The bathtub needs another treatment of the drain declogger. I suspect that there is a piece of soap stuck in the pipes, so it might need part of a stick as well to dig around. Anywho, this morning’s shower and clog got me thinking of maintenance and homeownership. Maintenance is drugery, and if we call a plumber, it’s expensive too. Maintenance makes the act of just getting a house look like the easy part, particularly if you have an older 100+ year old townhome.
When driving through New York City, my friend Nora B. pointed out a depressing looking apartments above a bridge. She said it looked liked someone designed it, built it and then didn’t keep it up. The once bright colorful paints were peeling, dingy and faded.
That could describe the history of many of the townhomes in my area. I’m still slowly, with fits and starts gathering census data for the area. I have recently stumbled onto 1880 households with white servants. The grand houses that held these important people and their live in staff, are a little less grand now. Big houses with ornate brickwork and large windows. Keeping up the brickwork, getting the birds’ nests out, removing that mini-tree that established itself in a crevice, costs either time or money or both. The building of the grand house, done. Keeping it grand, annoying and expensive.
This was a topic hammered home in those first-time home buyer seminars, maintenance, keeping the place up. So many people put so much energy and money into getting a house, and in this market, that is a requirement. Unfortunately, their spirits and bank accounts are drained by the time the first crisis comes around. Darned it, those crisises come early. Mine was a hole in the wall. $400. Second was running toilet. $200, and that was WITH the home warranty. Then the flood. Insurance took care of that. I guess I spent a coupla hundred just to deal with minor things like insulation, leaky valves, etc. Then there was taking time off to wait for the guy between 11 and 3 for the quirky phone lines, or to look at the furnace. Will the person who borrowed, scrimped saved, took on an extra job have the ability to deal with the $300 problem that shows up, followed by a $90 problem and another one, and another one. With homeownership, there is always something.

Baseball in DC

Got this late yesterday so the event has passed, but it is a notable one:

Dear Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner:

I am sure you’ve read in the papers that the return of baseball is imminent. The Mayor is making the official announcement at the City Museum today, (September 29) at 4:00 pm. I wanted to make sure you received a notice regarding this and officially invited. Your constituents are also invited to this important event.


It’s time to celebrate! Major League Baseball returns to the District after a 33 year absence and the stadium, coupled with the new DC United Stadium, promises to spur development along the Anacostia River.

Hope to see you there!

Neil Richardson

Evil Evil Gentrification

In today’s New York Times the case where the cash strapped city of New London wants to steal the property from homeowners so they can build yuppie complexs has been placed on the Supreme Court’s docket. The city fathers (and mothers) have some wacked out idea of “public use.” Which is the part of the law that allows local governments to kick people out of their homes. Usually it is to build a road, make a big park, like Central Park in NYC, or even to build a factory that would employ thousands. Not a hotel, conference center and private 80 homes.

G2 bus & 3rd Street.

According to rumours, which may or may not be true, the contractor doing 3rd Street between P & Q Streets, dropped the job and has left the street screwed up. This street has been under construction for months and months. Currently you can only go south on 3rd, not north as well. For the longest there was no travel on this portion of 3rd at all.
Along a patch of 3rd street the G2 (Georgetown U/ Howard U) bus travels. The G2 hits 3rd at R st, Q St and P St. Due to the contruction, the Georgetown bound bus had turned on R, continued on New Jersey and then turned on P. But now that the southbound lane is open confusion has occurred. Some drivers go back to the old route of going down third. Some drivers turn on R and go down NJ. Sucks to be you if you waited at P. Guess where I was waiting? Lucky I run fast and there wasn’t any traffic on New Jersey.
Anyway, in honor of this rant I am adding to my sidebar, two metro related links. First, is the Washington Metro Riders Union a yahoo group. Second, is DC Metrorider, a Live Journal community. Post, bitch, rave, observe.


Neighbor Nathan over at the DC Education Blog has a few posts on DC addressing it’s truancy problems. Walking to the metro the other day to run some errands I saw teens hanging out at the corner around 9AM and wondered if I should call it in. Question, who would I call? Police? 311 or 911? More likely the non-emergency 311 number. Then, what time does school start?
I have no clue about these things. I know approximately when school gets out because the streets are awash with kids. There are kids from the school of Our Lady of Really Ugly Uniforms, feral pre-teens, gansta teens, all over the corner of Rhode Island and 7th, all on the metro giggling and cursing, everywhere between 3 and 4pm.
I wonder how the public is supposed to help with the truancy? I know how they are targeting parents of chronically absent kids. But how will police (or who ever) respond to calls from non-parents about truant kids?

Or I could move

My architect neighbor, who I admire and adore, and his partner came over for dinner. The purpose besides neighborliness was to talk about possible additions to our homes. These additions would not show up until well into the future (ie when we pay off our second mortgages).
We were talking and though it I believed I heard their concerns. From what I heard I understand it would be preferred if I didn’t build to the property line. Ok. Well I guess I have to scratch a certain idea. Oh well.
The thing that got me was the ballpark figure given for what I’d like to do, with smaller footprint. $300,000. Dang. For that amount of money I could move. If it does cost that amount I would move into something newer and roomier. I was thinking $100,000 and that’s taking in cost overruns and working around the kitchen. The price I heard for some other neighbors to put on their addition, $35K, maybe I could do it in my range.
He did suggest something I will take into consideration, doing one side of the house. The additions I want would be for the back of the house. He suggested doing what I need to do to the front of the house first. Fixing the windows and doors and expanding the space of the bathroom. Ok. That sounds do-able.

In Shaw field trip

Went on a little field trip to take a quick peek at gentrification elsewhere. It is the same everywhere I guess. When there is a housing crunch, where the housing stock is not enough for the population, people with some money begin moving into neighborhoods where poorer people are. But there was cool stuff too, which I’ll share in pictures.
Went through Harlem. I don’t know where the gentrification began there. It is pretty near the Park at 110th. Which I think is the bottom of Harlem. I could understand the reasoning behind paying big bucks to live near Central Park. The further north you went from the Park, the less gentrified it looked.
I wandered through the East Village. What jobs do odd looking goths have to afford these crack fueled rents? What jobs do to the people of Greenwich Village have to afford any of these NYC rents? Yeah, yeah, NYC greatest city in the world, blah, blah, blah, known for high rents, but still $4,000 a month for a 3 bedroom walk up? Crazy.
The good things I found in the city, besides decent buskers on the subway, were the thousands of little grocers thoughout the city. My roommate thinks DC needs more of these kinds of stores. Even in the less nice parts of Harlem you will find stores with fresh veggies and fruits, like this one, where people can get the ingredients to make meals from stratch. Scratch, instead of some high in sodium, fat and sugar prepackaged crap that is sold in many a DC quickie mart, next to the 40s.
Also walking around the city that never sleeps….. well it does sleep, on a Sunday morning ’cause that’s the time to find a parking spot…. I digress. I noticed some great architectural details. Not just on the buildings of note but the everyday ones. I say doors and ironwork that was just inspiring.


FYI- Jimbo has put together an event for Oct 24 8pm at DC9. It features several DC gay bloggers and 1 straight DC gal blogger (Wonkette), doing selected readings from their blogs. It should be entertaining.
It is an ‘In Shaw’ worthy event, as it is a) in Shaw, b)on 9th Street & c)’cause I said so.

Small House Design

I gotta small house.

A small townhouse.

With a tiny front yard.

And the back yard is not much either.

General home ideas for redecorating or adding on mean jack to me because they don’t fit.

It’s not an apartment.

I can tear down the wall.

I can put holes in the wall.

I can tear out the floor.

I can replace a whole room.

I can paint

So decorating ideas for small spaces (ie apartments) don’t fit me either.

Maybe I’m just picky.

One of the bad things about owning my house is the deep need for creativity. I don’t like to think that hard. I did my thinking bit in grad school thank you. Unlike the folks who show up on This Old House, I don’t have this large grand home that can fit these large grand ideas. The small space issues demands extra effort, because the standard sized stuff makes the place feel smaller than it is, and demands more space than it really needs.

I went to Not So Big House for ideas. For those of you not familiar Not So Big House is a book about really cool decorating ideas for small houses. Yet the catch for me is that these small houses have felxability. I have some, but not that much.

Seeing the house on 5th Street, with the European interior reminded me to look to the UK for ideas. UK because my non-English language skills are just enough to to find a bathroom, much less design one. Donde esta el banyo. One of my favorite places to wander is the BBC’s home decorating website. Rooms are small, but they are small and really cool. I spent a good amount of time viewing Architect Search looking at the various firms’ websites and residental projects.

The other problem besides design is the stuff that goes into the house that makes it small. The refridgerator, the badly fitting oven, the HUGE king sized bed, ya know, stuff. For me I make use of futons. Real easy to get up the narrow stairs. Knock down furniture that can put together in the room it is going to. IKEA is a wonderful store. I came across someone’s blog and they mentioned a washer/dryer combo they bought from Compact Appliances. Looks small, but I was trying to figure out where does the hot air from the dryer go?

Lastly, besides the stuff you gotta cram into the house there is just plain living. We got bikes. They take up space, they make marks on walls getting them into their space. When we dump out stuff near the door, it just gets in the way. Two people cannot work at the same time in the kitchen. Two people can’t really pass each other in the hall or on the stair. The house is small, and it ain’t getting any bigger any time soon.