‘She was one of a kind – the best dog ever’

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Ruthie in the herb garden
Courtesy photo Ruthie enjoyed warm days in the herb garden.
Ruthie, Willows Lodge’s beloved canine ambassador, has died.

The 12-year-old basset hound, who was a fixture at the Woodinville property, succumbed to lung cancer on February 13th.

“Ruthie had such a sweet and friendly disposition and she was always happy to see people,” says Janene Varden, director of sales at Willows. “She got along with everyone and was the perfect fit for the lodge. She always put a smile on people’s faces as soon as they entered. Our guests just loved being greeted by her and those that met her would always look forward to seeing her again when they returned.”

Varden adds, “Ruthie was a part of our family and she touched so many hearts. The response to her death has been overwhelming. It’s amazing how many people have responded about it on Facebook. She brought joy and brightened up everybody’s days, and she added such warmth to the lodge.”

The adorable basset’s activities, preferences, thoughts and emotions were dutifully expressed on daily Facebook postings by her closest companion, Rhanda Rosselot, marketing manager for Willows. Rosselot and Ruthie spent most days together and several times a week, Ruthie would spend the night at Rosselot’s home.

When at the lodge, she took naps and slept in either her bed near the front desk or the one behind it for more privacy.

“She got very attached to me,” says Rosselot, “and she was with me pretty much 24-7. I’d take her everywhere and she loved to ride in the car and stick her head out of the window to feel the wind and smell the air.” She adds, “Ruthie was very smart, incredibly patient and obedient. There wasn’t anyone she didn’t like and she was friendly with other dogs, the Herbfarm’s pigs and even with Ste. Michelle’s peacocks when they wandered over here. When kids came, she would let them put their hands all over her and never protest.”

Ruthie first came to Willows about six years ago after her original owner, one of the lodge’s employees, discovered she was unable to keep the basset at her place of residence. She was the lodge’s third canine ambassador, after her predecessors Preston and Gus passed away, and in no time, she became the darling of both staff and guests.

Her birthdays were always celebrated and on holidays, she would get to show off one of her many hats.

According to Rosselot, Ruthie adored bacon, baths and moseying around the gardens.

She liked to chase rabbits and would often have stare-down contests with the creatures.

“She really had a good life here,” notes Rosselot. “She knew she was truly loved and that’s all that matters. She was one of a kind – the best dog ever – and losing her is like losing a child, a member of your family. It’s heart-wrenching and the entire staff is in mourning.”

Ruthie is buried on site in the gardens at Willows and there will soon be a bench with a plaque in her memory.

Q & A with Dale Nelson, local processed specialty foods expert

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

Continued from page 16 in last week’s paper

Question: If someone does decide to take this on, what are the first steps she needs to do to make this a reality?

Answer: Just like starting any business, it’s important to conduct proper business plan research and to pursue related topics such as local and state licensing, food safety and how to source ingredients.  If someone is just starting out on this venture, it would make sense to begin thinking about marketing strategies and product development.  I would add that the sooner someone focuses on how to distribute and sell their product, the sooner they will have business success.  It’s good to think through how and who is going to be running the business on a day-to-day basis.

All this planning and effort definitely takes some resources to get started; money and labor, to name a few. I must stress that I strongly encourage the startup business to talk to others who have gone before, as there is much wisdom to gain from other people in the specialty food business.

Question: What are the biggest hurdles for processing food and selling it to stores and customers?

Answer: In the past one of the biggest hurdles for someone who wanted to process food was finding a commercial kitchen to be able to lease affordable space. Now, with the new kitchen spaces at the 21 Acres Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living in Woodinville, that’s thankfully no longer a problem for people within this area.  Other than that, the biggest hurdle is distribution of products – where will they be sold? Farmers markets? Grocery stores? Specialty stores? It takes time to develop an adequate level of distribution to make the revenue figures pencil out. Actually, to do it right it’s really smart to build in time to allow product demonstrations and sampling so that potential customers can try the new products.  It is good to keep in mind that professionals like me can help folks who are just getting started.  We have the expertise that’s needed to avoid a lot of the obstacles that sometimes crop up.  I have colleagues around the state who also provide help to new young specialty foods businesses.

Question: Do you see realistic opportunities for people to make a living at processing food?

Answer: Absolutely. I do. As I metioned earlier, customers really want the best products they can afford to buy for their families.  There are many statistics being published about the tremendous growth of organics and local specialty foods.  Consumers want food made with the freshest ingredients.  Consumers are looking for new products regularly, so that means it is especially good if businesses add new offerings to the product line up.  If someone is committed to using those types of local farm ingredients and they implement a solid marketing plan that encompasses adequate production and distribution, then I would have a very positive outlook for their business.

Question: Are there processed local foods products that consumers are really clamoring to buy?

Answer: That’s an interesting question. Consumers are really open to experiencing more new foods, or foods that have been prepared in new ways, than they ever have before.  A major spice company just announced the trends it sees on the horizon and one of those at the forefront is ethnic and international flavors.  I see this as exciting news – there is so much that can be done with fruits, but especially vegetables, with ethnic flavors. I think it’s widely known that shopping trends show that consumers want ease and are looking for food products that help them prepare delicious and nutritious meals easily.  Products such as pestos, sauces and relishes help pull easy meals together with vibrant flavors. I’d suggest looking at these types of products for beginning businesses. I don’t want to forget to mention the demand for protein sources; consumers are looking for sustainable meats, seafood and eggs.

Question:  If people want to learn more, can you suggest resources for processing and marketing food?

Answer: Of course I mentioned the need for a commercial kitchen. There are a few in the area that can be found by searching the internet. I will be teaching a course at 21 Acres titled, Intro to Processing, which starts in March. This course is perfect for someone who is deciding whether or not to explore the possibility of selling their favorite recipes.

Dale Nelson is the owner of Farmhouse Kitchens in Monroe. He can be reacked at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling (360)794-9778.

Everything is coming up roses at Molbak’s

  • Written by Submitted by Molbak’s
Golden Celebration is a beautiful golden yellow English rose with an exceptional fragrance.
Spring is on the way and it’s time to think about roses!  Molbak’s is celebrating these stunning beauties with four special, free events over several weekends.

First up is an informal question and answer session featuring members of the Seattle Rose Society on Saturday and Sunday, February 18 and 19, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

This is a great opportunity to have your rose questions answered by knowledgeable and enthusiastic experts in an informal setting.  John Harmeling, American Rose Society Rosarian and Molbak’s plant expert will also present a seminar on pruning roses on Saturday,

February 18: 12 – 1 p.m.   Attendees will learn the importance of proper pruning and how to prune a variety of roses to increase flower production and discourage diseases.

Think roses belong in a bed of their own?  Not true!  Nita-Jo Rountree, garden designer and past president of the Northwest Horticultural Society, will present “Welcoming Roses into Your Garden” on Saturday, February 25, 10 – 11 a.m.  Rountree will explain how to apply garden design principles to successfully incorporate a variety of roses into mixed garden beds and landscapes.

The rose celebration is rounded out with a basic care seminar, “Growing Glorious Roses” presented by Harmeling on Sunday, April 1, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Harmeling will cover the basics of planting, pest control and disease prevention and treatment.

Roses are a beautiful addition to any garden and can provide color and fragrance for years to come.

For more information, visit

Local LEGO robotics team brings home awards

  • Written by Deborah Stone
LEGO team
Photo by Jennifer Hagander-Luanava Pictured are Avery Dailidenas, Davis Luanava, Hannah Newland, Isa Luanava, Matthew Newland, Natalie Koch, Nicky McDonald and coaches Paul Hagander and Jennifer Hagander-Luanava.
Though robots were the main focus in a FIRST LEGO League (FLL) competition, equally important was the research process and presentation, as well as demonstration of FLL’s Core Values.

Each year, teams of middle school students build and program a small robot to accomplish various challenges, investigate a research topic of their choice and work towards being a cohesive group that demonstrates teamwork, respect, cooperation, team spirit, professional and inclusion.

FLL selects a different theme each year, which is drawn from real events in society.

For 2011, it was “Food Factor.”

In Washington state, there are several regional tournaments and two state championships (Eastern and Western).

Team AI, a group of 9 to 14- year-old homeschoolers (Avery Dailidenas, Davis Luanava, Hannah Hewland, Isa Luanava, Matthew Newland, Natalie Koch and Nicky McDonald) had a highly successful season and brought home gold with an award for “Gracious Professionalism” at regionals and one for “Inspiration” at the State level.

At regionals, the kids were up against 25 other teams and at state, over 50 groups competed.

Team AI began working together in September to create and assemble their robot and program it to do various actions within a specific time period.

Each challenge performed successfully during competition earns the team points, whereas if errors are made, penalties are given.

“The kids had to do things like release “bacteria” (small plastic balls in a container), collect plastic fish from an imaginary ocean, raise a thermometer and turn it to cold, deliver plastic grocery items to a miniature kitchen table and more,” explains Laura Koch, parent of Natalie, 12, one of the students on Team AI.

She adds, “Sometimes, teams are able to do the challenges in practice, but then when competition comes, they have difficulty performing them. Nerves, of course, play a part in all of this.”

For its research project, Team AI chose to investigate the problem of blue plastic bands in chicken nuggets as its topic.

“We were really surprised at how many cases of plastic were found in chicken nuggets,” comments Natalie. “Between 2000 and 2011, over 500,000 pounds of chicken nuggets were recalled for plastic contaminants. That’s more cases than salmonella.”

She adds, “Everyone on our team said we’d never eat chicken nuggets again!”

The kids’ solution to this problem was to recommend using food grade edible plastic tags that wouldn’t be a contaminant if accidentally left in the food.

Judges for the competitions are volunteers from the community. Many are professional engineers and programmers. Each team meets with judges three times: for a technical review of its  robot, to present its research and to demonstrate how it learned FLL’s Core Values.

Awards are given in various categories including project research, project presentation, mechanical design, programming, robot performance and Core Values. All groups are assessed on Core Values behavior throughout the competition.

“We were really happy to get awards in the Core Values,” says Natalie. “It’s only the second time in five years that we’ve gotten any awards.”

She adds, “Our team divided up the responsibilities and everyone did what they were supposed to. We had good teamwork and good team spirit and I think we respected each other.”

The local girl enjoyed helping build the robot, which was her favorite part of the project.

Most challenging was programming it to do the specific actions.

“Some of the actions are hard,” she comments, “like having the robot transfer the hoop with the plastic rat to a base and having it retrieve the little trailer.”

Team AI plans to compete again next season and hopes to add to its medal collection, but as Natalie says, “We do it because it’s a lot of fun.”

BAM’s ‘Push Play’ highlights innovators, visionaries working in clay

  • Written by Deborah Stone
“Swan” by Adrian Arleo. Photo courtesy of BAM
Bellevue Arts Museum’s new exhibit, “Push Play: The 2012 NCECA Invitational,” showcases over 30 international artists who explore how the act of play expresses and expands human potential.

Held in conjunction with the 46th National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) Conference in Seattle in late March, the exhibit follows previous groundbreaking ceramics exhibitions at BAM including “Robert Sperry: Bright Abyss” in 2009 and the much celebrated BAM Biennial 2010: clay Throwdown!”

Stefano Catalani, BAM’s director of Curatorial Affairs/artistic director and co-curator of “Push Play,” is delighted and honored that the museum is the hosting venue for the Invitational.

He says, “Ceramic art, traditional or experimental, has deep roots in the Northwest. As a museum dedicated to the exploration of art, craft and design, it plays an integral role in our mission.”

Over 200 artists responded to the call for entries to participate in the exhibition, submitting approximately 2,000 works of art. Only 33 artists were selected for the final display, including such visionaries and innovators as Adrian Arleo, Beth Cavener Stichter, Judy Fox, Kiki Smith and Christina West, among others.

The show explores the place of play in society today and views the subject in a myriad of ways. It emphasizes the joy that comes from play and how it teaches us about ourselves, our bodies and the world around us. It also delves into play’s dark, exploitive side and looks at the stories that evolve from the act of playing, which can initiate role playing, fantasy and imagination.

In furthering the concept, the exhibit delves into the open nature of playthings and how they are equipped with the ability to help establish gender roles and identity.

Some pieces appear whimsical at first glance, but with deeper study they become unsettling.

by Sam Scott Photo courtesy of BAM
Margaret Keelan’s “Hopscotch,” for example, depicts a child happily engaged in playing the traditional sidewalk game.

Look closely, however, and notice that the sculpture has the appearance of disintegrating paint over weathered wood.

This gives the impression of a wearing effect, bringing to mind the weight that life’s experiences have on the individual as he/she grows up and ages.

In Kelly Connole’s piece, “Scamper,” a group of very lifelike rabbits appears as if they are leaping out of the wall from their wooded environment. One wonders if they are they running for the sheer joy and freedom of the experience or fleeing from a predator. A description of the work acknowledges that humans’ interactions with wild things are often filled with questions and “contradictory emotions of fear and delight tempered by our desire to personify all that we encounter.”

Rabbits also figure prominently in “Gravitational Pull,” from Rebekah Bogard’s “Twilight” series. Here the creatures are lying on their backs in positions of utter contentment, amid a forest under a starlit sky.

The work evokes nostalgia for warm summer nights and that magical time when day turns into night.

In Clayton Keyes’ “Bougie Putti,” one dead and bloodied rabbit dangles from the hand of a male child, who is naked with the exception of lacy cuffs around his wrists and a powdered wig with a blue ribbon, a la Victorian style. One finger touches his lips staining them red with blood. It’s a disturbing image that explores the nature of play unchecked – without guidance of parents and society – and the possibility of the emergence of primal instincts.

Some of the pieces speak to the perspective of power structure and peer pressure within play, and the scrutiny and judgment that often comes among groups of playmates.

In “Nave,” artist Mark Chatterly writes that he pretended he was a kid again making a snow fort, rolling one ball at a time and stacking them in layers.

Instead of balls, however, he stacks large scale figures that sit one on top of each other in a tight semi-circle. They are all hunched over, leaning in, peering at one another, as if evaluating the individual worth of their teammates.

On the ground in front of them is a small rabbit, perhaps symbolizing the fear and discomfort that comes with being singled out and ostracized.

Anne Drew Potter’s “The Captains Congress” also alludes to this theme. Perched on wooden crates, a group of naked child people sit within a circle of judgment, posed in attitudes of derision and contempt for a passive defendant that is positioned outside of the circle with her back towards the group. The bullies wear silly paper hats which exaggerate their grotesque facial expressions.

Contemplation, another angle on play, is explored within Kiki Smith’s piece, “Sitting and Thinking.” With a pose reminiscent of “The Thinker” by Rodin, a young woman appears to be engaging in the mental process of play, directing the viewer’s attention inward to the realm of imaginative thoughts.

Arthur Gonzalez’s “Service at the Villa” is another contemplative-like work. Here, the Blue Haired Fairy from “Pinocchio” sits quietly, as she muses on her past with the puppet boy.

She is posed against the wall dressed in a long skirt that contains an etching of Pinocchio’s face on it, while holding her light wand. It’s a nostalgic piece that elicits emotional reactions directed towards childhood stories which immerse readers in their fantasy.

“Push Play” is a highly engaging exhibition that shines a light on the use of clay to explore the many perspectives of play and how it helps define us.

“Push Play: The 2012 NCECA Invitational” runs through June 17 at Bellevue Arts Museum.

For more information: (425) 519-0770 or