Saturday in Takoma

While most of today has been allocated to school projects (having finished off a research paper’s first draft, next up are three chapters in the oh-so-riveting Reference and Information Services: An Introduction textbook), I decided I needed a quick break for an hour. It’s a beautiful day outside, and while I’d opened up all of the windows and turned off the air-conditioner, that simply wasn’t going to suffice.

So, I took a quick spin around my immediate neighborhood. Strolled down to the library and picked up my reserved copy of Canal House Cooks Every Day. I had a recent encounter with one of the Canal House Cooking books and while that’s a (hopefully) forthcoming post in its own right, it made me curious to see what their big cookbook was like. From there I headed the opposite direction down the street to Trohv, which is always worth a browse but in this case I was visiting specifically to buy the new issue of Kinfolk magazine. It’s always a pleasure to read, and knowing that this issue is all about weekends makes it even better. As I entered, I stopped and snapped a quick picture of the new construction at Takoma Central to send to Charlie. Not that I know much about building projects, but it certainly feels like it’s coming along nicely and should hopefully open on schedule next spring.

On the way home, I stopped in at La Mano Coffee Bar, which opened earlier this month. Ended up leaving with a mint rooibos tea, and two hand pies; one with peach and raspberry, the other with a spiced ground beef. Ran into one of my neighbors right as I was leaving, who was walking with her adorable daughter (who was on a sassy purple scooter).

Saturday Haul

And once I got home, I put everything down and thought to myself how much I love my neighborhood on days like this. Everyone’s out walking, there are adorable shops and businesses to visit, and there was a general air of friendliness. A couple that I saw leaving Trohv as I entered was buying a snack at La Mano, and as I walked from the library to Trohv I saw two other neighbors across the street run into one another and start chatting.

Sure, it’s not the “everything is happening all the time” nature of being right in the heart of downtown, and there’s a lot to be said for living there. But there are definitely charms that exist here, too, if you take the time to look. And now, having eaten my pies (the crust was buttery and flaky and delicious, and the insides were great too), I’m going to sit out on the balcony with my textbook and my iced tea and enjoy the great weather.

A Year Later

This Thursday is the one-year anniversary of Charlie and I buying a home together. It’s a little hard to believe it’s been that long; the continuing sensation of time moving faster as I get older instead of slower, I guess. But looking back, I feel like we’ve gotten so much accomplished in that year. Merging possessions with someone else is almost never an easy process, and there was a lot of “what do we keep / what do we get rid of / what goes into storage?” and that certainly takes time.

We’ve made a couple of small improvements to our home. We had new carpeting put in on the stairs, which looks so much nicer than what was there before it’s not even funny. We’ve had a much-needed ceiling fan installed upstairs (although the installation is temporarily wired right now; they’ll finish the job next week). The upstairs has Charlie’s movie posters hung, and down the stairs is some of my original comic art that I’ve purchased over the years. (We might put one or two more pieces up, but that’s still to be determined.) The downstairs is more or less completely done. And we’ve got a cute little jungle of plants out on the porch.

It’s great to have just a few small things left at this point. Now that most of the stuff that we’re hanging on the walls has been placed, we need to put the rest of the art and vintage posters down into the storage unit, which means making some space for it. I went down there yesterday and spent a while going through my boxes of books that I’d placed there last year, and finally hauled out five boxes worth of material that’s going away. On the one hand it’s sad to see them go—as a book collector getting rid of any of them is always painful—but they’ve been gathering dust for a year now and it’s time to admit to myself that they’ll probably continue to sit there, untouched, for many years to come. So, time to find new homes for them via eBay and the like. And it’s not like I don’t still have a zillion other books still in our home and in my office, after all.

More importantly, I feel like our neighborhood really is our home. I do genuinely love living in Takoma, even with the twice-as-long commute. We have some truly fantastic neighbors. There are some great stores (both food and merchandise) that I enjoy going to. I’d wager that in the last year I’ve missed maybe 5 of our weekly Takoma Park Farmer’s Market Sundays. I’ve been volunteering with the local Friends of the Library group. I’ve got easy access to some good bike trails (Sligo Creek, Rock Creek, Metropolitan Branch) and last week with the help of Charlie I’ve finally gotten back into a routine of going to the Takoma Aquatic Center (a whopping four blocks away) for lap swimming.

And of course, the quiet aspect of the neighborhood is still a big charm. When we first moved I described our neighborhood as “small town living in a big city” and I think that’s still quite apt. Live can be as busy or as quiet as we need it to be.

Who knows? Maybe one of these days we’ll finally have a housewarming. I feel like that moment is getting closer… honest!

Storm Damage Photos

Just a couple of glimpses of what my neighborhood looks like, after Friday night’s storms… Sadly, these are somewhat typical for the area. (We were quite lucky. No power loss or damage.)

This is actually one of the less-bad examples. As you can see if you look on the right-hand side, the tree actually snapped right through the trunk. Happily, when it came crashing down it did NOT hit anyone’s house or car. (There are a lot of totaled cars in the area.) This is about three blocks away from our home.

This one happened just a block and a half down the street; the tree when it came down managed to straddled three properties; it started in what we’ll call property #3, destroyed the fence between it and property #2, and stretched across all of property #2 to even extend into the right-hand side of property #1. This tree took out power lines with it (ack) and completely blocked the driveway (and even walkway) of property #2, where Alice and Tony live. Ugh. And unlike the previous photo…

…this one wasn’t just the trunk snapping. As you can see here, the entire root system came up with it. Yikes. Still, at the end of the day, a hole in the yard and a destroyed fence is much better than a smashed house or car. (And since then, chainsaws have cut up the portions of the tree blocking the driveways to properties #1-2, so that’s good. Still no power as of this morning though.)

How To Lose A Month In One Easy Step

When we first had our moving date, I had an incredibly ambitious plan. I was going to document the moving process, write up how the progress was coming along, take pictures each ste of the way, that sort of thing. And then, suddenly, it was over a month later and I’d done absolutely none of that. Why? Well, it’s pretty simple. It’s because we had actually, well, moved.

It’s a little staggering to me how much time and energy it takes. Maybe it’s because with each move I’ve been five or six years older and have that much more in the way of possessions to take care of? (Or alternately, it’s because I’m that much more old and decrepit. Please do not answer which of the two it probably is, unless you are certain it is the former.) But even with us hovering somewhere around the 90% done mark (I’ve got a handful of boxes to sort through and figure out what’s going away, the final step of hanging things on the walls, and the later task of putting some more books up for sale and/or donating them), it’s taken forever. And it’s been more mentally exhausting than physically.

Which is, of course, a great time for the edge of a hurricane to swoop by this weekend, right? I’m pretty convinced Hurricane Irene is doing its driveby merely because it heard about our 5.8 earthquake on Tuesday (which was disconcerting and exciting at the same time) and it wants to get in on the action. Honestly, I’m expecting it to be not as bad as Hurricane Isabel and its direct strike back in 2003, and I’m not even worried about it… if it wasn’t for its disruptive presence. Because even just strong winds and monsoon rains means no walking to the farmer’s market on Sunday (I suspect it will not even be set up), no trip to IKEA to get that nightstand we’re going to use to hold the printer, that sort of thing.

Right now so many things are at the “90%” done stage in my life that I just want them all to get wrapped up, feel closure, and move forward. I have a bunch of new projects I’d like to start. I have one writing assignment that’s been sitting untouched for two months (eek) that needs to get a jumpstart. I’d like to restart my “State Streets in DC” photo project from scratch and with a lot more focus. (Although for that I suppose I should first figure out where the heck my charger and spare battery for my camera have quietly relocated themselves. I’d settle for just the charger, honest.) And once I can strike all these other things off to “to do” list, then I can move forward.

In short, I’m putting this all out into the open to try and spur myself toward getting there. See if it’ll be the final gentle nudge to get to a conclusion, right?

Well, probably not. But eventually it’ll happen. It’ll be nice to add swimming, biking, photos, that sort of thing back into my life. Perhaps I can even start documenting some of the great new places I’ve found in Takoma, like I’d hoped. Tune in this time next month for another excuse why not. Or maybe, finally, some real progress.

The Joys of Moving

Saturday was our move-in day, which sounded great when we set it up after finally closing on our home last Tuesday. Sure, the air-conditioning had managed to stop working between our walk-through and closing, but someone had come by on Friday to fix it, and assured us that in a few hours it’d be back to normal. And everything was out of my old place and ready to be picked back up and moved. So easy, right?

Well, no. Not helping matters was Monday’s oral surgery, to which I’d been told quite firmly, “No strenuous activity.” Sure, we had movers. But on Tuesday when I’d hauled the three new rugs into my car, and then (with Charlie) from the car to the condo, just doing that had resulted in me having suspicious bloody specks in my mouth. So even moving heavy boxes around the condo upon placement was declared a big no. And of course, we’d gotten into the place on Saturday and were not even remotely greeted with cold air.

In short, the worst move I’d ever gone through. Being boiling hot, tired, sore, sick to my stomach (thanks to a week’s worth of antibiotics post-surgery), and hungry is not good. And of course, being told that Comcast will show up between 2-5pm and despite calling every half hour starting at 4:45 (and being assured that yes, the Comcast installer was still coming) and continuing to be a no-show at 7:50pm? Really not good. (The killer was starting around 6pm we’d even said, “We have no problem with rescheduling if this isn’t any time soon, just don’t string us along.” Argh. They put a credit on our bill by way of apology but still. Not cool.)

We finally left at 8pm and had what I can only describe as a “sanity-restoring dinner” at Mark’s Kitchen (the bibimbap was fantastic!), ice cream across the street, and just relaxed for an hour or so. And we ended up sleeping at Charlie’s old place so that we didn’t melt, which was also helpful.

Fortunately, Sunday was a big turn-around. We found someone to come out and properly diagnose and fix the air-conditioning (which was not only minor, but happily we were told that the unit is in great shape), we got a lot of stuff unpacked, and all of the new bedroom stuff put together. We’ve still got a lot of unpacking to do, but Sunday felt like major progress. It’s no longer a labyrinth of boxes, now it’s more of a bunch of clusters of boxes. I think by the end of the week we should be awfully close to being in shape.

The chorus of the weekend, from both of us: “You know we’re not moving again for a very, very long time.” It’s nice to be in agreement on that front.

Finally, Closure

It’s only 15 days later than planned, but it finally arrived: Charlie and I closed on our new home in the Takoma neighborhood of DC. That’s right, I am finally a homeowner. Also, that means after the end of this week, I am no longer homeless.

The original closing date was supposed to be June 27th, but I have learned something very important about buying a condo versus buying a house. There is a third party—the dreaded HOA management company—that can do things so slowly that your closing date keeps getting delayed. On the bright side, neither we nor the sellers had done anything wrong. All of us had everything in order, but we just kept getting delayed while waiting for required paperwork to finally arrive.

I probably wouldn’t have cared so much, save that I had to be out of my old place on July 5th. Oops. So, everything got packed up and moved to a temporary location (Hi Mom! Hi Dad!), as did I. But that brief stop-over is now almost at an end, and in a few days we can start focusing on our new neighborhood, unpacking all of those boxes, new license plates and driver’s license…

…wait, why was I looking forward to this again?

Oh yeah, that’s right. Our beautiful new home. I am utterly thrilled that it’s ours; partially because it’s a great place, and partially because it’s ours. I’ve never lived with a boyfriend before, and the last time I even lived with another person was 2001.

I’m looking foward to this new portion of my life immensely. Hello, Takoma. I’m thrilled to be here, finally.


It’s been a busy May. An intensive project at work (not bad, just really busy!), helping someone out after their surgery, multiple trips up to Pennsylvania (including for my grandmother’s funeral), not feeling well for about a week and a half (and having to scratch a planned triathlon), that sort of thing.

Oh yeah, and Charlie and I put an offer on a home.

We’ve been talking for years now about buying a place together, when we found the right one. We’ve talked about different neighborhoods in DC as possibilities (Downtown, Logan Circle, U Street, Atlas District, Southwest Waterfront, Brookland, Brightwood Park, you name it) and casually checked out open houses and such. But nothing jumped out at us. So we continued to bide our time and figured it was still a ways off, until we saw a listing for a condo in Takoma that just screamed, “You must buy me.”

The listing was too good to be true, so we went to see it at an open house… that turned out to be a glitch in the system and there was no open house. (Fortunately one of the owners was home and graciously let us in to look around.) Ten minutes later, we were in love. Two days later, we’d gotten a pre-approval letter from the bank and put an offer in. And the next evening, we heard our offer was accepted.

Now obviously until every last paper is signed things could still go south. We just had the home inspection, which went well. But the bank still has to do their appraisal, and of course this is the age of nervous banks. So even though all our ducks are in order something could go wrong with the appraisal, or perhaps Venus will eclipse Mercury and the bank will freak out and decide to grant no one their mortgages for the next two months. But, knock on wood, so far so good.

It’s funny because while we both love the Takoma neighborhood of DC (and the neighboring Takoma Park, Maryland), neither of us figured we’d find anything there. But sometimes a winner just drops into your lap. We’ve got great restaurants, retail, grocery stores, the pool, a farmer’s market, a library, the metro station, and yoga studios just a short walk away. It’s in many ways the perfect mix of small town and big city all in one.

So, more updates to eventually come. In the meanwhile I am playing the game of starting to sort, pack, and discard books. It’s going to be a busy June as well, it seems!