Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Library's Discard Pile

Dumpster full of paperback books, torn by hand, and filled to the brim.

How to use $5 million new tax dollars at the Library or isn't it nice that they recycle (?)
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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Renton Library - The good, the bad and the ugly

To be sure, there is always a good side to every new change and challenge, so let me start out with the good news where the Renton Public Library is concerned. After losing the vote to save our local library and Renton joining the ranks of the King County Library System, our library has gotten extended hours, access to the stacks at any KCLS branch (and there are over 40 of them) and my personal favorite, the ability to apply for a Seattle Public Library card for free (that's a $75 savings, folks.)

The KCLS system will finally be fully integrated with the Renton Public Library's system by this Monday, so all interested can get the new hybrid card, allowing you to check out books from KCLS and Renton's two branches. It is one of the cooler things to come out of this venture - it has a photo of our statue seen above on it and remains the same color of green. I plan to get right in there at the beginning of next week to get mine. I am glad that this transition is almost to an end. It didn't look like fun for anyone.

Now for the bad. The library has become - well, loud. You can use your cell phone and no offense, but the days of the quiet "shushing" librarian are gone. Some of them are the worst culprits and I kinda liked it when you had to be considerate of others who were reading and such.
Soon there will be a total of 28 computers (kinda good) and a lot of tables will be taken out. Guess it's more important to take your books elsewhere and browse.

You may notice that the electronic stanchions that stood at the entrance and exit have been removed and the books are no longer scanned in that fashion to prevent theft. Not the way KCLS does business. DVD's will soon be left out on the shelves, cases open, and any theft of stock from the stacks comes under the "acceptable loss" terms of the budget. Man - I think they should have just kept those electronic babies up. Keep everyone on their best behavior if you know what I mean. I hate having to pay taxes for books you know are gonna walk more frequently now. I even hate writing this and revealing the truth of the less than safe status of our books.

Now for the UGLY. These are all the books that I saw, torn apart by human hands, and left in the recycling bin outside the library's side door today. This container is FULL. Not left to the new secondhand bookstore that Renton finally saw it's doors open last week. Not for the much diminished sale shelves of books the library sets out, and not for Renton River Days when many of us have fond memories of buying discarded library books with relish.

There are comment forms on the head librarian's desk should you find anything you would like to see addressed heard and considered. I am going to fill one out today. I miss my local librarians, who now have schedules that force them to work in other branches instead of just at ours (the "cluster system is what it is called and as yet, I don't see the merits of it) and whom seem to be rather tentatively weathering the changing of the guard. Things seem to have gone from a generous "we" to a insular "ME" in the way things are run. Sigh.

I guess it just sucks not to have as much say in our local library. I wish that weren't the case. I am still available for "silver lining" moments. Chin up and all. I'll keep you posted.

Renton Public Library
100 Mill Avenue South
Renton, WA 98057
Phone: 425-430-6610
Regular Hours:
Monday to Thursday: 10:00 am to 9:00 pm
Friday and Saturday: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
Sunday: 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Ohh, the books, the books

The return of the independent bookstore to Renton is finally here - and the wait was well worth it. 11 year veteran of McDonald's Book Exchange in Redmond, Dacia Hanson opened her doors this week in the Louisa Building on Wells Ave. S. in a lovely space and shelves that are filling rapidly.

With an emphasis on reasonable prices and customers bringing in books for exchange and credit in the store, now is a great time to spring clean at home. A cool bonus is that your credit will be honored at the sister store in Redmond, owned by Dacia's friend and previous employer, Ann St.Germaine. Though two separate businesses, the idea for this Renton store began when Ann and Dacia noted that McDonald's Book Exchange had enough books coming through the door to fill another shop. Customers from as far away as Olympia and Chehalis were coming to exchange their books on the store's generous terms, so obviously there was a large market that was still yet to be tapped.

All genres are represented at the shop, though a steady overturn in the Romance section is to be expected. Already boasting a good selection of Philip Roth books, a couple of vintage editions of Black Beauty and volume one and two of Art Speigelman's Maus, Dacia is pleased with the growth her new shop has already seen.

If you don't see her as often as you would like this week - it's because she had a car accident recently and is working on getting a new set of wheels. I can already tell that it will not be long before both Dacia and her shop feel like old friends in the DTR.

Old Renton Book Exchange
227 Wells Ave. South

425.430.BOOK / 425.430.2665

Across the street from the bookstore, Dawn Finn has opened the doors of her thrift and swap shop and is now accepting donations and has stall space up for rent for interested parties. This street in Renton has got so many new moves, it is hard to fathom.

Remember the metal detector store? Seems like the empty store front has finally been rented and that a beauty salon will open soon. Yep, right there on Wells Ave.S.

What did I tell ya - this block is the current
bomb of activity.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fire in North Renton and all hail the new chief

Late last night, the flames from the back of the Law Offices on Park Ave. could be seen from the front rooms of residents on North First Street in the neighborhood of North Renton. While the big trucks came and three fire departments responded, the 2 alarm fire did not injure anyone and started at the carport in the rear of the building. Okay, there was a very hurt Lexus parked there, and the fire department was on the scene this morning trying to ascertain the cause.

The last of the big trucks left the scene at about 1 am this morning. From 10 until midnight there still seemed to be billows of smoke pouring out and the neighbors in jammies were wandering at the sidelines.The KOMO News truck was there last night and again this morning, covering our local burg.

The front of the law offices seems relatively unharmed by the fire and rather quiet for a work day. Guess it was better to stay at home until further notice.

Good news is that we all get to welcome 30 year fire department veteran, Mark Peterson to the post of Renton Fire Chief. Announced in the Renton Reporter yesterday, it comes as no surprise that the guy who has been holding the fort down since Chief Daniels left last year should be named to take his place. Congratulations Mark!
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Blue skied and beautiful - Renton today

Blue skied Spring wonderment - that is what greeted me today on my ride out to the edge of Lake Washington on this fine, Renton day. Lake Washington, known in the native Duwamish tongue as Lake Xacuabs, means basically a whole lot of water. Yep, that would describe it.

Few places afford you such great views and within a stone's throw of our historic downtown.

That's not a speck on your screen, that's a plane having just taken off from the Renton Municipal Airport (or Clayton Scott Field now) just to the left of where this photo was taken.
Renton - it's a great place to be.
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Renton and the people of the inside

Cecile Hanson, Chair person of the Duwamish Tribal Council and her dog, Quidee

The first people of this land we call Renton were the Duwamish Tribe. Known as "the people of the inside", they gave their name to the river nearby and helped the early settlers and founders of Seattle make the Elliot Bay basin and it's watershed rivers their home. Last year, the 600 member Duwamish built the first native longhouse on Puget Sound in 115 years and are helping to educate the local populace about their ongoing cause to be officially recognized as a tribe.

The Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center is right across the street from the mouth of the Duwamish River and is constructed of red and yellow cedar that still flavors the air. The building is traditional cedar post and beam and houses a little gift shop, conference room and longhouse. If you are looking for a cool place to hold a meeting, look no further. This place is lovely and available for bookings.

Native Master Weaver, Mary Lou Slaughter has her work on display in the longhouse and is the fourth generation great granddaughter of Chief Sealth. The small gallery/museum holds a few pieces of her work, reproductions of the photographer Edward Curtis' work and some signage explaining the Duwamish peoples' history.

The gift store at the entrance to the longhouse.

This is a view inside of the cedar longhouse itself.

Photo courtesy of Renton History Museum

This is the Duwamish Chief, Henry Moses in the year 1920. Henry was born in a longhouse located at what is now known as Renton High School. Henry was a star athlete, respected civic leader and the last hereditary chief of his tribe. I don't know about you, but that just doesn't seem all that long ago. I would have loved to have met this guy.

This is the face of a Duwamish tribal member today - Cheyenne Shelafoe. The kids dance and sing in their native tongue - Lushootshed, and a new generation embraces it's history while creating a new future.

The Duwamish Longhouse has a new director, Dave Haladay, who came to join the staff here just 6 weeks ago. If you are interested in pursuing more information or looking for a tour, contact him.

This article written a year ago from the magazine, Seattle Metropolitan, was really well written and informative.

Keep in mind that the Renton History Museum is offering a wonderful program for 3rd,4th and 5th graders on the Coast Salish Indians.

Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center 4705 W Marginal Way Southwest Seattle, WA 98106 (206) 431-1582
Get directions
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A bit of the Irish

Here at The Picaroon, we like to celebrate our Irish roots. First, comes the nontraditional but highly welcome, espresso to jet start the day (to help mellow the beer that is soon to come after :) ) This lovely cup of caffeine brought to you by:

Jet City Espresso
at the corner of 2nd and Main in the DTR

Next, Irish Soda Bread made by me wee little self this a.m. - just like the ancestors made it.

Lastly, the bit of "flair" for the day to make sure everyone knows not to pinch me, and that we Irish have always been known for our sense of humor.

Happy St. Patrick's Day
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Abruzzi Pizza and Pasta

Mary Lou can toss up your pizza, lay out the place settings and get your glass of wine. This multitasking local Rentonite has been doing business in neighboring Normandy Park at her pizzeria since October of 2007, keeping up a tradition that started in Seattle many moons ago.

Named after a Seattle institution that was located in Downtown Seattle at 6th and Pike from 1956 til it's closing in 1994 when owner Nick Finamore (Mary Lou's exhusband) passed away, Abruzzi's Pizza & Pasta offers a smaller selection of some of those great dishes that the original served. When Mary Lou Sigette opened this business she hadn't made a pizza in 15 years, but your hands never forget how to work the dough and that woman can cook up a storm.

The interior is simple. Checkered tablecloths and wine served in tumblers instead of wine glasses against a backdrop of vibrant red walls. Daily specials on the board as you come in tell you what Mary Lou has especially created (like Pork loin Sandwich on garlic parmesan bread) and the soups are homemade on site. This is why I like eating out at nonfrachised joints - the food is unique and good.

Abruzzi's has hit the radar of the local dining section at the Seattle Times a couple of times. In December of 2008, Nancy Leson featured an article about Abruzzi's and for a couple of weeks, the place was hit with newcomers. Then business slides back to it's usual pace, being frequented by friends and regulars who make it their business to eat locally with Mary Lou.

If you remember Abruzzi's from your earlier years, the card above won't surprise you. It hearkens back to the same design used by the restaurant in the 50's. This is where old memories can be reborn and tastebuds can be satisfied. Stop in, support a local Rentonite and have some hand tossed, pizza made perfect as the Abruzzi tradition lives on in Mary Lou's capable hands.

Abruzzi Pizza & Pasta
17817 1st Ave. S.
Normandy Park, WA 98149

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Monday, March 15, 2010

The Return of Fondue in Renton

Photo from drmvm's Flickr account, funnily entitled "holy crap, It's another photo of fondue"

You remember when you couldn't go to a garage sale without stumbling over a fondue pot for sale, or the three or four fondue sets that your parents received as wedding gifts that still hideout in the attic somewhere. Well, dig them out and get those burners lit - Fondue season is officially OPEN.

Yesterday was Fondue Brunch at the Liberty Cafe, and the feasting and dipping went on for a good long while. There was a chocolate pot for the varied fruits and pound cake, and a cheese fondue for the assorted veggies and bread. Totally vegetarian folks.

One of the tasty creations just prior to being consumed.

Jake seen here going for the fondue gusto.

Bill Collins, Sue Hughes and Sue Rider.

Many thanks go out to Sue Rider, who truly was the wings beneath this feast. It would not have happened without all the goodies you so loving bought and prepared. Thanks to Sue Hughes for the bananas and The Picaroon brought the sour cream pound cake, just to help out.

Liberty Cafe - whatever will happen next there?

Liberty Cafe
926 S. Third Street
(425) 235 - 1400

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

DTR Anniversaries - Liberty Cafe and Common Ground Coffee and Cupcakes

Today was the day to be in the DTR corridor my friends. Both Liberty Cafe and Common Ground Coffee and Cupcakes were having anniversary celebrations and fun was to be had all around. Liberty Cafe celebrates a year in our fine, historic downtown Renton area and Common Ground Coffee and Cupcakes has been serving us for three years now. How quickly time passes when you are drinking caffeine and eating frosting yum yums.

Friday, March 12, 2010

One Year of great coffee and community

Celebrating a year of coffee and community tomorrow at Liberty Cafe. Mike Moskowitz's shop at the top of South Third Street has brought a sense of home to the Downtown Renton corridor. Open from 7am til 9pm, this has become the local hang. Art shows each month, First Friday Block Parties, Magic Night on Mondays and now Open Mike on Wednesdays, Liberty Cafe is a place to be.

The coffee is always good and flowing, a relaxing vibe surrounds and conversations abound - just what anyone needs to help them make it through the day.

Details? Tomorrow, Saturday March 13th, all day tomorrow, will be a day of celebrating, so get your coffee mojo on and I am certain there will be fun shenanigans to partake in while you are there. Johnny Uysal, the other important half of this cafe endeavor, will be around helping make it the place to be.

Mike, may I say this for all of us who know and love you - thanks for what you bring to the table, man.

Liberty Cafe
926 S. Third Street
(425) 235 - 1400

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