Let’s Get Literary

When most people hear the word Jeopardy, they think of the trivia game show hosted by Alex Trebeck. However, on Western Washington University’s campus, there is a different meaning behind the word. First published in 1965, the student-run literary magazine published works of fiction and nonfiction from authors around the country. That was until 2003, when Jeopardy changed its policy to only accept work from Western students.  

Today, the magazine helps new authors publish their work, many for the first time, and gives students the opportunity to be editors. It allows graduates to come out of school with a published work of writing to present to employers.  

This year’s issue is the 56th. The advisor Kami Westhoff says the magazine’s editors “have always been incredibly innovative, driven, and professional, they handle each obstacle with compassion, patience, and integrity.”  

The issue’s staff consists of editor-in-chief Linnea Boice, fiction editor Alyssa Anderson-Larsonnonfiction editor Skylar Tibbetts, and poetry editor Tegan Beard. Here is a Q&A with the student editors for Jeopardy’s 56th issue. 

Why did you get involved with Jeopardy? 

“I applied to be poetry editor to make more of an impact on the magazine. I believe that poetry can do things that no other form can do, that it is beautiful and strange and defiant of limits. I’m grateful for the opportunity to cast light on that strange beauty.” –Tegan Beard 

“As a freshman, I remember wanting to contribute to the magazine because it seemed like the perfect first step toward a writing/editing career, but my inexperience in the publishing field felt like an insurmountable hurdle. To be frank, I was intimidated. Out of all the thousands of students at Western, what made me special? I’d basically resigned myself to shyness and complacency when my good friend told me Jeopardy had hired her to be the poetry editor. Like me, she was a freshman, but she had managed to secure a position I’d only dreamed of. I applied for the fiction editor position, got hired, and the rest has yet to be written.” –Alyssa Anderson-Larson 

How is working on the magazine? 

“Oh, it’s so much fun! But that’s because the work itself is so rewarding, and I get to do it with a great group of people. I look forward to later this year, when I can spend my time pouring through submissions and preparing for fun events, like a student writers workshop and Jeopardy Jeopardy, a literary trivia event.” –Linnea Boice 

“So far, being on Jeopardy is really fun! Reading and talking about fiction is a dream job for me, so even when I’m getting work done it doesn’t feel like a chore. Everyone in the office gets along really well, and we joke around with each other, but we also know when it’s time to buckle down and get some work done.” –Alyssa Anderson-Larson 

“I think working for Jeopardy is the best combination of fun and seriousness, because our work literally consists of reading people’s stories — something I love to do! I genuinely can’t believe I get paid to do this!” –Skylar Tibbetts 

What is your favorite thing about working on Jeopardy? 

“Even though I don’t make all the decisions, I still read all the submissions, so I get to see what people are thinking and writing about. I can see what is important to people, what moments are worth capturing, what stories are worth telling.”-Linnea Boice 

“My favorite thing about Jeopardy is having a structured reason to read lots of different works, talk about them, and help polish them into terrific little gems. It’s the coolest job I could’ve asked for.” –Tegan Beard 

“This is my dream job and I honestly love everything about it. If I had to pick one thing, I’d say I most enjoy being able to read the fiction submissions. I always love to see what my peers are writing, and now I get paid to have an opinion about them! What could be better?”- Alyssa Anderson-Larson 

“I enjoy the variation of submissions that we receive, and being able to get a glimpse into what is sometimes the most vulnerable side of a person. The fact that the person submitting is willing to share with me feels very important.”- Skylar Tibbetts 

How will being an editor at Jeopardy help you in the future? 

“I’m contemplating a future in editing and publishing, and this is a great taste of what that job would look like.” –Tegan Beard 

“I will say that getting one of my poems published in the last edition of Jeopardy was changing for me, as it gave me more confidence to continue writing and putting my work into the world. For us writing, there is a constant imposter syndrome, especially in academia. I think publishing allows for a little less of that and a little more self-assurance.” –Skylar Tibbetts 

For more like this, check out our Lifestyle section here.

Bow Wow & Woofs Launches Pet Pantry for Pets in Need

This past April, Heather Campbell, the owner of Bow Wow & Woofs pet store in Blaine, lost her dog, Mr. Kerry. While many might buckle under the heartbreak of losing a pet during a pandemic, Campbell was instead inspired to give back to her community.  

To honor Mr. Kerry and ensure that no pet went without, Campbell launched “Mr. Kerry’s Pet Pantry for Pets in Need.” The pantry is intended for those financially struggling to feed their pets during COVID-19.  

“I wanna make sure that no one has to give up their babies because of this,” Campbell says.  

The food pantry is located directly outside Campbell’s store, allowing takers to remain anonymous, and features more than just pet food. From shampoo samples to dental products, Campbell says there’s always something different in the pantry.   

“There’s been incredible support from the community itself, people that can afford to donate and also from my distributors,” Campbell says.  

Because of social distancing, Campbell says pets are more important than ever before. “I am fortunate in that I’ve been such a worker so I still have human contact, but people that are stuck in their homes day-in and day-out, they need their dogs and cats for company,” Campbell says.  

Bow Wow & Woofs is still open five days a week, and Campbell has no intention of slowing down. To donate, Campbell says you can drop off food in person or donate directly with cash. Those in need may simply stop by the pantry and take whatever their pet requires.  

Valley Made Market Goes Virtual

Summer typically means sunny days browsing craft markets, discovering local artists and makers. However, due to COVID-19, many markets are adapting to the times. 

Valley Made Market, which typically runs from April to October in Mount Vernon, supports local makers from Skagit Valley, Whatcom, and beyond. At the market, you’d typically find jewelry from crafters like Cascadia Jewelry and Early Winters Design, salves and body products from Garden Mentors, and macrame plant holders from Knotty Kort. Now, in the era of COVID-19, all market events have been canceled up to July, says owner Phoebe Carpenter- Eells. 

But when life gives you lemons… you start a website. To support local makers, the market has moved to a new digital platform that makes shopping from your home seamless and easy. 

“With that we were able to just run a marketplace page so we are not actually selling anybody’s stuff,” says Carpenter-Eells. “We are kind of a hub where people can come and find the maker they are looking for or browse all the makers.”  

Although you can’t smell a bar of soap or feel a hand-knit beanie the way you could at a normal market, supporting local makers virtually is more important than ever.

“Supporting small businesses during this time helps ensure that we will still have this type of market and this type of business when all of this is over,” says Carpenter-Eells. 

As for the future, Valley Made Market is assessing the situation week by week. While all shows in June have been canceled, the decreasing rate of COVID-19 cases in Skagit Valley signals a chance for a July show, given the market’s outdoor nature and the use of proper safety precautions.

To shop for yourself, visit Valley Made Market’s website and browse their vendors. 

Why I have a love-hate relationship with HGTV

In an era of ease, the network HGTV is reminding generations of homeowners that housework is possible. Renovation shows are inspiring countless trends and reminding us that, “the first step in bringing an idea to life is putting pen to paper.”

We love these messages! But as much as we love HGTV… we also sort of hate it. Hear us out: What is their problem with ignoring the idea of recycling or reuse? 

We’ve all seen the image of a gleeful homeowner with dreams of an open-concept living space taking a sledgehammer to the wall separating a cramped kitchen and dining room. In fact, almost all HGTV renovations begin this way. Demo day: When homeowners are invited to get down and dirty, put on their protec, and take a sledgehammer to smash their way to a beautiful new space.

Don’t get us wrong — smashing things with sledgehammers is fun. The sad reality of demo day, though, is what ends up in the landfill: Thousands of tons of reusable, often high quality building materials, all destroyed for a few minutes of TV. Nearly 60% of America’s landfills are made up of unwanted materials from construction and renovations. That’s totally unnecessary!

Here at the RE Store we believe that unwanted, perfectly reusable items deserve better. When you look at building materials from our perspective, an old 2×4 can be a birdhouse or a raised garden bed. When we begin to think of materials as having long lifespans, reuse just makes sense.

So, as much as we love HGTV for making home ownership and design accessible, we’re disappointed in their celebration of wastefulness. Here’s what we propose: Next time you’re planning a renovation, consider if the materials can be used again. Even dated materials can have years left in their lifespans. 

You might want to start by giving us a call –- we are committed to helping you figure out if and how unwanted materials might be reused or recycled. In fact, our salvage crew can remove things such as kitchen cabinets and flooring – or even your whole home – saving up to 90 percent of a structure’s materials, and our estimates are always free. When we reuse instead of throwing away, we are acting as responsible citizens and actively making our community a better place.

For more like this, check out our Home section here.

Electric Vehicles for Everyman

What if your first electric vehicle (EV) experience doesn’t involve Elon Musk showing you how to operate a new Tesla? Instead, what happens if someone just hands you the keys to an all-electric version of a regular, everyday car and just says “go”?  In other words, what happens in the real world when a real person tries to drive an electric car?

I am a dealer-trade driver. Car dealers often trade inventory among themselves and when they do I get called to physically swap the cars, often driving 100 miles or more between dealers. I’ve driven everything from Porsche Panameras to tricked-out Tundras. When I walk into a dealership I get a simple set of instructions identifying the car I am supposed to deliver, the car I am supposed to retrieve, the keys, and little else. Such was the case with my first EV.

My clue that this drive was going to be different came when I went out onto the lot to find the car — in this case, a VW Golf. It wasn’t there. I finally found it plugged into a charger by the service department. Uh oh — it was an “e-Golf”.  All of the cars I had driven had always been gas, diesel, or hybrid.

Pressing the start button, I immediately saw that instead of the published range of 180 miles, my range was only 121, even after charging all night. That was significant since my destination was 110 miles away. Before I even traveled one mile, my range dropped four more miles. Let’s review that. Before I got one mile off the lot, my range had diminished from 180 to 121 to 117 miles.

Lesson 1

Real world range is less than published range. Sometimes a lot less. Cold weather, vehicle electronics, and uphill grades all reduce range — sometimes quickly. (Note — “regenerative braking” will restore some of that range, but since I would be driving the interstates at a relatively constant speed, I didn’t expect much help there.)

Okay then. Defroster, off.  Radio, off. Everything else I could find, off. Feather the accelerator on uphill grades. In combination, these measures seemed to stabilize my range to within a few miles of my destination, but “almost” is not good enough, so I called the salesman who had arranged this trade. We had the quick “it should have enough range” (him) vs. “no it doesn’t” (me) conversation while he looked up the location of an independent charging station on my route.

Lesson 2

Independent charging stations don’t always work. This one didn’t.

Plan B: Find a VW Dealership where I could charge the car. Fortunately, my GPS said there was one within 10 miles, so off I went. But upon arrival, I was told this dealer did not have a “fast-charger” and their regular 240v charger would take hours.

Lesson 3

Just finding a charger is not good enough.  It has to be one of the specially made “fast chargers,” or you’re going to be there a while.

Plan C: across the street was a Nissan Dealer. Nissan makes electric cars and I could see several “fast chargers” right in front of the showroom. Pulling up, I asked a salesman if I could use one of them. He said sure, except for the annoying fact that it wouldn’t work on my car. Apparently, all the Japanese cars use one kind of charger and receptacle while all the U.S. and European cars use a different kind.

Lesson 4

EV charging receptacles are not standard, so you not only have to find a fast-charger, you have to find the correct fast-charger. That’s right — with all the hullabaloo about electric cars, they can’t even agree on which plug to use. I’m told Tesla uses yet a third type of receptacle.

Plan D: Find another European car dealer with a fast-charger. I called the next VW dealer near my route and, to my relief, was told yes – they had four fast-chargers. But when I arrived, all four chargers were occupied, with no owners in sight.

Lesson 5

Fast-chargers are popular, so don’t expect to pull right up to one as you would a conventional gas pump.

A quick chat with the sales manager to tell him I only needed “a few miles” added to my range and he agreed to temporarily move one of the cars from a charging station so I could use it.  Whew! Fifteen minutes and 40 miles of additional range later, I was on my way.

I arrived with 40 miles of range to spare. Would I have made it without an additional charge?  I’ll never know, but in the space of 110 miles I did get a real-world education about EVs. From what I learned, they’ve still got a way to go, literally and figuratively. In particular:

Driving an EV with a 120 mile range is like driving a gasoline-powered car with a four gallon tank.  You don’t get very far. High-end EVs have higher published ranges — for instance, Tesla’s advertise 300 miles — but as I discovered, you get a lot less than that in the real world, especially on a cold fall morning.

Chargers and receptacles need to be standardized. Seriously. The current system is like being told you can only fill up at a Chevron station because Shell and Arco pumps won’t work with your car. If someone can come up with a patent for a universal adapter, they are going to become very wealthy, very fast.

Fast chargers aren’t really fast — they can still take half an hour or more to charge your car. If this process can’t be expedited, then there should be a McDonald’s franchise at every charging station so at least you can get something to eat while you’re waiting.

To my relief, my return ride was a good old-fashioned gas-powered, two-liter, four-cylinder turbo. So I quickly forgot about fast-chargers and European receptacles while I turned up the stereo and the climate control, set the cruise control to 70 and headed for home. 

For more like this, check out our Lifestyle section here.

Despite Closings, Area Schools Deliver Lunches

With the continuing spread of COVID-19, we’re living in uncertain times. Restaurants and bars are closed, people are working from home, and notably, schools are closed. Not only does this mean K-12 students in Whatcom County are missing out on classes, but it also means many are missing out on meals. Of the 29.8 million students who receive school lunches each day in the U.S., more than 67 percent, or 20.2 million students, receive lunch for free.

Here’s what local schools are doing to make sure no students go hungry:

Blaine

The Blaine School District began putting together free school lunches for its students on Wednesday, March 18. Grab n’ Go meals are now available for pick-up in the parking lot at Blaine High School or, if a student lives further away, lunches will be dropped off along the regular bus route. These buses will also serve students in Pt. Roberts and Birch Bay (delivery routes are posted online). In addition to a lunch for the day, students will also receive breakfast for the following morning. The only requirement to receive a lunch is that the child must be under the age of 18 — they do not even need to be enrolled in the Blaine School District to get one.

Bellingham

While not solidified yet, the Bellingham School District has announced plans to start a drive-thru and/or delivery meal program on Monday, March 23, for all students in the district. Meals will be provided Monday through Friday for “as long as [the district is] able.” Each student will receive a lunch for that day as well as a breakfast for the following day. If parents or students have any questions, they are invited to fill out an online form.

Ferndale

The Ferndale School District announced that a meal program will begin on Friday, March 20, to serve all students in the district. Free meals will be distributed at Ferndale High School, Central Elementary School, Horizon/Eagleridge Campus, Custer Elementary School, Skyline Elementary School, Cascadia Elementary School, and North Bellingham Learning Center on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Families may pick up their meals from whichever location is most convenient. Each pick-up includes a lunch for that day, as well as breakfast and lunch meals for all weekdays in between the next pick up date.

Lynden

On Wednesday, March 18, superintendent of Lynden Public Schools, Jim Frey, sent out a letter to families explaining that school lunches would be available for pick up the following day. Each day, students under the age of 18 will be able to pick food up from various schools around the district, including Bernice Vossbeck Elementary School, Fisher Elementary School, Isom Elementary School, and Lynden Middle School.

Mount Baker

Administrators in the Mount Baker School District have set up a “Reverse the Baker Bus” meal delivery program which will drop off meals for students along designated elementary school bus routes. Announced over Facebook on Tuesday, March 17, the buses will deliver food on Tuesdays and Fridays of each week, with each drop providing enough food for three days of breakfast and lunch. Students 18 and under are welcome to pick up lunches regardless of whether they’re enrolled in Mount Baker’s free lunch program.

Embracing the Chaos

“Where are you from?”

There’s nothing more stress-inducing than when I get asked that question, whether it’s in a casual conversation with someone I’ve just met or part of some torturous icebreaker exercise in class. Do I say “everywhere” and rattle off all the places I’ve lived, making them sorry they even asked? Or do I simply say the most recent place, even though my parents only moved there a few years ago and I’ve only really visited?

I used to tell the full story, with pride. I’d tell the well-intentioned stranger that I’ve been lucky enough to live all over the world and see things that most people only get to read about. Many are interested, or at least pretend to be, as they ask me about the coolest places I’ve lived or the different languages I must have picked up. However, there’s always at least one person that says “Oh, that must have sucked.”

Sometimes it did. I have no pictures with my family from my high school graduation because my dad was deployed and couldn’t be there. It just didn’t feel right to have photos that didn’t have him in it. When I was seven years old, my family got stationed in Italy. We lived there for six years; it was the longest I ever stayed in one place. Toward the end of my Freshman year, we prepared to leave again. I don’t typically get emotional during goodbyes, it’s just easier that way. However, now I wasn’t just leaving the amazing food, culture and experiences I had there, I was leaving my best friend. 

It took me a while to make good friends in Italy, and I only met Maddy, a true friend, right before I left. We bonded over our curly hair and embarrassing mutual love of “Glee.” I remember stepping onto the airport shuttle and waving to her through the window. As the bus drove away, I couldn’t help but break down in tears, something I never do at goodbyes. 

I never felt more alone than during the summers after I moved. I had my family, whom I love, but with every message or update from my old friends, the knot in my stomach grew tighter. My friends were moving forward with their lives, and I was standing still, stuck in the past.

My mom saw how depressed I became and told me, “Remember that you’re not saying ‘goodbye,’ you’re saying ‘I’ll see you later.’” I did just that. Every friend, acquaintance, boyfriend or teacher got a “see you later.” One of those relationships has lasted throughout the years; everyone else has become a memory in a scrapbook. 

Everything changed when I moved to Guam at 15. I had always been an average student up until that point: Bs and Cs. Sophomore year was a turning point. I was new to the school and didn’t make many friends that year. My mom worked constantly, my dad was deployed again, and my brother was busy with his own life. I had no choice but to focus on school. I quickly became one of the top students in my class, becoming friends with my fellow Advanced Placement sufferers. I was starting to get the hang of things, finally feeling like I fit in.

There was still something missing. I loved to write and always did well in my English classes. Yet, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed direction, like I needed impact. One thing they never tell you about moving around so much is that you develop this need to leave a mark on each place you visit. Some find it in their friends they make or the sights they see. Me? I found it in journalism.

As a way to get a feel for what kind of writing I wanted to do, I joined my school newspaper. I only wrote trashy teen romance novels up to that point, which are to this day one of my biggest guilty pleasures. 

I can still remember my first article. I wrote about a new anti-bullying club at school and how it was going to impact the student body. While seeing my name on a byline in an actual newspaper was a thrilling experience, it wasn’t until people came up to me to comment on my article that something awoke inside me — the impact I was looking for.

Writing fiction fueled my imagination but writing journalism fueled my soul. Not only was I writing something I could make a living from, but something that could also directly impact the lives of other people. I had never experienced such a rush of power and fulfillment. 

I knew from that moment on that no matter where I went, I would always have writing to push me forward yet keep me grounded. Everything in my life has always been up in the air. I never knew whether a “see you later” was actually a concrete “goodbye,” but I finally found the consistency I craved in writing. 

I quickly rose through the ranks at my school paper, nabbing the title of managing editor by the end of my sophomore year. Although I loved editing and helping other students find their passion and stability in reporting, like I had mine, I began to miss writing more and more. 

My teacher threw opinion pieces at me which I happily wrote, but I grew more and more restless as the year went on. I wanted more. I talked to her about how I felt and she introduced me to a local program called VIBE. 

VIBE was an internship run through a local Guam paper. It gave student reporters the chance to become regular contributors to a newspaper out in the real world. I can still remember how excited I was, how I jumped up and down in the newsroom with my teacher when I found out I was accepted into the program. This was my chance to impact an even bigger community, to write again. Throughout my senior year, I wrote about teenage issues, mainly my thoughts on prom and the SATs. While it wasn’t exactly hard hitting, it was my chance to get my foot in the door. 

A few months into my internship, I wrote and thought about one thing: college. Living thousands of miles away from the continental U.S. meant not being able to tour schools. On top of this I still didn’t know where my family was heading next. 

I had my pick of the globe: Would I stay overseas and attend a community college for a few years, or venture out on my own and embrace the unknown? 

I decided to focus on journalism, scrounging through every college match website to try and find the right fit. Eventually, I found my way to Western: a small campus with an excellent journalism program, perfect.

Despite being almost positive about my decision, when my dad’s options for his next duty station came in, I hesitated.

Hawaii or Washington were his options. Fear sunk in as I realized I might spend the next four years an ocean away from my family, alone. I wasn’t ready and I got the feeling they weren’t either. 

Choosing Hawaii meant staying on an island: warm weather and a much less stressful job for my dad, as he wouldn’t have to work on a ship.

Choosing Washington meant a complete change of lifestyle, as none of us had lived in the states for almost a decade. It also meant my dad would be deployed, out at sea during the chilly winter for six months. 

My family had everything to gain moving to Hawaii, but my dad has always been selfless. He pulled through months of deployment and a year of shipwork so I could afford to go to the school of my dreams (with in-state tuition) and remain close to my family. 

My parents bought their first concrete “forever home” in Washington. For the last three years, I’ve attained the stability I always craved. I spend my weekdays in Bellingham pursuing my passion. On the weekends, I travel down to see my parents and my brother who only live a few hours away.

When I think back on all the wonderful places I’ve traveled and lived in, all the amazing things I’ve seen, I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything. For every person I said goodbye to, I’ve grown stronger. 

My dad finally retired. There will be no more chaos, no more missed holidays or birthdays. He will get to see me receive my diploma this year, and I will finally get the typical proud family photo. I reunited with an old friend too. Maddy and I are now roommates after more than five years of long-distance friendship. 

While I’m thankful for the stability, one thing never waivers. The world is ever-changing, and I refuse to stand still. I will always desire to be a part of the craziness and leave my mark. I can thank the military for that.

For more stories like this, check out our Lifestyle section here.

Red roses are a classic Valentine’s Day gift, but they come at a cost.

What are you gifting your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day? A last-minute bouquet of red roses on the drive home from work might seem like the perfect gift, especially if you forgot to plan ahead. However, buying roses in February comes at a cost to the environment.  

Roses grow in warm climates, so most of the red roses you’ll see around town this month were probably grown in Latin America, in countries like Columbia and Ecuador. Many might assume that the cutting of flowers is where the non-eco-friendly factor comes in — much like with chopping down trees for lumber — but that’s not the case. Is it the production on-site? No again. Most of these flower farms employ workers who pick by hand, without industrial harvesting equipment. The real problem lies in the transportation.

To get from Latin America to the States, the flowers are transported by air. Typically, flowers grown in other seasons are transported using passenger planes that would be taking off anyway. But with the seasonal demand, growers must make special shipments. Fun fact: transportation emissions make up 28 percent of the United States’ total greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In past years, during the three weeks before February 14, flight numbers increased so much that an estimated 114 million liters of fuel was burned strictly to deliver flowers. In all, these flights emitted 360,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

The problems don’t stop there. Once the flowers land in Miami, ground transportation delivers them across the county. If you think regular semi-trucks are bad for the environment, wait till you meet these guys. Roses have to be kept cool in order to prevent wilting, so special trucks are outfitted with refrigeration systems. These trucks burn about 25 percent more fuel than regular diesel trucks, which also produce more pollutants than regular gasoline-powered vehicles.

So what can you do? One recent trend is the “slow flower movement.” This movement is a trend of small, locally-owned flower farms that use greenhouses to grow flowers locally. Local greenhouses don’t get hot enough for the timeless red rose, but you can have your pick of early-springtime blooms, such as tulips and narcissus. There are plenty of these slow-grow farms in the area, like Triple Wren Farms (Ferndale), HB Farm (Bow), SUOT Farm and Flowers (Burlington), Floret (Mount Vernon), and many more. You can search more slow-grow farms on SlowFlowers.com.

For more like this, check out our Lifestyle section here.

Four-Legged Fitness Hero

When vets at Bellingham’s Northshore Veterinary Hospital posted a video of the cat Cinder-Block to their Facebook page last October, they never could have imagined the response it would receive. In the video, which has since racked up more than 3.3 million views, Cinder paws at the ground and mews at the camera while sitting half-submerged on an underwater treadmill. “That’s good work!” vet technician Jason Collins exclaims.

The video soon went viral, with outlets like the Washington Post and Time Magazine picking up Cinder’s story. Due to the response, Purina sponsored the cat with a free year of weight loss cat food. In December, People Magazine named Cinder the “Most Reluctant Exerciser” of 2019. Dr. Brita Kiffney, who works with Cinder, attributes the video’s success to the cat’s relatability — who can’t empathize with not wanting to exercise?

“It definitely came out of the blue,” an employee at the vet says about the overwhelming response to Cinder’s videos. “And it definitely gave [Dr. Kiffney] a platform to inform people about obesity in pets.”

On the vet’s Facebook page, employees like Dr. Kiffney post frequent updates on Cinder’s progress, as well as open fan mail. Today, Cinder weighs 20 pounds — about 4 pounds less than several months ago. Still, with a weight goal of 12 pounds, Cinder has a long way to go. Obese pets are subject to a whole host of issues, like pain, arthritis, and decreased lung capacity. The vets at Northshore expect she’ll be at the hospital for another year, before she goes home with receptionist Jan Province. These days, Cinder spends three days per week with Province and the other four at the vet.  

“She’s kind of a mascot for all of us,” Dr. Kiffney says. “”At a vet hospital we can see a lot of sad things and, after a stressful day, if you take five minutes to hang out with Cinder, she really helps to cheer people up.”

Perhaps most importantly, vets at the hospital have used Cinder’s success for good. A GoFundMe in Cinder’s name netted almost $2,500 for pets in need. And for those who still want to lend a hand, all proceeds from Cinder’s merchandise goes toward programs like the Whatcom Humane Society and DVSAS. 

For more like this, check our Wellbeing section here. 

Eat, Drink, Read, Repeat with Life Between the Pages

On a brisk September evening, I headed to Bellingham’s beloved Village Books to experience Life Between the Pages, an exclusive culinary book club hosted by Village Books, Evolve, and a rotating local bar. Each month, co-owner and chef of Evolve Chocolate + Cafe, Christy Fox, whips up a five-course meal inspired by a book. To pair with the meal, a local bartender serves up drinks. Working my way up to the bookstore’s third floor, I was greeted by delicious smells coming from Evolve, where Chef Fox had worked tirelessly to prepare five unique courses for the evening’s meeting. Working with her was mixologist Holly Smith from Galloway’s Cocktail Bar.

Diana, an employee at Village Books, served as moderator for the night, prompting the discussion for the month’s book club pick: “Food of a Younger Land: A Portrait of American Food from the Lost WPA Files” by Mark Kurlansky. Kurlanksy’s book chronicles the food habits of Americans during the Great Depression, an era before fast-food restaurants and chains became staples of American cuisine. In addition to a quirky slice of American history, the book also offers recipes, photographs, and anecdotes.

To start off our literature-inspired dinner, Smith concocted a cocktail called the PNW Trail, featuring Rainier cherry vodka, huckleberry liqueur, and marionberry hopped cider. Citing her inspiration for the drink, Smith told stories of hiking the Pacific Northwest as a child and picking berries along the way. The matching dish was a smoked salmon appetizer, also inspired by local eats.

Up next was the Nor’Easter, a cocktail inspired by the book’s section on Northeast Eats. This less-fruity drink was made with rum, maple syrup, black currant bitters, and an orange twist. While stronger and darker than the previous drink, Smith once again wowed my taste buds. Chef Fox offered up an equally yummy mushroom plate, complete with pickled pumpkin and toasted pepitas.

The third course was titled The Midwest Eats, again taken from the pages of Kurlansky’s book. The Great Lake side cocktail featured gin, tomato coulis, and rosemary oil, topped with a speared aged cheddar. The main entree of the night was a plate of rabbit with a side of perfectly seasoned potatoes.

The fourth course was the perfect bridge between dinner and dessert, inspired by the book’s Southwestern section. The cocktail, dubbed by Smith the Open Sky, featured a unique lavender-infused vodka mixed with rhubarb liqueur, honey, dandelion root, and egg white. The Jonny Cakes, which are similar in appearance to a pancake but made of cornmeal, were topped with squash confit, sheep’s milk feta, and a chili sauce.

The last course was my favorite. As someone who hails from the south, this South Eats section wowed me. Smith’s cocktail, named Soul Sister, was a beautiful mix of 100 percent rye whiskey, cognac, butterscotch schnapps, cream, and peach bitters. Not to be outdone were Chef Fox’s marinated peaches, perched atop an allspice pound cake, served with an exceptional whiskey ice cream.

Although Life Between the Pages is on hiatus for the holiday season, the owners at Evolve plan to revive it come January of 2020. If you’re interested in joining this ever-so-lavish book club, check the Evolve website on December 1 for the month’s book announcement. In the meantime, stop by Evolve to try one of their delicious meals, pick up a new book from Village Books, or go relax with a drink at Galloway’s.


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Big Rock Garden Park

A hidden treasure for art lovers and strolling enthusiasts

Quick Stats

Tucked away in the Silver Beach Neighborhood, you’ll find some of the best gardening and artistry our local community has to offer. While Bellingham is full of public art, Big Rock Garden trails are surrounded by a super-concentrated array of sculptures, painted installments, and hundreds of tree and plant varieties.

If you use a GPS with the Sylvan Street address, you might get sent to the back of the garden where parking isn’t as convenient. I recommend heading to Balsam Lane to secure a spot in front of the entrance. If their main spaces are full, you’re allowed to park along the greenspace on Sylvan Street right outside Balsam. Once you’re parked, head inside the gate. You’ll find a small shack off to the left with information posted about the art pieces and their history.

Big Rock Garden is open to the public and maintained by dedicated volunteers year-round. Each season offers a unique gardenscape experience, as maples, conifers, rhododendrons, and azaleas make their appearance throughout the months.

Stray from the main perimeter trail and meander down different paths in the 2.5-acre sculpture garden. Each turn brings you to a new discovery, from several stone works by local artist Michael Jacobsen to the ornate Korean War Children’s Memorial pavilion completed in 2006.

There are some slopes to the trails, but none so steep that those with mobility aids can’t access the different works. Some paths have rockier terrain than others, so be careful as you explore.

Whether you’re alone, entertaining friends, or just in need of a quiet walk, strolling through Big Rock Garden will satisfy your every need this season.

Recorded address: 2900 Sylvan St., Silver Beach Neighborhood, Bellingham
To find main parking: Balsam Ln., Bellingham


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Private School Breakdown

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