A 105th birthday party and Dancing with the Swedish Stars
Nicole Brodeur's weekly column reports on social and philanthropic events in and around Seattle, including the Full Life Care Benefit Breakfast with Rick Steves.
Seattle Times staff columnist
When someone is turning 105 years old, you show up for the party. Which is how I ended up at the Kline Galland Home in Seward Park on Saturday morning with Shirley Agranoff.
Mrs. Agranoff, who was surrounded by family, gave me a pretty serious once-over when I leaned in, introduced myself and asked if I could ask a few questions.
"Is it a Republican newspaper?" she asked ("Sometimes," I told her). She cracked a smile and we were off.
Mrs. Agranoff was 3 when she came to the States from England on a ship called the Coronia. All they had to eat in steerage were hard-boiled eggs, so when she and her fellow shipmates saw the Statue of Liberty, they threw the eggs into New York Harbor.
She and her husband, Gregor, ran the Louis Hotel in Ephrata. They were married 70 years.
"We had arguments about things, but who doesn't?" she said, then paused.
"Don't be afraid to ask me anything," she told me.
OK: Is she afraid of dying?
"I think about it, and then I find something else to think about," she said.
"I don't know what to believe about dying," she said. "Who has come back to tell us? No one.
"Am I making any sense?"
Oh, more than you know.
Pillows and pot
"May you and your lover grow old together on one pillow."
It's a Turkish saying usually reserved for weddings, but travel guru Rick Steves used it to open his speech at the Full Life Care Benefit Breakfast.
Why? Well, growing old together — on one pillow — is a tall order for a lot of people, which is why Full Life is around. The nonprofit provides community based, long-term-care options to those who are frail, disabled or suffering from brain injuries. Seventy-six percent of clients are at or below the poverty line.
Steves' mother was a Full Life client for three years before she died nine months ago.
"Full Life helped extend the time my parents were able to be together," he said. "Three more years sharing the same pillow."
Steves himself vows not to rest until his other cause — legalizing marijuana — is victorious. Right now he's on an eight-day, 15-city tour around the state stumping for Initiative 502, on the ballot next month.
"It's not pro-pot, it's smart law," Steves said.
OK, I hear ya. Just drive carefully.
Aquavit and then some
Some dancers plied the judges with vodka. Others just threw cash at them. It was that kind of night Saturday, when the Swedish Cultural Center held its version of "Dancing with the Stars."
Al Thorslund packed the room with 30 of his friends and family to watch him "Shake That Thing" with Tebby Lavery. (They won People's Choice, of course).
Bjarne Varnes did a "Pulp Fiction"-style twist with his high-school (and current) sweetheart, Jean Gregory, to win the Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery award. Bengt Hag and Kathi Ploeger-Hambo won for Most Swedish Dance; Capt. Dale Pederson and Monica Schilling won the Quit Your Day Job award.
Overcoming Most Odds went to Laura Wideburg and Brian Butz; she's sick and he stepped in just that morning. Greatest Potential went to Matthew Olson and Rebecca Coenning for their attempt at dancing to ABBA (club chef Ann-Margret Lightle circled the room, stirring up the crowd); and Karen Shaw and Graeme Welsh won Most Culturally Diverse and Worst Bribe. You had to be there.
In the end, Club President Terry Anderson and her partner, Larry Hohm, won best overall — and deservedly — for their waltz. Anderson, who has never danced in her life, took six weeks of lessons. She had a Groupon, she said.
"I feel like I was watching bloody 'Braveheart'!" said emcee Bradley Howe, owner of the new Kangaroo and Kiwi Pub in Ballard, and who dropped enough F-bombs to gut the place.
"God bless Sweden."
Drink up and light up for Martha
Just a few weeks ago, I was at a luncheon toasting longtime Madison Park florist Martha E. Harris.
Now, people are mourning: Ms. Harris died of cancer Oct. 5.
In her honor, the neighboring Cactus restaurant has created the "Martharita," and glassybaby has designated both its Lavender and Sweet Pea candles with Martha in mind.
Portions of the sales of the cocktail and the candles will go to the Martha E. Harris Fund at Swedish Medical Center.
From Immaculee Ilibagiza, who addressed the Providence Mount St. Vincent's Annual Legacy Fundraising Luncheon Thursday. Ilibagiza survived the 1994 Rwandan genocide by huddling in a bathroom with seven other women for 91 days. She emerged to find most of her family and friends had been murdered by Hutu Interahamwe soldiers:
"No matter what happens to you, there is always hope. ... If I can forgive, anyone can forgive."
About Nicole Brodeur's Names in Bold
On Tuesdays, I tell you about my travels through some of the week's social and philanthropic events — not just the ones for the swells, but those for work-a-day folks who care about making this region move and improve.
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