Three Things Thursday

Another week, another entry for 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 Approaches to Travel

My husband and I have just begun a two-week Viking River Cruise through Europe. Since coming on board we have encountered people who exhibit three different approaches to travel.

1. Travel as Conspicuous Consumption

We met one woman, B., who said this is their fourth cruise this year. And when we disembark in Amsterdam, she and her husband will be staying there for four days before flying to some other city to pick up their next cruise. (I wonder how, where, and when she does laundry.)

When I asked if she had any advice for us less experienced travelers, she answered without any hesitation, “Get a suite.”

2. Travel as Opportunity for Self-Aggrandizement

There’s at least one couple like this in every crowd. The second night at dinner a woman came over to me at the dinner table, leaned down and put her face right next to mine, stuck out her hand, and said, “Hi, I’m S.” She then pointed out her husband, B. They both immediately began talking quite loudly about what they do and where they’re from. They overwhelmed everyone else at the table. These are the people who always have to have the last word: the best story, the funniest joke.

And of course they know everything about everything. After we had toured a Benedictine Abbey in Melk, Austria, that was built in the 16th century, B. sat across the aisle from me on the return bus ride. Here’s what he said to the person sitting next to him:

That was really something. Five-hundred years ago, when they were building this abbey, American Indians were still digging arrowheads out of the dirt. And in Africa they didn’t even have language yet. But look at what these Europeans were doing.

I swear I am not making this up.

3. Travel as Learning Opportunity

Fortunately we met many more of this variety of traveler than of the previous two. There was D., whose mother was an immigrant to the United States. He talked about how traveling in Europe was giving him insight into how his mother thought and why she was such a staunch supporter of the U.S. There was B. and another B., who both talked of how the 60 pairs of iron shoes along the riverwalk in Budapest, a tribute to the 60 Jews who were shot into the Danube River near the end of World War II, had moved them to tears.

The boat’s dining room was open seating, and these were the people we sought out during meals. I learned a lot on this trip, not only by seeing things for myself but also by talking with other people who were eager to discuss what they were learning as well.

Three Things Thursday

I’m particularly excited about this week’s 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.”


A Walk on the Beach

This week I had the opportunity to spend a few days at Ocean Shores, a city on Washington State’s northern Pacific Coast. I love going to a place where I can watch the waves roll in. It comforts me to know that, no matter what happens anywhere else, the waves will continue to roll in, always.

1. Water on My Toes

We don’t swim in the ocean up here. The water is much too cold. But it’s not a true trip to the beach unless I get to feel the surf wash over my toes:

wave rolling in
wave rolling in

The brochure in the hotel warns that, if we do wade into the ocean, we should not let the water get above our knees. The word riptide appears in the same paragraph. But enough cold water to just wash over my toes is sublime.

2. Razor Clams

Ocean Shores calls itself the razor clam capital of the Northwest:

razor clar
razor clam

In fact, the city hosts an annual Razor Clam Festival. Razor clams are much different than the more oval clams you’re probably used to. They are longer, and fry up well. They are much chewier than the smaller clams. But, like smaller varieties of clams, they cook up into a delicious chowder. Be sure to look for New England, or Boston, clam chowder, which is white and made with cream. Don’t be fooled by Manhattan clam chowder, which is made with a tomato base and is therefore red. It’s nowhere near as good as the white kind.

3. Nature’s Cycle of Life

There’s nowhere like a beach to get in touch with the natural cycle of life. Shells—crabs, clams, sand dollars—that wash up on shore remind us that organisms live out their lives in their native habitat and then disintegrate to nourish the land. This week, for the first time, I saw a dead sea otter on the beach:

dead sea otter on beach
dead sea otter on beach

He had apparently washed up at high tide, because he was way above the water line when I saw him.

I saw him again the next day, and he was covered with a thin coating of mud, as if high tide had washed over him and then retreated. There were only a few flies on him, probably because he was so well coated, but eventually he, too, will dissolve back into nature.

Three Things Thursday

I love the weekly 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.” This challenge makes me pay attention to my world in the search to document the awesomeness of my life.

1. An Introduction to Your Colon

Last week we visited the Pacific Science Center in Seattle to see Pompeii: The Exhibition. The Pacific Science Center focuses on educating children, and one of their approaches is Grossology, which heightens the yuckiness quotient to get kids to learn about how their bodies work.

Part of the Grossology approach is a set of Grossology restrooms. Here, courtesy of the women’s Grossology restroom, is an introduction to how the human colon works:

diagram of the colon
Photographed at Pacific Science Center

Gross! Yucky! Great!

2. In a Galaxy Not so Far Away…

When we came out of Costco last weekend, the characters from Star Wars were participating in a fund raiser for the Children’s Miracle Network. I didn’t notice them until we were well across the parking lot. I snapped this quick shot:

Star Wars characters

I particularly enjoyed seeing the Sand Person, who doesn’t usually get as much publicity as the major characters.

3. Want to Go Parasailing?

The return of warm weather this past week brought with it the return of parasailing to beautiful Ruston Way along Commencement Bay.


Thanks to my husband for this gorgeous photo.

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.”


Also once again, thanks to my husband for #1 and #2.

1. A Heron’s Lunch

My husband came upon this great blue heron just as he (the heron, not my husband) found his lunch.

Great Blue Heron

I love these large, magnificent birds, even when they’re not flying.

2. Peacock Mating Season

This proud guy was in full strut one afternoon when my husband dropped in at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.


His feathers appear rather thin and wispy. Is he sick? Or will his feathers fill out more as mating season advances?

3. Out of the Frying Pan…

We moved from St. Louis, MO—land of tornadoes, flash floods, and even the occasional earthquake—to Tacoma, WA—land of rain, the occasional earthquake, and the possibility of a volcanic eruption.

Version 2

Mysterious and majestic Mount Rainier, which I love so much and which you’ll see photographs of all over this blog (just look at the sidebar on the left), is an active volcano that, sooner or later, will blow its top.

I’ll have more to say about this in the next week or so. In the meantime, I choose to view this sign with some amusement rather than fear. But if the worst-case scenario comes to pass in the next 20–30 years, I’ll be very glad to have these directive signs about.

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.”

1. Little Free Library

I had heard about and seen photos of little free libraries on Facebook and other social media and news sites, but I had never seen one in the wild until last Saturday.

little free library

This little gem is outside an insurance company office in Puyallup, WA.

The Little Free Library movement was started in Wisconsin by Todd Bol and Rick Brooks in 2009. Its mission is two-fold:

  • To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide.
  • To build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.

Its goal is “To build 2,510 Little Free Libraries—as many as Andrew Carnegie.”

This goal was reached in August of 2012, a year and a half before our original target date. By January of 2015, the total number of registered Little Free Libraries in the world was conservatively estimated to be nearly 25,000, with thousands more being built.

The philosophy behind little free libraries is “Take a book. Return a book.” In other words, for every book you take, you should put one book back. The aim of the process is to promote not only general literacy, but also neighborhood community. These libraries are run on the honor system by community members, for each other.

Check the Little Free Library web site for information on how to establish and maintain one in your neighborhood.

2. West Coastin’

Since retiring from St. Louis, MO, to Tacoma, WA, my husband and I have been enjoying what we think of as West Coasting. So I was delighted to see a little guy wearing this T-shirt:

"West Coastin'" shirt

3. Easy Passage

We took this photo from our car on a 2009 visit to Tacoma. The tree was on a road leading to the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

willow tree trimmed over street
Photographed in 2009

We ended up living just around the corner from this tree. When I arrived at my new home in April 2013, I was disappointed not to see this tree. Sometimes on our walks we stand near its stump and fondly remember how much it amused us when we first spotted it.

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 Emblematic of Tacoma


representing something (such as an idea, state, or emotion) that cannot be seen by itself.


I’ve been in my new hometown of Tacoma, WA, for two years now and still enjoy exploring the city and learning about new aspects of it. Today I feature three things that are emblematic of Tacoma.

1. Museum of Glass

museum of glass

Museum of Glass
1801 Dock St, Tacoma, WA 98402
(253) 284–4750

the Museum’s stainless steel cone serves as a beacon to a stunning contemporary art museum as well as a symbol for the restoration of a waterway and the revitalization of a city.

The idea for the Museum of Glass arose in August of 1992 from a conversation between Phil Phibbs, who had recently retired as president of the University of Puget Sound, and Dale Chihuly, a world-renown glass artist who had grown up near and attended the university.

A few weeks later Dr. Phibbs brought his idea for a glass museum to the Executive Council for a Greater Tacoma, a group of business and governmental leaders. He was invited to stay for the next presentation, a plan for redevelopment of the Thea Foss Waterway, a strip of empty industrial land next to a body of polluted water in downtown Tacoma. The Council agreed that the proposed glass museum would be an appropriate anchor tenant for the proposed redevelopment.

“In September 1997, Canadian architect Arthur Erickson unveiled the Museum’s design concept, which included an iconic, tilted cone.” Construction began in June of 2000, and the Museum of Glass, with its adjoining Chihuly Bridge of Glass, opened on July 6, 2002. The museum features work of glass artists from all over the world.

Located within the 90-foot tall steel cone, the Hot Shop Amphitheater allows visitors to watch as artists create art pieces from molten glass. The museum features displays in its indoor galleries, art installations on its outdoor plazas, and an extensive  list of educational programs.

2. Tacoma Dome

Tacoma Dome

Tacoma Dome
2727 E D St, Tacoma, WA 98421
(253) 272–3663

The Tacoma Dome, owned and operated by the City of Tacoma, is the largest arena in the world with a wooden dome. Construction began on July 1, 1981, and the Dome opened on April 21, 1983. It is 530 feet (160 m) in diameter and 152 feet (46 m) tall, and can seat up to 23,000. Most of the arena’s seating is not fixed, so that the space can be configured for many different types of events. It’s not unusual to see bleachers standing in the parking lot when driving by the Dome on I 5

The Tacoma Dome’s roof was built with 1.6 million board feet and weighs 1,444,000 pounds. 24,541,382 cubic feet of concrete was used in the construction of the Tacoma Dome. This is enough to build a sidewalk 70 miles long. The Tacoma Dome is 530 feet in diameter and 152 feet tall.

The Tacoma Dome’s aluminum super-grid is one of the world’s largest at 384’ x 160‘. The total cable length is approximately 47,661’ or just over nine miles. There are over 275 support points on the Dome and the grid includes an estimated 2.5 miles of welding.

The Tacoma Dome hosted the 1990 Goodwill Games, the 1988 and 1989 NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four, and the 1987 United States Figure Skating Championships. The Seattle Sonics National Basketball Association team held its home games of the 1994–1995 season during renovation of Key Arena in Seattle.

Throughout the year the Tacoma Dome hosts many kinds of civic events and gatherings, including music concerts, trade shows, fairs, sporting events, and local high school and college graduations.

3. Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier
Mount Rainier photographed on Jan. 25, 2015

Mount Rainier National Park

I’ve saved the best for last. You’ll see a lot of different photos of Mount Rainier on this blog because I love it so much.

The mountain is about 70 miles southeast of Tacoma, but on a clear day it looks as if you could reach out and touch it. The mountain is so emblematic of Tacoma that a lot of companies use it in their logo. See, for example, Tacoma’s local daily newspaper, The News Tribune.

Mount Rainier reaches 14,410 feet above sea level.

An active volcano, Mount Rainier is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S.A., spawning six major rivers. Subalpine wildflower meadows ring the icy volcano while ancient forest cloaks Mount Rainier’s lower slopes. Wildlife abounds in the park’s ecosystems.

The National Park Service website offers lots of information about both the animals and the vegetation surrounding Mount Rainier. It even has webcams. The park is open all year, although much of it is inaccessible to traffic during the winter (which usually starts early and ends late). Be sure to check the website for weather conditions, including the need for tire chains, when planning your visit.

Between 1.5 and 2 million people visit Mount Rainier National Park every year. We in Tacoma are lucky enough to be able to see the mountain frequently throughout the year.

Three Things Thursday

Last Friday morning I realized that I had not done a post for 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.” I don’t know how I forgot to do it, since it’s one of the things I most look forward to in my week.

However, I’m back this week with…

A Walk Through the Woods

We live within walking distance of the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. All we have to do to get there is cross a road and walk a short path through the woods, and there we are, on the edge of the parking lot and about a block from the zoo entrance.

Last Saturday was a beautiful day here in Tacoma, WA, USA, and so we took off for a visit to the zoo. We saw lots of interesting things there, both animals and plants, but what I’d like to show you this week is three interesting things I noticed while walking the path through the woods.

1. Fiddleheads

fern fiddleheads
Fern fiddleheads

I think these are sword ferns. You can see why the new fronds growing out of the center of the plant are called fiddleheads.

In the Stephen King novel The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, a young girl gets lost on the northern end of the Appalachian Trail and wanders through the forest for several days. One of the things she eats to survive is fiddleheads.

But I don’t suggest that you go out and get some of these to boil up for dinner. Check with a local naturalist before consuming anything you find growing in the wild. Better still, just don’t eat anything you’re not absolutely sure about.

2. Two Trees

two trees
Two trees

The tree on the left, with the shaggy bark, is an evergreen, most likely a Douglas fir. It grows straight and tall, with spindly branches at the top that drape down. The tree on the right is a madrona—or, alternately, madrone—which often grows at an angle to reach any open space of sunlight beneath the evergreen canopy. Madronas are all angles and elbows as they send out lots of branches in search of sunlight. They are much shorter than their evergreen neighbors.

Perhaps these differences are what allowed these two trees to snuggle up so closely while growing. Douglas fir and madronas often grow near each other.

Madronas grow along a limited stretch of the Pacific coast, from northern Oregon up to southern British Columbia. They are easily recognizable by their brownish-red bark that peels off in thin sheets.

3. Hemlock? Cedar?

unknown tree
Do you know what this tree is?

I’m still trying to figure out what tree this is. I will have to go back and look at the bark more closely.

When we touched the brownish areas on the leaves, a very fine brown dust wafted off. The bluish berries near the ends of the leaves resemble those of cedar trees.

If you know what tree this is, please let me know in the comments. It grows in Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, WA, USA.


Cover: Plants of the Pacific Northwest CoastPolar, Jim and Andy MacKinnon. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon British Columbia, & Alaska
Revised edition, 2004
Vancouver, British Columbia: Lone Pine Publishing
ISBN 978–1–55105–530–5

Three Things Thursday: Headgear at the Women’s Final Four

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.”


Headgear at the Women’s Final Four

I’ve written about our visit to Tampa for the Women’s Final Four college basketball championship.

One of the things I love so much about this experience is seeing how creative some of the fans get with their clothing. Here are my awards for outstanding headgear at this year’s Women’s Final Four:

3rd Place

Notre Dame "Fighting Irish" Leprechaun Hat
Notre Dame “Fighting Irish” Leprechaun Hat








2nd Place

UConn Husky Hat
UConn Husky Hat

1st Place

Basketball with red-and-white SC Gamecock
Basketball with red-and-white SC Gamecock








Honorable Mention

(OK, so this is the fourth thing)

Basketball Net Hat
Basketball Net Hat

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.”


Food in Portland

I’ve written about our trip last weekend to Portland, OR, here and here.

Although we weren’t there for very long, we did have some memorable food experiences.

1. Kells Irish Pub

The conference my daughter and I attended was at the Embassy Suites in Portland’s historic Old Town district. We arrived in time for a mid-afternoon lunch at nearby Kells Irish Pub:

112 SW Second Avenue, Portland, OR 97204
(503) 227–4057

Like most of the businesses in this redeveloped area, Kells is in a historic old building. This one was built in 1889 and is on the National Historic Register:

Kells Irish Pub
Kells Irish Pub

And of course we ate and drank traditional Irish fare:

A pint of Kells Stout between 2 pints of Guinness
A pint of Kells Stout between 2 pints of Guinness
Irish lamb stew
Irish lamb stew



Kells even has a huge wall of whiskeys that requires a library ladder for full access, which you can see at the right side of the photo featured at the top of this post.

They have a second site in Portland and—wait for it!—one in nearby (to us) Seattle and one in San Francisco, a city we occasionally visit.

2. Dan & Louis Oyster Bar

oyster bar 02After the conference Saturday night, we went for dinner to Dan & Louis Oyster Bar, also within walking distance of the hotel in Portland’s historic district:

208 SW Ankeny St. Portland, OR 97204

Opened in 1907, it bills itself as the “oldest family-owned restaurant in town.” It even has its name inlaid in the sidewalk outside the entrance:

oyster bar 01

My husband and I had lunch here when visiting Portland about 15 years ago. I remembered the restaurant having the best oyster stew I’d ever tasted, and I’m happy to report that it still does.

3. Voodoo Donuts

Voodoo Doughnuts
Voodoo Doughnuts

We never did get to eat the creations of the very famous Voodoo Doughnuts because every time we walked by there was a ridiculously long line.

Voodoo Doughnut ONE (original location)
22 SW 3rd Avenue Portland Oregon, U.S.A.
phone 503.241.4704

That may be a good thing, though, because it will probably take me at least a few months to decide which doughnut I want. Check the website for photos and descriptions of their many offerings.

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:


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:


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):


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:


I found something similar here.

Have you ever seen anything like this?