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December 30, 2003

On Island Commerce ...

I doubt that anyone would dispute that we live in an interconnected world of 24x7 news via any number of sources: satellite, Internet (wired or wireless) and cell phones. We can shop anytime day or night and have the product within a few days -- even here on an island.

It is easy to let our "fingers do the shopping." But, is it really good for the local economy? When we are in Claremont, we are often "sucked" into the technology of ordering online, rather than facing the traffic or hassle of getting whatever we need.

Here on the island -- there are people's livelihoods, which depend upon us. You pass the owner of the shop in the grocery store. You may sit next to them in church or at a town meeting -- you are confronted with the reality that we are interconnected in the success or failure of these businesses.

During the past days, we've shopped at both the local hardware stores -- finding essentially everything that we needed. Likewise, the two markets have everything we could need or want.

I found a tremendous selection of tea at the local gourmet store -- making me re-think how I view my tea preferences (more on that in a later posting).

Even before coming to the island, were avid booklovers and we have two wonderful bookstores

Griffin Bay Bookstore
40 1st Street
Friday Harbor, WA

Harbor Bookstore
22 Cannery Landing
Friday Harbor, WA

Each offer a different feel and orientation. Their selections are wonderful and I discovered when Griffin Bay does their ordering and for the most part, I can have the book by Wednesday. Which got me thinking. If I ordered the same book via Amazon, in order to get the book on Wednesday, I would have to pay an extra $6.53 over the $12.95 list price of the book for a total of $19.48.

Ordering via Griffin Bay creates fewer wasted resources. If I had purchased the book via Amazon, there is all the packaging and freight. Granted Griffin Bay receives a shipment, but it consists of more than one book and thus is more efficient.

We had stopped in Harbor Books and had a specific book in mind. After discussing the book with Lad, he suggested another, which was much more what we had been seeking. Sure it is nice to read the reviews on Amazon and don't think that we don't read the reviews then call up our local bookstore -- viral marketing is a very interesting tool to be sure -- but I like the old fashion way of asking the store clerk or owner, "so what did you think of this book." We've never been steered wrong.

To this end, we’ve decided to remove the Amazon booklist and partnership tool from our site. Instead, support your local merchants and booksellers. Check out Booksense <http://www.booksense.com> for a listing of the independent bookseller nearest you. Besides our two local bookstores, I also found two more that are a ferry ride away

Islehaven Books & Borzoi (9.9 miles)
210 Lopez Road, Lopez Island, WA 98261

Islehaven Books is a general bookstore in the San Juan Islands near the US & Canadian border. It serves a small but literate community augmented seasonally by visitors from throughout the country & world and reflects the resultant diverse interests.

Darvill's Bookstore (9.9 miles)
296 Main Street, Eastsound, WA 98245

Another excellent resource is the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association -- < http://www.pnba.org/memstate03.htm> that has an extensive list of “hometown bookstores.”

For southern California “hometown bookstores” the Southern California Bookseller Association website has a nice list: <http://scba.bookpage.com/scba_store_list.shtml>

01:44 PM in Island Life | Permalink

December 29, 2003

International Editions

Thanks to Andrew Jones at TallSkinnyKiwi for the Google Translation Tool tip, Daily Life Observed is now available in French, German, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese.

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Christmas Blessing - 2003


  • We each have our own reasons to be thankful on this Christmas day.
  • We each have received many graces to make this moment possible -- for which we are each thankful in our own ways.
  • We send our blessings to family and friends not here to share this day.
  • We remember and are thankful for Christmas' past and the blessings from those who are no longer with us -- their memories are a constant grace in our lives.
  • We all have received so much -- more than any one of us deserves -- we are thankful beyond words.
  • We all continue to face challenges and difficulties -- may we continue to find strength and encouragement.
  • May the blessings from Beyond continue to rest upon us this day.
  • May peace abide within us.
  • May grace illuminate our hearts and warm our souls.
  • Now and forever --
  • For all these blessings,
  • For this new day and its light,
  • For the rest and shelter of night,
  • For health and food, love and family, friends and community,
  • For every gift from Beyond to each of us
  • We are indescribably thankful.
  • Amen

06:44 AM in Daily Life Thoughts | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 28, 2003

Picture Perfect Day ...

Today we had a beautiful sunrise, which was followed by an equally beautiful images/013_holidaysunset. It was a beautiful day -- one of those picture perfect skies with gray and white clouds. A cool breeze in the area, perfect weather for a walk in the woods and around town.

When the wind starts to blow, you can feel the cold wind from the north. The next day or two should be very beautiful with a daytime high of 39° and a low of 20°. However, when the wind blows, the "feel like" is 30°.

04:34 PM in Island Life | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Walk in the Woods

A short walk into the woods and this wonderful images/011_holidayview of Friday Harbor. This view is from the grounds of the University of Washington Friday Harbor Laboratories which V2tW looks onto. Michellie especially enjoys the woods as she frequently spots deer from the deck.

The view of the woods is always quite nice, however, the images/012_holidayview from within the woods -- well that can be very nice as well. Besides the log-pole-pines, we have Madrona's which stand is stark constant to everything around them.

Today was a perfect day for exploring the woods not more than a few hundred feet away. Krissy and Michellie walk much further around -- discovering even more than I did. We all felt our hearts pounding, the cool air -- all very relaxing and energizing.

04:30 PM in Island Life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday NY Times Articles

In today's New York Times, Week in Review, there are two articles I found worth referencing. The first The Next Generation of Diseases Are in Hiding, Somewhere is an excellent overview of the state epidemiology and how there is a coming pandemic, we just don't know what and when.

The other articles, The Science of Naming Drugs (Sorry, 'Z' Is Already Taken) tells of the millions spent on making us desire a specific drug based on name. The science of "phonologics" which indicates a drugs powerfulness. "The harder the tonality of the name, the more efficacious the product in the mind of the physician and the end user," stated James L. Dettore, president of the Brand Institute. As if we don't have enough trouble with drug advertising and the cost of medicine -- now the "name-game" -- and we're all lead to the trough.

12:55 PM in Daily Life Thoughts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Another Beautiful Sunrise

We experienced another beautiful images/005_holidaysunrise this morning. Mom & Dad left on the early San Juan Airlines flight, and I would expect they had a beautiful sky for the flight to SEATAC.

It was a great week with everyone assembled. We had great food, great company and beautiful weather. The island treated us to a variety of weather experiences -- each reinforcing the natural beauty of the area.

Santa was too good to all of us, but, the best gift of all was the simple time of being together.

Friday Harbor, Washington

08:55 AM in Island Life | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 21, 2003

Holiday - Day 3

We experienced a beautiful images/004_holidaysunrise this morning from V2tW -- looks like another beautiful day.

We are busy with finishing up for our Solstice Open House on Monday. Today, we will have 16 hours of darkness, the sunrise was at 8:01am.

08:24 AM in Island Life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Holiday - Day 2

We had a productive day of organizing, shopping and preparing for our Winter Solstice open house on Monday. We did have dinner at images/003_holidayRoche Harbor to watch the boat parade.

The weather has been nice, a bit rainy today, but a nice feel for the holidays.

Michellie seems to be adjusting well, although she doesn't like beening left alone in the car. We have not ventured into leaving at View to the Woods alone -- not sure the neighbors would appreciate this.

images/002_holidayRoche Harbor is charming place on the west side of the island -- about a 30 minute drive from town.

To see more, take a look at our Holiday 2003 Photo album.

Location: Friday Harbor, Washington

07:26 AM in Island Life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Advent - Week 4

December is flying past, Christmas Day is just a few days away and we've travelled from Claremont to Friday Harbor, Washington, with Michellie for two weeks of relaxation and family time with Carolyn and my parents, Jerry and Elaine, from Bella Vista, Arkansas.

Week 4's Advent thoughts started in Claremont and where finished here on the island. As I thought about week 4, a more traditional message would be about angels, behold, peace and proclaim -- preparing for the classic Christmas story on Christmas day. I have chosen to go a different route, the reason why isn't clear, it just seems like a good story for this time of the year.

For those "bible scholars" reading, I apologize in advance for any incorrect analyzation of this parable, its just my interpretation.

So, here we go!

The parable starts with a friend knocking on the door of another friend at midnight. The knocking friend is seeking three loaves of bread to share with a traveler who has come. The resident, because of the late hour doesn't want to open the door, for any number of reasons. But, with persistence, the resident is finally persuaded to open the door and give the three loaves.

There's the story. Maybe I should stop there and let each of you draw your own conclusions.

There are many ways to interpret Luke 11:5-10. There is the "teaching us to pray" view and there is the "how a church or other institutions should act and respond to their constituents." I'm not sure where my thoughts will come out, maybe a bit of both.

This parable takes place at midnight -- the darkest hour of the day. In the midst of this darkness, there is a knock, a disruption or awakening. This midnight hour may be familiar to many of us. It can be the darkness of fear and loneliness. It can be the haunting challenges of illness. It can be a spiritual search. It can be the most primary of needs -- survival. I think we can all find something in our lives that fit into this "midnight hour."

The friend is asking for three loaves, this is very specific, three items. In a broader spiritual content, these could be the breads of faith, hope and love. They could be the breads of food, shelter and warmth. They could also be the breads of improving health, well being and affordable healthcare. They could be for peace, global understanding and cooperation. Again, I think we can all accept one of these or fill-in our own needs. More importantly, what are the three things either missing or most needed in your life?

The neighbor, because of the late hour, won't open the door. If we look back at the time this parable was originally crafted, this house would have been a one-room structure with all the human beings, sheep and goats all sharing the same space. Any disruption would have awoken all the occupants.

The friend doesn't give up -- he is persistent in his need for these three loaves of bread. The Greek word used in the bible is anaideuonmai, which translates to "be unabashed, bold or shameless." The point here is clear -- don't give up, be bold, be unabashed when it comes to these needs.

As the parable goes, the neighbor finally gives in and opens the door for this friend.

Obviously, there is more to this story, which we'll get to later. What struck me about this parable is that there are a great many people knocking at midnight -- many of them are our own friends -- are we listening to these knocks? Earlier this week I noticed the San Juan Journal's website's weekly online poll asked, "Will you share some of your resources -- time or money -- with a non-profit or individual in need this holiday season?"

I know that web-polls aren't going to pass the critical test of accuracy, but I think they are a "tell" of on the mind-set of the site viewers happens to be. The results after a week were: Yes - 30 and No - 40.

Does this means that 58% are not listening to the knock at midnight. The interesting part of this question to me is that 58% of the respondents won't even give some time to an individual -- maybe its just stopping by and visiting with someone who isn't sharing the holidays with their family and they are lonely. Maybe its just bringing a hot meal to someone who needs it or is shut-in.

Needless to say, I found the results to the question of the week to be very disheartening and that it presents a certain challenge to the community of Friday Harbor as well as for any community in these challenges times.

The loaves of bread come in many varieties: the bread of social justice, the bread of peace, the bread of economic justice, the bread of full stomach, the bread of a warm place to sleep, the bread of safety from living on the streets for just one night, the bread of happiness, the bread of self-esteem.

Back to our parable. It continues with Jesus' response of, "ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." (TJB) There seems to be a message in the way these words are paired together. Each reinforces the other in the ways we are encouraged to think of seeking our solution -- of petitions, of finding what eludes us, and of obtaining an audience with the person inside -- which may well be ourselves.

Krissy was reading a draft of Advent Week 4 and very correctly asked, "Who's knock are we answering this holiday?" A very good question, one that I've had to ponder hard over the past week -- who's knock are we really answering?

It seems that we too have been swept away by the holiday rush and our own -- perhaps self-absorbed -- preparation for our trip to Friday Harbor that we hadn't really thought about this. Now that we are here, the quiet of the woods setting in and a chance to stop and reflect a bit, I find this question gnawing at my soul more and more.

As I look out the window tonight, the night very dark, a waning crescent, just 14% full, the midnight hour quickly approaching -- are we (Krissy and I) listening for that knock. In the depths of this night, somewhere we can make a difference. In someone's life, we can bring just a bit of joy to a dark, cold and hopeless night.

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. made a famous speech entitled, "A Knock at Midnight." This closing is both honest, haunting and appropriate for this week's thoughts:

"The dawn will come. Disappointment, sorrow, and despair are born at midnight, but morning follows. 'Weeping may endure for a night.' says the Psalmist, 'but joy cometh in the morning.' This faith adjourns the assemblies of hopelessness and bring new light into the dark chamber of pessimism."

As I close this Advent Week 4, I return to Luke 11, those who know this passage well, know that the verses 2:4 are perhaps the most widely known prayer, the Lord's Prayer:

  • Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your name.
  • May your kingdom come, and your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
  • Give us today our daily bread.
  • Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
  • Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for your are the kingdom and the power and the glory.
  • Amen (BCP)

After thinking about the rest of the Luke 11 story, this prayer takes on a new meaning. "Give us today our daily bread," has new content and more significance. Sometimes when we have said a verse over-and-over, we miss the real message, the beauty and meaning in five lines.

Are these five lines not the basis for living well -- for leading a simple, contemplative life? In our busy lives, it's easy to miss or forget the real meaning. As I re-read Luke 11:2-10, I realize that the more contemplative my life is -- it is first of all life, and life implies openness, growth and development. Sometimes we forget to live a real life. A life is filled with good graces, challenges, contradictions and difficulties. This real life is dynamic and transformative.

Life isn't easy -- we all know this. We are all blessed with many riches and haunted by any number of challenges -- we all seek some daily bread. With Christmas less than a week away, may we all take a few minutes to pause and think about what is the daily bread we seek and who's knock are we answering.

Location: Friday Harbor, Washington

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12:00 AM in Daily Life Thoughts | Permalink | Comments (0)