There's a nice view of the harbor if you go to Boardwalk Bookstore, right above Front Street Cafe & the Banana Belt.

Gotta Know: Island Things:
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Weather, Now
Where the Ferry Is, Right Now

Visitors' Center:
The San Juan Island Directory
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Chamber of Commerce
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San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau

Other Online News:
San Juan Islander
The Roche Harbor News
The Island Guradian
The Journal of the San Juan Islands 

Prepared weekly or so by Ian Byington, if anything happens. Usually doesn't, which is why we live here.

Look through the Update Vault: The Archives of previous editions, since 1997.

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August 11, 2005

Picnic: It was nice to go to a party - Lynn Danaher invited folks over to the Surina Business Park Monday for the Chamber of Commerce. Part of the evening was to celebrate naming the business park after the late Tony Surina, and the rest was to show off what a great job Lynn has done tidying up the place (she has a couple of places to rent, by the way) and to eat & visit friends. That's Paul Hopkins with a friend who's hoping there's a bone to share.

There was ribs & salmon & halibut & salads & fruit and a good-sized crowd for a mid-summer meeting. It was good to see Sara Grace Johnson back visiting (she just finished her master's in Ed at Harvard, looking for work in California), as well as checking in with the folks who are working so hard to keep things moving during this busy summer season. That's Spring Street International School's Roger Frost (right) with Michael Soltman, the superintendent of the school district.

The speaker was Michael, who came to explain the upcoming school levy, which is coming up in the next month - ballots will be mailed at the end of August for the September 20th election.

You know, like everyone else, I'm concerned about raising taxes. But this one's a no-brainer.

On the website for the levy, it says that folks who own a $400,000 house would pay about $92 more a year, when the levy passes. That's all? It's a small amount to pay to raise expectations, raise the level of the way we prepare kids for the future, and raise the chance our kids can do better.

It's a chance for a little to do a lot. I'm gonna vote 'Yes," and I hope you do, too. Let's pass this thing.

Othello rocks: It was great...the Stage Left folks have another great show for you. I saw it last week & I hope to see it again. See you there.

Meanwhile, there's one last weekend of "Dirty Work at the Crossroads," at the Community Theatre - I got to see it last week, and you can see why they extended the run by a week.

Art revealed: You've seen all those little booths out at Roche Harbor in front of the grocery store...Chris tells who's in them, what they're doing there, and what they're selling, in the latest edition of the Roche Harbor news. Tells all. You always wondered - check it out.

Quote: "I have never spent a day in my adult life where I didn't learn something, and if there is a born-again quality to me, that's it." - Peter Jennings in the Saturday Evening Post. Jennings died this week at the age of 67.

August 7, 2005

The Fair is coming: It's set for next week, starting Wednesday and running till Saturday, the 17th-20th. It's one of the reasons we live here. See you there!

If you eat a lot of elephant ears, it may be THE reason you live here.

That photo is by ace photographer Tim Dustrude, by the way.

While your calendar is out - plan Othello: You just have to see "Othello," put on by the Stage Left folks.

The folks who've seen it tell me it's great, and Stage Left hasn't disappointed yet. They have a show tonight (Sunday), and for the next two weekends. Check their website for dates. Admission, once again, is free.

It's outside, so bring a blanket to wrap up in.

Anne with a plan: I ran into Anne Sheridan on the Orcas ferry yesterday afternoon as she was on her way to (not a surprise here!) photograph a wedding. She's been staying busy this summer, and as you can see from her website, she does good work.

Two new restaurants in town this summer: Right behind the Golden Triangle down that little alley (I like alleys) is the Steps Wine Bar & Café that Madden Surbaugh's a fine dining place with a very extensive wine list that you'll enjoy. If you were walking by, you'd read the posted menu to see what they have; since you're sitting there at your computer, take a peek at their website.

Just around the corner across from the Market Chef is a new pizza place called the Hilltop Grill & Pizzeria. Jeff's the owner, and he says they've been open three weeks now, and are getting good crowds already. Friendly place - drop in and say hey!

Babies on the way: Wow, looks like we have some coming: John & Sue Carrier are due this month, while Betsy & Wawan Ridwan are expecting December to be their new arrival's date. Wayshwan Koons tells me she'll be a grandma in November when son Jesse's girlfriend delivers.

Random thought: If you need sun screen when you're sat in the sun, do you need screen screen when you're stuck in front of your computer?

Uphill, downhill: When I was in Eastsound yesterday, I ran into Paul Hopkins, who was biking around while his Flagship Event Rentals tents were being used at a wedding or something. He was heading up Mount Constitution; he said coming down's actually harder than you think, because you're braking all the time. Hard on the hands, with all those curves.

Peace: It's been sixty years since the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Take a moment and remember.

Quote: "Sometimes you can see how there is erosion, and you can see how there is deforestation. It's very widespread in some parts of the world. We would like to see, from the astronauts' point of view, people take good care of the Earth and replace the resources that have been used. The atmosphere almost looks like an eggshell on an egg, it's so very thin. We know that we don't have much air, we need to protect what we have." - Eileen Collins, commander of the space shuttle Discovery, noting that environmental damage is easy to see from space. The shuttle is due to return to Earth tomorrow morning.

August 4, 2005

Birthday: Whether today is your birthday, or just feels like your birthday because every day is bright & clear & good & new, here is a song for you.

Have a good morning.

August 3, 2005

Relay for Life takes a hike: And it was a good one. Starting with the Survivor Lap at 3pm Saturday and walking with teammates spelling each other through the night until the next morning, the event raised nearly $44,000 for research and also raised awareness that so many people's lives have been touched by the disease.

It was good to see Tom from the Community Theatre at the Relay for Life walk this past weekend (right). Tom did the Survivor Walk: He's been receiving chemo for the past year and is currently feeling pretty good, he tells me.

Take two: Now that Scott Zehner has been appointed to take Kathryn Dernham's spot on the Island Rec board, that means there's two members with twins: he and Tori have twins, and so does Denice Brown who's already on the board.

Basil's having a great summer: When Jim & Michele Makinson took over the Fat Cat Cafe and turned it into Basil's last December, they brought a world of experience with them. According to their website, London-trained Jim has served chow to five presidents (like the one to the left, and some other famous folk). Relying on local produce and seafood, Jim prepares daily specials to go along with the regular menus.

Michelle tells me they're having a great summer, and hopes you have a chance to drop by and check them out!

Nancy's back: You remember Nancy DeVaux - she's lived here over 25 years, although for the past few she was teaching high school in Federal Way.

She's giving that up and returning to the island to take over the Home Trust's executive directorship. She'll start in that position mid-month, and she tells me she's already found a spot to live at the Oaks.

After 12 years as director of the Friends of the San Juans, Nancy's a good choice for settling in with one of the island's more intractable problems: affordable housing for middle & lower-income wage earners & their families here. Before she was teaching she'd gone off to get her Masters in Political Science/Environmental it's time to put it to work.

Lucky to have her back, I'd say.

Recycle for free: What are you doing with that old computer? That old TV? That bike? That....?

Serena from down at Windermere tells me she & some folks have set up a thing they call FreeCycle online, so island residents can discard stuff or get stuff from each other, trying to ease what's headed for the landfill. Brilliant idea - check it out! I joined already - hope you do, too.

Ace traffic director: That would be Elisa Howard.

You've seen her during the school year directing traffic at the Grover Street corner to the elementary school. Now she's helping direct traffic around the improvements along Cattle Point Road...she's the smiling person in the orange vest who guides people around the False Bay Road detour. The project started in April & hopes to wrap up this month. The widened result in the roads will be welcomed by residents, bicyclists, and those of us who have cheated death on those curves for so long.

Here's a rundown of the project, with a map, from Public Works.

That's Ms. Howard at the Relay for Life, walking for her team.

Election stuff: Liz Illg told me she's running for Town Council, and that's pretty cool. She's running for David Jones' spot, as he runs for mayor unopposed. She'll face Stephen Wehrly, while Howie Rosenfeld will seek another term unopposed as well.

Quote: "I give thanks with each breath for this wonderful world, for the chance to do what I love, for the way beauty shakes my soul, for the way that plants and animals speak to me, and for those of you feeding energy and good graces into my life. Thanks to all. I am extremely lucky to be able to be doing this work, right here and right now." - Ben White, writing from the Yucatan where he was involved in a protest to protect marine life, January 2005. Ben was laid to rest at San Juan Community Cemetary yesterday, surrounded by hundreds of friends & family.

Gas up: The Seattle Times says this week that gasoline has reached its highest price ever in the state, around $2.50 on average. Here, of course, that means it's even more...that's the Big Store's prices on Tuesday.

July 30, 2005

Passing: It's hard to imagine that only a year ago, Ben White was in the last months of his campaign for County Commissioner, that only six months ago he was in the Yucatan swimming in the waters to try to bring attention to the effects of acoustic blasts on marine mammals. And that it was only March when he discovered he had intestinal cancer.

Today at 3pm, when he died, it was the end of a useful, passionate life which saw changes in the way marine mammals and turtles are protected, and helped bring a spotlight on issues and environmental damage which slide under the mainstream media radar.

It also was the end of a long vigil by friends and family, who were continually admonished by Ben to cheer up. He'd asked for a party when he passed, not a bunch of mournful stuff. A service is being planned for mid-week; as I understand it, he'll be buried in the island cemetary.

If you missed it, there was a nice story about Ben and what he stood for in the Seattle P-I about a month ago, as well as a different story about him winning the IDA (In Defense of Animals) Award earlier this month.

Book Sale: If you were wondering where all the people were on Saturday, a good guess would have been at the Book Sale at the elementary school. Even as I was walking in, people were carrying orange-crate boxes of books, while some, like Edith Dickenson (right), showed a bit more restraint.

It didn't seem to me there was quite as many books as some previous years, but I visited at about noon, they were probably pretty picked over. The sale is a major fundraiser for our local library, which may be one of the finest small libraries you'll find anywhere.

FHHS Reunion draws another crowd: The word I heard was that the last all-class reunion, back in 2000, drew about 2,000 alums back to the island, which is pretty good numbers when you realize our class sizes are pretty small - in the 60s around now, around 42 in '79, and only 14 in '72.

This week's reunion got a tent-full of alumni when I dropped by this afternoon - probably a couple of hundred - and the party had another 4-5 hours to grow. Good to have everyone come home to visit.

Quote: The real questions are the ones that obtrude upon your consciousness whether you like it or not, the ones that make your mind start vibrating like a jackhammer, the ones that you "come to terms with" only to discover that they are still there. The real questions refuse to be placated. They barge into your life at the times when it seems most important for them to stay away. They are the questions asked most frequently and answered most inadequately, the ones that reveal their true natures slowly, reluctantly, most often against your will. - Ingrid Bengis

July 29, 2005

Big rummage sale: Spring Street International School is having a multi-family rummage sale at the school on Saturday, July 30th from 10am-4pm. It's a gold mine of great stuff! Go by if you have a chance. There's going to be a refreshment stand, too! All proceeds go directly to the school's development and scholarship fund.

Go on the way to the book sale at the elementary school.

Quote: He who loses wealth loses much; he who loses a friend loses more; but he that loses courage loses all. - Cervantes

July 27, 2005

Mark Gardner's book rocks: The picture above of a sunset over Stuart Island comes from Mark's book, The San Juan Islands: Crown Jewels of the Pacific Northwest. If you click on the link you get a good sampling of the photos...he does a super job. Check it out, and buy yours now.

Harry Party: There was a nice little gathering of Harry Potter fans at the Library a couple of weekends ago when the new Harry Potter book came out. New assistant librarian Shannan files this report:

We had about 60 children and adults come out (and not all of those adults were here with children – which only goes to show that children’s books can be just as enjoyable for adults as they are for children!). A large percentage of the children came in costume and all enjoyed the various Harry Potter-related activities such as being sorted into their Hogwarts house by the “Sorting Hat,” “potions” brewing, wand making, “Quidditch” supply making, to name a few. The event was spearheaded by one of our Teen Assistants, Caitlyn Ness.

The event was connected to the release of the latest Harry Potter book, which sold millions that first day.

Quote: "He's pathetic at the whole romance thing. He's a character for anyone who's ever been awkward with a girl." - Daniel Radcliffe, about what he likes about Harry Potter, whom he plays in the movies.

Millionaire: Speaking of millions...You know, it was cool to see the San Juan Island Web Directory hit 1,000,000 frontpage hits last weekend. The site is still coming up first in Google when you put in "Friday Harbor" and the feedback we get tells us people actually find it useful. It's the only comprehensive island directory on the web, with every island-related website we know of included.

I was looking on the Update - back on Jan. 3, 2004 it mentioned that the site had just hit 700,000.

Drop by and see what the fuss is all about at

Award: Speaking of books - did you hear that Lee Sturdivant's latest book (about growing medicinal herbs) has won a national award? She got "Herb Book of the Year" from the International Herb Association.

Biggest & coolest book sale you'll ever go to: There's hyperbole & there's exaggeration and then there's the plain truth - the Used Book Sale at the elementary school this weekend is the coolest one you'll ever go buy tons of books at. There are THAT many books, and all bargains.

The Friends of the San Juan Island Library will hold the Summer Book Sale on Friday and Saturday, July 29 and 30. The Friends members-only sale is on Friday, July 29, from 6 to 8 p.m., with memberships available for purchase at the door. The book sale opens for the general public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 30.

Quote: You know how when a mama or papa hears their baby sound off, it gets their attention, but that there are certain cries a child gives that feel like they're wrapping themselves around your heart and gut?

Zen poet Thich Nhat Hanh was asked, "What do we need to do to save our world?" His questioners expected him to identify the best strategies to pursue in social and environmental action, but Thich Nhat Hanh's answer was
this: "What we most need to do is to hear within us the sounds of the Earth crying."

Bad news from the sea: Last week Tom Averna had written in his Notes from the Field for Deer Harbor Charters that he'd heard from folks who SAW the birth of an orca calf, which is exciting because that almost never happens in the wild (getting to see the birth) and because it gives hope to the continuing recovery of orca numbers around here.

Now, his latest posting updates that report:

J pod has been here everyday but no sign of the new baby that was born last week. In fact, a whale watch boat has photos of what is probably the new baby being pushed around by its mother and apparently dead.

Today, as predicted we saw our first brown pelican off South Beach. We can expect more of these as they are typically found off the coast this time of year but since the coastal food supply is down they are coming in here to look for food. Lots of rhino auklets and murres in the area as well, most like here from the Vancouver Island nesting sites that have failed.

Not the best of news but that's how it is.

Another way to keep up with the whales is the news on the Orca Network page...they mentioned there was a minke whale at the South Hein Bank a few days ago.

July 21, 2005

Us, from space: Have you seen those maps on Google? You just go to and put in where in the world you want to look at. If you click on the screen shot above you can see a bigger version, but it's cooler to use the zoom-in, zoom-out deals on Google.

And that's not all they have honor of the moon landing 36 years ago on July 20, 1969, they even have the moon mapped. Check it out at

Buck Moon: Here's the word about this morning's full moon which is also as close to the Earth as she gets (from

Today is July 21, 7:00 a.m. EDT -- The Full Buck Moon, when the new antlers of buck deer push out from their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur. It was also often called the Full Thunder Moon, thunderstorms being now most frequent. Sometimes also called the Full Hay Moon. The Moon will also be at perigee later this day, at 4:00 p.m., at a distance of 221,928 mi./357,158 km miles from Earth. Very high ocean tides can be expected from the coincidence of perigee with full Moon.

July 20, 2005

The whales are out & about: Yesterday evening, I drove over to the west side to see if the orcas were in the neighborhood, since there were reports of a superpod this weekend. Seems like there ought to be a few hanging around, and they were. I saw at least four breaches, and tried to shoot photos of them.

You & I know it's nearly impossible to catch a whale doing hang-time, especially with my little ol' camera, but hey, I tried. That's a dorsal with a glint of sun on it from the setting sun.

This is the season for the orcas; the greys come another part of the year, and I'm pretty sure mermaid season isn't till August. We'll keep you dialed in.

Post office & its new hours: Did you do the same as I did and go to the post office at 3:30pm yesterday to buy stamps? Ha!

Then I'm not alone - this is the week they changed the hours for the counters being open to 7am - 3pm, because of the delivery schedule.

Another good reason to wake up early - to visit our friends at the post office.

Only one, so far: Looks like Barbara Marrett is presently unopposed in the Port Commissioner race. I had reported to you that Scott Webster was running, but Leigh down at Arctic Raven says Scott found out he wasn't in the Port District after all, so he's ineligible to run.

Filing deadline for the election is at the end of the month - we'll see what happens.

Another change, back: Oh, yeah - there's food on the Anacortes ferries now. At least for the summer. This is good...gotta have food on the boats.

Climate change: Someone very nicely stopped me on Spring Street yesterday and told me that one of the things they like about the Update is that it's not political. I kinda like that, too - you gotta have SOMEWHERE to go to get away from all that.

In my mind, talking about climate change (whether you call it that or global warming or the next Ice Age) doesn't qualify as political, and I intend to draw your attention to stuff about the good news/bad news aspect of it for as long as I write this little online newspiece. It's real, it's happening, and the effects will outlast us and our children.

So, for today, here's an editorial I found on the Columbian newspaper site (that's in Vancouver, Washington, south of here.) See what you think, but please...DO think. Out of sight, out of mind won't work in this case. Indeed, the last line of the editorial: "This is a time to act, not deny, a serious problem that affects our planet, our home. "

Tiki Hut is open for business, and flowers: I had always wondered about that little hut with the stylishly dressed mannequin off to the left, on Roche Harbor Road, most of the way to Roche. So I dropped in on Gail Gardner (the Tiki Girl, standing in the hut on the right) to see what was going on.

She says she's been gardening all year this year, and is now open for business. She sells flowers, which you can pick yourself if you come before 10am, and specializes in sunflowers. Gail says it's been a great experience having people drop by to enjoy the garden, drink some water, and occasionally buy stuff (she doesn't mind if you just enjoy the garden, though.) She tells me she has a bell hidden in the garden - if a kid finds it & rings it, he or she gets a free sunflower. Pretty cool.

Gail's getting married to Al Ochoa, the roofer, early next year - looks like love's in bloom as well. Good luck, you guys.

Hurry & finish that novel or short story or poem: Are you wrting something for the written word exhibit for the Fair? Better hurry! The deadline for entries is July 25. Entry guidelines are in the fair premium book and also available at the library. If you have any questions about entries, please contact department superintendent Amy Wynn at or at 378-2912.

Quote: Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. - Helen Keller

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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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