Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Seattle's Best: Storytellers

When my husband and I made plans with my brother and his wife to visit Seattle together, I had no idea how much our little vacation would be shaped by stories and storytellers!  Every place we visited had a unique tale to be told...

Storyteller #1:  A Monk on Vashon Island

I could hardly wait to see Abbot Tryphon again.

Just a few months ago, he had visited our parish to give a lecture series. He looked like a cross between Gandalf and Dumbledore, and his lecture series turned out to be more a "Treasury of Modern Parables"!


Like Christ told.

About real people who are hurting and healing. And the love, hope, and forgiveness we can offer them.

Fr. Tryphon had lovingly talked about Vashon Island and his Monastery in many of his stories, which inspired us to visit the All-Merciful Saviour Monastery during our trip to Seattle.  As we ferried across Puget Sound, it was barely 20 minutes until we could see the trees on the steep shore of Vashon Island.

The drive across the whole length of the small forested island to reach the Monastery was around 15 minutes.  After driving through the gate, we encountered several deer along the roadway into the beautiful wooded grounds.

As we visited with Fr. Tryphon and Fr. Paul in the library, they related that the monks first came to Vashon Island in 1988 and instantly felt at peace about calling it their home.

During the Vespers service later that evening in the candle-lit chapel, we couldn't help but note how the monks' solemn chanting and the beauty of the icons mirrored the beauty and reverent stillness of the monastery's wooded surroundings.

The All-Merciful Saviour Monastery sits on eleven acres, and is a lovely place for families to visit. But you must make an appointment.  The property is made up of woods, a large garden with chickens, and several Scandinavian looking buildings - including the monks' cabins, a small chapel, a library, a building that houses the kitchen and dining area, a bookstore, and Abbot Tryphon's beautiful study full of many of his Norwegian treasures.

We enjoyed buying gifts from the gift shop and bookstore, where I picked up a lovely picture book that I'll be reviewing in my next post.

You can read Abbot Tryphon's reflections on contemporary life in his book The Morning Offering, or on his blog of the same title.  (You can also listen - here - to his daily podcasts).

Storyteller #2: A Seattle Glass Blower

At the base of Seattle's famed Space Needle (built for the 1962 Seattle World's Fair), is one of the most unique museums I have ever seen.  I wish we had visited the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum when my kids were young.  They would have loved it!

Dale Chihuly has perfected storytelling in glass.  His collection represents about 50 years of work. The glass sculptures are so breathtaking, it almost hurts to look at them.  We saw fragile blown glass cylinders fashioned after ancient Indian woven baskets, a brightly colored ceiling gallery of glass, a garden exploding with stunning glass creations, and my favorite: a rowboat full of glass sea life! (More info, events, and purchase opportunities here.)

Storyteller #3: Seattle's Underground Passageways

If you happen to visit Seattle, please don't miss the Underground Tour!  It's a fascinating way to learn about the city's past, as you go beneath the streets to roam the subterranean tunnels that were once the main roads and first-floor storefronts of old downtown Seattle.  (The city had to re-think its engineering and architecture after a destructive 1889 fire that burned 31 city blocks!)

At first (because of cost), just the streets were raised, but not the sidewalks, so the citizens had to climb ladders to get up to the new street-level businesses.

At first, merchants carried on business in the lowest floors of buildings that survived the fire, and pedestrians continued to use the underground sidewalks lit by thick chinks of glass embedded in the new grade-level sidewalks above (still seen there today).

Storyteller #4: Seattle's Public Library

The Seattle Public Library has stories to be found on the inside and outside of its windowed walls. Starting on the ground floor, you can find plenty of kids' books inside the children's library; and high on the 10th floor Reading Room, in between reading chapters of your book, you can gaze out at the stories going on below, as you people watch from the walls made of windows!

Storyteller #5: A Seattle Coffee Roaster

What goes better with books than coffee?  Especially in Seattle!  After we left the library, we were eager to see what other freshly roasted beans Seattle could offer besides Starbucks.

A few blocks away, my brother and I found the perfect spot: Storyville Coffee!

Besides the amazing aroma coming from our french pressed pot of coffee, I was immediately taken by the Storyville logo: a little boy playing with a toy airplane.  I asked the Barista what inspired the image and name, and he told me that the owner really likes planes, and also how children create stories and adventures with toys.

Upon further investigation for this post, I learned a little bit more of the backstory of this company - involving the owner's son, who has Down's Syndrome.  You can read about it here.  And you can order coffee and brewing "hardware" here, from their website.

Storyteller #6: The Chittenden Locks

Did you know that salmon can climb ladders?  Well, they do exactly that at the fish ladders in Ballard, WA.  Thanks to Hiram Chittenden, the journeying salmon are not endangered by the locks he was named for.

Salmon have always been vital to the Pacific Northwest’s ecosystem. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District Engineer Maj. Hiram M. Chittenden, for whom the locks are now named, understood this and planned on incorporating a fish ladder in the designs when he proposed building them in the early 1900s.

Go here to see more photos. We enjoyed watching a small sail boat go through the locks, but if you want to watch the salmon migrate up the fish ladder, you have to go in mid-June through October.  The Visitor Center has a great selection of children's books!

Storyteller #7: Last, but not least, our Hotel had a Story to Tell

Seems that another - more famous - Foursome stayed at the Edgewater Hotel overlooking Elliott Bay back in the '60's.  Their picture was one of many hanging in the cute rustic lobby...

THE FAB(ulous) FOUR(some).

Yes, that's a framed photo taken of the Beatles while they were fishing from the window of their hotel suite at the Edgewater in 1964.  You can read about it and see more photos here.

Now go make some stories of your own!
Other fun family things to do in Seattle:
Seattle Aquarium
Seattle Children's Museum
Seattle Space Needle (make sure to look down at the giant spiders! Here)
Museum of Flight
EMP Museum of Music - Sci-Fi - Pop Culture
Pacific Science Center
Pike Place Market


  1. what a fun visit! so glad for you! those Athos Children's books are lovely, I have two of them for our children's collection at home!

    1. I couldn't help but purchase one - they had several. Glad to know about them!

  2. I ♥ the Beatles! Have you seen their movie "Help!"? So fun. We were in Seattle almost 3 years ago and camped on the Puget Sound, we talked about taking a ferry to Vashon Island, but didn't...next time for sure!!! I would love to hear Abbot Tryphon's stories. The salmon book looks good. I love to eat smoked salmon.

    1. Martha, If you go to his blog and scroll down on the right side bar, you'll see "I Will Walk Among You" video - click on it to hear the talk (2 parts) he gave at our parish. Lots of stories! :) https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/morningoffering/

  3. I want you to know that after reading this, we're bent on planning a trip there. We travel about a lot, but for some reason, we've only made it to Seattle once. We had a wonderful time, but I realize now that there was a lot that I missed. So you've done your bit for Seattle tourism!

    1. Haha - have fun! I did not get any compensation for this post, unfortunately. ;)

  4. Your blog is very unique in every way, the tips and information in this article is great and reliable. We enjoyed watching a small sail boat go through the locks, but if you want to watch the salmon migrate up the fish ladder, you have to go in mid-June through October. The Visitor Center has a great selection of children's books! Party Magician NY