Post-Thanksgiving wisdom

Nancy Gould-Hilliard
Around the Island

Are you feeling as much like stuffed pork sausages as I am after a week of company and Thanksgiving meals with 1,000+ calories four times a day?

We enjoyed Seattle’s new sculpture park, with lunch at the Pike Place Market before and eggnog lattes after . . dinners for 12 on the Alki and Seattle waterfront with all the fixin’s, hot cocoa for night caps . . . southern pecan pie ala Aunt Ophelia . . . and all the nuts, olives, chips and dip, candies and assorted grazing goodies.

Now for the penance

I’m taking a tip from 66-year-old Richard Nagel, who has been seen walking around the Island for hours each day — doing laps around the high school or Shorewood or walking down 40th to the Town Center.

When he retired from teaching law and society after 36 years at Franklin High School, he was, well, out of shape. He had gained weight, had high blood pressure and the doc had him on lots of pills. He asked how he could shuck the meds and was told a regime of exercise and diet might help.

So he took up walking. He reads magazines or listens to NPR rain or shine as he strolls his well-trodden paths. When not “plugged in,” he observes things we drivers speed past: garbage cans that never get picked up and are overflowing, broken windows that never get fixed, cars around the high school parked every which-way on sidewalks and blocking fire lanes that never get ticketed. He rarely sees police cars on patrol.

Although the Island isn’t particularly pedestrian-friendly, he remarks how courteous Island drivers are, not he said, obsessed with speed.

After the first year of this regime, Nagel lost 50 pounds. He’s now hooked, and has done it daily for five years. “I just feel better, my blood pressure is down, and I don’t have to take pills for anything!”

At our Thanksgiving table, amid conversations about trips abroad, I launched my “Nagelish” trial balloon. “Bob and I plan to walk to Portland from Mercer Island in April.”

The jabber stopped, heads swung and eyes focused incredulously on my mouth.

“Where will you stay along the way? . . . how will you carry your necessities? . . bet’s are on that Aunt Nancy and Uncle Bob get as far as Yelm . . . maybe you’ll want to try walking around the Island before you take on 180 miles!”

The jibes and laughter continued. But within 24 hours, different reactions set in.

“We really think what you’re going to do would be fun to journal and video,” said our graphic artist son. “We’ll come get updates each weekend on your progress.”

A sister- and brother-in-law said they would join us for one day of the journey. Other kids said they’d be cheering at trails-end for the celebratory train ride home.

Now that the die are cast, guess you’ll notice Bob and I “in training” for our 7- to 10-mile daily stretches next April. Unlike Nagel, we’ll see a different neighborhood each day for about a month.

Colorful tea light holders are on sale at the Avellino Building, 2836 78th Ave. S.E. They are the work of glassblower Jason Gamrath, MIHS class of 2005. Proceeds from the sale of Jason’s art pieces support scholarships for other MIHS students to attend glassblowing classes.

Jason attended the Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle and studied at the Pilchuck School of Glass, where he learned from Dale Chihuly’s assistant, Randy Walker, a master glass artist and key member of the William Morris team. He has completed a number of glass installations for private collectors, offices, condominiums and hotels.

Gridiron glory: Reports from the MIHS football coaches’ and players’ reunion Nov. 23 are that relationships have stuck, while body shapes have changed. More than $23,000 was raised for scholarships, and retiring Coach Dick Nicholl was royally feted. Nicholl thanked as many as 60 assistants who made it all happen during his 30-some years of coaching at MIHS. He said he’s still waiting for the kid from 1981 to return his football helmet.

Countdown begins for Hanukkah, Dec. 4-12, and Christmas, Dec. 25. In our home, it always begins with gathering of the greens and holly from friends’ trees to make our own outdoor wreaths.

At the Stroum Jewish Community Center, a community-wide Hanukkah festival of lights is set for Sunday, Dec. 2, noon-3 p.m. Candlelighting ceremony, games, arts and crafts, a gift bazaar and local Jewish bands are planned. You can make a menorah or dreidle at the ceramic workshop, build a candy menorah and make donuts. Storytelling, music, kids’ activities, lunch and latkes will be on hand.

Don’t miss the holiday tree-lighting and “Firehouse Munch,” Friday, Dec. 7. It begins at 7 p.m. in Mercerdale Park. Cub Scout Pack 624 will lead a community sing-along of carols. Folks then pile into the North Fire Station, where chili will be served by the Mercer Island firefighters. “Duwamish Dixieland Band,” a variety show by Alleyoop!, photos with Santa and other kids’ activities follow. Please bring nonperishable food for the needy.

Let our celebrations — and walking — continue.

To contact Nancy Hilliard, e-mail her at

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