Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

I finally went through the box of decorations and put up the candy corn light, the glow in the dark skeleton, the hanging black caped skeleton head, a few rubber bats and spiders, and the candle lanterns. We don't get many trick or treaters, so I don't go crazy.

When I was done pulling out all those scary things, I found this:

It's a poem that Keara wrote in 1996, when she was in 5th grade at AIS-Lagos.

The Goblins Three, The Skeletons Two

As I stumbled through the wood,
I couldn't have stopped if I wished that I could,
Some goblins and skeletons stepped in my way
And as tehy took me they started to say,
"We're the goblins three, the skeletons two,
You didn't watch out so we got you."

And yet as they slept I slipped away
And ran out fo the wood to a sunny day.
So if you go stumbling into a wood
Remember as much, just as much if you could
About the goblins three, the skeletons two.
And you better watch out before they get

Sometimes it pays to go to the bottom of the box. You never know what kind of treasures you may have there. Below is the one photo I have from that Halloween, Keara (l) with friends Brittany Hilton and Lucy Simpson. They were scary, whatever they were.

Condit Dam Blowout

It was a great day in the 'hood last Wednesday. The 98 year old Condit Dam is no longer holding back the White Salmon River. It was on all the news channels. On OPB. In the papers. On the internet. Even National Geographic, with this awesome time lapse video.Our 15 minutes of fame!

We spent prime time at Wet Planet's celebration party. There were people in attendance who have spent many years working on the dam removal. It was very emotional for them, as it was for Native Americans celebrating on the Yakama Reservation. Wet Planet had a huge tent with multiple viewing stations for the live feed, as well as guides in salmon costumes. And some well placed heaters. I found a seat near one, you betcha! It was a bit raw that day. The feed went down about 10 minutes to noon, the scheduled blow time. It came back just before noon. Someone said the 3 minute warning was sounded...and 30 seconds later, BOOM. A puff of smoke from the hole, then a blast of sediment filled water flew out and rushed downstream. If you did not click on the time lapse link above, go back now and do it!

The images were stunning. Words cannot describe it. We all sat in awe. After a while, we went to get food and beer. One must sustain one's energy, no? The predictions were for a full draining of the lake in 6 hours. Less than an hour after getting in line for the fab eats provided by Solstice, and the nice cold draft brews (that sent me inside for a hot coffee after lunch), we walked back to the screens to find the lake EMPTY. Wow.

We stayed until after all the speeches and raffles. As the A listers went on buses to the dam site, the rest of us ventured out on our own. We went to NW Lake to check out what once was the lake where we practiced fly casting. Lloyd is walking where we'd stand with our waders on! The water used to come up right to the edge of the picnic area where I'm standing to take the picture.

The boat ramp we launched our kayak from was well out of the water. The dock next to it, on the left side of the picture, is high and dry, as were all the other docks downstream of the park.

The next photo is one of the lakefront cabins that is now river view.

We hiked down the former lake shore past docks sitting dry. Lloyd liked the basalt sands so of course I had to take a picture. Weeds were already coming up from the ground in the area drained earlier. How fast nature reclaims turf!

Then we stopped to view the silty river downstream, near the mouth of the river. There was still water flowing into the Native American in lieu dock, but it was very very mucky. Just north of there, the river was clogged with silt and debris. It will be very interesting to watch how the process unfolds. No more trout fishing, for sure! A young man in a Subaru (we all drive Subarus up here in the NW) drove by and yelled out 'the White Salmon River is FREE'. He was happy.

We noticed on Saturday's drive west that sediment has definitely made its way into the Columbia. Hope to find some aerial shots of its progress over the winter.

The spawning salmon were transported above the dam a few weeks ago to do their business. Reclaiming their ancestral home. What man interrupted nearly a century ago, man has undone. It's a good thing. But I will miss the lake...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ah Ha Moment

It has come to my front brain that one of the reasons I have not been writing so much here is that the newness of my new 'hood has worn off a bit, and there are a lot of 'repeat' experiences I don't want to bore people with. When I have them, I will share them. Because I do have new ones on a regular basis.

My brain has been too full of politics. As a PCO, County Chair and a State Committeewoman, it's no wonder. I've tried to keep politics off my blog so as not to alienate some of my friends and family who don't think as I do. But then, my true friends and closest family will understand that we can disagree and still love each other. Takes all varieties to make a can of mixed nuts great!

It is not easy being a person who pays attention to and cares about politics. I don't WANT to. I would like to just live my life la ti da every day and say the hell with it. But I can't. It's not me. I care because politics, like it or not, affects that every day life. People need to think about it. Maybe if they think about it, they'll research a little more before they vote. Heck, maybe they'll actually VOTE!

So, to my dear friends who read this and do not agree with my politics, nothing personal. You can skip the politics alert entries. Or you can read them for another perspective. I just can't NOT do this any more. There is too much at stake.

Tis the Season to be Fall-y, part 2

Local Politics Alert-not my usual entertaining stuff but I have to get it out of my mind so here it is on the blog...not that anyone will know what the heck I'm talking about.

Who knew such a small town could have so darn much DRAMA? It's not quite Sugar Land (thankfully) but still. White Salmon is trying.

Our current City Council is acting all Boehner/McConnell-in-your-face with the current Mayor, who one must conclude is their Barack Obama. There is one player in the game who attended a couple of our Klickitat Democrats meetings last year, but for the life of me I have yet to see him act or vote in any way like a Democrat. But never mind. Democrats come in all breeds, even Blue Dogs. We have a big tent. The positions are all nonpartisan (supposedly) so I won't waste any time on that aspect. It really isn't as important as WHAT people are doing and saying. I wouldn't even mention it, but as County Chair, people ask me if I support his run, even though I can't vote and it's a nonpartisan race, and I have to say no. If I had to guess, I'd say the current mayor is an independent or a moderate Republican, probably the latter.

Apparently this kind of nastiness is par for the course in White Salmon government, making it dysfunctional for years. Damn, I wish I could vote, but alas, I'm outside the city limits. Which is part of the problem. The pool of candidates is small and limited (some in more ways than one, but I promised not to lower myself).

Our current mayor is running for reelection. He has been a good mayor for the most part. No one's perfect. He communicates well. He supported the development of a more user friendly website (created by my volunteer of the year sweetie). He frequents the local businesses. He reaches out to citizens both in the city limits and within the growth area for advice and expertise via a variety of committees. He has an open door policy (which my husband has used on more than a few occasions). He asked for and got (after two rounds of voting) approval for an audit for 2007-2009 because things were a mess in City Hall. There has been a revolving door of mayors, council members, city clerk/treasurers, etc. which left the City open to problems. The audit was released last spring, identifying several major problems as well as the City's plan to remedy them. The auditors made clear that the report was not to be used punitively but was a tool to bring the City into compliance in a number of areas. The report was released in March, and a big front page article about it was on the front page of the paper. It is also available for all to see on the website, completely transparent. The City Council for the most part was quiet.

Ah, but now the ballots are about to arrive in our mail boxes (we are highly evolved here in OR and WA, we have vote by mail- no voter ID worries here- we just sign our ballots and mail them in or drop them in one of several locked ballot boxes around the county). Suddenly the City Council calls an EMERGENCY meeting to discuss the report. Did I mention, they knew the mayor would be out of town due to a family crisis?And that at least 3 of them 'meet' regularly at the Elks, clearly strategizing their council meeting agendas (they have been warned by the city attorney, which really doesn't scare them.) One of the City Councilors (mentioned earlier) running against the mayor and is leading the charge of the mayor's proven negatives, vis a vis the report. What? Reminds me of a certain teabagger candidate last go around (another long story I've spared y'all) who kept waving an old report on the assessors office as proof positive there was bad stuff going on, when it was totally unwarranted and any identified problems had been long addressed. Hey if it worked for her...(in a twist of irony, she ran earlier for city council and lost to the guy who wants to be mayor). Are you keeping this all straight?

There is a second City Councilor who is NOT running for reelection, but IS mounting a write-in campaign for mayor. This guy is a many generation resident of White Salmon. He has been a City Councilor for several terms. He is known for two main things: he ALWAYS votes NO (even for the audit the mayor wanted, which is why it took two meetings to pass) and he makes every 3rd meeting because if you miss more than two meetings in a row you can be recalled. He does not do his homework before meetings. He refused to be on the finance and budget committee he was assigned because he refused to sign checks. I guess the good thing is, he doesn't have much of a chance to win, and he will no longer be on the City Council.

Meanwhile, there are three contested seats for city council, two of them against incumbents who are very closely allied to the one running for mayor. They have it all figured out. When one of the reasonable councilors resigned (he was transferred), rather than fill the seat with a guy who was running unopposed so he could get the lay of the land, they filled it with another crony who has been instrumental in historical nastiness. In their little minds, when their candidate beats the mayor, and those running win reelection, they can move him into that seat as an appointee. Wouldn't that be nice??? They can rule the world!!!!!

This is all so sad. They all need to be working together. Instead, they put roadblocks in front of anything the mayor wants, mainly because he did not turn out to be the puppet they were looking for. They have run off the police chief, sent away the police dog who had already caught bad guys (druggies) because we couldn't afford it (even though the public started a fund that would have paid all the expenses for the dog, showing huge support), blocking the mayor from fixing a major road to town in accordance with state dot specifications so they could spend even more money on an engineering survey first, and many other nasty little stunts. And the Councilman who wants to be Mayor has been very generous to himself for taking any and all credit for everything that happens that might be viewed in a positive light.

There are people in town who are trying to move things forward. It isn't easy. One of the big successes has been Business Partners of Bingen-White Salmon. I'm a little bit biased because my sweetie is involved in this one and has helped move it from a non-functioning city committee to an energized group of business people in both towns. One of his business partners is running for city council. It would be nice if the balance among the attitudes in the council was slanted towards people who can work WITH the mayor in the best interests of teh city and surrounding area instead of AGAINST him. We are ALL affected by what White Salmon does.

So for my local friends, just in case you want to know who I'd vote for if I could vote:
Poucher for Mayor, Werst and Rau for City Council.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tis the Season to be Fall-y, part 1

The crush is on at the wineries. Not a great year for grapes, but never fear, there will be wine.

Leaves are turning, air is crisp, but not clear and clean. It's that time of year: the lifting of the BURN BAN! Everyone and his cousin are out burning the brush that has been accumulating all summer. Makes for some smokey air days that make the Dollar Fire smoke look like small change. I've stocked up on eye drops, and am thankful I don't have breathing issues.

It's also election time. The off year elections put local politics on full display, for better or worse. Tuesday night's White Salmon Candidates Night did not disappoint. There were only about 100 people in attendance, but it was a pretty good crowd. It will be interesting to see how it gets written up in the local paper next week.

It's always good to see candidates in person if you can. To see how they present themselves and interact with the audience and the other candidates. Paper bios don't tell the whole story.

The contenders were for School Board, Fire District 3 Commissioner, Port Commission, City Council, and Mayor. Since this will probably get too long, I'll save discussion of the most entertaining (City Council and Mayor) for next entry.

Two contested seats are up for School Board. As I don't have kids in schools any more, and never had them in school here, I don't know much about the history of the school board. The incumbents seem to be good folk who have done a good job. Tom Stevenson is a long serving incumbent whose kids are now grown. He obviously is very proud of the school district and his dedicated service. Jeffrey Cooper is the other incumbent running for reelection. The challengers have young kids in school, are involved in the classrooms and the sports fields as well as employed by the high tech industries in the area (Insitu and Google). Both have set up websites to give voters more information about them, and their visions for the future of the district. Eric Shank is a former educator who helps out in the classroom and with the band/orchestra in his spare time. Dave Karlson, a former tech director for public schools, has championed Robotics in area schools with great success. I think people were impressed. I was.

The two contested Fire District seats had one challenger and one incumbent show up. The incumbent for one seat and challenger for the other did not, unfortunately. Those two share signs around town and are running as a package deal, I guess. Both candidates who did appear were well spoken and very competent. I have met them both before, but have had direct 'fire' experience with the incumbent. Jim Hulbert has spearheaded a community education program that assesses wildfire risk for property owners along the bluffs. He came to our house at no charge and showed us what we were doing right and where we needed to improve our chances, should a fire rush up the wooded slope from 141A. He's a retired forest service guy and I believe he deserves to be reelected. The awkward thing about the race is that both he and the challenger for the other seat, Nancy Sliwa, live in the same outskirts of White Salmon neighborhood. The other two, Riggleman and Zoller, are many generation residents of the rural area. I really wish they'd shown up. I would have like to hear what they had to say. None of them has any info in the Voter's Guide.

Port Commission has an 18 year incumbent, Wayne Vineyard, versus a relative newcomer, Cheryl Park, a friend of mine with excellent business, management and communication skills. People are frustrated with the Port and its inaction or painfully slow action on vital projects. Hard to say how this one will go. Both are very well spoken and intelligent. Unfortunately, the challenger's bio and statement did not appear in the online voter's guide.

I'm waiting for my copy of the Enterprise before I write about the city council and mayor races later today. Stay tuned. It's a doozy of a small town drama.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It's a Long Way to Next November

Missed The Daily Show last night due to the highly entertaining Candidates Night in White Salmon. But with the miracle of the internet, I was able to enjoy it this morning, coming dangerously close to spewing my coffee and ruining my laptop. Good thing Lloyd got his computer back, just in case. Jon does a great job of calling a spade an effing shovel, as my friend B.D. used to say. And his imitations of various politicos is hysterically funny (especially his Looney Louis Gomert). So very tired of all the hate and hypocrisy.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Protect Your Brains

Back in the 50s, when we were learning to ride that big second hand balloon tire tank, helmets didn't exist. Well, I do recall one helmet, an old Army issue that my cousin Kenny wore for weeks when my Auntie Mary gave him a buzz cut and he was not cool with that. When I was a little older, and saved my babysitting money to buy a nice bike with skinny tires (a blue Phillips as I recall), I rode all over town, helmet free. That bike widened my world. Later, I bought a 3 speed Raleigh, which I rode to work and from my apartment to Northeastern University for classes. My mom borrowed it once and got in a collision with a car, broke her ankle but the bike was fine (and spent the night in 'jail' til I picked it up at the Watertown PD). I eventually bought a 15 speed Lambert, and gave the Raleigh to my sister Annie to help her get around when Liam was little. It was stolen from her apartment in Waltham, baby bike seat and all. All those years, no helmets.

When I moved to RI with the Lambert (later stolen and replaced with a Raleigh Super Course circa 1976, which I still own), helmets were in vogue. I rode with the Narragansett Bay Wheelmen, and we all work helmets. My helmets have save my head on several occasions. So when it came time to ride with our kids, helmets were required attire. We still wear our helmets when we ride. Both girls now own bikes. My first question: Do you have a helmet? Do NOT ride without one. We have too much invested in your head.

Last night I got a text from Alina in Boston, asking which hospital Auntie Linda worked at (in the ER). I was worried, as she'd had an eyelid infection. I thought, oh no, it got worse. I had no idea how wrong I was. It was much worse than that. Her housemate and fellow 2011 BC grad Mike, who rides his bike everywhere, had come home in questionable condition. He'd had a bike accident. She was afraid he had a concussion, and texted my sister who works in an ER for advice. They took him to the ER (not hers, just to clarify). Mike ended up in surgery for several house to drain a brain bleed. The doc told Alina if they hadn't gotten him in when they did, he might not have made it. Did I mention? Mike was not wearing a helmet.

Mike's parents got the phone call every parent dreads: Your son is in the ER. He needs surgery. Get here. Fortunately, they live within about 90 minutes of Boston. The roommates stayed until after parents arrived and Mike was out of surgery. It was a 3 day weekend in Boston (one place that actually celebrates Columbus Day). Alina and friends spent it in the ER. Went home to sleep, went back today to see how he was. He'd woken up, recognized his parents (good) but not his best friend (bad). His motor skills were not impaired (very good). He knew he lived in Allston (good). But it was 2008. Not so good. Hopefully the next report will be even more hopeful. This young man just graduated from college and has his whole future in front of him. It looks like he'll get a chance at that future.

The Oregonian has been full of letters to the editor arguing the merits and demerits of helmets. Bottom line: WEAR A HELMET!

update: Mike recognized Alina and Conor when they visited him last night. He was making good progress, though still disoriented, and may be moved out of the most intensive care area today.

October Baseball Blues

Ah, it's like the old days. So many of the Red Sox Nation don't remember the lean years...There was something not clicking this summer. Too many overpriced free agents? Owner trying to be Steinbrenner? Who knows. All I know is: I have no time tied up watching baseball this October, which is really a good thing for me, cuz now I have a little time to write. Jacoby Ellsbury had the year of his life, after his horrible no good year last year (Beltre curse) and should get AL MVP for his efforts, and the best manager is baseball was let go. They didn't ask me, but I'd forget about spending outrageous sums on glory boys, put the bull pen on a diet and whip them into shape, lose Lackey and Matsuzaka (same same), make Varitek a coach, bring up the awesome talent in Pawtucket, and build a TEAM. And if Theo goes to the Cubs, so be it, it'll still be years til they win a pennant never mind the World Series (sorry Cubs, I do root for you, but I'm a realist). Enough on that. I had to say it. Now on to other things. Go Rangers!