OFF THE RECORD: Desk cleaning can actually be educational

I don't know if there's gonna be dancin' in the streets on the first day of spring this year. I guess it depends what side of the stars and stripes you're on and if in fact the USA decided to bomb the bejesus out of Iraq on March 17.

St. Patrick, pray for us.

But just like the flowers that soon will follow, spring makes her annual appearance Thursday, March 20 at 5 p.m. Whidbey Island time. No offense, guys, but the four seasons are in fact controlled by women: Vernal Equinox, Summer Solstice, Autumnal Equinox and Winter Solstice are all female forces that you don't wanna fool with.

Have you ever met a guy named Autumn?

When the daffodils begin exploiting their petals I humanly respond by rearranging my files, piles and other neglected areas of my office. This in-home exercise is much more rewarding than 30 minutes on a treadmill with Wolf Blitzer, and the results are much more rewarding. Best of all, I can recycle the fun stuff on to you.

ROLD GOLD PRETZELS RETURN! Many readers were in sympathy with me when I lamented the loss of Rold Gold Pretzels aboard Washington State Ferries. Never fear, the loopy-shaped snacks have returned. I received this e-mail from a reader last month: "I haven't been paying too close attention, but did you notice that the Rold Gold Pretzels are back on the ferries? I just saw that this weekend."

No, I hadn't noticed, but on my next voyage to the mainland I gave the galley a once-over. No Rold Gold Pretzels. So I contacted Gail Kollmorgen, marketing manager of Sodexho, suppliers of ferry food. Kollmorgen responded promptly via e-mail: "We still do not carry Rold Gold Pretzels in the galley, but they are available in the vending machines."

I checked out the vending machines on my way back to the island, and there they were, resting quietly in their rectangular glass and metal home. Rold Gold Pretzel lovers, rejoice!

PIES WITH STAYING POWER: Several weekends ago I spent an afternoon in Greenbank, walking around Greenbank Farm, having lunch at Whidbey Pies Cafe and topping it off by visiting Frank and Betty Rayle's Greenbank Cellars on Day Road (home to "The Grapes of Rayle"). Never one to pass up a chance to take home a fresh slice of Jan Gunn's artisan pie, I ordered two to go. Jan graciously placed a piece of marionberry (for my husband) and loganberry (for me) on two separate paper plates and covered them with plastic wrap. When I reached my car, I placed the two plates on the trunk while I unlocked my door, hopped in the car and drove off.

As I turned onto Highway 525, I suddenly thought about the pies. I looked next to me in the passenger seat. No pies. I cranked my head to check the back seat. No pies. Then I peered into the rear view mirror and saw what appeared to be a piece of plasticized pie on my trunk. About that time the truck behind me began honking and pointing to my trunk. Obviously he spotted the portable pies, too. Pulling into Coupe's Greenbank Store, I couldn't believe my luck. Well, half-luck. Resting on the trunk was one piece of marionberry pie, my husband's. Fortunately, he gave me the last bite.

HOW DO YOU SAY 'LES MISERABLES?' Jennifer Rice, PR person for The 5th Avenue Theatre, had a tough task ahead of her. How do you promote a show that has already played in Seattle five times? She and her staff came up with a great idea. They sent out a press release about "the world's most popular musical" with this intriguing headline: "Legendary 'Les Miserables' returns to The 5th Avenue: But Seattleites still can't pronounce the name!"

When it comes to French, I guess we Puget Sounders didn't spend enough time at Berlitz -- but we're not alone. It's a problem heard around the world. So what's the correct pronunciation of "Les Miserables?" According to The 5th Avenue, it's LAY MIZ-AH-ROB.

The 5th Avenue Theatre box office staff decided to have some fun with the upcoming musical and has been keeping a list of mispronunciations since tickets went on sale in January. Here's their current top ten list of botched "Les Miserables:"


If you do want to see the show, which runs March 25-April 5 at The Fifth Avenue, call 206-292-ARTS or log onto Tickets range in price from $17 to $65. And remember, it's "LAY MIZ-AH-ROB." The ticket seller will be impressed.

Sue Frause can be reached by e-mail at

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