The Fair: Beads & food & music & friends & sheep-to-shawl contests & it was great - hope you had a good time, like Whitney & her beads above....

Here's the rest of the story!

Gotta Know: Island Things:
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Visitors' Center:
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Prepared weekly or so by Ian Byington, if anything happens. Usually doesn't, which is why we live here.

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August 21, 2006

The fair was pretty cool: The San Juan County Fair folded up a sunny four-day run yesterday to leave town (and give people a chance to pick up their stuff). What a great way it was to celebrate the 100th edition of the event. I have no idea what the numbers of attendees was, but it felt more crowded - in a nice, bustling way - than in the past few years, no doubt helped by free admission for kids.

One of the great things about the Fair is the way it has something for everyone. There was a huge crowd at the Island Rec Skate Jam on Thursday, causing one excited parent to gasp, "We have more people here than the zuccini races!" which is proof (even if unproven) that an event has come of age. Some twenty kids showed off their moves & tricks & turns to appreciative, sunbaked admirers.

Participants weren't the only ones to get ribbons - the Fair itself was given a Black and White Award for Fair Management by State Fair Judge Bob Carlson. (Kudos to the people who put the show on: Christine Miller is the manager of the fair, Rev Shannon is the production manager, Shel Bedsol is the grounds supervisor. Fair board members are Doug Bison, Catherine Eggenberger, Terry Evans, Brad Fincher, Chair, Sharon Kivisto, Dan Seaton, Bert Vinson and Sandy Wyllie-Echeverria.)

The music was especially good this year...Rev did his usual super job of choosing acts that showed the talent of the islands, and the diversity. From the three-part folk rock harmonies of Uncle Otto (that's James, Steve, and Mike to the right), the always-popular Local Harvest Band of locals on Thursday night (one Seattle pub-crawler friend of mine said they're as good as anyone he hears in the city), to punk & classical & bluegrass & ending with Paul DeLay & the blues, you just could not go wrong.

One of the little bits of excitement on Friday: There a was a bird tent with raptors and birds who were in rehab, and the golden eagle (left) somehow slipped its tether, and hopped loose. It can't fly very well, but it took the handlers about ten minutes to surround and re-capture it, much to the amazement of onlookers & small children who were smaller than the eagle & imagining themselves edible. Sure made you appreciate the skill & talent of the people who make a living interacting with these amazing animals.

One of the great things about the Fair is the way folks come back to visit from off-island, and how kids come back from college to see each other (or to see everybody before they leave!) That's Ev Tuller to the right - the former Moon & Sixpence B&B owner was here looking over the flowers on Thursday, up from Ballard where she lives now. Sharon Adler (FHHS class of '96) dropped by, Duncan Sobel was here with his wife & two kids, and it was cool. Meanwhile, Devon Schwinge stopped in before departing for Whitman, Fahren Carlson ran the Loop Run before taking off for Gonzaga, and a host of other university students were visiting as well.

It wouldn't be the Fair without the usual politickin' - the most notable people running were Rick Larsen, our incumbent congressman who dropped by Saturday for a little visit, and Hong Tran (left, with Orcas' Democratic Booth worker Rena Patty), as she brought her campaign for the US Senate to our island. How important is our little county of islands to state-wide campaigns? Former County Commish Darcie Nielsen told me that Maria Cantwell won in 2000 with about 51% of the vote, winning only five counties of the state's 39 - the four most populous, and San Juan, the least populous. Hong's hoping the county helps take her over the top in next month's primary as well.

For more pictures & stuff about the Fair, be sure & see the Island Guardian's coverage, the San Juan Islander's coverage (they usually have the most pictures - they live there!), and the Journal's, as well as the Fair's site.

Fall officially begins: For most people, fall begins the third week in September, but for most of us here on the island, it begins now: the Fair makes it feel like the end of summer, the weather's bit cooler, high school & middle school sports begin their training, and the schools open their doors next Wednesday on the 30th.

Time to wind down & get the season going, as town quiets down a bit after Labor Day. Ahhhhhhhhh.....

Babies: Well, I've heard that Amanda, the checker at King's, had her baby last week, and that Jackie & Ivan Reiff had theirs as well....way to go!

August 17, 2006

Passing: I just heard that former Roche Harbor harbormaster (he also was at the Port, as well) Bart Mathews passed away at sea on Tuesday...the 49-year-old Bart touched many, many people's lives - visitors as well as islanders - and will be much missed.

A celebration of his life is being planned Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006 at 3pm at the Pavilion at Roche Harbor Village. I'll get you more details as I learn more; if you need more information, call Dominique at 472-1853. A memorial fund is being set up at Islanders to help with expenses.

Shakespeare - two weeks left: Great opportuniity for you to catch The Merchant of Venice this weekend or next, but be sure and catch this part: the show is set to start earlier - at 8pm - these two weeks (it has been at 8:30pm). See you there - don't miss this one!

August 16, 2006

Whale news: The Seattle Times is reporting that the baby orca who was reported born this past weekend to K pod hasn't been seen for a while now, leading to concerns that he/she died - the mortality rate for newborn claves is around 40%. Here's the report from the Times.

More whale news: From the Orca Network, a little blurb about the minkes around here from Jon Stern:

Minke whales of the San Juan Islands are part of the California-Oregon-Washington (CA-OR-WA) Stock of minke whales. The North Pacific Ocean us also home of an Alaska Stock, a Hawaiian Stock (?) and 2 stocks in the western Pacific, the Sea of Japan Stock and Sea of Okhotsk Stock. These latter two are hunted by the Japanese in a lethal Scientific Take.

The number of whales in the CA-OR-WA stock is about 1,000 individuals. This is not many individuals, from a biological perspective. And consider that there are more endangered humpback and blue whales in the same chunk of ocean as minke whales. Off the U.S. west coast, both humpback and blue whales have been depleted through hunting while minke whales have never been hunted. Thus minkes are not listed as threatened, endangered, or a "strategic" stock. But 1,000? I have twice as many songs on my iPod

Part of our studies in the San Juan Islands and off Northern California, and our call for photographs along their entire range are directed at addressing aspects of the apparent rarity of CA-OR-WA minke whales.
Jonathan Stern, Ph.D.
NE Pacific Minke Whale Project

The Fair's webcam, and more: Rock Island is providing the web cam pic at right, plus free wireless Internet at the Fair this week - here's the rest of the story from Rock Island's Clark Gilbert:

Rock Island is pleased to announce that they will be providing free WiFi Internet service during the fair for anyone to use.  WiFi enabled computers or PDA's can connect to this service throughout the fair grounds.  Rock Island will be broadcasting the SSID of "RockIsland" and users connecting to the WiFi hotspot will be redirected to a portal page with further instructions on utilizing the service.
In addition to setting up WiFi service, Rock Island has installed a web cam which will be transmitting images every minute to Rock Island's website and will also be available on the portal page.
None of this would have been possible without the state-of-the art Canopy Wireless network Rock Island has deployed throughout San Juan County.

Birthday boys: I was visiting with nearly-13 year old Zack Reitan last night, and he told me that when he was born on Sept. 3, 1993 with his mom Missy over at Skagit Hospital, it was the same day basically that Stephanie Falls delivered Christian and a day later, that Nancy Fusare had Jimmy. All in the same hospital, same floor.

Hey, islanders hang together.

Emily finds out what holds it together: There's a nice write-up in New Scientist about the glue that mussels use to stick to things, and the possibilities scientists see in how this can be useful to people. Friday Harbor Marine Labs' Emily Carrington's work is referenced in the article, and she's quoted there.

Researchers hope the discovery will lead to super-strength yet versatile medical glues, and suggest new ways of keeping the shellfish from wreaking havoc on marine infrastructures.

Biologists have long been in awe of the adhesive ability of the blue mussel, Mytilus edulis. The gastropod is able to stick firmly to different surfaces, even in watery conditions where most other glues fail.

Today's quote:
A Native American grandfather was talking to his grandson about how he felt.
He said, "I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is the vengeful, angry, violent one. The other wolf is the loving, compassionate one."
The grandson asked him, "Which wolf will win the fight in your heart?"
The grandfather answered, "The one I feed."

August 15, 2006

Ferry's back: If you tried to travel yesterday, you know the Yakima was offline all day - the ferry folks this morning say everything's OK now, and Tuesday is expected to be back on schedule.

Rumors: There's a report from Tom McMillen of Salish Sea Charters, who believes he saw K22 with a new calf Sunday afternoon. They were off Kellett Bluff...the Orca Network folks (and others) are awaiting photo ID & confirmation from the Center for Whale Research on this, but Tom knows the whales pretty well.

Boats at the show: Jan at Friday Harbor Yachts tells me they're going to be at the Boats Afloat hoorah in Saettle next month - click on the box above for more details.

Laura's back: Just called over at the Library, and new director & old assistant director Laura Tretter is back in the saddle this week, having moved back to the island from Colorado. Drop by & tell her hey!

Dinner Island: That's Dinner Island the other morning - if you click on the photo, you'll get a larger one - check it out. That's the view from Jackson's Beach.

Dan Ward is thinking of starting bus service to there. That would be cool.

(I made that up, silly.)

Not this year: Got this note yesterday from Denece at WBI:

Please be advised that, unfortunately, The Westcott Bay Institute is not holding its Best of The San Juans Festival this year. The decision was made to direct our limited resources and energies in other directions this fall. We hope to continue with the Festival in 2007 and wish to thank all of you who participated in the past. Thanks - Denece M. Kost

From the air: As beautiful as it is around here, it's even prettier some days from the air. The property below is the featured property this week for Friday Harbor Realty, so they have a nice write-up on their front page.

Quote: "Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err." - Gandhi

August 14, 2006

The Fair! The Fair! Yep, it's this week, and it promises to be a great one. For the first time in decades, there's no excuse not to go every day, since the kids (16 & under) are free this year, the Fair's 100th.

Lovel & Boyd Pratt are helping at the Ag Tent, and she sends this along:

Come celebrate the San Juan County Fair centennial at the SJC Agriculture Tent! This year’s featured presenters are Congressman Rick Larsen and celebrated Northwest chef and culinary consultant Greg Atkinson.

On Friday August 18 at 11:00am, come say hello to former San Juan Island chef, Greg Atkinson (right)). You can find his latest culinary news at Greg’s Cooking With Local Foods presentation, “A Whale Watch Picnic,” is from his most recent cookbook, Entertaining in the Northwest Style. Come learn all the recipes and sample these culinary delights that features many local ingredients!

On Saturday, August 19 at 1:30pm, Congressman Rick Larsen (left, visiting here in '04), who is a member of the House Agriculture Committee, will talk about Farm Bill 2007 and is eager to hear from local farmers about agricultural issues important to San Juan County. "The agriculture community in San Juan County faces unique and diverse needs unlike any other part of Washington State," Larsen said. "I am pleased by the continued success of the USDA inspected Mobile Processing Unit that allows ranchers to sell their products competitively. I strongly support these types of initiatives that help the local economy and bring a quality, local product to consumers. I look forward to attending the San Juan County fair this year, and hope to see you in the Agriculture Tent on August 19th.”

The SJC Agriculture Tent exhibits will include a 100-year agricultural timeline of San Juan County, current events and economic data, and a display of local agricultural products. Additional presentations include Cooking Grass-Fed Meat with Tim Barrette & Laurie Paul from The Market Chef, A Century of Farming in San Juan County with Boyd C. Pratt, Fruit Tree Pruning Demonstration with Mark Thompson-Klein, and more!

Welcome, new kid on the block: I ran into Marc Vermiere on Friday, and he tells me Deb's doing great after giving birth to their second boy, Oskar, last week. He says Charlie's happy to see his new baby brother & that it's all a pretty cool deal. Way to go!

Singin': I'll be singing with the band at noon on Friday - come by for lunch at the County Fair! Here is the whole entertainment lineup - hope to see you there!

Google moves start here: You may have heard about some of Google's moves of late, but did you know some of them started here? Here's one story.

The Baileys check in: Shannon Bailey's whole family (it seems) is helping with Pacific Catalyst this summer - she says that's Captain Bill Bailey and Nature Boy Eli Bailey aboard the MV Catalyst with Cook Erica and Engineer Adrian in southeast Alaska this summer.

Meanwhile, that's daughter Kestral landing a halibut, to the right.

A little bit more: Our Convalescent Center is on the list to get a bit of the Feds' Health & Human Services $1.5 million dollar grant to improve rural health's more.

Soccer guys score in summer tourney: Tony from Islanders Bank says the guys he & Kevin Porter took to a tourney a couple of weeks ago had a great time - here's his scoop:

The soccer tournament went great, it was very hot though. We stayed at the Best Western Cascadia Inn in Everett ---- with an outdoor pool. I think the kids had as much fun swimming as at the games.

The team picture shows the following players in order:  Kneeling in front: James Asher, Makena Christison and Peter Strasser.    
Standing: Peter Holt, Head Coach Kevin Porter, Daniel Porter, Casey Rothlisberger, Joe Fyrqvist, Otis Cooper-West, Max Haenel, Ryan Rojas, Assistant Coach Tony Fyrqvist, Christo Bolger and Brett Paul.
On August 4, 5 and 6 a very young U-12 soccer team, composed mainly of 9 and 10 year olds, played 4 games at the 2006 Marysville Strawberry Classic soccer tournament.  It was a very good learning experience as the boys played for the first time with 11 players on a full sized field.  They clearly won one game, they tied one and lost two.  One of the losses was a very close game and could have gone either way.

Quote: "Winners take time to relish their work, knowing that scaling the mountain is what makes the view from the top so exhilarating." -- Denis Waitley

August 11, 2006

Ride Share kicks off: They'll have a booth at the Fair, with an idea whose time has come: Sharing rides here on the island, and connecting the people who need 'em with people who got 'em.

The final shape of the program is still under discussion, but the basic idea is to get people together, sharing vehicles (and that expensive petrol!) both here on island roads & for off-island trips. Their new web space will give you a taste - check it here - and stay tuned as this good idea develops.

Tom in Tahoe: You remember Tom Meyer, who graduated from FHHS a few years back & has now graduated from Claremont McKenna College? He's working in Tahoe for the Tahoe Bonanza newspaper...and he filed his first article, called "The goals of a young reporter," last week. Here's the article (use the search deal with the words 'tom meyer") and good luck, Tom!

New blog: Carrie from the Home Trust has news:

Hi Ian: The Salal Neighborhood has started its first blog. If you'd like to check out news and notes from the first neighborhood of forever affordable homes on San Juan Island, go to Have a great day! Carrie

Senate candidate coming our way: I heard today that U.S. Senate candidate Hong Tran is coming for the Fair on Friday next week in the early evening - you can probably catch her around the Democrat booth or around the fairgrounds. She is opposing Maria Cantwell in the fall primary. Check her web page for more information about her candidacy.

I'll let you know if any of the others are coming this way....looks like Rep. Rick Larson's coming. I'll find out more....

Rare bird spotted: According to KOIN-TV news, bird watchers are flocking to Skagit County where a blue-footed booby was reportedly seen for the first time in the state since 1935. The seabird, about the size of a goose, is native to the coast of Mexico and the Galapagos Islands. State fishery manager Bill Tweit says the blue-footed booby may be seen between Anacortes and the San Juan Islands, but it's an immature bird so its feet are white rather than blue.

Quote: " It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." -- Krishnamurti

August 10, 2006

Boat sinks in Eagle Cove: Richard from Vessel Assist sent me a story about a boat sinking in the Cove, with the driver saved & the boat, in the end, hauled out. Here's the story.

Another ferry: Looks like Washington State Ferries is gonna build four new boats, at a cost of over $300 million, and we might get one, or one of the used ones from's the details.

Not enough oxygen: What happens when there's oxygen-poor water near the coast? It's not pretty. Here's more, from Oregon (but it applies to us, too! We're interconnected, baby!)

Shakespeare rocks: Listen, I went to see Island Stage Left's The Merchant of Venice last week, and it rocks. Honest - I'm a bit of a Shakespeare scholar (I know, you thought I was a marine biologist, or a web page scholar, or a coffee scholar, or a soccer scholar, or something), and this is easily the clearest, most fun version I've seen...way better than the movie (sorry, Al).

Dan Mayes delivers a riveting Shylock, while Lee Fitzpatrick mixes the delightfulness you expect from Portia with the smarts to make you believe she could pull off impersonating a barrister/judge. It's cool to see Kevin Loomis back on the island as Antonio (he was here for The Drawer Boy and Art, and continues to show a wide range as a performer), and the rest of the cast makes the story come alive.

The new venue at Roche Harbor suffers slightly from airplane racket and a little boat noise, but overall provides an excellent Shakespeare-in-the-park setting. Check it out.

I'm going again....hope to see you there.

Quote: "Nature is doing her best each moment to make us well." - Henry David Thoreau

Relay for Life: At times sobering, at times energetic, at times moving, the 2006 Relay for Life (left) ran last weekend with costumes and events and music, and with the ongoing reminder of why we were there - to help find a cure for cancer.

Here is a 62-picture portfolio of the event, including survivors and all the folks in costume - you'll be able to tell when the theme was "Prom Night"!

August 9, 2006

Art Days: Got a note from Corinne at the Westcott Bay Art Institute:

Westcott Bay Institute would like to invite everyone to attend one or all of the upcoming August Family Art Days.  Family Art Days take place Saturdays from 11am – 4pm at the Westcott Bay Sculpture Park located at the front entrance of Roche Harbor Resort.  These family-oriented ‘hands-on’ art activities are free of cost and are all taught by local artists.  The dates and activities are as follows:
August 12-   Colorful Paper Kites
August 26-   Creating Nature Journals
The activities scheduled in August are led by local artist Simona Burla. 

Creosote no more: The islands are on the list as the Department of Natural Resources moves to clean up the creosote that contaminates the water around's more.

Jammin': Island Rec’s 5th annual Skateboard Jam will be taking place on Thursday August 17th at 12:30 pm. The jam will be held during the fair at the Skateboard Park, which is located on the San Juan County Fairgrounds. There will be a DJ (Shamrock Sound), MC and tons of prizes, so come out and skate or cheer on our participants. Registration forms can be attained in advance through Island Rec or on the day of the competition at the skateboard park between 11:00 and 12:00 pm. Parent /Guardian signatures and helmets are required in order to participate. We are looking for a few more volunteer judges for the event if you are interested please contact Corelia Peacock at 378-4953.

August 8, 2006

What's going on around the island: It's been a slow & lazy summer, with the island ramping up for the County Fair next week...looks like the entertainment schedule is posted on the Fair website, with the Local Harvest band playing again on Thursday night - organized by Tom Doenges (he's the one with the knife on wife Tami) they have Teddy & Cecil & Roger & Steve all back again this year. And sure, we have white water rafting here on the island.

This year the Fair will celebrate its 100th year with free admission for kids 16 and under, so there shouldbe a pretty good mob there, since that'll let those of us with kids save up for elephant ears & stuff. See you there!

French students going there, in January: FHHS French teacher Nancy Jones tells me she has great plans with the kids this winter - here's the scoop, for her:

The San Juan Island School District has approved travel for the French class students to travel to France during the Winter Term in January 2007. The trip will be part of their “Experience France” class, spending 27 days in France. Students will be taking a 2 week immersion course in Montpellier, in the south of France, and staying with host families in the area. Along with the intense language classes, students will be visiting Paris, Avignon, Lyon, and Angers in the Loire Valley. While in Angers, the students will again be housed with local families and attend a local high school, “shadowing” their host student during classes.

In order to offset the travel expenses paid by each student, the French class will be doing local fundraising projects beginning with a car wash on August 12 in the Wells Fargo parking lot, and will be selling berries and ice cream at the SJ County Fair while Madrona Farms takes a 1 year hiatus from the traditional booth. If you wish to offer support, ask questions about the trip or sponsoring a student(s), or donate to their fundraising efforts, you can contact Nancy Jones at 378-5467.

Learning to fly: They were hatched there, raised there, and now they're getting kicked out of the nest - Liz & Janna sent me this photo of the turkey vultures down at their beach cabin who are taking their fledgling flaps, operating off the privy there.

Back at it: Remember Phil Hickenbottom who was working with Wells Fargo's mortgage department? He's got a new business of his own, now called Valor Home Mortgage, Inc. You can give him a call at 378-2227 & check things out.

Solid waste: You don't like to think about it - nobody does. You don't like to even talk about it - but you gotta start. The solid waste situation here on the island needs serious attention, and here's your chance to play a role. Barbara Wright from Public Works tells me there's a meeting on Thursday night that looks like this: It's an Open House for the Community from 7pm-9pm at the Mullis Community Senior Center. She tells me the Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC) will host an Open House to discuss:

* What the San Juan Island community wants in its solid waste management system.
* What recommendation the Solid Waste Advisory Committee should deliver to the San Juan County Council concerning managing San Juan Island’s solid waste.

Please come to this meeting to share your thoughts on these issues and hear about what the Solid Waste Advisory Committee and other members of the public have been working on to address solid waste and recycling needs for the community.

Breasts: Here's an article about breastfeeding in public, and on magazine covers. Maybe that seems incongruous here, but I know that it makes for healthy, well-adjusted kids, which makes for good islands. So, see, it IS connected.

Bowled over: The official word is that the Bowling Alley is closed for repairs & will re-open on the first. Meanwhile, Dave at Jimmy's Cafe says he's still open no matter what they do, so be sure & drop by & eat. I've heard several peole this last week say they can't go eat at the bowling alley, 'cause it's closed...but the restaurant IS open. See ya there.

Quote: Human behavior is rooted most deeply in nature's intentions and desire. The rhythms of nature underlie all of human interaction: religious traditions, economic systems, cultural and political organization. When these human forms betray the natural psychic pulse, people and societies get sick, nature is exploited and entire species are threatened. - Stephen Aizenstat

August 4, 2006

Morning wishes: Every day is a new day, a birthday with presents to open and friends to join. And when it's over, there are people to thank & hug, and reasons to sleep with a smile.

Just like a birthday, here's hoping your day is full of light & love, and new.

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There will be more next week, if anything happens.

Ian Byington

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