Monday, September 29, 2014

In Washington Marijuana Is State Approved With Loving Farms Open For Business

This morning, via my nephew, Spencer Jack's dad, for the first time I saw an advertisement for Marijuana.

I am guessing this ad appeared in the Skagit Valley Herald, and if not there, likely in some other Skagit County publication.

At the top of the ad it says, "It's here, State Approved Marijuana".

Then we are informed "No Medical Card Required & Public Welcome 21 and Over No Minors Permitted".

This locally owned and operated operation is called Loving Farms.

Loving Farms is on Facebook.

I don't know if it is a state of Washington warning type deal like that which the government insists be on cigarette packs, but the Loving Farms ad has what appears to be a warning type message...

This product has intoxicating effects and may be habit forming. Marijuana can impair concentration, coordination, and judgment. Do no operate a vehicle or machinery under the influence of this drug. There may be health risks associated with consumption of this product. For use only by adults twenty-one and older.  Keep out of the reach of children.

Sounds like good advice. Keep this stuff away from Spencer Jack....

Friday, August 15, 2014

Come Tour Tonasket in Okanogan Country with Tootsie Tonasket

This morning, via Tootsie Tonasket, I received the postcard you see on the left, inviting me to "Come Tour Tonasket" in Okanogan Country.

I have passed through Tonasket a time or two, but I can not say I have actually toured Tonasket.

As the postcard indicates Tonasket is in Okanogan Country. Tonasket is also in north-central Okanogan County. I believe Okanogan Country extends well beyond Okanogan County, north, across the Canadian border, where, in British Columbia, one finds Lake Okanogan, if one wants to.

Tonasket is named after Chief Tonasket of the Okanogan Tribe. Tonasket became the chief of the American Okanogans after the Oregon Treaty of 1846 established the U.S.-Canada border, which left the Okanogan Chief Nicola north of the border, thus giving Tonasket the opportunity to take over the south of the border Okanogan Tribe.

The population of Tonasket in 2014 is slightly higher than 1,000. Many of those 1,000 are descendants of the pioneers who first settled the Okanogan Valley.

In addition to the aforementioned Tootsie Tonasket, another Tonasket native who has become known world-wide is Walter H. Brattain, who grew up on a ranch near Tonasket and after attending school in Tonasket went on to co-win the Nobel Prize for Physics with William Shockley and John Bardeen for inventing the transistor.

The biggest Tonasket event of the year is officially known as the Okanogan Family Faire, known more commonly locally as Barter Faire.

Tootsie Tonasket's Tonasket fame is based mostly on her annual appearance at Barter Faire. Last year Tootsie Tonasket created quite a stir as Lady Godiva at the mostly anything goes event.

I am looking forward to taking a Tour of Tonasket someday. Maybe during Barter Faire.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Washington Trails Association Website

Last week, over the course of a couple days, Washington native, Maxine, hiked two of the North Cascades most popular hikes, Sauk Mountain and Cascade Pass.

At the summit of Cascade Pass Maxine continued on up the Sahale Arm trail to find that the view was among the best ever.

During the course of describing her latest hikes Maxine asked if I'd seen the Washington Trails Association website.

I had not. So I checked it out.

I am much impressed with this website. It pretty much comprehensively covers all the hiking trails in all the mountain areas of the state of Washington in all 31 Wilderness Areas.

Daily, multiple hikers add detailed trail reports, with pictures. Some days there are dozens of reports from various Washington mountain trails.

Like I said, impressive.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Skagit Valley Herald Refuses To Cover The Mystery of the Missing Skagit Valley Strawberry Crop

In the palm of a hand you are looking at one of Sven & Ole's giant Skagit Valley strawberries. If you have only had a California Driscoll type strawberry you have really not had a strawberry in all its deep red, juicy, tasty glory.

This year much of the Skagit Valley strawberry crop was not picked, even though it was a bumper crop.

Why were the strawberries not picked? Not enough pickers. The reason there were not enough pickers I do not really understand, but it has something to do with a strike against the Sakuma Brothers and their farming operation.

What ever became of the Skagit Valley's school kids picking berries to earn a few bucks during summer vacation? I have yet to get an answer to that question.

Mr. Martin Burwash, he being the chief operator of the Sven & Ole strawberry growing operation tried to verbalize his frustration via a letter to the editor of the Skagit Valley Herald, that being the local newspaper, which apparently had been turning a blind eye to the plight of the valley's farmers.

The Skagit Valley Herald refused to publish Mr. Burwash's letter, so Martin then published the letter himself, on Facebook, along with a paragraph preceding the letter, explaining his frustration with the inability to be heard....

Interesting....during our plight to get a crew to pick our berries, my partner went to both the local radio station and the local newspaper telling them of the problems growers were having finding labor. Neither the radio station or paper saw fit to run any kinds of stories or announcements. Even the community as a whole did nothing to help us. In response I wrote a letter to the editor of the Skagit Valley Herald, taking them, the radio stations and the community as a whole to task. Today the paper called to say they would not print the letter as they categorically deny they were ever informed growers other than the Sakuma Bros were having problems finding pickers. Really?

Here's the banned letter.....

Collateral damage has been defined as “damage to things that are incidental to the intended target.”

In the ongoing dispute between Sakuma Brothers and their workers, we are the “collateral damage.” Who are “we?” We are the other farmers in the valley growing strawberries. “We” are the farmers for which there are no printed signs of support or shiny tractors driving through the streets. 

Our fruit also rotted in the fields due to a lack of pickers. Although we had no dispute with our workers, to show support for those on strike, the people we traditionally hire each year were encouraged not to pick. Where normally we hire 45 pickers, we struggled to get 15. Proportionally, 2/3 of our crop was lost.
When you are merely collateral damage, you find there is little interest in your plight. When the local newspaper was told of the labor crisis facing all local growers due to the Sakuma Brothers dispute, they showed no interest in expanding coverage to report the entire story. When asked to announce growers needed pickers in the fields, local radio stations followed suit and showed no concern.

Printed signs or tractors parading up and down local streets and roads are an appreciated show of support. But that is the issue, they are just that, merely a show. Those of us suffering collateral damage did not care about your signs or demonstrations. What was needed was support in form of people willing to help us save our crop.

Collateral damage is impersonal. It is a shake of the head. It is a “that’s too bad you got caught up in this.” But in the end it is a loss suffered for which there is little or no outcry and concern.

__________________________________________

I have blogged about the Sakuma Brothers a couple times, once about the lack of pickers issue, once about their Sakuma Brothers Market Stand.

This is all very vexing and perplexing to me......

Monday, June 23, 2014

Why Are There Not Enough Pickers To Pick Skagit Valley Strawberries?

On the left you are looking at Martin & Cam looking at a strawberry picked at the Ole & Sven strawberry patch in the Valley known as Skagit.

A couple months ago, after I learned about the problems Skagit Valley berry growers were having getting their crops picked. I blogged about it in The End Of A Skagit Valley Sakuma Strawberry Legacy.

On Facebook I have been following the berry picking woes of Ole & Sven, currently not having enough pickers to pick their strawberries, resulting in tons upon tons of berries rotting in the field.

When I was a kid, growing up in the Skagit Valley, when school let out for Summer most of the Valley's school kids went to work picking berries.

We got paid 75 cents per flat of strawberries picked. I remember berry picking as both hard work and a lot of fun. With a party at the end of the season after which we got our paychecks.

I was more than a little shocked to recently learn that the current amount paid for picking a flat of strawberries is $20.

Wow. I assume this to be true due to the fact that I saw no one claim otherwise.

The most flats I ever picked in a single day, back during my berry picking career, was 29, at a field we called El Rancho.

29 flats times $20 is $580.

If this really is the case, that this much is being paid to pick a flat of strawberries, why are there berries rotting in the fields?

I don't understand.

Are kids no longer allowed to pick?

Back when I was a picker we co-picked with migrant workers, most of whom migrated from Mexico, following the crops across the west. Over the years many of the Mexican migrants decided to remain in the Skagit Valley, which is why the Skagit Valley has such a large population of Mexican descent, good Mexican restaurants and celebrates Cinco de Mayo.

I don't remember at what point in time the migrant camps disappeared from the Skagit Valley. Did the United Farm Workers movement result in better pay for working the California fields so there was no longer a motivation to travel north to Washington?

I have no idea.

Surely the people who live in the Skagit Valley know the berry growers are having a picking problem? Why aren't the people helping out?

This past weekend the town I grew up in, Burlington, had its annual Berry Dairy Days celebration. Berry Dairy Days was always a big deal for me and my siblings, partly due to mom and dad making us cool floats for the Berry Dairy Days Parade. And partly due to the fact that the carnival was located a block from our house.

What with this past weekend being the Berry Dairy Days celebration I am perplexed as to what there is to celebrate, what with tons of berries going to waste.

Is free strawberry shortcake after the parade still part of Berry Dairy Days? My best guess would be no.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

In Seattle At The Fremont Fair's Solstice Parade On My Bike Covered In Body Paint

Today, June 21, 2014 is the Solstice, also known as the First Day of Summer.

Since today is the Summer Solstice the Fremont Solstice Parade is taking place in the Independent Republic of Fremont, located in Seattle.

The Fremont Solstice Parade is known for its hundreds of bike riders riding in various states of undress.

The screencap you see here is from the Wikipedia article about the Fremont Solstice Parade.

The Wikipedia article dances daintily around the naked bike riding aspect of the Fremont Solstice Parade, simply saying, "The parade is famous for its wild and creative floats and ensembles and for the Solstice Cyclists, who strip down before the parade and paint their bodies, who unofficially start the parade every year."

The Solstice Parade is just one event in the three day Fremont Fair which opened Friday, June 20, closing Sunday, June 22.


Above is a screencap from the Fremont Fair website. On the Fremont Fair website you can find the answer to just about any question you might have regarding the Fremont Fair.

I found the following interest tidbits of information....

The event, a celebration of Fremont's "delibertas quirkas" (freedom to be peculiar) culture, is comprised of three free-spirited traditions: the Solstice Fair, the Solstice Parade, and the inaugural Solstice Concert Series. Where else can you find a massive stone troll, Lenin statue, and a dismantled rockets nestled among a thriving neighborhood of business and pleasure.

What is the etiquette with body paint?

We won’t deny it. The Fremont Fair and Solstice Parade are partially famous for body-painted bicyclists and revelers who magically appear every year and make this event truly one of a kind.

If you are one of the body painted participants, PLEASE NOTE:

The Fremont restaurants and bars greatly appreciate if you can carry a towel with you to place on the chair/booth while you dine and drink. If you don’t, they are left scrubbing body paint from booths for weeks to come, which is a mess and can permanently damage d├ęcor. They love to have you in their establishments, but please be respectful of their furnishings if you have paint that may rub off.

Remember that many families do attend the Fair, with small children in tow. While Fair-goers typically wholly embrace the free spirit of the event, when planning your costume/paint scheme, please be considerate of a child’s eye level in conjunction with potential painted body parts that may be exposed. Rude and obscene behavior at the Fremont Fair will not be tolerated and individuals will be asked to leave.

So, don't forget to bring a towel and don't forget to strategically consider a child's eye level regarding what needs to be adequately covered with body paint....

Monday, May 19, 2014

The 34th Anniversary of the Mount St. Helens Eruption on May 19,1980

Some moments in time are so epic that they are so etched into ones memory that the event always seems recent, even as the moment fades ever further back in time.

The 9/11 terror attacks are an example of this. This coming Septemenber 11 how can it already be 13 years since that horrific day?

This morning I had the same reaction when I realized it was 34 years ago today, Sunday, May 19, 1980, when I was soaking my aching back in a hot tub when I heard three distinct concussive explosive noises.

Fifteen minutes later the neighbor we called Godzilla, because she was so big we could tell she was heading our way because we could feel the ground shake, informed us that Mount St. Helens had exploded.  That news began a day, and days to follow, of what amounted to Mother Nature mounting a terror attack, releasing more energy than the most powerful of nuclear bombs.

We who were in the path of possible eruption ash plumes were advised to get breathing masks, or whatever ever it is those white masks one uses to block the flow of dust are known as. We were also advised to put some sort of extra filter on our vehicle's air filters. I don't remember how that worked.

I do remember there was only one occasion when the direction of the wind and an eruption sent volcanic dust north to my location in the Skagit Valley. I remember it resulted in a very light dusting, nothing like the multi-feet deep, snow drift-like dustings parts of Eastern Washington were hit with.

This happened almost three and a half  decades ago. Yet seems like yesterday in my memory.

If you are lucky enough to be touristing in Washington, do not miss driving the Spirit Highway to get an up close look at Mount St. Helens in her current state of mountain building, which has recently returned to active, with molten lava rising. The multiple Visitor's Centers one comes to as one drives the Spirit Highway are all worth a stop, each very well done, with the best  of the Visitor's Center being the Johnston Ridge Observatory at the end of the Spirit Highway, only five miles from the north face of Mount St. Helens.

The Johnston Ridge Observatory was built near where David Johnston died after uttering the famous words "Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!"

We have blogged a couple times previous on the anniversary of the Mount St. Helens eruption, including a blogging titled Mt. St. Helens Harry Truman's Spirit Lives On in which you can watch the YouTube video you see below and listen to the song that became a #1 hit and a tribute to Harry Truman...