Saturday, November 20, 2010

Recent Houses for Sale

The puffball house next door to us is for sale!! Day in, day out, that puffball is the beacon from my bedroom window. The house has been immaculately maintained, with a pool and badminton court in back. I think it's a steal for 479,000.00. If only the rest of the house were as original as the garage doors!

Here's a house that caught my eye. For 399,000.00 it has a half acre with a view of Lake Washington and the mountains but it's also above the infamous "Kennydale S-Curves" on Interstate 405. We're going to go look at it anyway because it's such a lovely example of Northwest Regional/Pacific Rim Mid-Century Modernism and the entire lot is south facing with gorgeous potential for an orchard/produce garden.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Factoria P-Patch's first summer

Our p-patch at Holy Cross Lutheran Church yielded so much produce this summer that we were able to donate 1,000 pounds to the Hopelink Foodbank.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Just another sunny day last week at Newcastle Beach

Hydrangeas were in especially good form:

I couldn't believe the range of colors on one bush.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Red Apple Harvest Summer 2010

The reason I started this blog was to give voice to the collective grief our community felt when we lost our local grocery store. Over two years later we still don't have a grocery store, but now we know the reason why.

Red Apple grocery stores thrive in small towns where there is no other grocery store of a similar size to compete. Here in Newport Hills, we have two grocery stores (Safeway and QFC) immediately south of us, and again, two grocery stores (QFC and Safeway) to our immediate north. Easy drives. There's also Costco, Trader Joe's and Puget Consumer's CoOp: though they are a more substantial drive away folks are willing to drive the distance for the additional selections those stores offer.

Our Red Apple couldn't compete with their prices and selection...back in the day we actually had two grocery stores ourselves, Albertson's and Tradewell, later Red Apple. They were the only game in town and thrived for a short while before the competition drove them out.

Now I look for surviving Red Apple stores to try and understand what makes them thrive where they do.

Red Apples from our August road trip through Eastern Washington:





Saturday, October 23, 2010

Two and a Half Months Later...

Wow! It feels great to be back in the driver's seat. Blogging, that is. I've missed it...and you!

Especially grateful now that Joan is back in the 'hood and out of the hospital. (See my last post below) She's doing as well as can be expected, thanks to her spunky attitude and the excellent condition she was in pre-accident. She still can't put weight on her feet, so she has a lot of physical therapy in store for her future.

But what a relief that she survived .... and that we can now begin to help further the healing process on her journey back to the hale and hearty Joan she once was.

I've been thinking alot lately about driving and baby-boomers. And aging. We've all become so addicted to our cars, especially in the 'burbs. Joan was waiting for a bus. The guy who hit Joan was 55, relatively young on the baby boomer spectrum. He apparently "blacked out", crossing on to oncoming traffic, over the curb and into the open area where Joan was waiting, looking the other direction for her bus. She was carried by the car 50 feet or so into her own backyard.

We've since learned If you have no previous medical condition preventing you from driving, you cannot be held liable for "blacking out" at the wheel. It's now become the plea "du jour" with such accidents.

Now, we won't all retire to gated communities and pedestrian friendly urban areas well-connected with transit options when we get older. Many of us will stay in the homes and neighborhoods we know best, relying on cars to get around as we always did. Joan was doing the right thing taking the bus to get downtown, in a safe neighborhood in the middle of the day, and she was still at the mercy of a driver who's abilities we trust will prevent such accidents.

Bus shelters need to do exactly that: shelter, especially in this rainy climate.

We need to test reaction times and do a better job of checking driving competencies as people age. When my 89-year old mother-in-law went in to renew her driver's license they checked her peripheral vision, took her 25.00 and a new picture, and that was it. Beth is probably an exception to most over-80s: she's sharp as a tack and is well aware of her limitations so she doesn't venture anywhere she doesn't know and avoids all freeway and nighttime driving. But she needs her car to get around her immediate neighborhood. A ten block walk to the coffeehouse she loves or to get the groceries she needs just isn't an option for her anymore.

Let's hear it for more options, for living, shopping and working, in our own neighborhoods. Think how much easier it would be to live above a grocery store or cafe. Drop off your drycleaning and hit the ATM, take your grandchild out for an ice cream cone and wait for the bus under the eaves outside your own front door. Sit outside and pass the time with your neighbors.

Finally, Bill Pace, local fruit stand mogul, is retired now and still keeps very active with all his volunteer activities. He probably drives more than he did when he worked the farm fulltime. A couple weeks ago a Boeing engineer heroically matched his speed to Bill's as he noticed him swerve across a couple lanes ahead of him on I405 near Valley Medical Hospital. The driver knew that by driving alongside in the shoulder and then pulling up ahead of him he could very gently provide the "cushioned landing" the unconscious Pace would need to survive the inevitable accident. It would also pull him out of the speeding traffic that surrounded him, and thereby avoid other potential injuries and perhaps deaths. (click here for Seattle Times article)

As we all age we're going to need options to the car. Sean and I have got our eyes on matching Vespa Stellas. With a sidecar on mine for the dog.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Unfathomable

Our friend Joan was hit by a car on Friday, her birthday, as she waited for a bus outside her house about a block from ours--she was headed downtown to meet with friends to celebrate.

BELLEVUE, Wash. – A 70-year-old Bellevue resident standing at a metro bus stop was struck by a car that crossed the center line and went over the curb.
The accident happened Friday afternoon at about 3:45 p.m. in the 4700 block of 119th Avenue SE.
The 53-year-old Everett driver apparently blacked out losing control of the car.
The woman was hit and was carried about 50 feet into a yard. Medics found the woman unconscious and transported her to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
It was not immediately known if speed, drugs or alcohol were a factor in this accident.
The Bellevue Police Department is looking for any witnesses to the collision, and is asking for them to call the Bellevue Police Business line at 425-452-6917.

The "yard" Joan was "carried into" is her own backyard. She was waiting for the bus at a stop directly in front of her house. Knowing Joan, an avid reader, she probably never saw the car as she faced south in the direction of the oncoming bus. The car and driver, coming from the north, obviously didn't see her. At the bottom of the picture is her purse.

She'll be in the hospital for several weeks as she has pins and plates inserted surgically to help repair her broken right knee, tibia and pelvis.

Waiting for a bus on the sidewalk. You feel protected by an invisible "bubble." Doing the right thing, leaving the car at home. It's 3:45 on a sunny afternoon. On your birthday? Outside your house? I'm only beginning to take it in. Poor Joan. Thank goodness her family is here and friends and neighbors are poised to help speed her recovery.

And I'll be trying to figure out what recourse we have to ensure this never happens in our neighborhood again.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pole Dancer

I'm still here! Just sort of enjoying the summer and redirecting energy toward Sustainable Bellevue and a Community Faire for Newport Hills.

This is Piper in full hiphop regalia--the "pi" sign on her shirt is her dancer-nym, courtesy of teacher Matt.

Unfortunately, the barber who has had his shop next to the dance studio for as long as I've lived here, has decided to move on. The Red Apple businesses continue to close, with a rumor that our beloved Sahara Pizza is next for the chop.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Streamliner in the Garden

I'm so sorry I haven't posted in such a long's a video of the house my father designed for my mom in Eugene, Oregon. It's two weeks from being finished.

House by Richard Smith for Nancy McFadden from Robin Bentley on Vimeo.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Morning in Wallingford

The lovely Marie, three years ago.
I had so much fun spending a morning in Wallingford yesterday. The synergy that you get in a comparatively dense neighborhood inspires me more than anything. Got to watch the crew for a Microsoft commercial at work across the street from my friend Marie's house. While I looked on from Marie's porch neighbor Basha strode up and proceeded to give me the most amazing headrub while the media crew looked on enviously. She's a professional masseuse who is fresh from a course on Indian head massage. Later we walked up to a three-year old grocery store (gearing up to celebrate their birthday with a big bash this weekend) which houses a fantastic deli/bakery and had a great lunch of pannini and soup while Marie's three year old ran up and down the aisles. In keeping with the bumble bee outfit he wore he was literally "abuzz" the entire time.

Here are Marie's kids with my Piper last weekend at our place.
Later her friend Anne walked in and greeted us. Now Anne is going to come talk to our newly-formed Sustainable Bellevue group about her passion, community gardens. And it turns out her husband is a McArthur fellow, which I found out because I commented on the cap she was wearing. "Dirt Matters", from a Willamette Valley winery, was emblazoned on the front. Her husband, David Montgomery, a geology prof at the UW, literally wrote the book on "Dirt"!

I hope Anne doesn't mind me posting this photo of her husband on my blog, but he is all over the internet, as I was to discover later.

Can't wait to start reading it!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Beachcombing 2

From the AP, Seattle Times, April 20

West Seattle, Washington: Garbage in stomach of dead whale includes sweatpants, golf ball, plastic bags, towels.

In a news release, scientists with the Cascadia Research Collective said the examination did not immediately determine why the 37-foot near-adult male died, but it was found to be in better nutritional condition than other gray whales that died recently...the animal had more than 50 gallons of material in its stomach.

Besides the pants and golf ball, the trash included more than 20 plastic bags, small towels, surgical gloves, plastic pieces and duct tape.

Last week I returned several times to "my beach" in Newport Hills, to pick up debris and photograph it. On my last visit I had to poke in the grass and horsetails inland to find trash--here it was all beer bottles and cans, mostly BudLite and Corona.

So when I read this article in yesterday's paper it felt personal, especially the "plastic pieces" part.

And now for the deep part, the eternal reminder: It's the little things, those of the least apparent consequence, that truly connect us to each other.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

Eastside Audubon was there, among many others:

The VFW parade:

Carol, Preston and Sean at Bellevue's Lewis Creek Earth Day-Arbor Day Celebration today:

Sammamish High's Environmental Warriors meet Bellevue's Mayor Don Davidson:

Nick, Brent and Kyla check out the pervious concrete display

The Mayor confers recognition and awards--spot the Carbon Yeti on the far left:

Happy Earth Day from Red Apple Elegy and Sustainable Bellevue!

At Pike Place Market

This guy was waiting patiently

As was this guy

And this guy

These two guys were rocking out as "Raw Corn"

And these two guys were discussing health care.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


At Newcastle Beach yesterday my eye was distracted from the gorgeous views by shiny colorful objects in the sand. I decided to start collecting them. Bottle caps, tiparillo filters, a lot of styrofoam and even a waterlogged boot. I was alone for a while, but then people became intrigued and joined me. A treasure hunt. Shiny bright colors.

It's just a little bit of beach, but now I feel like I own it. I also understand my dog's nature a bit better now--we're both just treasure hunters.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Day 2: St. Paul

"My generation of radicals and breakers-down never found anything to take the place of the old virtues of work and courage and the old graces of courtesy and politeness." F. Scott Fitzgerald, in a letter to his daughter Frances Scott "Scottie" Fitzgerald (July 1938)

Day 3: Weisman Museum (Gehry) to Guthrie Theatre (Nouvel)

Two cultural icons preside over opposite banks of the Mississippi: The Weisman Art Museum by Frank Gehry, currently in expansion mode, and the Guthrie Theatre by French Pritzker winner Jean Nouvel, upriver, in the Mill District.

Gehry's work employs the metaphors of the artist: waterfall and fish scales, reflectivity, playfulness and suits the busy multi-level intersection it marks. It teeters above the river, amid the cacophony of speeding cars below and the bustle of the student Union nearby. Bikes whiz by, separated from pedestrians.

Not only is it difficult to view because you're watching the bikes, other pedestrians, the river and its banks, but it is too close to the bridge to be regarded as you make your way across. It has to work to catch your eye, like hooking a shiny lure hooks a fish, and sometimes blinds the onlooker or oncoming driver in the process. It's aged like a bit of cheap jewelry, tarnished in spots, loose in places, and really what are those snowplow-eyelids for above the entrance doors? Does anything here serve a purpose?

In contrast, Nouvel's work sits in quiet repose, changing with great subtlety as you walk toward it, across the Stone Arch bridge. Here there was enough hydroelectric power to grind the nation's flour. A place to stop and contemplate, suited to the atmosphere of ruins, in the process of being preserved, below the waterfalls which brought Minneapolis into being. The birthplace of the Pillsbury Doughboy.