Tag Archive | "Julie Hall"

The Elves Behind the Highway 305 Holiday Lights Display

Like Santa’s elves, starting right after Halloween Bainbridge Islanders Chuck and Dorothy Callaham get to work hanging, stringing, testing, retesting, inflating, and staking their extraordinary Christmas display, lighting up all of our lives with one of the Island’s most spectacular holiday lights shows and certainly its most visible one

Anyone who has driven the north end of Highway 305 between Thanksgiving and New Year’s during the last 25 years or so has witnessed this Island wonder, which is nothing short of jaw-dropping.

When I saw the For Sale sign in front of their compound of houses a few months ago, I got worried. Dorothy Callaham told me I wasn’t the only one. Lately, when she takes her neighborhood constitutional, people ask her gravely if she is selling and thereby ending the Callaham Christmas tradition.

Dorothy Callaham assured me, as she does her frequent concerned inquirers, that the house for sale is not hers but the one behind her, which used to be owned by her parents but is no longer in the family. So, for those of you worried that your kids won’t get to see the Highway 305 lights, rest assured. The Callahams aren’t going anywhere, and they’re as committed as ever to keeping their holiday tradition alive.

Chuck's light workshop.

Chuck’s light workshop.

It all clicked for me when Dorothy and Chuck explained two things: Chuck is a retired electrician, and Dorothy is a hardcore Disney fan. When I asked how they got started with their show of lights, Dorothy explained that her family began by hanging lights for her mother when she lived in the house behind theirs. Gradually, year by year, Dorothy and Chuck, along with Dorothy’s sister in the house next door, expanded their Christmas display, adding decorations piece by piece, light by light.

Dorothy Callaham has lived on the Highway 305 property for 68 years, since she was 4, and Chuck has been on the Island for 75 years, since he was 3. Although there was a difference of opinion between Chuck and Dorothy about when they started their lights display, the settled consensus was the mid 1980s. The couple acknowledged, with good-natured annoyance that is only earned between two people over decades, that they “argue” during their decorating. Possibly, in a charming way, hints of this dynamic were evident during our interview. I, for one, cannot imagine a serene 50 hours of outdoor decorating in all manner of Northwest weather, so no judgment was passed.

As the resident electrician, Chuck is the bulb checker. By this I mean he checks every single one, attempting to salvage anything he can. Dorothy is the one who tracks, year by year through photo records, the placement of decorations on their property. And the two of them “confer,” over time, about what features to move around for variety. Dorothy says they also buy new decorations each year, usually after the holiday season when they are on sale.

The Callahams told me that there are six circuits and six timers, which seemed modest considering the complexity of their production. Each year they put up and take down their entire holiday display, storing it in about 30 well-organized plastic bins in the off season.

305 lightsAlthough the two are getting on in years, they both looked fitter than fiddles to me. They say they try to wait for good-weather days to do their decorating but get out in any weather if need be to meet their deadline of Thanksgiving to launch their first night of holiday lighting.

When I asked the $20,000 question—How much is their December electricity bill?—the Callahams said it was about three times the normal amount. Again, I was surprised by how much bang for their buck we get in terms of inestimable seasonal enjoyment. To commuters who complain that the display is distracting, I say, “Humbug!” The Callahams report that for every complaint, there are many more people who thank them for brightening up their day, and good cheer is what keeps them motivated year after year.

The North Highway 305 lights display, on the east side of the road, runs from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. The Callahams turn on their lights each evening approximately from 4-10 p.m. They keep their lights on all night on Christmas to help Santa find his way.

[Updated from the archives; first published November 12, 2011.]

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Photos by Julie Hall.

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Recipe: The Best Russian Teacakes

Ah, it’s that time of year: the time to eat cookies. And here I go again with my claim of “the best.” Russian teacakes, also known as Mexican wedding cookies, among other monikers, are a recipe for happiness—basically butter, flour, sugar, and walnuts. AND YET, the many variations of this simply perfect concept often disappoint. Mostly, they’re too dry, or they are made with a butter substitute (gasp), or they don’t have walnuts, or I don’t know exactly, but they just lack that rich buttery heft that this cookie is meant to deliver.

Here it is, my recipe for The Best Russian Teacakes, a purely subjective assertion that I’ll stand by nonetheless.

The Best Russian Teacakes

1 cup butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup chopped walnuts

Cream butter. Add sugar. Blend salt, vanilla, flour. Mix in nuts. Roll into balls (not too small, or they dry out in the baking process). Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 8-9 minutes in oven at 375-400 degrees F. Remove them once they have “set” but before the bottoms have begun to brown. Roll the balls generously in powdered sugar when they are still warm.

I recommend chilling the batter before baking. The chemistry just makes for a better cookie.

At the risk of sounding shrill and repetitive, DO NOT OVERCOOK. Hover, hover, hover to protect these sweet buttery beauties!

[From the archives: First published December 5, 2011, but not stale!]

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Photo by Julie Hall.

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Thanksgiving Cranberry-Eucalyptus Bouquet

I picked up the idea for this festive Thanksgiving bouquet from some creative soul at Central Market in Poulsbo. S/he had put cranberries in a big glass vase with water and created a striking bouquet with seasonal flowers, next to that big tub of soaking cranberries they put in the produce section at this time of year.

I like putting tall eucalyptus sprigs in my vase of immersed cranberries. It makes for a pleasing shape and color contrast, and it smells great.

The water keeps the cranberries fresh and bright red for quite a while, so I find that often I keep my bouquet through Christmas, since it looks seasonal and I like to make a good thing last.

I recommend changing the water every few days and pulling out any berries that look off-color or are softening. Most of the berries remain robust for a good month, and the eucalyptus stays fresh for a long time.

eucalyptus cranberry bouquetYou can even dry the eucalyptus later and display it by itself in a vase without water.

[This article from the archives originally appeared November 21, 2011.]

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Sensory Processing Part 3: Disorder Kids or a Disordered World?

October is National Sensory Awareness Month. As part of this national education effort, Inside Bainbridge is publishing a series on Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), citing the latest research, information from experts in the field, and personal stories from parents, caregivers, and kids affected by the condition. (Family names have been changed for privacy.) Read the other articles in the series:

Processing sensory information—we all do it all the time. We’re built for it to survive. And we all have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to “reading the world” through our sensory bodies.

Some of us are better at mapping—knowing how to navigate without getting lost, in the mall, the woods, the city. Some of us are good at reading the emotions of others—picking up on a range of cues, like tone of voice, body language, and tracking the typical vs. atypical behavior of people we know to detect their emotional states. Others of us specialize in noticing visual details, and we learn best and remember the most through our eyes. The list goes on.

Our Senses Working Over Time

Huge human crowd.

Human throngs.

In a world of 7 billion people, with cultures mixing; traditions shifting; technology and social media reinventing our lives by the day; increasing light and noise “pollution” in our work spaces, shopping centers, streets, neighborhoods, and homes; our senses are on overload. Places and time for quiet reflection have become, quite suddenly, rarities.

With increasing cultural and economic globalization, we have more to learn and more to “process” than ever. As a result, we are getting married later, having kids later—growing up later—because we need more time.

This Is Not a Problem with Kids; It’s the World They’re Being Born Into

As I talked with parents, young people, and caregivers dealing with “sensory processing disorder,” one message was clear: This is not a problem with kids. This is about the world that has risen up around us and that our kids are being born into.

Kids on computer.

Kids on computer.

Sue Steindorf worked as a physical therapist at Seattle Children’s and then for 20 years in the public school system on Bainbridge Island, helping kids with “special needs.” She said that in the final five years of her tenure in the school district, there was an explosion of “sensory different” kids.

Seeking a better way to help this rising tide of young people, who were getting sidelined in the underfunded schools, to her surprise she found herself getting involved with yoga. She earned her certification as a yoga instructor and found that she could help her sensory kids better that way. She has spent the last five years helping kids and adults through her yoga practice at The Island Yoga Space. She has found that through yoga she can bring kids to “center, help them learn to self-calm, and find their balance and potential.”

When I approached Steindorf to talk about her work with sensory processing “disorder” kids, she kicked off the conversation by saying, “print what you need to, but I’m ready to go radical here, and I don’t care what people think about it.” I had hoped she would bare her thoughts, because, having talked with her before, I knew that Steindorf has a lot to say that I think needs to be heard.

“I See It as a Very Rapid Divine Evolution”

“Personally I see it as a very rapid divine evolution. I don’t see it as a negative epidemic. These kids can’t function in an out-of balance-world, and they are teaching the rest of us to tune into ourselves and find the balance in our own lives that so many of us have lost,” said Steindorf.

Steindorf believes the schools are out of step with this reality, still viewing sensory-different kids as “challenges” in the classroom rather than in their own way teachers for the rest of us. She sees this as symptomatic of the lack of resources plaguing our educational system. Speaking of “special needs” kids in general, she said, “First we shut them away in institutions, then we segregated them in “special” classes, and now we are trying to “manage” them in our classrooms. What we need to do is embrace what they have to show us and integrate them fully, changing our way of teaching.”

Catherine Whiting, an occupational therapist for 27 years, echoes Steindorf’s sentiment. Whiting sees everyone on a sensory spectrum and finds that even kids who aren’t labeled with sensory processing disorder benefit from strategies that help her SPD kids: “What usually helps some, usually helps most,” she told me.

“Each Child Is So Individual . . . There Is No One Answer”

Like Steindorf, Whiting has adapted to meet the needs of the kids she helps. In addition to having a BA and Masters as a pediatric OT, she has gone on over the years to earn certifications in sensory integration theory and practice, neurodevelopmental therapy, yoga therapy for special needs kids, and aroma therapy. Whiting said that because “each child is so individual . . . there is no one answer, and it’s better to work with a big palette.”

Guy with big coffee.

Guy with big coffee.

When I asked her what she says to parents, grandparents, or other adults who are dismissive of SPD, she chuckled and said, “Well, I ask them, ‘What did you do today? Did you have your coffee? Did you pace and bounce your ball in your office? Did you take a power walk at lunch, or a nap? Did you have your glass of wine when you got home?” Whiting points out that adults have coping mechanisms that get them through the day; whereas kids are at the mercy of the activities and schedules adults create for them.

“The Sensory Seekers Need Their Cups Filled All the Time”

“The sensory seekers need their cups filled all the time,” said Whiting, pointing out that unless they are accommodated at school and home, they will find their own ways to fill their cups. “As adults they can be very creative, energetic, and contribute a lot.” She cited gold medalist swimmer Michael Phelps as an example. His mother has said about her son that he had a craving for movement and needed structure, so she helped him make swimming his outlet.

Their Test Results Run the Gamut From Retarded to Genius

Bainbridge Island mom, Diane, has two teenage boys who have both been diagnosed with SPD, as well as high-functioning autism. They both have had test results that run the gamut from retarded to genius levels. Not surprisingly, Diane has found her parenting journey exasperating, to put it mildly. Seeking understanding for her sons as they navigate through the educational system, she has learned a lot and reached many of the same conclusions Steindorf articulates.

Brown pelicans captured at Grand Isle, Louisiana, following the BP oil spill in the Gulf, 2010

Brown pelicans at Grand Isle, Louisiana, following the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf.

“They Are Labelled Oversensitive Because They Are Incapable of Tolerating the Disaster of Our Environment”

Diane sees her sons and other kids with SPD and other “special needs” labels as part of an adaptive evolution of our species. “They’re overly sensitive to input that is bad for all of us. They find a shirt made of poisonous chemicals physically intolerable because it is actually harmful and should be intolerable to all of us. They are labelled oversensitive because they are incapable of tolerating the disaster of our environment.”

“They Are Leading Us Toward Authenticity”

Diane isn’t just talking about our physical environment. She notes that her sons simply don’t compute socially institutionalized lies or injustices. “They are leading us toward authenticity, away from the false social niceties and bull**** of our culture that teach us we are all separate when we’re actually all connected, that make us feel safe when we’re not, that tell us we need to buy useless products to be happy. ”

Then noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.

Then noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.

About the educational system, Diane says, “It doesn’t fit deep-thinking kids. . . . They don’t have anything real to dig into with learning.” She sees a new generation of kids who are often mistaken for oppositional: “They’re not rebelling; they’re about innovation and about leaving things behind that don’t work.”

“They Need to Know that the System Telling Them They’re Wrong Is Okay to Walk Away From”

Looking back, Diane wishes she could do some things differently as a parent: “I’ve watched my kids suffer enormously. In some ways I missed the boat. What I need to do is affirm their awareness and sensitivity.” She added, “They need to know that the system telling them they’re wrong is okay to walk away from.”

Parents of SPD kids often reach a deeper self-understanding through their experience advocating for their children. Jen, who has a sensory-avoiding child, sees herself reflected in her daughter, putting the pieces together about her own struggles growing up in a sensory-assaulting world. “I realize now that, like my daughter, I’ve always been a sensory-avoiding person. Both of my parents had similar issues too, but they hated those aspects of themselves and, seeing it mirrored in me, projected that self-loathing onto me,” said Jen.

Parent and child hugging.

“Through My Love for My Child, I’m Learning to Accept Myself”

“Through my love for my child, I’m learning to accept myself and understand problems I struggled with as a kid and younger adult—hating school, avoiding groups, developing a phobia of public speaking.”

Jen said those issues haven’t all gone away, but over time she has learned coping strategies to help herself. She’s trying to teach those strategies to  her daughter now. “It’s been extremely painful but also cathartic and healing. I now see that some of the best things about each of us come from our highly sensitive natures, and I’m proud of who we both are.”

Read the next article in this series: Sensory Processing “Disorder” Part 4: Treating It.

[This article from the archives originally appeared on Inside Bainbridge October 31, 2011.]

Photos courtesy of James Cridland, Erik (HASH) Hersman, Susan DeMark, Mykl Roventine, and eyeliam.

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Sensory Processing Disorder Part 2: Emma’s Story

October is National Sensory Awareness Month. As part of this national education effort, Inside Bainbridge is publishing a series on Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), citing the latest research, information from experts in the field, and personal stories from parents, caregivers, and kids affected by the condition. (Family names have been changed for privacy.) Read the other articles in the series:

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) takes many forms, but the guiding experience for those with the condition is a difference of perception. People with SPD have a neurological makeup that causes them to process sensory information differently than most people do. This can create confusion and misunderstanding for those with SPD as well as for those interacting with them. People with SPD often struggle with the dissonance between their own perceptions and the perceptions of others. This dissonance can be painful and isolating for people with SPD, but it also can offer insights that only come with an altered perspective.

Emma’s Story

Bainbridge Island, Washington, third grader Emma has a form of SPD that falls primarily within the SPD subcategory sensory modulation disorder. Because she is hypersensitive to her surroundings and has trouble filtering sensory input, she at times appears underresponsive, especially in the area of auditory functioning. When people speak to her, she often requires things repeated once or more before she can focus and register what has been said. Her parents say they must repeat things to her at home to get her to “tune in.”

“Why Can’t They Just Wait a Second for Me to Say It?”

But Emma’s auditory processing difference isn’t merely a delay in receiving auditory input. It also is challenging for her to form a timely response. She says that in class other kids jump in to answer questions for her that she knows the answer to because she is a beat or two behind with her answers. This makes her angry, and she wonders, “why can’t they just wait a second for me to say it?” Her parents, Iris and Jesse, report that she struggles with feeling “stupid” and sometimes hits herself in frustration.

The fact that Emma is gifted creates even more acute dissonance for her. Although her analytical ability is several years beyond that of her peers, she gets “stuck” in class because often she can’t process her teachers’ instructions and has trouble filtering out classroom noises so she can focus on her work.

“We’ve Worked with Her Teachers Each Year”

When she began first grade, for the first month she started the day under the table in the hallway because the classroom felt so chaotic to her. Transitions are often particularly challenging for SPD kids, and they are for Emma. In second grade she sometimes went to the bathroom so she could be alone to finish her work. Now in third grade Emma goes to a quiet room when she is having trouble focusing. Jesse explains, “We’ve worked with her teachers each year to help give them strategies for helping Emma.”

“It’s the Deer in Headlights Thing”

deer in headlightsEmma’s condition is socially difficult, too, since frequently she doesn’t notice that people have spoken to her, or she hasn’t understood what they have said. Jesse explains: “It’s the deer in headlights thing, with Emma knowing someone expects an answer from her but not knowing what they have said or not being able to bring herself to speak up.”

With other children she is more comfortable asking, “What?” or “Can you say that again?” But with adults, especially unfamiliar ones, Emma is more intimidated and has developed an involuntary “freeze” anxiety reaction. When she freezes, she says nothing or looks to her parents or an adult she trusts to help speak for her.

“When she was four, five, even six, it was more or less okay, but now that she’s almost nine people expect her to speak for herself,” says Iris. “As her parent it is an agonizing balance between trying to allow her to speak for herself and learn to handle difficult social situations but also intervening when she really needs my help.”

Iris says for her one of the biggest challenges of Emma’s SPD has been dealing with adults’ reactions to her daughter. Some other parents of kids in Emma’s class who don’t understand her sensory issues have at times taken offense when Emma hasn’t responded to them, saying to other parents, “there isn’t much going on in that head,” or “what’s with her attitude?”

“Being Labelled Shy Is Not a Compliment”

Iris says that in public situations when strangers talk to Emma, like at the grocery store or the bank, they sometimes are visibly hurt if she doesn’t respond, calling Emma shy. “In a world where extroversion and quickness are equated with likeability and success, being labelled shy is not a compliment, and Emma knows it. She hates being called shy, especially since she is a kid who really wants to be involved and interact, as long as she feels safe.”

One-on-one Emma is an outgoing and animated kid. Her imaginative, humorous, and kindhearted personality shines through when she is feeling in balance and safe from sensory overload. Those who know her are used to the fact that sometimes she doesn’t answer right away and that she occasionally flaps her hands. “As kids do, her friends take her idiosyncrasies in stride and love how fun and creative she is,” explains Jesse.

“Sensory Processing Bunny”

Rabbit in holeIris and Jesse began talking with Emma about her SPD when she was six, referring to it as her Sensory Processing Bunny. They all agreed that the bunny was in its hole sometimes when people above ground were talking, and the bunny needed to poke her head up to hear and respond. But if the bunny felt overwhelmed or scared, she could go down her hole to feel safe. Iris says, “We wanted to find a way to talk about it so Emma would not see herself as defective, and since she loved rabbits, this metaphor was much easier to accept than a ‘disorder’ label.”

When she is feeling overwhelmed or tired, Emma at times needs to squeeze things, be squeezed, or swing. She says it helps to flap her hands when she is really thinking deeply about something. Like many kids with SPD, she often has “meltdowns” after school, parties, or other overstimulating experiences. According to Jesse she holds it together through the event and collapses later: “She is so proud and tough, this is a side of herself she only lets down at home with us. Most kids have meltdowns from time to time, but it is only the SPD parent who knows the intensity of the SPD kid’s meltdown.”

Iris adds, “Sometimes she is literally writhing on the floor unable to speak, reaching up to us to help, and we just have to hold her tightly and talk her through it. Often it is when she has gone too long without eating, and the best thing we can do is get some protein into her.”

“Tough Love Simply Doesn’t Work with Her”

Emma’s parents say that she was not able to self-calm as a baby. “Tough love simply didn’t—and still doesn’t—work with her. If we ever tried to leave her in her crib she would cry herself into projectile vomiting,” explains Iris.

Kids in HammockJesse and Iris have been working for years to teach Emma self-calming techniques. Along the way they have sought help from many people. “Right now she is seeing an Occupational Therapist who has given us some great strategies for helping Emma regulate her senses.” She has a swinging chair, a hammock that she wraps herself in, and “stretchy green stuff” that she squeezes. And she has started to form a vocabulary for talking about what she feels, which is particularly empowering for kids with SPD, who so often feel alone in their experience.

Read the next article in this series: Sensory Processing Part 3: Disorder Kids or a Disordered World?

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[This article from the archives originally appeared on Inside Bainbridge October 24, 2011.]

Photos courtesy of Maggie Taylor, Martin Howard, Eric Chan, Maggie Taylor, and Tim Pierce.

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Sensory Processing Disorder Part 1: Defining It

October is National Sensory Awareness Month. As part of this national education effort, Inside Bainbridge is publishing a series on Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), citing the latest research, information from experts in the field, and personal stories from parents, caregivers, and kids affected by the condition. (Family names have been changed for privacy.) Read the other articles in the series:

The elegance of the animal brain and neurological system makes complex processes seem simple. Our sensory systems tell us where to place our feet, how to maneuver through space, which sounds to ignore and which to attend to, what to focus on in our visual field, how to chew and swallow without choking, when to speak and when to listen, and countless other actions each minute of each day.

bored kids in classroom

All kids have different learning styles, and this teaching method apparently isn’t working.

A child in a classroom, for example, has to filter out noises from other classrooms, buzzing lights, shuffling feet, and a host of other extraneous sounds in order to focus on the most important sound—the teacher’s voice. This can be challenging at times for many children, but for kids with sensory processing disorder it can be downright exhausting, painful, or even at times impossible.

What SPD Is Not

Sensory Processing Disorder is not ADD or ADHD, although it is often misdiagnosed as such. It also is not a form of autism or Asberger’s, though sensory processing problems often accompany those spectrum conditions. SPD is not a “learning disability” per se, but it may lead to learning and emotional problems.

What SPD Is

Research on SPD began in earnest in the 1960s and 1970s with the work of neuroscientist and occupational therapist Dr. Anna Jean Ayres. She described SPD as a neurological “traffic jam” preventing parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to accurately interpret sensory information.

Some peoples’ fun is other peoples’ sensory nightmare.

Extensive research and practitioner work has followed Ayres’s pioneering studies, but a widespread lack of awareness and understanding of SPD still persist in the general population. Some remain skeptical, dismissive, or simply unaware of the condition. But for families, caregivers, and educators dealing with kids displaying SPD symptoms, the condition is very real.

A current goal of the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation is to get recognition for SPD in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), due out in 2013. Difficulty getting recognition for “newly emerging” diagnostic conditions is old news. Before 1980, autism was labeled a form of childhood schizophrenia, and the full autism spectrum wasn’t included in the DSM until 1987.

A 2004 study conducted by the SPD Foundation found that “at least 1 in 20 children’s daily lives is affected by SPD.” A 2009 study suggested that “1 in 6 children experiences sensory challenges sufficient to disrupt their academic, social, and/or emotional development.”

Based on new research, the SPD Foundation, led by Director Lucy Jane Miller, Ph.D., OTR, identifies three major categories of SPD:

  1. Sensory Modulation Disorder. This includes sensory overresponsivity, sensory underresponsivity, and sensory-seeking behaviors, or combinations thereof. People with this condition can alternate from one state to the other, sometimes seeking stimulation, for example with hand flapping or spinning, and at other times retreating from stimulation by hiding or going off alone.
  2. Sensory Discrimination Disorder. This includes difficulty with accurate perception of all the five senses, plus proprioceptive awareness (knowing how much pressure to exert), vestibular awareness (knowing where you are in space), and interoceptive awareness (being aware of your bodily functions, like hunger and the need to go to the bathroom). People with sensory discrimination problems may have trouble reading because they can’t discriminate between letters, or they may have trouble identifying who is speaking to them because they can’t locate the sources of sounds.
  3. Sensory-Based Motor Disorder. This includes postural disorders and/or dyspraxia (difficulty planning and carrying out motor tasks). People with sensory motor problems may have low muscle tone, difficulty holding utensils, poor posture, trouble with balance, and low stamina.

Terry and Jan in Seattle have a son, Eli, who slumps and has trouble holding his pencil firmly when he writes and draws. He has difficulty sitting up straight at school and at the dinner table, and his handwriting is poor. Sometimes he falls out of his chair. Eli’s Sensory Motor Disorder makes him unable to keep up with playground activities and leaves him feeling socially isolated and embarrassed, especially around the other boys in his class.

People with SPD may have problems in one, two, or all three areas, to varying degrees. The often very different manifestations of SPD make it a challenge to diagnose and treat. It can be bewildering to people unfamiliar with the condition, making it easy to mistake as the result of poor parenting or character flaws such as stubbornness, belligerence, laziness, or lack of intelligence.

Morgan and Jim, parents in Portland, have two kids with SPD, displaying two very different forms of Sensory Modulation Disorder. Their daughter is generally overresponsive to sensory input, screaming at mild pain and dissolving into long crying fits, even in public, over minor disappointments. Their son, on the other hand, is sensory-seeking, often hitting, biting, touching, and talking excessively in school and at home. Both children are highly intelligent, which is not uncommon for children with SPD.

Boy on metal climbing ladder.

SPD can feel insurmountable.

According to Paula Jarrard, MS, OTR, and doctoral candidate at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, there is a correlation between giftedness and SPD. She based her conclusions partly on two studies, one by the SPD Foundation that found that 35 percent of the children in one large sample (n=500) from a gifted and talented center exhibited symptoms of SPD. The second study showed that almost 17 percent of gifted children that were tested at a different center had SPD.

Although a significantly higher-than-average number of SPD kids may be gifted, they often suffer from low self-esteem, anxiety, and poor school performance, leading to underachievement in adulthood.

Bainbridge Island pyschotherapist Elizabeth Turner, who works with many SPD children, explains that their difficulty filtering and interpreting sensory information can create chronic stress: “Sensory-challenging situations, like chaotic classrooms, for example, can feel overwhelming and create an anxiety response that becomes physiologically wired into the nervous system. These kids develop a flight, fight, or freeze reaction that becomes involuntary without intervention.”

So what begins as a neurological difference in SPD kids often develops into a socially isolating and emotionally debilitating condition. In the next feature in this series, I will examine what it’s like living with SPD from the point of view of those who have it and their parents and caregivers.

[This article from the archives originally appeared on Inside Bainbridge October 19, 2011.]

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Images courtesy of Mike Baird, Reiner Kraft, and James Emery.

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Recipe: Fast Fantastic Fudge

I admit, fudge is not my favorite. Many members of modern civilization find this preference, or lack thereof, perplexing, although I have noticed they don’t argue for long because they are happy to eat my share. Possibly this is not a good selling point for this recipe. Yet, every person (okay, except me) who has ever eaten this stuff wants more. And more. And the recipe.

This is my mother’s recipe. In addition to being immensely popular, it is simple and easy. It just might be her baking apex, which is saying something. As a moderate fudge fan, I cannot judge. However, the feedback is overwhelming.

So, here is the recipe—a slam dunk holiday rave. ¡Viva chocolate!

Fast Fantastic Fudge

  • 3 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 15 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 tsps. vanilla
  • dash of salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (don’t skimp on these)

On low heat, melt chocolate chips with condensed milk and salt. Stir. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and nuts. Pour into an 8-inch square pan. Chill for 2 hours. Enjoy!

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[From the archives: first published December 15, 2011.]

Photo by Julie Hall.

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we are your neighbors

Inside Bainbridge: Who the Heck Are We?

Who We Are: Surprise!

People who don’t already know us personally are consistently surprised when they find out that in fact Inside Bainbridge is run by two writers/editors, Sarah Lane and Julie Halland an ad/marketing manager, Lynn Smith. Julie and Sarah launched IB two and a half years ago, in May of 2011. Lynn joined the team in August of 2012. We all live and work on Bainbridge Island, with family here and deep ties to the community.

How We Do This

surfing trickHow have we been able to become what so very many of you tell us is the best, most-trusted news source on Bainbridge Island? How have we earned a daily readership that continues to grow by leaps and bounds month by month, averaging now over 6,300 views a day? How are we able to publish informed, up-to-date community news that often extends statewide and even nationwide?

Four Reasons:

  1. We work hard.
  2. We love Bainbridge Island, which sometimes means taking a close look at unpleasant things that undermine or threaten the well-being of our community.
  3. We have terrific contributors who bring their smarts and expertise from a wide range of professions and passions.
  4. We have attentive readers who continuously share information, photos, leads, questions, and feedback.

All of these things make Inside Bainbridge a rare thing—a true community resource created by and for community members.

Our Relationship with The Seattle Times and King5.com

i get by with a little help from my friendsNot long after launching our community news website, Inside Bainbridge earned the distinction of being the only news source from Kitsap County invited into the Community News Partner program of The Seattle Times. The program is unique in the nation and reflects the vibrant hyperlocal news blog scene that exists in the Seattle region.

As one of the program’s valued, go-to community news partners (which amount to about 70), IB has its articles selected regularly to appear on the home pages of The Times and King5.com, typically several times a week. We also have earned the honor of being consistently included among the few chosen partners to be featured in The Times Sunday print section. No money is exchanged in the relationship, and no editorial influence occurs. We simply provide them with more news to offer their readers, and they simply provide us with a broader audience.

What Have We Done for You Lately?

heart flowerInside Bainbridge is a small company with big heart and brains. Since the beginning we have not asked readers to pay for the news and community coverage we offer, despite the trend in online news publishing to do so. We feature your events, highlight your businesses, share your accomplishments, and tell the stories of your lives week after week with integrity, fairness, and compassion. We work very hard to get it right. We don’t enjoy being in the line of fire, but we are willing to stand up for what is right because it is our job and because you ask us to every day, even when many of you are not willing to go on record with your stories and concerns.

Please Make a Contribution

Our sole source of revenue is ads, which is not enough money to sustain even our small crew. We work full-time plus and get paid full-time minus. Simply put, we cannot continue to run IB without more community support. If we have covered an issue you care about, provided you with practical information during a traffic jam or storm, publicized your business or event, trumpeted your cause, informed you of an opportunity you might have missed, made you laugh or made you think, please consider making a donation to IB to compensate us for the valuable resources we provide to you every day.

thank youHow much is it worth to you—the cost of a dinner out, a sweater, a trip to the movies, a magazine subscription? That doesn’t seem like much for something many of you rely on every day, every week, every month.

Those who have contributed in the past, we thank you and ask you to consider donating again if it has been a while. Those who haven’t contributed yet, we ask you to please chip in so we can keep working for you.

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Please make it out to Inside Bainbridge and mail it to the following address:

321 High School Road, Suite D3, #209
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

Want to Advertise?

Get all those eyes on your ad every day. Contact Lynn Smith at 206-588-5364 or lynn@insidebainbridge.com.

Thank You!

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Photos courtesy of Phil RoedermikebairdHotash.

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Sensory Processing “Disorder” Part 4: Treating It

October is National Sensory Awareness Month. As part of this national education effort, Inside Bainbridge is publishing a series on Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), citing the latest research, information from experts in the field, and personal stories from parents, caregivers, and kids affected by the condition. (Family names have been changed for privacy.) Read the other articles in the series:

Because sensory processing problems range across a wide continuum, with each person’s sensory system as individual as a fingerprint, diagnosis and treatment are challenging. It is common for parents, teachers, doctors, and other caregivers to misdiagnose or altogether miss or dismiss sensory processing “disorder” (SPD), especially since it still is not widely recognized and understood.

What Kind of Learner Are You chart.

We all have different learning styles.

But, fortunately for the people struggling with the condition, this is changing. The National Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation is working to fill the data gap by conducting rigorous studies about SPD and advocating for its listing in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual . A range of caregivers, such as occupational therapists, physical therapists, and yoga therapists, are filling their toolboxes with strategies for helping SPD kids. And, increasingly, educators are recognizing the need to incorporate different teaching modalities in their classrooms to accommodate the reality that all kids have different learning styles and sensory “engines.”

“There Has Been an Explosion of Kids in the Last 5-10 Years Who Are Either Frozen or on Fire”

Monica Struck has been working in early childhood education for 25 years, specializing in parent education. Her extensive experience includes consulting for the Silverdale and Bainbridge Island School Districts in Washington. Echoing the comments of former Bainbridge Island School District physical therapist Sue Steindorf, Struck says she has seen “an explosion of kids in the last 5-10 years who are either frozen or on fire.” And she adds, “Professionals are scurrying to meet the need.”

“SPD Is a Neuro Difference, Not a Deficiency”

Struck sees SPD as “a neuro difference, not a deficiency” and believes “our world is changing so much, there is so much to learn and take in, it is hard to adjust to parenting this kind of kid because of the overstimulated world we live in.” According to Struck, “readdressing everyone’s style of learning needs to be part of larger education reform.”

Seeking a manageable school environment for their daughter with SPD, Iris and Jesse enrolled her in a small private elementary school that values individuality. “The public schools in our community are great, but Emma needed smaller class sizes and a place where she could know and be known by everyone,” explained Iris. Although Emma’s teachers haven’t always understood her SPD, they have been open to Jesse and Iris about ways to accommodate Emma. “It’s been a learning curve for all of us. As we discover strategies along the way, we share them with her teachers, and vice versa,” said Jesse. For example, Emma’s occupational therapist suggested putting a stretchy band at the foot of Emma’s desk so she could push with her feet and get calming sensory feedback in class. Now her third grade classroom has stretchy bands on all of the kids’ desks, and the teachers report that the kids love them. Iris said, “Emma is proud to have introduced something so positive to her class.”

Kid watching TV.

Kid in TV trance.

Catherine Whiting, an occupational therapist on Bainbridge Island, has specialized in working with SPD kids for almost three decades. When I asked her if she sees more SPD kids now than in the past, she said it is hard to say whether the incidence of SPD is increasing or whether it is simply becoming more evident to people now.

Kids Today Are Inside More, Less Active

She pointed to the fact that children today have much less time outside and fewer physical outlets than they did in past decades: “There were more vestibular activities, like bike riding, running, and more vigorous playground equipment. Now kids are inside more, and playgrounds are less physically challenging places because of fear of lawsuits.”

It is not news to anyone that kids today spend far less time outside, have less unstructured time for play, and sit in front of electronic devices much more than they used to. With his 2006 book The Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, Richard Louv alerted our generation to the alienation of children from nature and the damaging effects of childhoods spent mostly inside, citing obesity, depression, and loss of self-esteem.

For SPD Kids, Less Time Outside Means Less Time to Hone Motor Control

In terms of sensory processing development, less time outside also means less time to hone motor control, gain vestibular awareness, and practice sensory modulation. These societal changes are bad news for all kids but are especially damaging for kids with sensory processing difficulty.

Smiling boys up a tree.

Climbing trees is just plain fun.

When treating SPD kids, Whiting likes to start by evaluating a child first herself, without learning much about preexisting diagnoses or opinions. Because every kid is different, she has a large toolbox. Her biggest priority is giving kids strategies for functioning in the real world. Because many SPD kids form what she calls “maladaptive coping behaviors,” she focuses on teaching them coping strategies that are (1) age appropriate, (2) situationally appropriate, and (3) safe.

Sensory Avoiders Do Best with Directives and Schedules

Whiting explains that sensory-avoiding kids need more structure and help with transitions to make their worlds feel more manageable and ordered: “The sensory-avoider kiddos are taking in so many details they are easily overwhelmed. Change is hard for them, and so are unstructured situations, like art class, for example. They do best with directives and schedules.”

Sensory Seekers Need to Move, to Touch, to Be Involved

About sensory-seeking kids, Whiting says, “these kiddos, on the other hand, need to move, to touch, to be involved. I give them brightly colored markers and opportunities to explore and change things up frequently.”

SPD kids have different filters than others do.

SPD kids have different filters.

Whiting points out that parents with good instincts find ways to accommodate their SPD children. “They anticipate breakdowns, provide a healthy sensory diet for their particular kiddo, and they realize how hard their child is trying. Telling SPD kids they aren’t trying is the worst thing you can say to them—they’re trying all the time with every fiber of their being to keep their body under control,” she said.

Likewise, yoga therapist Sue Steindorf uses yoga to help SPD kids learn to understand themselves and have an “adaptive response” to their environment. “Their central nervous systems have a different way of organizing information. It is not a pathology, but rather a difference that they need to understand how to regulate,” she explained.

“Extroverts May Lash Out, While Introverts Hold Things in Until They Snap”

Steindorf said that SPD symptoms present in very different ways: “Kids who are trying to figure out motor control move all the time. Others will freeze and sit in a corner trying to regulate.” Without proper sensory regulation, she pointed out, “extroverts may lash out, while introverts hold things in until they snap.”

Little boy running on the beach.

Freedom’s just another word for running on the beach.

In her yoga practice, Steindorf teaches kids to “come to center, self-calm, and get in balance.” She uses movement, music, breathing, relaxation, pressure pillows, balance techniques, laughter, and imaginative play.

Occupational Therapist Kristi van Niel, who works at Harrison Medical Center in Silverdale, Washington, uses a range of equipment and techniques to help her SPD kids develop vestibular awareness, muscle tone, motor problem solving, and other self-regulating abilities. Her tools of the trade include swings, weighted balls, large therapy balls, climbing equipment, squishy hand toys, balance beams, art projects, catch games, and talking through strategies for coping with real-life situations.

Intervention for Anxiety and Low-Self Esteem Is a Crucial Part of SPD Treatment

Scared girl.

Sensory overload can be terrifying.

But for SPD kids, physical regulation is not the only challenge. It is common for them to develop “performance anxiety” around sensory experiences and tasks that they find particularly difficult. SPD kids, though they are often gifted, commonly suffer from feelings of inadequacy. This is why for many SPD kids, occupational or yoga therapies are not enough. Intervention for the anxiety and low self-esteem that arise from their sensory differences is a crucial part of treatment plans for SPD kids.

What Diane, the mother of two SPD teens, concludes about her kids is that what they need most is to be understood and “met where they are.” She believes SPD kids often have parents with similar sensory processing issues but may not know it about themselves.

kids and moms playing on beach

Kids and grownups playing on the beach.

For parents who have the openness and courage, coming to understand and accept their sensory-different kids is often a journey toward understanding and accepting themselves. Even parents who don’t share their children’s sensory sensitivities have opportunities for deeper insight into what it means to be human. As Steindorf puts it, when sensory different kids find their balance they are profoundly “alive,” a way of being that we can all learn from.

[This article from the archives originally appeared on Inside Bainbridge November 5, 2011.]

Photos courtesy of Ilona, Leonid Mamchenkov, Anne-Cathrine Nyberg, Eric Schmuttenmaer, Sandeep Menon, Mike Mol, D. Sharon Pruitt, and Mike Baird.

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A Look Behind the Scenes at Our Local Election Process

Although you may regard Mickey Mouse as a better choice than your actual candidate options, voting for him as a write-in candidate will not count, according to Kitsap County Elections Manager Dolores Gilmore. She told me that this fact, however, does not stop voters from writing Mickey in anyway during every single round of elections. Mickey and Donald Duck are favorite write-ins, as are popular celebrities of the day.

Gilmore explained that local elections in Kitsap County generally garner a 50-55 percent return rate. Here on Bainbridge Island, we have the distinction of having the highest percentage of registered voters of any other city in Kitsap County. Our registered voters currently total about 17,000, which still seems small compared with the 154,102 registered voters across the County.

Everyone’s favorite candidate?

When I asked Gilmore about the logistics of processing ballots, she had a lot to say. Each returned ballot first has its signature verified based on records of County residents’ signatures. Duplicate ballots also are identified. Voters with ballot signatures that do not match or duplicate ballots are notified by mail and given an opportunity to provide a valid ballot.

Once ballots are validated, they are sorted by precinct. Election officials remove the outer envelopes and sort ballots still inside their secrecy envelopes into groups of 200. Once identifying information about voters is separated from the ballots, they are removed from their secrecy envelopes.

Gilmore told me that about 10 percent of these ballots are unreadable by election machines: “The most common mistake people make is making their line too thick. It’s like they’re really trying to make their vote obvious by tracing and retracing that line, but the machine actually can’t read lines that are too thick.” Gilmore said another common mistake voters make on their ballots is circling their choices, which also is unreadable for the machines.

Because Washington is a state that requires election officials to assess and honor voter intent, each unreadable ballot is assigned a tracking number and is analyzed. Gilmore said, “We don’t throw away ballots, even with coffee stains or other damages.” When voter intent is clear, election workers create a new ballot to be counted by the machines.

For Bainbridge Islanders, ballots are mailed 18 days prior to election day, which this year is November 5. The Election Department gets to work as early as possible on processing ballots as they arrive by mail. However, they will continue counting ballots trickling in until November 25 to allow time for overseas ballots to arrive. The department will most likley officially certify winners on November 26, 2013.

Ballot tabulating machine.

Ballot tabulating machine.

Gilmore said she gets excited at this time of year: “It’s neat to see the process every time.” Her staff of eight permanent workers are supplemented by about 10 temporary workers during this busy season. Because the room where they sort ballots and feed them into the tabulating machines has limited table space, the staff works in shifts, starting at 8 a.m. and ending at 7 p.m. each day.

Although officially winners are not declared until the end of the month, candidates and news sources generally call an election once a candidate has a 5 percent lead. Gilmore explained that leads of 5 percent are usually reliable indicators of winners. She said the majority of ballots will be counted by the Thursday, November 7, after election day, with updates posted on the County website: www.kitsapgov.com.

Ballots mailed with a November 5 postmark are valid. Don’t want to pay for a stamp? You can drop off your ballots anytime between now and November 5 at 8 p.m. in the outdoor ballot box at Bainbridge Island Fire Station 21 at 8895 Madison Avenue.

[Updated from the archives. Originally published in different form November 7, 2011.]

 

Photos courtesy of Kitsap County, Ross Hawkes, and Lance Fisher.

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tugboat full view

Sunken Tug Costs Taxpayers $150,000; Still Overstaying Its Welcome (w/ Photo Gallery)

The saga of the sunken tugboat over at Bainbridge Island Marina may have drifted from your thoughts, but you are paying for it.

On October 2, the 60-foot, 100-ton, 98-year-old Chickamauga sank in Eagle Harbor following several days of unseasonably heavy rain. Boats sink all the time, but this one had some 400 gallons of fuel on board, enough to cover our entire 1.5-mile -long Eagle Harbor and devastate the ecosystem we all cherish.

Fast work by the Bainbridge Island Fire Department caught most of the fuel that initially spilled into the Harbor from the tug, and a crew hired by the Coast Guard was able to remove five of the six fuel tanks onboard before the boat listed to the side and conditions became too dangerous for the crew’s diver to continue her work. That left one tank rolling around in the old tug, which had been parked derelict at the Marina since last spring with missing and separated planking.

The boat was so old and dilapidated, in fact, that many at the Marina, including Manager Doug Crow, wanted it removed. Crow told me the tug had been an ongoing problem since it was parked there last February at night when he couldn’t fully see its poor condition. Crow said the tug’s owner Anthony Smith left him two month’s rent for the Chickamauga and a promise of insurance—a standard requirement of the Marina for all of its vessels—before leaving town.

Crow waited a few days for proof of insurance. He said he tried calling the owner about the insurance a few times, the last on February 13. “I didn’t follow up after that. . . . I got busy,” said Crow.

But when the rent checks did not arrive, Crow spent all spring trying to get Smith to remove the boat. “The owner wouldn’t return calls, and bills were being returned,” he said. “Finally after June I figured he dropped the boat on us, and I started researching how to get rid of a derelict vessel.”

Crow explained that the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) does not have the money to handle derelict boats: “If I had filled out the paperwork to declare the boat derelict I would have had to take possession of it and become responsible for it.”

As long as the sunken tug had fuel still aboard, it remained the responsibility of the Coast Guard to protect the environment from the danger it posed. On October 10, the Coast Guard hired a contractor to bring in a (huge) barge crane to pull the tug out of the water so the fuel tank could be removed. While engines pumped out the water from the boat the crane lifted the vessel up via powerful straps wedged underneath it by a diver. The crane succeeded in pulling up the tug and removing the remaining fuel, at an estimated cost of $150,000, according to Seattle’s Coast Guard 13 spokesperson Jordan Akiyama. “The money comes out of the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which appropriates funds through taxation of each barrel of oil produced and traded in the United States,” explained Akiyama.

To the surprise of many, the tug remains afloat in the Marina with no assistance. Its massive length and girth are now fully visible. Crow says that he has been in touch with Smith, who told him he plans to bring friends to remove the vessel. It remains to be seen if the tug can withstand upcoming rains or a journey out of the Marina let alone in open water.

When I asked Crow what he thought caused the tugboat to sink he said, “The boat was out of the water all summer. I think the heat and dryness dried the wood and seams—and with the big rain, water probably got in and exposed the seams.”

Crow told me there were bilge pumps on the tug that click on alarms if water in the boat reaches a certain level. He wasn’t sure if the pump alarms sounded the morning the tug went down, but he said he never heard them. When I asked him if he had checked to make sure they were in working order, he said that he hadn’t because he didn’t know how. Luckily Crow noticed the sinking boat quickly and, he said, “the fire department did a yoeman’s job—I was very grateful for their professionalism.”

“I would have been smart not to take possession of that boat,” said Crow.

Here is a photo gallery showing the sunken tug, the process of lifting it out of the water with a barge crane, and the floating tug afterward.

tug underwater with sorbent pads and boom to collect oil (photo by Julie Hall)

tug underwater with sorbent pads and boom to collect oil (photo by Julie Hall)

tug underwater (photo by Julie Hall)

tug underwater (photo by Julie Hall)

tug underwater with sorbent pads and boom to collect oil (photo by Julie Hall)

tug underwater with sorbent pads and boom to collect oil (photo by Julie Hall)

tug underwater with sorbent pads and boom to collect oil (photo by Julie Hall)

tug underwater with sorbent pads and boom to collect oil (photo by Julie Hall)

tug underwater with sorbent pads and boom to collect oil (photo by Julie Hall)

tug underwater with sorbent pads and boom to collect oil (photo by Julie Hall)

sorbent pads and boom to collect oil (photo by Julie Hall)

sorbent pads and boom to collect oil (photo by Julie Hall)

diver working to place straps under tug so crane could pull it up out of the water (photo by Lynn Smith)

diver working to place straps under tug so crane could pull it up out of the water (photo by Lynn Smith)

barge crane lifting tug out of water (photo by Luke Carpenter)

barge crane lifting tug out of water (photo by Luke Carpenter)

crane lifting tug (photo by Colleen Byrum)

crane lifting tug (photo by Colleen Byrum)

closeup of barge crane (photo by Colleen Byrum)

closeup of barge crane (photo by Colleen Byrum)

barge crane beginning to lift tug out of water (photo by Luke Carpenter)

barge crane beginning to lift tug out of water (photo by Luke Carpenter)

crew assisting with tug lift (photo by Colleen Byrum)

crew assisting with tug lift (photo by Colleen Byrum)

straps around tug (photo by Colleen Byrum)

straps around tug (photo by Colleen Byrum)

crew assisting with tug lift (photo by Colleen Byrum)

crew assisting with tug lift (photo by Colleen Byrum)

crew watching crane lift tug (photo by Colleen Byrum)

crew watching crane lift tug (photo by Colleen Byrum)

tug cabin emerging from water with lift from barge crane (photo by Robert Dashiell)

tug cabin emerging from water with lift from barge crane (photo by Robert Dashiell)

lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)

lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)

tugboat full view

lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)

lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)

lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)

cabin of lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)

cabin of lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)

cabin of lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)

cabin of lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)

cabin of lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)

cabin of lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)

cabin of lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)

cabin of lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)

inside cabin of lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)

inside cabin of lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)

lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)

lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)

lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)

lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)

lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)

lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)

tug underwater with sorbent pads and boom to collect oil (photo by Julie Hall)tug underwater (photo by Julie Hall)tug underwater with sorbent pads and boom to collect oil (photo by Julie Hall)tug underwater with sorbent pads and boom to collect oil (photo by Julie Hall)tug underwater with sorbent pads and boom to collect oil (photo by Julie Hall)sorbent pads and boom to collect oil (photo by Julie Hall)diver working to place straps under tug so crane could pull it up out of the water (photo by Lynn Smith)barge crane lifting tug out of water (photo by Luke Carpenter)crane lifting tug (photo by Colleen Byrum)closeup of barge crane (photo by Colleen Byrum)barge crane beginning to lift tug out of water (photo by Luke Carpenter)crew assisting with tug lift (photo by Colleen Byrum)straps around tug (photo by Colleen Byrum)crew assisting with tug lift (photo by Colleen Byrum)crew watching crane lift tug (photo by Colleen Byrum)tug cabin emerging from water with lift from barge crane (photo by Robert Dashiell)lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)tugboat full viewlifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)cabin of lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)cabin of lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)cabin of lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)cabin of lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)inside cabin of lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)lifted and floating tug (photo by Sarah Lane)

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Huge thanks to the ever adventurous Colleen Byrum for reporting and photo assistance. Thanks also to Lynn Smith, Robert Dashiell, and Luke Carpenter for photo and reporting assistance. Photos credits (alphabetically) by Colleen Byrum, Luke Carpenter, Robert Dashiell, Julie Hall, Sarah Lane, and Lynn Smith.

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Port Townsend Historic Courthouse

The Port Townsend Getaway: 16 Ideas for Fun

What’s so great about Port Townsend? What isn’t? It’s got beaches (and beaches!), sprawling parks, funky shops, excellent art and music, every kind of cuisine, an old-style movie theater, history, beautiful old brick buildings, a nationally respected Arts Center, pretty Victorian homes in all shades of the rainbow, and every kind of place to stay, from converted bordello to snappy beach-front cottages to upscale B&Bs to dog-friendly motels on the water.

A one-hour drive from Bainbridge Island across Hood Canal and through picturesque Beaver Valley, Port Townsend is an irresistible getaway for a day or two or more. Whether you want historic small town charm, beachy quiet, an artist’s oasis on the Olympic Peninsula, or all of the above, PT is it and then some.

James Bay Bookseller on Water Street.

William James Bookseller.

16 Ways to Have Fun in PT

1. Shop Downtown. There’s just about everything in the blocks that ramble along downtown’s Water Street and meander in and out of the side streets of this main drag. You’ll find art galleries, new and used books, outdoor wear, jewelry, music, toys, games, and plenty of restaurants for all tastes, from Thai to upscale Northwest cuisine and everything in between.

2. Visit Fort Worden State Park. It’s got stunning beaches; a Marine Science Center; Centrum, an art center that attracts international musicians and writers for arts events; a campground; rental houses; bluff trails; Copper Canyon Press, one of the best literary publishers in the country; a Hostel; historic military buildings and gun emplacements; and almost limitless picnic spots.

Max Grover in his new gallery on Water Street.

Max Grover in his new gallery.

3. Tour the Galleries. The new Max Grover Gallery just opened in the back of Sideshow Variety shop on Water Street. When I asked Grover how his launch was going he said he had just sold 20 original pieces in his first week. When I left, the number had increased to 21. (See our previous article on Grover’s exhibit at BIAC.) Also check out the eclectic art at Red Raven Gallery, an artist co op. Artist Sarah Fitch is a standout there, and something of hers came home with me too. Hey, it was my birthday!

4. Picnic in Chetzemoka Park. This local’s favorite in the Northeast corner of town was created as a memorial to a S’Kallam Indian chief. The park features a gazebo, flower gardens, seriously funky old trees, a grassy slope down to the beach, picnic tables, and bathrooms.

Larry Scott Memorial Trail.

Larry Scott Trail.

5. Walk or Ride the Larry Scott Memorial Trail. This lovely trail, a recently converted railroad, welcomes bikers, walkers, horses, and well-behaved dogs off leash. Pick it up at the boatyard along the water front, pass the paper mill, and head into the woods.

6. Peruse Books at William James Bookseller. It’s easy to lose track of time in this great used book stop on Water Street.

7. Grab a Slice of Waterfront Pizza. PT’s favorite ‘za is available by the slice or whole pie. Order extra cheese.

8. See a Flick at the Rose Theater. This restored 1907 theater features film introductions by theater staff.

9. Explore Old Fort Townsend State Park. A short drive south of PT, this private and pretty state park is a great spot for hiking and picnicking, and it makes a good biking destination.

Port Townsend Boatyard

Shipyard.

10. Walk Around the PT Shipyard. This busy port repairs boats from around the region and is home to the highly respected Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding. It’s fascinating to walk around here, where every style and vintage of boat can be seen. Watch workers repairing hulls and moving ships with monster-wheeled equipment.

11. Grab a Burger and Brew at The Public House. For lighter fare, they have great soups and salads too.

12. Hit the Farmer’s Market. Voted the Best Farmers Market of the Year by the Washington State Farmers Market Association, this bustling banquet of fresh goods in Uptown is worth a visit if you’re there on a Saturday. The Market is open April through October between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. and November and December between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

St. Paul's Church, 1860.

St. Paul’s Church, 1860.

13. Check Out the Victorian Architecture. Walk, bike, or drive up the hill into the neighborhoods to see the old Victorian beauties.

14. Enjoy Enchiladas at El Sarape. This is where the locals eat casual Mexican. It’s located at the end of Water Street.

15. Explore the Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park. You can’t miss this 80-acre park as you drive into town. It makes a pleasant place to walk or picnic.

16. Hoof It Up the Terrace Steps to the Historic Fire Belltower. Enjoy Haller Fountain and walk the steps up to the Fire Belltower on the hill. The fountain and steps are downtown on Washington Street.

Historic Fire Belltower, 1890.

Historic Fire Belltower, under renovation.

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Featured photo is the 1890 Courthouse. Photos by Julie Hall and Sarah Lane.

[From the archives: Originally published October 11, 2011.]

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cocktail

Get Happy for Bainbridge Island’s Happy Hours

[This article is an update of a previously published article on August 4, 2011.]

Happy hour is a happy alternative to full-priced eating and drinking these days as we all look for ways to save with a smile. A lot of restaurants are rolling out longer happy hours, more enticing pricing, and late-night happy hours to attract customers. And customers are happy to oblige. Here are Bainbridge Island establishments with happy hours.

Bainbridge Thai Cuisine

  • Family-friendly Thai fare. Full bar. Indoor and outdoor seating with views of harbor.
  • 206-780-2403
  • 330 Madison Avenue South
  • bainbridgethai.com
  • Happy Hour: 4-6 p.m. daily.

Casa Rojas Cantina

  • Family-friendly Mexican fare. Full bar. WiFi.
  • 206-855-7999
  • 403 Madison Avenue North
  • casarojasrestaurant.com
  • Happy Hour: “It’s always happy hour at Casa Rojas Cantina.” Drink specials and free snacks Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.

Doc’s Marina Grill

  • Burgers and fine Northwest cuisine, waterside. Full bar. Indoor and outside seating with views of harbor. WiFi.
  • 206-842-8339
  • 403 Madison Avenue South
  • docsgrill.com
  • Happy Hour: Sunday-Thursday 3-6 p.m. and daily 9 p.m.-closing.

Four Swallows

  • Fine dining in intimate converted Winslow home. Full bar. Specialty desserts.
  • 206-842-3397
  • 481 Madison Avenue North
  • www.fourswallows.com
  • Happy Hour: Tuesday-Friday 5-6:30 p.m.

Hitchcock

  • Farm to table dinner restaurant. Organic, local, foraged, and handcrafted food.
  • 206-201-3789
  • 133 Winslow Way East
  • hitchcockrestaurant.com
  • Happy Hour: 5-6 p.m. daily; on Fridays and Saturdays happy hour is only in the bar section of the restaurant.

Isla Bonita

  • Casual Mexican food. Full bar.
  • 206-780-9644
  • 316 Winslow Way East
  • Happy Hour: 3-6 p.m. daily.

Island Grill

  • Grilled and Asian-inspired food.  Lunch, dinner, and brunch. Full bar. WiFi.
  • 206-842-9037
  • 321 High School Road
  • bainbridgeislandgrill.com
  • Happy Hour: 3-6 p.m. and 9 p.m.-closing daily.

San Carlos

  • Southwest-style Mexican cuisine. 28 years on Bainbridge. Full bar.
  • 206-842-1999
  • 279 Madison Avenue North
  • sancarlosgrill.com
  • Happy Hour: 4:30-5:30 p.m. daily.

SuBI Japanese Restaurant

  • Japanese fare with sushi bar. Located in Pavilion building. WiFi.
  • 206-855-7882
  • 403 Madison Avenue North
  • sushibi.com
  • Happy Hour: 8-9:15 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

See something not included here? Let us know!

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Photo courtesy of andlun1.

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Preparing for Emergency: Keeping the Lines of Communication Open

by Scott James, December 24, 2012, 6:00 a.m.

The night was silent. Nani and Bill carefully crawled out of their bed, reaching underneath to pull out their hiking shoes. “Was that an earthquake?” Bill asked. Nani replied, “Either that or we just got hit by a semi truck.” They heard glass shattering in the background. Nani flipped on her flashlight. “Wow, what a mess,” Bill said as he looked around their bedroom. As they made their way to the front door with their Map Your Neighborhood guide, Bill tore off the last page. He affixed it to the outside of their door showing a large “OK” to anyone passing by. Nani tried both her cell phone and landline telephone. “They’re both out.” she told Bill. “Looks like our communication systems just went seriously low-tech.”

The desire for information is a common response after a natural disaster, which is made complicated when the disaster is widespread. Emergencies will knock out our normal means of communication and, unless we’ve done a bit of pre-planning, we’ll be left in the (informational) dark. In a widespread emergency, normal communications (telephone lines, cell towers) may not be restored for weeks to months, as we’ve seen in the aftermath of recent earthquakes and tsunamis. The information needed after an emergency ranges from broad (how widespread an area was affected, which dictates how soon help will arrive) to narrow (two people on our street need medical attention ASAP). By ensuring you have two-way communications to and from both your hyperlocal area as well as your region, you can make significantly better decisions for yourself, your family, and your neighbors.

Emergency Communication Strategies Help sign

As we learned in Dr. Johnson’s Map Your Neighborhood program, communications begin right away after a disaster with the placement of an OK sign or a HELP sign on your front door. Neighbors who have gathered and then sent out a team to canvas the street will use these signs to focus quickly on those most in need. Since we cannot rely on any technology communication such as telephones immediately after an emergency, this low-tech solution is both appropriate and efficient.

People Power. Signs are one low-tech communication option. Bicycles, horses, and even a teenager from the cross country team are other possibilities for helping communications flow after a disaster that has blocked our roads from vehicular travel. Your daily walk will give you a good idea of how far you can travel by foot to solicit information from and share news with neighbors. Go! Bainbridge is an organization dedicated to expanded nonvehicular travel and transportation around our town and a great resource for anyone walking, biking, or horse riding.

Two-way radios Two-Way Radios. We can also leverage high-tech solutions during post-disaster Map Your Neighborhood safety sweeps, such as short-range two-way radios (also known as walkie talkies) that have been pre-charged or stored with fresh batteries removed but attached. Fast communication via these short-range devices is particularly important for more dense housing like apartment complexes where shouting for help to Map Your Neighborhood teammates will be ineffective as well as for exurban neighborhoods with more distance among homes. Two-way radios are a useful addition to any go bag and have value in nonemergency times when cell phones are not reliable, such as during hiking.

Long-range two-way radios can transmit over distances from 5 to 20 miles. However, for both short- and long-range radios, keep in mind that the manufacturers grossly overstate the distance of effectiveness. Any obstruction to the signal (trees, walls, vehicles) will cause interference and lower the effective range. Having at least one of these long-range radios in each neighborhood is important for communication with other neighborhoods and the emergency professionals in the area who are gathering information and coordinating relief efforts.

Some disasters we can see coming—like a hurricane or a flood—and take appropriate measures. But many disasters, such as tornados or earthquakes, don’t announce themselves in advance. It’s for those unknowable emergencies that communication before the event is so important. A small bit of discussion and planning ahead of time can prepare a neighborhood. Part of that pre-planning includes equipping your street with the correct communications gear, since your local Ace Hardware will sell out of walkie talkies within the first 30 minutes of an emergency. When looking at emergency weather radios and two-way communication devices (both short-range and long-range), remember to think through how to power those devices in a long emergency. After Hurricane Sandy, we saw citizens creating and sharing solar panel recharging hot spots on street corners. As we discussed in our article on energy, one set of chargers can power an entire street full of devices. Ham radio

Let’s Talk Ham. The use of both short- and long-wave handheld radios is important for family reunification plans that have wisely designated an out-of-area contact person to help coordinate the gathering of family members in a disaster area. But what to do when both cell and phone systems are down and you are trying to reach your out-of-area contact person? Ham radio bridges the gap between local communication and long-distance communication in a no-power scenario after a natural disaster.

Thankfully our town has an active radio club that can connect the various parts of our small town even when our phone and cell systems have become overwhelmed and failed. David Gutierrez of the Bainbridge Amateur Radio Club will work with the fire department in the aftermath of a disaster to reestablish communications across the town and beyond. We currently have ham radio installations at several neighborhood shelters. Through Prepared Neighborhoods, we are recruiting more with the goal of having a shelter within walking distance of every neighborhood in our town. Post-disaster, after they secure their own family and immediate neighborhoods, local ham radio operators are to walk to their nearest shelter equipped with ham radio equipment so they can help with communications. These shelters—such as Islandwood and the Senior Center—are being set up by Prepared Neighborhoods to provide for winter warmth and year-round communications with the emergency professionals in our town. Bainbridge Island Fire Department Phelps Road Station

Emergency Operating Centers. On Bainbridge Island, the fire department is responsible for training city employees in emergency preparedness, creating an Emergency Operating Center system, and encouraging Map Your Neighborhood preparation among citizens. I asked Assistant Fire Chief Luke Carpenter about our emergency procedures. He said, ”The Emergency Operating Center (EOC) system exists to provide continuity of service for the governance of our island. It is a locus for information after a large disaster, for both the collection and dissemination of information. In an emergency, all community needs like public works come into our EOC. If our local resources can handle it, the resources get dispatched. If we can’t handle the request locally, we push it up to the county’s EOC, and the process repeats there with them pulling from their county resources. From there the request can quickly go up to state and federal levels for fulfillment.”

Carpenter gave an example specific to Bainbridge Island and the system of neighborhood shelters we are currently setting up: “Let’s take fuel trucks as an example. If we lose power, the warming center at the Senior Center is activated. But if we lose power for an extended period, their propane-fired system will need to be refilled as it only has a six-day supply of fuel. That pending need comes to us, and our EOC looks at our facilities. Because there is no propane storage on the island, we would pass that request on to the next communication node off our island: the Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management (KCDEM) EOC. The propane would likely be delivered via barge if the bridge is down and the ferries are not operating.” Bulletin board

Bulletin Boards. Years ago our town had a bulletin board system in place for distributing information in situations in which Internet and telephone systems were inoperable. An acrylic holder was mounted outside Ace Hardware to protect the paper flyer that would be posted as part of that system. The system has since fallen by the wayside, but it could be resurrected quickly if citizens were to take responsibility for the its maintenance. An map of these bulletin board locations could be maintained by the Prepared Neighborhoods team for the use of our officials in an emergency.

Backup Communications Systems. To further facilitate communications, Prepared Neighborhoods has contracted with the software development team Recovers to create the backup systems that our town would be able to use—with or without power—for communications among neighborhoods, our shelters, and our professionals at the fire department. Bainbridge Island is the first Recovers project to be worked on before a natural disaster has struck (most of their clients are in the middle of experiencing a flood or the aftermath of a tornado). The Recovers team has been quite responsive to our numerous change requests for tweaking their online tools to better fit a team working on preparedness rather than a team responding to an existing emergency.

Caitria O’Neill is the CEO and Co-Founder of Recovers. We talk every week as we’re building out the Bainbridge Island site on their platform. I recently asked her specifically about the importance of communications.

Both disaster preparedness and recovery depend upon the ability of a community to communicate with itself and the outside world. Every community has a wide range of technical capability. There will be extremely tech-savvy households standing right next to a resident who chooses not to have any devices that connect to the Internet. When trying to reach people with information on how to prepare and recovery information in the case of a disaster, you have to keep this in mind. A working system has to continue to function when the web goes down in an emergency.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, we saw a few amazing communication systems spring up. New York City residents with web connectivity and tech expertise scraped the Internet for information, updates, and explanations of how to access aid. They then shared this information using a variety of social media tools and other software. People who saw it could print off a resource sheet and distribute it in one of the “dead zones” to those who could not access and collect this information themselves. Gaps in Internet access were covered by volunteers who knew that they could help by walking around with information on foot.

Really, the tools don’t matter as much as the plan. You can train residents right now where to find information to print and distribute after a disaster. You can leverage a door-to-door volunteer who is using an iPad or paper forms for data collection. The important thing is to start planning and to assume different levels of tech capability for each neighborhood.

CommunicationLocal Media. In addition to leveraging communications experts from afar, we’ve also turned to experts in our own backyard to help our emergency preparedness professionals quickly and efficiently get out the word during and after emergencies. Our local go-to source for daily news on our island is called Inside Bainbridge, published by Julie Hall and Sarah Lane (disclosure: Sarah is also one of my editors!). Just as other local citizens have their own Step 10 in the Map Your Neighborhood procedures, Sarah and Julie are on the hook for helping our fire department and local ham radio operators with navigating social media and texting for the dissemination of emergency response information. I asked Sarah about her preparation for post-disaster communication:

With our increased awareness of what happens to media in an emergency, in some ways it feels like we are returning to an older time, a time with a town crier or a posted broadside. But really what’s happening is we are learning to be more agile and to use the wide array of tools available to us. We start with our website. When that goes down, we use our phones and post via Twitter. When the cell towers are down, we turn to ham radio and send out news that way.

I feel we’re very fortunate to have a forward thinking Fire Department at the helm, inviting us to participate in the process early on, well before the emergency, because they have a good understanding of the options and the way the different technologies work and then stop working. They understand that commanding an audience and knowing how to deliver the news are essential, no matter what the medium.

Starting the Conversation Before the Disaster Lloyd's signal station

Citizens can alleviate much of the pressure put on our preparedness professionals in a time of widespread crisis by coordinating efforts directly among neighborhoods to leverage our huge range of collective skills. As we discussed earlier, one Map Your Neighborhood street may have three medically trained citizens living on it, and another may have two structural engineers. When a disaster strikes, after each Map Your Neighborhood street has ensured its initial stability, residents can begin to communicate with other nearby streets to asses their needs. Being able to swap a nurse for a structural engineer greatly benefits both locations.

Communication is one of the building blocks to good relationships, whether it is with your spouse or the rest of your neighborhood. The success of your Map Your Neighborhood project relies on open dialogue with the rest of your neighbors at least once a year to update one other on any special needs, changes in the home, and additional skills you’ve learned that year that can be of benefit to the neighborhood.

Meeting the Neighbors. We do our Map Your Neighborhood annual get-together as a post-holiday party each year, part of a “we can survive another winter together” set of holiday parties, usually set in January after the business of the season has begun to wane a bit. We’ll spend  about 45 minutes discussing Map Your Neighborhood and the rest of the evening socializing. But that’s just for our street. Bainbridge Islander Leslie Marshall has spent several years combining individual streets in her Commodore neighborhood to form a cohesive Map Your Neighborhood group spanning 65 homes.

People have busy enough schedules that it is difficult to find a time that works for even a majority of the invitees, let alone everyone. What has worked for me is to go to every home in our neighborhood, explain to the adult who answers the door just what the MYN and Prepared Neighborhoods initiatives are all about, and have that person fill out the questionnaire right then. If no one is home when I visit or if it is just not a good time for a conversation, then I keep returning until I can have the chat and collect the data. (Some of the conversations continued for an hour or more!)

If the person declines to participate (which happened for just two homes out of 65), I thank them and do not return. This takes time but has the benefit of being good exercise in the fresh air for me! It also helps build trust.

Some neighbors have, after our conversation, walked with me to their next-door neighbor to introduce me. I have gotten to know each of our neighbors personally through these conversations, and we chat briefly when I pass them by on my daily walks. We made an email distribution list, which has a secondary use when dealing with the rash of burglaries in our neighborhood about two years ago.

When I decided that our list really needed updating this year, it was much easier to collect the data—everyone except the newest neighbors knew me at least by name, and this time the data were going to our highly regarded Fire Department. Many thanked me for keeping us all informed and spontaneously offered even more assistance if any emergency did arise. This kind of approach obviously takes a lot of time, but the results are impressively thorough. And it is a great way for a newcomer (which I was when this all started) to get connected in a deep way to one’s community.

CommunicateA Community Conversation. Communications about neighbors taking care of neighbors do not need to be limited to Map Your Neighborhood conversations. As we’ve been discussing in previous articles, the connection between emergency preparedness and sustainability in our neighborhoods spans multiple topics, from water and food to shelter and transportation. Bringing interesting conversations to the forefront on a wide variety of topics important to citizens is the passion of Bainbridge Islander Ann Warman. Ann’s most recent venture, VillageSpeak,is a forum in which local is put at the forefront. “Local issues, local leaders, and local discussions” is the tagline for this forum that cultivates listening, learning, and engaging on issues important to the heart of a small town.

VillageSpeak was formed as a nonpartisan organization, to bring people together from all across town, connecting diverse voices and ideas. We wanted to deepen neighborly exchange and create a regular forum to explore local issues from many different perspectives before challenges hit the fire, not just during and after. Connected community gives character to place. It’s through open conversations that town involvement deepens, that mutual concern is elevated, and that new paths are discovered, cultivating our community as a responsive, safe place for individuals and families. Building community is a process that spans the lifetime of a village and its people. Our town thrives when inclusion, collaborative discussion, and civic participation are honored and encouraged.

As Ann described, conversations within our neighborhoods about preparedness are not just relegated to what we do during and after an emergency. To build true resiliency and create true sustainability in our community and our individual lives, we can take action now. Rather than just lamenting the latest natural disaster or foolishly thinking “it can’t happen here,” consider taking action instead. Start with a discussion with just a few of your neighbors about checking in on each other after a disaster. And enjoy the peace of mind those new relationships bring.

Related Posts:

Scott James is an entrepreneur, advisor, investor, and the founder of Prepared Neighborhoods, a program of Sustainable Bainbridge. More details at www.scottjames.me. Join the conversation about this series in the comments below or at www.preparedneighborhoods.com. Photos by Richard Topalovich, Matt Debnam, teofilo, Alan Turkus, Peter Fristedt, Jim Champion, and Bill Stilwell.

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Where to Get Christmas Trees on Bainbridge

1:45 p.m.

I’m still digesting Thanksgiving leftovers, and I have to think about Christmas trees, you say? Well, no, but if you’re an early bird and want first dibs on the shapeliest firs, Island tree vendors are ready for you now, rain, shine, wind, or—snow?

Formerly last-minute tree grabbers, now my family likes to make the most of our fragrant, sparkly tree-time, so we head out right after Thanksgiving, before the biggest rush weekends in early to mid December. And to support our own community tree businesses, who have some of the precious remaining undeveloped land on the Island, we stay local, as in on Bainbridge Island. Although Christmas tree farming has dwindled here a bit in recent decades, there are still great options, well worth supporting.

Bainbridge Island Farms | 11/24-12/25 | Weekends 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Weekdays 12-5 p.m. | 13610 Manzanita Rd. | 206-842-1429

Bainbridge Island Farms

Bainbridge Island Farms

This bucolic 18-acre farm tucked in on Manzanita Road has been owned and managed by Karen Selvar for the last 21 years, with help from partner Diane Wierzbicki. Wierzbicki explained that they sell fresh U-cut and ready-cut trees from their land, but because they can only produce so many trees each season they supplement their offerings with fresh noble firs they hand-select from Chehalis each year and have delivered, this season on December 3. The farm also sells wreaths.

Step into their cozy barn store for baked goods, hot cocoa, and hot cider pressed from their own apples. Say hi to free-roving farm dogs Lucy and Ricky. In addition to producing Christmas trees, this year-round farm sells asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, pumpkins, and squash.

Grandma’s Tree Farm | 11/26-12/? | Fridays 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Weekends 9 a.m.-4 p.m. | 9490 New Brooklyn Rd. | 206-842-6868

Grandma's Tree Farm.

Grandma’s Tree Farm

Owned by Tom Coutlas and his wife Diane, Grandma’s Tree Farm sells U-cut and a few ready-cut noble, grand, and Douglas firs, all grown on the property. Tom told me he manages his trees carefully, allowing only so many to be taken each season and closing fields before too many trees have been harvested.

Tom grew up on the property, living there since 1950. He began planting trees in 1981 and sold his first Christmas U-cut trees four years later. You should come prepared to manage largely on their own. Diane explained that some people drop by without saws and tag their trees, coming back later to cut and carry them home. About his trees, Tom said, “Nobles are most the popular, the slowest growers, and the most expensive, so I have to be careful with that field.”

Friends of the Farms | 11/24-12/23 | Weekends 10 a.m.-4 p.m. | Lovgreen at Hwy 305

Morales Farm/Friends of the Farms Christmas Trees.

Morales Farm/Friends of the Farms trees

Friends of the Farms is selling trees again this year at the Morales Farm on the northeast corner of Highway 305 and Lovgreen Road. Harvesting trees from the nearby City of Bainbridge land that was formerly M & E Tree Farm, Friends of the Farms is selling a variety of fresh-cut trees at $5 a foot. Enjoy hot cider and a cozy fire in the fire pit. All proceeds support Friends of the Farms’ work to preserve and enhance local farming.

Other Christmas Tree Vendors on Bainbridge

  • Bay Hay & Feedhas nobles and grand firs for sale that are Washington-grown and ready-cut. They also are selling locally made garlands that customers can have cut to size, as well as four sizes of wreaths and hand-made bows: 206-842-2813.

    Can of handsaws at Bainbridge Tree Farms.

    Handsaws at Bainbridge Island Farms

  • The Boy Scouts Troop 1565 are selling a variety of ready-cut trees again on High School Road across from Ace Hardware. Sales are through December 9, Monday through Friday 3:30-6:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m. All proceeds benefit the Boy Scouts: 206-842-2441.
  • Town & Country Market currently is selling ready-cut trees in its parking lot: 206-842-3848.

Tree Recycling

Boy Scout Troop 1564 will offer tree pickup and recycling January 5. You can register to have your tree recycled at their website www.treerecycle.net. Donations are requested.

 

Featured photo of trees at Bainbridge Island Farms. Photos by Julie Hall.

Note: This post is updated from last year with current information for the 2012 Christmas season.

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Give a Damn?

11 a.m.

Hello from Inside Bainbridge. We usually write about you. This article is about us (but circles around ultimately back to you). Now’s your chance to click away if you don’t give a damn. But we’re betting you do.

Some of you know what a hometown operation Inside Bainbridge is. Others of you address us as if there is a giant bureaucracy to penetrate, and many of you express grateful surprise when you are treated with a prompt personal response. Others assume we will provide limitless free advocacy and publicity. Still others, I’d guess, are frustrated not to get the kind of attention you wish for.

What Inside Bainbridge Is and Isn’t

Inside signFact is, we are a completely independent, small, agile, and utterly unique news source created by two long-time Bainbridge residents: Sarah Lane and Julie Hall.

We are not trust-fund kids, not wives of wealthy husbands, not salaried employees of a regional or national corporation. We are home grown, with limitless enthusiasm for life on Bainbridge but limited personal and financial resources and time. Lynn Keating Smith joined us a few months ago as our business manager. She works diligently—and let me tell you selflessly—on our ad accounts and public relations. We are grateful to have her on our team now.

Our Contributors

what a team!We also are extremely fortunate to have a cadre of excellent community contributors who write regularly for us within their areas of expertise. From Judith Bell’s dog training advice, to Carina Langstraat’s gardening know-how, to Kevin and Kyanne Hawkins’s travel tips, to Elsa Watson’s wildlife stories, to Aleta McClelland’s Astrology Weekly, to Leigh Calvez’s Lessons from the Shore, to Jen Pells’s best of Bainbridge tips, to Audrey Barbakoff’s literary pieces, to Chuck Estin’s vision of a new economy, to Melissa Byrd’s PAWS stories, to photography by locals such as Sue Larkin, Paul Brians, Marilynn Gottlieb, Larry Droguett, and Joe Michael, and the list goes on, we are proud of the invaluable range of knowledge and voice they add to our publication.

Our Readers

brilliant signIn the one-and-a-half years since our May 2011 launch, we have done nothing short of catapult into the collective Bainbridge Island imagination. We are proud of and humbled by our large and extremely appreciative readership. In the early days people would often say, “Inside Bainbridge whuh?” Now when we talk with people, what we hear is almost always, “Oh, that’s you?! I read you all the time. You’re great!” Here is a small sampling of the positive feedback we get everyday from the community.

Our Partners

The Seattle Times and King5.com recognized our potential early on, adopting us into their news partner circle less than two months after our launch—a great umbrella opening for us over the entire region. They rely on Inside Bainbridge regularly—often daily—for news coverage, bringing the sophisticated and accomplished community of Bainbridge Island to the attention of the Puget Sound region at large with links on their Home page to our articles and, in the case of The Times, features of ours in their Sunday print section. Our relationship is purely a reciprocity of readership: They are able to offer more news to their readers, and we get more readers coming to our website. We exchange no money or editorial influence.

Our Neighbors

Friend signWe also deeply value our broader Kitsap County readership, which is wider than we ever hoped for. We see Bainbridge Island and Inside Bainbridge as being part of a larger, vibrant community that extends well beyond the bridge, and that is why we regularly feature articles that reach across our Island borders.

Our Advertisers

Advertisers are grateful for the large and sophisticated viewership we provide, which grows by the month. Our readers are smart and discerning, and our advertisers want your attention. And we are grateful to our advertisers for the support that helps keep Inside Bainbridge rolling.

Supporting Inside Bainbridge

make things better signBut ads alone, especially in this economy, do not pay our bills—not by a long shot, even with our overhead about as minimal as it gets: We work at home, bike to many of our stories, and don’t have print costs. No trees are felled for our publication. No CO2 is released into the atmosphere. No time is wasted working on the print process. We publish fresh and deeply researched community news and information seven days a week with our own blood, sweat, and tears.

It’s not that we devalue print. We are in our hearts bibliophiles. But we also recognize that the future—actually the present—of news is online and that people cannot keep cutting forests to make newspapers, magazines, and books, as much as we’re attached to them. Plus we love the versatility and immediacy of running an online publication, allowing for video, photo galleries, emergency updates, breaking news, cross linking, and much more.circle

So what the heck is this article about? It’s meant to explain a little more about Inside Bainbridge—who we are, how we work, and what we need to sustain ourselves. We want you to know us better, like we know you. And as you have grown to rely on us to see the inside of Bainbridge and promote your events and causes, we must rely on you to support our daily work running Inside Bainbridge.

We like to think of ourselves as the online NPR affiliate for Bainbridge Island—a source that educates and at times entertains as it informs, that never talks down to its readers, that raises the bar of journalism in our community and does so with humor, a distinct voice, and a genuine love of people and place.

Please Support Us

thank you collageIf you’re still reading, you probably care about Inside Bainbridge. Want to keep us around? Become a sponsor! The landscape of journalism has changed dramatically. There have been some sad losses but also some great innovations. If you are happy you found us, if we show you yourselves in ways you value, then please support us. This is a team effort, and we need you to kick in whatever you can—a dollar a day, a dime a day, the cost of one dinner out a month, the price of that newspaper subscription you canceled because you read us now.



Donate (using the button above) or via mail to Inside Bainbridge, 321 High School Rd. #209 Ste. D3, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110. Contact us to become a sponsor. Advertise your business or event. We need your help to keep our organic and pesticide-free grassroots movement thriving.

Thanks for reading. And thanks for your support!

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Images courtesy of Steve, Stephanie Hobson, Tony Hisgett, Egan Snow, UggBoyUggGirl, opensoureway, and woodleywonderworks.

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Photos of the Week: Powel Shoreline Restoration Project Underway Today

1:22 p.m.

Good news for salmon, the Powel Shoreline Restoration project started promptly this morning, marking a momentous occasion for our Island waters. Spearheaded by the Bainbridge Island Land Trust and in partnership with the Powel family and numerous other local organizations, the project will restore a quarter mile of precious shoreline to its natural state by removing bulkhead armature.

The project’s goal is to increase shallow intertidal habitat to help juvenile salmonids return to and thrive along our shores. Once the armoring is removed by barge, native plantings will be added.

Photos courtesy of Paul Brians.

Powel Shoreline Restoration work

Powel Shoreline Restoration work

Powel Shoreline Restoration work

Powel Shoreline Restoration work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wilkes Wednesday Morning Start Contingent on County Permit

10 a.m.

[How do you feel about early-release Mondays? Tell us.]

If things go as planned, Wilkes Elementary School will open its doors to students Wednesday morning, August 29, along with the rest of the Bainbridge Island School District.

However, the school district is still waiting to confirm the Wilkes Wednesday morning start time, something it cannot do until it receives a necessary permit from the County to open to the public. School Superintendent Faith Chapel said she expects to have the permit in hand today and will make an official announcement about the opening of Wilkes by 2 p.m.

After a cancelled Meet and Greet today, many Wilkes families have expressed disappointment that their children are not receiving an introduction to the newly constructed building before classes begin. In an official statement from the school district, parents are invited to accompany their children on the first morning of class if they believe they need extra support to make the transition to the new space:

“If you feel your child is anxious, you may wish to bring them to school that morning. Most students will be fine. We will have many, many adults positioned all around the building to meet and direct students to their classrooms. People will be outdoors and all along the hallway routes waiting to help students. Teachers will be waiting for students in their classrooms.”

Construction fencing will be up, separating the “school” area from the areas still under construction, ensuring the safety of students, teachers, and staff. According to the School District, the new layout is set up to be very simple. The hallways, which are marked by grade level, are ordered from a first grade/multiage wing, followed by second grade, third grade, and fourth grade. Kindergarten is located along the back just off the bus loop, with half-day kindergarten located in the second grade hallway.

Children taking the bus on the first day are encouraged to bring supplies over several days so they don’t have to carry everything at once.

Parents driving their children to school on the first day are advised to use the temporary parking lot off of Madison Avenue with a drop off loop. Those who wish to park and accompany their children in are advised to leave their cars on Madison or Day Road east of the intersection. Those walking from the south should use a path cleared along Madison and walk to the intersection and take the sidewalk along Day Road to avoid crossing the temporary parking lot. To ease the transition, Wilkes will not be marking late notices this week.

Sack lunches will be the menu item for students buying lunch this week.

Recess areas will be small to start but will expand in the next few weeks. Students are advised to wear closed toed shoes for safety.

Teachers will be hosting Back to School Nights in September, with dates to be announced.

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Letter from the Editor: Dog Doody Duty

11:30 a.m.

Love ‘em or leave ‘em, we can all agree on one thing about dogs: Their poop stinks.

Yes, it’s quite unpleasant to find stuck to your shoe, piled in your yard, or sullying an otherwise idyllic flowery field or wooded trail. But there are more reasons to be concerned about canine excrement:

  1. It’s a serious environmental hazard, and
  2. it’s bad press for dogs and their best friends.

Mitigate the Eco-Hazard

Yard grass killed by dog waste.

Yard grass killed by dog waste.

According to a nearly half-million-dollar, four-year study conducted by the Snohomish County Surface Water Management Division concluding in 2009 (when Snohomish County residents had about the same number of dogs as Seattle residents did), canine fecal matter was the biggest polluter of local waterways, amounting to the equivalent of some 32,000 people dumping raw sewage on parks, grass-lined streets, and yards every day. Yes, it amounted to 32,000 people dumping raw sewage outside throughout the County every day.

Some dogs’ feces spread microorganisms that threaten other dogs and in some cases humans: roundworm, Parvovirus, heartworm, E. coli, fecal coliform bacteria, hookworm, and giardia. These microorganisms are spread from the ground surface by rainwater into watersheds, rivers, lakes, and Puget Sound.

Bag It

Many waste management agencies recommend bagging and throwing dog waste in the garbage, where it will go to landfills, which have environmental regulations and stringent controls on storm water runoff. Bagging dog doo is also common courtesy. It’s not what any of us wants to bring home on our shoe from a romp at the park.

Digest It

Doggie Dooley Pet Waste Disposal System

Doggie Dooley Pet Waste Disposal.

These days a whole new animal waste eco-technology is emerging. Dog waste digesters are now being used in parks to “recycle” poop into power. For example, this June in Gilbert, Arizona, a dog waste digester dubbed eTURD was introduced in Cosmo Dog Park. Designed by Arizona State University students, the digester utilizes aerobic bacteria to break down waste into gas, which in turn powers the park’s lighting. Park visitors make deposits into the digester, and voila!

Affordable at-home digesters are now available too. You can find them at stores such as Petco or make your own. Here is a do-it-yourself article from The Bark Magazine that tells you how to make your own pet waste digester.

Seems like if home owners can do it, our community could set up similar waste digesters in key places such as Battle Point Park. Suddenly your kids will want to carry the smelly bags and toss them into the Turd Tank.

Improve Public Relations

dog and person throwing away dog of poop

Responsible dog cleanup.

During recent Park Board hearings on the subject of off-leash options on Bainbridge Island, dog feces have been an echoing concern of Board members. They cite citizen complaints, the time/expense of Park District employees cleaning up dog excrement in our parks and trails, and the nuisance of it on our Island sports fields.

Although anyone frequenting park trails knows that horse manure is far more prevalent than dog feces, dog poop remains a persistent public relations problem for dogs and their people. For those advocating expanding off-leash options in our community, finding ways to improve cleanup compliance can only help the cause.

Rally Poop Troops

Picking up poop on a rainy night.

Picking up poop on a rainy night.

I admit, there are occasions when I simply do not bring enough bags to pick up that seventh unexpected number 2 from my three dogs when we’re out for a walk. Those moments seem to usually coincide with the doggy bag dispensers being empty. So, I even the cosmic score by picking up other dogs’ stuff when I can (why is cold business that much ickier than warm?), in the same way that I pick up garbage in parks and on beaches. It’s my little contribution of good citizenship, and it really does feel good, once my hands are washed.

What if we all started picking up dog poop when we could? Some citizens at off-leash dog meetings with the Park Board have suggested fines—even quite hefty ones—for those who don’t pick up after their dogs. Seattle and many cities around the world have scoop laws with fines.

Although I really don’t advocate more people fighting with one another about dogs in our parks (see One Dog Walker Assaulted by Another Near Grand Forest), citizens could organize posses in the parks to help with clean up, model proper dog poop etiquette, and create an atmosphere in which not picking up your dog’s business is unacceptable.

Educate

Communities around the country and world are finding creative ways to promote canine cleanup. Check out the funny and effective campaign to get citizens to pick up dog poop in Mexico’s parks in return for free Wi-Fi:

Dog carrying no dogs sign

Snappy signage around our parks and trails explaining the eco hazard of leaving dog feces would help create an expectation of compliance. If done well, with style and humor, signage can be quite persuasive.

 

Images by Julie Hall, Petco, and Lisa Parker.

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Polling Station sign

Poll: What Do You Think of Monday Early Dismissals?

1:15 p.m.

The Bainbridge Island School District has switched its “early-release” policy from one short day a month to weekly early dismissals on Mondays starting this fall. The policy is meant to give faculty and staff more regular time for professional development. (See the public school schedules.)

What do you think of the new schedule? Tell us in our poll in the right column of our Home page.

 

Image by Martin Bamford.

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