San Juan Island Update

The notes below cover from 11/24/97 to 1/28/98

Scroll down to seen what we've been up to...

posted: January 22, 1998

Well, the big excitement here (you heard it here first) is that tomorrow Friday Harbor High's first newspaper will be delivered to the high school. Yep, the first copies of the Underground will be coming off the ferry tonight for morning dropoff.

The cast of characters that pulled this together is diverse: Editor Elliot Pemberton took a pipedream of an idea ("This school oughta HAVE a paper!") and turned it into begging & getting SJ Schools Foundation money, other donations, Larry Wight to give up half his office as a press room, Peter Fromm to teach photo workshops, Cathy Bordi at FHES to loan her room for layout, students to write stuff - all with the blessing of the school administration.

Major players putting in major time to pull this off: ass't editor Sarah Hartzell & production chief Jennifer Zaehring joined Elliot and local Sounder reporter/editor Ann Carlson in planning the project, organizing writers, learning the tech stuff, and making it happen. It doesn't get any better than this for teamwork...can't wait to see the next issue!

Also: 108-pounder Kim won her first wrestling match last Saturday, while the boys continue their march to State, last week upsetting mighty Concrete before dumping Orcas.

Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce held its first meeting of the year with Island Wine's Dave taking over the presidency from Sandy Hawley, who had a great year last year with the Board. Dave directed a spirited, upbeat, and enthusiastic meeting which was well-received by attendees...

Probably a small thing to you, but Ray at Friday Harbor Grocery was out on the sidewalk resetting that clock on the front of his place with a broom handle. It had gotten about 15 minutes behind due to a power outage or something; it's the one lots of folks look at to figure if they're late for the ferry or not. Thanks, Ray. Timely move.

Cool stuff this weekend: Indoor soccer at the HS (9 - 10:30 women; 10:30 - 12 coed), sports swap & sale at the elementary school (call 'em for details), contra dance at the Grange Saturday night, and of course, the play at the Community Theatre (FHHS' rendering of The Crucible.)

Now that the movie's gonna be made here (see below), reminds me of watching possibly the greatest movie of all time - The Net, with Sandra Bullock - at the Royal Theater here. In the middle of it, as she whizzed through some online stuff, someone to my right whispered "I didn't know you can do that!" while someone off to the left said, "You can't do that!" The part I liked best was how she stayed up all night doing stuff on the Net, eating pizza by the wagon load and drinking Cokes by the bucketful, then goes to the beach looking like she's been on a brown rice diet. Best movie ever. Much better than The Titanic...they didn't even have modems.

Finally, looks like the Town Council's gonna start with a prayer now, as decreed by new Mayor Gary, while ditching the flag salute at noon meetings, which is apt to set off a religious discussion by some as to which is more sacred. Be neat if folks would under-discuss this one in favor of seeing that taking a moment to wish for good things at a meeting is an OK thing to do. Besides, we have lots more pressing stuff to fuss about.

I'd also like to remind the Council that Gandhi's birthday is in October, if they're looking for a good new holiday (full disclosure: this is a minor league lobbying effort.) See how it all turns out.

posted: January 17, 1998

And thus it was settled: Those hearings related to whether or not to have Warner Brothers film their film "Practical Magic" took place Thursday...the Examiner decreed it was OK for filming to proceed, and the folks opposing the use of County Park for this agreed not to appeal the decision.

The fallout: This could lead to a little bit of a financial boom for the mid-wintering island during what's usually a slow season for us. Also, it could & should lead to re-writing the regs and procedures for setting up the applications for permits for using our county parks for commercial stuff. Any discussion that leads us into making decisions about how we take care of this fragile and beautiful place is worth the time and trouble it might take.

Finally, it could be fun...having all the movie types around usually is. Joe Bongiorno was working down at Front Street Pub when the "Free Willy" folks would close the place down a few years back, and it said it was great fun to have them around.

Speaking of celebrity-watch stuff: Rumor (unsubstantiated here, of course - think I'm gonna tell you my sources?) has it Ed Asner was in town last week, and that Bryant Gumble dropped by as well.

On another matter - ever notice how people around here use boat expressions for stuff? Peter Fromm always goes to use the head (that's a bathroom), and just yesterday someone in my computer class at Skagit College said something about "going below' when referring to a basement. And remember: Cleats are not just running shoes, at least not all the time.

Speaking of boats, the Boat Show's going on in Seattle, and a number of people attend, including the good folks from Charters Northwest and Friday Harbor Yachts from down near the harbor. Say howdy to 'em when you visit the Show!

If you're on the island next weekend or the one after, be sure and drop by the Community Theatre and see the FHHS production of "The Crucible." Anyone who has seen director Fred Yockers's drama students can tell you...these kids can act. A couple of years ago, I heard a couple in the crowd in "You Can't Take It With You" whisper, "I thought you said these were high school kids!" They were, of course. Don't miss it. Good time to be had by all.

posted: January 14, 1998

This is a neat deal: Eric Brandt's got a camera pointed at the Harbor (that's the Friday Harbor Harbor, you know, the water) on a webpage that's updated every five minutes. He tells me he'll have Roche Harbor online soon...check it out!

Last night (Tuesday) I watched the ferry with it: it came around the tip of the island near the UW Labs at 10:30pm, docked at 10:35 and unloaded in the 10:40 shot. It was cool. Powered by local ISP Rock Island Internet, which, by the way, has its second anniversary coming up next month - and going strong.

What a couple of days, weather-wise! Last night (Monday) we got a dumping of snow that turned everything white and wonderful. My friend Jack (the guy who runs Lakedale) said he came back to the island on the 6:15 or so ferry and they had to wait 20 minutes to unload while the town's sand trucks sanded Spring Street. Round 6pm or so,I took a walk from the high school (where I had a meeting) down to near Griffin Bay, and it was great - almost no cars on the streets (people around here have uncommon good sense) and all white. It was even more startling later in the evening when the full moon filtered through the clouds and made the snow glow....

Then we had a 45 degree day Tuesday that melted the whole deal. Incredibly windy tonight, and rainy...


Best story in computer class today at Skagit: Barb Starr says she turned her machine on at home, and heard a funny whirring sound in the other part of the room. Discovered that the computer, when on, made son Aaron's remote control car start running in circles. Wondering if her 'puter changes channels or raises garage doors elsewhere in the neighborhood...

Rumor: Beth Phillips says Kirk from the music store may put together another All In The Mix concert of local musicians in May...her husband Tom's wonderful deep-bass voice delivers a ballad on the album.

The FHHS girls basketball team won their game last Saturday against Holy Cross, while the boys are on a roll, winning their last two...things are looking up for the home teams, with a month to go and playoffs on the line.

Meanwhile, the FHHS Drama Group's rendition of The Crucible goes up the 23rd...get your tix now! They do great work!

Remember we mentioned all the people with the same name around here (see below)? There's also Dave Anderson (the FHHS basketball coach) and Dave Anderson the realtor, as well as Tom Pemberton (Elliot and Allison's dad) and sculptor Tom Pemberton.

Did you hear Dodie's retired at the elementary school? She was probably the one you heard answering the phone for the last 20 years - her smile and cheerful take on life will be much missed, as she settles into looking after her bed and breakfast with Burr.

posted: January 8, 1998

Cold and gray with clearing skies and kinda warm but chilly: this week so far, we've had hail and snow (both melted), with some rain and blue skies, and frozen spots on the streets and a little sun. Little of everything, and there's more ahead.

Are most islands this way? Seems there's always someone who's got the time to help with moving your wood, who'll lean up and visit with you while you have your head under the hood of your computer (especially if it's a Mac), and who has an opinion about everything. Phill Jackson writes a usually thought-provoking column for an online paper you might want to check out (you gotta love someone who talks about the Seattle papers as mental styrofoam). His latest column touches on the possibilities of a new structuring of online charges, and deserves some attention.

Local innkeeper Steve Demerest (Friday's Inn) has worked himself into something of an expert on how to market bed and breakfasts on the Internet. Check out his tips and suggestions, plus a book you can buy from him about Net marketing for your place. He's been getting reviewed, and has been invited this week and next to speak at marketing conferences in Virginia and New Orleans.

And the envelope, please: Chris Watling tells me Roche Harbor Resort has been named (actually a couple of months ago, which it says on their web page) Resort of the Year for 1997 by industry publication Marina Dock Age, read by over 15,000 marina-running people.

Newspaper says the movie hoorah (see below for more details) will be settled by the 15th, when the appeals are reviewed and a decision entered. Stay tuned. Possible appeals to the appeals could stretch this thing...


posted: January 5, 1998

The island woke up to a dusting of snow yesterday - maybe a couple of inches - that was melted into submission by noon. While snow here is not unheard of, it's less common that it stays long. It was about a year ago at the grocery store that I heard someone say, "It never snows around here!" Boom! We ended up with about four feet or more right after Christmas last year.

Ran into my cousin-in-law Bill last week on a quick trip to his Tennessee farm: he mentioned one of his favorite authors was Lee Sturdivant, who, of course, is a Friday Harbor denizen. Her self-published books about gardening as a business are nearing 50,000 sales, due, in part, to Bill's buying Flowers For Sale. Lee also has a new book coming out early this year....Meanwhile, at the Tennessee Aquarium, people kept asking me where The Whale Museum is, as I was wearing the Whale Museum sweatshirt I got as a holiday present.

On the ferry Saturday night, I visited for a moment with Kim, FHHS's girl wrestler and famous soccer player (although more famous, perhaps, for her feats on the mat). The team was coming back from a tournament at Nooksack Valley - she has yet to win this year, but took her opponent to three rounds this last time out. Mary the Bus Driver has seen her in most of her away matches (the team plays all but two matches away) and says she's really improved.

Not all the webpages from around here are tourist-related: a compelling and thoughtful one you might check out is Facing the Future: People and the Planet. It's an easy-to-read, easy-to-understand review of what the world's going to look like if we don't address the problems introduced by population issues. Another: The American Conifer Society's page has received recognition from all over the world - it's looked after by former Western Region President Lee Campbell here on the island.

posted: December 26, 1997

Back to normal...cold, and grey and slow, with parking places in the streets and friends in the grocery store. Ahh...back to our usual, slow-paced, who's-in-a-rush? way of doing things.

posted: December 24, 1997

This happened at the bagel place next to the ferry: There was a kid in front of me, perhaps six or seven, who got some orange juice with his mom. She handed it to him while she asked for some cranberry bagels (good choice, by the way), and he twisted the top off and asked her what it said under the cap. She looked at it, and read, "Thanks for playing. Try again soon." So he put it back on the bottle, screwed it on, unscrewed it, handed it to his mom and said, "Can you read this?"


Now that the solstice has kicked in, the days are getting longer...all right! Planning the garden already....


A sad passing: Kirk's packing up Mellowoods Music at the end of the month after a good strong run. He's staying around town to do woodworking and instrument repair, and of course to sing with any and everybody, as he always has.


Could the world get any smaller? The Cape San Juan Penders are in Britain, Friday Harbor Realty's Linda McMahon's daughter Natalie is in Turkey, just got a e-note from Amber Peterman in Italy, Nancy and Dave at the Toy Box are gearing up for a trip to Taiwan. I, myself, am going to Lopez Island tomorrow....


Not an island story, but we were in the picture: When the Apollo 8 astronauts circled the moon back around this time in 1968, poet Archibald MacLiesh took the occasion to write:

"To see the Earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold -- brothers who know now they are truly brothers." (quote courtesy: Discover magazine, 5/97)

posted: December 22, 1997

Did you know Peter Fromm has sold 6000 of his Whale Tales books? Peter self-published the book a couple of falls ago, and has been to Nebraska, North Dakota, Homer, Alaska, California, and up the street hawkin' 'em. Six K may not sound like a a lot if you're used to NY Times Bestseller numbers, but this one's homegrown and most of 'em are signed by the author.

The premise of the book: Peter noticed that whenever people talk about the time they got close to a whale, others would stop to listen. So, he wrote down the stories. He's currently at work on Volume 2. Got a story?


Amahl was great, by the way. Wonderful job by everyone, and Roy Cope for pulling it all together.


Things are settling down here on the island, with people hustling around for last-minute stuff before the stores close. Pretty busy was fun to go to ET for coffee the other night at about ten and see Kathleen Wilson with her mom in the truck. They had been out looking at the lights; that's the time Mrs. Wilson likes to see 'em.


That reminds me -- is there anywhere in the world with so many people with the same name that are unrelated? There's Mike Greene (the computer/internet guy, and the diesel car-fixing guy), the two Jim Skoogs (the anti-jet ski one, and the pro-movie Friday Harbor House one), a Mark Billington or two, only one Larry Greene, but there's another on Lopez, couple of Bob Joneses. Of course, there's always an occasional father-son thing, like the Sam Bucks. It's a sign of the sychronicity of the island.


Heard that the town looks great from the ferry, at night with all the lights.


Is there any place this size with four great bookstores? You can't go wrong, whether you visit Griffin Bay Books, Harbor Books, Boardwalk Books, or the folks at Serendipity. Shoot, the library's one of the best places around, too - always full of folks checking out the new books, new videos and CD-ROMs, and hanging around the kids' section. It's great to live on an island, but even better to live on a literate one.

posted: December 19, 1997

And the break is upon us: all the kids in school are ready for it, the teachers are ready for it, the parents are ready for it. THAT's when it feels like the holiday season is here - when school's out. And...with the solstice this weekend, the days will begin to lengthen...whew!

Big deal around here: the drawing for that $1000 shopping deal (sponsored by the Chamber and the Journal) was held last night - guy who won it is the guy who works for the ferry and wears shorts all year. You know.

Town remains lit up something amazing. Seattle news made a story up about it and put it on TV last night, I heard. Must be a slow news day there...crime rate down, or something.

Speaking of lit up: The Fabulous Rhthymatics are playing at China Pearl this weekend. Sure they have have their own webpage; all the big acts do. Catch 'em if you can...playing workin' people's music. Local boys make good.

Hard times for basketball: the FHHS boys just lost to Concrete (told you we play hard) to even their season at 3-3 going into the break after tonight's game at Darrington; the girls beat Lopez last week for their first win. After tonight's action, both teams take a break till after the new year.

posted: December 15, 1997

Whoa! Did you hear about it? Some of the kids at the high school have pooled resources with Sounder writer Ann Carlson, begged a little dough, and have been meeting since October to plan a school newspaper. Led by Wolverine QB Elliot Pemberton and editor-designate Sarah Hartzell, the staff hopes to have the first issue to press in mid-January.

What a day here on the island! Started (for me) at 2:30am, when I woke up and thought it was morning because the full moon was so bright. Then that wind kicked in, in the early morning, which was good for branches in the street, whitecaps out over Griffin Bay, and a rocky ride on the Hiyu (our little ferry-that-could). Rain at noon, clearing this afternoon...we had it all. It was great. Who needs TV?

Next week it's the Return of the Native as all our college-bound friends take a break and come home to see that nothing's really changed but them. Saw a few on the street today already....

Speakin' of which: Heard that Maddie down at San Juan Coffee Roasting Company went to see the Stones in Seattle 'round Thanksgiving...ask her about it when you see her when she comes home from college.

Congrats at last week's Chamber of Commerce Holiday Party to new CoC Board members Brenda Larson (of SJ Real Estate - she energetically chaired last year's Fourth of July Parade mafia, and promises to again next year), Larry Talbott (of the sheriff's dept. and SJ Septic), and Suzy Wilson (graphic designer for Suzy Wilson Designs). Kudos, too, to Blair House's Bob Pittman for pushing the Holiday Lights Contest, and really lighting up the town -- looks great!

Speaking of newbies: island babies are on the way! Chris at Printonyx is due next summer, Suzy Wilson will add momming to her Chamber duties come April or so, Mary (waitress at Roche -- saw her on the ferry last week) is due anytime, and Elvira's got a kid coming next month, too.

THIS is the week: Amahl and the Night Visitors at the Community Theatre...Friday through Sunday. Be there. Get your tix now.

posted: December 11, 1997

The result's not as interesting as the fact that it happened: FHHS wrestler Kim Wargo, late of the girls' soccer squad, wrestled in her first home match yesterday, losing by a pin in the 108-pound class. Anybody who saw Kim during soccer season knows she's tough, and not afraid to take on challenges.

The movie saga continues: The County OK'd production for that Warner Bros. movie (see below); now we'll see what effect appeals to the decision have. Although the estimated financial impact of the project on our wintering island has been guessed at maybe as much as $1.5 million, it'll certainly be greater if it happens than if it doesn't.

Have you been down to see the new passenger terminal at Spring Street Landing?

Next couple of Thursdays, shops in town'll be open till 9pm for your shopping convenience. Get out and enjoy the lights as well....

Nothing to do on the island: Couple of months ago a friend of mine who lives out Roche Harbor Road said he woke up one Sunday morning, dressed, and went out and stood next to his barn, adding up some 17 projects he needed to get done that day. As he plotted his day, a couple of biking visitors rolled by; he heard the man say, "Would you want live here, honey?" to which she replied, "No way! There's nothing to do!"

I thought about that this weekend as my boys and I went to the mainland (on the redeye - that's 6am - ferry, where we visit friends all the way over) to get our computer from the repair shop, shop for some candle supplies, then hustle back (on the 1:20) to make the FHES PTA auction, see a preview of Amahl and the Night Visitors, catch all but six minutes of the FHHS girls basketball game (they lost to a tough St.George's team, but played hard), go to the thrift store to check out the new clothes, then go home to work on our candles, make dinner for my wife before she came home from her meeting, and read three books and practice piano before dinner. In short, nothing to do.

Gotta love it.

posted: December 8, 1997

After a week of sunny days, it seems to be getting a little colder since the weekend...although the solstice is still a couple of weeks away, the days already seem pretty short: the sun rises just before eight, and sets just after four.

Big excitement around here is the decorating contest amongst the businesses in town. Unofficial results: Grand prize went to the Guard Street Bldg., with the Spring Tree Restaurant, the Clay Cafe, Serendipity Books, and Downrigger's sharing first through fourth places. Town is really lit up! A lot of folks got into the decorating mood, so there's lights everywhere - very bright and cheerful!

Speaking of lights going on, they also go off. Lights were off last Friday on the other side of town for part of the day...making folks wonder if that construction at the corner of Blair and Spring Street hit another line.

Lighted Boat Parade is this weekend (13th) in the Harbor, on Saturday, with the arrival of the Santa Ship right after.

Did you know there's a big Diving Conference being planned for here in March? The folks at Emerald Seas have all the details. Make your plans now!

Big Holiday Party at the Sustainable Tech Center Tuesday night at 5:30, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce...everybody's welcome, members and members-to-be!

Got your tickets for Amahl and the Night Vistors yet? It's at the Theatre Dec. 19-21, hopefully with you in the audience.

posted: December 1, 1997

Pleasant Thanksgiving weekend here on the island...the weather was dodging in and out, with a bunch of rain and wind mixed with occasional sunbursts. Lots of family and other visitors to the island...reminds me of the the local paper in the 1950s running a whole half page about who was visiting the island that week. Most weeks that would be much more interesting than national news anyway....

High school basketball gets underway this week at FHHS...forget about saying there's nothing to do when there's a game to see.


The movie-in-the-park drama continues (see below)...opponents to the movie may scuttle the whole deal by appealing the decision to allow it, which would stretch the production time to where the movie couldn't happen. Negotiations continue...

In the street, most folks I've talked to don't seem to mind much using the park to shoot movies...left undiscussed is the ongoing role of the County in leasing public property for commercial ventures. Also left undiscussed (or underdiscussed) is the County's need for funds for park upkeep, which currently come from user fees alone. While the result of all this remains to be seen...the need for civility in the discourse also remains. Whether the movie people come or not, we'll still all be here with each other...we need bridges built, not burned.


Holiday shopping: Meanwhile, Friday Harbor shops will be open till 9pm this Thursday evening (the 4th) - be sure and take this chance to keep your shopping local!

Other holiday deals: The lighted boat parade next weekend (the 13th), and the one I'm looking forward to: Amahl and the Night Visitors, an hour long opera in English at the Community Theatre from the 19th - 21st. A lot of friends are in it, and they tell me it's gonna be great.

posted: November 24, 1997

Just a week left for Mr. Roberts at the community theater - wraps up the weekend after Thanksgiving. If you haven't seen it yet, get on it.


The whales finally left Dyes Inlet - about half of L-pod was there for an orca retreat or something, hanging around for nearly a month down there near Bremerton (they usually don't do that!). The Whale Museum has more details, but it looks like they got full of salmon and left.


Big hoorah about the filming of a Warner Bros. movie here early next year...there's a community meeting to review the BOCC (that's the Commissioners to you) decision to let 'em come take over the County Park on the west side so they can shoot their flick before next summer. The meeting's on Tuesday (the 25th)...not sure when. Ask around town if you're going.


Sure it's a week old, but we're still talking about it around here: our FHHS volleyball girls went to state for the first time in a decade, and football scored over 100 points in the two games before they got bounced out of the state playoffs by Lynden Christian, 26-0 last week.

Meanwhile, the Wolverine Women Soccer honors were announced: MVP (overall and on offense) Shaina Sekey and Defensive MVP Kristen Bull were cited, while Allison Pemberton's attitude and hustle got her the Coach's award. The team itself received a Distinguished Award for its overall 3.49 GPA (team average for first quarter.)

You're planning ahead, aren't you? If you're planning to return to the island on the ferry next Sunday after the holiday, remember everyone else is, too.

No reason to shop anywhere else...check out the stuff at FHHS this Friday & Saturday (Artisans Crafts Faire) and in town's shops and stores. Buy local! Mail it all over the world, but buy local!

Other places with info about the island:

San Juan Island: The Web Directory

Everything. Simply everything about the island.

The San Juan Island Chamber of Commerce.

Pretty complete site about the island.

The Journal's Site

Includes news and classifieds!


The camera's pointed at Roche Harbor and Friday Harbor.
Updated every five minutes.


Return to the Web Directory...


This site prepared by our friends at By Design in Friday Harbor.