Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Birthday Fred

Happy birthday celebrations with friends and family today were for Fred. My favorite pic of the day, the birthday boy posing with his grandson, son and daughter.
More pics from today's birthday celebrations.

Kristi's birthday's next!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Alternative Holiday Market

A big "THANK YOU" goes out to the many friends of the Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network (WMMSN) that helped support us by stopping by our booth at the 2nd Annual Multi-Faith Alternative Holiday Market! The table that we filled with fun, educational opportunities for children in our booth was an absolute success.On one side of the kids table, I helped provide general information about WMMSN and on the other side, there was a table where visitors could view a filmstrip showing the recent rehabilitated harbor seal release by Wolf Hollow, purchase WMMSN T-shirts or make donations.
As an "alternative" holiday market, all the booths were reserved for not-for-profit agencies and the entire event appeared to be a total success as crowds of visitors filled the Community Room at Bloedel Donovan Park from the time the event opened right up until it closed - all showing support for our local agencies as the Bellingham Community Chorus performed in the background. Admission to the alternative holiday market, a jar of baby food for donation to the Bellingham Food Bank.
Sometimes I wonder what the world would be like if more people decided to give to not-for-profit and charity agencies rather than getting sucked up into all that commercial holiday hype centered around a glittery mall and shiney merchandise.
More pictures from an afternoon at the Alternative Holiday Market.

Because it's been raining for what feels like the entire month of November, there is standing water almost everywhere. I had to take a second look in order to tell exactly where the pavement at the public boat launch ended and Lake Whatcom began.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Stoked about Stokes

Stoked about Stokes, my first 2010 seed catalog just arrived in the mail and I can't seem to stop drooling over the page after glossy page of beautiful photos and planting details. I've always enjoyed those seed catalogs!It's been two weeks since I've even set foot in my garden, most likely due to the near constant 35 to 65 mph winds between those heavy, ever-drenching rains, but I do miss it so. This pause in being able to get into my garden has provided a good opportunity for me to reflect on this last season and begin to form my strategy for next year. I've been giving some thought about what I really liked about my gardening efforts this year:
  • The location of my garden is absolutely perfect - even in our cloudy climate, it receives excellent daylight, and located at the base of a little valley, it's rather like a greenhouse there (without the building, of course). Plus, because it's barely a block from my favorite local produce market, Joe's Gardens, it's very convenient for me to stop and pick up any fresh, locally grown veggies that aren't growing in my own garden.
  • The raised beds worked very well - they worked great for helping to maintain moisture during that stretch of unusually hot weather that we had last summer, and helped to contain my herb garden and give definition to my different crops - flowers, fruits and vegetables.
  • That layer of five-way soil from Bakerview Nursery that I added and raked over each of my garden beds turned out to be some of the best soil I've ever had in a garden, except maybe those few years I gardened in that old hog lot just off the barn in Minnesota so many, many (too many) years ago.
  • I really enjoyed the large variety of crops that I was able to grow in what I consider a relatively small garden of 10' X 40' (I guess it helps to be a rather organized person). I had plenty of flowers for cutting, a row of raspberries and that late-season addition of two blueberry bushes, a wonderful herb garden with such a wide variety of fresh herbs to add when cooking, and lots and lots of different vegetables - purple cauliflower, green cabbage, several different types of radishes, fancy purple, orange, yellow and white carrots, both sugar snap peas and regular peas in the pod, potatoes, two different kinds of beans, Swiss chard, kale, several types of lettuce, red and yellow beets, onions and so much more.

And, of course, I'm pondering what I want to do differently next year:

  • Move my entry gate - the way the entry is now, it creates a bit of wasted space because it's an L-shaped entry. With my garden being long and narrow, if I move the gate to the opposite end, the gate would open directly into the pathway between the raised beds and not require that L-shaped turn in order to get to the main pathway. Then I could turn the current L-shaped entry walkway into an L-shaped raised bed, adding valuable growing space to my garden.
  • Remove the compost bin - turned out, the person I hired to build my compost bin last year maybe didn't quite understand what it's like NOT to be a big person, and perhaps had never built a compost bin before. The largest pallet boards available were used, and none of the slats in the front were made to be removable. At barely 5'-3", even when standing on a box to give me a bit of an advantage, I can still barely reach the bottom of the compost bin with my shovel, making turning it very difficult. Besides, as it turned out, my garden spot is located very near a community composting area for the entire Happy Valley Community Gardens and the City of Bellingham periodically scoops up the big pile of compost that the gardeners contribute and hauls it off to the City's Clean Green Transfer Station where it is added to other community compost and used throughout the City in our parks and along our greenway trails. If I remove my compost bin in the early spring (I suppose I could offer the pallet boards to someone for free on CraigsList), then I can turn the space that is now used for my compost bin into yet another raised bed for growing even more vegetables.
  • I won't grow turnips - last year my gardener friends, Ken and Gwen, gave me a flat of plant starts that they said were thought to be rutabagas. They filled up half a raised bed in my garden. Turned out, those rutabagas were really turnips, big, beautiful turnips, so I ate turnips until I was tired of them. Turnips have never been one of my favorite vegetables, yet I boiled them, mashed them, added garlic to them, diced them into my soups and stews and gave turnips away until my neighbors and friends would take no more. I love rutabagas. I'll plant rutabagas next year instead!
  • I'll grow more pole climbers than bush types - several different types of beans, sugar snap peas and maybe even train some of my squash and cucumbers up onto trellises. Growing things UP makes such a smaller footprint in the garden, plus I think the pole varieties produce a higher yield (beans for example). And, I certainly enjoyed the extra green privacy that plants growing so much taller than I added to my little garden (like my peas and sunflowers from last summer).
  • Maybe I'll plant a patch of corn - perhaps in the new raised bed I build once I remove the compost bin. One of my neighbor gardeners grew the most beautiful patch of corn in his garden last summer. Sugar dots he said they were, and delicious, absolutely delicious!
  • I should plant the different squash varieties in different areas of my garden. Last year, I planted all but one variety of squash, the pattypan, in the same large bed. The earlier squash varieties, like zucchini, were doing so well - until that is, the other squashes started to flower. The bees worked all the flowers so well, but I don't think the cross pollination of the different types of squash worked out so well because squash production greatly slowed down once all varieties were blooming profusely. The pattypan squash, on the other hand, in a bed by themselves, produced practically more squash than I could use or even give away. I may not plant as many different types of squash next season either. Maybe I'll just plant yellow pattypan, green zucchini and yellow crockneck. The other squashes, spaghetti, butternut and acorn, while were certainly great to have (I absolutely love butternut squash!), take up so much garden space, so unless I can build some more sturdy bamboo trellises and plan to train their vines UP, I'll probably just purchase them at the market rather than grow my own. Actually even though they produced a decent yield, I'm reallly not that crazy about the spaghetti squash, so I'm pretty sure that I won't plant them next year.
  • I will NOT waste my time, effort or garden seeds with the Community First - Cordata Community Gardens project.
  • Cucumbers - I want to grow lots more cucumbers next season!

Way too early to start any seeds for our next gardening season, but with one seed catalog already in hand, I can at least look forward to my mailbox filling with more.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Barry Breaks Ground

Finally! Finally ground breaking day arrived. Barry has been waiting for this day for a very long time - years actually. Finally, this was the day for him to warm up that new Kubota tractor and start playing in the dirt. He's beginning the ground work for his new house - his dream house.
With its peek-a-boo view of Hales Passage, the ferry dock and Lummi Island in the distance, it's a beautiful location for his new house.
He says he may mound some of the extra dirt along his fenceline and strategically plant a few trees to add just a little extra privacy. He has plans to put in more landscaping, even a small pond, in his soon-to-be front yard. He talks of planting a garden in the back yard, putting in a small orchard, and even having chickens. It looks like Barry's fun is just beginning!
Breaking ground.

And what's my role in all of this? I get to stop by and let my dog run around the yard with his as I document his house building project by, you guessed it, taking more pictures than the average girl.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Killed in Action

No bond is as great as that between a parent and their child. With deepest sympathies and prayers for comfort as you grieve, we shall continue to pray for peace. Aaron Seth Aamot was born on April 12, 1987, in his grandmother's house on the Guide Meridian, Bellingham, Washington. He was killed in action on November 5, 2009, in Afghanistan. Aaron was raised in Whatcom County on a small farm in Custer. He was active in the Critters & Co. 4-H Club and the Ferndale FFA. The Whatcom Youth Fair and the Northwest Washington Fair were favorite events for Aaron. The attacks on September 11, 2001, gave Aaron the determination to serve his country in the armed forces. After graduating from Ferndale High School in 2006, he went to Basic Training in Fort Benning, Georgia. After being stationed at Fort Lewis, Aaron enjoyed his role driving a Stryker vehicle in the newly formed 5th Stryker Brigade. The 5-2 SBCT deployed in July 2009 to the area around Kandahar. Aaron was driving his Stryker on a patrol when it hit a buried explosive. He is survived by his parents, Mark and Julie (Hinds) Aamot of Custer; siblings, Matthew (Angela), Joshua, Nellie (Ricky) Huisman, Benjamin (Catrina); Dale; Ethan; and Daniel. Grandparents are the late Arnold Aamot and Charlotte (Reeck) Aamot of Bellingham, and William and Donna (McDougle) Hinds of Sedro-Woolley. Aaron was a devoted uncle to nephews Elijah, Samuel, Oliver, and Nathaniel, and nieces, Evelyn, Janett, Ella, and Catherine. He is also survived by many aunts, uncles, and cousins. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, November 14, 2009, at 1:00 PM, in the Ferndale High School Gymnasium. The public is invited to attend. A graveside service will be held at Haynie Cemetery immediately following. Those wishing to honor Aaron's memory and service may do so at any ICU branch where a fund has been started to benefit the 4-H Youth Programs in Whatcom County. Aaron's family also requests that the community keep the soldiers who are still in harm's way and their families in prayer. You may share your thoughts and memories of Aaron on the online guest book at, Moles Family Funeral Home & Crematory, Ferndale, Washington.Thousands of supporters lined the route taken by the motorcade for slain Custer soldier Spc. Aaron Aamot, whose body arrived at Bellingham International Airport Thursday, Nov. 12. Aamot, 22, was killed Nov. 5 when his Stryker vehicle drove over a bomb in Afghanistan.–ANDY BRONSON, THE BELLINGHAM HERALD.

An online photo gallery honoring Aaron is available at The Bellingham Herald: Honoring Aaron Aamot.
Thank you Aaron for the greatest of sacrifices to keep the people of the United States safe. May we never take it for granted.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hail, Not Snow

Hail, that's what we have. Not snow - not yet anyway!And, my walkway is flooded.
Look out Whatcom County, it's said that by tonight, the snow level will be down to the 500' level - maybe even dipping as low as 200'. I live at about the 150' level, we'll see what happens in my driveway. Meanwhile, already at Steven's Pass, this is what faces the drivers.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009

San Juan Journal Reports on the Seal Release

As reported by Jane K. Fox for the San Juan Journal, here is the video from the seal release during the visit by some of us members of the Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network (WMMSN) to the Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center near Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.
Other members of our stranding network are included in the video in separate interviews discussing their excitement about the release of these three seals and telling about when the seal, Chitenango, was first found stranded along a beach on Lummi Island and sent to Wolf Hollow for rehabilitation.

Did you know that the Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network has volunteer positions just waiting to be filled? If you share a love and concern for our local marine mammals, there are many ways in which you can help. Currently we have openings in the following areas:
  • Stranding response team members
  • Necropsy technicians
  • Education and and outreach
  • General support

Please contact me, the WMMSN Volunteer Director, at to learn more about how you too can help make a difference.

It's cool stuff!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Huge Fire

Still in shock about the huge fire at Whatcom Middle School that was fueled by high winds during the night, I can hardly believe it.
Reader photo submitted to the Bellingham Herald
Built in the early 1900s, Whatcom is one of the oldest school buildings in the State of Washington, and a major landmark in this town. In the 1930s, my father attended Whatcom when it served as a high school. After Bellingham High School was built, Whatcom became a junior high school - that's when I attended Whatcom. More years later, Whatcom had changed to a middle school and my daughter attended. For now, all classes have been canceled and Whatcom will sit gutted, burned out, void of academics and no longer filled with the voices of students past while fire officials investigate this tragic fire and the Bellingham School District sorts out what to do with their 600 or so displaced students.
Read an article and view photos at the Bellingham Herald here -
The news about the fire at Whatcom is quickly spreading. Check out the video of this fire already posted on Youtube (thank you fistofblog).
Did you happen to catch the sound of the wind during the end of this video? The wind, in gusts of 30 to 40 miles per hour, certainly must have contributed to the most difficult and dangerous job of containing and fighting this fire as the crews worked throughout the night.
Sometimes I try to remember what life was like before Youtube. Now I should ponder what life might be like AFTER this fire.