Thursday, April 22, 2021

This Morning Miss Tessie Takes Us Tiptoeing The Skagit Valley Tulips

This morning it is former Skagit Valley girl, Miss Tessie, who is making me homesick via photos on Facebook.

Like Miss Tessie says in her Facebook post, "It really is this beautiful."

Miss Tessie is what is known in the Skagit Valley as a Sakuma. The Sakuma's are big producers of agricultural products grown in the Skagit Valley.

From the Sakuma website...

Sakuma Brothers Farms
From the heart of Skagit Valley in Burlington, Washington, we are 100% vertically integrated in the small fruit industry. We grow conventional and organic:

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Apples
  • Tea

We provide:

  • Research
    Leading edge of propagation.
  • Fresh Market (temporarily closed)
    Seasonal small fruits grown locally in the Skagit Valley.
  • Sales
    Fresh market and processed berries.

_____________________________

I suspect the Sakuma Fresh Market is temporarily closed due to COVID. When I was in Washington the summer of 2008, on the way to Bay View State Park to meet Spencer Jack for the first time, we stopped at the Sakuma Fresh Market.

I was impressed at what a big touristy operation it was. Items like a train/tram device to take visitors out to the fields, where if I remember right, there was a You Pick option. Along with a lot of produce buying options, including freshly baked pies. We got a blackberry pie. Almost as good as mom used to bake.

Miss Tessie currently lives in California where she has developed a reputation regarding her dancing skills, particularly her prize winning Argentine Tango...

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Talking To Elsie Hotpepper About Going To Hawaii With Mary Kelleher

My morning adventure for today was driving an elderly person to his various drug dealers so as to secure items like insulin and pain killers. Whilst waiting at the various drug dealing pharmacies I occupied my time by texting various people.

Such as Elsie Hotpepper. 

With a couple texters, including the Hotpepper, I made mention of thinking it would be a good idea to go to Hawaii, or some similar tropical location, once this COVID nightmare ends, and maybe rent a condo for a month, or some such thing.

Miss Elsie made mention of the fact that she is so busy with her various busy things that thinking about a tropical escape is beyond her current capability. 

Among the many busy things Elsie Hotpepper is busy doing is working hard to get Mary Kelleher elected to the Tarrant Region Water District board again.

Those not familiar with North Texas and Fort Worth politics likely think what's the big deal with being on a water board.

Well.

It is sort of like Los Angeles during the era where water was being fought over due to that liquid being such a needed commodity. This resulted in a lot of corruption in Los Angeles and surrounding areas back in the 1920s and 1930s. The movie Chinatown did a good job depicting this corruption.

So.

This water board which operates out of Fort Worth is a multi-billion dollar operation, supposedly only responsible for things like providing water and flood control.

The TRWD board is famously inept at the flood control aspect. Which is why Mary Kelleher wants to be back on the water board. Due to the fact that her East Fort Worth location regularly floods due to the inept urban planning for which Fort Worth is infamous.

While deadly property destroying floods wreak havoc in parts of Fort Worth, the TRWD has been focusing way too much attention (and money) on imaginary flood control in an area of the Trinity River which has not flooded in well over half a century.

The TRWD came up with an un-needed flood control scheme, which masked an inept economic development scheme, which, after over two decades of Boondoggling along, has managed to build one pitiful simple little bridge over dry land, along with two more un-completed bridges, built to one day possibly connect the Fort Worth mainland to an imaginary island.

It is this type bizarrely weird corruption which Mary Kelleher hopes to do something about by once again being on the TRWD board.

Times have greatly changed since Mary Kelleher's last bout on the TRWD board. For instance her longtime nemesis, Jim Oliver, will no longer be there, with one result being that Mary might finally get a key to the building and access to the secret part of the TRWD building which was denied her whilst she previously served.

If Mary Kelleher gets elected again, and if obfuscating obstructions are again deployed, I suspect there will be protests of a size which will dwarf the HUGE protest which erupted when the TRWD board had a meeting to censure Mary over some fool thing which turned the entire absurdity into an embarrassing circus.

I forgot to mention, that in addition to texting with Elsie Hotpepper today, when I returned to my computer I saw that Elsie Hotpepper had Facebooked the ringing endorsement of Mary Kelleher you see screen capped at the top.

I don't know if I have enough time to move back to Fort Worth so I can vote for Mary in May. Texas does not make voting easy...

Today It Is MMG Making Me Homesick For Skagit Tulips While Grilling Russian Salmon


Today's make me homesick moment once again comes from Facebook. This time via an entity currently calling herself Margaret Mikota Grants who shared a collection of photos of the Skagit Valley tulips, currently in their annual bloom and color the valley mode.

Miss Margaret, also known as MMG, is currently planning a reunion of the class with whom I graduated from high school.

MMG is doing this reunion planning from her Minnesota location a couple thousand miles distant from the Skagit Valley location of the place at which we attended high school.

MMG is currently taking a break from reunion planning and is instead here in Texas not visiting me.

Instead of visiting me MMG is fishing at a venue called Fork Lake whilst staying in a town called Alba. Neither of which I had heard of and had to Google to find they are located a few miles east of Dallas.

When I lived in Washington I had a fairly regular supply of fresh salmon, among other types of fresh seafood, such as dungeness crab, oysters and clams.

For lunch today the smokeless grill in my kitchen is grilling pink salmon filets. From Russia, processed in China, bought by me in Walmart.

Such a thing should make me homesick, but for some likely irrational reason, it isn't...


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Fort Worth's Anonymous Sees No Cowtown Type Outhouses In Burlington


Yesterday I mentioned a mystery delivered to me by my Joey & Jason nephews. In mentioning this mystery I also mentioned the address at which I lived whilst growing up in the small Washington burg of Burlington.

Well.

Apparently someone with the unique name, Anonymous, read that blog post and then used something like Google Earth to virtually go to my old home. When Anonymous found my old home he, or she, must have seen it was across from an amenity known as Maiben Park. Anonymous then must have Googled "Maiben Park" where he or she learned about that small park's many attributes.

Above that is a screen cap of what one sees via Google Earth, showing Maiben Park, and the section of Washington Avenue on which I lived. Below is the comment from Anonymous, and then below that we take a Google Earth look at 1027 Washington Avenue...

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Joey & Jason's 1027 Washington Avenue Mystery":

Across the street from Maiben Park which has:

Basketball Courts
BBQ Pit
Community/Senior Center
Grass Area
Internet
Maiben House Activity Center
Picnic Shelters
Play Structure
Restrooms
Spray Park
Tennis Court
Urban Forest | Cedar Grove

No outhouses like Cowtown!

I too lived across the street from a park. A light industrial park. And trailer parks were a block or two away. Cowtown, baby, Cowtown!
_____________________

So, clearly Anonymous is a Fort Worth native who has read me make mention a time or two of the fact that many of Fort Worth's city parks are of a third world quality, with no modern facilities, but plenty of outhouses. With picnic tables, but no running water with which to wash ones hands. 

Below is the aforementioned screen cap of 1027 Washington Avenue, in which we see another modern world attribute I was used to in Washington about which I found myself appalled by its rarity in Fort Worth.


A sidewalk. With a median strip separating the sidewalk from Washington Avenue.

What a concept.

On the left you also see another thing I don't see in Texas. That being a recycle bin awaiting pickup.  

In the distance, behind the left side of the house, you see part of Burlington Hill.

My current flat location has nothing like Burlington Hill in any direction for many many miles.

If something like Burlington Hill existed at my current location I suspect it would be known as a mountain.

A mountain with a park at its summit.

With an outhouse...

Monday, April 19, 2021

Joey & Jason's 1027 Washington Avenue Mystery

 


A couple days ago Hank Frank's papa, my Favorite Nephew Joey, sent the above to my phone, with no explanatory text explaining what I was looking at.

Or why.

And now, this morning, Hank Frank's uncle and Spencer Jack's papa, also known as my Favorite Nephew Jason, sent me the same thing, only via email, also with no explanatory text, other than a subject line of...

"1027 E. Washington Avenue"

The above is the address of the house I grew up in in the Washington town of Burlington.

I recollect nothing at that house which looked like that which we see above. 

It has been at least two decades since anyone in the Jones family owned that house, having easy access to taking photos of anything related to that house.

This feels like a clue in a antique video game, like the first puzzle in MYST. 

I recollect having a lot of trouble getting past the first puzzle in MYST...

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Mighty Fine Saturday Time Biking With Evening Primroses & A Colt

 


The past couple gray drippy cold days have been like stereotypical winter days in the Puget Sound area of the Pacific Northwest.

With all that drippy cold I had not had myself any outdoor endorphin inducing aerobic activity for way too long.

And so on this third Saturday of the 2021 version of April my bike took me on a ride, with me layered up like it was still winter, because even though the sky is no longer gray, the outer world has not returned to being warm.

The rain the past couple of days must have triggered the evening primroses into blooming. I have never seen so many blooms of this particular Texas wildflower previous blooming seasons at Sikes Lake. They were even blooming around the lone colt who is still missing its mama who disappeared a long time ago. As in maybe a year ago.

I never have learned what happened to the mother horse. Soon after an explanatory plaque was installed, explaining mother and child horse, the mother disappeared. 

April is over half gone. At the start of this month, hoping the weather would be conducive to increased outdoor exercise, I thought this would be the month I would lose my COVID-25 and once again be able to fit into more than just two of the pants in my pants collection.

I am still thinking there is a chance I may escape Texas this summer to go to Washington.

I think I may have mentioned I have a high school class reunion happening this summer. For a variety of reasons I was not planning on attending that event. And now it appears that common sense will be prevailing, with that reunion postponed for a year.

Maybe an extra year will give sufficient time to plan a reunion that I might want to attend. Maybe...

Friday, April 16, 2021

Linda Lou Takes Us To Mount Vernon's Skagit Riverwalk

Even with the title above mentioning the Skagit Riverwalk, longtime lookers at this blog may be thinking the photo they see here is a photo of one of America's Biggest Boondoggle's Rockin' the River Happy Hour Inner Tube Floats at Fort Worth's imaginary pavilion on the town's imaginary island in the town's polluted river.

However, there is a clue or two that that is not the Trinity River you see here, as there is nothing unnatural floating in it, and the color is a pleasant shade of green, not brackish brown.

Yesterday the Skagit Valley's favorite Linda Lou called and during the call I asked if Linda Lou had any good photos of Mount Vernon's Skagit Riverwalk.

And then, this morning, from Linda Lou's phone, photos of Mount Vernon's Skagit Riverwalk showed up.

Around the turn of the century Fort Worth began an imaginary flood control economic development scheme, at the time called Trinity Uptown. Eventually that name turned into Trinity River Vision. Eventually becoming the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island District Vision. More commonly known as America's Biggest Boondoggle, after two decades of limping along with little to show for the effort but one completed little bridge built over dry land, which took 7 years to build.

Fort Worth did not fund this pseudo public works project in the normal way of having the public vote to approve funding the not vitally needed flood control project. Not needed due to the fact the area in question has not flooded for well over half a century. To secure funding a local congresswoman's son was made Executive Director of the project, to motivate his mother to secure federal funding.

So far mother's efforts to get the more prosperous parts of America to pay for Fort Worth's ineptly implemented imaginary flood control project has not born federal fruit.

Meanwhile, about 10 years after Fort Worth's imaginary flood control scheme got underway, the little town from which I moved near the end of the last century, Mount Vernon, began to implement an actual vitally needed flood control project. A flood control project with the actual side benefit of being an economic development scheme, creating a waterfront riverwalk and making downtown Mount Vernon economically more viable due to greatly reduced flood insurance premiums. 

We shall continue with the rest of the story whilst looking at Linda Lou's photos of Mount Vernon's Skagit Riverwalk.


I am guessing Miss Mary was the photographer for the above photo, with that being Linda Lou walking away from us. We are looking north here, at the south end of the Riverwalk. That bridge you see is crossing the Skagit River, connecting downtown Mount Vernon to West Mount Vernon. That bridge was built many years ago, over actual moving water, and built in less than four years.

No local congresswoman's son was involved in determining what type piers the bridge was built on.


I forgot to mention, that photo at the top, which some might have mistaken for Rockin' the River, is instead an event taking place on the Skagit Riverwalk Plaza. I assume this is Tulip Festival related. As you can see tulips play a big role on the Skagit Riverwalk. In the above photo you can see the Tulip Tower in the distance. We will get a better look at the Tulip Tower below.


Above we see the Skagit Riverwalk as it passes under the Skagit River Bridge. We are looking south here. The Skagit is a much bigger river than the Trinity River. The river is a bit wide as it passes through Mount Vernon, only a few miles from reaching the mouth of the river in Skagit Bay.

I forgot to mention the reason the Skagit Riverwalk is an actual real flood control project is because the Skagit has been a regular menace to downtown Mount Vernon ever since the town began. Downtown Mount Vernon is sort of like New Orleans, as in the downtown goes below river level when the Skagit goes into flood mode.

12 funding sources were used to pay for the Skagit Riverwalk project, the final phase of which was completed in 2018. Prior to this upgraded flood protection, when the Skagit flooded it took between 1,500 and 2,000 volunteers to fill and stack 150,00 sandbags to hold back the river.

In the early 1990s, during the worst flood I remember seeing, I was among the volunteers. I went to downtown Mount Vernon after midnight, after seeing on the news how bad the expected crest was going to be, and seeing so many people helping, including Navy volunteers from the Whidbey Air Force Base. The sandbag stacking was complete by about the time the sun arrived. 

A few hours later, around 11 in the morning, a huge crowd had gathered, at a safe elevation, to see if the river would top the sandbag wall. Just as the river began to flood over the wall something happened. No one new what it was, but suddenly the river level dropped. Downtown Mount Vernon was spared, because further downriver a dike had failed, flooding Fir Island, taking pressure off the flooding river.

Two weeks later it happened again.

Hence the effort began to find a solution to a real flood control problem, a solution which was many years in the making and eventually resulted in a Dutch designed flood control system which takes a crew of about 20 around 12 hours to stack aluminum logs to make a flood control wall.

This resulted in FEMA granting Mount Vernon's request to be removed from the 100 year floodplain, resulting in this quote from Mount Vernon's mayor at the time, “The flood protection project brings a 40 percent reduction in flood insurance premiums, and removes 223 buildings from the regulatory floodplain, increasing community safety and improving economic vitality of the downtown business district,” Mount Vernon Mayor Jill Boudreau told the crowd.


Another group of tulips on the Skagit Riverwalk Plaza. Linda Lou gives us no clue at to the why of the guys standing in front of the tulips. But it sure let's us see how big they are.

But, not nearly as tall as the Tulip Tower.


Due to the completion of Mount Vernon's Skagit Riverwalk flood control project, the hoped for economic development has followed. Such as a 1906 era building being remodeled with the ground floors providing commercial space with the upstairs being living space. The owner is putting hundreds of thousands of dollars into the project and says this would not be happening without the new floodwall protection.

Meanwhile in Fort Worth, Texas...

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Linda Lou Tip Toes Us To Tulip Town With Chris & Sheila


Seems like just yesterday I made mention of the fact that Linda Lou Took Me To Skagit Flats Beaver Marsh Looking At Olympics as part of an ongoing multi-party effort to make me homesick for Washington.

In that particular blogging about that particular homesick issue I made mention of the fact that Miss Chris and Miss Sheila also contributed on that particular day to the making me homesick thing.

And then the following day it happened again. 

Above is a photo sent to my phone by Linda Lou. All the text with the photo said was "Tulip Town".

Way back in the final decades of the last century, when the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival sort of exploded, overwhelming the valley with over a million visitors during a short time period, with the crowds particularly crowded on weekends, something had to be done to deal with the massive traffic jams.

There are multiple exists from Interstate 5 to the Skagit Flats, including three in Mount Vernon. The Mount Vernon exits had the heaviest traffic, causing backups onto the freeway, through town, across the river, and onto the flats.

And so measures were taken to direct Tulip viewers to exit any of the Skagit Valley I-5 exits, with signage directing the way to the Tulips. Bus tours were added where one could park at one of the valley's malls and hop a bus to take your Tulip Tour.

Attractions were added all over the valley so as to try and disperse the crowds. Hence Tulip Town was added, as a sort of backup to the extremely popular, crowded Roozengarde.

Helicopters were added so as to monitor the traffic so as to direct cops to bottlenecks to keep the traffic flow moving. I suspect by now the helicopters have been replaced with drones.

I think experiencing living in the midst of an actual tourist attraction is what caused me to react with puzzlement when I would read something in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about Fort Worth's imaginary tourists. Things like a sporting goods store would give Fort Worth the top tourist attraction in Texas. Embarrassing idiocy like that.

Washington has, I think, three Cabela's now. None of which try to claim to be the state's top tourist attraction. Has the Star-Telegram ever apologized to its readers for being part of the Cabela's scam?

I almost forgot about yesterday's homesick contribution from Chris and Sheila. Below is what those two put on Facebook yesterday from their current visit to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.
 

The above photos all appear to be from the aforementioned Roozengarde. I asked Chris and Sheila if they got in a visit with Hank Frank, who lives close by, but I have yet to get an answer to that probing question.

I wonder what will make me homesick today?

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Linda Lou Takes Me To Skagit Flats Beaver Marsh Looking At Olympics


The above is the latest example of something sent by someone in the Pacific Northwest in an ongoing campaign by many, apparently, to try and make me homesick for Washington.

The campaign is working.

The above photo arrived on my phone late in yesterday's afternoon, from Linda Lou.

The text message with the photo said, "The Olympics in all their glory as seen from Beaver Marsh Road".

That made it twice yesterday Beaver Marsh Road was mentioned to me. Yesterday, when talking to sister Jackie, mention was made of Jackie having had herself a mighty fine visit with nephew Joey, Monique and Hank Frank at their farmhouse on Beaver Marsh Road.

Linda Lou called soon after sending me the above photo and when I told her Joey's house is on Beaver Marsh Road, she said she'd driven by it and recognized it from the photo of Joey's house I'd put on the blog.

However, talking to Jackie yesterday, I learned that the house I thought to be Joey's, was not Joey's, but was the house on the 8 acres next to Joey's, which big brother Jason bought. 

As for those Olympics Linda Lou mentions being in all their glory, that is a mountain range to the west of Puget Sound, located on the appropriately named Olympic Peninsula, where you will find the also appropriately named Olympic National Park. 

First time visitors to the Puget Sound zone are often surprised, on a clear day, to see mountains no matter which direction they look.

From the Skagit Flats, which is where Joey and Jason's homes on Beaver Marsh Road are located, one can look west and see the Olympics, to the east and see the Cascades and Mount Baker, to the south and see Mount Rainier, which is also part of the Cascade mountain range, and to the north and see the Cascade mountains as the range reaches the Pacific north of Vancouver.

That makes for two of Washington's active volcanoes that one can see from the Skagit Flats.

No matter what direction I look whilst standing on the Wichita Flats I can see no volcanoes. Or mountains...

Geez, I finished writing this blog post, switched to Facebook, and what's the first thing I see?

Another Skagit Flats photo via Linda Lou. The one above looks west at the Olympics, the one below looks east, at the aforementioned Cascades.


The view here is south of the vantage point of Linda Lou's first photo. Joey and Jason's Skagit Flat location on Beaver Marsh Road would be to the left. If we panned to the left we would also see Mount Baker. The buildings you see on the lower hills are in south Mount Vernon. The main part of the town would also be seen if we panned to the left.

Way back in the previous century, I could look out my windows and see a view somewhat like that above. Well, not the tulip/daffodil Skagit Flats view, but the mountain view to the east...

Geez, it happened again. Added the photo from Linda Lou, went back to Facebook, and saw a new post, with this one asking "Where in Washington are Chris & Sheila? Such a beautiful day, snowy mountain tops can be seen all around us".


Didn't I just mention the fact that from the Skagit Flats one sees mountains no matter what direction you look? And now we have Chris and Sheila saying the same thing. 

That tallest mountain you see here is the aforementioned Mount Baker. Which would make Joey and Jason's location on Beaver Marsh Road to the right in this view. 

I am guessing Chris and Sheila are at the RV park at the Swinomish Casino Resort on Padilla Bay, which would mean we are looking east across Padilla Bay in the above photo. Bay View State Park would be to the left, across the bay. And my old hometown of Burlington would be due east on the other side of that row of trees. I forget what that particular rise above the Skagit Flats is called. Bay View Hill? Is that it?

Okay, I am not looking at Facebook any more tonight...

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Happy Birthday Sister Michele

 

On this day, many decades ago, my youngest sibling was born.

I have been extremely distracted for a few days, with those distractions causing me not to remember til now that on this day, many decades ago, my youngest sibling was born.

Happy Birthday Sister Michele

I talked to my sibling who was born seven years before Michele, this morning. That would be Sister Jackie.

Sister Jackie was back in Arizona after spending 10 days in Washington, where she got to spend time with Sister Michele, Mama Kristin, David, Theo and Ruby.

And got to meet Hank Frank and Hank Frank's Mama Monique, for the first time.

Jackie had herself a mighty fine time in Washington this visit, particularly enjoying meeting Hank Frank and his Mama.

It is looking increasingly unlikely I will be having myself a mighty fine time this coming summer in Washington meeting Hank Frank and his Mama, along with having fun with David, Theo, Ruby and Spencer Jack. Among others.

But who knows? Circumstances can quickly change...