Dateline: Weinland Park

I almost said this was from my new “20,” but many of my readers may have come of age in the post-CB radio era, and never heard C.W. McCall’s one-hit wonder “Convoy.”  (A “20” is a location, in CB jargon.)  Anyway, this is the first time I’ve had the energy and the solitude necessary to type this, my first blog entry from our new home in Weinland Park.  (That’s the name of the neighborhood, as well as the city park.  We’re most definitely not living in the park itself!)

Weinland Park is the neighborhood bordered by E. 5th Ave. to the south, N. High St. to the west, E. 11th Ave. to the north, and the Conrail tracks to the east.  The statistics for this section of town are grim, but I know many people who remember when the Short North, which is probably the trendiest neighborhood in Columbus, was a neighborhood no sane person would venture into after dark.  Neither Olde Towne East nor German Village were always the yuppie paradises they are now.  Weinland Park has a long way to go, but it’s quite suitable to our–my–needs.

The arrow on this Google Map does not represent
our house.  This is the Weinland Park neighborhood,
with the A indicating (I think) the Godman Guild.

It is just north of Italian Village, and it is a nice walk, and not an overly long one, to the OSU campus.  At the same time, it’s not so close to OSU that we will have to deal with the rioting, empty beer cans, open containers, and public urination that come after every Buckeyes football game, whether won or lost.  We are in a half double, and the layout is quite similar to the Clintonville place we just vacated.

Most importantly, the rent is quite affordable.  High school home economics teachers used to tell kids that rent should never consume more than 25% of your income, and in the last decade or so, I have wondered whether or not that was realistic.  For the first time since I’ve lived on my own, I think that I’m actually going to be doing that.  In the next few months, Steph and Susie will be moving out, once our divorce is final.  Neither Steph nor I know how much I will pay in child support, but living here, I can realistically expect to maintain this half double as my bachelor quarters without breaking my bank.

Friday was the day of the big move.  Steph, Susie, and I spent much of the week packing, weeding out, and moving everything down to the first floor of the old place.  Steph went to Cincinnati for the weekend that afternoon, and I made the big move from Clintonville to Weinland Park during the evening.  My friend John brought his pickup truck, and in quite a few back-breaking relays, we moved the furniture.  Steve and his daughter Amelia (my companion on the “One Nation Working Together” Washington trip earlier this month) did quite well transporting my books and the other contents of my office.  We started around 6 p.m., and it was after 2 a.m. Saturday before I was able to say, “That’s a wrap.  Cut and print.”  Susie had made and collapsed into her new bedroom while John, Amelia, Steve, and I were still moving items.

As I observed on Twitter, any friend can help you move.  True friends will help you move bodies and books.

Soon after everyone departed, I fell asleep in my new bedroom.  I was so tired I fell asleep fully clothed (including shoes, watch, and glasses) on the mattress, and I was too wiped out to put sheets on the mattress.  It wasn’t until morning that I realized that the smoke detector in my bedroom is defective–it chirps about every 30-45 seconds.  I tried installing a new battery, which did no good.  I even called the fire department to ask their advice–they told me to speak to my landlord, which I did (via voice mail).  I was too tired for it to disturb me.  I think that Friday night-Saturday morning, I could easily have slept on a bed of nails, the way that Zen Buddhists have mastered.

My sleep was not long, because I had to be awake for the guy from WOW Internet and Cable to come and install the cable.  Steph crossed the threshold this morning when she came back from Cincinnati, and we’ve been unpacking and sending things to their appropriate rooms.

We don’t plan to do much entertaining, so the front room (the living room) has become my office, and the middle (dining) room is where Steph and Susie have set up their laptops, and where the TV and Wii reside.  Steph’s and my bedrooms are in the same locations as they were in Clintonville.  She has the master bedroom, and I have the middle one.  Susie’s back bedroom is flooded with light in the afternoons, and she has the most closet space.  (We estimated the house to be just post-World War II, which means the two bigger bedrooms have very narrow closets.)

Susie was quite ingenious.  Her closet includes steps to the attic, and the attic is permanently off limits.  At the top of the steps, there is a hatch that is closed up with a combination lock.  Since Susie’s dresser was falling apart, we left it behind, and Susie has used the steps to the attic in lieu of shelves.  She’s stacked her pullover shirts, underwear, socks, etc. on the steps as she would lay them out in drawers.

Another drawing card for me is the proximity to Sporeprint Infoshop.  (I’ve shared the link and sung its praises before, but I’m doing it again.)  Sporeprint events, such as the Really, Really Free Market and Food Not Bombs were what attracted me to the Weinland Park area initially.  I walked past Sporeprint’s E. 5th Ave. headquarters this afternoon, headed home after errands to Dollar Tree and Family Dollar, and someone there invited me inside.  I came home laden with bread, pastries, eggs, and a cherry pie.  And all I did was make contact and say hi.  I have long wanted to volunteer with Sporeprint, and I can do it, now that I’m closer.  It’s also a shorter walk home from any activities that occur at the Awarehouse, the bike repair bay/party hall in the alley behind E. 5th Ave.

I’m typing this at the worktable in the living room/office.  Both Steph and Susie are asleep in their rooms, and since I’m going to be working tomorrow, I should follow their lead.  The office is not set up yet–I still have several crates and boxes to unload, but photographs will be forthcoming once I’m finished.

This malfunctioning fire alarm causes me to be grateful for having narcolepsy.  Since I fall asleep easily, whether I want to or not, I should be able to sleep through having that thing going off all night.

Interesting acoustic counterpoint here.  I hear a long train on the Conrail tracks to the east of my house, and while I’m typing, I’m listening to Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man” coming from the laptop.  The sounds aren’t all that compatible.

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Washington Beckons

Now I’m watching the clock waiting for 11:30 to get here, so I can be en route to the One Nation Working Together march tomorrow in Washington, D.C.  My original plan was for Susie to come with me, but another road trip, especially one this long, was too much, coming on the heels of the trip to North Olmsted last week.  Additionally, Susie is the stereotypical “Are we there yet?” kid when it comes to travelling.  If she was getting impatient for the two-hour journey to Cleveland to end, the seven-plus hours to Washington would be excruciating for her.  She told Steph on Monday that she really didn’t want to go.

I made a few phone calls, trying to fill the seat.  We have a donor who provided the bus free of charge (I’m not sure who), so I was working the phones and the email trying to find someone to go with me.  Steve was tempted, but he declined; big work week, so he was looking forward to spending the weekend staring at the ceiling.

But, I will not be travelling alone.  Amelia, Steve’s 20-year-old daughter, is coming with me.  I think it’s her first time in Washington.  The only road trip I’ve ever taken with her has been to Mineral, but I’ve been with her and her dad locally for several events, such as the Isaiah 58 rally at the State House and the Ramadan trip to the mosque.  I’m sure she’s enthusiastic about the trip.

During some idle time at the computer, I went on Google Maps and calculated how much I will have traveled between Friday night and Sunday morning, when Amelia and I return to Columbus.  The total will be 1372 miles.  There was the trip to and from North Olmsted last week, and last night Pat and I went to the Winchester Tavern in Lakewood to see Allan Holdsworth in concert–the third time I’ve seen him.  (What amazed me about that little junket was how comparatively early we were headed back to Columbus.  The concert began at 9 p.m., and there was no opening band.  The show was over by 10:30.  Pat and I stopped to get gas and pick up some burgers before we left Cleveland.  I think my clock radio said 1:15 when I came back to my bedroom/study.)

Before I promise an illustrated blog entry upon my return, I need to conduct an experiment here.  Sunday night, after coming home from North Olmsted, I tried to load some additional pictures from the Con.  Blogger.com was not cooperating, and I understand from other bloggers they were experiencing the same thing.  (The problem is not in your set!)  So, I am going to try and load a picture below:

 Susie and her friend Harriet back up their friend
Florida (at microphone) during the talent show at North
Olmsted last Saturday night.  They were insurance against
stage fright or chickening out.

Houston, all systems are go and all lights are green!  This is the picture I tried to post Sunday without any success.  Now I know that the malfunction with Blogger.com and loading pictures has been repaired, so I’m taking the Kodak EasyShare with me to document the march.
My fellow bibliophile and collector of arcane knowledge Robert Nedelkoff is meeting us for lunch at 1:45 at Tonic at Quigley’s Pharmacy, a restaurant and bar located on G St., NW in Foggy Bottom.  It’s always good to see him; this will be our third in-person meeting, and I believe I will meet his wife Rene this time.  I have never heard of this eating establishment.  The building hasn’t been a pharmacy for years, but the name is too normal for a Washington, D.C. pharmacy.  Two chains (since defunct) in Washington had names that always brought a chuckle to me.  One was Drug Fair, which was absorbed by Walgreen last year.  (Drug Fair could also have been the name for Lafayette Park after dark.)  The other was Peoples Drug, which always made me think it was a huge methadone clinic.
Right now, I just glanced at my watch.  It’s 11:08 p.m., and Steve and Amelia will be coming around to pick me up soon.  I’m packing light–camera, diary, the latest New Yorker, and a copy of On the Road (my equivalent of carrying a St. Christopher’s medal, I suppose).  Just like the New Jersey trip, I will handwrite the blog in a pocket date book (scrambling around my desk to find one), and then post backdated entries in here, assuming Blogger.com’s ability to load pictures doesn’t crash while I’m gone.

Last Week, I Was–Quite Literally–A Bean-Counter

Last Monday was Flag Day, and it is not one of the Federal holidays that government workers enjoy while most of the private sector still has to show up and punch in.  I took a vacation day Monday and made one of my semi-regular journeys down to Feed My Sheep food pantry in Mineral to help out with packaging and distributing foodstuffs.

I came there with two rookies–my friend Steve Palm-Houser and his daughter Amelia.  We made the trip down to western Athens County with only one casualty along the way–Steve’s tire.  He managed to travel the rest of the way from Logan to Mineral (New Marshfield, according to the U.S. Postal Service) on a doughnut, but we arrived shortly after 1 p.m.

Bean counter is a pejorative term for an accountant (per The Urban Dictionary), but it’s been extended to all civil servants.  Last Monday, I literally became a bean counter briefly, although I was mostly a pasta counter.  We arrived too late to stock the boxes of food in the back room of Feed My Sheep (a room off the sanctuary of Faith Believers’ Ministry), so we went to work filling Ziploc bags with pasta.  Amelia jumped right into this task with no trouble at all, helping Jacques Angelino’s 96-year-old mother, while Steve and I needed a few moments to get organized and get a pattern going.  Soon enough, we were scooping up pasta, filling bags, and adding them to boxes, stopping only when we ran out of bags.

Steve (back to camera), pasta, and me, at Faith Believers’ Ministry.

Amelia and Jackie bag pasta.

Mineral, and the poverty in Athens County, is an ongoing crisis.  In many ways, I would think that a natural disaster–such as Hurricane Ike or Hurricane Katrina–would be preferable to a resident of these areas than the grueling poverty and unemployment.  When a natural disaster strikes, the experience is hellish, but they end.  You can look around and see what has been damaged or destroyed, you can see what needs to be done, and then set about either doing it or finding the resources to accomplish it.  This is an ongoing crisis, and you come away thinking that your time is well spent, even if the help provided will be necessary again next week.  Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine, is fond of quoting Talmudic rabbi Tarfon’s words: “It is not upon you to finish the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”

I have posted the address elsewhere in the blog (both here at Blogspot and on my erstwhile site, the LiveJournal account), but if you are moved to generosity, please send a check or money order to:
Feed My Sheep Food Pantry
c/o Faith Believers Ministry
8137 St. Rt. 356
New Marshfield, OH  45766
I am hoping to make another trip down to the pantry sometime in the summer, possibly with Susie in tow.  She has gone before, and was quite a productive worker.
Amelia made a new friend while she helped out at Mineral.
A look at Faith Believers Ministry, which houses
Feed My Sheep Food Pantry, and boasts the
only soda pop machine in Mineral ($.50 a can,
quite a bargain!)