San Juan Island Update - serving San Juan Island, Friday Harbor, and Roche Harbor

March 4, 2009

That's new Children's Librarian/assistant librarian Jim Thomas with director Laura Tretter - Jim started yesterday here, after ten years in the King County stystem. It was fun to see him reading with the kids last week during storytime...looks like we got a good one.

Staying in touch.....
You KNOW you've been wanting to do it - you need a way to send e-mails to the masses that look cool & with a program that keeps track of hundreds of folks without making it all spam. Well, here's the one I use.

There are several dozen people using Constant Contact now here on the here to find out more about it. You'll be glad you did - it's a good way to stay in touch with your clients & customers. Check it out.

History in the making...
It was really cool - people dropped by the FHHS library on Saturday for the first of three chances to digitize their historical memories (right).

People brought all kinds of things, from letters to photos to artifacts, so that folks could either scan or photograph them for fuure generations.

The project was put together by the Library & the San Juan Historical Musem (I think there's a little state money in there, too), and it was a blast to look through old FHHS yearbooks while listening to the stories that go with all the things.

That's a Christmas ornament (left) made of maple that was pulled up from Hall Gym in 1999's renovation - the original floor was laid by Kathy Paul's dad (among others) back in 1951, when the gym was first built.

That's the idea of what this project is looking for.

And it was neat to hear Deanna with Al Sundstrom (right) as they went through letters from the 1890s, with photographs from Cattle Point back then.

Firefighter of the Month.....
Carolyn from the Fire Department sent over this month's's more, as she interviews Francis Smith:

Where were you born? Paisley, Scotland - a long, long time ago.

Familial status (married/kids/pets): Married to Rebecca K. Smith ("Blondie"). No kids (forgot), two tomcats - one Siamese and one orange tabby (Charles and Darwin)

Name a favorite food/music/team/show etc.? Mashed potatoes, Rock and Roll - particularly AC -DC, Pink Floyd, Springsteen, Emmylou Harris etc.

What kind of hobbies do you have? Naturalist, writing, watercolors, reading, sailing boats, hauling our travel trailer around the NW.

What is your day job? What is the most interesting job you've held? Retired!!! Most interesting job - developing new drug for rheumatoid arthritis. Most fun job - charter boat skipper in Friday Harbor.

What brought you to SJI? 20 years ago - while cruising on our sailboat. We decided this was the place, so we quit our corporate jobs, sold our house in Redmond and lived on our boat in various places around the island.

What area do you live in? Cape San Juan

What do you like about living on SJI? It's an island! Small town living. Volunteer fire and EMS. The natural surroundings. It's all great!

What do you find is the hardest part about living on SJI? The ferries cost too &^%$#@! much.

What comes to mind when you hear "Only on SJI..."? Carpooling from the Cape to Roche Harbor.

What is your position/job within the department? It seems to vary a lot. I've been every rank (some twice) from basic firefighter all the way to Battalion Chief. I'm currently a Captain of Stations 32 and 33 and (as the Chief says,) I'm the glue that holds the heavy and rope rescue team together - not sure what he means by that....

When and Why did you join the fire department? Was pressured/threatened by even older neighbors at the Cape in 1995.

What do you like best about the department? The volunteers and the big red trucks. My main interest is the rescue team and our work with our EMT colleagues, taking care of folks who have been in a vehicle accident.

What has been your most exciting event since joining the department? I think most firefighters remember the intense excitement of the first time they are inside a house which is actually on fire ("This is nuts!"). I also can remember every instant of the first time I felt that I didn't know the way out of a burning building (happened to be a training fire). "Exciting" may be the wrong term in this case.

What did you find the hardest Fire Fighter skill to learn? Hazardous materials and biohazard lectures - ick. Gives me nosebleeds and reduced levels of consciousness just listening to this stuff. It's also very difficult to show up on scene and put on a confident face for frantic citizens who may be having the worst day of their lives.

Do you have other volunteer activities? I'm an EMT with San Juan EMS 

Describe your ideal day off: Rummaging around the beaches and the woods with a notebook and binoculars and my watercolor paints.

What are you most proud of? Charles, my Siamese tomcat can open most unlocked doors.

What would you like on your epitaph? Eccentric but harmless enough. Often seen with piles of books, butterfly net and emergency services radio. How did Rebecca put up with him all those years?

The swim team wraps it up last weekend....
Paul Hopkins from the Fitness Center said it was a blast - here's more:

Swim Team Finale! On Saturday, Feb. 28th, the Orcas and the Dolphins swam their little mammalian hearts out - it was the end of a very wet and FUN season for the local kids involved in the San Juan Island Fitness Swim Team. The pool is Olympic size- 25 yds. long with 4 lanes. The kids swam against each other in many different heats and relays, including a fun family freestyle relay (swimming against other families) and a T-shirt relay (swimming with a t-shirt on). These kids ROCK!

The opportunity to offer this wonderful sport to the kids of our Island is due to the involvement of many dedicated parents and a few incredible local  swimmers. The Dolphins and Orcas would not be in existence today if not for the constant and enthusiastic presence of Head Coach Brenda Beckett- we kiss her webbed feet! Jen Durgin as the trusty assistant and Susan Mahoney in the role of team “den mother."  All worked alongside Brenda to keep the kids working hard and things running smoothly. Kudos to one and all!

If you know a young swimmer in need of a team, contact San Juan Island Fitness (378-4449) for information about the next swim season (Fall 2009).

The roster for this year was:

ORCAS - Grace Willows, Kaitlyn Domenech, Cady Wilson, Halle Carrier, Conner Coffelt, Bela Boyd, Paige Carlson, Sammantha Hopkins, Mackenzie Mapstead, Joe Stewart, Katherine Close, Mindy Brandli, Will Christison, Hannah Hopkins, Noe Roberts

DOLPHINS - Julian Brown, Isabella Brown, Amelia Calverley, Lauren Ayers, Helen Phelps, Vida Demuth-Wight, Yasmin Sarah, Rachel Porter, Emma Wickman, Beatrice Grauman, Seda Durham-Guckian, Henry Arnold, Savannah Hoffman, Annabelle Durgin-Johnson, Kyle Mapstead, and Laurel Robertson

What's happening on the island!
click for more info:

All around the world....
It was cool to see our PTA president Deb Nolan on YouTube, peaking in Olympia last week.'s the clip.

Above the surface, below the surface.....
Alex Shapiro photographed a great double-ended rainbow & put it on her site - check it out!

Meanwhile, Oregon Live has a nice story about how cool it is to dive in Puget Sound - there's beauty below the surface, too. See it here.

Movies at the library....
Adrienne tells me there's movies for you this next couple of Fridays:

Family Film Night! Gather up the family and enjoy these free movies on the big screen together! Popcorn & beverages provided courtesy of the Friends of the Library!

March 6th at 6:30pm
Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium - Meet Mr. Magorium, owner of the "most amazing toy store in the world!" where all the toys come to life!

March 13th at 6:30pm
James and the Giant Peach - See the animated version of this classic story by Roald Dahl on the big screen!

Kinda like Big Bro, Big Sis.....
I really want to see this one work - it makes all the difference in how kids around here feel they belong....

Gail Leschine-Seitz wrote to tell me: "I'm wondering if you can help me out with another of our programs! We desperately need mentors for our mentor program. It is like a big brother, big sister program. We have been in existence now for 9 years and we currently have 20 active mentor pairs, but we haven't been getting may new mentors lately. We currently have a waiting list of kids ages 9 to 14 with a variety of talents and interests.

The commitment for the adults involved is about an hour and a half a week and we match based on their specifications and interests. We have a great group of kids, most of which I also work with at the school. It's one of the funnest ways to volunteer in our community! Please let people know!

Thanks! All the best! Here's the press release!


San Juan Island Mentoring Program: Do you have a skill or hobby you would like to share with a young person? Can you commit one to two hours a week for a community service that is fun and personally enriching? Do you have experience with kids? If you answered yes to these three questions, The San Juan Island Mentoring Program is looking for you.

Our program matches adults with kids ages 9-14 with similar interests in a buddy program. We have students with a variety of talents and interests that are looking for connection and a fun way to spend after school or weekend time.

Please call Gail or Joyce at the San Juan Island Family Resource Center if you are interested or to find out more. 378-5246.

Jill says you need to go....
Jill Urbach dropped me a note to remind you to go see Our Town:

Hey, Ian!
I saw "Our Town" - please encourage everyone to go see it. Like all the productions at the Community Theatre, the costumes, set and acting are great. But this production also engenders such a feeling of community and makes our past accessible. It touched my heart.
All the best,
Jill Urbach

The EAA gets it together....
James wrote to tell us:

I would like to inform the public that we will have a general meeting of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) this coming Wednesday evening (March 4th) at 7 PM at Ernie's Airport Cafe, 744 Airport Circle Dr ( next to UPS). This general meeting is to organize the EAA Chapter and inform the public as to the mission of the EAA to educate through the building and operation of a small aircraft.
Thank you,
James Crossley
Tel 40...

You say you wanna revolution....
Then be a part of the change - starting with the way get around. Take the survey on the Bike Trails site. Now. Then get back to work.

Chocolate makers to visit....
Maureen and Linda have the word - I'll be posting more as we get closer to it:

Hi. It's so exciting!!
Enrique Cerda, a member of the Kallari Chocolate Association in Ecuador, and translator/intern Rebecca Roebber will be visiting Friday Harbor as guests of Land & Sea Slow Food San Juan Island March 16, 17, & 18. Here's more on our website!

There's more than just the play.....
Sandy from Historic Friday Harbor says there's even one more reason to see Our Town:

EXHIBIT: FRIDAY HARBOR 1900-1930! For the price of a ticket, theatre-goers will enjoy the play plus an exhibit of artifacts and ephemera from Friday Harbor dating from 1900 through 1930. The exhibit documents how early residents of Friday Harbor experienced the universal themes set to drama in Wilder’s play.

The exhibit was designed through collaboration between the San Juan Historical Museum and the Town of Friday Harbor’s Historic Preservation Program.

The Toy Box - the hours are just a little different.....
Nancy's away, so here's the deal:

Hi Ian:
Please let folks know that the Toy Box will have abbreviated hours next week while David and I attend the Western Toy and Hobby Show in Pomona, California. CJ will open weekdays after school. The weekend will be normal business hours (10AM – 5:30 on Saturday and 10-5 on Sunday). Then on Friday 3/5, Monday 3/9, Tuesday 3/10, and Wednesday 3/11 we’ll be open from 3PM – 5:30PM. We hope to find all the hot toys and games down there and soak up some vitamin D in the process!!
Nancy Hanson

My dog is worried about the economy because Alpo is up to $3.00 a can. That's almost $21.00 in dog money.
Joe Weinstein

March 2, 2009

Scott and Alisa Schoultz proudly show off their daughter, Vera Jane (right) when I ran into them this weekend...she's a month and a half old, already. I am pretty sure her French lessons, physics classes, and algebra homework is all going well....

Spring sports begin...making a "state"-ment...
It all gets going today at FHHS, with the full plate of sports beginning - baseball, softball, track, girls' tennis, boys' soccer, and golf all get underway.

It should be an interesting spring - seems to me baseball has a super chance to go all the way (you heard it here, first), while we have some state-level golfers as well. Keep an eye on these kids....

Coming back & giving back....
It was good to have one of FHHS better all-time baseball players return to the island this past weekend to offer a series of baseball/softball clinics...Fletcher Vynne (right) put on a good show with the kids, inside & out.

That Giveaway...worked!
Here's more from Marie & the Soroptimists (sounds like a '60s band, eh?):

Soroptimist Great Island Giveaway Event is big success: Congratulations to everyone who helped make the Soroptimist ‘Great Island Giveaway’ service project last Saturday a true recycling success. Fun was had by all at the first community ‘free’ swap meet! If you did not participate this year, you won't want to miss out next year. The event went smoothly and people left with their bags full of goodies and smiles on their faces, as we promoted recycling and helped our community out.

Soroptimists collected about 300 items for the swap meet. One young woman with her daughter made a haul with a bike, toys, pictures for her wall etc. and they both left very pleased with their acquisitions. Our island is a wonderful place to live where people can share and truly make a difference in each other’s lives. The Great Giveaway was a refreshing exchange, fun, orderly and provided everyone with an opportunity to give and receive.

Thank you to all who donated items. A special thank you to the volunteers who are a part of the wonderful Friday Harbor Soroptimist International organization who continues to "make a difference" in little ordinary, sometimes extraordinary ways. Please mark your calendar for the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day Extravaganza Dinner and Auction on Saturday, March 14 at the Yacht Club. For more info go to the calendar on

That's our loyal school supporters in Olympia last Thursday, with our representative, Jeff Morris: from left, SJISD Supe Michael Soltman, Jeff, Deborah Nolan, County Council member Lovel Pratt, a friend from Anacortes, and San Juan School District Board members Heidi Lopez and Boyd Pratt.

Report from Olympia.....
I asked FHHS PTSA prez Deb Nolan how the trip went last week - she reports:

Ian, We awoke to snow and ice but a bus load of parents made our way down to Olympia yesterday to take part in The PTA Focus Day rally on the capital steps. It was said to have been the largest rally ever with over 400 participants. State legislators and senators came pouring out of the building to attend.

The main message is that we can not go on with a system that is underfunded and not meeting the needs of our students. I even got to make a short speech (right) about how great our community is about supporting our schools (we pass all our levies, volunteer, etc) and even with that, there is not enough money. The task force studies are over and all agree that something has to be done and they are committed to workout a compromise bill and set things in place. Money, of course, is the big piece of the puzzle that is missing this year. It is never too late to write the governor or our state reps, Jeff Morris, Dave Quall, or Kevin Ranker and mention that even in a tight year, schools are suppose to be our paramount duty, and proper funding should be a top priority.
Thanks, Deb

I had heard Paul Harvey say a few years ago that he was not really a newscaster, but just someone who likes to report on the parade passing by....I grew up listening to Mr. Harvey in the 1960s, when my grandmother would serve lunch and we'd all go quiet, listening to that unique, sometimes exaggerated voice read the news. His series of little fables/parables/anecdotes called "The Rest of the Story" rounded out his vision of good people trying the best they can to do good things.

For your convenience, here are three YouTube videos featuring his work:
Letter from God
One episode: The Rest of the Story
and the ABC report of his passing this weekend:

Good day.

February 27, 2009

That's the view from Mt Finlayson yesterday morning, in a picture sent in by Hobbes Buchannan.

He wasn't the only one out - that's his happy puppy Tucker having a great time in the quickly melting snow. The weekend's forecast is for a bunch of rain on Sunday, but you never can tell how it's really gonna turn out.

The future of the economy.....on the island....
In his blog, Notes from the Path, Charles Richardson offers his thoughts about the directions that things here may take....he begins the conversation as a followup of his thoughts after visiting with developer Michael Mayes, and carries on from there.

There are parts you may agree with & parts you may disagree with, but I like the way his notions are thoughtfully put.

Worth your time to read, I'd say.

Girl Scout cookies - they're here!
Jan with the Girls Scouts checks in:

I know it's last minute but wanted to make sure you know that the cookies have arrived! The island's Jr. Girl Scout and Brownie troops will be out selling the goodies starting TODAY at 3:00. We'll be at Islanders Bank and walking around town with wagons full of cookies until 5:00 and then at Marketplace tomorrow (Saturday) from 11 to 3, at Kings' on Sunday from 11 to 3 and then at Marketplace again on Monday from 3 to 6.

Boxes are $4 each or $48 for a case. There's a newly shaped Lemon Chalet Creme and a caramal Dulce de Leche plus the usuals like THIN MINTS, SOMOAS and TAG A LONGS.

We have 22 girls involved in this effort and lots of cookies to sell!



Three to four dozen islanders attended the rally for education yesterday in Olympia, which the state PTA labeled a success (click here for their remarks.)

FHHS teacher Jim McNairy took his government class down (right) for the day to check out the rally, and tour the Capitol grounds, which included a trip to the Supreme Court (they were in session), the state Senate (also in session, and they saw our local boy Kevin Ranker there) and the rest of the Capitol building. Photos by Update reporter & FHHS senior Cameron Byington.

We have a long way to go with education funding - I hope this is a good first step.

Trying out for the movie.....
You know the Twilight book & movie series the teenagers around here are loving....well, they're filming one of the books in Vancouver, and FHHS' Jenny Gustafson went to see if she could get a part in's more, from the Newsflic blog. The section below was posted a couple of days ago, but has been removed from the posting today.

... Some, like 17-year-old Jenny Gustafson, wrapped themselves in blankets to fight the cold and ease the jitters.

“I’m from the San Juan Islands near Friday Harbor,” the half-Athabascan teenager said, huddled in a black-and-blue fleece wrap.

Gustafson and her mother, Mary Long, had to wake up at 4:30 a.m. to catch a 6 a.m. ferry.

Even though Gustafson had no previous acting experience, her love for Stephenie Meyer’s series was more than enough motivation for the trek.

“I like any romance novel, and this one was kind of unique because of the forbidden love thing,” she said.

“I thought something would come up and she’d forget about it,” Long laughed at the mention of this teenage craze. “I hate to get up early. But she pushed through.

“Then again, it’s an experience,” she continued. “I told these guys around me who are getting discouraged and worried that, either they’re going to be in it or they’ll say, ‘Hey, I was standing beside that guy!’ So that’s gotta mean something, right?”

Looking for a few good babysitters....
Abby from Island Rec tells me this is your chance to get certified:

Learn to be a Babysitter! Island Rec is offering an American Red Cross Babysitting class for boys and girls 11 and older. Deadline to register is March 4th.  This 6-hour class will meet takes place Saturday March 7th!

This course will teach the responsibilities and outline the qualities of being a good babysitter.  The class covers decision-making, supervision, safety, emergency situations, basic first aid, routine dressing, diapering and feeding scenarios.  The day is full of fun activities, videos and lively discussion to real life problem-solving situations.  Participants will receive a babysitter’s handbook upon successful completion become certified in ARC Babysitting.

Detailed class information and registration forms are available from Island Rec’s Winter/Spring Program Guide and they can be printed off at   Check out the website or call Island Rec’s at 378-4953 for more information. 

Climbing, once again....
That's Andy & Jill Urbach on the ferry (right)....Andy writes to say he's going to take the climbing challenge he took last year, again: Here's more:

Dear Friends,

At 788 feet of vertical elevation, the Columbia Center in downtown Seattle, stands as the second tallest building west of the Mississippi.  It takes 69 flights of stairs and 1,311 steps to reach the highly acclaimed observation deck overlooking the city.  On Sunday, March 8, 2009, firefighters will race up the stairs in full fire gear and SCBA to help raise funds and awareness for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  This year, over 1,500 firefighters from 300 different departments are expected to compete in the event, making it the single largest firefighting competition in the world.

I have decided to pull on my gear, once again, and participate along with my fellow firefighters.  I am asking you to help by supporting my fundraising efforts with a donation.  Click either of the links below to donate online.  If your company has a matching gift, please fill out the required paperwork from your company.   Any amount, great or small, helps in the fight against blood cancers.  I greatly appreciate your support and will keep you posted on my progress.  Your tax-deductible gift will make a difference in the lives of many.  Thank you!

Andy Urbach (Click here to visit my personal page.)

Have you seen Rebecca Barnard's new book?
It's called "LOSE YOUR THIGHS! and your legs will fall off" - and you can order it here. Get yours today!

Going green - people notice!
Greg and Naoni Zervas at Hillside House Bed & Breakfast in Friday Harbor have recently been awarded 4 Green Eco-Leaves, an “Excellent” rating, by I Stay Green Organization, a company which encourages environmentally friendly practices in the lodging industry.  They completed a detailed audit of eco-incentives used at Hillside House to insure a more sustainable future for their property & for beautiful San Juan Island.

This eco-rating allows the public to know the specific environmental initiatives in place at a property, which enables the environmentally conscious traveler to make informed lodging decisions.

To read about many of the eco-friendly actions at Hillside House, please see their website at & click on “Living Green” in the right-hand menu. To view the complete audit, go to “Hillside House Bed & Breakfast Environmental  Self-Audit” at

Why they're closed for the week....
Just got this note from Genie & Eddie (right):

Hi Ian,
Just a quick note to let you know that the Hot Shop and Flavor Emporium will be closed from February 26th through March 3rd so we can attend the 2009 Fiery Food and BBQ Show in Albuquerque New Mexico. We are excited to see a lot of the faces of the people we have met online and over the phone this past year. We are looking forward to bringing back some new and exciting products and gearing up for the spring season. Spice is nice, but it's gotta have flavor!

Eddie & Genie Williams
The San Juan Hot Shop and Flavor Emporium

More from that KING5 thing....
Darren from San Juan TV reports in:

Hey Ian!

That’s great you posted our local businesses and locations on the King5 Best of Western Washington contest. Lisa and I noticed they had a category for scenic drives, so we nominated the new San Juan Islands Scenic Byway. It was just added today. The North Cascades might win (already with a big lead and 60% of the vote), but we are the only scenic byway in the state that includes a marine highway!

- Darren

Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity.
Christopher Morley

Ian Byington sings

The information here is simply stuff we here at By Design think is important around Friday Harbor or on San Juan Island.

Some of it is news, some of it is 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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