Sunday, November 7, 2010

13 Coins

Last night, my husband and I went and had dinner at 13 Coins across from the airport. My husband has grown up in Seattle and yet had never eaten there. I decided it was time to remedy that and we wanted to celebrate a little victory. So early evening found us being ushered to the counter and tucked into the big comfy chairs you see in the picture to have some dinner.

13 Coins has been around longer than I have, since 1967 according to their website. They are open 24 hours a day, famous for their Eggs Benedict and their "open" kitchen. Living in the city, you find quite a few restaurants that are open very late and a few that are continually open. For twelve years in my twenties and early thirties, I lived up on Capitol Hill in Seattle. I had moved back to the city from a small town on the Olympic Peninsula where I had never felt at home. Now, living in the neighborhood where my grandparents lived for almost as long as I could remember, I had come back to my native heath.

For the eight years I had been away, I would hear radio ads for the opera, the symphony, Broadway shows, festivals and sporting events that were going on in Seattle. I promised myself that one day, I would move back to the city and I would enjoy all the things I was missing out on by living away from it. My chance finally came and at 21, after finding a suitable job with opportunities for promotion, I came home. Little by little I kept my promise. At first, I could only afford the occasional show or hockey game but, as I rose in my company, I began to truly live the life I had envisioned for myself. Soon, I had season tickets to the Seattle Thunderbirds and the Seattle Opera. If something or someone came to town that I wanted to see, I went. I got to see Mikhail Baryshnikov dance, see Dr. John perform live, go to Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera, see The Nutcracker, go to Bumbershoot and so much more. It was during this time that I made some of the best friends I've ever had.

Eating out after a show or a game became standard practice because often I would not have time between work and an event to do more than shower, get dressed and go. I've stood at Dick's Drive-In in a full length gown on my way home from the opera devouring a Dick's Deluxe, fries and a shake with transvestites and homeless guys. I've eaten with friends at 3 in the morning at the IHOP off Broadway. Finally, one night after the ballet, my friend, Angela, took me to have dinner at 13 Coins in downtown Seattle. We sat in captain's chairs at the counter, flirted with the staff and had dinner. I love Eggs Benedict so that was the natural choice for me. I think Ange had pasta or a steak and we ordered dessert. It was one of the most memorable dining experiences I have ever had.

Since that time I have eaten at 13 Coins many times but the memory that comes back to me is always that meal with Angela. I think we got to the restaurant about 10:30 or 11 and we didn't leave until after 1 a.m. I remember thinking as we walked out to the car that it was for evenings and experiences like this one that I moved back to the city.

John had their prime rib special last night and I had a shrimp louis. Afterwards, we split one of their massive creme brulees. It was relaxing to sit and watch the salad/dessert prep cook do his work. I watched him make my salad and my husband's eyes just about came out of his head when the guy lit up the blow torch to caramelize the sugar on our creme brulee. We got a kick out of banter that went on among the staff and were waited on most attentively. It was another great experience.

"The "13 Coins" name is of Peruvian origin. The story goes that a poor young man loved and wished to marry a wealthy girl. Her father asked what he had to offer for his daughter's hand in marriage. The young man reached into his pocket. He had only 13 coins, but assured the father he could pledge undying love, care and concern. The father was so touched, he gave his daughter's hand and "13 Coins" has come to symbolize unyielding love, care and concern."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My Sister, My Friend

I have written here before about my sister. She is five years younger than I am. I don't really remember clearly when she was born. I remember a time before she was there. I remember when she started being old enough to play with but not so much about her being a baby.

From the beginning, I was very protective of my sister. She shows up in my dreams more often than anyone else. Some of the earliest dreams I remember are of trying to help her find and go to the bathroom only to wake up and have to run for the bathroom myself. As I got a little older, if I had nightmare it usually involved someone chasing me and my sister and trying to help her run faster and to protect her.

I suppose partly because she is my only sibling, we have always been close but I think it is also because we are enough different and enough alike to be friends. I think too because I am the oldest and she is the youngest, our relationship has worked well. People were always surprised to hear that she was both the messy one and the stubborn one. I was obsessively neat and her room always looked like a bomb had hit it. Also, I am very stubborn myself and my sister tends to be more compliant but I learned very soon that if she decided to "lay her ears back and dig in her heels" about something, I may as well give in because there was no changing her mind.

She is also the smart and gifted one which has been a source of joy to me and never anything to be envious about at all. Her sixth grade teacher came to my parents after testing one year and told them what her IQ was. It was high evidently because my mother still shakes her head in amazement when she talks about it. Except for the trumpet, my sister has never picked up an instrument that she couldn't play after some practice. It has been a delight over the years to hear her play the piano, the violin, the flute, the guitar, the clarinet and she has a lovely singing voice too.

I don't want to give the impression that we never had our moments. From ages 10 to 13, I didn't want a little sister always hanging around me and my friends. We didn't really fight though. As our mother would say, "You were not ALLOWED to fight." We did have our little spats and we still occasionally drive each other a little nuts but mostly, we have had a very harmonious relationship.

We had seven wonderful years of living together when we were in our twenties. Now we are both wives and she is a mother. Thanks to instant messaging and the telephone, we talk often and still love each other very much. This weekend she and her family will be here for a visit. On July 20, she will celebrate her birthday and I will celebrate having her as my sister.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Day

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Oh, to be in England!

Oh, to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England - now!

This is the first stanza of my grandmother's favorite Robert Browning poem. I never tired of hearing her quote it. Later on, she never tired of hearing me read it to her. For the last few months of her life, she was in a nursing home. Every day on my way home from work, I would stop and see her for a few minutes and help feed her dinner when she got weaker. As her health worsened and conversation became more difficult, I began reading to her each evening.

We would both relax more and I would tend to stay longer after I started reading to her. I would always start with poetry because she loved it. Before I would read anything else, I would read Oh To Be in England by Browning and then the daffodil poem by Wordsworth. They became so familiar to me I could quote them almost as well as she could. After those were finished I would wander through the book reading whatever took her fancy. Even when I began to read her The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, I would still preface it with those two poems. The night she died, I read them to her and again at her memorial service I managed to struggle through both poems because I was reading them for her not for the people that were there.

Now, of course, both poems bring tears to my eyes when I hear them or read them as they will be forever connected with some very sweet memories of my gran. Recently, the daffodil poem was read aloud on NPR as I listened to my radio on my way home from work. I cried the whole way home. This year Oh To Be in England has plagued me for months. For in a few days, I will be in England in April.

My husband and I are going over for a family wedding. My grandmother was an Englishwoman by birth. She loved her adopted country and considered it her home but England held part of her heart always as it does my father's and mine as well. This will be my sixth trip but only mark the second time I have been in England in April just like the poem.