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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How Sweet the Sound -- Northwest Repertory Singers and Total Experience Gospel Choir in Joint Concert June 2-3

It's a good thing Mason United Methodist Church in Tacoma's Proctor District has sturdy walls, because the building will be rockin' with gospel music this weekend. For the first time ever, Tacoma's Northwest Repertory Singers, under the leadership of Dr. Paul Schultz, has invited Seattle's Total Experience Gospel Choir, led by Pastor Patrinell Wright, to join them for what they promise will be a "rip roaring" time. 

You won't want to miss the opportunity to hear this extraordinary concert called "How Sweet the Sound." It takes place on Saturday, June 2, at 7:30 p.m. and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 3.

Schultz had this to say about Wright and her approach to the music:

"When I asked Pat for her arrangements we could perform together, she responded that there were no arrangements.  I asked: 'Then where do you get your arrangements?'

She pointed to the heavens, then to her head, then to her heart.  She simply teaches the choir what she has received and processed from above. We invited Pat, and a handful of her singers, to come to an NWRS rehearsal to teach us two songs.  The hour they spent with us was truly amazing and inspiring.  Everything was taught by rote and the five TEGC singers were able to produce more sound than the 50 members of NWRS.  Before they left, they entertained us with a rendition of Steal Away that just rocked!"

Tickets are available online or by calling 253-265-3042. Prices are $18 general admission and $15 for seniors, students and military. Children under 12 are free. Mason United Methodist Church is located at 2710 North Madison Street Tacoma, WA 98407     (253) 759-3539

Please watch the short video below to hear Schultz describe the amazing music you will hear at this concert.

If you didn't have the opportunity to attend the Northwest Repertory Singers' March 10 concert, you can read my review here

"You will hear an array of early American and gospel music that will stimulate your curiosity, challenge your ears, touch your hearts," Schultz says, "and fill your souls with an exuberance resulting in the tapping of toes and the clapping of hands. 

"May you also experience an appreciation and understanding of love working through the power of music, transforming our lives for an hour, a year, or a lifetime."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Phone Fun—"Capture the Tag" Cash Hunt Offers $15,000 in prizes

I looked at my tiny, turquoise, flip-front, non-smart cell phone today and whined, "It isn't that I don't love you any more. It's just that you're no FUN." Fickle me. If I had a smartphone I'd leave my faithful old Sony Ericsson sitting on the shelf in Tacoma while I headed down I-5 to Olympia to play "Capture the Tag."

That's the name of a scavenger hunt promotion that began in 2011 as the brainchild of O Bee Credit Union and was so successful it's back for a second year, offering cash prizes totalling $15,000.00 plus five iPads to the lucky winners. But that's not all it offers.

"First and foremost, Capture the Tag is great fun for the community," said O Bee's Vice President of Marketing Lee Wojnar, in a recent press release. "But last year, it also served a fantastic secondary purpose — providing a novel business boost to the local retail economy. We expect even bigger results this year based on the buzz we created in 2011."

The current contest began on May 4 and ends on June 22, 2012. To participate, you must go to the Capture The Tag website and register. The video above tells how to get started. It's easy. Then you just have fun.

"So how fun is it?" you ask.

What could be more fun than a treasure hunt?  And the treasure is cash, awarded as follows:

First Prize — $10,000
Second Prize — $3,000
Third Prize $2,000
And in addition, five other participants will each win an Apple iPad.

Did you ever play "capture the flag" as a kid? That classic outdoor childhood game inspired this promotion, but Capture the Tag works differently. Microsoft Tags (those funny little 2D bar codes we're seeing on everything these days) have been distributed in retail businesses and other high traffic locations throughout the city of Olympia. After registering at, you find or visit those businesses and then use your smartphone to scan and collect at least 20 tags, using a Tag Reader app, which can be downloaded at the contest's website.

Once scanned, tags provide clues to the location of the next tag, sometimes by playing a video on your phone. You'll also receive messages with financial advice and personal finance tips. Some of the tags can be found online, in addition to the businesses actual locations. Businesses may offer related discounts but NO PURCHASE IS REQUIRED TO PARTICIPATE. But I support the idea of buying local, keeping your money in the community and boosting the local economy.

It's no surprise that Showcase MagazineToday's Magazine for Artful Living is one of the co-sponsors this year. This elegant publication takes pride in promoting the buy local philosophy with style, by featuring local retail businesses, restaurants, recreation and entertainment, health care and wellness providers, the arts, and more  reminding all of us in the South Sound region just how lucky we are to live here.

Other co-sponsors partnering with O Bee Credit Union on this year's promotion are 94.5 ROXY, The Olympian, America's Credit Union, The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions, Helix Group, Mobility Media Design, plus seven of the 28 local participating businesses: Shipwreck Beads, Selden's Furniture, Olympia Farmers Market, OLT VCB, Hartley Jewelers, Thurston Talk, and Vern Funk Insurance.

If you collect all 20 tags, you will be invited to an end-of-contest party at Huntamer Park in Lacey, WA on June 23, 2012. That's when the drawing for the prizes takes place. So, get started and have fun with your phone. You might be lucky.

I'll be home, bored. Hey, give me a call, won't you?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ocean Getaway in Long Beach, Washington -- Adrift Hotel and more (Video included)

A coastal vacation in the Pacific Northwest can feel like a gamble when it comes to weather, but sometimes you get lucky. When that happens, its the best place to be. During the first week in May, my husband and I spent three days on Washington's Long Beach Peninsula, about a three-hour drive from Tacoma, where we enjoyed sunshine and relative calm in which to walk, ride bikes, and explore by car or foot. We also stayed in an unusual hotel.

The town of Long Beach, like its name implies, stretches out long and narrow, north and south. From the main street, Pacific Avenue, we had only to go a couple of blocks west on Sid Snyder Drive to find our lodgings, a place called "Adrift." Situated in the best of all locations, it stood right where the pavement gave way to the sand, and I could feel all my pressures and stress give way to relaxation.  We arrived on a quiet Monday and the end of the road seemed like the ends of the Earth.

Adrift Hotel in Long Beach, WA (on right) photo by Candace Brown
About a half a block away from the hotel parking lot, we could access either the elevated wooden boardwalk or paved trail that extends for miles over the gently undulating and narrow zone of tall beach grass and stunted pines. It's called the Discovery Trail to commemorate history. We walked in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark and members of their Corps of Discovery, who wandered along this same strip of coastline over 200 years earlier. And just beyond the trail roared the mighty Pacific Ocean.

Boardwalk at Long Beach WA   photo by Candace Brown
Like the spirits of  those long-dead explorers, deer also moved ghost-like near the hotel one evening. People who did not happen to catch a glimpse of them during their silent passage would never have known they stood so nearby,stopping for a moment, curious and cautious, then moving on. I tried to follow this group of four from a respectful distance, but when I reached the stand of pines toward which I saw them move (as shown in the video below) they had vanished. 

Just a short walk down the trail we saw the remains of a gray whale skeleton along with informative historical markers. Lewis and Clark reported seeing gray whales along this coast too, but this one died on the beach about a mile north of where it is now, back in 2000. Nearby stood a whale sculpture and south of there, on another section of the trail, we found a wooden carving of what appeared to be dolphins. The trail features historical markers and sculptures in several places, plus an occasional bench.

Whale skeleton on display               photo by Candace Brown

Small but beautiful whale sculpture near skeleton          photo by Candace Brown

The Adrift hotel itself felt as relaxed as its surroundings. Our perfectly clean room, had wi-fi, a smallish flat screen TV, and a comfortable bed. But we had been told by friends not to expect luxury and that advice proved accurate. The name is new but the building has been around for quite a few decades, formerly known as the Edgewater. The current owners remodeled and redecorated with a theme of minimalism, value, and sustainability to appeal to a certain type of guest. I considered myself that type, until I saw through the hype. Please read on. (Hint: When you hear the word sustainability is it true, or just trendy?)

If you have embraced a minimalist lifestyle you'll feel right at home as soon as you step into the lobby where everything is concrete, metal, and wood, much of it recycled, sometimes cleverly so. That's where you will find complimentary coffee, tea, and a dispenser of water with citrus. The rooms do not include coffee makers unless you request one. This unadorned, ultra-basic theme carries over to the individual guest rooms too. So if you don't like the idea of having bare floors, very little color, upturned wooden crates for cupboards, a real bucket for an ice bucket, and pint-sized canning jars for drinking glasses, you might want to book a room somewhere else.

Single Queen room at Adrift is bare bones basic.
 I would have liked to have a bedside lamp on our makeshift nightstand. On my side of the bed there was no table at all.

I don't demand much, and a plain room works for me, since I'm not one to hang around in the room anyway while there is so much to do. And my simple requirements of cleanliness and a good mattress were more than met in these basic accommodations. But this room lacked some simple niceties, such as a bedside lamp.(See caption above). You had to get out of bed to turn the overhead light off or on, which was rather irritating. Instead of a blanket and bedspread, it had one comforter covered in plain white cotton and that was much, much too warm for both of us. But we had no options. It was that or just a sheet, so we had to suffer through being too hot.

In spite of the earth friendly hype, don't assume that this is green or sustainable construction, because it is not. It is still the same old  building, now incorporating recycled materials and a different style. But the presence of those materials seemed more for show than for a good reason.

I was surprised that removal of the old towel racks from the bathroom walls, to put up the wooden crate shown below, did not include filling the holes from the first installment. Since I could see the clean, unfilled holes exactly where the original rack had been, I assume the wall was never even repainted. Also, the raw wood trim around the sink made no sense. With no finish whatsoever, it will soon be water stained and ugly and could eventually rot after frequent exposure to water. It would also be difficult, if not impossible, to clean and sanitize effectively. One of the environmentally responsible wood finishes now available could have made it so much nicer.

These so-called "sustainable" affectations seem to appeal to those who, for whatever reason, equate sustainability with that which is primitive, unfinished, and crudely built. But those ideas are just plain silly. I've researched and written articles about sustainable construction and interiors, and interviewed builders, and I know what that word means in the housing industry. (For information on sustainable building and remodeling, please click on the links below.) )

Believe me, fine finishing and detailed craftsmanship in both new construction and remodels, plus tasteful decorating, are the norm, not the exception. The redesign of this hotel did involve recycling, which is good, but I've seen recycled materials used in far more artful ways.

 Although the hotel's website shows framed pictures on the walls of other rooms, we had only one aspect of decoration that might be called "art," and that was an over sized image  of something, accompanied by the words "EMBRACE DIFFERENCE." Take a look for yourself in the photo above. Those oval shapes hanging down might have been fruit on a vine, but my imagination turned them into all kinds of other things. The whole thing annoyed me. Okay, I thought, I can, and do, embrace difference, but this is not attractive. I would have preferred a nice watercolor of the beach, even if it didn't represent a politically correct attitude. And those canning jar drinking glasses? Unless they are truly recycled (as opposed to being purchased new in quantity ) they are no more "sustainable" than conventional glassware, but serve only to add that to the recycled look.
I had no problem with the use of theoretically recycled jars as part of the lighting in the the hotel's Scapece Restaurant, but most features of the decor seemed more shoddy than chic. I saw no aesthetic appeal in the collection of boards nailed to the wall either ( as shown above) or the presence of a steel "I" beam as a focal point in the restaurant. But I will say that the atmosphere was fun, the service excellent, and those almonds sauteed in olive oil... oh my!

A brew and sauteed almonds                         photo by Candace Brown

The restaurant's west-facing perch on the fourth floor made a romantic setting from which to view the sunset. Happy customers and a courteous wait staff gave it a good vibe. Our visit occurred just a few days before the restaurant officially opened, so we could only order from the bar menu. That suited us fine, since we had already eaten dinner, but guests sitting at the next table had the pizza and it looked delicious.

photo by Candace Brown
Would I stay at this hotel again? Yes I would, because of the many positive aspects. With its great location, free use of the hotel's bicycles, movies, and games, plus the fact that dogs are welcome on the first two floors, it has much to recommend. But I will remain unimpressed by the hype about sustainability. I don't think a few more creature comforts, like a bedside lamp and a real drinking glass would endanger the planet.

However, in the end, none of those material things mattered as much as the experience of the beach and the nice time spent with my husband. That included two early morning bike rides over the dunes with nothing to break the silence but the sound of our wheels on the trail and the songs of birds.

Now I'll leave you with a video I shot one evening, that captures the essence of sunset at the shore.

copyright 2012 Candace J. Brown

Thursday, May 10, 2012

"An Evening With Groucho" at Seattle's A.C.T. Theatre -- a review

Last night at A.C.T- A Contemporary Theatre in Seattle, elements of past and present slipped next to each other like fingers in a handshake. Think of it as a friendly handshake with immortality itself, the type of immortality defined this way: As long as someone remembers us, we exist.

Frank Ferrante                                                photo provided by A.C.T. Theatre
Frank Ferrante remembers Groucho Marx. In fact, he's been obsessed with Groucho since childhood and has devoted his life to portraying the famous comedian in widely-acclaimed and award-winning performances, including a Groucho: A Life in Revue, written by Arthur Marx, Groucho's son. In 2001 Ferrnate wrote and performed in a PBS television show with the same name. Others who remember Groucho, or would like to experience this distinctive humor for the first time, can watch Ferrrante pay homage to his idol through another show he wrote himself, called An Evening With Groucho. It runs through May 20 in the theater's Bullitt Cabaret, brought to us by A.C.T.'s Central Heating Lab, under direction by Dreya Weber.

The Cabaret offered a cozy setting with small tables and chairs as well as rows of seats. The stage held a piano along with early 20th century furnishings and props, all positioned in front of a tied-back red velvet curtain. Period music added to the ambiance, as did images of the Marx Brothers and reproductions of their movie posters. The first person who took to the stage was Musical Director Jim Furmston. He not only played the straight man to Ferrante's Groucho, but also played the piano with impressive skill and great dynamics, whether featured on a solo piece, accompanying a song, or adding special effects.

Frank Ferrante and Jim Furmston on Piano        photo provided by A.C.T. Theatre

Ferrante appeared with some fanfare and introduced himself and his show. Dressed in his signature tails and tie, but without makeup, he then sat down in front of a small mirror to create the character of Groucho right in front of us. But as he rose to his feet, it seemed that some kind of magical transformation had taken place inside of him as well. Instead of Ferrante, we saw the familiar wavy-haired, cigar-carrying man who wore wire-rimed glasses and black greasepaint for a mustache and eyebrows, who rudely joked, made funny facial expressions, cavorted across the stage, and sang silly songs like "Lydia the Tattooed Lady." I couldn't believe it wasn't the real Groucho, and I wondered if Ferrante himself even knew for sure if he still was himself, after having so eerily channeled the spirit that inspired him. When he told stories of Groucho's life—in Groucho's true voice—the actor disappeared and the character's real past became our equally real present.

But it would be a mistake to give Groucho's ghost too much credit for the show's success or assume that all Ferrante did was recite his idol's most famous lines. As I watched Ferrante leave the stage to question, insult, and embarrass members of the audience in true, hilarious Groucho style, it was clear that he was no less quick-witted and funny than the famous vaudevillian he impersonates. Ferrante proved himself to be a top-notch comedian who responded with brilliant off-the-cuff comebacks to anything people said, and did so at the speed of light. And I know these gags weren't staged, since my own husband innocently drew Ferrante's attention. You can be sure that this reviewer's little black notebook and pen quickly and discreetly slipped out of sight as soon as I noticed that attention coming our way. From that point on, I made only mental notes, including one to never again choose a seat in the front row.
As those fingers of past and present clasped each other, time and again, it became clear that Ferrante's decades of intense study of all things Groucho have paid off. I came home to Tacoma well after my bedtime, but couldn't resist looking on YouTube for bits from old Marx Brothers movies or Groucho performing alone. It had been awhile since I'd seen any of that and my reaction surprised me.
Sorry, Groucho fans, but compared to those old black and white images, the richly-hued stage set at A.C.T. wasn't the only thing more colorful. I actually liked Ferrante better than the original.

For tickets and show times, please visit the A.C.T. website by clicking here:

Copyright 2012 Candace J. Brown

Monday, May 7, 2012

Great Blue Herons -- dramatic video plus live webcam

My first encounter with a Great Blue Heron was an encounter of the closest kind, and sometimes I remember it as an almost mystical experience.

Great Blue Heron mother with three chicks.     Photo courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
My two young sons and I went exploring in the woods near our home one day and came to a swampy area. I'm sure the heron knew exactly where we were all along. But we had no idea where he was. Then we parted the underbrush near a deep puddle in which he stood. Suddenly he rose up in front of us, and spreading his huge and magnificent wings, flew right over our heads.

Great Blue Herons live year 'round in many areas of the Pacific Northwest, but they face difficult conditions in the effort to survive and multiply, including loss of habitat and threats from predators, like owls. Here is a link to a web cam on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife web site. Please take a look at this site too, which includes directions to viewing areas in the Northwest. There are herons in my Tacoma neighborhood.

Herons Forever

In a recent post I introduced you to the exciting "nestcams" operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at Cornell University, in Ithica, N.Y. My particular interest then was the Red-tailed Hawk nest on top of a light pole, where the chicks were hatching. Just a few days later, a webcam located at the lab's Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary continued the drama with a pair of Great Blue Herons as their eggs began to hatch as well.

The following video is a "must see" in high definition. "Tree-top view of Great Blue Herons in amazing double flight to nest"

Since March 27, according to a press release from the Lab of Ornithology, more than half a million people in 166 countries have watched the heron web cam. This groundbreaking, 24/7 high definition and night-viewing technology has scientists excited too, because they have never before been able to study these birds this thoroughly, especially at night.

“From the very first night, viewers witnessed little-known events, such as herons courting and mating by moonlight,” said Dr. John Fitzpatrick, director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “They’ve watched live as the herons defended their nest, uttering rarely heard, spine-chilling defensive screams as Great Horned Owls attacked in early morning hours. Even the professionals are gaining new insights from these live cams.”

Here is live web cam feed from the nest:
Below, you can watch dramatic video of a Great Horned Owl attack on a mother Great Blue Heron who valiently protects her eggs.

Nature provides the best kind of "reality" show. Don't you agree?

photo courtesty of Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Like Coal Dust and Pigment, "The Pitmen Painters" Leaves Its Mark -- A Review

Until last week, if you asked me to describe a scene from October 29, 1934, it would not be what I envision now. Until last week, I would have first imagined the music of America's great Jazz Age, or classic cars, or women's fashions, or an entry in my mother's diary. (She was a teenager, hoping her parents would let her have a Halloween party.) But last week I sat in the audience at A.C.T. A Contemporary Theatre, in Seattle, and watched a play called The Pitmen Painters. I will never imagine 1934 in the same way again.

Original artwork by the pitmen painters known as The Ashington Group.
Photo: Woodhorn Museum                   
On the 29th of October in that year, a group of coal miners waited in a YMCA hall in Ashington, Northumberland, in northeastern England, dressed in their best clothes. They had gathered for a class in art appreciation. It had been arranged through the Workers' Education Associationthe WEA—an organization created by their labor union in 1903. The teacher, Robert Lyon, was late. But his arrival would change the lives of these men forever, and maybe society as well, at least to some degree.

Thus began a true story, Lee Hall's stage adaptation of a non-fiction book by William Feaver entitled "Pitmen Painters: The Ashington Group 1934-1984." It is being staged in the Allen Theatre at A.C.T. April 20—May 20. This is theatre-in-the-round, and my seat, like all the seats, allowed a clear view of the platform below that served as a stage. Two different elevated screens on opposite sides of the room showed black and white images of Ashington, the center of coal mining in England in the 1930s while music from that era created the ambiance.

Art Class
Photo: Chris Bennion                   

Lyon (Frank Lawler) begins his lesson with a slide presentation of the classic, religious-themed works of master painters, but the men cannot relate. They had come there to learn how to appreciate art, but as intelligent, observant, working-class realists, these paintings hold no relevance to their own lives. So they challenged Lyon.

The program quotes the real Lyon as having said, "It was perfectly clear that these men had decided views on what they did not want to the class to be. They did not want to be told what was the correct thing to look for in a work of Art but to see for themselves why this should be correct; in other words, they wanted a way, if possible, of seeing it for themselves."

Frank Lawler and Jason Marr in The Pitmen Painters.
Photo: Chris Bennion                   
Lawler portrays Lyon with warmth, compassion, and a finely tuned balance, showing him to be a man from a privileged background, but one who cares about others without condescension. Lyon does not set himself above these working-class men. He sees them as worthy individuals with valid opinions and views, as deserving of respect as anyone in higher society. He decides that the best way was for the men to learn about art is to create their own, to paint their own interpretations of their world and their experiences. So they do exactly that. Without any formal training, they produce vivid, honest, organic works of art, images not usually seen in galleries: the cramped and miserable conditions in the coal mines, the muscled men working in the dark and heat, street scenes, home scenes, their dogs, their gatherings.

Jason Marr in the foreground. Charles Leggett, R. Hamilton Wright, and Frank Lawler in the background.
Photo: Chris Bennion                   
These paintings begin to attract the attention of critics, including a wealthy patron of the arts named Helen Sutherland (beautifully and sensitively played by Morgan Rowe) who takes a particular interest in Oliver Kilbourn (Jason Marr) Her offer to support his artistic endeavors—thereby providing an escape from poverty and the drudgery of the mines—provides the main point of conflict in the play and makes interesting observations about society in general and the class system that still existed in England at the time.

Playing the role of Oliver is Marr's debut at A.C.T. and will no doubt be looked back upon as a milestone in his already notable career. So perfectly cast (as were all the actors) he has the face and aura of a romantic, no matter how humble his circumstances in the role. His characterization of Oliver makes us love and care about the kind, loyal, hardworking and responsible young man who went to work in the mines as a young boy and has finally had the chance to express what lies in the depths of his beautiful soul.  

Extraordinarily talented Joseph P. McCarthy plays the role of Jimmy Floyd, another miner-turned-artist, whose childhood ended at age 10 when he took his first terrifying ride down into the mines. I cannot forget the haunting way he describes this experience during the play. The audience barely breathed. Yet the character of Floyd brings plenty of humor to the play as well, adding a welcome lightness.

Charles Leggett, as George Brown, does a fine job of showing how his character changes once he begins to paint. He was the bossy (but often funny) member of the group, a staunch union man who follows rules to the letter and tolerates no nonsense. But we see him soften, thanks to the quality of Leggett's acting.

R. Hamilton Wright
Photo: Chris Bennion
The only non-miner among the artists was Harry Wilson, a military veteran who took up dentistry and holds strong Marxist views, played by R. Hamilton Wright, with finesse. The role carries undercurrents of personality, politics, and even perhaps some guilt over not being down in the mines. As Wilson explores art, he also explores his relationships with the other men and his relationship to society. Wright expertly negotiated these subtleties.

Daniel Brockley excelled in the role of Young Lad/Ben Nicholson, an unemployed and restless fellow who begs to sit in on the class, even though he isn't entirely qualified in Brown's critical opinion, at least not at first. But the WEA's policy was that "An enquiring mind is sufficient qualification." Nicholson becomes a tragic figure in the end, but on the way, adds depth and a different perspective to the story.   

Fresh as a breeze and surprisingly modern, the character of Susan Parks—a liberated young woman who works as an artists' model—comes to life through the talents of Christine Marie Brown. She cannot understand why the miner artists should be taken aback by the idea of using a nude model (although the comical Floyd thinks it's a great idea), and she does drop her drapery a little for a brief flash of partial nudity before the scene ends and the lights go out, to the disappointment of many, I'm sure.

"The Deluge" Artwork by Oliver Kilbourn of the Ashington Group
Photo: Oliver Kilbourn

The stage for The Pitmen Painters is simple. A few wooden chairs and a table, that keep being rearranged, make up the set, which seems to represent the plain and drab environment of life in this coal mining town. Even the authentic costumes had little color. But in such a setting, the replicas of actual paintings done by members of The Ashington Group glow ever more vividly when shown on the stage and projected on the two screens above, just as the discovery of art added color to the lives of these men.

Ponder the questions of what art means in society and what access to art means in the lives of individuals—by seeing The Pitmen Painters at A.C.T. soon. Under the fine direction of the theater's Artistic Director Kurt Beattie, it will transport you to a view of the 1930s quite different from your American perspective. My only recommendation is that you READ YOUR PROGRAM before the action begins. Beattie's letter and some accompanying articles will greatly enhance your appreciation of the story by giving you the needed historical background. This is one area in which I felt the stage adaptation fell short. It could have been confusing and vague to those who didn't see it in the context of world affairs. And the Second World War, a profound event in these people's lives, did not receive the attention I felt it warranted. Other than that, I found it gratifying and rich. Don't miss it. Here's a link to the box office.

As I read on in my mother's diary from 1934, I see that she was allowed to have her Halloween party. And as she did so, Hitler's power reached new heights. And according to Beattie's letter in the program, in that same year 834 English miners died in mining accidents and 30,000 more suffered injuries. In the midst of it all, far from my mother's childhood home on Vashon Island in Puget Sound, the men who called themselves "The Ashington Group" were on their way to becoming world renowned artists. Go discover the reason why.

Original artwork by the pitmen painters known as The Ashington Group.
Photo: Woodhorn Museum