Chasing the pot of gold

Updated: Lola sent us this photo. “Truly an epic rainbow!” she writes. “This photo snapped over Bergen Place Park.”

Earlier: In case you missed the gorgeous double rainbow this afternoon, we received a couple of pictures.

“What a fantastic year of rainbows we’ve witnessed!” Amy writes. “This particular rainbow (above) is one of the brightest I’ve ever been lucky to see. And, we happened to catch it just as a very dark cloud moved in.”

Brian sent us this picture of the double rainbow and it looks like the pot of gold is somewhere along 24th Ave NW.

Snowy owl spotted in Ballard

“There’s a snowy owl hanging out in Ballard this morning,” Kristi writes.

“Last spotted on the church roof across from the Library,” she tells us. “He’s being followed and surrounded by a very large murder of crows and a couple of seagulls.”

According to our news partners, The Seattle Times, there is a rare irruption of snowy owls in our region. “They will be here until about March, feasting mostly on voles and other small mammals, resting and fattening before returning to the Arctic for the breeding season,” writes Lynda V. Mapes in the article.

You can read the entire article here.

A thank you note to Ballard

Last week we introduced readers to Tim, the newly-homeless man who has spent countless hours sweeping Ballard.

Tim wants to thank those who have stopped to say hi, offered a word of encouragement, and the dozens of people who have donated. Here are snippets from a long thank you letter he wrote:

Dear People of Ballard,
I want to thank you for your heartfelt donations. I’m overwhelmed and in awe at what has happened.

I was and still don’t know what to say – I’m just a street sweeper trying to take care of my babies (Rico & Zeta.) They are everything to me…. I was afraid of losing my dogs. What if I get sick or they get sick or my truck breaks down? I had to do something, so I did. But I just don’t know what to say except thank you. When I grabbed that broom and bucket I knew that I would never have a house or even have a beautiful girl to love again. I also thought I would even be looked down upon – a loser. But most people have looked past that. Holly who is so nice, Kelly at the bank has adopted Rico and Zeta and has been there from day one. She watches my truck, all kinds of stuff. Thank you.

Thank you to the lady who left me the Safeway gift card, Nancy and Dave and Tasha and so many others.

Tim says he’s stunned by all the donations and other offers to help gathered by Care Movement. Tim is opening a bank account for the money as he works to get back on his feet.

He said he’s looking for an apartment or room to rent in the Ballard area — one that will allow him to have his dogs. “I am on a low income housing list, but it could take two years. I have a small disability check, so I could pay some rent,” Tim’s letter continues. “I still have the receipt from the last place I rented showing I finished the lease and got my deposit back.”

“I could never leave Ballard after what everyone has done for us,” he writes.

Suspect arrested in Phinney Ridge murder

Seattle Police have arrested a man suspected in the murder of a school teacher on Christmas Eve. The woman, identified by friends and neighbors as Prudence Hockley, was assaulted outside her home on 74th St. Her 13-year-old daughter came to her aid, but Hockley died the next day. The suspect — police say he was Hockley’s boyfriend — reportedly has a long criminal record.

Her murder has stunned friends, neighbors and Woodinville High School students, where she taught. is covering the story here.

Gumshoe looking to expand to Ballard

“Do the Gumshoe” is a popular refrain in Phinney Ridge and Greenwood every August, as hundreds of gumshoers take to the streets to follow a list of clues and a chance to win prizes from neighborhood businesses during the annual Gumshoe 5K Walk.

Mike Veitenhans, otherwise known as “The Gumshoe Guy,” created the Gumshoe six years ago as a fundraiser for neighborhood nonprofits. The 2011 Gumshoe raised $4,800 for the Greenwood Senior Center, Greenwood Food Bank and Greenwood Elementary School PTA.

Now, Veitenhans would like to partner with a few nonprofits for a Ballard Gumshoe.

“I’m giving it away!” Veitenhans said of the Gumshoe name and know-how.

But, he’d like the Ballard Gumshoe to happen at a different time of year from the Phinney-Greenwood event, and he encourages people to do both Gumshoes.

Here’s how it works: People buy a Gumshoe entry form for $20. Then they follow the list of 30 clues throughout the neighborhood, finding interesting artwork in people’s yards, identifying neighborhood landmarks, and making new friends as they try to help people who are stumped. Then turn in the completed entry form and be entered to win prizes from local merchants.

Gumshoers hit the streets of Greenwood-Phinney last year.

Ideally, Veitenhans would like to work with three Ballard non-profits. If interested, email him at

Take the Polar Bear Plunge to start 2012

It’s a relatively new tradition at Golden Gardens Park – the Polar Bear Plunge.

The third annual plunge into Puget Sound is this coming Sunday, New Year’s Day, at 11 a.m. Unsure about it? Here’s what Patrick Loderhose told us last year, “The water tends to be a bit warmer than the air so it’s actually a couple of minutes of being really, really cold, then you warm up and the rest of the day you feel good,” Loderhose says.

We’ll see you there! (Fully clothed, taking pictures)

Ballard High PTSA short of fundraising goal

By John Verduin, Ballard High School PTSA President

Looking for that last tax deduction as the year ends out?

Here’s a great one to consider: “Bridging the Gap” Ballard High School (BHS) PTSA’s fall Direct Appeal fund raiser. As you have undoubtedly seen, Seattle Public Schools (SPS) continues to face budget cuts as our state government faces lower revenues. This past year alone SPS has had to cut over $30 million from their budget. These cuts follow more than three consecutive years of budget cuts. BHS, like most schools, has adapted, becoming lean and efficient with our allocated funding. But being lean does come at an expense—BHS has had to cut nine staff positions over the last few years and BHS departments basically have no money set aside for materials.

Last year, through the Direct Appeal fund raiser, the BHS PTSA awarded $30,000 in 20 grants to teacher and staff. Money raised goes directly to supporting BHS teachers and staff. Here are a few examples illustrating how money has been spent in the past:
• Purchased microscopes, centrifuges, hot plates, electric scales, vacuum pumps, dissecting scopes, skeletons, fish tanks, complete an electric car (to list a few items) for the science programs
• Sent students to The Law and Society Mock Trial, a hands-on, real-world application of the legal education
• Purchased new sets of books for the photography class
• Purchased Formative Assessment Monitors (aka “clickers”) to assist teachers in assessing student knowledge during class
• Purchased additional chairs and uniforms for the music department

Our goal again this year is $30,000. Right now we are about $5,000 short of our goal. Please consider donating this year. Ballard High School has a lot to offer its students—we have the highest HSPE Reading scores in SPS; the Class of 2012 has 11 students who qualified as National Merit Scholars; our performing arts departments are becoming leaders in the field; our video production department is nationally recognized—to note just a few accomplishments. Your contributions can help us keep the momentum going. We begin awarding grants in January. To donate on line click here.

Thai Siam serves up 1,100 free Christmas meals

With the help of about 40 volunteers, Thai Siam served up 1,100 free meals on Christmas day for those in need.

“We make 28 turkeys at the restaurant and about six more were brought in Christmas morning, we also make 600 servings of meatloaf on Christmas eve,” owner Ott Jaichalernsook says. “On top of that, 50 gallons of gravy, 30 big pumpkin pies, 100 turkey sandwiches, 100 meatloaf sandwiches, 300 packages of cookies, and lots of fresh homemade mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, steamed vegetable, dinner rolls, tea, coffee, soda, apple and orange juice.”

This is the 24th year that Thai Siam has been serving Christmas meals to those who wouldn’t otherwise have a hot meal. (Photos courtesy Thai Siam. Disclosure: Thai Siam is a sponsor of MyBallard.)

What’s open/closed the day after Christmas

Since Christmas fell on a Sunday this year, many businesses and government offices are taking today as their holiday.

Here’s a look at changes due to the holiday:

Garbage collection: Get those cans out. Collection is normal today. For the next two weeks you can put out your trees.

Trees must be trimmed to 6 feet or shorter. Trim branches to less than four feet to fit into the collection trucks. Bundle each section with sisal string or twine (not plastic). Decorated, flocked and plastic trees are not recyclable and will be charged as extra garbage.
At Apartments – One tree may be placed next to each food/yard waste cart at no extra charge each collection day.

Metro Metro is on a Sunday schedule today and a reduced weekday schedule through Friday.

Pay stations: You don’t have to pay to park. Street parking is free today.

Mail: No mail delivery today and post offices are closed.

Banks: Closed.

Libraries: Seattle Public Library is open regular hours today. (10 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Ballard)

Liquor stores: The Ballard store at 2840 N.W. Market St. is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Crown Hill store is closed. For a list of open stores, click here (.pdf)

Holiday recycling reminders

With Christmas and Hanukkah come mounds of wrapping paper, leftover food and dried out Christmas trees, Seattle Public Utilities wants to remind everyone just what can and can’t be recycled or composted.

Since recycling is free, you can put extra cans, bottles, paper and whatnot into a bin or box and set it next to your recycling cart on your regular collection day. Flatten empty cardboard boxes.

All recycling, garbage and compost needs to be put out by 7 a.m. on collection day.

Tips from SPU:

Common holiday items that go in recycling:

Clean pie tins, plastic deli/veggie trays and lids (wider than 3 inches), empty eggnog cartons, paper, plastic and metal cups, bottles, cans, jars, and tubs; catalogs, greeting cards, envelopes, cardboard, clean aluminum foil, gift wrap, plastic grocery bags (bundle and tie together) and glossy/shiny shopping bags.

All food scraps and yard clippings can go in your food and yard waste cart, including:

Figgy pudding, fruitcake, mistletoe, wreaths, bones, meat, cheese, seafood, fruit and vegetables. Paper bags and napkins can also be composted, as well as greasy cardboard pizza boxes.

There are several local Drop-off Recycling Locations for hard-to-recycle items, including:

  • TVs, cell phones and other electronics, as well as Styrofoam, batteries and other items.
  • To find a location near you, call (206) 684-3000 or go to and click on “How do I dispose of this?”

Holiday items that go in the garbage include:

  • Ribbons and bows, burned out holiday lights, alkaline batteries and Styrofoam packaging.
  • Fats, oil and grease should be placed in a lidded container and placed in the garbage.