Lifestyle

Good-bye; thank you

Islanders!

After nearly eight years, I'm leaving the Mercer Island Reporter.

In my time here, I've learned that the true wealth of the Island is its fascinating people. I've written many of your stories. I've even written about your family critters, usually while sneezing from the animal dander in the air. It was a running joke with the Reporter staff that as the only person in the office allergic to furbearing pets, I was the obvious choice to write about our four-legged friends.

But working at the Reporter has meant more than just covering your precious pets. It's been an amazing education in humanity 101.

I've learned that people on Mercer Island are compassionate, sharing their wealth with local and national charities. I've learned that maneuvering at four-way stops on ``The Rock'' can be like playing poker. Whoever is bold enough to bluff his way through wins.

I've also come to understand that Island Books is one of the pillars of this community -- not only because it sells great books, but also because the place is run by Roger and Nancy Page.

I remember clearly the day I met Roger nearly eight years ago. The first thing I said to him was, ``Your real name isn't PAGE, is it? I mean, isn't that just a bit too convenient for a bookseller?''

Being the patient and gentle person he is, Roger chose to respond, ``Yes, that really is my last name, and I have ancestors who were booksellers to prove it.''

I consider myself fortunate that he didn't heave a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary at my head, which is what I really deserved. Roger, Nancy, Cindy, Lori, Wendy, Kay and Gary have all, over the years, helped me find books, find out what's really going on with local business owners, and send fancy teapot calendars to my mother in Arizona just in time for her birthday. They've helped me get my son addicted to storybooks (we've been through ``Berenstain Bears'' jags) and Roger has wrangled even the crustiest writers and poets into sitting down to chat with me about their latest tome or tale.

My co-workers at the Mercer Island Reporter have seen me through good and bad times. I cherish memories of Steve Weigand's initial job interview with former editor Jane Meyer. We all dubbed him ``ponytail man'' for his luxurious hair, and placed bets on whether he'd win out over a dashing redhead known as ``the suit.''

I recall Mary Grady's first day at the Reporter, when she arrived resplendent in suit and heels. She is the classiest reporter I've known, as both a fashionista and person. I remember being awed by Julie Pena's portfolio, which was riddled with breathtaking photos. Matt Phelps, king of the quip and pun-filled headline, has made me laugh so often I can't help but smile every time I see him. I recall the look on Meyer's face when her staff told her she'd won the Miles Turnbull Editor/Publisher Award, the first female editor to garner that honor. Our resident Irishman, Aidan Maher, gentleman extraordinaire, has shown me kindness and friendship above and beyond the call of duty, bless him, in addition to helping my geographically-challenged brain figure out where Monaco or Timbuktu are. Joan Allen and Ruth Longoria, my fellow Sagittarians, have also been of immeasurable help in keeping me going over the years in the former case, and the months in the latter. Terry Moreman, Cy Baumgartner, Pat Braman, Phil Flash and a whole phalanx of CEOs, stay-at-home moms, rat aficionados and bookbinders have become like a second family to me while I've endeavored to put a slice of Mercer Island life in the newspaper each week.

It was a pleasure getting to know you Mercer Island. I'm going to miss you all.

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