Alive and Well in the Pacific Northwest (2) Book Club Fun

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me”-C. S. Lewis

     Tacoma and Oregon 031     As any writer knows, it’s not enough to just write a book. You must be willing to market yourself as well as your work. It’s a hard thing to do; putting your baby(book) out their for all sorts of criticism whether it’s good or bad. I took a deep breath and let it out and after I introduced myself, I began each sentence with, Do you read romance novels?

     On July 25th, I had the pleasure of being the guest author at the Ladies in White book club. These are nurses, in varied fields of medicine, that come together once a month to relax and enjoy each others company. They take turns hosting the club in their homes, to eat, drink and share opinions regarding their chosen tomes.

   There is no friend as loyal as a book”-Ernest Hemingway 

     This particular evening turned out to be a lesson of interest for me. To hear the women express their opinion regarding certain chapters, paragraphs or moments in You Need Love Like I Do, the story seemed to come alive. I also learned to work on tempo, description and what does and doesn’t work for a reader. All of these things of course are opinions not to hurt but to help regarding my future books.

     To move forward, you must not be afraid of people’s opinions. These, like everything else in life, if taken for what they are worth, will help the author to become stronger and better at his craft of writing.

     Many thanks to the ladies-Kim Edmunds, Christal Delong, Jennifer Lambert and Jodi Lalla. It was a pleasure!

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must write it.”-Toni Morrison 

Summers End and Roadside Beauty

The sunflower is mine, in a way.”-Vincent van Gogh


Flower power

Summer Beauty

   Is it really the end of summer? Just as I was about to count the days left before cold weather would knock on our doors and winter coats would come out of the back of the closet, I find that the season is ending. Already people are mulling through department stores with children in tow, finding last-minute back to school bargains and supplies. 

     While there is still time, let’s take a moment out of our busy days and humid nights to enjoy the last bits of summer. Families are cramming in late season camping and vacation trips. Amusement parks will soon close rides and turn off water slides. So get out and enjoy the last fringes of summer.  Have a safe and wonderful Labor Day weekend.

In the Corner of the U.S. ( chpt.1) Apple Fritter Delight

“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to food”-W.C. Fields 

Voodoo Donuts-fritter

Voodoo Donuts-fritter

While living in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve developed a love for many things; the coastline, art, lots of trees and apple fritters.

It all started with Voodoo Donuts. Located at 22 SW 3rd Ave, Portland, OR. The business was started by Kenneth “Cat Daddy” Pogson and Tres Shannon. They are open twenty-four hours a day, except on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day.

Voodoo Doughnuts is a cash only shop but a ATM is available.

Donuts and fritters

Donuts and fritters

My fritter craving continued as I sought another shop, Legendary Donuts, 2602 6th Ave., Tacoma, WA. Legendary goes beyond the normal with custom creations like donuts made into a large hamburger and fries or doughnut towers. Donuts considered as Legendary are those with fancy toppings and fillings.

After awhile my main hangout became Dockside Donuts, 1112 Puyallup Ave. Tacoma, WA. Kay, the clerk that worked the drive-up window, became my new friend. At least twice a week, I would whip through the drive through, and without asking, she would begin sacking up my favorite surgery delight. Once in a while, she would treat me to a hot, out of the oven apple fritter. Joy, bliss and utter happiness would cover  my fingertips along with the sugar frosting. 

Kay-Dockside Donuts

Kay-Dockside Donuts

Kay is a sweetheart. With a ready smile, she always greets you with a “Good morning” or lovingly scolds you when you have been away too long. There is something special about being a ‘regular customer’ and having someone looking out for you. Giving great customer service is becoming a lost art in America. So when I find it, I try to embrace it by letting those that give it know how much I appreciate it.

Just like my apple fritters, they are both, hard to find.

Did You Say Go West? (6) From the Heart

If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share”-W. Clement Stone

Glass ornaments

Glass ornaments

     The day started in gloom. A blanket of grey, dull, overcast that beckons one to stay in and sleep the day away. I avoided the hand that tried to pull me back into the mood of the morning and chose to meet someone who would brighten even the dullest day.

Bill Evans is the proprietor of a family owned business called the Pacific Northwest Shop.  The red brick building on the corner at 2702 North Proctor, Tacoma, Washington, is charming. The logo on their business card states, “Gifts from our corner of America.” First you must understand, Bill supports local and small businesses from many areas as long as it comes from Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Idaho. 


Larry Jones

Larry Jones

The unknown foundation of the shop started forty-five years ago, when Bill and Ann lived in Peru.

He saw the work by local  weavers as they  produced beautiful products and then sold them. The money would be used to aid the village to support itself. So in 1978 he established the Pacific Northwest Shop with the understanding that all work sold would come from small cottage industry and tribal groups.

 To give you an idea of how far Bill will go to bring back the best to his shop, we will start in Connell, WA. There you will find a woman who uses the milk from her pasture raised goats to  make soap. In Langley, another woman makes chocolate candles and soap that smell so divine that I had to remember not to eat them. Bill supports local and family owned wineries. One label competed with the California big boys, and now boasts itself as a proud contender.

      Plum Yum, organic in nature, is a fruit spread from Rock Island, WA. You can drive to Walla Walla for the best Bar-B-Que sauce in the state or you can stop by Bill’s store for a bottle. In Kittitas, a soup that was made for Black Angus cow hands, is now available for purchase. Labeled as the county’s “Best Kept Secret,” Tacoma Tacobet Tortilla Soup caused workers to wait in line for a dish of the hearty delight. Coffee, treats and sweets are also available.

     Even the artwork, whether handcrafted, sketched or painted, are part of this project. For example, a handcrafted, thin copper metal design of a salmon, fused between two pieces of glass, is part of a dishware collection by Larry Jones. Ceramics are by artists from Port Townsend and other small communities. Even the common and simple, like greeting cards or books geared towards hiking, cooking, plants, travel and children’s stories are related to the beloved Pacific Northwest.

I delight in Bills easy way as he excuses himself to answer a question or sign for a UPS delivery. “Regulars” that stop by give him hugs and chat briefly before they leave. His easy personality makes this shop one that allows good old fashion browsing.

I wander through the store and find myself instantly attracted to large bowls of medium size, glass globes with marbled designs. Others shaped like tear drops dangle and sparkle in front of the large window, catching slivers of light that dare to enter. Even the beautiful red and clear shaped glass umbrellas offer a unique alternative. These visual delights are produced by a company in Seattle that uses the ash from Mt. St. Helen’s.

 Pacific Northwest Shop is a gem that cannot be passed up. Family owned, professional and warm; it became the sunshine in an otherwise gloomy day. (

Did You Say Go West? (chp.4) Finding the Unusual

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware”-Martin Buber


Courtesy of Corn Palace Visitors Center

Courtesy of Corn Palace Visitors Center

   While traveling, there are the wild, strange and the unusual to be found. For me, a unique site that I discovered was The World’s Only Corn Palace, 604 N. Main St. in Mitchell, SD.

    An estimated 500,000 tourists from all over the United States and beyond, travel to this small area of the state to view the unique corn murals. Originally, this introduced South Dakota’s agricultural climate as strong and healthy.

Westward bound 536   In 1892, the World’s Only Corn Palace was established on the city’s Main Street. The present structure is home to the Corn Palace Festival with fall festival celebration in late August every year. The building is also available for local exhibits, dances, stage shows, meetings, banquets, prom’s and graduations that take place throughout the year.

     It is said that over 275,000 ears of corn are used in the design of the murals. All colors, red, brown, black, blue, white, orange, calico, yellow and green, to name a few of the twelve, are grown naturally. In the process of the designs, various grains, rye, oat heads and sour dock are used. Each year, a Corn Palace Festival Committee selects a new theme. Through the talented hands of local artists, these interesting works of art come to life.

Courtesy of Corn Palace Visitors Center

Courtesy of Corn Palace Visitors Center

     The decorating process starts in late May. By August, the murals are stripped to make way for new ones  completed by the first of October.

For those interested in current or future events in the area can visit The 2014 theme is, “Remember When.”

Did You Say Go West? (5) I Need Water!

“Water is the driving force of all nature”-Leonardo da Vinci

Westward bound 545

As you travel endless lanes of highway, looking to the left and then the right, you’ll find plenty of barren land, ranches and cattle. Every now and then you’ll find signs with catchy phrases touting the need to stop at Wall Drug. Who and what, you may ask, is Wall Drug?

In December of 1931, just as the Great Depression was at its start, Dorothy and Ted Hustead used an inheritance from his father of 3,000 dollars to purchase a drugstore. It would be the only one in a small, isolated town in the South Dakota Badlands. By the summer of 1936, the business remained stagnate and the Husteads five-year business plan was crumbling away like the town. Cars traveling on Route 16A whizzed past Wall like a fly in search of food.

One day, during a hot, miserable July Sunday, Dorothy got a brilliant idea. She thought of all the traffic that traveled on Route 16A and how dusty and thirsty they had to have been. She suggested to her husband to put up signs along the freeway akin to the Burma Shave ads that people were familiar with. Their ads would tell people to stop at Wall Drug for Free Ice Water. This simple idea made Wall Drug one of the most successful attractions in the United States.

The Husteads discovered a simple logic. “No matter where you are, you can succeed if you offer people good humor, great service and attractive pricing.”

While traveling along I-90, east of Rapid City, look for the colorful and zany Wall ads that come at you with such regularity that you have no choice but to stop in the town of Wall, population 843 as of a 2012 census. When you pull into the center of 510 Main Street, don’t be surprised if you find a crowd and the parking lots are full. (Don’t fear, they have enough parking to accommodate three hundred cars)

At Wall Drug’s you can find what you want and more. The outer buildings gives one the impression of the old frontier with the structures made of timber and old brick. The walkway is constructed of Cheyenne River Rock. Beautiful Western art and illustrations are just a start of what you find inside. The mall delights with clothing, candy, toys, souvenirs, books, etc. There is one main restaurant with four dining rooms that can accommodate up to 520 people. And if you need a moment to give thanks, there is a chapel for praying.

So, the next time you find yourself on I-90 and a sign beckons you to grab a bite, cool your heels or simply get a fresh drink of water, stop in at Wall Drugs. You’ll be glad you did.


Did you Say Go West? (chp. 3) Art and Play

Creativity abound

Creativity abound

Of all the places I see, large and small, town or cites I never tire of the wonderful and creative ideas people present to the world.

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures”-Henry Ward Beecher 

It could be an exceptional business or a quirky idea that someone conceived and proved that it could work. Tinkertopia is that business. Located at 1914 Pacific Ave. Tacoma, WA, this was an idea born out of creativity, Launched almost a year ago as a Space Work Tacoma project, designed to match creative endeavors and artists with a storefront business that has been vacant for a while.

Tinkertopia shares the same sidewalk as the University of Tacoma on Pacific Ave. who decided to take a chance to see if the idea would work. The team consists of Darcy, a teacher with an early childhood and Montessori background and her husband, RR Anderson, a political cartoonist. They decided to put their artistic talents to great use and began to pull their vision together.



What do you do with sustainable raw material that everyone else sees as trash? You find a way to recycle it to works of art. It began with a year of salvaging from design and architect firms. People gave things away. For example, 1940 wood bowling ball pins, by the carload. Even artists contributed unused paints and canvas. All of this would be done without the guarantee that they would meet the committee’s approval.

Then one year later on July 17, 2013, they were granted their own piece of the rock. The Space Works project assisted the couple in planning, organizing, marketing and finances. They gave Darcy and RR the expertise and training that a business major would know but an artist would not. Soon the community; consisting of teachers and families with children, began to rally and support this new establishment.

Tinkertopia offers basic, simple skill workshops not only for children but adults also. You can hold parties for birthdays or grown-ups who want a little free time to release the stress of everyday life and return to the child within. Darcy says, “When you are allowed to play, creativity comes through.” (