Thursday, November 30, 2017

Time To Subscribe To The Laurelhurst Security Patrol

The Laurelhurst Community Club (LCC), recently sent out a letter to all neighbors regarding  subscription to the Private Security Patrol, which covers the entire neighborhood area south of Sand Point Way from Mary Gates Way to NE 55th Street for $200 per year.

LCC told the Laurelhurst Blog Staff that the success of the patrol, now in its ninth year,  "depends on neighbor participation - the more families that subscribe, the more coverage the patrol can offer."

A uniformed, off-duty Seattle Police officers patrol the neighborhood approximately six nights/days a week for five hours each shift.  Nights and hours will vary depending on funding received. The officer carries a police radio and police firearms and drives an unmarked personal vehicle. The officer monitors incoming 911 calls and responds to neighborhood calls, vacation checks, while on patrol as well as working with the official response from the on-duty police officers.

To participate, neighbors can use LCC’s secure on-line payment option (preferred) at www.laurel­, or send a $200 check payable to LCC Laurelhurst Community Club, PMB #373, 4616 25th Ave. NE, Seattle, WA 98105.  When paying by check, include your name, address, email, and emergency contact information.   

The Stranger posted a recent article about neighborhood private security patrols.

In 2015, KIRO TV published a report on the Laurelhurst Neighborhood Security Patrol (below) and the Security Patrol was also mentioned in an article in the Seattle Times in November.

Here is the letter (in part) LCC recently sent out to neighbors:

We are renewing the Security Patrol for 2018! We have had very positive response to the program over the last nine years. LCC continues to do everything we can to deter burglaries, car prowls, auto thefts, and vandalism in Laurelhurst, which is why we are asking for your participation. 

Neighbors can join at any time during the year,  Coverage begins as soon as we can process your subscription. Neighborhood institutions such as schools, churches, etc. are encouraged to participate as well.   

The patrol has responded to several incidents over the years and have helped reduced parties in the park that can lead to vandalism in the neighborhood, stopped suspicious persons, and have provided tips at Block Watch meetings on how to better secure your home.  

The Security Patrol provides vacation checks when notified.  Officers will do a walk around of your premises during each shift and secure any open doors, exposed packages, or remove door tags. They call your emergency contact number with any concerns or leave an incident card for minor issues, for example, if they close your garage door.  Any neighbor concerns are relayed to officers before each shift.

For more information or for questions email 

All About Mergansers At Union Bay

Here is a recent post from the Union Bay Watch Blog published by Larry Hubbell, long-time local photographer and birder. 

Here also is an in-depth article about Larry and his work.

The look in this hooded merganser's eyes seems to invite the creation of captions. I can imagine the bird thinking, 'Seriously, with feet that large, you thought you could sneak up and take my picture?'

I do find that birds are aware of me long before I notice them. What seems to work best is to stop moving as soon as I see a bird. Often, when I become stationary, the bird will decide I am not a threat and return to whatever it was doing. This bird was preening and cleaning its tail feathers. 

It was especially fun to find and photograph hooded mergansers this week. It has been almost exactly six years since my first post - which, coincidently, was also about hooded mergansers. This makes sense because in November their numbers on Union Bay do seem to increase.

Here is an example of a male snorkeling for food. Unlike the western grebes which usually dive completely underwater when hunting, hooded mergansers sometimes hunt with just their eyes below the surface. This certainly seems like a dangerously exposed method of hunting. 

By the way if you happened to read last week's postElegant Assassins, before Martin Muller added his thoughts regarding western grebes, you may want to go back and read his post in the 'Comments' section. I found Martin's knowledge and comments fascinating.

Here is an example of the potential danger lurking high above the mergansers. Yesterday, Albert, the male eagle from the Broadmoor nest, was hanging out almost directly above the area where I photographed the mergansers. 

I was certain it was Albert when I saw, Eva, his  mate, pass by and inspire him to return to the nest. Given that female eagles are about fifty percent larger than the males, it was pretty obvious who was who.

Earlier in the day, a red-tailed hawk was stationed above the water on the other side of Foster Island. In both cases the windblown, leaf loss from the cottonwood trees is steadily improving their field of view.

Male hooded mergansers, with their large white-on-black cranial displays, sometimes 'telegraph' their moves.

When they begin lowering the feathers, and minimizing the white area, they are often preparing for action.

This file photo provides an example. When the top knot is minimized and the head is lowered close to the body, they are often about to dive.

On the other hand, when they extend their necks and maximize their displays, they are not thinking about food. In this situation I have always assumed they are trying to impress their mates. Although, it actually looks like the males are focused on each other while the females completely ignore their antics.

Regardless of their motives, I find these 'mating' displays joyful and refreshing, especially during the gray days of November. 

By the way, I don't ever remember hearing merganser calls. The two recordings, which I found on All About Birds, sound a bit like a frog and a raven. It makes me think I should pay closer attention. Maybe I have heard them in the past but not actually realized who was making the sound. In the future, I plan to listen more carefully when I am in their neighborhood.

I also found this wood duck and the surrounding yellow reflections to be a nice antidote to the grey clouds of fall.

This clean and pristine pair of gadwalls also attracted my attention. I don't ever remember seeing a male gadwall with so much white on its lower face and neck. I suspect it must be just individual variation. It may not be rare, but it is certainly striking.

Another refreshing surprise was to finally catch up with Goldie again. It has been a couple of months since I last saw her. It may be wishful thinking, but I do think her iris is looking a tiny bit more red. You can read more about her eye-color in the post, Elderberry Whine.

When I compare her eyestripe in the previous photo to this photo, from earlier in the year, I feel pretty confident this is the same bird. Plus, the fact that she is in the same territory also supports my thought. However, I was disappointed that I did not notice her mate, Chip, hanging around with her.

This last photo is less about the bird and more about the two swathes of parallel fall colors and reflections. I hope you enjoy it! By the way do not overlook the new surprise under the Going Native section below.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Smash and Grab Incident In Front Of Varlamos Restaurant

The Laurelhurst Blog received this information:

On Thursday, November 9, I was parked in front of Varlamos on NE 45th Street while my wife and I had a quick dinner.   
While we were inside, a thief or thieves smashed our rear left passenger window.  They reached in and stole two of my computer work bags with my computers and other work and personal items.  
My car was parked behind a large white panel van that was gone when we returned so my assumption is that we were being cased.  
I have reported this information to the police. 
A reminder to hide all valuables even on a busy street like NE 45th Street.  

Local Birder And Union Bay Blog Writer Having Saturday Beginning Bird Walk

Larry Hubbell, long-time local photographer and birder, is having a beginner’s Bird Walk among the trees of the Arboretum and along the shores of Union Bay, on Saturday from 9-11am.

The information says:

The paths are generally level however boots may be helpful and binoculars will be essential. Families are welcome but please leave pets at home.   
Meet at the Graham Visitors Center Parking Lot, (2300 Arboretum Drive East) at the Washington Park Arboretum.

Larry publishes regularly in his Union Bay Watch Blog about bird sightings at Laurelhurst's Union Bay.  Here also is an in-depth article about Larry and his work.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Speeding Drivers Reported Throughout The Neighborhood

one of two new speed radar signs
on NE 45th Street

The Laurelhurst Blog received this information from a neighbor:

As I was approaching the intersection of NE Surber Drive and 42nd Avenue NE on November 16th, my car was almost struck by a white Subaru rounding the corner going about 35 miles per hour as I was turning turning onto 42nd Avenue NE.  

Several years ago a resident on NE Surber Drive contacted the Laurelhurst Blog Staff wondering how effective the speed cushions are because he has seen cars, especially larger vehicles, such as SUVS, avoiding the speed cushions, thus still being able to maintain a high rate of speed. 

The speed cushions, which are three inches high, were installed in  December of 2011 between NE 41st Street and 41st Avenue NE, due to numerous neighbors raising concerns about speeding cars over the last several years. 

One neighbor at the time commented:

At the yield sign at Surber Drive and 42nd Avenue NE there used to be round bumps (I'm sure there is another name for them) and painted stripes to the right of the yield sign. Drivers going right onto 42nd Avenue NE cut to the right of the sign and sometimes even pass cars that are turning right from the correct side of the sign. Twice I have even witnessed drivers coming from Webster Point area and turning left onto Surber left of the sign on the left side of the road. Very scary!

The City installed the speed cushions after more than 60 percent of affected neighbors signed a petition submitted in July of the same year.  The well-travelled corridor had been on SDOT’s priority funding list and SDOT told the Laurelhurst Community Club  at the time that funds were finally available to "address the relatively high speeds." 

Another frequent area of speeding is NE 41st Street commonly known as "Suicide Hill,"  the very steep hill on NE 41st Street between 42nd Avenue NE and 43rd Avenue NE.  Neighbors report speeders driving in excess of 50mph down the hill. 

The Laurelhurst Blog posted many comments received by neighbors and others who frequently use that street. 

In 2013 a neighbor commented:
We came across a car wreck at the cross streets of NE 41st Street and 43rd Avenue NE. Ever since we moved in almost two years ago, I frequently cross NE 41 Street from 43rd Avenue NE. Every time I cross that street I'm thankful I made it safely. I often thought it might take an accident for the City to put stop signs on the 45th Street  sides, both east and west. Perhaps the unfortunate accident will make this happen. 

Several years ago the Laurelhurst Blog reported about a dog that was struck and killed by a speeding driver on NE 41st Street and in  December the Blog reported about two car accidents, one in which one person was taken away in an ambulance and the other the speeding driver lost control and hit the median sending one tired into the fence at Talaris and knocking part of it down.

Robin, who works on road safety with the Laurelhurst Community Club, has  over many years witnessed accidents and near misses around Suicide Hill.  He has been working to improve the safety in that area over the last few years.

Speeding around Laurelhurst Elementary School has also been seen.  In February a  parent that lives near  Laurelhurst Elementary School reported  that he often see teens speeding and/or texting while driving through the School zone. 

NE 45th Street is also another frequent speeding corridor.  In September, Children's Hospital worked with SDOT to permanently install speed radar signs on NE 45th Street in both directions, towards the bottom of the hill. Children's Hospital initiated the request, to Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to improve traffic safety, after a pedestrian was struck at the intersection of NE 45th Street and 40th Avenue NE, in March of last year.

In Seattle, the speed limit on all residential (non-arterial) streets is 20mph.  The speed limit on arterial streets is 25mph, unless otherwise posted. 

Starting Friday Center For Urban Horticulture Annual Holiday Craft And Gift Sale At Mliler Library

December craft sale

Miller Library, located in Laurelhurst at the UW Botanic Gardens (3501 NE 41st Street), is having its annual exhibit and holiday gift sale starting Friday, with a reception from 5-7pm,  through December 23rd.

The information says:

Get your shopping done early and find unique hand-made gifts.  We’ll have a selection of locally made arts and crafts available for purchase at the Miller Library. 25% of proceeds benefit the Miller Library.  
Artists participating this year are:
Katie Hooper's hand-crafted botanical salves
Syd de Baca's veggie art tea towels, mugs & aprons 
Jenny Craig's witty letterpress paper goods 
Molly Hashimoto's prints, cards and watercolors 
Dorothy Crandell's statement stone-bead necklaces
For more information go here.  

Monday, November 27, 2017

Childrens Book Nook Open At Community Center

The Laurelhurst Community Center’s New Children’s Library recently opened. 

In October, Cara, Laurelhurst Community Center Recreation Coordinator started collecting books from the community to start a Little Library Book Nook for kids ages 0-5 located in the downstairs lobby in a cozy area for young kids and their grownups to enjoy reading together.  

Cara told the Laurelhurst Blog Staff: 

Thanks to generous donations from community members and the support of the Laurelhurst Community Center Advisory Council, we were able to open the Book Nook.  Children have been enjoying the new space as a place to read together, color, play games and gather with friends.
The idea was originally suggested by a patron on our online survey and staff decided that it was a nice idea to serve the community.  

There is  a lot of open space downstairs where it is quiet as well as comfortable furniture, such as couches, chairs and small tables and “bistro” style table/chairs. Lighting was added to make the space brighter and a cozy atmosphere.  
There is also a self-serve Keurig coffee cart, hot chocolate and small snacks available for purchase at the front desk from .50-$1.
The Book Nook is funded through donations of books from the community and by the Laurelhurst Advisory Council.
The book nook is open Monday through Friday 9am-2pm.  
If you have a book or two that you would like to donate to please drop them off from 9-2pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays or 9-8pm on Mondays and Wednesdays. We are continuing to collect book donations on an ongoing basis as an effort to keep the shelves full of new books. 

November 2017 Plant Profile: ‘Profusion’

Each month the UW Botanic Gardens' Newsletter, E-Flora, posts in detail about a specific plant, among many other interesting posts about events and general information.

This month's feature is celeriac or celery root which is growing at the UW Farm located at the Center for Urban Horticulture.

Here is the posting:

Friday, November 17, 2017

All About Western Grebes At Union Bay

Here is a recent post from the Union Bay Watch Blog published by Larry Hubbell, long-time local photographer and birder. 

Here also is an in-depth article about Larry and his work.

Elegant Assassins
The sharp precision of the bill, the laser-like focus of the eyes and the long, thin neck give western grebes the appearance of elegant assassins. In the fall, when these grebes return to Union Bay our local fish should be scared. 

I find it hard to imagine more elegant creatures. The evenly distributed dark and light coloring, off set by the bright eyes and the yellow bill, provide a salve for our souls during the dark days of fall and winter.

Surprisingly, when a western grebe looks you in the eye its, elegance evaporates. The full frontal view seems to amplify their intensity. Perhaps this fearless stare inspired the phrase, 'If looks could kill...'

On the other hand, when they relax and paddle in silent circles they look like little toy boats, and it can be very hard to imagine their deadly intentions for aquatic life.

When they stand up in the water, to flap their wings and dry off a bit, you can see how the coloring of their bodies is evenly divided. They are dark above and light below.

When viewed from below, their white bellies must help them blend in with the sky. Their dark backs help make them less obvious, when seen from above. This type of countershading can also be referred to as Thayer's Law. You can read more about Thayer and his life's work by Clicking Here.

Their wings appear to have a similar distribution of color.

With their feet attached at the rear of their bodies, they can not only stand up in the water, but they can also roll their bodies sideways while paddling about. This 90 degree turn puts the grebe's belly on one side and its back on the other while their head and neck remain vertical.

This is particularly handy when preening and cleaning feathers which are normally positioned below the waterline.

It can also be helpful when attempting to scratch the back of the head. It looks like every inch of the long neck is required for this endeavor.

I am guessing this grebe has finished resting and is stretching its mouth before resuming its feeding activities.

This assumption was reinforced when the bird's next immediate action was to stretch its neck and wings.

Catching a grebe in the process of diving is quite a challenge. Normally, by the time I am aware that they are beginning to dive, they are gone, leaving only a gentle ripple on the surface of the water.

When they come up from a dive they sometimes rid themselves of excess water by shaking like a dog. I must admit that in the case of a canine, the ears flapping from side to side adds a certain element humor. The elegant grebes apparently have no use for humor, or large flapping ears.

Even though western grebes are generally found in groups, or colonies, they do require a certain amount of elbow room. This bird is coiling its neck and preparing to chase off, or strike out at a bird which has encroached on its personal space.

I have yet to see another bird with the courage to stand and fight when faced with the sharp, spear-like bill of an irritated western grebe.

I felt like I could almost hear this coot saying, 'Run, run as fast as you can...'

' can't catch me I'm the gingerbread man!'

In the past I have only seen from one to three grebes at a time on Union Bay. In October, I was excited to see eight of them swimming near the shell house. Yesterday I spoke with Ingrid, who has seen as many as ten this fall. My friend Andy Jacobson, from my Master Birder class, mentioned that over 300 have been seen at Magnuson Park this weekend. I certainly hope this means their wintering numbers are increasing in the Seattle area. 

All About Birds states that western grebes are particularly sensitive to pesticides. If you find these birds as beautiful and elegant as I do, you can help increase their odds of survival by utilizing organic or mechanical methods of pest control.

Have a great day on Union Bay...where nature lives in the city!

Laurelhurst Blog Staff On Vacation Next Week

The Laurelhurst Blog staff will be on vacation next week and will resume posting on November 27th, 2017.

In the meantime, please keep sending us your informative emails, story ideas and comments. We look forward to responding upon our return.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Sixth Annual Neighborhood Thanksgiving Turkey Trot Fundraiser

The 6th Annual Laurelhurst Turkey Trot, open to all ages, is happening on Thanksgiving Day. Participants should meet at 8:45am at the NE 45th Street overpass. Last year over 300 neighbors participated.

The information says:

Join your family  friends and neighbors for a very casual and informal 5K Fun Run/Walk that zig zags through Laurelhurst following a course map given at the start.   
Bring your family, dog, or pet turkey and be prepared to burn some calories and have good time before the Thanksgiving stuffing.  

We are collecting donations of non perishable food for the University Food Bank or cash/check donations.

We are looking for volunteers! If you do not want to do the Turkey Trot, but interested in volunteering to help coordinate or direct traffic, please contact Brian Larson at 206-681-0826, or e-mail at
Katie, a Laurelhurst native, said she got the idea for a Turkey Trot from when she lived in Glen Ellyn, a small town, outside of Chicago for a few years before returning to the neighborhood. The town has of local events, including their Annual Turkey Trot.

And six years ago, Kate's husband, Brian, suggested they host a fun run, which they mirrored after the Glen Ellyn event. One hundred neighbors showed up for the walk also filled an SUV full of food donations for the Food Bank.

Saturday Union Bay Natural Area Bird Walk

The Seattle Audubon Society is having a bird walk from 9-11am on Saturday at the Union Bay Natural Area, led by Julia Hansbrough and Jill Ericsson .

Participants are to meet at the Center for Urban Horticulture in the East parking lot off NE 41st Street, E-1, near the greenhouse.

Go here for more information. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Neighbor Reports Vehicles Blocking Alleys, Prohibited In Seattle Municipal Code

The Laurelhurst Blog received this information from a neighbor about blocking driveways:
I'm a resident on the 3800 block of 42nd Avenue NE.  For those of you having contractors or other delivery people using the alleys, please have them keep a person immediately nearby to move their vehicle.  
There have now been multiple times where the alley has been blocked on both ends, with no one near the vehicles.  This has forced us to be late picking up our kids at school.

Seattle City Municipal Codes states on loading and blocking alleys:

Section 11.72.025No person shall stop, stand or park a vehicle within an alley in such a position as to block the driveway entrance to any abutting property.” (RCW 46.90.433(2)

Section 11.72.020No person shall stand or park a vehicle except a commercial vehicle, a vehicle displaying a valid commercial loading permit, or authorized emergency vehicle in an alley.”
Section 11.74.010No person shall stop, stand or park a commercial vehicle or a vehicle displaying a valid commercial loading permit in any alley for any purpose or length of time other than the expeditious unloading and delivery or pickup and loading of property and then in no case shall such parking for loading and unloading of property exceed thirty (30) minutes.

For more information on Seattle Municipal Codes go here

Learn About Leaving A Legacy Monday At NEST Cafe

North East Seattle Together

NEST (Northeast Seattle Together), which supports Northeast Seattle elder neighbors through a network of volunteers and vendors, is holding its monthly NEST Cafe Series on Monday at 2pm on the topic "They Don’t Want Your Stuff, They Want Your Stories!" at the Magnuson Park Brig.

The information says:
What legacy will you leave with your family and friends? Will it be the things of your life – your grandmother’s antique desk, your wedding china and silver, the money you set aside for your grandchildren’s education? Or will it be the stories of your life – lessons learned over a lifetime, and the messages of love and appreciation to those most dear to you? Too often we focus only on the objects and financial aspects of our legacy and neglect the preservation of our stories and the wisdom gained from our life experiences. 
Join Eva Dougherty, owner of Smooth Transitions of Seattle, and Kathy Englert, owner of Your Story Unfolded, as they discuss the concept of legacy and share the surprising results of studies in this area. They’ll help answer the question “What do I do with all my stuff?” and provide strategies for preserving items with financial and sentimental value. 
They’ll also provide you with a variety of ideas for capturing and preserving the important stories and lessons of your life. During the presentation, you’ll pair up with another attendee and share your own stories. 
Think about an object you own that has a great story associated with it. If your object is relatively small, please bring it with you. 

NEST is a non-profit grassroots operation serving NE Seattle seniors by creating a "virtual village" to helping them be able to stay in their own homes and neighborhoods they love. Volunteers provide companionship, care, as well as help seniors with a wide range of services, including gardening, computer help and more. to seniors aging in their homes. Ongoing classes (fitness, etc) are also offered, as well as access to events, transportation services, and various services (such as estate planners) who provide their services at a discount to members.