Monday, July 26, 2010

A few thoughts for the week

I understand that a few of you have been following my ramblings for quite a bit of the five months Kris and I have lived here, so you know that I have been spending a fair amount of my time comparing Port Gamble to other towns (especially Port Angeles, where we came from), comparing big cities to small towns, and describing the "ultimate" small town, Port Gamble. This week I had some incidents that touched on all three, and ultimately proved what a difficult chore I have before me, convincing you that I live in the best place for all.

First, early in the week I met a man who could only be referred to as a "master craftsman", one of those individuals who must be doing what he likes to be doing, because only someone who loves his work would do it so well. He was truly a professional in his field, highly skilled, well educated in his work, and frankly proud of his exploits, proud of the many people he has worked for who thank him profusely.

Is he a highly skilled   surgeon? No.   A carpenter who crafts some of those buildings which seem so beautiful to those of us who can't afford them? No. Well what then, a car mechanic who can fine tune an engine to get the most horsepower and least emission from it, while stirring up more horsepower than it was ever designed to produce? No, but that would be good. No, this man delivers gravel.

I've really done it now, Ollie.

"He delivers gravel?" I hear you say as you reach for the mouse that's been waiting to be pounced on.

You may have to hear me out, because it's people like this that are changing my perspective. This gentleman works in one of the large towns that surround  our suburb of a small town, and because it's a large town, he delivers gravel ... and nothing else. No, the company is big enough to have their own cement truck drivers, their own bark deliverers, but he delivers gravel.

You and I would be bored, right? Climbing the walls from our third load on. So why not him? Because he has taken it upon himself to be the BEST at what he does, and I believe him. The gravel he was bringing was to help build a parking lot, which someday might get paved, but not now. You should have seen him.

He backed the truck up (I can hear Tim, the Toolman Taylor, saying that to Al, finishing with his "Whoh! Whoh! Whoh!" to signify this guy is good.), he raised the bed to just the right angle to get the most pressure he could on the gravel without "spitting" it out, and then the real tricky part. In one motion he popped the clutch to get the truck immediately up to speed, he opened the gate on the bed so the gravel would come flying out,  and he kept that truck at exactly  the same speed the whole length of the new parking lot to make sure the thickness of the final product was the same from one end to the other ... and that was what was so glorious... it was exactly the same thickness in every load he brought, front to back, side to side.

And when he jumped out of the drivers seat and I said "Wow, that was incredible", he beamed with pride, because HE knew it, but wasn't sure anyone else did.

What's this got to do with anything? So what if he's a good truck driver? Give a thought to this. Because he worked for a big outfit in a big town, there was no time for him to be doing anything else. Sure, there was bark to be delivered, but there was one man to do that too. If he worked in a small town he might have other things to do, other deliveries to make, other floors to sweep, but he didn't. He worked in a big town so he had one job to do, and did it better than you or I could imagine it could be done.

So the conclusion. Can we just say that some people flourish better than others under the pressures of a big city? So let's not go too far and claim that big cities provide an opportunity for ALL people to do their best, just some people ... including at least one gravel truck driver.

Incident number two.

I've developed a wonderful relationship with the director of the Kingston Chamber of Commerce after she flattered me with some nice thoughts about my "Fourth of July" blog, which she sent to all her board members, as well as a local newspaper. The "good relationship" means that she sends me (just about every day) announcements about coming events in the thriving metropolis of Kingston. And I reciprocate in this warm relationship by ... reading them.

Last night (Saturday) I knew was concert on the waterfront night,because it was Saturday and we were near the waterfront, and we heard The King. Yes, just as I might be accused of seeing ghosts in Port Gamble, you could accuse me of seeing The King, Elvis, in Kingston. As we were nearing the driveway that seems to loop around the stage, you could have seen me nearly falling out of our car as Elvis looked my way and I made a fool of myself by waving at him. I didn't notice (Kris did) but we never made eye contact so I'm not sure he knew his biggest fan was there. I'm sure a lot of the girls there thought he saw THEM, but I doubt that he did, since he didn't notice me.

But how does Kingston do it? The place was packed, but not uncomfortably so, we could stand at the back and see with no problem, the weather was WARM, the beers were being served without yelling, and I'm sure every grandparent in the county was there to see that man who has been hiding away while their kids have been growing up.

I like my Port Gamble, but this Kingston is starting to look nicer ... and cleaner ... than it did when I saw it on the fourth. Kris and I are thinking of going to The Oak Table for breakfast tomorrow. That's a restaurant that started in Sequim and now has a branch in Kingston, one which we visit when we feel just a touch of homesickness...

And finally. There's a lot to do here. I've told you that. And frankly I haven't had time to do everything, but there is one event that I hope I'll have time for. Sean came back last Tuesday evening from a kayak sunset cruise around the area, which he said he totally enjoyed. It provided a look at a fish hatchery, loads of otters following them, a gorgeous sunset and new friends to go with another time. I had planned to go, but had to beg off at the last minute. Next time I won't!!! Sponsored by the Olympic Outdoor Center, other evenings start in other locations, but I'm partial to the one in Port Gamble (every Tuesday). No experience necessary! And they provide EVERYTHING you need. Call them at 360-297-4659. What did they pay me to say this? NOTHING. It's one of those things the locals do and we have so much fun we forget to tell others. But I'm telling you ... it's a kick (and John makes sure it's safe).

Monday, July 19, 2010

"Are There Really Six New Stores In Port Gamble This Year?"

That was the first (and I must admit, the only) question in today's mailbag when I got home this evening. The individual had only seen three new ones and assumed I had lost my glasses and was not able to count.
Well all right, in order, in the last year:

At least I think these are in  order. After all, I was not here when John moved his kayak store (Olympic Outdoor Center) to the old fire hall directly across the street from the General Store. I must correct myself. I said "kayak store", but saying  "Olympic Outdoor Center" is just a kayak store, is like saying "Quilted Strait" is just a quilt store (there, I snuck that one in, didn't I). John and one of his able assistants are so busy planning events (races,  cruises, classes, camps, rentals) that the rest of the crew barely has time to sell kayaks and parts to people throughout the world, which they do. Visit them and check out their kayaks, rent one, or repair one. And check out the "Events" section of the Port Gamble web site ( where they contribute nearly monthly to the long list of outdoor activities in the area. Open every day.

In November, if my memory serves me right, Mike and Stephi opened the best BBQ lunch and dinner place this side of the "Welcome to Port Gamble" sign, and actually a lot further than that. It is Mike's Four Star BBQ in the former auto repair building in the middle of town on SR 104, and for that  reason is decorated in automotive "stuff," a small amount of which was donated from the auto parts store I once owned. Mike started his business with a trailer in the Sunday Market, but soon found demand for his food was greater than that. The flavor is to my liking, fairly mild, but a stronger seasoning can be added  with very little extra work. Good food, beer, and wine are all available Wednesday through Sunday.

I think the next store was the re-opening of the Port Gamble General Store last spring, which many would say is the hub of Port Gamble. Any opening now of that store is obviously a "re-opening", since the original opening was in 1916 when they sold clothes more than food. Now they (Kim and Eric) include a sit-down breakfast and lunch menu in their work, and a front section FULL (to overflowing) with candy, cards, and cones (ahhhh, I'm still able to keep up my alliteration) as well as employees able to help you find anything from  a quilt store to a shop owner. The menu, by the way, has been developed by Kim, a vegetarian, but one who willingly serves a meat meal, but flavored with herbs usually saved for a vegetarian meal. What a combination of flavors!!! Upstairs is the ever popular shell museum, which has been there longer than I've been coming here (since 1950), and downstairs is the ever popular museum. Open every day.

Next, on April 20th, was my favorite, Quilted Strait, which I am quite biased about since my wife owns the business and she, the maintenance crew, and I planned and remodeled the facility. From last August when we signed papers committing ourselves to moving her business and ourselves to a new community until April 20th when we opened the doors to the public, we lived between fear and excitement, mostly close to the latter, but never far from the former.

When Kris moved the store she had a fine collection of batiks, flannels, reproductions, and all the kits and classes that go with them. But since that time she has added more classes to a busy schedule, added more backings (extra wide fabric), added cross stitch, added more wool, and added many bolts and displays in a facility I constantly hear is "second to none" in Western Washington, with huge quilts displayed on walls twenty feet off the floor. She even added used quilt books which neither she nor I have seen in a quilt store  before now.  Come and see for yourself. Distance or the flu got you down? Order on line. Open every day.

Beverly Hooks Fine Art Studio  ( and The Artful Ewe II ( may have opened before Quilted Strait, I have to admit. Some of the days are blurs, but I list the two together because they share the same space. Beverly's Romantic Impressionistic work can be seen or ordered at the studio in Port Gamble from Friday to Sunday, or her work can be seen or ordered online at

Heidi opened the Artful Ewe II with weaving looms to rent in the same building as Beverly Hooks, hoping that by allowing potential weavers to rent her machines they might grow in the art and the fiber arts might be a stronger concern. Looms may be rented at The Artful Ewe Two from Friday to Sunday.

I'm sure that Terrapin Farm Stand (photo coming) was next, putting their "circus tent" onto their permanent building later this spring. They gather their harvest from as local a spot as they can find, bring it to their stand on their own truck, and have it ready to be eaten the next morning. This spring, as we all know, has  not been the best for "fresh fruit" to be as  "fresh" as we would like it, but Terrapin Farms on the other  hand will not serve fruits and vegetables that aren't. How they come up with such fresh food so consistently is beyond me, but it is.To mix it up, they also have healthy snack items such as peanuts, smoked fish, smoked cheeses, healthy (and tasty) bagels, but they won't tell me where they come from. Open all week.

We have been filling in the commercial end of the town back and forth from one side to the other. Back we go to near Olympic Sports where Tango Zulu Imports has located, in the "blue building" as it is sometimes called. Owner Tracy had wanted to put an import shop in that location since she had traveled the world, both for pleasure and to find unique items for her store. And once it was available, she grabbed it. One of the truly "unique items" is her attitude toward fair traded goods, which are goods that are registered in such a way that they will provide the producers of the goods with a reasonable profit which gives them an income enough to live on. Too many crafters in the world are cheated out of a fair living, she says, and the fair trade movement provides a way to avoid that. I'm sure the producers of the baskets from throughout the world, the handbags from Nepal, the beeswax earrings from Tibet or the batik clothing from India appreciate that attitude every much as those who shop at Tango Zulu Imports appreciate the craftsmanship they find there. Open all week.

And finally (back across town) is the newest of the new, in the smallest store of its kind (it's worth a visit  just to see the place .... but please don't blink), Second Spring (photo coming). Once a "scale shack" for the loads of logs entering the mill site, the building (and its close surroundings) are now the site for the two industrious owners who showcase their own handcrafted, hand made items of all kinds. On one hanger may be a couple of aprons, on another kids clothes. But I guarantee they will be gone next time you are there and replaced by something new. "Second" does not mean second hand, and "Spring" does not mean open only in the early months of the year. But "Second Spring" together means some of the finest handmade products you will find.

And that should be the "newest of the new" at Port Gamble, joining several shops which have been here quite a bit longer. They would include:

                   The Dauntless Bookstore
                   The Tearoom at Port Gamble
                   Best Friends Antiques
                   Salon and Spa On Gamble Bay
                   Port Gamble Guest Houses
                   Gamble Bay Coffee
Yes, you could make a day of it here. You could make SEVERAL days of it here.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Summer travels on

Wow! Has anyone else noticed how fast this summer has been traveling through the northwest? I had hoped that by the end of the first half of summer I would be caught up, have a routine, and be able to enjoy all the events at Port Gamble and even let you know before things happened as to what was coming.

Did I mention the Medieval Faire? Did I tell you about the grumpy people at the Civil War Re-enactment? NO TIME! I was too busy getting our house ready to go on the market, so I wasn't even here. Grumpy people? It had to do with Civil War folks having to sleep in tents in the rain ... not pleasant ... and locals having to listen to Reveille before 6am, also not pleasant. And our house ready to sell? After Kris and I signed the papers to sell, a week went by before THE offer came through.

I've always noticed one thing about time. When you look at time past us, it has gone by incredibly fast. I remember giving our grandchildren their first ice cream and it must have been  a year or two ago, but it seems like only yesterday. Now they are into licorice.

 But time ahead? It seems like it will take forever. Like the time from getting that offer on the house to the date with the title company. It's only a month, but it is draggggging on.

But now I have a weekend off and I can at least tell you about the MudPACK (Muddy Paws Agility Club of Kitsap). Annually, this wonderful group of dogs and their owners swarm the south field at Port Gamble  to ... I'm not sure exactly what they do, but almost everyone has a wonderful time. There are vendors selling everything from biscuits to dog collars, people getting in the way of dogs, and dogs EVERYWHERE.

I'm sure I offended almost everyone here when I came to people with camera in hand and told them I was hoping to get a picture of an owner and a dog who looked like each other. Apparently it is not considered pleasant to look like your dog.

No, this "owner" doesn't look like his dog. But if we took off the beard ... hmmm.

 I did find some "mutts" that I liked, though.

This one was "dog" tired after having roped sheep all day. He was looking forward to a "cat" nap I'm sure.

How this monkey got in, disguised as a dog, is beyond me.

This little tyke looked like he was caught in a ball of yarn some cat left on the field, and unlike the cat, he was enjoying himself in it.
But for three days each dog and its master would run around a course with the person barking the names of obstacles for the dog to miss.


 No wait, the person was mentioning obstacles the dog had told him or her to miss. Or maybe they work as a team and both try to miss them all. It looked like it could have been all three, but I can tell you this: It sure seemed to me that all the people and the dogs were having more fun then the medieval folks or the Civil War soldiers were having on their weekends.

And not a cat in sight!!!

And for the stores in Port Gamble? With six new stores here this summer, there have been a lot of nervous shop owners doing their own agility trials. But it seems to me that the nervousness of the beginning of summer has transformed into the joy of meeting new people from all over the country, and the world, for that matter, and offering a pleasant glimpse into why so many of us enjoy having so many come here.
So with the rough edges smoothed to a pleasant surface, I highly recommend you take some time and make a day of Port Gamble. I know it sounds like a sales pitch, but with time in the future coming so quickly, you better get here while you can!!

And speaking of the future, you might want to check Port Gambles' web site's calendar (
for August where scheduled are races in kayaks ,
races on foot ,
and races trying to get to the treasures in the Port Gamble Garage Sale (write to for info).

Also in August is the fifth annual maritime music festival, featuring the likes of The Whateverly Brothers, Broadside, Tugboat Bromberg, Wendy Joseph, and Spanaway Bay

As near as I can tell, Port Gamble has "G" rated events only, so don't leave anybody at home. (And do us a favor...don't leave them here, either)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Do we need a list of ALL Port Gamble websites?

I notice when Googling "Port Gamble" from time to time that there is a fair number of blogs and websites dealing with this area. They seem to fit in a limited number of categories:

Life In PG
Events at PG
Visiting PG
Businesses at PG
People's Blogs About PG
And a Few Others

Since I'm up for a challenge, I have been considering putting together as complete a list as I can of sites related to Port Gamble, in hopes that individuals can find this town quicker than if no such site existed.

Is it worth my time? Would you refer to it? See the "comment" button below? Push it, please, or send a note to* (use a "t" instead of the "*"). Thanks.

Friday, July 9, 2010

I'm a broken man

Why do those of us in "small towns" still have to deal with the "big city corporations?" They always seem to have a little different way of dealing with problems, always making life easier for themselves, it seems, while not conerning themselves with us and our needs. Why do we rarely feel like we got a break, but rather feel that WE had to clean up OUR act or we would have been the "bad guy."

Yesterday I was a happy-go-lucky guy, feeling great about myself, my abilities, my life in Port Gamble. I somehow felt good enough to leap giant buildings in a single bound, stop locomotives with a .... with a..... with a....

Yes, that was yesterday. Today I'm reminded (harshly, I might add) that my memory is about as long as the half life of a sub-atomic particle, and my patience exists only in my imagination. What happened? did I suffer a stroke? No, worse than that. Worse than leaving my keys in my locked truck, worse than forgetting which brand of ice cream I should have ready for the grand daughters when they get here, yes even worse than finding yet another sock eaten by the dryer. I'm ashamed to admit, I forgot (oh, give me time, this is embarrassing) I forgot the password to my computer's mail program. There I said it.

Now it isn't too bad yet because I had checked the box which allowed my computer to remember my password, so this computer that I'm using right now remembers, and every time I use that particular computer it laughs at me but it gets the mail for me. But if I ever try to get my mail in some other computer, THAT computer will forbid my attempts, will hide my mail, and will probably call my computer at home and tell it to do the same.

What to do? The mail program is part of my contract with... wait, let me show you their name the way they show people my bank number: they are Com**st. You don't recognize their name, do you? Good thing, or else they might try to get even with me for some of the things I'm going to write.

So I decided I was going to get my password and write it down somewhere. I got on-line to see what I had to do to have someone at Com**st tell me what it is. The few choices they gave me to recover it included such things as "touch here for your password hint." I did. Does anyone remember where my first job was? I thought I did, but I never got it right. So no password. Last four of my social? (How about ****?). No help there (even with the real number). On and on. So the next thing to try was "speak to a representative." That's what I love. A business with real people.

Oops, I spoke too soon. I got a "person" typing in a back room somewhere, responding as though she (well, she has a girl's name)is a real person. Even though she typed instead of spoke, I must admit to my prejudice that English was not her first language. She told me she needed proof that I was myself, and so I got question after question about me, pets, dogs, relatives until finally it was settled. She could help me. "I've sent you your password. Please check your e-mail" she typed.

I choked. Did I hear her right? "Say again" I typed. "I said I've sent you your password." she said again. "You should receive it in 2 or 3 minutes in your e-mail. Is there anything else Com**st can do for you?"

How many times in your life have you thought the next day, "I wish I had said ..." instead of what you really did say? I was on the spot. "Can you explain to me how I'm going to retrieve my password when I need a password to get into the program to find what you sent me?" I thought she wouldn't understand these rushed thoughts of a man who just wasted a half hour's time telling about family secrets, trying to recover HIS OWN password, which HE had lost. (Notice how guilty these big companies make you feel?)

But she understood. She typed "Let me talk to my supervisor." After 10 minutes I suddenly realized both my blood pressure and my patience had taken a blow, and reacting together, they had hung up on a person they had never met. But I had watched the "Friends" episode where the blond had more and more time INVESTED in a hold button the longer she waited, even into the next day, and I wasn't going to let that happen to me.

Having brought my blood pressure down and my patience up by taking a walk down both streets in this town, telling my story to all I saw, I decided to try it again. After all, some day I will need the cure for this predicament. So to make a legitimately long story a tad shorter, I can report that I called Com**st again, ran through several of the strange questions all over again, but this time with a more positive reply. "You obviously are the person you say you are," Oh happy days! She believed me! "So please just send me the five digit code you were given at the time we connected the Internet for you, and I'll send you your password."

My reply? "You gotta be kidding." The next day I thought of twenty things I wish I had said instead.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A "conversation" With the Director

After the last blog, in which I came down fairly heavy as one who totally enjoyed Kingston's Fourth of July Celebration, I decided that the people in charge should hear when one is pleased, not just someone who is reading.

I sent a link to my blog to the head of the Chamber of Commerce (oops, I just started a fight. Who is the head, the director or the president?) who sent me back a VERY pleasant response, commenting on how much she liked what I wrote, in spite of some negatives I had written in the first paragraph ... something to the effect that the town looks so boring that perhaps it was incapable of planning some joyous and exciting events.

Since reading her response, it occurs to me that many of us look so hard at whether a town LOOKS good, that often we miss the subject of whether it WORKS good or PLAYS good. Downtown Port Angeles last year had a "Paint the Town" rally that worked so well that the owners and area supporters put hundreds of thousands of $ into the project, but it never really broght them the appreciation they hoped for.

Kingston, on the other hand, WHILE KEEPING THE TOWN CLEAN, seems to be so much more concerned with what people WILL do (especially the kids) rather than what they are wanted to NOT do (don't ride your bikes, don't ride your skateboards, don't J-walk, etc.) I can see my grandchildren enjoying the shell museum in Port Gamble much longer than they will enjoy trying not to spill their cokes on a fancy car downtown.

So keep up the work, Kingston. Give yuourself a pat on the back, maybe a day off and give me something as exciting to do again next year.

And to you citizens who came out and enjoyed the evening, the socializing, the good food, and the fireworks I have something else to say. Remember, I am not with the Chamber of Commerce and I have not been asked to say this, but I will: Did you remember to say "Thank you" like your parents did years ago? A good time is not something you are ENTITLED to, it is something TO BE THANKFUL FOR. Kris and I went all through Kitsap County looking for people really enjoying The Fourth, and we found them at YOUR DOORSTEP. The leaders in KINGSTON did it better than enyone else. THANK THEM FOR IT!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The small town Fourth of July award goes to .......?

I'm, sorry, but I have no photos for today's blog. After all, the "winner" of this week's "exciting" city is not my usual new adopted home, but rather one I thought had no chance of doing well, one which LOOKS so boring as to be impossible to arrange a truly exciting and unique day for its population. I've grown so used to Port Gamble providing me with something to write about, something new and different, that I was totally taken by surprise when I found that it takes a much larger city to pull off a truly fun and wholesome celebration. I'm specifically asking myself, "Is Port Gamble a large enough town to have a July 4th celebration and do it right?" Strike me with lightening for saying it, but it appears to me it is not.

Here's what happened today. Kris and I late this morning (the fourth) went driving around, seeing what the various municipalities of the area do for July 4th. We were hoping to get a comparison between Port Angeles and Port Gamble, but any other comparison might also work, since we assumed we knew which city would come out on top.

First we went to Poulsbo, which HAD its fireworks display on July 3rd, and we found no other activities on their schedule. It's a town about the size of Port Angeles, and thus getting a large percentage of the population organized to come out and be together is difficult. Towns like that can put something on FOR its population, but rarely WITH its population. Its people have too many things they would like to be doing to settle on one good time.

Other towns in Kitsap County had the same problem. If a town can be too big to organize its people, one would have to include Bremerton and Silverdale as well. But we had breakfast in one small town (Kingston) and had watched the citizenry prepare for their fourth of July parade, watched a carnival setting up and taking place, watched the kids riding on ponys, watched the local insurance man set up a cover for his clients in case of rain, and watched the local polititions pack their pockets full of brochures and candy. I had the feeling that if someone lived in Kingston, they were either in the parade or watching it. There was no other choice.

We headed back to Port Gamble, where the town was ... what else can I call it ... deserted. I'd never seen it so dead. The people were gone, perhaps to other events, but gone. There were no illegal firecrackers going off, no kids with burns on their hands going to the hospital, in fact no kids at all.

Thinking back, we could remember seeing lots of people at Kingston, but no where else had we seen crowds. So off we went again, this time to see what the post-parade crowd was doing there. By this time it was 8:30 pm or so, and driving all the way to the city's waterfront we finally saw a surprising spectacle. The downtown, with its face looking at the waterfront, was filled with people, apparently waiting for the official fireworks display. Now this area is huge, able at other times in the week to hold, it would seem, the entire car population of the area ... HUGE parking lots, all running together, all giving the population an enjoyable place to visit people they hadn't seen for most of the year.

It was like something that only Norman Rockwell could show. Everyone excited, everyone stopping and talking to friends they had know for years, many with SUV'S with the hatch open and either a sleeping child, a cooler full of hamburgers ready to be cooked, or a couple of dogs inside. THIS was small town fourth of July. THIS was clearly fun, and THIS might not necessarily be the best fireworks the town had ever had, but would at lease be memorable.

We left, hoping to catch the display in Port Gamble, and even when leaving we saw countless people still heading (walking) toward the waterfront. But we should have stayed. We saw one other couple in Port Gamble that night while we watched the home displays some people across the bay had put on. We weren't disappointed, but we certainly could have seen better elsewhere, especially if that elsewhere had been Kingston.

Is Port Gamble now our No. 2 most favorite place to be? Certainly not, but I can tell you that if I want to see an exciting fireworks display, or families being close like they were fifty years ago, or a parade filled with local politicians making impossible promises, then I'll be at Kingston next year on the fourth of July. It truly was exactly what you would like your children to be doing on the fourth, whether they are ten or eighty. We heard their fireworks display from at least eight miles away, the "thump..... thump" of the rockets exploding reminding me of the "thump ... thump" of the rockets that won us our first fourth of July. And the smiles on the faces of the kids that day had reminded me that it had all been worthwhile, no matter which of the wars we had fought. After all, that's the purpose of Fourth of July celebrations isn't it?