Greg Ewing dashed into his Redmond home Tuesday afternoon, beating what he believes was a tornado by seconds. As Ewing and his wife, Sue...

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Greg Ewing dashed into his Redmond home Tuesday afternoon, beating what he believes was a tornado by seconds. As Ewing and his wife, Sue, watched from the window of their Union Hill home, the twister touched down and scoured a 400- to 500-yard path through their yard and their next-door neighbor’s property.

“When I pulled into my driveway, I was about 100 feet from it,” Ewing said.

Ted Buehner with the National Weather Service explained it wasn’t a tornado but something called a straight-line wind front that sometimes accompanies thunderstorms. The blustery wind contains rain and looks like a tornado because it carries debris and even sounds like a twister.

The funnel towered, Ewing estimated, more than 100 feet in the air. Even before it scraped through his commercial nursery, the funnel — about 40 feet wide at the top, he said — contained garbage cans, branches, plastic bags and other flotsam. Near the bottom, where it hit the house, it was less than a foot wide. Then, almost as quickly as it appeared, the funnel swirled away.

“Everything is weird,” he said. “Things have been rearranged and some are missing. My garbage cans are in my neighbors’ yards. Several coolers completely disappeared.”

Ewing spent several hours yesterday clearing cottonwood branches from his roof. He had yet to start in the nursery and hopes the scattered branches and debris merely littered the grounds and didn’t damage his stock of plants.

Structurally, the biggest damage was to the next-door neighbor’s property, where the wind peeled a cupola off the garage roof.

“This is going to take me days to pick up,” Ewing said. “When I was on the roof, I literally couldn’t see the lawn for the debris.”

Hot wheels

David Gravette, featured in Tuesday’s column, smoked the competition. The Issaquah 17-year-old won the skateboard competition that aired on MTV’s “TRL Total Request Live” show yesterday.

So much for the live part. The contest held in Las Vegas was taped Tuesday.

Gravette won skateboard gear, a 50-inch plasma television and the title of Honorary Z-Boy.

Z-Boy refers to a group of teenage surfers that pioneered a new form of skateboarding in the 1970s in Venice, Calif. The contest was a promotion for the movie “Lords of Dogtown” that opens tomorrow.

Artists on display

Five Bellevue elementary-school students have their work hanging on more than just the home refrigerator.

Louisa Lee, Kathryn Wood, Ana Bay, Caitlin Manganelli and Nicole Trimble, all from Sunset Elementary School, had their work chosen for the Crayola Dream-Makers National Art Exhibition in Pennsylvania. Art teacher Jennifer Hunt taught lessons from the Dream-Makers program and submitted the students’ pieces.

This is a big deal. Thousands of children enter the contest and only 200 are selected. Winners are picked on visual appeal, originality, age appropriateness, craftsmanship and the child’s written dream statement that accompanies each piece.

The five will receive plaques from Crayola with a reproduction of their artwork. The originals become part of the ongoing exhibition.

Lee is in the fourth grade, Wood and Bay in second grade and Manganelli and Trimble are kindergartners. Sunset is also called Puesta del Sol Elementary School because it contains Bellevue’s Spanish immersion program.

Wishful thinking

It isn’t often that two of my secret passions — The Seattle Times comics and “The Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy — merge. But twice in recent months, cartoonist Sandra Bell-Lundy referenced movie star Viggo Mortensen in her popular strip, “Between Friends.”

A week ago, Susan and Maeve, characters in the strip, were talking about dreams. Maeve’s dream was to meet Viggo Mortensen. Susan explained she meant goals, not dreams.

“You mean like dating Viggo Mortensen,” Maeve said.

I enjoyed the strip so much I e-mailed Bell-Lundy, who lives in Ontario, Canada. The ensuing exchange of e-mail was delightful, and she gave me permission to quote the following part.

“I mentioned Cadbury Caramilk bars in my strip once, and the brand manager in Toronto saw it and sent me 100 chocolate bars,” the cartoonist wrote. “My kids were in heaven. Oh, who am I kidding? I was dancing! Sooooooo, I mention Viggo every once in a while.

“He hasn’t shown up on my doorstep, but I can dream.”

Sherry Grindeland: 206-515-5633 or