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Friday Harbor - San Juan Island Update

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prepared weekly or so by Ian Byington if anything happens around here
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August 5, 2002

Today, tomorrow: Just got a note from Susea McGearhart that Tami Oldham Ashcraft will be on the Today Show in the morning (Tuesday) discussing her book, Red Sky in Mourning.

Another local author makes good!


August 3, 2002

Books sold: Gotta love it - the Library's annual book sale last weekend was its usual awesome self, with a gymfull of books, a ton of people, and much quieter week on the island as everyone settled down to read for the rest of the week.

Because of the construction stuff at the grade school, the sale was held in the gym at the high school for the first time in a long while (right), and it was a good thing: it was pretty crowded.

By the way, Principal Carolyn at the elementary school says that the mold-removal project at FHES is going well, and school should open on time just fine. That's why the sale was held at the high school this year instead.

Events of the day: Perhaps you heard Tina Fisher and Bruce Robinson got married last month, and that former Friday Harbor House boss Tori Zehner had her twins last week...meanwhile, expectant moms Stacey from Haley's, Kim from Coldwell Banker, and art teacher Leisha Holmes all are due at the end of this month or the first part of September.

Have you been to the music at the Port that's been going on all this summer? It's at the little park near the Port office at the marina...they have open mike from 12:30 till 1:30pm, then bands till 4pm. Cynthia Elliot (and Gordon and Dan Paulson) tells me they're the band tomorrow, which makes me want to go listen. Drop by.

Another fire: There's been an outpouring of support for Bill & Nancy Thomas, whose house burned down last week, including a benefit thingie at Herb's this weekend. Stephanie Picconi tells me they're doing OK, and dealing with the loss well.

Quote: The Miss Universe pageant must be fixed, because the winner is always from Earth. (Dale Jenkins, Ruminations)

(Click here for a bigger version of the boat picture to the right, by Olivia Freeman.)

Boating: My friend Mary Kate tells me she and her partner Ken went fishing last week, but the boat was surrounded by orcas, who kept hanging around & scaring off all the fish, or eating 'em.

She said at that point they were boating, they were not fishing.

Election selections detected: I called Christine Friday over at the Elections Department to see who's running for what, because I wanted to scoop all the papers & online guys, but then I forgot to upload this report.

Told you this was a laid back town. Or at least a laid back election season. At least, for me.

Anyway, here's the folks who are running:

  • County Commissioner from Lopez/Shaw - Rhea Y. Miller (D) will be opposed by LuLu Johnson, Gary Franco, and David Anderson (all R's).
  • Assessor - Paul G. Dossett (R) will be challenged by Dylan Stephens (D)
  • Auditor - Elections maven & Democrat Sandy Baxter will make her first run for the office Republican Si Stephens has held for years...Si currently oversees the Elections Department, so I'd think there's a question about who's gonna run the balloting.
  • District Court Judge - Stewart R. Andrew tries for another four years, with Frank LaSalata running against him.
  • Democrats Jeff Asher and Bill Cumming will settle things in the September 17 primary in the sheriff's race...all the other races except the Republican run for Rhea's seat will be attended to in November.
  • The other incumbents are unopposed....I think.

The hills are alive: Over at the Community Theatre, things are happening, as RuthE checks in:

Hi, Ian! I'm attaching information on two events coming up at the Theatre.

This weekend, we're presenting an opera-in-a-nutshell (that is, all of the
story and none of the arias) with a sparkling young cast. Mozart's "Cosi
fan tutte" (women are like that) is a story of young lovers, and the cast
includes to fresh faces from Friday Harbor High School (Gretchen Wilhelm
and Julie Geiser), two seniors from Western Washington University, and a
dozen more local folks. This is a perfect beginner opera, both for
audiences as well as singers, with gorgeous music throughout.

Next weekend, Uzume Taiko brings their energetic show to our stage. It's
part jam session, part martial arts, and completely mesmerizing. A cadre
of local drummers will be jamming on the sidewalk before the show to help
"drum" up interest. Stop by and see them!



The heart of art: Island Rec's Sally Kerr tells me the Camp Eagle Rock kids have prepared a beautiful mural to odorn that place out front of where the fire was in will unveiled on Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, one of the things they did at Camp this week was to do experiments about eggs & what happens when you drop 'em. Each kid got an egg and could package it however they thought best so it would survive a fall...from a couple of feet, from the truck, from the top of Ace Hardware, and finally, from an airplane (Camp Director Dawn got FAA approval.)

Kids came up with schemes that offered varying dgrees of success, including the Ace drop, but Sally hadn't heard how the plane drop - into the Guard's field - turned out.

We'll keep you posted. Egg-zactly.

Last Twelfth Night: It's tonight. Don't miss it, or you'll be sorry.

Which reminds me - it was cool when I went a couple of weeks ago to run into a woman named Julie, who reads this all the time, and comes to the island each summer. She came up & introduced herself at the play. Great to meet her & her daughter, and glad someone's reading this.

More theatre plans: Oh, yeah, RuthE sent me another note about something to plan for:

Ian -- Your "Update" readers might be interested in a couple of
opportunities coming up at the Theatre.

On Aug. 19 -- following her Aug. 18 concert -- Kathy Chiavola will offer a
vocal master class (covering all styles). Kathy is classically trained,
and is a successful bluegrass recording artist. Plus, she's gorgeous -- I
can forward a beautiful color photo, if you want, or you could direct
readers to our web site:

Another study opportunity for local stage directors is our first guest
director in the Andrew V. MacLagen Director's Lab project. Claude Giroux
will be in town Aug. 25 to meet prospective workshop participants, as well
as actors who wish to read for the fall play (which Giroux will direct).

Both items are newsworthy *now,* as people need a little advance notice to
clear their schedules in order to take advantage of the
opportunity. Details (essentially, these release) for both are posted on
our web site under the Announcements section.

July 23, 2002

Roche Harbor & art: It was neat to run into Rachel (right) the other day at the place next to the garden where artists set up & sell their work. She drew a likeness of Cameron (also right) that turned out pretty well. Rachel returns to art school's last year in Baltimore, but judging by how her work turned out, I'm not sure what they'll teach her - she's already pretty good. If she looks familiar, that's because you've seen her at Felicitations some mornings...

Hostel baby: You know Paul & Andy who run the Wayfarer's Rest hostel - they delivered their first baby about three weeks back - his name's Jack, and he's doing well, thank you. Mom & Dad are doing fine, too.

Get out: Perfect weather over the weekend, eh? It was cool in the evening & pleasant in the day...looks like it'll be nice this week, too.

If you're off-island, book yourself to visit soon.

Speaking of books: This weekend it's the Friends of the Library's Annual Book Sale on Friday and Saturday. The event's been moved to the high school's gym (probably because they're working on the mold-removal project at the elementary school). They get rid of - for incredible prices - tons of used books & out-of-circulation stuff. If you haven't been before, you're really missing out.

Be there now.

In other library news, the summer reading program continues apace, with new stuff every week (like Magic Charlie the basketball whiz a couple of weeks ago (below). Drop by this week and see what librarian Laura Tretter has going on - everyone else is. And quit saying there's nothing to do around here, willya?


Dogs: I heard over the weekend that Kathryn at the Wine Shop's great black lab Beulah passed away last week, and that Catspaw's Kathy Farron's Clipper also died. It's hard to lose a friend....

Stage Left scores again: The boys and I went to see Stage Left's Twelfth Night on Friday and let me tell you - it was wonderful.

Cameni Williams was a delightfully nuanced Olivia, while it was cool to see Tyler Ryan back from college on stage here on the island again. Kate as Viola was charming (remember her as Peter Pan a few years back?), while Dan Mayes redfined Malvolio & his yellow socks. And yes, Daniel Finn can sing...and act. Then there's the ever-roguish Ken Surratt as Sir Toby. Great show.

Funny, poignant, and very well acted and directed....make sure you don't miss it or MacBeth (reprised from April's run) in the next few weeks.

Shakespeare, well-done, and the stars out... be there.

Music on that lawn: Island Rec's irrepressible Sally Kerr has set up a winner this summer with the Music on the Lawn series each Wednesday night over at the Historical Museum. Check the schedule and take a blanket and some chow and get over there this week. See ya there.

Get physical: I hear the Medical Center is offering $35 sports physicals July 30th/31st. 6-8pm. No appointment necessary. First come, first serve kinda thing. High school kids - get yours now!

Or, you can get it taken care of at HealthCare Associates the next week - here's the San Juan Islander write-up.

Moyer moves: You know Mike who works at Moyer's Jewelry, just down from the Theater? (He used to own Vic's....) He tells me (and Leigh Freeman confirmed) that Betty Moyer will be moving out from that spot this fall (to a yet-unfound place), and that ReMax will be re-locating to that spot at that time.

It'll look like real estate row when you go up Spring Street....

Which reminds me - back when Darrel Kile died and folks were talking about how his parents ran the Donut Shop back in the early '90s, someone who will remain unnamed told me that Moyer's was related to Mariner pitcher Jamie Moyer.

It was a couple of days before I found out she was pulling my leg.

Bumper stickers seen around Friday Harbor lately (plastered pithily on local cars, mostly, I think):

* Jesus is coming - look busy!
* I'm not lost - I'm just exploring
* We don't give a shit how you do it on the mainland (from Orcas, naturally)
* Every mother is a working mother
* I love Virginia (who is Virginia?)
* If you can't feed 'em, don't breed 'em
* Soccer rules


July 15, 2002

Matt remembered: Tom and Tami Doenges told me they sang at Matt McCutchen's memorial service at the family pond just outside of town Saturday. Tami said the afternoon was very moving, with some 500 people in attendance.

Pane in the glass: Have you been down to see Lawrence (right) at the ferry dock, making glass? He makes everything from scratch, and some of his figures are totally unique and amazing. He tends to stay till the last ferry, and has a little crowd watching most of the time. He has plans to teach classes out at Roche Harbor this fall, so ask him about that if you're interested.

Mount Young sunset: The sunset above was sent over by Wendy Harford and her friend Gene, who shot it last week. They hiked to the top of the hill from British Camp, just up from Garrison Bay - same hike the English soldiers took when stationed here back in the 1850s.

Springer sprung: Well, they caught Springer (A-73), put him on a boat, and carried him for 12 hours to north Vancouver Island on Saturday. News reports Sunday and today indicate she's pretty happy with his new digs, and appears to be open to the idea of rejoining his family. The Whale Museum is also putting up reports about the capture/release, which may open up a whole new arena in interspecies connection if it proves successful.

Meanwhile, I was told Saturday night that the three resident pods were collected out at Lime Kiln Park. It's pretty remarkable to see one pod or subpod, but all three is an amazing sight. Over 200 people collected to see the show the superpod put on.

Port Cam: Take a peek at the marina with the Port of Friday Harbor's new webcams, pointing two directions over the water.



July 10, 2002

Passing: Many people knew Matt McCutcheon, who passed away in a car accident in the middle of the night Saturday. Crowds of friends collected at his family's home on Argyle Street most of Sunday and Monday, and during the little remembrance out on Roche Harbor Road where the accident was. Twenty four is just too young....

His friend Chris Connelly survived the wreck, and is now resting comfortably at his dad's house out at Portland Fair, or however comfortably one can rest being that bunged up. His aunt Chris tells me there's no head injury damage, but a lot of bruises and cuts.

Settling back in: After the excitement of the Fourth and what seemed like either a VERY long weekend or two little weekends (if you had to work the 5th), folks seem to be settling back down into the rhythm of the tourist season again. The downtown area is bustling, with sales and restaurants open, and music in the cafes, and a lot going on. THIS is the fun

Play's the thing: It's not often I can tell you I've previewed a play, but in this case I've seen two: Stage Left opens its summer run of both Twelfth Night and MacBeth next week on the 19th out on their place on Wold Road. There's a nice writeup about the shows in the Journal this morning...check it out.

Last summer, I went out to see Twelfth Night on a rainy, cold night...Helen Machlin-Smith simply carried the show indoors at her house, and put it on for the 30 or so of us who hung around to watch it. It was great fun, and it'll be cool to see it staged outside as planned. The group is running that show in repertory with MacBeth, which they put on in April at the Fairgrounds. That was a masterful achievement - a tight, well-paced dark rendering of Shakespeare that was clear & easy to understand, and easy to be moved by.

The shows are put on for free - donations accepted. Make your plans to see them both. They're awesome.


July 4, 2002

The day at a glance: You gotta click here to see if your dog was in the parade, Eugene as the Statue of Liberty, Bob Low and the fire guys in the parade, little April as an angel eating ice cream, what King's looked like after the parade - a zoo! - a famous person juggling eggs at the egg toss, and more. See if you're in here - you probably are.

Photos of the parade | Photos of the Pig War Picnic

One of the biggest days that shows this island as a community is the Fourth of July, with the parade, the barbecues, the community picnics at Sunken Park and the Historical Museum.

The weather stepped up & cooperated, with sunny skies & just enough clouds to cool things off. The morning's parade seemed to feature most of town (with the winners probably listed on the San Juan Islander site - check 'em), with a big hand coming for the fire department folks who successfully contained the May fire.

It was cool to see so many folks eager to let people know what they're doing, whether it was the Animal Shelter, the bands, the Amnesty International group, and much more. People like Stepping Stones Child Center's Dean (above, with the usual ubiqitous child) and the new owner of the restaurant that's in Madelyn's Bagels' spot which opens next week, Laurie Paul, were enjoying the picnic over at the Historical Museum.


July 3, 2002

Weather or not: Nice as it's been for the past few days - like porridge, not too hot, not too cold - we should have another nice one today. The weather report suggests showers for tomorrow, but the weather people often confuse this island with Whidbey or Vancouver Island, so don't count on it.

Meanwhile, get out outside and play.

Fire hole: As you can see from the picture on the right, there is still a hole in the middle of town from the fire. The cleanup has allowed folks to begin plans to re-build, while some of the shops are already going again - San Juan Florist is open on the corner across from the ferry, and Stacey & Christina opened the Hungry Clam this week down across from the ferry terminal.

These photos were shot last week by By Design's Tim Dustrude from the second floor at Coldwell Banker. Click here and here for a large, screen filling shot.

Fourth activities: The parade in Friday Harbor starts at 11am. The fun part about the parade is trying figure out whether there are more people in the parade from town or watching. See you there - in it or on the sidewalk.

There are also activities all day out at Roche Harbor, as well as in town at the Historical Museum's Pig War Picnic (from after the parade till 4 or so), Sunken Park, and later, down at the Port, where the Rock the Dock dance'll be held. Fireworks later in the night, at Roche, in the Harbor, and over on Lopez.

Usually there are more people on the island on the Fourth than any other one day in the's a well-attended, much-anticipated party. Wahoo!

Get outside and have fun.

Kathleen sighting: It was great to run into former head librarian Kathleen in town the other day. She's helping out at Browne's nursery this summer....

Quote: "Traces of nobility, gentleness and courage persist in all people, do what we will to stamp out the trend. Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blasts on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us." - Walt Kelly, "The Pogo Papers."

Happy Canada Day: As we move towards the Fourth, it was fun to watch the fireworks across the water in Victoria Monday night. Eric (who helps with volleyball at FHHS) said he saw them from Roche, while The Whale Museum's Leslie reported they were microscopic from South Beach, where she and some friends went to see what they could see.

Not in danger - ha: The feds' decision not to list the orcas as endangered last week - much documented in the other papers & online news organs around here - is nutty, at best. If a human population dropped 20%, there would be some attention paid...The Fisheries guy even says the whales may be extinct later this century, but don't warrant protection now.

The Whale Museum's press page (kept up to date by Tracie Hornung) has the background on this at

Eating out: It's great to eat here on the island. There are three Mexican restaurants, as well as Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, British, and those of you celebrating the Fourth discriminately, American.

One of our secrets is on top of the building behind Friday Harbor Yachts, where Adnan and his family run Maloula's, which is a nice mix of Mediterranean chow. Close to the ferry and even closer to the concept of fine food - drop by and check them out. (His webpage was done by his talented freshman kid, Tony.)

Get out and eat.

Remembering Darryl: It was nice to see the town doesn't forget - most of you knew that St. Louis pitcher Darryl Kile died a couple of weeks ago. His folks had bought the Donut Shop and moved here as he got his career going with baseball - native Joe Bongiorno remembered they got cable into the shop so they could watch the Astros' games at the time.

His dad died in his early forties with heart trouble, as well.

Stuff to look at: The mailbag overflows with interesting stuff - John and Louise Dustrude just got back from England, and he writes:

Hi Ian - Look what I found in a newspaper article whilst in England. Your readers might enjoy a "heads-up" on this little puppy: - John

Meanwhile, Lisa Brown from the school district passed on this one:


> Hi,
> I was just sent this. Now you can see anyone's Driver's License on
> the Internet - including your own! I just searched for mine and there it
> was...picture and all!
> I don't think this is a good idea at all! Do you? I think we should
> maybe start up a petition or something protesting this.
> What do you think? Go to the web site and check it out.
> It's unbelievable!!!


June 20, 2002

Extra! Extra! Read all about it: This news update just in:

Island Rec Trails Committee is holding a hike this Sunday, June 23, on the new Phase II section of the Roche Harbor to English Camp Trail. "This is a great new trail section that the Roche Harbor people have just put in," said Lee Sturdivant, of the trails committee, describing the second part of this public/private joint venture between the Roche Harbor Village, the National Park Service, and Island Rec.

Phase one is a flat grassy trail that runs along Roche Harbor Rd., between the resort and the Opalco Sub Station near the corner of Roche Harbor Rd. and West Valley Rd.

This second phase runs from that corner along Roche Harbor property to the edge of the park boundary. Phase three will all be inside the national park property. That last phase of the trail was agreed to by Cicely Muldoon, previous National Park superintendent. The exact location and timing will now be determined by the new superintendent.

Anyone interested in the hike should meet Sunday at 11 am at the parking lot at the corner of Roche Harbor Rd and West Valley. Rd. For information, call Island Rec 378-4953.


June 16, 2002

Weather or hot: Hasn't this been a great weekend - up to nearly 67 yesterday, with more sun scheduled for the short term.

Get outside and play. And Happy Father's Day to you & your dad.

Other big change: The ferry schedule changes today. Click on the link above if you're not sure when you're coming.

Whale capture goes well: Springer, that calf that's hanging out down near Vashon Island, was in the news yesterday . It looks like the capture and re-location of the baby orca - to save its lfe - is working out.

You can see the online reports on the Whale Museum's ongoing press-coverage page.

In the NPR report from public radio Friday morning there was an unidentified authoritative voice talking about all this who I thought sounded a lot like Kari Koski, but I saw her last night at the pub & she said it was someone else.

She also told me her boyfriend Doug has been named girls soccer coach at FHHS for the next fall, which is cool - he's been helping with the program for the past couple of years and is a great guy.

Eclipse, redux: After mentioning this week's eclipse, I got this little note from Maude at FHHS about another eclipse you won't want to miss:

Hey Ian - Could you mention (as a tag to your eclipse entry) - our own little Eclipse, the high school literary and fine arts magazine, is out and available for purchase for ONLY $7.00 at the high school office. This money goes toward publishing costs for next year. If you've ever wondered what goes on in the minds of teenagers, now is your chance to find out!
Thanks, Ian. We (the kids and I) appreciate the support!

Other mail: Got a note in the e-mail bag this week asking if I had any honeymoon tips.

No, but there are books you can buy.

Longest day: Solstice is next weekend - make your plans, because the days are all shorter from here on out.

Quote: The Miss Universe pageant must be fixed, because the winner is always from Earth. - Dale Jenkins, Ruminations

Quote: "Too often we...enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy

Dive in: You know the Dive Shop has a new website and a new name, right? They're now called Island Dive and Water Sports. Check 'em out.

About those tips: Oh, I get it. Tips about places to stay, and stuff like that.

Heck, just look at the Directory at It's all there. Any other tips, ask your friends.

Gotta run. See you in a week or so. If anything happens.


June 10, 2002

Eclipse today: Looks like there's going to be a partial eclipse of the sun this afternoon around 4:30 or 5...check out the details about what it will look like from here.

June 3, 2002

Ferry early: Looking over the crowds of folks loading and overloading on Sundays after a weekend on the island down at the ferry landing, I remembered a good friend of mine told me last year, "You know you're never really late for a ferry - you're just early for the next one."

Ready: I got this picture (right) of Clark at Outdoor Odysseys getting ready for the season from his website (he's actually cleaning the boat...)

After the fire: Christine from the Hungry Clam says she's excited about the prospect of what the new building could mean for business. She and Stacey are making plans now for the new Clam...meanwhile, Julie & Lisa from San Juan Florist are re-opening on the 15th in the place where the old Sweetbriar's was, on the corner of First & A Streets (that's across from the ferry parking lot.)

Passing: Linda Hahn-Tate, former principal at Friday Harbor Elementary School, has succumbed to cancer...Linda served as FHES' boss back in the mid-1980s, and lived down at the south end of the island. She is survived by her daughter, who is a freshman at the high school.

FHHS' finest hour: Make plans to come to graduation on Saturday at the high school. It's great to see so many people - it's the best-attended event on the island besides the Fair and the Fourth - and a good chance to send our great kids off in style. See ya there.

New babies on the way: If it seems like a number of folks are expecting, that's because there are - Andrea (who owns Wayfarer's Rest Hostel), Betsy Lee (this is husband Wawan's and her first), Tori Zehner (just left years of managing Friday Harbor House, she's expecting twins), art teacher Leisha Holmes (former University of Oregon football player Garrett and she expect to deliver near Fair-time in August), Kim Fitts (she's a mainstay at Coldwell Banker, this will be her and Jeff's first), and Stacey (you've seen her at Haley's).

Whales get together: Bill & Colleen from San Juan Safaris wrote to say the whales are definitely back last week, and apparently got together for a super pod (all three pods together). I saw the whales Saturday night when some friends invited me out to South Beach for a potluck - the boys and I were the first ones there (we had to start the fire), and the orcas were cruisin' by...

You can see them on Bob Weimer's OrcaCam which he updates continuously through the summer.

Old Architects Week: Talented people continue to come to the island - you know former architect Lauren over at the library is now the head librarian - former architect Leslie Strom started about a month ago as manager of the Whale Museum store. She's got Jen & Jenny working with her - stop in an say hi.

Workshop offered: Write Joe for more on his workshop - sounds like a good one:

I'm writing to let you know about a workshop I'm helping to arrange for June 7-9. The topic is Nonviolent
Communication, an approach that helps people communicate compassionately and cooperatively and avoid the usual attacking, blaming and defensiveness that often come up. Just giving you a "heads-up." Joe Tein (



May 29, 2002

Great weekend: Hope you had a pleasant was cool & nice for walks outside, with just enough rain for the gardens, flowers, and kids in the mud.

Asher takes on Cumming: Both the Journal and the San Juan Islander filed reports Friday that Detective Jeff Asher will oppose incumbent Bill Cumming in the September primary. See those reports for more details...

Market's open: Yep, the Farmers' Market started up this last weekend - opns at 10am every Saturday from here on out at the Community Theater parking lot. Great people, great food, great time.

By the way, last year someone wrote & asked where the theater parking lot was...they were out in front of the Royal Theater (now the Palace), out in the middle of Spring Street.

Don't park there.

New names: Elections supervisor Sandy Gillespie is now going by Sandy Baxter, and newly married Lisa McCormick is going by Lisa Brown. Reports that Dan Gillespie is going by Ringo are probably unfounded.

After the fire: Talked to the Mystical Mermaid's Wendy & she says they hope to re-open in 12-14 months in the same spot. She said it's been a tough month, but she's pretty fired up about the new building that's planned for the burned-out spot - she described it as "awesome!!"

By the way, the well-known wood sculpture of the mermaid that was saved from the fire was stolen a couple of days later by some insensitive morons. It's still missing. C'mon, people, give it back.

Reservation service: There's a new reservation service on the island - The Strait Scoop, booking lodging, activities, dining, and transportation.

Fifth-graders take over ferry: That was the FHES fifth grade on the red-eye this morning, off to visit the Pacific Science Center in Seattle for the day. Pretty mature group, as you get to know them.


May 22, 2002

On the street: Honest, I heard someone say this over the weekend in front of King's: "I dare say floral prints are back with a cold, steel vengeance this year."

I hope they were visiting from Seattle, or Kirkland, or Auburn or somewhere hard-edged. I'm not sure we could handle much in the way of amped-up fashion statements here.

Gotta go get dressed now. I have an appointment this morning & need to find my dress sweatshirt.

Giving way to the morning: Isn't the best part of getting up to a rainy morning the part where the sky - after a while, and the garden is watered - turns partly blue, and you can feel the clouds start to give way? Like this morning.

Tami's signing: One of the big success stories in our little self-publishing community here on the island is Tami Oldham Ashcraft (with Susea McGearhart)'s "Red Sky at Mourning," which sold well in its first release, has now gotten picked up by a major publisher & will be released next month. Susie tells me there will be a book signing in late June for the new one...way to go, Tami!

Flyway lecture: Ron and Liz Keeshan periodically set up the Web of Life Along the Pacific Flyway, a natural history lecture series...the next is at the Fairgrounds Building tomorrow at 7pm, with Alexandra Morton. Have you thought about fish farming....really? You'll see it in a whole new light after tomorrow.

Here's the story, from Liz:

Ms Morton's talk is entitled "A Life Listening to Whales." She is an award winning author who has studied whales for a quarter of a century, much of this time spent in a remote bay on the British Columbia coast across from the northern tip of Vancouver Island. In recent years she has concentrated her studies on the harm caused by fish farms to whales and the rest of the marine web of life.

Autographed copies of her new book "Listening to Whales" will be available.

Admission is free.

Extension site is up: Speaking of natural, Tom Schultz has done a super job getting the WSU Extension site together, and he just launched his re-design yesterday. These are the folks who do master gardener training, 4-H stuff, and much more...check 'em out.

Top dog: You saw that newsletter about a month ago from the Fire Department folks with the little Dalmation on the top? That's a picture of Dottie, who belongs to Carolyn who works there.

I thought you'd want to know.

Quote: "Light, where is the light? Light the fire, if you have desire! Thunder, rushing wind, nothingness. Black night, black stone. Don't let your whole life go by in the dark.

"Evidently the only way to find the path is to set fire to my own life." Rabindranath Tagore


May 20, 2002

Town still there: I got a couple of calls wondering if town had burned down in the fire, because that's the impression left by tv news stories, perhaps. Hey, ya gotta listen to the rest of the story. We're still here....come visit this weekend and see.

Wet & gray: Pretty wet & gray this rained most of the evening and early morning. Good for gardens and our little farms. Not as good for baseball, but we've gotten used to playing between the drops.

A lot of people ask me what color gray we have here, when it's rainy, so I drew the picture to the right. That color gray, there.

Ball no more: Speaking of which, both softball and baseball ended their seasons over the weekend in the playoff hunt... the girls had a creditable first season of fast pitch ball, while the boys scampered into the playoffs again as league champs (a tradition begun in '99 - this is our fourth time in four years to end the seson on top.) Super job by both teams.

Island Rec grabs John: Sally Kerr tells me her new hire John Pachuta's working out great...John (right) was working for the past several years over at Shaw School, and has settled in as a program person with our local Park & Rec. Drop by and see him, Dodie, and Sally at their new digs on Guard Street, in the bottom of the old Journal Building.

Browne's party: The traffic was backed up Mullis Saturday as folks from all over the island dropped by the new Browne's Home Center to check it out - and Claudia and Rob (and Ryan & Justin) know how to throw a party. Free hot dogs & cotton candy, those blowup things the kids play on (all kinds of kids, including 48-year-old ones), and music all day you could hear from my house - well, I live next door, but didn't mind a bit.

It's neat when things like this pull people together.

Retiring & moving on: Over at the school district, 6th grade Humanities teacher Cathy Hunter's moving to Florida with her husband, Spanish teacher Señora Pam Rogers is retiring, and PE teacher Dave Anderson's moving his family to Las Vegas...

Art maven Leisha Holmes is set to deliver her & Garrett's first kid in August, so she'll be away for the first of school, and Cathy Bordi's taking a year's leave of absence to do some writing on a novel (you knew her knitting book is selling really well, didn't you?)

History lesson: Brenda Pratt wrote a nice article a few months back about where our Town got its name - it's reproduced online with some pictures from the 1880s... who WAS Joe Friday, anyway?

Marine life: The Whale Museum does a great job of keeping folks up-to-date with the latest about the orcas here, but occasionally there are visitors who aren't sure what the difference betweeen a Dall's porpoise and an orca is...take a quick peek at Deer Harbor Charters' page about local marine life for a quick primer.

Us on TV: Have you seen the local public access TV lately? They've added in coverage of local events and more....see their programming schedule at

Math Olympics: You know, it was cool to see the kids on the ferry heading for the regional Math Olympics a couple of Saturdays ago. We had fith, sixth, seventh, and eighth graders, most of whom received ribbons and medals at the awards deal at the end for solving the problems (as a group) they were given.

Thanks to the teachers & parents who made this happen!

Friends update: If you haven't looked over the Friends of the San Juans website lately, you might want to. They're doing a good job of keeping it up to date, and I keep hearing good things about new director Stephanie Buffum. Check it out.


May 17, 2002

In the ashes: There's a hole in the center of town now, after last week's fire. The debris is being cleared away, day by day, truckload by truckload.

I've heard from some of my lodging friends that people have called to see if town is open...well, yeah! The news reports from our Seattle friends may have left the impression that the town burned down or something. The businesses on that block are gone, but the town and the island are still busily setting up for summer. Make your plans to come see us...especially this weekend, which is gonna be beautiful.

The fire department folks are still trying to pinpoint the cause of the fire. And most of the folks I've talked to who were suddenly unemployed have found other gigs.

This weekend: Debbie from the Chamber wrote to say all this stuff's on for this weekend:

The San Juan Historical Museum is holding its annual Silver Tea on
Saturday, May 18th from 1:00-3:00. It is an old fashioned afternoon tea, and will feature a
"period" fashion show. The entire museum will be open and the event is

Island Dive and Water Sports is in the midst of its grand opening, May
11-18. Stop by and welcome this new business to our community. Check out
their specials!

Browne's Home Center is having its grand opening Saturday, May 18, from
12-4. Prizes, food music, inflatable rides!

San Juan Vineyards Barrel Tasting is Saturday, May 18, 12-4. Open to the
public. Refreshments! (Did you know their 2000 Syrah won the gold medal at
the NW Wine Summit in Oregon?)

May 10, 2002

This story was put up at 7am -

For pictures of the blaze, taken within the first hour of the fire, go to (Photos by By Design's Tim Dustrude.)

This morning: The central block of First Street and Spring Street is a smoldering, dark, empty hulk this morning, as firefighters continue to mop up the last vestiges of the worst fire around here since the Haymaker's blaze back in 1996. The scene is still cordoned off... weary firefighters worked all night cooling off the hotspots within the gutted building. One of the firefighters I saw this morning said it was like tending a burnpile....

Sights and sounds: One can see the steam from the site rising out of town; I live a mile from the center of town, on the way to Jackson's Beach, and the boys and I could smell the residual smoke as we left the house this morning to see how the night had gone.

Firefighters are continuing to drench the hotspots, which in our little town uses a lot of water. At least one of my town clients reported dark water this morning as she was making coffee at home - a sure sign we're reaching the bottom of the reservoir, as we did back in the droughts of '94 and '95.

We're used to crowds of visitors here, especially during the summer, but it seemed like we got our fair share of media coverage of this event.

There were the Seattle TV stations' helicopters buzzing the area from yesterday afternoon on, and people with microphones and hand-cams pulling us aside into the early evening. This morning a couple of TV stations had their remote units set p in front of King's.

I received calls from California and Tennessee as the story was mentioned in national network news, and the Seattle Times online made it the lead story last night (using one of the Update's photos for that story - see it here).

As folks come to get their morning coffee, there's a dazed, "what hit me?" feeling downtown as people look over the wreckage and the area, and try to get back to the usual, normal rhythm of the workday...knowing that things don't feel normal at all as a corner of our business district is gone and our friends there have lost their shops and jobs.

Kirk Fuhrmeister told me a ways back that he wrote a song based on a line he heard daily from tourists & visitors to his music store over on Nichols Street - "Where Do We Go From Here?"

That would be the song this morning.

A new day begins.


May 9, 2002

This story was put up at 9:00pm

The boys and I went downtown before dark to see how the fire was going... the gift shop, San Juan Florist, the Hungry Clam, Friday Harbor Grocery, and (underneath, in the alley) the Mystical Mermaid are all completely destroyed; the China Pearl sustained smoke and water damage but basically came out OK. That building that looks over the ferry lot that has the old Trading Company, Cindi's Salon Cappella, and more on the corner - it's right next to the florist's, but it has a firewall that contained the flames. (This was all reported to me by the boys, who checked it out, and one of the firefighters on the scene.)

As of about 8pm there were still a bunch of hotspots in the wreckage that were sending plumes of steam into the evening air, as streams of water were still being applied to the fire. The firefighter we spoke to said it would take most of the night to put the fire completely out.

Jim Carroll down at Front Street Cafe said the firefighters did a super job of keeping the damage contained, and he was grateful that the fire didn't spread further. That reminded me of the Haymaker's fire back in '96, over next to San Juan Office Supply, near the old Mark N Pak...then fire chief Howie Rosenfeld said a similar fire downtown could destroy the whole downtown, with a strong wind to spread it. Luckily, today there were no winds except some gusts off the harbor about a half hour after the fire began.

At King's I ran into Diana Asher, who told me someone - I think it was former mayor Jim Cahail - mentioned to her that that part of the town had burned back in the 1940s...

My estimate of the number of folks put out of work is around a couple of dozen people; the damage to the middle of town is going to be a big cleanup job as well. Luckily, no one was hurt - I checked with Becky Dietz who said the Aid Unit didn't get any action that she knew of, which is the best news of this whole thing.

We'll go down and see what's happening in the morning.

This story was put up at 4:48pm

Fire: The downtown core of Friday Harbor burned this afternoon as a compressor exploded below San Juan Florist's shop on First Street just before 4 o'clock this afternoon. Destroyed by 5 o'clock - the Hungry Clam, Friday Harbor Grocery (formerly Whitey's), the flower shop.

For pictures of the blaze, taken within the first hour of the fire, go to (Photos by By Design's Tim Dustrude.)

Lisa and Julie from the flower shop, visibly shaken, said they heard the explosion that, at this point, seems to be the central cause of the blaze. With over a hundred orders prepped to deliver for this Mother's Day, they were able to only stand and watch as their store burned. Julie mentioned that the helium tanks with which they blow up balloons would likely blow as well.

Ron - a familiar friendly face who clerks at Friday Harbor Grocery, stood shocked. "I was supposed to be at work at four. Now..."

One of the great things about the island: its fire department. Watching the volunteers scramble to contain the damage was inspiring. Getting the firefighters together, and attacking the blaze - they do good work.

As this is being written, the fire is still throwing billowing black smoke into the overcast, slightly drizzly sky, and a huge crowd of downtown workers, townspeople like the boys and me, and people who care, are gathered to see how this turns out.

More to be posted this evening.

History is doomed to repeat itself:

Review the Update from April 1, 2002 - May 8, 2002

Review the Update from December 15, 2001 - April 1, 2002

Review the Update from September 11, 2001 - December 14, 2001

Review the Update from June 7 , 2001 - September 10, 2001

Review the Update from March 17, 2001 - June 6, 2001

Review the Update from December 18, 2000 - March 16, 2001

Review the Update from July 25, 2000 - December 17, 2000

Review the Update from April 21, 2000 - July 25, 2000

Review the Update from January 1, 2000 - April 21, 2000

Review the Update from October 21, 1999 - December 31, 1999

Review the Update from August 12, 1999 - October 21, 1999

Review the Update from May 17, 1999 - August 12, 1999

Review the Update from April 8, 1999 - May 17, 1999

Review the Update from February 26, 1999 - April 8, 1999

Review the Update from January 3, 1998 - February 26, 1999

Review the Update from November 1, 1998 - January 3, 1998

Review the Update from August 31, 1998 - October 31, 1998

Review the Update from July 2, 1998 - August 30, 1998

Review the Update from May 25, 1998 - July 2, 1998

Review the Update from April 3 - May 25, 1998

Review the Update from January 22, 1998 to April 3, 1998.

Review the Update from November 24, 1997 to January 22, 1998.

The information here is simply stuff we here at By Design think is important around Friday Harbor or on the Island. Some of it's news, some of it's old news, and all are just things we wanted to mention, with most of it about the things that make living here great.

There will be more next week, if anything happens.

Ian Byington

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