Tag Archives: San Juan County

Orcasong Farm

By Teri Williams

Now this is the way to welcome Fall – by celebrating with our community at Orcasong.

So honored to receive the invite and have a chance to check out this new and exciting farm I’ve been watching for many months. I live just around the corner and have been watching the transformation, the newest being the lavender fields.

You can feel the energy coming from the farmers tending the land. Fencing was erected, the ground was tilled, materials and farm hands showed up and then the planting. What could it be? Lavender … and the promise of color and sweet fragrance to come!

But lavender is not all this farm is producing.

Orcasong’s mission is to restore the land they steward on Orcas Island using ecologically regenerative practices. Guided by the wisdom of nature, they are committed to local resilience and social change and to advance through holistic education, arts and event programming, environmental advocacy and interwoven farm-based enterprises.

You can feel the mission statement when you arrive. On this day, farmers were working in the gardens and offer big smiles encouraging me to come help harvest fresh vegetables, wander and dream in the flower-filled overgrown garden laid out with purpose and standing proud in the soil. I love the mix, feeding the soul and the body.

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Walking around the grounds, you can see the love and intention given to every detail. These farmers really walk the talk, collaborating with a team that searches for solutions to keep them connected to the land, the people and this community.

Standing among them, I can’t help but feel how life can keep us spinning in our own worlds, keeping us from slowing down and taking in the gifts right in front of us.

Food, friends, song, sharing, dreaming – it just doesn’t get any closer to “island life” than this experience.

In Gratitude.

www.orcasongfarm.org

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BUILDING A BRIDGE: How government can work for people and planet

Sandi Friel and Picardy Shepherd Puppy, Quinnby Sandi Friel

When the time finally came to replace the ailing Channel Road Bridge in Deer Harbor, San Juan County took the high road.

Instead of top-down decision-making, County Councilman Rick Hughes encouraged Public Works to reach out to the community and let the residents guide the aesthetics of the bridge. This engagement process added a year in planning, but resulted in citizens taking ownership and pride in a bridge that they, in a sense, helped build.

Providing the sole access for hundreds of residents on the southwest side of Orcas Island (including yours truly), the Channel Road Bridge crosses the inlet to Cayou Lagoon. The old 52-foot-long timber bridge not only had a deteriorated structure, it was built using excessive fill that reduced the natural channel width by 50 percent, constricting tidal flow in and out of the lagoon. After nearly five decades, the lagoon was literally choking to death with buildup of fine sediment and resulting poor water quality.

Cayou Lagoon as seen from the bridge, with iconic Turtleback Mountain in the background

The new concrete bridge is 80 feet long and restores natural tidal flows which, over time, is expected to reduce sediment accumulation and increase habitat for juvenile salmon, forage fish, shellfish and shorebirds.

The bridge was also designed with an increased width to allow pedestrians to safely cross as well as pause and enjoy the views and wildlife.

Public Outreach

County Engineer Colin Huntemer held numerous meetings at the Deer Harbor Community Club to present possible designs and get feedback. He credits the citizen-based Deer Harbor Plan Review Committee for playing an essential role in the entire process.

The community input included selecting the color/pattern of the stamped concrete supporting walls and a unique style of timber guardrail that pays homage to the old timber bridge.

Weekly newsletter kept us informed

Once construction began, County Engineer John Van Lund sent out a weekly update highlighting the prior week’s accomplishments and letting us know the next steps, including any required closures or traffic delays.

When I contacted John over the Christmas holidays to ask that the expanding potholes get fixed, the holes were filled the NEXT DAY.

Residents were so thrilled with the community engagement and construction process, some brought the workers cookies and sent letters of thanks.

With the bridge now complete, we can enjoy safe passage for cars, pedestrians and our finned friends. Kudos to the Public Works staff for setting a shining example of how government can work in partnership with the people.

Deer Harbor Bridge ribbon cutting ceremony on March 7, 2017

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Lost On Waldron

teri_cropBy Teri Williams

SV Blue Pearl left Bay Head Marina on Orcas Island at 12:45 p.m., headed to Mail Bay, Waldron Island on the west side of Presidents Channel. Drizzling, no wind (Jay says of course, we are taking our sailboat out!). No current book but the tide has a small change so off we go.

Arrived Mail Bay at 2:45. Rain stopped, flat water. Warm. Overcast.

IMG_7590Uncle Bill met me with a big hug and said, “Let’s go!” Off we went on his four-wheeler with duck tape and a jerry rigged gear shift. He was hell bent on showing me all of his property I was listing. What a ride! I heard the history of Bill Carlson’s Waldron at full throttle flying down old dirt roads. I could just see my cousins Mike and Howie back in the day flying down these roads on horseback to get to school. Bill purchased acreage for logging back in the sixties when he was a young buck (he is 79 today). A proud man, he told me of the wells dug, timber harvested and Mail Bay log dump, pointing out the relics of machinery over grown with berry briars, building the family A-frame cabin and clearing fields for cattle. He no longer logs or runs cattle on Waldron, but the memories are fresh in his mind. We jumped pot holes, swerved at the one tractor we passed and down shifted on the downhill run due to the fact the only good brake on the four-wheeler was on his bad side (body strength lost). I was hangin’ on!!

IMG_7592Back at the cabin, Bill says Jay should take me on a tour in the old rusty dodge 4×4, which says “Harvey go now” on the side panel. True to course, you had to coast-start the truck. Good thing it was parked pointing down hill. One brake works, the clutch had a bungee cord holding it together. Jay turned the key, the dash lit up, he popped the clutch and off we went. When asked if I knew where we were going, I said confidently, “Oh ya!.” After all, I just went road trippin’ with Uncle Bill!

To the untrained eye, all the dirt roads on Waldron look the same. They run like a maze through a dense lush forest with surprise openings of field and gardens. Eclectic homes tucked here and there, long driveways leading to privacy and a simple life. We were headed to find the post office and County dock. Not too far from the A-frame, no worries. Well, we soon found out that you could drive for hours and still not know which direction you were headed. We met two island girls walking down the dirt road, case of beer and a dog in hand. Looked like a “roll with it” way to spend a day on Waldron. I am grateful they did not take offense and “school” these two obvious trespassers too much. They pointed in the opposite direction the truck was pointing and said, “Head that way until you see the big road.” That is the County Road. Take a right and you will run right in to the Post Office. Duh! Of course, look for the big road.

Eventually, we found the dock and post office. It was getting dark and we still had to navigate back to the A-frame, so we spent just enough time there to know that we need to get back to this quiet island and get more history, starting first with the County dock and post office.

IMG_7589Sunday morning found us starting our SV Blue Pearl engine at 10:14 a.m., leaving uncle Bill’s dock. After tea, coffee and watermelon at the A-frame, we headed back to Orcas knowing we would need to return to explore more of Waldron Island.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Traditional Irish Soda Bread

 mandy card By Mandy Randolph

Here it is, March again. It certainly came in like a lion here on Orcas Island! I began thinking about the Lucky Irish as soon as my calendar turned. My Farm to Classroom students at Orcas Island Elementary got a baking lesson last week complete with some Irish history and basic chemistry.

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Bread soda was introduced in the early 1800s and it suddenly meant that people who didn’t have an oven—and virtually nobody had an oven then—could make soda bread. They cooked the bread in what’s called a bastible—a big cast-iron pot with a lid on it that would have been put right onto the coals or onto the turf fire. The great thing about soda is that it was not as perishable as yeast and it would have been relatively inexpensive. The Irish people would have had buttermilk from the cows (old-fashioned buttermilk is a by-product of making butter) and they would have been growing wheat, so they would have had flour (whole wheat of course).

A very basic explanation of the reaction between the soda and the acidic buttermilk was followed by a classic demonstration of the concept using baking soda and vinegar.

Time to make the bread!

Traditionally a cross was cut into the bread before baking. Some people said it was to let the fairies out. Some said it was to keep the devil out. But most likely it was to help the bread bake evenly!

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Add some rosemary or other herbs for a dash of flavor.

Bread is best when shared with friends!

INGREDIENTS:

3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

2 tablespoons caraway seeds or rosemary (optional)

1 teaspoon baking-soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups (about) buttermilk

 

PREPARATION:

Preheat oven to 425°F. Lightly flour baking sheet (or cast iron pan). Mix flour, caraway seeds, if using, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Mix in enough buttermilk to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball. Turn out onto lightly flour surfaced and knead just until dough holds together, about 1 minute. Shape dough into 6-inch-diameter by 2-inch-high round. Place in cast iron pan. Cut 1-inch-deep X across top of bread, extending almost to edges. Bake until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, about 35 minutes. Transfer bread to rack and cool completely.

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Staying on the Island We Love

Teri Williams, T WIlliams RealtyBy Teri Williams

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.

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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.

senior-center

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

When Emergencies Happen
Mike Preysz, Orcas Island Fire and Rescue; Cindy McFreely, Airlift Northwest

Lions Mobility Assistance Equipment Loaner Program
Barbara Trunkey, Orcas Island Lions

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The band entertained and even sparked some dancing.

Advance Directives
Libby Garcia, RN

EKG Baselines
Rita Harvey and crew, Orcas Island Fire and Rescue

Falls and Sprawls, How Not to Do It
Scott Heisinger, DTP, Orcas Island Physical Therapy

Aging in the Right Place
Dennis King, Lahari

Bringing Services into the Home
Didier Gincig, Hearts and Hands
Doug Schliebus, Orcas at Home

Caregiving on Orcas
Dennis King, Lahari

Caregiving Perspectives
Caregiving Panel, Lahari

 

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Green Goddess

teri_cropI have no patience for waiting on the greens in the garden to mature, so with a little help from my local farmer John at Maple Rock Farm, I learned to create and use some of the bounty early.

I have never been good at following recipes and measuring. Everything is done by eyeballing, more liquid or greens can be added to get consistency desired.

Parsley- Walnut Pesto

IMG_0583Fill your blender with 2 cups of chopped parsley, 1 cup chopped walnuts, 3-5 cloves of garlic.

Pour in ½ cup of good olive oil (I used Olivar De La Luna organic extra virgin). Begin blending, add more olive oil as the paste begins to pureé. You do not want it so thick you cannot get it out of the blender, but it should not be too runny.

Use a spoon and scoop into ice cube tray and freeze.IMG_0584

Once cubes are frozen solid, place the tray in a pan of hot water for a few minutes to loosen cubes of pesto, then place them on a cookie sheet to freeze hard again, then store in a container in the freezer.

When you want pesto, place a cube (or several) in a bowl and thaw to room temperature. Add hot or cold pasta and mix.

Grate parmesan cheese over pasta and mix. Do not add cheese before freezing, (it will turn into globs when heated).

Green Garlic Paste

IMG_0743Early summer-late spring, cut the garlic scape off of last year’s garlic you planted in the fall. These can be chopped and put into dressings, sauces and salads, but I like to make a garlic paste that is versatile and keeps in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Fill blender half full of chopped garlic scapes, add ¼ cup of good olive oil and begin blending. You will add more olive oil as the combo begins to blend into a chunky paste.

 

IMG_0748This paste does not get smooth but will have texture.

Add more oil, or scapes, until you get a consistency of soft paste (if it is too thick you will not get out of the blender). Place green garlic paste in a mason jar with lid and keep in the refrigerator.

I use this as a rub on chicken; add to tomato paste-balsamic vinegar-olive oil as a marinade for beef; add to good olive oil-balsamic vinegar and salt/pepper as a salad dressing; stir into pasta; add to any dish you would add garlic to.

 

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oh…… what to do with those luscious, juicy, colorful tasty tomatoes.

Here are 4 easy recipes to preserve your summer harvest.Toms

No Cook Sunshine Tomato Sauce- Clean Eating September 2014-Give several summer ripe tomatoes a light rinse. Chop

Easy Sunshine Tomatoes Sauce

Easy Sunshine Tomatoes Sauce

coarsely and dump into a large jar. Mash a few garlic cloves (I like a lot of garlic) add to jar. Add 1 cup of olive oil and a dash of balsamic vinegar. If you don’t have vinegar, use lemon or lime juice. The better the quality, the better the flavor on both oil and vinegar. Add sea salt and ground pepper to taste. If you have fresh basil, oregano, rosemary or thyme, tie up in bunch and toss in too. Put the lid on; shake the jar to mix contents, set in the sun or hot sunny window. Let sit to soak up the heat of the sun for 4 hours (can do longer time, do not recommend shorter time). Pull herbs out. Serve with crusty bread or use as a light raw sauce for pasta. I blended my jar contents and warmed in a cast iron skillet, spoon over ravioli, top with shaved parmesan cheese. You can freeze or keep in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Homemade Tomato Paste- Maple Rock’s Farmer John-Take your split and over ripe toms and cook them down in a pot to the point that you can macerate them with a potato masher or even a stick blender if you have one.  After mashing them, run them through a food mill to remove the skin and seeds (I skipped this step). At this point you have a watered down sauce (sometimes I’ll drain off some of that liquid prior to mashing). Transfer the sauce in the pot onto the biggest sheet pans (I used cake pans) that will fit in your oven and cook it down for one hour at 350 then take it down to 250 for another two- three hours.  Stir occasionally and add some nice olive oil and salt to taste.  We like to make as big of a batch of this as we can and freeze it in pint jars not quite filled to the top.  Keep one in the fridge all the time to add to just about anything you can think of.

Salsa- Years of Adding and Subtracting in Teri’s Kitchen and Ball Blue Book

Add chips and tequila!!!!

Add chips and tequila!!!!

10 cups chopped tomatoes (I include skin and seeds, can remove if desired) about 6 lbs.

5 cups chopped green bell pepper, seeded. About 2 lbs.

5 cups chopped onion (you choose type, I use Walla Walla) about 2 lbs.

2.5 cups chopped, seeded hot peppers. (I usually use a variety based on what my farmer is growing. Include some seeds for more heat). For deeper flavor, roast peppers first, then remove skins. About 1-2 lbs. Be sure to wear gloves

2 garlic heads. (can vary dependent on your taste, however, too little is not good).

1 tblsp hot sauce

2 tblsp dried red pepper

1-2 tblsp crushed cumin

1 ¼ cup cider vinegar

Salt to taste

Big hand full of chopped cilantro

Chopped and combine all ingredients (EXCEPT CILANTRO). Place in large saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add cilantro. Ladle hot salsa in prepared jars, leaving ½” headroom. Cover with seal/screw top. Process 20 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Dried Tomatoes- Easy-This is great use of blemished or split tomatoes. I usually use this method after I have done all of the

Better than sun dried tomatoes and can done any time of the year!

Can be done any time of the year!

above and am tired or ran out of jar space in the pantry. Clean tomatoes, cut stem and blemish/bad areas away. Slice the tomatoes about 1/8” thick. This is a guideline. Too thin, they come out crispy, too thick, they come out chewing and are more likely to mold in the jar. Coat the trays with a non stick spray or rub with olive oil to keep slices from sticking to the tray. Place slices on tray, leaving room around the slices so they have air circulation around all sides. Set dryer on 135 degrees for 5 hours. The timing can vary, checking every two hours until dried to your preference (close to potato chip crisp). Turn off the dryer and let tomatoes cool completely. Store in an airtight jar. Great to eat as is, or add to quiche, soups or sauces for a strong tomato flavor that will delight your taste buds.

Enjoy preserving, eating, sharing and pairing all of the above- teri

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I’m in Love with a Spiny Lumpsucker

Sandi Friel - Orcas Island Real Estate brokerBy Sandi Friel

And no, that’s not my latest nickname for my husband! I’m smitten with a tiny fish that looks like a living Christmas ornament. This bobble-eyed bottom-dweller is called the Spiny Lumpsucker and it gets my vote for the cutest among the thousands of fascinating critters that call our Salish Sea home.

It’s easy to forget while enjoying our beautiful islands that the majority of San Juan County is below sea level, along with the vast majority of its inhabitants. Here are some of our more colorful and unusual neighbors. Click on any photo to enlarge and start a slideshow:

The underwater world here is so varied because a rich stew of nutrients from both mainland rivers and Pacific ocean waters is stirred and dispersed by strong tidal currents to feed the Salish Sea’s plankton, which in turn supports an incredible diversity of marine life from shrimp to humpback whales.

My husband, a long-time diver with a background in marine science, frequently surveys the area sea-life with researchers from the SeaDoc Society. SeaDoc does serious science to monitor the health of the Salish Sea. Most recently they’ve been examining a die-off of starfish caused, they suspect, by a combination of factors, including a naturally occurring virus.

The Salish Sea includes Puget Sound, Georgia Strait and Juan de Fuca Strait, and it washes along the shores of Seattle, Vancouver, Victoria, Tacoma and Bellingham as well as the San Juan and Gulf Islands. That’s a lot of people, and one thing we all need to be conscious about – both out here in the islands and along the mainland coast – is controlling stormwater runoff, which is the leading cause of pollution in Puget Sound.

We can all do our part, from picking up pet waste, fixing oil leaks, repairing failing septic systems, curtailing use of fertilizers, keeping culverts clear, and using Low Impact Development (LID) techniques such as rain gardens when developing new homesites. San Juan County Public Works even has a new website where you can identify any stormwater issues you notice along the roadside.

Stormwater management is not a sexy topic, but understanding the downstream impact to our undersea neighbors helps us to act. Just remember the Spiny Lumpsuckers out there, Orca whales or whatever critter melts your heart. They’re depending on us to keep our shared ecosystem intact.

 Note: Simply Orcas Blog is moving to a new home at http://www.twilliamsrealty.com. Follow us by signing up at the new site!

 

 

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A Few Fast Facts About OPALCO’s Broadband Initiative

Teri WilliamsBy Teri Williams

You may have noticed that Orcas Power and Light Company has released its plan to deliver broadband and phone services to 90 percent of San Juan County. This is exciting and I applaud OPALCO for its efforts to bring San Juan County into the 21st Century.

OPALCO is studying how greater access to broadband (high-speed internet) would benefit members. Here are a few fast facts:

OPALCO Broadband Coverage Map

This map is a preliminary snap-shot of potential broadband coverage based on a radio frequency study. Field studies are underway to test and confirm coverage, determine pole locations and actual system design.

#1: OPALCO’s proposal is to build a fiber and wireless infrastructure to bring connectivity for our electrical system, public safety, broadband and the potential of better cell phone coverage.

#2: For a total of $90 per month – about what you’re paying now to CenturyLink – you would get:

  • Reliable fast internet (10M minimum rural, 50M+ in towns) with capability for the future
  • Unlimited use long distance national phone using your current phone number and phone
  • Wifi access in population centers, on the interisland ferries and at ferry landings

#3: The cost to build this infrastructure is $34 million – to be paid for through a low-interest loan with USDA Rural Utility Service. All coop members (each household or business) will be asked to pay $15/month (included in the $90/month total) to support the infrastructure capital expense. The remaining $75/month is a subscriber fee charged to those who want broadband services.

#4: To make the project work financially, at least half of OPALCO’s members must pre-subscribe for broadband services with a $90 refundable deposit. There will be a form on the  OPALCO website for members to indicate their support of (or their opposition to)  the project. OPALCO has  begun a lengthy member engagement effort to explain the plan, hear from members and measure their commitment to the project.

#5: For members who would struggle to pay the additional $15 cooperative infrastructure fee, OPALCO is creating a PAL Program – a Shared Infrastructure fund. In addition, members will be given a chance to opt out of the $15 fee if they respectfully refuse. There will be a true-up policy if those members later want to opt back in.

#6: This infrastructure is a long-term investment in the future health and sustainability of our communities. The system is a solution for key quality of life issues including public safety, education, electric system upgrades, telemedicine and economic development.

To learn more, click here: OPALCO Broadband Initiative.

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Prawns and Fettuccini

Posted by Teri

This is soooo easy, fresh and light. A dish that is just right for a summer casual patio dinner. I pulled the recipe out of a magazine (Rachel Ray’s, Whole Living, Light Cooking or Martha) Not sure which one. I have since lost the recipe so I create by memory… that’s my style. I do not like to follow directions.

Serves two people with a little left for Jay’s next day lunch.

Peel a hand full (10) prawns, set aside.

Local prawns

Local prawns

½ package of fettuccini. Place pasta in boiling pot of water while you make sauce below. Cook fettuccini to al dente. I have used many styles, rice, whole wheat, egg noodle. Any style you choose will be great with this light sauce.

Add 2 tbsp. of olive oil to a skillet (I have the biggest collect of cast iron skillets in San Juan County!)

Add chopped or grated garlic and sauté, careful not to burn.

Add ½ c. white wine and bring to a simmer.

Turn heat to low, add ½ c. Crème Fraiche and mix well. I have added more if my noodles seemed too much and needing more love.

Add 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice.

Add prawns and cook 2-3 minutes, just until they turn pink.

Add cook pasta and toss. Salt and pepper to taste.

Light, fresh sauce adds just the right touch to local seafood

Light, fresh sauce adds just the right touch to local seafood

Serve in bowls with freshly grated parmesan cheese, a hint of grated lemon peel and chopped chives.

I serve this with a side green salad. Top with a splash of color with sliced green grapes and strawberries.

Crudités are a great side as well

I recommend serving around a fire on the patio with a great bottle of wine-bonus= ROMANCE!!

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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