Author Archives: Sandi Friel

Community Spirit an Eternal Spring on Orcas Island

Sandi FrielBy Sandi Friel

Although today is the official start of Spring, on Orcas Island we’ve been basking in the new season for a few weeks now. Locals are downright giddy with the longer sunny days, birdsongs fill the air and trees are bursting with buds and new life. I’m reminded how no matter what the season, the spirit of Orcas feels like it’s in a state of Eternal Spring — birthing new ideas and ventures, growing a vibrant and healthy community, evolving and inspiring, especially in the face of tragedy or setbacks. Here are a few recent examples that come to mind.

Orcas Island Food Co-opOrcas Island Food Co-op
This is one of the most exciting changes on Orcas, and it’s coming to fruition in a few weeks. Sprouting up at the location of the former Homegrown Market which closed its doors in 2013, the Orcas Island Food Co-op is a member-owned entity focused on providing local and organically grown food to islanders. It will also foster education about local agriculture and provide a strong link between farmers and the community. Already 500 members strong, the Co-op has assembled a great team at the helm, and with the help of numerous volunteers, doors will be opening soon. Kudos to all those making this a reality!

Craic'rs playing at Random Howse

Local Irish band the Craic’rs playing at Random Howse earlier this week for St. Paddy’s Day

Random Howse
Random Howse was conceived last fall by Clyde and April Duke after they purchased an underutilized building in Eastsound. The building, complete with a stage and interior balcony, had been home to a series of restaurant ventures. Now, thanks to the Dukes, Random Howse is filling the stage with local talent — from musicians to comedy acts — and serving it up with top-notch food. It’s a fun casual gathering spot that’s enhanced life on Orcas. 

Score! Nifty Thrifty
In early 2013, we lost the island’s popular re-use center — the Exchange — in an accidental fire. Plans are underway to rebuild it, but in the meantime two islanders sprung into action and opened Score! Nifty Thrifty in June. Filling a much needed void, owners Susan Malins and Tina Roye say that once they start turning a profit, they’ll donate 25 percent of proceeds towards local nonprofits. Their mission is “community sharing” and they plan to keep Score! available to islanders until the Exhange reopens. Thank you Susan and Tina for your community spirit and filling this need!

Breakfast at Cafe Olga

Hearty breakfast at Café Olga – just as delicious in Eastsound!

The Artworks and Café Olga
While we don’t want to be known as the island of fires, we had more than one last year. In July a suspicious fire ravaged the historic building in Olga which houses the Artworks (one of the oldest artist cooperatives in the U.S.), James Hardman Gallery and Café Olga. This happened at the height of tourist season, devastating the artists, café workers and owners. In nature, fire breeds new life, and it seems to have the same effect on the Orcas community. Less than a month after the fire and with a huge volunteer effort, the Artworks and James Hardman Gallery re-opened in a temporary location in Eastsound. Later in the fall, Café Olga reopened in a temporary Eastsound location. Public donations and support have poured in to help the Olga Strawberry Council renovate and reopen the historic building in Olga. It’s just not possible to dampen the Orcas spirit.

Poetry reading at The Garret in Eastsound

Poetry reading by Suzanne Heyd at “The Garret”, a pop-up gallery in Eastsound

Pop-Ups
Like spring bulbs that pop up to bring color to a small area, pop-up businesses and ventures bring an unused building to life for a short time. There were three pop-ups in Eastound last year, and I visited all of them. Locals Andrew and Emily Youngren opened Pop-up Print Shop for the summer summer – a very cool T-shirt store with unique local designs and ability to print while you wait.  The Garret was a pop-up gallery for one weekend during Art Walk, with poetry readings, live poetry compositions and art by Susan Slapin. Orcas Island Originals was a pop up gift shop for the holidays in the Shearwater Kayaks shop, during the non-kayak season. I think the pop-up is a neat synergistic concept and here to stay.

Finally, fittingly, March 20th is now also designated as the International Day of Happiness. I think this recent video captures the spirit of eternal spring on Orcas Island – playful and vibrant at all ages. Enjoy!

Looking to enjoy the simple life on beautiful Orcas Island?
Contact T Williams Realty - we’ll help you find your way home.

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Stayin’ Alive on Orcas Island with Top Emergency Medical Care

Sandi Friel

Posted by Sandi

Recently I took a community CPR Class offered by Orcas Fire and Rescue. It wasn’t at all what I expected – there was no mouth-to-mouth! We were taught the new hands-only technique of chest compressions to the tune of the Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive.” Apparently not only the theme of the song is appropriate, but the beat is just the right speed for compressions and easy to conjure up in the throes of an emergency.

CPR class on Orcas Island

Free CPR class held recently at the Deer Harbor Community Club.

The presentation revealed that cardiac arrest is most likely to happen at home and the first moments of response are critical. Chances of survival decrease 5 -10 percent every minute without CPR. Ideally CPR should be administered within 4 minutes.

Northwest on Orcas Island

Airlift Northwest, a cost effective provider of medical airlift service, visits a recent Saturday Farmers Market on Orcas.

What really got my attention is how our area ranks in emergency medical care. I was pleasantly surprised to learn San Juan County is one of the highest ranking rural counties for out-of-hospital cardiac survivability, i.e. able to leave the hospital with normal function. According to the CDC, nationally only seven percent of people who experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA) survive. But in San Juan County, the survival rate is closer to 50%. And in 2012, 80% of patients with OHCA were stabilized and delivered to the hospital with their hearts pumping on their own.

This is impressive, especially considering we’re an isolated island community. So how do we do it?

I spoke with OIFR Assistant Chief Mik Preysz, and he gives much of the credit to San Juan County Medical Program Director Dr. Michael Sullivan for keeping our first responders equipped with cutting edge equipment, extensive training and community outreach programs, such as CPR classes. Dr. Sullivan’s resume is a dream sheet of emergency medicine experience; we are lucky to have him in our community heading our medical program.

Another positive statistic is emergency response times. In 2012 there were 783 alarm calls on Orcas Island with an overall average response time of 8 minutes, 17 seconds. The average response time for Eastsound Station 21 was 6 minutes, 14 seconds. This compares favorably to Seattle, with a model EMS response time of 8 minutes or less for 90% of calls. Seattle is tops among cities worldwide for response times and emergency medical care, and Orcas and San Juan County are working to deliver a similar standard of care for our island residents.

With budget constraints and a paid OIFR staff of twelve (including eight emergency responders), this level of care in our rural environment is only possible through an amazing network of 85 volunteers (including 62 first responders).  Still, we should all do our part and learn CPR. Let’s keep Orcas Stayin’ Alive!

Looking to enjoy the simple life on beautiful Orcas Island?
Contact T Williams Realty - we’ll help you find your way home.

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Awesome Spring Chicken Soup

Sandi FrielPosted by Sandi

Trees are budding, birds are singing and one by one, my friends and family have succumbed to end-of-season coughs and sniffles.  Determined to remain healthy, I’ve been vigilantly washing my hands, getting my rest, taking Vitamin C – the usual defenses. Still, this week I was invaded by the dreaded Spring Cold.  Even on beautiful Orcas Island, the Spring Cold ain’t pretty!

I instinctively felt the urge for a healing pot chicken soup. Cooking is not my “thing” and in the past my homemade chicken soup has been blah at best.  So I scoured the internet for recipe ideas and picked elements of each that I combined into one Awesome Chicken Soup! This soup has a delicate but complex blend of flavors with enough punch to break through those gunky taste buds when you’re sick, and would also be a tasty treat for a healthy palate. I’m happy to report that after three courses  (along with other homeopathic goodies) I’m on the mend. :)

Awesome Chicken Soup

Awesome Chicken Soup

2 bone-in chicken breasts
1 large onion, quartered
4 garlic cloves, crushed
3 stalks Celery, chopped
Carrots – I used baby carrots but you could chop whole carrots
Sea Salt
Pepper
Curry powder
Nutmeg
1 Lemon
Rosemary – fresh

Optional – bay leaf, fresh parsley. I didn’t have these on hand.

Put chicken breasts in pot, cover with water
Add whole quartered onion, 4 crushed garlic cloves, sea salt, curry, nutmeg, pepper. Note: I didn’t measure the spices but used generous amounts!

Bring to boil, cook approx 30-45 minutes uncovered till chicken done

Remove chicken, onions and garlic from stock pot. Save the chicken and  throw out onions and garlic.

While shredding meat off the breasts, bring stock to boil, add chopped celery

After 5 min, add carrots

After 10 minutes, add pasta (I used ½ box of Barilla Plus rotini), Bring to boil, cook for 10 min and reduce to simmer

Stir in shredded chicken, squeeze of whole lemon and fresh rosemary

Serve with fresh grated parmesan on top

Serves 6-8

There are endless ways to vary this, and if  you have an Awesome Chicken Soup recipe to share, I’d love to hear it!


Looking to enjoy the simple life on beautiful Orcas Island?

Contact T Williams Realty - we’ll help you find your way home.

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The Many Moods of “White Rock”


SandiGravatarSM CROPPEDPosted by Sandi

You’ve read our posts about Indian Island, the curious tiny island in Fishing Bay, Eastsound. Well there’s another tiny island off the west coast of Orcas Island that I’m curious about: White Rock.

Located halfway between Flattop Island and Waldron Island, White Rock is just one of 172 islands in the San Juan archipelago. But I happen to look out upon it every day. And therein lies its magic: Depending on time and type of day and season, it takes on a completely different mood. Take a look:

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When we first got a boat a few years ago, one of my first requests was a closer investigation of this magical rock, actually the tip of an ancient submerged mountain.

Nautical chart of White Rock, Orcas Island

The red arrow is pointing to White Rock, southwest of Disney Point on Waldron Island. Part of the San Juan Islands National Wildlife Refuge, boaters need to stay 200 yards away – no landing ashore.

White Rock, Orcas Island

The Rock is more interesting than I thought — some vegetation and lots of orange stuff — a lichen perhaps?

White Rock, Orcas Island

To give you an idea of scale, note the harbor seal hauled out on rock

Soon we’ll be moving higher up the hill when our house is finished. While I won’t miss our current cramped quarters, I’ll miss gazing upon an ever changing face of White Rock, my trusty friend and focal point through all seasons.

Looking to enjoy the simple life on beautiful Orcas Island?
Contact T Williams Realty – we’ll help you find your way home.

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Feathered Friends have Flocks of Fans on Orcas Island

Posted by Sandi

And I’m not talking about Seahawks fans – although there are plenty of those too.

Orcas Island – and the rest of the San Juan Islands – is home to many bird enthusiasts. There are guided bird walks, Frank Richardson Wildfowl Preserve, and of course we’re a migratory stop on the Pacific Flyway. But I recently found another bird-loving contingent here.

Charlie the African Grey Parrot on Orcas Island

Charlie

About 10 days before Christmas, my neighbor passed away leaving behind ‘Charlie,’ her beloved thirty-something Congo African Grey Parrot. I volunteered to find Charlie a new forever home.

First stop was the Orcas Animal Protection Society  where I was given names of several local parrot owners/experts to contact. All of these ladies gave me excellent info on what criteria to look for in Charlie’s new home. One offered to be foster mom until we found the perfect landing place.

Next I joined the Orcas Island Pets group on Facebook. This interactive page is where you can ask for advice, trade pet supplies, post lost and found pets, and rehome  or adopt a pet.

Charlie the Parrot in his new home on Orcas Island

Charlie gets a new home for Christmas

The grand slam, though, came when I posted on two online Yahoo groups: “Deer Harbor Community Bulletin Board”  and “Westsound Neighbor-to-Neighbor”. I was flooded with emails, phone calls and offers to help. That’s when I found the perfect home for Charlie: Ed and Amy Masters.

Ed and Amy and their two teenage sons live on a 10-acre farm near Westsound. They own Orcas Island Shuttle (our local rental car company) and work from home, so Charlie will have constant attention and activity. Amy has experience with parrots and a close friend that raises parrots. She always wanted an African Grey. They’re prepared to provide a loving home to Charlie for the next 30+ years.

Charlie the Parrot on Orcas Island

Charlie flies to his new mom during Christmas dinner

We delivered Charlie a few days before Christmas to their beautiful 3-story A-frame home, overlooking a large pond with their pet ducks and geese. They also have horses and chickens.

Charlie has now integrated well into the family and they all LOVE him! Each day he responds with revealing more of his intuitive personality and extensive vocabulary. On Christmas Eve, they allowed him to perch outside his cage for the first time, and during dinner he flew to Amy and perched on her arm for the duration of the family meal.

I’m so thrilled at the happy ending to this story. And it was made possible through the amazing community network of caring people we have here on Orcas Island. Thanks Orcas!

Looking to enjoy the simple life on beautiful Orcas Island?
Contact T Williams Realty  - we’ll help you find your way home.

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What’s Up, SeaDoc?

Posted by Sandi

We’re fortunate to have many conservation-oriented organizations in the San Juan Islands dedicated to understanding, preserving and restoring our ecosystems. One of the most important is the SeaDoc Society, based on Orcas Island.

The SeaDoc Society, Orcas IslandSeaDoc sponsors a very cool Marine Science Lecture Series on Orcas in the fall/winter. I’ve been to many of these and highly recommend them. Get there early as they’re usually packed! It starts with cookies and refreshments, followed by a slide presentation with a scientist, then Q&A. It’s a fun educational event for all ages. Click here for the schedule. The next one is December 11th and focuses on potential local impacts of Climate Change.

SeaDoc is now posting videos of these informative presentations on their website. The October lecture was fascinating and one well worth watching: Indirect Effects of Humans on Native Species and Ecosystems.

Black-Tailed Deer on Orcas Island

Foxglove and Daisies, both non-natives, thrive here because they’re not on the deer diet.

The biggest takeaway for me was that our deer population, which is 10 times larger than it was when we had apex predators on the island, is responsible for large declines in native plant variety and therefore songbirds — two of my loves. Professor Peter Arcese, the lecturer from University of British Columbia, says responsible stewardship is the only way to reduce the deer population so that the ecosystem can begin to recover.

Stewardship is a nice word for hunting, which I’ve been adamantly opposed to. However, this lecture really opened my eyes as to the impact of letting the deer population run wild. Our current hunting law, though, permits up to two deer to be “taken” per hunter per year. Venison anyone?

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The Edgy Art Scene on Orcas Island

Posted by Sandi

Opening night of the Edge art show at Orcas Center, Orcas Island WA

Opening night of the Edge art show at Orcas Center’s Madrona Room. There were so many participants the displays spilled out into the reception area and hall.

This weekend marked the opening of the Edge Art show at Orcas Center, featuring alternative art from artists in our community. The techniques and mediums varied wildly and included felted puppets, indian headdresses, venetian plaster/gold leaf abstracts, collage of homeless persons’ signs and stunning “gun powder” art from Clyde Duke, a local contractor and fire commissioner.

Writers composing poetry at the Orcas Center Edge art show 2012

Writers composing poetry “while you wait” on old fashioned typewriters.

Most unusual was a group of poets typing poems on ticker tape using old-fashioned typewriters. Give a keyword to one of them, and they’d compose a poem around it. My word was “autumn” and I was surprised when a gal named Kat tracked me down to recite it and give me the carbon copy as a memento. What a creative bunch! This group also published a Zine which was a new concept to me.

Soul Flour Bakery wood-fired pizza on Orcas Island

While waiting for my pizza, I munched on one of their delicious organic cookies — a chewy concoction of oatmeal, berries and chocolate.

The Friday night opening event included yummy wood-fired pizza from Soul Flour Bakery as well as beer from our new Island Hoppin’ Brewery. Many of the artists were present, and it was fun to see familiar faces in a different context from their day jobs. The show will continue at Orcas Center throughout October. And although there won’t be food or “poems while you wait,” I recommend you attend to see the alternative art side of Orcas Island!


Looking to enjoy the simple life on beautiful Orcas Island?
Contact T Williams Realty  - we’ll help you find your way home.

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Explore the “Discovery Garden” in Skagit Valley

Posted by Sandi

I’m tightly anchored to this rock we call Orcas Island – by choice. I love staying in its dreamworld spell and probably only head to the mainland once every few months. When I do, there’s a few favorite spots I like to hit when I’ve got extra time. One is the WSU Discovery Garden on State Road 536 in Mount Vernon.

map of Skagit Valley Display Gardens

The Discovery Garden is part of the WSU Skagit Valley Extension which includes a Research Center and the WWFRF Fruit Garden.

The Discovery Garden is a demonstration garden of the Skagit Valley Master Gardeners. These volunteers have created more than 25 separate gardens for the enjoyment and education of the public. Some of my favorites are the Japanese Garden, Heather Garden, and Native Plant Garden. The garden is open dawn to dusk and there’s something to see anytime of year. Even if you just have 20 minutes to spare, it’s worth a stop. And it’s free!

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The Master Gardener program is an extension of Washington State University. It started in King County in the 1970′s and has now grown to 46 states and four Canadian provinces. The gardeners are trained and certified in the program, and they assist the extension in teaching sound gardening practices to individuals and communities. They hold annual plant sales, monitor insects and diagnose diseased plants brought in by the public.

No matter your gardening interest — fruits, veggies, roses, ornamentals or natives — these devoted volunteers are available to help your garden become a success. So next time you’re headed to or from the San Juan Islands, take a short detour to the Discovery Garden and see their passions in action!

Looking to enjoy the simple life on beautiful Orcas Island?
Contact T Williams Realty  - we’ll help you find your way home.

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Summer Relief: 5 Ways to Chill Out on Orcas Island

Posted by Sandi

Last week while Seattle posted a record high of 93 degrees, the cool Salish Sea surrounding Orcas Island kept us a refreshing 10 to 20 degrees cooler. So if you’re not already on Orcas Island, the first thing to do is just get here! When you’re on island and feeling the heat, try these ways to keep your cool:

Cascade Lake - Moran State Park, Orcas Island

Cascade lake is a popular swimming hole on hot summer days.

Jump in a lake – The best way to cool off is a dip in one of our beautiful lakes in Moran State Park. The most most popular is Cascade Lake– which also has a beach, dock, snack bar and paddle boats for rent, along with coin-operated hot showers. Choose more remote Mountain Lake for a quieter back-to-nature experience. It’s the locals’ favorite hiking spot too.

Cascade Falls - Moran Park, Orcas Island

The falls along Cascade Creek are most impressive in the spring and fall, but a refreshing place to hike in the summer too.

Hike the cool forest – Can’t decide which lake to visit? Take the Cascade Creek trail which connects Mountain Lake to Cascade Lake. You’ll stay cool amidst the old-growth forest and along the way you’ll see 75-foot-high Cascade Falls and can dip your toes in the creek. Remember, like most WA State Parks, Moran Park now requires a Discover Pass — $10 per visit or $30 annual pass.

Judd Cove Preserve trail - Orcas Island

Murphy and me staying cool on Judd Cove trail.

If you’ve got less time to spare, you can visit Judd Cove Preserve just outside of Eastsound. The forested walk is a great way to cool off after the Saturday Farmer’s Market. The trail takes you past a historic Lime Kiln on the way to the shoreline and picturesque cove. The preserve is another success story of the San Juan County Land Bank, which is funded by a 1% tax on real estate sales.

Indian Island, Eastsound - Orcas Island

Be sure to check the tide charts before you hike the sand bar to Indian Island.

Walk a tombolo – The narrow spit of land connecting Eastsound to Indian Island is accessible during low tide. Hit the beach at Eastsound Waterfront Park, take off your shoes (hang on to them if you’re going to the rocky island!) and explore the sandbar. You’ll have the added fun of wildlife watching in Fishing Bay.

Lily Ice Cream Shop - Eastsound, Orcas Island

Alley entrance to Lily’s ice cream shop in Eastsound.

Get a Scoop or Two - The newest place in town to get ice cream is Lily, downstairs from Allium restaurant on the Eastsound waterfront. Open every day between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Lily serves gourmet hormone-free ice cream from Lopez Island Creamery. Or choose gelato from Enzo’s Italian Caffe, open year round with free wireless internet.

Zip on a line – Okay, this one probably shouldn’t count because it’s open to the public only a few days in the summer, but I couldn’t resist: The longest zip line in the state of Washington is at Orcas Island’s own YMCA Camp Orkila! Climb atop the tallest “building” in San Juan County (68 feet), strap on gear, and catch a breeze while you zoom through the air for 110 feet to the landing pad. Today was, coincidentally, one of the Community Zip days where the event is open to the public for free (appointment required.)

If you can add to this list of ideas, please post a comment!

Looking to enjoy the simple life on beautiful Orcas Island?
Contact T Williams Realty  - we’ll help you find your way home.

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Summer Is Here!

Posted by Sandi

It’s official – our dreamy summer island weather has arrived. While much of the country is sweltering in  high 90′s and 100+ degree weather, we’re enjoying our trademark cool sunny days with 60-ish percent humidity. And with 16-hours of daylight we’ve got plenty of time to soak up our Vitamin D while enjoying our favorite outdoor activities.

This is the first time in quite a few years that Bob and I have celebrated the Fourth on Orcas — usually we head over to Lopez to see their amazing fireworks. I was under the weather yesterday and we didn’t make it to the Eastsound Fireworks display, but the festivities aren’t over yet: this Saturday is the Community Parade along with a host of other activities. Add a bountiful farmer’s market and a bokoo of sunshine and I see a perfect weekend ahead!

Two weeks ago the clouds over our  Solstice Parade made it hard to believe summer was just around the corner. Dark skies didn’t dampen spirits though.

Looking to enjoy the simple life on beautiful Orcas Island?
Contact T Williams Realty  - we’ll help you find your way home.

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