A month ago I called Island Books, a vibrant bookstore on Mercer Island, about the possibility of their selling I Remember Fishing with Dad and even a book signing. But I had not heard back and assumed that that was a closed door.

Until yesterday. I was having coffee with Nancy Axell at her apartment on Mercer Island and she shared with me that Island Books is interested and will take a serious look at IRFWD.

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Here is that story.

In 1992-1993 I did a ministry internship at Camano Chapel on Camano Island. Jenny and I wanted to take a year to slow down and work on our marriage (we were married on June 20th, 92) before moving back to Chicago and finishing my seminary studies.

During that year I took a watercolor class that was offered at the Senior Center on Camano through Skagit Valley College’s extension program. Soon after I joined the class, the instructor left. I was asked to serve as the adjunct teacher.

Nancy Axell, who is a very gifted watercolor painter was a member of the class. Though she should have been the teacher, Nancy humbly received my instruction and we became friends.

Jenny and I moved back to Chicago to finish seminary in June 1993 and that was the last time that I saw Nancy. Until last Saturday.

Nancy stopped by Sunnyshore Studio during the Studio Tour.

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I immediately recognized her (she hasn’t really aged at all) and we hugged and took a few minutes to catch up. I learned that she lives on Mercer Island. I shared with her that we now live in Redmond. Nancy said that I would have to stop by her apartment and visit.

That’s how yesterday I sat having coffee in Nancy’s apartment.

I enjoyed a tour of the art on her walls, including many of Nancy’s beautiful watercolors.

She showed me one of her “steals” – a Tom Jones print that she had found at Goodwill and hopes to have framed.

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I also learned more of the history of the Northwest Watercolor Society (NWWS) – which Nancy as well as my dad had been a president of. She shared with me about their 75th year “Diamond” celebration.

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And showed me the book that she had worked for that celebration. Among other interesting things, I learned that at one time 5 past presidents of the NWWS lived on Camano Island.

It was fascinating to learn more about the history of NWWS from Nancy. I was inspired by her commitment to the arts, including her advocacy for great art to be displayed at the senior community in which she lives. Nancy currently chairs the committee of the arts organization of the senior community in which she lives and curates a gallery for them. We toured that gallery.

At the Camano Studio tour Nancy had purchased a copy of I Remember Fishing with Dad. As I drank my coffee she shared how (on her own initiative) she had called Island Books. She had found out that they had received the information I had sent about the book but because I didn’t have a connection to “the island” they didn’t think it would be a good fit. Nancy had said that she HIGHLY recommended the book, that I was a local author and artist, etc. In short, she advocated for me. Leslie, the Island Book representative said that in light of Nancy’s recommendation there WAS now a connection to the Island – Nancy has lived there for 30+ years and is a well loved and in influential community member – and that they would put the book in the “urgent folder” and would like to see the book and meet with me.

So it was through Nancy, a dear old friend, that the door opened for me to share IRFWD with Island Books. .

Much more importantly, that is how I reconnected with a dear old friend and through her will get connected to the NWWS which has such a rich history and such wonderful network of artists.

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