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Go Away Taggers!

I received an email last week from a concerned reader that I wanted to try to get addressed (you guys are so on the ball- I love that!) To compliment all of the car break-in's around town, it appears that some graffiti 'artists' or 'taggers' have taken a liking to Kirkland as well.  This vandalism has been Tagger_001 spotted on historic informational signs at Juanita Bridge, memorial benches, vacant  homes and construction site trailers lately.  Not to mention the one pictured left that I drive past 20 times a day on Market Street which makes me feel like I'm living a scene from "The Wire."  The best deterrent is swift removal, so if you see these markings around town you should dial our Anti-Graffiti Hotline at 425-587-3824.  There is a full time person that is responsible for searching/destroying graffiti in Kirkland and it's their goal to remove the markings within 24 hours of you reporting it. Of course, if it's on private property that person is responsible for removal, and sometimes it takes a bit longer when PSE or King County property gets defaced.

Tagging1 Rex Caldwell of the Kirkland PD told me that "tagging" is mostly what is going on in Kirkland which means it is more of a contest of imagination for the offender as opposed to being gang related.  Last year there were 21 case reports for tagging  and we have 11 so far this year (most of which are from school resource officers).   The number of tags are increasing from last year with 1248 in Q1 and 1519 in Q2 (yes, every one is logged).   Most frequent instances seem to be around Peter Kirk Park and our beloved bus station there and surrounding areas.  If you see an offense in progress, try to snap a picture of the creep on your cell phone and call 911.  But if you see tags around town that need attention, call or email the hotline (587-3TAG).  And if you notice that your teenage kid has lots of tags and drawings all over their room and notebooks, it may be time to have a little talk.        ~j

The Heathman Left Us Hanging

Heathmandone We've enjoyed some nice meals and lots of fabulous drinks (real lemon drops!) at Trellis in the Heathman Hotel in Kirkland since it's opening, but hadn't yet spent a night there.  We were really looking forward to the opportunity and I was SO hoping this post would have lots of raves about staying there but we have to admit that it fell short of our expectations. 

We bought a certificate for a night at The Heathman at a recent auction that we attended.   For Steve's 47th birthday (haha, he's going to kill me) I thought it would be a fun surprise to have my sister watch the kids while we spend the night in downtown Kirkland.  I called the reservation desk, but turns out since it's a gift certificate, I have to book the room through the manager, Chris, whom I left 2 messages for and never called me back.  I was getting a bit nervous as our date was approaching, so finally, when I called the front desk again and insisted someone help me, they apologized and immediately booked a room for us.  Perfect! 

Images21 It's a hot day and Steve was going to meet me in the bar for a drink when I arrived.  When I pulled up, there was no valet in sight (the Heathman has no self-parking) so I proceeded to get out of my car and schlep our bags in myself.   The woman at the desk started to check me in and ask if I needed any help with my bags (I did 5 minutes ago).   I thought it was a nice touch that she actually walked me to the room, but when we got there she opened the door and said, this is verbatim, "OH CRAP!"  Behind her I could see tasseled sheets in a disheveled room.  We decided to walk back down and either wait for it to be cleaned or find us another room.  I told her we'd be in the bar and she could just bring me the key once they were ready (I was told check-in was 3, and at this point it was 5pm). 

After 2 rounds of drinks and a yummy cheese plate, there was still no sign of anyone bringing our keys so I went to check on the situation.  Oh yes, our room was ready!  It was the same room she brought me to the first time, but back in order now.  Except for the handwritten note on the shelf from the 'personal concierge' that was addressed to "Mrs. Wolfe" who clearly is not me or Steve.  We got a chuckle out of how the note spoke of service still 'being an art' because it was growing evident that the art was a bit sloppy in these parts.  The room was nice, though, definitely along the lines of a "W Hotel" with contemporary fixtures and a big fluffy bed and flat panel TV minus the DVD/CD players.  Nice touch that the doors actually opened onto the mini balcony so you could check out what was happening downtown and enjoy a little breeze.  There was also a super cool electronic doorbell system on the room too that you could set for service/do not disturb.  Very George Jetson.

Stevebday_001 We got up at 5:30am to go water-skiing/wakeboarding since it's something we never get to do together (there's the bday boy, photo rt), but still remembered to call for a late check-out.   It's normally at noon, but we asked for a 1pm checkout---btw, most hotels let you do this if you just ask!  They said that would be fine, which I was hoping would be the case so we could get back and have some room service for breakfast and get showered up.  There's a nice coffee press set-up in the room, so we both ordered omelettes and juice to go with it which was all delicious.  Great water pressure in the shower too.  The front desk called at 12:30 asking if we'd like to extend our stay at which point I explained we had called for a late checkout and they realized their mistake. 

Overall, we enjoyed our stay and would never complain about having an evening away by ourselves.  Here's a shoutout to Aunt Sara for taking our 3 kids for the weekend!  But the series of small blunders that we experienced would make me hesitate to recommend this experience to a friend (and you are all my friends now).  Seems like the left hand didn't quite know what the right hand was doing.  The key for me is to be able to deliver on what you promise- and The Heathman prides itself on excellent service.  If I went to a Motel 6 where their motto is "we'll leave the light on for you," then all I would expect is for a light to be on when I got there.   But when you tout personal service, people walk in expecting a higher standard. 

Images26 The kicker was when we checked out, the gentleman asked us how our stay went.   I was so glad he did this, because nothing is worse than having a disappointed customer and not even knowing it.  Now we would put the ball in their court and give them an opportunity to respond- a glimmer of hope for redemption.   Instead, he was empathetic but took no action.  "Wow.  I'm sorry you guys.  I know when one thing happens it's not a big deal, but if a couple things happen that can really ruin the stay."  And that was it.  No going to get a manager.  No promise of a follow-up phone call or a comped breakfast or anything but his recognition that this was a bummer. He did say he'd mention it to his manager, at which point we asked if it would be the same manager that never called us back in the first place when we were making our reservation.  Both he and his counterpart behind the desk found this comment amusing.  So off we went.  Please please tell me you have had a better experience.  I wanted this to be a happy story, but it seems like I should just stick to my lemon drops at the bar. ~j

Turns out Jason is the Real Deal

Images10 Ladies, your laser vision is spot on.  You never know how much of those shows are Hollywood hype, and I'm kinda nosy, so I had to find out for myself.  But after spending an hour talking with Kirkland resident Jason Mesnick, from this season's  "Bachelorette" on ABC, I came to the conclusion that this guy really is the sincere, positive, upbeat super Dad he appeared to be.  There were no camera tricks here.

I was curious about the show and how things really happen.  Like, how do you get on the show in the first place? Turns out Jason's friend Bevin Powers was on The Bachelor (runner-up, in fact!) and he thought it was something he'd be willing to try.  He filled out the application and didn't hear anything for a year and a half!  They kept him in the dark until the last minute.  By the way, the finale for him was on May 9th, so there's actually about a 2 month lag time from when it 'really' happened to when we all saw it happen.  Could you imagine falling in love, asking someone to marry you and getting turned down without being allowed to talk to ANYONE about it?!? I call my husband if I find a shiny quarter on the sidewalk. Jason confirmed, "You really can't say anything b/c you have to assume everyone trusts at least one person."  He did mention that the producers were really supportive and strongly believe in the process and love.  How about those cameras?  "For the first kiss I felt the cameras, but not after that." I thought it was interesting too that Jason didn't see the show until it aired.  He would be completely entitled to watch it at home in the dark with a bottle of Jack Daniel's, but he viewed the episodes with family, then work friends, even with a group of guy friends that left happy hour early to go see it.  What a good sport!

Jason said it gave him closure to see DeAnna and Jesse so happy.  "They are so into each other.  You have to be happy for them- they really are in love," he says.  I call him out on his very kind but overly PC answer and he concedes in his chipper tone, " I still wish she would have picked me."   But then he explained when he saw how DeAnna looked at Jesse, he knew she didn't look at him like that.  "And I need that look," he said.  The post finale show was when he got to see the last episode re-play, and even though he thought he did his healing, it was difficult to see it again.  And then to have to go out and face DeAnna (in front of all of us!) must have taken some real strength. Our bachelor raves about the experience and all of the new friends he's made along the way.  He still maintains friendships with many of the guys including Graham, Jesse and Brian. 

And now to the juicy stuff you're waiting for. :-) 

Jason has not had a date since the show because he wants to make sure he's over DeAnna, but thinks he's getting close (I know--how close!?  a week?  a month? close enough?) He's looking for someone he has a connection with, someone with a "life spark, a passion for life.  Someone OK with meeting new people, enjoying new places, things, kids." When asked if he wants more kids I barely finished my question before he exclaimed "definitely more kids!"  And Kirklanders- he promises he's not going Images22 Hollywood on us, so keep your eyes peeled around town.  If you are lucky enough to go out with him, he'd likely be in a shorts and a tee shirt with plans to head to Santorini (one of our faves too!) for some Greek food and a walk in the park.  If you see him out, I might advise you to send him a beer or a scotch to start up a conversation.  Or you could talk about how Ty's favorite color is red and Jason thinks orange and brown deserve a chance.  Or what kind of Michael Jackson dance moves he might have since he loves 80's music. 

This guys is the real deal- so down to earth I felt like he was an old friend by the time we wrapped up.  When I was asking how he'll go about selecting other women to go out with he said, "What would you do if you were me?"  Uh-I don't know- so many choices but how do you go about it? I offered to be his personal dating supervisor-haha-that might be fun (no, my friends do not get priority!!).  I wouldn't be all that surprised, though, if we saw him as the next Bachelor. There's a poll on the website and Jason's got 64% of the votes right now. "Nobody has said anything to me," says Jason, "but it would be a cool experience.  I wouldn't leave Ty for long, but I would definitely consider it."

There are a couple of ways you can reach out to Jason- fanofjason@gmail.com (he wants you to know he didn't choose the name, LOL) or he also has a Facebook Fan Support Group.  This big hearted guy wants to respond to everyone, but I can't keep up with his fan mail on this blog so I can't fathom how he could.   And I think I'm over being mad at him for not having any shots of Kirkland in the 'home visit' episode.  Production timing, crews and coordination didn't work out that way, so I told him he owes us, the people of Kirkland, some photos of him from around town and we'd forgive him.    ~j

Oh no, Jason !! Kirkland Still Loves You......

Images4 I am drained from watching 3 hours of "Bachelorette" stuff tonight (seriously, can they net this stuff out a bit more?).  I was going to wait til tomorrow to write a post, but when I checked my computer we have over 1000 hits (half of which are from the last 2 hours) and a gazillion notes piling in from empathetic and looking-for-love women all over the U.S. So I wanted to get my thoughts in while they are fresh in my mind, and give you all a space to weigh in with yours. 

My stomach was in knots for Jason, whom we all thought was the clear winner but in true reality TV style, they tricked us again.  A friend sent me a note yesterday blaming me for getting her hooked on the show and rooting for our hometown guy.  Her comment was "he seems like the natural winner...which is why I'm guessing he probably loses. This will break my heart." 

It appears his heart was broken too.  I welled up as I watched him bite his bottom lip to keep from crying.  Loved the way he had the guts to ask her some tough questions in the post-show interview and even called DeAnna out by saying how she 'didn't look at him that way.'  Which I noticed too.  Early on, darn it, I was hoping they just edited it out.  But, Jesse?  REALLY?  Seriously?  Jason seemed to have all the right stuff- a mature, handsome, fun, handsome,  good head on his shoulders handsome guy.  He even took his rejection with class and dignity- a stand-up man without his body armor.  Jesse must have slipped DeAnna a roofie b/c the snowboarder dude just wasn't doing anything for me.  My mom was squawking and bellowing "Oh no!  You've got to be kidding?!?" and from looking at Jesse's expressions it appears he can hardly believe his own good fortune. 

Jason's heart will heal.  And there is one thing I am sure of:  This Kirkland man will not be hurting for a date anytime soon.  Actually, given the responses we have received for him, I hope that ABC equips him with some sort of security detail or a taser at the very least.  Should Jason be the next "Bachelor?"  I dunno- I think it should be Jeremy so that Jason can pick up the pieces, spend some quality time with Ty,  and weed through the resumes that are showing up at his front door.   To Jason, thanks for being such a positive representation of a Kirklander and opening up our hearts.  We're glad you're here and hope you find love again! ~j

ps- I'm hoping to have the chance to interview Jason once ABC PR clears it.  If you have specific questions you'd like answers to (that are not self-serving) please send to kirklandweblog@gmail.com . As for comments, put 'em here- I'll make sure he reads :-)

Celebrating the 4th Kirkland Style!

Fourthofjuly_010 It wasn't that long ago that Kirkland didn't have its big parade and fireworks celebration.  I have to admit that we've always taken for granted that there is this day of community camaraderie exploding with patriotism and good cheer.  Everything magically comes together, it seems, as the children all pedal their decorated bikes, the drum beat moves your body and each creative float glides by tossing treats at the thousands of bystanders. 

2008fourthofjuly_004 Steve and I lucked out this year.  After a fun and exhausting (and a bit chilly!) morning with the kids at the parade, we had a babysitter for the evening and rallied for the fireworks show at Marina Park.  We slid onto the outdoor patio of The Grape Choice for a glass of wine and some conversation with Penny Sweet (photo left), who owns the shop with her husband, Larry Springer, who is a State Representative.   If you don't already know Penny, she is like an omniscient queen of Kirkland-in the know on everything and everyone-- and how and Fourthofjuly_018why and where. 

And it turns out it is not actually magic that makes our 4th of July happen. Penny started the idea back in 2000 when the city government was a bit divided (uh, kinda like now? Did you see the city council's divided float?) and it seemed like a great way to re-infuse the city with a sense of community.  As first lady to the mayor at the time, she was ready to step it up a notch, not to mention it was also the millennium and something special was in order!  After ten years at it, Penny says she thinks it's still 'the best thing we do in Kirkland all year."  This time around, we had approximately 40,000 people at our NASA themed celebration.  All in, the day costs about $80K.  A majority of the funding is covered by grants and donations.  The city funds most of the fireworks--about $35k of the total number. 

Fourthofjuly_003 Penny had some extra dock passes so we were able to watch the fireworks show from the city dock which was pretty spectacular.  What an amazing show!  And part of the delight for me was hearing Penny's commentary that went something like this as our chests thumped with the sounds of the explosions:  "That's my favorite part, when all the kids go ooooohhhhhhhh!" and then "That one was so pretty!  I ordered that one!" she squealed.  Her enthusiasm was that of an eight year old and you couldn't help but share her excitement.  It really put a new spin on it for me, to realize how vested she is in that day, the efforts that she and her team (Dan, Kellie, Elke and many volunteers) put in and how much they all care about Kirkland.   It's a really big job, so I thought I'd take a minute to publicly say "THANK YOU" to Penny and all of those that helped in making the Fourth of July so special for Kirkland!  By the way, she's already thinking about ideas for next year's theme, so if you have some ideas go ahead and comment or send an email to kirklandweblog@gmail.com .   ~j

Kirkland Blogs Get Some Print (and Jason gets another rose)

Logo_kirkland Kendall Watson of the Kirkland Reporter did an article in this week's paper about the growing popularity of blogs and online forums that focus on local content and discussions. He invited our whole family down for a chat and photos, which I agreed to so long as they had a slimming lense and could airbrush the dark circles under our eyes (we had just moved the day before). :-)
Seriously, I think it is cool that a printed medium is supportive and promoting local online resources for the community. I'm also pretty sure I said about six intelligent sentences prior to the 'fork in the eye' comment, but it's possible I didn't. My point was that we love writing about things in Kirkland that we find interesting, funny and sometimes thought-provoking (or pot-stirring??). As long as you guys are enjoying it, we will keep on writing!
And since Kendall mentioned Jason, our Kirkland " Bachelorette" guy, I should also let you know that we ran into him again. He's so darn cute I keep forgetting to snap a picture for you. He was just enjoying a sunny day at Marina Park with his son. When I said 'hello' poor little Ty was instantly peeved, which is understandable when you're 3 and suddenly every adult in town stops to chat up your dad. Did you watch Monday night? I thing our Kirkland boy might win the girl! We were caught off guard when DeAnna gave Jessie a rose. Then she had to choose between Jason and Jeremy and my heart was breaking for Jason as his lip quivered and we all thought he might be toast (she's had the hots for Jeremy since the beginning). Now it's down to the Final 2, so Jason (woohoo!) and Jessie the snowboarder dude (booooo!) get to join her in her hometown. Don't miss the finale on Monday at 8pm on ABC. Go Jason Go! ~Janis

ps- don't forget to hit the NASA themed 4th of July parade on Friday at 11:30 downtown. See you there! j