Only on Vashon – The Weekly Rundown 06-04-2023

We have lost animals this week. We start with this post about a duckling. 

“Does anyone know what to do if a baby duck found on the street seems lost? Uptown area.”

What should you do? You’ve been blessed by a duck! Take it home and it will grant you three wishes, provided you wish for duck poop three times.

Speaking of lost birds, someone found this beauty and posted, “Is anyone missing this lovely bird? Very friendly, saved from traffic, obviously someone’s pet. It can fly, but would rather walk up to people.

It leads to this epic story of courage and adventure: 

“We once had a pigeon land in our yard. It was banded. I was able to track down the owner via Google searches using the numbers on the bands. Turns out it was a racing pigeon released in Northern California with several others for a race back home to Washington. In this case, Arlington. When I contacted the owner, he said to make sure it had water and a “way out” and likely had blown off course in a storm or just tuckered out and resting. The pigeon was gone the next morning and the owner called to say it had returned to the coop. Good luck!!”

We have a lead, “ it could be from a place in Burien that releases pigeons for weddings etc. I did find one from them before.”

Nothing says romance quite  like setting a bunch of birds free into the world to get lost in traffic. 

Summer is in the air, the school year is coming to an end, and nothing says fun in the sun quite like stealing road signs and dumping them at the beach.  We have this post: “Welcome to beautiful Tramp Harbor/Ellisport, a lovely place for people to sit and look out over the beach.”

Someone says, “everything has gone downhill since the mischief hotline shut down.”

Wait, wait, back up. There was a mischief hotline? Like, you called a number and reported people for spray painting phalluses on the port-o-potty or coaxing goats onto the school roof?  Or as one islander suggests, “there  was a party line you could call to find out where the mischief was?!?! SuhWeet”

What happened to the mischief hotline? We have this report: “It was posted on a billboard, until mischief ran off with the billboard.”

The best part is recognizing the signs. One person notes, “Is that the green sign from the south end ferry lane that we use to gauge if we’ll make the boat? 100% this is a prank.” Now if you see the sign, you definitely won’t make it on the ferry boat. 

Next, we have a story close to my heart. Let me give you some background. 

I went to the grocery store and bought sunscreen. I bought a brand that my husband had bought before, because I know he’s anal thoughtful about the ingredients in sunscreen. 

But when he read the label, he informed me that, although it doesn’t have the one ingredient I know to avoid, it does have two very similar chemicals that are banned in Hawaii and perhaps also by the Geneva Convention. The chemicals are hormone disruptors for humans and, for an added bonus, they’re bad for coral reefs. I agreed not to use the sunscreen, and said I would return it to the grocery store. 

And here’s where the conflict comes in. He thinks we should throw it out so no one else buys it and comes to harm. I think we should return it so the store knows it’s not a wanted product and doesn’t sell more of it. Right now, from the store’s perspective, that’s a unit sold that they need to restock. If we return it, then that’s one less unit they order. (Also, I would get my $13 back.) But my husband thinks that by putting that bottle on the shelf, someone will buy it, and that very bottle will cause harm that we could have stopped. Like, if you found a live grenade in the grocery store, would you put it back on the shelf? (Yes, specifically on the jello shelf. ) 

Now the sunscreen is wrapped in a receipt in the car, waiting either for me to have the energy and wherewithal to return it, or for my husband to realize it’s in the passenger-side door and chuck it. 

So all of this is backstory to explain this rant, written by my beloved: “I recognize we’re not surrounded by coral reefs. Still it would be nice if we didn’t sell sunscreen that could harm them, like this neutrogena sunscreen purchased at Thriftway.”

So how do islanders weigh in on this deeply personal matter? 

One says, “This is my go to product. I for one don’t get in the water and there are plenty of reef safe choices for those who do get in the water. 😀

To which someone responds, “No offense, that’s kind of gross that you don’t even bathe. Js. No offense. (ew).” 

Wait, are we supposed to be wearing sunscreen in the bathtub? 

Others aren’t concerned. One said, “Guess I will have to rethink that sunscreen booth next to the coral reefs we have around here.”

Though one knowledgeable islander points out, “For those of you who don’t know, we DO have reefs in Puget Sound. Including an artificial one installed for Rock fish conservation off of KVI:”

Then there’s a discussion about what the scientific evidence is, how many parts per million of the molecule are needed to bleach a coral, and if it’s really dangerous or not. I’m not reading all the links. I would rather get a second degree sunburn than read those links. 

Most commenters seem to agree with my husband. One says, “When we know there are alternative products that cause no harm, why do we continue to make and use the harmful ones? “

Another says, “I know nothing about sunscreen, but will check out ingredients on mine. Our waters have precious kelp and seaweed which are as important environ mentally as coral reefs. I think this is more worthy of our attention since it is a significant part of our ecosystem.”

And we have the inevitable comment that every rant must get, like a rite of passage: “Oh for gosh sake! Some people need more important things to do with their time.”

Judging by these types of comments, the only thing these commenters think is worthy of someone’s time is policing other people’s concerns and scolding them for their priorities. 

The commenter then says, without any sense of the profound irony of their  words,  “We have turned into an age of busy bodies and other people time managers. Live and let live.”

Then they add, “ Stop wasting your lifespan looking for devils in everything you buy.” 

I hate to say it, but I get where he’s coming from, though for a totally different reason. I, for one, have nothing better to do with my time than looking for devils, I just don’t like reading labels and researching products. I don’t even like shopping. 

In fact, this  issue with the sunscreen is a manifestation of a difference between how my husband shops and how I shop. I write a list of the things I need and arrange the list in the order the items appear in Thriftway. I go to the store, go down only the aisles I need, grab the cheapest version of whatever products I’m buying, and am out in under 15 minutes. My husband moseys down each aisle, reading all the labels, comparing, discussing how our lives would be changed if we incorporated a particular salad dressing or ladle or whatever into our routines. He reminisces on the previous times we had Ragu versus homemade pasta sauce, and asks us to consider, to take time and deeply consider, which choice would be best for us. 

So I totally get not thinking too hard about what you buy. However, I’m aware that government regulations of chemicals and consumer products in America can be quite lax, and as a consumer you have to be wary and informed. I’m just too weary to be wary and informed. 

Finally, a very important election is coming up. That’s right, in just a few short weeks, we will choose our next unofficial mayor. Here is the current leaderboard. 

How on earth has that precious puppy at the bottom garnered 0 votes so far? I mean, even GoodSpaceGuy gets more votes than that. I am hereby endorsing that super cute dog. Also the other dog. And the pig. I’m rooting for a 7-way tie. 

Anna Shomsky
Author: Anna Shomsky

I'm a former teacher and a data engineer living on Vashon Island. My writing has appeared in Five on the Fifth, Women on Writing and on the Post-Culture Podcast. I wrote and produced the radio show Whispers of Vashon for 101.9 KVSH. I’ve had short stories published in the anthologies Island Stories and Chicken Scratchings, as well as through the Open Space Literary Project.

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