It Happened on Vashon
My Vashon Island life, chronicled on and off since 2006. Family, friends, travel, open water swimming, chickens, honeybees, foraging, growing stuff, practicing PR. A very good life in a beautiful Pacific NW setting.
Saturday, October 24, 2015
Friday, October 23, 2015
Because I'm not a stay-at-home...
Leave it to the professionals at Vashon Baking Company to make the cupcakes and drop them at the high school for the team football dinner dessert. At the time these were baked, frosted, sprinkled in Pirate colors and dropped at the dinner, I was in Seattle writing a leaflet for destination weddings and updating wine acclaim in Excel--essentially PAYING for the cupcakes. And, of course, my attempt would not have been half as tasty or beautiful.
My son texted to tell me it was "bomb" and that it was a hit with the team. He described one with such detail and affection that it made me longingly crave one! Thanks for the photo, Vashon Baking Co. They indeed look bomb.
Sunday, October 18, 2015
The run for Vashon Park District seats - the tossup
Reading this week's Vashon Beachcomber's coverage of the VPD candidate debate for the three seats up for vote entertained me. I now linger over my voter pamphlet, slightly torn. I know who I'm NOT voting for on one seat.
This is my 11th year living on Vashon. In 2006 I started volunteering with (and soon after jumping on the board of) Vashon Ski School, whose program was tied with and administered by VPD. Many recreational programs were part of VPD at the time. There were once full-page newspaper ads bolstering parks and rec opportunities for kids and adults, a robust e-marketing campaign and an office staffed (modestly) to get the job done. It seemed to be humming along but staff started getting lean and programming atrophied just a few years in. Elaine Ott arrived when the cloud overhead was blackest. Optimistic and smart, could things get better? It's a shell of what it was.
If I had a big bag of money with some to spare, I'd get Vashon a new pool and I'd finish those fields once and for all. I never want to hear about the fields again in conjunction with what a cluster it was for VPD. It should never have been the financial drain it became, and a theme of the aforementioned debates was operating in the black.
On the daily commute aboard the King County Water Taxi, commissioner seat 5 candidate Scott Harvey is working it HARD. He approaches a new person each morning (several, really), qualifies them ("do you live on Vashon? are you voting?"), and asks them what's important to them in a park district (there's an adjective he used but I forget - "healthy" park district?). He then states his position (fiscal responsibility), asks for the commuter's vote and then asks for the person's email address for future contact. He THEN sends said email, thanking the commuter for listening and again asks for the vote. I mean, people can't run and jump ship off the boat, or hang up like a cold call, but a few have shrank in their seats and averted eye contact when approached. It's just kind of a hostage situation. Gotta appreciate the moxie.
I really like Peter Ray. He's the silent assassin type. Consider that he's attended every meeting for three years and does NOT commute. He lives and breathes Vashon, is well-connected, educated and has run his own businesses. There's nothing squirmy about Peter; he's solid.
Everybody, please look through your pamphlets and cast your vote--not just for VPD, obviously.
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Recovery, not all roses
I had surgery a little over a week ago. The recovery was not all roses. Here's why.
First, the surgery. The little gateway to one's metabolism lives in one's throat. It is the thyroid. I face health stuff head on. I have since birth (coming out half blind and 7 weeks premature). You just deal with what you're dealt. In this case, after imaging, biopsies and genetic sequencing, it was clear at least half needed to come out. There is still a slight possibility we need to go in and take out the rest. If not, I stand a good chance of having a fully functioning thyroid and likely won't need the synthetic hormone to kick my metabolism in the ass. I had a great surgeon, and now I have a healing incision as a souvenir of this experience.
The surgery itself was smooth sailing. I stayed overnight in the hospital while a very gross drain dangling from one side of the neck incision filled with blood and was regularly emptied, took pain meds, ate very decent food (Virginia Mason), the drill. Sleep was crap. Machines are loud. Nurses were loud. I had leg circulation gizmos strapped to my calves that required assistance every time I needed to pee (a lot!).
They kept encouraging a flu shot (for the 2015-16 season) almost each time rounds were made. Finally I consented. Just a few minutes later it was time to discharge from the hospital. Mom noticed I'd gone completely flush red after the shot.
Fast forward to home. I had a terrible, uncomfortable night of sleep. Body ached. Stomach felt kicked in. Eyes itched. The next morning, my eye sockets were out, not in. Eyelid skin all pinky and swollen. The groin ached, stiff and sore. My God I itched. My eyes really, really itched. For two+ days, I had a light body rash. Was it the pain med? The vomit med? No, turns out it was the flu vaccine. I was allergic. By Monday I started to feel better, so I could go back to just the pains in the throat, the headache, trying to get my voice, caring for the incision, that kind of stuff.
I should play more lotto. The odds sure know how to find me. Supposedly the chances of an allergic reaction to a flu virus are rare, but I tend to doubt that.
On the good side...Next swim: Oct 31. With my spooky scar on Halloween!
Saturday, October 10, 2015
The (newer) old landlord was right...
"Purchasing this house is one of the best investments you'll ever make," he said.
For nearly seven years, David and I rented our home on the North End. Not even a 10-minute walk to the ferry, it's one of those commuter's dreams to access. That is the precise reason I'd rented it--even before meeting D. It was right on the school bus route for the boys, super quick for me on the days when I did need to go to Seattle (mostly worked from home those first 4 years), and friends visiting could simply walk on the boat and head up the hill! There is definitely value in convenience.
The house was clearly a kicked-around rental for decades. Everything inside and out needed updating--but as renters we weren't going to go down that path (with the exception of the transformed back yard). It felt like a property pawn for landlords trading contracts, and the man we'd originally rented from ended up going upside down on his loan and turned his deed over in lieu of foreclosure. Next thing you know, this funny old man comes knocking on our door to tell us he's our new landlord (with evidence in hand) and the other guy had been pocketing our rent and not paying his mortgage for some months. That same guy--ironically owner of an appliance rebuild shop in Cap Hill--also took our deposit and never gave it back.
Being the savvy businessman and prolific landlord that the new-old guy was, when conversations started about us buying the place, he wanted tip-top-of-market price. The man wouldn't budge. Conversations ended. We had worked with an amazing realtor looking around - our offers getting outbid during a low point in the market. Finally, by the tiniest bit, he budged. We bought the house for a lot still, but it was worth it.
From its leprosy patchwork of faded blue with a hideous front door, we painted it putty with white trim. I got my fun reclaimed door, worthy of entry, thanks to David helping me scout. Next will be the roof. This on top of getting my eldest through college (tuition + housing) will be interesting to afford, to say the least. Maybe in a couple years we'll be able to do kitchen flooring, and a full carpet do-over, and refurbishing + rehanging those kitchen cabinets. The kitchen is actually big and awesome, with nice slide-out under counter drawers inside the cabinets, from when the Quennevilles lived here and owned. And we swapped out the gross electric stove with a gas Thermador that David scored and replaced some other appliances.
Baby steps! Year by year. Rome wasn't built in a day. One day, the little cottage could house an aging family member. Or we could make that our periodic crash pad and travel while we rent out the big house entirely. At the moment, this is a ton of house for a couple, but we definitely see value in keeping it ours for the duration.
Lo and behold if the latest KC property assessment didn't come through and drop our jaws. Well, hello, magnificently increased house value. Imagine if we'd bought in a tougher-to-access part of the island. The benefit would not nearly be to this degree. Plus you get used to that quick stroll down the hill to the boat!
So, Mr. Second Landlord, it was nice doing business with you.