This was the topic for the 2015 Orcas Island Senior Faire. The annual event is geared to inform and share services available to seniors and their families on Orcas Island by bringing it all together under one roof. Add lunch prepared at the Senior Center and a three-piece band and you have an event to remember! I even saw a few people dancing, taking full advantage of live music and a break in the speakers.
My job was to distribute information and answer questions about Lahari.
I have to admit there was a lot of information to take in, people to connect with and thank-yous to acknowledge – Dennis King, Paul Losleben, Wendy Stephens and Jami Mitchell for putting this event together – and to the many Orcas volunteers, seniors, family members and caregivers who give unconditionally and support our wish to stay on the island we love.
Speakers delivered lots of information at the event.
Here is a list of the participants for this year and links to resources:
Medicare and You
Peggy Groundwater and Michael Moss, SHIBA; and Diane Linnell, DSHS
After a busy summer of family, fun, and real estate, I was ready to get back to school. The warm and dry summer did wonders for my spirit and for our school garden. While the grass had turned brown and crunchy across the island, our school garden was thriving with the addition of a drip watering system that Craig Sanders of Island Irrigation generously installed for us.
September came, and so did the rain! The first day of school welcomed our students with a torrential down pour. The brown grass that had become our reality early in the summer turned green once again and we got another beautiful “Indian Summer” on Orcas Island. What a relief for this teacher since my best lesson plans revolved around days spent in the garden.
The sunflowers had grown to great heights since the students patted the soil over the seeds last May. After enjoying their grandeur for several weeks we brought them down to harvest their seeds. The children enjoyed pulling each seed from the giant heads. Many seeds were eaten and many more were saved for replanting next season.
The potatoes were dug with excitement and squeals of delight as each different potato was unearthed. The potatoes were boxed and put in cold storage for cooking projects later in the winter.
The pumpkin patch was our newest expansion in the garden. We broke ground last spring, hand digging the area and carefully spacing our pumpkin seeds. We had a very successful harvest, growing over 200 pumpkins in our brand new patch! We had enough small pumpkins to send one home with each student! The larger pumpkins were processed in the classroom. We scraped them out and saved the seeds; roasting enough for everyone to enjoy a handful and saving the rest for replanting next spring. We baked and pureed the pumpkins and have over 100 cups waiting in the freezer for our pumpkin pie baking lesson.
There are so many jobs to do in the school garden. With over 215 students spending an hour a week in the garden you would think we would run out of jobs to do, but we never do!
Beyond the harvesting of herbs, tomatoes, calendula flowers, kale, watermelon, and carrots, there are many other garden jobs to take part in.
Raking the leaves of the maple tree is a favorite job for many. We learned that one way we can keep our beloved tree healthy is to rake its leaves up under it and let them compost there over the winter, in essence feeding the tree! With only 5 rakes available the kids must regulate taking turns. We are not just feeding the tree, but also practicing our social skills.
We are lucky to have wood chips donated to our garden by John Olsen, the Tree Doctor. The kids spend lots of time reinforcing the pathways with wood chips. In this process they learn to work together and even team up to fix a broken wheel barrow! The children work hard and see the results of their work.
One of the most difficult garden jobs is the pruning of the blackberry bushes. While we appreciate the natural fence the bushes provide and the delicious berries, we are in a constant battle to keep them from taking over two edges of our garden. The work is hard and often times painful, but there are always students who are willing to do it.
After putting in all of this work we remind the students of why we do this by rewarding them with 10 minutes of harvest time at the end of each class. This is when the students scramble to create the most delicious “garden burrito” possible! It is gratifying to the adults who witness this time as we watch the children happily eating their veggies.
We harvested, composted, dug and double dug. We created new beds and cover cropped old ones. We put our garden to bed for the winter. And to celebrate we fired up our cob oven and had a PIZZA PARTY!
With the generous donation of his time and talent, James Ferraris of Soul Flour Bakery helped us to make the best garden pizzas ever! There was pizza sauce and mozzerella cheese as a base. The rest was left up to the creativity of the children, and creative they were. The ingredients were all fresh from the garden. There were ground cherries and rosemary, sorrel and chives. You name it, they made it. Yes, there was even a worm pizza. One little girl said, “I didn’t think I’d like a vegetable pizza, but I tasted it and I do!” This is what it is all about. Showing kids where food comes from, teaching them to work hard, and watching them enjoy the fruits of their labors.
When Bob and I relocated from Florida to Orcas Island, our dog Murphy was 5-1/2 years old. That might be considered young for many dogs, but for Leonbergers who have an average lifespan of seven years, Murphy’s best days had passed. Or so we thought.
Murph turned out to be like Robert Moran of Rosario Resort and Moran State Park fame. Moran arrived on Orcas at 47 years old in such poor health that his doctors didn’t expect him to live to see 50. Of course Moran outlived all his docs. Orcas Island’s low-stress, fresh-air, outdoorsy lifestyle inspired the retired shipbuilder to live another 39 years!
Likewise our Murphy lived almost another full Leonberger lifespan after we moved to Orcas. Hiking Turtleback Mountain and Moran Park, paddling in the cool water off North Beach, patrolling the property for deer, driving around the island in his papa’s pickup to visit friends and collect hugs and biscuits, enjoying the temperate Northwest climate: Murphy had a lot to live for here on Orcas. The healthy, adventure-filled and extremely dog-friendly island kept him going well past what would be, in human years, his 100th birthday.
Murphy trotted off to Fiddler’s Green this past August at age 13. The following are a few of the many wonderful island moments Murphy and dogs like him have available here on Orcas. There’s also a shot of our new puppy Quinn, as he eases into the island lifestyle with his first boat ride.
Best buds hanging at the Deer Harbor dock
First dip in Salish Sea – February 2007
Making friends with a Dungeness Crab
Lucky pooch with his own truck and private chauffer
Stopping at the scenic overlook during his daily walk
Front row seat for the annual Solstice Parade
Waiting for UPS to bring his dog biscuits
Lunch break at Cascade Falls, Moran State Park
Chilling out on a snow day at Turtleback Mountain
Cascade Mountains – less than a day’s drive from Orcas
Excursion to dog-friendly Cannon Beach, Oregon
Relaxing in his favorite salal patch
Like people, dogs have a great life on Orcas
Mighty Quinn’s first boat ride
Stay tuned for Part 2, where we take a closer look at some of the island’s pet-friendly perks!