 pm so someone will be keeping an eye on those two to let us know whether they are being naughty or nice.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Brief Word on Nexus

Wednesday past, we dropped in on Nexus on our way to Bellingham in order to see if we could get a walk-in appointment.  It didn't matter because, once you've been approved and have made an appointment (even if it is four months from now), your old card has shelf-life that lasts until the actual appointment.  But we thought it would be nice to get it over with.

So we rolled in about an hour before we actually had to be in B'ham for a doctor appointment.  A nice enough guy took all our papers and told us he had no idea how long the wait would be.  Forty minutes later we asked for our papers back and went on down to the hospital.  On our way out, another nice guy told us that 3:30 is the best time to show up for a walk-in.  This is because most appointments (scheduled for 15 minutes) take less than 15 minutes, and most appointees come in early, so they are ahead of themselves by 3:30.

Thus, around 4 pm, we returned to the Nexus office on our way back to the Point, turned over our papers again, and waited about a half hour.  Then with our passports, driver's licenses, and approval letter in hand, the agent--a talky guy--took our photos and our finger prints, gave us a stern lecture about how, if we ever violated a single rule in even the slightest manner, he and his colleagues would take our Nexus cards away forever.  And enforcement is strict and absolute.  And there is no purgatory where your sins can be worked off.  Etc.  Among the rules he particularly impressed upon us were (1) having anything that belongs to anyone else in the car when we are using the Nexus lane.  "That means, Ed, if you cross alone and Judy's jacket is in the car, YOU will LOSE your NEXUS."  Ed inquired as to what about things that belong to both of us.  "According to Nexus rules, NOTHING belongs to both of you; it either belongs to one of you or to the other."

Ed inquired about the jumper cables.  "Those belong to the car," sayeth the Agent.  I forgot to inquire about laundry; e.g, if you (or I) were on the way to the laundromat in Tsawwassen.  The laundry is my job, so I think it's MY laundry.  On the other hand, if it's my job, i can't take it in the Nexus lane because it is commercial property.  On the other hand, I don't get paid for doing the laundry, so is it really commercial?  Just as well not to discuss it, I suspect.  It only makes them look confused or wishy-washy, and particularly washy.

In addition, we were never, ever, not even occasionally, or once, let someone without a Nexus walk through the border while we with our Nexuses drove through the border.  Even if there was nothing in the car belonging to that walking person.  Never.  Will. Your. Nexus. Card. Be. Yours. Again.  There was no explanation for this rule.  Only consequences.

So we walked out with the information ringing in our ears that our new cards would arrive in 8-10 days in mail that looked like junk mail so be sure to open everything that arrives.  What could you say to that?

Also, there are two new signs in the waiting area.  The first?  DO NOT MOVE THE CHAIRS.  The second?  DO NOT TOUCH THE TV CONTROLS.  Got the message?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas Begins!

This weekend was the Point Roberts Christmas Craft Fair.  Along with the general Canadian need for packages, gas, and dairy/poultry goods, the border situation became only more awful with terrible lineups, I am told.  I wasn't going outside the country this weekend, however, because I was raising money for the library selling donated handmade goods to one and all.

The Community Center was unusually well decorated: many, many silver balls hanging from the ceiling of the hallway on long ribbons, and a general profusion of  red and green decorations, interspersed with many white features bringing out the Icelandic Christmas theme.

Lots of people buying; lots of things to buy; lots of edibles; lots of musical performers (singers, guitarists, ensembles of various sorts, including a brass one).  And all in the service of saying welcome to the holidays of December.

Think good thoughts!  Give good will!  God Bless Us, Every One.  And if you are thinking of making a year-end donation to the library, keep up the good work.  And, next, actually write that check and drop it off at the library.  Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday...