hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Monday, September 30, 2013

Fire Hydrants: The Explanation

update below.

Ed took the pictures of the fire hydrants because he lives in Point Roberts and because he takes photographs of things here.  He posts them, often, on Flickr.  Sometimes he sends them to the APB, and sometimes the Editor prints them.

In the case of the fire hydrants, he drove around the Point and took pictures of the fire hydrants as he saw them.  It didn't include everyone that existed, and his photographs had nothing to do with the Fire Department's judging and all that.

As he finds or finds out about new ones, he he has taken pictures of them and added them as individual photographs on the Flickr site.  You can see the expanding set here.  As of this afternoon (9/30), there are 102 photos of individual hydrants plus the one composite/mosaic of 64 photos.  There have been almost 500 views of the composite and many, many views of the individual hydrants.

If you want you fire hydrant included, let us know where it is.  You can email us or you can let us know in a comment to this blog.

We are getting some phone calls relating to the Fire Department and the judging and I have written this largely to make clear that Ed had nothing to do with any of that.  kthksbai.

update: Fire Chief Chris Carleton is apparently going to be producing, for sale, a calendar with all the photos in it.  

Friday, September 27, 2013

Fire Hydrants: The Collectors' Edition

Here is the link to the 64 photo collection of fire hydrants as well as to the individual shots of those 64.  They're not all there yet, but Ed will be adding photos in the next week in hopes of eventually locating and photographing all of them.  If yours isn't there, email me with your address and he will get round to it faster.  (judywross at gmail.com)

You can download individual photos by clicking on the individual photo and then clicking on the three dots at the bottom right on the screen.  that gets you a menu: click on 'view all sizes'.  Then you can choose whatever size you want to download.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Good Neighbors and All That...

A year ago, there was a lot of concern about the Point Roberts Beach Club Development (out on APA Road).  Now, it's become The Cottages at Seabright Farm and they've become, in some sense, our neighbors, with their Seabright signs conveniently located on our streetcorners, their open invitation to visit them and learn about what they are planning, their Seabright Farm! shopping bags, and even their organizing of a concert this past weekend to help raise money to fight off the dreaded radio towers.  (Full disclosure: The developer has also had some preliminary talks with the Library Fundraising Committee about support for that project.)

They have not yet received their permits from the Whatcom County Planning Department (which would be followed by a public hearing and a final decision by a Hearing Examiner, which could then be appealed to the County Council).  The slowdown appears to be about the need to find an acceptable balance between the number/size of the lots and the requirements for septic systems.  The property has a lot of wetlands that make that balancing a complex achievement. Without all that county action, they cannot actually sell anything.  Nevertheless, they seem to be doing an excellent job of advertising their eventual product.

Although there are still pockets of opposition on the Point to the development, my sense of it is that people have moved on.  Their very big concern was about saving the maple canopy on APA Road and, once that was assured, their confidence in the county doing 'the right thing' (whatever that might be) was if not restored at least encouraged.  In talking with people, I find that many seem more concerned that it will be a disaster for the developer than a disaster for Point Roberts.  Perhaps that's because they can't imagine that a lot of houses/lots at $400,000 are actually going to be sold.  Or perhaps because it's hard to keep up a sense of high dudgeon over a long period of time when nothing is actually happening.  Perhaps the oxygen of outrage is all being consumed by opposition to the radio towers.  Or perhaps the likelihood that the development will be smaller than originally planned (that is, fewer houses/lots) makes it seem less problematic.

Or perhaps it's because this project this time has presented a plan that people find less offensive.  The developer (Wayne Knowles), who has lived here at least part-time for many years, probably understands more about Point Roberts than outsiders usually do when they arrive with grand plans for improving our locale.  Knowles' vision of a bucolic 'development' community within a community, with vegetables growing in every yard, may evoke a calmness and serenity that we would all like to achieve in our lives.  And that outlanders will be willing to pay substantially for, while looking at the sun setting into the ocean, at least on sunny days.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fire Hydrants as Art

The Volunteer Fire Department's fire hydrant painting contest is obviously a big success and congratulations should go to Chief Carleton for conceiving of it and carrying it out with such enthusiasm.  Every time I go out for a non-routine trip (i.e., not going on the same streets I always go on), I see something new and wonderful in the way of splendid fire hydrants.  The Chinese dragon is my favorite at the moment, but it changes from day to day.  Ed is making a photo collection of them, so my daily favorites will show up as they come in.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Employment for Cats

As regular readers may recall, we obtained for our life a 4 y/o cat last December who was named, before she reached us, Zoe.  We are extremely pleased with her.  She has spent her entire life indoors and that has given her, I believe, some unusual characteristics.  For a long time, I thought this was why she was so standoffish, so suspicious, so reluctant well, to engage.  She does consent to be petted but she would certainly not sit next to us on a couch or in a chair, nor sleep next to us in bed, or, god forbid, actually sit in our laps.  She likes to stand on the seat of a tall chair or table so that we can pet her: everyone with all their available legs firmly attached to a solid surface.

Recently, however, I think I have figured out that she has a secret job: she is a Homeland Security IED investigator.  Her job, apparently, is to ensure that nothing in our house explodes.  The best way to do this, since nothing in our house is currently exploding, is to prevent or at least discourage anything new from coming into the house.  The logic, obviously, is this: nothing is currently exploding; anything new might explode.  Prevent the new.
Zoe eating a little grass while inspecting what turns out to be a non-exploding object.

Unfortunately for her, she does not control what comes into the house because she does not ever leave the house and we do, forever bringing new things into her and our lives, things that might explode.  A new chair or lamp or even a book moved from one place to another must be investigated at great length, for several days.  Long enough either to disarm it or to ensure it is not an explosive chair/lamp/book/whatever.  Given that she sleeps 18 hours a day it is amazing how much investigating she is able to do in what is left of the remaining 6 hours of her active work day (into which she also must cram 4 or 5 meals each day--but she's a very fast eater).

You may wonder how she disarms explosive things.  Good question and we had an excellent example of it yesterday.  Zoe is very fond of oat grass and so I grow pots of it and bring a new one in every few days which she promptly consumes down to the little green nubs.  Yesterday, however, I had none growing adequately, so, upon the advice of my cat-raising daughter, I dug up some lawn grass and put it into a pot, then brought it into the house.  Zoe recognizes a pot of grass when she sees it and knows it's safe because it's food not an explosive device.  She rushed up to me and, as I put the pot on the floor, she pressed her mouth into it and proceeded to discover that it was not grass as she knew it but an explosive.  She disarmed it by rising about a foot into the air, landing 180 degrees away from the direction she had been facing, and then rushed off, racing up the stairs and immediately back down in order to discharge all that explosive energy.

And then we were all safe, although the grass was still not acceptable because it apparently still contained minute amounts of dangerousness.  So it was sent back out to the unknowable world of outside.  And we settled down to a quiet afternoon knowing that we were, once again, safe.  That's what real homeland security can do for you...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Special Fire District Meeting

I hear there's a special Fire District meeting on Monday at 4:30 pm at the Firehall, apparently called with respect to how a contract for a new septic system should be created.  Local contractors, e.g., rather than Bellingham ones?  Don't know much other than that, but if you're interested in local folks getting work for local projects, you might want to try to make this meeting.

Update: the official announcement came out this afternoon saying that the agenda was focused on the water district (which has property next door to the firehall) and their tie-in to a new septic system.  Unofficially, however, I continue to hear that those concerned with the lack of open bids will be wanting to be heard on that aspect of the project as well.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Summer Going, Going, But Not Gone Yet...

it's been a lovely summer; the best weather-wise I think in the 20 years I've been here.  And even this week, it's been more summer than fall, even though we're back to overcast today.

It's been unusual in other ways, as well.  I think the cross-border traffic must be growing by leaps and bounds.  The parking lot at the grocery store is almost always full during most hours.  The steady line of cars coming in and going out is clearly visible.  The visitors to the Saturday Market were clearly on the increase even though the number of vendors wasn't much up.  And the number of summer activities seemed considerably larger.

Part of this last increase is due to the Visit Point Roberts program initiated by Samantha Scholefield.  Her two program Interns this summer were around and visible lots of the time, and were both advertising events and conducting them (like beach walks).  They did a terrific job and it is to be hoped that this program will get enough support to make it ongoing each summer with some kind of stable budget source. (Incidentally, they will be making a presentation to the community tomorrow/Saturday at the Community Center on what they accomplished and what needs to be made more effective: 2 p.m. )

Another part of the summer events growth was the Library Fundraising which had 3 outdoor movies, 3 tables at the Saturday Market, including produce, baked goods, and garage sale materiel, and an ice-cream-and-cake-thank you Party.  And then the usual events were also there for all to partake of: the Fourth of July Parade, the Arts and Music Festival, the International Belt Sander Race, Historical Society tours, many Library programs for kids and grownups, and several concerts brought to us by Lucy Williams at Trinity Lutheran Church.

We've all seen each other a lot.  And now, our Canadian neighbors and day visitors will be around less often as the skies darken and the day shortens, and so will those of us who are permanent residents.  October vacations beckon (not to mention cruises in the Caribbean throughout our darker days).  But there will still be a bunch of us here, though less visible, doing what the off-season calls for (getting the gardens ready for winter is my priority).  The kids are back in school; the vine maples are turning red (a little late, but they're doing it), the flower-filled yards are changing to something else less colorful.  Soon the stoves will be lit all day.

Maple Beach, 2013

Still, some things do not change: the tide goes in and the tide goes out.  The earth abides throughout all the people busy-ness.  Cherish that, too.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

An Expensive Night at the Fire District

In their monthly meeting, the Commissioners wandered from comedy to tragedy in their ongoing efforts to do their business in what will at least appear as characterized by responsible behavior.

It began with the approval of the minutes from the last two meetings.  The minutes of the meetings are minimal, at best.  The documents make no attempt to explain decisions or to describe central issues in discussions or (never, never) to mention what members of the public attending the meetings have to say.  So, it's mostly they voted to do this or not to do that.  But last night, Commissioner Riffle wanted some better explanations.  He didn't like that the minutes of the recent special meeting to act on the Chief's salary said only that he made a motion to increase the Chief's salary by $10,000/year.  He wanted it to say why he made the motion; ie, what justified such a position.  The following discussions were cryptic at best, but I believe they ended up leaving the minutes as they stood but agreeing in the future to perhaps provide some context in the minutes if the Commissioners would produce such context-language at the meeting when the minutes were to be approved.  Readers will perhaps be pleased to know that this decision was allegedly made in the interests of increased transparency.  I doubt it, myself.

Then, we moved on to monthly expenditures of $48,000 for some things which were never detailed, plus a $12,000 monthly payroll.  (Those two alone account for almost 10% of the annual budget.)  Then the insurance agent suggested they increase the replacement cost insurance (on the firehall) to $2 million.  Which they did.  And then there was some considerable discussion of whether the Fire District should continue to pursue several former volunteer firemen for at total of about $500-600 due to their being overpaid in years past.  A pittance, in the face of everything else, compounded by the fact that most of the scoundrels who refuse to pay back are in Canada somewhere and probably can't be reached even in small claims court.  And these are very small claims.  Pursuit will continue, however.  Emails will be sent regularly urging them to donate back.  (As a fund-raiser, I know how effective those emails are likely to be.)

And then, the grand and tragic finale:  The septic system is moments away from total failure and it must be replaced immediately and it will cost at least $40,000.  Some work was done earlier this year in hopes of improved drainage doing the trick.  But the trick didn't come off and neither has anything else.  The work will be done on an emergency procurement basis, so it won't go out for bid.

So, in total, that's over $100,000 for the evening.  An expensive night.  On the other hand, the public is very pleased with the fire hydrant painting program and the community relations program.  That's the cheap part of having a service whose primary purpose is to put out fires and provide emergency medical care.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

An Introduction to Biscuit

The Point Roberts Library has year-round programs for kids, helping to make sure that kids have all the encouragement possible to become readers.  One staff person (of 3) has that as her particular responsibility.  That's a considerable commitment of resources, but why wouldn't we want to make such a commitment?  I can't think of any reason not to, surely.  If we aren't going to make readers out of kids to the greatest extent possible, what are we doing?  Just entertaining our adult selves?

Anyway, one of the events the Library sponsored this summer was having kids draw/paint book covers for a book they especially liked.  I wanted to enter this contest but I didn't have time and also I'm not a kid...I'll never be a kid again, I'm afraid.

But here is one of the winning entries that I really loved.  The name of the book is "Biscuit," but the Bis is obscured by the blue border of the painting.  I am wondering, however, if this dog will ever get up and walk around on all fours (or maybe all fives, including the tail)?  But maybe that's what the book is about: How Biscuit triumphs and becomes a walking dog!  Good job, Allie!  I love your book/dog's picture.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

What Are We Eating Now?


What we are eating in Point Roberts now are apples, plums, and pears, all in great abundance.  And kale and zucchini, pouring out of every backyard garden.  All very good and we will miss them when they're finished.  Which they will be very soon, although we do have one apple tree at our house whose fruits come in November.

But, the question about what we are eating is really directed to another issue.  One of the things that amazes me about recent years is the requirement that the vast public, often unprepared to apply even what they know, get itself educated on some brand new topic.  It seems only a few years ago that I was listening to riots in Seattle on the radio and realizing that I needed to learn, quickly, a whole lot more about what globalization of trade really meant for our lives.  It wasn't a few years ago, and we've certainly all learned (or I hope we have) what it meant, in terms of its implications for all our lives.  And innumerable topics similar since then.  Did you mention 'fracking'?  It's a constant feature on my facebook page because I have a long-time friend who is deeply involved politically in the issue, so she educates me along the way.

What do we need to know next?  Genetically modified organisms (GMO), I think, and the way they affect the food supply.  I don't know much of anything about it.  Generally, the public is instinctively wary of genetically modifying things.  It may be because it seems like we're messing with basic stuff.  On the other hand, when we're genetically targeting cancer cells, that seems like a good thing.  Similarly, we tend to love/trust things that are natural.  But what's more natural than malaria?  So natural/unnatural is not really a good standard for making judgments.

If you don't know anything about this, as I don't, you could try attending the movie tomorrow/Friday night at the Firehall.  It's made by those who worry about GMO's, but that's okay: it's a film with a viewpoint and it makes its viewpoint clear.  It's a starting point, not an ending point, in learning about this issue.  If you're planning to be alive for the next 5 or 10 years, it's probably worth spending an hour or two learning about GMO's.

The film, "GMO OMG" (this means "Genetically Modified Organisms  Oh, My God," in text talk), will be shown at the Firehall, 2030 Benson, at 6 pm on Friday, September  6.  There'll be a panel discussion afterwords.

Here's a brief description from the organizers:

"(T)he film seeks to educate the audience about what GMO's presence in our food means for the average consumer. The average person may not know what the term GMO means but is certainly eating GMOs, and probably at every meal. For those who may not know, Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are created when scientists take DNA from one species and insert it into another in a way that would never occur naturally." 

Update:  because of limited seating capacity, you need to rsvp if you are planning to go to the film.  RSVP by clicking the link below: