Sunday, November 06, 2005

Would You Be My, Could You Be My...

As anyone who has ever read Burned Out Paranoid Democrat can attest, I'm a Pirate of Strong Opinions. I was going to share a Strong Opinion about bedroom communities on this blog.

And maybe someday I will. But I've decided to keep the tone of this post positive. So, rather than talk about what's wrong with bedroom communites, I'll write about why I love my neighborhood.

Let's take a walk, shall we?

My Porch Posted by Picasa
This is home, looking due north. The leaves are just peaking with their autumnal color right now. But there's color all summer long, as well. That big bush on the corner of the porch is a lilac bush. Every May, it explodes in fragrant purple blossoms. Except for one branch, which inexplicably has white blossoms on it. There's lots of lilacs around, but I've never seen a bush that does this:


See? Posted by Picasa

That's from this spring. Anyways...Turn the corner, and head southeast for a block, and you get to the playground. This is where we (my kids and I) spend a decent part of nearly every Saturday from April through, well, this weekend so far.

Home away from home Posted by Picasa

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Them's the progeny. Lucky for them they look like their mama.

One block southeast and two blocks northeast (in other words, directly east as the crow flies) there are three wonderful places:

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This is a second-run movie house. They bring in the films that have had their run in the gigaplexes, that have been pulled to make way for the next big release. Double features are $3. Popcorn's a buck. So's the candy and soda. Not everything they show is kid-friendly, but a couple times a month we'll go there for an evening and I get change back from my Jackson (that's $20 for my friends in the Commonwealth) . A five minute walk from my house.

Behind the Cinema:

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This dude's so cool. Twice a year, he hitches a trailer to his SUV and heads down to Mexico, where he buys arts and crafts directly from the Mexican artists. So many vibrant colors, wonderful craftsmanship, and damn cheap. (Are you sensing a theme here? The new pillaging taxes are killing the ol' Pirate). His take on both NAFTA and the Patriot Act are well-reasoned and have real-life experience behind them. But that's a post for a different blog.

And across the street:

This picture is from a website cuz it's better than th one I took. It's an Orleans diner, the last one in existence. It's fully restored to its 1940's glory, and even the waitresses wear authentic '40's styl uniforms. the food is very good diner food, and reasonably priced. It's a feature of the neighborhood. But it's not the best food within walking distance of my house.

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Here's a great spot, about 20 yards from the diner. Great Tandoori. They also have a vegetarian cafe across the street, and an indian grocery store, all together. Their chicken makhani is awesome, but it's still not the best food in da hood.

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Like sushi? Sashimi? Chawan-Mushi? Tonjiru? Gracious hosts and soothing atmosphere? I do too. Two doors down from the India House. Splendid restaurant. Still not the best.

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About a block northeast. Mediterranean food in a modern, airy atmosphere. Awesome. Not the best.

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One block northwest. 30 beers on tap, from all over the world. Several dozen more in bottles. Fine bar food. 6 dart boards, 3 pool tables. 8 TVs playing sports. Sturdy bar food, tasty soups. Right across the street from:

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Great coffee--including coffee-flavored coffee (apparantly, I'm in the minority in that I like my coffee to taste like coffee). Open mike comedy and music nights. Breads, soups, salads. Still not the best in the hood. So where's the best place?

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One block away. Lip-smackin' barbecue. Blackened catfish. Live blues. Awesome. Nope.


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Dozens of delectable dishes. Not here either. Nor is it at the German restaurant down the street, the Ethiopean one half a block over, the Mexican bistro three blocks south, the paisans who make upside down pizza, nor any of the other diners that cram this area.
Give up?

This is the place. Posted by Picasa
The tables are often sticky, the tea is watery, and the owners have almost no grasp of English. And the decor is--well, the outside looks better than the inside.
But omygod.
What they can do to the noodle.
Lo mein, dan mein, gan mein, chow men. Ban fo, ho fun, lai fen, sen lek. Bai fun, sai fun, bun tau, tung boon. In sesame, in soy, in soup. With chicken, with cashews, with pork, with vegetables. Huge portions, steaming hot, fast, and cheap. I don't know how they do it, and from what I can see of their kitchen, I don't WANT to know.

And we walk there, and waddle home.

So all we do is eat?

Nope.

Posted by PicasaLet's head west. You can't see it from here, but 400 feet away is the hospital where my daughter was born. Another 500 feet from there, and we're at the park.

The park. Posted by Picasa20 acres of natural beauty, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead--the same guy who designed New York's Central park.
There's lots of ways to enter the park, but this is the path we take:

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Right through those trees, and we end up in a natural bowl behind the Conservatory greenhouse, which houses hundreds of botanical specimens from around the world.
In fact, the park has more than 1,200 variations of lilac shrubs, 700 types of rhododendrons azaleas and mountain laurel, 35 varieties of magnolia trees, a score of japanese maples, and a pansy bed with 10,000 plants.

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Every year, the park draws hundreds of thousands of people to admire and enjoy its beauty.

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Usually, that's not what we do.

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What we do is run around like idiots.

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This is the bowl--one of our favorite places. Those two piles of leaves down there are each big enough for five people to play in, and they form there naturally because of the wind.

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And I'm not responsible for raking them.

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Spring, summer and fall, if were not at the playground, we come here.

Or here Posted by Picasa
This is the amphitheater across the street. They have free concerts here during the summer.

 Posted by PicasaThis is where we sat to watch Barenaked Ladies a few summers ago. They also show 'family' movies here on Thursday nights during the summer. We get our sleeping bags, pack some snacks, and hang out on the lawn as the late summer evening turns to dusk. We lie on our backs, watching the bats pick bugs out of the air, and try to see the first stars of the evening. Then the movie comes on, and we snuggle up and watch as the dew slowly moistens our clothes.

But summer's over, and even though it's mild enough that we played in shorts and shirtsleeves this weekend, winter's just around the corner. Those steep gradients are perfect for sledding. Mostly, we go behind the Conservatory. There's a wide spot where you can get a good 25 second ride without the chance of hitting a tree. But sometimes they convince me to go to the amphitheater.

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Those trees are much closer together, but there are well-worn paths between them for sledding.

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Okay, maybe not that wide. That's tree is the one my daughter did a face-plant on a few years ago. Yes, we ended up at the emergency room. She vowed she would never go sledding again. That lasted about two weeks.

There's lots more to my neighborhood than what I've shown you. But that's enough for now. In the future, perhaps I'll put together a photo essay on the dogs in the hood. Like Annie, the Wonder Dog, The Three Yappy Long Dogs, The Ball-less Boxer, and more.

And I'll take along the camera when it gets time to hit the slopes.

But for now, life is good in the hood. Stop by sometime. We've got stuff to do.

Yeharr.

12 Comments:

Blogger Rowena said...

This is a stunning neighbourhood BP. No wonder you seem so ... balanced. And it's an idyllic environment for the kids to grow up in.

Those autumn colours are divine. And I want to go to the 40s diner!

6:47 AM  
Blogger Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Beautiful! Can I come visit?

7:12 AM  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

I'd be glad to have ya. I'll pull out the roll-away and you can sleep in the Tiki Room.

Yeharr

9:55 AM  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

That invite's for you to, ro. Just give me some time to clean up the house. I reccomend the open-face meatloaf sandwich. Their grilled three cheese with backon sandwich is good too. And a chocolate milkshake.

As far as balanced...really? That's a very nice compliment. Thanks.

Yeharr

12:13 PM  
Blogger Firefly said...

wow! that was a great walk! i wish my neighbourhood was the same... perhaps i will do the same...

oh...i am visiting via lily's blog!

aloha, ff

7:41 PM  
Blogger Colleen said...

wow...gorgeous pics!! can i borrow some for my circle journal?

i want to go tot he pottery place too.

10:09 AM  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

I would be honored, Colleen. If you need larger, higher def images, let me know.

And if you want to see some of James' stuff (the 'pottery place,') go to http://www.animastraders.com/

He offers some online specials. The movie posters are great--especially 'el Magnifico Bobo,' and I wish I could splurge on the Mata Ortiz seed pot or bolla.

Yeharr

11:51 AM  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

Also, thanks for visiting, Firefly. Come back often. And wear the black thing,

Yeharr

11:52 AM  
Blogger Lily said...

You still haveleaves? damn. We didn't get much color here this year.

That's one lovely neighborhood... mine's going downhill fast. Any houses for sale on your block?

and by the way, that took for freakin ever with my puny dial up... sorry I'm late.

12:41 PM  
Blogger Darren said...

Can I come and live with you?

7:51 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

My favorite is the porch, but I think you knew that. The bowl looks just like an area at the corner of Stewart and Garth in Columbia, Missouri.

BP, you've got to get into geocaching. The kiddos would love it.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

Jessica--Ya know, I noticed the similarity myself...

darren--Sure. the kids get off the bus at 4:30. Snacks are in the pantry. Make sure homework's done before they play. Fold the laundry.

Yeharr

2:27 PM  

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