Monday, January 26, 2015

Cause for Hope

Funny, isn’t it, how you can meet some people multiple times without their leaving a lasting impression—while other people make an enormous impression from the first moment you’re introduced. It’s funny, too, how watching three people work together with passion and conviction can infuse a dimension of hope into the life of the observer.

In my January 4 post, Saturday Night in Bothell, I wrote about the local movement,, that is growing into an impressive force in my neighborhood and the city itself. The three men behind are remarkable people. From the moment I first heard them speak about the need to preserve threatened open space, I was impressed with their articulate vision. With each meeting I have attended, my awe has increased. These men are inspiring, both because of their individual commitments and the synergy their combined efforts manifest.

James, Jesse, and Jonty—younger than my children—are donating hours and hours of their lives researching records, meeting with movers and shakers, explaining their cause and their findings to politicians and residents. They are changing peoples’ minds and convincing local residents to push back on pressure being exerted by land developers. 

At one meeting recently, our County Council representative said to Jesse, “I don’t know what you do for a living, but your presentation would hold up against any real estate attorney in town.” (The Councilman holds a law degree and has practiced real estate law.)  Jesse is a firefighter.

In another meeting, a City Council representative asked who had created the amazing Website. James humbly raised his hand. He continues to enhance into the wee small hours of the night. At meetings he sets up his computer to provide visuals . . . and takes over the narrative when Jesse turns to him to ask for augmentation.

When a dozen-plus interested citizens met with our State Senator, Jonty—as he always does—kept his laptop running and offered expertise and fact checking as the conversation shifted. Jonty interrupts as necessary to clarify the topics. The three men defer to each other and can almost finish each other’s sentences, so concerted is their effort.

These three men are inspiring collaborators and astonishing in their willingness to spend dozens of hours of "free time" each week, working independently at their own homes until exhaustion sets in—all for this noble cause. When there is such energy there is hope. When there is hope, it’s fun to get up in the morning. 

Bravo to the three Js—I am honored to be an observer of their worthwhile endeavor. And . . . I haven't felt this hopeful, in general, for a long time. Thank you!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Now I've Heard Everything . . .

True story:  I was at the supermarket Saturday morning in the line staffed by the assistant manager. As he checked out my purchases, the young cashier at the adjacent checkout called out to him. "Hey, Bob--got a minute?"

"Sure, whatcha need?"

"I need you to approve this transaction." The young cashier held up a bottle of wine with its cork halfway out and a good third of its contents gone. "She wants to return this bottle of wine--it gave her a really bad headache."

"Yeah, I'll be there in a minute."

The assistant manager hurriedly finished up my transaction, and I couldn't help myself. I rolled my eyes in disbelief. "Since when," I whispered, "does someone get to return a bottle of wine for that reason?"

"We stand behind our promise that if the product isn't satisfactory for any reason, we'll refund your money." Then . . . as soon as he spoke those words, he giggled. And rolled his eyes.

You can imagine all the thoughts that were going through my head as I left the store. There are a lot of branches of that supermarket in the greater Seattle area, and I'm still wondering how many people ask for a refund after 'tying one on.'

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Saturday night in Bothell

Sammamish Greenway Conservation
Easement at Wayne Golf Course sign
It’s Saturday night—the first one of the new year, a time to be partying on the final weekend before business as usual, or, at least, taking down holiday decorations.  Instead, I have gathered with a dozen people I don’t know in the clubhouse of my neighboring Condominium Association to discuss an upcoming meeting with our state senator. Why? Because a zoning change is imminent in our city of Bothell, and this is our chance to be heard by a sympathetic politician who is as interested in preserving open space as we are. We aren't asking our senator to intervene in our "city business," but we want her to know how hard we're willing to fight to keep our open space open, and our green space green.

On February 25, Bothell’s Planning Commission will vote on the proposed zoning change, something it had hoped to do at its December 17, 2014, meeting. Because the City Staff appeared to be endorsing the requested change, it was presumed the commission’s vote would be a shoe-in YES. Instead, with sixty-plus residents of the affected neighborhoods crowding into the meeting room to make a standing-room-only, record-breaking turnout at the hearing, the commissioners postponed the vote until February in order to get answers to the many questions posed by the attendees. 

I live in the neighborhood directly across the street from Wayne Golf Course, a public recreational facility. The holes comprising the “front nine” are part of a Conservation Easement funded by King County in 1997 (The Sammamish River Greenway Conservation Easement) and granted by the golf course owners in 1996 to the citizens of Bothell “In Perpetuity.”  In exchange for granting this spectacular legacy to my town, the owners of Wayne Golf Course received a very large sum of money (nearly $1 million) and property tax reduction of 90 percent from 1997 forward on the golf course. The property of approximately 54 acres is described in the Easement as possessing:

natural, scenic, open space, water resource, and recreational value (collectively “Conservation Values”) of great importance to Grantors, the people of the City of Bothell, the people of King County, and the people of the State of Washington. (Sec. A of the Easement)

The Easement goes on to explain:

The purpose of this Easement is to assure that the Property will be retained forever in its open space condition and to prevent any use of the Property that will significantly impair or interfere with the perseveration of the Property in its current or more natural state, and as a view corridor. (Sec. 2)

The Conservation Easement prohibits subdivision of the Property for any purpose. (Sec. 4-a)

Wayne’s owners are requesting the zoning change so they can build seventy-six new townhomes, in addition to remodeling or replacing the existing clubhouse. This would all take place in a 4.2 acre subarea of the Easement, which allowed for a clubhouse remodel in the future. (Sec. 7)

My neighbors and I are outraged at the proposal and the apparent endorsement by staff of the City. Bothell is a city that has gone on record promising to acquire additional land and protect the current greenway. We aren't talking about the pressure on the infrastructure--that's an entirely different matter. We are talking about the degradation of a view corridor, promised in perpetuity to residents of King County when seventy-six townhouses (3-4 stories high) are built on that land. Their presence will deplete parking for the users of the golf course (its existence being guaranteed in the Sammamish Greenway Conservation Agreement), and all but eliminate public access to the Burke Gilman Trail from the golf course's parking lot. We are fuming over our City’s apparent willingness to allow open space, scenic vistas, and recreational access to vanish. Changing the zoning to allow any kind of development means an irreplaceable asset is lost forever. 

No wonder I gave up my evening for this cause. I couldn't have spent a more meaningful first Saturday of the year.

Post script:  If you are a resident or friend of BOTHELL, please use this link to go to the online petition about the rezoning. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Exactly right . . .

It’s 1937.  H-m-m-m . . . what to get my son, Ron, for Christmas this year.  I know—his very own cigarette box monogrammed with his initials: Charles Ronald Johnsone. His wife, Naomi, will set the dinner table with it, so she and Ron and their guests can smoke between courses and after dinner, too. She always sets out dainty glass ashtrays, so I think a lovely glass box would be exactly right. Sallie (Sara Sylvia) Ackley Johnsone, my grandmother                

It’s 2015.  H-m-m-m . . . where to put those pretty rose-petal soaps my daughter-in-law, Candra, just gave me last week for Christmas. I know—I’ll use that glass monogrammed cigarette box that’s been languishing empty for many years now. Gone are the days when we put cigarettes out on the table for parties (thank goodness), but I’m so glad I kept the lovely glass box because it is exactly right.
Sallie (Sara Sylvia) Johnsone Glerum

Friday, January 2, 2015

Such amazing good fortune!

Happy second day of 2015.  Today, via two e-mails, I received news that winnings totaling $1.45million USD were waiting to be claimed by the recipient of the e-mails, plus a brand new 2014 BMW, a laptop and an iPhone!  Can you believe my good fortune?  And that was just the random windfall. In a third e-mail I learned that a goodhearted man in Malaysia is going to split 60-40 an unclaimed inheritance left behind by someone with—imagine!—the same surname as mine.  

It’s hard to imagine how desperate and/or opportunistic someone has to be to scheme up such schmaltzy stories in the hopes of raiding the bank account and/or stealing the identity of  trusting souls. It’s also hard to imagine how ignorant those trusting souls have to be to fall for the the possibility of such preposterous good fortune—but clearly, the scam must work or it wouldn’t be so prevalent.  Oh, and I forgot to mention that the e-mails were directed to a deceased person—Jay. I check his AOL mailbox routinely and clean out this type of communication (there are lots). Otherwise I cannot continue with my AOL mailbox, which is a subaccount of his. That seems almost as preposterous. 

Ah, the complexities of modern life. 

Dear Beneficiary,
This mail is to inform you of your registered package.CONTENT: Bank Draft of $950,000.00 USD, a laptop and iphone registered by an Official of the United Nation. The Fund is a donation to you from the U.N  through e-mails balloting in affiliation with commonwealth poverty eradication program.  For your information the VAT and COD (Cost Of Delivery) have been paid already. Therefore, kindly provide us with the below details as follow; 
(ETC. I am not repeating e-mails and names for obvious reasons--sg.)

Dear BMW Enthusiast,
This is to inform you that you have been selected for a prize of a brand new 2014 Model BMW 7 Series Car and a Check of $500,000.00 United States Dollars from international programs held on the final section 2014 in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.The selection process was carried out through random selection in our computerized email selection system (ESS) from a database of over 250,000 email addresses drawn from all the continents of the world which you were selected.The BMW Lottery is approved by the British Gaming Board and also Licensed by the International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR). To begin the processing of your prize you are to contact our fiduciary claims department for more information as regards procedures to claim your prize. (ETC. I am not repeating e-mails and names for obvious reasons--sg.)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

It's a New Year

This collection of photos appeared at the
party given in Jay's honor in August 2014
At the risk of going to jail for copyright infringement (again), I am going to copy a passage from a book of daily meditations that has kept me company since my friend, Gwen, sent it to me shortly after Jay's death. Gwen's late husband, Jack, was a good friend of Jay's and died a few years ago, just weeks after learning of his cancer. No wonder, then, that Gwen knew firsthand how helpful this little book could be. Today's meditation struck a chord that I want to share on this fresh, first day of 2015.

January 1
. . . Everything brushes against the raw wound of our grief, reminding us of what we have lost, triggering memories--a tilt of the head, a laugh, a way of walking, a touch, a particular conversation. These images are like beads strung together on the necklace of loss. Tenderly, we turn them again and again. We cannot bear them. We cannot let them go.

Then, gradually, bit by bit, the binding thread of grief somehow transmutes, reconstitutes itself as a thread of treasured memories--a tilt of the head, a laugh, a way of walking, a touch, a particular conversation as gifts from the life we shared with the one we have lost, gifts that can never be taken away.
                      from  Healing After Loss by Martha Whitmore Hickman

I realize I have entered that next phase--where the memories of fifty-two years' history together with Jay are beginning to cause more pleasure than pain. As I take down the door wreath and put away the window candles (and the little Oberammergau creche on the mantel), I will be remembering our fifty-plus of "Christmas cleanup." We moaned and groaned about how much work it was to "do" Christmas, but we always agreed that it was worth every bit the trouble.

May we all have more happy than sad memories today--and throughout 2015.