September 2013 Archives

Just now, on my way back in the bike land going along 5th St NW, I saw two young men, one in a black and red wide stripe hoodie ride east on O St NW then south on the 1300 block of 5th St NW. Because of one of the bikes the young men were riding, my sense (call it a hunch, call it female intuition) was that long framed bike was stolen. I stopped as other bike commuters went past me to see where the young men were going. They seemed to stop to talk or confer or say hello to the small group of men hanging in front of the 5th St NW Co-op. I say seemed because I noticed I was being observed and my female intuition told me to head down the road, so I didn't stick around long enough to continue observing.
It looked kinda like a xtracycle or a cargocycle. I don't know.
No, I am not calling 911. I'm still annoyed with the last time I called 911 about a bike I believed to be stolen and then I had more than a hunch. Heck, I'm annoyed about the last time I called 911 about a car with a busted out window. I want a website where I can just report stuff, and be blissfully ignorant that the dispatcher or whomever looks at it thinks it's a waste of their time or makes me feel like a village idiot for calling them or (even better) ask me questions that seem to imply that they want me to walk up to the suspected thief/robber and make sure that they are just hanging out on a dark corner with their faces covered for the fun of it.

Decade in Review: Neighbors getting together for fun

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Our little stretch of street had another progressive party. I think it was the 3rd one this year. That's not counting the housewarmings and the other parties where most of the block was invited. These gatherings make our block a great place to live because there are so many postive ways to get to know your neighbors. It was also great seeing a former neighbor who sold this year and relocated to another part of Shaw.

I wrote about two of last year's progressive parties. For one, I broke my lime juicer. Don't worry I bought another. Another, I made a super rich chocolate pudding and posted the recipe. These are also pot lucks. This time I made a vegan entree, and I think I made too much because we kinda filled up on apps at the first house, so I was half full before even dropping off my dish at the second house.

Though we are sorta organized, I don't know if we could ever pull off what the 100 block of Thomas pulled off last year and is doing again for Halloween. They are currently taking donations for the most awesome Halloween block party. Last year they had silks, stilt walkers and a band.

Decade in Review: JF Cook School

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Cook and MM Washington
Alley view of JF Cook
There was a BACA meeting last night where members of the civic association voted on supporting the Mundo Verde Charter School. The vote was 23 for, 8 abstaining and 7 against. So this third try* has gotten the neighborhood's support but there are a number of other things (studies, permits, etc) that need to be dealt with before a possible 2014 opening.

*I wrote third try. After the closing of the school around 2008 there were several ideas floating around of making it a police substation or a community type center, but none of those panned out. KIPP had shown an interest in Cook, but they didn't need all the space and the arts partner talked about might not have been a good mix. After that there was the LAYC, Latin American Youth Center proposal which resident's didn't like. The problem with that was there was a subsized housing element to their proposal that wasn't a dorm. And so our third time around is Mundo Verde, a hard to get into charter school with a long waiting list. I think it will be a good match, particularly for Bloomingdale parents.

Hopefully once the JF Cook school building is operational, the neighborhood can then focus our efforts on to the Langston and Slater buildings.


Decade in Review: Shootings

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R St blocked
A random police photo
There are way too many posts about shooting in the neighborhood to focus in on one. You've got incidents in 2006 where I wondered if it was worth calling 911 after hearing shots because the last time no one from MPD seemed to come around. And there was the shooting close to home in May of 2006 and June of 2008. Yet it was around 2008 I noticed fewer gun shots at night, maybe MPD's shot-spotter may have had something to do with it. Though there were fewer gunshots, or I was getting better at ignoring them, there were still gun incidents and still continue to be gun incidents in the neighborhood. There was a good story in 2010 about a guy who tried to rob some construction workers, but slipped and the workers attempted to stone (throw rocks at the guy with the gun) the would be robber. In 2011 there was a shooting homicide at New Jersey and P and a gun incident in front of the mosque where no one was hurt. In 2012-2013 there have been robberies at gun point, but thankfully (as far as I can tell & hope) no killings in Truxton Circle. I know there was a shooting, near my street this year, but I don't think I blogged about it.
I now wonder if people would be so cavalier about their safety if they had the nightly reminder that you share the neighborhood with idiots with guns. But I see even back then people were just as careless, only they just had ipods instead of iphones. Kids be careful, even though the neighborhood is safer, it isn't crime-free. It is only as safe as you are.

Blessed by St. Martha

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I tend to refer to any publication with Martha Stewart's name as the 'gospel according to Saint Martha' (seriously what mere mortal can do all that). Well I was flipping through my new LIVING mag and OMG! There are four local restaurants in the travel section (page 34 of the October 2013 issue for you playing at home).
This month's travel local is our own Washington, DC and I recognized a photo of Le Diplomate. I pointed to it, saying to the Help, "hey look a picture of the place when it isn't crowded!" Looking again, the table we sat at for our one and only visit is pictured. Then I bothered reading the article, written by shop owner Amanda McClements. Under the eats, Bloomingdale's Red Hen is the first place listed. Not too surprising, because the Red Hen is that type of restaurant. Next was Le Diplomate on 14th St. Next, had me screaming with excitement.... Beau Thai. Beau Thai is known locally and that's nice, but this is national. My I'm-too-lazy-to-cook-tonight go-to restaurant has appeared in the pages of Martha Stewart LIVING. It would have been better if St. Martha herself had graced the hood.

Decade in Review: Compost- Long

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From March 2005:

Compost in Garbage

Yeah, a compost posting... again. I don't want folks to get the wrong idea, but this compost bin is not large. It's a 20 gallon garbage pail. I know not a large pile, but it is much better than the earlier compost bin I had which was a white 10-15 gallon kitchen trash can I found on the sidewalk.
I began composting soon after settling in here in Truxton, I know this because of the cherry tomatoes. I had a house warming party and a guest (Matt) brought a big bowl of cherry tomatoes from his garden. All the tomatoes didn't get eaten and I tossed them in the small white bin. I used the compost for the front yard and the next Spring got cherry tomatoes growing along my gates. I didn't plant them, so I guess some seed from Matt's tomatoes survived the composting and germinated in the ground.
My approach to composting then was toss and sort of ignore. Everyso often I would try turning the compost but it was a square bin and kind of heavy. It sat in the corner of the backyard and was fine until I noticed the stench. I thought it was bums using that area of the alley to go to the bathroom. No, it was my compost. Smelled like a hog farm in July.
I knew what my mistakes were. For one, it was left uncovered. I had tried covering the top but got lazier and stopped putting the cover on and water got in and the holes in the bottom of the pail were clogged, so I had standing water. Second, I also failed to turn the compost. Aerating the compost allows oxygen to get in and keep it from stinking. So I used up most of the stinky, but well decomposed, compost in some containers and in the front yard and started a new bin in the green 20 gallon garbage can.
The green can is much better. Besides being bigger, it has its own cover, holds more, thus a greater chance to generate heat (a good thing), and its shape allowed me to turn the can by knocking it over on its side and rolling it around. Well once it got a lot of material in it, I had to stop knocking it over, because matter kept escaping and the lid wouldn't stay on. I now have to aerate by going in with the garden claw and turning the compost. The worms don't seem to like it.
The aerating and the cover keep down on any stink, but I also try to keep it balanced. Too much nitrogen will make the pile smell like ammonia. So I throw in "browns" like crushed leaves and shredded paper. Although coffee grounds are a "green", the strong coffee(sometimes chocolate) smell, just covers anything else in the pile.
The turning and the minimal amount of heat as well as the worms have rewarded me with some lovely looking compost this year. I'm going to mix it in with garden soil and some peat moss, to lighten the dirt, and some sand and add it to the front and the containers. But before I do that I'm going to have to test the dirt I make and see what it needs (more nitrogen? more acid?). I'm excited about this coming Spring and can't wait to get planting.



Well eight years later, I'm still composting. Last week I shredded a lot of old bills and threw that into the Envirocycle. I've moved up from the trash can to a thing designed for composting. I was encountering my usual problem of stinkiness because I wasn't balancing out the kitchen scraps with 'browns', dry leaf matter, dried plants or old bank statements from 1998. And no I am not worried about the dyes in the paper.

Composting, along with recycling keeps the amount of trash we throw out very low. We have one of the large trash cans and that doesn't have to get taken out to the curb more than once a month. Of course, we are only two people. It also keeps our use of the garbage disposal down as well.

The compost gets used in the container garden. At the end of Fall I'll likely dump the soil out of the clay and other pots into a construction bag, and mix in the compost so the soil will be back up to snuff come Spring.