A couple years ago, about this time of year, I excitedly bought several pumpkins at a farm stand. When we got home, I realized the small pumpkins would line up perfectly in our windowsill. As I placed them there, I had a fleeting thought, “What if some kid grabs them and throws them at our house?” But my admiration of their friendliness and homey-ness quickly supplanted that disturbing vision, and the pumpkins stayed in the windowsill. At least for a little while.

The next morning, the pumpkins were gone.

The good part, I suppose, is that no one threw them at our house. There was no trace of those pumpkins.

Lately, I feel like time is moving in some crazy vortex and leaving me behind. I’ve been caught up in a lot of different things, not all of them pleasant, and suddenly  I find we’re in mid-to-late October…? WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN? The last time I looked, it was late summer. But that does not appear to be the case anymore: it is cold and rainy and I cannot, in fact, remember the last time I actually saw the sun. Today I wore a hat, gloves and a coat (mostly because I was sitting outside all day — such layering would not have been totally necessary for a brief stroll).

Clearly, we are not in summer anymore.

Anywhim, in an effort to actually tune into the world and seasons around me  — and I dunno, maybe appreciate them, rather than just glowering in a dark funk with no sunlight   — I am trying to stop and recognize the positive aspects of autumn. For me, this means: drinking apple cider, making tasty recipes that use squash, and noticing the leaves. It also meant buying a large pumpkin on Saturday.

But now the question is, where to put this friendly pumpkin? It would look nicest on on front steps (that is, if it ever stops raining. and I think it is entirely possible that it may NEVER stop raining). But will someone steal it?

I’ve decided this could be a test. Perhaps the measure of gentrification is how long it takes for your pumpkin to go missing…

The pumpkin test! I will let you know how it goes.


My across-the-street neighbor had her house painted two weeks ago, which set off a chain-reaction of house paintings. When Wilfredo the Paint Man is done with our house, he will have completed at least five houses within three blocks.

Note to painters looking for jobs: find a gentrifying neighborhood where most of the houses look really junky with old peeling paint. Ask a fair price, do a good job. Watch the job offers FLOOD to you.

The transformation of our across-the-street neighbor’s house was impressive. It went from shabby, paint-peeling, dirty gray to a clean, smooth, dark purplish blue. It looks fantastic … and I am not a person who generally gets excited about purple houses. Inspired by the sparkley new paint job, my neighbor bought new plants and chairs, cleaned her porch and has plans to take down some fencing. Suddenly with the new paint job, all that junky stuff stuck out like a sore thumb.

We had been going back-and-forth about getting a paint job. While our house is nicely painted and re-done on the inside, it looks pretty terrible from the outside. It is light grey, with bumpy peeling paint … and some very charming patches with no paint at all. Obviously, it needs a paint job. But then we thought, there is something to be said for camouflage — no one can tell our house is nice from the outside. Burglar deterrent.

In the end, we gave in. It was so easy. There Wilfredo was, doing his great job up and down the street. Then suddenly there he was, ringing our doorbell and saying he would start the next day. So if the weather holds up, we could have a newly painted house in a few days!

I ran the long way to work yesterday, across town and down Rock Creek Parkway.  Daffodils, those friendly messengers of spring, are in bloom aplenty along the parkway.  Being the kind of person who really does stop to smell the flowers, I halted my run to admire them, much to the amazement of other runners and cyclists on the trail.  I whipped out my blackberry and took a few pictures.

These two look particularly Lenten  to me:

Death and resurrection

Death and resurrection

hanging on the edge, photo courtesy citystreets.wordpress.com

hanging on the edge

Last night when I took the recycling out, I was surprised to see many police cars and our entire street blocked off with police tape. I called out to Ned to come take a look at the excitement. He, another neighbor and I gathered on the sidewalk to chat about what might be going on…for a moment, at least. Just as we started to wonder, two police officers, one with a police canine, walked by. One officer said to us: “Can you please go inside?”

Yes, yes I can. Some weird stuff has gone down in me neighborhood before, but that was the first time a police officer has asked me to get inside. So he didn’t have to tell me twice. I turned and BOLTED inside the house. For the next hour or so, I alternated between hiding and peeking out the window, wondering what sort of criminal activity might be a afoot.

When the police forces dispersed around 10:30ish pm (heavy on the “ish” — I’m not sure of the time),  I heard the scoop from my next-door neighbor. She had walked down to the corner earlier to ask the police what was going on and got stuck there. They would not let her walk back to her house (for safety, not because they were questioning her).

Was it a drug bust? A raid? A murderer on the loose?

Nope. A suspicious package. Apparently someone on my street works at an embassy, which will rename nameless on this blog. Said embassy has been getting some bomb threats. She got a package at work that they forwarded to her home, and she did not know what it was. She called the police.  Preliminary inspections revealed it did indeed look suspicious. So they had to shut the street down while they investigated it more.

Until they discovered that the package was…

wait for it …

a wah-wah pedal.

How perfect is that? It is as if the pedal were laughing at the shenanigans. Oh, that every police mystery could end with such a zany, harmless little zinger.

When I started this blog, we lived 3 blocks east of gentrification. Now I would say it’s more like one or two. We’re still the kind of neighborhood where some people plant flowers and others pee on them. But it’s mostly flower-planters, not urinators, that are moving into the neighborhood. And the signs of the gentried classes seems to be getting ever closer.

For instance, a new wine and dessert bar is soon to open soon just five blocks from us!

I’ve joked with my neighbors that I will watch the vagrants’ liquor store on our corner turn into a wine and cheese shop.  Perhaps I’ll be right.

D.C. is getting reading for the big weekend. And it being D.C., that preparation includes a little self-promotion for the district’s favorite issue: D.C. statehood.

These signs are posted all over the place near the convention center, where most of the official Inaugural Balls (the ones with Obama and Biden in attendance) will take place.

Allison Winter

photo: Allison Winter

I guess they think the Mighty Obama crowd, riding the wave of excitement from the Inauguration, might see the signs  and think, “Yeah, sure! We can! Let’s give that little district a vote!”

I periodically get emails from the White House announcing an emergency declaration for some state or county. These almost always respond to some sort of extreme weather event — a flood or wildfire. The emergency declaration helps farmers and other local people apply for federal disaster assistance. It’s usually because something terrible has happened in the place.

So I was amused to see this announcement today:


The President today declared an emergency exists in the District of Columbia and ordered Federal aid to supplement the District’s response efforts in support of the 56th Presidential Inauguration.