Friday, February 29, 2008

Tacoma Must-Sees & Standbys: Part I

I'm in the mood to reflect upon a few "must sees" for those who call Tacoma home ... or for those returning or visiting or anything in between. Sadly, some I have not been to, or not been to in awhile. These are in no particular order, and do not necessarily encompass the best of Tacoma, and I may change my list tomorrow, but on this oddity of leap-days, 10 things that leap to my mind as "must sees" or "must dos" in Tacoma include:

Stadium High School. It's where my grandma went to high school and where many, many folks call alma mater. As featured in "10 Things I Hate About You," starring Julia Stiles and the died-way-too-young Heath Ledger. This place really is a castle ... it was almost a luxury hotel, but the developer ran out of money once upon a time and it almost got demolished, only to be rescued and finished by the Tacoma School District. More recently it's turned 100 and been remodeled. It's a place I take any visitor I take on tour, because when you stand on the hill on the other side of the Stadium Bowl from the high school and look at the school and the bay on a clear day, the view is fantabulous. Take a peek at this outtake from 10 Things and you'll see what I mean about the view ....

Frisko Freeze.
Duh. Don't expect veggies on your burger, but to some folks that's a good thing. The shakes are yummy, and the experience is totally nostalgic. Not quite a T-Town Dick's, but it's our own T-town slice of the '50s drive-in burger place. And it keeps on kickin'. If you haven't tried Frisko yet, you gotta try it just to say you did. And you might just keep comin' back.

Museum of Glass
. It's one of the newer items on my list for sure, and it's been mocked as much as it's been celebrated. I choose to celebrate it. It helped bring the Foss waterfront to life. We now have the Bridge of Glass, which, love it or hate it, it's an incredible thing. I do miss the mass amounts of other outdoor art that inhabited the esplande when the museum first open, and I dream that more art (so miss the glass apples and the little red house, the wicker pitchers and the Reman Hall exhibit) will rejoin the ached-for Water Forest when it someday(?) returns. It's a place I take visitors and returnees, and it's a place my eldest daughter is obsessed with. Whenever we have a "girls' day," guess where she wants to go. And the hot shop there, where you can watch glass artists in action, is enough to win over even most tough critics.

The Spar. One half coffee shop, one half fabulous bar. The food is great, the beer well-brewed, the Americanos thick and tasty, the bands occasionally playing, and the fish and chips? They're fantabulous. I especially love the fact that parents with small children can sit in the coffee shop side and be well tended to. There are kid toys and coloring books, and you can still order all the bar food, including the beer. Plus, when my kids were small and obsessed with trains, we could hear 'em a comin' and run out to watch them between bites, whenever they came by. Plus, you're a hop, skip and a jump from the Ruston Way waterfront and all its pleasures.

The Grand.
Tacoma's fabulous indie theater. Sigh. I have not yet been there. My husband has seen both "Fahrenheit 911" and "Fast Food Nation" there. I hold out hope to still catch "Juno" there, but my joke of the moment with all the telemarketers who call hoping to survey me on movies I've seen in the last year is, well, I just laugh. Because it's not funny. I haven't been in a theater since "Shrek 3" at the Blue Mouse. And that sucked. The Blue Mouse rocked (it was my first time there), but Shrek 3 sucked. We did it for the kids, but the first two were oh so much more grownup friendly, too. This one just sucked. I had no problem following an ancy 2-year-old into the lobby. But I'm looking forward to an adult-only trek to the Grand. It's sad enough I haven't seen ANY of the Oscar nominees this year. I want to see "Juno." Badly.

My favorite coffee shops: 'Nuff said.

Freighthouse Square. Not only is this place home to Peggy's Cinnamon Rolls, but also more than a dozen restaurants and a plethora of shops ... none of them big box. This place has been here for decades, and yet I still encounter so many people who have no idea what I'm talking about. If you haven't wandered through Freighthouse Square yet, do. It's a great starting place for a Saturday out on the downtown ... head to Tosta Caffe for a cinnamon roll and some coffee, wander the many fabulous shops, then hop on the FREE Link light rail and head up and down through downtown. You can meander through the museums, around the University of Washington Tacoma, through the Theatre District, around the Convention Center ... it's all on the Link. It can be your cheapest or spendiest night on the town depending on how you play your cards. You can window shop and brown bag it, or shop 'till you drop and dine at the Melting Pot or El Gaucho, or anything in between. The sky's the limit, and there's every reason to drive yourself to Freighthouse Square and get to wandering about town without your car.

The Eastside. Wha-at? You might be sayin' that. But here are things on the Eastside. Way back when, when my husband and I first met, we had our first date at Stanley & Seafort's, which sits on the edge of the East Side overlooking Tacoma, the Puget Sound and the beautiful mountain range. It's just one small testament to the fact that the East Side is a very diverse place. Recent additions like Top of Tacoma are just the beginning of much to come.

Point Defiance Park. Need I really say more? Have you really not been? Sigh. I know you Point Defiance virgins are out there, and it scares me. So I'll just a list a few, say five, reasons to go. There are more.
Wright Park. There are so many great things about this inner-city park it's hard to mention them all, especially since it's a park in the midst of a revitalization. But it's worth a visit, whether for the inner-park playground, the lawn bowling, the botanical conservatory, the duck pond, and so much more.

Ok, there's more, but I'll start with that.

[to be continued]

What are your Tacoma must-sees and standbys?

VIDEOS: A trip down musical memory lane

A decade later and I'm still a ska addict. And during my stint in Ireland, I couldn't help but become a "Come on Eileen" addict, as it's the song my lovely frat boy flat mates were addicted to, broke plates to, and generally ran amok to. So here's a video that caught my eye this evening:

On a bright side, my flatmates' addiction led me to meet and befriend a wonderful gal named "Eileen," who, while she lives in Florida, is still a friend a decade-plus later. Even if only via e-mail. The last time we saw each other in person was on THAT September 11th when she was in Seattle for a conference, was several months pregnant, and called from her hotel needing to be away from the twin Westin towers after the planes hit back east, as she wondered how her brothers in NY were doing. We'd planned to visit anyway, but not under these circumstances. She couldn't have been further away from; she was pregnant; and she had to take a train for days to get home. So I guess there's my "where were you when tale." But in memory of the boys who created the joke that caused us to be friends, "the two engaged girls" among the many study abroad students ... well, here's Dexy with the song ... not that I need to listen to it. It's frat-boy-style ingrained in my head.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Something in the water?

I think it's the sun. You see, while walking to my car from work, it's like the world had finally woken up on the right side of the bed and everyone had their friendly faces on. People were saying hello. Random stranger (but not strange) people. I saw shop owners; congenial shop owners closing up for the day were inviting me to come back and take a peek one of these days. And I came home to a household of happy people, no schedule for the night, a mortgage refi that had funded and sent us checks today, a neighbor bringing us homemade fresh crab cakes and ...

I just kinda want to dance in the streets. No singing in the rain, just happy dancing in the street.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sneak peek

Izenmania had a fantabulous post on the Go Local or Die event this week, which is inspiring me to post the following picture with no real explanation other than to say you might be seeing this image around a little bit more in the coming months ... tee hee.

I know, I know ... lips sealed is not something I'm known for. :P

p.s. If you like the above graphic (whatEVER it might be ...) you can tell Elle she does good work.

And the award goes to ...

Thank you to Marty Campbell and all the folks at the Grand for a great Oscar night community event! We stopped by after the First Night fest and were quite happy to hand over our ticket-money at the Rialto to support Grand, even though we could only stay for an hour because the children were a wee bit upset with us for staying out so late the night before. So we went in, watched some show, nibbled some tasty treats (there was something divine and chocolate ... and someday I'll remember to take food pics), then ran out the door and made it home before 8 when our rusty Toyota would have surely turned into a pumpkin.

Reliving a bit of First Night

It was such a weekend that it's taken until now for me to have regained enough energy to recount any of it. Good food, good friends, good fun ... and Sunday was the icing on the cake. A little First Night shin dig to close the book on "2008" as we leap into 2009 planning (mind you, that's for this Dec. 31, 2008).

Deborah Page
& Paul Uhl (order your CD here) graced the group with their sweet rockin' tunes ... so great that a couple folks didn't realize that was LIVE music that was being heard. It was fun to tune people into the fact that they were not only live, but extremely local and extremely talented. And to wrap up the event, the Tokens jumped into the action and entranced many. And I got to see my baby brother in improv action! Yay!

For those of you who missed First Night, you can get a video synopsis here. Thanks again, AdamTheAlien!

A few photos from the evening:

Sunday, February 17, 2008

It's funny ...

It's funny how having kids changes you.

Not for the better or the worse ...

Just different.

Friday, February 15, 2008

No way! (Proof of a global economy apparently)

S0, Ms. Zesty, my "personal Kevin Bacon", has just returned from Hong Kong and managed to to snag a photo of Brown & Haley's lovely Almond Roca for sale. Just sitting there innocently above the fridge/freezer/whatever. In Hong Kong. Check it out!

Thursday, February 14, 2008


I got a double dose of girl-time this week. On Sunday, it was the Swede's birthday and so the big girls and a few bab(i)es who haven't figured out the talking (and thus repeating) thing yet were invited for a Sunday potluck brunch with a table full of gabby states-born and international gals alike. Then Wednesday night it was The Council/The League ... the Loud Mouthed Women of T-Town ... and yet again I failed making it home by midnight. I feel grateful for both these groups, and the many other women in my life who are there for me when I need them, who I get to be there for when they need me.

You know what I call that? Fabulocity.

Fabulous: Extremely pleasing or successful
-ity: State, quality of

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Um, so I actually liked the caucuses ...

Yes, it was crazy. And why wouldn't it be? It was record turnout. I remember four years ago we had record turnout, and today was beyond double that from most I heard. That's amazing. An amazing testament to a population I once thought was sinking into apathy actually getting off their asses to voice their opinion in the company of their neighbors, friends and families. And not only voice them, but act upon them. I spoke with dozens of people today, most for whom this was their first caucus ever -- and I'm not just talking about the teenagers. (There were first-time grandma caucusers, too.) Admittedly, it's not an easy process, but no process is perfect. And when you overwhelm a process that used to consist of a couple handfuls of people per precinct and now includes sometime hundreds ... well, patience is a virtue.

But my favorite part? It wasn't who won, or who we elected delegates ... it was the chance to see my neighbors. Many whom I hadn't seen in awhile. It's winter. We're busy. And sometimes, sadly, two blocks can seem like two states away. And so today, I didn't just caucus, I caught up on the neighborhood. Many I'd met for the first time at my first caucus four years ago, and since then even though our meetings might be sporadic, we chat and laugh and share whenever we run into each other. It was nice to meet up again; a bit nostalgic. And it was nice to add more new friends to this category. I look forward to four years from now. and look forward to seeing these neighbors much sooner than that!

So thank you to the many volunteers who worked tirelessly for the past days, weeks and months to prepare for then-unknown-sized crowds of passionate people ... and who are still working on the aftermath as I write this tonight. Thank you for the thankless hours you put in. And thank you to those who turned out and participated.

You give me hope.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Letting my geek flag fly ...

Click here for a site that satisfies my inner, niggly geek that yells at every billboard with a bad apostrophe. (And my own hands when they "occasionally" typo horrific grammar.) He he.

Reasons I'm on the fence ...

Clinton, Obama. Obama, Clinton. I've gone 'round and 'round. I feel very thankful we've had so many great candidates on the D side vying for president, but it also makes the decision very, very hard. Clinton, Obama. Obama, Clinton. I know I'm not the only one on the fence. I know I want a better health care system, and Hillary has a plan. She has specific plans for many things. Specificity is good. And I know Barack has more than just charisma, though it's usually the charisma I hear about. And after the last eight painful and demoralizing years of he-who-must-not-be-named, well, a little charisma (or a lot in Barack's case) gets us feeling euphoric. And that feels good, really good. For the record: I fully believe Barack would do a great job. And I fully believe Hillary would do a great job. (AND she came to Tacoma. TO TACOMA! Small venue be-damned, she actually ventured out of the Emerald City!)

When it's all said and done, I will fully support whoever survives this gauntlet. If I could magically combine Hillary and Barack's many great qualities, I would do so in a split-second and be a happy, blissful and confident camper. But such magic is in my imagination, and so the painful process of choosing will occur. Dammit. Seriously, anyone have a magic spell to mash those two together before tomorrow? Then perhaps I could sleep at night.

But, at least I'm not alone ...

Tacoma Mama now knows my pain.
Girlfriend in Tacoma now knows my pain.
Both Hands is blissful in her Obama high.
So is Mr. Emery.
I'm a bit envious.

But tomorrow it's time. It's time for Washington's caucus, and as I keep hearing from every corner, both sides of the fence, Ds as well as Rs ... this year our decisions matter more than ever. I caucused for the last presidential election, a record-breaker in attendance for recent memory, but it wasn't anywhere near this close. And I have a feeling this year will make 2004 look like a vacant room. Tomorrow I have to make a decision. Tomorrow I'll be up to being swayed. Saturday I will close my eyes really tight, hold my breath and jump into one pool or the other. At least, I believe, the waters will be warm in either direction ...

Luckily, November's choice will not have such pain.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

A day of bluster and surprise

I was walking, this afternoon, through the cold and bluster. Walking back from putting away my car ... Walking back to my office chair and a multitude of tasks. Walking back to work with hood around my head and scarf around my neck. Wondering if there'd be enough hours in the day, wondering if there'd be enough days in the week. Wondering what tomorrow will bring. Wondering what Saturday will bring. Wondering if I'd spot something shiny. Beyond a bottle and a can, nothing shiny. Beyond a pencil and a bag, nothing tiny. Instead, it was a rat that caught my eye ... the kind of rat I like to see: I'd finally happened upon my first Beautiful Angle poster. I'd seen them in captivity ... but this was my first sighting in the wild. My first encounter in its natural habitat. Oh, what a wonderful thing.

And it reminded me that we're less than a month away from the fabulousness that is Wayzgoose! I can't wait. Save the date! (March 2.)

Oh, and Happy New Year! Happy Year of the Rat!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Impending travel to Kauai: Any tips?

So, we're planning a trip to the island of Kauai for the middle sib's wedding this fall. Still can't believe my brother is getting married, but we're ecstatic about who he's marrying ... and that he picked a small wedding on a far off island, thus giving us all the excuse to leave the continental U.S. We're even leaving the kids ... somehow. We'll take them with us to the islands someday, but we parents have not had a true vacation on our own since ... well ... our honeymoon? And that's nearly 9 years ago. And we only went as far as the Oregon Coast. (And our only overseas travel has been to cold countries ... Ireland for me, Russia -- IN THE WINTER -- for the hubby.) We're ready. And very willing.

So, my question ... any tips on vacationing in Hawaii? And in Kauai in particular? I think we're going to rent a condo or house with some other family members ... and other than the wedding day, we have no plans. Other than exploring Kauai and relaxing.

And for those friends and relatives nearby, I may be calling on you to take a "shift" with one or two or three of the kids. A night, an afternoon, a playdate ... any volunteers? I'm trying to spread the love. And yes, I'll owe you. ;)

The boy's making up recipes again ...

Yesterday the boy wanted to make pineapple cake. So I said, sure, let me go find a recipe. "No!" he responded vehemently. "The recipe's in my mind!" Well, while I have no problem letting him test out his I've-watched-too-much-Food-Channel philosophies, yesterday I did not have the patience. I tried to distract him by saying "why don't you get the ingredients ... get out the pineapple." Again, "NO!" was the response. Why? Because, he said, that would be icky. Mind you, the boy LOVES pineapple. Will eat a whole can of pineapple on his own. Will beg for pineapple pizza. And, dude, he ASKED TO MAKE PINEAPPLE CAKE. But apparently pineapple cake does not include pineapple.

Today I have more patience. Perhaps I'll let him show me what this pineapple cake without pineapple recipe that's in his mind is all about ...

In the meantime, yesterday, we comprimised on chocolate chip cake. Mind you, it couldn't be chocolate chip cookies, or chocolate chip brownies, it had to be chocolate chip CAKE! And after he dumped in half a bag of chips, I asked if he wanted to put more in, and he said NO! This boy has opinions. Especially when it comes to cooking. Do I have a future chef on my hands? We shall see ... the closest the eldest ever got to this was being obsessed with sandwich making. BIG sandwich making.

Oh, and if we make pineapple-less pineapple cake today, I'll make sure to take pictures.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Where I wish I was tonight ...

Emerging Tacoma talent Deborah Page plays tonight at a Tacoma landmark: The Java Jive! I have no babysitter tonight, but if that's not an issue for you (either because you don't have kids, or you do have a babysitter) the show should be an awesome time, in an awesome location -- for a mere $3 cover (and whatever else you consume, of course). And I'll be totally envious ...

Oh yeah, and the headliner is Voxxy Valejo -- who will be shooting a music video. Kurt Lindsay will also play. Again, I'll be totally jealous.

Friday, February 01, 2008

VIDEO: What would YOU do if someone tried to ban your book?

As a fan of literature, it annoys me when people try to, or do, ban books. As a writer though, I'd never contemplated what it would be like if someday people ever tried to ban a book I wrote.

Well, today's technology lets me get a peek at what that's actually like, in the moment. I can hear, from the author himself, what it's like for an author I respect to have his work called pornographic, to have his work described as something that causes "immoral thoughts and actions in children." Strangely, while "they" say the book encourages kids to have sex, the author explains quite articulately about why, actually, it does quite the opposite ...

The book in question, "Looking for Alaska" by John Green, already needed a parental OK in the class to read due to sensitive subjects (and that I can handle because parents should be able to have a say in what's OK for their own kids), but a group of people who don't even have kids in the class are apparently trying to remove the choice completely. Apparently they know better. And that kind of pisses me off.

It's bizarre. And I appreciate John's commentary on which has to be a very personally insulting matter. (And now I really want to read the book ...)