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Island Guardian


Branding


"Would you mind doing a little recognizance for me and let me know how much t.p. we have left?"

"Happy to."

"recognizance is French for we've been so dang busy I haven't had a chance to check the restrooms and you might want to make sure there's everything you need before you get too, uh, comfortable, if you know what I mean."

"No problem."

I hand the grandmotherly lady the key to the Big Store Customer bathroom. She looks at the two inch wide, three foot long stick that serves as its key chain. She says the obvious. I have heard it a million times in my 8 years of working at the Big Store. She says "That's a big stick."

I respond less obviously: "You'll be glad you have that big stick when you see the giant piñata in the bathroom.".

And grandma tourist lady smiles and laughs. And my day is made.

I may be a lowly retail worker but I wield more power than you can, well, shake a giant bathroom key stick at. I wield the power to help you have a good day or a bad day. It has been my spiritual practice (and I do mean practice since I have not perfected it) to suspend judgment of people and their choices, to see them as the children of God that they each are, bless them with a "have a great day" and send them on their way. Usually I get a " you too." back from the customers so over the course of a day I have blessed and been blessed by more folks than the local parish priest. And I didn't even have to pay for seminary!

I try to choose "happy" as my general operating program and it seems to work out ok. Son totaled my car dodging a deer. No problem. I can get more exercise riding my bike, be healthier, save money on gas and insurance, and be happy. Misplace my billfold? No problem. I saved so much money not having my billfold accessible and my house ended up clean in the mad hunt for the missing moo-la. Happy!

My happy attitude was noticed by that kind customer that day. "You've got half a roll on the holder and a back up roll on the tank."

"Thanks for checking for me. It has been crazy busy and I haven't had a chance to check. Just didn't want any customers caught without the t.p. But looks like that wouldn't have been a problem for you." I point at her ridiculously oversized purse. "You look like you are prepared for anything with that purse. probably packing some Kleenex that will work in a pinch."

"Yes," she said. " I have travelled enough to be prepared."

"when that big earthquake finally rocks the island, I want to be standing next to you. You probably have more disaster supplies in that purse than the local FEMA folks". "Pretty much," she says with a chuckle in her voice.

We connected.

"You know, we've been here for three days and it is so gorgeous here, the weather has been perfect. But you are the first person to smile at us, let alone laugh.

My husband said that here you all are surrounded by such beauty and nobody smiles, its like grumpyland."

Hmmm... I didn't quite know what to say. So I tried the truth.

"I'm sorry that has been your experience. Truth is, its not easy to live here. Most folks have to work two or three jobs during the summer just to get by and squirrel enough away for the winter. In June, when the days are long we all seem to try to push too hard, do too much, by this time of the year ( it was the third week of August) we are exhausted. I always feel like we should warn folks not to visit this week-- we just had our county fair and lots of folks add volunteering for that to their three job shuffle and there's the stress of kids going back to school soon. Not an excuse, really, just how it is. Don't take it personally. Come back in mid September when things have slowed down a bit, or maybe May when we are all still fresh and happy.

The dear old Town of Friday Harbor has hired a consultant to help brand our fair community. To brand a town you have to "jettison the generic" and focus on what is unique. Personally I think we are so unique that we don't need to be branded to tell people we are different.

But, if they think we need branded, I think we should take a cue from grandma touristlady 's old man and roll with the grumpyland in paradise theme. We could really pull that off easily. Heck that is what we already are. And it is unique. And not cliché'. And it doesn't contain any of the 50 words the consultant says we should avoid.

I can see it now. A nine year old squealing with joy as she crosses the intersection between the drugstore and King's--the last straggler of a string of tourists, "Look momma! That guy in the old white pickup truck gave me the finger and told me to go home! I saw my first grumpy!"

Imagine the delight in an Elderhostel tourrerist group as they witness the friendly exchange between the business owner who is proudly displaying the flag of his alma mater and the code enforcement official demanding it be taken down. What a precious experience to watch a double grumpy in its natural habitat!

We could print brochures on how to find grumpies... but, just as the consultant advises, focusing on the "why" someone should visit Friday Harbor, Gorgeous Grumpyland, U.S.A:

"Grumpyland--we help you appreciate where you came from!"
"Grumpyland--Because we need your money, give it to us and go home."
"Grumpyland--home of the $200 water bill!"
"Grumpyland--the only place in America where every door is left open and every dumpster is locked. "
"Grumpyland-- home of little sewer city and the aroma that rivals Tacoma!"
"Grumpyland-- where you'll get your breakfast when we're damn ready to bring it to you and just suck it up if the yolks too runny."
"Grumpyland--keeping people safe from the flashing neon sign since 2009"
"Grumpyland--home of high prices and high people."
"Grumpyland--we are a small town on a small island that has received national press on being a great vacation destination, so much so that you can't help but want to visit us but we still thought we should waste money branding ourselves like we are a bottle of ketchup or the latest throw away tech toy. We're that kind of place."
"Grumpyland--attitude surrounded by water."
"Grumpyland--home of the Big Store big stick bathroom key chain and port-a-potty piñatas!". Yah, let's tie our future on that last one.

Friday Harbor, a piñata in every pot. I can see it now. Port-a-Potty Piñata Parade on the Fourth of July. Rest-a-rooma-fiesta every September. T.P. lawn decorating contest during the shoulder season to attract visitors. We could sell souvenir big stick bathroom key chains. Every town needs to be known for something. Besides, healthy bowel movement, beating something with a stick and getting showered on by free candy just might be what we need to get over our grumpiness!


( Amy Wynn, celebrates twenty two years of island life and is sadly sending her second son to college and happily returning to writing for the Island Guardian).




Annoyed By Christmas Eve Debacle


I am annoyed by this whole Christmas Eve Hayride Harassment Police Traffic Stop and Disaster Prevention Debacle. I am tired of reading about it on the on-line papers. I am tired of it clogging my Facebook feed. I am tired of it taking away energy and attention from what really needs to happen on this island and that is for everyone to learn how to swim. But I will get to that later.

Back to the events of Christmas Eve 2013 in Friday Harbor. Here is what bugs me the most about what happened-- that it happened on Christmas Eve and lingers on into 2014.

Somehow in the whole mess of things we forgot that it happened on Christmas Eve. And we have forgotten, in our secular, politically correct, to heck with the old Bible Stories, all hail commercialism just what Christmas is all about.

It is about a time of peace and reconciliation among people and the celebration of light coming into the world. My tribe calls that light Christ. Some tribes have a different name. The details may be different, but the big concepts are Joy, Love, Peace, Hope, Generosity, that kind of stuff.

So, some folks were riding around celebrating with a gazillion lights on their trailer. And another folk thought they could use a couple more lights--namely of the brake light variety.

And somehow things spiraled out of control. Which happens when we forget to move through the world with peace, love, compassion. Oh how I wish everyone could choose words of kindness. Oh how I wish the meaning of Christmas could seize this day and a spirit of reconciliation could win out instead of the lynch mob mentality I see exploding on the internet (and taking away the attention that should be going to teaching everyone to swim.)

I wish that those in power could humble themselves and just say, "you're right, maybe we came on too strong, it is just that we love you all so much that we would never want to see any one in my community harmed, so maybe I should have kept the hand off the firearm."

Oh, and wouldn't it be nice if our actions made our law enforcement people feel respected, instead of expecting the worse and sanctioning that happening. People behave differently when they feel beloved.

I don't think there was much love going on that Christmas Eve. You might say, a float full of families singing Christmas Carols, you can't get much more kum ba ya, peace and love than that. But my light in this world didn't come to love the lovable. He came to love all, and I am pretty sure that whatever light you have in your heart and your life would encourage you to love all. In Christ's time it meant even the prostitute and the tax collector. In our time it means even the traffic cop and the truck driver.

We can't keep hating people and then wonder why their actions are so hateful.

So choose your words, your tone, your body language carefully in this new year. You will all feel better for it. Plus, you can now devote that energy to helping every one learn to swim. Why swimming? Everyone should learn to swim. We live on an island for goodness sake. And besides, swimming provides the best metaphors for life. You can fight the water, splash and thrash and exhaust yourself and, eventually, sink. Or, you can let go, look up to the sky, stick out your belly, relax, breathe, trust, and let the water hold you up, floating on the buoyancy of love... I think that is how I want to spend 2014. What about you?


(Amy Wynn teaches swimming (surprise!), practices loving and blessing people at the Big Store, and is in the process of launching her youngest son into adulthood. She is thankful to her Celtic roots for all the great pagan practices we now know as Christmas.)

Click to view the rest of the article ******



Go Ahead. Congratulate Me Now.


Though my fashionista talents were not appreciated at Wednesday's San Juan County Fair Trashion Fashion show and the baking judges clearly thought that the zuchinni would have been better used as a Zuke 500 racer than as the delicious cake I transformed it into, I am not bitter because I have officially solved that nagging San Juan County solid waste problem. And really, what's more important: fair ribbons or saving residents from a mountain of trash and one more big brother tax?

Here's my plan. Let Lopez do whatever the heck Lopez wants to do. If they want to neatly rinse and smash and sort and stack and bundle and haul their waste to the mainland and sell it to someone, let them. After they do that they can feed whatever didn't get rinsed, smashed, sorted, stacked, bundled to their chickens and their pigs. They already do such a good job with their ;free-market exchange and recycling, lets not mess with them.

Shaw wants recycling. Give Shaw recycling. That's easy to do. Have a little drop off spot by the store and begin a citizens brigade to carry the recycling onto the Washington State Ferry and put it in their recycling bins on the ferry ride over to Orcas or to America.

Orcas is a little trickier, but I think I have a plan. Orcas is shaped like a horse shoe. How inconvenient. You have to drive forever to get from the Ferry Landing to Doe Bay. Let's make a short cut and just fill in that watery part with a good old fashioned landfill. Filling in that troublesome strip of water will also solve East Sound's parking problem. Plus, we can have more property to tax... or more land to give open space tax free status to. Your choice.

San Juan Island. Let's face it. San Juan Island is the metropolitan capitol of the county and probably generates the most trash so it will take a multi-faceted approach to solve their solid waste issues.

1) Penalize all SUVs arriving on the ferry whose car alarms go off on the ride over by making them haul off our hazardous waste to the mainland transfer station. Hopefully this will act as a deterrent to those people reluctant to read and figure out their Mercedes owners manual and provide a way to get hazardous waste off the island.

2) Give Frank Penwell a little less grief about everything. That guy has done more with his own money to help with the solid waste problem than any hired consultant. Consignment treasures is the wave of the future.

3) Encourage Francie Hanson to start an art college here. What that woman can do with trash to transform it into art is amazing. Imagine a little sustainable learning community that used garbage to make cool stuff to sell in boutiques. She could do it. She managed to get thirty stressed out, overworked, time starved islanders to make trashion fashion costumes for the fair, she could start a school that used a good chunk of our trash.

4) Be sneaky and keep garbage in "circulation." People sneak their trash into the cans at the grocery store, the gas station, the town, the port. Well, let's make it a game and all the stores and stations and the town and the port could take that trash and sneak it back to the people who wrongfully dumped it there. Of course this would require a work force of petty detectives and trash transporters, but that means jobs. Jobs are good for the community. And what businesses and government pay people to return trash to their rightful owners would probably be cheaper than current dump fees. Who knows maybe it could turn into a highly successful reality tv show? Call it "San Juan Island's Got Trash;"

5) Set aside one weekend a month as "whiny-asthmatics-go-to-the-mainland- while-the-rest-of-us-burn-all-our-crap-in-a-barrel-in-the-backyard" weekend. Schedule fire drill training on the same weekend.

6) Have monthly trashion fashion shows with really large prize money awards and contract with the Smithsonian to put the winners on display. Encourage other events like the Zucchini 500 that provide a way for unloved stuff to become new again and repurposed.

7) Give Kevin Roth, with his West Side Free Pile claim to fame, our trash. That guy can figure out how to make something from everything. He could run weekend seminars on how to turn sofas into bicycles and plow shares into giant metal flowers. Let's stop harrassing the guy for goodness sake. He's an island treasure.

8) Let people take their own trash to the mainland. Where do we think it came from in the first place anyway. I don't see a lot of roofing manufacturers here, or Little Tike plastic toy crapola factories or plastic clam shell producers.

9) Have a collection storage facility for stuff that might be useful someday. Pay someone to sort and catalog stuff that has to have another life in it. You know how you look at a little plastic yogurt cup and wonder "that'd make a nice little paint pot for the preschool kids...or something to start seeds in...or a table for that Barbie play house I'm making out of a milk crate." It would be cool to see something on-line like a greenhouse made out of 2 liter soda bottles and have a place to go get 800 soda bottles without having to drink a river of rootbeer to get them.

10) Think before we buy more trash. Do we love it? Need it? Is it useful? How long before it will end up in the trash? Being mindful about our consumption is key. I believe a tanking economy will solve our trash problems as we are forced to reduce what we consume and have to use things in new ways to provide for our basics.

There. Solid waste problem solved. That will be $278,000 in consultant fees, thank you very much. I'll use money to make a dump run.




Suggestions For Howie


"It can't be good," Howie Rosenfeld said of his occasional naps during council duties. he added, "So if the public is concerned I'm open to suggestions as to what to do about it."

Well, here's my suggestions for how Howie can stay awake during council meetings.

• quad shot white espresso latte with a Red Bull chaser
ditch the chair. Bring your own bar stool. It should prove too uncomfortable to sleep in and should you fall asleep, your tumble to the floor would be self-correcting.

• Hire someone to throw paper airplanes at you when you start to doze off.

• All people testifying or appearing before the council must speak in dynamic voices and wear loud clothing. Circus animals, flaming stunts and marching band accompaniments are encouraged.

• Turn down the thermostat and stop layering your clothes. Just because you live in the northwest doesn't mean you have to do the layered look for an office job. Wearing speedo swim trunks and a tube top would keep you sufficiently chilled to stay awake.

• Require media to use old-school flash photography to take nap photos. Hopefully a camera's lightening bolt would jolt the sleeping council member awake.

• Salsa music and dancing girls. Have you ever seen anyone yawn during a Zumba class? Didn't think so.

• Go to bed earlier. Isn't the honeymoon over yet?
• Remember that you are setting an example for county employees. Sit up straight and do your job, darn it. The kids are watching.

• Go see your doctor. There might really be a serious medical issue and it's always better to get things looked after sooner than later.

• Visualize the salary commission is in the audience at each meeting. And repeat to yourself, “No one wants to pay me $30,000 to sleep on the job...no one wants to pay me $30,000 to sleep on the job...If I stay awake for the boring stuff, I get to do the fun stuff...”

• Start a club with your fellow council members. Call it the no-doze club and you make a pact to keep each other from sleeping using secret club techniques like dropping a book on the floor, clearing the throat loudly, and nudging. You could have a little chart to keep track of how many times a member has woken up another member and the person with the most “saves” gets a prize, or can make up the club secret handshake or be the president of the club.

• Ban power point presentations countywide. They make people fall asleep and I'm fairly certain power points aren't good for eel grass, either.

• Admit it, “You're just not in that into us.” Clearly the passion for serving our interests in some arenas of county business is waning, so maybe it is time to break up the relationship. I'm sure there's someone who can stay awake for the job...




Wake Up!


Did you get your wake up call on Friday morning? You know the call I'm talking about...from the friend on the Atlantic coast who phoned you at 7 am Eastern Standard time to warn you about the Tsunami headed your way.

I did not want to be awake at 4 am my time, let alone on the receiving end of a doomsday, head-for-the- hills kind of message. I don't remember exactly how I responded to her. Like most northwesterners I have a latte-powered brain, so without my caffeine fix I am only capable of barely intelligible grunts. I think I grunted something like, “Don't you know what time it is here?”

I let the info soak in, stumbled for my eye glasses, opened the lap top and sure enough. There was indeed a tsunami headed our way. And as predicted, our little islands were spared catastrophe.

My heart and prayers go out to the people of Japan who were not so fortunate.

I came home from work on Friday evening to the beeping of my answering machine. I listened to messages from midwest, east coast friends and family members who were checking in, making sure we were okay.

That night I went to bed feeling loved by all the people who had called with their concerns for our safety, and also very blessed for all that I have that was not washed away or crumbled to the ground. Still, I felt unsettled, knowing that something similar could happen here and I am not as prepared as I could be.

Time for another wake up call, folks. It could happen here; it's time to get busy preparing ourselves and our community. There are threats to our community and to our lives that are just as great as the awful prospects of a new principal or a new neighbor.

My friend Jenny Ledford passed on this little saying to me: “There is peace in preparation.” I say that to myself now when I feel anxiety about what disasters might befall me. I say it to myself when I choose the case of tuna and jumbo pack of toilet paper over the latest cute piece of crap I don't need. And I say it to you, gentle readers, that you might act in such a way that you are ready for whatever might come your way.

Store up some water and food. Keep the gas tank topped off. Check the old First Aid kit and refill it. Have a plan for meeting up with family should disaster strike when you are apart from one another. Think about what could come crashing down on you in an earthquake and do a little rearranging and securing of things. Know how you will get dry and warm and sheltered from the elements. Don't forget Batteries, flashlights, candles. Warm blankets, extra meds., t.p. Duct tape, tarps, radio, and of course shore up your positive attitude and good sense of humor. Remember those who may need special attention.

I know I've probably forgotten a thing or two hundred, but that's why there's websites, library books, and community organizations such as San Juan County/Town of Friday Harbor Emergency Management Services, our local American Red Cross chapter and concerned area churches.

So folks, wake up, smell the coffee, mmmmm.... and like the Boy Scouts say, “Be Prepared.”

Peace!

(Amy Wynn loves the song “Wake Up Everybody” by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. She invites you to join her at Transformations Church (a.k.a. “Archies Church” and “the Church below the Zumba studio where the thrift store used to be”) this Sunday, March 20, at 10:30 am where she will be getting a practical lesson on being prepared for things to come.)




Visualize That!


Over a decade ago my sister-in-law gave me a gift certificate to a treatment with a new age healer. I went and discovered a few things. I don't really like the smell of patchouli oil. I am not very good at breathing. It seems my chest goes in when it ought to go out. And when it came to guided visualization, I was a complete failure.

Gentle readers, I know you are probably very good at visualizing. Imagine a room done in relaxing earth tones, the sound of peaceful ocean waves flow from stereo speakers. Crystals and feathers and candles and driftwood and tropical plants adorn the room. The healer was a wild-haired woman who wore red Birkenstocks and an organic, free-trade, unbleached hemp mu-mu.

She asked me to close my eyes and do some mystical form of dolphin breathing. She described and demonstrated. I tried; I truly tried. I thought I was breathing as the dolphins breathe. She corrected me...my posture, where the air was going in and coming out, how my chest expanded or didn't. I was hopeless. I always thought I knew how to breath. “Oh well,” I thought, “one more thing I can't do right. Just like motherhood.” I sighed in defeat.

She heard me sigh, “That's a little better, keep breathing like that and I will guide you through a healing meditation.”

So I continued sighing. Sighing in. Sighing out.

The healer said, in a quiet dreamy voice, “Visualize a flower.”

Easy you would think, but instead of visualizing a flower, my mind asked, “what kind of flower should I visualize?” My mind tapped in to some subconscious memory of this dress my mother embroidered flowers on for me as a child. I saw those hand-stitched daisies in my minds eye and I felt all warm and happy because I love my mom and she loves me.

Then healer said “see the flower opening up wide.” I panicked. My flower was already opened up. Uh-Oh, premature a-bloom-ination. My mind must have seen the wrong kind of flower. Daisies must be too simple for healing visualization. Oh shoot! I was supposed to visualize a rose. But roses remind me of my ex husband who would be a jerk and then send roses to my office. Quick, what other flower could I visualize? Tulips. No they don't really open up wide until they're dead. Lily. No they make me sneeze...carnation...takes me back to junior prom with Bucky, the date from Hell...help...I need a flower to visualize opening and healing and being in a state of centered wellness.

I was lost. I abandoned visualizing anything she tried to guide me to see. I just faked a relaxed dolphin sigh. I gave up on the healing part. Which was ok because I really didn't have anything that needed healing. And as a mom with two toddlers at home at the time, it was a treat to just get out of the house alone.

I was relaxed. Too relaxed to cook dinner. I stopped by the Chinese place on the way home for some take out. I walked in, and there, staring right at me, was a painting of a lotus flower. Oh. Shoot. I was supposed to visualize a lotus flower. Silly me. You relax me enough to get into my subconscious mind and you are going to get the midwest farm girl daisy. If you want me to visualize an exotic floating Asian lotus flower than you best be specific with me otherwise I'm just going to be sighing a bunch of hot dolphin air.

Speaking of hot air. I've been keeping up a bit on this whole San Juan Island School Board, Principal Pflueger resignation “thing.” I use the word “thing” because I'm trying not visualize it becoming a fiasco, a tragedy, a tabloid headline or a news report at 11. It has been like watching a train wreck in slow motion and I feel powerless to stop it.

I analyze. I theorize. I judge. I give the benefit of the doubt. I try to give some kind, island advice here and there. I try to empathize here and there. I think about all the possible outcomes. This “thing” does not look pretty.

I give up. I'm lighting some candles, breathing like a dolphin, seeing a lotus flower opening up to a healed and renewed community. I am visualizing the ideal outcome. ( Warning, if you try this at home, your visualization of the ideal outcome may be different, but please try to avoid visualizing murder and mayhem. It gives the new-agey people a bad name.)

In my mind's eye, I see a consultant from Heaven (i.e. someone who works for free and can move mountains and people's hearts) descend onto our little lotus flower island. As one wise mom suggested at a Board Meeting, this person helps the board and community and Mr. Pflueger un-do what was done that resulted in the resignation and its acceptance by the Board.

I see no new homes on the market. People feel beloved and welcomed and no one wants to leave.

I hear a mom say to her child, "I have the best news...Mr. Pflueger is going to be around."

I sense calories. Lots of fattening calories. A cake. I see a cake celebrating national school board month and people are gathered in appreciation and no one is fearful of cake being thrown. I see Board Members in the grocery store, shopping in peace. I see Heidi Lopez's husband at home reading a book, relaxing while she is in executive school board session. He is not waiting anxiously outside the district office, concerned for her safety.

I float on my lotus flower to Beaverton Valley Road. The Rock is painted to say "Glad you're here Nick and Penelope. Thanks for being a volunteer fire fighter, teaching our kids to swim, helping us find our voice to keep the principal we love, directing our children at the theatre, encouraging Amy Wynn to run a marathon even though she'll probably never do it, volunteering to be a translator so teachers can have effective parent conferences with non-english speaking parents, etc...etc..." Good thing it's a big rock.

“The Pflueger Fans and Board Watchers” Facebook page has been renamed the “Help Teach Every Island Child How to Swim” fan page.

I see the need for lawyering up float away like a soap bubble.

I see a man in a mustache and a Beatles tie that says "All we need is love." surrounded by happy children on a playground. The man with the mustache has donated his "HELP" tie to Consignment Treasures by dropping it off in person.

I see a community dinner with everyone chowing down on some local organic something or the other, laughing at how silly we were to think of each other as villans and how happy we are that we worked TOGETHER to find a resolution.

I float through the halls of the elementary school and hear the superintendent ask a teacher, "How's it going this year? Anything we need to be doing in the big office to help you out? I've got great news. The legislature is going to fully fund education and we'll see class sizes in the teens." I see the superintendent smiling and its a smile that doesn't make me worry.

Hmm. For a woman who has a hard time figuring out what kind of flower to visualize, it sure came easy to see what kind of outcome my mind's eye desires for this community. It's probably because I see something that genuinely needs to be healed.

So light a candle, breathe like a dolphin and get busy imagining a win-win solution that doesn't turn neighbor against neighbor, but honors the children, the faculty, the school board and administration, the parents and community. Then let's make this “thing” an opportunity to bring out our best, most noble selves. Visualize that. Make that happen.


(Amy Wynn prefers Wynn-Wynn solutions, but realizes democracy can get messy and sometimes it looks more like whirled peas than world peace. She challenges everyone to channel their inner John Lennon and “Imagine...”)




A Modest Proposal


I do believe that my humble quarter acre in-town property should be zoned and taxed at the lower forest and farm agricultural use rate. Sure, on the surface it may look like a textbook case of residential zoning, what with it being in a residential cul de sac surrounded by quaint three-bedroom ramblers and classic two story family homes. But if you take a closer look, it is, in all reality, clearly farm-forest and should be taxed as such.

First of all, I have planted two Arbor Day trees -a fir and cedar, plus another mystery tree that Ian and Laura gave me for helping to decorate their wedding cake. Plus I have a significant stand of alders that began as neglected weeds and are now thirty feet tall and producing vast amounts of healthy oxygen. And while they may technically be considered a bush, I have lovely lilacs that Roberta and Robert gave me. I raised those lilacs from mere sticks into blooming masterpieces of ecological beauty. This clearly makes my property a forest.

Secondly, I put considerable amounts of energy into the management of this forest. I have built and inhabited a caretakers abode so that I can provide adequate surveillance of the forest. I take great lengths to keep children off of the tallest branches of the alders and have posted signs forbidding the carving of girlfriends initials into the tree bark.

Thirdly, I maintain this forest for the public benefit. Every Halloween I let little children walk onto my property and enjoy the view of this forest. I pick lilacs for my children to give to teachers and little old ladies and for this, I deserve a tax break.

If you cannot see to zone my property as forest, please consider that agricultural farmland might be a better designation. I have grazing livestock on my property, albeit of the two-legged teen-ager variety as well as the four-legged antlered kind. I have two feral cats which I am sure will someday make great food for that noblest of vultures, the American Eagle.

For twelve years I have raised daisies, dandylions, morning glories and other potential cash crop flowers that thrive on neglect.

I have an abundance of fruit producing blackberry vines and I keep meaning to grow vegetables. Is it my fault that the slugs keep eating the young tender plants before they get a chance to yield forth a product to take to market?

You can tell my property is farmland just by the smell...ah, the sweet smell of manure. Sure it’s neighborhood dog manure, but why be so particular?

Need another reason to designate my land as agricultural? Just look in my closet. I own denim overalls and a pair of black rubber boots. Bet those tax-dodging absentee Californian “farmers” and “foresters” can’t say that.

Thank you in advance for lowering my tax bill so that I may continue to live and raise my family, oops, I mean “livestock” in Friday Harbor.


(Amy Wynn grew up on the edge of a small town, right across the road from a real farm. She believes people should have to either clean out the manure of a working dairy farm barn or castrate a bull to qualify for the farmland / agricultural tax rate.)




Top Twenty


I’ve been feeling a little clausterphonic on the island lately, a little restless. I went into a bit of an emotional tail spin in May when I realized that the ferry pass I bought in February was going to expire with six uses left. I love my island home, but sometimes I just need to get over to America. Here are my top twenty signs that it’s time to get off the island:

20. Your last four dates have been to silent auction fundraisers.

19. The baristas don’t ask what you would like because they already know. You’ve become known as the “quad shot, 2%, easy on the foam” guy.

18. All your children’s clothes have someone else’s name written on the tags

17. There are drool marks on the Target ad from your Sunday paper.

16. You start wondering if you are the only islander not part of the witness protection program.

15. You know exactly where your food came from.

14. You don’t complain about paying $3.50 for a gallon of gas.

13. You’ve started listening to Jimmy Buffett and have stopped in to see Kirk about taking ukulele lessons.

12. Monday is your Friday at your first job and Wednesday at your second job, and you can’t remember when you’ve had a Saturday on a Saturday from all three jobs at once.

11. You’ve stopped slowing down to see if Mona the Camel is out, stopped squinting to identify the Orcas among a cluster of whale watch boats

10. You think tourist and terrorist sound too much alike.

9. You smell like lavender.

8. You’ve eaten all your winter storm emergency case and can sale food out of your pantry and can’t face the local market because you’re just not in the mood to buy raffle tickets and get hugged.

7. You can’t remember the last time you’ve gone over 45 miles per hour.

6. You’ve started naming the foxes and deer and raccoons. They’ve started calling you by your name.

5. It seems like everyone else knows more about your business than you do so you’ve started a rumor about yourself just so you can know something they don’t know.

4. You spend too much time checking the status of on-line purchases and find yourself jealous of all the places that Fed Ex package has been. “Wow, the Teva sandals I ordered are in Boise. I’ve always wanted to go to Boise...”

3. You’re thinking about writing your memoirs, getting a dog, growing your own vegetables and maybe running for sheriff.

2. You see a moped and think “ten points,”

And, finally, the number one sign you need to get off the island --just for a visit, gentle readers, we wouldn’t want you to leave for ever"The top sign that you need to get off the island is (insert drum roll please...)

1. You are down to your last roll of toilet paper!

(Amy Wynn is a local island humorist, store clerk, mom, lifeguard instructor and Sunday School teacher who is currently suffering from island fever (think cabin fever only worse...think the movie “the Shining”...only worse...think about giving her a ferry ticket or a roll of t.p!)




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