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May 04, 2010

Dear Northern Star Natural Gas: Go FERC Yourselves!

For those of you who have not been following along, the bones of a backstory:

Northern Star Natural Gas was formed for the purpose of trying to build a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in a fairly remote spot on the Oregon side of the lower Columbia River. The closest thing? Just a couple of miles away sits Puget Island and Wahkaikum county. My county. Which has little say because the project is in Oregon.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is in control of siting these little nightmares. This process has been going on for what seems like forever, but is actually only 5 years or so during which it's been a serious fight. How did it go? Let's just say that when a small town in Washington goes up against energy speculators and George Bush's energy agency makes the's been tough.

You came here for food, so why should you care about this bit of self-indulgence? Well, the LNG site is in a fragile estuary that is the nursery of the wee little salmon babies that eventually grow into that amazing Columbia River Spring Chinook that's hitting the market about now and we...well, read the letter.

Dear Northern Star Natural Gas,

I like to think that the residents of evenTinierTown and environs are open, welcoming, friendly people.

Seriously, have you met these folks? They wave when they drive by, they say "hi" to people they pass on the street -- one day an old guy sighed and thanked me because my long, loose hair reminded him of his youthful first love. How sweet is that? -- and I swear I can't get through a trip to the grocery store without hugging someone I haven't seen in a while.

You came to town right around the same time we did, so I sort of feel like we're newcomers together. I know you had a hard time fitting in; it's easy to make missteps in a small county like this. But it was also pretty darned easy for me to make friends and lord knows I am not the most diplomatic person you've met so it can't be all that hard, now can it? There are lots of good folks here, you just have to let them warm up to you.

Puget Island says NO to LNG! When you first showed up in town, we -- see? I am a 'we' even though we have been here similar lengths of time. Are you a 'we'? -- were willing to give you a fair hearing. Even the dread red-shirts would often tell you that if you just built off-shore, we just might be fine with that.

Did you listen? No way!

No, you showed up talking smack about eminent domain and bypassing state controls on other people's land. Refused to answer our questions under some guise of 'national security' without noting that, for us, this was local security. (I remember talking to a NS guy who explained that a leak would disperse on the river unless it met with a source of combustion. He assured me there were no such things for miles. I told him he was mistaken, I had friends a mile or so away. He changed the subject.) What the hell?

Those closed door meetings with politicians and people who pretended to be important. Not cool. Extremely not cool.

You totally blew off our little county because, even though we are closest to the estuary you want to industrialize, we aren't in Oregon. Even though the little charts of where the pool fire would go included our friend's houses. Houses you put numbers on and then refused to tell the residents what they meant because nothing could go wrong. (See also, Deepwater Horizon)

"Oh no," you said, "that part of the river belongs to Oregon!" You weren't going to listen to us no matter what.


We tried to tell you. Tried to talk to you. Tried to find middle ground. Hell, we said "offshore it!" We almost never say that! But you didn't listen, and you missed your chance.

Here's another things you missed about local folk. They love their river. That river does not divide Washington from Oregon, it unites us into one thing: the people of the river. Denizens of the lower Columbia.

The cute little ferry that runs across within range of your proposed LNG site, is a critical bit of what makes this area special. People traverse the river for work, family, entertainment, or simply to enjoy a beautiful day on the river. I think you missed that.

Then again, you missed many things.

We, on the other hand, don't miss much.

One of my new friends, a quiet, unassuming older guy who shares a wicked sense of humor with his charming wife, sent me mail recently asking why he couldn't get to your web site. I poked around and noticed that the site was pretty much gone, links to nowhere, nothing but a splashy splash page. I replied that it looked like you might be on your way out.

See? We pay attention.

I believe I even said, "Let the mocking begin." My friend, who is more polite than I, has refrained. Lucky for you. I have heard his mockage and would hate to be on the wrong side of his tongue.

Now today brings news. You're leaving town.

Wish I could say I was sorry to see you go but really I am just thrilled to see your carpetbagging, good old boy schmoozing, estuary-trashing, salmonid-killing, river-dredging, industrial polluting, environment destroying, whining to the government, pipeline-dragging, story-changing, sorry asses getting the, FERC off of our river.

But before you go, I have one more thing to say...

Continue reading "Dear Northern Star Natural Gas: Go FERC Yourselves!" »

April 23, 2010

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Questions

Grays River Covered Bridge

That is the historic Grays River Covered Bridge, the only covered bridge in Washington that is still used by the public. Not sure the public was using it the day the photo was snapped, but mostly. This photo of the bridge is what it looks on drier days. Go look, it's really quite the difference.

The Grays River winds down a nearby valley, at least when it's not escaping its banks to wreak havoc in the area, even on places that are many feet higher than the river itself. The road to Astoria, where we shop, shadows the Grays River valley for a few miles and each trip finds me coveting one piece of waterfront or another. Then I remember. It floods. A lot.

Which flood is pictured here is a darned good question. We are under water quite a lot around here; getting 120 inches - yes, ten feet - of rain annually will do that to you. My memory is that there have been several such floods in the half dozen years since we moved here. Some locals claim that the 100 year floods are happening every 10 years now, others think it might be more often than that.

Even with the floods, I have a soft spot for the Grays River valley. We have friends who happen to live within sight of the bridge, on a bit of a rise so they stay a bit dryer than some others. Perhaps more relevant to me, this is where I broke my arm so horribly a while back. Maybe that soft spot is in my head...

So why do I have (somewhat fewer than 1000) questions about the place?

Two words: Septage dump.

Continue reading "A Picture is Worth A Thousand Questions" »

October 01, 2008

Lamp-lit Dinner on Grays River Covered Bridge

Grays River Covered Bridge

The Willapa Hills have a bit of a magical out of time quality to them. My friend, Kathleen, laughs at me when I invoke Brigadoon, but there is a certain…something. One example of this is Grays River, smaller even than evenTinierTown, and just a few miles west of here.

Its major claim to fame is the Grays River Covered Bridge, the last bridge of its kind in Washington that is still in use. Built over 100 years ago to let farmers on the south side of the river to get their products to the steamboats on the opposite shore, the bridge is a visible reminder of the times when this county was accessible only by boat.

Suitable for a starring role in the Bridges of Madison County, the Grays River bridge was rehabilitated in the 1980s - essentially rebuilt and refaced with original and additional local timber - and now looks much like it did when it was first built.  Wood walls, wood floor and a tin roof of the type that was installed to help protect the original bridge from the inevitable decay that is the fate of wood in the fog valleys.

My friend, Robert Michael Pyle (an award-winning author acclaimed as one of America's leading nature writers), who lives in an old Victorian farmhouse (built by H. P. Ahlberg, who drove the original bridge project to completion) perched above the bridge has said "The bridge symbolizes Wahkiakum County... it joins people together and links the present to the past."

The bridge will be dressed up and on display this Saturday when for one night, Washington State's last covered bridge will be closed to vehicles and open for dinner.

Continue reading "Lamp-lit Dinner on Grays River Covered Bridge" »

January 22, 2008

Cooking classes in Skamokawa

Inn at Crippen Creek cooking class

photo: Kathleen Morgain


Would you like to learn to bake bread like those gorgeous loaves in the picture? If so, you are in luck. Kitty and Don Speranza, a pair of talented and passionate cooks who own The Inn at Crippen Creek Farm in Skamokawa, WA, are now offering cooking classes to the community as well as their overnight guests.

Before moving out to eventinierTown, Don and Kitty owned and operated Mangiamo! Catering and Italian Eatery in Portland, Oregon. Their bread is such a huge hit at the Two Island Farm Market on Puget Island in Cathlamet, WA during the summer months that they started a bread subscription service to keep their customers happy in the off-season. (Ahem, their bread is so good that I buy their focaccia all summer long instead of making my own.)

Continue reading "Cooking classes in Skamokawa" »

August 07, 2007

climate convergence in skamokawa this week

In the midst of global climate change and with the lack of a sane energy policy at the front of many people in evenTinierTown's minds, there is a bit of hope on the horizon - or at least a great weekend.

The west coast Climate Convergence is slated for this week in Skamokawa, WA (yep, evenTinierTown is on the map!). During this event, a lot of crunchy granola folks will converge on evenTinierTown, talk climate change, party and listen to people like Starhawk speak. (hmmm, are there people 'like' Starhawk?)

Continue reading "climate convergence in skamokawa this week" »

August 05, 2007

wcb: every farmer's market needs a cat!

ginger tabby

The lovely ginger girl here is one of the farm cats at the Stockhouse's Farms on Puget Island, where the weekly Two Island Farms Market convenes. This kitty was taking a break from the arduous life of a farm cat on the island-all that mouse hunting, grass frolicking, barn prowling, not to mention the exhausting face skritching by market customers is tiring, you know.

I really like this market and am, in fact, in the middle of a post about it. For now, let me just say that they have one thing I especially like: live acoustic guitar music provided by members of the Wahkiakum Acoustic Guitar Society (WAGS). Make what you will of the acronym-FSM knows we do!

musical sphinx cat

This is clearly a cats with preternatural powers. someoneElse got up from playing guitar for just a moment and *poof* there was a cat in the special musician's chair. This might, in fact, be a service that is provided for musicians: the sphinx guard cat. She looks like she's almost asleep but look at those little flexiPaws. I wouldn't want to mess with her...or the guitar.

Weekend Cat Blogging is being hosted this week by Ms G at Masak-Masak. Don't forget to visit all of the adorable furlings!

(eta: um, sorry about the reposts on the RSS feed, my computer is being a glitchy pain at the moment)

April 28, 2007

Wahkiakum County’s 3rd Annual Ag Summit


Join local food enthusiasts and farmers on Saturday, May 5th to network and hear from agricultural and marketing experts, and learn to tap into expanding markets for organic and locally produced foods.rob stockhouse's assorted potatoes

The event begins at 9:30 a.m. with keynote speaker Tim Crosby of 21 Acre Farm in Woodinville, Washington.  Crosby was recently featured in the Capital Press emphasizing the value of eating locally produced foods to food security and the economy. "When food is fresh, local and tied to farmers who are benefiting their communities, everyone comes out ahead," he explained.


Morning sessions will also include Gary Burkhalter, a Rosburg dairy farmer, speaking on his family farm’s transition to organic and selling through the Organic Valley cooperative.

speranza's bread

A representative from the WSDA Organic program will speak in the afternoon on organic certification.  Afternoon sessions also include Mary Embleton, executive director of Cascade Harvest Coalition and Puget Sound Fresh.  She’ll speak on their promotion of Puget Sound farms with the Puget Sound Fresh brand.  Also, we’ll hear from Jennifer Johnson, Wahkiakum Chamber of Commerce director, on local efforts to create a regional brand for products grown in the Lower Columbia region.

pies from the twin gables bed and breakfast

Lunch is available for a small fee.  Call or e-mail Carrie at the WSU Wahkiakum County Extension office to RSVP: 795-3278 ([email protected])

Mark your calendar:
    Saturday, May 5th, 9:30 – 3:30
    River Street Meeting Room
    25 River Street, Cathlamet, WA

Hope to see you there!

(all food is from members of the Wahkiakum Food and Farm Network, photographed at the Two Islands Farm Market last summer - click on a photo to go to the flickr page for that picture and see which of the great farms or other food producers is responsible for a particular product...)

October 22, 2006

The only thing better than pie...

Tied up with a project and down with a bug is not a good combination, but when you add in a freezer that is being slowly denuded of all but the most basic of options — we ate half of the last baguette last night — it starts looking downright dire. And yet, sad to say, this is the state of affairs. The dwindling of the usual stockpile of homemade food comes with a couple of weeks to go on the book: no homemade cookies, no baguettes, no cinnamon rolls, no marinara, no soup. We're making chili tonight and I'll probably make some bread starter. If I stop sniffling, I may even get to cookies tomorrow. But there are chapters with my name on them and they have priority over baking, no matter how theraputic. I need a cookie fairy to deliver a few dozen cookies to my door, preferably something with chocolate.

Continue reading "The only thing better than pie... " »

September 23, 2006

A cook's basket of herbs

Weekend Herb Blogging is Kalyn's weekly venture into the land of herbs and always offers a collection of international food writers weighing in with delightful ideas for using the goodness that is fresh herbs.

Basketofherbs1 Basketofherbs3The onset of fall in evenTinierTown brings morning fog, cooling afternoon breezes, and the annual wine tasting and auction, an event that always brings out a crowd to sample food and drink before spending a few dollars on a variety of donated goods. Depending on the amount of wine involved, the spending may climb to more than a few dollars...or so goes the devious plan.

Continue reading "A cook's basket of herbs" »

April 09, 2006

Stockhouse's Farm CSA

Yellowmagnolia It is perhaps a paradox that it is easier to find a farm offering CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscriptions in the city than out here in evenTinierTown. Odd though that may be, I spent last summer watching sadly as friends of mine in Seattle got weekly boxes of farm-fresh produce, brimming with marvelous, and sometimes new to them, produce while I had to make do with going to a chain grocery store for far too much of what we ate. Sure, I have friends who felt took pity on my gardenless self and gifted me with the occasional overflow from their own gardens, but it's just not the same as having a plot of raised beds and a CSA.

Continue reading "Stockhouse's Farm CSA" »

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