Seattle, Here I Come (and other random stuff)

Guess what? I am going to the Emerald City, which is what some call Seattle because it’s so darn lush and green, thanks to all the rain they get. I’m practically apoplectic with delight, because I’m going to see my friends, and you know that when I was last there, last spring, we had buckets of fun.

The view from the plane as it approaches Seattle.

I’ll be staying with Pam, who I’ve known for decades. Hundreds and hundreds of years, if you ask me. Pam has a big heart and a biting wit that is way sharper than mine, and makes me laugh like crazy.

I’ll also be seeing our pal, Pat, who is very sweet and kind, and somehow tolerates our off-kilter humor, which is just one of the many reasons why we adore her. Oh, and because, when someone makes her mad by doing something really annoying (present company excluded, of course), the best she can say, in her most polite voice, is, “I’m finding it hard to remain civil.”

With any luck, I’ll also see Clare, my amazing author friend who has written and published a plethora of books for children. Not to mention, Tom, aka Dernab Swarren. That’s what I call him, and he calls me Della. That’s Della Wolf, to you. Long story.

Pike Place Market is must-visit for anyone traveling to Seattle.

I am also going to get to spend time with Pam’s twin daughters, who are the same age as my daughter, and so much fun to be with, too.  And, last but not least, those canine cuties, Digby and Maisie. No doubt, they’ll be underfoot, looking for a cuddle and a lap to rest on.

Well, there’s at least one person I’m not going to be able to meet up with while in Seattle.  I was hoping to at last meet my young blogger pal, Cappy, whose got lots of moxie and joie de vivre. But turns out, she lives nowhere near Seattle. What was I thinking??

So, here’s my dream list of stuff I want to do during my visit, in no specific order:

  • Spend time with my friends
  • Pick up chocolates at the Dilettante
  • Peruse the stalls at Pike Place Market
  • Go antiquing
  • Catch up with my friends
  • Go out drinking and listen to music
  • Nosh like crazy!   Which includes breakfast at Julia’s Restaurant where they serve French toast with orange butter, lunch at Kidd Valley for awesome char-grilled burgers and pineapple shakes, and, what else? Dinner at Ivar’s Salmon House, for some mouth-watering, alder-wood smoked salmon.
  • Take walks with my favorite little Yorkies, Digby and Maisie
  • See a new movie

Ivar’s Salmon House restaurant serves up delicious alder-wood cooked salmon.

OMG, I can’t wait! I’m packing my bags and filling them with warm clothes, because if I know anything about the Northwest, it’s going to be cold, cold, COLD!



Hey Neighbor! I have a new blog, folks! This one’s for my work and it’s called, Hey Neighbor! It’s all about the ordinary people that make San Diego such an extraordinary place to live. If you have a chance, I hope you’ll check it out.


This photo, and all the others here, were taken during my last trip to Seattle.

Sick of the election coverage? Me, too. Well, it’s almost over, but not soon enough for this four year old who gave into her tears after her mom was listening to yet another election report on NPR. Check out this story, in which NPR apologizes, Dear Little Girl: Sorry We Made You Cry About ‘Bronco Bamma’ and Mitt Romney. If you ask me, I think she’s channeling what many of us are feeling.


Fifty/Fifty Challenge:  Full confession. I didn’t finish reading anything in October. And, I didn’t even see one flick! Sigh. Oh, well, I am working on Winter of the World: Book Two of the Century Trilogy, a book that is 960 pages long, though I’m listening to the audio version, because I’m no fool.  All I can tell you is that Ken Follett is a brilliant writer and John Lee is the perfect audio reader, capturing every accent, and every dialect in this saga of five families across continents, on the eve of World War II. I am absolutely riveted!


Take the hint and vote! I already did. And, be sure to check out the latest posts from our Race 2012 bloggers.

Ta-tah for now! I’m going, but I’ll be back soon!

Heading Back to the Emerald City–

View from the Pike Place Market, which is always on my must-do list when visiting Seattle.

–Or, I have a feeling I’m not in So-Cal anymore!

Recently, I decided to throw caution to the wind, and throw the shoestring budget I’ve been on out the door, so that I could head back to the place I called home for nearly a decade: Seattle.

The Emerald City. The Pacific Northwest and all that.  Tony Bennett may have left his heart in San Francisco, but for me, mine will always be firmly entrenched in the city nestled on a gazillion bodies of water, between the Cascade and Olympic mountains. Lush and green, and a far cry from my current dessert-like home, where the weather may be gorgeous all year round, but limited rainfall makes it a largely brown and arid region.

For those who have read my Road Taken saga, you’ll know that I moved to Seattle to be with my ex, who wasn’t an ex back then, but rather, a boyfriend, and then a husband. The “ex” part came long after we left Seattle. Which does make me wonder, what if we’d never left Seattle at all?  Hmm….

Seattle is green in so many ways. What struck me is how many people grow their own vegetables and the like, right along the sidewalk. So resourceful!

Anyway, I still have friends there. Good friends, who I don’t see often but when I do, it’s just like old times. Friends like Pam, who was the subject of three entire Road Taken installments.  There’s also Pat, my highly-organized, pays attention to every detail, kindred spirit. She loves to write and watch soaps—we were both hooked on Dallas and Knots Landing for years—and Tom, my quiet friend who prefers to call me by my alter name, “Della Wolfe,” and who drives me to drink with his flair for making tantalizingly addictive, Galliano Sours.

And, then there’s Clare.

Clare is a published author, whose latest book, Soccer Dreams, was inspired by a project we once worked on together. She also is a performer and songwriter (when in Seattle, you have to catch The Righteous Mothers in concert, and you’ll see Clare singing and on the piano). She’s been helping me tremendously, with my half-baked attempts to write my memoir. She’s like my coach and she’s very critical. When others keep telling me they like my stuff, Clare sees right through my charade and shenanigans, and tells me, I could do better. She pushes and pushes until I’m up against the wall and ready to cry, “Uncle!”

Mother’s Day proved to be a beautiful day for a three-mile walk around Greenlake.

But, in the end I have found, Clare knows best, and she’s really a lifesaver, helping me put together something that is cogent and actually tells a story.

It was Clare that suggested I come up to Seattle and take a Life Story seminar, with her mentor, Brenda Peterson, author of a memoir titled, I Want to be Left Behind, about life with her Southern Baptist family as they eagerly prepared for the Rapture.  I’d never taken a class on memoir writing before and I learned all sorts of interesting tidbits in this one, which I’ll be sure to share in a future post. In the meantime, please enjoy these photos, taken during my visit to the Seattle of my heart.

This photo of one of Pam’s daughters exemplifies how green Seattle is, and also at peace I feel when there. It is like a green cathedral.

This dog doesn’t seem to have a care in the world. He’s going places but has no idea where. I wanted to get his owner in the picture as well, but they were going too fast!

This is one of Clare’s favorite spots for contemplating and zoning out: The Japanese Garden at the Washington Park Arboretum. Too beautiful for words!

If I moved back to Seattle, I’d want to live in this spectacular building. A work of art, if you ask me!

Pam’s Yorkshire Terriers. Aren’t they adorable? I wanted to scoop them up and bring them home.

View from Fremont neighborhood. Look closely and you can see Mt. Rainier in the background. Breathtaking!

The Road Taken: Running

When I think of Rick, we’re holding hands. Holding hands and running. And smiling, too.

It was a no-brainer to sit next to him in class. Whichever of us arrived first made a beeline for the other, who happily obliged by saving a seat. Sitting together, our heads as one, reading over each other’s stories, lingering over the words, the nuances, and discussing the symbolism. And, all the while, taking in his scent—the vibrancy of wildflowers on cold, clear Mt. Rainier mornings.

And beaming.

Oh, how we smiled! Grinned, actually. From, ear to ear. This is how it begins. This is what it feels like to fall head over heels.  Like tumbling haphazardly, without a care in the world. Down a hillside, into meadows filled with lavender, violets and jasmine. Arms full of sweet peas bursting with color! This was our time, so innocent, and yet, and yet…

We couldn’t get enough.  The class only lasted so long, after all, and though we stretched it out by spending every moment together, every break, delaying our departures, more and more, it wasn’t enough. Never enough. We were eager. Eager for more.

We skipped the fifth class. Rick caught me, just as I was walking up the steps. He didn’t even have to ask. He didn’t need to say a word. His eyes so intent, burning bright, like a fire that was unstoppable. A tug of my sleeve, a conspiratorial whisper. Like a breeze against my cheek on a moonlit night. His hair slightly tousled, in the dreamiest of ways. Grabbing my hand—which was a most willing captive—we took off, heading for parts unknown.  Running, always running. Bounding through the campus, across the street, then down University Avenue. The Ave, as the locals called it. I didn’t know where he was taking me, but it didn’t matter, did it?

Together, our energy was thrilling.

We stopped in front of a small jazz club. Perfect, I thought. I love jazz. Rick nodded, as if I’d spoken aloud, and held the door open. Warm inside, felt good. A trio was in the middle of a set. Saxophone, bass and piano.  The trifecta of all jazz music. We were led to a tiny, round table by the window, just a few feet away from the musicians.

Rick looked at me and asked, “Is this okay?”

Is what okay? The fact that we ditched class? That I’m here with you? That I’m complete smitten and that I’ve never felt quite this way before? Or, the fact that my husband is at home studying for an exam he has tomorrow? I didn’t want to think about that last one. No regrets, none whatsoever. Just a nagging feeling that I couldn’t quite place. Something niggling at me. That’s all. Ignore it and I was sure it would go away.

I smiled and nodded exuberantly, pushing all thoughts except one, out of my head. I was in the here and now.

“Yes! This is fabulous!”

We ordered a half carafe of chardonnay, bottled by a Northwest vineyard. Suddenly, I loved the Great Northwest. Gateway to the Pacific Rim—and now, to my soul. Yes, the Emerald City had finally stolen my heart, and it was bliss. How happy I was in that moment, in that hour, to be with this boy, who I’d discovered hailed from North Carolina. Holding hands and enjoying the music. Happy together!

As I rubbed his hand, I could feel a thin, snake-like scar that mischievously zigzagged across his right palm, ending near the bottom of his thumb. A childhood injury, he had said, as a result of a fall along the Appalachian Trail. Must have been some gash, that one, but now it was just an imperfection. A flaw on a man that had few.

The jazz trio went on break. The bartender signaled to Rick, holding up his outstretched hand and mouthing the word, “Five.”

Rick got up and walked over to the Steinway baby grand. Sitting down he began to improvise, running his fingers sharply along the keys for an impromptu riff. Five minutes, that’s all he had, and from the looks of it, this wasn’t his first time. His face turned serious, concentrating on the music, the chords. I used to play, but was never this good. Nope. The best I could ever master was playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata in high school, and there was a time I could play it by rote. But it had been a long time since those days.

We stayed an hour, maybe more, listening and chatting. Drinking, too. It was getting late, class would be ending soon and it was hard to justify hanging around too much longer than that. I felt like Cinderella, out with my prince, and in danger of turning into a pumpkin if I returned home too late. Rick paid the tab, and we headed back to campus. When we reached the Drumheller Fountain, he abruptly stopped, and pointed to the sky.

“Look at the stars! It’s so clear tonight!”  His eyes, wide with enchantment.

I looked up and, sure enough, above us was an explosion of stars. Rick lay down on the grass and beckoned me beside him. Too nervous to oblige, I kept a short distance between us, forming an upside down “V” with our bodies. He took my hand in his and gazing at the sea of stars, shining above us, we found an intimacy in our silence.

Rick’s voice interrupted the quiet. “If you could travel to any of those stars, which one would you choose?” He pointed at a pinpoint of light to the right. “How about that one?”

I shook my head. “Are you kidding me? That’s too far. I’ll take the Little Dipper any day.”

He laughed. “Why the Little Dipper?”

“Because, I like the name and it’s dipper will keep me from falling off.” The wine had definitely gone to my head.

“You’re crazy, you know. You can’t fall. You’ll just float around forever.”

“Forever?” I asked, wondering if this could last forever. Wondering if he would ever kiss me. Wanting him to, yet afraid he would.

He pushed himself up on one elbow and looked down at me, lying on the grass, shivering. No one ever accused me of having nerves of steel.  He scooted closer.

“You cold?”

I nodded, hesitantly. He was getting too close, and I wasn’t ready to admit the truth. The fear that I had reached the point of no return. Wanting to push forward through this new door that was open to me, yet worried about what would happen if I did.

As he bent down ever so gradually, tortuously slowly, his face hovering slightly above mine, I could hear in the distance classes letting out. Adult education students walking out of the buildings, heading to their vehicles. The engines starting, and cars pulling away. Away from this campus. Away from us. Soon we’d be alone, but in the dark no one could see us, anyway. No one would have thought to look in this secluded spot, by the fountain, under the stars, at two people entwined like lovers. Kissing. Oh yes, there was kissing. Kissing joyfully. This was bliss.

Missed a chapter? Read past installments, by visiting the page, The Road Taken.