Tag Archives: Seattle

Summer Visits and Visitors

San Francisco

One of the main reasons D. and I chose to retire when we did was to spend more time with family, and this summer was rich with visits and travel, though we haven’t gone far from home. We’ve lived in Tacoma, Washington, for over two years now, and I’ve barely begun to explore the interesting places this area offers. Having guests helps. Have you noticed how often we neglect the tourist attractions in our own home territory until there’s a visitor to share them with?

Our summer actually began in late May, when I popped over to the Bay Area to visit with my mom and daughter. The three of us spent lots of time walking about, and found a path behind the ruins of Sutro Baths that led us to the view above. There’s something soothing about walks in Golden Gate Park, especially when the afternoon fog rolls in a patters my face with tiny kisses. The smell of the pines and eucalyptus trees sings to my heart of home.

Next we gathered with the G. clan near Phoenix for D’s son’s graduation from medical school. We were able to rent a house big enough for the lot of us, and there are a lot of us. The heat was fierce, but spirits were high as we celebrated a new beginning in the lives of M. and his marvelous girlfriend.

View of Lake Chelan from a hiking trail on the south shore.

View of Lake Chelan from a hiking trail on the south shore.

Back in Washington, D. and I celebrated our second anniversary at Lake Chelan in central Washington. It was bloody hot, but the views are gorgeous. We’d hoped to rent a canoe or small boat and putter about on the lake, but all we found were Jet Skis and speed boats–not at all conducive to leisurely rides. (There were kayaks too, but I’m allergic to any craft that’s hard to exit in an emergency. The point of a boat is to stay on top of the water, right?) To soothe our disappointment, we visited wineries. Nice.

USS Turner Joy

Back at home, D. and I visited Bremerton and toured the USS Turner Joy, a destroyer-class ship that played an important role in the Vietnam War. We had the great good fortune to meet John F. Keift, author of The Saltiest Ship in the Fleet, who gave us an extensive tour. Keift showed us the control room where the men who controlled the big guns watched radar blips that represented heavily armed Vietnamese fishing vessels zooming toward the ship. He spoke with gravity about pushing the buttons that erased those blips from the radar screen, knowing that each blip represented many lives.

In July, my mother came to Tacoma, where she and I explored every quilt shop we could find. We weren’t allowed to take photos of the art quilt exhibit in the Washington State History Museum, alas. I was expecting quaint bedspreads; instead, we were amazed by the depth, detail, and texture of the artwork on display. There was even a 3-D forest scene sculpted from cloth and fibers.

We also braved the hellish traffic to visit Seattle’s Museum of Asian Art in Volunteer Park. Lovely spot, and Capitol Hill is a lovely neighborhood, with beautifully restored historic homes and mature trees. In fact, a huge branch crashed to the street just outside the Volunteer Cafe, where Mom and I were eating lunch. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but what a shock to come home and find that a third of your tree has fallen into the street, blocking traffic. Anyway, the exhibit was entitled Mood Indigo and featured textiles and clothing from around the world colored with this precious blue.

Modern clothing is so boring compared to this.

Modern clothing is so boring compared to this.

Shorty after Mom left, my daughter came with her boyfriend. Nerds to the core, they enjoyed the Pokemon hunt at the fairgrounds in Puyallup. The state fair doesn’t open until Labor Day weekend, but the grounds were crawling with people intently staring at their phones–very funny to watch.

Hunting Pokemon at the Fairgrounds

A highlight of their visit was Seattle’s Experience Music Project Museum, where we saw sacred relics at the Star Trek exhibit,

Model used in filming the original Star Trek TV series

Model used in filming the original Star Trek TV series

wearable art,

Wearable art at EMP

and a tower of guitars that plays music for visitors.

Tower of Guitars at EMP

You haven’t really experienced Michael Jackson’s Thriller until you see it on the EMP’s ginormous screen. Why was I the only person dancing? The horror movie display is also not to be missed–delightfully creepy.

Closer to home, we finally visited Tacoma’s Union Station, now converted to a courthouse, which houses several works of Dale Chihuly’s blown-glass art. He’s a Tacoma native, and has richly decorated his home town.

Tacoma's Union Station

Summer’s winding down, despite our current heat wave, and I’m getting ready for a few mini-jobs in the local schools, plus the writing I’ve put on the back burner during all these visits.

I hope you’ve spent a restful summer with your nearest and dearest. What was your highlight?



C is for Cues (and Tattoos)

CCues and Tattoos 036

Retirement is a time for exploring new interests and reconnecting with old passions. My dear friend Virginia was in Seattle this weekend for a belly dance event, and I spent Saturday with her at Seattle Center, surrounded by colorful, exotic dancers. The Cues and Tattoos dance festival focused on Tribal Style and fusion style belly dance, something I didn’t know much about until now. Basically, U.S. belly dancers speak of “cabaret/oriental style” and “ATS.” ATS is performed in groups and is improvisational rather than choreographed, with troupe members taking turns as the leader who cues her fellow dancers which step is coming up next. Their costumes and adornment reflect a different aesthetic than cabaret dancers’, with colorful turbans, ethnic jewelry, voluminous skirts, and plenty of tattoos.

Cues and Tattoos 041

I’m told this is called a “hair garden.”Cues and Tattoos 043

The founder of ATS, Carolina Nericcio-Bohlman, was on hand this weekend in Seattle. In addition to the performances on stage, there were vendors of costumes and gear, as well as workshops for dancers. Isn’t this vendor gorgeous?

Cues and Tattoos 029

It was fascinating to watch women, and a few men, enter dressed as typical Seattleites, and emerge looking like this.Cues and Tattoos 013

Virginia and her husband now own Saroyan Mastercrafts, the premier manufacturer of finger cymbals for belly dance. Here she is with her wares at the Seattle event,

Cues and Tattoos 035

and here’s their website, in case you’re in need of a good set of finger cymbals.


Most ATS dancers play finger cymbals during their performances, and Saroyans really are the very best—I own two sets I bought long before my friend owned the company. Their tone is clear and resonant, and they last forever.

And here’s a troupe doing a fusion number that featured cymbal variations.

Cues and Tattoos 053

“Fusion” is a popular term among belly dancers these days; dancers combine belly dance moves with ballet, flamenco, gymnastics…you name it. These three dancers combined belly dance moves with hip-hop locks and pops.

Cues and Tattoos 027

I do love colorful characters, and I got my fill at Cues and Tattoos. More importantly, I’m feeling inspired to start taking belly dance classes again. This dance was a big part of my life for many years, but I’ve eased off lately in favor of more sedentary pursuits, like writing. Dancing is good exercise for body and soul, and dancing makes me happy. Besides, who wouldn’t want to try those fabulous costumes?

How about you? Is there a hobby from your past that you’d like to take up again?