Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas in B-Town

It's a holly jolly Christmas!! Christmas in B-Town is a very old fashioned and romantic place to be. It has all of the old world charm of a Norman Rockwell painting.  Although we have no snow this year and the weather is relatively pleasant. Meaning it is above freezing and pretty much dry!  It still has the "Christmas Feeling" around town.  I think that this is because of the small town feeling that Burien has.  The quaint main street that traverses Olde Burien and the small businesses that comprise our business district.  They are all dressed up for the holidays:

The window display at Poggi Bonsi the greatest kitchen store ever!

Burien Books- Some of us still like the smell of ink and paper and the feel of a real book in your hands.

So, I did my "Shop Local" business today in Olde Burien. Shopped at Poggi Bonsi, a truly gourmet store with products from around the world. Harold and Marge,Clothing, Accessories & Gifts

A hip boutique destination for Guys, Gals and Youngsters alike.

Also Poggi Bonsi!

And as you stroll around town, it really gives you a way back when Christmas feeling.  And the people are in that spirit as well. Merry Christmas shouts a passer by.  The shopkeepers as well, wish you a happy holiday and you have not purchased anything from them. It's a very neighborly way of life here in B-Town.
It reminds me of the old movies that I so love on TMC.  Complete strangers wishing you well, for no reason at all. Thats Burien and why we love it so much!  Only 10 miles from downtown Seattle and a million miles away.  I keep waiting for Jimmy Stewart to run by saying "Merry Christmas Tin Room, Merry Christmas SkinPerfect, Merry Christmas Key Bank!"  This is the time of year that living in a small town makes the most sense. And speaking of the greatest movie of all time...... the Tin Theater is playing it right now.
The Tin Theater:

Enjoy 2nd-run movies at The Tin Theater, classics and foreign films and offering your favorite beverage while sitting in a intimate 48-seat theater.
The theater lobby is open and features another
bar and wine shop, The Tin Cellars, which is open
Tuesday through Saturday 11am to 5pm.
Thats right!! A bar at the Theater!!! And if you speak to the bartender beforehand, Jeremy will bring you a refill to your seat! Just tip him very well!!!!

Thats Right, on the big screen!


My children will tell you of the torture of sitting through the mandatory screening of this movie throughout their entire childhood.  There would be signals at the dinner table, Mom is making us watch "The Movie" tonight.  Gee Mom, I have homework I have to do, a Scout meeting, Water Polo practice, Diarrhea, narcolepsy, anything they could think of to not have to watch this 20 hour long old black and white movie starring nobody they had ever heard of.  It became a joke in our family, stay away...THE MOVIE is on tonight! Thank goodness the movie came out on DVD. Now I can pop it in when everyone is at home! 
They think the coast is clear and all of a sudden-it's on!
Then they grew up. Alex joined the Marines. And his first Christmas away they had a showing on base of "THE MOVIE"
He cried like a baby and called to say that he wished he was with his family watching the movie with us. Even though he was in a very different place, watching It's a Wonderful Life made him feel closer to us. And made him feel connected to the family even though he was miles away.
Peter went away to school.  Similar situation to his brother, loved watching "THE MOVIE" at Christmastime. Made him feel connected to us at the holidays.
So Last Christmas, I bought them a copy of the movie and sent it to them. We all watched it at the same time while talking on the phone. Me in B-Town, Alex in Arizona and Peter in North Carolina.  It is one of the closest family experiences we have ever had. And they no longer dread the time they are forced to watch "THE MOVIE", it is a time to cherish the experience of holidays past and future. A time of shared tradition. Special time we spent together.
So I now look forward to terrorizing my future grandchildren with "THE MOVIE"
"We're going to Grandmas kids. Is she going to make us watch that old movie Dad? Gee, I hope so son."

So if you have a tradition at the holidays that the younger generation is trying to shrug off.......
They are the ones that will be on the losing end of that proposition and will lament it in the future.
And if you are a young person that feels that your old fashioned parents are forcing you to partake in some antiquated Christmas tradition, hang onto that, someday you will be trying to relive that quaint tradition and recreating that for your own family!
The ties that bind are no stronger than Holiday ties and traditions!
I will lasso you the moon!
Happy Holidays from me... Denise in B-Town and my family......
Roger, Alex, Peter and Charlie

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Jami Luvfest, Pittsburgh Part 2

I left off in my last post with day 2 in Pittsburgh and our travels as tourists around the city as we waited to surprise Jami at her annual fundraiser for the Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Jami Luvfest.  Each year Jami uses her birthday celebration to honor our mother, Billie Marlowe doing what Billie did best-feed people.

Jami Luvfest (in memory of Billie Marlowe)Jami Luvfest Facebook Page

Five years ago the Marlowe family was irrevocably altered. Suddenly, we were adult orphans clinging to each other in our shared grief. This past weekend, we honored our mother and celebrated the best she gave: Me, Wally, Betsy, Connie, Jami... and all the "children" she adopted along the way. You are still missed Billie, but the tears aren't quite as bitter.

The event was held at a very cool venue, 720 Music, Clothing and Cafe in the Lawrenceville area of Pittsburgh, They offer a carefully curated mix of vinyl/cd's, indie clothing designers, off beat magazines and books and great tasting coffee, tea and treats. If you are in the area, stop by and say hi to Nate and listen to some very cool tunes.  

But back to Luvfest and the surprise!  We had arranged with Betsy and Wally that we would cab up to Lawrenceville and hide out in a pub a few doors down from the party until the right moment to make our appearance. We got the signal and made our way in the door as MC Marcel was introducing and thanking folks that were involved in the event. And as he was talking about special guests from afar, Jami turned around and spotted us. I think the photo describes the moment better than words can.

And yes, I am crying and Jami is crying and Betsy in the background is crying.  That didn't last too long though because it was a party after all! And it was a great party!! Lots of entertainment including the most awesome Kristen Ross, a performance artist and belly dancer in the Pittsburgh area.

A duet to "I Can't Dance" with Kristen and my brother Marcel....

A great band later in the evening, and most importantly, plenty of generous people donating to the Pittsburgh food bank!

A very successful evening raising a bunch of money to feed the hungry. Local food banks do so much for our communities and the folks that rely on them to survive. For 1 in six Americans hunger is a reality.Many people believe that the problems associated with hunger are confined to small pockets of society, certain areas of the country, or certain neighborhoods, but the reality is much different.

Right now, millions of Americans are struggling with hunger. These are often hard-working adults, children and seniors who simply cannot make ends meet and are forced to go without food for several meals, or even days.

One of the most common misconceptions is the assumption that if someone is hungry, that means they do not have a job and are living on the streets. What most people don’t understand is that anyone can experience hunger. It is a silent epidemic that affects 49 million Americans.

According to the US Census Bureau, in 2010, 21 million people lived in working-poor families. This translates into nearly 9.6 percent of all American families living below 100 percent of poverty have at least one family member working . In fact, 36 percent of client households served by the Feeding America network have one or more adults working.

The hidden nature of hunger and poverty makes us less aware of its prevalence in the suburbs, but hunger does exist in the suburbs and it is growing.

The growth in poverty and hunger in the suburbs is caused by the lure of job growth, the revitalization of central cities making city life too expensive for many poor people, and the creation of cheaper housing in "inner ring" suburbs, as middle class people move further out.

The problem of childhood hunger is not simply a moral issue. Child hunger hampers a young person's ability to learn and becomes more likely to suffer from poverty as an adult. Scientific evidence suggests that hungry children are less likely to become productive citizens

So become involved with your local food bank, their buying power allows a $1.00 donation provides from 5 to 15 pounds of food. So donate or volunteer at your local food bank. A great source of information is
Feeding America . A one stop informational and organizational page that will give you the facts on hunger in America and how you can help. With a network of 200 member food banks across the country, Feeding America supplies more the 3 billion pounds of food and grocery products annually. One $25.00 donation to Feeding America will provide 200 meals. 

So as you plan your holiday feasts this season, think of those in need and make a donation. Your turkey dinner will taste that much better!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Have Yinz Ever Been Dahntahn or the Sahside? Adventures in Pittsburgh, Part 1

If the title has you confused, you are not from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Southwestern Pa has a language all its own. Over this past week Roger and I traveled to the "Burgh to surprise my youngest sister Jami for her birthday. Each year she forgoes the traditional birthday celebration and instead holds a public party for the benefit of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank to honor our late mother, Billie Marlowe.

Jami Luvfest (in memory of Billie Marlowe)More on the party later and the great venue in Part 2

We arrived a day early, so my other sister Betsy, picked us up at the airport and arranged for our lodging..... second tent from the left!

Just kidding, we actually stayed at the Wyndham Grand Hotel right on the point where the Three Rivers merge.  Right next to Point State Park and across the river from Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The downtown area of Pittsburgh is a great walking city. And we really explored it. The first evening we met up with
Marcel Lamont Walker and Wayne Wise.  Marcel was the originator of the surprise idea and a very close friend to Jami. Both talented Artists and Authors. We had met in San Diego a couple of years ago when they traveled west for the San Diego Comicon. Jami called me and said that a couple of her friends were coming out to San Diego and she asked us to put them up for the week. We were assured that they were only slightly weird and not serial killers. Since they were not wearing StarTrek uniforms and speaking in Klingon when we picked them up at the airport, we decided to go ahead and let them stay. We had a great time with them and have been great friends ever since. As you may recall, I mentioned Wayne in my last blog and his novel, Scratch.

M.L.Walker and Wayne Wise
We spent a great evening having dinner at NOLA Pittsburgh with the guys and Betsy, a New Orleans stlye creole restaurant in Market Square, then headed back to the hotel to hide out for a day. We subsequently found out that Jami was right across the Square having dinner with a friend at the same time, could have blown the whole surprise!

View from the hotel room of the river and thats PNC Park on the left.
 After a restful nights sleep, we set off to discover Pittsburgh. Betsy was busily making all of the great food that we would indulge in at the Luvfest that evening and helping Jami set up the venue, so Roger and I set off on foot for the day of playing tourist.  First on the list of priorities, a true Pittsburgh experience...Primanti Brothers Sandwiches.  If you have never had a Pittsburgh style sandwich, they put the whole meal on the bread. Meat, fries and coleslaw all in one sandwich. And Primanti's is the originator of this phenomena! A Pittsburgh institution since 1933.

With a belly full of this huge sandwich, it was time to hit the streets. We wandered out of Market Square to find that Pittsburgh was having a Veterans Day Parade.  I could see the barricades a block or so away, past a giant Macy's store and we headed in that direction. What a great parade, plenty of marching bands and all of the different veterans groups represented.

After the parade, we walked around downtown a little. The architecture of the old buildings and churches was amazing. Something you don't see on the west coast.

I just love the old stone churches, they have great character and there is just a more awe inspiring feeling that you get from them. We made our way through the city until we hit the river. The Mighty Monongahela! So it was turn back to the hotel, or keep going and cross the bridge. We opted to cross over to the southside where all of the great nightspots are at Station Square. Of course as we appraoched the river, it started to snow. And the wind was whipping. At this point it seemed wise to duck into a handy tavern to warm up with a toddy.  A little fortitude to cross on the open bridge. e made our way across and found a Ducky Tour booth and decided that was a great way to see the highlight of the city without wearing out the rest of our shoe leather. And it was a great choice, the tour covered some of the history of the city, as well as the sports venues and a float down the river, Although a bit chilly, still better than covering it on foot!

Station Square across the river

Downtown from the river

Heinz Field home of the Steelers
All in all a great tour. Lasting about 90 minutes, we concluded back at Station Square right in front of the Hard Rock Cafe. Time for another hot toddy!

After some fortification from an Isish Coffee, it was time to head back across the bridge and to the hotel to get ready for Jami Luvfest in Lawrenceville. Part 2 of the blog will be a recounting of that marvelous event and the actual surprise. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The rains are back, boo hoo.

It seems that the all too brief Seattle summer of 2011 is officially over. The rain has been pouring down for the last two days and the temperature has taken a dip. The autumn season is underway and the leaves will soon be changing. This weekend brought the Fall Carnival to B-Town and Oktoberfest is right around the corner which includes the B-Town Brat Trot, a charity 5k race benefitting the Highline Schools Foundation for Excellence, Safe Kids King County and Mary Bridge Childrens Hospital.


Our favorite eatery The Tin Room Bar puts this on each year and it's a blast. There will be a German Oompah band, beer and brats. The yodeling dominatrix will be there. Everything a great Oktoberfest needs. So there that to look forward to in the coming days. I will give you a full report.  But in the meantime it's chilly, rainy and windy. So I have made the first fire of the season and curled up with a good book. I am going to use my blog this week to give a shameless plug to my good friend Wayne Wise, the author of my current read, Scratch.

Wayne Wise is a writer, artist, seeker, shaman and magician, or at least claims to be in casual conversation. He has a BA in History and an MA in Clinical Psychology and in his life has worked as a counselor, an administrative assistant for a state legislator, an inter-office mail courier, a freelance comic book inker, and a department store Santa. He wrote music and comics-based articles for several local news mags and a couple of national magazines. In 1993 he and his business partner/collaborator Fred Wheaton self-published the comic book "Grey Legacy". In 2010 he wrote and drew a follow-up called "Grey Legacy Tales". Raised in rural southwestern Pennsylvania he is currently employed by the Eisner Award-nominated comic book store Phantom of the Attic in Pittsburgh and recently taught a course in Comics and Pop Culture as a guest lecturer at Chatham University. You can read his Blog at www.wayne-wise.com.

I am really enjoying the book and highly recommend it to you. A horror/fantasy  fiction that is entertaining and well written. If you are a Stephen King or Dean Koontz fan you will like Scratch.  Great charactor development that plays on our most primal fears. I also have to disclose that the illustrations are done by my brother, Marcel Lamont Walker. The story is:

Like all small rural towns, Canaan, West Virginia has its secrets: lies, infidelities, and even murder are kept hidden in the minds of the residents there. But there is one secret they will go to any lengths to protect.

A little girl named Gabrielle, believed to be an angel, has been kept chained in the church basement for over a century now, prisoner of an ancient pact. Unaging and unearthly beautiful, Gabrielle has the power to heal.

A madman pursues outsiders Adam and Holly Mansfield to Canaan, intent on kidnapping their daughter. Once there they discover there is one other secret in Canaan.

Chained deep in the heart of the mountain is another being, a demon called Scratch. If Gabrielle is freed, Scratch will be as well, and his vengeance and evil will consume the town.

A great read.

Monday, September 19, 2011

And nary a bumbershoot in sight!

We have been having remarkably great weather this past few weeks. As of yesterday, we have had nine days in a row of over 80 degrees, breaking the all time record for September in the Seattle area. It was really late, but summer has finally arrived in the Northwest. It seems that I have turned into a Northwester, when it hits 80 degrees I swelter. Last summer I chuckled at the folks complaining about the heat. Now I am one of them. I am now looking forward to Autumn weather. Perfect weather for enjoying the outdoors. And perfect weather for Bumbershoot!

Bumbershoot is an annual international music and arts festival held in Seattle. One of North Americas largest such festivals it takes place every September at the 74-acre Seattle Center, which was built for the 1962 Worlds FairThe name of the festival was taken from bumbershoot, a colloquial term for umbrella, probably coined in the 19th century a portmanteau of the words umbrella and parachute. Seattle Center is also the home of the world famous Space Needle.

Standing at the base of the Space Needle. Not a cloud in the sky.

 A picture perfect day for some great music and maybe a beer.  We met up with our good friend Gary McMinn from San Diego, one of Roger's Golf Club buddies.  He comes up for the festival every year and attends with his brother who lives in West Seattle not too far from us. It was great to see someone from home!  The festival runs for three days, however we only attended on Sunday. The list of performers is immense, covering about a dozen venues. The artists range from comedy and bluegrass, to jazz and rap with everything in between.  There were also many vender tents, art exhibits and street entertainers on the grounds.

The International Fountain at Seattle Center

The stage from inside the Beer Corral.

Jessica Lea Mayfield

Leon Russel
 Some of the acts this year were Hall and Oates, Wiz Khalifa, Big Boi, Fitz and the Tamtrums, local hits Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Butthole Surfers, Mavis Staples, Trombone Shorty and so on......
We saw a jazz singer Gail Pettis that was fantastic.  Approximately 200 hundred artists and groups performed over the three days. We had a great day.

On of the other things that the warm weather has brought to Western Washington, is forest fires. Nothing like the Texas fires that raged there, but fires none the less. One of these has been burning out of control on the Olympic Peninsula in a very remote area.  We can't see the fire itself, but the smoke has really effected our sunset views.

You can see the layer of smoke hanging over the mountains.
  Thats all I have for now, as I purchased a new carpet cleaner and need to give it a test drive aroung the dining room.  Love to all! Denise

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Happy Birthday to me, or how Facebook changed my life!

Well, last week was my birthday. I don't really celebrate them much anymore because it just reminds me of the passage of time. I am not as young as I sometimes think I am. Do you ever sideways glance at a mirror that you are passing and think to yourself, "Who is that old person, thats not me!" When did that happen? But I digress....

It was a lovely day here in B-Town, the sun was shining without a cloud in the sky. The temperature got up to 82 degrees, which is quite warm for a Seattle summer day.

Sunny and crystal clear day at Three Tree Point

The one regret on this birthday is that I am so far away from family and friends. Occasions like this are when the loneliness of the move to Seattle set in. The group of friends that have a big "Virgo" party to celebrate our close string of birthdays in San Diego will be celebrating without me this year. My brother and sister in West Virginia will be celebrating their August birthdays together, again without me there. It does make one feel a bit disconnected from those near and dear. Don't get me wrong, my Roger gave me a great day with a wonderful evening out, flowers, the whole nine yards and I love him so. We went to our favorite hangout The Tin Room for dinner and drinks. We have a great life in a beautiful place. And the strongest, most loving marriage of anyone that I have ever known.
Birthday flowers from my sweetie!

My work friends gave me a little cake party at work and the sentiments were lovely.

But, this where Facebook comes into the story. The flood of birthday wishes that I received from family, friends and former co-workers was such a powerful link to those far away that I was reconnected with a life lived elsewhere. A far away move can really make you feel cut off from the world. Those brief digital posts let you know that someone is thinking of you and your life is still full of those relationships and the love and friendships that you share. I have found people on Facebook that I have not spoken to in years! I have an online friendship with a cousin and an aunt in Maryland that I have not seen since I was a child. A former co-worker that is now in Germany and I communicate occasionally and in the "real" world, we would have drifted our separate ways and not had further communication most likely. I got to know my youngest sons fiance through Facebook. Yes, my Peter is engaged to be married!

I have met a distant cousin in Scotland and a Vandenbroek in Ontario, Canada on Facebook and have developed friendships with both of them through subsequent online communication. Gotten to see their families and what their lives are like. It really has revolutionized my life, this Facebook thing.

I have watched babies grow up from South Carolina to San Diego. Kept up with the art and fiction world of Pittsburgh. Reconnected with my former boss that I have not seen in 20 years! And so on.

So thank you all for the birthday greetings and well wishes, it means more to me than you know. And keep posting the details of your everyday lives. And when you are browsing your friend list and run across that person you haven't communicated with in awhile, reach out. It just might make their day!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tillicum Vilage and Blake Island

For thousands of years Blake Island was an ancestral summer camping ground to Coast Salish tribes who lived on the coastal waterways of Puget Sound. The native tribes as a group are also referred to as the Lushootseed peoples.  (Lushootseed refers to the common language that was spoken throughout the region.) The heart of the island is Tillicum Village. Tillicum Village was built on 5 acres of the 475-acre state park and opened in 1962. Today, the Island has thousands of visitors who come to Tillicum for the world famous salmon bake and show or to camp, hike and explore the vast wildlife and beautiful beaches of this fascinating island.

The only way to reach the island is by boat, so we took the Argosy Tours boat that includes a traditional salmon bake and native entertainment. It's about a four hour trip and there is plenty of time after the dinner and entertainment for a little island exploring.

Land Ho!

It took about 45 minutes by boat, but there was a bar on-board, so no worries! Great Bloody Mary. When we arrived at the village, we were greeted by natives in traditional dress and bowls of fresh steamed clams, yummy.  We then had a few minutes to explore the long house. There were great exhibits of Salish artwork and ceremonial masks.

There was also a large area of open fires where the salmon was cooked in the traditional way. Over an alderwood fire. I have to say it was delicious. It was now time to enter the dining room for dinner and the show. There was great Salish story telling and dancers. Unfortunately, no photography was allowed inside. After dinner and the show, we had time to explore the island before returning to Seattle.  Quite a beautiful place to spend a Sunday afternoon.

A great park and camping area as well as a tourist attraction.
After we arrived back at the Seattle waterfront, we decided that it was still early enough to make a trip a few blocks up the hill and take in Pike Place Market. No trip to Seattle is complete without the market on your itinerary, and we had not yet taken Alex.