Monday, June 30, 2008


(1) Chalk the Walk 2008 was sponsored by the Puyallup Public Library and Valley Arts United. It was an opportunity for artists of all ages to scribble on the sidewalks outside of the Puyallup Library in Pioneer Park for two hours.

(2) Troy's Work Table showed that it really is much better at viewing art than creating it; and (3) The Child created a brilliant explosion of color in a chosen panel of sidewalk.

Clockwise from upper left: (4) one of Troy's Work Table's favorite pieces; (5) TWT's vote for best original artwork; (6) a young gentleman in cowboy hat heartily enjoying the opportunity to add large white and pink squiggles to a fifty-foot stretch of sidewalk; and (7) TWT's vote for best overall artwork.

(8) Visitors of the Puyallup Farmers Market wandering amongst and around the various chalk drawings and artists-at-work.


Last year's Chalk the Walk.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Mango Weizen, a Fruit Beer by Laughing Buddha Brewing Company

22 ounce bottle from Pike Street Beer & Wine. Consumed during a writing workshop session in Capitol Hill neighborhood, Seattle (Writing House).

The pour delivers a hazy, honey-orange body. The color is darker and richer in the center, so much so that I thought that I was perhaps witnessing the fusion inherent in a luminous mass of fusion. But, alas, I was not. Rather, I was witnessing the goodness of Mango Weizen. The head was white and the carbonation was very lively.

The aroma was—from greater to lesser—of mango, citrus, and wheat. The flavor was the inverse—wheat, fruity sweetness, and mango. There was also an earthiness to the mango, an almost leafy vegetation flavor. On the finish, the mango and fruitiness slowly fade, leaving behind the wheat that originally was present in the foreground.

Mango Weizen was medium-bodied and engaged the entire mouth. It was good, although not entirely my "cup of tea." It is a good ale for a warm summer evening or as an accompaniment to some spicy Thai appetizers.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Whoop Pass Double IPA, an Imperial/Double IPA by Silver City Restaurant & Brewery

On tap at Silver City Restaurant & Brewery, Silverdale, Washington.

Oh, the joy! Whoop Pass is wonderful. What was presented to me was exquisite to behold. The body was orange, with an almost red center, and a faint yellow aura, especially at the bottom of the pint glass. The head was thin, white, and consistent. The lacing left behind during drinking was excellent, consisting of intricate sheets.

The aroma was of apple and orange, bolstered by caramel and alcohol notes. The flavor was the same and very bitter. The ale felt nice and heavy on the tongue. Whoop Pass engaged the entire mouth.

I had this ale with Silver City's BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich and they worked very well together. Another happy beer experience courtesy of Silver City.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


wend 1a verb trans. Alter the position or direction of; turn (a thing) round or over.
—page 3612, Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Fifth Edition

"to wend" is an installation at University of Washington Tacoma Gallery by artists (and professors) Tyler Budge and Sara Young. It is one of the most fascinating art installations I have ever seen; something I equate with the pleasure that was the Maryhill Double.

The room is lined with forty small painted panels, approximately 6.5" x 10" in size, that depict scenes of horizon. Each panel is bisected by the horizon, with sky above and water or land below. Most of the panels depict what may or may not be the same scene, with variations in color, cloud cover, time of day. There is confusion in our vantage point, but the panels appear to be related in more than just size and depiction of their landscapes.

Is it a point on a hill that we observe from, always staring in the same direction? Is it a point on a hill that we observer from, looking in various directions? Is it a different scene of horizon in each panel? My guess is that it is the second.

In that case, we have a vantage point that allows us to view a larger horizon over a period time, thereby a sense of larger space and longer time are developed that we couldn't otherwise inhabit. We visit sunrises and sunsets, view water and land, and observe clouds, fog, and clear skies.

The paintings are primarily in variations of blues and greens, with white, yellow, and the occasional reddish-brown. The seven to nine panels where the reddish-brown is used really stand out, especially the final panel that feels different from the other thirty-nine paintings due to the dominance of the color.

The yellow of most of the paintings is from beeswax that has been melted onto the panels and then mostly melted off the panels again. It gives the paintings an antiquated look and feel, but also makes them strangely enticing, welcoming. I couldn't quite figure out what the material was that appeared to be "oozing" from the sides of the panels and coating the surface, so I had to ask.

The mystery of the beeswax just elicited more questions for me. Do bees wend? They constantly alter their direction as they seek out nectar and pollen. Is the absence of any bees in the gallery important, as is the presence of a product of their work? They are disappearing in great numbers. Are we to turn back from the destruction that we have wreaked upon their habitat, the environment that we share with them? In that case, then our wending could also be a repentance of sorts.


In addition to the panels, there are three televisions (one on each of the solid brick walls) showing the same couple minute loop of video, although not synchronously. The video consists of the two artists, dressed in white T-shirts and dark pants, looking through a fully extending orange windsock. Each artist is spinning to mirror the other, and the images slightly overlap one another, giving the whole a ghostly, haunted tone. These images, in turn, are played over an image of Puget Sound water that is running backward. This is made apparent by a small motorboat in the scene that appears to devour its own wake.

This scene is followed by two more. The first is of the male figure, in the same dress and looking through the same windsock, wading just shy of waist-deep water in the direction of the wind. The second is of the female figure, in the same dress and looking through the same windsock, walking in front of and past a scraggly tree.


The final piece of the installation is a large sculpture in the middle of the room. It consists of two large orange windsocks, hanging limply and spinning about in unison on the poles to which they are attached. The poles are attached to a wooden base that houses the small motor and chains that turn them. The wooden base is a portion of a circle, an arc, that is intersected by an off-center line. Therefore, the base appears to be an arrow of sorts, although one that is slightly askew. It also gives the appearance of a compass.

The questions that it gave me were: Where are we going? Where am I going?


I spent quite some time in this quiet, contemplative, tranquil setting during its opening reception, much of it by myself. I hope to return to spend some more time within the installation space, to once again reflect on the questions it raises for me, to wander to places I didn't imagine prior, to wend.


"to wend" runs at University of Washington Tacoma Gallery, 1742 Pacific Avenue, through July 15, 2008. Gallery hours are Tuesdays/Thursdays 1–5 p.m.; Fridays 12–5 p.m.; and Saturdays 11–4 p.m. Call the gallery for more information at 253-571-7914.

Friday, June 20, 2008


Tecate, a Pale Lager by FEMSA

24 ounce can. I have had Tecate in the past, the very distant past. I knew that I was setting myself up for disappointment. But I broke one of my cardinal rules of beer drinking for another. I allowed "trying to drink native" to trump "don't drink crap beer if it is the only thing available."

I was visiting Eastern Washington, specifically Wapato, which lies on the outskirts of Yakima. I was hoping to find something from Snipes Mountain (Sunnyside) or Iron Horse (Ellensburg) in one of the two local grocery stores. My choices, however, were primarily between American macrobrews or Mexican macrobrews, especially since I was trying to avoid buying a six-pack. I merely wanted a single beer. (That was another error in judgment. I should have bought a six-pack of Negro Modelo and then everything would have been just fine.) I decided to indulge in a Mexican beer in camaraderie with the Yakima Valley's Hispanic population. I should have just had water with dinner.

The pour was champagne yellow with no head. Carbonation was light and lively. The nose was just a whiff of pine and spices. The taste delivered a mildly spicy bite with a faint buttery biscuit background. The palate was watery. It was a "better" version of Budweiser or Coors, but that is not saying much.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


We began a wonderful journey to Oz. The wife brought a copy of The Wizard of Oz home from the library. The wife and the child read the book a chapter at a time during the day and before bed. The child was enamored with the adventures of Dorothy Gale and her Oz companions—the scarecrow, the tin woodman, the cowardly lion, the Munchkins, the witches, and the wizard. She was equally intrigued by the power of the cyclone that carries Dorothy to Oz, especially with Cyclone Nargis and its destructive path through Myanmar in recent headlines. Oz fueled our imaginations and mirrored pieces of "our world."

"They now came upon more and more of the big scarlet poppies, and fewer and fewer of the other flowers; and soon they found themselves in the midst of a great meadow of poppies. Now it is well known that when there are many of these flowers together their odor is so powerful that anyone who breathes it falls asleep, and if the sleeper is not carried away from the scent of the flowers he sleeps on and on forever."
—page 38, The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger

We encountered "elements" of Oz wherever we looked, perhaps due to heightened senses, perhaps due to synchronicity. Cyclones and tornadoes made the evening news. We passed poppies as we walked through the residential streets of Puyallup. We noticed scarecrows in neighborhood gardens that we had not noticed prior. The world of Oz not only mirrored "our world" but had seeped into it.

"Yes; I'm rather surprised at my head, myself," replied the Tin Woodman, thoughtfully. "I thought I had a more pleasant disposition when I was made of meat."
—page 216, The Tin Woodman of Oz by L. Frank Baum, illustrated by John R. Neill

The next book we checked out from the library was The Tin Woodman of Oz. It is much later in the series, being book number twelve. The Tin Woodman from the first book is now Emperor of the Winkies and searching for the Munchkin he loved when he was still flesh and blood. It is a rather dark and strange tale and we all enjoyed it immensely.

"I'm obsessed with books. I'm happy with books. I'm happy with books!"
—The Child

The child is obsessed with books, so why would we have her watch adaptations of the story? Mostly to let her make connections to narrative threads and elements of a story that she deeply loved. So the child viewed Veggie Tales The Wonderful Wizard of Ha's: The Story of a Prodigal Son and The Muppets' Wizard of Oz. The child enjoyed both.

"The angel and I watched The Wizard of Oz together on television last night and the scene at the gates of Oz reminded me of when Joshua and I were at the monastery gate."
—page 189, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore

The wife and I also had opportunities to have Oz enter "our world." In Lamb, which I am reading, Biff and the angel Raziel watch The Wizard of Oz in their hotel room. Of course, true to Biff's nature, he parodies the movie with his trademark lowbrow humor. We also watched the short film Death to the Tinman, directed by Ray Tintori. It is an excellent contemporized distillation of The Tin Woodman of Oz, complete with socialist economics, fundamentalist Christianity, an angry mob of unappreciated firemen, and a wonderfully ugly tinman. It is well worth seeking out.

Finally, a family friend loaned us the commemorative pop-up version of The Wizard of Oz, with lavish and intricate paper engineering works of art by Robert Sabuda. It was fun to see elements of the story recreated in three dimensions.

We continue to catch glimpses of Oz in "our world," even if only briefly or in dreams. The child keeps reminding us that some things happen in "our world" or "this world" and some things happen in "other worlds" or "that world" or "those worlds." Indeed they do.

Monday, June 16, 2008


The wife, the child, and I headed over to Eastern Washington for a little rest and relaxation with the in-laws. It was a wonderful time that involved some of Troy's Work Table's favorite things—wandering, geocaching, reading, drinking beer, eating burgers, eating great steak, eating pizza, bocce ball, and hanging out with the family. And it was all enjoyed in the sunshine and the warmth of mid-80s Fahrenheit Yakima Valley.

(1) Driving I-90 eastbound, heading toward Snoqualmie Pass.

Clockwise from upper left: (2) Thorp Antique & Fruit in Thorp; (3) Wapato; (4) an alfalfa field next to the Yakima Greenway; (5) a lake along the Yakima Greenway.

Clockwise from upper left: (6) farmlands outside of Ellensburg from the I-82 viewpoint; (7) Big Apple Country Store in Ellensburg; (8) Lake Easton; (9) Indian John Hill Rest Area, westbound I-90.

(10) Lake Easton, the fishing bridge, and I-90.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


The child, the brother, and I visited Fritz European Fry House for ale and Belgian fries. Afterward, we wandered around Bremerton's new Harborside Fountain Park.

(1) One of the five "volcano" fountains of Bremerton's Harborside Fountain Park.

Clockwise from upper left: (2) a "plaque" on one of the garbage cans, (3) closeup of a "volcano" fountain; (4) stone sculptures; (5) trees, shrubs, and other fauna.


I went fishing at Tacoma waterfront's Les David Pier and all I caught was a sea anemone! The anemone ate the bait and ingested the hook. I removed the hook and set the anemone free. The child has been fascinated with fishing recently so we bought a couple of simple drop lines and the wife, the child, and I took advantage of Washington's free fishing weekend.

(1) A view from the boardwalk of Les Davis Pier. One of the white forms in the water was the lucky anemone.

Clockwise from upper left: (2) the right half of the crossbar of the "t" of Les Davis Pier, (3) a buoy; (4) looking down the pier from shore; (5) barnacles and sea fauna on a beach rock.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Fish Tale Mudshark Porter, a Porter by Fish Brewing Company

On tap at Fritz European Fry House in Bremerton, Washington.

Mudshark was delivered to me dark and enticing. It wore a thin light brown cap.

It smelled of dark chocolate, roasting coals, and wet wood bark. The flavor followed with more of the same—chocolate so dark that it was mostly bitter, with little sweetness; roasted malts; wet wood bark; whispers of pear; and a touch of alcohol. It was solid and firm in the mouth.

Mudshark went well with deep fried fish and Belgian fries. The combined elements of the meal were a perfect respite from the Pacific Northwest late spring/early summer rain and cold.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Steelhead Double India Pale Ale, an Imperial/Double IPA by Mad River Brewing Company

12 ounce bottle. The pour presented the thinnest of white heads. It was so thin that it almost wasn't a head, yet it was. Ah, the embodied "head" koan... The body was hazy pumpkin orange with miniscule white flecks floating about.

The aroma was more apple and/or pear than it was orange and/or citrus, although it was also the latter. There was also a yeasty scent, especially as it warmed.

The flavor was bitter and orange—"heavy" orange, although not as bitter as I expected. That was the primary flavor. As it warmed the flavor began to "separate," bringing forth hints of alcohol, yeast, and very light caramel.

Steelhead was not as complex and flavorful as I had hoped, but it was still a satisfying drink. I would drink it again.

Monday, June 09, 2008


Gordon, an American Strong Ale by Oskar Blues Cajun Grill & Brewery

12 ounce can. Who knew that beer from a can could be so damn good?

The pour delivered a translucent copper-red body, an orange aura, and a thin white head. The lacing was good.

The nose was of caramel, graham cracker, orange, and a wee bit of alcohol. The flavor was of bitter orange, more orange than grapefruit. This was offset by light caramel, graham cracker, and an alcohol flavor that could almost convince me that Gordon was aged in oak casks. The alcohol bordered on lightly varnished wood, in a pleasing way. On the finish, there is a hint of sugary sweetness that reminds me of cotton candy. As Gordon warms, a faint grassiness emerges, both in the nose and in the palate.

The ale engages the entire mouth. In addition, the alcohol presence gave Gordon a minor "heat" that rests in the esophagus and upper stomach.

I liked this ale a lot. It was described as "a dry-hopped hybrid strong ale somewhere between a Double IPA and an Imperial Amber Ale," and I think this is an accurate assessment. I liked the complexity of aroma and flavor. I liked its assertiveness. I liked that it is named Gordon. I will be having this again.

I will, however, probably have to rethink my whole "better out of a bottle" philosophy. I expect some canned craft beer exploration is in order.

Sunday, June 08, 2008


Clockwise from upper left: (1) a reindeer shedding its winter coat; (2) a fish; (3) a jellyfish; (4) E.T. the walrus, taking a nap.

One of the child's greatest joys is wandering the grounds of Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. The child is especially enthralled by aquatic animals—invertebrate and vertebrate, anemone and fish and sea mammals. Requests to visit the zoo are many right now as the child has decided to be "a zookeeper when I get bigger."

Saturday, June 07, 2008


The child and I wandered into Fatburger to check out their menu. The home grilled beer burgers seemed to not sate Troy's Work Table's hamburger cravings on their own. More burgers were necessary.

Fatburger makes a great hamburger. I typically like my hamburgers with few condiments. Mustard, ketchup, lettuce, and tomato usually suffice. I will add cheese if it is available. For me, that is a "classic" burger.

On this occasion, I left my "hamburger comfort zone" and had "the works" minus the mayo. I believe that mayonnaise does not belong on bread, with the exception of tuna fish sandwiches.

My Fatburger consisted of
*a top and bottom bun
*1/3 pound all-beef patty
*pepperjack cheese
and was grilled to perfection.

It was accompanied by fat fries (steak cut) and a Coca-Cola. It was a great "fast food" meal and a much better burger than is served at any of the national franchises—McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Jack in the Box.

The child had a Baby Fatburger, prepared and served in simplicity—bun and burger with mustard, ketchup, and tomato. The child's hamburger was accompanied by skinny fries (regular) and a fruit punch. The child was also impressed that we each received a hard chocolate mint candy with our meals.

Fatburger bills itself as "The Last Great Hamburger Stand." Although I cannot confirm their statement, I can say that they do make a great burger. We will see if the burger cravings are diminished...