Photo by Peggy Sturdivant 
Illustrator Jan Harvey-Smith (behind book) with M.J. McDermott with "Frankenstein Meets Santa" 

At Large In Ballard: Writing in the Cracks

By Peggy Sturdivant

“Everything hurts,” is what the illustrator Jan Harvey-Smith was saying as I let her hide her cold-ravaged face behind the seasonal middle children’s book “Frankenstein Meets Santa” in the accompanying photo. Both parents of identical sets of twins they have teamed to create a book for the holidays.

As in the photo M.J. McDermott is the more public face, generally in front of weather graphics as the morning meteorologist for Q13. Jan Harvey-Smith is mostly behind the scenes as Master Scenic Artist for Pacific Northwest Ballet, especially busy this fall with an entirely new set for the annual production of The Nutcracker.

Before Jan dragged her less-than-well self from Whittier Heights to our meeting at Java Bean I asked M.J., why take on the additional work of writing and self-publishing a book? Her reply, “What are you supposed to do when you still have your health?” (Which struck me as slightly ironic once Jan made a brief appearance).

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Darlene Kaiser retires from Ballard Smoke Shop after 25 years

The Ballard Smoke shop is an institution among longtime Ballardites. It’s no wonder that its staff would also have the respect and affection from fishing village residents and patrons from afar. Among the cooks, waitresses and bartenders, there is one woman who has been popping tops, pouring shots and laughing and crying with the best of them at the Smoke Shop for the last 25 years.

Darlene Kaiser said goodbye to the Ballard Smoke Shop last Thanksgiving night. After over 40 years of bartending in Ballard she decided to retire and pursue other ventures. Last Thursday Kaiser tended the Smoke Shop’s island bar amid a thirsty holiday crowd that thronged the bar three-deep in search of spirits, grog and maybe even a smile from the keeper of jubilee.

Since Kaiser announced her retirement she said there have been old friends and customers dropping by to wish her luck and to chat about the future. On the day the Ballad News-Tribune visited there were at least two bouquets of flowers for Kaiser. One was from a couple living in Brooklyn, New York. Kaiser said she used to serve them a long time ago.

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Grief and gratitude

By Amanda Knox

I was fourteen when I first learned the word, “Casualty.” It was September 11th, 2001, I was a freshman in highschool, and that word, louder than “Tragedy” and “Terror,” rang out to me. I didn’t quite understand it at first. I gleaned that it must mean a person killed in an act of war, but didn’t that mean a soldier? Weren’t the people who worked in the World Trade Center civilians?

My confusion was rooted in my naivety. Sheltered my entire life in safe Seattle suburbs, 9/11/01 was the first time I realized that war wasn’t just historical. It wasn’t far away. It didn’t just mean fighters, fighting. It meant everyone, dying. “Casualty” meant you, me.

This past week I’ve felt jolted back into that hollowed-out feeling of fragility. I would love to write about other things on my mind—chess, travel, Charlie Brown—but even though I’ve thought about these things too, I’m distracted. My heart hurts.

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