All posts by Jeff

5th Annual Edible Book Festival , March 25th, 2017

The Edible Book Festival is returning to Whidbey Island

Bring an entry – or just come ready to eat one!

Brought back for a fourth helping, the annual South Whidbey Edible Book Festival returns on April 2nd. The Festival is seeking clever cooks and hungry readers to participate in this annual international celebration of books, art and food. It is both a contest and fundraising event – this year all proceeds will benefit The South Whidbey Parks and Aquatics Foundation. We will donate the funds to Healthy Island Youth Initiative.

The guidelines are – it can look like a book, it can act like a book, it can be a pun on a book. It can be inspired by a book cover or character. The only rule: it must be edible! Contestants may enter an appetizer, entree or dessert so get creative and have some fun. All entrees should be family friendly.

Entering is free! Categories include Best In Show, Best Visual Presentation, Most “Pun”derful, Most Appetizing, and Best Kid’s (under 16). Winners are chosen by an audience vote.

The event is scheduled for 1:30 to 3:30 PM at Bayview Hall on April 2nd. Once voting is done and the winners are announced, forks will be provided. Attendance and book entries are free.  Preregistration of entries is highly appreciated. Donations are encouraged to benefit the Healthy Island Youth Initiative.

To see examples, get inspiration, and register an entry, visit the event’s Facebook Page at:

Why Swim? – Deborah Nedelman, 2014

Deborah Nedelman

Why Swim?

One Saturday earlier this summer I sat at a booth at the bustling Bayview Farmers Market and asked folks to tell me their swim stories. Being a swimmer myself, I was pretty surprised by how many island dwellers had no such stories, by how many were non-swimmers. Here we are surrounded by the wet stuff and if you’re ever going to get off the rock you need to cross it somehow. What do people all do, cross their fingers and hope for the best every time they board the ferry? Must be tough to stick crossed fingers in one’s ears to avoid hearing the ‘important safety announcement’ that does reference something about water, I believe.

There were a few folks with swim experiences who had not only lived to tell them, but who recalled them with great enthusiasm and even joy. Yes, swimming can be fun! In fact, being proficient in the water can become positively addictive and life changing. Take the story Dan Falkenbury told about his childhood in Hawaii.

Let me take a moment here to register one of the most common responses I got when I asked folks if they were swimmers: “It’s too cold to swim here!” Yes, well, Puget Sound is a bit chillier than the waters that surround the Hawaiian Islands. But, as Dan informed us, the numbers of non-swimmers in his 6th grade class in Honolulu, where no one worries much about hypothermia, significantly outnumbered the swimmers. In fact, in a class of 30 plus students, only 3 kids raised their hands when the teacher asked who knew how to swim. This seemed to explain the number of recent childhood drownings. The school began requiring to all their students to take swimming lessons. One of Dan’s classmates took those swimming lessons to heart and became a lifeguard. And Dan, whose father had swum with Johnny Weissmuller, went on to become a competitive swimmer. “Living on a island, you’d think everyone should know how to swim.” Dan told me.

Don’t let the cold water scare you off. Start in a pool and you just might discover your inner fish.

Like a fish to water… Sharon Betcher 2014

Like a fish to water…
Most humans are drawn like a fish to water, we say. That magnetic pull might be explained in many ways: the enchanting mirror of the waters, capturing the beauty of the self; the watery womb remembered. Intriguingly, well over 80% of humanity lives within 50 miles of water’s edge. We’re like waterbags—the human body itself composed mostly of water—carrying water back to its source. Or, more pragmatically, we’re smart enough to know that to take up residence, to set up home, we need a good source of water.
But honestly, I—like many humans–grew up more like a dragonfly drawn to water: water was always in my orbit, but it was not my element. I liked being near it. I enjoyed catching creek chubs along my little tributary of the Mississippi River in Minnesota. I liked water gazing on a hot summer day, letting the water carry me in daydreams of futures I would like to live. But beyond splashing through puddles on a spring day, I was not into diving into its elemental deeps. Not only did I convince myself I was gratefully landlocked (In Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes? Not!) and not only was I a “sinker” (despite the floatation devices also known as “lovehandles”), I was afraid—especially after my high school comrades decided to give me a swimming lesson by throwing me over the edge of the canoe and telling me to make shore.
But to live now as an islander, this seems to me to admit that I need a new relationship with the water. We love this moat that separates and communalizes us. But to love it is also to admit that we live with it and on it in a vital and daily way. Admiring its beauty is only one part of wisdom now. Only when we have certain skills, it seems to me, are we well suited to the island life. Those skills involve respect for the risks and dangers of water—that which has long left me afraid. But it also involves learning to adapt myself—like a fish to water. Swimming, in other words, is a discipline of wisdom for one who wants to live as an islander, one who considers the island their element.

Saturday Swim Lessons – Deborah Nedelman 2014

Deborah Nedelman    (

Saturday again,
another Shabbat,
I churn down the pool
coming up for air at the blue end

There you sit, knees to chest
an eight year-old
in the flimsy armor
of a pink swimsuit
the fear in your eyes
like a mirror–

Fifty years float between
me and my reflection–
the lonely girl
back against the echoing wall
overwhelmed in the chlorinated air

Jewish fathers are admonished:
“Teach your child to swim”
an odd religious dictate
unless, perhaps, the Red Sea
did not actually part.

Sure and duty-bound
not a pray-er, a weak sinner
not religious but for this:
each Saturday, each Shabbat,
my father drove me
to the public pool

abandoned me
to the women’s locker room
caustic smells, icy showers,
exposed flesh shivering in towels
draped over shoulders like prayer shawls

Shy and bookish
not a splasher, a weak kicker
I clung to the pool’s edge
each Saturday, every Shabbat,
and begged for reprieve
from this strange wet business

I watch you rise,
and fifty years collapse.
You are gathered into parental arms
eyes gleam and you boast
“I put my head in!”

Another lap
on this Saturday, this Shabbat
at the blue end of the pool
Again I inhale and push off
into the forgiveness of water