Say cheese

If you love cheese, the Seattle area is your kind of place.

Seattle, buoyed by its prevalence of cheese and wine events and cheese-hawking farmer markets, is number 7 on the 2023 list of Best Cities for Cheese Lovers, as determined in a study commissioned by LawnStarter. Bellevue and Tacoma aren’t too shabby, either, ranking 34th and 88th, respectively.

Seattle trails only (in order) New York City, Madison, Wis., Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.

More details from the full study are at

Tacoma author takes readers to 8th-century Greece

From Janet McGiffin, a Tacoma resident, comes a story of two young women who join forces to survive the dangers and power of the Roman Empire of the East, and a city that is very much a man’s world.

The book series is about the Byzantine era in 8th-century Greece and the woman, Princess Irini, who climbed (clawed, really) her way to power. This first book, “Betrothal and Betrayal,” introduces a young teen, Thekla.  She is impetuous, naïve, and formidable. She has been betrayed by her betrothed and her parents, who, times as they were, needed to marry her off.  They make plans to marry her to the old gravedigger in their village after Myri, her betrothed, betrays her for the second time. Horrified, Thekla sees a chance to escape from the city gates in Ikonion where she had been to meet Myri returning from war. She sees a coach leaving town and jumps on it, starting a remarkable journey to Constantinople, where she is certain she will find Myri and marry.

With McGriffin’s richly detailed description of the culture, food, politics, and relationships of the 8th century, readers can almost taste, smell and feel the emotions Thekla experiences. It is classified as Young Adult fiction (it’s historical fiction), but just as Hunger Games was read widely by all ages, so, too, will this book.

McGiffin divides her time between her apartment in Manhattan, her home in Tacoma, and her friends in Athens, Greece. The book series. “Betrothal and Betrayal” and “Poison is a Woman’s Friend” (available on and Amazon), is the result of her time in Greece, where she lived for over a decade.  She spent 11 years researching and writing the series. Her previously published books are murder mysteries set in Milwaukee, where she lived for a time after she graduated from the University of Washington.

Source: Lisa Otto, content coordinator for The Heart of the North End magazine.

Birthday wishes for an ex-governor, now 98

Befitting someone with such a distinguished career in public service, Dan Evans’ 98th birthday was marked during a meeting of the King County Council in October.
The meeting on Oct. 17 was one day after his birthday, but that didn’t stop the council and others in attendance from saluting Evans, who was on hand for the formal recognition that was initiated by council members Pete von Reichbauer and Jeanne Kohl-Welles.
Evans, who was Washington’s governor from 1965 to 1977, was instrumental in creating the first state-level ecology department in the United States, as well as co-founding the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition and creating councils advancing the status of women, Native Americans, and Asian Americans.
Evans went on to serve as a U.S. senator for Washington, part of a legacy of effective governing, von Reichbauer noted.
“I would be hard-pressed to find a better example of the good in politics and public service than Dan Evans,” von Reichbauer said. “I was fortunate to serve in the state Senate while he was governor and to see his work firsthand. Today we live in an era of division at all levels of government, but when Dan served, he was a master” of bipartisanship.
After his political career, Evans filled prominent roles in education as president of Evergreen State College and later as a regent for University of Washington, which named its School of Public Affairs after him.
Before entering politics, he was a lieutenant in the Navy and was an admiral’s aide during the Korean War peace negotiations.

Turkey, please, but hold the politics

Favorite leftovers and preferred dinner conversations are among topics in a survey of people who observe Thanksgiving with traditional meals.

The survey by of 3,000 Americans included Washingtonians. The latter rated turkey as their favorite leftover dish by a wide margin over the second and third-most popular leftovers—stuffing and mashed potatoes.

When asked “What are the conversations you don’t want during Thanksgiving?”, politics was at the top of the list, followed closely by family disputes. Controversial news or current events were a distant third.

And as for the approximate time their Tnanksgiving dinner is served, 2 to 4 p.m. was the most popular, followed by 4 to 5.

Nationally, the top three leftovers were the same as in Washington. So was the general time for dinner. But family issues were the main dinner discussion topic to avoid.For the survey, 42 percent of the people polled were 55 and up in age, the largest group by age. The participants were evenly divided between men and women.