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Celebrating People, Places & the Good Life in SW Washington State
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Posts from — April 2011

May Meanderings: Bike rides, trains, tall ships, wine tours and more…

Spring events are in full force now in Southwest Washington. Here are a few ideas to get you out the door:

May 3 – The 39 Steps – Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts in Longview. This 2008 Tony award-winning play “The 39 Steps” is a madcap romp through one of Alfred Hitchcock’s finest films. Adapted for the stage, it became one of Broadway’s longest-running comedy thrillers. With a cast of 4, this show has more than 150 characters to keep you on the edge of your seat.

May 7 – The 28th Annual Ride Across Clark County (RACC) sponsored by the Vancouver Bicycle Club WARNING! This event may be sold out. Check the Web site for availability of this scenic and popular day-long ride. Four loops to choose from – 18, 34, 65 and 100 miles

May 7 – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. National Train Day, Historic Train Depot, 210 Railroad Ave, Centralia, WA National Train Day commemorates the anniversary of the transcontinental railroad’s inception. Special displays and events will be in the Historic Railroad Depot in downtown Centralia.

May 14 – 8 p.m. Al Stewart Concert at the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center in Stevenson. Remember the Scottish singer-songwriter’s 1976 hit Year of the Cat? Skamania Performing Arts Foundation, 541-400-9792

May 14 and 15 – Vancouver Symphony Orchestra conducted by Salvador Brotons. Concert times are 3 pm on Saturday and 7 pm on Sunday. Last regular concert of the season. The program will feature Concerto for Horn by Brotons. Roman Festivals by Respighi and Audience Choice (voting now closed).

May 14, 12-4 pm – Cathlapotle Plankhouse, Carty Unit of the Ridgefield NWR, 28908 NW Main Ave., Ridgefield. Artist Judy Bridges, Cowlitz basket weaver, will demonstrate basket weaving techniques. Visitors will have the opportunity to view examples of her basketry and ask her questions about her craft.

May 15, 12-4 pm – Cathlapotle Plankhouse Carty Unit of the Ridgefield NWR, 28908 NW Main Ave, Ridgefield. Artists Greg Robinson, member of the Chinook Indian Nation, and Greg Archuleta, member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, will be in the Plankhouse doing carving and Chinookan lifeways demonstrations. Visitors will be able to see some of their beautiful artwork as well as talk to them about Chinookan art and culture.

Hawaiian Chieftain (left) and Lady Washington cruising together in Grays Harbor near Westport. Photo by Ron Arel, Coastal Images.

May 18-19 – Nautical Renaissance The Port of Ilwaco welcomes back Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Tall Ships, The Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain. Self-guided tours are hosted by the crew wearing period costumes. ($3 requested donation). Adventure and Battle Sails are also available. Visit the Web site for prices and other details. From Ilwaco on May 19th guests can book passage to Astoria where the ships will offer tours until May 22, coinciding with Astoria’s opening celebration of its 200th birthday. Contact the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority in Aberdeen (360) 532-8611 or (800) 200-5239 for details and schedules. Go to to track the ships’ locations and purchase discounted price tickets. (Note: There will also be a sail in Ilwaco on May 3rd.)

May 21-22 – 31st Annual Herb and Garden Festival at Pomeroy Living History Farm Thousands of fresh herb and garden plants, many organic selections plus entertainment, farm café, vendors and the herb garden. Admission is free.

May 28-30 – Memorial Day Weekend Clark County Spring Wine Release Visit 11 Clark County wineries in one weekend! See the Web site for details and maps.

May 28-30 – Memorial Day Open House Weekend at Columbia Gorge Wineries Visit more than 30 wineries and tasting rooms on both sides of the river. Details on the event Web site.

Wow, what a May! This is just a small fraction of what is scheduled. See you out there in Southwest Washington!

April 27, 2011   No Comments

Writers and Readers: Head to Kalama!

You have to love a small town that offers an all-day writing workshop to benefit the local library. Bravo, Kalama! The community organization Envision Kalama is offering its third annual workshop featuring marvelous writers of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and memoirs. The workshop will be held on Saturday, April 23 at the Kalama Community Building, 126 N. 2nd Street in downtown Kalama.

Word Catcher starts at 9 a.m. with registration, coffee and scones.

Morning workshops, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon will feature:

The Secrets of Great Storytelling with Jack Hart, author of upcoming Storycraft and A Writer’s Coach (and this writer’s first journalism professor at the University of Oregon decades ago)

Voice: More than Me, Less Than Me with Mary Lyons, former member of the Richard Hugo House in Seattle.

Poetry for Everybody with Doug Marx, writing teacher and finalist for the Oregon Book Award (This workshop is perfect for April’s National Poetry Month.)

All Hail the Mighty Verb! With Cathy Zimmerman, Features Editor at The Daily News in Longview.

Author Brian Doyle - Photo by Jerry Hart

Brian Doyle will be the featured author at lunch. Brian is the award-winning writer of essays, nonfiction books and novels and the editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland. He will read from his work, followed by an open mic.

Afternoon workshops from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. will include:

Serious Fun at Writing with Robin Cody. Registration is limited to 11. Participants were to submit writing to Robin by April 9 so this workshop may be closed. Winner of the Oregon Book Award, Robin is author of Ricochet River and Voyage of a Summer Sun, among other books.

Reading for Writers with Brian Doyle. Brian will read from his novel Mink River and encourages participants to bring pen and notebook.

Story Spinning with Alan Rose. Alan will discuss the creative process of spinning a story. Alan is the author of The Legacy of Emily Hargraves and Tales of Tokyo.

All Hail the Mighty Verb! With Cathy Zimmerman (see morning listing).

(Note: This blog normally provides book links to Powell’s Books. The venerable bookstore’s Web site was down for maintenance at the time of posting so Amazon links are provided. Please support your local bookstores and libraries!)

In addition, the photo exhibit “Pictures Worth A Thousand Words” by Kalama photographer Dan Roberts will be on display.

Cost is $15 for one workshop or $25 for two. Boxed lunch is available for $8 (advanced order is requested). Here is the Word Catcher complete schedule and registration information.

Support Kalama and its public library, improve your writing and meet authors. What more could you want? TELL YOUR FRIENDS, register and head to Kalama on April 23rd!

April 17, 2011   No Comments

8 Tips for a Memorable Wine and Cheese Tasting Party

Wine and cheese are ageless companions, like aspirin and aches, or June and moon, or good people and noble ventures.
M. F. K. Fisher

Looking for a reason to gather your friends for a unique evening? What about an evening of wine and cheese tasting?

Our co-host, Jim

Friends Jim and Joyce recently hosted an educational, tasty and increasingly jovial evening that featured nine wines paired with matching cheeses. Thank you to Jim, Joyce and all the other participants! Here are some tips gleaned from the party:

1. Start with a wine steward. Jim and Joyce worked with Ernie, the sommelier at their neighborhood Fred Meyer, to choose the four whites and five red wines featured for the evening.

2. Coordinate with a cheese specialist. After choosing the wines, our hosts worked with Berry of Trader Joe’s in Vancouver to pick the cheeses that best matched the wines.

3. Create a fact sheet about each wine. Jim shared information about each wine including the winery location, vintage and a description of the wine. Fact sheets were on the table and available for guests to take home.

Fact sheet for the Argentinian red

4. Label the cheeses. Each cheese was tagged by type with its matching wine.

Asiago with rosemary - paired with the Chardonnays

5. Provide wine glass labels. I, for one, always lose my wine glass. No one could do that with Joyce’s special paper wine glass labels, which are available online at Wine Compliments No more misplaced wine glasses!

Where is MY glass? No more lost glasses with these paper labels

6. Start with the whites. (Our hosts had a light white wine, Oisly-Thésée Les Gourmets 2009 Sauvignon, available to all upon arrival. This gave us something to drink while waiting for all the participants to arrive.) You want to go from dry to sweet whites, and light to full-bodied reds. Provide new glasses when switching from whites to reds.

Serving the cheese

7. Provide a pitcher of water and a dump bucket. The water will allow tasters to rinse glasses between tastes. The dump bucket? It speaks for itself but, frankly, I couldn’t bring myself to toss out good wine and it was ALL good wine!

8. Serve more food after the tasting. To avoid sending guests who have been consuming fabulous wines out into the driving public, serve food, coffee and conversation AFTER the tasting. Our hosts served us wonderful quiches, salads and coffee.

Salad and quiche

Perfect post-tasting dinner

What wines did we taste? Here is the delectable list in serving order:

Mezzacorona (Italy) 2009 Pinot Grigio

Vino Noceto (California) 2010 Pinot Grigio (award-winning, fruity, sweet, my favorite white)

Peachy Canyon Winery (California) 2008 Zinfandel

Blackstone Winery (California) 2008 Zinfandel

Davis Bynum Winery (California) 2006 Chardonnay

Gordon Brothers 2006 (Washington State) Chardonnay

Don Tiburcio Bodega Benegas Winery (Argentina) 2007 Red Wine

Estancia Winery (California) 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon

Jones of Washington Estate Vineyard (Washington State) 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon

The final, nearly empty line up

The best wine? Personally, I would move to Argentina for Malbecs so I loved the red wine of Don Tiburcio Bodega Benegas Winery. All the wines were excellent. This is the one of the group that I would take to my final picnic.

I confess. After about the fifth wine, I lost track of the cheeses. Best idea: pick your wines and then talk to your local cheese buyer for pairing suggestions. Joyce and Jim wisely used their consultant at Trader Joe’s.

Want to do this party on a budget? To preserve your checking account, create the wine list and then assign a bottle to each guest to bring. Ask each person to put together the fact sheet and give a brief lecture on the wine. This WILL generate a FUN evening!

A votre sante!

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April 10, 2011   1 Comment