May 2011 Archives

Another shooting near P & NJ Ave NW

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This time someone was hit. See more over at HomicideWatch.Org "Double Shooting Near Truxton Cirlce Kills Man."

Also I'd encourage folks to support Homicide Watch by hitting their Paypal button (you can change the amount you give, every little bit helps). They look at homidices all over the city and give voice to victim's friends and families long after the professional media has moved on.

Anyone interested in a canning party?

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Since the Help hasn't made any plans for Memorial Day that's up for grabs (well until he bothers telling me he was actually planning something but forgot to tell me). Anyway I bought a butt load of strawberries, got some bananas (but I might just dehydrate those), and 1 pineapple, things to be canned. Since I'm canning I figure I can share the skill with anyone willing to learn. My kitchen can hold 2 other people, 3 tops if I move something in the living room. These things involve hot water canning, which you don't need a lot of equipment for if you're using 1/2 pint jars or smaller.
My qualifications to teach are that I've been canning for 2 years and no one has died and I used to be a TA for an Intro to Western Civilization class at UMASS a zillion years ago. If that's good enough for you drop me an email before with your phone # Sunday (5/29) night if you're interested in Memorial Day. If you want some other time, then contact me any time in the next week. My address? You know my url Just replace the "blog." with a "mari@". 

Shooting at Mosque on 4th or Islamic Way

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I came home yesterday to seeing P Street blocked off at New Jersey. I asked my neighbors who were outside what happened, they said some kids got into a fight. I counted 2 news trucks and a handful of police cruisers, that must have been some fight. But then we got to chatting about other stuff and I went home to fix dinner. Then the Help came home and told me he heard it was a shooting on WTOP.
According to WTOP an off-duty officer who was at the mosque for Friday prayers, exchanged gun fire with a man after the officer escorted the man out for yelling at the imam.
WJLA Channel 7 has something on the topic as well.
No one was hit and the man's complaint with the mosque does not appear to have anything to do with the loud call to prayer that can be heard several blocks away.

From DDOT, though MVSQ gives the 29th:

Saturday May 28th United House of Prayer

DC Police News Release MPD Office of Communications ( Washington, DC)-The Metropolitan Police Department would like to inform the public that multiple events are scheduled to be held this Memorial Day weekend. On Saturday, May 28, 2011, the United House of Prayer for All People will hold its annual Memorial Day parade. This event will begin at 12:00 noon and will conclude at approximately 3:00 pm. The parade will take place along the following route: • Begin 6th & M Streets, NW • North on 6th St. to S St. • West on S St. to 13th St. • South on 13th St. to Logan Circle • Southwest around Logan Circle to P St. • East on P St. to 7th St. • South on 7th St. to M St. • East on M St. to 6th St. where the parade will end Motorists traveling in the area of both of these events may encounter traffic delays and heavy pedestrian traffic due to the extended road closures. In addition to the roads listed above, many roads leading to these processional routes may be closed as well. Please use extreme caution when driving in these areas. All street closures and listed times are subject to change based upon prevailing or unexpected conditions.
People whichever day, be it Saturday or Sunday, traffic is going to be a mess. Stay home or use the subway. This happens every year, it can be a fun parade to watch (bring the kids!) or a horrible imposition to the unwarned. 

Ward 6 draft, an interesting shape

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The Shaw Neighborhood listserv is abuzz. Take a gander or a goose at this plan map and note how the Convention Center gets to stay in Ward 2 and the areas that CM Evans finds troublesome gets kicked over to Ward 6. The Ward 5 part of Shaw, aka Truxton, stays in Ward 5, unchanged.

Ward boundaries have a way of redefining neighborhood boundaries because of the city representatives and their staff that you have to deal with. It also redefines it because the neighborhood resources in the form of people, the organizers and the like interact less and less, I'm thinking of Ofc. Tommy Barnes when my area was no longer part of the 3rd District. Also note how Truxton is considered at many times as not part of Shaw. Those points west of 9th and the Convention Center won't be considered part of Shaw in time as new people from other parts of the country move in.

Also CM Jack Evans is getting to keep Gallery Place, Mt. Vernon Triangle (dumping the 1/2 the Square neighborhood) and the cool parts of downtown. He's also getting a more Anglo hood. There will still be some blacks and latinos in Ward 2, but think about the census maps showing racial majorities, he's getting a whiter ward. As much as I like Jack (from a distance) it's better this way. Unlike CM Graham or CM Wells, he hasn't been able to deal well with racial-income diversity problems, it's just not in his politico skills toolbox. I still think he's make a better Council Chair than Brown.

Addition- Oh, that tiny portion of southern Truxton that was part of Ward 6, welcome to Ward 5.

When I came home I took a quick look at my peas and they aren't looking too good. Upon closer inspection the aphids were all on one plant and the pods of several others looked like they were going to dry out. I figure I should pick, de-pod and freeze my peas. So I rushed to grab as many peas off the vine that looked ready to go. It's getting hot, and peas don't do hot.
As I was harvesting one of my neighbors happened by and as we were talking (sorry for no eye contact E.) I mentioned the aphids. He asked about natural pesticides, hot pepper and such. I am a lazy gardener with lots of bad habits, because I entertain those bad habits, failure is an option. A learning experience too, but an option. My garden tends to be pesticide free because I am too lazy to bother, and thus there are things that will be lost to the bugs because of that. I accept that. There will be time when I find the energy and curiosity to tackle nature, but most of the time, nah. My solution to the aphids is to attack the peas with a strong spray of water. I'm bad with watering too.
I'm going to let the peas do their thing for the next week or two if daytime temperatures wander down to 75F. If they stick around the 80s and low 90s, the peas are done. They've given me veggies and they put nitrogen in the soil. Also I need to start supporting the tomato that's growing in that spot. Yes, despite getting almost nothing last year with tomatoes, I'm trying again. I'm letting some self sowers grow,even though I don't expect much.
When I escaped the mosquitoes eating me outside, I shelled the peas and wound up with 1.25 cups. Some of the peas were due for shelling, as raw they tasted horrid, others still okay with a hint of sweetness. After boiling them for 3 minutes and running cold water over them to stop the cooking, the starchy horrid ones were ok and the sweet ones still held some sweetness. I drained them and stuck them in a sandwich bag in the freezer. I'll use them up by the end of summer.
With the heat some things exploded in size. The tomatoes, the eggplant, some broccoli thing I got from a neighbor, and the beans, they doubled in size. I look forward to that harvest.

Ward Changes

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The Shaw Neighborhood Yahoo listserv is interesting regarding the possible changes to the Ward 2 to possibly Ward 6 changes. I'm in the TC part of Shaw, which is in Ward 5 (we were all one neighborhood before the Ward system that popped up in the 70s). It appears the need for Ward 2 to dump some areas means Shaw is going to get fractured some more with parts going off to Ward 6. Central Shaw's relationship with Councilmember Jack Evans has been rocky, so a switch over may be helpful.

However, when and where the change occurs there will be some adjustment problems when other politcal boundaries don't match up with other borders, like police boundaries. Also there is the adjustment of dealing with new staff of councilmembers or the mayor's ward whatever staff.

Dinner for the past couple of days

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lamb's quarters

 Sitting in the backyard enjoying a weekend evening I reached over and grabbed some lambs quarters leaves and showed them to the Help. For years I've been yanking these things out as soon as I saw them and leaving them to die because I didn't know what they were and decided they were a useless weed. They aren't useless, just unexciting. I'm letting one plant grow and adding the leaves to our backyard salad mix. For the past few days I've made our dinner salad from the back yard lettuces. Some of them are begining to bolt and go to seed. To get rid of the bitterness I soak them in cold water and sit them in the fridge for a spell. I'll mix in some lamb's quarters and the little bit of purslane popping up with the other lettuces. I LOVE purslane, lambs quarters, eh, no love, but no more weedy hate. While we were sitting out back I grabbed some lambs quarters leaves dipped them in the olive oil garlicy marinade the sardines I finished, and gave them a nibble. Tolerable. The baby snow peas dipped in the marinade, much better.

I aslo used a few ounces of alpine strawberries to some strawberries from BFM (Bloomingdale Farmer's Market) for a preserve I plan to can. Which reminds me, I should do a canning party.

Yesterday I made a chicken soup using peas from the yard. I'd say 1/4 a cup of peas. It was a freezer clean out chicken soup. Take some chicken broth that needed to get used up because it was taking up space in the freezer or the use by date was soon, throw in frozen chicken carcass from the night before with tons of meat still on the bones, some chopped leeks frozen over from last year or the year before (the date was smuged), and a sprig of rosemary from the backyard, boil for 2 hours while you do other things. At some point take chicken carass out in a colander over a bowl and shred chicken meat that hasn't fallen off. Put meat in soup. Set aside bones for stock. Ask hubby if he wants noodles or potatoes. Cut up potatoes that have been lingering unused in bottom of fridge. Take bad potatoes to compost bin. Boil good potatoes. 10 minutes before serving throw in peas. Marry potatoes and soup in bowl. Freeze leftovers immediately. Enjoy.


Image Credit: Henna Lion Flicker- 

Well it has been 10 years. After much research and thankfully having one of my bids for a smaller house on 5th Street not go through, I landed in Truxton Circle, eastern Shaw on a wonderful block that had its problems. I was single, younger (29/30ish), and making the starting salary of my profession (low $30K range).

Slowly, over time, this block, this neighborhood and the hood right next to it (Bloomingdale/ Eckington) have become more attractive and pleasant. There have been changes in that 10 year and I am going to try to spend the next couple of days reflecting on those changes.

Back when I began the blog sometime in 2003, and thought only a few of my friends were reading, I guess my names for people was a bit mean, Drama Momma (DM) and Cindy the Crackho, being two that spring to mind. Then there is Alley Cleaning Man, who would tape up terse messages. I still see them around. I don't still see the crazy woman who lived across the alley and would scream at her kids all night long. Nor the crackhead Velveeta, yes, someone was named Velveeta, I did not make this one up.

Drama Momma (DM) may have moved in around 2002 or 2003 with her son who had some serious anger issues. According to others she and her son had lived a block up some years before, where her son terrorized the neighbors up there. When she landed on our street it was rough. First she was f*ing loud. Stereo blastin' all day and all night loud. Then was the busted water pipe that winter. I'm the first of the basements, though I have more of a crawlspace/ basement for munchkins, and the water from her house rolled down hill and hit my crawlspace making my sump pump go off every 3.5 minutes for days. I had WASA come out and they cut off her water. She retaliated and cut off my water. She'd also curse me out on the street. She moved out sometime in 2008 or 2009 after her landlord starting losing a lot of properties to forclosure. I see her around, so she's only a few blocks away.

Cindy has been around forever. People who lived on one particular block during her working years all had a Cindy story. There was the time one couple spotted her working in the alley from their balcony, and they yelled at her. Another neighbor found her 1/2 naked in his yard cleaning herself off with a hose. She's also very friendly, she's not mean. Thankfully I haven't heard of her doing any more work lately, but she still walking around. She'll hit up the two places near us that serve food to the homeless and I'll see her taking a plate with her.

I think Alley Cleaning Man is a homeowner. When I first arrived he was the one posting signs threatening to call the city for dumping. Oh, and would our alley get dumped on. Illegal dumping was a serious problem early on. If the dumpers didn't dump in somone's backyard, they littered the alley. But as more people moved in, fixed up and put gates on their back property, that became less of a problem. Then the notes turned on us. He mistook one of IT's art installations that IT placed in the back garden as trash, and slapped a sign on B and IT's fence about the "trash". Then he put a note on my fence insinuating that I had dumped something in the alley. Now the signs are no more. I still hear him in the alley sweeping trash to the sides.

Crime & Cancer


My brand new father in law (FIL), the Help's dad, is going to die of lung cancer sometime this year. Non-smokers can get lung cancer but FIL was a smoker, a heavy smoker, so was my mother-in-law (MIL). She quit when she needed heart surgery, he quit 3 years ago when he got the cancer diagnosis.

There is nothing to do now but to save up annual leave and money for the eventual funeral that will come. The damage is done with FIL, we call often so the last words he hears from us is "we love you." At the same time discussions with the step-MIL, family and friends, acknowledges his smoking brought us ('us' because his suffering is not just limited to him) all to where we're at now.

Same way with crime and the city. Like the non-smoker who gets the cancer there are citizens who engage in safe practices who will unfortunately meet up with a determined criminal. And then there are the hundreds of stolen iphone/bike, smash & grab victims in waiting I see all over the place. Stop holding your phone out. Lock your bike like there is a thief with a pair of bolt cutters watching you like a hawk and for the love of pete stop leaving crap in your car seats. Of course, after the criminals have struck there is nothing to do but call the cops, your insurance, the phone company and the auto shop. The suffering spreads out in giving the criminal positive feedback to repeat it again with someone else, the crime stats tick up, and we all feel a little less safe.

Getting back to smoking, kids, please quit. Or start trying to quit, because quitting is hard. Quit on your own and not after a surgeon has to crack open your chest trying to remove the cancer or to fix your heart. Quit before it saps your energy and vigor and the people who love you are forced to watch you rapidly decline, knowing there is nothing, nothing we can do to change it. We can rage at the tobacco companies all we want but it is the smoker, the victim in this, who has to be the one to quit.

Mess of greens

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turnip greens
I am a bad southerner. I don't like greens. I'll eat them, but I'm not a big fan. I can live without sweet tea too, sweetened tea yes, cavities in a cup tea, no.
Anyway, I'm waiting for the Aunt to come by and pick up these greens I picked from the yard this morning. I washed most of the dirt and slugs off, she can do the more involved cleaning.
I'm growing them for her. The few, and I mean few turnips that I am growing for me are staying in the ground.
When she dropped by before church she took a glance at them and said they were just big enough. I had talked to her earlier saying I needed to cut some back. My garden style is to throw down a bunch of seeds and then pull out things to encourage growth, as opposed to neat rows where things are the recommended 3-4 inches apart. This is fine for salads. I pulled out a small bowl, 1/2 a pound maybe of baby arugula for a neighbor this week. That will help the remaining arugula get bigger.
I don't just grow for myself and the Help, I grow for other folks too.

Firehouse Fundraiser Still On

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When I ran into Lonna Hooks and Geovanni (BACA prez) they said it was still on. So I cut and paste for you tomorrow's event:

What`s the 9-1-1? 
North Capitol Main Street is heating it up at the old firehouse!
Join us this Saturday, May 21st, from 7 to 10 PM, 1626 North Capitol Street,
NW.  $25 bucks (in advance, $30 at the door) gets you awesome live jazz, wine
and beer, good eats, and door prizes from some of the hot businesses in this
cool part of town.

North Capitol Main Street is a catalyst for commercial revitalization in the
North Capitol corridor. Have you heard about Rustik Tavern? Happy hour at Big
Bear? Field to City? The Bloomingdale Farmers` Market?  Green Paws DC? Uncle
Chips Cookies? Glamm?  And the much-anticipated Engine Co. 12? The heat is
rising on North Capitol Street, and you can be a part of it! 

Help us make our city a more vibrant place.  Buy your tickets online: .  And tell your friends!!

Pop-up at 1644 North Cap has vague permits

Bloomingdale blog has a pic of the coming pop-up, but on the listserv there was a question about permits. There are permits (D1100165, B1101529, and B1101383) but so far I can't tell what exactly they entail. I could have sworn there was some spot on the DCRA website that went into what the limits of the permit were, but all I can find is when the permit was approved. Vague.

A cup of Strawberries and 1/4 cup of peas

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Today's garden haulAlpine Strawberry I'm going to try to document what I harvest from my itty bitty yard that isn't the odd sprig of thyme. What you see in the first picture are the peas I got from the front yard. I shelled those and threw them in some boiling water with some pasta that was finishing up. The strawberries are headed for yogurt.
The strawberry plants need to be moved into a bigger pot so they can divide and make more strawberries. Thankfully alpine strawberries, though small, can stand to be ignored most of the time and seem to thrive without much sun. Those plants are on the side of the yard getting the least amount of sun.

Quick lazy edible garden ideas

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I've got some for you, feel free to use:

1. Spring onions. I put the onions I bought but I didn't use in a flower pot. I get a stick, make a hole, put the spring onion in the hole. Works the same for leeks too. I water them like regular onions I planted from seed and harvest when needed. Also the ends, you can try to replant the part with the root attached and regrow a new onion.

2. Lemongrass. I now can see the lemongrass I bought from the warehouse area over on Florida took root in the flower pot. What I did was buy two stalks of lemongras that looked like it was cut close to the root and stuck them in some dirt in a pot. Well it has taken several months but it looks like they've taken root.

3. Pansies and impatiens- Buy them from the big box store or other spot. Cut off all the flowers because heaven knows what's been sprayed on them. Plant them and new flowers should be edible for garnishes.

4. Purslane- Get the seed, this stuff grows easy in DC (particulary between sidewalk cracks), and doesn't take much effort on your part. It is considered a weed by many. A very tasty weed, yummy with a nice lime juice and garlic dressing.


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Today I got one of those emails from a retired relative who shall remain nameless. It was one of those emails that warns against some vague danger from doing some normal activity that women do. Now my normal course of action is to delete the email or reply with a link to, a very helpful website.

Now as usual the unnamed relative didn't bother deleting the trail of emails showing how this got forwarded. I'm seeing a boatload of addresses and the originating message supposidly came from an office with MPD, but a web search shows that as false. However the group of emails listed prior to my relative sending it to a bunch of other relatives (this is helpful because I don't think I had my cousins' emails), come from DPW. But it is possible that is fake too.

What I do know is I get these things from well meaning older women and well I really wish they'd check before hitting the forward button. So here's my public announcment, stop it. Also nix the musical hearts and ballons sappy crap too.

Home Production

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NOTE: This was an unpublished draft that for one reason or another I did not publish on the date given. In order to clear out my draft folder on 12-16-2013 I chose to publish it. However, I won't vouch for the completeness or accuracy of it, and it most likely does not reflect my opinion anymore.

It takes a few years of learning from one's mistakes but here's what I know:

Vinegar- I've been making my own white and red wine vinegar after getting some 'mother of vinegar' from eBay. What I do is water down the leftover wine, also known as opened wine that's been sitting around to long, till it's about 5-6% alcohol, put it in a large pickle jar, throw in the mother, cover it with a paper towel held down by the jar top or a rubber band, plop it in a dark cool spot that doesn't vibrate (freezers, fridges, things with motors vibrate) and forget about it. In about a few weeks I check to see if a another mother has formed on the top. Also don't stick them in a small room, the smell can be overpowering. After 3 months I get my vinegar. If I want to avoid having a mother grow inside my vinegar dispenser, I have to strain and heat (don't boil) it. I have found the mother is useful in discouraging ants outside.

Salad- Around this time is a good time to plant arugula. I don't plant in nice rows. One year my method was to take a handful of arugula seed and throw it against the house. This year I decided to boadcast them in one section of the yard. This method might work if you have good soil. Right now I have baby arugula. I thin them out by eating them. I grab a bunch, pull them out and cut off their little roots.  There is also salad growing from seeds planted in the Fall, but it is getting to it's last legs. The Fall arugula is flowering, and the flowers are edible. The Fall planted mesclun is getting leggy. Years before when it would get hotter and they'd get tall I'd toss them because the leaves tasted bitter. I found out if I washed them in cold, cold water, then sat them in the fridge the bitterness is greatly reduced. They aren't sweet as they were in Spring, but they aren't bitter. I can say now that about 1/2 of the salad we've eaten at home this year has come out of the yard. The corn salad has gone to seed. Corn salad is good in Winter and Spring. The only problem with Winter is they are frozen in the pots and impossible to harvest.

Cherry Liquor/ Boozy Cherries- The boozy fruit has it's fans. Take large quart or bigger jar, fill with unblemished unpitted cherries. Fill about 1/2 a jar. Then cover with sugar. Try to get a layer of sugar on top. Throw in a vanilla pod. Then pour in to the top, good vodka. Ignore for 3 months in the back of a closet or on top of the fridge (kind of hard to ignore there). In the end you have boozy fruit, which people love and cherry liquor, which is okay. You can have the boozy fruit sit around longer than 3 months if you want.

WP on HUD housing

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The Post can be a good paper, too. It's investigation of HUD (Housing and Urban Development) projects. Richard Layman has an interesting post about the topic.

Because Shaw is what it is, a neighborhood with a history and a present dealing with affordable housing projects, a city that will always have a need for affordable housing. Then there are things that include housing that's waiting around for some HUD financing to move forward... CityMarket at O, I'm looking at you.

My frustration reading the Post articles is not so much the waste, incompetence, and occassional fraud, it's the lanquishing projects. We've got several languishing projects in and near Shaw. And the excuses seem to ring horribly hollow when other projects, conceived of after the languishing ones, are already up running and functional, regardless if HUD was involved or not.

I don't know, maybe we're not supposed to take the 5 Myths series in the Sunday Washington Post seriously. I've read them before and disagreed with some points, but this week's one bugged me with a couple of what I thought of as stupid.

Here are the two that get my goat, "3. Interns enjoy workplace protections" and "4. Not paying interns is legal." The two seem to cancel each other out. In practice yes, interns do not enjoy workplace protections under US law (maybe under individual workplace policy, but not law) because they are not employees. By the same token, in practice not paying interns doesn't seem to be anything that has been prosecuted. The author Ross Perlin quotes a court case for the failure of legal protection, but a law and a statement that unpaid internships are "probably illegal", which is kinda weak.
I have no disagreement with #5, "D.C. interns just answer phones." I agree they do more than that.
My disagreement with Perlin on #1 and #2, "Anyone can do an internship" and "Internships lead to full-time work" are in that the statements are just fuzzy and board enough that it can depend on perspective.  My problem with #1 is that he seems to argue against a statement saying "internships are paid and easy," not the statement written. For the #2, the answer is maybe. When I was more involved in my professional college's alumni association I encouraged students I talked to about the importance of internships and library (my profession) related work experience. Unpaid has it's perks (not as great as paid) in that it can get you in the door of more prestigious spots. For me it was the Library of Congress, not the little known archive no one has heard of. Of course I was there too and re-encountered the man I'd marry, and the people who were excellent references when I did apply for the real world jobs. 
Maybe it's a grad school thing, but getting some work experience in your chosen profession, be it paid or unpaid is a must, even if it is only for a semester because it is more than nothing. For the Help's last semester, talked him into (including some begging) to do a practicum, or unpaid but grad school credited work at an institution that wasn't his. So using his annual leave, he'd work downtown for free at another archive for an institution that was slightly related to his library's focus. He's made contacts for himself and his library and museum, improved his knowledge and made links in other areas of his professional/semi-professional life. For myself, my internships and work-study work showed up on my resumes and KSAs. They were proof that I knew the work.

The BACA Blog has the long letter here from the President of the Bloomingdale Civic Association. what I like about the letter is that is spells out some steps in the process of obtaining a license and where the party for Engine Company 12 fell short. The good news is that the civic association is still willing to work with EC-12.

I say blame the 1st letter on low blood sugar, state that it's going to take longer than expected and the community's patience is welcomed.

Not feeling hopeful about Shaw Tavern either


Steve May's name is associated with Shaw Tavern as well. And like Engine Company 12, I have a feeling won't open as soon as it hoped for either. Left for LeDroit mentioned that it was slated to open mid-June. Now I'll admit I haven't walked over by 6th and Florida in a few weeks, but I haven't seen a sign announcing what kind of license they will be pursuing, unless it will be part liquor store and by chance the old license remains. Anyone over there see or hear anything about a voluntary agreement being written up? Anything regarding any movement towards getting the various other licenses/permits/inspections to establish an eatery even if the building was up and ready?

Even with the letter blaming the community for their lack of getting a speedy license these ventures still have some community goodwill in the bank. Maybe Shaw Tavern may go the route of BBC and Beau Thai, opening first then pursuing a liquor license. But if that model won't work, I'd suggest working on that license thing asap.

Need info on shooting on 200 block of Q St NW

Via an email from BACA prez Geovani:

Dear Neighbors, please read the details sent from Commander Soldberg. Though the reports says non-life threatening injuries, Fox 5 News just reported at 10:50pm that 1 of the victims had life threatening injuries.


For those of you that reside on the 100 and 200 block of Q ST NW , or if you were in the area around that time walking your dog and saw something, MPD needs your assistance with any information you can provide. Please don't assume that what you may have seen is not helpful, let MPD decide that. Also, if you have a security camera facing that area, I ask that you please review the recordings to see if there may be any useful information there. If you wish to make any information available to MPD anonymously, you can always do so.


Geovani A. Bonilla

Bates Area Civic Association <info snip>

From: [] On Behalf Of Solberg, Andrew (MPD)
Sent: Thursday, May 12, 2011 10:27 PM
To: ''
Subject: [MPD-5D] Shooting



Shooting tonight at 9:15 pm in the courtyard of 201 Q St NW . Three victims--an adult female, adult male, and juvenile male--all suffered non life-threatening injuries while in the courtyard at this address.

Three possible suspects last seen toward Florida Avenue NW on foot.

Andy Solberg

Preventing terrorism is everybody's business.
If you SEE something, SAY something.
Call the Metropolitan Police Department at (202) 727-9099 or email at SAR@DC.GOV to report suspicious activity or behavior that has already occurred.
Call 911 to report in-progress threats or emergencies.

To learn more, visit

Don't mistake my laziness for lack of support

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As seen on PoP:

An Open Letter to the Community
Re: Scheduled Opening of Engine Company 12

To all local residents,

Due to the lack of open support from community leaders and local civic associations, it has become necessary to delay the opening of Engine Company 12 from July 1, 2011 to September 1, 2011. We have tried for the past several months to garner letters of support from local area civic associations and the Advisory Neighborhood Commission without success. Without these letters the process to obtain an alcohol license from the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration is drastically slower. Operating a restaurant of this size without an active ABRA license would be financially unfeasible.

Representatives from Engine Company 12 have been attending and presenting at local area civic association meetings and hosting meet and greets off and on for the past four months. It is unfortunate that this philosophy of open communication with local residents and civic leaders has not garnered the support necessary to yield letters of support from local groups.

If we are unable to obtain letters of support from the local civic associations and the Advisory Neighborhood Commission in the next 30-45 days the opening date will need to be delayed until after the start of the New Year. I apologize for this and we are still working diligently to get this project up and running as quickly as possible.


Steven M. May Jr.
General Manager
Engine Company 12

"Due to a lack of open support"... huh? I was under the impression we in the TC and folks in Bloomingdale were looking forward to it. So 'looking forward' ≠ 'open support'?

Okay, just a shout out to those places opening up or in the next few months and you haven't gotten your ABC license yet, do that early. Particularly if your business won't survive 24 hours without it. Shaw Tavern? Unless there is some grandfathered license how the heck is that place supposed to open some time in the next few months? I haven't seen the sick orange poster announcing a license.

I'm going to take the Ms Manner's tactic in guessing that the letter writer is completely unware that he's blaming the neighborhood civic associations, ANCs and residents for their failure to get a license. When as far as I know, the B'dale and BACA Assocs have not challanged them. And I have no idea of the ANC 5Cs role. Heck I haven't even heard of any back and forth regarding a voluntary agreement. Also only just recently (past few months) there have been signs that the project was moving along after years of stops, starts and confusion. It would seem to be unrealistic that the neighborhood jump into action for something that takes a bit more work on the requestors' end. As someone stated on the Bloomingdale blog maybe the letter writer can come (or have a rep come) to the Bloomingdale Civic Assoc. meeting Monday the 16th and explain what he meant in the letter and hey maybe actually get that open support the firehouse needed. 

Disclaimer: This is just from my own experience, your personal narrative may be different.

People Will Steal Veggies- Nope, but the f*ing squirrels will. Most people are very hesistant to take an unknown item and put it into their bodies. Also with people like my friend Jimbo who likes to plant things that will kill you, how does one know that it's really a tomato or a posionous something that just looks like a tomato? People will steal your flowers. I'm amazed of not hearing of missing flowers around Mother's Day.

The Food Will Attract Rodents- Not exactly, is a squirrel a rodent? The plants provide cover which rodents seem to like, but even non-food plants do that. I've found evidence of squirrels going after my tomatoes and cucumbers/melons, because I will find a 1/2 eaten fruit on top of my fence.

Lead In The Soil- Maybe, maybe not. In my case not. I had it tested by the University of Massachusetts for less than $20. Considering there is always a chance that there is lead in your water because WASA claims that old lead pipe is really yours, or whatever, I say maybe.

Bad Soil- What's so bad about it and what can you do to make it better? I had the same crappy clay soil, but I tore out the old tree roots, amended the soil with peat moss, and other soil lighteners, compost, organic fertilizer like blood meal and bone meal. Now I can be lazy and haphazard with the gardening because the soil is healthy. 

Not Enough Sun- I don't get the full 8 or 7 hours on either side of my yard but managed to get good results with arugula, alpine strawberry, thyme, spring onions, sage, cilantro, parsley and mint. Sometimes I get lucky with tomatoes, peas and beans. Unless your yard is completely shaded and not even weeds grow, then you may have a point. If weeds do grow in your yard, then plant where the weeds are (remove the weeds), that's where you're getting sun. Impatiens, like the shade and you can eat the flower. Also my alpine strawberries, they sit on the shady side of the yard and I'm just now getting some berries. Tiny berries, but edible berries from about 2 hours of direct sun.

Not Enough Space- When I was in grad school, living in the dorms I remember growing these sickly basil plants in my dorm window. I didn't get a lot of sun, and there was a tree in front of me. I gave some to a gal on the other side of the dorms (I could see her window from mine on the other side of the parking lot), and they thrived in her room. From my room I saw this forest of basil, she had so much she was begging other to take some. Now I have a front yard that, minus the walking space is about 6x10 +/- a few feet. The back yard is nothing but concrete so everything is in a container, most on wheels. So be it a window or the yard the size of a large area rug, you can grow something.

Instead of naming this miscellany, here goes:

* Walking by Beau Thai this weekend I noticed their sign stating they now serve beer and wine and spirits. What wine goes best with panang? Also is outdoor seating soon to follow?

* Also this weekend, ran into Beau Thai's owner's brother, Taw, owner of Thai-Xing. He's well.

*Garden going well enough. Peas producing. Picked about 6 pea pods and ate them raw. There is old arugula and baby arugula both going. Old arugula going to seed. Baby arugula screaming to be salad. I also decided to move soil from a container I'd been using into a new one. I figure the soil has been depleted and mixed in some compost and new store bought soil in a new pot. Most of the tomatoes are in the ground. I still have a few tomato seedlings inside. Because I got almost 0 tomatoes last year, I'm a bit hesistant to invest too much space or money in tomatoes. There are some volunteer tomato plants that have popped up from the ground, we'll see if they do anything.

In the pots I'm planting beans. Last year beans did well. This year I'm trying fava, in addition to string. I'm also trying to plant lavender in the ground. There are seedlings in the window and I'll find a permanant home for them. I've used up most of the lavender collected last year, before I killed my plants, in a lavender honey ice cream. The honey was from a friend who lives blocks from the beltway.

* Saw a buzzard or a vulture in the empty window space of an abandoned house on New Jersey Avenue. We saw it from the car and when we went back to take another look, it was gone. Or it decided to go into the house.

*I'm guessing but I believe the Bloomingdale Farmer's Market will be back May 15th, because that's when Asbury Farms will be bringing our pre-ordered lamb. I also chatted with Stefano of Copper Pot (Penn Quarter Market has been on for weeks now) and he expected to be back around about the 15th. 

*According to Frozen Tropics, NoMa is getting a farmer's market. It starts up on June 1st.

*Lastly. CCCA Prez reflects on the changes in the neighborhood, on how a crime filled b-ball court became a place for children.

Carrots or instruments of gentrification

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 NOTE: This was an unpublished draft that for one reason or another I did not publish on the date given. In order to clear out my draft folder on 12-16-2013 I chose to publish it. However, I won't vouch for the completeness or accuracy of it, and it most likely does not reflect my opinion anymore.

The thing I like about the Philadelphia city website is that seems to know about revenue and raising it. On the front page, near the top they provide an easy opportunity for you to pay them, be it for taxes, permits, or parking fines. It says, "Hi, you owe us money." Today it also seems to say, "Let us assist you on finding a job (so you can pay us our money)." DC however, I got to hunt to find out how much I still owe because my mortgage company didn't cover the tax bill.

As far as I can tell the DC government makes a good chunk of money off the value of my home and my income followed by sales taxes.


Other links-


Not the TV show.

This is very hard for me to put my finger on but it is something I've noticed at community meetings, on listserv threads and the odd flier lying on the sidewalk, it is the definition of community. Sometimes unspoken/unwritten is the hint that the 'community' that needs representation, advocacy, voice does not include people who don't fit a racial type, income level, longevity, age, or residency that does not reflect any boundary recognized by the DC government.

A few instances that come to mind was a couple of years ago regarding Bundy Field. At one BACA meeting a number of persons from the Northwest Co-op over on 5th St (not to be confused with the co-op btwn Q and R actually in the Bates Area) came to speak out against the idea of a dog park at Bundy Field. As one speaker began talking about 'community' it seemed clear her definition excluded me, as I lived on the other side of New Jersey (never mind that they came over to our community meeting) and didn't have children. Her speech also hinted that she was excluding the homeowners and childless dog owners on her own street as well.

I see it in other things as well. With the talk about parking around Big Bear and the Bloomingdale Farmer's Market, where 'community' means me, and those who agree with me, and the outsider is defined as those who disagree and so their residency questioned and proximity dismissed.

I'm tagging this as "gentrification" because I think it is a product of the neighborhood being heterogeneous, of it still being transitional with changing demographics.

Wal-Mart, Always Low Expectations, ALWAYS

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Though the Help and I are in the same profession, our jobs are different. There are plenty of tasks where I can go on auto-pilot, however since he does more reference, he needs his full brain. While I'm engaged in very important mission centered tedious work, I listen to music or podcasts or audiobooks. The last audiobook I listened to was "The Wal-Mart Effect" by Charles Fishman. As an audiobook it wasn't half bad, and was quite informative. Towards the end there is some mention about Wal-Mart opening stores in innercity urban communities, which Wally World sees as a positive for the communities they are moving into. I chuckled and thought of one of my neighbors who's involved with the Wal-Mart Respect DC thing.

I've never really had any great expectations of Wal-Mart. I don't expect people to find their way out of poverty into the middle class by working there. My second-best friend worked there with her now ex-husband for a few years in our hometown years ago, back when Sam Walton was still alive. Of all her problems, the job at Wal-Mart didn't seem to be it. As far as jobs go I have the same expectations as I have for Bed, Bath & Beyond. What DC residents need is more education that provide them with real marketable skills in a knowledge economy, not unskilled stock jobs from Wally World.

Wal-Mart has apparently oversaturated the rural and suburban market and are heading into the cities. Cities, like our fair District. Since the stores would be smaller it would be interesting to see how these proposed DC stores would impact the grocery market. In Fishman's book the most interesting thing was that the second largest group of people shop at Wal-Mart, after people who really LOVE Wal-Mart, are conflicted shopppers. If you don't like Wal-Mart, don't shop there. But apparently Wal-Mart's magnetism is so friggin' strong even haters shop there.

Seriously, if you want the urban Wal-Mart idea to be considered a bust, don't. shop. there. Don't even drive to the suburban supercenter. Listening to the book, I heard the testimony of women whose American factory jobs were lost due to pressure from Wal-Mart who grudingly shop there, adding to the system that put them out of a job. This reveals something ugly about us Americans, we'll push our own grandmothers under the bus for lower priced crap.

I sure as heck don't shop at Timor/Field to City or the farmer's markets for low prices. I enjoy shopping there and get a few things. For the cheap stuff I head to Capital City Market on Florida Ave NE and Costco for that. My own Wal-Mart interaction is done once a year at most, mainly because I'm with a person who really likes Wal-Mart, and they're driving. I don't go out of my way for them. One can bad mouth Wal-Mart all one wants to but even the conflicted shopper, the shopper who goes to Wal-Mart hating them but not resisting their low prices, is a Wal-Mart supporter in deed.

Gentrification and culture clashes

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Walking to the BACA meeting with the Help last night I noticed about 4 black men, age ranging from late 40s to late 60s on the corner clustered together. Then along the sidewalk a white female jogger, thin, between 25-30ish. The men made a small path for her but she departed from the sidewalk, continued her pace in the street. As she was passing one of the men said "hello, baby". She seemed to ignore them.

I turned to my husband and said that the men most likely are unaware that the added "baby" can be interpreted as street harrassment and they will assume she was just another rude white woman. For one party it was about race, the other party gender.

A general rule is if someone says hello, say hello back, that's the lesson I got from reading "New to the Neighborhood" in the Wilson Quarterly. However, "baby", "sweetie", "sexy" and "mami" added to a greeting deserves ignoring. The article is a little bit more thoughtful than the usual new to the neighborhood "OMG I'm a gentrifier" handwringing article. Ms. Frozen Tropics is quoted, as well as some H Street movers and shakers. Yeah, it's about H Street.

What I really liked about the article, but also realize an area that could have used some more research, was on making housing affordable. Amanda Clarke, an AfAm architect who has rehabbed a couple of houses is quoted saying, "This whole idea of affordable, it's a tough one. What is affordable? What does that mean? Because if by definition things are changing, property values are going up as a result--just by the mere fact that all the vacancies are being renovated. Are you going to try to hold property values down? Do you renovate at a certain level? Do you lower the level? What do you do?" The author, Sarah Courteau might have looked at efforts by non-profits and the city in providing low cost housing in the area. But for the sake of brevity, I understand why that might now have been explored.

Reading the article there are all sort of clashes of culture regarding longevity, race, income, and current vs former residents. Also Courteau may have missed the church parking debate of the early 00s that happened in Shaw that appears to be playing itself out in NE by those who might not get that praising G-d doesn't require blocking residents.

Courteau acknowledges an aspect of her demographic, it's mobility. She writes, "Some gentrifiers move in and stay, but many, like me, have one foot outside the neighborhood from the start, anticipating the day when a new job or the birth of a baby who will grow up and need to attend a good school will prompt us to put a "For Sale" sign in the front yard." Kids are one thing but something that might need more exploration is moving for work. There are a couple instances where I can remember neighbors have put the house they renovated up for sale or rent to go chase a new/better job/transfer. Unlike the lower income neighbors who seem rooted into place, we mid-upper income folks will move on for the right challenge or price. That's part of our success.

Tuesday Miscellaney-Trees, Thomas and Food

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Yesterday was the BACA meeting. It was a good meeting. Low on the negativity. When we wandered in Carl Herwig from Casey Trees was speaking. The good news is that they will plant fruit trees, but not orange trees, because the cirtus will die in winter. Also if you need the big black buckets you can call the city at 311 or find Caseys offices and bug them.

Harry Thomas Jr. showed up around 8 something. This is why I like Thomas and dislike that idiot Orange. Thomas shows up at our meetings. My last impression of Orange, when he was the Ward 5 councilman, was that he was vaguely aware that there was a NW portion of his ward. Anyway he talked about anti-bullying legislation, the budget, Dunbar (there was a speaker at the meeting to talk about the modernization project), and the superstar athlete tax. There was some chatter about taxing $200K households and why taxing $100K households would include too many people. My thoughts, now that I'm in a dual income household is two GS-9 step 1 is $103,260, only to head up with step increases and whenever the pay freeze thaws. Taxes can punish the fact that one of the partners (usually the woman) is working. I've already experienced a negativity when I've had to write my biggest check to the IRS, because the legal marriage was in 2010.

Anyway, we left the meeting at 9:03, so if there was anything said about a community garden, something I was looking forward to hearing, we missed it. It was on the agenda.

Community gardens may be on the agenda for Bread of the City (with ONE DC and Common Good City Farm)'s "Food Justice" Saturday May 7th at Community Church at 614 S St NW. If the lottery for the 40 plots at Common Good City Farm said anything, there is a HUGE demand for community gardens in the city. Over 200 people were trying for 40 plots. In all honesty if ONE DC is involved, I get wary about the defintion of 'community' as my GS-9 couple would be excluded in that definition. However, despite not getting a plot, my experience with Common Good has been more than positive in how it relates to the community acknowledging all of its members, while making accomodations to those who need it most without excluding others.