Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Favorite Old Book Shop

In my on-going effort to divert those of you Dear Readers who are waiting for the Caribbean Chronicles, I offer this little note on my favorite old book store. It's in (where else?) Port Townsend, Washington and is located on Washington Street at No. 821. This is, for me, the perfect sort of book shop. It has twisty-turny aisles, bookcases loaded with all sorts of esoteric tomes on various subjects, beautifully bound old books, maps, chairs set here and there so you can plop down and give the wonder you just discovered your full -has-been-loved-and-read-and-reread-and-stored-carefully-for-years-and-years-smell. It's a cozy space and you want to stay for hours and look in each drawer and scan each shelf for the treasures that are waiting you. Kathy Graham, the proprietor, really knows how to put together a book shop!

Besides the books, Kathy always has a selection of finds....old folding frame spectacles that I purchased from her several years ago, various items decorated with shells, an old crate that Japanese tea was shipped in.....all of these things now reside at my house.

So, Dear Reader, the next time you find yourself in Port Townsend, maybe after a lovely lunch of noodles, you might want to spend a happy afternoon in Insatiables. It won't be time wasted.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Early Spring Sunday

We are the Stars

For we are the stars. For we sing.

For we sing with our light.

For we are birds made of fire.

For we spread our wings over the sky.

Our light is a voice.

We cut a road for the soul

for its journey through death.

For we face the hills with disdain.

This is the song of the stars.

Excerpts from a Passamaquoddy poem, which I found in Jan Garbarek's Rites CD

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Umami, according to Wikipedia, is "one of the five basic tastes sensed by specialized receptor cells present on the human tongue. Umami is a loanword from Japanese meaning roughly "tasty", although "brothy", "meaty", or "savory" have been proposed as alternate translations."

Hanazono Asian Noodle House is the home of umami in the Pacific Northwest, in my humble opinion. You can find them in Port Townsend, Washington, at 225 Taylor Street, just off the main drag, Water Street, a few doors east of The Rose Theatre. Run, don't walk, to dine there. And I do mean dine. Nonie and I ate at Hanazono several times when we stayed in PT in early January. We dined there again several times during ArtFest, thrice for dinner and once for lunch. You can not go wrong with anything on their menu. I have loved every single thing I have tried.
This is all that's left of yaki nobu udon, perhaps my favorite item on the menu. It certainly would rank in the top three items... I must admit that udon are my favorite noodles of all time, and Hanazono does them to perfection.

But it's not only the food that make Hanazono so special a discovery, it is the whole atmosphere of the place. Long and narrow, with simple dark stained tables and chairs, the restaurant reminds me of places I ate in Japan. It's simple and homey and cozy and goooooood. The dishes used for plating set off the food and the ingredients to their advantage. Sometimes a very small detail can made a very big impression and the individual teapots stick out in my mind. They do not drip. They keep the tea hot. They are beautiful in a quiet wabi sabi sort of way. Very Zen.

P.S. For those Dear Readers who are anticipating photos from my recent holiday in the Caribbean I ask for patience. I have not been home more than a few days since returning from Antigua at the end of March. First my dear friend Bee came to stay, then we went to ArtFest, and now I am in Southern California with my daughter and her family. Photos and commentary will appear here as soon as I can slog my way through almost 2000 photos. You will not be asked to view them all......

Thursday, April 09, 2009

A Visit to Fred Mullett's Studio

My dear friend Bee Shay and I were privileged to be invited to visit Fred Mullett's studio. Bee and Fred are both members of the Nature Printing Society. All of Fred's amazing rubber stamp designs are taken from prints he has made, which makes his product not only beautiful, but unique. (I used his shrimp, small octapus and seaweed stamps on my ArtFest ATC for the 2009 ATC Fatbook, hosted by none other than Bee.) Fred let us play with his big box of paper. He uses inks with resists of various sorts to create some amazingly beautiful paper and we tried out hand at creating our own paper using his techniues. Once we had something we liked, we cut out a section and adhered it to a card blank---which I can't find to show you! Trust me, it was fun and it was very, very effective.

Fred is one of those most special people who are not only intelligent but hilariously funny. He knows movies, books, music and art and shares what he knows in a gentle way. I learned a lot from my day at his studio and I had a great time, too.

Lunch in Bell Town at The Noodle Palace wasn't bad, either!

Fred's studio is located in the SoDo district of Seattle on the third floor of an old building. It's a very cool old building, full of uirky spaces, worn painted floorboards that are beautiful in a wabi sabi sort of way and a freight elevator that's perfectly ancient for the space. The building has settled unevenly so the floors are canted. The floorboards creak when you walk on them. The stairway has risers that are not all the same height. I could have spent the day just photographing that wonderful old place! Thanks for the play date, Fred! I hope I can visit you again.