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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Five Fun Ways to Spend the Last Weekend in February

Just when we thought an early spring was here to stay, the rains returned, along with the comforting feeling that things are normal. But around here we never let a little moisture stop us from enjoying the "Good Life" in the Northwest. Like the tiny primroses blooming in my garden, the kind slugs ignore and nothing can kill, those of us who grew up here still thrive. This week I'm offering a few of my favorite ideas for fun, in no particular order:

1. Treat yourself to a meal at the Adriatic Grill here in Tacoma. My husband and I visited this restaurant for the first time last Monday. What a find. We WILL be back to eventually try everything on the menu. We both thought the Five Cheese Pizza had a just-right crust, a most pleasing sauce, and like the regular customer at the table next to us said, (the one almost moaning over the homemade mushroom soup,) it had "the perfect marriage of cheeses." The Chop Chop Salad beats any I've ever had anywhere. Did I mention the relaxing atmosphere and excellent service?

This weekend wraps up the celebration of the Adriatic Grill's 2nd anniversary and you still have a few days left to enjoy the Daily Dining Bonus. Chef Bill Trudnowski is giving away special free gifts and discounts. Find out what kind of surprise that sealed envelope at your table holds. If you want to attend their Anniversary Gala, 6:30-11pm Saturday, Feb. 27th, you need to make your reservation NOW by calling 352-475-6000 because space is limited. The cost is $100 per person for plentiful food and drink at this party, with proceeds going to a new culinary arts scholarship at Clover Park Technical College. Call for details.

2. Take in Wintergrass. It's too bad Tacoma lost this Blue Grass Festival, a destination for top notch bands and their followers around the country. Now Tacoma's loss is Bellevue's gain. It runs Feb. 25-28 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Bellevue, WA. Check out their site for all it has to offer in the way of concerts, classes, vendors, jamming, etc.

3. The weekend of February 25-28 also means it's time for Sew Expo at the Puyallup Fairgrounds. Okay, okay, I know that just as Blue Grass isn't for everyone, maybe you don't sew, quilt, knit, or do other needle crafts. But if you took a look at the crowds it draws every year, you might wonder if you're missing out by not enjoying these hobbies. Sew Expo in Puyallup is the largest event of its kind in the nation, offering classes, demonstrations, fashion shows, and (here's the best part) all the vendors you could ever want if you love sewing, quilting, knitting, or other stitchery.

4. Visit the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma or the associated State Capital Museum in Olympia, located in the historic Lord Mansion. I recently took an afternoon seminar there and learned all about Northwest Native American basket weaving traditions of various tribes in Washington State. If you are not already a member of the Washington State Historical Society, considered joining. It's well worth the modest fee. You can learn about both museums and the Society through the link above.

5. Head north on Pearl Street and visit Pt. Defiance Park where spring flowers are beginning to bloom and the zoo, aquarium, and beach offer families or individuals a chance to reconnect with nature. Rain or shine, it always makes you feel good to hear those birds singing, smell the salt air, lean on a railing and watch the boats go by, take the Five Mile Drive with its forest and Sound views, or get some exercise walking.

This February brought us so many gorgeous days, the first signs of color in the yard, and for me personally, plenty of reasons to be optimistic, inspired, and full of energy. Now I'm ready for March and even more good things to come. I hope you are too. Have fun, stay positive, and enjoy every day.

All the best,

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Power of Passion

You might not even know me, but I'm wishing you a Valentine's Day full of passion. In fact, I wish you passion in every day. It doesn't matter how old you are, what you look like, whether you're married or single, surrounded by friends or a loner. You can have it. But do you really know what "passion" means? The most familiar definition brings to mind a hot date, but look it up in the dictionary. You might be surprised by the others.

In some dictionaries the first definition listed refers to the Passion of Christ, or suffering. It can also mean anger, the feeling of being acted upon by outside forces, or intense, violent, overmastering emotion, or emotion distinguished from reason. You won't find wishes for any of those things expressed in a Hallmark card.

What I'm wishing for you, (in addition to the hot date, especially if it's your spouse) is passion described as love of the most intense kind, ardent affection, fervor, unbridled devotion, an overwhelming desire for, or interest in, an object, activity or idea. I mean the kind of passion that drives a person to practice a musical instrument, develop a recipe, work in a lab to find a cure for a disease, rescue animals, grow the perfect rose, volunteer at a clinic, stand in a cold river casting a hand-tied fly, race sailboats or canoes, teach children to read, stitch a quilt, or write. I have many passions and can't even imagine my life without them. They make me who I am.

I know so many people in Tacoma living their lives with passion, and they share it gladly. Hear and feel the passion in Lance Buller's music when he blows those jazz notes through his horn. Taste it in the organic produce Valerie Foster and her daughter Holly grow at Zestful Gardens. See it in the glint of curved glass that comes out of Mike Malovich's workshop at Oak Brothers Antiques. When he isn't playing music, guitarist Neil Andersson creates oil paintings that transport your mind and soul to a more peaceful place. Chef Bill Trudnowski brings passion to preparing exquisite meals at his restaurant, the Adriatic Grill. Meet Stella Jones, Ph.D., whose passion to help others means people who would otherwise be homeless can find safe housing, through Shared Housing Services. There are so many others I could list.

My friend Andy Anderson, a local historian, is meticulously piecing together an historic map of the South Sound region from about 25 other maps, just for his own use and enjoyment. That takes passion. Another friend of mine, an immigrant, is finishing up her education to become a teacher, after a long, hard struggle. It's passion that got her this far and when she talks about how much she loves working with children I see and hear it in her face and voice. I also have a friend who donates her time and skills as a medical professional, because she believes in giving. People like these bring us new technologies, the world of the arts, books to read, public gardens, education, better approaches to medicine, and more. They inspire us and improve our quality of life.

What's your passion? Mountain climbing? Designing bridges? Microbiology? Growing a garden? Saving a patient or a person in a burning building? Whatever it is I hope this Valentine's Day reminds you to celebrate your good fortune in having something you love to do, something that drives you to be your best. Without it, we fail to reach our full potential as human beings. It is the spark of the divine in each of us. So if you have it, enjoy it. If you don't, find something, anything, you truly love to do, something that makes you eager to get out of bed every morning. Don't just sit there. Live your life with passion.