Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rabbits Get a Bad Rap

The ASPCA made an outrageous claim in the Spring 2012 USAA Magazine that a rabbit is the most expensive pet costing $730 per year to feed and maintain.


I've seen too many tiny pampered pooches dressed in designer duds to know that can't possibly be true.  And how about finicky cats?  The one that adopted us will only eat certain kinds of Fancy Feast moist food at $ .70 a pop.  Then there's dry food, litter and vet bills.  On top of that, he grabs the best place on the couch!



Those of us who love House Rabbits know they're not at all like dogs and cats.  They don't go for walks on the trail or the beach, nor do they jump into the car for a ride to the store.  And yet, their silent presence in our lives gives a special meaning to every day.

Their naturally down-turned mouth signals disapproval, but daily soft cuddles, purring when they're happy, and jumping into our lap for nose licks shows us a different side.  In return, we end up catering to their every need.  Why?  Because they're just so darn cute!  This is The Princess wondering what could possibly be holding up breakfast.



We have eight rabbits living with us.  My guess is that now we spend about $300 on each one per year, with the largest cash outlay for bananas for breakfasts and organic greens and veggies for nightly salads.  Other regular expenditures are for special rabbit pellets, hay purchased by the bale, and litter made with re-cycled paper.  Unlike other pets, most healthy bunnies can live just fine without annual vaccinations or medical procedures -- except for initial spaying and neutering.  The last thing the world needs is more rabbits!

The large cash expenditures for our increasing rabbit family were in the beginning.  We started ten years ago with a "free" little brown bunny, The Princess.  She was free, but her set-up in the kitchen was not.  There's a solid barrier, a gate and as you can see in the picture above, a special bunny door that goes outside.

It's the outside area that cost us the most.  Our entire second story wood deck, originally built for people, has been completely converted into eight penned areas, separated by double 4' fences and gates.  We believe that bunnies thrive with fresh air and exercise every day that weather allows.  Here's Goldie and her brother, Little Blue, enjoying some outdoor dining in their area a few years ago.



Another expensive excursion down the rabbit hole was our rescuing five week-old kits abandoned by their mom near the Fed Ex office at our little airport.  We named them the Fed Ex Bunny Quintet.  Daily feedings relied on life-saving Day One powdered formula and dozens of tiny nipples shipped from Connecticut via over-night express.  Special food and hay and a pen for our dining room rounded out the cash outlay.  But what an experience that was.  Especially since all five survived and found inside homes with their adopted families.



Based on our experience of having many rabbits binky their way in and out of our lives over the last decade, there's no chance we have spent $730 a year on each one.  Although ... even if it were true ... how do you put a price tag on love?

What kind of pet shares your life, and how much do you pay for that pleasure?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mrs. Peacock in the Library with the Candlestick

Whenever grandchildren visit, we always find time to play a couple of games of Clue.  It's one of the few timeless games that we adults, who grew up with a black and white Dumont or Emerson TV in the living room, can enjoyably share with contemporary masters of smartphones loaded with apps.


In concept, the game hasn't changed since it was purchased by Parker Brothers from its British creator in the 1940s:  who killed Mr. Boddy, in which room, with what weapon?  It's all a matter of logic, elimination and luck. 

New techniques on the Internet virtually ensure winning, but they bog down the game so much that only a couple of our visitors use them.  Most of us are happy to roll the dice, cruise around the board or slip through secret passages, voice our suspicions, and jot down clues on our detective notepad.



The best thing about two or three generations sitting around a table playing a board game that was invented more than 60 years ago is meeting on common ground.  Ground that is simple and focuses on the people at the table in the present moment as we all concentrate on finding the logical solution to the mystery before us.

The last time we played with a fourteen-year-old grandson, he added a whole new dimension to the game by making a compelling case for how the color of the characters represented their true identities.



The stodgy Mr. Green was the epitome of envy and jealousy.  Mrs. White represented simplicity and purity, enhanced by an adeptness with carving knieves.  Mrs. Peacock reeked of royalty and wealth, a member of the rich upper-crust of society.  Colonel Mustard, of course, was stuffy steadfast authority at its finest.  The winsome Miss Scarlet was lust, pure and simple.  And he claimed that Professor Plum was not only the brooding intellectual, but might also be the one gay member of the cast.

He pressed on by drawing parallels to the various sins in Dante's "Inferno" the first part of his epic poem The Divine Comedy.  That was a bit much, and he lost us completely when he started in on the Nine Circles of Hell.

Do any of you still play Clue?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Speak up, Post, Tweet and Vote

A nasty backdrop on the stage of the 2012 elections is an escalating assault on a woman's most basic right:  control over her body.  A movement, cloaked in ultra conservative and religious rhetoric, is challenging those same reproductive rights American women fought for and won more than sixty years ago.

An amendment allowing bosses to call the shots on covering birth control for female employees was tacked onto a transportation bill.  Talk of imposing invasive, unnecessary medical procedures on women before they can terminate a pregnancy is targeted solely at the female side of the reproductive equation.

How about this instead?  Let's mandate that sexually active single males be forced to ingest saltpeter between the ages of thirteen and twenty-five.  We can test it on Rush Limbaugh to ensure it'll work without lingering side-effects.

A feisty friend in Texas is appalled that the whole issue is being dragged into the political limelight,  "I feel like we have moved back to the Fifties with these ridiculous conversations about abortion and birth control ..." she writes.

Her response?  Posting this in facebook and ordering the t-shirt!


In fact, anyone who wants to win elections this year needs to back off from messing with women in any state.  June Cleaver doesn't live here anymore.  Women today fill more slots in college, capture more spots in medical school, and earn lucrative salaries in the workplace.  They simply won't tolerate politicians more interested in what they do in bed than how their tax dollars are spent.

Women make up 51 percent of the population in this country.  And they made enough racket a few weeks ago that even Helen Reddy heard them roar.

When Komen for the Cure severed funding for Planned Parenthood, women instantly reacted on facebook and twitter with a level of outrage that was amazing to behold.  Komen's organization reversed its stand, fired the executive responsible, and even the group's founder wound up on shaky ground.


This powerful group of citizens needs to voice their indignation over assaults on their rights, and then swamp the voting booths in November.  Misguided politicians who ignore the majority will be sent packing.  Back to the Dark Ages where they belong.

Sensible people in this country care about jobs, the economy, energy and education -- not tinkering with women's health care.  Those who wish to represent us need to wise up and focus on the big picture.

Women standing up for their rights vocally and in the voting booth will not only preserve their own freedom of choice, but also that of daughters and granddaughters.  In this 21st Century Time of Enlightenment, how could anyone want to return to the days when women were forced to either give birth to a dozen children or endure back alley abortions in unsanitary rooms?

Speak up, post, tweet and vote!


Image created by Tony Crider

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Champagne on Ice

Spring rains often swamp the Samish River with "fecal" matter that washes off fields and runs into the river.  When that happens, the State Department of Health (DOH) temporarily closes Samish Bay to shellfish harvesting.


As a result of multiple bay closures during past spring months, the DOH reclassified Samish Bay from "Approved" to "Conditionally Approved."  This means if the river rises by a certain level, the DOH automatically closes the bay.

Then, Skagit County employees or Storm Team volunteers must quickly take water samples, test them, and send the results to Olympia the next day.  When pollution levels are within the safe range, the bay will be reopened.  It will remain closed until the water and the shellfish are safe.

On March 1 a four-month clock starts running to measure the success of the Clean Samish Initiative's (CSI) massive clean-up effort.  Restoration of the "Approval" status in Samish Bay in 2012 will be achieved if the following ground rules are satisfied by July 1:

(1)  There must be "normal" rainfall during that 4-month period.

(2)  There must be at least 6 times when rain makes the river rise enough to cause an automatic closure by the DOH.

(3)  There can only be one bay closure due to pollution levels in the river.  If there are more, all bets are off and the bay will not be upgraded this year.

What's going on with CSI and the Samish River over the next four months is critical and complex, and Skagit Leeks has a front row seat.



The DOH will upgrade Samish Bay to "Approved" only if it rains enough and the river rises often enough to demonstrate that efforts to clean up pollution sources in the watershed have been successful.

Everyone following the Saga of the Samish the last few years wants the CSI Team to be successful and Samish Bay to be upgraded.  The upgrade will signify the river is cleaner, the bay is cleaner, there will be fewer closures to shellfish harvesting.

We at Skagit Leeks have put some champagne on ice and hope to pop the cork and toast the success of the CSI Team on July 1.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Looking for Agates

You can always spot an avid agate hunter among any group of beach walkers.  Those who have come to enjoy the ambiance look out at the water or up at the sky as they stroll along that sandy, rocky skirt at the water's edge.  The agate hunter walks slowly into the sunlight, cap brim pulled down to soften the glare, eyes scanning back and forth among the rocks.


These glossy, waxy stones are swept along by oceans and rivers, tumbled over and over before waves carry them high onto the shore and leave them behind.  It's been quite a journey.  Those two agates pictured above are actually a micro crystalline variety of silica formed inside lava flows billions of years ago.

Most agate hunters don't particularly care about the scientific properties of these little gems.  We simply want to find one, and then another, feeling their waxy "softness" with our fingertips before slipping them into a waiting pocket.

Sooner or later the looking becomes addictive.  Even when walking in a beautiful place on a perfect day ... the head drifts down and experienced eyes once again begin to scan the rocky path stretching out ahead.

At the end of the day, pockets are emptied and contents spill onto the table.

This pile of shiny stones is our reward for missing the gulls lazily drifting on the breeze; kingfishers staying underwater until it seems their lungs would burst; sunlight coloring the edge of the beach like a luminous highlighter.

After years of looking, it is still a thrill to spot one tucked away, just waiting to be found.  Since most agates are small, sooner or later the avid hunters talk about the "big ones" they found on this beach or that one.  My prize finds are pictured below with a few of the more normal-sized ones.



And what do we do with them all?  We put them in jars.  It starts by filling a single clear glass jar or vase with these shiny stones.  Soon another jar is filled and then another one.  Defying logic, all agates found must be kept ... until containers full of them accumulate, lining window sills and serving as bookends.



Some people believe agates have metaphysical properties including protection, strength, and harmony.  Others, like me, believe they're simply fun to find.

Where is your favorite place to look for these shiny treasures?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Where's the Beef?

Remember this picture from the January 29th post, "Red Herrings in the Samish"?


Here's the scoop on the project.  It cost $20,000 to put in the culvert, 1200 feet of fencing, and 300 plants ... to keep 2 (t-w-o) horses from pooping in a ditch.

After all the hoopla made by Clean Samish Initiate (CSI) members over this project (colored pictures in brochures, bus tours, etc.), surely the ditch must head directly to the Samish River, right?

Nope.  Take a look at the map.


The red "X" is the property with the two horses.  The ditch goes into one end of Cranberry Lake (marked "pond" on the map).  Then Swede Creek flows out of the lake and travels a good three miles before it empties into the Samish River.

So, why do all the CSI Folks make such a big deal about this one project completed back in 2010?

Is it possible it's the only thing they've done?

How about showing us improvements that would make a real difference, like this spot with plenty of livestock grazing right above the banks of the Samish River?


There's the river on the right side of the picture below.  Look at that mud.


Here's another look.  Guess where the heavy spring rains are going to wash this muddy mess.  Right into the Samish River.


Talk about a chance to stop pollution in its tracks!

These are the "before" pictures from last spring.  It's been almost a year, CSI Folks.  Where are the colorful "after" pictures?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

I Feel Good about Squash

This has not always been the case.  In the past, any dish made with squash was to be avoided, lest the mushy mixture should make me gag.

With age comes many things, including a growing fondness for squash ... especially baked Acorn Squash with butter and brown sugar or raw Zucchini in salads.

Then, an intriguing recipe popped up on my radar, containing something new to me -- Butternut Squash -- that looks like this when you buy them:

And like this when you cut them open:

While preparing the new recipe, I discovered this lovely yellow stuff is quite delicious raw.  It's crunchy and nutty flavored, as well as being filled with vitamins, carotenoids, and antioxidants.

Research revealed that the word "squash" comes from the Narragansett language (belonging to Native Americans living in Rhode Island long ago) and means "a green thing eaten raw."

In fact, squash was one of the "Three Sisters" planted by Native Americans:  corn, beans and squash.  Is it a fruit or a vegetable?  Experts say it is both, since it's considered a vegetable when used in cooking, but because it has seeds it's technically a fruit.

The bottom line is the deep yellow/orange flesh of Butternut Squash tastes great in a recipe for "Tortellini with Butternut Squash" originally found in Real Simple and modified by swapping out the mushrooms for sweet Italian sausage.

The surprisingly tasty ingredient in this recipe is the squash, which is cut into chunks, seasoned with salt and pepper and sage, tossed in olive oil, and then baked on a cookie sheet quickly in a hot oven until it looks like this:


Check out the recipe HERE.

This dish will provide the entree for another Birthday Dinner at my house next weekend, served with a shrimp, avocado and fennel salad ... and topped off with a luscious Limoncello Cake.

How do you like your squash?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Red Herrings in the Samish Watershed

Skagit Valley Herald headline last Friday:  "Conservation group gives tour of successful cleanup projects in the Samish Watershed."

Wow!  Finally someone associated with the multi-million-dollar Clean Samish Initiative shows us some real improvements.

But alas, the improvements presented to the mostly clueless passengers of the tour bus were little more than Red Herrings, designed to deflect attention from the truth:  little has been done.

CSI is now in its third year.  Lots of taxpayer money has flowed under the bridge.  And still ... our local Conservation District has few genuine fixes to show us.

What's up with that?  How long are taxpayers going to be led astray by colorful brochures and pandering articles in the paper?

Red Herring #1 is the great barn pictured below:


This was a real fix completely paid for by a wealthy farmer in the Samish who admitted, " ... it's more than most farmers can afford."

You think?  So why did the tour focus on this uber high-priced solution?

Red Herring #2 is the nifty project pictured below:



This is the "poster child" of a farmer's using taxpayer dollars to prevent water pollution with a nice culvert, fencing and hedgerows.

Too bad it was completed back in 2010 ... and the farm is too far away from the identified locations of pollution in the Samish River to make any difference.

So we at Skagit Leeks ask:  "What's up, CSI folks?  Where are the real fixes done by real people in areas with real pollution problems?

Where are all the fences that have been moved back away from the very edge of waterways to keep livestock manure from being washed into the river during our Spring Rainy Season?

Where are all the culverts built and hedgerows planted by NRSP in areas that actually affect the pollution of the Samish River?

Where are the examples set by influential members of the Cattleman's Association with farms in the Samish Watershed?

Where are the improvements made by farmers who received warnings or fines from the Department of Ecology over the past two years?

Why doesn't anyone show us those cases of "successful cleanup projects"?

Stay tuned to Skagit Leeks for the real truth about genuine improvements in the Samish Watershed.  We know better than to swallow these Red Herrings hook, line, and sinker.

In the meantime, we suggest you try this tasty recipe for Pickled Red Herring:



1 Herring fillet, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 TBS pickled beet juice; 1 red onion, chopped; 1 TBS chopped pickled beet.  Herring Marinade

Arrange Herring in shallow bowl.  Mix beet juice with some of the marinade and pour over the Herring.  Place the chopped red onion and beet in strips diagonally over the Herring.  Garnish with dill sprigs.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Frosting

The amazing original artistic creation "Water Dragon 2012" by Diana Moll of Santa Cruz (CA) was enhanced by my favorite framer Guy Wilson of Mount Vernon (WA).

Diana Moll's prints can be ordered from the website ETSY.  And Guy Wilson can be found at Wilson Picture Framing HERE.

The final product was like frosting on the cake!



In the picture below, the bonding of two of our bunnies Chico and Zoey is the "cake" . . .  and seeing them together, filling the big empty place left by the loss of our sweet Savannah is the "frosting."



How lucky we are to have both.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I Feel Bad About My Refrigerator Door

New refrigerator doors are coated with something that de-magnetizes them.  We don't have one of those.  Consequently, the refrigerator door has become the collection point for all that matters.

In the process, it has become a scary thing to see, let alone approach.


The story's the same for all of us:  it starts small.  A couple of magnets from places we visited; a couple more tiny reproductions of the winning picture from some local event.  For us, it's the annual Tulip Festival.  Or even the nifty notepad where we jot down things to remember.

Once you start down the path of defacing or enhancing your refrigerator door (however you feel about the process), then other things are so easily added.

Pictures of special people get slapped onto the surface as quickly as they come into our possession.  Signs or drawings made by grand kids are attached just as quickly.  I mean, what grandparent can pass up displaying a drawing made by a little person who uses the universal symbol for love?

And then we manage to squeeze in the all-important notice for a test ordered by the family doctor.  The logic is:  put it on the reefer door so you won't forget.  The reality becomes:  we get so used to its presence, we don't notice it anymore.

Each time courage is mustered to attack and de-clutter this over-crowded unsightly surface, courage is then followed by realization that choices must be made.  Whose pictures will go?  The faded ones that mean so much?  The ones attached so many years ago the subjects look completely different now?  The one, made just for us, warning diners that rabbit fur is a condiment?

Each time a sweet face or drawing or note is spotted when passing this messy place, a warm memory or feeling of love bubbles up and causes a momentary smile.

What do you have on your refrigerator door?


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Lisa's Italian Soup

In the winter, especially when the ground is covered with snow, soup always tastes so good.

This particular Italian Soup is a family recipe:  shared with my daughter by a special aunt, and then passed on to me.  Lisa's Italian Soup, pictured below, is easy to make, healthy to eat, and tastes delicious.


It's always satisfying when a daughter's culinary expertise begins to exceed that of the mother ... enabling the parent to pass the baton in the nicest possible way.

You can find the recipe for my daughter's soup HERE.

Note:  See Recipes link in the right-hand column for more favorites.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Who's Going to Clean Up This County?

-  Shenanigans at the County Assessor's Office
-  Major thievery at the highest levels of Tri-dent Seafoods
-  Unmentionable mischief in our Dike Districts
-  City of Burlington fails financial audit
-  Thief working at the County Treasurer's Office
-  Top levels of Skagit Hospice rocked with scandal
-  Cow poop afloat in the Samish River
-  Drug dealings galore
-  Taco stand kicked out of Woolley

   

As Quick Draw McGraw would say:  "What we have here
is a culture problem, Baba Looey."

Friday, January 13, 2012

Light Up Dinner

Friends came over for a special dinner the other night:  Fontina Lasagna and a new recipe for Garlic "Bread" (made from Pillsbury biscuits).


My stove caught on fire, smoke was wafting through the house, and we had to open all the doors and windows.  "Outdoor" dining at its finest.

Fun and second helpings were had by all.

Note from the Cook:  Lasagna bubbled over, leaving a hefty-sized glob on the bottom of the oven.  Then the impatient cook cranked up the heat to 450 degrees (instead of 400) to bake the bread, resulting in "smoke-filled ambiance" and bread that was a wee bit black on the bottom. 

We ate every one of the little suckers anyway.  Everything was delicious!

Recipes found here:  LASAGNA   and   GARLIC BREAD




Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Losing Savannah

Note:  the "insert picture" function is not working tonight, so this will be posted without the pictures of my beautiful Sweet Savannah.

Saturday night one of my favorite bunnies died while I was close by her side.  She was old and had been feeling poorly for a few days.  We knew it was her time, so we kept her comfortable and eased her passage from this life to wherever bunny spirits go.

It is my belief that the animals in our lives find us for some reason.  Perhaps it's simply a self-preservation tool to avoid sounding like a nutcase when admitting we had seventeen rabbits living in our house at one time.  Although five were babies and only here for two months, so they hardly count.

Savannah was a Mini-Rex, but there was nothing "mini" about her.  She had been likened to a large loaf of French bread with feet.  Rex Rabbit fur looks and feels like velvet.  She was particularly beautiful because of her broken castor color -- white with well-placed deep mahogany spots.  A moving Rorschach inkblot test, with deep brown, friendly, trusting eyes.

She was the first rabbit purchased for Shoofly Farm, a daughter's farm camp for kids which is evolving to one that conducts special programs for kids with PANDAS as well as others on the autistic spectrum.  Animals and kids are a winning combination when it comes to any kind of healing -- for both the animal and the human.

Savannah had a pleasant interlude with the handsome Don Juan, a castor buck, and she produced seven kits right on schedule at Shoofly Farm.  Little campers learned much about rabbits at that camp, and each of her babies was adopted and taken home at the end of summer.

When the last of the camp remnants had been cleaned up, Savannah remained off to the side in an outdoor hutch.  At my request, she came here to "winter" before repeating the whole process the following spring.  But alas, she convinced me she had served her time on the camp circuit, and wanted to remain here with us.  A special place was created for her in the kitchen, and she lived there happily for more than seven years.

She gave much joy and love to us, and readily accepted petting and treats from anyone who visited.  In return, her demands were few:  plenty of tasty, healthy food; a soft fleece blankie for comfort; and exclusively a Crown Royal box (acquired periodically at the liquor store) to serve her needs for privacy indoors.

She also managed to secure the prime outside spot in the front corner of our big second story deck completely taken over by rabbits.  Three big planter pots filled with hay, and a colorful umbrella anchored in the center spot, provided shade from the sun, protection from a drizzle, and the perfect place to enjoy the sweet fragrance of Lilacs in the spring.

She brought a smile to the face of anyone who saw her sitting in her favorite pot.  Their affinity for rabbits was irrelevant.  The sight of her pure enjoyment was a gift to all who viewed her over the years.

My eyes involuntarily drift to Savannah's now-empty spot in my kitchen, and it will take me a few days of remembering to cut eight instead of nine little squares of wheat bread to serve with banana slices at breakfast time.  Perhaps it will help when a new bonded pair moves into Savannah's renovated quarters.

Although, in my heart, it will always be that sweet delicate face and warm brown eyes I long to see the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night.

A friend, who learned of Savannah's passing, wrote the Tibetan mantra:  "Om Mani Padme Hun ten thousand times for the beautiful Savannah ..."

There is no more fitting tribute to that sweet, loving little spirit.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Facebook Frenzy

Everyone has heard of facebook, Mark Zukenberg's amazing bazillion dollar creation.  Originally intended for the college crowd, it has been overtaken by Boomers (us older folks) and the Millenials (tweens and teens and twenty-somethings).  Facebook members are estimated to reach one billion, worldwide, in 2012.


It's truly a polarizing concept.  Some are convinced it's a complete waste of time; others cannot live without it.  For this second group, it's their favorite way to "connect" socially, and can be done from anywhere so long as you have a computer, laptop, iPad or smartphone.

Some were innocently lured into this social network arena to see pictures of friends or family.  Others to keep tabs on the activities of grandchildren who otherwise rarely communicate.  Many got involved to find and re-connect with old friends from high school or college, especially those who have slipped off our radar over the years.

Like anything else in CyberLand, facebook has its own lingo.  One must learn about walls, posts, pokes and likes, along with the challenge of conversing with people from your past you don't remember.


The whole point is to accumulate Friends:  the one with the most friends wins.  It's comparable to being Prom Queen or Big Man on Campus in high school.  In fact, older users are transported back through time to the "good old days" of cliques and being accepted by or excluded from the "in" group.

Naturally facebook has groups.  Some are formed to bring together people who grew up in the same town.  Others because of pets, political views, culinary tastes, etc.  One must be "invited" to be part of a group, so there's the built-in appeal of belonging that is such a powerful human attribute, even though we may have little else in common with other group members.


Each group has an Administrator who makes and communicates the rules to members, lest they violate the protocol.  Once again, the whole spectrum reigns here -- from easy-going groups to ones with rules and penalties.

The worst thing that can happen to a person on facebook is to be "un-friended."  As a lackluster participant of this social network, I've been un-friended a number of times.  The first time for not being "interesting" enough; the last time for knowing too much.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Year of the Dragon

Skagit Leeks has just learned of  Assessor Don Munks' unfortunate accident this morning when he backed into a 69-year-old woman with his car.  The woman was was apparently on foot when struck by Mr. Munks' car.

Initial reports say that her injuries were minor, and no citations (at this time) have been issued to Mr. Munks by the Sheriff's Office.

January 23 will be the beginning of the Chinese Zodiac Year of the Dragon.  Since we at Skagit Leeks already know of some difficulties Assessor Munks will be confronted with as this Year of the Dragon unfolds, we suggest he consider hanging the correct number and color of Tibetan Prayer Flags in his office.


They come in many colors, and it is important to have the correct combination of colors and symbols in order to enhance their power in bringing peace and good luck to the person using the flags.

Based on Mr. Munks' unfortunate beginning of this brand new year, we encourage him to consult his favorite expert on this long-standing Tibetan practice.  We believe he will need all the help he can get.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Suspension of Reality

We all need to escape our busy lives, especially after the Holidays, thus the barrage of ads seeking to lure us to "Relaxing Retreats" or "Exotic Get-Aways."

For those us of living in or near Skagit County, we can avoid shuttles and security and all the hassles of flying to far-off destinations while finding something even better:  a suspension of reality, offered by the Guemes Island Resort.


Guemes Island is a rural, sparsely populated residential island, edged by rocky and sandy beaches, littered with agates and pretty shells.  The relaxation process begins when you board the 22-car ferry that transports cars and people across the Guemes Channel from Anacortes to the island.


Anderson's General Store sits a block from the ferry dock -- a mandatory stop for a last chance to enjoy one of Yoserian's delectable paninis boxed "to go."  While waiting for the to-go lunch, one must peruse the artistic creations made by locals and others and sold at Anderson's.  Catching my eye were delicate luminaries made from recycled paper by artist Corena Chamberlain.  It was easy to envision burning the candle that night in the quiet darkness to celebrate my return to this island that will forever hold a special place in my heart.


My island destination this time was a new one for me:  my first-time stay in the resort first built in the 1940s by Charlie Townsend, who lived on the premises for years, as did his wife after Charlie's death.  Six original (but refurbished) cabins line the beach; three larger homes are available for bigger groups; and standing behind the six sentinels on the beach are two recent additions.  The newer Sucia and Matia Cabins are perched high off the ground on concrete pilings amid a protective group of tall pine trees, providing a physical sense of removal and privacy.  See the Guemes Island Resort HERE.

After settling in, which didn't take long, and then spending time standing at the fringe of the incoming tide, Guemes begins to weave its magic with every wave that rushes in to grab the rocky shore.  A high tide and brisk southern breeze forces the waves farther up the beach each time, re-arranging all the loose rocks and shells in their path.  It is a stunning place to stand, surrounded by a dramatic backdrop.


Matia Cabin would serve me well on this two-day suspension of reality; a studio cabin, comfortably appointed and simply perfect for my needs.  Absolute quiet prevailed, except for pleasant sounds of the breeze in the trees, the rain on the roof at night, the waves on the beach, and the crackling of the logs burning in the wood stove.

There are no traffic sounds, no voices of other people (the resort was thankfully sparsely populated); no intrusive TV screen glares at me, no music plays, no annoying ring of a cell phone is possible, the room even lacks Wi-Fi.  I was effectively sealed off from the outside world ... except for Nature ... which helps to heal jangled nerves, too-busy minds, and tired bodies.