Thursday, August 30, 2012

Upcoming in September

Art Walk returns September 7

Janet Wilson - "Pagoda in Rain"

If three years running is sufficient to qualify as a "tradition" then Art Walk has now become a traditional late-summer event in Madison Park.  What was inspired by a one-time MadArt event in 2009 has now become an annual opportunity for area artists to display their works in the neighborhood's retail spaces during Madison Park Art Walk, now in its third iteration.

Debra Thompson Harvey - oil pastel sketch

This year's event is scheduled to begin with an evening reception at Starbucks on September 7 (6-9 pm) and continue on the walls of various Madison Park shops, restaurants, banks and commercial spaces through the end of the month.

Barbara Lenfesty - watercolor

More than 30 artists will be participating in Art Walk this year, and their works will be shown at a like number of venues throughout the business district.  Details on the artists and venues are available at the Art Walk website, as well as on the Art Walk Facebook page.

O-tsukimi celebration at Japanese Garden

It's also a tradition about this time of year to head over to the Arboretum's Japanese Garden and view the moon---assuming that the moon is visible.  It's all part of the traditional Japanese o-tsukimi celebration, which--fortunately for those of us in cloud-enshouded Seattle--involves a lot more than mere observing of a full moon.  To quote from Seattle Parks' press release:

"During Moon Viewing, the garden is magically lit with lanterns, luminaria and floating boats. In Japan, people hold o-tsukimi or moon viewing festivals to welcome and celebrate the arrival of the full moon.

The evening includes performances by Lunar Hare, a dance by Joan Laage and Consuelo Gonzalez (Kogut Butoh), classical and contemporary koto music by Silk Strings, a selection of traditional Japanese dances by the Fujima Dance Ensemble, and Okinawan folk and traditional music by Mako and Munjuru.

Haiku Northwest will read haiku inspired by the beauty of the moon. Come prepared with a haiku of your own, and enter our Moon Viewing poetry contest! Winning poets will have their haiku read during Moon Viewing, and will receive a prize.

View the full moon, weather permitting, through telescopes provided by the Seattle Astronomical Society."

Moon Viewing will take place from 7 to 10 pm on Saturday, September 1, and tickets are $15 (plus $10 for an optional traditional Japanese tea ceremony).  More information is available here.

[Photo by Pierro Sierra on]

Epiphany Choir does Taize

Madrona's Ephiphany Church Choir will be presenting a program in late September of music and readings in the Taize style, which is described as a relaxing, contemplative kind of performance as pioneered by the ecumenical monastic community in Taize, France.  This candlelight event will be held at the Church on September 26, beginning at 7:30 pm.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tree down!

Early morning topple smashes car, no one injured

At about 5:00 am this morning a massive tree on the parking strip of a house at 1222 37th Avenue E. crashed to the ground, taking out an Acura parked across the street. Fortunately, no one was around when the incident occurred, so what could have been a tragedy is just a sad loss.

For the tree in question was one of Madison Park's very few Heritage Trees, so designated by the City of Seattle. It was a Catalpa speciosa, native to the midwestern United States; and it stood 85 fee high, with a limb spread of 75 feet. No wonder the street was entirely blocked by the tree's fall.

As the morning wore on, pedestrians and divers along E. Madison St. were slowing to take a look at the scene which the police had by then cordoned off . When we arrived at about 11:00, the water, which had been gushing from a parking-strip pipe broken in the fall, had been staunched by city crews. The homeowner told us that the water had been spouting until shortly before we arrived. Fortunately, some recently-remodeled spaces in her home were not affected by the flooding, she said.  Nevertheless, she admitted, the whole thing had been a bit traumatic.

The view from Madison Street

She noted that the sidewalk by the tree had recently been replaced, but only after the City Arborist had signed off on the design, which narrowed the sidewalk at the point of its intersection with the tree-root area (as had been done with the repaving of sidewalks near trees on E. Madison St.).  She reports that the Arborist stated that the tree had no visible signs of disease.

There was no appreciable wind at the time the tree toppled, so it's unclear what was the cause.  As the weary homeowner summed up the situation, "I guess it's just Mother Nature."

The view from 37th looking North
[Thanks to my neighbor and blog reader, Jane, who ran over to our house to alert us to this story.]

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Seen this trike someplace?

Last month we reported on the theft of a unicycle in the neighborhood. But without a solution to that particular case we're moving on. This month we focus on the recent theft of an oversized tricycle, apparently stolen on Monday from a Washington Park yard (this is not a photo of the theft in progress, by the way).  If the trike was taken for a joy ride, says the owner, the thief probably found the get-away pretty slow going and may well have abandoned the trike somewhere in the vicinity.  If you've seen the missing item, please let us know and we'll help reconnect it with its rightful rider.

Update:  Just after "going to press" with this story, we received some great news from the tricycle's owner:  "A neighbor three doors down from Bert's Red Apple found it in her yard the other morning. She walked around today with a photo asking people if they knew whose it was. She knocked on my door tonight having tracked me down. This is why we love Madison Park!"

So owner and trike are re-united, and all is well in the Park.

Have we arrived yet?

This week Madison Park Blogger passed the 500-subscriber level, according to Google Feedburner, which provides this site's subscription service.  Since our inception in April 2009, we've been adding subscribers at a pretty steady clip of 10-12 readers per month. Most subscribers (434 to be precise) get their MPB via email, with the remainder preferring delivery via "readers and aggregators."

On average, our postings now reach between 600 and 700 Madison Parkers and others who are interested in the news of the Park. In addition to our subscribers, we have about 200 visitors on the the site each day.

And here's a bit of potentially useful news: Because we've had so many requests to provide a Facebook page for those who'd like to see the Madison Park Blogger postings on their walls, we now offer that option as well. If you're interested in receiving MPB through Facebook, you can like us at:  (Thanks, by the way to the four fans who liked the page before we even announced it.)

With 5,000 people living in Madison Park, most of them non-readers, we still have a ways to go in getting the word out.  For that, we rely on you.  Thanks for your support!

[By the way, this is the 600th blog posting we've written. Only five or six of these posts, we estimate, fit into the "blowing our own horn" category. Well, it is our blog after all.]  

Monday, August 20, 2012

Geese Poop Park?

When opponents of fence removal at Swingset Park expressed concerns about the possible influx of interlopers to the park once the fence was down, they were probably thinking of Capitol Hillites, residents of the Central District, and other such inlanders. And when marshaling their arguments, the proponents of fence removal were clearly focused on the benefits of providing greater access to the water and not the other thing (providing greater access to the land).

But in what's certainly an ironic case of unintended consequences, it seems that the primary new users of Swingset Park—now that the fence is gone—are Canada Geese. The missing fence, a longtime “visual barrier” to the water, turns out to have also been (at least for our avian summer visitors) a too-tall physical barrier between the Lake and the shore.  With the fence now history, the geese have discovered the park---and they're loving it.

Of course there are some nasty implications to this turn of events. Geese poop now pretty much covers the grassy area of Swingset Park to a depth of ten or fifteen feet inland from the water. As you might expect, this situation has not gone unnoticed, especially by those who wander into the area to check out the shoreline, admire the new view, walk the dog, sunbathe, or launch one of those kayaks that the anti-fence forces perhaps thought would become a fixture of the park (actually, we've yet to see any kayak launchings, but we're not on site 24/7 either).

Anyway, some residents are concerned. One of them, Bill Allen, in an email to other neighbors and the Madison Park Community Council, has suggest that Seattle Parks erect a low-level wrought-iron fence that would impose a physical barrier but not create a visual barrier.  Say, isn't that something we once recommended?  It was considered a too-expensive option at the time, so we suspect that is still the case.  No word yet on whether Seattle Parks is willing to reopen the issue.

For those who have yet to go down and enjoy the ambiance of Swingset Park in its new mode, we suggest a visit.  From the sidewalk, at least, the view is great.  If you want to get a closer look, however, we can only advise:  watch your step!

[Photos by William Allen]

Friday, August 17, 2012

Police Blotter July 2012

An increase in criminal activity in the neighborhood usually goes hand in hand with the return of good weather each summer, but July seemed to be an exception to that rule. The number of reported crimes was pretty much on a par with what we see most months.  While there were four home break-ins and three car prowls, there was not a single car stolen from the neighborhood in July, which is a bit unusual (four cars were taken during July 2011).

First, the home break-ins:

On July 9 a resident living on the 1200 block of 41st Avenue E. reported that sometime during the previous week someone had pulled open a main floor bedroom window of the resident's "guest house" and entered through the window.  Various items were stolen from the residence, which did not have any guests on the premises during the time the break-in occurred.

On July 17 a woman living on the 1900 block of 42nd Avenue E. was the victim of a break-in that occurred while she was taking a quick walk to the bank, a couple of blocks away.  While she was gone someone entered her secured residence and stole her purse, jewelry, cell phone and other valuables.  There was no evidence of forced entry, however, and the victim reported that only she and her daughter had keys to the residence.

On July 25 a resident of the 1100 block of 39th Avenue E. reported to police that he had returned home around 5 pm to find that a window to his house had been pried open and that the house's alarm system had been tripped.  It appeared that the would-be intruder had been scared off by the alarm, however, as nothing appeared to have been stolen from the premises.

Sometime between July 29 and 31, someone entered an unsecured detached garage on the 3700 block of E. HIghland St. and removed a Mercury outboard motor that had been lying on the garage floor next to the victim's Zodiac inflatable boat.

Also during July, car break-ins were reported on July 9 at E. McGilvra Street and Canterbury Lane E., on July 17 on the 1600 block of E. McGilvra Boulevard E., and on July 27 on E. Lynn St. and 42nd Avenue E.

There were two reported cases of prescription forgery at Pharmaca during the month, as well as a couple instances of property damage and one "disturbance."  Actually a rather quiet month, criminal wise, for Madison Park.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The first pontoon makes its appearance

For those who missed the coverage in the local media this weekend, we offer this photo showing the first of the new "longitudinal pontoons" to arrive on Lake Washington. It's currently floating at a temporary moorage off of Medina, but it's destined to be one of 77 such pontoons that will eventually support the new SR 520 floating bridge as it progresses across the Lake in our direction.

The pontoon was manufactured in Grays Harbor and floated through the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks on Saturday:

Each pontoon is 75 feet wide (which explains the tight fit through the Locks), 29 feet tall, and weighs 11,000 tons.  A second pontoon will be floated in tomorrow.

Those interested in watching the progress of bridge construction from the vantage point of a stationary camera positioned in Medina can do so here. This is what the camera shows as we post:

[Photos and videos courtesy of WSDOT.]

Pagliacci site plan revealed

New pizzeria to open by early November

As everyone has probably noticed, construction got underway several weeks ago at what most recently was the site of Spotless Cleaners (3015 E. Madison St.).  As we reported in April, Pagliaccci Pizza will soon be coming to this site on Madison Park's doorstep---and after hearing the news, several readers asked us to get the details.

To do that we contacted Pagliacci co-owner Matt Galvin, who provided us with this graphic showing what the site will look like upon completion in the fall. The new building will have approximately 35 seats, but on-site parking will necessarily be limited, says Galvin.  But of course there's always the convenience of home delivery.

Galvin says that this is really a return to Madison Valley rather than an entirely new venture for the pizza chain. The previous building had once housed Pagliacci's "commissary" operation (a kitchen baking for the benefit of Pagliacci restaurants and delivery locations).  "This is an exciting opportunity for us," says Galvin, "and it's long overdue.  We've been working on this for ten years---but we're in the patient mode."

Galvin describes Pagliacci's pizza as "old school": hand tossed, brick-baked, thin crust, and featuring local ingredients wherever possible. He didn't mention (though we do) that Pagliacci Pizza was just voted "Best Pizza" in the Seattle Weekly readers' poll.

This will be Pagliacci's 23rd location, including delivery-only sites.  Many of us remember that this location was once a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant.  According to Galvin, the site was originally the depot for the trolly that once ran between downtown and Madison Park. In the early days, a trestle---which carried the trolly---existed between Madison Valley and the intersection of what is now Lake Washington Boulevard.  Later the site became a gas station; and following the exit of Kentucky Fried Chicken it was subsequently a commissary for both Pagliacci and, later, Pasta & Company.  

It's an important and historic site, says Galvin, "and the location's a good fit for us. We're excited about the move and about getting the site cleaned up."  Construction could be completed as early as October, he said, but may slip into November.

[Photo and graphic courtesy of Pagliacci Pizza.]

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Weird crime in the Arboretum

The Seattle Police Department's blog, much improved since the founder/writer for the now defunct website became the principal blogger, recently posted this story about some nearby craziness:

By Jonah Spangenthal-Lee

Officers arrested a 56-year-old man Monday night [August 6] after he went on a bizarre, log-hurling mischief spree near the Arboretum.

Around 11 pm, the man ran into the middle of Lake Washington Blvd E., and tossed a log at the driver, smashing the car’s side mirror and denting the hood.  The man then fled into the woods, and the driver called 911.

Minutes later, the man showed up in front of a woman’s home near E. Interlaken Blvd. and 26th Avenue E., grabbed a sign out of her yard, and then took a quick break from his strange crime spree to do some gardening—moving a hose in the woman’s yard and turning on an outdoor spigot.

When the woman saw the man in her yard, she yelled at him and told him to leave.

Instead, the man walked up to her house, began ringing her doorbell, and claimed someone was chasing him.

The woman called police, and officers arrived and arrested the man for property destruction.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Madison Park 'best' in two categories

Cormac Mahoney and The Independent Pizzeria score

It seems that when the Seattle Weekly comes out with its "Best of Seattle" issue each year, Madison Park makes the list in at least one or two categories---and this year was no different.

For those who are not regular readers of the Weekly, we note that the 2012 awards, published last week, included Madison Park Conservatory's Cormac Mahoney as "Best Chef" and, for the second time, The Independent Pizzeria as "Best Pizza, Thin Crust."

The Weekly described Mahoney as exactly the kind of chef to make New York media types salivate, since he is all about local ingredients, does his own interpretation of trendy dishes, and "stays close in touch with his hipster roots."  And, of course, there's the food: "smart,, restrained, and always exquisite."

The Independent Pizzeria, which was a "Best of" choice when hardly opened in 2010, gets praise from The Weekly for having mastered all of the elements expected of a good Neapolitan pie: crust texture, sauce flavor, and topping ratios.  And, of course, there's that great "near-waterfront location" that "would charm even the most finicky Italian."

Our beach did not get singled out this year, though it was once the "Best Beach for Babe Viewing" (2010) and "Best Spot for Running into People You Never Thought You'd See Again After High School" (2009).  Cactus! made the list in 2007 and 2011 for its cocktails.  Madison Park missed out in 2008.

[Editorial aside:  Another award given by The Weekly has a vicarious connection to Madison Park through the Madison Park Blogger.  As it happens, the "Best Local Girl Gone Bad" for this year is the tenant of a house we own. The apparent downfall of this former Ms. Washington (soon to be on trial for murder) is a lurid story which has gotten a lot of coverage, including this from The Weekly: "Peggy Sue Thomas: Drop Dead Gorgeous."

[The Madison Park Conservatory is located at 1927 43rd Avenue E. and The Independent Pizzeria is located at 4235 E. Madison St.]

Another 520 shutdown this weekend

Lake Washington Boulevard also closed through Arboretum

Construction crews will be working on installing a "fish-friendly culvert" and demolishing the old Bellevue Way overpass along the SR 520 route this weekend, necessitating the closure of the State highway from the point of the Montlake Boulevard eastbound exit all the way to  I-405 in Bellevue. The shutdown will occur beginning at 11 pm on Friday and end at 5 am on Monday.

At the same time, there will be significant work underway in the Arboretum, which means the closure of Lake Washington Boulevard E. this weekend. The timing of the shutdown will be slightly different from the 520 closure times. The Boulevard  will be closed at 7 pm. on Friday and will reopen at 9 pm on Sunday.

There is a lot of work planned for the Arboretum during this period, including the construction of a raised sidewalk and "speed cushions," the installation of "bike sharrows" (those are those stencils that show images of bikes, intended to encourage drivers to share the road), and continuation of the project designed to replace and improve the streetlights along the route.

There will be another planned shutdown through the Arboretum September 20-23, coinciding with another closure of SR-520.

[Photo showing the current progress of 520 construction on the eastside  courtesy of the Washington State Department of Transportation.]

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

New York Cupcakes: outta here

Another multi-location food purveyor has closed its Madison Valley store, Bellevue-based New York Cupcakes' ending its foray into Seattle after only eleven months on this side of the water. NYC's last day was July 31, according to Seattle Met's Nosh Pitt blog.  New York Cupcakes thus follows the lead of Woodinville-based Bill the Butcher, which closed its Madison Valley operation earlier in the month.

We were not entirely surprised by the exit of New York Cupcakes, which had been struggling to find an audience since its opening in September.  Owner Lisa Waxman Johnson admitted to us last year that the store was not performing up to her expectations. In explanation of the closing, NYC posted this comment on its Facebook page: "Madison Valley is a great neighborhood but not the one for us (parking is super tough!)."  Bill the Butcher, in commenting on our story about the closure of its Madison Valley store, said much the same thing about its departure: "One of the many things we have learned in our first three years is the importance of parking---something our Madison Shop has always struggled with since it's opening."

It's not true, however, that no multi-location operation can make a go of it in Madison Valley.  Essential Baking is a good case in point.  And on the horizon, of course, is the new Pagliacci Pizza store which will soon be opening in the former location of Spotless Cleaners.  We expect to be sharing details on that later this week.

[New York Cupcakes was located at 2711 E. Madison St. Pagliacci Pizza will be located at 3015 E. Madison St.]

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A shout out for Restaurant Bea

'Cool comfort food' close at hand


While Madrona may be a bit off the Madison Park Blogger's beat, our near-neighbor up the hill is certainly not off the beaten path of many Madison Parkers who enjoy a good meal and prefer not to have to go very far to find it.  We've long been a fan of St. Clouds, a homey, family-friendly, good-food establishment that's been a staple of the Madrona community for a dozen years. Now, for those who haven't already made the discovery for themselves, we're shining our spotlight on Restaurant Bea, which made its debut in late March.

Originally a collaboration of Kate Perry and chef Tom Black, Restaurant Bea has garnered some solid reviews since its opening four months ago, including this from The Seattle Times ("winsome country charm with an urban edge") and this from The Seattle Weekly ("comfy and stylish").

The menu is both "down-home" and upscale, with dinner entree prices ranging from $12 (the Painted Hills burger) to $23 (the rabbit and agnolotti).  The food menu for Happy Hour (Tuesday through Saturday, 5-6 pm in the new 22-seat bar) includes clams & chorizo with fennel-tomato broth, mac & cheese, and braised rabbit pot pie, each for $5. Restaurant Bea has a full bar and a nice selection of craft cocktails (one of which, The Frankie, was the subject of a notice in a recent issue of Food & Wine).

Chicken roulade

Brunch, which is served 10 am to 2 pm on Saturday and Sunday, ranges from strata, brioche french toast and fritters to lamb burger and mussels---and, of course, as a side: fried Spam.

The restaurant also boasts a four-seat chef's table, located in the kitchen, at which a five-course tasting menu is served.

Chef's Table

The chef doing the serving, however, will not be Tom Black, who recently "parted ways" with Kate Perry (her words). There's a new guy in the kitchen, though Perry is mum about the details of the split and who, exactly is now cooking up the fennel vichyssiose. But he made his debut last week and "working with him has been smashing," Perry tells us. Seattle Met's Nosh Pitt blog quotes Perry as saying she doesn't want the place to be considered a "chef run" restaurant, and she said much the same thing to us.

In its short run to date, what Restaurant Bea has been offering its patrons is simply good food and friendly service in a pleasant, relaxing atmosphere. We can only hope that what's already good about this new entry on the Madrona scene is enhanced by the chef change and not undermined.

Restaurant Bea's space (1423 34th Avenue) was successively the home of Cremant (2008-2009) and June (2010-2011), two well-regarded restaurants that, for whatever reasons, just were unable to make a go of it.  Perhaps the third time's a charm for this location, with Restaurant Bea enjoying not only good reviews but longevity as well.