Saturday, May 22, 2010

out with the old... well, you know the rest.

                  These are Ben Morrison Hybrid Azaleas                       These are Mother's Day Azaleas
One things that's been bugging me about my own house for a whle was the old raggedy shrubs between me and the neighbors. At one time, the neighbor had shrubs outlining his whole yard, but some time ago he pulled out all of them except the ones that ran up the stairs between us. But they have gotten real ugly over the years. when established shrubs get damaged (one of his border shrubs got mangled from an oil truck hose!) they don't recover. someone fell into our median ones also, so they had become horribly misshapen.
I attacked them in earnest a few weeks ago and found them to be full of poison ivy (or at least some sort of poison vine that gave me oozing blisters for a few weeks!) and realtively easy to get out of the ground.
After properly preparing the gound with planting soil and peat moss, I installed 12 Azalea bushes. we went with 2 different colors that my daughter picked out.
 If you know Azaleas, you know that we just passed their blooming season, so there isn't much to see right now. But I included these pictures to show you what we will have next May!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ten Pounds of ... in a Five Pound Bag

In my last post, I alluded to the parking problem/conundrum/issue whatever you want to call it. I can't pick just one word for it because it's so multilayered. But I'll try, because that's what blogs are for.
Lots of Easton has had its noble old homes cut up into apartments. That's not a new trend; actually, it's very hard if not impossible to convert a home now for the first time. But most all homes that were converted stay converted as there are not enough (if any) incentives for someone to buy a dilapidated and abused slumlord building and return it to its former glory. You will likely never recoup your money and could wind up spending way more than it will actually be worth. The ideal solution would be a family that wants to settle here and restore their home while they live in it (that's what we did, but its our own toil and sweat and tears that have done it, w/ no incentive or encouragement from the city).
Which gets us back to parking. This fine city was laid out before cars existed so no thought was given to making room for them. this was actually ok for many years ans families used to not have but one car if any at all. Ward Cleaver worked at the mill or took the train to work, while June stayed home with the little ones and the bigger kids walked to school.
then two things happened which conspired together to make our current situation so difficult; more affordable cars (or at least easier credit) and more apartments. it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that there just isn't room for all the cars that all the residents 'need' to have.
back to my own deconversion story; when we bought our home 15 years ago, we didn't have much money. the home defined "fixer-upper". well, more as a clean, clean, cleaner upper. it was classified as a two-unit, which means my utility bill was charging me double water, sewer and trash pickup. SO we approached the city to convert. they warned us that we would likely never be able to go back; that was fine as I had every intention of living here ourselves.
here's the kicker; the letter of approval we received stated that there would be less impact on parking, as a single family home has TWO cars, but a two-unit apartment would have THREE cars. huh?!?
On my block, on only ONE side of the street, there are TEN units- two single family homes, and 4 buildings each w/ two units (and two units are vacant right now). Guess how many cars.
go ahead, guess.
At least TWENTY. I say at least, because one unit has a rotating selection of vehicles that come and go for days at a time, as well as a changing assortment of residents.
Remember, this is on ONE side of the street. On the other side, there are only seven or eight cars. but each property has only about 20' to 25' of width, or about one and a half cars length.
add to this the inability of most people to parallel park (they leave large gaps between cars) and we have our problem.
(BTW, we have only one car so I claim 'freedom to speak')
I would propose a solution like they have downtown. if the city extended permit parking to our area, and/or marked, metered parking, the situation could be controlled. Marked spots would give people a clue as to how much room to take up. they are used to that; Wal Mart has marked spots.
Issue two parking permits to each BUILDING, not per UNIT (so a two unit would have one parking permit each). charge like $100/year for each additional one.
Any other ideas?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Remote Control Presence Awareness Indicators

I set my morning alarm at 5:30. I usually hit the snooze maybe once or twice, gives me plenty of time to get out of the house by 6:15. On days that I don't drive, my car pool picks me up and I'm always ready at the door waiting.
Makes sense; if you have someone that picks you up AT THE SAME TIME EVERYDAY, why wouldn't you be ready for them?

That little piece of information seems to be lost on much of the people in my neighborhood.

At 10 of 6 or thereabouts, there are a few cars that come by to pick people up. Around the same time. Everyday. Same place. Almost like clockwork.
Can you please explain to me why the driver feels the need to HONK THE HORN REPEATEDLY???
I just imagine the people in the house; "hey, wow, he's here already?" or, "oh, I forgot, I'm going to work today?"
Believe it or not, car manufacturers did not install horns in the steering wheel so you can remotely make your presence known to people inside the house.
One of the ugly things about Easton is not only the ugly apartment conversions done to stately old homes, but the denizens of society that occupy them. Now, I understand that at many different levels of income present in the world, one may not be able to afford much. But being of lower social status does not mean you need to act like you have no respect for yourself or others.
I also take exception to the out-of-towners (which is anyone who doesn't live in the West Ward) who treat our town like it's of no consequence. The contractors picking up their day workers don't live here. They don't respect our neighborhood, which is why they honk their horns loudly and repeatedly at six in the morning.
We have out of town drug buyers on the block, all over the city really. They view Easton as a run down little city to get their fix. They don't see hard working residents, they don't see children and families. They only come here to buy their junk from the lowlifes who sell drugs who rent cheap apartments from out of town slumlords.
People, don't honk to tell your pick up you are there. Don't stop in the middle of the block and put your 'four ways' on; just PARK.
Oh yeah, PARKING. That reminds me, I'll have to get to that in the next post.