Our three day vacation in our home town started at the Rotary Club of Tacoma #8. On Veteran's Day Rotary hosted members of the armed services from Joint Base Lewis McChord. Friend Rob Erb paid for lunch for both Sgt. Mark Deandrea and his wife Annie. Unfortunately, both the holiday and our Rotary Club meeting fell on the same day. This meant that soldiers and airmen would have to get dressed up in uniform come to the meeting on their day off. My two soldiers did not appear. I don't blame them. I did enjoy talking with Mark and Annie. He's a recruiter and she's a civilian employed by the Washington National Guard. They were very nice people.
At the meeting The Tacoma Chamber of Commerce presented the 32nd annual John H. Anderson Military Citizen of the Year award to SMSgt. Michael Lantz. The award was presented by sponsor George Cargill, TriWest Healthcare Alliance. The presentation of the John H. Anderson Military Citizen of the Year Award was begun to commemorate the civic contributions by our resident military personnel. It is named for John Anderson, who served as Tacoma’s Mayor, as the Chamber of Commerce Chair of the Board and as a successful businessman.
After the presentation, Warrior Transition Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Danny Dudek spoke about the Warriors Transition program, which brings our service men and women home from the battlefronts to help them integrate to non-combat communities.
After the meeting I hurriedly checked into our Bed & Breakfast, The Plum Duff. I had to wait as another guest paid innkeeper Peter Stevens and took a receipt. Peter and his wife Robin are friendly hosts and try to make each guest feel at home. Peg had a doctor's appointment and was to meet me at the Grand Cinema to see The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest. Peg was delayed and friend Rita Morkrid waited for us first in the lobby of the theater and finally went into the auditorium and took her seat and saved two for Peg and I. Both Peg and I arrived just before the screening. We bought tickets, but were told the film was sold out. It was, but luckily Rita was there saving our seats. The movie had opened six days earlier and I thought that an early afternoon performance would be easy to find seats for. Wrong again.
Author Stieg Larsson's "Millennium Trilogy" winds to a close with The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, director Daniel Alfredson's adaptation of the best-selling novel following punky protagonist Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) as she fights to prove that she's innocent of committing multiple murders. As Lisbeth lies in intensive care, the corrupt officials in high office attempt to take advantage of her incapacitated state by accusing her of murder. But fiercely independent Lisbeth isn't about to play the scapegoat, and the more her accusers work to ruin her life, the harder she and her loyal friend Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) must push back to prove them wrong.
This movie series contains violence. I was completely taken aback when Peg didn't leave during the Dragon Tattoo the first time we watched it. There are several brutal scenes, but they are so much a part of the story and the characters that it works. Peg simply turned her head away from the screen and then continued watching. Most people are spellbound.
Peg has read all three books and we have both now seen all three movies. When the lights came on in the movie house, friend Rita, who knew nothing about what the film was, said, "That's one of the best movies I've ever seen. It held my interest all the way through."
As we made our way to the lobby I complained to two men in front of me who had just seen the movie, also. "Hey, come on. Move along, get out of my way," I complained. My friends Don Rennegarbe and John Lantz turned to face me and then laughed when they recognized who was heckling them. We laughed and greeted each other. Don was with friends and had other plans, but John and his wife Pat joined Peg and Rita and me at Cafe Divino.
Cafe Divino is located in Tacoma's Old Town Business District at the bottom of the North 30th Street hill. It's right next to a Starbucks and right across the street from one of my favorite haunts, The Spar Tavern with their yummy Spar Chips. Cafe Divino owner Jana Zimmerman put two tables together to accommodate our party of five. We arrived in time for happy hour (3:00 to 6:00 p.m.). They have great selections for only five dollars.
Pat and John had wine only. Peg had a personal pizza and a glass of wine. I had a Caesar salad, quesadillas and a glass of wine. Rita had a black bean soup and a glass of water. The prices were all reasonable, the people were friendly, and the food was tasty. You can't ask for much more than that.
Peg and I have known John and Pat for years, but have never really had a chance to sit down and talk. I was in a group called The Cast Club about fifteen years ago with John and Pat. Each month a member of The Cast Club would host an evening at their home. They would furnish popcorn, movie theater snacks along with pop, beer, and wine. At 7:30 the host would start talking about why they had chosen a particular movie to watch that evening and finally they would reveal the title. After viewing the film there would be a discussion. I was extrememly busy and finally dropped out, but John and Pat continue as members. So, sitting in Cafe Divino sipping wine and laughing we talked about movies and books and had a great time. John mentioned he has been looking for a men's book club, so he will be attending the next meeting of the group I belong to in December. We are reading the classic Travels with Charley In Search of America by John Steinbeck.
As we left Peg and I invited Rita to join us Friday evening for dinner at Ravenous. She and her friend Willard were attending the production at the Broadway Center as Peg and I were.
Peg and I drove less than a mile to our B&B. Neither of us had really seen our bedroom. Wearily we climbed to the second floor and our little suite. We had a private bathroom, a small library/reading room, and the bedroom. I climbed almost immediately into the queen-size bed, after moving a table lamp to the table behind the head of the bed. Peg sat up and read, while I leaned on a pillow and read until I nodded off. About two in the morning I awoke and realized that I knew nothing about turning on the heat. It was a little bit chilly. There was a gas fireplace and a remote control. With printing too small for me to read I stabbed at the controls until the firelogs came to life and then went back to bed satisfied.
We had a nice time at breakfast on Friday morning. We met fellow guests Cindy and her son Will who were visiting from Davis, California. An older son, Erik, graduated from the University of Puget Sound over a year ago and is currently finishing up with some additional classes and student-teaching at Stadium High School. Both Erik and Will have great voices and Will was being interviewed later that day at the university. Cindy visited the Pacific Northwest as a child and has been enjoying her Tacoma trips each time she visits her son Erik.
Peg and I had loosely-made plans. I had a noon meeting at Tacoma Little Theatre, while she had an afternoon birthday luncheon at the Parkway Tavern just a hundred yards down the street from the theater. Both the theater and the tavern are about six blocks from the Plum Duff.
I met fellow members (Nan Peele and Kelly Hale) of the board of directors for TACID - Tacoma Area Coalition for Individuals with Disabilities outside the theatre, but no one showed up to meet us. We were there to discuss a benefit performance of the Broadway musical, Annie. The three of us walked up the street to the Parkway for lunch. I love the salmon burgers there.
When I was board chair at TACID, Kelly served as secretary and both she and Nan were so helpful with their human resources training as they put together an employee work manual for the organization. They are as smart as a whip and always willing to help. After our meeting, Nan and Kelly left, while I moved into the private dining room at the Parkway and joined Peg's P.E.O. sorority for their monthly birthday lunch.
Peg loves the salmon burgers at the Parkway also, and so was responsible for about six of the P.E.O. sisterhood dining on the moist and flavorful seafood sandwich. I enjoy joining in with the group and talking with them. They are so much fun and always willing to listen to my dumb jokes and puns.
We usually host a barbeque on our deck during the summer for Peg's P.E.O. sisters. They bring some good desserts and their spouses. P.E.O. was formed over a hundred years ago and one of their goals is to support women's educational opportunities. One of the first colleges they helped with scholarship monies was Cottey College, a women's private college in Nevada. Missouri. I was born in Nevada and both my grandmother and grandfather worked at Cottey. A member of Peg's sorority graduated from Cottey so there is a connection that extends beyond a mere organization. Cottey was founded by Virginia Alice Cottey Stockard in 1884 and is currently owned and supported by the P.E.O. Sisterhood.
After lunch and a little nap in the afternoon we were off for dinner and a show. We had reservations for dinner at Ravenous, which is right across the street from the Broadway Center. There is a sparsity of signage out front. Rita and Willard weren't sure where to go. Inside the decor is . . . well, pretty much absent. Plus it's small, drafty and ill lit.
Rita and Willard joined us for a light dinner. Peg and I shared appetizers and an Asian salad, while Rita and Willard just had soup and salad. Peg was the only one who had wine. The staff were nice, but the food seemed only okay, while the prices seemed a little steep for what was delivered. I've eaten lunch there before and was unimpressed then. Dinner left me more so. I'm not shy about speaking my mind. I don't see how they survive, other than being the closest restuarant (besides a Subway) to the Broadway Center.
In spite of the food, we had a fun time at dinner, although I was slightly bemused by Willard's attempt to explain "Black People" to us. Perhaps, he thought we needed some background help since we were seeing The Color Purple at the Pantages and we seem sooooooooo white.
After dinner we walked across the street to the Broadway Center for Performing Arts. The Broadway Center actually composes the Rialto Theater, Theatre on the Square, and the Pantages. The Pantages is the crown jewel of the Broadway Center. We had excellent seats (Row M - middle of the row) for the performance. There were many of our friends there. The production was excellent: acting, costumes, dancing, singing, and music. In making the story into a musical, the plot was changed considerably. The finale was upbeat. There was still incest, sexual and physical abuse, drinking, cavorting, and racism, but in the end the man everyone wanted to kill had a revelation, changed his ways, and joined in the "Thank You, Jesus" curtain closer. It was almost like watching a Lifetime movie on cable.
As people streamed out of the theater there was no way to find Rita and Willard, who sat some distance away from us, and so Peg and I went back to the Plum Duff and bed.
Saturday Peg wanted to sleep in, so I went down to breakfast without Peg. A new guest joined me along with Cindy and Will from the previous morning. Robin had been paying for his room as I came to check in on Thursday. He lives in Tacoma and works in Orting. Every once in a while he just likes to get away from the daily grind and so a local B&B like the Plum Duff is perfect.
Robin had a slight drawl. He mentioned he was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma, which has a population of about 16,000. He looked very skeptical when I replied, "My mother was born in Chickasha." I think he thought I was pulling his leg, but then I explained that I was born in Missouri.
When Robin mentioned that he would be going home and probably playing guitar for himself, I asked what kind of music he liked. "Country music," I guessed. I was correct. He likes Buck Owens. He was shocked originally when he found out that Buck had played Tacoma in the old days along with Lefty Frizzel. He also mentioned that one of his favorites was Graham Parsons. Cindy loved Graham Parsons. He had been a member of one of my favorite bands The Byrds as well. It is definitely a small world.
The five us had a nice time at breakfast. Robin checked out and Cindy and Will got ready to explore Tacoma. I went upstairs to wake Peggy.
Peg was awake and dressed when I came back up to the room. She was a bit hungry and wanted to know why I hadn't brought her some of the fresh fruit and yogurt from breakfast. I told her we could easily remedy the situation.
We were going to brunch at a friend's house, but stopping home first to check email and snail mail. Along the way we stopped at MickyD's for a Sausage McMuffin and two hashbrowns. I had a bite of a hashbrown and Peg saved the breakfast sandwich for later.
In the parking lot we saw a collection of many Mini-Coopers. Even in the fall rain people gathered to talk about their favorite little car. There was nearly two dozen of them parked side by side in two rows. I think Peg might like one, but of course she has never driven one. To me they look like I would have to bend and squat more than I want to just to get in the door. Getting out might involve rolling on to the ground. Of course, Peg is already closer to the ground than me.
Peg called on the way to brunch to see if there was anything we could bring, but we were advised to just bring ourselves. We walked in and realized is was a surprise birthday brunch for me. The surprize certainly worked for me.
Jan Runbeck and Mike Mowat were hosting. Donn Irwin was doing much of the cooking. Debbie Irwin was helping with prepping. Vickie Erb was her happy self, but her attitude may have been helped along with the Bloody Marys that her hubby Robbo prepared. Peg and I quickly had our drinks in hand. With the tomato juice, celery stalk and picked asparagas the drink was almost healthy enough to counteract everything else we were served: brown and crispy baked bacon, fried Portuguese sausage, scrambled eggs, sliced potatoes with onions and peppers, and French toast with homemade raspberry jam. There was also a pitcher of orange/cranberry juice, a combination that is my favorite.
Gag gifts and cards from friends are always a delight. One of my gifts was a discount coupon for a restaurant that I have avoided for years. Everyone else likes it, but the restaurant was on my bad list because they ignored a complaint I had. They served steamed clams with broken shells (a health regulation no-no). Perhaps, they have had a change in managment or ownership. I'll try them again if it makes my friends happy.
I also received a a dark chocolate cup of chocolate mousse with icing and whiped cream and a candle from Affairs and I had a nice party going for me. I ate my mousse, which was wonderful and then broke the dark chocolate cup in half. I dropped half of it into my coffee and half in Peg's. We bemoaned the fact that there was no Bailey's Irish Cream and Rob ran out to his truck and brought back a huge bottle. The broken dark chocolate melted immediately and the mixture of coffee and Bailey's produced an ultra rich drink that brought a contented smile to my face. I think my sweet tooth was satiated for weeks to come.
With full tummies our birthday brunchers including Peg's sister Pat, but without our hosts Jan and Mike (involved in a Tacoma Exchange Club event that evening) moved on to the Grand Cinema for a showing of Nowhere Boy, a film about the early life of John Lennon. The movie showed his family life and how most of The Beatles were put together. I say most because no mention is made of Stuart Sutcliffe nor Pete Best. Sutcliffe was the original bass player and Best the original drummer. I have a Beatle collectable that features an early photograph of The Beatles and an autograph of Pete Best. The photograph shows the incredibly young and happy super-stars-to-be George Harrison, Paul McCartney, and John Lennon just before their big breakout. Beating out the tempo is the original Beatles drummer Pete Best who was replaced with Ringo Starr on the eve of their new recording and promotions contract, which changed their clothing and personas.
After watching the movie the Erbs and the Irwins took off for places unknown while Peg, her sister Pat and I stayed for a discussion about the the movie. It was fun and only lasted for about thirty minutes.
One of my goals on this adventure was to use my Saturn Barter card as much as possible. I ended up paying for our tickets at the Broadway Center, the Plum Duff, Ravenous, and Cafe Divino. It was pretty slick although not every staff person was well versed in the use of the card. I had no problems anywhere and always tipped with real cash.
After the movie and discussion Peg, Pat and I went to dinner at Cafe Divino. Again we were in time for happy hour. Pat had chicken sandwich on Focacia bread. Peg had the tomato bisque. I had crab cakes and another Caesar salad. We were pleased to end the evening with excellent food and great prices. Yeah, Cafe Divino.