Should I get petty?

It has been well over a year since I started complaining about 1617 New Jersey Avenue. And this weekend the contractor who has been the bane of many an evening after 7pm, had a woman on the deck and was showing her the work done on the house. I was out in the backyard taking advantage of the break in the weather to plant stuff. At that moment I had an insane desire to break out with a case of Tourette’s syndrome, but I held my tounge. I remember one Square 507 resident bragging about how ghetto and crazy she’d get when prospective buyers would come around if she didn’t like them.
But all this weekend I have been harboring a desire to express my discontent in a petty expression involving paint and my wall facing the offending house. I could paint a warning statement because I do question the quality and safety of something built in the dark. OR paint some creepy weird folk art on my wall. Right now I’m leaning towards creepy weird. But I’m going to need a ladder. And it’s going to have to get about 50F. Maybe by then I’ll be less pissed off.
Until then I’ll just keep calling the cops and harrassing the folks at DCRA about the deck built in the dark.
Update: Apparently the house is on the market as MLS number: DC5537167 for $650K. What gets me is the description

Newly renovated, finishing touches being completed (will be completed prior to settlement).

It’s taken forever just to do what they’ve been doing. The house has been renovating for the last 2 years or so. Let’s say any fool buying this thing needs to make sure that the work is completed the day before settlement. Oh, and hire the best inspector one can because the work is the contractor’s sloppy seconds. For the longest while the kitchen, the deck, a lot of the interior has been installed after 7pm, on the weekends, and on holidays. I suspect all after he’s done his real work.
Also I noticed that the owner is no longer getting the homestead deduction, something I pointed out to the tax office after another annoying round with the obnoxious contractor. That makes me a bit more happy.
Maybe I’ve been petty enough. Or maybe not. But in all I have kept it all legal. Forget the freezing temps, I’m going to see if permanent marker sticks to my wall. Me and a handful of sharpies.

My library

This is a special offer to the people of northern Truxton Circle and folks on the 1400-1700 block of New Jersey Avenue (odd and even sides). I have several books useful to newbies, and some old timers regarding home repair and gardening. A listing of available books can be found here.
So here is the deal, residents in the beforementioned geographical area are welcomed to borrow the books in the cataloge for 2 weeks. After 2 weeks and the book isn’t returned I hunt you down like a crazed pit bull. Remember I’m a librarian by training, we can get pretty crazy about our books. My profile at Library Thing shows my current email, so email me if there is something you can use in the space of 14 days.

Misc Orange and WP

Another thing about the article (bottom of page 1 in electronic version) in the Post, there was a graphic showing the “original Shaw boundary” and then the “existing Shaw boundary.” Who decided Shaw shrank? It doesn’t even conform to the City’s definition of Cardozo/Shaw or even Logan/Shaw. Oh, and TC not even in the new boundaries. Also no reference of where information to make graphic came from.
On Orange, Ward 5 council guy and mayoral candidate…. Ever notice that you see his signs on every public signpost and traffic island but rarely in anyone’s yard.

Family legacies

Yes, I did read Mr. Schwartzman’s article about African American old timers deciding to hang on to their homes in Shaw. A few things said by some of the interviewees reminded me of some of the things my dad had said about our lot back in Florida. There is the desire to “keep it in the family.” I don’t know the family dynamics of the interviewees, but I know my own family and without work the desire to keep property in the family, doesn’t.
My parents, despite being divorced, share a sizable urban patch of land in Florida. Mom, unable to keep the house up, wants to unload the property. Dad, wants to keep it in the family. I don’t want it. I’m not moving back to Florida (nor do I want to manage it from here) and I told mom what I’d do, sell it immediately. My sister lacks the financial strength to keep and maintain (and the house needs some serious work) the property. Dad is the one who wants to pass it on to my nieces and nephew. Unfortunatly, with dad’s past and very frequent run ins with the tax man (property tax, income tax, etc), I can see that the land could get lost to the state. If Mom can’t sell it, she has admitted that she’d just let it fall into foreclosure and really the amount left on the mortgage is equal to that of a new SUV.
Maybe the men in the WP article have stronger families than mine. For their sake, I hope they do. One strength needed is financial. Houses need maintenance, as every homeowner knows, and whatever needs fixing is never cheap. Then there are property taxes, insurance, and mortgages. Second strength, a desire for family members to remain living at the house. It means little if a townhouse is left to a family member who would rather stay in their split-level with driveway in Upper Marlboro and rent the townhouse to whomever. Or if an inheriting family member finds the confines of the house too constraining, too small, too old, too run down, too big, or requires too much work. Lastly, there needs to be a will or living trust that clearly states who in the family is to get the property. Preferably, a family member who shares the same love of place with the financial ability to keep it up. Without the love of place, the desire to live there, then they’ll probably wind up selling it to a newcomer.

I want to get out in the garden

I’ve taken the day off and part of me wants to go outside and plant peas.
Unfortunately, it is rainy and cold out there. I could start some things up inside like I did last year. But still, gardening is more fun and more crime preventing when you are outside.
Yeah, I said crime preventing. Folks who don’t live here are a little less likely to hang around if residents regularly are puttering about in their yards. The public space that is my block needs me and my neighbors to make it our block and the way we make it more of our block and less of the dealers’ block is by being out there. That and a dash of unfriendly looks towards said dealers.
But that’s not the only reason why I want to get out and garden. I want peas. I want lots of peas. I remember the joy of fooling around in the yard, grabbing a peapod that looked just about right, and having some of the sweetest yummiest freshest peas ever. They rarely made it to the kitchen, ’cause I’d eat them before they got into the house. They were that good. I also want tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes good.
I wandered into the new Bed, Bath & Beyond down in fake Chinatown and saw a mini salad spinner that would be perfect for herbs. Last year I had more mint and basil than I knew what to do with. Hopefully having something to dry and process them with can let me make more regular and minty pesto.
Also the compost is calling my name. It should be quite composted by now, with the worms and all. I just need to separate the solids and the worms from the compost and start planting.
I really, really, want to start planting.

Brixton 2

Okay, this weekend I was in London and I figured I would do a gentrification tour. Well I didn’t get very far as the first day walking around Brixton, I walked so much that my ankles hurt. Then it did not help that I got sick and spent half of my vacation close to the hotel, in bed.
There is the very busy Brixton that I remember near the Tube station, with the market where one could buy halel meat, fish, fruit, cheap clothing items, beauty supplies, what have you. Go a few more blocks away into the residential sections, where I rarely went before, and it is quiet. Of course, it could have been quiet because it was the middle of the day on a Friday. I took a few pictures and wandered around and managed to talk to one person. I had already walked around “Poet’s Corner” and up to Herne Hill and was making my way to another part of Brixton, cutting through Brockwell Park. The park is big, almost as big as Roosevelt Island here in DC, but without all the trees. I was comparing my map with one the park’s “you are here” spray painted over maps when one of the natives asked if I needed any help. The native was a middle aged white woman pushing a 2-3 year old red headed kid, who had lived in the States but relocated back to the UK. I asked about the neighborhood and she said she liked it because it was very child friendly. There was a playground where I had seen a bunch of kids, who from a distance seemed like a non-white crowd. She said near the playground was a building that the kids could go into for activities. I must note that the majority of kids I saw were under the age of 12. Not a lot of surly teens. I’d also seen a mother and child over by one of the duck ponds feeding the ducks and geese. The woman I was talking to told me that at night the ducks and the geese take over, they come out of the ponds joining other ducks from other areas and wander the park.
She considered the area to be friendly.


So far most of the 1910 census for Truxton has been done (this is part of an ongoing project to track demographic changes from 1880-1930). I’m going to tackle 1900 soon. Once that is done then I’ll do 1920 & 1930.
The view I have of the area so far is a working class neighborhood with a bunch of tradesmen, a few businessmen and even fewer professionals. My own house, as far as the census data is concerned, has been housing for working class Afro-Americans for the past 100 years or so. My house has housed a cop, a bricklayer and a bunch of laborers. Laborer seems to be a very popular job around these here parts. Laborer could mean anything, but I have a feeling that it mainly meant working poor. The crowded conditions of 1880 lead me to think that my street wasn’t middle class at all.
Now going on that bit of logic, it would be pointless to redecorate the interior of the house to look like some bit of victoriana that more than likely never was in this house. I look at the cataloges and see very detailed brass hardware that may have been in a government clerk’s home but possibly not an unemployed laborer’s house. I’m not saying this of all houses, just the really small ones, with no closet space, skinny hallways, and 7 people sharing the 2 bedrooms.
Also 19th century impoverished worker chic just isn’t my thing.

Blagden Alley

| Blagden Alley Association |
| Monthly Meeting |
| THURSDAY, February 23, 2006 |
| 7:30-9:00 pm |
| Kimbels, Sherri and Bob |
| 945 O Street, NW |
| Celebrate |
| No “Street Cleaning” |
| Tickets till St. Paddy’s Day |

The newsletter is at

Major topic of the meeting:

That Charter School (again).

The Archives in Naylor Court are changing.
Which direction?
Tom Bell of the Guest House (which started before we got quaint)
has some (strong) ideas.

Also, see the web page at or,
(depending on your persuasion).


Went to London this weekend and wandered around Brixton, another gentrified neighborhood. This will be a short post today as there are a number photos taken as well as notes that need cleaning up and I’m currently battling something that really did not agree with my stomach.
I did a lot of walking, looking at two sections of Brixton as studied in London Calling. One portion was along Dulwich Road (with street names like Shakespeare and Milton)and the other was closest to Brixton Hill Road. Between the both of them was the sizable Brockwell Park. Part of my problem was that, being American there are a few cultural clues I could not pick up on. It’s easy in the US, black, white, rich, middle class, poor, blah, most of the time subtle clues, I can do. London, I’m clueless. Of course nothing says ‘not middle class’ like laundry hanging from the balcony.
Laundry hanging from some buildings gave me a clue. My trouble with modern buildings is the question of ‘is this so cutting edge that it is ugly?’ or ‘is this just crappy public housing?’ The distance between the haves, signaled with the gated community and the nicer looking cars and the have nots (laundry on balcony), is not that far. One such situation existed where Lambeth council housing was just across the street from each other, with the street being a little skinner than New Jersey Avenue.