Drinking coffee on a Sunday in Durham

image2:41PM Why is nobody at the Durham Coop Market? On a wondrous fall day, I am one of only two people sitting outside in the the spacious seating area off Chapel Hill St. I bet Cocoa Cinnamon is packed. I bet Weaver Street Market is packed. (Or perhaps not. It’s only 55 degrees outside, which may be too chilly for most, although, for me, this is perfect!) Your loss, my gain, because I don’t need the crowds.

I need to get out of my house to do “work”. My house is too impossibly cluttered and devoid of natural light and air circulation to remain there, even with a seemingly infinite list of to-do’s that are dependent on being home.

But where the heck to go in the Great Awesome Cool Dirty City of Durham? For what one ridiculous study called the country’s most caffeinated city (from a clock app maker?), there is certainly a dearth of coffee shops, particularly on a Sunday afternoon.

I sought to find an option other than my usual on Broad Street. I headed downtown. I thought I’d go to that nifty little place by Brightleaf off Duke Street, but it’s closed on Sundays. Coffee shop closed on Sundays? C’mon. Fine, I’ll go to that upscale grocery place by Brightleaf where half of Trinity Park is probably brunching. (The other half is at the artisan bakery cafe 0n Chapel Hill Blvd, and I realize my math is off, since I can name four or five places where half of Trinity Park is currently brunching. And I’m intentionally not naming establishments, other than Cocoa Cinnamon, because you are annoyingly too crowded, though your beverage and food offerings do warrant the trip). Oh, so before my parenthetical aside…

4:10pm Before my parenthetical aside, I was going to say that the upscale grocery place closes at 3:00 on Sundays, and I was going to say ‘C’mon’ to that as well.

After my “before my parenthetical aside”, the population of the outdoor seating area spiked. A friend of mine happened to come by, along with the friend of the friend. And the friend remarked to the friend that my blog was worth reading, and I was a great writer, and I was quite embarrassed, because, really?

Reread that last sentence. That is not quality writing. Can I really write about anything, and it would be great? Am I really so bad at accepting a compliment?

I’m not sure where this post was going before the welcome interruption. I was going to expound a bit on the lack of coffee shop/sit-and-work options around Durham. And I was going to declare that I must frequent the Coop much more often. It’s like Whole Foods without the “excuse-me’s” every 5 seconds. (I really don’t have many complaints about my local Whole Foods.)

That’s all I can muster for this afternoon. One day, this blog will get back on track. But that day will not be today.

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The dog park and the natural order of things.

Moksha and I just had a traumatic visit to the Northgate Dog Park, where a seemingly lazy, gentle dog went berserk, yet again. While I mentioned the dog and owner’s name on Facebook (private to the default local list only), I’m not going to shame the guy publicly. This guy lords over the dog park. He seems to be there 24/7 and has been coming for years. He said bluntly that it’s “the natural order of things” if one dog drives all the others away. Furthermore, it’s the understood rule of the park that whoever arrives first stays if there is an altercation. He sits at the picnic bench and watches from 100 feet away while his dog suddenly tears into another one. He’s one of those dogs that lounges around 90% of the time, and everyone loves him, but when he gets into the mix… Everyone went over to the small dog side.

I called the sheriff and had them send someone down there, just to embarrass the guy a little if that’s even possible. No one has completely loudly enough over the years apparently, so he’s not going anywhere. I can’t imagine going back there as long as this pair are there. It’s quite sad. Moksha has a lot of fun there. I don’t see any visible signs of injury yet, but such things usually don’t become apparent until later.

Time Warner Cable fail

I almost succumbed to the need for cable last week. I signed up Wednesday night. I picked up a box Thursday morning. I realized Thursday evening that they hadn’t activated it. I got a call Friday morning from a sales rep asking if everything was ok. I said it wasn’t, that I expected the service to have been turned on and wasn’t sure I was satisfied with the deal I was getting. She said since she wasn’t the sales rep I dealt with that she couldn’t help. I asked her why she bothered calling. Then I returned the box and canceled my service. (I should’ve waited until today, in retrospect, since it’s hard to watch March Madness online without a TV subscription service after the 4-hour free pass expires).

Today, I received a call from a gentleman asking about my Time Warner Cable experience. He wanted to be my “personal representative” and said I could reach him anytime via his cell phone. Sounded fishy. Then he offered me a price that was even higher than what I was going to be paying. I called bullshit on him and told him he had just made it more likely that I’ll never get TV from Time Warner Cable.

If and when I decide I want real TV again, I’ll go back to DirecTV.

Murder in Durham

This should be national news. It’s not, because it’s the mass-killings we notice, even though there’s the equivalent of a mass-killing every day in this country. In Durham, apparently, you need to be wary of teenagers as young as 12. (It’s not just Durham. One suspect lives in Raleigh; in other news, Raleigh teens recently beat a homeless man to death.) I think everyone has at least one story about trusting a stranger and falling for a con and then wondering why we put ourselves in a vulnerable position in the first place. And then sometimes we do it again, anyway. The victim here was just trying to do a good deed—for kids. It’s horrible for him and his family.

I don’t even want to think about how teenagers get guns. I hate thinking about guns, whether they’re weapons used in premeditated homicides, instruments of accidental killings, means of self-protection, sporting goods or collectibles. They all can take life in an instant, and, yeah, I admit, they scare the shit out of me, and I personally despise them. I don’t give a shit about your right to have them.

I want to write some eloquent, but, really, this is what the expression WTF was created for (as opposed to Instagram changing its terms-of-service or TLC airing a showing about the Amish mafia).

WTF.

Bungalow ’12 (8-26) quick thoughts

Broken record.

Listening to music on my stereo at a volume inappropriate for 12:45AM is the only way to drown out the “quad chatter” from the porch two houses down. And I still hear that chatter, those shouts to those getting into their cars, those drunken bellowing cackles, whenever there is a lull. Really, I don’t want to be listening to music right now. I won’t hear the frat noise as much if I retreat to my bedroom, but this is my $*(#*$ house, and I’m not going to change rooms.

This is untenable. And, as I said before, there’s nothing to discuss with them. They’re not breaking any laws (well, they could be, but I don’t give a shit if anyone under 21 is drinking). This is an issue with my low tolerance for unwanted noise and for…(I’ll refrain from name-calling). The only they could do to satisfy me would be to use that house for sleeping and studying. They’re actually living there is the problem. Though we are a block-and-a-half from Duke. Scratch that. My actually living here is the problem.

Bungalow ’12 (8-25) quick thoughts

I won’t tiptoe around this.

Instead of spending the summer refinancing, had I known in advance that I’d be living two houses down from a frat house, I’d have spent the summer trying to figure out how to get out of this house. 15 years after graduating, have spent two of those years living among frat houses (actually, quads, and I’m not including my own in the offending parties), why in the world should I be tolerating it now?

It’s not your parties. It’s you. It’s that you have frat-guy-voices, and you don’t modulate. You don’t need to be blaring music to be piercingly annoying at 10pm or 1am or 2 in the afternoon. You don’t know how not to be obnoxious, and you will be from now until May. It’s not a violation of an ordinance or the terms of your lease just to be yourselves. And I don’t know how to be tolerant of this, nor do I have room on my to-do list to try.

It was bad enough having the house three doors down be a frat’s off-campus base of operations for four of the last five years. They’re still here. And now there’s you.

Why should I invest one dime into this house of mine? I can’t imagine finding it pleasant to live here. This WAS a block that already tended to be a bit too loud and disorderly for my liking, with another family’s kids who are usually out-of-control and bass-thumping cars that use this as through street. But I could tolerate it just enough to re-commit for another couple of years. Now, I’m quite sure I don’t want to be here anymore.

I’ve got 18 other problems I’d rather be writing about.

Bungalow ’12 (8-21) quick thoughts

Good news
It DOES feel like a great burden has been lifted now that, five years after I bought this place under what most would deem harsh (financial) terms, I have completed the nearly-three-month process to refinance my mortgage. (I first went into the credit union to inquire back on June 1). I had contacted Citimortgage a few weeks earlier, but I didn’t like their modus operandi and moved on. I have a significant drop in interest rate coupled with, and this is more important psychologically for me, the elimination of PMI. You need PMI when your value:loan ratio is too high. Somehow some pseudo-appraisal was done that pushed me out of the range that requires PMI. Add that I will have no escrow. I still have to pay the taxes and insurance, but I can take that out of some undetermined bucket, so that when I look at my new monthly mortage payment, I can think HOLY SHIT, this is SO much less than I used to pay. I’ve shocked people for five years when I’ve told them how much my monthly mortgage payments have been for my little broken-down house. Now, if I tell you, you’ll think, “Well that sounds about right.”

Ominously good news (the calm before the storm)?
My good-guy party-neighbors’ get-together tonight was docile. Didn’t notice anything. But tomorrow night will be the moment of truth.

Ominously bad news
New neighbor #2 has station wagon parked aross sidewalk again in attempt to…who knows…force the the handicapped into the street.

Ominously bad news
New neighbor #1, through no fault of her own, has a very bright side porch light. It is definitely giving off more wattage than the last bulb that was there for the last tenant. It significant lightens my bedroom at night, and it makes what is already a frustrating challenge to get to sleep and much harder road. I could be the one to buy some light-resistance curtains, which could help be anyway, and she retains her sense of security. Or I just say to B.S.. “Hey, can you replace the bulk with something not quite as strong. It can sufficiently provide light for the side of the house without interfering with the desired level of light and dark for my house”.

So assuming I have $1000-$2000 coming up to do any house work I want…do I go with necessity or vanity? Quick brainstorm of projects:
– Fix electrical wiring under kitchen that is broken and prevents my lovely new range from October 2011 form functioning. Requires electricity with agility to get into very tight crawl space to do some wire splicing and hook-up. ($1000? $750? More? Less?)
– Fix broken boards on porch; have been eyesore for 1-2 years. Local non-professional guy offered to do the work. I have trouble trusting people to do services so I don’t know if using this guy is a good idea or not. Small job so might be worth risk. ($200-300?)
– Broken back door jams, panels, supports, etc. Unclear if new door itself needs replacement. Some reveling of back room floor. Not sure I trust the local amateur with this more comple job. Assuming no new door needed, looking at around $300.
– New HVAC since AC is ineffective and gas will kill me with CO2. ($5000?)
– Attic insulation – the cellulose kind since better for env and old wiring will cause fire with old insulation ($3000)
– Paint some rooms WELL (without my involvement) ($500)
– Professional landscaping to get things in order once and for all ($1000ish)
…dozens of must-haves and wish-list items…all totaling probably in the $50K range

If I had $50K, it would be exciting to watch this transformed into what it could be. Since I don’t, it’s depressing to spend a little money here and there that will barely make a difference.

Wasn’t loving Durham so much last night

I shall censor myself and play Mad Libs with last night’s post, which I’ve removed, and then post an addendum.

Those (adjective) owners of the poor dog across the alley that I’ve been writing about for five years just stuck another dog in the pen today. Tethered it in the corner of the pen. No food or water. Barking all night. And Durham Animal Control is a (noun). The police officer who came out was (adjective). No one answered the door. The (person) better be (adjective) or (active verb) in the (part of a house) pleading with (person) to come by and take care of the situation.

What a (adjective) evening this has been.

Voicemail to Animal Control + Email to landlord = (person) came by and took care of the situation

Thundershirt!

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Herman got a much-needed dog-washing at today’s fundraiser for the Coalition to Unchain Dogs. Durham company Thundershirt was sponsoring the event, and they were raffling off some Thundershirts.

Herman, ever socially-inept on leash with other dogs, got to borrow a Thundershirt while we waited for his turn to be washed. Miraculously, he was able to go up to other dogs without snapping. He has never been able to do this. The Thundershirt truly lowered his anxiety to the point that he could interact, almost, like a normal dog. He still barks incessantly.

So, I was definitely going to go buy a Thundershirt after this experience. But I don’t have to, because we won a Thundershirt. Now I’m looking forward to taking him for walks with his Thundershirt, and we’ll see if maybe we can stop avoiding other dogs.