August 2013 Archives

Decade in Review: Better, depends on your POV

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In 2004 I wrote:

But what do I mean by better? I feel safer. Whether not I actually AM safer is another thing but I FEEL safer walking down the street, going home. I can chalk it up to not seeing as many people hanging out in certain spots and the crowd of young people loitering down the block seems to have dwindled a bit. Joggers & dog walkers, they strangely make me feel safer, despite all my complaints about them.
I also mean better in aesthetics. An abandoned house is not a pretty thing. Every other house on the block abandoned is just plain ugly and depressing. Rehabbed houses, new construction, and sometimes a new paint job make it easy on the eyes when walking down the street. At times, a house can be inspiring and uplifting, far better than being depressed by decay.
Another "better" is being able to spend my money in my neighborhood. If there are more opportunities for me to go out and eat or buy somewhere near my home, that is a good thing. I am trying to train myself to go to Logan Hardware over the chaotic Rhode Island Ave Home Depot. I do try to keep an eye open for businesses close to home worthy of my money. And if it is just one thing, like milk, I will go to G&G quickie mart. Before, I had to leave Shaw to buy somethings or the mini marts had nothing I wanted to buy or were too icky to even think of walking in.
It's getting better.

I've been meaning to write something after I came across a neighbor who had been talking to some other neighbors who were pre-1990s old timers, people who bought way before the 2000s. He had thought the neighborhood was far better than it used to be, and I agree, but the old timers did not.

I chatted with the old timers and it just seemed we all had a different defintion of "better."

For them, it seemed to be an elimination of a certain problem, the dealers. I'd love it there were no more street dealers in the hood selling poison to fathers, mothers and kids. But I think things are better, because there are fewer street dealers than there were when I showed up, and the dealers who are around are a bunch of old guys who sell heroin. Old guys are an improvement from hot headed young guys selling crack.

Bike lanes, sit down restaurants, fewer vacant houses, more homeowners, speed humps, and garden walks mean nothing, because there are still drug dealers. Old timers are convinced the shoe is going to drop. I'm going to guess the dropping shoe may be spate of drug related gunfire on our otherwise quiet block, or some other drug related event.

I done broke the blog

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I can't find the answer in my backup and it is late.
Apparently last night I screwed around and deleted my index. By accident.
So the screen looks a little different and I can't remember for the life of me how to get it back to the way it was.
I'll fool around with it, but not tonight.

Slight update- If you click on individual posts things look fine, it's just the main page that screwed up.

Decade in Review: The front yard garden

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From 2004:

The joys of urban gardening. This summer has been very, very good to me with the rains and the not too hot heat. I've had a so-so yield of blueberries, decent output of tomatoes and the herbs I never eat are flourishing.
The problem with urban gardening, well gardening for me, is that I have a typical postage stamp yard. It could be worse, it could be smaller. I could have bought a bigger house, but it didn't have a yard. Not only is the yard small, it doesn't get a lot of "full sun". When I had the DC Agricultural Extention person out, yes, they'll come out, she wasn't hopeful about my gardening prospects. So I've been picky about what grows in the few areas of the tiny yard that gets the good dirt and the full sun.
When I first started digging for the garden you wouldn't believe the crap I found in the dirt. Besides the ten zillion bits of broken glass, reminants of an ugly red carpet, I have found money. Not silver dollars, (I wish) but dimes, nickels, good stuff.
After all that work, I wanted the plants to give back. No ornamentals for me. No. I want food producing plants. Also it is a cool thing to be cooking and walk outside and grab one of the ingredients. Neat.

Next year it will be 10 years of gardening from the front yard.

This year, growing in the front are a bunch of turnips that need to be offloaded to a certain relative, so I can make space for more turnips. There are some beets I should harvest, or should have harvested some time ago. It is just I have no desire for the beet greens. I'll look up something on Epicurious and have them tonight. I really want the beet roots if they haven't gone woody. In a pot I have some delicate red lettuces, hiding under a +&$@!** volunteer cherry tomato vine. This year I am more willing to cut the cherry tomato back so it doesn't take over 1/2 the yard. I'm also more willing to pull back the creeping thyme and the mint. Doing so I discovered more space. I have harvested some of the rather large spring onion types and used them in soups and tabouleh. A few nights ago I used them for a green onion trout dish that I just love. Beans are not doing too hot and the purslane is hit or miss. At one point it looks great and salad ready, the next moment, blah.

I have to smile looking at the old post and at what the person from the DC Extension Service had to say. I didn't say too much about what she said, but I remember that she didn't expect much to come from the front yard. I have managed to have a few good years of regular sized tomatoes. Lotsa of arugula when I wanted it. Leeks and spring onion when I managed not to kill the seedlings. Then there was the odd melon or cuke, peas, beets, turnips (Auntie LOVES the greens) and carrots. All that in a space around about 10x10, from a person who sometimes bothers to water, or plant. If I did nothing more at this point, or next year, the yard would be a carpet of mints and creeping thyme, a patch of arugula with a crazed volunteer cherry tomato plant.

Now if you're wondering how I got such a lively fruitful yard, I'll tell you it came from at least 2 years of hard work prepping the soil and various years of planting crap that would reseed ot take over, or both. I amended the soil with a good amount of sphagnum peat moss, my own compost (raw food scraps, shredder paper and worm poop), soils from Home Depot and some cool cocoa shell mulch from Behnke's.

It is still cool to be cooking and step outside for the ingredient.... but most of those are in the back yard.

I got this announcement for tomorrow:
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and Mayor Vincent Gray Will Speak 
WHO: Speakers include Richard Lake, Principal at Roadside Development; Eleanor Holmes Norton, Congresswoman; Vincent Gray, Mayor of the District of Columbia; Buwa Binitie, Principal at Dantes Partners; Jack Evans, Ward 2 Councilmember; Muriel Bowser, Ward 4 Councilmember; Tommy Wells, Ward 6 Councilmember; Alexander Padro, Executive Director of Shaw Main Streets, Inc. and ANC 6 Commissioner
WHAT: City Market at O will unveil the name of its Affordable Housing building for the Active Adult community (people 55+). Guests will be invited to tour a unit and see the progress being made at City Market at O.
WHERE: Southwest corner of 7th and P Streets, NW; Valet service provided
WHEN: Wednesday, August 21, 2:00 - 3:00 PM
WHY: This is a rare opportunity for the active adult community (people 55+) to enjoy intergenerational, modern apartment living in a desirable area of the city at an affordable cost. Their new home will feature deluxe amenities, with easy access to retail, transportation, jobs, and entertainment.
The Affordable Housing units are part of City Market at O's $300 million, one million-square foot urban infill project located next to the D.C. Convention Center.  The development's mix of retail and residential, and its close distance to METRO, position it to be a catalyst for the burgeoning Shaw neighborhood in the Northwest quadrant of the nation's capital.
The Affordable Housing units are developed by Roadside Development in partnership with Dante Partners. The 90 units are available to seniors older than 55 who earn 50% and 60% of the Average Median Income (AMI) in D.C. 72 units will go to those who earn 60% of AMI and 18 units will go to 50% earners.
As many of you know this whole block has been a long time coming. I see I was hearing about it back in 2004 where I wrote:
The big draw, for me, was the O Street market, which is the big block our beloved ghetto Giant sits on. Mr. Armond Spikell of Roadside Development, which I think owns the land, spoke of a new Giant, as the current one is inadequate and the loading dock on 9th Street takes up some valuable real estate. He had no plans to show because they are trying to incorporate the community's (must have been some other community group) concern over loss of parking. So they have to think underground parking, which is expensive. The general plan is to build a new Giant while the old one exists, then create a better Giant with more retail and other mixed used things. Then later get rid of the old Giant, once the new Giant is ready. The possible start date on any of this is 2006, and will take about 3 years.


2006. The plus side is that there is underground parking, and it will be mixed use, with retail and residential.

Now back to the affordable senior housing. I had to look up what the heck the AMI is nowadays, and like always, it depends on the size of the household. Also it would help to know if the units are 1 or 2 bedrooms, and how closely the management plans to monitor household size. Over here in the TC the question at the meetings, regarding housing at the MM Washington School, now senior housing, is how do you keep the nogoodnik adult grand-kids from calling the place home?

I guess that question would be answered by the incentive to keep the young people on the luxury-side and the guests at the Cambria Suites part, happy.

Anyway 50% AMI for a singleton is $37,625, for a couple, $43,000. I will imagine that the seniors who will populate the apartments are semi-retired and childless. Maybe someone who deals with the AARP crowd knows better. AMI is $107,500 and I gather for a family of four. Considering what is at the O Street Market, as opposed to what you get at the old MM Washington School (next to S.O.M.E.), there may be plenty of demand from the kind of seniors who would do well there.

UPDATE: I have been informed that all of the units are one bedroom. So, units best for singles and couples.

Decade in Review: Dunbar

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Today there is a ceremony for the shiny new Dunbar High School to open. The new Dunbar is a light airy building with a concept called windows. The old prison-like structure, the old Dunbar along New Jersey Avenue still stands and you can note the very few windows that building had.
The ceremony is to start around 2pm and everything wraps up at 7ish, with lots of speeches in the middle. School starts next week on the 26th. Hopefully the students will be inspired by a building that looks as if it is a modern building on a college campus and not a worn out county correctional facility. Really were all government buildings built around the late 60s early 70s meant to be depressing and gloomy?
Well this is a decade in review and in September 2009, I wrote:

Dunbar High School on New Jersey Avenue looms over the neighborhood. You can see the top of this tall ugly prison-like building from the corner of Florida and North Capitol. And I am near it, so I concede on that point that Dunbar could be a description of the neighborhood, as in 'near Dunbar'. It's tall enough and takes up enough acreage to be a landmark. Yeah, there was a nicer looking Dunbar, and a more notable Dunbar before the current building, but that's gone. And it is so close to several other schools, Cook (no e), Armstrong, Slater and Langston.

I don't think I can see the top of the new Dunbar, and I'll be happy when the old Dunbar comes down and it can no longer loom over the neighborhood with it's ugliness.

Decade in Review: Stock & Avatar

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Chicken Stock remains
I thought I mentioned stock at least more than once, but apparently it has been in passing. I've finished making a pot of chicken stock as part of my effort to clean out the kitchen freezer. It is a form of taking it easy. Later, maybe tomorrow, I will can it.
In the past couple of weeks we've been hosting my old blogspot avatar, our niece. Her face was, and still is my profile picture, though it isn't me and is no longer her. The cute eight year old has been replaced with a eyeliner wearing 13 year old who constantly wants to be on Facebook. We've managed to get another local relative to host her for the time being and so I am enjoying the quiet, until she's dropped off back at our house.
So I have quiet and chicken stock.
Looking back at the 2010 post, I've noticed that my food buying habits have changed. Then I wrote:
After the clean up I ran my usual Saturday errands, one being the warehouse area on Florida Ave NE. At US Beef I ran into Ms. Frozen Tropics, Elise, who had a hunk of meat for carnitas. I had a bag full of drumsticks for curry, two pounds of butter, for making ghee, and a frozen boneless lamb. I mentioned that the frozen whole chicken there was rubbery, but the fresh chicken was quite good. Elise mentioned she was going to hit Mexican Fruit next for limes. But there were limes near the register at US Beef and I had already been to Mexican Fruit, whose limes were lackluster that day, so we both picked up bags of lemons and limes. I was going to make marmalade, Elise margaritas. Somewhere in the middle of that a friend of Elise came up with a small tub of tofu from a nearby store. I expressed my confusion with the warehouse area of knowing which stores will sell to you. Apparently there is a tofu place between US Beef and Sam Wang, you go up to the window, you tell the guy you want the white tub, and for $4 you get a small gallonish tub of tofu. Half shopping experience. Half speakeasy.
I don't go the Union Market as much. Most of our meat comes from the farmers market or directly from the farm. I realized that when the certain visiting 13 year old said she didn't eat meat because of some video she saw about CAFOs or animal cruelty, to which I responded that the chicken in the freezer walked around on a certain farm and I could show her the farm's website so she could see pictures of said farm and of chickens free ranging. We have many friends with a range of dietary restrictions, and we try to accommodate and respect those needs. However the niece was claiming veganism without knowing all it entails, so I decided that her visit was a teaching/learning moment. We discovered, she's not a fan of tofu or mushrooms, she really likes eggs, seafood, cheese and milk. We haven't cooked meat for her, so she's exploring some vegan and vegetarian dishes.
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Decade in Review: Ancestors of Truxton Circle

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618-MLK-1924 A few weeks ago I got an email from a TC decendent. Not of Cmdr. Truxtun but of someone with an ancestor who lived in Truxton Circle and who found his relative and this blog via the wonderful thing that is Google. The blog post was the "History of Sq 618- mainly the Unit block of New York Ave", one of my attempts to do one block's history. The subject in this case was Mr. John Sullivan or John J. Sullivan a saloon keeper with a very large family on the unit block of New York Avenue, whose saloon sat at 1130 1st Street NW.

It hasn't been the first time someone has stumbled on this blog hunting for their great, great-great or great-great-great grandfathers or mothers. Sometimes they provide me with more information about their ancestors and other times, I have helped with their own genealogical research. I get a thrill when I can connect with these *decedents to another aspect of their ancestor's life, as a resident in a city, with connections beyond just family. They were people who had neighbors, and maybe customers in the area. What I get, and why I LOVE are tidbits about other aspects of a former resident's life and things that the census may have left out.

*The rest of this paragraph and what followed was lost to time and the interwebs.