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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Another Sell Out Predicted for Vintage Fashion Show

Lorraine O'Neal knows there is truth in the old saying, "Be careful what you wish for." At 8 p.m. on Dec. 3, this Seattle swing dancer and vintage fashion expert will step up to the microphone in front of another packed house, even though she never imagined she would become a public speaker. But O'Neal's knowledge of her subject, along with natural charm, will carry her through as she addresses an eager audience at Seattle's historic Washington Hall, assembled for her 4th Annual Seattle Vintage Fashion Runway Show and Lecture. It features authentic men's and women's fashions from the 1920s through the 1950s.

This event, of her own creation, threatens to outgrow its venue and the logistics would overwhelm most people. But O'Neal tries to focus on what needs to be done instead of the shocking reality of how the little idea she had just a few years ago roared into a life of its own with as much gusto as the applause. The show sold out quickly in 2010 and surely will again, as one of the many delightful components of the Killer Diller Weekend swing dance festival, Dec. 2-4, organized by the Savoy Swing Club. It's also a history lesson.

Photo by Bobby Bonsey

Photo by Jared Lux
Not long ago, I met with O'Neal for coffee and conversation and to give her a gift. With a fun sense of fashion that never quits, she showed up in a bright red hand knit A-line dress from the '70s  that seemed made for her tall, slender frame. She set it off with patterned hosiery, and a white beret, causing a stranger to come over to our table just to say how great she looked.

Photo by Bobby Bonsey

My gift, which thrilled her, was a darling 1930s era lady's fitted suit with designer detailing, one of my own finds from an estate sale here in the Tacoma area. After hanging in a closet for decades, it will be modeled in the show. I'm trying to connect with the owner's family to let them know that their grandmother's spirit will walk again, on the runway. What she gave me in return was a serious case of her contagious enthusiasm and a new respect what it takes to do this. Later, I find out how the whole thing began.

Photo by Bobby Bonsey
"I started to get into vintage fashion when I started swing dancing in 1997," O'Neal told me, "but I definitely came from a fashionista family." Having entered the world of swing dancing, she found it populated by people who share a fascination with the past. "You get interested in the history of the time period, the history of the music, the history of the dance, and the history of the clothing. I started collecting the shoes and outfits of the ‘20s, ‘30s, and ‘40s."

Photo by Jared Lux

About five years ago, O'Neal organized a vintage fashion PowerPoint presentation of styles from the 1920s through the 1940s. "I defined each era’s fashion," she said. "I talked about what was going on in the world and how that might have affected clothing in the time period, how the styles differentiated from the other eras, and how to find them in a vintage store." She gave an example; knowing when zippers first appeared in clothing helps in determining the age of a garment.

Photo by Bobby Bonsey

Photo by Bobby Bensey

Photo by Bobby Bonsey

 Order your tickets now, before it's too late, and join me in congratulating Lorraine O'Neal on her great success, as you can see others doing below.

Lorraine O'Neal enjoys the appreciation of guests at a past show. Photo by Bobby Bonsey

If you've ever had an interest in swing dancing, look into this fun scene. Here in Tacoma we have the Abbey Ballroom and Studio 6 Ballroom offering lessons.   Here's some video of last year's Killer Diller Weekend, followed by more information on both the festival and fashion show:

Killer DillerWeekend Dec 2 - Dec 4, 2011 -- a weekend focused on the lifestyle, dance, and music of the jazz era, with classes in swing dancing and jazz music. Each evening features live jazz music, dancing, and performances.

TICKETS: Purchase tickets at Brown Paper Tickets. $12 tickets. Seating is limited.

Event: Vintage Fashion Show #135800

WHEN: Dec 3rd, 8:00 – 9:00pm

WHERE: The Washington Hall, 153 14th Avenue, Seattle, Washington 98122 Central District, Seattle

MORE INFO: Join this Event on Facebook

If you would like more information about this event, OR WOULD LIKE TO BOOK A POWERPOINT PRESENTATION, please contact Lorraine O’Neal at e-mail address: or 206.257.3815

Friday, November 25, 2011

November Photo Tour of Point Defiance Park

Here in Tacoma on what some call "Black Friday," the clouds shared the sky with November sunshine, giving us a nice break from the rain. If you've had enough of shopping, traffic, and rushing to catch some elusive bargain, remember that in the background of our lives nature moves at its own perfect pace, whether or not you notice. But shouldn't you?

Come along for a breath of fresh air and some serenity through today's photo tour of our beloved local treasure: Point Defiance. Even though many readers know this place, those who don't live around here might enjoy the journey. We'll start out at the ferry landing and take a walk along the waterfront,  then back up through the woods. (Video included.)

Let's wander over to the boat house, just past Anthony's restaurant. It's a great place to enjoy all the action, especially during salmon season, when proud fishermen return with their catch. You can also watch the ferry on its way to Vashon Island and observe seagulls and other birds up close.

This video is best watched on YouTube. Just click on the YouTube logo.

No James Bond action in this video, but it offers what we too rarely take the time to do, and that is to pause long enough in our busy lives to quietly and patiently observe nature, in this case the behavior of seagulls. If you are reading this far from your Northwest home, here's a chance to watch them again and hear their haunting cries.

A long paved walkway tucked under the hill on the point's northern tip makes a lovely place to wander. Shady in the summer and sometimes downright cold in winter, it can be busy or bare. On this day, I enjoyed the solitude.

Bare tree trunks clustered here offer their own beauty.

This must be some kind of lichen.

We are approaching Owen Beach.

During the summer, Owen beach swarms with people, dogs, and cars. I like it best in the off season.

These old steps lead uphill from the beach to the road above.

Watch out for cars in the summer, but by November you might have the place to yourself.

The canopy of trees changes with the season. Few leaves remain.

              Ferns grow on tree trunks in the moist, shady environment of a Northwest forest.

Even the deer feel safe from traffic.

                 I followed them through the playground and then they disappeard over the fence.

The flower gardens have been put to bed for the winter and signs tells us that new plantings of bulbs hide deep under the mulch and soil, awaiting spring. However, even these plants now gone to seed offer their own beauty and remind us of the way nature's cycles go on without regard for mankind's folly.

As we officially enter the holiday season, I wish you happiness and peace.

Photos and text copyright 2011 Candace Brown

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dance Theatre Northwest Offers FREE Performance

Before the big Thanksgiving dinner, Black Friday, the parties, the gift wrapping, mailing, shopping, and all the other fun and frantic activities of the holiday season, take an evening to do something nice for yourself.  This Saturday, Nov. 19, enjoy a FREE ballet performance at Narrows Glen, located at 8201 Sixth Ave., in Tacoma, just south of the Narrows Bridge. Even the parking is free.

Once again, Dance Theatre Northwest and Narrows Glen retirement community invite the public to a FREE Holiday Show at 7 p.m. The performance will be preceded by a reception for family members and guests at 6:30 p.m., so come early to relax, visit, and look around. Narrows Glen is an elegant Tacoma senior community, offering independent living, assisted living and memory care. But anyone is welcome to come to this performance, and that means you.

This year, the program includes excerpts from "The Nutcracker" and features the talents of the company's acclaimed dancers, Katie Neumann, Chhay Mam, and Vadne Domeika, with Artistic Director Melanie Kirk-Stauffer narrating. Last winter, I had the good fortune to see the DTN production of this classic, which will return to the Mount Tahoma High School auditorium this Dec. 17-18. (Order tickets here.) I loved it, and hope to go again. If you've never seen "The Nutcracker" or want a sneak peek at DTN's version, here is your chance.

Melanie Kirk-Stauffer is the kind of person I like to write about on Good Life Northwest, because everything she does contributes to the good life in our community. In addition to this complimentary annual event, she brings additional free performance to schools and other venues. Please support Dance Theatre Northwest so this meaningful outreach can continue to enrich lives through the art of dance.
Questions? Call Dance Theatre Northwest at (253) 778-6534 or Narrows Glen at (253) 564-4770.

Here is a map to Narrows Glen:

View Larger Map

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Today's Intensely Blue Sky

I wonder if many other people in Tacoma noticed the deep blue of the sky on this cold November day. I took a break from working and wandered outside for some fresh air in the early afternoon. When I looked up, toward the east and facing away from the sun, the intensity of the sky's blue amazed me.

Of course I grabbed my camera. Now, at 4:30 p.m., as the sun drops behind the trees and both the dark and the chill deepen, I send you my little gift of this afternoon's glory, minus the relative warmth. It will probably freeze again tonight.

I hope you enjoy these photos, which I swear to you have not been altered in any way. They are straight out of my camera.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


The idea that one good thing leads to another proved to be true last week, when my friend Margi Legowik, an artist and former resident of Tacoma, sent me this email after reading my latest post on Good Life Northwest:

"Hi Candace. I am sitting in the Good Life brew pub in Bend enjoying a pulled pork panini and a pint, checking my email. Clearly this is a place for you to visit!"

Photo by Justin Moore
I loved this coincidence and immediately sent an e-mail to the Good Life Brewing Company and introduced myself, mentioning my friend's message and how she thought we ought to become acquainted, since I write the Good Life Northwest blog. Before long, I'd heard back from Ty Barnett, one of the three partners behind a business that has beer lovers excited, even though it's only four months old.

"We’re in Portland right now," Barnett said. "We’re on the North Coast. We’re in some places in Eugene, and here in Bend, at other establishments and restaurants all over town. So we have quite a few outlets and we’re going to begin bottling in 22 0z. bottles in early December."
Photo by Justin Moore
Just as in the case of a few good bands I know, this all started in a garage.

For those readers unfamiliar with the Pacific Northwest, Bend is located in Central Oregon, a sunny play land of outdoor recreation choices. Barnett moved there back in 2002, " go to the mountain, be a ski bum, and go to college," he says. Eventually he got a job in the restaurant business. Even though he didn't spend his childhood in Bend, Barnett says he and his friend and business partner Head Brewer Curt Plants "grew up" there. By that he means, "We turned 21 and started drinking good beer. We didn’t drink macro beers. We liked the good stuff." So they decided to try brewing their own.

Here's Barnett's story:

"As we started to home brew we liked it more and more and we thought that would make a career someday. If we were ever to be able to open a little bar and put a little brewery in it, that would be the life. My friend decided he was going to do it regardless. He enrolled in brewing school in Chicago. He studied in Munich Germany and came back and got a job as assistant brewer for Rogue Ales in Newport.

"He definitely has the talent to make good beers. We knew it at the home brew level but as soon as he started brewing for Rogue, our 'test batches' as we call them, starting getting really good, really tasty. We started giving them out to people. And we gave them to the right guy and he said, 'You guys should really think about opening something because this is the best beer I’ve ever had and you brew it in your garage.'
"We ended up giving it to some people who really know beer and they absolutely agreed. And one of them ended up being our third business partner, Pratt Rather. He was actually one of the founding members of SweetWater BrewingCompany in 1996, in Atlanta, Georgia, and also helped found Everybody’s Brewing Company in White Salmon, WA, which is just across from Hood River. So he had definitely been in the beer business for some time and knew a lot of the people. He knew how it worked and helped guide us through how you open a brewery."
Photo by Justin Moore  

But what about the name? I wouldn't be writing this if not for the words "Good Life" in their moniker. Barnett explains:
"Our motto was always going to be 'Good Beer for Good Life – Bend, Oregon.' We live pretty well down here. We have every outdoor recreation addiction that you could be a part of as well as really good beer. We wanted to provide good beer for whatever somebody’s 'good life' is. A few months into it, right before we opened, we decided we were going to be Good Life Brewing Company. We felt that it fit Bend, and it fit our personalities.
"Whether your 'good life' is at the golf course, at the top of  the mountain, climbing, or just in the backyard in the hammock, whatever you really love and enjoy doing, we wanted to provide the beer to enhance the enjoyment."

Photo by Justin Moore 
Confident of the appeal of their product, Good Life Brewing Company held back nothing when they opened on June 15, 2011. They leased an adequately large facility in Bend to set themselves up with a production capacity of 60,000 barrels per year, a goal they hope to reach in 10-15 years. If they do, they estimate their future rank as the fourth largest brewery in the region.
"We’re set up to put beer in the kegs and bottles and send them all over the Northwest," Barnett said. "So we're not just based in Bend. We’re basically going to be sending beer your way, hopefully in a year or so. Right now, we’re just concentrating on Oregon and getting our beer to all that want it here."
What about the beer itself? What makes it so special?
Barnett describes the Good Life difference this way:  "A lot of beers have been really bitter, maybe overly bitter, in the Northwest, for a few years. People have been not turned away, but it’s not really what they’re looking for. What we did was make beers that taste good and smell good, but have just enough bitterness to let you know it’s a beer.
So far, they offer four choices:
Mountain Rescue Dry Hop Pale Ale - The company's flagship beer is a dry hop classic American pale ale. Barnett says it is, "basically malty but a little bit more flavor and aroma than a standard pale, because of the aging process we do. We age the beer in the fermenter on hops. We make a nice hop tea out of the beer, so it gets this huge aroma.
IPA - "It has a hop bitterness to it, standard for that style. There’s an international rating unit for how bitter a beer is, called IBUs, and it’s basically one to 100, 1 being not bitter and 100 being very bitter and that beer is about 40, below the middle of the road for bitterness so it has a bite but it has more flavor of hops than it does bitterness of hops."
Oatmeal Stout -  just released. "About 7.5 % alcohol by volume. Nice robust, roasted malt flavor with a little bit of coffee and chocolate back notes. That’s going to be a really great beer," says Barnett.
Single Hop Pale Wheat Ale - "There's only one hop in the beer to give it all its flavor.
I have an invitation to visit my friend Margi, and if I do, I'll be sure to also visit the tasting room of Good Life Brewing Company. It's small but mighty. With only 40 seats, it packs in a crowd for the great beer, English and German style food, and its thriving live music scene. You can also take a tour of the brewery.
See what happens when you keep a positive vibe? Focusing on the GOOD things in your life attracts more GOOD things. Thanks Margi and Ty, for making this fun connection between Tacoma and Bend, and best of luck to the young but ambitious Good Life Brewing Company. Maybe I will show up there for lunch someday. That pulled pork panini sounds GOOD too.
Note: I also enjoyed discovering the outstanding photography of Justin Moore. If you want to take a virtual tour of Central Oregon, and other places, visit the "Places" page of his website by clicking here.
Photo by Justin Moore