Friday, July 29, 2011

Le Fluer

I'm a sucker for pretty flowers.  Here are some photos of a bouquet Tom prepared from our garden this week, complete with a new little friend, and a few random flower pictures that we've taken over the past few weeks, each with a beauty all its own.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Vacation Accommodations

I talked with a friend the other day who is doing some traveling with her husband.  When I asked if they stay in bed and breakfasts, she said no, they stay in hotels.  They're just not comfortable staying in other people's homes and eating breakfast with them!

That got me thinking about the bed and breakfasts we've stayed in over the years.

There certainly have been times when we've "stayed in people's homes and eaten breakfast with them," but we've chosen other situations as well.  Once Tom and the boys and I found a condo in Portland through For Rent by Owner, a national directory of rentals listed by region and state.  Even as a last minute trip, we were able to find a reasonably priced place where we could stay to see the city and entertain friends who lived in town.

We used FRBO again when we went to Phoenix for my niece's wedding last spring.  My parents, brother, sister and I got a lovely house for several days; we did our own cooking and split the cost.  It was a great experience!
House in Phoenix which I rented with my family
We've been served breakfast in the dining room with other B&B guests and at other times we've been the only guests being served.  One innkeeper was especially enchanting, with her stories of her childhood in Hawaii and how she and her husband met and established their bed and breakfast.  She's booked all summer long with weddings -- providing lodging for the family, a wedding location, and reception catering.

At the table last week we were seated with a couple we had never met, but our conversation soon drew us to things we had in common -- music, Jesus, special needs children, and Tom's sister Marilee, with whom they'd been friends for several years!!  Our hostess, whose stories of her own travels and interests had delighted us the day before, said, "I am always surprised to see how my guests have so much in common.  One day both the couples who sat around my table owned hot air balloons!!"

But not all our stays have included breakfast with our hosts.  Our first B&B experience was on Orcas Island, where we enjoyed our first anniversary compliments of several friends who had given us a gift certificate as a wedding gift.  It was in a lovely old hotel with bathrooms down the hall and vouchers for breakfast in the hotel's restaurant.  We drove around the island, exploring places we'd each visited as kids, creating memories of our own, and fell in love with the bed and breakfast experience.

We've stayed in downtown Bellingham, in Seattle near the University of Washington, in a small first level apartment on a hill overlooking LaConner (no breakfast, just a tiny fridge and an electric tea kettle), and a lovely lodge out in the country.  We've enjoyed beautiful gardens, country walks, big city sights and sounds, and the waters of Puget Sound lapping on the beach nearby.  We've appreciated access to the hot tub, the occasional opportunity to prepare our own dinners in our unit, cookies and tea in the sun room, and movies in the common area.  Simplicity to luxury, we've done a little of both and a lot in the middle.

Perhaps our most memorable stay was in an older cabin, overlooking Puget Sound, which came with a basket of goodies for breakfast.  It was quaint and cozy. We hadn't heard the wind kicking up while we slept until there was a terrific crash in our room.  We both shot straight up and looked around.  There on the floor, across the room from our bed, was the window that had blown out!  We were grateful that the window was not over the bed!

The window in the next room blew out in the night!

Hotels are nice.  They are usually predictable (though my sister has a few stories and, come to think of it, so do I!) and a good place to stay when you travel.  But an inn, a bed and breakfast, or a farm stay -- these provide some flavor to the trip, some adventure, something out-of-the-ordinary.  They'll always be my preference!

Monday, July 25, 2011

"We Shall Behold Him" (Interpreted for the Deaf Community)

One day, we will behold Jesus face to face!  In this video, Valerie Johnson, founder and president of Touching the Nations, interprets Vickie Winans singing We Shall Behold Him.  I hope you enjoy it!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Seattle, a Superlative City

Did you know that Seattle's Pike Place Market, established in1907, is the longest continuously operating farmer's market in the US?

The Washington State Ferry System is the largest ferry system in the nation and the third largest in the world.  Seattle'a Coleman Park/Pier 52 is the busiest ferry terminal in the US.

Harbor Island in Seattle is the largest man-made island in the nation.

At low tide, there can be as many as 786 islands in Puget Sound.

The world's first floating bridge was the I-90 bridge, also known as the Mercer Island Floating Bridge, opened in 1950; the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge (SR-520) is the world's longest floating bridge; three of the world's six floating bridges are found in Washington State.

Seattle boasts the first:
enclosed shopping mall (Northgate Shopping Center which opened in 1950);
revolving restaurant in the US (the Space Needle, built in 1961 for the 1962 World's Fair);
espresso cart (1980), located at the Monorail Station at the Westlake Center in 1980.
police who patrol on bicycle in the US (started in 1987).

Seattle sells more sunglasses per capita than any other major city in the U.S.  (Surely this data was collected before the summer of 2011!)

*   *   *

If you'd like to see a brief slideshow about Seattle's history, check out the History Link, a free online encyclopedia of Washington State history.  It's a wonderful website and well worth the time to check it out.

Thanks to Jet City Orange and Legends of America for the trivia tidbits.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Make Mine Tea

Mid-afternoon last Thursday, as we explored Vashon Island, I needed a cup of tea.  I'd been eyeing the Vashon Tea Shop, so we went in and found a table by the door.  Rich with color and fragrance, fresh flowers on each table and personable and knowledgable staff, we drank in the mood of the shop for a time.
We went back after hours for this photo

Too much responsibility to decide on a tea!
"Why don't you choose some tea for me?" my husband asked me.  Well, with eighty varieties of tea I was a bit overwhelmed by the awesome task.  Then I saw the genmaicha, a Japanese green tea with roasted rice added to it.  Sometimes the rice "pops" like popcorn, so it is also known as popcorn tea.  The taste is nutty and delicious, and we enjoy it very much.  Tom was delighted with my selection!

One of my favorite combinations of tea is white tea and pear.  I've had trouble finding it lately, so when I saw that they carried silver white pear tea I quickly ordered a cup.  Aahhh, smooth and satisfying.

Before we left, we purchased two ounces of each of the teas.   Here's what the tea looks like.

You can order tea from the shop.  Check out their website to learn more.  And the next time you are on Vashon Island, stop by for a cup of tea!

One more thing.  I came across a video on YouTube by a Chinese woman who talks about the stuff of her daily life, from painting scarves to travel to tea and dishes.  I found it quite delightful.  You might enjoy it too.  Here's the link.

Monday, July 18, 2011


 I've never met a character quite like Louis Zamperini, nor an author quite like Laura Hillenbrand.

Photo Credit
Louie is the subject of Laura's recent book, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.  Born in 1917 in Torrance, California, Louie was what Laura called a "one-boy insurgency."  According to Louie, in an interview with Charles Morris of Haven Today, he had such a reputation in the community that if there was trouble anywhere in town, the police would go first of all to the Zamperini home, looking for Louie!  Whether the authorities or the neighborhood bullies, Louie ran like mad from his pursuers, and beat them.

When Louie was fourteen his brother, Pete, a runner himself, redirected Louie from a life of crime to a life of running.  Within months Louie was breaking long distance records and when he was 19 he qualified for the 1936 Olympics.  His amazing speed in the final lap of the 5,000 meter race so impressed Hitler that he asked to meet Louie.  As the two shook hands, Hitler greeted him in German.  An interpreter translated.  "Ah, you're the boy with the fast finish." (p.35)

Louie's running propelled him into stardom.  And it prepared him for what was to come.  World War II.

Louie joined the Army Air Force and was stationed in the Pacific.  When his plane was shot down, only he and two other crew members survived.  They were adrift on life rafts for 47 days before being captured by the Japanese.  Although he endured unbelievable deprivation and treatment in the POW camps after being so depleted from the days on the ocean, he held on to his strong spirit.  The harshness of the camps was especially horrible, and just reading about it was "a little too close to home" for my father, who served in the Pacific.

When the war was finally over and Louie was once again stateside, he was haunted by the experiences of captivity.  His desire to kill The Bird, the prison camp guard who found great pleasure in abusing the prisoners, especially Louie, became his driving passion.  It led him to alcoholism and despair.

Finally, through attending a Billy Graham crusade in Los Angeles in 1949, Louie found the peace he craved.  He found peace with God, and his hatred toward The Bird was gone.

In his 90s now, Louie has the most remarkable story I have ever heard.  But had it not been for Laura Hillenbrand, it would never have been so amazingly told.

Photo Credit
Laura begins her seven pages of acknowledgements with these words, "When I finished writing my first book, Seabiscuit: An American Legend, I felt certain that I would never again find a subject that fascinated me as did the Depression-era racehorse and the team of men who campaigned him.  When I had my first conversation with the infectiously effervescent and apparently immortal Louie Zamperini, I changed my mind."  She spent seven years collecting information, interviewing other POWs and family and friends of Louie, researching war records and how bombs work and such a vast array of data that she now finds Louie's life as familiar to her as her own life.  She herself struggles with Chronic Fatigue Snydrome, making it at times nearly impossible to research and write.  Yet she persevered and successfully completed a thoroughly engrossing story of survival, resilience, and redemption.

Thank you, Lord, for preserving the life of Louie Zamperini and for bringing Laura to him to be his spokesman.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Vashon Serendipity!

Tom's family lived on Vashon Island when he was in first and second grades.  With Samuel at camp on Vashon this week, we decided to spend a couple of days there ourselves at a bed and breakfast as part of our vacation.  Just a little bit of planning and a spirit of adventure led us to two jam-packed days and a whole lot of fun!

We spent time at the Point Robinson lighthouse on Maury Island, which is connected to Vashon by a small isthmus.

We visited Lisabuela Park, near the home the Kauffmans lived in.  Back in the 70s Tom was driving from Olympia to Seattle and heard a DJ on the radio offering a 35 mm camera to the first caller to accurately answer his question.  He was looking for the name of a town, named after two sisters.  Nobody answered correctly so he gave clues through the night.  As the evening progressed it became clear to Tom that the answer was Lisabuela (named by Postmaster John Brink in honor of his daughters Eliza and Beulah), but alas, it was before cell phones!  Just as he was nearing home, someone finally answered the question and won the prize!

When Tom's family moved from Vashon to Seattle in 1956, they sold the house to the neighbors, who still live there!  We stopped by and the lovely, elderly friend welcomed us into her home, overlooking the sound and the Olympic Peninsula.

There is a bicycle in a tree on Vashon.  Actually encased in the tree!  Long ago a boy left his bike in the crotch of a tree or between two trees very near together, and, as the story goes, he didn't return for it.  Over time the tree grew around the bike.  We so enjoyed the walk into the woods to see it that we stopped off on our way home to show it to Samuel.

Healthy life-style is important to the residents on Vashon; it's easy to find things that are gluten-free, there's plenty of organic options, they love their fresh roasted coffee and they support energy saving vehicles.  We ate gluten-free deli sandwiches and pizza, had access to garden fresh produce, and drank wonderful coffee at the Vashon Roasterie.  We saw designated parking spaces for drivers who need to plug in their cars!

We had glimpses into the flora and fauna of the island.

And catching the ferry back to Fauntleroy provided photo-ops even without leaving the car.

What a great vacation!