June 2010 Archives

Lazy Gardener harvest

This year, for the front yard, all I did was move some pots around, and plant some tomato plants that had outgrown their seedling pots. What's in the ground is pretty much the result of what I've done years before. I amended and took care of the soil, so the arugula grows like crazy. Which means I got to keep cutting it back and giving it away. Lucky me I have a few neighbors who love the peppery lettuce. I can take it in small doses and really wish something that I liked a bit better would grow as quickly and easily instead. I've probably gotten a dozen bags of arugula.
I've gotten a few tomatoes this month. The evil squirrels so far haven't feigned any interest in my tomatoes. Not like last year when it was a battle between me and them. There are still a few more months to go though.
Because I had some work done on my front walkway, I moved my productive lavender plant, which is now a dying lavender plant. I would pick the flowers when they were just about ready, dry them in the window sill and store them for future use. I collected enough to throw a few tablespoons here and there into some dishes. I hope the plant comes back as I am really enjoying lavender-vanilla ice cream.
Mint is still going strong. It is a perennial so I don't have to fuss with it, as is the sage and the thyme. Some of the Swiss Chard from last year didn't seem to bolt like the rest of the chard and are happily crowding out the arugula. 
Pondering asking to do some gardening in someone else's yard I realize how lazy I can be now, because of hard work I put into my yard, back when I had the energy. Untended yards have hard, clayish soil. It takes a while and a fair investment in compost, dirt, mulch and serious weed pulling to get it so that arugula comes back without much help, or thought.
The backyard, since it is all container gardening does require some effort on my part. This year I tried my hand at potatoes and ate my reward. Three small fingerling-ish potatoes. This after digging my naked arm into a pot and embedding dirt deep into my nails. They were tasty. However there were too few of them. I would have turned the whole pot over looking for them but, I had some bean plants on top and didn't want to lose them.

Steal this bike

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Steal this bike This was the weekend of careless bike owners. I spotted this bike Saturday morning. The lock was on the bike handlebars and it looked like it was in the blind spot of any of the workers inside the structure being worked on. Later that day I spotted another women's bike parked on my street so poorly locked it seemed to be asking to be stolen. The rear wheel was locked to the street sign. Anybody could have just popped the quick release rear wheel off and run off with the rest of it.
So what is it to me if some stranger's bike gets stolen? For one, it helps increase the perception of my area being a high crime area when it does get stolen. Second, there are the periodic emails and messages from folks who've had their bikes stolen asking for help. I'd assume that the victims did take some caution in protecting their property. But that willingness to believe people made that effort to prevent their bike from being stolen gets eroded every time I see a poorly locked or unlocked bike.

Ray o Sunshine on Gray

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Longtime resident and grumpy old guy Ray comes up with some interesting observations and statements that are pure gold and must be shared:
I had several long evening walks this week east and north from me on Ninth
and it would appear that on on some blocks, particularly where homes are
less renovated, Gray signs prevail. There are very few, if any, Fenty
signs. I suspect Gray will be our next mayor due to apathy from the
self-absorbed, unregistered, new busy young moderns who've moved here
but think DC politics are immaterial to or just too beneath them.

Gray will usher back in the good old days of Barry Third World politics
where constituent services will be tightly controlled and allocated by
having to petition the big man at neighborhood meetings to have your trash
cleaned up, the police patrol your block, have a water leak or a pothole
repaired, and an error in your tax bill remedied. Don't expect any services
unless you can prove your bona fides -- at least third generation Black DC
resident. Expect the return of long, long lines in the DMV with surly
inspectors and clerks. Construction will stop as developers will again flee
when the pols demand kickbacks and jobs for the indolent and insolent.
Expect real "gentrification" taxs for more worthless "programs" for PG
county bourgeiois friends of the mayor that make "Peaceaholics" look like an
effective crime-fighting operation. Expect the police to spend more
time writing tickets (church people exempted) instead of catching
criminals. Neighborhood rule by preacher will return. Teachers will no
longer be compelled to teach and students freed from having to learn. Go
Gray and bring back the good old days of DC politics.

Believe me when I say there is trash

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Trash bag and trash

Shane on Q has been to BACA meetings before to plead for help or some relief from the trash that piles up on the 100-200 block of Q Street NW. The street gets cleaned up on the Co-op's side, and I gather that is due to management of the property and its block proper. However the opposite side of the street gets to have McDonald's bags, liquor bottles, and today, watermelon rind littered upon it. The only one cleaning it up (unless you witness someone else also doing it tell me) is Shane. And Shane is getting kinda frustrated. For Flower Power I did a walkby on Q, noticed the trash and decided to get a bag and clean up. I ran into Shane and he offered to join me. He wondered if he should leave the trash so that when the FP group walked through we'd see the trash and understand his predicament. Noted that his problem was he was out of the range of cleaning crews and trash pick up guys. 100-200 Q is too far west of the North Capitol and NOMA clean up crews. It is too far north for the lone guy from S.O.M.E. picking up trash. Too far east for Brian (big tall blond guy with the trash can). And not adjacent to a major church, which would have some caretaker.

I suggested residential parking. Now I've just had an unfortunate incident with residential parking as my new roommate got a ticket, with me thinking that parking enforcement wouldn't be around. Wrong, so I am very aware of the downsides of resident parking. But I think it might help with the trash. The trash come from people visiting and being bad guests, tossing their trash on the street. Now my block got the residential parking to combat drug dealers. The presence of drug dealers is down, but that comes from a combination of things of which parking was a tool.

Bread for the City is havin' a picnic

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Just a quick mention that you have to look at B4tC's post advertising it's parking lot picnic. I think it's kind of cute.

Tomorrow is BACA's Flower Power

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The only thing that will post-pone it is rain, not soaring temperatures.

Just to remind you, if you plan to join us, that we'll meet up in front of the Amstrong (CAPCS) School on the 100 Block of P St NW. Look for a table and some people at 3PM. You wouldn't think it but groups walk incredibly slow, but, they, do, so the walk may take a while, thus the 3-5 time slot.

Tickets the day of are $6. Monies go to support BACA beautification.

Pit Bull Puppy Missing from Bates St. $2500 Reward

The Prince of Petworth reports that a puppy has been "possibly stolen" from it's Bates St NW home. There is a pretty hefy reward for its return, no questions asked.
UPDATE- Puppy found.

Oh yeah!

So it is a contest of who will open first along R St. Toque Cafe or Beau Thai? It's anyone's guess.
Tell me what you think.

Kids and the Florida Avenue Park

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Yesterday I went to the Bloomingdale Farmers Market and decided to buy stuff till I ran out of money, which was about $45. PaintedHand was selling a chicken for less than $4 a pound so I had to hop on that. And I bought carrots, celery that doesn't look like the celery at the store, onions, cherries, blueberries, baked goods and string beans. I had two bags full of stuff. While I was at the market I ran into some of the neighborhood munchkins and their parents. When I was done shopping I noticed a bunch of kids and parents had wandered over the the playground at the Florida Avenue Park on the other side of Florida Ave. There was a whole gaggle of kids on the kiddie swings running around, doing the things that make the Pre-K crowd happy.

I remember when this would not have happened. When parents would not have taken their precious charges to the park where odd old dudes hung out. I remember back when a parent told me she found human poop on the play equipment and swore off ever returning there. Well in the meantime the park has improved a bit, but there are still complaints. Apparently, shards of glass can be found in the mulch that covers the play area. I didn't see any, but then again I don't have a kid running around in the stuff. Also it is said the trash cans are overrun with sharp things.

Anyway, according to a post on the BACA blog, the park is slated to get a $1.2 million dollar makeover. Hopefully that may include something addressing the suitabilty of the play area.

And Mt. Vernon Triangle is where?

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I don't know who edits these things, but I'm looking at the graphic for the article about the new influx of registered voters in the District. Precinct 143 looks an awfully like Penn Quarter/ Gallery Place/ Chinablock, not Mt. Vernon Square nor Mt. Vernon Triangle. It's labeled as Mt. Vernon Square, which isn't right as the Square is the actual square between 9th & 7th and Mass and NY Aves and points north til N & O Streets.  Mt. Vernon Triangle... It's a new neighborhood name, I have no clue where it's borders are, southeast of the square. South is Chinatown. You will know Chinatown is Chinatown, not because of it's Asian populace masquerading as young black fashionistas, but due to the fun Chinese characters on signs as mandated by the city.

I guess I endorse Fenty


It's still early, but if the reports from the MVSA meeting reports are anything to go by people are more supportive of Fenty than Gray, or more accurately, people are less enthused by Gray. Apparently Vincent Gray failed to make an appearance at the meeting, which folks were fine with, but the staff member sent was a disaster. The staffer was unfamiliar with MVSq/Shaw and was from Tenlytown. There is no shame in being from Tenlytown. However, know your hoods. Congress Heights is not Anacostia. Brookland is not Brightwood. And Mt. Vernon Square is not some other random part of NW.

Anyway, the staffer was more familiar with Wards 3 and 7. Not so great for a meeting with residents in Ward 2. And it seems there was a fair amount of Fenty bashing from the staffer which was a turn off. One commenter mentioned that the candidate was only as good as the people he has working under him. Considering Rhee comes with Fenty, I guess I endorse Fenty.

Seriously, it doesn't matter what I think because I'm not a registered Democrat, so I can't vote for him the in the election that matters. Add to it that I'm even less enthused about the mayoral candidates. It's like a contest between shyte and crap. For all the things I dislike from the Fenty camp, with the J.F. Cook school for one, I do appreciate the turn around with the school system and the making government a little bit more open and web friendly. But this is not a ringing endorsement or love-fest, Fenty is no longer a bald hot cup of cocoa. He's just bald. And really campaigning on the fact that one is not Fenty isn't that great. I'm not Fenty and that wouldn't qualify me as a candidate. If you can't stand either write in Jack Evans, just to torture the poor man. Heck write in his name for both mayor and council chair, because if the mayoral contest is bad the one for chair is a choice between unripe fruit and something too rotten to compost. 

Dead body on RI Ave median

I don't know if anyone from the city still reads my blog, but there is a dead cat on the median of the 600 block of Rhode Island Avenue and today is day 2 of its residence.
Yesterday I called the city 311 number to report the beige beastie, as I noticed it before I went to work and saw it unmoved as I was heading home. As of this morning it is still there. Now once again it was one of those slightly frustrating calls, because kitty had the audacity to die on a median, which the operator seemed very unfamiliar with. I found myself defining what was a median. A median, is sometimes a green patch in the middle of a 4+ lane road. It does not have an address. Because the city sometimes bothers mowing said grass, I take it the city owns the land. No it is not in front of a house. The best address I can give is the closest property that bothered to have address numbers that I can make out.
No it is not on the road it is on the median.
Once again the median does not have an address. It is in the middle of Rhode Island Avenue, which I'm not going to define as a 'freeway' as you have as I really don't want to get into defining different kinds of roadways.

Well that explains why kids can't work in DC

My first regular paid job was as a cashier at the Winn-Dixie when I was 16. I had begun searching after reps from Bob Evans presented several openings at a rally at my high school, looking for dishwashers, bussers, and waiters. Several of us, including me, applied, but I wasn't chosen. That got me dropping applications at the mall, fast food joints, the dollar store, and the grocery store. During the school year I worked 11-20 hours, mostly weekends when the store was busy. Sometimes at night, cleaning the registers.
Anyway, I have always wondered why I don't see more teenagers working in DC. Well I got a link from DC Lawyers for Youth (DCLY), and their handbook (PDF). Looking at page 12 it says a kid must be at least 14 years old and can't work more than 8 hours a day. Fine and good. However the work hours are limited for 16-17 year olds in that they can't work after 10pm, so they can't close up at a place that closes at 10PM, and those hours appear to be year round. Also, they would need a permit from DCPS to work. When I was growing up we didn't need no stinkin' work permit.
So now I see why teenage employment seems to be limited to DC government sponsored summer programs. That and the flood of immigrant and college student labor.
The job I held in high school was good for me. It taught me how to balance work and school, a very useful skill when doing the same thing in college when you really need the money. It also allowed me to work towards a savings goal of a senior European trip, because heaven knows I wasn't going to get that money from my parents... and college. Lastly, believe it or not I was able to use my 5 years of cashiering experience on resumes for jobs involving customer service. It has appeared in KSAs when showing that I can communicate verbally with a variety of people.

Grant a Wish for Bread for the City

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Well the building is coming along nicely.
Anyway Bread for the city has a wish list of some items you might have around the house:
SmarTrip Cards or Metro Bus Tokens
Forks (for our cooking classes)
Coat Racks
Can Openers for our clients
Cleaning supplies/ Laundry detergent
Gift cards to grocery stores, Wal-mart, Target, CVS, etc
Plastic Storage Bins of all sizes
There is a longer list here. Contact Nathan LaBorie at 202.386.7611 to donate. 

Flower Power Nominations Due Tomorrow

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If you haven't sumbitted your paper ballots to 308 P St, there is the on-line option at this link or go to the Bates Area Civic Association's website regarding Flower Power.

Why nominate your neighbor or yourself? If your, or your neighbor's yard is chosen for the walk it will give different folks from different parts of the neighborhood an opportunity to slow down and LOOK at streets and blocks they've might have never been to in a while. Some of us when we get home just stick to our street or our little corner, this walk is a chance for neighbors to come and check out other streets. Also, it is a chance to share gardening and landscape ideas, to expose neighbors and visitors to the possiblities. Lastly, if you or your neighbor have made efforts to tame a wild yard and invest in plants and dirt, you, or they, should be recognized and acknowledged for that.

What's the walk for? The walk serves as an opportunity to show off our neighborhood to residents and visitors and raise money for beautification efforts in the neighborhood such as rose bushes in planters. On other ocassions it has been an opportunity for city officials to see what is good and what is needed in our neighborhood.

Where is the Bates Area? It is the ANC 5C01 area. Which is the northern part of Truxton Circle, which is the far eastern section of the old Shaw borders,

When and where is the walk? The garden walk is June 26th from 3-5pm, at 1st and P NW and tickets are $5 the days before the walk, and $6 the day of. If you would liek to be a docent and walk folks around please email bacaflowerpower@gmail.com

Small Scale Canning

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"The food that we canned from last summer is gone and I'm busted."

-Song Busted (sung by various but I'm listening to Ray Charles)

Last year I ran out of strawberry and cherry preserves. I tend to use them to flavor yogurt and top ice cream. So this year I'm trying to make sure I'm well stocked. When I do visit the farmer's markets I'll go for the cheaper seconds and the nice pints to turn the produce into a simple fruit sauce.

I do have the big canning operation with the large black pot and the rack and all the fun tools. However, when working with smaller batches I turn to the 4 ½ quart pot I cook rice in and ½ pint jars, which hold about 8 oz. It uses less water and is less of a hassle. This week I picked up even smaller jars at 5th St Hardware that hold only 4 ounces. Now I don't know the official stance on using a smaller pot, but I have used the small pot for dealing with small batches 2 or 3 cans of tomatoes and other things. I've gotten some mixed results. Some things sealed nicely, some other things, no so much and I just put them in the fridge.

Cherries are coming into season and I will can a bunch and toss a bunch into a jar of vodka. Yes, my other form of preservation

Mobility and gentrification

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I did a phone interview today with someone doing research on gentrification. I think I overwhelmed them with too much historical information or background. The devil is in the detail.
Anyway one of the popular aspects of gentrification to focus on families and individuals being displaced. The problem with that view is that Americans (and maybe other people) are very mobile, so it is hard to say if 'genrtrification' could bear the blame, or is the chief reason a person or a family moves. considering people move all the time. I tried to illustrate the mobility of city residents to the interviewer, but didn't do such a great job.
Here's one example. in cleaning up some data from the 1900 census I was looking for a Chinese's fellow's address. The Census taker must have been drunk because towards the end of the page he was listed a bunch of people with different street addresses (usually there is a block of addresses) and it was barely legible. So I figured I'd fine Mr. Woon(?) in the city directory. In the directory, there were 2 male Woons of the same name in DC neither of them living in the Enumeration District I was researching. He wasn't the only one. When I couldn't read the sheet I would refer to the directory which was 2 or so years off from the Census, and it wasn't helpful because the people tended to live at a completely different address on a different street.
I've lived in Shaw going on 10 years, and compared to others that's not much time, but I've seen neighbors come and go for all different reasons. Renters may leave because they graduated college, because it was a health danger, because their landlord was an ass, or because their landlord decided or sell or the bank decided to foreclose. Owners leave because of job re-locations, marriage, divorce, separation, illness, family changes, desire for something different, taxes, frustrations with neighbors, or because the good Lord decided to call them to eternity. In that gentrification plays a part in the owners' motivation in selling to cash out and maybe taxes. All the other reasons I've observed, family breakup, professional moving on and death have very little to do with the neighborhood and more to do with the individuals.
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Clean-up Treeboxing sucess

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Neighborhood treebox improvement2
It seemed to be a great turn out for the treebox improvement effort that BACA's Caryn did with money obtained by the ANC.

Church Announcements

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First, Shaw Main Streets and Emmaus Services for the Aging is putting on a 'Shaw Gospel Music Explosion.' Yup, explosion. Call Homeland Security. Anyway, if you want to witness this musical bang it is being held at Shiloh Baptist Church on 9th Street, August 7th, at 2pm and tickets are $10. The money raised will go to help seniors services and outreach programs. Contact Emmaus Services for more info at 2/ 745 1200.

Second, know of a non-profit looking for new digs? Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church has a vacancy next door to it's offices and is seeking a renter in the townhouse. The occupant must be a non-profit for tax purposes. It is located a block from the Washington Convention Center, is close to the Mt. Vernon Sq. metro and not too far from the Shaw metro. Contact their office for more information.

Lastly, it is nice to see the 7th Day Adventists doing a kind of outreach that doesn't involve door to door literature drops. No seriously, the Fourth Street Friendship SDA Church does a pretty good Sunday feeding program that doesn't have a negative impact on the surrounding community. Sometimes the music has crept out but participants don't loiter long and there isn't much of a trash problem. Anyway, they are sponsoring a few programs that seem directed more at the middling classes. One that caught my eye was a workshop on Vegetarian Cooking. This workshop is to be held Monday June 21st facilitated by Mark Anthony. According to the blurb I found on the flier, "Mark makes regular appearances on T.V. including regular appearances on the 3ABN Network. He will present the topics of Plant Based Health & Nutrition, Vegetarian and Vegan Cooking. As a bonus, Mark will prepare a healthy and delicious meal for all!" The workshop is free but they are asking for a free-will offering, so treat it as a pay-what-you-can event. If one is interested call A.S.A.P. (that's what the flier says) 2/ 797-9255 to reserve or R.S.V.P.
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Restaurants along R St.


I spy with my little eye, shiny new stock pots at the corner of New Jersey and R, where a Thai restaurant is supposed to open sometime this year. Well they looked like stock pots and the usual barriers that were up for most of the construction was down.

I spied earlier that Toque a few blocks over at 6th and R had interesting things on the table, but it is in waiting. And while it is waiting it has a softball sized hole in the window.

Flower Power and the Treebox thing

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Yesterday, Caryn of the BACA blog sent out an email calling for more treeboxes to be signed up for the June 5th event. Not enough people have signed up. I mentioned it to a neighbor on my street, he'd heard of it but didn't think his treebox needed any more plants. My side of the block several treeboxes are still coasting on what was planted in the Fall of last year. But still, more participation is needed, if your ANC is Anita Bonds you're in the BACA area and if yours or a neighboring treebox can do with some plants (or dirt or mulch) please sign up at http://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?hl=en&formkey=dGhjbFdWNUxPWnE0ZjZWWFVlZjdPd0E6MA to pick up the items on June 5th. It is asked that you take a before and after photo. In the Fall our block managed to get a new tree out of the deal.
Also with low participation, so far, are nominations for Flower Power. Of course the deadline for nominations is two weeks away.