Home » Life on the Page » Pen Lust and Alternate Lives at Pike Place Market
A field trip to Pike Place Market feeds my lust for beautiful stripey hand carved wood pens. And Tenzig Momo revives my desire to become an Apothecary.

Pen Lust and Alternate Lives at Pike Place Market

Upon reading about my alternate life as an apothecary, my creative compadre Kerry suggested a visit to Tenzig Momo at Seattle’s Pike Place Market. A sunny Friday afternoon seemed like the perfect opportunity for exploring the warren-like underbelly of the Market so we rode the S.L.U.T. downtown and entered the fray.

Although I’d been to the Market a million times, I’d never discovered Tenzig Momo. Because that’s how one shops at the Market, by discovering. As someone with a diagnosed directional disorder, I find the labrynthine Public Market impossible to navigate. I often discover a fabulous destination and am unable to re-find it a second time.

(That’s what happened with the great lunch locale I had in mind. Kerry good-naturedly followed me around for twenty minutes as I tried hallway after stairwell after ramp in attempt to relocate the sandwich shop I’d been to at least twice before. No dice. That’s okay, since we ended up at this spectacular Greek joint with the best spanikopita I’ve ever eaten.)

Luckily, Kerry doesn’t share my spatial disorientation. She knew where Tenzig Momo was and we found it without incident. This tiny olde time apothecary shoppe is snuggled into a corner one floor below the main drag.

The ceiling is hung with chimes, incense burners, shells, beads, and tiny lights. The walls are lined floor-to-ceiling with cramped, overflowing shelves of candles, tarot cards, herbs, and essential oils. Glass bottles of every size, shape and color crowd one another for shelf space. Their handwritten labels are mystical and secretive: love potion, arnica, civet.

I desperately wanted to take a photo so I could share it with you but they don’t allow cameras in the store. Something about the shutter stealing your soul.

I was mesmerized by the empty turtle shells stacked up like popcorn in a rain barrel. All different sizes – red-eared slider, box turtle, snapper. I ran my fingers over them, amazed. I’ve always loved turtles and felt a certain kinship with them. I admire their patience and determination.

I briefly kept a box turtle when I was young. My dad rescued her while on a bike ride – the turtle was trying to cross a busy street. He scooped up the wandering creature and shuttled her home in his bike bag. The turtle was so beautiful – she had a matte black shell with lavender polka dots. Once we were sure she was safe and well fed, we released her in a nearby pond.

This is why I love field trips – tiny slices of memories are dislodged and set free by the new sights. I never know what’s going to rise to the surface.

Hand carved wood pensI stopped once again to admire the beautiful hand-carved pens, wood grain stained with rainbows. There’s a blue and green one I desperately want, and I take it for a test drive every time I’m there. I’ve never bought one for myself, mainly because I really like my Pilot Precise V7 rolling ball pens. But also because I will likely lose the expensive thing, or break it. The real issue, though, it that it’s hard to justify spending $50 on a writing utensil for myself. Maybe someday I’ll be worth it.

Fresh cut white tulips at Seattle's Pike Place MarketThe upstairs of the Market was exploding with fresh cut flowers arranged in neat rainbows. I was particularly taken with the white tulips. My camera phone does them no justice, obviously. But they were so creamy and bright. I loved them intensely.

We also dropped in to visit our brilliant photographer friend Chuck Pefley whose vendor booth features absolutely breathtaking shots of Seattle. His booth attendant informed us that lucky Chuck was off enjoying adventures elsewhere. We paused for a bit to admire his early evening Space Needle photos and then continued our own adventure.

Although the Market was crazy crowded, it was a colorful Friday afternoon and I enjoyed feeding my apothecary dreams and visions of hand-crafted writing untensils. I highly recommend getting out and exploring every once it awhile. It provides so much writing fodder!

2 comments

  1. “The real issue, though, it that it’s hard to justify spending $50 on a writing utensil for myself. Maybe someday I’ll be worth it.”

    You mentioned in your last podcast about taking that step of marking the first page in a journal. About loving yourself and allowing yourself to write… Shouldn’t that same thing be applied to what you use to create those words? Some nicer pens are expensive, sure, but what I have noticed is that with my more expensive things, pens in particular, I take much better care of them. I always carry a fountain pen with me. I put it in my bag every morning at take it out at the end of the day and place it in my pen cup. Since making the decision that, yes, I AM worth it, I have a deeper connection with my writing. I’m finding myself wanting to write all the time! There’s something organic that takes place, the thoughts turn into words easier. You use your Pilot V5 to write, you have a preference for it, a fondness. If you feel that same fondness when testing out the handmade pens, I say go for it! You won’t regret it!

  2. Well, what fun to find myself mentioned and linked in your blog. Thanks, K!

    Tensig Momo is quite a shop, isn’t it? And yes, you’re right to lust after one of Barry’s (The Market Pen Maker) wooden creations. He lives on Vashon, by the way, and really does great work.

    Sorry I wasn’t working the Friday you stopped by.

    -:)))