Belfair’s Etched Glass Artist:

Around Belfair it’s still called Hippie Hill Community. It was some old friends and the price of the land that drew glass artist, Randy Calm and his wife, Cathy from Chicago to Hippie Hill nearly 47 years ago. Then, there were thirteen homesteading families, no electricity and the couple lived in a teepee while hand building their house with some help from their neighbors.  “I don’t think anybody knew what they were doing then”, laughed Calm, “but the house is still standing.” To make a living the couple worked at the now defunct Werberger Winery near Grapeview where they ran the tasting room, worked in the vineyard and learned about winemaking.

They’ve come a long way since those days. Not only is their house still standing but their property is also the home of Phoenix Design South, Calm’s hand built studio where he turns out custom designed residential and commercial etched glass. Read more about glass artist Randy Calm in my WestSound Home and Garden article here.

Summer’s Dog Days & Rolling Bay Winery

The dog days of summer are unusually doggy here in ExplorationKitsap land. We normally enjoy temperate daylight weather to do our thing, but with successive days of 90 degree plus temperatures and hazy skies from the fires in Canada, I’m reversing my active time of day. This morning I went for a power walk, shopped for groceries, watered and dead-headed my outdoor plants and baked up some barbecued chicken, all before 8 AM to take advantage of cooler weather. Last night I sipped a glass of my favorite local wine in the dark on my deck for the same reason.

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Fusion is a white blend made by Rolling Bay Winery, a Bainbridge Island establishment with a river rock tasting room resembling a Hobbit house. Fusion is my favorite wine to drink while listening to live outdoor music on the tasting room patio; my favorite wine to drink in the dark on my deck and my favorite wine in which to drop frozen peach slices. Shhh. Don’t tell Alphonse de Klerk, Fusion’s affable Dutch maker that I do that. Though really….it’s the perfect dog days of summer libation.  It might also be best not to mention that I drink my peach infused Fusion in a copper Moscow Mule mug because if it’s good enough for vodka and ginger beer, it’s perfect for a lovely white table wine.

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Rolling Bay Winery has a schedule of tastings accompanied by live music throughout the summer at its Hobbit house location and exciting plans to open a second larger tasting room and production facility a few miles away.  Check them out. No Moscow Mule Mugs. No frozen peaches. Just a great selection of award-winning whites, reds and a rose served properly in a wine glass, sipped on a sunny patio/lawn to live music. What better way to while away summer’s dog days?

Astronomy: Kitsap County Has Plenty of Star Gazing Opportunities

The hype is on for the upcoming August 21st Great American Solar Eclipse. It seems everyone is heading to Oregon to catch the sun’s mid- morning, nearly three-minute total blackout. Oregon wineries are sponsoring eclipse parties, Salem’s minor league baseball team is hosting an A.M. game with an eclipse break and hotels/campgrounds/vacation rentals have been sold out for months at exorbitant prices. If your interest in the celestial skies is greater than an expensive trip south to stand in the dark for a few minutes, there are plenty of opportunities in our own community to learn about astronomy. Read about them here in my latest article in WestSound Home and Garden magazine.

Bremerton’s Art Deco Buildings

Who knew downtown Bremerton was filled with so many architectural gems back in the day? Many of them became victims of new construction or remain standing but not in the full glory of their past lives. But six of them – all Art Deco buildings designed by Seattle architects are still standing as vital contributors to the downtown cultural scene. Check out my article here and then get yourself to the epicenter of Bremerton and check them out for yourselves.

Port Gamble’s Tea Room

I’m a sucker for a pot of Earl Grey tea paired with fresh scones, Devon cream and jam. It must be the Randall in me though I happen to know my English forebearers came from sturdy tenant/serf stock and likely never set foot in the manor for high tea.

Poulsbo had a tea shop which disappeared several months ago and recently resurfaced in Port Gamble as Mrs. Muir’s House: Tea and Treasures. Located in one of Port Gamble’s adorable historic Victorian houses, the setting seems a more fitting location for a spot of tea. Christine Wingren, Tea Artist and Curator, owned the Poulsbo tea shop and moved to Port Gamble for its ambiance.

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The front half of the tea shop is where you find the treasures. Teas. Teapots. Teacups. Tea towels. Jams. And every possible tea time accessory imaginable.

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There’s a Harry Potter room filled with retail treasures to inspire the retail in fans of the J.K. Rowlings wizarding world series.

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The back of the shop is the tearoom. Each table is a curated version of English propriety. Lace tablecloths, china teacups, chintz. There’s a small room that accommodates single parties or you can be served in the sunny main room.

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The menu includes sandwiches and crepes as well as fresh lemonade and ginger beer, but I was there for the Devon cream and scones. It did not disappoint. There are two types of tea services – Cream Tea which consists of scones, Devonshire cream, jam and marmalade and fresh fruit as well as a pot of tea, all for $7.95 or Full Tea which includes all of that plus a sandwich and side for $15.95.

Mrs. Muirs House: Tea & Treasures is open Thursday through Tuesday from 10AM to 5PM.

Watching Artists at Work

Watching paint dry isn’t how to spend a weekend. Watching artists at work, on the other hand, is. They do the waiting while you admire their technique, the subject matter and the fact that Kitsap County has so many talented painters who work en plein air (French for outside). On May 12th you have an opportunity to see them at work at Poulsbo’s waterfront park as they vie for cash prizes in a timed event called Paint Out Poulsbo. In mid-August you can see them at work in Winslow on Bainbridge Island. Check out the details in my latest article published in West Sound Home and Garden.

Belfair’s Theler Wetlands Trail: A Place of Contemplation

I walked the three mile round trip loop of Belfair’s Theler Wetland Trails today expecting to write about the well maintained trail system, the habitat and the birds. Instead I’m writing about the art and memorial benches. Yes, the trails and bird watching are worthy subjects, but I was alternately distracted, inspired and made contemplative by the man made objects in the ecosystem.

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It began at the entrance with a charming memorial called Zachary’s Playground. I don’t know who Zachary was, but the idea of a loving memorial for living children made me pause and wonder about Zachary and his family.

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A bit further down the path was a bright green metal memorial bench dedicated to Harriet Root. I have no idea who Harriet was, but the pot of pink flowers next to the bench told me somebody cared very much about her.

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The actual entrance to the trail is marked by an elaborate metal gate of native trees and shrubs – a beautiful ode to the art of metalwork.

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Continuing down the path are carved wooden sculptures that greet the entrance to the Mary Theler Exhibit Building.

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Mounted next to the building is a 27 foot whale skeleton, one of the most complete in Washington. A two year old grey whale washed ashore near Belfair State Park in 1999 and was buried to decompose. Two years later it was cleaned, dried and reconstructed before being placed on display after a dedication ceremony led by the local Skokomish Nation.

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Behind the Mary Theler Exhibit Center is a salmon mural of intricate Northwest wildlife scenes.

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…..and a Bob Dylan tribute

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…….and a sculpture of a great blue heron made of metal rectangles engraved with names.

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The next memorial bench was dedicated to Shelley Horton who would have recently  celebrated her 50th birthday. I don’t know who Shelly was but my guess is that she loved a party and I’m pretty sure I would have liked knowing her.

20170502_134503 Then came an aggregate concrete memorial bench to Florence Crosswhite who must have loved great blue herons. I would have liked her as well.

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This simple memorial bench to Kathleen Landrum sat on a small promontory overlooking the estuary. It didn’t need any adornment. Its placement begged for some sitting and thinking.

My wetlands trail walk turned out to be much more than an opportunity to get some exercise on a rare no rain day. Whoever planned for the art and memorial benches turned my walk into a more soul-feeding activity. There were people who cared about the wetlands and wanted to have a trace of themselves memorialized there. There were artists who integrated the wetlands habitat into metal work, sculpture and painting. And Bob Dylan had something to say about the ecosystem as well. It felt like I had company on my walk. It will take community to save places like Theler Wetlands and maybe that was the message I was supposed to hear.