The thirty-second annual Letters of Joy
(LOJ) was held at Edmonds Community College, actually located in the neighboring town of Lynnwood. I have attended a good many of them, with my Tacoma
Calligraphy Guild friends and in the last few years, with my husband Don. Actually, Don naps, reads, plans and visits favorite local haunts while I go to
the keynote lecture and classes.
We stayed in the Best Western Harbor Inn
near the ferry landing in Edmonds, a lovely shoreline town north of Seattle on Puget Sound. The downtown is easily walk-able and there are lots of
interesting shops and good restaurants to try as well as interesting sights to see.
The meandering parking lot where the Best Western is located abuts an educational marsh. Freight trains, commuter rail and passenger trains separate the
city from the ferry landing, marinas, and Puget Sound. The lonely sound of train whistles can be heard day and night, but they don't detract from this
close-in hotel location.
LOJ always has a keynote speech by a
internationally noted calligrapher/artist. I’ve enjoyed all the LOJs, some more than others. Some of the less enjoyable have focused on traditional
calligraphy: steel nibs, black ink and white paper. I started with those tools in a class given by my friends Kathryn Whitacre and I had a really hard time
with those. For one thing, the nibs are not completely predictable, and ink is messy. I have splotched my way through many pages of exercises, beginning on
plain old notebook paper. I did kind of get it, and the results were more pleasing than I had expected. I continued exploring the possibilities and then I
came to colored pencils illustrations as well as Versal and brush lettering. Then I became immersed in color, beginning with a radish motif. The first time
I entered a calligraphy piece in the Puyallup Fair's Hobby Hall, the Tacoma News Tribune remarked on it's simplicity. Since then I've experimented with more
fruits and vegetables. I have a series called Compost Happens. Most are straight drawings, but I did enjoy the delinquent carrots and celery with white T-
shirts with cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve and the sneers on their rebellious faces.
What I really enjoy at the LOJs are more eclectic themes, crafty, how to do quick drawings, simple book making, how to cut rubber stamps (actually white
plastic erasers), tools to use and more freeform lettering. For me, that’s fun. This year my first class was with artist Maude May. If she’s teaching, I’m
taking it. It’s always fun and colorful and she has a wonderfully outgoing personality and brings tons of stuff to for us to use.
This year the speaker was Laurie Doctor
from Lexington Kentucky (lauriedoctor.com). The theme was her reaction to Marie Howe’s poem, “Magadalene – The Seven Devils”. Laurie has an extensive
network of fellow painters, poets, musicians and calligraphers. She challenged them to react in their own fields to the poem she loves. The lecture is
always accompanied by a slide show of the presenter’s works and inspiration. This year’s talk and slides were lovely and thought provoking. I'll be looking
up Marie Howe's poem!
After checking into the hotel, this was the third year that Peg and I have stayed there and Peg's sixth or seventh time, we went across the railroad tracks
to Arnie's Restaurant. The last time we ate there we had great service and one of the best tasting lobsters I've ever had. This time . . . not so much. The
Penn Cove Mussels were excellent, but the waiter didn't bring us a bowl for the shells, nor the tiny seafood forks. My large dinner fork shredded a number
of mussels as I tried to dig them out of their shells. The sauce was execellent, but unfortunately, we only had one piece of bread to soak up the flavors.
Peg's salmon was
cooked perfectly and the carrots and beets were very tasty. My spinach almond was nicely done and the sauce was good, but my miso marinated flank steak was
inedible. I've had jerky that was easier to chew. It had a good flavor, but the combination of hit and miss food selections and sloppy wait staff left us
wondering what happened over the last year.
The menu seemed to have been dumbed down and although we saw others get better service, our service was mundane. Perhaps, the waiter was new, but that's
what training is for. Management needs to be more attentive as does the staff. We probably won't return.
While Peg went off to LOJ on Friday evening
I stayed at the hotel and started reading Running Blind, a Jack Reacher book by Lee Child. "Two women are found dead in their own homes—in baths
filled with Army-issue camouflage paint, their bodies completely unmarked—Jack Reacher knew them—and he knows that they both left the Army under dubious
circumstances, both victims of sexual harassment. Reacher is under suspicion and arrested; as a former US military policeman, a loner and a drifter, he
matches the psychological criminal profile prepared by the FBI Special Agent Julia Lamarr. When another woman is killed the same way, Reacher is released
but pressured into helping the murder investigation. He has to find out what they have in common and why someone would kill more."
All I knew about Jack Reacher was that my friend Donn went ballistic when he heard that the six-foot five tough-guy hero was being played in a 2012 Reacher
feature film by five-foot seven Tom Cruise. The book like the actor came up short.
One of my favorite books, The Philosophical Baby,
written by Alison Gopnik, discusses creativity. Fellow members of my book group either loved the book or hated it. I recommended it and loved it. The book
talks about creativity as counter-factuals. I deal in counter-factuals every single day. I'm always looking at online marketing and asking "what if."
Almost always our two and three day vacations give me time to relax and think about new or better ways to approach marketing for my clients. Saturday
morning I was up early, letting my mind wander and writing down some new twists to drive traffic to websites. While Peg went back to LOJ, I drank coffee,
read newspapers, and filled three pages of notes.
Joining us in
Edmonds was our granddaughter Talia, coming from Bellingham. She ran a 5K race Saturday morning and then drove down to Edmonds. We had a hotel room waiting
for her. Peg returned to the hotel in time to take a nap before Talia arrived. After seeing her photos of friends who also were in the race and catching up
on family events, we discussed options (games and movies) as well as restaurants for dinner and breakfast.
Leaving the hotel we got into our Buick and drove less than eight blocks, but for those eight blocks I had three women giving me directions: Peg, Talia, and
Siri. I've had women tell me where to go before, but this was over-kill.
Although, we all chose Las Brisas it was
not the "first" choice of any of us. The Mexican restaurant was the only place open for an early dinner, where we could dine and then make a movie across
When we arrived there was only one other guest in the place. This was mid-afternoon. Our movie time was 4:50 pm. This is not the way to choose a restaurant.
All three of us love Mexican food, but our taste buds weren't looking for Mexican. Two days later on Cinco de Mayo we would have been super ready.
Everyone agreed that my Puerco
Asado was the best. The pork was tender and fell off the bone with little effort from my fork. Everyone's food was good. The hit for Peg and me was the goat
cheese and zuchini quesadillas. We loved the crunch of the zuchini and the flavors of the cheese, sour cream and guacamole.
If we could have had the appetizer with corn tortillas rather than flour, Talia would have probably felt the same way. Las Brisas didn't have great wine
menu but the cocktail list was extensive. In the meanwhile, I had lemonade, while Peg and Talia had water.
The movie we selected was The Other Woman starring Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton. My favorite scenes were with Leslie Mann and Cameron
Diaz. Can you say, "schtick"? They brought new hilarity to physical comedy. "After discovering her boyfriend is married, a woman tries to get her ruined
life back on track. But when she accidentally meets the wife he's been cheating on, she realizes they have much in common, and her sworn enemy becomes her
greatest friend. When yet another affair is discovered, all three women team up to plot mutual revenge on their cheating, lying, three-timing SOB." We
laughed and laughed and laughed. We wore ourselves out and all went to bed around eight.
Peg and I had eaten at the Chanterelle once before and really enjoyed it. We were hoping that our return trip would not provide disappointing.
The restaurant was scheduled to open at 8:00 am but they don't take Sunday breakfast reservations. Talia joined us in our room at 7:45 and we arrived well
before eight. We parked and I took some exterior shots of the restaurant and downtown Edmonds, while Peg and Talia looked over the menu. The doors opened
and our three person line of diners entered and captured a window table before the rush hit.
looked wonderful. The service was friendly and perfect. I chose the cornmeal waffle and bacon. It was served with syrup and butter. I buttered the waffle
and then placed my two fried eggs in the center of the waffle to melt the butter and then poured the syrup around the waffle edges sticking out from the
fried eggs. Peg gave me most of her breakfast potatoes. They were well seasoned and cooked, but I would have prefered them little more crispy. The chef had
added onions just as we had requested.
I ate half a slice of bacon and gave half to Peg. It was good bacon . . . like there could be bad bacon? I ate my other slice before starting in on my
nicely textured cornmeal waffle. I would have it again.
I was surprised at the
number and the size of the pork sausages. They were absolutely, perfectly, no doubt about it, cooked just right. I gave half of one to Talia and the other
half to Peg. Later I gave them another small bite each. I could have eaten them all by myself, but you just want to share something that good.
If I could have changed my order, I think I would have ordered a side of bacon in addition to the two pieces that came with the breakfast. Although I like
to share, bacon just doesn't go as far as you would like to think.
Peg and Talia
both had the scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, cream cheese and capers; however, Peg had more cream cheese to Talia's dismay. For me, over-cooked scrambled
eggs and omelets are something to be avoided at all costs. Eggs take a light touch. On one of our journeys to Seattle we stayed at the Mayflower Hotel and
ordered a goat chesse and herb omelet from room service. We compare all omelets to that one. The scrambled eggs with smoked salmon from Chanterelle was
right up there in the running.
When I cook eggs, I make sure they are light and fluffy . . . just right. Salmon should be cooked the same way . . . just enough. The combination that
morning was just enough and just right for both salmon and eggs.
After breakfast Peg and I wanted
to share one of our favorite statues: "Seeing Whales" by Richard Beyer, which is located between Arnie's Restaurant and the ferry landing. The group statue
was a gift from the Edmonds Arts Festival to the city. People invaribly pose with the statues and quite often decorate them as well. This morning the old
man in the wheel chair had a snail shell placed on his head before we arrived.
I like statues and sculptures that become interactive - the Jimmi Hendrix on Capitol Hill and the Larry Anderson statue at the Union Depot in Tacoma are
great examples of art that people never tire of seeing and decorating.
Leaving the statues we drove
Talia to the educational Edmonds Marsh. The marsh is a unique asset to the City of Edmonds. Volunteers have work parties to maintain it. The marsh provides
habitat for local and migrant birds and it also functions as a buffer, filtering stormwater runoff before it drains into Puget Sound. A long boardwalk lets
visitors walk a short distance on the northern side of the marsh. The marsh is a great place to see nature at work.
We left the marsh and drove up the hills overlooking the marsh, the waterfront, and downtown Edmonds. Even in the mist it was a beautiful sight.
developer of the condos on the hill over-looking the marsh and downtown put a lot of thought into the design. There are various viewpoints placed so that
even visitors can enjoy the strategic views. There are huge pots of plants, wrought iron tables and chairs and even raised rockeries to give an even greater
Many of the residents have their own balconies, but these viewpoints present opportunities for the social rituals of coffee, tea and wine as people look for
whales and talk about the Mariners, Seahawks, Storm, Huskies and Loggers
Talia loved the flowers and the views and wanted me to take a photo of a snail as it crawled along the viewpoint floor. They should should have pointed out
the snail, however, because I found it by "crunch" and Peg and Talia let out a duet of "Aack" Oh, that poor snail, but he gave us all a laugh as we left
town in separate cars. Peg and I pulled out of the Best Western parking lot at 10:00 am. Exactly an hour later we were on Highway 16 driving past Target in
Tacoma. That's what no traffic and open Express Lanes can do for commuting. It took more than an hour to get from Tacoma to Edmonds.