Prepare for disaster; it’s important

September 17, 2014

What would you do tomorrow if there were an earthquake that affected your home? A mudslide? A flood? A fire? Are you prepared for those and other emergencies?

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Sparrow gives us new ending to sad story

September 17, 2014

When we first noticed the baby sparrow, here at the house, it saddened us all. He had fallen from his nest and was slowly walking around the front yard under the tree while his mother and father had an absolute fit.

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Chipper Invitational attracts good nuts

September 10, 2014

In honor of his entirely fictional pet squirrel, Doc is calling the annual golf tournament the Chipper Invitational this year. He’s thinking of making that a permanent name for his invention, the most unusual golf tournament in history.

Slim Randles, Columnist

Slim Randles, Columnist

Do you remember how it began? A few years ago Doc decided to raise money to buy winter coats for some of the local kids who can’t afford them. He figured a golf tournament would be just the thing.

But one of the things this valley has never had is a golf course. But that didn’t slow Doc down. With the laughing consent of two farmers whose land abutted each other, Doc got busy. He took a shovel and some long sticks and laid out an 18-hole golf course in less than two hours.

He’d dig a hole and put a long stick next to it. Then he’d walk a while and do it again. He did this eighteen times and the course was ready. So each fall on the day of the big tournament, the farmers moved their cattle to a safe pasture away from the possibility of deadly golf balls, and the fun was on.

Doc charges ten bucks a head for the tournament, almost every able-bodied person in the valley plays, and the kids get winter coats. Not a bad deal.

So this year, in honor of Chipper the non-existent pet squirrel, Doc laid out the course up by the forest. The hazards of this year’s course included an elk wallow, a rock face the size of a library and a thicket of manzanita that a mouse couldn’t penetrate.

Mrs. Doc and Anita got together and made a clay statue of the mythical squirrel sitting up chewing a nut for use as a perpetual trophy for the winner. They put a little engraved brass plate on it that reads “Chipper Invitational Golf Tournament: Dedicated to the nuts in the valley.”

We wonder, also, if Doc benefits any from the sale of golf balls down at the dry goods store.


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Miracle salmon need your help

September 10, 2014

The first fish have been sighted at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery and it’s that time of year again — time to step up to help the amazing salmon that are returning home and the crowds of people that will follow them.

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Do you know about the need for diapers?

September 10, 2014

Sept. 7-13 is National Diaper Need Awareness Week. Do you know about the diaper need nationally, and here at home?
It can cost $100 or more per month to keep a baby in diapers. Currently, no safety-net program at the federal or state level helps with buying diapers. Poor families can get help for food through various programs, and specially targeted funds support programs for Women, Infants and Children, but WIC and food-assistance programs cannot be used for diapers.
This gap in the safety net has broad implications. When babies’ diapers are changed infrequently because caregivers are trying to conserve, children are at increased risk of urinary tract and skin infections, viral meningitis, dysentery and diarrhea. Babies crying from spending hours in soiled diapers are also at increased risk of abuse.
There is also a connection between having money for diapers and sending your children to school and going to work yourself. Most daycare centers, including free and subsidized facilities, will not admit a child who arrives without a day’s supply of diapers. If you don’t have the diapers to take your child to childcare, then you may not be able to go to work or to a training course. If you have federal aid, you could lose it, as many programs, such as Temporary Aid for Needy Families, have work or training requirements.
Eastside Baby Corner, a local nonprofit, is working to help with diaper need in King County. EBC supplies 11 food banks and hundreds of individual children with diapers throughout the year – about 700,000 diapers are distributed, free of charge, through social service agencies, hospitals, Public Health the Department of Child and Family Services and schools – but it’s only a fraction of the diapers needed in a state where more than 19 percent of children live below the federal poverty line. You can help by supporting Eastside Baby Corner. Learn more at
Renee Zimmerman
EBC executive director

Aroma of autumn colors our days

September 4, 2014

It comes to us slowly and delicately, as all beautiful things should. It’s usually in the early morning. We can smell it. We can feel it. That little nip that teases us … autumn. Almost autumn.

Slim Randles

Slim Randles

Summer is heat and work and sweat and cold drinks of water and swimming and barbecues. But autumn is fall … the pinnacle. This is when people have the county and state fairs, because the vegetables and animals are at their peak and ready to show. The heat drove some of us into the house this stifling summer and led us to make quilts, make furniture, can fruit. And now, if they’re good enough (and we know, if no one else does) they can go to the fair, too.

In the mountains, the deer and elk are at their finest, with antlers dark brown with the patina of age and wisdom and those tips white as ivory. Polished. This is the polished time.

We are all at some kind of pinnacle in autumn. We have worked through the heat and now we can plan to ratchet it back a bit. We can take our skills to the mountains for hunting and fishing, or just discover a new hobby there at the house that will keep hands and mind busy during the cold to come.

The children are off to school, preparing themselves so someday their autumns will be like this, sweet with fulfillment, honed to a point, seeping with satisfaction the way ours are.

Autumn … come and whisper to us in the morning. I’m almost here. Almost here. Almost here.


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Please slow down: School has started

September 4, 2014

It’s back-to-school time, and you know what that means.

We’re not talking about the purchases and chaos. We’re talking about slowing down and watching out for children, who may not be watching out for you.

State law says you must stop for a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing whether it is on your side of the road or not. These buses usually have a stop-sign arm on them, but you might not see it. Likewise, you might not see the children that step off these buses and run to nearby houses or people waiting for them.

In the Snoqualmie Valley School District, 66 buses travel more than 723,000 miles each year across the district that spans more than 400 square miles. The buses provide rides to and from schools and school-related activities to more than 6,500 students.

The speed limit in all school zones is 20 miles per hour, usually from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

While the Valley has no monitoring cameras, the Snoqualmie Police Department that provides service to both North Bend and Snoqualmie, watches traffic closely.

AAA urges drivers to be aware of children and extra cautious when backing out of driveways and parking spots in school zones and neighborhoods, especially in the morning and afternoon.

Slow down. Obey Washington State’s 20 mph speed limit in school zones. A pedestrian is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed when struck by a vehicle traveling at 20 mph compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling 30 mph.

Eliminate distractions. Sometimes kids dart into the road unexpectedly. Taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles the chance of crashing. Store cell phones out of reach — no texting, calling or emailing while driving.

Come to a complete stop. More than one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods. Always come to a complete stop and check for children on sidewalks and in crosswalks.

Plan for extra time. With school in session, there are more children walking and riding bicycles on streets and sidewalks. Drive slowly and choose alternate routes to avoid school zones if possible.

Dropping off children at school? Be extra cautious. Children dart around and between cars and with so many of us driving SUVs and minivans, our line of sight at the level of a first-grader is limited.

Let’s make going back to school safe for everyone.


Folks keep in step to sounds of love and life

August 28, 2014

Mrs. Doc watched the dancers swirl around the cleared hardwood floor of the Legion hall, and smiled to see her husband, Doc, waltzing with Ardis Fisher. But Mrs. Doc was never one to sit out a waltz, so she looked around at the menu.

Slim Randles

Slim Randles

Over in the corner, smiling and tapping his foot, was Pop Walker. Pop and several other residents of the Rest of Your Life retirement home were there to enjoy the dance and celebrate summer.  Pop has a hard time with his memory, these days, but always forgets things with a smile.

“Pop,” said Mrs. Doc, “how about a dance?”

“Why sure … uh?”

“Mrs. Doc.”

“Right. Mrs. Doc.”

Pop had learned to waltz back when more people did it, and the decades had smoothed his dance steps with the fine sanding of time. It was a pleasure for Mrs. Doc to go around the floor with him.

She smiled and winked at her husband as she and Pop danced by. Doc grinned and swirled a fancy di-do with Ardis, just to show off. Then she and Pop got closer to the bandstand and there was Dud Campbell playing his accordion. He looked happy and surrealistic in the muted reddish lights on the stage. Next to him sat Carla Martinez, playing rhythm guitar and smiling out on her town and her life. Jim Albertson was up there, too, playing the waltz’s melody on the harmonica, and trading the lead with Jasper Blankenship on his fiddle.

As she and Pop Walker danced away, the bandstand receded in a blur of light and sound. Passing like ships in the night were Dewey Decker with Mavis from the Mule Barn truck stop. Mavis’s hair is growing back in since the treatments, giving everyone in the valley just one more reason to be thankful. Randy Jones and Katie Burchell sailed by on wings of love.

The waltz ended and Pop walked Mrs. Doc to her seat.

“Thanks for the dance, er … honey,” he said.

“Thank you, Pop.”

The people who dance through our lives give us the reason to get up and get dressed each day.

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School begins: Time to volunteer

August 28, 2014

Parents throughout the Snoqualmie Valley School District will walk their children to school, to the school bus or drop them off for the first day of classes next week.

Ahh, finally, a bit of free time for a second cup of coffee! Or maybe not if you’re dashing to the office — but a new school year does encourage us to be more organized.

As you figure out who is driving the car pool and how to squeeze in some exercise, save time in your schedule for our schools.

Yes, the Snoqualmie Valley School District needs you! The volunteer jobs at school are endless. The playground needs monitors, the library can use assistance, the front office might need your organizational skills, teachers almost never have enough helpers and the nurse’s office is often in need of a mother’s touch to watch over a sick child.

But the best of the volunteer jobs may be working directly with students. Parents, grandparents and other citizens are always welcome to just listen to children read.

Got time and energy for a bigger role? Ask about becoming a mentor to one student, helping guide them in their social development and their studies — or sometimes just to be there to listen.

If you prefer something more athletic, check into becoming a volunteer to help a coach. The middle schools and high schools have an array of sports teams that need both organizational and skills assistance in support of its coaches.

Volunteers at schools are not expected to take a leadership role. Volunteers do not get involved in discipline or instruction. Their role is one of helper.

Need some adult time? Getting involved in school doesn’t necessarily mean more time with children.

The PTSA at each school is looking for parents to volunteer in everything from teacher recognition to fundraising. Start by joining your PTSA, and then get involved.

And here’s something to consider — you can join the PTSA at your neighborhood school even if you don’t have children there. It can use your help.

The school district does require a background check on every volunteer, whether or not you’re a parent. All volunteers must apply and be approved before they get clearance to begin service. In addition to the typical background information, volunteers must undergo a Washington State Patrol criminal history check once every two years.

To get started, stop in at a school office to learn more about volunteer opportunities and get an application. Forms can also be found at the district’s website.

Volunteering is good for the schools and saves tax money, too. We can guarantee you’ll have a great time. And the payoff? All the smiles you’ll get from staff, teachers and students.

Enjoy the school year.

Passing on the right side is legal

August 20, 2014

I agreed with your rants and raves in the Aug. 14 editorial wholeheartedly except for one of them.

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