The News Tribune logo

Monday, November 30, 2009

Nothing but sorrow

Sorrow, nothing but sorrow, for the four Lakewood police officers who were murdered yesterday morning, sorrow for the decimation of their families, sorrow for the hole in the heart of the community. Nothing but sorrow...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Holiday Moments

Friday afternoon. Lunchtime. And I am looking back at some bright moments and hard moments. Hard moments: the aches and pains that come with being sick with a cold for a week. I had come to realize that, once I got too tired and starting sneezing and feeling feverish, I would not be able to function well for at least a week.
And I knew that I could not work at the hospital if I were sneezing away. Neither the team I work with, other staff members, or patients needed me stumbling around.
Still accepting that I needed to stay home and rest was very, very hard.

At the same time there have been the bright moments: being the occasion for a lonely patient smiling, having another pateint thank me for being there, seeing another patient head for home after a very tough few weeks.
Seven days later, waking up feeling alert, no sneezing, no aches, and having time to just sit and listen and laugh and learn with friends. Wonderful moments


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Is This Truly The Decade From Hell?

The most current Time magazine has a feature story that discusses how bad this last decade has been and the title on the cover reads, "The Decade From Hell." I heard on CNBC recently that the original title was, "The Worst Decade Ever."
Whatever the title you roll with, the point is pretty clear.

Do you believe this? Looking forward to discussion.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Put Your Own Spin On Thanksgiving!

While I remember coloring pictures of turkeys, pilgrims with buckled shoes and a handful of their Native American guests as a child - cornucopias and all the other hoopla that surrounded Thanksgiving was not enough to allow full ownership of this annual holiday in my grade school student's heart...

So it was with considerable surprise that I finally found some genuine fall harvest spirit this year in connection with working up an origami mock-up of a Asian-American inspired harvest craft project to introduce to families at Wing Luke Asian Museum.

Taking inspiration from a arty little origami box and folded paper ball, I put together a 3-dimensional spin on the traditional cornucopia theme which oddly enough fully resonates with the disconnect I've felt about Thanksgiving decor since my early youth.

Perhaps it pleases that part of my ancestry which includes hardworking farmers from Japan's Kumamoto Prefecture on the island of Kyushu whose celebrated staff of life was rice rather than corn or wheat back in my grandma and grandpa's day. So the cornucopia has been transformed into a elegant folded paper box, and bread into folded paper gohan balls.

If you or younger family members might be interested in participating in this exercise, consider yourself cordially invited to a free make n' take arts and crafts presentation during a Family Day at the WING with Mizu Sugimura, from 1-3 p.m. tomorrow afternoon at the museum located at 719 S. King Street in the heart of Seattle's Chinatown/International District.

While strict traditionalists may balk at this departure from conventional archetypes, as an artist I'm particularly interested in nurturing the idea that creative improvisation can always be welcomed if it plays any part in bringing more of these long-observed anchors of American life closer to the hearts and minds of us all.

And while we may prefer as individuals or communities to take different roads and personalize the holiday with our own take on the celebrations it is possible as a nation to arrive at the same destination if our fundamental goals are truly shared.

For more details and directions to the museum click here.

Below: (l-r) Mary Shifton proudly displays the paper fan she made at a previous make n'take session during a "Family Day at the WING" in August 2008 with Federal Way paper artist Mizu Sugimura .

Am I The Only One Who Likes Thanksgiving?

It still, after all these years, blows my mind, when the Christmas decorations come out at nearly the same time as the Halloween ones. And then there's the little pitiful Thanksgiving display, that gets smaller and smaller each year. Poor Thanksgiving: misunderstood and overlooked.

I love Halloween and Christmas, but I love Thanksgiving too. I am blessed because I have the ability to celebrate it with a loving family and food. I like the whole meal prep, getting together for a meal, the fall decor, the bounty, the smells, and the cozy feeling. I've participated in all kinds of Thanksgivings. Small crowds, large crowds, immediate family, immediate and extended family, family and friends, and just friends. I've eaten traditional fare, unusual fare (taco salad anyone?), and I even prepared an entire vegan feast. I've been home for the holiday and out of state. I've had Thanksgiving on vacation (my favorite away Thanksgiving was when the kids were really young and the four of us had a Hawaiian style dinner in Kona in our condo we rented and one kid was in her diaper only and the other one in his underwear. Rick and I were in bathing suits for the meal). Memories....

However, a lot of folks that I know, don't care about Thanksgiving and thinks it's too much, over-hyped, a pain, a waste, and so on.

But unlike the other two big holidays in the fall, Thanksgiving is so flexible. You can do it however you like. Sure there are customs and traditions I suppose, but you can tweak them a lot easier than you can the other ones. There's no pressure for material gifts, just the gift of your time.


Tacoma Mainstay Restaurants A Big Let Down

Maybe it was remnants of Friday the 13th. Or some weird full moon. Or some bad karma. But my husband and I had two separate and miserable restaurant experiences within 24 hours of each other at two different, favorite, and reliable restaurants in Tacoma. We've been long time customers of both establishments and always put in a good word or a plug for each. Now they've let us down. Here's the scoop.

Restaurant number one (The Hub): my husband took my son out for dinner. The restaurant was busy, but not overwhelmingly so. To start, the server accidentally spilled an entire beer all over my son. My son was a good sport, accidents happen, and my husband's beer was on the house. Okay? Nope. The service was turtle slow after that, inattentive, and they got the wrong order to boot. Folks that sat down well over 30 minutes AFTER they arrived were eating their food. My husband had had it with the wait. He advised the manager, they took a little off the bill, but still my husband was upset. He is very good at delivering feedback, so it wasn't as if he was a jerk or anything.

Restaurant number two (Primo Grill): I took my mom out to a performance at the Pantages and we decided to dine prior. This restaurant was bustling actually, but it seemed like their were quite a number of staff members. Our server really struggled (as she seemed to be doing bartending duties as well). She didn't seem to know the menu very well nor did she really know how to mix my mom's drink (she actually asked US what it was and how to do it--we thought it was a fairly common drink). Then the food took forever (others were getting served that came in quite later than us). Our poor server seemed to be walking around in circles aimlessly (we tried to have empathy but were getting frustrated because we had a show to catch and parking to contend with). When we got our order, part of mine was inedible (like eating a tablespoon of kosher salt) and my mom got the totally wrong order. Other folks at nearby tables were having similar experiences (one had worse food luck than us--ice cold, inedible pork that was so dry you could hear it crack off the bone). My mom and I recognized one of the owners (who very warmly welcomed us at arrival). Mom decided to go share her concerns (as our server was no where to be found). I overheard my mom and she was very nice, yet gave constructive feedback. The owner scowled, didn't say a word, rung up our check, and slammed it on the table and walked away. We were SHOCKED (as were the other patrons, who too were having problems). No offer to discount the meal, no offer to make things right.

So, what gives?

The restaurant business is a tough business indeed. It always has been. Compounded by a bad economy, it's worse. But COME ON. These restaurants let my family and I down. I am sorry if it's a bad night, if there are employee issues, or whatever, but folks, you've got to step up. Tacoma has a wonderful culinary/restaurant scene, which I hate to see sullied by this terrible service.

Readers, bloggers: tell me, what would you do? How would you move forward? Share your bad restaurant experiences HERE.

Sharpen your poison pencils and let 'er rip!

P.S. Thanks to the last two comments--they made some excellent points and gave me the
guts to name the offenders. Hub, Primo, you guys are off your game. Kim

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gig Harbor High School presents the Miracle Worker

If you love theater, but are watching your pennies I highly recommend high school productions. Gig Harbor High School is in its final week of The Miracle Worker. Teacher/director Kristin Zetterstrom never fails to give the community a professional theatrical experience at bargain basement prices. Tickets are $8.00 for adults, $6.00 for children/students.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Rambling Rose

Reader’s who followed the posts I put up for Pat Kurz, Tacoman and Gig Harbor High School teacher, who spent a semester during the 2007-08 school year teaching in China, will be happy to know that Pat has continued to write. I am here to introduce her blog, Roseman’s Ramblings. Among her talents as teacher, writer and gamer, Pat is a gardener, particularly of roses (hence the name), but in her blog she examines life as a Baby Boomer in a new century. She’s eclectic and gritty. She tells it like it is.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembering Veteran's Day at Tahoma National Cemetery

My father was a survivor of Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway. He served his country as a civilian aeronautical engineer during Operations Red Wing and Hardtack. The plaque that memorializes him is a thousand miles away in the Missouri Ozarks. I can’t take him flowers for Veteran’s Day, but since both my husband and I have the day off from work and like to do something meaningful to honor those who have served (so did my husband in peace time) we decided we would attend the ceremony at Tahoma National Cemetery in Covington, WA where the father and brother of my best friend are buried. Our families have known each other since we were very little girls and I knew she could not attend herself as she lives and works in Oregon. She did not get the day off.

I hate the fact that commercial enterprises turn Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day into sale days meant to line their pockets. I sent Amazon a nasty email at Memorial Day because of that and emailed the History Channel complaining because they turned Memorial Weekend into a Monster Quest marathon. Having said that, I was disappointed to find that Safeway had not made up any very patriotic looking bouquets and had them cobble together a bouquet of red carnations and one of baby’s breath into two, which the floral department clerk tied with red and white ribbon. It would have to do.

My girlfriend had suggested that I wear red, white and blue for the occasion which proved a problem since nearly everything in my closet is purple. I dug out my red jumper, generally reserved for Christmas and Valentine’s Day, and a white blouse. Carefully I pinned the WWII Sweetheart pin my mother wore onto my red sweater. No matter that they divorced when I was 18. For me it symbolizes my love and honor for my father.

Because it had been extremely rainy all week I asked my daughter-in-law to help me find my good umbrella. The sun was out, but I wanted to ensure that it would stay out. It turned out that it was a wonderful day for a drive and to wander around Tahoma National Cemetery. With my girlfriends directions we found first her father’s grave and then her brothers. People are buried in the order they arrive at Tahoma. Spouses can be buried together, but there are no “family plots.” After we had placed our flowers and taken pictures we walked to the flag area where there were formal ceremonies going on. When a cloud obscured the sun and the ceremonies were winding down we moved toward the car.
On our way out of the cemetery we stopped to pay our respects to Dave's friend from the FAA, Chris Beal. Chris emigrated to the United States right out of school and joined the U.S. Army. He fought in Vietnam, became a citizen, and made the Army a career. His second career was the FAA where he also retired before his death in 2007. He was a charming man and we miss him much.

Back in Tacoma we went out for a late lunch in Old Towne. The ladies went to the Hawthorn Tearoom and the fellas across the street to the Spar for fish and chips. Our timing was perfect in that we all finished at the same time and the weather was deteriorating by the time we got in the car to head home to Gig Harbor. It was satisfying to have participated in the ritual of taking flowers to soldiers and to remember my father, even if he is buried so far away. I still have some of my father’s ashes that I’d intended to take to Pearl Harbor, but am now thinking of asking the VA if we can put them at Tahoma. Then his family would have someplace closer at hand to go for Veteran’s Days.

Lyme Warrior

In remembrance of a faithful four-legged Lyme Warrior, Oliver, 05/05/'96 to 11/10/'09

Please make sure that you use flea AND tick protection for your beloved dogs and cats.

Veterans' Day '09

With love and gratitude for those who dedicate themselves to our safety, in the hope of a better world. Thank you for your service.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Morning With Jan Buday

I was delighted to take some time for good conversation with another Two Waters Arts Alliance artist, Jan Buday, on Thursday morning. Jan studied textiles and weaving at the University of Hawaii, but her
fascination with textiles and art began its spinning in her childhood. At age seven, she was with her parents in Japan and had two large emotional imprints. One was the ruins of Nagasaki, a mere decade after the blast (Jan's family, as Japanese-Americans, had endured the injustice of fear, living in America during WWII) and the other was a visit to Kurashiki Village; a village of Folk Arts.

It's here in the conversation that Jan begins to light up, her arms waving
as if one could paint the scene of colour, fabric, texture and weave she was immersed in that day. It was easy for me to feel it because we were sitting in Jan's studio, surrounded with colour, fabric, texture and weave! The
grey day lay outside, but inside I felt warmed and if I could
be seven, safely playing in her studio.

Seventeen years ago, Jan's father made and gave her a "Marudai" which is a wooden stand used for an ancient Japanese art of braiding, called Kumihimo. Threads, silk, ribbons, etc., are weighted by tying wooden
spools to the ends, and then braided into different designs for cords and belts. Let me tell you, the first time I saw Jan working with a large Marudai...I was mezmerised! Her hands danced up and down, side to side, across the top with her threads. The wooden bobbins clacked in rhythm against the stands wooden sides. Hawaiian slack-key guitar playing softly in
the background and my eyes brimming with colours, I was transported within Jan's gentle dance and the hope I know she has for the world, as an artist grateful for the chance to affect a corner of it.

Jan combines this beautiful braiding with exquisite glass beads she makes herself, and the combination looks like jewelry for the soul. You cannot look or touch any of the pieces without feeling Jan's smile and the gift that comes within it. She also teaches Kumihimo, with a Level I class coming, Nov. 21st and a Level II class, Nov. 22nd. at Gig Harbor Beads. Their phone number for more information is (253) 858-6750. You can see the little foam form that replaces the traditional Marudai for holding in the hands and working. I'm really looking forward to my lesson this winter!

I asked Jan how her process and art have changed with age and experience. It's a question I ask of my community as I ponder it for myself. With life's serendipity, her answer, our conversation, and a poetry prompt I had received in the morning, all began to weave. So I shall leave you with a recommendation to visit so that you can see more from one of the amazing artists we have here, living between the Two Waters of Carr and Case Inlets. I leave you with a poem from the prompt, "growth," and the magic of a morning spent with neighbour, colleague, and friend...thanks Jan!

Growing Passion

She had a passion to begin,
details sometimes lost in the rush
to start again another flame.
So it is, when fire is young,
sparks fly and burn, too quickly done.

Now she knows her passion runs,
years grow into life poured
through emotion, her art
into details and justice,
nailing intricate finishing touches.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Drink Beer and Help Kids and Families at Mary Bridge (Yes, Really)

Nothing says fall better than a deliciously dark and stout stein of great beer. Beer. Yum!

So, raise your glasses, get some great food, be thoroughly entertained, and bid on fabulous auction items at Oktoberfest by Chambers Creek Orthopedic Guild, Tacoma Orthopedic Association. Oktoberfest is being held at Annie Wright School in Tacoma's Old Town neighborhood on November 14th from 6 PM to 10 PM. Tickets to the event are $45.00 per person. Proceeds from this event will benefit Mary Bridge Children's Hospital and Health Center.

And they will have beer there! Beer tasting! Frothy, delicious beer.

What's better than sipping the suds, dining on fun German fare, and having a casual evening out with friends and doing good for the hospital? Not much else.

Oh, and did I mention the beer?

Intrigued? Thirsty? Get moving because tickets are limited. E-mail your reservation to this e-mail address: to reserve your tickets.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

South Sound Animal Lovers, Please Help

Readers, Bloggers:

The Tacoma Pierce County Humane Society is desperately in need of pet food for their Emergency Pet Food Bank. This food bank benefits those who are struggling to afford pet food. The Human Society is deeply concerned because some folks who cannot afford to feed their pet may be forced to bring them to the shelter.

Please, please help this heartbreaking situation from happening. Drop off your bags or cans of dog or cat food at the shelter (they will gladly accept partial bags, too!). Click HERE to get all the info.

Our South Sound animals and families thank you in advance.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

University Place May Take The Hatchet To Youth Sports Programs

I have been the recipient of e-mails that indicate there is strong and substantiated buzz about the city of University Place potentially cutting city sponsored youth sports programs beginning January 2010 due to financial woes. Personally, my children don't use any of these programs; nonetheless, this community is sports oriented and these sports teams mean the world to a number of local families. Yes, times are tough, but I had a tough time believing the city would pursue this avenue. So, I dug a little, read a little, and here's what I found.

This website has been floating around (created by Mayor Linda Bird, who happens to be up for re-election this Tuesday) called Save University Place Sports (click HERE to view). Mayor Bird lays the foundation of what's happening, adding a strong sense of urgency to citizens, while at the same time taking a swing at fellow council members, particularly Council Member Flemming (who is retiring at the end of his term). Interestingly, I have been the recipient of e-mails taking jabs at Mayor Bird from Flemming for a variety of issues.

So my take?

Politics as usual. Ick.

I find this blog in it's entirety and the timing of its creation from Mayor Bird rather strange. While her proposal to initiate council pay cuts to save vital community programs is intriguing, what's the deal with the blog? Suspect to me.

The bottom line is that the political climate of this city is very heated. Citizens are angry about The Town Center long time construction site (which is a mess all around). Clearly council members are bickering amongst each other and it's getting nastier as we approach Tuesday.

My proposal? Let's get the facts of these proposal cuts outlined in a NEUTRAL, non-biased format (hint, hint UP City Website). City leaders, if you want to duke it out politically, do what you've got to do, but leave the kids out of it.


Working for the Ideals

Yesterday my husband Dave and I chose to spend part of Halloween standing on a street corner in Tacoma, demonstrating for equal rights for all citizens. Those who put Initiative 71 before the people sought to over-turn the State of Washington’s “everything, but marriage, law” passed last year. Just when it seemed that Washington had struck a blow for fairness and enlightenment, the unenlightened Born Again Hypocrites in the state thought that they’d make and end-run around equality.

What drew us out despite our overwhelming belief that 71 will pass was the experience last weekend of a coworker who had demonstrated in front of Border’s Books on 38th in Tacoma. He was verbally abused by a church group demonstrating to reject the initiative. The story made its way around the local Facebook community and another rally was born. We all were excited when Dave went across the street to stand in the midst of the Reject group. He moved when they brought out a bull horn, but the Tacoma Police Department made them put it away.

Dave and I fail to see how allowing committed couples to make decisions about end of life issues, inheritance, and benefits impacts their lives. If anything, we see it as strengthening of the entire community of Americans. We also honor every American’s right to an opinion and free speech so we were respectful of the Slavic church group who showed up with their “one man, one woman, protect the children,” but really can’t understand how Initiative 71 is damaging to anyone’s children or marriage, especially since it has nothing to do with marriage. Of course they had the “slippery slope” theory which also doesn’t hold water since the fact that the heterosexual couple down the street gets a divorce or our homosexual friends are allowed to marry, impacts our marriage not in the least.

One of the beauties of American democracy is not only the right to free speech, but freedom of religion which means that no one can force their religious values down the throat of any other citizen. The Declaration of Independence was about the ideals of equality, opportunity, liberty, rights and democracy. We did not begin as a nation adhering to all of these ideals for every citizen, but we are an ever evolving society, seeking to make the dream come true for everyone.