Seattle Neighborhoods-Lower Queen Anne

I have lived in many places from Seattle to Shanghai.  I’ve loved them all but if I’m living in Seattle, I will always choose to live in the Lower Queen Anne neighborhood.  I love everything about this place.  It has beautiful views of the water as you walk the streets and from our home.  The Seattle Center is our backyard where we walk our dogs daily under the Space Needle.  I love the Space Needle silhouetted in the sky, both day and night.  While Seattle has many great neighborhoods, this one is mine.

This is a diverse neighborhood with all levels of income and many homeless.  It can be dangerous here no doubt and you don’t see many families living here.  Awakened at 4 a.m. on a Sunday morning recently, a squad of police cars and ambulance were taking care of a belligerent homeless guy fighting arrest.  It was loud. That’s life in the city and it’s heartbreaking at times. Our fellow volunteers and guests at Shared Breakfast, where we volunteer every Sunday morning feeding 300+ homeless, are part of our family now and very dear to us.

I will never, ever take this view for granted or leave if I can help it.  I told Thom the other day that I would even get a second job if I had to in order to afford to continue living here as the rent just keeps going up every year and this view is costly but totally worth it.  Life is short and I want to enjoy what’s left with a view that makes me appreciate life.

One has to eat and there are enough restaurants in Lower Queen Anne that we are still trying out new ones although we have lived here for years-in fact, longer than anywhere else in our life journey.  We tried a new one the other night and it was fantastic-Crow.  Eat the chicken.  Toulouse Petit is always a favorite with long lines on the weekend for brunch-hint: go for happy hour with lots of small bites that are delish and cheap.  Whatever cuisine you want-you can find it in our hood.  We like Agave  for Mexican and Athina Grill  for Greek.  For a colorful experience, try Mecca Café-a dim diner with good food, especially breakfast.  Of course, the most popular place is one block north of our home-as we like to say, nothing beats a big bag of Dick’s!  Line up and get a burger, fries and a shake-now finally accepting c. cards.

Do you know how hard it is to find a good mani/pedi shop AND a place to cut my hair?  While I do have to travel up the hill to Upper Queen Anne to The Shop for my hair, it affords me the opportunity to shop at Trader Joe’s which is right across the street.  Not that we don’t also have a Safeway and Metro Market in Lower Queen Anne but Trader Joe’s just has stuff I crave.  We visit Upper Queen Anne frequently,  which is lovely for families but we prefer our more urbane environment at the bottom of the hill.

Every good neighborhood MUST have a bookstore and a movie theater.  Check and check.  We have the cutest Mercer St. Bookstore with their .50 cent cart out front with used books to browse and my go-to for travel books for our next adventure.  The Uptown is one of the finest small theaters in the city and hosts the SIFF, which we have yet to take advantage of but do love going to those quirky indie films typically shown here.  All in all, Lower Queen Anne is our home and what a lovely place it is.

Lower Queen Anne is HAPPENING!

Musical artists were featured all over Seattle Center in small and large venues..
Musical artists were featured all over Seattle Center in small and large venues..

Sorry you folks who live in the sleepy ‘burbs or, God forbid, in the country boonies because YOU.  ARE.  MISSING.  IT.   Yes, I am an urban snob.  Seriously, I can walk out my door in Lower Queen Anne and be surrounded by crazy talented musicians at the Northwest Folk Festival or go up the block and attend The Seattle International Film Festival at the Uptown.  DONE.  As Thom quipped, Seattle forecast this weekend:  Cloudy with 100% chance of aging hippies..all sporting too tight tie dye t-shirts and dreadlocks from another era.  So fun to people watch!

Kids-this is NOT a pool, it's a fountain but, hey, I can smell the chlorine from far away so go for it!
Kids-this is NOT a pool, it’s a fountain but, hey, the chlorine smell is actually stronger here than the weed so go for it–probably healthier for you!

This weekend was particularly crazy in our hood with people streaming into town to enjoy the cultural overload–hippy dippy drum circles or serious foreign films, pierogies or elephant ears–pretty much everything could be had within a short walk.  Of course, having all those food vendors was an absolute necessary for festival goers who pretty much got high just by being there among the clouds of weed drifting by.  Yes, there were cops here and there and signs reminding folks that smoking grass in public is still not legal in Seattle.  Really???  Could have fooled me but you put that much tie dye in one place and shit is bound to happen and does.

We walk the dogs through Seattle Center every day multiple times and they treat those lawns, where everyone is lying around this weekend, as their private toilet–note to future festival goers:  you might want to bring a blanket next time or you will be in close contact with Izaak and Thor’s DNA.  Lesson learned.

I love the Uptown... great place to grab a film at the SIFF.
I love the Uptown… great place to grab a film that is part of the SIFF.

The lines outside the Uptown theater speak to the great support that Seattleites give to the SIFF-a very well orchestrated film festival that goes on for weeks featuring indie films at venues all over town.  I just wish I could go see Kevin Bacon in the flesh on Wednesday when he makes a special appearance to support his film showing.  Damn-got to go cheer on the Sounders to a win instead.  Too much good stuff going on to take part in!!  We are rarely home and, when we are, I know we are missing out on something good.  So, time to take to the streets and check out the remaining acts as the incense/tie dye/corn on the cob merchants wind down and pack up and move on to the next festival.  Party on Lower Queen Anne!


My Love Affair with Lower Queen Anne

Today Thom and I walked the pups, Thor and Izaak, under the Space Needle and past the Seattle Center Fountain, then I went on a quick grocery run, ambled over to Palm Sunday services at First Methodist and that was all before noon and all in Lower Queen Anne, the wonderful place I call home now.  Yep, I’m definitely in love.

Thor loves walking around Seattle Center every day
Thor loves walking around Seattle Center every day

When we moved back to Seattle from Shanghai, we considered living closer to my work across the Great Divide-Lake Washington-so that I could reduce my one hour (at least) commute in clusterf*#k Seattle traffic. Giving up the rental car after our 30 days upon repatriating was an easy decision after the infamous $410 traffic ticket I got after accidentally crossing a solid white line while merging into lanes. I vowed then to stop the commuting madness and either live closer to work or take the Connector work bus and leave the liability to someone else. Even thinking about NOT living in an urban environment was crazy. What was I thinking??? Thank God we realized we are city people now and forever and chose to live in our old neighborhood, Lower Queen Anne, hereafter referred to as LQA to lessen my word count.

Even better than our last spot, the condo we were lucky enough to get is right in the heart of the LQA action and Seattle Center is truly our backyard, being only one block away. The dogs are so happy going on their multiple walks around Key Arena with Izaak able to stalk squirrels aplenty. Fascinating study in animal memory behavior because, while Izaak always remembers exactly where he has seen squirrels on past walks, he seemingly can’t recall the millions of “NO’s” we yell at him when he eats the trash in the bathroom. This bad behavior has caused us to now keep the trash can in the shower when not in use to keep it safe, which didn’t work well when I forgot it was there, turned it on and ended up with a very watery trashy mess. IZAAK!!! NO!!!!

But back to LQA, as I sit on my red Ikea loveseat hauled all the way back from Shanghai, instead of gazing upon the Huangpu River which I do miss greatly, I gaze down the Avenue at the busy Starbucks, which opens at the ungodly hour of 5:30 a.m. and the Mediterranean Inn above it. A few weeks ago we had company over and while Skyping with baby Mia, I glanced over at the Inn and saw a pole extend slowly out of one of the hotel windows, at least 16 feet or so long with duct tape holding several pieces together and a small bale of hay hooked on the end. WTF????  Where do you even buy straw in LQA?   The pole dangled over to the rooftop adjacent to the Inn and shook, dropping the load into the alleyway and missing the rooftop. WHY???

Two more times it came poking out, both times dropping it’s straw load but these times, dropping it’s load onto the roof. Curious, we ran across the street to examine the alleyway only to see straw bundled with cord and nothing more. We’ll never know who, what, when or why this mysterious prank happened but it was fun to watch it unfold. Think you could see something like this in suburbia? I don’t think so and so, for us, the adventure continues in urban Seattle after our wonderful journey in Shanghai, China.

Walking by the water and seeing the sea lions play is so fun!
Walking by the water and seeing the sea lions play is so fun!

So, with five months into my new job and settling down a little, I’ll start writing again, we’ll enjoy going to the Uptown Cinema and seeing cool, happening documentaries and shop for vinyl records at Pike Place Market, a long walk but close enough. I’ll cherish the charming used book store, clothing boutique, nail parlors galore and Mud Bay Pet Shop, where Izaak can get free treats from the doting team members–all within blocks of our hip, urban nest that I hope to get to enjoy for a long, long time.  LQA, I’m loving you.