Life's a Gamble Blog

Life's a Gamble Blog
LIfe in the small town of Port Gamble, Washington. Events, businesses, and quirky small town humor through the eyes of photographer and blogger Jerry Cornell

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Summer days in the neighborhood

SORRY, all you faithful readers, but I have not been as successful this time in telling my stories and at the same time, providing another perspective. The statistics that are provided to us when we blog, show that fewer and fewer of you are finding what you want on these pages. So I see no reason to take up your time and my time. We could both be out sailing!! Thanks for giving it a try. 


It’s too bad for you if you missed last week at Port Gamble. Let me first show you a few things from that mellow week, then I’ll let you see what you might come for this week.

I haven’t written much about the new playground, but I sure should have. The former (now gone) playground was tucked behind the Quilt Store. It was adequate, a little hard to find because of being tucked so well behind a big building, it was showing a little rot in places, easy to see since the water table was somewhere above the grass line.

But Tom had made it clear that the unit had to go, and so it went. But what a replacement! My 7 year old granddaughters were in tears when they came to visit, only to find the first  one gone with no replacement in sight, but with each stop to see Kris and I, they would run to the familiar spot, gaze at the excitement of what lies ahead, and come running back to the quilt store with a new report, but the familiar ending, “When is it going to be finished?”

Excited mom and Dad - nervous toddler (first time down a slide!)

Successful first launch - toddler will go again, and again and again.

It IS finished and you would think 95% worn out given all the traffic that goes through it.  I’m also happy to report that the “big kids” have pretty well stayed away, which is probably a result of having a lot of little kids and a lot of adults around. After all, what big kid wants to spend time around little kids or adults? After all, someone might see them …

I didn’t get many photos of either of the singing groups last week, and it was VERY difficult to get photos of crowds watching them. “Rain, rain go away…..” In most cases the drizzle was trying to stop, but couldn’t quite do it completely.

“Music” I started to say. Small crowd for the Maritime Music Festival, but they had some great groups.

The same went for the Soul Siren, the next to last of the Alive After 5 FREE concerts, a popular round of free treats in the  summer.  The weather improved as time went along and once again this concert series was a success.

A small group there, too. Something about the threat of rain that hampers a car show. I will admit I have not made it t too many of the local shows, but I will be back! The guys who came obviously had what they consider to be “drivers” (cars that don’t melt in the rain). There’s a nice mixture of cars … new paint jobs to complete restorations. And the local group is fun because you never know what kind of cars are going to be there or how they might have been changed to make them more "impressive."

Dice (of any size) say "50's" no matter what the year of the car. In fact, more often than not, dice say "70's" about the owner of the car.

And this is what I mean by "sparkling" chrome.

And I love those small pieces of chrome that give me a challenge of trying to hide myself and my camera.

They come every Thursday, including tonight, at 5 pm, next to Mike’s BBQ until the end of September.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Problem Solver

About 9 years ago a daughter-in-law saw an ad for a building for sale in Port Gamble, a building which looked very similar to what she thought her mother-in-law had wanted. While the  daughter-in law did not know that buildings in Port Gamble never show up for sale, only rent, still she thought this was the unit the lady had wanted and continued to mention it. As it turned out, it was not the building that was for sale, but rather the business. And there came Janice Kelly's first problem. There would be others in her next 10 years.

Janice Kelley, owner of The Tea Room at Port Gamble

While she wanted a building to start a business in,  the business in the building when she bought it was an “English Tea Room,” and who in their right “American” mind knew what an “English Tea Room” might be. But for Janice not knowing fully what she was getting into was seen by her as more of a challenge than a problem, so she talked her husband into making an offer on the building and they opened in two weeks.

The entire family must have dug deep to be ready, but ready they were. She told her husband it might not be his “cup of tea” (groan) but she was committed to learn it all.

Over the years she and her business have grown the way most people learn - by making  mistakes. She now marvels at what she has become during this learning time, the woman who is now so much more confident and capable than the one who bought the restaurant. And she also marvels at the customers who have helped her along the way. The couple who drops in (at least once a year) who bring her two fine English China teacups to add to her collection, the ones who bring birthdays to celebrate…

Short on qualified help in the beginning, she now has her husband and two sons who both also work in Silverdale at Olive Garden, and several other regular staff.

Several businesses in Port Gamble shared one problem  - not enough room. I asked her about that, knowing that lack of space with nearly every building full is a difficult place to be. I mentioned Quilted Strait which had to rent another building when they needed space to hold classes. Tango Zulu had to find another building in Pioneer Square to meet their needs, and The General Store had to do some major remodeling.

What did Janice do? She looked outside the “clock box”. “The clock box?” You say? “What’s that?” It’s that round faced thing on the wall that tells you what time it is. She quickly found that there was a market for evening customers, filling tables which  before this brain storm had not been used. But Janice brought in new customers, sold more food, and did it without investing a dime in some one else’s building. She also took up catering, another way of generating more business without the expense of more space. More sales, same space, different time.

What problem is she having these days? The same one she can’t crack that arrived about the time she opened. She finds that men are stuck with the attitude that guys who go in “English Tea Shops” are sissies, not quite ready for a beer. But Janice put a good sized hole in the argument when she changed the menu, adding several additional beers and other liquids. Grilling and Chilling she calls it now and she does very well with it, thank you very much. Another problem solved without a major restructure of the business.

I must admit since my first stroll past the Tea Room I assumed I would have a nervous feeling, should I decide to enter the place,  looking over my shoulder to make sure none of my friends would see me, but I think today I just might go make a reservation for two. Kris and I enjoy going to Victoria, so can a Tea Room be much different. But even in Victoria the women far outnumber the men in attendance.

If you are at all in doubt that Janice knows what a Tea Room is and knows how to make visiting one into an enjoyable experience, check out two media presentations:

The Fall Issue of West Sound Home and Garden Magazine  displays The Tea Room as their featured restaurant, and Mike Barnet includes the Room in “Go Here, Try This!”, a video series for BKAT (Kitsap’s local Public Access Channel.)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Gate 6

Gate 6? GATE 6?

Is this the new location of lost and found alien space ships? Are we talking Roswell, New Mexico?

"I don't think so, Tim."

No, when we are talking Gate 6 around Port Gamble we are talking about the best entrance into the trail system that runs from the east end (the end closest to Kingston) of the row of houses in Port Gamble all the way to Stottlemeyer Road. The property is owned by Pope Resources (which also owns Port Gamble). Click here for a detailed map of the trails.

And unlike whoever lets  people use the property in Roswell, the humans at Gate 6 actually encourage people to make use of their property. And so they will do on Aug. 3rd for the Roots Rock Trail Run, and you can do just about any other day of the year.

This sign shows the "Gate six"entrance to the trail, used by runners, bicyclers, grandmothers being pushed in wheelchairs, wheelchairs being pushed by ...wait  a minute, I didn't see anyone in that one. This is the only sign you will see from Hwy 104. TURN HERE!

Other signs in the area give lots of advice to people using the trail.

The start of racing is about a block up the hill after you go  through the gate. And from there in two directions is a beautiful trail through the woods, over  paved and unpaved paths. And quiet? You can hear a sledge hammer drop. But you won't notice it because you will be too busy watching for people, racers, adults playing with remote controlled airplanes, birds......, oh I'm running out of time getting this out.

Oh... so what is the significance of the number 6 in "Gate 6"? I have no idea. It's just where the huge parking lot and the best walking trail in Poulsbo are found.

Sunday, July 27, 2014


I sometimes wonder if strange coincidences happen to me more than to others. I have one thing that happens to me so often that I sometimes get nervous that there is really something behind it ... oh, I hope not. It goes like this.

When I owned my auto parts store, quite frequently, and for no reason at all, somebody's name would pop into my head as someone who I simply had not seen for awhile. There is nothing special about that.  I bet everyone reading this has at sometime suddenly had a name of someone they knew well come up.

So why is this so strange? Because in just about every case that person walked into my store either that day or the next day at the latest.What was the link? Did they know I had thought about them? It happened so often that I finally began keeping track. For the last ten years I owned that store, I saw 92% of those people I thought about come in the store the next day. Port Gamble is known for its ghosts. Is there some connection there? Once again, oh, I hope not.

Why am I telling all of you about this? Because recently something happened to me so much like this that once again I am wondering what on earth is going on.

The incident went like this:
In the last four or five years, since about the  time 4 years ago when we moved to Port Gamble, I have been getting deeper and deeper into photography .... I've been selling some, hanging some in stores, generally having a lot  of fun with it. But some of the fun is taken away with the prices of some of the  frames and mats I have to buy, especially when the size is 13 x 19 rather than 5 x 7 or even 8 x 10.

But I finally found an art supply store, complete with VERY helpful employees, who were always good natured, serious when I needed help, willing to go that extra mile everyone talks about. High on my list was a girl  working there who could answer any question I had except one, "Why is all the art that's on the walls here paintings, with not a single photograph?" She suggested I bring in some photos and let her boss see them, and maybe he would hang them.

So, a couple weeks later, there I was, photos in hand, and there she was, with no boss in the store. So she wanted me to show her what I had, and promised to get him to let me hang and sell some.  I started through the small collection I had brought, the bright colors of the fruit display at Pike Place Market, the subtle tones of the fog with a boat emerging,   on and on it went until I reached one of a church. Suddenly her body stiffened, like she had just seen a gh...  no, I won't say it. But I continued.   "This is one of those New England style churches that seems like a good breeze would knock it over," she was still so stiff that nothing would knock her over, "but I wanted to show it's strength as a church, that anything that was consecrated there would last for a lifetime."

At last I was rewarded with an exhale and a smile. "I know that church," she said, "it is St. Paul's in Port Gamble. I was married there two weeks ago, and I love what you just said about it."

Here we go again with my coincidences.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Alive after 5 - Summer Concerts

On Thursday, August 14th, all roads at Port Gamble lead to the flagpole for the third summer concert. August's free concert is by Soul Siren. All ages are welcome and you can take in weekly car show at Port Gamble as well.

Soul Siren has been performing for over 15 years. The band plays everything from funk & soul to rock and top 40 dance favorites.

The last concert of the summer will be Thursday, September 11 from 5 to 8 pm and will feature Betsy and the Boys for some honky tonk blues.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Recent Changes in Businesses

 Kim and Eric explained that the biggest problem they have run into with their new spacious cafe at the Port Gamble General Store is the lack of additional staff.  As Eric put it - they are in "reset" mode, starting over in a sense, so that they can provide the best food and service for their customers.

 Port Gamble General Store New Hours

Cafe & Bar:
Closed Tuesday & Wednesday
Breakfast: Friday - Sunday, 8am - 2pm
Lunch: Thursday - Monday, 11am - 4pm
Happy Hour: Thursday - Monday, 4pm - 5pm
Dinner: Thursday - Monday, 5pm - 8:30pm
The store will remain open 7 days per week.
Monday - Thursday, 9am - 7pm
Friday - Sunday, 8am - 7pm

Tango Zulu has opened a second location in Seattle, following in their Port Gamble tradition, their new store is also located in a historic district. The new location is in the Pioneer Square district of of downtown Seattle, at 110-112 First Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98104.

Store Hours
Both the Port Gamble Tango Zulu Store and the Seattle Tango Zulu store are open daily from 10:00AM to 5:00PM.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summer Car Shows

Thursday after 5pm in the summer means only one thing in Port Gamble -- IT IS CAR SHOW TIME !! Now when I say “Car Show”, I admit I am thinking of the cars that have had special things done to them, whether it is a wild paint job, a sound to the exhaust that would make you think a Mack Truck just drove up, or perhaps a total restoration that makes this ’57 Pontiac EXACTLY like it was when it came from the factory.

The wide variety of cars and wide interests in cars makes it difficult to make  a listing of the “best” of the cars that regularly come to this weekly show, but that’s OK. The value in these cars is reflected in the owners .. every one who brings his car does it because of pride, pride in what he did to his car, or perhaps in what he had done to it.

This weekly show is as informal as you will ever find a show to be, yet it draws cars from all over the area. I lived in Port Angeles for 60 years, got to know many of the owners of cars in that area, and I am always pleased to see some of the work from that area show up. So don’t be shy. Bring your car.

One last thing. If you are coming just to see the cars, not to bring one, then the owners are doing you a favor by bringing their cars. So at least tell these guys “thank you” for showing up and brightening your Thursday evening. It will make their day, too, to know you appreciate it.

The Car Shows are every Thursday evening in the summer, and they are located right on the highway going through town, right next to Mike’s BBQ. If you want to wander off, see the town, and have something to eat, go ahead. There will be plenty of other car owners there to watch your pride and joy