A little night magic — and more

Mercer Island really knows how to throw a party for 1,500 guests and 70 helpers to celebrate the seventh and final installment of the Harry Potter series.

The community center was jammed the evening of July 20 with more Harry Potter characters, witches, wizards, owls and “talking portraits” than you could shake a wand at. They waited patiently to be issued their custom wands, to visit the “Sorting Hat” assigning them to their group at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft, play quidditch, tell fortunes and learn spells, among other activities.

As many as 850 “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” were sold — part of the unprecedented initial run of 12 million copies — a record for any book worldwide, other than the Bible, said Roger Page, Island Books.

Adrian Ho of Mercer Island said he figured it would take him two days to read the 759 pages — “Then I’ll read it again, and again. No way will I skip to the last chapter first. That’s the worst.” By 12:30 a.m. on July 21, many of the purchasers awaiting their rides launched the text. Many pledged they wouldn’t give away the secrets. You’ll have to read it yourselves.

Myra Lupton of Mercer Island reports another designer of Mercer Island homes — Gene Zema — also embraces the Northwest modernism of the mid-1900s mentioned in the last Mercer Island Reporter. Zema’s design of the Lupton residence in the 3400 block of 72nd Place S.E. received a Home of the Year award in 1961 and an Honor Award in 1962. Lupton believes Zema also designed several others on MI.

Mike Jared and his wife Jan write to say they “have a neat house designed by the Fred Bassetti group with built-in stain glass windows and we shudder to think that someday a developer will tear down this ‘tree house’ and build a barn-sized home on our 1/3 acre. “We have been watching a lovely 1/2 acre wooded space with rhodies, virgin evergreens and natural cover,” now slated for two mega-builds.

Sally and Larry Brown recently returned from Tom Douglas' Culinary Summer Camp with not a single mosquito bite or saddle sore. The five-day camp, a gathering of food lovers, was headquartered at the Seattle restaurateur's Palace Ballroom. It included field trips to an organic farm, a chocolate factory, and the home kitchen of Douglas to learn about kitchen design, plus hands-on classes in dim sum and pasta making, lots of short courses by chefs and cookbook writers and nearly constant feeding of delicacies.

The Browns will use some of Douglas’ ideas for the 95th birthday celebration for Sally’s mother, Myrtle Ford, who lived here from 1955 to 1992. The picnic Sunday will be at the home of Myrtle’s grandson, Brice York, and his wife, Megan Nichols. Myrtle’s three children, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren will honor her with songs and pie. Myrtle’s pie baking skills are legendary and she was featured in The Seattle Times and the Mercer Island Reporter for them. Sally made a family video of Myrtle making pie and describing her techniques, which she learned as a student nurse during lunch time demonstrations at the Bon Marche — now Macy’s — downtown.

Aug. 5 through Aug. 11, 19 Mercer Islanders will comprise an official delegation to Thonon les Bains, France, Mercer Island’s sister city. It’s only the second official trip to Thonon since the two cities became “twins” in 2000. Jane Meyer Brahm said, “The coolest thing is that the gift we’ll be presenting to Jean Denais, the mayor of Thonon, is a beautiful watercolor painting of a Northwest lighthouse, painted by our own mayor, Bryan Cairns! We just had it framed with a plaque mounted on it.”

Mercer Island’s Eva Agrawal, of the Vishal Himalaya Foundation Development Through Education, said that after almost two years of trying to do a sensitivity training workshop in Akola, India, at various schools, it finally happened this month. The teacher training workshop for 27 teachers began a dialogue on gender and equality.

The instructor says “We found the 17 male participants more open; the 10 women participants seemed to have internalized discrimination and violence to an extent that they saw nothing wrong with it. This is the first time that they have taken part in a participatory workshop, with emphasis on personal change, and for some it was difficult to accept.”

Eva and Yogi Agrawal, directors of this non-profit foundation, help support underprivileged schools and communities by connecting them to information, each other and knowledgeable experts. “Working alongside community leaders and teachers, and through the implementation of innovative programs, we are changing mindsets and impacting communities for the benefit of everyone.”

To contact Nancy Hilliard, e-mail her at

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