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


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.