Transitions and Transformers

Oh the lovely rain. Our dahlias and veggies are slurping it up. It also may help the kids feel kindlier toward returning to school in six days — Sept. 4.

Some parents - myself included years ago - will yelp for joy to regain a few hours to conduct normal lives. But, whoever said we Islanders fit “normal” descriptions? For instance:

Island magician Steffan Soule and assistant wife Barbara debuted their new optical art illusions at the Bathhouse Theater last weekend, satisfying some cravings for more magic after Harry Potter’s final pages. See Optical Art at Other tricks include lights flying around Steffan and turning into fire; a volunteer escaping an impossible wrapping of ropes; a signed $100 bill vanishes to reappear inside a lemon.

Steffan’s been a magician at corporate events and private parties since he began his business on MI in the 1980’s. He shows folks that anything can be possible.

Hooray Pat Aldape, who placed second in her 70+ age group for the swim/bike/run Danskin Triathlon Aug. 19 in Seattle, and the 30-some other MI women who finished alongside 3,466 from elsewhere. This - the largest women’s triathlon around - was an extraordinary celebration of cancer survival and show of support for the fight against it.

Danny Westneat in the Seattle Times recently challenged Mercer Island writer David Klinghoffer and his “Shattered Tablets: Why We Ignore the Ten Commandments at Our Peril.” Westneat refutes Klinghoffer’s claim that Seattle is a "wayward city that has lost the moral will to solve its problems, such as crime at Third and Pine downtown.”

Wonder how Klinghoffer rates his own community’s morals? Does he know the Presbyterian youth raised $1,750 “Loose Change to Loosen Chains” to help free victims of violence, sexual exploitation and oppression around the world? Or, Covenant Church’s initiative of random acts of kindness; the Congregational Church’s Pennies for Peace and heifer projects; the Jewish Temple's continual mitzvahs to help others, and St. Monica Catholic Church’s soup kitchen? MI’s 30-some service organizations reach out to the elderly, the addicted and afflicted and offer international relief as well.

City Council’s recent investigation of one of its member’s residency shows a will for self-discipline. The debate on the best design for a new facility for youth and their healthy development is praiseworthy; as are the moral intentions to house Tent City on Mercer Island for a few months next summer.

As for problem-solving crime - former Police Chief Jan Deveny once said that the biggest boon to reduction of crime on MI was construction of I-90 that by-passes our community and thwarts easy getaways! Our agencies and counselors also strive to prevent crime and re-channel at-risk behavior.

Jon Braman, former Islander (MIHS 1990) who now is an orthopedic surgeon for the University of Minnesota and lives in Minneapolis, took care of many injured in the collapse of the bridge there Aug. 1. He began handling bone and joint injuries that evening and worked straight through until morning.

Pat and Dan Braman, his parents, happened to be visiting to attend the birth of Jon and Stephanie’s son Mitchell, who’s now 1-month old. “We never thought we’d leave earthquake and bridge trauma territory to go experience it in the Midwest,” said Pat.

Now that the dust has settled, Jon praises his UW residency at Harborview Medical Center “that prepared me for this disaster. I just slipped back into the same role I had done so many times in Mike Copass's emergency department.

“It was really about community. That night people came from everywhere to help, including doctors who came in their running shoes, fresh from jogging. Now that things have slowed down, you really can see how this kind of event brings us together.”

Poodle neighbor Lucky Louie Goldstein, who started life at Finders and was adopted by Eve Green, made a fast break for adventure last week. As neighbors scoured the vicinity to no avail, Frank and Lisa D’Andrea devised a scheme to use their dog, Katie, as “girl-bait.”

On a nearby street, Frank asked Katie: “Where’s Lucky?” She yipped in response, which flushed Lucky from bushes in a posh yard, and he scampered toward girlfriend Katie and into the arms of the ambush.

Lucky, by day, is the resident comforter at Relife, an alternative high school in Lakewood for teens seeking a second chance. He may have been infected by their thirst for freedom.

Last of MI’s motels or inns: Final checkout at MI’s Travelodge is Sept. 1. Its property has been bought by developers (see last week’s Page 1). Although basic, the Travelodge did provide so many of us spillover beds for weddings, visiting family, or respite from home fixes and remodels. Just a handful of B&Bs remain. Wouldn’t a “nouveux inn” be charming here?

A secret wild garden, open to all who discover it, can be your short-term retreat just south of the Luther Burbank Park main parking lot. The enclave is surrounded by brambles and inside, two benches overlook a rehabilitated preserve. Apple trees are left over from the former boys’ school orchard.

Enjoy the last days of summer in its zen space — a great place to read a book, watch the birds, pick blackberries or apples.

To contact Nancy Hilliard, e-mail her at

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