Last year we were celebrating the President’s re-election and the victory of our candidate, Suzan DelBene, in a new 1st Congressional district. This year we are celebrating the victory of four progressive candidates to take back control of the Whatcom County Council.
Last year most of our effort was with an OFA (Organizing for America) state campaign; this year our work was with Whatcom County Democrats, participating in Outreach Committee activities by marching in parades and staffing booths.
We also worked for voter approval of a levy to support the Northwest Park & Rec that had failed in two previous elections. This was partly the result of a well organized campaign and, more importantly, programs that involved many participants in Zumba, basketball, yoga, and pickleball.
Ruth, new as a precinct committee officer, worked to find and organize other PCOs and interested progressives with a series of “Tipple & Talk” events in our community. But Birch Bay failed to provide the winning votes. Progressives won in Bellingham, the liberal center, while losing in the smaller cities and rural areas of the county.
In February we enjoyed a winter vacation to the Pacific Coast of Mexico starting with Puerto Vallarta, which we had visited before.
After a week there we went to a small, less-developed town up the coast, Sayulita.
We settled into our beach-front bungalow and explored the town, then Ruth went swimming. Al, standing on the beach, admired how much she enjoyed the water, alternating swimming breast-strokes and back-strokes, but wondered why she was drifting further out. Then he saw a life guard rushing into the water and pulling her out. She was tended for her near-drowning by a vacationing Friday Harbor EMT. She continues to experience some post-traumatic anxiety, unable to enjoy high waves in Birch Bay, but is otherwise well and thankful.
Other trips included a short visit to San Francisco to celebrate Ruth’s birthday in March and to Tofino, B.C. to celebrate Al’s in April. Ruth ferried to Vancouver Island to visit her sister and bro-in-law and flew off to Ohio for a few days in August to check in with her son Geord, his wife Mary, and son Ryder (experiencing a Gap Year after his freshman stint at Columbia College in Chicago). Daughter Mackenzie (currently managing at the Olney Theatre Center in Maryland), was unable to join us.
During the summer we worked as cadre in Chamber of Commerce events that included Sandcastle & Sculpture Contest, the Discovery Days parade and Ducky Derby Race. This year Ruth proposed a new event, a kite flying festival that was combined with skim boarding. Heidi Holmes of Park and Rec found a father and son who taught kite building to 40 young people who went out on the beach and flew their custom-built kites. Gail Walker of Paddle and Pedal organized paddle boarding and beach games for what became the 1st International Sea and Sky Festival of Birch Bay.
One of the benefits of the Pacific Northwest is the abundant seafood. When we lived in California and again after we moved to Washington, we invested in CSAs, Community Supported Agriculture that provide weekly baskets of vegetables in return for money provided a the start of the season. This year we invested in a Community Supported Aquaculture program, the Drayton Harbor Community Oyster Farm.
For $100 we get 13 oysters a week for 13 weeks (restorationfund.org/projects/csf/draytonharbor). While the oyster beds in Drayton Harbor have existed for 40 years, Steve Seymour, a retired state wildlife employee, is expanding operations with the help of instructors and students at the Bellingham Technical College.
This year we were invited to a special Thanksgiving with two extended families — 16 adults, 8 kids and a 10-week old baby. Location, log lodge located in mountains above the Methow Valley, east of Winthrop.
Tuna canning has become a tradition after Thanksgiving. A veteran fisherman, Jeremy Brown, obtains a large amount of tuna — this year some 2,300 pounds — that he cuts into rounds suitable for trimming and canning. Al is a trimmer, Ruth fills jars. This year we worked four-hour shifts which entitled us to buy a case each, 12 containers for $60. We ration during the year for the very best salads.
A big addition to our home this year was a bat house, the gift of Sylvia Douglas. Bat houses need to be at least 15 feet off the ground, which we achieved with a long piece of PVC pipe. Despite our lack of engineering skills we were able to mount the house. In strong winds it waves back and forth, but has stayed up. We have yet to see any sign of bats, but a squirrel did raid our bird feeder.
We wish you all the best for this Season and a GREAT 2014.
– Al & Ruth