Life on Whidbey: Don’t rush into things — those furry gifts can wait


By Eileen Brown

“Only 12 more days until Christmas, Pa. Let’s get that dog the kids want and bring him home on Christmas Eve!”

If we all lived in a Disney movie, you could probably do that. Naturally there are procedures for everything, and some apply to adopting a companion animal any time of the year.

SHARI BIBICH, Whidbey Animals’ Improvement Foundation shelter manager, makes a good point. She suggests it is better to wait until after the holidays to adopt a dog or cat.

“When someone comes in to adopt, they will fill out a profile,” Shari said. “If the animal needs to be altered, we will take a hold and they can pick it up once the surgery is done. If the family chooses to put the animal on hold to prepare things at home, we will hold the animal for 24 hours. We’ll accommodate and extend that during the holidays.”

WAIF doesn’t stop adoptions at Christmas time, but they do try to adopt out responsibly. “We take things on a case-by-case basis and recommend they put the animal on hold and pick it up after the holiday, Bibich said. “If a couple comes in looking for a pet and they plan a quiet Christmas with just the two of them, no hustle and bustle, we may go ahead and adopt out.” Just as we might return gifts that are not right for us, returning a pet is tough on both the animal and recipient.

“Most people like to pick out their own companions. A suggestion is to make up a clever certificate to sponsor an adoption for them. You can create a card or buy a stuffed animal to give on Christmas. Then after the holidays, when things have quieted down, the recipient can pick out a new pet and introduce him into the home,” she added.

Even in an established home, holidays make our cats and dogs jittery. “If people are set on adopting at this time of year, I suggest they adjust their holidays to accommodate the new arrival or wait until things get back to normal,” Shari said.

Surprise the prospective owner with an IOU stating you will pay the adoption fees, a most thoughtful gift and a doggone good idea.

No day off for cooks

I just had to ask, so I called local chef SCOTT FRASER of Fraser’s Gourmet Hideaway. “What are you cooking for Christmas dinner at home?” I asked.

“My wife JOSEE and I will be guests of her parents, MONIQUE and FRANK FRANSSEN,” said Scott. “I will cook the beefsteak and lobster, but it’s still a lot less work for me.

“I chose a chocolate pecan pie from NIBBLES which is really good,” he said, adding they love Washington State wines.

Speaking of NIBBLES, owners RUTH and RICK CULBERTSON say their son BRIAN and a few friends will get together. “All I want for Christmas is to be able to cook a meal in my new kitchen,” Ruth sighed. “It’s not finished yet, but it’s functional.”

Her menu is far from fancy and brings back memories of her father, a pastor. “Every Sunday, we’d run from this place to that and usually have potato soup and toasted tuna sandwiches. But my favorite meal is ham, mustard potato salad and roasted broccolini, dusted with salt and pepper and laced with olive oil.”

As I learned, Nibbles donated 90 apple, pumpkin and pecan pies and 12 sheet cakes in chocolate and carrot to the Community Harvest Thanksgiving Dinner. “It took my assistant Yumi three and a half days to get them prepared.”

Mayor-elect JIM SLOWIK and his wife CANDY will drive to Seattle and be guests at the home of daughter KRISTI LELAND and her husband STEVE, and their children, OLIVIA, 3, and NATE, 2.

“Our daughter AMBER and son JOE will also be there,” Candy added.

“We also plan to go to the home of our son TONY (an Oak Harbor Police Department officer) and his wife GINA with their children TRINITY, 5, and MARINA, 3. They will have us over for a Mexican dinner on Christmas Eve and Gina’s parents WAYNE and CARLA DOZIER will help Tina and Tony cook.”

DANA WHITNEY, a customer service representative at Whidbey Island Bank, will drive south to Clinton to be with her mother SANDY GRIMES. “On Christmas Eve, we’ll have lasagna and on Christmas Day, ham. I do all the baking, from peanut brittle to pumpkin tortes, chocolate chip cookies and a few surprises.”

At this busiest time of year, all Albertson’s manager BOB DRENNAN had time for was a two-word response: “Prime rib!” When he invited me to taste a sample cooked in their service deli, I was too weak to decline. My one-word response? “Magnifique!”

‘Classics’ evolve

Mezzo soprano UTE CHRISTIANE FREUND, flutist KIMBERLY BREILEIN, Seattle Opera mezzo soprano GAIL NEIL and pianist MARK SALMAN take their annual “Christmas with the Classics” to Edmonds on Sunday, Dec. 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the Edmonds Conference Center.

“Our continuing series is now called ‘A Holiday with the Classics,’” said Freund, “but three of the original Oak Harbor musicians (Freund, Breilein and Neil) are still on the bill. Our concerts have been sellouts in Oak Harbor and we were able to give generously to Oak Harbor charities.”

Proceeds of this concert will benefit MAX Foundation in Edmonds, serving the worldwide leukemia population. Call the ticket hotline at 425-672-7828.

In closing, two questions: Why do people wire Christmas wreaths to their vehicle grills and what is the fun family game played just on Christmas? Call me at 675-6611 or write to