Three Things Thursday

Once again it’s time for the blog challenge Three Things Thursday, the purpose of which is to “share three things from the previous week that made you smile or laugh or appreciate the awesome of your life.”

It’s Oddball Week in Tacoma

I had a couple of photos of unusual things to group together, but I needed a third. So I put out the word to my husband and my daughter. They came up with such good oddball things that this post features their work, two by my husband (#1 and #3) and one by my daughter (#2). My thanks to them.

And now I’m motivated to look around me for more examples of oddball things so that I can use this category for Three Things Thursday again some time.

1. Bicycle Art

The view of the water along Ruston Way here in Tacoma is beautiful. But to keep us from taking ourselves too seriously, there’s this piece of artwork:

bike01

The picture above supplies the context for why this looks so odd. Here’s a close-up that makes me wonder who got out there to put it up and how they did it:

bike02

2. Revolver Door Handles

My daughter found these door handles in a saloon in eastern Washington (OK, it’s not Tacoma, but it’s in our home state):

revolvers

3. Motorized Unicycle

One day while out riding his Elliptigo, which is itself an oddball thing, my husband spotted someone riding what appears to be a motorized unicycle:

Unicycle

I found something similar here.

Have you ever seen anything like this?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

These are real Irish shamrocks!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone who’s Irish, and to everyone who wishes they were.

Study Abroad: Dublin

This was a recent prompt from WordPress, Study Abroad:

If you were asked to spend a year living in a different location, where would you choose and why?

Since I haven’t done much international traveling, the first thought that came to mind when I read this prompt was Dublin. A year ago we took only our second trip out of the Unites States, to Ireland, and simply loved it. It was one of those whirlwind tours that took us to a different place every day or two. The purpose of such trips is to allow you to get your money’s worth by squeezing as many places as possible into a short time. But you don’t get to spend much time in any one place.

pints of Guinness
pints of Guinness

And so I’d like to go back to Dublin and soak in the local ambiance. The Dublin Writers Museum reminded me of just how rich Irish literary history is. But the real draw for me is that I still have as one item on my bucket list to read through James Joyce’s Ulysses, a copy of which I bought on last year’s trip. What better place to do that than in Dublin? And then I’d be able to participate in Bloomsday activities, following the path Leopold Bloom took while wandering around the city and thinking his thoughts. What could possibly be better than that (besides a few pints of Guinness and plates of Irish stew in a few local pubs)?

Irish stew
Irish stew

It might take me most of the year to get through Ulysses, but I hope I’d also have time to take a few side trips. I’d like to hop over to London for a while and check out the Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey and attend a play in the reconstructed Globe Theatre. And one other item high on my bucket list is to see Stonehenge. And of course there are all kinds of other literary places to visit, both in London (Baker Street, anyone?) and throughout England (Agatha Raisin’s Cotswolds, Thomas Hardy country, Jane Austen’s milieu, and those Wuthering Heights).

Now I’m sad that this is a purely hypothetical exercise. Dublin would be a great place to study abroad, both in its own right and as a jumping-off point for other adventures.

Three Things Thursday

Once again it’s time for the blog challenge Three Things Thursday, the purpose of which is to “share three things from the previous week that made you smile or laugh or appreciate the awesome of your life.”

three-things-thursday-participant

I usually find a theme for these Thursday posts, but nothing presented itself this week. So here are three random but awesome things about my life.

1. My Book Club

Back in St. Louis I participated in two book clubs for several years. When we moved to Tacoma, one of the first things I looked for (after the library, of course) was a book club. I asked at my local branch of the Tacoma Public Library and was shocked to find that the entire system had only one, which met at the downtown headquarters on a weekday night. Shortly thereafter I also applied for a Pierce County Library card and made the same inquiry. I attended one afternoon meeting at one of the branches and found that it wasn’t for me.

Finally, I found in the local newspaper an announcement about book clubs at King’s Books, a local independent store that sells new and used books. King’s offers a wide range of book clubs (as well as other book- and author-related events). I chose the Classics Book Club because I’ve reached a point in my life when I think I need to start filling in the gaps of my life-time reading.

Cover: Winesburg, Ohio
Winesburg, Ohio (1947 Modern Library edition)

I’ve been with this book club about a year now. I’ve enjoyed it and learned a lot. We’re small but strong. Last night six of us had an entertaining and informative discussion about Winesburg, Ohio (1919) by Sherwood Anderson.

We also got the list of upcoming books put together by our leader. Our definition of classic is something published 50 or more years ago. Over the next 12 months we’ll be reading these 13 works:

 

  • The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley (1919)
  • Cover Her Face by P.D. James (1962)
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (1847)
  • Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (1961)
  • The Mountains of California by John Muir (1894)
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney (1955)
  • The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula LeGuin (1969)
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (1958)
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams (1955)
  • The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman (1934)
  • The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (1905)
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (1963)
  • The Group by Mary McCarthy (1963)

2. Spring

The unseasonably warm weather we had a few weeks back has hurried spring along. The pink earliest blooming trees are beginning to lose their blooms, yellow daffodils are prolific (although they, too, are past their peak), and now these trees are in bloom:

blooming trees

Don’t you wish you were here on the street where I live?

3. Eagles Soaring

On a walk around the neighborhood this morning we saw two bald eagles soaring overhead. It’s hard to miss their white heads.

Tacoma Nature Center

Today was such a beautiful day in the neighborhood that we went for a walk with our daughter this afternoon at the Tacoma Nature Center. The Nature Center is a 71-acre nature preserve that includes Snake Lake and the surrounding wetlands and forest.

Snake Lake is a 17-acre lake and wetland area that is home to wood ducks, mallard ducks, and Canada geese. The entire Nature Center is home to more than 20 species of mammals and about 100 species of birds.

The Nature Center offers more than two miles of walking trails, which we took advantage of this afternoon. According to Run Keeper, we walked a little more than 1.6 miles today.

trails at The Nature Center
trails at The Nature Center

When we first arrived, we heard frogs croaking (probably Pacific tree frogs), but we never saw them. We also saw a pair of Canada geese swimming on the lake. We also saw the colorful male wood duck and several turtles on logs, but they were too far away to be photographed with a camera phone. But I did get a picture of this pair of mallard ducks:

mallard ducks
mallard ducks

As we were crossing one of the bridges over the lake, a couple of teenaged nature guides were showing a group of young children a clump of salamander eggs (the roundish blob in the center of the photo) just beneath the surface of the water:

salamander eggs
salamander eggs

Magnificent Mount Rainier was visible on this clear, sunny day:

Mount Rainier
Mount Rainier

My husband and daughter took me to an anthill that they discovered last summer:

large anthill
large anthill

There were some ants moving about, but on the walk back we saw several smaller but busier anthills. In this photo, the part that looks like dark mud is actually swarming ants:

ant swarm
ant swarm

And here’s a close-up of them:

close-up: ants
close-up: ants

Here are a couple of other forest sights:

holly berries
holly berries
fungus
the obligatory fungus photo

When we got back to the parking lot, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to photograph this lovely purple hyacinth:

purple hyacinth
purple hyacinth

Poverty Bay Wine Festival & Wally’s Chowder House

Yesterday we attended the Poverty Bay Wine Festival in Des Moines, WA, with our daughter, K., and her friend, D. This was the 11th year for the annual festival. K. and D. have attended for the past five or six years, but it was our second visit. The event was held at the newly remodeled Des Moines Beach Park Auditorium in Des Moines Beach Park.

This wine festival is the main fund-raising event of the year of the Des Moines-Normandy Park Rotary Club. The club donates 100% of the net profits to charitable projects, both local and international. International projects that benefit include the following:

  • Shelter Box disaster relief
  • Nepal ICU Clinic
  • Philippine Medical Clinic
  • Bio-Sand water filter project

And here are some—there are many more—of the local community projects that the Rotary Club’s wine festival supports:

  • Des Moines Food Bank
  • Des Moines Park and Recreation Youth Scholarships
  • Rotary First Harvest Food Program
  • high school and community college scholarships
  • dictionaries given to every third grader in Des Moines
  • middle school after-school program and essay contest

Twenty-two Washington wineries participated, most offering three wines for tasting. And for my husband, who prefers a good beer, a brewery from Kent, WA, had two microbrews available.

I must admit that my wine palate is not very sophisticated: I find a wine that I like, then I drink it. So you won’t find descriptions such as “offers a taste of blackberries, with overtones of lilac and vanilla” here. I did find four wines that I liked, and, since the proceeds go to so many good causes, we came away with a case, three bottles each of these four:

  • Waving Tree Winery’s Sweet Sangiovese Rose and Muscat Canelli
  • Finn Hill Winery’s Riesling and Semillon Ice Wine

(Thanks to my daughter for the use of her photo atop this post.)

After the wine festival we went for an early dinner to Wally’s Chowder House Broiler:

22531 Marine View Dr.
Des Moines, WA 98198
(206) 878–8140

Wally's Chowder House interior
Photo from Wally’s Chowder House web site.

When we got there, many people were already lined up outside. We had about a 40-minute wait, which I took as a good sign because it indicates that people like to eat there. Some people also came in to pick up to-go orders while we waited, another good sign. The restaurant is currently building an addition to increase its dining space, so maybe when we go back we won’t have to wait so long. (But even if we do, the wait is worth it.)

The food was good, and we definitely overate. Four of us shared an appetizer of steamed clams, then my husband and I had clam chowder along with one of the specials, a 9-ounce Maine lobster tail. Hubby and I also shared blackberry pie (although it was really more like cobbler, baked in a dish) with ice cream.

We came away happy. Wally’s Chowder House has ratings of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Yelp, Trip Advisor, Facebook, and Urban Spoon.

A Pronunciation Lesson

People like us, from the Midwest, know that the city in Iowa named Des Moines is pronounced deMOIN. However, folks do things a little differently here in the Pacific Northwest. The town of the same name here in Washington State is pronounced deMOINES, giving full credit to that final s.

Lunch at Pomodoro Italian Restaurant

This month’s Lunch Bunch trip took us to Pomodoro Italian Restaurant, located in Tacoma’s historic Proctor District:

3819 N. 26th, Tacoma, WA 98407
(253) 752–1111

Since we try to eat a low-carb diet, I wondered if I would find anything that allowed me to stick to my diet amongst all the pasta and pizza. I was glad to find several appealing salads on the lunch menu. I settled for this one, without the rice noodles:

Pomodoro Signature Salad

Spring mix greens tossed with baked chicken, Mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, gorgonzola, raspberry vinaigrette and topped with rice noodles

Several of my companions had the day’s luncheon special, prawns sauteed in garlic butter served over linguine, and praised it highly.

I also passed on dessert (humble brag), but the three other people with whom I shared a table had the spumoni. This received six thumbs up, plus a few more at adjoining tables. People said it was much richer and creamier than your usual spumoni.

The service was good. My only complaint about this restaurant is that, although small, it’s loud. The four of us at our table had trouble conversing across the table.

I’m looking forward to going back to Pomodoro. They have salted caramel cheesecake on the dessert menu. Since I was so good this time, I intend to splurge next time.

Some Artwork of Tacoma, WA

Once again it’s time for the blog challenge Three Things Thursday, the purpose of which is to “share three things from the previous week that made you smile or laugh or appreciate the awesome of your life.”

three-things-thursday-participant

Here’s some of the artwork around our new hometown of Tacoma, WA, USA.

Thanks again to my husband for providing the photos. And this week he also did most of the research as well. What a guy!

1. Sarah Bernhardt Statue

Sarah Bernhardt Statue, Tacoma, WA
Sarah Bernhardt Statue, Tacoma, WA

The famed Sarah Bernhardt performed in Camille at The Savoy Theater on May 10, 1906. The building that housed the former Savoy Theater is now known as the historic Passages Building, located at 708 Broadway, Tacoma.

2. Salmon Sculpture at Puget Gardens

Puget Creek Salmon Art
Puget Creek Salmon Art

This 7-foot fiberglass sculpture of a spawning coho salmon resides in Puget Gulch, just below Tacoma’s Puget Park. The sculpture was made by students from the Tacoma School of the Arts (SOTA) as part of a public art effort called Soul Salmon 2001.

The sculpture, worth about $10,000, gained some notoriety in 2005 when it was stolen and then found a few days later in the laundry room of a house. The owner of the house said he had gotten the sculpture in exchange for some old bicycle wheels.

3. Goddess of Commerce

Goddess of Commerce
Goddess of Commerce Statue, Tacoma, WA

This statue, a modern interpretation of one from the 1880s that stood on top of Tacoma’s Chamber of Commerce Building, was dedicated on August 31, 2011. The creation of sculptor Marilyn Mahoney, this statue stands in the city’s theater district, at the intersection of 6th and St. Helens avenues. It was facilitated by the non-profit Tacoma Historical Society. The original Goddess of Commerce statue was hauled to a scrap yard and melted down when the Chamber of Commerce Building was demolished in 1950.

Here’s the dedication plaque affixed to the new statue (click on image to see a larger view):

Plaque: The Goddess of Commerce Story
Plaque: The Goddess of Commerce Story

My Circle of Five Contains Six

The good folks at WordPress provide a daily prompt to give bloggers something to write about.

This recent one particularly spoke to me:

A writer once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” If this is true, which five people would you like to spend your time with?

To me, this means the same as “you are the company that you keep.” This prompt spoke to me because several years ago I decided that it was important for me to surround myself with only good people. More recently, the 2,100-mile relocation from St. Louis, MO, to Tacoma, WA, has allowed me to make friends deliberately and wisely.

But this topic especially appeals to me because it offers the possibility of a hypothetical circle that isn’t restricted to people who all existed in the same time and place or whom I actually knew. So I thought of the people I’d include in the three main areas of my life: love, friendship, and writing.

Love

  1. My Grandma, whose unconditional love of me taught me how powerful love can be. When I was a young child, she provided the love and stability that I desperately needed to maintain a sense of identity and worth. Even though she died nearly 40 years ago, I still think of her daily. What I remember most is her beautiful smile and the way she beamed whenever she saw me.
  2. My wonderful husband of almost 44 years, whose love and devotion remain steady. And yes, I do realize how extremely lucky I am to love and be loved by him. Sometimes I feel that he’s more than I deserve, but I plan to keep him anyway (I’m selfish like that).

Friendship

  1. My friend Anne, who died much too young (age 60) almost 14 years ago. She was a librarian who ran the book club at my local library, and that’s where I met her. She was intelligent and witty, and, like my Grandma, she had a beautiful smile. I thought I loved books, but she loved them even more, as became evident from all the work she put into selecting books for book club and preparing for meetings. I still think of her often.
  2. My friend Frayne, who also died much too young (age 54) 13 years ago. I also met her at a book club, at the local Borders store. She was kind and considerate, and she taught me how to hug and really mean it. I also think of her nearly every day.

These two women are still the touchstone that defines friendship for me.

Writing

Here’s where the hypothetical part of my circle comes in.

  1. Emily Dickinson. I’m not a poet (not really, despite my recent participation in the Writing 201: Poetry class), but I love the way Emily Dickinson so succinctly and seemingly easily uses imagery to convey some of life’s most profound secrets. I wish I could think so concretely and so universally at the same time. Sometimes when I read one of her poems and catch the depth of meaning, my breath sticks in my chest. I’d love to have a mind that can write like that.
  2. Anne Tyler. I like lots of authors’ works, but I particularly like Anne Tyler for her ability to capture and celebrate the quirkiness of human existence in well-drawn characters. I love how she can make the ordinary seem so extraordinary.

I tried hard, but I can’t decide which one of these six people to banish in order to comply with the prompt. So the prompt will just have to comply with me. Six people it is, and fine specimens they all are.

What about you? Whom would you include in your circle of five (or six)?

Blog a Day Challenge: February Report

January was all about convincing myself that I could indeed find something to write about and produce a blog post every day.

In February I turned my gaze outward and looked at other blogs and bloggers instead of just my blog/myself as blogger. I found a number of blogs that I learned a lot from. I also began reading more articles online about how and why to blog.

Here are my stats for February:

Number of posts written: 31

Shortest post: 215

Longest post: 1,880

Total words written: 20, 455

Average post length: 660

Distribution of posts across my three blogs:

The total of posts here may not equal the number of posts written last month because I occasionally publish the same post on more than one blog. However, I have included each post only once in my total word count.

What I Learned in February

  • Despite February’s being three days shorter than January, I wrote the same number of posts, 31, this month as last. However, my total word count in February was 1,340 more than in January. My average post length went up, from 617 in January to 660 in February. And my longest post in February was 520 words longer than its counterpart in January.
  • One thing I was surprised to learn in my reading about blogging is that some people advocate writing posts longer than the 500–750 words I had long ago read was the optimal post length. So instead of trying to limit myself to 500–750 words, I tried to write longer rather than shorter in February. In January I wrote only four posts of 1,000 words or longer, whereas in February I wrote six posts of 1,000 words or more. But I’m still not convinced that more than 1,000 words is an optimal post length. I’m more comfortable with posts of about 800 words. Although there will inevitably be shorter posts, I’m going to work on writing more posts of about 800 words from now on. And I’m going to think of posts of more than 1,000 words as occasional occurrences, when the subject warrants, rather than as ideals to aim for.

Last month’s featured posts:

1. An Ode to My Bracelet, in Memory of Frayne

Over the last two weeks of February I participated in the WordPress Writing 201: Poetry course. I learned a heck of a lot, even though grinding out a poem that fulfilled three specified criteria didn’t always produce top-quality results. But I’m happy enough with this one to share it.

2. What Your Favorite Books Tell You About Your Writing

Most writers are also avid readers, because the only way to learn about good writing is to read a lot of writing by others. This exercise helps writers to discover what their own areas of passion are by analyzing the books that appeal to them the most. I found it an invaluable discovery.

What advice do you have for me about blogging? I’d especially like to hear your thoughts on the best length for a post.