Politics Then and Now

The Electoral College vote was today. I attended a rally in Olympia, the Capitol city of Washington. I am so glad I went! Some people in a group up here were leaving from Bellingham at 4:30 am! I didn’t leave until 7:30 and got there at about 10. It was amazing, from start to finish. It was definitely peaceful. There were probimg_6339ably about 200 people, with only 5 Trump supporters. As people arrived, we were greeted by organizers and gathered on the steps of the Legislative Building.

So, the side story: When I was 16, I was a Page for Audrey Mahaffey in the House of Representatives. I lived for the 2 months of the session with my Grandparents who lived a mile away. My Grandpa was a doorman for the House and we walked together to ‘work’ each morning. Today was the first time I’ve been back inside the House since then! Being a Page was a terrific experience. We did a lot of errands, stuffed envelopes and took messages. We often went to lunch at the Brown Derby Restaurant on Capitol Way which is still there! We had to be in school in a room on the same floor every morning for 2 hours. My Seattle school (Ingraham, where both Governor Jay Inslee and Trudy Inslee were in my class) didn’t require much homework for me, so I did a lot of reading writing letters back home. The group I served with were from all over the state. We had a lot of fun, learned a lot and during our last week, we had our own session. We put forth a bill to allow margarine to be used in school lunches. The debate was between the East Side of the Mountains, where agricultural interests prevailed and the West Side. It was great to remember all of this today. Oh, and there was a make out session in a car. That’s a tale for another time though…

There were a number of speakers during the hour before the vote. There are several grass roots organizations forming to take on issues such as getting rid of the Electoral College and forming a third party. It was cold, and drizzly, but there was a lot of enthusiasm and chanting.

My friend Jo Walter showed up in costume: The Emperor wears no clothes! She attracted quite a bit of attention! img_6370

At noon, we were allowed into the balcony/gallery on the 4th floor in the House. From there, we were able to watch on a big screen the proceedings of the vote. There was a specific format to be followed. Our Secretary of State introduced the session, followed by words from Governor Jay Inslee. There were several informal changes such as the Secretary forgot to ask people to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the session so it got added in after Inslee spoke. There was an election of the chair of the Electoral College, which had been done before they came in. Julie Johnson from the Lummi Nation was the chairperson. She asked another member to offer a blessing. He played a flute in the 4 directions.

Then the members cast their votes for President of the USA and signed their ballots, following the same procedure for Vice President.

The ballots are then compiled by the Secretary and sent to DC. While the tallying was being completed, each of the Electorates spoke briefly about why they ran for this position. Some of them offered charges to the voting public attending. The comments were as follows:

Levi Guerra: Continue learning about political process. Get involved!

Chris Porter: This is democracy in action. Four years ago there were only 12 people in the gallery!

Eric Herde and one other Elector expressed their hope that that this would be the last EC.

Robert Satiacum was told by an Elder that this would be his way to fulfill his responsibility to the people. He said he asked the the Elder, “Why did you do this to me?”

Elizabeth Caldwell spoke of her terminal cancer, recognizing that she most likely won’t be here in 4 years and was happy to be voting for the first woman.

Varisha Khan spoke of the influence of her Islam tradition of men and women giving to their community.

Joshua Ivey was proud to be the first transgender elector, quite possibly in the nation.

Dan Park spoke of the historical moment of voting for a woman as President and praised the change Bernie brought, also hoping this is the last EC. He shared a short story about how one drop of water is not much by itself, but many drops make a river. We the people make America great, it is not money that makes America Great.

Peter Chiafalo spoke of founding the Hamilton Electors and spoke of the rights and responsibilities of the Electors.

Esther John and her sister are both Electors. She took time to salute the Republicans for being involved in the process. Asked that we use the EC as a force for good. All Americans should be able to love and be protected.

Phillip Tyler of the NAACP in Spokane noted the great diversity in Washington’s EC.

Julie Johnson was thankful for the honor of serving as a Lummi Native American.

The Secretary of State sends a copy of the election to the archives in DC and a Judge of the Federal District Court. Each member signed a copy of the minutes to be able to report back to their committees.

Also interesting side note is that the photograph that appears in a Seattle Times article is taken by Greg Gilbert. Greg and his parents lived across the street from my Grandparents and he is recognized as one of the best photographers in the country. Seattle Times photo by Greg Gilbert

It was a long day begun with less than an optimal night’s sleep, three plus hour drive in rain, drinking 2 cups of coffee with no stops!, spending a good 20 minutes to find parking, standing in the cold, windy conditions, listening to speakers, observing the vote, having lunch at The Traditions Fair Trade Cafe with my friend Jo and a new friend Carol, arriving back home at 7:30pm. As I said at the beginning, I’m really glad I went.

Empty Pockets

In 1973, my husband and I lived in a sweet, little house near downtown. It had 420 square feet of living space! The house is still there, unchanged, including that it has not been painted, but the paint seems to be holding up – haha. It was a great location because we could walk downtown easily to shop, go out to eat, just wander around, stop for ice cream, browse in a bookstore.

One particularly nice summer evening, we headed out the door, no destination in mind. After walking around downtown, we decided it would be good to have dinner. We went to a restaurant, The Royal Inn, which then had really good food for a reasonable price. We had a great dinner and then the bill came.

Oops! Neither of us had brought our wallets! We told our waiter that we were in a predicament. He went to get the owner as we sat and joked ‘now we’ll have to go wash dishes’. The owner came over to our table and greeted us with a friendly smile. He just simply stated, “You came to dinner without money?” We laughed with embarrassment as we confessed ‘yes’.

He then took my husband’s hand and shook it. He said, “You two have been here before. I know you will pay us. You go home tonight, don’t worry about it. Come back tomorrow or the next time you come by and pay. Also, if you ever have your parents visiting, but don’t have the money to take them out, you come here, order your meals, and let me know. I know you’ll pay when you can. Enjoy the rest of the evening.”

This to me was the epitome of living in what then would easily have been called a small town. Forty thousand people, now probably close to 100,000. We returned the next day and paid our bill, with a hefty tip. And you can bet, we often returned to eat there, always with money in our wallets.

Fishing on Thanksgiving

For a number of years, my husband and I raised three purebred Salukis, an ancient breed of sighthound. Our move out into the county was motivated by wanting acreage to let the dogs run and run. The property we found met our requirements and also one that wasn’t even on the list, but a real bonus. A creek! On maps, it is listed as No Name. Our nieces and nephews named it Kelsey Creek. I’ve forgotten why. I just remember that they thought it needed a name.

After the last of our three Salukis died, we had only one cat in the house for a few years. Then, we got a puppy for our daughter one birthday. A black lab named Chloe. Our friends also got one from the same litter, and named her Sasha. We convinced our friends that if they also got a dog from the litter, we could raise them using the same commands, and feeding them the same food on the same schedule. That way, when either of us wanted to travel, the other could take the vacationing family’s dog easily and neither of us would have to board our dogs. We had done this with our Salukis and a different set of friends. It was the perfect arrangement.

The first Christmas with the puppies, we were on for having Sasha. It was also what was to be my dad’s last Christmas and we had almost the entire family up for several days. (Yes, I’ll get to Thanksgiving!) We also had about 18 inches of snow that Christmas! More stories about that week another time.

Several years later, Chloe was about 3, and it was my family’s turn to host Thanksgiving with my brother’s and sister’s families. You remember I mentioned a creek? It runs along side one edge of our property and then crosses in front of our home to the other side of our property and down into Lake Samish. It is dry from mid-May until the end of October. I usually think of this as from Mother’s Day to Halloween. It is a spawning creek for Kokanee, a freshwater salmon found in Lake Samish.They don’t come up every year (there’s another story about what happened to the creek soon after we moved in, including a 50 year flood in 1989), but this particular year the creek was loaded with these big red fish swimming upstream. They provide great hunting for eagles. I watched one take off with a fish in it’s claws one morning. Fantastic, impressive, spectacular are not exaggerated adjectives! So, eagles, raccoons (they like just the eyes…) and dogs.

Yes, dogs. Chloe and Sasha didn’t even have to try hard to catch a fish. They loved to get down in the creek, grab a fish and throw it up onto the bank. Then they would play with it while it flopped around. As soon as it quit moving, it was no longer a fun activity and they’d go back for a new, live fish. Who knew? Here’s the part where weather factors into the story. It was freezing. Below freezing. And had been for several days. So what do you imagine is happening with the fish on our lawn? Yep. Freezing! It was actually pretty funny to look out our front room window, onto the lawn, and see it littered with frozen fish, mostly missing eyes only. So bizarre! We had just had Sasha visiting and the two dogs had had so much fun fishing!

As we were preparing for the arrival of our family for Thanksgiving, I was in the house cooking and my husband was outside, sweeping the porch and deck, and tidying up outdoors. I looked outside and what else was he doing? Raking up the fish! Yes! I went out to ask him about this activity. He explained that when it warmed up, we’d have a lot of stinking fish rotting across the yard and he thought he’d just get them into a pile. Yes, they’d be good fertilizer, but most likely not in this condition.

The creek crosses though our front yard through a culvert and the driveway goes across the culvert. About this time, we hear the first car arriving.  My brother pulls up to the culvert and stops the car when he sees us. The astonished look on his face is one I’ll never forget! He just shook his head. Was he seeing his brother-in-law raking fish? In the front yard? On Thanksgiving? What the heck was going on at our house?! It is truly one of the funniest Thanksgiving experiences ever! Makes me laugh just remembering this.

The Last Time… I Went to the Island for Thanksgiving



Sometime in 1935 or so, my father moved from North Dakota to Anacortes, Washington. His mother had died and his father had remarried. My Grandfather had taken a job in a plywood mill ‘out west’. My father made a new best friend at school, Bob. They joined the Boy Scouts in a troop led by Vern. During the depression, Vern had purchased a small Island about a mile off shore from Anacortes, in the San Juans. It cost him about $25 at a tax auction, all the cash he had on him that day.

Vern was a single man who never married. He had a facial deformity that made him feel unattractive though to the rest of us it seemed not like something that would have prevented a woman from wishing to date him or marry him. However, he was single. He became a dedicated Scout Master. My Dad and Bob joined his troop. The Boy Scouts went over to the Island in row boats and canoes.img_1127 They built a small cabin there, hauling supplies over in small boats. Dad and Bob LOVED the Island. They graduated from high school, went in to the Navy, came home and went to University and eventually met the women who would become their wives. Bob and his wife honeymooned on the Island. Dad and Bob had an annual poker week-end at the Island every year in May. Every Year!

When I was about 10, Dad and Bob were offered the opportunity to purchase the Island. Dad and Bob had stayed in touch with Vern all these years. They had taken our families up there for day trips. As Vern approached retirement, he realized he would not be able to keep up with trip over there. He had promised my Dad and Bob that he would give them first choice to purchase the Island if he ever sold it. Of course they took him up on it!

Thus began many trips to the Island. My Dad and Bob purchased a boat to share. The moms outfitted our families for trips to the Island. My mom covered cardboard boxes with contact paper and labelled them with our names. Going to the Island meant a lot of work for the parents. They had to get us there on a little boat. There was no water or power on the Island, so they had to provide cooking equipment, lanterns and jugs of water. Over the years, some of the equipment was stored there – items like a grill for the beach and other things that we didn’t worry about being stolen. But, for the most part, we didn’t leave anything up there. We stored the boat in a shed at the marina and kept a wood locker bin there for our shared equipment.

When Vern passed away, my parents were given the option to purchase his home. They didn’t move there immediately, but had renters for a few years until my father retired. They remodeled the home, adding a second story bedroom which had a view of the Island. My father’s dream! Either be on the Island, or be able to wake up, see it first thing. Boy did he love that! Interestingly enough, it was not my mother’s dream, nor was it her favorite thing to do. It was work for her, to plan meals over there, do without running water or flush toilets… And yet, all things considered, the work required to go over there was certainly equal – prep and maintenance of the boat, chopping wood, maintaining the cabin. Dad loved it. Mom tolerated it.

There were other vacations for us growing up. In addition to going to the Island, we hiked portions of the Pacific Crest Trail, camped in state and national parks and spent time from places as far north as Penticton, BC, to Mexico. But, most of our vacation time was at the Island.

My husband and I got together in 1972. Soon after, we purchased our own boat. Dad and Bob didn’t let “the kids” use their boat. We went through the same process as my parents, outfitting ourselves for trips to the Island. We stored the boat in the same shed at the marina, bought our own haul out permits and established our own routines. We could have the car loaded on a Friday afternoon, leave our house soon after my husband got home from work, just after 4, and be on the Island, cooking dinner by 6. The two of us loved going over there!

At some point, we began sharing the boat with my brother and his wife. As more of us were going over more often, we began adding structures. My sister and her family also began going over. We built a bunk house with two sides so that several families could easily share the space. We built a new outhouse. We build a new deck on the cabin. We had a storage locker in the bunk house so we could leave much of the equipment. My parents began using a generator. My husband and I still preferred ‘roughing’ it.

We spent a famous Thanksgiving there and invited my parents to come over with us. This was before we had a kiddo. At that point, we had two dogs to add to the gear. img_1122We cooked in a barrel wood stove as well as on a two burner gas stove. For Thanksgiving, we cooked game hens in the wood stove. It was a really wonderful, special day. My husband took my parents back to the Marina at the end of the day and came back over to the Island. During the evening, a storm blew in. A major storm. Our boat was tied up on a line between two sides of a cove. The wind was howling, the tide was extremely high and we worried. We went to look at the boat to see how it was faring. The wind was howling so loudly that we couldn’t even talk to each other. The water was so high it was over the cleat that held the line to the boat. Even if we had wanted to pull the boat closer, we couldn’t reach it. We finally went to bed, saying if the boat was there in the morning, well, we’d be able to leave…

Lo and behold, the boat was still tied between the two sides of the cove! img_1095The storm continued to rage and the waves were huge! But! It was daylight, and things look better in the day. We loaded up our gear and the dogs and made our way to and onto the boat. We left the Island, heading for the marina, which though far away, was visible to us. What normally would take 15 minutes or so, took well over an hour. The swells were 10 feet high. Our motor barely made headway. We hung toward the shore of another island and finally made it to the marina. My father was down on the dock, waiting for us! He had followed our movements with a telescope at home, then binoculars from the dock. I don’t think we were ever so glad to have him watching over us! You know, this was before cell phones, sometime in the late 70’s. We had certainly loved our simple, rustic Thanksgiving dinner, but vowed never to go over again that late in the fall. That was to be not only the first, but the last time we had Thanksgiving on the Island.




First blog post

This is the post excerpt.

Hi. I have been following several blogs recently. My friend Dawn has a site,Tales From the Motherland, that I love following. She gets creative and responds to prompts from other sites. I often comment. I did a little blogging this past summer on a tour to Croatia. It was fun, challenging, took more time that I thought it would, but I did it. Recently, Dawn posted a prompt that began with The Last Time I… I really had a story to tell and decided to get with it. I retired from teaching and running my own school for 30 some years. It’s already been a year. I’m busy. I have free time. I’m embracing this opportunity to put my thoughts down and publish them. Scary! Never thought of myself as much of a writer, but I have enjoyed it during the past few years. I guess that’s about it.