Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Poem

I have been posting Friday poems intermittently for some time, and while I know that the poems I post here stand alone and need no explanation I would like to say a word about poetry in general.  Having been drawn to poetry my whole life, I sometimes forget that not everyone has the connection to it that I do. In the same way that you might return to a stunning photograph, or savor that delicious glass of wine, or stand in awe before a perfect painting, to me, a well-written poem is incredibly powerful. If you are not typically a reader of poetry, I hope that you enjoy these.  And if you are new to my blog, you can go to the Friday Poems archive a read a few more.

Before She Died

When I look at the sky now, I look at it for you.
As if with enough attention, I could take it in for you.

With all the leaves gone almost from
the trees, I did not walk briskly through the field.

Late today with my dog Wool, I lay down in the upper field,
he panting and aged, me looking at the blue. Leaning

on him, I wondered how finite these lustered days seem
to you. A stand of hemlock across the lake catches

my eye. It will take a long time to know how it is
for you. Like a dog's lifetime -- long -- multiplied by sevens.

Copyright 2000 by Karen Chase.
from Kazimierz Square, 2000
CavanKerry Press, Fort Lee, N.J.

Monday, November 19, 2012


I usually try to keep our shop news on our shop blog, but I had to share this one. Check out our glass seashell used in a recent advertisement by Kraft Macaroni & Cheese!

A video on youtube and a contest on their Facebook page

Of course you can purchase your very own world famous glass seashell terrarium right HERE

And check me out, I got through this whole post without any cheesy puns. Almost.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Music Monday: a brief history of j.wong

When I first met J.Wong he was playing a show at an outdoor amphitheater in the back woods of a small liberal arts college in 1999.  Even as a 19 year old college kid, his lyrics were perspicacious. A singer-songwriter who got his start playing guitar at age 15, Wong’s songs often relay a strong visual narrative. You just have to listen to "The Ballad of John B" once to understand that these stories come from a darker past.  

Raised in the Pacific Northwest, Wong’s music reflects the same insightful vibe of other homegrown Seattle musicians such as Damien Jurado and David Bazan.  He was a member of the band Rand Univac (née Madison) which included members of Velella Velella and James Pants. Wong released his first EP j.wong and the popular butchers in 2010, and more recently organized three singer-songwriter showcases at Seattle’s Triple Door featuring Cathedral Pearls, WIDOWER, Shannon Stephens, and Tomo Nakayama among others.  He just finished a West Coast tour, and has collaborated with visual artist Scott Kolbo on a video project to be released November 7th

J. is personally responsible for cultivating my own love of music on vinyl, and introducing me to Conor Oberst (clarification: the actual Conor Oberst--in person. And yes, I was shamefully starstruck.) When asked about his sources of musical inspiration, Wong is quick to rattle off a seemingly endless list including Harry Nilsson, Brian Wilson, George Harrison, Randy Newman, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zant, and Dave Bazan.  In his words, “Most of these are no brainers. I respond to writers that have songs you can keep going back to – songs that have a way of drawing you back whether you have heard them hundreds of times or once.” 

And indeed that’s the kind of song that Wong himself writes.  With his dark voice and upbeat chords, it's easy to lose yourself in his storytelling.  His newest album, The Statue of Corrupted Endeavor, is enjoyed best with a glass of scotch aside a warm fire.  Hours later you’ll catch yourself humming "Coming Down."   

You can catch j.wong live Wednesday, November 7th at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard, along with Mark Eitzel. 

[poster art by Scott Kolbo] 

j.wong's new album, The Statue of Corrupted Endeavor is available now at jwongmusic.comAlbum art by Charlie Fornia. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Skagit Valley

I am kicking myself for having failed to take any photographs during our latest trip to Anacortes.  However, I will summarize our highlights so that if you find yourself in Skagit Valley, you too can enjoy some of the best places.  

1. Compass Wines:  This wine shop is fantastic, and has a stellar reputation. They are friendly and unpretentious, and have a enormous selection.  We happened to be there the day they were hosting a free wine tasting by two Italian wineries.  Delizioso! 

2. Apothecary Spa at the Majestic Inn: This is my favorite spa in all of Washington.  They book up quickly so make sure you schedule an appointment well in advance.  Show up early so that you can take the time to enjoy the eucalypus steam room and the relaxation room where you can lounge in your cozy robe and slippers, sip tea, nibble on dried fruit and nuts, and flip through magazines before your massage. They have a fully stocked locker room so you can shower and get ready for your evening afterward.   

3. The Brown Lantern:  Beer. Enough said.  

4. Adrift: This restaurant easily makes my top five restaurants of all time. I love this place. It's a casual atmosphere with delicious food.  The tables are divided by shelves of used books, which only adds to its charm.  Be sure to make reservations as this place is extremely popular for locals and tourists alike.  Favorite menu item: Green Dragon curry mixed shellfish steamers. 

5. Washington Park:  Located on the tip of Fidalgo Island, this is the best way to get moving after a night of indulgence.  Roll out of bed, grab a coffee, and head to Washington Park for a walk around the wooded two mile loop which has great views of the sound all the way around.  The loop is open to pedestrians from 6-10AM (perfect for walking the dog or a short run) and opens to cars at 10AM. There's a great picnic area at the western-most point if you go later in the day for a picnic lunch.  

6. Rhododendron Cafe: Located on Chuckanut Drive in Edison/Bow, this cozy little diner has great breakfast. They are closed during the winter so double check that they are open before you head out.  

7. Taylor Shellfish Farms: If you are looking for fresh oysters, wind your way up Chuckanut Drive to Taylor Shellfish on Samish Bay. Drive under the large sign at the top of the hill and it leads you down a steep drive and straight into their shellfish farm.  You can BBQ right there at the picnic tables or take your oysters to go on a bag of ice.  If you're looking for a restaurant option, you can enjoy some of their shellfish at the Oyster Bar right around the corner.  Taylor also has retail stores in Shelton and Seattle, or you can order through their website. 

8. Breadfarm: Work your way back down Chuckanut Drive and you'll find yourself back in Edison.  Be sure to stop at Breadfarm for a delicious EVERYTHING.  Seriously. We left there with a loaf of french bread, two croissants, a pain au chocolat, a double chocolate cupcake, and a macaron. Come with cash or your checkbook- they don't take credit cards.  Maybe that's a good thing.  

9. Art Galleries: While you are in Edison stop into the art galleries and shops. Smith & Vallee is a lovely space, and if you walk down the road to the woodworking shop, upstairs you can see some of Todd Horton's amazing pieces while he works in his studio.  

I suppose I forgot to mention that Anacortes has some great art galleries and antique shops as well. But if you are into art and antiques, chances are you already found them.  Anacortes is a also great starting point for hopping the San Juans, a drive through the farmlands during the annual Tulip Festival, and a visit to La Conner for more art galleries and antique shops.  

Note: Since we are lucky enough to have a friend with a cabin in Anacortes we haven't stayed at any of the hotels in the area, but if you have any recommendations on where to stay feel free to leave those (and other Skagit Valley favorites) in the comments.