Awakenings on the Island

Nancy Hilliard
Around the Island

Presidential Primary is next Tuesday, if you haven’t already voted by mail or attended your party’s caucus. Who do our kids choose? By 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15, you’ll be able to see a tally of the mock primary hosted by Secretary of State Sam Reed online at The majority of IMS eighth-graders will have taken it, says Principal Mary Jo Budzius. More next week.

After an hour-long interview by 15-year-old Yanny Tate, I think next-generation journalism may be in good hands. The daughter of MI’s Stanley and Rochelle Tate and granddaughter of Margaret and Willis Tate came well-prepared to plumb the depths of the career with me. She was curious, responsible, on time, and yes, likes to read and write! If her headline reads “Few monetary perks, but a license to ask questions,” she’ll be right on.

Ski bus capers: Tuesdays in January and February mean 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. fun for the MI Ski Bus crowd — 52 adults, 5:1 women to men in their 20s to 80s. Bill Barnes, a retired MI firefighter, is the bus driver. For 38 years, the notorious and evolving group has been known for its capers on the slopes, in the lodges and along the ways. Monica Robbins, organizer, says this year’s bunch includes 70-something Bea Dietz, who “pulls us into steep adventures and has us singing ‘tiptoe through the moguls’ on the chair ride up,” says fellow skier Val Geisbrecht. The Reutimanns have invited the group for a “soup and schnapps” lunch at their Swiss Ski Club lodge soon, at which John Nelson almost certainly will lead a chorus around the fireplace. The waiting list begins in September for next year.

New leash on life: As 11 Mercer Islanders and golden lab “Ponte” made the six-mile winter walk around Alki Feb. 2, Ponte’s leash took center focus. In its first life, it was Wes Geisbrecht’s climbing rope, donated to Krebs Recycling. The company sells these durable leashes recycled from climbing rope and hand-sews them. Donate your old rope or buy a leash at the Urban Beast in Seattle. Other oxygen-fed conversation included Brad and Linda Fowler’s 30-plus-year love of ACT Theatre. Brad is now chairing the board, which brings a troop from Tashkent for a production March 14 through April 13, revealing once-censored truths of Uzbekistan. Forestry engineer Joe Fielding told how the world’s trees are being hewn faster than they are being replenished. Other Islanders will make a Habitat for Humanity trip on Feb. 16, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. From finish work and framing to sweeping. Contact Sally Garrett, or 236-0954.

Red-letter day: Sunday, March 9, is not only the day of the MI Rotary Half-Marathon, but the start of Daylight Savings Time. You must rise an hour earlier to meet starting times: 7:30 a.m., Half Marathon Walk; 8:30 a.m., Half-Mile Kids’ Dash; 9 a.m., Half Marathon Run; 9:15 a.m., 10k Run; 9:30 a.m., 5k Run & Walk. 2,000 postcards are out to residents who can expect runners to pass by their homes and 120 marshals are in the training. Dylan Sullivan, IMS student, helps produce a commercial to recruit IMS runners and 50-100 volunteers for the event. In the film “David Mjelde,” IMS seventh-grader and son of the late Susie Lindquist Mjelde, speaks out in behalf of his mother and the event.

Hooked on Hitchcock: Join the 50 or more folks who have been seduced by the king of suspense at the film series at the library. Saturday, Feb. 16, is “To Catch a Thief” with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly.

Forewarning: Tickets sell fast for the American Girl Doll Fashion Show sponsored by Children’s Hospital Star Guild, March 1-2, at Bellevue’s Meydenbauer Center. Mercer Islanders Mari MacLane and Olivia Fraser, patients treated at Children’s, will model. Mari, a 10-year-old who had successful brain surgery, models Sunday, March 2. She plays Kaya, a Nez Perce Indian, and wears a faux deer skin dress. Mom, Marianne, will be cheering. Six-year-old Olivia, whose cystic fibrosis now is under control, models Saturday, March 1, in a Dress-Like-Your Doll outfit. Likewise, her biggest fan is mom Jocelynne. For details, see

Attention Lovers: For Valentine’s Day tomorrow, Tom Callahan, chocolatier, suggests knowing your sweetie’s taste. “A good pairing of just the right chocolate” is better than retched excess. To spice it up, try dark chocolate with chili flavoring. Sorry, couples, but the special three-course champagne dinner with a complimentary rose at Cellar 46 on V-day is a sell-out. However, if you postpone until the weekend, you can enjoy a glass of wine, a savory dinner crepe and a “Funky Monkey” dessert crepe with hazelnut chocolate, banana, coconut and almonds. The trio of truffles from Oh! Chocolate will also activate your pheromones. Another option is a walk past the Valentine tree on the corner of 90th Avenue S.E. and S.E. 44th Street, extending your tour along Mercerwood Shore Drive. Take in blooming Lenten roses, bright berries on hollies, cotoneasters, skimmia, radiant heathers and daphnes releasing first fragrant blooms.

MI’s Valentine Crown goes to Trina Westerlund, who recently waged a heart-rending fundraiser to support “her kids.” These are the 50-some students and families affiliated with CHILD on the North Mercer campus who have severe learning difficulties. “We strive to create a world in which every child succeeds.” For 31 years, Trina has created positive experiences for kids who might think of themselves as “broken,” but come out whole. Inspired by her own father, brother and son’s learning difficulties, she invests her energy and even her own resources to create a safety net for some of the “30 percent of our nation’s kids who are at risk of failure today,” she said. A rising incidence of autism, ADHD, ADD and other syndromes create a demand in which she must refuse 400 inquiries a year. Alumni attested that when special-needs kids learn new coping skills and when others believe in them, they can become exceptional learners.

To contact Nancy Hilliard, e-mail her at

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