A recent visit to Issaquah‘s Gilman Village reminded me why it’s a special place to spend a few hours. It’s always great to see my hair stylist, Zorianna. She gives me a chic cut that resembles a “Brazilian Blowout.” And I don’t pay the huge bucks larger salons charge. A mom like me, we commiserate on women’s issues, parenting, the state of the economy, the dreary weather. Zorianna’s manner is easy, befitting the quiet ambiance of her surroundings. Occupying space within the Pelage Spa, the salon sits off to one side.
I can’t say enough nice things about someone who helps me look my very best, with the added bonus that I feel like I’m sitting comfortably in my own home the entire time.
A newcomer to Gilman Village is a haven for writers, wannabees like yours truly and professionals like Pam Binder, President of Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association. After leaving Zorianna’s salon, I walked past PNWA’s storefront, slowing down to peer in the windows. A membership drive was underway. Joining meant “what?,” I thought to myself. Just as I’d done once before, I almost continued on my way. But the remnants of my New York “chutzpah” pushed me through the front door. As I’ve said to my daughter time and again, “All you can do is ask; all they can do is say ‘no.’ ”
Armed with the knowledge that I could turn on my heel if I met with elitist resistance to my inquiries, I confidently greeted Pam. She rose from where she was seated behind her desk, walking forward, hand extended welcoming me, a warm smile brightening her face. I felt like Renee Zellweger‘s character in the film, “Jerry Maguire,” when she told him (Tom Cruise) “You had me at hello.”
Pam didn’t ask me to join PNWA; I told her I’d join. Probably surprised that she didn’t have to hit me with a hard sales pitch, she fumbled for a membership form. Throughout our conversation, we laughed easily, and spoke like old friends. I mentioned that she reminded me of Kristina, my exercise instructor and good friend. The likeness in general appearance and mannerisms, sold me on putting some roots down with other writers. It also helped that Pam assured me I was a writer because I wrote. She didn’t turn up her nose when I confessed that I blogged. I even went so far as to offer to volunteer for future events.
So if I do write a book, it will be owing in part to Pam Binder’s graciously making me feel that becoming an author is not so far-fetched. Her credentials only enhance my belief in the possibility. Pam is a board member for the Writer’s Program at the University of Washington, and an instructor in the university’s Popular Fiction extension program.
One of my favorite eateries in Gilman Village has always been The Boarding House Restaurant. Another cafe that served as a popular dining destination was Sweet Addition. It’s no longer in business, but was the talk of the town for a number of years. I worked there as a server when my daughter was still in middle school. That was close to 12 years ago. God, I feel old.
The Boarding House Restaurant never dwindled in its popularity, despite competition that came and went, some “stiff” like Sweet Addition. Offering a home style menu of soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts, The Boarding House Restaurant is consistent in serving up great food, warmly reminiscent of mom’s home cooking. Walking through the beautiful, stained-glass, front door is like stepping back in time. Cozily furnished with dark-wood dining tables and chairs, a couple of vintage church pews, and a large fireplace for ambiance, I feel as though I’ve been invited to share a family meal with friends. Lunching alone on the combination Boarding House salad and soup du jour, voices of others dining nearby, I settle in comfortably, enjoying my solitude, a good book my only companion.
Made-from-scratch desserts are what I’d expect at the conclusion of a home-cooked meal. The Boarding House Restaurant doesn’t disappoint. Homemade whipped cream heaped high atop a generous serving of apple crisp on a chilly, winter day, and strawberry shortcake that crumbles in my mouth as a summer breeze cools my cheek, is like heaven on earth for one who savors food as I do.
And the metaphorical icing on the cake, or the cherry on top a hot fudge sundae? Jene, the charming cashier and part-owner who takes my order, flashing a beautiful smile that warms my spirit, making me feel like I’ve come home.
Dwellings are enhanced by those who occupy their spaces. Gilman Village is very fortunate to have some real gems among its offerings. And its patrons are indeed lucky to partake of them.
for zorianna, pam and jene…huge, heart-healthy hugs…hugmamma.