Tag Archives: Seattle

P is for Plenty


by Lillian Csernica on April 19, 2016

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Japan —  Plenty of koi.

 

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The Netherlands — Plenty of tulips

 

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Las Vegas, NV — Plenty of neon

 

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Paris, France — Plenty of cafes

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Ensenada, Mexico — Plenty of beer

 

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Seattle, WA — Plenty of coffee

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K is for Key


by Lillian Csernica on April 13, 2016

 

On H Day you read some of my hotel stories.  Now let’s talk about keys!  Modern hotels have those plastic cards much like ATM cards that you stick in the slot and pull out again in order to unlock the door.  Sounds simple enough, right?  If only that were true.

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Norwescon, Seattle, WA — On our very first night in the DoubleTree, I had made the long and weary trek from the main area of the hotel all the way to Wing 5B, third floor, our room.  I swear, it took at least ten minutes to get there.  I stuck my key card into the slot.

The key did not work.  The little light did not turn green.  It worked earlier.  It would not work now.

I was less than thrilled at the prospect of hiking all the way back to the front desk to get this sorted out.  I couldn’t call the front desk on my cell, because the only number I could find was the main reservation line.  I was ready to start banging my head against the wall when a neighbor two doors down (Not the Vikings.  This was in the other direction.) offered me the use of his phone.  I called the front desk, they sent a security guard who checked my ID and verified that my key wouldn’t work.  I got a new key and got into our hotel room.  Later, when Pat and Nancy came back for the night, I felt a whole lot less embarrassed when their keys wouldn’t work either.  Lucky for them, I was there to open the door.  The next day all three of us went to the front desk for “fresh” keys.

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Citadines Karasuma-Gojo, Kyoto, Japan — After two planes, a bus, and a taxi, Pat and I arrived on the doorstep of the residential hotel where we would stay.  Our room was quite modern and very comfortable.  Problem: I could not find a light switch for the main room.  After some experimentation, I realized I had to put my room key into a slot that was up & down, as opposed to in & out. Thinking it was like most key card readers, I pushed my key down and pulled it up again.  The lights came on.  All was well.

Two minutes later, the lights went out.

After going through this twice more, I called the front desk.  Pat tells me that listening to my side of the conversation was pretty funny, because I was trying so hard to be calm and polite when I really wanted to smash something.  Once I made it clear to the folks at the front desk that the lights would not stay on, they sent somebody from Maintenance.  He provided us with the “key” to the solution: you had to leave the card in the slot to keep the lights on.  When you left, you took your key with you, which would ensure not leaving the lights on while you were out.  Wow.  Never seen that one before!

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This is art.  It’s not me.

BayCon — Once again, Pat and I were not staying in the main convention hotel.  Pat picked me up and drove us to the hotel she’d chosen.  It had been a really stressful week with the boys.  I was so tired I almost fell asleep in the car even though it was only late afternoon.  Pat got us checked in.  I followed her around the labyrinth of wrought iron stairways and hallways thronged by teenage girls in some kind of sports uniforms.  (They all seemed to be blonde, but maybe fatigue blurred my memories.)  Our room was located outside an exterior door, on this little chunk of balcony, where there was a bitter wind blowing as the sun began to set.

Guess what happened next?  That’s right.  The key wouldn’t work.

I was SO not in the mood for that.  Pat went back to the front desk while I stood there in the cold breeze and tried to stay awake.  Ten or fifteen minutes later Pat came back.  She stopped right outside the door, as far from me as she could get while still being on the balcony.

“Promise me you won’t kill me,” she said.

Adrenalin surged inside me, but not enough to make me move.  “What happened?”

“Promise me you won’t kill me.”

“Tell me what happened!”

“Promise me–”

“I’m too tired to kill you.  Now tell me what happened!”

She’d transposed two digits of our room number.  The key wouldn’t work because we were standing outside the wrong door.

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G is for Gifts


by Lillian Csernica on April 8, 2016

Today I have some stories to tell that come from the United States of America.  My homeland is a big country.  You can do a lot of traveling without needing your passport!  Along the way I’ve had the pleasure of giving and receiving some wonderful gifts.

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San Francisco, California — I was at the San Francisco International Airport when I met a Buddhist monk with a heavy French accent.  We got to talking.  Like most holy men in public places, the monk was probably accustomed to people gravitating to him.  He seemed to understand a whole lot more about me than what little personal information came up in the conversation.  His gift to me took the form of sincere compassion and some encouraging words.  As a token of my gratitude I gave him a pewter sunflower with “Believe” engraved on it.  This is why I love to travel.  You never know who you might meet, or what might happen when you do.

Maui, Hawaii — The Hawaiian Lei Greeting has been a part of Polynesian culture for several centuries.  Many tour packages allow you to choose just how luxuriant you’d like your lei greeting to be.  Before the boys came along, I took a trip to Maui with my mother.  It was quite an adventure, including a luau and a submarine ride.  Magpie that I am, I got all excited about the leis made not from flowers but seashells.  Ever since I was little I’ve had a great fondness for seashells.  Mom has been to Hawaii more than once, so she had quite a few shell leis.  She has given them all to me, along with the kukui nut bracelet and earrings belonging to my great-grandmother.

Las Vegas, Nevada — Many years ago my husband and I stayed at the Excalibur.  My father and stepmother lived in Ohio at that time.  My stepsister lived in Vegas, so we decided to meet in the middle for Christmas at her house.  (I have several stories from that trip!)   In the Excalibur there was the usual casino floor with card tables and slot machines.  Downstairs, I found a whole floor for kids full of carnival games such as Skee Ball, the Ring Toss, the Dime Toss.  There were also a few games where you used what amounted to a small catapult to shoot a frog onto a lily pad or a witch doll into a cauldron.  I know how to play poker, blackjack, and even whist, but I’m not much for gambling.  On the other hand, I love to win prizes.  I must have won close to a dozen, most of them some type of stuffed toy.  I did not have room in my luggage for all of them.  Besides, it was really more about winning them than actually keeping all those toys.  So what did I do with them?  Remember, this was Christmastime.  I wandered around the hotel, giving the toys away to little kids (with their parents’ permission).

 

Seattle, Washington –I had gone up to Vashon Island with a friend to visit the All Merciful Saviour Russian Orthodox Monastery.  I’ve been blessed to know Abbot Tryphon and Hierodeacon Paul for more than 20 years.  That visit deserves its own post.  Right now I want to mention yet another meeting in yet another airport.  In the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, I was waiting for my flight to be called.  My friend and I got into conversation with two ladies who admired my friend’s earrings, which I had made.  As it turns out, one of the ladies also made her own jewelry, including the pair of earrings she was wearing.  I don’t know what prompted her to do it, but my fellow jeweler took off her earrings and gave them to me right then and there!  People are so kind.  We forget that, with all the conflict and grief in the world.  I will always treasure those earrings as a reminder of that trip and a reminder of the difference an generous impulse can make.

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D is for Drinkable


by Lillian Csernica on April 5, 2016

In my many travels I have encountered a variety of drinks.  Here are a few of the more entertaining beverages, notable for both their flavors and the stories that go with them.

 

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Apple jack or Apfeljack — During my visit to the Netherlands, my host sisters and I would spend Thursday nights at the disco in the next city.  The cover charge included a two drink minimum.  In late June the Netherlands can still feel like November in California, so my preferred drink would be apple jack.  I strongly suspect the drinks were watered, which was probably a good thing.  One night somebody told me a particular guy wanted to dance with me.  Turns out he was a big, gorgeous Dutch soldier who had just turned 18.  Andre and I enjoyed more than one dance.  I tell you, apple jack makes for excellent antifreeze when you’re running to catch the last train home!

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Bottled water — These days you see people carrying spiffy personalized water bottles all the time.  When I was in Paris, this was a strange sight.  I chalked it up to one more thing the Europeans did differently than people from the U.S.  When it comes to “sparkling water,” that does make a good alternative to soda if you like the fizz and don’t want the sugar.  As I continue to battle my Coca-Cola addiction, sparkling water is my friend!

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Dragon’s Breath — There are so many recipes and so many individual variations that I can only point you to Google.  Back in the days when I was working at the Renaissance Faire, before I got married, I had a close encounter of the personal kind with a homemade liqueur named Dragon’s Breath.  In those days I worked for a jeweler.  Our booth was set up right next to the legendary Cardiff Rose, the fencing booth designed to look like a privateer vessel.  One day a pirate privateer came calling with a jug of Dragon’s Breath.  I knew the fellow by sight as one of our Faire neighbors, so I felt fairly safe in taking a swig of the brew in the ceramic jug.  Oh my stars and garters!  Imagine mulled wine with a good dose of brandy.  Before my shock could fade, said privateer grabbed me and kissed me.  Ever chewed a peppermint or cinnamon candy then inhaled really fast?  The kiss felt a whole lot like that!

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Melon soda — I first encountered this divine beverage at the Toei Kyoto Studio Park.  It came with the meal I ordered at one of the park’s restaurants.  Not overly sweet, similar to honeydew melon, and even better when made into a float with vanilla ice cream.  Bonus: the melon soda came in a souvenir mug shaped like the hanging paper lanterns that decorated the Park.  The Park’s name and logo are written on the side in kanji.

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Seattle microbrews — My latest trip to Seattle for Norwescon 39 featured a pumpkin beer party that also furthered my acquaintance with a few more of the spectacular microbrews of the city known mainly for coffee.  I regret not writing down the names of each beer.  One tasted of coffee and hazelnuts, much to my delight.  Another had plenty of ginger.  A strong, bitter brew left me thirsty for plain water.  I’m just happy nobody took photos of me there.  The dress code required me to borrow a helmet made from half a pumpkin with some horns stuck into it!

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