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Halcyon Suite: A Seattle Adventure
with Nanci Griffith and Mary Gauthier
by Don and Peg Doman
The Halcyon Suite . . . just the name brought up such a classical and romantic vision. It's part of a bed and breakfast offering. We drove from Tacoma to the small complex on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle and went to the owner's apartment. She had left us a note and a map. "A map," I questioned. It was supposed to be a garden apartment, I pictured, so I assumed it was ground floor and accessible. Peg and I picked up our suitcases and her pillow, and followed the walk way . . . and down some stairs . . . and across the front of apartment building, while trying not to look down the steep terraced hillside. I didn't realized we had booked bed and breakfast accomodations at Machu Picchu. We stepped up on a small deck and then followed the stairs up, followed by a right angle and then further up to another small deck. It felt like the deck was swaying a bit. In fact it is supported partially by a cable system. It never fell down, though.
We entered the Halcyon Suite and found it charming. The suite is supposed to sleep up to three people with a roll-a-way, but I don't know where the extra bed would go. For two it was tight. The bed was queen-size and offered a great reading light on the right and a good table lamp on the left. Since Peg and I are avid readers, good lighting is a must. The room has a TV with both DVD player and satelite channels. There are internet connections as well. There is a refrigerator, a microwave, a toaster, and a Mr. Coffee. Although small, the room was comfortable and seemed very private. The likelyhood of casual walkers making it up to the deck is remote.
Our absolute schedule for our two day stay in Seattle only called for us to attend a concert featuring Nanci Griffith and her opening act at the Moore. We also knew that we wanted to eat dinner one night at the Buenos Aires Grill either on Saturday or Sunday night. We called Al Burrage, a friend who lives in West Seattle and arranged to meet on Sunday at the Frye Art Museum and then go to lunch on Broadway. He would then leave in the early afternoon to attend a funeral in Everett. Al told us that one of our favorite Seattle landmarks, Archie McPhee, had moved to Ballard. Since Ballard was just over the hill from Queen Anne, Peg and I decided to drive around Queen Anne a little bit and then make a stop at Archie McPhee.
Sometimes you never know you need something, until you see it. At Archie's I found a set of porcelain pigs and a bobble-head nodder doll of Edgar Allan Poe.
Many years ago someone unfortunately gave my sister, Dee Dee, a pig figurine. Since that time, she has been collecting pigs. I don't think this is intentional on her part. I don't even know if she has ever bought a pig on her own. Other people, however buy her pigs. She now has six more.
A friend of mine, Tim Hoban, does a one-man show featuring a presentation as Edgar Allan Poe (An Evening With Edgar Allan Poe). As soon as I saw the Poe bobble-head, I had to have the doll. I tried not to buy it. I went past it several times before it somehow found itself in my shopping cart. When I got back to Tacoma, I left it on his front porch. He called the next day saying, "I found something . . ."
While driving around we decided to eat at the Buenos Aires Grill that night, so we called for reservations. We had eaten there just the week before. A friend had chosen the New York steak and we had samples. It was one of the best steaks he and we had ever eaten. Peg and I knew where we wanted to eat this time in Seattle, and we both knew what we were going to order. The steaks were excellent as was the service. The waitress remembered us from the previous week and knew which table we had sat at. I ate my 16 oz. steak, but Peg took most of her's home. Well, back to the room, anyway. We made two steak sandwiches for lunch on Monday. Each stip of steak I cut into 1/4 inch thick pieces. The sandwich was excellent and delicious. One of the highlights at the Buenos Aires Grill is their tango dancing, which we have managed to miss each time. It starts at 8:30 pm and the dancers dance around the tables. It sounds fun and exciting, but we usually have places to go and other things to do.
(Click Here for a discount dining coupon at the Buenos Aires Grill in Seattle.)
We went back to the Halcyon Suite and made ourselves comfortable. Gretchen Smyth our hostess brought a tray of breakfast goodies and welcomed us to Seattle. For Sunday breakfast we had granola, bananas, and yogurt. The menu varied for Monday morning with bagels, cream cheese, and fresh cantaloupe. Gretchen knew the theatrical scene in Seattle and we talked briefly about current plays. She was gracious and charming. We found the Halcyon Suite via Seattle Bed and Breakfast. As soon as we got back to Tacoma I emailed Janny at Seattle Bed and Breakfast and thanked her for her recommendation of The Halcyon Suite.
Sunday morning we headed out for the Frye Art Museum to meet Al. There was a story reading program at the Town Hall at four in the afternoon featuring Kurt Beattie (a long time favorite Seattle actor), and we had that penciled in on our schedule. We met Al at eleven, but the Frye didn't open until noon, so we decided to switch things around a little bit and go to lunch early. First we went to the Broadway Grill (too full) and then walked up the street to Simply Thai (too empty . . . under some sort of reconstruction), and finally settled on Ali Babba's (just right).
Al found his meat a little too spicey and Peg didn't like her chicken gyro, but I enjoyed my meat platter. It was more than I could eat and gave me a good variety to choose from. I would go back, but I might go alone.
Afterwards we went to Dillettante Chocolates. Dillettante's has been a favorite of our's for dessert for quite some time. We ordered coffee and some sweets. In looking at the menu we noticed some variety. We didn't realize that they even offered sandwiches! We usually just go to the display case and point. Next time we'll have to try the sandwiches out. Al and I order the Mocha Praline, and Peg had the Mocha Silk which she ate in two sittings two days apart. Al and I managed to wolf our's down immediately. The crust was made from crushed pecans, butter and sugar . . . three of my favorites.
Back at the Frye, Al and I were disappointed. Joseph Park's Moonbeam images seemed too childlike and simplistic. Although, I appreciated Alan Magee's tapestry, his river rock paintings seemed to beg the question why not use a camera. Peg really liked his sculptures, which I had somehow overlooked. Even though we were disappointed in the featured artists we are always pleased to see new ideas and of course, old friends. Peg and I revisit our favorite paintings each time we stop in at the Frye.
Instead of taking in the story reading affair at the Town Hall in the afternoon, Peg and I went back to our apartment and crashed. Oh, my god, naps are good. We got up about six and went to a little diner by the Seattle Center. My bacon and cheese burger was really good, but Peg ordered the Chicken Picata and didn't like it. I gave her part of my sandwich and all was well.
We had a great time at the concert at the Moore Theatre. We went to see Nanci Griffith. We've tried to take in her concerts (over the past ten? years) in Seattle whenever dates match up with our social and work calendar. Peg read an article in the Tacoma News Tribune about her opening act, Mary Gauthier (Go-Shay), and she sounded interesting. At 42, she is a late bloomer . . . and a slow, song writer. She doesn't write slow songs, but rather she writes songs slowly. Sometimes opening acts are better than the main performance, for us. The last concert we attended in Seattle was for Lila Downs (whom we didn't know, but the rest of the crowd did), and her opening act, Madeline Peyroux (Peru). We had to be the only people at the Moore that had heard of her. She has since returned to Seattle at Jazz Alley, but our timing was off and we couldn't make it there.
Anyway, this time at the Moore, we were seated in row S, so I asked an usher, "The last time we were here, they didn't sell those seats down front and off to the left. Could we move up there if they are vacant for the performance?" She looked around and said, "I would." We did. We moved up to the eighth row. We could have gone to the front row, but the speakers would have deafened us . . . what?
Mary Gauthier came out in jeans and some kind of dark twill jacket with sergeant stripes. It was just her and her guitar. She sang, "Fish swim, Birds fly, Daddys yell, Mammas cry, Old men sit and think . . . I drink." After the song she talked a while and said, "When I wrote that song, I thought I written the saddest country-western song, ever. But you can find humor in almost anything." There had been laughter during some of the most pathetic moments of that wonderful song, which has been rolling around inside my head ever since. It took her a year to write that song (slow, song writer, indeed). Gauthier, sang for about 45 minutes and then I went to the lobby and bought two of her latest albums which she autographed.
Nanci Griffith was excellent. She sang a nice mixture of our favorites and selections from her latest CD. Of course, we bought her latest CD and the one before that as well. They must have slipped past us. She got a standing ovation at the end and tons of applause along the way. Nanci told stories in between her songs, which we really like. We like the insight. We like her stories. We like her voice. We like her music. We like her attitude.
We first saw Nanci Griffith on a women song writers presentation on television. She appeared with Julie Gold, the Indigo Girls, and Mary Chapin Carpenter. It was wonderful. From a Distance by Julie Gold was a hit for both Nanci Griffith and Bette Midler. Nanci sang that song at the concert. The pairing of Nanci Griffith and Mary Gauthier offered the same interesting, textured background Peg and I love that we first witnessed on the women song writers show.
For Nanci's encore she brought back Gauthier and the entire group performed a rockin and bluesy song by two song writers that have never really received any recognition . . . Keith Richards and Mick Jagger (a little rock and roll humor). They rocked!
After the concert we went back to the Buenos Aires Grill for an Argentine beer (we had drank two each with both meals there), but they were closing. We returned to the Halcyon Suite for a restful night's sleep. I awoke around six on Monday morning, opened up the curtains, and waited for dawn listening to our new CDs with a cup of coffee. Sunrise lights the peaks of the Olympics and then works its way down to Elliot Bay. You can see it all from the bed in the Halcyon Suite.
It was a wonderful weekend.
Nanci Griffith and Mary Gauthier CDs can purchased directly from their websites and also from Amazon. Check it out.
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