hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Library Fundraising

There is an article in today's Bellingham Herald about Ed, me, and our library fundraising work in Point Roberts.  It directs the reader to this blog, rather than to the fundraising blog, which is:


so redirect to that blog, and sorry for the extra step.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Following up on Wraps

The wrapped cars and boats and cottages have increased as the days go by, the leaves fall, and the people disappear.  They look well against the near steady gray skies as they exit through the border.  Bye!  See you in April.

Other kinds of wrapping are also going on.  Yesterday, Zoe the cat and I watched, from indoors through the window, a lovely little brown-gray squirrel working on her wrapping.  (She seems to be the only one of our last year's big assortment of squirrels--6 of them--who has survived the summer or who has not moved away.  We call her Pearl, although we don't know what her real name is.)

She first appeared outside the window with an apple, held by its stem in her teeth.  There are apples all over the place, so it doesn't surprise me to see any animal wandering through fooling with apples.  In fact, they should eat more of them.  But Pearl was not eating this apple.  She was barely able to carry it as it was about twice the size of her head (although squirrels do have quite small heads, but still...)

She dropped the apple under a giant fir tree outside our front door (surely first growth...15-20 feet in circumference) and started digging with her excellent fingers.  Watching her dig was really impressive: so fast, so sure, so focused.  Hard to believe she didn't actually have fingers, although for all I know it might be easier to dig with paws than with hands/fingers.  She dug the neat little hole, exactly the size of the apple and then picked it up and dropped it in the hole and then neatly covered it.  When she was finished, there was no sign of digging, no sign of apple.  And she moved off.

The apple is under the leaf, but the leaf fell, after Pearl buried the apple.  

Now, I've seen squirrels bury nuts before because we leave our English walnut tree product to the squirrels and they bury them all.  But I've never seen one bury an apple.  I've never seen any animal bury an apple.  They just eat them or they ignore them, but they don't bury them.  And I would think that the reason they don't is because they intuitively know that the apple is not going to last long if it's buried.  But maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe burying an apple is like putting it in a root cellar, keeping it cool; although, just sitting on the top of the ground it would stay cool.  I don't know.

I googled "squirrel burying apples" and got a lot of hits for people talking about squirrels, several of whom casually comment about squirrels burying nuts and apples, but nobody addressed the issue of the burial of apples as an effective storage device.  Google rarely fails, even if it leads me to something that is not true, but it almost always leads me to something.  Here, not so much.  So, I'm left watching each day the spot where the apple is buried to see if she comes back soon for it, before it becomes a decayed apple.

Although, considering how neatly she buried it, she could unbury it just as neatly and I would never know unless I happened to see the action.  So perhaps this will just remain a mystery of nature.  One more item in a large book.

Update: my excellent-gardener daughter reports to me that the squirrel is smarter than me (not too surprising, really, when it deals with squirrel work):  http://chestofbooks.com/gardening-horticulture/Gardener-Monthly-V23/Keeping-Apples.html#.VFKis_TF9U5

Monday, October 6, 2014

Wrapped Cars

You might think that Christo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christo_and_Jeanne-Claude) and Jeanne Claude had taken up residence in Point Roberts recently what with the plethora of wrapped cars and other vehicles, boats and the like.  From my window, I can see a camouflaged vehicle on a trailer, high in the air, as well as a grey-wrapped SUV, and a boat almost submerged in its wrapping.

But it's not art, it's just October.  In the fall, our semi-permanent residents abandon us for their real homes (we are their ever-nostalgic 'summer places'), but we are also, those of us who stay all year regardless, abandoned by many of our permanent residents.  We are only 1300 at best and then maybe 1/4-1/2 of them wrap their vehicles in tarps or carcoats and go away to their southern homes.

At the moment, despite its being October, the leaves are still green on the trees and still firmly attached to the trees.  Maybe the leaves and the snowbirds could stay this winter.  Maybe Point Roberts will turn to a Mediterranean climate.  That would be a treat....and then Christo and Jeanne-Claude might have reason to come and wrap us up, or at least wrap up the dreaded towers which are increasingly looking to be their own happening.  Let us, perhaps, as an art project, consider wrapping the towers in camouflage.  Just random thoughts on a non-fall-like day...

Monday, September 29, 2014

Taking on the Big Town

Today, I was in Bellingham, the first time I'd been off the Point in about 3 weeks.  A little stir crazy, perhaps?  Hard to know.  I was doing some ordinary shopping in the fabric store down there, looking for some specialized thread which I was not finding.  On the other hand, I did find a kind of hand-quilting thread I particularly like that nobody wants to buy anymore because nobody much hand-quilts.  So, I picked up one spool of a color I'm currently out of.  When I need another color, these spools will still be there, still priced at $1/spool.  They might as well be giving them away.  But I didn't need them all, just that one color.

And so I found myself standing in a kind of long checkout line with a coupon for 30% off of a spool of $1.00 thread.  Two other women in line next to me also were making negligible purchases and I suggested to them that we each buy a $1.00 cardboard tiara covered with sequins (available nearby), and demand that we get a special (and shorter) line because we were princesses.  We laughed about the picture of us all in our tiaras, demanding privileges commensurate with our positions.  But, as we moved up in the line, only I picked up a tiara: blue to match my eyes.  I put it on and they both agreed it looked great with my hair.  I can hardly even imagine what such a judgment might mean.  I scarcely know what color my hair is any more and I don't spend a lot of time in front of mirrors trying to figure it out, but I nevertheless went up to the checkout counter, paid my $1.00 for the spool of thread and $.70 for my princess headgear (that's what I used my 30% off coupon for).

In the car, I put the tiara on and drove off to my favorite Bellingham store, Trader Joe's.  Got a parking place immediately (the privileges of princesses, I guess), and walked up to the door, where two shoppers asked me why I was wearing a crown.  "Not a crown; a tiara.  I'm not a queen; just a princess."  And we pursued that a little.  Then we parted and I went into the store and lurked around the vegetables to assess what I wanted.  One of the store managers came up to me and asked, "Is it your birthday?"  "No," I replied.  "I'm a princess."  She laughed with delight, and went on her way.

I wander through the store, picking up this and that, and maybe 8 or 9 people stop me and ask if it's my birthday.  Each time, I reply, "No, I'm a princess."  And some people want to pursue it further, while others just laugh and leave, calling out, "Good for you!"

And then the store manager reappears with a bouquet of pink flowers and tells me they are a gift from Trader Joe's because, "I have made her day."  Well, gosh, I think she must have made MY day, too!  So now I'm wandering around with a tiara and flowers, and yet have more stores to go to, more places to discuss with perfect strangers why I am wearing a sequinned cardboard tiara and whether or not it is my birthday.

I ended my peregrinations back at the hospital in order to pick up Ed who was at a doctor appointment and on our way out, somebody else with a doctor appointment inquired as to why I was wearing a crown.  I clarified the name and explained that I was a princess but that he wouldn't necessarily know that if I weren't wearing my tiara.  "Oh," he responded, "I'd know you were something because of that big sunflower you are wearing."  Extemporizing, I hinted that I was also a Goddess of Summer. He nodded and we discussed his growing up in East Texas where the fields of sunflowers grew every summer as far as the eye could see.  "Yes," I replied as if the sunflowers were my own work, "and the fields of canola up in the middle of Canada.  More glories."

And we went on home.  Proving, I guess, that maybe I ought to get off the Point more often, or that a little bit of performance art will still go a long ways.  And my special thanks to the TJ's manager for the lovely flowers.  People are sometimes so gracious that it takes my breath away.    Or maybe that's just how royalty always gets treated.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sigh: the Ups and Downs of Trees, Again

A really gorgeous fungi in our woods this morning: about 12 inches across and stacked another 16 inches high.  I've seen it one other year, but it's not reliably here every year.  Called 'chicken of the woods' or 'crab of the woods.'  Can be cooked in any way chicken can be, although, according to Wikipedia:

"In some cases eating the mushroom "causes mild reactions . . . for example, swollen lips" or in rare cases "nausea, vomiting, dizziness and disorientation" to those who are sensitive.[4] This is believed to be due to a number of factors that range from very bad allergies to the mushroom's protein, to toxins absorbed by the mushroom from the wood it grows on (for example, eucalyptus or cedar or yew) to simply eating specimens that have decayed past their prime. As such, many field guides request that those who eat Laetiporus exercise caution by only eating fresh, young brackets and begin with small quantities to see how well it sits in their stomach."

Well, maybe we'll pass on the kitchen use.   What it reliably appears to be is a cause of trees falling.  So adds Wikipedia:

 " From late spring to early autumn, the sulphur shelf thrives, making it a boon to mushroom hunters and a bane to those concerned about the health of their trees. This fungus causes a brown cubical rot and embrittlement which in later stages ends in the collapse of the host tree, as it can no longer flex and bend in the wind."  

Entropy strikes again.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

When a Tree Falls in the Forest, etc.

A few evenings ago, a very tall poplar chose to split in thirds about 15-feet up the trunk and come gently down to rest upon the roof of an outbuilding.  This is a messy business.  It happened around midnight and the cat meowed and I got up (I wasn't asleep yet) and went outside to try to assess what had happened: a fairly unsuccessful job in the dark.  But it didn't look like a crisis that would require 911 or something, so I just went back to bed and spent the night worrying.

Earlier in the week, the County spent many days taking down a big conifer in the road easement that had been termite infested at the base.  And yesterday, a neighbor told me she has a similar problem with a conifer at her house.  So we are going to need to do some serious looking at this tree.  That would be Ed on the first round as I don't stand on ladders.  I did trim the stuff hanging down to the ground though.

So, yes, it did make a sound.  And like the tree branch that fell last winter, yes, it did do some damage.  And that's one of the things about living in a forest that one does not always keep in mind.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dinnertime at the Homesick Restaurant

This evening, we were about to sit down to dinner when the little raccoon mom with her even littler raccoon child showed up for their dinner.  We were having chicken soup with kale and other yard-grown vegetables.  The raccoons were having plums and apples and blueberries and water.  Zoe the cat looked at them and looked at us and decided to throw in her lot for dinner with us.  She had tunafish, though.

Under the plum tree.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Westshore Terminal

It's just up the road from us in Point Roberts and many residents here only now about coal dust.  In the summer, the Terminal conducts tours for visitors.  About an hour long.  You see a short video and then ride around the terminal area (not all that big, really) and find out what they do.

Ed and I made reservations and took the tour a couple of weeks ago (they're finished doing this for the year now).  But i really recommend you're trying to remember next summer to get signed up.  Despite living very much IN the world, I am always surprised to find that I know almost nothing about how anything really works.  How trash gets collected and disposed of, how paint is made, what they are doing at all those places down on Mitchell Island.  When I was a kid, we used to go on a tour of a bakery every year.  That's pretty much my entire background on industry.  I'd like to go on a tour of a bakery now!  My guess is that they have changed over the last 70 years.

Anyway, everything they told me was news.  I didn't know that Westshore Terminal was an entirely different operation from the container terminal.  Or that the coal didn't come there in railway cars and get immediately transferred into ships somehow.  Or that they are shipping two different kinds of coal: metallurgic coal from Canada and thermal coal from the U.S.  There are giant piles of coal all over the place and giant machines moving it around.

[A very big machine and some very fine coal.]

Growing up, my family had a coal stove.  Originally, a small one that you put lumps of coal in.  Later a coal furnace that had what was called 'slack coal' and was more pebbly.  Neither of the things they're shipping look like those.  All very interesting.  They showed us what they're doing to try to reduce coal dust.  But they understand it's a problem.

Go and learn something next summer when you have a chance.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Losing Trees

Sorry to hear that 20 acres in the Mill-Johnson area are soon to be clear-logged. [update: south of Johnson, east of Mill] I would guess that most people here are fond of the Point's rural quality, especially illustrated by its trees and its small-ish houses almost randomly distributed about our almost 5 square miles.  So, while the Character Plan Committee is fussing about gas station signs*, we lose trees, mega-houses get constructed, radio towers are scheduled to be inserted*** (by the FCC, in this case, not by the county).  One can only hope that the Character Plan Revision Committee is looking to focus on the things we actually care about.**

*In its defense, that is the task of the Character Plan Committee, so the members can't really be criticized for focusing on what they're told to focus on.  However, some cups don't need to be drunk, even if that doesn't permit you to drink some other cups that aren't on offer.

**If you long to read the Character Plan, there is a copy of it here
This link takes you to the Friends of the Library webpage and on the right side toward the bottom, click on 'other reference documents' and then, on the left column, click on Character Plan.  It's a pdf file so it takes a bit to come up.

***Surely being appropriately and admirably responded to by the community via the Stop the Towers group.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Quilt Show

I had a big quilt show last week in order to raise some money for the new library.  I can't figure out how to cross post between blogs without reentering everything, so i'm just linking to the quilt blog where I describe the event: click here!

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Fine Summer for Sunflowers

I've planted tall sunflowers for the past four or five summers and have had no such success as this year.

 They're in full sun in my neighbor's field and that probably accounts for some of their improved status.

  We have very little space with full sun in our yard, but I once had 2 plants that grew really well.  This year I have fourteen plants in the field that are doing wonderfully and just now starting to open up to their flowers; and another 5 in the semi-sun of my yard that are pretty tall but not budded yet.

In any case, although the flowers are not enormously gigantic, the stalks themselves are record making in my view.  Easily 11 feet tall.  That's 8 kale plants at the bottom right.  Not record-making, I'm afraid.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Las Vegas?

 Update, below.  And where in Las Vegas would you find this gorgeous electric orange palm tree?  Oh, right, you wouldn't find it in Las Vegas, you would find it in Point Roberts, down at the Marina, looking out over the great fields and the Strait of Georgia.

I've only seen it during the day, so I do not know whether it is actually lighted from within, but if it is, I imagine the Character Plan Committee is having some kind of conniption, if they can spare the time from connipting over a 22-foot electric sign at the Valero gas station on Gulf. across from the post office.

Everything's getting up to date in Point Roberts, I guess; we've gone about as far as an exclave ought to go.  It seems very funny to me, this palm tree.  If there were a grove of them, maybe not so good, but one lonely orange palm tree?  Almost as good as a lighthouse.  In fact, maybe it could be at Lighthouse Park; or maybe it could actually be the lighthouse?

Update:  A friend with middle eastern travel experience reports that this is exactly the kind of object you would see in Dubai.  So maybe we could think of allying ourselves to the Emirates:  We don't have any oil, of course, but we do have lots of gas (stations)....

Also, I am told that this palm tree is 'temporary'...so that it wouldn't come before the Character Plan Committee.  I wonder what constitutes 'temporary'....Could the Valero station request a 'temporary' 25 foot sign?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Well, at Least Tenuously Together

You go out into the world, you learn something.  Today, I crossed the border to obtain Okenagan peaches and nectarines and returned to find, at the U.S. side of the border, a large sign announcing that the burn ban was on.  Which is a good thing to announce to people coming down who might not otherwise know.

The sign was brought to us by the P.R. Fire District, which is certainly who should be bringing this information to our attention, but it was accompanied by something new.  After the burn-ban and the PR Fire District information, it said:

"Point Roberts.  Together in Unity."

I guess we've got a new motto, although it seems much more aspirational than descriptive.  My own experience at the Point would suggest a more modest kind of motto:  "Doing the Best We Can with What We Have," maybe.  Or, perhaps,  "At Odds and Planning to Stay That Way."  "Tenuously Together on Occasion" might capture it best.

Thursday, July 31, 2014


It's been an absolutely spectacular summer for my small lily plantation (it's a small plantation-- about 4 dozen plants--but the lilies are enormous).  The first set, which bloom in june mostly, were absolutely abundant in buds, with 4 and 5 foot tall stalks holding up to 16 large buds and then 16 flowers, although not all blooming at once.  The second set, which are the ones that have a lot of scent, bloom in late July and August.  They have been very tall--several of them over 6 feet--and they too have had multiple flowers, though not above 7 or 8 on any one stalk and most fewer.  But over all they are just amazing.

They're an easy plant to grow.  Like tulips, they are bulbs, but they don't have hardened outsides so they are sensitive to sitting around in wet soil throughout the winter.  You want to have them where there is good drainage.  But other than that and feeding them two or three times during the growing season with miracle grow or some such ordinary fertilizer, they just provide their own motivation.  And then they produce your astonishment.  See below!

I buy mine from a place in Oregon, I think, called B&D Lilies.  They're a very nice lot of people who provide good information as well as good bulbs.  They'll send you a free newsletter if you ask, or a beautiful catalog.  The bulbs are a little on the pricey side, but they multiply over the years and if you have sun and good drainage, you're likely to have many more than you originally bought over 5 or 6 years.  The orange ones below started out with only one bulb, and now there are six stalks, each with multiple gorgeous orange lilies.

 The white one with the yellow ribs below is 8 inches across and divinely scented.

 The yellow ones above are quite tall and the double pinks below them are not tiny flowers: they are just quite a ways away.
 Rose gave me this 2.5-foot tall vase: absolutely necessary for lilies.
All orange, all the time.  Started with one, now there are six stalks with 8-10 flowers on each one.  Actually, there's very little time in my life in the summer to do anything but look at the lilies.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Seabright Farm and Cottages or Something

Ed and I went up to Seabright the other day to see how things were going up there.  There's lots going on and they have tours every day from Wednesday to Sunday.  Some things were pretty surprising.  The place has been featured as having splendid ocean views.  But the primary view you see as you drive down the entrance road are several two story houses between you and the ocean.  I had understood that the houses would be relatively small, but these three don't look small and they certainly look like they're in the way of a potential buyer's view.

 There's a lovely little reconstructed house (above) which is being used for a sales office.  It's filled with old Point memorabilia of sorts; or at least old furnishings for a very nice nostalgia touch.

And a big barn is going up.  I don't know what the buyers of these 58 (?) small-ish lots are going to be doing in or with a barn; I don't think it's for horses.  But who knows, maybe Point Roberts will become a center for square or contra dancing.

If you've got some free time, it's worth taking a look at it.  Just to see what they have in mind.  Not exactly the Point Roberts we are used to.  More planned, I suppose.  And planning is not exactly a word I spontaneously associate with Point Roberts.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Border Changes Its Policy (or one of them, anyway)

A few weeks ago, news of a petition to urge the U.S. Border station here at Point Roberts to remedy the problem of the increasingly problematic long lines at our entrance to home circulated.  The number of Canadians who come here for visits to their cottages, to their gas stations away from home, and to their package delivery stores away from home continues to increase, though the number of entry-ways and the hours of the Nexus lanes remain unchanged.  There's not much you can do if every car must be at least visually checked to make more cars go through the same five lanes and the same hours.

Et voila!  A petition is signed by those of us here on this side and in no time at all by U.S. Customs standards, the hours are changed.  "What? " they say.  "You need more time for Nexus lanes?  Why did you not say something earlier?  It is of course our pleasure to meet your needs."

And now, I am told, the Nexus lane coming into Point Roberts will be open from 9 am to 9 pm.  Quelle surprise!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Easing out of June

Last week was the Summer Solstice and we went to a neighborhood party in the company of about 200 other folks.  I think a lot of the people must have come from some other neighborhood, though.  Roast beef, pig, turkey, probably a swan or two and maybe a venison, though I didn't see any of the latter two.

A potluck dinner provided by 200+ people makes it very hard to know what to do with your plate when you get to it.  Are you supposed to take a half-teaspoon of each of the 45-50 salads at the salad table? at the dessert table?  etc.  Or what.  It's a hard party for people who have trouble making choices, which may just be people.  There weren't very many kids there, which was probably to the good because my kids, if they are typical, were never very good at making choices between more than 3 things.  But now that the world offers us so many choices, maybe people have gotten better at it, but I haven't.  The party proved that.

In any case, it was a memorable event of people, food, cars parked everywhere, music and general and constant movement, including cow-sculpture rides and trips on the motorized couch.  And a generous gesture on the part of the hosts.

Weather Vagueries

Last Saturday was the first day of the Community Market and it was a reasonable start.  Here in Point Roberts, we tend to start slow and improve over the course of the run of whatever it is.  So we've got about 12 weeks or so to populate both the vendors and the shoppers at the Saturday Market.

However, this morning was the 2nd week of the Saturday Market.  It is 10:30 now and the sun is shining brightly, but I am not at the market looking out for the New Library's interests, but am sitting at this computer, looking out the window, and wondering why I'm here and not there.

This is another of the problems of Point Roberts events: it frequently looks like it might rain very soon, and somebody has to decide whether to go with an outdoor event or not.  This morning, the Market Organizer called the day for rain at about 8 am, sending all the vendors a notice that it was cancelled.  And it seemed not a bad call.  But by 10, the sun was shining brightly and the sky was clear of clouds (at least at my centrally located house), and obviously the Market should be on, except that all the vendors were presumably at home and not at the Market.

Grrrr!  So frustrating.  But, a decision needed to be made, and the Market Organizer is the person to make that decision, and she made it on the best information she had.  But, I hope people will try us out again next week, assuming that it isn't raining, or looking and feeling like rain, not to mention the weather reports that all said 'high probability of rain in Point Roberts beginning at 10 am."

Monday, June 16, 2014

Two Things

The first is that the Fire District meeting reported that the volunteers had turned up 6 unauthorized yard burns in May.  People!  Be apprised that you need a burn permit when burning yard waste and that it costs all of about $3.00 and it's good for a couple of days.  And act accordingly.  As one who has twice been visited by firemen when doing burns WITH a burn permit, I'm pretty confident in saying you probably don't want to have them drop by when you DON'T have a burn permit.

And some very good news!  The Community Advisory Committee is setting up to appoint a sub-committee to revise the P.R. Character Plan, which is the puzzling document that apparently aims at making Point Roberts most resemble a small town with all the aesthetic charms of 1918, not a period that particularly lives in memory as a stunningly creative architectual moment, I think.  E.g., when we get a new library, it's supposed to have a gable roof, because that's what we would probably have had in 1918.  Ah, the death of rationality in a single document.  Of course, I suppose they could revise it to require that all outdoor signs on businesses use incandescent light bulbs.  Assuming anyone has one any more...a sign or an incandescent light bulb.  Take your choice.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The First Lily Blooms

and very much brightens our life.  A friend tells me that lilies are referred to as 'the queen of the garden,' which I didn't know, probably because I'd never grown lilies before.  (Well, they pretty much grow themselves, although I do feed them as advised by B&D Lilies, which is my bulb provider.)  I have somehow found myself responsible for about 4 dozen of these plants which do multiply over the years.  And some of them don't make it through the winter because my landscape is pretty wet.  But over about four years, I've netted 4 dozen, anyway.  And the stalks with the most buds (16-18, the most efflorescent--and I've never thought to use that word in relation to flowers but surely that is where it had its birth) are the ones that bloom in June-July.  So we are headed for some lily abundance.

Saturday, May 31, 2014


This week, the International Marketplace had fresh spinach in a bunch (not in a sealed plastic bag).  I've lived here 20 years and I don't remember ever seeing fresh, bunch spinach for sale there.  I thought maybe it didn't exist except in home gardens and plastic bags any more.  And now, here it is.  Another reason to believe that hope should spring eternal.

The end of May and exceeding summerish.  Our rhododendrons are growing AND blooming furiously.  The one outside the fence which gets almost no care, steady exhaust fumes,  and only such water as nature provides, is now almost 10-12 feet tall and covered with bright pink blossoms.  I have lilies covered with buds whose stalks are taller than I am.  Some spring!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Our Community

A funny thing happened earlier this month.  I was at the Park and Rec Board monthly meeting where they were discussing a current problem.  Puget Sound Energy needed to have an enclosure with a container where they could store equipment they needed to have readily available in case of power outages.  (We need them to have that, certainly.)  They build such an enclosure and provided such a container on land that belongs to Park and Rec.  After they built it, they agreed to plant some trees to do some screening of said enclosure.

That's good all round, right?  But, there is no water faucet belonging to Park and Rec near the site of the three, newly planted trees.  And the trees need to be watered regularly for the first year or so.  What to do?  Well, about 20 feet away from the Park and Rec site is the Fire District's main building.  And the building has a hose bib.  So maybe they could put a hose from the Fire District's hose bib to the trees?  So, they decided to ask the Fire District whether that could be done.

Then later that week, I was at the Fire District meeting and the issue of the hose and the trees came up.  There was considerable concern on the part of two of the Commissioners that Park and Rec was inappropriately (and perhaps illegally) expecting that the Fire District should pay for water for the Park and Rec's three trees.  This was not thought to be acceptable.  But then the Chairman pointed out that he had checked with the Water District's Dan Bourks and Bourks had offered to put a special meter on the Fire District's hose bib so that Park and Rec could use the water for its trees without the Fire District being charged for the water. And somehow, the Water District would arrange for the bill to be sent to Park and Rec.  And that was the resolution that was approved.

But I was thinking...Park and Rec helped out Puget Sound Energy with a space because the community needs to have power outages promptly restored.  PSE helped out the community by planting the trees.  The Fire District helped out the community by letting their hose bib provide water for the trees.  And the Water District helped out the community by installing a special hose bib meter.  All this stuff was for the community.

Surely the simplest solution was for the fire district to allow a hose to be attached to its hose bib and for the water to just water the trees.  But, somehow, this got translated into Park and Rec's trees and the Fire District's water bill.  But all of it is for us.  If we'd had an election, I'm guessing everybody would have voted to have the Fire District do that and skip the special meter installation, which may cost more than water does.  But, instead we get a complex solution.  Which is the way we live now, I guess.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Everybody's Library

Apparently there is some confusion about public access to the Maple Beach Park, which is, I believe, owned by the Maple Beach Owners' Association.  This is where the new Little Library has been erected.  The Little Library is owned and operated by the Friends of the Point Roberts Library ( that's the group that is generally devoted to helping the library provide additional services as well as devoted to raising funds for a new library: anyone can join, and I urge you to do so if you care about the community's having a thriving library).  And the Little Library is there for the use of anyone who comes by and wants to read one of the books in the library.  You're Welcome, of course!  And enjoy!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Another Change

I am not sure that this constitutes a big change in P.R., not least because it's the second time it's happened in about the last 10 years, but it is the case that Sterling Bank is now Umpqua Bank (a name that reminds us that we are in Indian Country).  In that connection, I am offered (and now offer to you) a group of youtube videos that were made to introduce us to Sterling Bank back when it took over Key Bank.  They're an odd lot and seem only recently to have been posted to Youtube, perhaps by the advertising company to display their work.

They come to me by way of a new Point Roberts resident, newly retired, who has time (as one does at the beginning of retirement) to do things like roam around on the internet to see where Point Roberts is displayed.  Here's the link to the Sterling commercial about the Fire Department back in the days when, it would appear though probably not correctly, that we had only 4 volunteer firemen as opposed to our current 50 or so. (You can get to the other 5 videos by clicking on the ad agency's name on the fire dept. video link.)

Thanks for turning these up, Bennett, and welcome to you and your wife to full-time life in Point Roberts.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Long Time, No See

Coming out from under in what looks sincerely like the spring.  Well, It's the middle of May, so I should hope so.  And there's various newses from Point Roberts:

1.  The International Marketplace is driving us all crazy by moving everything around so now we have to ask somebody where to find most of the things we were planning to buy.  I imagine it's good for store morale to do this kind of thing every so often, but old customers may be less enthusiastic.  I like knowing where things are a lot more than I like asking where things are, although at the moment at least there's somebody to ask in pretty much every aisle since they are the ones doing the moving.

2.  The International Marketplace is pleasing all of us residents with its new commitment to produce that looks very much like something that a shopper would be interested in buying and eating.  It's an amazing difference.  I remember a time a few years back when almost a quarter of the back section had nothing but carrots in a variety of package sizes.  Cardones?  Not only do they have them but they explain what you are to do with them.  Great work Dean and Team!

3.  The Cafe Cappana has opened under new management and Linda and Ron Hughes are doing a terrific job of bringing us a much spruced up environment and very nice food.  We had lunch there yesterday (and your entitled to have breakfast all day) and were more than pleased with the quality of the food.  And it's always good to see the Hughes family members, even when they are serving you your lunch.  Go and try it out.  The only downside (for us, but probably not for them) is that they close around 3, I think.  And the baked goods sell out early in the day.  Good luck on this new venture, Ron and Linda, Lake and Veronica!

4.  The Post Office disappoints by having lines almost all the time and rarely more than one open  window.  And they still cannot find a way to provide customers (or are we patrons?) with a scale.  If you have stamps (which you could buy at the grocery store, I believe) and a scale, you could sometimes avoid those lines.  Why they want us being irritated in those lines is a mystery to me.

Otherwise, welcome to spring in Point Roberts!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Trader Joe's and the Point Roberts Post Office

I was looking at some internet nothingness the other day and what it in particular focused on were comments on the Bellingham Trader Joe's site.  I like Trader Joe's, shopped there (but in Los Angeles) for decades.  It's always crowded.  That seems to be their business model: small stores, small parking lots, lots of items, lots of customers.  It's rarely a solitary or contemplative shopping experience.  But, I must admit that Bellingham's Trader Joe's has taken that business model to something of an extreme.

But I go there anyway: good prices, good quality.  And then yesterday, I found myself reading these customer comments.  But what was remarkable was the very high frequency of complaint about how many of the shoppers, how many of the parking lot users, were Canadians.  I'm pretty impressed to think that vast numbers of Canadians drive down to Bellingham just to shop at Trader Joe's.  But that's what the comments would lead you to think.

And then there was the one commenter who suggested that the very least Trader Joe's management could do was have special hours for Americans Only.  Thus causing me to send out this congratulation to Point Roberts' residents: Although I have heard people here say that there should be special times or lines for large-volume commercial mailers at the post office (our own version of the Trader Joe's problem), I have NEVER heard anyone say that there should be special hours just for those of us who live here.  What we mostly hear is that the post office management should provide more staff to handle the customers.  And for that, the USPO could take some lessons from Bellingham's Trader Joe's.  In that store, there are lots of check stands and they're pretty much all open all the time and the cheerful checkers get you through the line very quickly!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Many Events

The spring continues and local doings seem to increase in number each week.  I made it to the Taxpayers Association meeting and to the Voters Annual General meeting this week, as well as to a very nice (private) fabric sale that will be open to the public as a yard sale on the 19th and 20th.  Keep an eye out for it (it will be announced on Point Interface); gorgeous fabrics.

The Taxpayers were having a fairly routine meeting, just keeping up with whatever it is we are paying taxes for.  Its Annual General Meeting is in August and they have invited Governor Inslee up to speak.  Seems a long shot, but it would sure be nice to see him up here finding out what goes in what is in many ways the least of his responsibilities.

The Voters had County Executive Jack Louws up for their meeting.  He told us that Whatcom County was in good shape both financially and psychologically.  The latter insofar as people were working together well.  They are building a new jail down there and that has demanded a lot of political and bureaucratic work, I conclude from the political blog about Bellingham that I occasionally read.

As to Point Roberts: well, the County is still hoping to get the dock in this year but doing so involves multiple jurisdictions (the State?  the Feds?) and that part does not seem to be melding together at all, let along working smoothly.  So, maybe a new dock this year, maybe not.  Other than that, not much.

The attendees at the meeting had a lot of questions about communication between the County and the Point.  Last time they were up here, a lot of discussion centered around whether the County would please post its notices in something in addition to the Bellingham Herald, which we don't get up here.  For example, we suggested, send them as well to the All Point Bulletin and even Point-Interface.  "Indeed, we will do that," said the Planning Department people.  And, said Mr. Louws, "Indeed, they have said they will do that."  But so far, it doesn't look like they in fact have done it.

It was pointed out by the visitors that information is routinely posted on the County Website and that 'we should have someone check that site routinely.'  It was one of those moments when you suspect that the Whatcom people  are ultimately totally unable to underestand what it's like to live somewhere where there is no institutional government, but instead only volunteers of varying commitment and abilities.  I could easily imagine the County officials going back to their offices and noting to one another that they intended to get one of their people to look into and solve the problem of Point Roberts, whatever that might be at the moment.  And, they have "people" on their payrolls that do their bidding and do it more or less competently. Here, however, not so much.  "I'll get my people right on that website checking thing," I wanted to say.  "Except that I don't have any people and I'm already pretty busy working on Library Fundraising.  Maybe, instead, you could have one of YOUR people write up a summary each month and send it up to one of us to distribute."  That we could manage.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Last Day of Winter

What a spectacular final day of winter: blue skies, minimal wind.  I dried the laundry outdoors on the line.  I planted strawberries.  Just an amazing winter day.

Maybe the first day of spring?  Check with me later in the week.  I have learned to be distrustful.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Propane Prices, Encore

They've gone back down, at least at First Propane, to below $3/gallon, which is the point we're told when propane would be cheaper than electricity for heating.  So they came today and filled our tank which was getting close to empty (we use it for the cooktop, in any case).  And now the stove is back on, which is nice because the house is more evenly warm with it than it is with electric heaters here and there...

Almost April.  And still looking like late winter to me.  That is, late winter with forsythia!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Difficult Border Story

Here is some news that people will respond to differently, I suppose.  Those who say, 'the law is the law,' and those who say, 'really, that's all they've got to do with their work hours?"


however you respond, worth knowing, though.  I'm with the latter group, but in either case, the conflict between the feds and the state laws on this issue needs to be resolved so it doesn't drive people crazy.  The first thing, from my perspective, now that medical marijuana is widely legal and Washington and Colorado have de-criminalized casual use by adults, would be to get it offI the Schedule 1 list of prohibited substances.  That marijuana is on that list and that alcohol isn't makes no sense...It's just a historical anomaly.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Coming Out of Winter?

Updated below.
For the past few months, it's seemed like the only major and minor event in Point Roberts was the weather.  Thus do we know here in Point Roberts that it is winter.

But now there are things happening all of a sudden.  Last Friday, there was a reception for a new painting exhibit at the Community Center.  Last Saturday, I went to the presentation on "Burning Man" in Nevada, and then there was a chili cook-off later in the afternoon.  Sunday, Heidi and Tor were shearing the pygmy goats.  Tonight the Park and Recreation District elected/appointed a new Commissioner to replace Bev Griffiths, who has left the Point for Hawaii, I believe.  And we welcome newly commissioned Stephen Falk to the P&R Board.  Tomorrow night, PREP is doing a special presentation on what we should know about what to do should a disaster occur (that snow storm 10 days ago was about as much disaster as I'm probably up for).  And also on tomorrow night, the Community Advisory Committee is having people from Bellingham come up to explain to us why the CAC is now also going to fill the function of the Character Plan Committee.

Wednesday, the Fire District does its monthly video show.  Once again the announcement of the meeting did not include the agenda.  I'm a regular whiner on this topic because, since the public is allowed to speak ONLY at the very beginning of the meeting, we can't say much of relevance if we have no advance information as to what is going to be discussed.  Occasionally, they get an agenda together with the meeting announcement and then I am always carefully
asked if I am satisfied.  And yes, I am, but not when it's not included in the announcement.  Don't ask the question: you know the answer.  (Update: An anonymouse commenter sends us this news: "OLYMPIA — A bill expanding the Open Public Meetings Act just needs a signature from the governor to become law.
East Wenatchee Republican Brad Hawkins’ bill would require public agencies to post their meeting agendas online 24 hours ahead of time. It passed the senate last week with a vote of 41 to 6 after clearing the house last month. The measure was delivered to Gov. Jay Inslee this week.")

And the daffs and crocuses are blooming, the forsythia beginning to open to little yellow pots of pure sun.  The reappearance of daylight savings startles us both morning and night and causes us to find young children to reset our digital watches.  Wake Up, it is all saying.  Time to start paying attention again!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Canadians Come to Visit Us Here in Point Roberts

Lots of Canadians come down here for ten or fifteen minute trips to pick up packages, to get some gas, some butter and cheese, whatever.  They save money.  I understand that.  We do get a penny for each gallon of gas they buy, but we can't use it to do anything but build roads and we don't need any more roads here, really.

The crowds at the border are an inconvenience for residents here, but the Canadian visitors are mostly a nice sort.  They often provide support for the new library fundraising, they make the grocery store a financially viable operation.  But some of them, sometimes are--I don't quite get it because they are generally so pleasant and cooperative--a real pain in the neck.

Today, we were driving along the road a few blocks from our house when we noticed a couple of mailing boxes lying, soggy, on the shoulder of the road.  Not all that rare: people buy stuff and then throw the packaging away so that they don't have to pay any sales tax when returning to Canada or so that they don't have to throw the boxes away at their own house.  We stopped, picked up the boxes, and put them in the car to throw away at our house.

The boxes had, as in such cases is almost always true, no labels.  The trash droppers feel guilty enough about what they're about to do that they don't want us to know who is doing it.  Inside the boxes were plastic bags and, surprisingly, both a black jacket missing several buttons, and a packing slip.  I'm sure they didn't mean to leave the packing slip there, but they did.

So, DORSA GHADIRINIA, who lives in West Vancouver (street address upon request), I hope you are enjoying your new 3/4 sleeve black cardigan and your "Yosi Samra Chain T-strap Foldable, midnight/gold serpent, 9 m" shoes, I guess.   [ update:  my granddaughter sends me the photo of the shoes from Nordstrom's, but they are not, alas, foldable, she notes.]  And I'm not sure what you want me to do about your old black jacket with the military decorations and the missing buttons, but maybe I'll just be mailing it all back to you.  And may I fervently urge you, in the future, to avoid Point Roberts?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Our World Has Been Very White

Three days of snow, a lot of snow, made for much inconvenience.  Roads covered, trees and bushes and plants covered, driveways blocked, etc.  And after awhile, it all turned into power outtages everywhere and people scrambling for alternatives.  I didn't leave the house for those three days and didn't have power for two of them, so don't have much first-hand information about how people were coping.

We shifted from electric to propane heat, cooked on the propane cooktop, turned on the oil and propane lamps, and otherwise did without whatever electricity normally provides.  After the first 6 hours, our walk-around telephones (we don't have a land-line in this house, and apparently these phones were able to get a connection to the tiny guest house which does have a land-line) took to working but we didn't discover that for another 8 hours, and our power didn't get turned back on for a good while longer

A 20-foot fir branch fell, with great and scarey noise, onto our roof and thence onto our car, denting the roof (which is metal), and the hood of the car, while pretty much destroying the front windshield.  We send up a cheer for shatter-proof glass.  And we sat about listening to the great snow gatherings in the trees above us eventually drop and explode like bombs heard at some distance.  The cat was not sure that it was at a distance and mostly retreated to the closet and still, 2 days later, has a very worried expression on her face.

This was a big snow storm, although maybe we've had one or two as big over the past 22 years.  But nothing I'd be interested in repeating regularly.

Below, the snow before it began falling from the trees.  Many branches broke from its weight.  Very wet snow.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Better Version Than Mine

My older daughter, a blog reader from New Mexico, comments that the previous post sounds a lot like 'spam poetry' (an internet art).  And then proceeds eloquently to turn it into spam poetry:

The Parking Lot Has Cracks

Walking disabilities can't see at night
A discussion why you might change
after years of being.

An offer to escort the disabled from their cars to the building
Describe four possibilities, including itself
No decision, there were only two.

Mr. Meursing thinks Mr Wilmot thinks
Something about possible other benefits,
Might not be the one you want.

To ameliorate the problem
3rd meeting in a row
but nothing about more.

Clear how they are planning
The surface black
Soon it will be on video

You can watch it all for yourself
While you decide the insurer
Should be an adequate response.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

If It's Wednesday, It's the Fire District

There's a discussion of why you might change insurers after years of being with one insurer.  Clear about how they are planning to look for other insurers (have one insurer describe four possibilities, including itself), but not clear about when/why you decide that the insurer you've had might not be the one you want.  Something about possible other benefits, but nothing about more costs for more benefits.

And some more discussion (3rd meeting in a row, I think) of the fact that the parking lot surface has large cracks that people with walking disabilities can't see at night because the District painted the surface black.  Mr. Wilmot thinks there could be something done to ameliorate the problem; Mr. Meursing thinks an offer to escort the disabled from their cars to the building should be an adequate response to the American with Disabilities Act.  No decision, since there were only the two of them at the meeting.  Perhaps Mr. Riffle had yet a third view.

Soon it will be on video and you can watch it all for yourself.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

High Costs and Low Temps

Cold for days and days, it seems.  Not much but cold seems to happen when it is cold.  But this is the second week of the month when meetings are abundant, so one can go to meetings.  Ideally, in warm buildings, but not always the case.

Last night, I went to hear what the Park and Rec Board was doing to repair the Community Center.  Waiting for the seismic engineers' report on the seismic inspection, is mainly what they are doing.  And, as a result of the meeting and an excellent suggestion by Ron Hughes, considering whether it needs to hire a project manager to coordinate the various aspects of the Major Repair Program.  The initial idea was for one of the Commissioners (none of whom it would appear was particularly skilled or had relevant experience in this area) to complete the task for free.  One might think that having appropriately responsible coordination and oversight for a $250,000 project would be essential and that it would necessitate hiring someone to do it.  But not necessarily, apparently.  The Commissioners are thinking about it at this point, anyway, thanks to Mr. Hughes.

Tonight, we could choose between the Propane Meeting and the Community Advisory Committee Meeting.  I chose the former, because I kind of knew that the news at the latter would be minimal.  The propane meeting, by contrast, was a brand new topic and seemed to have considerable possibility for just being interesting.

Until I read about the meeting, I didn't even know there was a problem about propane.  We use it to heat the house and we like it a lot.  I Googled a bit and found that there has been a big surge in propane prices here and there throughout the country, but not everywhere in the country.  Some places it was in the range of $2/gallon, and in others it was $4-$6/gallon.  The midwest and the east coast were especially being hit with sudden spikes in price, but few stories about such spikes on the west coast.

So I went to the meeting with the knowledge that it wasn't just a local problem.  At the meeting, the impulse was largely to treat it as a local problem.  One of the two local suppliers was charging considerably more than the other.  Unfortunately, unless you own your own propane tank, you can't just switch from one supplier to another.  (How people expect market theory to work when there is a captive audience and no information and no effective form of competition is a mystery to me, but doubtless there are market supporters who would say well, we shouldn't have chosen to live in such an awkward location.)

Couple of things by way of information: According to Puget Sound Energy, when propane gets to be over $3/gallon, electricity is cheaper to use as heat.  (Electricity prices are quite stable.)  According to George Iddon, if you have a rented tank, your propane supplier charges an extra 10-20 cents for each gallon of propane you buy.  (Thus, he said, when you ask them what their price is for propane, they need to know first whether you own your own tank.)

Some of the dozen or so folks attending wanted to write a community letter to the more expensive of our propane suppliers to indicate their unhappiness at the pricing policy.  Again, Mr. Iddon reported that he had checked propane prices in Whatcom County, and that prices were generally in line with the cheaper of our two suppliers.

The U.S. Senate is talking about holding hearings on the problem nationwide and urging the FTC to look into the price spikes to determine whether there are market manipulations going on (as with the Enron scandal in electricity pricing some years ago).  So we could be contacting our U.S. Senators, as well.  Or, we could just watch the Olympics, I guess.  Or do some extra exercise to keep warm or, in honor of Jimmy Carter, put on another sweater..

Update: the national average price for propane this week is $3.75/gallon.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

See the Video!

The Fire District's video of its last meeting (early January) is now on its website.  You can see it here.  They don't allow you to make comments, though.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

This, That

Last week the Fire District Commissioners met with their newly purchased video camera in use.  The camera was purchased so that the public can watch all their meetings without the inconvenience of actually going to the meetings.  It remains to be seen how this will work out because the acoustics in the room are not good and there did not appear to any special microphones other than the built in one, so whether this is going to be an audio and a video experience is not yet clear.

The Chief said the video would be posted within a couple of days from the meeting on the District's website, but we are about a week on and it isn't yet posted nor are the minutes from the meeting  [update: minutes now posted here: ].  The plan was also to have a copy of the tape in the library for folks to watch.  I'm not sure there's a burning need (no pun intended) among the public to watch all this, but Chairman Meursing believes that it will add to transparency.  However, those who are concerned about transparency mostly are of the view that the problem is what happens between the meetings and not at the meetings.

Also dropped in Park and Recreation last night to see what they were up to with their new job of getting the Community Center up to speed.  Apparently, there is soon to be the beginning of assessing what would need to be done to bring the building up to seismic safety levels, assuming there are some official ones.  I take it that there aren't, but i'll check it out this week.  My sense that there isn't much of a safety requirement for old buildings is that the Chairman suggested that if what would be needed cost too much the Commissioners wouldn't be planning to do it.  A seismic assessment, I am told, will involve seeing what's inside the walls.  Given that there's water under the building and water coming through the roof, it seems likely that there's some water in the middle, too.

Otherwise, we are pretty quiet here in Point Roberts.  The International Marketplace is continuing it's "Roundup" campaign to raise money for the new library, but I'm unofficially told it will come to an end soon.  And when it ends, we'll have the final number for 2013 fundraising.  And we'll know how much more we need to raise in order to get the new library actually built.

Today, I planted (surely the last possible moment) a dozen tulip bulbs that I bought last fall.  They've been sitting outside on the porch and had barely started to put up any growth, so I'm hoping they'll make it when we get to April.  But I never got around to planting my garlic (usually in November), and I doubt if spring is good enough for that.  Well, onward we go anyway.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Fire Department Calendar Update

I was talking to Chris Carleton a few days ago (when he came round to ensure that we were following F.D. regs for burning yard debris) and inquired about the success of the Fire Hydrant calendar sale.  He reported that they had sold virtually all of their original order of 200, but that they had ordered 50 more.  So, you can still buy one, but you have to go to the Fire Department building on Benson to do so.  Still $20.00 each.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Current News

I drove on the new South Fraser Bypass (route 17) for the first time the other day. It was largely disorienting as I couldn't figure out where I was that I didn't use to be when driving on the 17.  And lots of new signage, one of which particularly captured my attention.

At some point, we drivers are informed that going straight will take you to Hope and going right will take you to Seattle.  A New Year's Day sign for the times?