by Kim Day Murr
“Started the day with a kiss from the man, a wee bit of breakfast, and a call from a friend. Seems said friend was helping butcher turkeys today, even though Wednesdays are our walking-days. We’ve seen most of this island we call home on foot over the past many years of Wednesday Walks. ”Come to Del’s,” said Shelda. “The killing part should be over by the time you get here.” I arrived (after a decent delay for said activity), to find the ladie’s forearms deep into the cavities of two very large birds. Nice. The plucker had been utilized (as well as the garbage can/cauldron, hatchet and stump), and now the girls were removing the inedibles. I watched, and with curiosity drew closer. Now, the Good Book tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, but I have to say this: so are turkeys. Shelda got to the gizzard, sliced it open with her scalpel, and revealed an inner sack that contained all the gravel the bird had eaten in its short lifetime to help it digest food. I mean, how cool is that? God thinks of everything. Shelda took a break from her butchery, and we wandered in the woods awhile. Maples dropping their leaves, sun shining through, birds singing, and dogs barking to warn us when we’ve wandered too far afield. And then, sauntering through an opening to a meadow, we see a porcupine. I immediately want to get close. Well, closer. I pull out my phone (because of course my camera’s back at the house in the car) and attempt to take a photo. “See that spot there between the trees? Yup. Porcupine. HUGE. Really.” He (she?) waddled off into the low brush, turned around and watched us for awhile as we drew closer, and then turned his back on us in a “you can’t see me” stance. We kept on walking, solving the world’s problems (as we do every week), and just being grateful for where we live, and the way Autumn smells, and the surprises God sends our way. Later on I went to work at our local hospital, and immediately went in to a C-Section…reminiscent of those turkeys, on so many levels…I think a healthy uterus looks somewhat like a Cornish game hen…But I digress. As the case finished and the evening progressed I had time to watch the Country Music Awards (CMA’s), and found myself laughing, and once teary-eyed, but fully absorbed in the show. They were singin’ and talkin’ and tellin’ jokes. And now? I keep twangin’, drawlin’, and ya’ll-in. Cain’t be helped. When the relatives come from Sweden for a visit, I get a funny lilt on my tongue. When we’ve been with the cousins up north, I get accused of being a Canuck. And when I listen to that much country music, well, it just cain’t be helped none. I might be Swedish, a wee bit Indian, and God-only-knows what else, but there’s some Country in there, somewhere.”
A Seedy Time at the Open Gate Farm
If you live in the country long enough, there are weather patterns which become evident. For example, the 4th of July is usually cold and cloudy. That’s a good background for fireworks but wear sweaters and coats. The week before Halloween is lovely and then on the 31st it turns cold enough to make a pumpkin frown. Now we are into the February “sucker” weather. It suckers gardeners into planting seeds that really should not see soil until the end of March. Soon storms will come and blow these days away. Oh they’ll be back with forgiveness on their breezes; but this peek into spring is so seductive. It’s not too late to plant garlic and onions, though they would get bigger if planted in the fall. And those cold weather warriors of the garden, peas, kale, cabbage, broccoli, and maybe some beans are good to go into the dirt now too. Yesterday we found ourselves planting squash seeds in the little boxes at the base of the fenceposts along Russell Road. If it doesn’t get too cold, we win. If it does, then we replant. These came from a huge blue squash we were given last fall that we’ve finally cracked open. Saving seeds is fun. Just rinse the seeds in water and dry them before the fire, tuck into envelopes and plant when it’s warm in the spring. One pumpkin produces plenty for planting now and replanting in a month. And lettuce will give you thousands of seeds for next year. Don’t worry too much about the expiration date on those seed packets either. Almost all the seeds that grow around here are good for several years. You can test by wrapping some in a paper towel, stick the other end in a jar of water and look at them after a week and see how many have germinated. So, go forth! Plant! And re-plant!
“Hi, I’m Julie Winters, I grew up here in Stanwood and never forgot the community here in Stanwood and Camano Island that rallied around my family and I when our house burned down when I was 10yrs old to help us get a fresh start. Growing up on a goat and rabbit farm and always having dogs and cats, I learned at a young age how to love and care for animals. I was involved in FFA and 4-H throughout my high school years. My husband Allan grew up between Klamath Falls Oregon and Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island. Allan was raised caring for and loving animals and began breeding Miniature Dachshunds before he met me. When I married and we returned to Stanwood nearly 2 decades ago, we became licensed breeders of Labrador Retrievers and Miniature Dachshunds which we did for well over a decade until we decided to retire from breeding and realized the demand and steadily growing need for quality dog care. Our three children who are a big part of our business; Angel, Lissa and Zach were raised learning to care for and loving dogs from day one. We chose not to use chain link fencing or any cages in our building and to provide group supervised interactive playtime and accept only dogs who pass our temperament test and can be social toward us and other dogs because dogs are part of peoples families and we want to treat them as such. We wanted to get away from the prison feel where dogs could see each other and drive each other crazy but not have any contact or playtime. We also decided to create a homelike setting with bedrooms aka suites like a hotel where we provide the bedding, blankets and dishes and there’s no charge for play. The building here is kept warm and Christian music is on all the time throughout the building. I also provide full service grooming from the basic bath and nails to haircuts per owner request, not necessarily breed standard, though I know and can do them. We also offer limo transportation for your dog. While you’re here, check out our store. Canine Cozy Care Resort is a Resort, NOT a kennel !!”
THE SOUTH END STRING BAND
“Homegrown in the rich manure of island ravines fog-kissed for eons, we’re the South End String Band, classically trained at the prestigious Elger Bay School of Pickin and Grinnin, performing irregularly in the hill country of South Camano to legions of loyal detractors, dropouts, delinquents, parole officers, undercover surveillance teams, unemployed muleskinners, deadbeat dads, acne-pocked groupies, underage children and other neighbors in the Great Mossback region of the island’s fabled and much maligned South End. Experience a nostalgia so keen you’ll think you smell woodsmoke curling off the banjos. Either that or the burn barrel is smoldering. We’re an old time fiddle band of four stringpluckers. Erich Schweiger’s on fiddle, Monika DeNasha covers the guitar and jawharp, Bill Gum whacks a mean standup bass and Jack Archibald is trying his damnedest to learn banjo. We play music from the backwash of the American Archipelago, dike building, ditch digging, river damming, log jamming Roots Music for the next generation raised on Game Boy, bad video and an apparent lack of historical perspective. We play a lot of benefit concerts, fundraisers, Save the Grange, library anniversaries, Harvest Jubilees, firemen fundraisers, Snow Goose Festivals, American Legion dinners, Crab Fests, school assemblies, Floyd Norgaard cultural events, Cama State Park opening, Christmas at the old folks’ homes, goody two shoes type stuff. We plan to save the American economy, restore faith in our political system and end all wars. When we get really bigheaded about our essential goodness, we just go down to the local grocery stores at Tyee or Elger Bay Store and set up in the parking lot. A little exhaust fume deflates our balloons nicely. If we had a goal —- if we were the type of folks who could even imagine such a thing —- we might shoot for world music domination, except we have trouble remembering when the next practice is, much less enunciating a Vision for the Band. But occasionally, usually late at night when the jug is nearly empty and it’s time once again to shuffle home to face a very different music, we like to think we’re here to help bring hi-falutin culture to the well washed masses. If you’re ever down our skinny keester end of Camano, stop in and sit a spell with us. We got some pretty good songs to sing and we got a few whoppers to tell. We’ll leave the gate open.” www.sesb2009.files.wordpress.com
Befriend and Tend
“What is it about women and their girlfriends? Why do we need to talk things out, get different opinions, just talk?? It is now believed that being with friends can counteract that intense ache in the stomach many of us deal with on a daily basis. I have seen this stress response in myself and often over the 34 years of listening to people in my coaching business. In a 2002 article Gail Berkowitz stated that a UCLA study suggested that women actually respond to stress differently than men, and that women’s brain chemicals cause us to maintain friendships with other women. Before these findings, all the research pointed to the “fight or flee” stress response, because men only were used as their test subjects. Only in 2002, after testing hundreds of female subjects, the study suggests that women have a larger range than just fight or flee and that they exhibit behaviors that “tend and befriend”. When the hormone oxytocin, that’s the feel good chemical in the blood stream, made by the pituitary gland, is released as part of the stress responses in a woman, it buffers the fight or flight response and encourages a woman to tend children and gather with other women instead. “When she actually engages in this tending or befriending, studies suggest that more oxytocin is released, which further counters stress and produces a calming effect. This calming response does not occur in men” says Dr. Klein, “because testosterone—which men produce in high levels when they’re under stress—seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin. Estrogen, she adds, seems to enhance it.” No wonder women need to talk and connect with other women. Many studies verify over and over that our human connection; our ties with others help lower blood pressure, heart rates and even cholesterol. Call a friend today, go for a walk, have a tea together, you will feel happier after having done so!”
References: “The Tending Instinct” by Shelley Taylor Taylor, S. E., Klein, L.C., Lewis, B. P., Gruenewald, T. L., Gurung, R. A. R., & Updegraff, J. A. Behaviorial Responses to Stress: Tend and Befriend, Not Fight or Flight”.
“My bird feeding friend Bill Blandin spotted a visiting covey of Northern Bobwhite quail near the edge of the woods at his feeding area in February. A round-bodied, ground-dwelling bird, this quail was introduced into Washington from the eastern United States. The Seattle Audubon Society’s Bird Web page says Bobwhites are continually introduced into agricultural and low-density development areas throughout the state for hunting. You can see them almost anywhere the habitat is good; shrubby thickets adjacent to open areas such as grasslands, agriculture, roadsides, and wood edges. Bobwhites take advantage of edges created by fire, timber harvesting, and agriculture. Northern Bobwhite quail have a short life span, many live less than 1 year. This is due to the large number of animals that prey on them; including mid-sized carnivores like raccoons and coyotes. These mammalian predators constitute only one-quarter of the total predator community that prey on bobwhite quail and their nests. Hawks, owls, and other raptors frequently consume adults and juveniles throughout the year. There are also animals that may consume quail nest, eating a quail nest when they happen along one. These predators include mice, rats, squirrels and crows. Hunters also take this sporting bird in season.
At night, members of the covey roost on the ground in a circle, tails inward with their heads pointing out.”
HIDDEN TREASURES by Joyce Dunn
“I finally did it! Should have done it a long time ago and so should you. A few friends have been urging me to do it for a couple of years. There are books praising the merits of doing it. Still I resisted; I couldn’t imagine doing it. Just the preparation held the possibility of pain, but finally curiosity won. I just couldn’t stand it any longer. I had to try. Gathering my courage I made preparations. First heavy gloves, then a large paper bag, a pair of tongs like the ones used for handling corn-on-the-cob. Heavy socks, thick trousers and sturdy shoes are also a necessity. Well, I was ready, squaring my shoulders, taking a deep breath, I set off to gather stinging nettles for supper. Yup! The ubiquitous stinging nettle, scourge of the hiker, curse of the gardener, is edible. Not only edible, but this leafy green, protected by an aura of pain, just happens to be one of the most delicious cooked greens I have ever eaten. I don’t think I will ever bother with spinach again—except in salads. Nettles just won’t work in the raw. But cooked –delicious! According to the venerable Euell Gibbons in Stalking the Good Life, the nettle has more protein than any other leafy green; 6.9 grams protein per 100 grams nettle, very respectable. Compare this to a head of lettuce which is only 1.3 grams per 100, or iceberg lettuce at only 0.9. The best eating is the first growth of spring before the plant grows more than a foot tall, this is when it’s at its sweetest and most tender. And it was not as difficult to gather as I had anticipated. You want to gather the little bud-like top and the next two leaves down the stem. The easiest way to do this is to pinch the whole thing in the tongs, give it a twist and pop it in the paper bag. I might suggest not picking by the side of the road; don’t know what kind of pollutants they might have absorbed. When cooked it doesn’t reduce as much as spinach, but you’ll have to judge that for yourself. When you have what you thinks is a sufficient amount take them home. Dump them in a salad spinner, cover with cold water, slosh a bit then spin them. Needless to say you haven’t touched them with your bare hands yet. Dump them into a large pot, you’ll only need enough water to cover the bottom of the pot because you’re going to steam them. It’s the heat that kills the nasty enzyme that stings. Steam briefly, only until they have wilted, you’ll probably need to stir them gently once or twice, because they cook really fast. Serve in whatever way you prefer your greens, they’re even good on pizza! Use them raw, but handle with tongs! Put them on the pizza dough, then the sauce and then the cheese. I don’t think they can be canned of frozen, but if we have our relatively mild winter there’s usually someplace on the island they will grow all winter. What I think I’m going to try is keeping a patch whacked down so there’s always new growth to pick from. As for the scourge to hiker and gardener I have this fantasy. Nettles are going to become a national food fad. Twin City Foods will start processing them by freezing and the kids can all earn money picking them. New York restaurants will use them for Oysters Rockefeller or puree them for green sauces. The possibilities are endless. The farmers try to cultivate them. Then, after they become coveted but the entire country, they are struck by a mysterious disease and almost become extinct. Scientists work feverishly to develop a resistant strain and forever after the only way they will grow is by careful cultivation. Hiker and gardeners celebrate. Ah! Dreams. Until then, curse them gently because they’re some of the best eating and free and easy!”
MARCHING TO THE SAME DRUMMER
by Jack Archibald
“So I’m in the grocery store frequented by the high school crowd at lunch breaks and on the wall of their latrine I find scrawled with a knife: Dare to be Normal. Driving into the parking lot minutes before, I had noticed a young girl dressed hat to boot in black, adorned in all manner of body puncture, looking for all the world like a poster child for National Sado-Masochism Day. Except for the pink stuffed animal strapped to her backpack. Inside the rough exterior of our would-be dominatrix lurks the soft heart of an innocent adolescent, apparently.
When I left the store I noticed a small knot of teenagers waiting at the crosswalk beside the highway for the light to change. All identical to the teddy bear toter, sans the teddy bear. Sure, it occurred to me to roll down the window and yell Dare to be Normal! but …. And here’s the rub …. These kids were normal. When we went to high school, we all pretty much looked homogenous — go check out your yearbook if you still got one. I don’t really want to dare anybody to be normal. Vote Ike again. Drive a Chevy. Drink Coke. Eat a Popsickle. Listen to the Beatles. Join the Army. Get a Job. Cut your Hair! Take out the Nose Ring!! Buy something at the Mall!!! Get married !!!! Have a family!!!!!!! Get a cemetery plot ahead of time!!!!!!!
Next time I’m in the grocery store, I’ll be looking for my little graffiti writing conformist. I assume he’ll be the one who isn’t dressed Goth, doesn’t have tattoos, wears blue suede shoes and a letter jacket and sports a butch crewcut regular color. He’ll look like my old man, is what I figure. And Dad, if it IS you philosophizing on the bathroom wall, knock it off! The kids will turn out like you after all, count on it.”
Camano Island’s Secret Bookstore
How many Camano residents know of the beguiling used bookstore on the island? This gem of a book lover’s trove is housed in a convenient corner of the Camano Island Library at Terry’s Corner and is operated by the Camano Island Library Friends volunteers.
Though the book sale space is small, it’s well stocked with most genres of books for all ages and interests. The selection is constantly changing as books go home with new owners.
On a recent perusal of the shelves, three vintage titles including a child’s early reader and a 1926 edition of Beau Gest were displayed, along with best-selling fiction by Isabel Allende, Tom Clancy, and Clive Cussler. There were classics: Frankenstein, Jane Eyre, and Richard Henry Dana Jr.’s Two Years Before the Mast.
Cookbooks, reference works, biographies, books on pets, health, parenting, and autos rotate through the stock.
Parents who like to keep fresh reading coming home for their children can find board books, chapter books, and teen titles, everything from Winnie the Pooh and Curious George to potty training fiction.
Check out the Playstation games, jazz and classical CDs, and assorted DVDs alongside tourist guidebooks and heaps of paperbacks. Often there’s a sale: all the volumes you fit in a bag (provided) for $1. Otherwise, pricing is based on the type of book, ranging from 50 cents to $1.
Money from the sales all goes back into our library, providing weekly children’s programs during the year, kids’ reading incentives in the summer, and the “Together, We Read” event each year with live author visits and other events.
While the Library Friends officially provides this convenient book sale, library manager David Menard gets the credit for constantly keeping the selection varied and stimulating.
While browsing the selections, you can also pick up info about joining the Library Friends—new memberships include a free book bag! – Karen Schmidt, Camano Island Library Friend
by Eileen Teufel
I have always done volunteer work, usually at a local hospital where I lived. One time, I even volunteered when the Ramses the Great exhibit came to Dallas when I was living there. I did “crowd control” in a long hallway while people waited to get into the exhibit. I got to tell people they couldn’t take pictures and they had to get rid of their gum. We did have a few people still try to take a picture, but I can report that we did not find one wad of gum on any of Egypt’s greatest artifacts. We are lucky Around Our Towns to have great volunteer opportunities. The Stanwood-Camano Food Bank can always use help. Meals on Wheels. Church groups. Beach Watchers. The Stanwood and Camano Chambers of Commerce. And, of course, CASA and NOAH. You can guess my favorite is NOAH. Where else can you play with dogs and cats, puppies and kittens and get to pick up poop and clean out little boxes. All in a good days work! If you have some spare time and would like to volunteer, consider NOAH. You will not regret it. Some of the jobs are hard work. The whole building is scrubbed out daily, litter boxes are cleaned and sanitizer as they are used, poop is picked up almost immediately, and laundry is piled high. But you will be part of a wonderful experience. Whenever one of our animals is adopted, we have a mini celebration. The new parents are congratulated on their new family member and we thank them for adopting. Not just words, we really are grateful each time an animal goes to its “forever home”. And as a volunteer, you would play an important part in each adoption. Whether it is maintaining a clean, order free environment for the dogs and cats, making it more inviting for potential adopters, taking the dogs for walks to get them used to walking on a leash, or petting a scared cat recently arrived from a shelter. All that helps in the adoption process. Like our adoptions, becoming a volunteer is pretty easy — attend a volunteer orientation, take a tour, have an interview with our Volunteer Coordinator and you’re ready to start. You will be given training on working with the dogs and cats and how to properly clean and sanitize the rooms, littler boxes, dishes, toys (if it moves, doesn’t meow or bark, we sanitize it). And don’t be afraid that you will get sad and upset about the animals. The average stay for an animal at NOAH is about 8 days. Eight days to their forever homes. Not bad. And while they are there you, and the other volunteers, will make it a good experience for them. Call — 360/629-7055 — and register for an Orientation. Call on Tuesday or Saturday afternoons and I will answer the phone and help you with any questions you may have. And if you’ve never been to NOAH, stop by. I guarantee you will like what you see.