Monday, January 14, 2013


This blog is being consolidated with others into our Web site Please go there to follow our future posts.

Thanks for your past attention.

Ruth and Al 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Emergency Preparedness

Anne Isenhart, a volunteer with the speakers' bureau of the Mt. Baker Chapter of the Red Cross outlined the Be Red Cross Ready program for disasters and other emergencies at the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce November 20th meeting.

She listed the essential three steps of the program:

  1. Get a kit - water, food, radio, first aid kit, medications, multipurpose tool, sanitation and person hygiene items, copies of essential documents, important contact information, extra cash, emergency blanket, change of clothing, map and additional items pertinent to individual circumstances.
  2. Make a plan - identify individual responsibilities, chose places to meet, select an out-of-state contact person, where and how to evacuate, and schedule practice. 
  3. Be informed - Learn what disasters or emergencies might occur, identify how information is communicated, know what actions to take, share what you have learned with family and neighbors. get emergency contact cards for all household members.

For more information visit

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Political Activism

If you've been reading the COMING UP calender of the Northern Light or your neighborhood utility pole, you know that we've been promoting progressive people for office–see our other blog:

First Congressional District candidate Suzan DelBene, with one of the event organizers, Ruth Higgins, thanks residents for their interest in her campaign, October 28, 2012 at Via Birch Bay Cafe and Bistro.   Photo by Al Krause

In earlier times, the leaders of our community organized forums where voters could see and hear opposing candidates present their views.

If you're still looking for information on the 42nd district state legislature candidates, John Stark at the Bellingham Herald wrote two excellent articles comparing Natalie McClendon (October 21) and Matt Krogh (October 22) with their competitors. You can find these articles on the Herald's site. Go to the search window to the right at the top of their online masthead.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fish and Chips at VIA Birch Bay Cafe and Bistro

VIA Birch Bay Cafe and Bistro, the only property on the water side of central Birch Bay Drive, recently opened for business under the experienced eye of Mr. Yoon Oh. This genial and optimistic restauranteur welcomes patrons with a warm handshake and cheerful smile. He offers us boat-side service if we ever paddle up in our kayak.

VIA Birch Bay Cafe and Bistro
  Mr. Oh tells us that, because of his shoreline location, multiple county and state restrictions limit what he could and could not do when renovating the space for his new restaurant.

View of Birch Bay from VIA
       The main improvement was replacing the musty old carpeting with an appealing hardwood floor. And, of course, the exterior Ivory Palace paint that erased the former dull brown. The dining area, bar and espresso counter offer amazing views of the bay, ever changing with the weather and the tide level. 
This is the second in our “Who has the best fish and chips in Birch Bay?” series. We order their cod and Al has chips and coleslaw, which come standard, with his; Ruth requests a substitute garden salad ($10.00 each - Mr. Oh does not fool around with .99 prices). We also spring for a shared appetizer of pick ‘n peel shrimp ($8.00). 

Farren, our wait person, is a model customer-service person--as is Steve, the manager on duty. 

       Water and wine (a couple of crisp Barefoot Pinot Grigios–$5.00 each) keep us occupied while we wait for the appetizer. In less than ten minutes, the succulent shrimp hit our table. They with the cocktail sauce are sensational.

Succulent shrimp
         Many of the staff are familiar to Birch Bay patrons from their previous service at the former CJ’s Beachhouse.   

Scrumptious fish with fries
Scrumptious fish with salad
When the entrees arrive, the fish batter is crisp and brown, cooked  throughout,  The cod is moist and scrumptious. The platter comes with a lemon wedge and we request malt vinegar.

The food is fine and upcoming events at VIA include Hallowe’en, New Years Eve and New Years Day Parties.  (Oh yes, see for an October 28 Conversation with Congressional Candidate Suzan 

Our conclusion is that VIA is a positive addition to the food establishments of Birch Bay.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sampling Fish and Chips at Shores

Shores, located in Birch Bay's Sandcastle Resort, is a family restaurant/sports bar. That makes for a mixed dynamic: sporadically raucous team fans competeing with youngsters who have neglected to leave their “outside voices” at the door.

Here to test their claim as, “The Best Fish and Chips in Birch Bay,” we order their cod offering, leaving the halibut choice for another time. Al has chips and coleslaw that comes standard; Ruth requests a substitute garden salad ($11.99). Christine, our perky and cheerful waitperson, is attentive and knowledgeable.
Water and wine (a refreshing 14 Hands Pinot Grigio in a generous six ounce pour–$6.00 each) keep us occupied while we wait for the kitchen to catch up with the less-than-over-whelming demands. We scan the spacious room where bright green and blue wooden chairs contrast with the mahogany booths and chairs. At least eight television sets keep the home-town crowd entranced as the Seattle Seahawks best the Carolina Panthers.

Out bountiful platters arrive with two large portions of fish and healthy serving of chips and coleslaw and salad. The fish batter is crisp and browned on the outside, while slightly gummy on the inside. The cod is ideal, cooked not too much nor too little. The platter comes with a lemon wedge to complement the malt vinegar and ketchup available on the table.

Shores does not have a declared splitting policy, but Christine assured us we could order one serving and she would provide an extra plate and tartar sauce.

Because it is hard to check out the cleanliness of the kitchen, Ruth has always depended on the restroom as a measure of the overall sanitary practices. This one is clean and bright. As in many other places these days, the former hand-soap dispenser holes gape out of the counter; the soap is now dispensed by a motion-sensor wall device. Motion activated units also dispense paper towels. Al described the men's room as adequately suppled and clean, although it would not make Achitectural Digest.

Patrons enjoy the panoramic bay view from the deck on this sunny October Sunday as well as from indoors.

We relished our take-home portions the next day. Now the dilemma will be whether we split an order in the future or anticipate a second serving.