The bus- not all that, nor a bag of chips

Levels of Public Transit Stops
Underground metro station
Semi-exposed metro station (Ft. Totten-Green line)
Exposed above ground metro station
Sheltered-enclosed bus stop
Bus shelter with roof
Stick with bus sign

I read another blogger’s rant about how we need to get over our biases about the bus, but you know, after riding the buses in the DC Metro area for over a decade, and whatever biases I have about the bus, are based on experience. I still ride the bus, but I have no romantic notions about it. It is, what it is.
I’ve been stuck in unpleasant weather, late for something, exposed to the elements, wearing something not suitable for standing still in a puddle or ice pack for more than 10 minutes, while waiting for a bus that either came 5 minutes early or is 1/2 an hour late, enough times to know what its limits are. Because some routes are so unpredictable, despite a bus schedule, I cannot count how many times I have chased down buses, run across several lanes of traffic (yes, not safe, yes I could get killed that way…) to beat the bus to the next stop, and in some situations fail and only be out of breath and have a pained side to show for my trouble. Thankfully, places where I’ve worked have a flexible schedule so my inconsistent arrival to work won’t cost me my job. I don’t know know if all bus riders have that luxury.
I lived in PG County where the bus service on the weekend seemed non-existent. When I lived there The Bus did not exist and neither did many sidewalks. It didn’t help matters that even the taxi service seemed useless too. So until I moved closer to a metro station, the District and anything else further than where I could bike to was unavailable to me. It was too much of a hassle to wait 15 minutes before the scheduled arrival for a bus that would most likely show up late on the off chance it might show up early. And woe if a transfer to another bus was needed.
However, living in the city the bus is part of my transportation system. If I need to be somewhere on time, I take the train. Or, if the route is a trustworthy one, where the buses are typically consistent, I’ll take the bus. The center part of the city is dense enough that I can come across another bus, or in some cases just walk to the nearest metro station, or bite the bullet and take a cab provided I’m within 2 zones of my destination. In PG and some parts of Arlington, those other options weren’t always there.
The bus is useful, but in some cases you have to ask how much is your time worth, and is it worth spending in wait.

So how was your weekend?

Great. Friday I appeared in the Washington Post’s Express newspaper, but didn’t know it until I got an email about it. Tis the problem with having a subscription to the main paper, not having a need to pick up the free one. It’s a decent article and maybe later this week I might explore the whole researching where to buy process.
Saturday, you &%#!! took all the croissants. Ok, not all, you left two. I swear it was barely 9:30 when I got to Catania’s and she was out of a lot of my favorites. In that week’s Food section Catania was mentioned so I expected there’d be fewer choices, but by golly people. Since I had a lot of trouble fitting into my ball gown that night I guess it was for the best. So that I can lay off the buttery goodness that are the $1.25 croissants, let me share a trick with you. I tend to buy a whole bunch and bag/wrap and freeze them immediately. When I want a hot croissant for later I take it out and microwave it in a ziplock bag for 1 minute and 20 to 35 seconds at 30% power.
Later that day I went out to Glen Echo Park for the Strauss Waltz. About 20 minutes before my ride was suppose to arrive I discovered my dress no longer fit. I’m sure it was a comical scene as I got my roommate to try to zip me up, while I’m sucking in and the fabric just refused to come together. After a couple of tries we gave up. So I went to Plan B dress, a longer, even more formal looking gown. That didn’t fit either. I did find a dress but I’m going to have to lay off the croissants.
Maybe it would help to lay off the butter and the cream too. As Sunday I made Lapin a la Moutard, Rabbit with Mustard Sauce. I found fresh rabbit at the Florida Market/Capital City Market on Saturday in that big building with all the vendors and stalls inside. The mustard cream sauce was delicious, problem is that it is mustard and a boat load of heavy whipping cream, with a pinch of tarragon.
In the garden the tarragon has sprout back up. Through the winter it lay dormant, now it’s already to be used. It’s been in its pot for about two years and comes back in the spring. Also I was able to take some seedling cuttings and make them into salad. I threw the seeds in the pot a few weeks ago and now I’m able to reap some reward. Well with the Black Seeded Simpson and the arugula, the mache is too small to bother with still. I swear last week I threw some radish seeds in the pot and there are little seedling up already.
Anyway, hope you had a good weekend.

Going backwards in heels to music

This has nothing to do with Shaw. Or even the District of Columbia. This falls under the “it’s my blog I’ll post what I want” rule.

Every year I look forward to the annual ‘Evening with Strauss Viennese Waltz’ at Glen Echo. It’s where I dig out one of my only two formal dresses, pack a couple of heels and somehow get myself out to the wilds of Maryland to dance with strangers in tuxes.
If you haven’t been out to Glen Echo Park for anything, I highly recommend you go at least once and if possible do something in the Spanish Ballroom. There are a couple of different regular dances out there for swing/lindy hop, waltz, zydeco, contra, and folk held in the ballroom. I don’t remember if I’ve been on the merry-go-round there. I believe it will be in operation this weekend, so if my dance card is free and it is still on, I’ll probably go for a ride.
Oh yes, for the annual waltz there are dance cards. You get a tiny pencil and a little booklet on a string and you try to get the card filled out (or not in my case as I don’t know how to tango and there is at least 1 tango for the night). Besides the main waltzing, there is the tango, and one German named dance that involves a lot of hopping and though quite fun, by the time you really get into it, it’s over. All in all it is great fun, a great excuse to dust off the formal wear and cheap ($15 bucks).

A plan for Bates Street

I have the 1968-1974 (the dates I’m unsure of) brochure of “A Plan for Bates Street” in PDF form. It’s a big file and because it is so large, I’m not posting here. However, I will mail it to folks who ask (offer expires in 30 days). Basically, like the title says, it was the government’s plan for the two blocks of Bates, to improve the housing.
Houses on Bates Street (well the houses on Bates I’ve been in) are deep and some of them are divided into two units. It seems that when they were initially built by Washington Sanitary Housing (or Washington Sanitary Improvement, I’m still working on the facts of this), they may have all been two unit structures. You can see it in the placement of windows and doors.
The wonderful fellows at Truxton Circle have a few pictures from the brochure. This first one shows the street plan for squares 552 & 615. It appears there was the intention to remove some structures for the creation of small parks, a tot lot, a teen lot and parking. Spaces for adults apparently were to be carved out of existing space. The second picture, shows a typical Bates Street house prior to any renovation. The first and second floor are two separate units with their own living rooms and kitchens. The plan was to combine the two to make one unit, replace 2nd unit doors with windows, move the kitchen to the 1st floor center, and create more bedrooms, going from 1 to 3 or 4, as seen here.
Looking around Bates Street now, there seem to be fewer 2 unit houses than 1 units.

Gonna Take More Than A Coat Of Paint For This Baby

1620 4th St NW 61.JPG
Originally uploaded by In Shaw

Up on the auction block is 1620 4th St NW. This weekend B., I.T. and I took a look at this house that is listed for $250K. I’m guessing that’s where the bank wants to start bidding. Last time it went to auction it was in the $300,000 range and didn’t get sold.
Taking a closer look at it, the interior is a mess and it was designed by crackheads. The small bathroom has wasted space near the toilet. There is very little closet space, considering there could be more, and something that could be used as storage is closed off. Then there is the wood rot around the windows (see picture) and the water damage in the back bedroom.
There were some ‘investors’ sniffing around. As a short term investment this is a no. I guess it would take $60-$100K of work, and I don’t think the average rent amount for the area, plus taxes would rake in the dough. Besides we kind of prefer owner occupiers ’round here. Not that renters are bad. We’ve had some wonderful rehabs done by owner occupiers who have up and moved due to marriage or job and are renting their places out, and those places are fine. It’s the ones where the owner approached it as a rental (or a developer as a flip) and did superficial work that are undesirable.
There are more pictures just put in “1620 4th St” as a search term in flickr and the pix I took will show up.

Catania is ours

It was nice to see a smiling picture of Nicole in today’s Washington Post Food section, and yes “gentrified locals in Bloomingdale” can enjoy her buttery goodness, when they cross Florida Avenue to get to her as she is in Shaw, more specifically, Truxton.
I’m not going to talk up the croissants because I don’t need the competition. However the muffins are good, and filling. For the past few weeks she’s had blueberry only. When the cranberry comes back, I will pounce on those. The muffins are moist and go well with a nice glass of milk. You can enjoy them throughout the week by wrapping them in plastic wrap and stuffing them in the fridge.

BAA Meeting

| Blagden Alley |
| and |
| Naylor Court |
| Association |
| |
| Monthly Meeting |
| |
| THURSDAY, April 24, 2008 |
| 7:30-9:00 pm |
| Meeting at the |
| NEW, under construction, |
| Corduroy |
| 1122 Ninth Street, NW |
| |

Lots of different topics and speakers, including the owner
of the newly arrived Corduroy, the new Mayor’s rep (hopefully).

The newsletter is at

This is a great neighborhood

Despite all the complaining I do, and please understand that complaining in my family is a form of recreation, I love my neighborhood. No, really, I do.
From the time I moved in, what made the place great were my neighbors. Well, them and my not-so crappy commute into Old Town Alexandria. I not only knew my next door neighbors, but the people down the block and across the street. I don’t know everyone, and I’m fuzzy on names, but there are familiar faces and known characters. These relationships range from the wave ‘hi’ or polite nod to borrowing tools, eating over, going out to functions (art show/ drinking) and exchanging information/gossip.
Second, I love my current commute. Getting from here to Alexandria took about an hour. Time spent reading books on the metro. Then when I worked up in PG County it went down to 45 minutes. Now, on a good day, 20 minutes from door to desk down in Penn Quarter. The only way to make it better is to work closer, and I don’t know if Africare is in need of a librarian. The good think about a very short commute is when you forget something (cell phone, security badge, money) it is possible to just turn around (I refuse to wear the flimsy temp badge of shame) and go back home. Negative, no real valid excuse not to show up at work during bad weather.
In the past few years a few things have popped up in and around the hood that make life better. When I moved here there was no Big Bear, no organic bodega, no Thai carryout, no farmers market, the liquor stores were crap, the dry cleaners was too far, and I had to walk to U Street if I wanted to sit down and eat. Now, I’m a tad spoiled. I know this because when I was more lazy than picky, instead of going to a store 2.5 blocks away for good white wine, I dropped into the liquor store 1.5 blocks away for passable white wine. There’s stuff I need to take to the cleaners, and I have no real excuse not to, as it is a two minute walk away. There are other local businesses I go to, that weren’t here several years ago, and I appreciate them being around.
The other thing about the small businesses is that are open in and around is that you can get to know the owners/ regular workers. I love going into Catania’s on Saturday mornings and chatting with Nichol about France or bread. Or going into the Timor Bodega and hearing Kim talk about the farm fresh produce that just arrived. Or making small talk with the woman who runs the 4th Street Dry Cleaners.
That’s some of the good stuff. And now we will get back to my regular scheduled complaining about vacant houses, street characters, cell phone guy, and crime, later. For now, just enjoy the goodness.

About the past and the present

A lot of my friends are former History majors (or minors) so I sometimes like to ask the question, ‘if you could go back in time to any time period what would it be?’ The answer varies, depending on their interest. When I add, would you go there knowing you could never come back to the present, then the answer tends to be ‘no’ from everyone. There is just something about modern medicine and dentistry that makes today a preferred time.
Looking at Shaw’s urban renewal history and the ‘stuff’ that went before, that basically called for the need for the renewal, makes Shaw’s past an interesting place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there. Well given a choice between present day Shaw and say the area near the old Shaw Jr. High circa 1940. What I see are a lot of structures built for investment purposes (two or more units on one lot), making it a land of rentals with absentee landlords. Landlords, who if good, did some maintenance and patched here and there, but really weren’t very likely to invest in major projects. Overtime that lead to the blighted conditions, which mixed with the crime, and the overcrowding.
The legacy of bad landlords still lives on in Shaw, bringing that glorious bit of history to our present lives. On my block there is a landlord who does very little to keep up the property. This person only cleans out the gutters maybe, maybe, when there is a change in tenants. As these houses are all connected problems from the bad landlord’s house, become problems for the adjoining houses. Now imagine 1/2 a block or a whole block of landlords like that.
Urban Renewal Shaw is an interesting place to visit. I like seeing how different community groups came together and split apart. Their visions of the future tells an interesting story of desires and dreams. Their cries of frustration still remain in some corners and in 40 or more years I wonder if somethings can be adequately addressed given that you have mere human beings running things. Now, I wonder if future Shaw might be a better place to stay.