Lifestyle

All kinds of barking

Nancy Gould-Hilliard
Around the Island

Fund drives proliferate this season — all for good causes.

At the recent breakfast for MI Youth and Family Services, we learned that Mercer Island is not untouched by hurting kids. They face drug and alcohol choices, and families need safety nets for their kids when away from home. Foster parent Ann Lokey, with kids at West Mercer Elementary, told of students with neuro-processing issues needing support at school and beyond.

“When those children’s world is made better, so is yours. Our little stinkers are on the same playgrounds and in the same classrooms as yours. There are lots of hurt kids here. You just can’t see them.” MIYFS outreach becomes the bridge.

More formal fundraising requires your vote on March 11. Frank Morrison, now four-time chairman of MI schools bond levies, calls attention to the vote on March 11 that takes place every four years. “Something’s wrong with a public school funding system that depends on continual elections to maintain excellence,” contends Morrison. Yet, for now, we are asked to authorize a $10-million tax levy to improve existing school facilities and high-tech learning for the next four years.

Bill and Melinda Gates agree that school financing must change to better respond to a fast-changing economy. Their foundation has asked the Center for Reinventing Public Education to research how that could be, and how teachers, students and families can work together smarter, rather than focus so heavily on service delivery and test scores. See www.schoolfinanceredesign.org for best ideas so far.

Into the Ring: 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 28 at the CCMV, Seattle Opera education director Perry Lorenzo provides a complementary peek into the Seattle Opera’s 2009 summer production, “Ring of the Nibelungen.” This revival last played in Seattle to sold-out audiences in 2005 and is a four-night epic of total art — music, poetry, visual arts and dance. Next week, MI Arts Council presents Lorenzo’s multimedia overview of a lecture series that begins here next fall and winter. Also, at the Jewish Community Center, a series begins April 14 titled “Opera Sings the Soul.”

Lorenzo, speaking at MI Rotary last week, said he wishes that schools would pattern support of academics and the arts after sports: “Everyone pulls for the same team; if the coach doesn’t achieve players’ success, he moves on; its user-funding base thrives. Wouldn’t that model for support, pruning and funding be great for the arts and academics?”

Besides schools, communitywide exercises like Bainbridge Island’s “Big Read” stimulate thought. This month, Bainbridge Island residents tackle Ray Bradbury’s 1953 science-fiction classic, Fahrenheit 451. They say: “DON’T YOU DARE READ THIS BOOK!”, a la Bradbury’s imagined world, where books are burned to protect people from “dangerous” ideas. Book clubs, public forums, student essay contest, films, writers’ roundtable and other events are planned. Good idea?

Walk and run training for hundreds is underway for the March 9 Island half-marathon and its other four runs/walks. Grandpa Chuck Wischman used to run figure-eights around his basement. Son Mark readies for the go-fer sprint he performs to get all the stats and paperwork to the right places. Grandson Freeway Wischman — well, he expects to run the kids’ half-mile dash cold turkey. “Sole” mates, who walk on Wednesday mornings, can get you ready for the four-mile (5K) walking event. They leave from CCMV at 8:30 a.m. Expect to see more runners around East, West and North Mercer Ways, scoping out the courses.

Little buggers are here: Nancy Gordon, another MI mom who has gone entrepreneurial with her company Lice Knowing You, helps remove the pesky critters without harsh chemicals. She claims all-natural, non-toxic products safe for even the youngest and comes to your home for the treatment. Since opening on Feb. 1, she has been swamped with Mercer Island calls. She hopes her biz will evolve into a “Lice Knowing You” Salon.

“You don’t get rid of lice with one shot,” she said. An entire protocol involves a week of vigilant cleaning of sheets, carpets, upholstery, etc.; spraying nit glue dissolver enzyme in the hair; using the killing oil for an hour or so; combing out and nit-picking. The side effect from the oil treatments is silky hair. “Lice no longer freak me out because they’re under control,” said Gordon. See lice-control facts at www.cdc.gov/NCIDOD/DPD/PARASITES/lice.

MI’s Eve Green recently discovered the “Fountain of Youth” behind the doors of MI Primary Care, with Olga Voloshina, nurse practitioner. She offers beauty procedures without surgery that attack wrinkles, cellulite and spider veins. “A lunchtime facial can magically erase years from your face ... leaving your boss to wonder what you ate for lunch,” said Eve, who found that women in their 20s use Olga’s services to keep ahead of the curve. “At my age, I’m racing to keep up,” said the veteran educator.

Final woof: In 2007, 13 Mercer Islanders requested barking dog petitions from the King County Animal Control and one registered a formal complaint. But, if you are the one, middle-of-night woofing can become sleepless torture. Al Dams, shelter manager, says you must document your case before King County Animal Control can consider ticketing. Preferred is a video recording of the dog barking or a petition from other disturbed neighbors. He suggests detailed logs of all episodes and attempts to resolve them with the offending dog owner. Animals cannot be removed from the premises without three tickets within 12 months. Still at a dead end? King County also provides dispute resolution if both parties agree to engage. Contacts: Dams takes the toughest cases, (206) 205-6306; otherwise, call Animal Control, (206) 296-PETS, or MI’s non-emergency night patrol (for all noise nuisances) at (425) 587-3400.

Editor’s note to greenbelt neighbors: Cawing crows, calling eagles and hooting owls also approximate barking dogs. Don’t forget to rule out nearby simulated dog-barking alarm systems.

To contact Nancy Hilliard, e-mail her at nancybobhilliard@msn.com.

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