Seasons Greetings 2015

 Famiy and Friends, Fun, Politics, Travel  Comments Off on Seasons Greetings 2015
Dec 172015

At a post-election party just after the November election Al was talking with Kelly Linville, the mayor of Bellingham. They were discussing the fate of our new jail after a funding plan to utilize sales tax was defeated by voters. At the end of the lively discussion the mayor said, “I don’t know you; what is your name?” Along with his name Al said he is married to Ruth Higgins. “I know about her,” said the mayor. This defines our 2015, a very political year.

Al, at 85, is slowing down; Ruth, only 77, is a dynamo. She is membership chair of the Whatcom County Democratic party who helped recruit precinct committee officers and organiz community teams to increase turnout. She made many phone calls (a computerized system makes possible as many as a hundred calls an hour). Al made a few phone calls, knocked on some doors and answered the phone for Ruth. Now she is part of a team organizing the presidential caucus for our area to early next March.

That post-electiSG '15 Winners' SignsSG'15 Mountain Cloudson party was at a “locker” in the Bellingham dock to celebrate the victory of Bobby Briscoe, a dark horse fishing boat captain who was elected port commissioner, an important office in coastal Whatcom County. Also at that party were two newly elected county council members. One is Todd Donovan, a political science teacher at Western Washington University who was quoted by Ruth Bader Ginsberg on voter district fairness in a recent Supreme County decision. The second is Satpal Sidu, the first Sikh to be elected to public office in the Washington State and he believes only the second in the U.S. We have known him since 2005 when we interviewed him for an article about Sikhs in Whatcom County. Then he was dean at Bellingham Technical College

When not politicking, we managed to escape twice this year. In the Spring we drove down the Oregon coast to California staying close to the water all the way. After a short stop in San Francisco we drove south to Big Sur and our beloved Deetjens. Then across the state to Reno where we stayed with Affordable Travel Club friends who we had yet to meet. In the Fall we made a shorter trip to the Olympic Peninsula, a remarkable place where we hiked through the mountains and river valleys. These trips refreshed us.
SG '15 Redheads on Feder

When we are at home we enjoy watching the wildlife that comes to our deck. And the tidal stream that flows past the deck is alive with migrating waterfowl. We continue to feel blessed to live in the Northwest, despite the fact that Birch Bay at this time of year is zinth. At the 49th parallel dark comes just after 4:00 p.m. Most of the neighboring houses are dark. A marvelous exception is the hoSG Neighbors Houseme across the road, where folks have beautiful lights. A lot of the residents go to Arizona and California for the winter. Those who usually come for weekends and summer vacations – mostly from Canada – stay home. But our cottage is warm and cozy – we very much enjoy being here all year.

Yes, we are making our annual pilgrimage to Ohio to be with Ruth’s son, Geord, and his wife Mary. They both have good jobs they like. She is a writer at Nationwide Insurance. He is the “Mac Man” on the computer help desk at Big Lots. Both companies are headquartered in Columbus. Mackenzie is at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington and just moved into a new apartment where she walks her dog past the neighbors at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Ryder is on an extended gap year from college in Chicago, working at Nordstrom, planning a return to higher education.

This has been more about our year than greeting you. We hope you have read this far and, like us, are looking forward to the New Year.

WOW! – it will be 2016.

With best wishes,



Holiday Greetings!

 Family and Friends, Travel  Comments Off on Holiday Greetings!
Dec 202014

Unlike last year when were celebrating victories by our four County Council candidates as well as our candidate for the U.S House of Representatives, this year we were demoralized when our three candidates for the state legislature lost despite our concerted efforts in door-belling, phone-calling, parades and festivals. Our only winner was our Congressional representative’s re-election.

HG 2014 - Ruth with horn web 2One positive aspect of this year’s politics was Ruth’s growing involvement in the Whatcom Democratic party. She organized a series of Progressive Forums where candidates presented themselves to voters and issues such as smaller class sizes and the legalization of commercial hemp were discussed. (We now blend hemp hearts from Manitoba into our morning smoothies.) We are both active with the Outreach Committee, walking in parades and staffing information booths. Ruth also serves as a recruiter and mobilizer of precinct committee officers with mixed results. Nonetheless she is looking forward to more responsibility in the future.

As a reward for what we had hoped to be an election victory, we scheduled a November bonus week in our timeshare at Fairmont Hot Springs located in the British Columbian Kooteneys. We had a long and hard journey there with rain and sleet and snow, reaching our destination after 10:00 p.m. Fortunately, the office was still open and a cheerful, efficient host greeted us warmly.HG13 Fairmont Mountains

The next morning we woke to a golf course blanketed with snow. The sun was shone on snow-topped rocky mountains. Magnificent! A  perfect contrast to Birch Bay.

Our first day we just nosed around. This was Monday, Armed Services Day, Canada’s Remembrance Day, and there were a lot of people in the misty pools, a mile up the road from our timeshare in a related resort. When we went up for our soak on Wednesday, the outside temperature was 3 degrees Fahrenheit. We changed into swim suits, suffered cold showers, and then walked down an outside boardwalk to the pools. When got out, Ruth’s towel was frozen stiff. Our soak was very much OK, but we decided once was enough. Happily, our timeshare complex had an indoor heated swimming pool and a small soaking tub just outside the door (also 3 degrees F.) However, we skipped the latter after the first dip, and enjoyed the jet tub in our unit.

On the way back we stopped in Cranbrook to visit with two of Ruth’s nieces and their families. Barbara has recently opened the Roadhouse Grill with her partner Tod and Sheila and family are in the modular home business. They advised us to drive home through Idaho. The highways were clear and bare but we didn’t want to wear ourselves out again, so we spent the night at a motel in Couer d’Alene, Idaho.

HG 14 - Totem at Masset House web2

This was our second holiday to British Columbia in 2014. In May we traveled through Prince George and Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii, the aboriginal version of the Queen Charlotte Islands’ name. The journey to the island looks short on the map but winds and currents make it a seven hour crossing. We had to hang on to walls to get from one section of the ferry to another. While the northern end of the island has many Canadians of European descent, the southern end is entirely aboriginal. We had lunch with the Chief who made us vegetable soup (he operates a small restaurant.) He complained that native fishing rights were curtailed but was pleased to point out that roofs of all of the homes were replaced in a government program.

Geord (Ruth’s son) and his wife Mary, exercising their empty nest freedom, came for a week’s visit in October. A side trip to Vancouver Island squeezed in a visit with Sylvia (Geord’s step-mother) and other family and friends. Geord has just taken a new position in the IT department of Big Lots, and Mary celebrated her fourth anniversary with Nationwide; both companies are headquartered in Columbus. We’re looking forward to seeing them in their new condo over the holidays.

In July we encroached on the visit of Lucy and Gary’s third daughter, Sharon, and her family. There Al took a tumble and broke his collar bone, which healed well despite postponing treatment until after we spent a week on the Oregon Coast with our friends the Murphys. Ruth had San Francisco reunions with her Chinese Hospital Survivors Club and Broad Slice of White Bread writing group in March.

This year our combined ages equal 160 years. Over our Thanksgiving turkey and sweet potatoes we talked about the things for which we are grateful. We continue to enjoy the cottage that we renovated prior to occupying in 2003 and the beautiful community in which we live. We are particularly thankful for good health, satisfactory finances and our love for each other. With these thoughts, we hope you, too, are looking forward to the years ahead.HG14 - Sunset web2