Cliff House Restaurant

Val DayMy husband F. and I often try to celebrate Valentine’s Day a day early to avoid the restaurant rush. This year F. made a lunch reservation at the Cliff House in Northeast Tacoma:

6300 Marine View Dr, Tacoma, WA 98422
(253) 927–0400

According to the restaurant’s web site, “Since 1925 the Cliff House has been a landmark in the Pacific Northwest.” The Cliff House sits high on a bluff overlooking Commencement Bay and offers lovely views of Mount Rainier, Puget Sound, and the skyline of downtown Tacoma.

One of our neighbors, a native Tacoman, told us that a few years ago the restaurant got quite run down, then was closed for a while before finally reopening with its current decor. This article of March 23, 2012, from our local Tacoma paper, The News Tribune, explains the problems and hails the current decor and food. In another article dated March 31, 2012, the same reviewer goes into more detail about the menu: “The food is precisely what you’d expect from a restaurant with a legacy as the go-to restaurant for celebrations for every generation.”

Like The News Tribune reviewer, we enjoyed the “this-is-why-we-live-here views” from the Cliff House’s upstairs dining room. Here’s the view of Mount Rainier we saw from our table, with Tacoma’s industrial waterfront in the foreground:

Cliff House mtn view

F. and I shared an appetizer of steamed clams, always one of our favorites. We both ordered the grilled salmon, which came with a cucumber-dill yogurt topping that contained small half-slices of cucumber. The salmon was grilled just right: cooked through but not dried out. The whole meal was delicious.

I didn’t discover the historic photos depicting Tacoma’s past until I went to the restroom after lunch. As a newcomer to Tacoma, I always love seeing such old photos to learn about the city’s history. F. and I were both particularly interested in a photo showing people boarding the ferry in Point Defiance Park, since we live very close to the park and often walk past the ferry landing.

An added benefit of this Valentine lunch trip is that it took me closer to the Port of Tacoma than I had ever been. It’s an impressive sight, but I wasn’t able to get any photos because there isn’t any good place to pull over along the road. We were, however, able to get this shot of logs being floated to one of the local lumber yards:

logs

Logs are ubiquitous here in the Pacific Northwest. Another fact I noticed on the drive to the Cliff House that I wasn’t able to document photographically is how logs get stacked. I guess I just noticed this because driving by a stack of logs allowed me to see the stack from the end rather than from the side, looking at the length of the log. The end of the stack clearly reveals that a few rows of the larger end alternate with a few rows of the smaller end. The result is that the stack lies relatively flat. It had never occurred to me to wonder about that before.

In addition to logs, boats are also all over the place around Puget Sound, such as in this marina visible from the Cliff House parking lot:

marina

My wonderful husband earns 5 Valentine hearts out of a possible 5 for arranging this Valentine luncheon trip.

3 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.”

There’s some awesome art work on public display in our neighborhood. Here are three examples.

1. Antique Sandwich Co.

Antique Sandwich Co

One of the most interesting places nearby is the Antique Sandwich Co., founded as a family business in 1973.

5102 N Pearl St, Tacoma, WA 98407
(253) 752–4069

The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and offers a varied menu that includes granola, cinnamon rolls, sandwiches, soups, lasagna, quiche, pies, cakes, and a big selection of teas and coffees. They also host frequent musical performances.

The mural pictured here graces the N. 51st Street side of the shop’s antique building.

2. Don’s Ruston Market

Don's

Just a few blocks down N. 51st Street from the Antique Sandwich Co. is Don’s Ruston Market and Deli.

5102 N Winnifred St, Ruston, WA 98407
(253) 759–8151

Don’s has graced its corner in the little city of Ruston for more than 30 years. It offers seasonal kayak rentals, but its main attraction is the antique soda fountain that features a lengthy list of milkshakes and sodas. For more information, check out this article from our local Tacoma newspaper, The News Tribune.

This photo shows the decorative mural on the N. 51st Street side of the store. The mural is actually much bigger (it extends further off the left side of the photo), but I couldn’t get the whole thing because a van was parked on the street.

3. Octopus on The Waterwalk at Point Ruston

octopus

About three steep blocks down N. 51st Street from Don’s Ruston Market is the new development of Point Ruston, currently under construction. When finished, the development will include apartments, condos, restaurants, retail shops, and a movie theater.

5005 Ruston Way, Tacoma, WA 98407
(253) 759–6400

The Waterwalk is a park that stretches along the edge of Commencement Bay at Point Ruston and eventually connects to a walkway into nearby Point Defiance Park. This octopus graces an entrance into the park off Ruston Way. There are other art spots along the walkway featuring fish, jellyfish, and squids. I photographed the octopus because the Giant Pacific Octopus, prolific in this area, is one of my favorite animals.

Lunch Bunch: Adriatic Grill

Today’s Lunch Bunch destination was:

Adriatic Grill
Italian Cuisine & Wine Bar

4201 South Steele Street
Tacoma, WA 98409
253–475–6000

Awards

KING 5 Best of Western Washington

  • Winner: Best Mediterranean Restaurant (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)
  • Winner: Best Italian Restaurant (2013)

Best of the South Sound

  • Winner: Best Chef Bill Trudnowski (2011, 2012, 2013)
  • Winner, Best Italian Restaurant (2012, 2013, 2014)

Ratings

The restaurant has a 4+-star rating on the following sites:

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The cream of mushroom soup at this restaurant is the best I’ve ever had. (For more on the mushroom soup, see this article from our local Tacoma newspaper, The News Tribune.) I started with a cup of the soup, then followed with their clam linguine. The white clam sauce I’m used to contains cream. I could tell from the menu description that this one did not use cream, but I went for it anyway. And I’m glad I did! It was a garlic broth that was absolutely delicious.

There were 14 people in our group. A couple of people said they were a bit disappointed because the food they got wasn’t what they expected. But everyone else seemed pleased. M. said, “I like what I had so much that I can’t wait to come back and order the same thing again.”

And what was the menu item that got such a high endorsement? The prawns over spaghetti squash. Kudos to the chef for offering a non-carb alternative to pasta. (I thought about asking for the clam sauce over spaghetti squash instead of the traditional pasta but in the end decided to go traditional.)

We had good service at this local, family-owned restaurant. I highly recommend it. And don’t forget to try the cream of mushroom soup.

Blog a Day Challenge: January Report

I admit that when I set this challenge up for myself near the end of December, I did so with trepidation:

  • Would I be able to find something to write about EVERY SINGLE DAY?
  • Would I be able to do all the research necessary for each post during a single day?
  • Would I be able to find enough overlap between the three areas of my current life (reading, writing, retirement) to make all three areas interesting?
  • Would I neglect other areas of my life in order to get a post written and published every day?

I did manage to write a post a day for the first month. Here’s what I’ve learned from the challenge so far:

  • It was easy to find topics to write about once I began paying attention to what goes on in the world around me.
  • Not every post needs to be a research project. (Since I tend to approach everything new that I come across as a research project requiring a lot of background investigation, this lesson was perhaps the most difficult but important one for me to learn.)
  • The various areas of my life do cross-pollinate each other once I begin to think that way.
  • So far I have not felt that I am neglecting any important parts of my life, probably because I’ve made an effort not to compartmentalize the several aspects of my life but rather to see them as complementary parts of a whole.

One challenge I still have to face is how I’ll keep up with writing and posting when we travel.

But overall, I’ve found this first month of the blog post a day challenge in 2015 to be enlightening and rewarding.

Here are my January stats:

Number of posts written: 31

Shortest post: 55 words

Longest post: 1,360 words

Total words written: 19,115

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.

Last month’s featured posts:

1. 8 Lessons College Bowl Season Teaches About Writing

I’m featuring this post because it resulted from the first time I saw how something in one area of my life (personal experience) applied to another part of my life (my writing). I see posts like this all over the internet and often find them interesting, but in the past I just didn’t think this way. But this one appeared out of nowhere while I was watching college football, an example of how synchronicity happens once you open yourself to the possibility of it.

2. Flow

I’m featuring this post because it’s my first attempt at defining a technical term for a general audience on my blog.

I’d appreciate it if you’d take a look at this post and then leave a comment telling me whether you think I’ve succeeded.

“If you don’t like the weather. . .”

I grew up in Connecticut, where I often heard the old Yankee saying “If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a minute and it will change.”

When we moved to St. Louis, MO, right after getting married, we didn’t initially have a car. I had to take a couple of different buses to get to work. On my first day of transferring from one bus to another, I asked an older woman at the bus stop if I was in the right place to get the bus I needed. She told me yes, I was. Then she asked me if I was new in the area, and we began to chat. Out of the blue she said, “One thing about St. Louis weather: If you don’t like it, just wait a minute and it will change.”

Now we’ve retired to the Pacific Northwest, and guess what people say about the weather here. Yes, “if you don’t like it, just wait a minute and it will change.” But this time people are right.

I arrived in Tacoma, after a week on the road from St. Louis, the night before I was scheduled to move into my cottage at the retirement community. I stayed at a nearby hotel that night. When I arrived at my cottage at 10:00 the following morning, it was pouring heavily. I was thankful that I had an attached garage to keep me dry as I unpacked my loaded-down little hybrid car. By 11:00 I had all the boxes out of the car and placed in the appropriate rooms (though not unpacked). I was ready to head off to Costco, Target, and Safeway for additional necessities such as food, a coffee maker, a vacuum cleaner, and kitchen storage containers. And when I left to run my errands, the weather was beautiful: a sunny, clear, warm spring day. What a difference an hour had made.

After about a year and a half here, I’m still getting used to this changeable weather. In St. Louis the hottest part of a summer day was usually from noon until about 2:00 or 3:00. After that the temperature would usually begin to go down at least a bit. But here in Tacoma the hottest part of a typical summer day is from 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon until sundown. In the winter we do get quite a bit of rain here. (Have you ever noticed that when a movie or television show is set in Seattle, the indicator of the setting is always rain?) But even in winter a day often starts off with drizzle and fog that gives way to sun, or at least less rain, by mid-morning or early afternoon.

In fact, I find the weather here one of the attractions of the Pacific Northwest. I know that if I don’t like it at any given moment, all I have to do is wait a minute and it will change.

ML King Day at WA State History Museum

Yesterday we attended a panel discussion called Diversity and Changemaking in Children’s Literature in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day at the Washington State History Museum in downtown Tacoma. Here’s a summary of the panelists and their messages.

Belinda Louie, Ph.D.
Dr. Louie is a professor of education at the University of Washington Tacoma. She immigrated to the United States from China to attend college. ( See her website ). In her presentation she stressed two points:

  • Authenticity.  She exhibited two books that present the same Chinese fairy tale. One of the books she bought in China. The other was published in the West. She pointed out that the illustrations in the two books are very different, with the Western version picturing a Chinese woman in a way that would not appear in China. She made the point that when looking at books aimed at diversity, it is important that the books depict the authentic experiences and beliefs of the culture represented.
  • Empathy.  Books that present the experience of people of diverse cultural backgrounds help children develop empathy. As an example she offered Black Misery (1969) by Langston Hughes.

Sundee T. Frazier
Frazier is an award-winning novelist of books for young people. All of her books feature biracial main characters. She stressed that seeing a main character in a book who is like them is a validation of children’s right to exist in the world. All children deserve this experience, she said, and she hopes her books show that being from a biracial or interracial family is normal. ( See her website ).

Richard Jesse Watson
Artist Richard Jesse Watson is a best-selling children’s book author and illustrator. His work was featured in a recent solo exhibition at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art and is also on display at the Washington State History Museum. In his illustrations especially he aims to present people from all over the world. ( See his website ).

Laurie Ann Thompson
Thompson’s books aim to inspire and empower young readers. Her first book, Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters, is a guide for teens who want to change the world. Another book, Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, is a picture book about a young man from Ghana who changed his country’s perception of people with disabilities. ( See her website ).

Lois Brandt
It took Brandt 10 years to find a publisher for Maddi’s Fridge, her children’s book about friendship, promises, and childhood hunger. No one wanted to publish a book about childhood hunger, she said. The book is based on Brandt’s personal experience of visiting a friend whose refrigerator was as empty as a display refrigerator in an appliance store. ( See her website ).

Carmen Bernier-Grand
Bernier-Grand is a native of Puerto Rico. She said that she was surprised when a publisher asked her to write a children’s book about César Chavez because she was not Mexican. Apparently the publisher thought that anyone who spoke Spanish could write the book. She took on the challenge and immersed herself in the life and culture of her subject. She has since written several more children’s biographies of Latino artists and changemakers. She is a professor of creative writing for children at the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts on Whidbey Island. ( See her website ).

Jesse Joshua Watson
Jesse, the son of Richard Jesse Watson, is an artist whose passion is portraying the diversity of people from all over the world. He said that he loves expressing both the differences and the similarities among people in his illustrations. ( See his website ).

Kathleen (Katie) Monks
Monks is head of instruction services at the University of Washington Taooma. She manages the children’s book collection at the university’s Tioga Library. The collection was begun with the donation by Professor Belinda Louie of her children’s books. The children’s and YA (Young Adult) collection now holds more than 8,200 books.

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Another source of information about the need for diversity in children’s literature is We Need Diverse Books:

We Need Diverse Books is a grassroots organization created to address the lack of diverse, non-majority narratives in children’s literature. We Need Diverse Books is committed to the ideal that embracing diversity will lead to acceptance, empathy, and ultimately equality.

The organization also has a Twitter page and a hashtag: #WeNeedDiverseBooks.

Three Things Thursday

Although so far in my challenge to write a blog post a day this year I haven’t had a problem finding things to write about, last weekend I went looking for a couple of blog challenges to participate in. Participating in these challenges will not only give me something to fall back on when I’m short on either ideas or time, but should also add a bit of variety to the kinds of posts you’ll see here.

This week I’m digging into the blog challenge Three Things Thursday, courtesy of Nerd in the Brain. The purpose of this challenge 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

So here goes!

1. Last weekend we finally made it to the movie theater to see the third (and final, thank goodness) installment of The Hobbit. I saw this bumper sticker in the parking lot:

Hillary

And I was reminded that, since we’ve now had our first Black U.S. President, it’s time to start thinking again about a female President.

2. No, this is not a full moon over Stonehenge. It’s the sun trying to pierce the fog of a January morning here in Tacoma, Washington, USA.

fog sun

3. While at the movies (see #1) we saw trailers for upcoming new additions to both the Terminator and Jurassic Park_ franchises. I’m not exactly sure what I think about this, but I find it interesting that movie studios apparently think it worthwhile to resurrect these concepts for a new generation. Will there truly be new takes on the underlying ideas of these films, or will the success of the new movies rest on the fact that special effects are so much more advanced now than they were when the original movies were made?