Life in Bay Center on Willapa Bay

Living in a maritime fishing village in Southwest Washington state on Willapa Bay

Archive for December, 2008

Chesapeake Bay future of Willapa Bay?

Posted by pallix on December 28, 2008

Article I came across this morning at Washington Post turns out to be much more than one article.  It is an article collection in a series on the clean up efforts and lifestyles of the  Chesapeake Bay reported by the Washington Post.  I read with interest, recognizing that I could well be reading the future of Willapa Bay were it to become more densely populated; were it to become less ecologically sound due to carelessness of it’s stewardship.   Were it to lose it’s oyster population as it already once historically did when the native oysters were harvested into extinction.  

We moved here about 10 years ago from an upscale urban center in Seattle area, with an eye to the pristine beauty of the Willapa region, the historical context, and to downshift gears to a calmer, quieter way of life.   While we are indeed ‘transplants’, we settled in with intention of integrating into a lifestyle that somehow seems to have maintained keeping the Willapa region not too much undisturbed by carelessness of  human contaminations.   We are, for the most part, still considered ‘newcomers’ to the area and we recognize that some families are generational families, having lived here over many generations.  Of course, we are newcomers to that kind of generational family history.  Yet we have felt welcomed, embraced, and if there has been any joking sense of us as newcomers, it has been in good humor.  We have not felt at any time unwelcome.  

 I recognize that is in large part due to the sparse population and towns of Pacific County and a rather untouched land.  One of the things I find myself thinking as we go from place to place within the county is that this must closely resemble how this land looked one hundred, two hundred years ago.  This land must look a  lot like it did to the early settlers.  This must be something close to what Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery saw when they arrived here.   This land must still look much like what it was like for the Native Americans who dwelt here, primarily the Chinook people.  

We habitat as guests in this region comparative to the history of the region, and we recognize that we are guest dwellers on this land.  Our lifestyle is not that of living off the land, in fishing, in timber/lumber, in farming (unless our  small kitchen vegetable garden counts).  By osmosis we become somewhat acquainted with the reality of the issues that beset the mix of people choosing to live in this region.    Some of our neighbors are oyster farmers, and we learn a bit about what is important to them in their livelihoods as oyster farmers.   At least one of our neighbors owns and operates a modestly sizeable dairy farm, and we learn a bit about issues important to their livelihood.  Some neighbors are agricultural farmers, and we learn a bit about issues important to their livelihoods.  And many of our neighbors are part of the timber/lumber industry, consequently we learn about issues important to their livelihoods, for example, the environmentalists efforts to save the spotted owl, which people in the timber/lumber industry will tell you about killed off their entire livelihood in that industry. 

Gradually, over time, we come to know a little bit about a bit of what are important issues to the people who live in this county, who reside along the Willapa Bay, who live in the Willapa Hills .. all our neighbors in the Willapa region.    What is highly important to the livelihood of some does encroach on the livelihood of others and it seems to me a harmonious disharmony has developed over the generations.  

Where we reside now,  homeowners buying one of the older properties still standing in this community, we have a strong regard for the history of not only our immediate community, but the region where we have chosen to live.  We did not buy ‘weekend getaway property’ and we do have a fair share of new residents who are weekenders, along with a fair share of  new residents from out of the area who choose to settle here, buy existing property or build new homes and live here  year round.  We have lived here only ten years, but we can ‘feel’ the shifting tides as the older sense of not only this immediate community but the older sense of the community gives way to the new sense of community in this region.  

For property developers, driven by the property bubble, they began to look upon this region as one of the last vestiges of property development, having developed everything else along the Interstate 5 corridor regions.   As they began to look, signs of what I consider encroachment began to appear; the very things we wanted to get away from – housing developments, condos, and with that the people who buy them and want the accompanying convenience of close by stores and malls and I began to fear the beautiful landscape would give way to …. well, what development looks like, pretty much cookie cutter one to the next.    

But Willapa is an estuary, and as such has environmental protections, making too much development too quickly unlikely.    And, as my own concerns began to take root, the property bubble burst — the mortgage crisis we are in now.  With it the start up developments in our region seemed to quickly wither.  I can’t say I’m sorry to see that happened.  But I also realize it is momentary, contingent on recovery,  the marketability and at some point will once again be back on the developers map as an area to develop.  

Which brings me back to the Washington Post series on the Chesapeake Bay and the seemingly unsuccessful efforts to revive that bay.   Several components are cited as contributing factors to the demise of the vibrancy of the Chesapeake Bay, and they are the very components that affect Willapa Bay.  Why, one might ask, is one bay (Willapa Bay) still considered pristine, vibrant and productive where the Chesapeake Bay is considered contaminated and nearly beyond repair?   The Washington Post series or articles attempts to answer the question of what went wrong, what is trying to be fixed and what is or is not working about the Chesapeake Bay, so there is little need for me to repeat or condense it here.  But it has caused me to look protectively at our own Willapa Bay in a new light, perhaps in recognition that the fact of the wilderness aspect of the region which has a still manageable human population could easily go the way of the Chesapeake Bay in over development, over population, and carelessness of human contaminations. 

The thing weighing a bit on my mind is that this region is under study as part of the Columbia – Pacific National Heritage Area (link to House bill and Senate bill)  , spring boarding from the historical Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery.  Regions designated National Heritage sites promote tourism, tourist $$ and enterprise and perhaps expand the regional economy, but at what cost over the short run?  I have been asking myself this question since I learned of the Columbia-Pacific National Heritage Study Act last summer.   With that question, also comes the issue of Federal recognition of the Chinook people as a recognized tribe – Chinook Nation.  It can hardly be on one hand acknowledged that the concept of  the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery could be used to advance  this region into a National Heritage site without simultaneously acknowledging that  the Chinook people, as a recognized tribe, who gave considerable aid to the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery, and are the backbone of what makes this region historically noteworthy.

I watch with interest the events ahead, with the efforts to make this region a National Heritage site, the progress for the Chinook people in being officially recognized at Federal level, the land and property development market, the responsive reaction from the various industries in the region; tourism,  commercial fishing, timber industry, agricultural community, and the newcomers who are less responsive to the history and more anxious to make the area into a region not unlike the area from which they came — overly developed with more cookie cutter type housing developments, malls,  stores and Starbucks on every other corner.   Should that happen, the unique richness of this region will be forever lost.   Should that happen, the arguments are made and some might consider it a good thing for an ailing local economy, livlihoods unlikely to sustain in the coming years, and necessity to make way for change, lest……..  

 

And I ask lest what?  Lest the region remain pretty much the same as it is, and if so, what is terribly wrong with that?

Advertisements

Posted in agriculture, Chinook Nation, estuary, oyster farms, oysters, willapa, willapa bay | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Craftivism, what is it? Where did it come from? Who thought that one up?

Posted by pallix on December 26, 2008

Well, whewww, someone put it together – activism + craft = craftivism.  That works for me! 

 

Because it is possible to go beyond banners, email petitions and chants as ways of fighting for a cause you believe in. You could have a knit-in, papier-mache puppets, teach a crafty class for kids- all ways of turning that energy into a more positive, more useful, force. Atrocities are happening in our front yards and on our televisions and we need to find ways to react against what is happening without either giving up or exploding.

This is less about mass action or more about realizing what you can do to makes things around you better.

Read more – link here   -  Craftivism.com, created by Betsy Greer, who advanced ‘craftivism’ as a Masters thesis.    Now she’s talking, no, excuse me, now she’s crafting — with a message!   

Gives me that elusive concept that I have been struggling with for over a year now.  How can I go from 5 years of intense and passionate activism to end the Iraq war to dabbling in exploration of hobby crafts – how are those two things congruent at all?   Looks like maybe there is a common thread, after all.  

Posted in activism, craftivism, crafts | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Holiday Gatherings are Gaily Wrapped Gifts

Posted by pallix on December 13, 2008

Lovely holiday luncheon yesterday.  Dear Lady put on a sit-down holiday luncheon for about 20 women in our community.  If  it had been 1950, the luncheon might have looked like women wearing shirt-dresses with petticoats to make them flounce, hats and gloves, and a fashionable purse.   But it isn’t 1950, and that is not what the women looked like at our luncheon yesterday.  Although, our dear hostess, bless her heart, had a gift for each of us at the close of the luncheon — individual hand-sewn aprons that she had been making since the previous summer.  She made them specifically to gift to each of us at her holiday luncheon.

 

I would share photos, but I haven’t obtained permissions from the women, so in respect for their privacy, if I have photos that don’t reveal faces, I’ll post those later. 

 

I’m just tickled with the holiday festivities this year right here within our small little village.  Open house party, holiday luncheon, church potluck, Women’s Club potluck coming up next week, annual Christmas play put on by the children, Open house party on New Year’s Eve, chili dinner – bring breads later in January.  Perhaps these gatherings have been the norm here for several years, but I’m just entering into all the festive fun this year, so it’s all new to me.  And as such, it’s like opening a lot of gaily wrapped presents, different in form and shape.

Posted in holidays | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Neighbors down the road, Seaview on Long Beach Peninsula

Posted by pallix on December 8, 2008

This must just be our week for meeting lots of new to us neighbors.  It happens on occasion that my google alerts set to Willapa and Pacific County, alert me to a neighbor who is blogging.  Such was the case this morning, and I encountered this blog  seaviewwa – a couple who moved to Seaview and are refurbishing a home there.  She’s been blogging as long as I’ve been blogging.

Where she has devoted her blog to highlighting life in her community, my blogging has shifted focus resulting in 20 different blogs with varying focus themes and  the building of several websites.  I feel like I’ve left too scattered an imprint over the internet.  I’ve begun a bit of the process of trying to whittle it down to fewer blogs, and fewer websites.  Meanwhile though, the social networking communities continue to develop and grow and now I find I am connected to too many of the social networks.  And then there are the multitudes of  ‘news-sharing’ social networks. 

But back to the Seaview neighbor.  I enjoyed reading her blog backwards entry after entry post to the start of her blog. Good representation of the community and nearby neighboring attractions.  I learned fairly quickly in reading her blog that she and I do not share similar political views since her blog tells of her own political activism activities, but that didn’t keep me from enjoying and appreciating her blog.

We are sort of neighbors – here in Pacific County, there are only a few small towns dotting the county – the rest of the county is wilderness, wetlands, trees and I jokingly refer to it sometimes as Weyerhauser’s county ( Weyerhauser owns a lot of the forested tree lands in the county) – so from town to town in Pacific County, we are essentially community  ‘neighbors’.   I love visiting Seaview, the community where she lives,  which is located right next to Long Beach and just a holler down from Ilwaco.  

Not sure that many know about Bay Center, in Pacific County though.  We are still a bit of a hidden treasure here, not so well known.   Lately, we’ve had a fair amount of ‘artist’ types moving here to Bay Center.  At this rate, we may become an artist colony in harmony with the historic Chinook families, another aspect for which Bay Center is known.   (btw, take a look at The Chinook Nation Restoration Act – H.R. 6689 )

Where ever one lives in Pacific County, we do share in common the beauty of this country.   We have heard more than a few times that living in Pacific County is living in  God’s country, or God’s county, or God’s landscape, or God’s valium, or other takes on that theme.   Can’t say as I disagree, although having been raised as a child what is affectionately known as a ‘military brat’ which meant moving around every couple of years, I’ve come to appreciate most landscapes as having their own unique beauty. 

Posted in Long Beach peninsula, Neighboring communities, Pacific County, Seaview | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Meeting our brand new neighbors via Facebook

Posted by pallix on December 8, 2008

Met our  newest Bay Center neighbor via Facebook.  How interesting!  He or they contacted me via my Facebook to let us know they were new neighbors, and paid us a nice compliment on our house.

 

They bought the house that I so love – the one I’ve been drooling over practically since we moved here and bought our house.  Two owners ago, we were guests of the then-owners of that house and I was so taken with the house and the view.  When that couple divorced, the house went up for sale, and eventually it sold to a couple in Seattle.   While it was on the market I was looking for creative ways that we might think about buying it while keeping our own historic house.     The house went back on the market after a tragedy befell the Seattle couple, and now another couple from Seattle is buying it. 

 

Looking forward to meeting them, and welcome to the community! 

Posted in Bay Center, Bay Center proper, Facebook, neighbors | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Weekend, meeting our neighbors in new venues

Posted by pallix on December 8, 2008

Lovely weekend activities.  Last year at this time, everyone was still digging out from the storm (Dec 1-2, 2007) with those hurricane-strength winds at 140 + mph.  Can’t really know the full strength of those winds because the gadget that measured and registered the winds at 140 mph broke. 

This year, no windstorms, some temperate, cool weather, bits of sunshine, some normal rainfall, fog and mist.  Just the kind of mix of winter (well, guess technically it is still Autumn) weather to have her on the bay.

One of the ‘new’ neighbors who built their beautiful new home here in Bay Center right on the edge of Willapa Bay held a holiday Open House gathering Saturday.  Seemed like most of the people living here in BC attended.  I’ve been working to integrate into community activities after the long six years of intense and heightened political activism where we have focused so much of our attention, time and energy with efforts to end Iraq war, get the troops home.   It’s been a nice change, quieter, and I’ve had chance to get to know our neighbors on a different level.

Arthur, on the other hand, hasn’t had that kind of time to get better acquainted so it was delightful to be able to introduce him to many of our neighbors he hasn’t yet ‘officially’ met.

At the Edwards holiday open house, (and happily looks like this will be annual gathering here in BC ) we met a few of the  newly moved here neighbors who are either building new homes or refurbishing existing homes.   Bev Olson was there, and I was happy to get a chance to congratulate her on her upcoming trip to the other Washington (DC).  She was invited by Rep. Brian Baird to be his guest at President-Elect Barack Obama inauguration.  How exciting for her, and she certainly deserves the opportunity.

I have decided to visit the 2 churches in our community to see what kind of a fit we can find.  I’m impressed with the one that is building it’s new church building on the pay as you go system.  They have made progress with the building and it is looking modestly beautiful since they broke ground a few years back.  We went to the services Sunday, and I was impressed with the warm welcome, the humility of the people and the sense of community amongst them.  

I do miss our Episcopal church community at St John’s in South Bend, where we were training to be come licensed lay preachers.   We did revisit last year.  Not much about it has changed, and we know we are not ready to return to being involved with the level of activities we had given at St John’s.  The tug and pull in discerning our passion in ministry we felt was calling to us to challenge the morality of the Iraq war, both as lay preachers in church fellowship and as a military family with loved ones deployed in Iraq.  

As the intensity of the war rose, we felt more compelled to put our energies into civic activism, as we were receiving numerous invitations to speak at various events along with our obligations to Sunday services at our church.   In discernment meeting within the Bishop’s Committee, we came to decide to follow the passion of what we believed was our ministry calling, notifying our church family we would need to be freed from the weekly Sunday responsibilities. 

That was four years ago.  We had already moved, began buying our home in Bay Center, but continued to attend  services in nearby South Bend.  It will be interesting to see if we can adapt to a different church with a different belief set.   Thus, we will attend services at both churches in our little Bay Center community to see if there is an adaptable fit.

One church is conservatively evangelical or pentecostal, and I’m surprised we can even begin to consider continuing to attend after these politically charged years of evangelicals inserting their religious philosophy, such as it is, into the political arena and heavily influencing the controversial polarization of the last eight years.  I had a talk about this with the pastor after services, and he seemed a bit perplexed at what I was asking, assured me he did not tell his congregants how to think, how to vote, and remained free of politics. 

The other church is Methodist, and I really don’t know much about Methodist religious philosophy.  I do remember reading that George W. Bush was a member of Methodist church.  That, sadly, is enough to put me off right there, but again, somehow these tiny church congregations in our community do not seem to be aware or part of the bigger picture with religious insertion into politics that have led to the  election of George W. Bush, and his decision as President and Commander-in-Chief to invade and occupy Iraq, bringing with it the immense carnage on all sides that has marked the last six years in Iraq. 

 

Following my own thoughts, back to this past weekend.  It was refreshing to meet with so many of our neighbors in the community in new venues.  It was refreshing to just be one among many of the neighbors who make up our community in Bay Center.

Posted in Bay Center, churches, holidays, willapa, willapa bay | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Willapa Harbor Care Center business manager bilks residents of nearly $60,000.00.

Posted by pallix on December 5, 2008

Every once in a while, the news events that derive from Pacific County are startling.  Mostly not, but when there is bigger than usual news, it catches my attention.

excerpts;

Nursing home worker sentenced for stealing from residents

PACIFIC COUNTY, Wash. – Sandra Gilbert was trusted to watch over the accounts of nursing home residents, but instead she stole thousands of dollars from them to support a slot-machine addiction.

The sentencing marked the end of a scheme that bilked nursing home residents for nearly $60,000.

As business manager at Willapa Harbor Care Center in Raymond, the 63-year-old paid herself with funds taken directly from accounts of seniors on Medicaid.

Gilbert cashed the checks by stealing the identities of two co-workers. She said she used the money to feed her gambling habit – one forged check at a time. Most of it was lost in slot machines at the Shoalwater Bay Casino in Tokeland.

The Pacific County judge sentenced Sandra Gilbert to 10 years in prison and she must reimburse the people she stole from. However, some have passed away since she took their money.

Sandra Gilbert has prior convictions for embezzlement, burglary and forgery dating back to the 1970s.

read entire article and video snippet at NWCN.com

This is not an unusual story, but when it hits this close to home, it is more startling.  We, in Pacific County, are a group of small communities and a sense of neighborly trust.  It is disheartening to read this news of a person in the community going to deliberate lengths to both hide and feed her own bad habit at the expense of vulnerable people in her care and charge.   Being driven to believe she could take the steps she did because of a compelling ‘addiction’ over which she has no control as she claims is one thing, but in light of her prior convictions that include same kinds of behaviors with embezzlement, burglary and forgery, it becomes a coat of a different color.  She is a learned thief, a practiced thief, hired into a position of trust.  Sad, sad, sad. 

Posted in elderly, Willapa Harbor Care Center | Leave a Comment »

A nation of gardeners

Posted by pallix on December 1, 2008

Fruit and vegetable gardens in the US are rising in popularity as environmental consciousness meets depression economics

Last week, while helping a friend turn over her soil, I came across a giant bean that had grown out of old compost. “Fava beans,” said my friend the gardener. I opened the pod and there they were, nestling in fuzzy little pockets. How come I had never seen a fava bean pod before?

These epiphanies of mine usually follow the same pattern. The way a pinch of herb smells or the precise indentations on the body of a bean reduce me to mute wonder. This is immediately followed by a resolution to plant my own kitchen garden. Technicolour fantasies come after, featuring the same homegrown cherry tomatoes and basil that I have been fantasising about for years now. And then … nothing.

The excuses are legion. It’s winter, too cold for plants to grow. I don’t have enough outdoor space. It’s illegal to use the fire escape for anything other than escaping from fires. And what is this strange new language of annuals, biennials, perennials, hardy through zone six, pinch back and soil pH? Will I really remember to water the plants everyday?

Yet, as we move into the holiday season, and then the new year with its promise of newer improved versions of ourselves and the world, my fava-bean-inspired resolution seems to have something it did not have in previous years: a socio-cultural momentum.

Roger Doiron, the founder of Kitchen Gardeners International, reminds Barack Obama that he is the eater-in-chief. To Michael Pollan, Obama is the farmer-in-chief. Both men have asked for parts of the White House lawn to be replaced by an organic fruit and vegetable garden as a symbolic and practical measure to meet the growing food crisis. (As symbols go, this is guaranteed to be a smarter gesture than outgoing President Bush’s comment about Indians and Chinese eating more and more.)

The case against lawns has been growing increasingly hard to ignore over the last two decades as we learn more about the ways in which human consumption is destroying the earth. In 2008, the artist Fritz Haeg published Edible Estates, a chronicle of the garden as art and activism. Haeg links the seemingly insignificant fruit and vegetable garden with larger issues: where our food comes from, how it is cultivated, creating communities in neighbourhoods, ownership over what we eat and whether it will rain tomorrow.

We may be approaching the tipping point of the kitchen garden movement as environmental consciousness meets depression economics. In the US, vegetables have gone from fourth place to second place in the average garden budget. Greenhouse managers report more first-time gardeners coming to their door. (In the UK, vegetables are being stolen from community gardens on an unprecedented scale.)

 

read more at link here

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

40,000 Show Up For Free Food; Weld County Farmer Shares Bounty From Platteville Fields

Posted by pallix on December 1, 2008

DENVER — About 40,000 people showed up to a Weld County farm Saturday in the hopes of getting some free food.

But within an hour the food was gone.

“We had originally planned to take everyone by tractor to the fields but due to the overwhelming response we had to allow people to walk or drive themselves,” said Dave Miller.

Many families had be to turned away and sheriff’s deputies were called in to handle traffic.

The farm had planned to be open all weekend handing out potatoes, onions, beets and carrots, but now organizers said everything has been given away.

 

read more at link here

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »