Monday, November 26, 2007

Beacon Hill: What's to Like?

As The Paper Noose recently pointed out, there's a Live Journal discussion going on about whether a Bellingham couple should rent a place on Beacon Hill.

The wife and I are looking at a nice two bedroom apartment on Beacon Hill (about a block and a half from the Red Apple). Having just graduated from WWU as an older student I have been hired at a downtown firm. I have a few questions.

1. Seattle buses, when Metro's website says it takes 18 minutes to get from where I live to downtown where I work, is that relatively accurate (its only a single bus ride, no transfer needed)? I realize things make buses late, I just mean in general.

2. Is there anything good or bad we should know about living on Beacon Hill, we are from Bellingham so we aren't as familiar with Seattle.


The first question's an easy one. The 36 is one of the worst buses in Seattle. It's slow and packed. It often passes you by while you're waiting for it because it's too crowded. There is no express 36. Every bus stops at pretty much every stop all the way north up Beacon Hill (which is one of the longest neighborhoods in the city), then winds its way through Little Saigon. People smoke crack on the 36 during rush hour (probably because it's so freaking slow, they can't wait till they get home), plus it seems to have more than its share of creeps. I've been a regular bus rider without much complaint in the Capitol Hill, Eastlake, and U-District neighborhoods, but I avoid taking the 36.

The second question is interesting. What is good and what is bad about Beacon Hill?

Some bad things first.

BAD: As I mentioned, our bus service sucks.

BAD: It's one of Seattle's boring neighborhoods, like Wedgwood, or Maple Leaf.

BAD: Also, between the greenbelts, there are not a lot of trees. (Lisa Eve on my block got us a bunch of trees from the city this fall, and we are doing our part to help fix that.)

BAD: A lot of people don't take care of their property. The homeowners around here are particularly complacent about letting tags multiply on their fences and garages. (Again, I'm trying to help out with my city-issued paint-out truck--let me know if you want me to come by your house with it and help you.) Chain-link is a common residential fencing choice around here. Overall, you just get the sense that people don't care about their yards and homes.

BAD: We do not have a single restaurant with a decent wine list.

And some good things.

GOOD: We have one of the most beautiful views in all of Seattle at Jefferson Park. Now we just need to make sure the city preserves the view and doesn't screw up development of the park. (As an aside, what the hell is up with the Parks Department and their wanting to do stuff like replace grass with used tires and open up fast-food restaurants in places like Magnuson Park? Do you have to pass some sort of evilness test to get a job there?)

GOOD: It's close to Georgetown, downtown, Capitol Hill, Columbia City, and I-5.

GOOD: Much of the neighborhood has sidewalks and curbs. The planting strip outside my house is 10-and-a-half feet wide. With all this space and sunshine (from lack of established trees), it's a pretty thrilling place to experiment with gardening.

GOOD: It truly is a multi-ethnic neighborhood.

GOOD: We do have a few good food joints (that unfortunately don't have decent wine lists): Galaxie, Baja Bistro, El Quetzal.

As you can see, I'm still a little ambivalent about the neighborhood. (Though not for one second have I ever regretted buying our house here, and I plan to stay here for a long time.)

A local real estate agent recently sent me an e-mail in which he politely took me to task for failing to be a good cheerleader for the community:

Hey...great work on your blog and congratulations! Glad you make a point of the lack of commerce in the area, and it is true not much does go on here or so it seems. It would have been a great opportunity though for you to have covered the open house and the re-opening of Cleveland High School or the new corn roaster at McPherson's or even the new gym being built at St. George School.

Rather than glorify Georgetown, it would be great to spotlight the small businesses on Beacon Hill like Fou Lee with their abundance of fresh Asian veggies and cheap deli food, or Blenders Coffe and Smoothie Shop, or Mimi's Bakery or even McPherson's! Are these areas not mid-Beacon Hill?

As a lifelong resident of Beacon Hill, I've seen many changes to the area and glad you have taken time to chronicle the happenings of our community. I hope you can continue to represent and comment on our community in a positive and uplifting way. Thanks again for your postings and pictures!


I admit it--I am not a good Beacon Hill blogger or activist. I am not going to attend grade school gymnasium openings or promote businesses that I'm not that excited about. (OK, McPherson's is pretty great, though they don't have an extensive organic selection and their parking situation is always crazy.)

If someone more enthusiastic about Beacon Hill starts a neighborhood blog, let me know, and I will gladly link to it. (Craig Thompson, where are you?)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Kubota Garden

Kubota Garden is an old Japanese garden here in South Seattle. It's huge, it's free, it's in a bad neighborhood. It's supposedly haunted. Everything about it is unlikely.

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From the garden's website:

In 1927 Fujitaro Kubota bought five acres of logged-off swampland in the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle and began his garden. A 1907 emigrant from the Japanese Island of Shikoku, he established the Kubota Gardening Company in 1923. Fujitaro was a man with a dream. Entirely self-taught as a gardener, he wanted to display the beauty of the Northwest in a Japanese manner and was soon designing and installing gardens throughout the Seattle area.


Enough talk. Let's look.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Full Throttle Bottles Coming to Georgetown

This just in from Seattle Weekly's food blog, by way of The Paper Noose.

Georgetown will soon be home to Full Throttle Bottles, which the Weekly says will be a beer and wine shop in the old Georgetown racetrack stable on Airport Way. (I don't know which building that is.)

I like beer. I like wine. Especially French Sauvignon Blancs, hint hint, Full Throttle Bottles!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Offbeat Homes

In case any Offbeat Homes readers come to this blog after reading about it in Jennifer's super-nice post, I want to point you to some old posts you might be interested in. This blog is a badly tagged mish-mash of neighborhood items, photo essays about plants and drinks, and personal diatribes, and you might not otherwise find the good stuff.

(An aside to everyone else: I've been really busy with work lately and will continue to be busy through Christmas, so I haven't had much time/energy for fun stuff, like stalking local gardening celebrities or attending Hangar Cafe's grand opening party last night. I promise to return to my paparazzi party-crashing ways in January.)

Anyway, here's a list of some posts with lots of photos of offbeat homes and other cool spaces:

1. Dick and Jane's Spot in Ellensburg, Washington. A cool couple's crazy art yard.

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2. Rich Art's Yard in Centralia, Washington. An even cooler dude's even crazier art yard.

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3. Bridge Motel in Seattle, Washington. Some artists threw a party at a soon-to-be-demolished motel on the old interstate in Seattle.

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4. The Brew House section of the old Rainier Cold Storage complex in Seattle, Washington. A beautiful turn-of-the-century brewery structure that will soon be renovated.

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5. Little & Lewis's Garden Art Gallery on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

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6. My artist friends' awesome house here in Seattle.

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Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Luca Rattazzi's Last Day at Manifesto

Our friend Luca celebrated his last day at Manifesto, the company that makes Resolute lighting, on Thursday evening. He's run the glass shop there for many years.

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This is a clean and pleasant showroom. It is well-lighted.

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Luca's sister-in-law, stepdad, and mom (who's talking to the owner of Ophelia's Books in Fremont -- she's one of my favorite people to chat with at a party).

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I didn't get any good shots of Luca (at right) -- or anyone, really -- with my little point-and-shoot.

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I blame it on the Sancerre, my very favorite wine.

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Luca's brother is hard to take a bad picture of.

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Luca brought out a lot of his old work for the party.

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The Birds.

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Fat Lip.

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Luca has been a friend of my husband's since junior high or high school. Here are a couple pictures of my husband (and his family) from around that time.

Junior high (he's at left):

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High school (also at left):

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And here's a picture of a two-headed calf from Scio, Oregon. (Sorry. We've been having fun with the scanner lately, and the only way I can work these photos in is to include them as non sequiturs.)

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At home we could do our own Luca show. We've bought a couple Resolute lamps, and he's given us a dozen of his own pieces. He made the lamp at left, the vases against the far wall, and the lamp at right.

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I like the way the vases echo the colors in the Todd Karam painting.

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Last weekend he gave us the blue, red, and yellow vases.

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The yellow lamp on this table, at a lighting design show last spring, is another gift from Luca.

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Thank you, Luca!