Sunday, July 25, 2010


"But when that smoking chowder came in, the mystery was delightfully explained. Oh! sweet friends, hearken to me. It was made of small juicy clams, scarcely bigger than hazel nuts, mixed with pounded ship biscuits and salted pork cut up into little flakes! the whole enriched with butter, and plentifully seasoned with pepper and salt.....we dispatched it with great expedition." Herman Melville - Ishmael in 'Moby Dick' (1851)

I fell in love with clam chowder in the sixties at the Illahee summer cabin of my now deceased in-laws. Illahee is a little community north of Bremerton, Washington which enjoys pristine salt waterfront and rocky beaches abundant with clams. At least that was the case back in the day, when low tides sent us trudging down a steep trail in search of clams for my mother-in-law’s wonderful seafood concoction.

There were no limits and no permits required. All one needed was a bucket and a shovel. If one was desperate for clam chowder and the only low tide was in the middle of the night, one added a “bug” – an old timer’s light made with a tin can and a candle.

My father-in-law taught me how to make and use a “bug” and on one of our vacations, I trekked down to the beach by myself at two o’clock in the morning to seek clams. No one would come with me and it ranks in my memory as a favorite clam digging experience. I picked a spot, started digging a small area, turning over the rocks and swishing water around with my hand as I went. Soon I found small groups of clams which were easily plucked from their rocky bed. I came back, victorious, with a large bucket of manilla, butter and long neck clams.

My mission the next day was to make clam chowder under Mom’s tutelage. The first step was to put corn meal in the bucket to help cleanse the clams of sand. Then we began the lengthy process of preparing the ingredients, cleaning and grinding up the clams and cooking the chowder. Later, after gorging ourselves on bowl after bowl of this hearty soup, we relaxed on the deck surrounded by tall evergreens and madronas, basking in the sunshine, and enjoying the fruits of our labor. The recipe for Illahee clam chowder is in the Book Nook below. I challenge you to find a better recipe.

Summer is a time for experiencing little adventures with your family, and teaching children lessons they don’t find in a text book. These days digging clams at night is not recommended, but if there is a way of taking a beach walk using a bug lantern, do it for your kids. You simply take an old tin coffee or other can, gouge large holes in the sides, poke holes at the top through which you thread wire or twice for a handle, and anchor a candle in the bottom. For those of you lucky enough to live in the Pacific Northwest or any other place where clams can be dug, you can have truly fresh clam chowder that is made “from the sand up.” No canned or restaurant chowder can compare.

Clams can also be bought at the store, of course. Now that I am a Washington resident, if the tides aren’t right, or I have time restraints, I head over to Barlean’s at 4936 Lake Terrell Road in Ferndale, Washington. Located in the country and surrounded by dairy farms and forest land, it’s another place worth visiting for a fishy experience. You can almost smell the salty air from nearby Sandy Point. Much larger now than the little shed it once was, this assortment of buildings houses storage and shipping areas and a very modern shop where one can buy everything from all kinds of fish, crab, shrimp, scallops, clams, etc., to fish and flax seed oil and small gift items. If you want fish heads for crabbing, even if the store is not open, you simply put a dollar in a can near a large freezer, and help yourself. It’s on the honor system.

For those who live too far away for a visit, check Barlean’s web site to learn about their online store, interesting reef netting information and tasty seafood recipes.

Nowadays a permit in Washington costs $12.00 for residents ages l6-69. Children under sixteen must be licensed, but at no cost. Seniors get a price break at $9.60. The number of clams and sizes can vary, and that information can be found on the website here.

Watching out for red tide and other toxin warnings is important and can be found on the next website.



Illahee Clam Chowder by Mrs. Fred. A Lind

Clams in shells, 2-3 quarts
Bacon or salt port ½-3/4 pound diced
Onion, ¾ cup diced
Celery, ½ cup diced
Potatoes, 2-3 cups diced
Salt and pepper to taste
Evaporated milk or cream, ½ to 1 cup
Tomatoes, thinly sliced, 2 or 3

Scrub clams thoroughly. Place in a large kettle. Almost cover with water and boil until shells open. Drain and reserve the clam nectar. Discard black tips of necks and green stomach portions of the largest clams. Grind the remainder.

Fry the bacon or salt pork and onions. Add celery (carrots may be added or substituted), and clam nectar. After cooking for ten minutes, add potatoes. Add ground clams and tomatoes during the last five minutes of cooking time. Just before serving add the hot cream.

Serve with rolls and a green salad. Sit back and enjoy!

Sunday, July 18, 2010


A hero is simply someone who rises above his own human weaknesses for an hour, a day, a year, to do something stirring." Betty Deramus

A 2001 Harris Poll gave nine criteria which could be used to determine a hero. Abbreviated, they are:

1. Never give up.
2. Do the right thing.
3. Do more than expected.
4. Stay calm in crisis.
5. Change things for the better.
6. Overcome adversity.
7. Willing to risk personal safety.
8. Command support and respect of others.
9. Don't expect recognition.

Clinton Van Inman, educator and writer, claims that "a hero is simply someone who stands up for what he or she believes and in the process makes a difference that causes a qualitative change in the social fabric. Real heroes make a difference in our lives." He further believes that we need someone to look up to, to give a reason for our existence.

I think we all have the potential to be heroes but fear, insecurity, and an unwillingness to get involved, can keep us from realizing it. How many of us have seen an action that needed to be taken, stood back to let someone else take it, then wished we had had the guts to step up to the plate.

A story is told about my husband, Vaughn, citing an example where he became a hero almost by happenstance. He was on a fishing boat in Alaska when a man fell overboard. The man's work partner stood by doing nothing. Vaughn asked him if he was a good swimmer to which the fellow acquiesced, but still he did nothing. So, without thinking more, Vaughn jumped in and saved the guy, and in that moment became a hero. I wonder what the other man thought upon reflecting back. The water was rough. Was he afraid he himself might drown? Did he figure that someone else would save his partner? Is the fact that he didn't one of his personal regrets in life?

Since this is an education blog I try to think of how the subject matter can be tied into the school scene, no matter what the grade level. Heroism shows itself in ways big and small. Examples might be going to the aid of a school mate who is being bullied; sticking up for the new kid at school; saying "no" to peers who want to draw one into delinquent acts, etc.

Although some may think it sounds sexist, in kindergarten and first grade almost every little boy wants to be a fireman or policeman "because they help people." Many little girls want to be nurses or teachers for the same reason. Fairness and empathy are often part of the young child's makeup. Somewhere along the line they lose their zeal for helping, and become more interested in fame and fortune - being rich, becoming an NFL player or rock star. We can, of course, blame the media for much of the change in focus.

But, regarding the concepts of fear or unwillingness to be involved, consider this. How many of us as parents caution our children to "Be careful!" "Don't talk to strangers." "Don't get involved." "Mind your own business." A healthy awareness of life's dangers is one thing. A crippling fear that keeps us from helping others is something else.

I believe we all have the seeds of heroism within us. Realizing that we can be heroes, even in our daily lives, helps to build feelings of confidence , self worth, and love of our fellow man. Some of those feelings have been drummed out of us, and replaced by feelings I mentioned earlier of fear, inadequacy and the unwillingness to get involved. As teachers we can help kids find the "hero" within.

I found a wonderful set of lesson plans called "What Makes A Hero" while surfing the net. It is aimed at grades 3-5, but can be adapted to all grades with a little tweaking. The lessons follow:

Lesson 1: Do Kids Have Heroes?
Lesson 2: Are All Heroes Created Equal?
Lesson 3: Can a Kid Be a Hero?
Lesson 4: Do Adults Have Heroes? Did They Have Heroes When They Were Kids?
Lesson 5: Looking for a Hero
Lesson 6: Heroes from History
Lesson 7: Our Heroes
Lesson 8: Local Hero Extending the Lesson

The objectives, guiding question, and lesson preparation can be found by logging on to:

If you are a parent reading this blog, think about how you can sow the seeds of heroism in your child and yourself. Today's world needs every hero possible to survive.

I close with a quote by Christopher Reeve who my daughter thinks wore a hero's hat. He said, "When the first Superman movie came out I was frequently asked 'What is a hero?' My answer was that a hero is someone who commits a courageous action without considering the consequences. Now my definition is completely different. I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles."

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Elementary school students Kelsi and Rachel Okun created a national treasure hunt in 2005 which evolved into a national charity program awarding several million dollars worth of scholarships to spouses and dependents of American troops serving overseas. "We thought, if people get so excited about finding treasure, could we get them to focus their energy on something useful to help someone else? Treasure hunts get people excited. They're really fun and everybody loves a good treasure hunt." Rachel Okun

The fourth of July at our Sandy Point beach cabin is a memorable experience for anyone who stops by, but I think kids love it the most. The house is humble, but a mile long beach, looking out at the US and Canadian San Juan Islands, offers endless hours of beach combing, crabbing in season, and, when night falls, bon fires for s'mores, and spectacular fireworks all along the water. There are many treasures on the beach, including shells, small pieces of smooth driftwood and logs for walking. But when you look down and see an agate winking at you - Ahhhh! What a great feeling!

One year, during the hours after people arrived for the day long party, and before the night time extravaganza, I organized a treasure hunt for all the kids. It proved to be so popular that it is now a tradition and I need to create new places to search for pirate gold every year. Actually kids like candy better, so the cardboard box-treasure chest contains an abundance of different kinds plus some cool stuff from the dollar store. Here is a step-by-step plan for your own pirate adventure.

1. Find a cardboard box, decorate it like a treasure chest, place candy and trinkets inside, and wrap it in a black plastic yard sack. Decide where to hide it, then take a digital picture of the location. The picture becomes the map.

2. Paste the picture on a piece of tag board or old cereal box, and mark a red X where the treasure is. Decide how many clues you want the children to find, then turn the map into a puzzle, cutting it up into that many pieces. Make sure to draw lines through the X so that it can't be identified until all the pieces are found.

3. Have at least ten clues. Place a clue and map piece in separate envelopes and hide them so that they direct the treasure seekers to the next location.

4. When the last clue and map piece is found, the children sit down and assemble the map to find the treasure chest location. Like any good pirates, they divvy up the booty, and began to gorge themselves on all the goodies.

I should note here that the hunt is by the entire group of children who run collectively like the wind to find the hidden missive. Whoever finds it gets to hold the map piece until all are collected.

Obviously I like to write, and making rhyming clues is fun for me. Here are some places you could hide the notes and some examples of clues you could adapt for your own backyard hunt.

Location examples: Fireplace, oven, microwave, or bar-b-que, mailbox, garden gnome or statue, fence, outdoor faucet, hose, birdbath, TV, bathtub or hot tub, refrigerator or ice chest, kitchen table, tree, flower pot, lamp, computer, etc.

1. Hand the first envelope to the oldest child in the group to read aloud to the others.

It's the fourth of July and time for a hunt. It's our annual search for gold. This treasure is real and very cool, by a map the story is told. Each clue has a piece of this very old map, and X marks the spot that you seek. Now go to a place where you sometimes get mail, to get your very first peek.

2. Place the next clue in the mailbox.

Rub a dub dub, go look in a tub, to find a watery clue Look high, then look low, look out, then look in. This clue will be waiting for you.

3. Sink a waterproof jar containing the clue in a hot tub.

The next clue is hard and will take some deep thought. Go where hamburgers often get fried. From there turn around, see a lid on a fence, then look at the lid inside.

4. Tape the clue inside a lid and place it next to a nearby fence.

Find a place where bears might go and see if one is there. Not in the zoo, not in the woods, but in a toy bear's lair.

5. Place a teddy bear in a play room or child's room with the note pinned on it.

There are baths for kids and baths for tots and baths for birds who are dusty and hot. So if such a bath exists in this place, it may hold a clue for this treasure hunt chase.

6. Place the clue in a bird bath if available, otherwise a regular tub.

To water a garden you need a long hose and the hose may be in the back yard. Now look for the place where the water comes out to see if you find a bard card.

7. Tape a note to the outdoor water faucet.

Everyone knows that candy tastes good, although it is bad for your teeth but there's one thing that can help keep your smile white, and save you a lot of grief.

8. Wrap the clue around a tube of tooth paste on a bathroom counter.

If you like to watch Hanna Montana, you'd need to find a TV, so try to find one that is down some stairs and beneath it a clue you will see.

9. Place the clue so it peeks out from under or behind the TV. Adjust the clue to the TV's location.

If you're thirsty or hot and want a cold drink, you might try the kitchen or the bathroom sink, or better yet a nice cold spot that's made for food and cubes that clink.

10. Place the clue in the freezer section of your refrigerator, or even an ice chest for drinks.

(This last clue is given to the oldest person at the party before the hunt.)

Go find someone who is really quite nice, but also really quite old. He'll/She'll give you a clue - the very last one - that will help in your quest for gold. When you get this last clue find a nice flat place, to learn this treasure map's secret. Then open the chest and share what is there, with all those who helped to locate it.

Once the treasure chest is located pandemonium will result without adult supervision. We find it works best to place a blanket on the ground or floor, have the kids sit in a circle, and dump the contents in the middle. Starting from youngest to oldest each child choses something until all treasure is taken. Having paper bags with names on them helps to keep confusion and lost treasure at a minimum.

If you want to add some further candy overload, include a pinata in the festivities. It makes for a memorable party for adults and children alike.
No one will be watching TV or playing video games this afternoon!

Sunday, July 4, 2010


I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet through all the gloom I see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth all the means. This is our day of deliverance. John Adams (1735–1826)

Happy birthday USA, the fourth of July is your day.
With pageants, picnics and marching bands, and fireworks on display.
You were born out of anger, neglect and despair
By folks who worked hard but felt life was unfair.

They were ruled by a king from a faraway kingdom,
Unaware that his subjects wanted their freedom
From rules, laws and strictures, and hated taxation,
With no say in what happened, no representation.

Tea started the movement that swept the young country
As patriots in disguise dumped the tea in the sea
And as fury built up, more and more joined the fight,
This rag tag small army convinced they were right.

Paul Revere and some others rode out one dark night
To warn that the “Redcoats” were coming to fight.
When the first shot was fired, they stood up to the test
Proved that passion and courage could conquer the best.

The next step was deciding to take a firm stand,
To divorce from the British, to take over this land.
So they met in July filled with hope and conviction,
To declare independence from Britain’s restriction

There followed a war, filled with bloodshed and death.
Lasting years, they kept fighting, some with their last breath.
George Washington, their leader, kept urging them on
‘til victory was theirs in a place called Yorktown.

Our allies, the French, deserved thanks for assisting,
Their friendship and help much needed for winning
So when we celebrate the fourth in all of its glory
Let's remember all those who wrote freedom’s story.
by Jan Lind-Sherman



Read The Declaration of Independence and other supporting information by clicking

on the site below: