Island enterprise — every which way

Nancy Hilliard
Around the Island

Islanders sizzled at last week’s Northwest Flower and Garden Show. Karen and Dan Davis now hit the trade show circuit to demo their invention, the “PotLifter,” which allows two people to haul rocks, pots, heavy pumpkins, sacks of compost or whatever gardeners need to sling.

Invisible Fence Northwest reps Annie Singletary and Melissa Rutherford explained the latest electronic developments to keep dogs — and now cats — within bounds, both inside and out. If you don’t want Fido or Puss on the furniture, or in particular gardens or rooms, they’ve got the answer. Owners Kathy and Dick Pattison and Randy Bates have expanded the company throughout Oregon and Washington, but still consider Mercer Island as their “home base.”

Helen Taylor, owner of Mongo Mongo garden d/cor, showed recycled, biodegradable and natural products from Indonesia and other exotic ports. Paper umbrellas and outdoor table settings in bright colors attracted showgoers. To see all her wares, go to

Gametime: Matthew Stipes and Eric Drever, MIHS grads from 1986 who both attended the University of Washington, have produced a game called “Wizard’s Gambit,” released by their company Gryphon Forge. The card game will be available at Island Books or online at It’s about magic, incantations and calls for strategizing. It takes about an hour to complete. The game is for ages 10 to adult and provides family entertainment, according to dad Jim Stipes. Matthew and his daughter, Laurenn, designed the cards’ art. Matthew and Eric have played games with a group of Mercer Island guys since high school. Matthew went to work for Microsoft and is now a program manager for Security. Eric went to work for Tukwila Police, where he is a sergeant. But they set aside time for their dream.

“Ads in Motion” now circulates on the Island with its three panels of scrolling “billboards.” They say “It’s Rolling, It’s Scrolling, It’s ‘IN YOUR FACE’ Advertising” and will get to us wherever we are. Of course, that means in our cars, where we spend a good deal of time. They claim approximately 80 percent of us are out of our homes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. With the price of gas nearing $4 a gallon this week, I wonder how economical this mobile marketing can be?

Bob Langenbach, who started the Island’s half marathon in 1973, will fire the gun to start the 36th half marathon at 8:45 a.m. on Sunday, March 9. During his first year, there were 19 runners, compared to the 4,000 expected this year. Bob marked the courses, set out the mile markers and helped in many other ways with the event until last year, when he decided to call it quits. Hats off to Bob.

Real estate is as dear for Mercer Island’s small pea patches, as it is for homes! Gardeners now jockey for the 60 community plots next to the CCMV. Folks may call or e-mail Merrill Schadt, MI parks facilities scheduler, 275-7873 to get on the Pea Patch waitlist. The returning pea-patchers had until last week to renew their plots and the remainder now open up to those waiting — maybe 10 or so.

Already coming up through the straw covers in the gardens are Swiss chard, onions, leaks, iris and many possibilities for berries and bouquets. One carpenter is at work creating six raised beds, filling with rich compost and laying weed-blocking cloth on the paths before barking. May his produce be as elegant!

Speaking of waitlists: More than 260 people are now on the waiting list for Covenant Shores, where 360 residents over age 62 now live lakeside on North Mercer Way, says Nancy Woo, customer relations. But, while waiting, they can come for lunch, use the fitness center or attend programs and events to get acquainted.

As apartments become available, applicants may choose to move in (determined in order of their application date) or decline without penalty as often as they wish. The average wait for two-bedroom units is three to five years; for studios or one-bedroom units, about one to two years. New residents initially move into residential living, but as health needs arise, they may change to assisted living or skilled nursing levels. A memory-support program is also available. Covenant Shores’ residents really “put down roots,” says Woo. Several have been there for nearly 30 years.

The trademarked “LifeConnect” philosophy that tends to residents’ holistic wellness also extends to Covenant Shores’ staff. An English-as-a-Second-Language program for multi-ethnic staff brings in an ESL instructor from Hopelink and is funded through a donation from MI Rotary. Covenant Shores provides the classroom and pays the employees to attend the classes. Residents tutor and support the employees as well.

At Ellsworth House last Thursday, MIHS Jazz Ensemble and a MI Rotary pizza feed treated about 60 senior residents to some fun. While many of the residents do not speak English, the music and pizza provided the message that the community cares. Ellsworth House, with approximately 50 assisted lower-income apartments, was the site of a fire in December. Hopefully, their spirits as well as their homes are restored.

Phyllis Ayers, who drives the car with OURSTAR plates, thanks “Around the Island” for last week’s generous promotion to the former “office manager” of Coldwell Banker Bain. She says her real title was “receptionist-secretary.” Our apologies.

To contact Nancy Hilliard, e-mail her at

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