Monday, October 29, 2012

If You are in Pittsburgh on November 9th and can use a little Luv.....

This blog is going to be a little different than the usual.  I am going to shamelessly plug an event put on by my sister Jami to benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank,  

The following is from the official LUV FEST page. You can use the link above to get there.

Jami Luvfest “Enough for ALL”

In my childhood, when money was very tight, we still had enough.  If someone happened by the house during dinnertime, Billie jumped up and grabbed a place setting, because she had made enough for all.  In our adulthood, we kids have scratched our heads trying to figure out how she did it.  But the formula was simple:  She had enough LUV in her to stretch out food or clothes or presents or anything.
So the question I pose to you is simple:  Do you have Enough for ALL?  If your answer is the affirmative, I want to see you on Friday, November 9.

A typical Thanksgiving dinner with my family. That's a much younger me third from the right, with Billie at the head of the table. 
I could go on and on about my mothers generosity and the way she brought people together with food and fellowship, but my dear sister Jami who has picked up the mantle of feeding the world with her open heart and tireless spirit has done it so much better than I could.  So I will just steal her words with rampant plagiarism, what are sisters for!

About Jami Luvfest by Jami Marlowe

November is a significant month in my life — the day of my birth and the anniversary of my mother’s death.

In 2007, after agreeing to meet to celebrate my birthday, my friends also agreed to donate the cost of a beer ($5) to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. All the donations were handed over in memory of my mom, Billie Marlowe.
The next year, the event was spontaneously named when someone mentioned not missing the “Jami Luvfest.” Also in 2008, people I had never met showed up, but they were happy to donate and eat some garlic fries and chat.

So last year, we decided to get a bigger place. Once again, my friends came through in a big way. We had entertainment and raffles and great food and music. The next day, it dawned on me that a tradition had quickly come into being and would continue to grow every year — or until hunger is abolished and there’s no longer a need for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
Until then, every year at the end of fall, we’ll have Jami Luvfest. We’ll eat, drink, laugh, dance, donate, and honor all moms by remembering one.

About Billie Marlowe

Every time I think I’m giving to you, I realize how much more you are giving me.– Billie Marlowe
Invoke the name Billie Marlowe and food is the first word that pops into mind. She usually spent most of a holiday in the kitchen, then lounging at the table after dinner enjoying a cigarette, a cup of coffee, and any good yarns being told. That table was large enough to welcome all, including numerous friends throughout my life. Not enough were not words in her vocabulary. There was always enough — enough room at the table, enough food on the table, and enough love around the table.
At Billie’s Purple Fork in Brownsville, PA, customers were loyal to her down-home cooking and creative desserts. However, Thanksgiving was special. From 1992-1997, Billie opened her doors on Thanksgiving to everyone for a free meal of salad, turkey, potatoes, stuffing, corn, and her homemade pumpkin pie. She didn't accept financial help for the day and none of her employees were required to work. The meal was prepared with the help of her son and daughter and served by her other daughters, grandson, and granddaughter. Her son-in-law delivered meals to men working at police, fire, and ambulance stations in Brownsville and West Brownsville. When the last plates had been washed and restaurant’s kitchen tidied up, her family would sit and eat.
By the final year, that late-eating table would include a few customers who volunteered their time so that they may earn a place at Billie’s Thanksgiving.
After retiring and moving to a senior independent-living apartment, Billie continued to use food as a way to bring people together. She organized a “Souper Sunday” where people were encouraged to make soup and bring it to the recreational room in an effort to break bread with each other. She delivered soup to anyone unable to make it because of health or other issues. Again, she incorporated her children the celebration including having her son grill at summer picnics and cookouts and her son-in-law dress as Santa to visit the other tenants during the holidays.
Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October 2006, Billie Marlowe spent as much of the next four weeks as she could creating memories for her friends and family. She couldn’t cook, but food was still at the center of gatherings. This time it was her friends or her kids preparing the food. Her final Thanksgiving (actually held in October) was small with only immediate family in attendance but it was not short of food and love.
In celebration of your mother’s memory and generosity. Jenn Novak, dear friend.
This was the very first GPCFB donation made in memory of Billie Marlowe and the catalyst for Jami Luvfest and all the subsequent volunteerism.  Luvfest, Bagelfest, and all the other crazy ideas I come up with for the Food Bank is in celebration of Billie.


  • Friday, November 9, 2012
  • 7:00 - 10:00 pm


  • 945 Liberty Avenue
  • Downtown Pittsburgh, PA 15222

    My siblings, Elizabeth, Jami and Wally at a past Luv Fest

    I was lucky enough to attend last years event and wish that I could make it this year as it keeps getting bigger and bigger.  This years party will be held at the Toonseum in the cultural district of Pittsburgh, a very unique venue. There will be food, beverages and entertainment and of course, Lots of Luv.  Please support my family in our goal of honoring our Mother and feeding Pittsburgh.  You can donate at this link if you are unable to attend in person.....

Monday, October 22, 2012

Falling into Autumn

Ahh rainy Seattle, how I missed thee.  The normal rainfall in the Seattle area in August and September is 2.68 inches.  These are normally our driest months and we still get almost three inches of rain.  However this year we have only received .03 inches of rain this last two months.  That's three hundredths of an inch in more than sixty days.  An all time record for dryness in this area. The old record is .19 of an inch in the early 1900's.  Now I know that I spend a lot of time bitching about the rain.  The irony has not escaped me on this one folks. We went 82 days without any rainfall.  You would think that we were in Southern California with all of the sunshine.  However, all of this dryness brought something else that I was used to seeing in SoCal that I did not miss, wildfires.  It was a very long and disastrous fire season in Washington state.  Tens of thousand of acres burned and thousands of homes lost.

But it is October now and the rain has returned.  Fall is in the air and the leaves are changing colors.  Within the span of about a week we went from sunny and dry to cold and wet.  Today is rainy and 45 degrees at 2pm, so I guess that our long, hot summer is officially over.

I have to admit that at some point in the past year, we turned from temporary San Diego transplants into resident Washingtonians.  More acclimated to the weather by far.  We actually hit ninety degrees one day and I thought I would die from heat prostration.  I am most happy at about seventy five these days.  I am thrilled to be in the clutches of autumn.  This is my favorite season here in the Pacific Northwest. The crispness is in the air and the light has an almost golden glow to it.  The trees changing from a thousand shades of green, to red and orange and amber gold.  The pumpkin patches and neighbor hood carnivals are in full swing.  Unlike San Diego, the pumpkin patches here are not fenced off portions of the Safeway parking lot, they are actual farms and you really pick your pumpkins.  And they all seem to have a corn maze.   This one is off of highway 167 and I drive by it each day on the way to work.

A huge farm with all kinds of fresh produce for sale, including one of our favorite Washington fall traditions, APPLES!!!  You have never had a great apple if you haven't eaten one fresh in Washington. I know, you are saying that you have had Washington apples before and yes they're ok. But yours has probably spent some time on the road for at least a few days and then holed up at some wholesale warehouse until they were sold to your local supermarket and dipped in wax to preserve that shiny look that make it more appealing to the eye. And we only send you the rejects anyway, we keep the good ones here. At the farmers market or on the farm at the roadside stand, right off the tree the same day that we buy them.  And the varieties are endless.  Pink Ladys and Black Arkansas, Ambrosia and Jazz.  Not your garden variety Red Delicious. Although they are really delicious here!  Crisp and tart or tender and sweet, yummy. I never knew that so many varieties existed until we moved here.

Another fall tradition is the Burien Brattrot and Bavarian Fest each October. We had a great time at this fundraiser 5k race and festival in Olde Burien.  Conveniently, it was held only a block from the homestead so that there was no driving involved.  The day was sunny and beautiful for the entire festival and brought hundreds of runners. (I was not one of those)  The beneficiaries were the Highline Schools Foundation and SafeKids King County .  The street was blocked off on the main street and there were beer gardens and other tents set up with vendors.  A stage hosted the Three Tree Point blues band.  One of the band members lives right below our old house and we used to hear them practice all the time. As well as on the 4th of July each year at the neighborhood celebrations.  Ran into our old neighbors Jean and Mike and Charlies best friends Lucy and Bebe. So all in all a splendid day and a great start to the fall season, next up Boo in Burien, the Halloween festival.

Here are some pix from the BratTrot----enjoy.

Lining up at the starting line.

And they're off! 

The guy in the maroon t-shirt with the Lab and Golden retriever is our old neighbor Mike and the dogs are Charlies girlfriends, Lucy and Bebe, we were thrilled to see them.

Runners coming across the finish line. Vantage point-Beer garden.

Danny House, the owner of the Tin Room Bar and Theater, presenting the winners with their jackets and prizes.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Canadian Adventure Part 2- Whistler Village

Well we have arrived in Whistler now and are ready to start part 2 of our adventure. We will head to the hotel, the Crystal Lodge and check in and freshen up. Here is a close up look at Whistler Village from the tourism board. Whistler Village Tour.

A very spacious room and super comfy bed. Although it was a bit soft for Papa Bear!

 Now off to explore the village and find a bite to eat. All that hiking has really made me hungry!! Time for some refreshments and relaxation. Whistler Village is laid out so that the interior of the village is pedestrian only, it's called The Stroll and is a very nice cobblestone roadway to get around the village. They are also very dog-friendly, so Charlie was welcomed most everywhere and it was one of the reasons that we picked Whistler for our vacation.

A beautiful afternoon for sightseeing

Down the center of the Stroll

Ahhh, Lunch at BG Urban Grill

Map of Whistler Village
So we had a little lunch and headed back to the hotel for a nap so that we could enjoy the evening and be refreshed for further sightseeing. After a little resting up and getting changed for the cooler evening, we headed out for more exploring. Roger found a cigar shop that sold Cubans, so he got a cigar for later. Canada does not embargo Cuban products, so a lot of the shops carried Cigars and Rum from Cuba. We searched for a grocery store to pick up some dog food and snacks for the room. You can't transport dog food with meat by products into Canada. Charlie was pretty tuckered out and stilled drugged, so he stayed in the room for some much needed sleep. The hotel provided his own bedding, towel, etc. He was as snug as a bug. We wandered up through Olympic Celebration Plaza, the sight of the awards ceremonies during the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The Olympic Rings

Took in the sights .......

Then had dinner at The Mix by Rics   Cocktails and Tapas, yummy. Then an early night to get ready for day 2- my Birthday!!!

We got up early on Saturday and went to Blacks Pub for breakfast. Great traditional bacon and egg breakfast and a super start to the day.

Welcome to Blacks Restaurant & Pub In Whistler, BC

Then back to the hotel where Roger made plans to play golf at the Nicklaus North Golf Course.

An absolutely gorgeous course that looked challenging. While he played golf, I shopped around the village and went back to the room for a bubble bath and to relax. We had made dinner reservations for that evening at Araxi, the top restaurant in Whistler and planned on more sightseeing in the afternoon. The poor stupefied dog would need to go for a walk too. We still had alot of the village to explore. Next stop, the Whistler Bike Park. The Whistler mountain ski runs in the summer become great mountain bike trails. The riders go up in the chairlifts with their bikes and the barrel down the mountain on the steep trails. It looked positively frightening and there were hordes of cyclists doing it. Yow.

We watched the mountain bikes for awhile and gave Charlie a good walk and took him back for another nap. A dog on muscle relaxers needs a great deal of sleep. We then headed off to dinner at Araxi. Roger had the
                                                                Herb Crusted BC Halibut 
heirloom tomatoes, white bean and lemon with sugar snap and english peas
local baby gem tomatoes and shallot vinaigrette
And I had 
Yukon Arctic Char
Across the Creek potato puree, baby green beans and crispy local leeks
BC chantertelle mushroon and saffron beurre blanc
And of course a great bottle of wine. A superb dinner by one of Canadas top chefs, James Walt. We had just missed by one week the farm to dinner table set outdoors up the mountain which is legendary in Whistler.

A beautiful ambiance and fantastic meal. What a great birthday. We then went to a free concert in Olympic Plaza by Michael Franti.

Then back to the Mix at the hotel for a nightcap and we'll call it a day. Tomorrow brings big adventures!

We started Sunday with breakfast at the hotel and walked the dog while we made plans for the day. We decided to take the gondola up to the top of the mountain and take part in the Roundhouse Bar B Que at the very top. Those of you who know my fear of heights will chuckle that there is no way that I would ever do such a thing. But I did it and it was so worth the fear which passed very quickly into wonder at the view and sights along the way upward. I am the person that went zip-lining in Belize, and had to be lowered down on a rope. I can't ride Ferris wheels without having a panic attack. So I was a little more than concerned that I would freak out when we started the journey up the mountain.

Yes, this is a great big bear. One of the highlights of the trip.

Top of the world!

Alpine lake and wildflowers

The roundhouse, bar restaurant, store, etc

You can see the people in the red jackets climbing on the glacier

On the way back down

It is way down there to the bottom, around 6000 feet

Back to the village!

The scenery on the top of Whistler mountain was spectacular to say the least and I am so glad we went up there. Now to finish off the evening we went over to the Bearfoot Bistro to sample vodka in the Belvedere Ice Room. The Bearfoot Bistro's Belvedere Ice Room is Canada's first sub-zero vodka tasting room and the coldest one worldwide. It is a sleek space where guests can step up to the ice bar and sample a range of 50 vodkas from around the world. No need to worry about freezing in the cold-as-ice room since enthusiasts will be provided with warm Canada Goose down parkas and winter hats so you can enjoy the arctic ambiance in complete comfort (- 40 degree celcius).  What a great experience!

We tried vodka from Canada, Russia, Poland, France, and of all places...Minnesota!  To warm up, we picked our favorite vodka from the tasting for a Martini at the bar. Roger went for the Belvedere and my favorite was Imperia Russian Standard vodka. Crisp and clean pure taste. That pretty much did us in for the day and it was time to take Charlie out for a little potty break and get ready to end our holiday in Canada.

We had a wonderful time and enjoyed meeting alot of the Canadian people. My next blog will be about what   I liked about Canada and its differences from the states and its cultural differences. And don't forget Canadian TV. I heart George Strombolopolous!!

Back in the USA

Unfortunately the border wait to get back into the US was 2 hours long!