Sunday, February 7, 2010

Grey takes another social step and digressing about B'more

Hi! Thanks for the comments about the neighborhood! They made me smile!

First I'll give you what you came for... the kittehs... then please forgive me if I digress a bit about B'more. I love my little neighborhood and I love my little house. Read on after the kittehs only if you're interested (it got a little long)!

Mr. Grey Takes Another Social Step
Grey has been loving but, unless I picked him up, he didn't lap sit. That changed today!!

I was completely startled to have Grey jump into my lap and settle down for a long pet session this morning! He stayed for almost an entire movie!! (No church this morning... snow closing!)

The girls were fascinated for some reason. Of course the camera was out of reach, but the cell was handy to record his audience. Peggy Sue and Winnie stayed close, Bitty gazed from the catstair, Lilo peered through the door and Annie perched on the steps behind me!

This is a first! And yesterday's chase was not the last. After he left me, Grey again chased Bits up the catstair, stopping again halfway. I could have taken the same pics I did yesterday! LOL!
Tomorrow an update on Kona and Jasper... Tuesday one on Kayla and Zimmer.

B'more Digression

I do love my neighborhood and my house. And your comments inspired me to tell you a little more.

Baltimore is a "working class" city and there are lots of rowhouse* and semi-detached** neighborhoods. That's the key word - neighborhood. Baltimore is less a city, in the traditional sense, than a collection of neighborhoods. I grew up on an older street, similar to the one on which I now live. It had even tinier semi-detached homes (16' wide, rather than the 18' of my house), but the street was lined with huge sycamore trees. Moving to this street after 20 years in the DC area, was a Baltimore joke (it's a "new" neighborhood, having been built in 1950). Let me explain...

Years ago the comedian Tracey Ullman had Michael Tucker (of "LA Law," for those of you who remember it) on as a guest. He's a native Baltimorian. In the sketch, the accents were perfect, the set was perfect with painted screens and Tracy scrubbing the marble steps. Widower Michael was telling daughter Tracey that she'd taken good care of him for years since her mom had died. He'd been keeping company with Miss So'n'so (another B'morism... we call everybody "Miss" or "hon") and was going to marry her. It was time for Tracey to stretch her wings and fly.

Tracey goes into histrionics about missing him and the punch line, which is funny for anyone, is that she was moving next door. OMG! I fell on the floor... for a Baltimorian, it's utterly hysterical. That's EXACTLY what we do (or used to do, anyway). I am living 2 blocks from my sister (whose backyard adjoins that of her in-laws) about a mile from where I grew up. :-) Technically it's not my old neighborhood, but it is just one over.

My new neighborhood is, thankfully, more diverse today than when I grew up. B'more unfortunately was, and in some places still can be, prejudiced beyond belief but (as you can see in the shot below) that, too, is changing. What cheers me is that, in addition to great new neighbors, many of the good traditions remain. You still hear parents scolding their kids in the summer for not coming in "when the streetlights come on" and we do a fair amount of porch sitting, helping us to know our neighbors a retain a sense of community.

Getting together to clear the intersection - now that's a neighborhood!
I knew more of my neighbors in two weeks here than I did in 11 years at my last address in DC (don't get me wrong, there were things I loved and miss about the DC area, too). Sadly, like most cities, B'more has it's problems - and some of them are severe. Our schools need a lot of work and that, alone, is breaking up the tradition of staying in the neighborhood. Lots of kids I grew up with became white collar instead of blue and still bought their first homes in the old neighborhood... but felt they had to move when their kids went to school. I still hold out hope old residents, and new, can work together to shore up all the good things about the city I grew up in, and chose to come back to!

* Time for my favorite B'more rant! Listen up real estate industry - it's not "townhouse," not "townhome" and not "rowhome." The average Baltimore dwelling, attached to both of its neighbors, is a rowhouse and long time residents are darn proud of the term. We don't need to have the name gussied up in order to find them perfectly acceptable places to live!

Affordable rowhouses enabled working class families in Baltimore, early in the last century, to become homeowners, especially if you had a ground rent. When I grew up, if you rented after the age of 30, you were a bum. Respectable people bought their house and most houses in the city were built to be affordable. While some rowhouses in the city have been renovated into very expensive dwellings, I hope blighted areas can be revived to provide much needed, affordable housing in Baltimore.

Town homes
(which are way cool, btw) were the residences of the rich - often 30 to 50' wide (or more!), often with marble foyers and sweeping staircases, with at least 3 stories, maybe a conservatory, sometimes an elevator(!) and, definitely, servants. They were called town homes because their owners also had country homes. Today, many of the old town homes house offices or have been divided into apartments.

** Also, real estate marketers, please get a clue (or at least read a dictionary)! Semi-detached housing is not the same as duplex housing. My neighborhood is semi-detached and I'm tired of reading the ads touting them as duplex... I don't live up or downstairs from anyone... I live next to my neighboring unit.
Thus endeth the rant! ;-)


  1. Way to go Gray!!! Now that's some kind of progress! I've not heard of B'more but Dad said he has spent some time there and they have a place with pretty boats & good food too.

  2. Listen hon. (I'm allowed, I'm a native), he has a harem. Grey has a harem. With the departure of Percy you are now an all-female feline household except for Grey? No wonder he's all lovey-dovey.

    Your description of Baltimore is accurate and passionate. I live six blocks from my mother and a mile from my sister and brother. I have stayed in a blue collar neighborhood on purpose for many of the community building reasons you mention.

    Hear the forecast for Tuesday?

    Frankie's Mom

  3. Oh hon,.,,,I am so glad that all y'all are okay. I lived in Falls Church for a while ( Navy Brat) and my Dad was USNA 1951. I love Baltimore..the whole area , the cake , you name it.

    I know what you mean about neighbors..I live in Houston and after Katrina...Ike and Lordy knows what comes this year...I value my neighbors more than my shoes and that says a lot for a Southern Imelda .

    Be safe.

    Hugs from Houston

  4. And I forgot....

    1. Xena is eating...not a lot but seems to be getting stable. Keep paws crossed. I am now a food wrangler. I suspect thyroid. ( sp) A of the NG's ...Miss Cindy... knows of a place that specializes in this and has new treatment options . I will be in the office Tuesday and will update from there .


  5. Yeah, I kind of miss Baltimore. Lived on Pratt near Washington before Hopkins bought most of the land, and certainly before Fells Point became fancy-pants. Loved the great views, was amused by the prostitutes and drug dealers most of the time.

    So what area are you?

  6. Aunty, I'm so glad to hear Xena is stable. Tish's thyroid was pretty easy to control but I hear they have some great options now. Paws crossed! Tight!!

    I live in NE Baltimore (you know, Tedder, the part that almost never gets into the news... LOL!), between Hamilton and the county line. I grew up in Hamilton and still frequent the businesses near me, in Hamilton and in Lauraville. We're actually getting some great restaurants and creative businesses. Yay! FC, I know you've been to some of them.

    It's a fine line...LOL! I hope we just wind up eclectic and stable! I think the neighborhood is too affordable - and not enough good views or cultural draws - to really ever be gentrified, and that's OK with me. Lauraville and some of Hamilton might get pricey though since they have those great old Vics.

    FC and Aunty... I know, I know... good neighbors are worth gold! I am so blessed!

  7. how FASCINATING. florida has NO history or culture whatsoever. and i've worked at several local historical associations. they try, but really, there's nothing... i just made it up to the northeast for the first time a few months ago, and i can't get enough! i ask all sorts of stupid questions, and everyone looks at me like o.O

  8. WOO~HOO Grey!!! That's a GRRR-8 step, laying on laps! You had a great looking audience too! Our 'beans went to Baltimore in September and totally loved it (it was their furst time there). They're looking to go back for a weekend in late summer, with our little sisbean too. They want to take her to the aquarium. They also loved Fells Point.

  9. B'more sounds fascinating, and living in Northern Virginia, I am close enough to explore it some. All I know about it is John Waters movies, which are pretty funny. I love places that have a sense of neighborhood like when I lived in Oakland, CA -- we sat out on our porch there too.

  10. Heh heh heh, yeah, they are "rowhouses" here in DC, too. :) Except that they cost a million bucks. LOL. B-More is kind of the opposite of DC is some of those ways (despite being so close)...If you rent in B-More by 30 you might be a 'bum', but if you rent a place of your OWN in DC by 30 (as opposed to still w/ roommates, the typical setup), you're wildly successful. LOL. Most people here move straight from a place with roommates into a place with their husband/wife/etc., because it's so hard to afford rent on one income. And as for buying a house, or even a condo (which in DC means purchasing an apartment, just like it does in NYC), one can pretty much forget it as a single person, and have serious difficulties even as a couple.

    ...Still, I have recently been thinking that, once I get my next promotion a year from now, I may have to see if I can find it in my budget to afford a one bedroom apartment (currently live in a studio, and darn proud of that fact since it's quite an accomplishment to live on one's own by 26 in DC)...I suspect Kayla and Zimmer would love to have a bit more space, and I would love to be able to give them a couple more windows to look out of. :)

  11. Way to go, Gray!!!!!!!!! Thanks for the B'more history lesson...mamabug loves history. xxxxxxxxxxxx

  12. Yay for Gray becoming so much more social...*gasp*...a voluntary lap snuggling session...oh my, you work miracles :) Loved your bit about fabulous to have real in California, at least where we live (in the dreaded suburbs) there's nothing even remotely close...ugh...wish we lived somewhere where we at least knew our neighbors' names :)

  13. Very informative! I appreciate the insights into the neighborhood and generational traditions :)

    Lovely news about Grey.



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