Monday, March 24, 2014

Ramble About Town, March 22nd 2014

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Just a tiny fragment of the delights on hand at The Tea Lady in Olympia, WA.
It had been awhile since I spent a Saturday just wandering, and with a bit of spring weather setting in (if only temporarily), I may have had a bit of cabin fever as well. So...this Saturday I did a ramble about.

Went to the Tea Lady first. I've professed my love for this place so many times before, it seems a little redundant to state it again, but...I love this place! I'm currently off coffee (if only temporarily), which made a shop full of nothing but tea all the more exciting. I'd sort of planned to buy a teapot, but they mostly had large ones, too big for me unless I start throwing daily tea parties. So I'm back to obsessing on-line on that front. Still came away with some new green tea, some fillable tea bags for times when it's less than convenient to fiddle with a filter basket, and an interesting herbal blend with citrus, turmeric, and ginger. The instant I left I got requests from Dad and my sister for teas of their own, so I have an excuse to go back soon.

Next up was downtown, and the antique mall: Finders Keepers. It's always a fun place to browse: different vendors rent cubicles within the building, so each has a different assortment and you never know what you'll find around the next corner. First thing I noted was this boxy Hermes 3000. It's $145, or I might be giving you a review rather than just a photo. Looks pretty clean.

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Lots of other little assorted writing related things about:

Pencil Sharpeners at Finders Keepers
Pencil sharpeners
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Inks...and Shinola.
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Ink erasers and assorted pencil leads.

Typewriter cleaner.

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Some sorta old cash register? And a steno machine.
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SCM Coronet, just to be equal opportunity to the electrified among us.
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One of those heavy old staplers that could double as a blunt force weapon.
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Slide rules! The big one here is about standard size for these. The little one is little bitty. Shirt pocket sized, or smaller. Cute.
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Close-up of the little guy...
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If Hop-along Cassidy says it's his favorite ice cream, who am I to argue?
Had lunch afterward with a friend at The Bread Peddler: peanut curry chicken soup. Good, as is only to be expected from The Bread Peddler. Yum!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Graphite Dreamin'

Likely due to the pandas in my last post, last night I dreamed I was at a large Wintergrass-like gathering at a hotel, but in addition to my music friends, all the typewriter and pencil folks were there.

I was just about to join the pencil people for a big show-and-tell and possible trading party when I woke up. Serious bummer. I was particularly looking forward to trying Pencil Revolution's My First Ticonderogas and some of the more exotic pencils brought over by the European contingent, and maybe trading some of my pencils for new ones.

But I'll have to settle for solo scribbling. *snif*

Saturday, March 15, 2014


When I was at Goodwill today, they had a few big bags of brand new round pencils with little pandas on them, probably half a gross for $5. Quite possibly these: Musgrave Panda Pencils.

I didn't buy them.

The pandas...they haunt me.

As if I need more pencils.

I'm not right in the head.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Wintergrass 2014 (Late) After Report

This is the one and only photo I took: my scribbling and caffeination supplies for a morning of jotting down memories.

I spent Feb 27-Mar 2 at Wintergrass--the big indoor music festival held at the Hyatt in Bellevue, WA. We take over the whole place--people wandering around with fiddles and guitars and banjos and mandolins, jamming in hallways and stairwells. And then there are the concerts! It was, in short, an incredible experience. Highlights for me:

  • Beats Workin' (Peter Ostroushko on mandolin, Mike Dowling on guitar, David Lange on accordion, Cary Black on bass): they played swing and bluesy stuff and original tunes and...oh man, were just so good and so fun all around! My favorite was Peter Ostroushko's "Heart of the Heartland" on Thursday night.

  • Väsen, the truly excellent Swedish folk band, currently a trio with 12 string guitar, nykelharpa, and 5-string viola. I've liked them for a long time, but had never seen them live. My only regret is that I only got to see them twice over the course of the festival. I bought their Mindset album, and I have to say, while there were flashier, more mind boggling performers at Wintergrass, Mindset is the album I've had on repeat ever since. Favorite tune: Hundlaten, which Mikael said he wrote while walking his dog--the title, as I recall, means, simply, "Dog Song." It's bouncy and fun and gets hopelessly stuck in my head.

  • The Kruger Brothers. I'd not seen them before, either, and WOW. As someone said about Jens Kruger, there are good banjo players, great banjo players, and then there's Jens Kruger. I've never heard music like that before. And Uwe's voice and songwriting are icing on the cake. Favorites: "Carolina in the Fall" and the first bit of their "Appalachian Concerto."

  • Chris Thile and Mike Marshall. I just don't have suitable words for what they do. Improvising, in harmony, even at high speeds or in funky time signatures like 25/16. Really. They were amazing, and I do not use that word lightly. Mando gods.

  • Combination of the above: one of my favorite Väsen tunes is a beautiful waltz: Josefin's. Not only did they do it, at the very end of their last set on Saturday, but Chris Thile and Mike Marshall joined them. It was...I still can't describe it. Magical.

    I also have so many other happy memories: morning jams after breakfast, a trip to the dim sum place nearby, where we laughed at our varying ability to eat with chopsticks, running up eleven flights of stairs sometime after midnight when I got sick of waiting for the elevators after the last concert of the day, a walk to the QFC (across the street) wherein I got us so lost I think we saw most of Bellevue....

    Good friends, good fun, good food, good music. It was a perfect vacation. And the accommodations definitely beat the tar out of your average bluegrass festival...beds? Private bathrooms, with fresh towels provided daily? Thermostats? Whoa!