Journal Entries for September 14th to 29th, 2002

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Sunday 1AM, September 29:

This is the view from my window tonight. Imagine the reaction of the drive throughs looking for their dealers when they make the turn and find themselves blocked by three squad cars.

They're not out there tonight in response to calls. They're here proactively, making an enormous statement. And the Foxtrot helicopter is loud and busy swooping about. They announced over their loudspeaker "Clear the area. The party's over." Perhaps it is.

Earlier, I exchanged emails with Ken over on Eutaw. He said the prostitution was way down tonight, too. He also shared a story I understand: He had watched a mini van pick up a prostitute. Later the mini van came back by his house. The driver was fumbling in his pants for something. Made Ken nervous. He thought the guy might be thinking revenge. The man fished out his badge, waived it at Ken and said thank you. Often we don't know when the police are doing their most effective work.

Tonight, the Baltimore Police Department is sending a message loud and clear to the prostitutes and the dealers between our two streets. I believe that message is "It's over here. Leave. The neighbors here care and because they want to help us, we're going to help them as much as we can."

I only hope the neighbors a block or two over where the dealers are being chased will take some heart from what's happened here. You can make a difference.

One block at a time.


Saturday afternoon, September 28: I spent the night away with friends last night. Vaughn was home so I felt safe about it. I still wouldn't have as recently as a few weeks ago when things were so bad. Yesterday, Vaughn tells me there wasn't a single dealer on Madison or Wilson. They were all over McCulloh. Apparently all our efforts and those of the police and special police have started to pay off. Of course, we have to stay on top of it. I hope for the sake of those on McCulloh someone cares enough there to help push them still further away.

The only way to rid our streets of these guys is not to take it. They are not smart criminals. They're not brave either. Stupidly brazen should not be confused with bravery. There have been times I've been both. These are opportunists taking the easy way to make a fast buck. Being young, they can't see how short sighted it is. When the money dries up and the risk gets to great, they move on. LIke the mayor has said repeatedly, all you can do is keep them moving. Just moving them around makes it harder for the customers to find them. I love watching bewildered young people in nice cars from the burbs drive through slowly, wondering where their dealer is.

I'm getting word from residents on Eutaw things seem a little better in the prostitution department, too. I hope I'm not jinxing that by mentioning it here. I'm sure that's because the extra police work around here has discouraged them. And it's further to go now to get your next hit of crack. Not so convenient.

Like cockroaches and dirt, though, we've got to keep after them and keep our guard up. I've volunteered to sit out with the prostitute patrol, especially around Laurens, which has been their corridor to the drug market on Madison and now to McCulloh.

As the dealing is reduced here, the trouble with the Pedestal Gardens apartment building and 1704 and 1700 will be reduced, too, though I'm keeping up my pressure on 1704.

I'm also putting together a proposal with other like minded people concerned about the neighborhood to put fencing in and control access to the Pedestal Gardens, 1717/1715 building. Now it is too easy for dealers running from the cops to escape into it and get out any number of ways or just hide in an apartment of one of their customers.The vigilante bunch I've referred to here before had insisted on a plan so elaborate and expensive that it was beyond any practical budget. That was their plan actually, to force the building to be sold off so they could get more Spicer's Run condos built behind them. Property values are everything to that small bunch of small minded people. The residents of the block are unimportant to them. I agree with the Pedestal Gardens management and HUD. The property owners of 1717/1715 cannot be dictated to by anyone. They can and are being held accountable for letting the building contribute to the drug trade here. To that end, we hope some improvements in security features there will continue to bring that building back under control and maybe keep it that way without 24/7 security.

Got a very sad, long, rambling letter from a prison inmate at Westover, MD. As I read it, I kept looking for a request or favor. There wasn't one. The man had read the paper and seemed genuinely moved by our efforts. In it he describes the fate of his family: "I losted 3 brothers by voilence, 1 sister by AIDS, 1 father OD by drugs, 1 nepehew by violence 18 years age"

Whether true in this man's case or not, this is not an uncommon story for Baltimore. Too many of us believe such lives only exist on Homicide or The Wire. I think I used to, if only subsconsciously. In reality, they are reality.

He goes on to say "prison is no place for no man." I might disagree in many cases, but I do agree in as much as it seems we're jailing every young black many in this country. The statistics are ridiculous. I know a few of my neighbors would say that's OK. The same ones concerned only with their property values. The ones who believe that people living in public housing have "forfeited their rights." Ah, but you're not reading this to hear my politics. I'm sure you can surmise my opinion on most such issues from previous entries here.

I met Adam Meister of
http://techbalt.com Thursday. He saw the station, the house and was with me when the officers removed the dogs. We walked around to McCulloh as well so he could get a feel for our neighborhood.

He has an excellent concept: Rather than going it alone, like Vaughn and me, he proposes a collective of like minded people who have more energy and enthusiasm than money and want to rehab a house. Together, they would move in on one of the many blocks in this town where the homes are all boarded up, creating their own neighborhood all at one time. They could help each other, look out for each other and enjoy the sense of neighborhood I hope for this block one day.

I'm hoping the city can help in this endeavor and hope to be a part of it. I told him how much it would have helped me here to have neighbors intent on rebuilding, rather than those who are bent on destroying themselves and their city and those too frightened to resist.

More of my neighbors now see change. Fewer are frightened. I exchange friendly greetings more and see a neighborly wave often as people walk by. A wave, not the finger like certain young men still do. I believe one or two now feel I just helped steal a man's dogs, but I don't think they realized how badly they were being treated. I hope they come to realize I only did what I did because I felt there was no alternative. Same is true about doing what I can to help rid the block of dealers.

When I returned this morning, I had a cheery good morning from Ida, my neighbor at 1712. She's been there for 30 years. This afternoon, I'm going to a BBQ at a Bolton Hill friend's house. One of the many great neighbors I never I knew we had over there. It's an incredible improvement for me here not to feel so isolated and alone.


Wednesday night/Thursday morning, September 26: Wow. I have all the windows open, soaking up the perfect air. Not a sound. It's almost 1AM. Of course, we have no bars or other attractions to make legitimate noise at this hour. I'm sure now that I've observed this I'll regret it, but what the heck. It's nice while it lasts.

Giddy was I earlier this evening. Much to my surprise, officers of the special police were using the substation. I didn't mean to gush with them, but I was so happily surprised when I barged in. (Something I will try not to do again.) I had come home and wondered what the strange noise was. I hope it won't be a strange noise soon. It was supremely gratifying after all this to see for the first time them just sitting there, using the station for what it was meant to be.

Tomorrow I'm talking to contractors about things that can be done to actually help the Pedestal Gardens property across the street work. It seems certain influences have concentrated on making that impossible, to further their own agenda. I see things that can be done to make it work better. I'm curious to see what practical people have to say about the costs of helping the owners there supervise the tenants and control the bad element that has often overtaken their building.

Just yesterday, about 11AM, I watched as a thug bashed and bashed the door to 1715. He didn't want the lock to work. Where would he run and hide his inventory should the cops come by? I chatted with the officers who responded to my call. We all knew who had done it, but their not having seen it prevented any action. They had heard of the substation, but didn't know anything about it until I gave them the tour. I think they were impressed, like all the officers, that we care here and that people from far and wide do too.

Wednesday morning, September 25: Good news to report for the aesthetics and security of the neighborhood: The street lamps are being worked on all down Madison Avenue, from North Avenue way south to downtown, one of the workers said.

The 1700 block is getting three new streetlamps in addition to the three we have already, all of the Bolton Hill style ...



And those existing ones like this and the one in front of our house are going to be fixed or replaced. One of the new ones is going in directly across the street from us. Maybe we won't need to shine our rather ugly flood lamp out there soon. We had to put it in some time ago to keep the dealers from banging on the street lamp all night to knock it offline.

Bill Colbert of the City Dept. of Transportation was very helpful in explaining what was to be done. There had been some confusion whether we were talking Madison Avenue or Street. At first I was told Johns Hopkins was installing Cobra style lamps throughout. That didn't make any sense of course. Fortunately, we will have the appropriate, "Bolton Hill style" lamps.

The block can use as much Bolton Hill style as it can get. <g>

One of the foremen for the contractor handling the lights and a young man digging a light foundation told me about the trolley tracks they uncovered. I had no idea, but a trolley once trundled down the east side of Madison Avenue. Mrs. Irene Hill of our 1800 block might remember it, being a long time resident. If she's reading here, I'd like to know more. You can just make out the ridges of the steel rails, buried only about three inches beneath the street surface. They've created parallel cracks in the pavement that run the whole length up to North Avenue.

I imagine the street car would have been one like this, from a painting by Melvin Miller, a gifted local artist ...


Click on the painting to see his works at MelvinMiller.com

When this house was new, an automobile would be a rare sight. There were no loud stereos. There was no crack or crack dealers. Our carriage house housed a carriage and a horse. A street car rattled past, no doubt regular as clock work. I'll bet we were all neighbors here, too. What a difference 100 years can make.

Nostalgia for what this neighborhood and this house once were has been very important in bolstering my morale. I still enjoy squinting my eyes tight, blocking out the broken plaster, missing balusters and other signs of decay and imagining what a grand staircase this house had and maybe will again one day.

Monday 4:30PM, September 23: Late Wednesday night, tired but happy about how the BBQ had turned out, I wrote the following to the mayor:

-----Original Message-----
From: Bryan [mailto:balt2001@verizon.net]
Sent: Thursday, September 19, 2002 4:00 AM
To: Mayor
Subject: missed

Your honor:

You missed something worthwhile here, but I understand.

Ms. Dixon and Ms. Pugh spoke eloquently. The prominence of your posters "Believe" said something for you, too.

Thank you for your contribution to the making of this substation. God knows, it has meant a lot us all here.

Good night, sir. And please carry on your good works. We rely upon you.

Bryan

1708 Madison Avenue
bryan@rebuildingmadison.info


He replied himself this afternoon:

Subject: RE: missed
Date: Mon, 23 Sep 2002 16:02:10 -0400
From: Mayor Martin O'Malley <mayor.martin.omalley@baltimorecity.gov>
To: "'balt2001@verizon.net'" <balt2001@verizon.net>

Thank you for all the hard work you put into making it possible -
and congratulations on the great news coverage!!!

Martin O'Malley


I've always thought it says a lot for our mayor that he responds himself to most emails.

I also just got off the phone with Carol Payne of HUD who is planning a meeting quite different than those of the vigilante property owners who will only be satisfied by pushing the poor people away. She is taking an entirely different approach to helping us here, that of addressing the safety and well being of the children in this neighborhood. There are so many here. The same ones who enjoyed the Moonbounce and the free food so much. They are her priority and the perspective from which she is working. If it results in an increase in property values for homeowners, great, but that's not her priority. Quite the opposite of that vocal and influential group from which I have divorced myself completely. Their devious tactics and vicious attacks of Ms. Payne and even me lately have made them entirely irrelevent. They won't be part of a solution unless it profits them. So, I don't expect them to be part of any real solution at all.

Sunday, I met Jim Thomas who owns rental properties across the school south on the 1500 block of Madison. He was wandering down the alley looking for me. We talked for a long time about things here. He is encouraged by our efforts and very pleased at the far flung support we've gotten. He feels we might be turning a corner. It's wonderful how positive attitudes can snowball just as the negative ones have here for so long. We spoke of working again with the Marble Hill Community Association which at one time, I was told, did include our block. I have a feeling it would represent us far better than the Madison Park or the new "community improvement association" being put together by the vigilante crowd.


Monday about 2PM, September 23: Right in front, late this morning, I watched as two unmarked police officers took away a handcuffed young man in their marked car. This is the second time I've seen this in the past few days. While the dealing was pretty bad on Wilson and in front of our houses here along 1700 Madison this weekend, it is less flagrant today, but it's early yet. There is definitely an increased police presence, both obvious and under cover. I'd be more discrete if I was a dealer here, too.

It is such a relief to have a day go by when I don't hear "greens" or "blues" chanted incessantly. That's happened occasionally.

That's the most important thing we've needed here: more community policing. I hope this will be permanent so all of us can live here more safely. It would be good if we could know the officers here as individuals, too, so they don't seem like outsiders. They should be seen more like neighbors, with their own contribution to make. We need to be hospitable to the officers, not hostile. That's why we built a substation, after all.

So much for discrete. One of our regulars is out yelling "greens, greens, greens" now. School's going to let out in a few minutes. The pickings are too good to resist.


Saturday morning, September 21: I was bummed this morning. In my email box was a continuation of an unpleasant email conversation I've had with the leader of a handful of neighbors a block away. He and I have been at odds over how to fix the problems on the block and the conversation has finally been reduced to name calling. The most recent exchange began when I asked if he'd like to post his email report on the HUD meeting yesterday online. It was an effort to convey his point of view again, which is in many ways different than mine.

Many visitors here will have no idea what I'm talking about and that's just as well. Suffice to say there are nearly as many points of view on how to "fix" the problems here as there are residents. And because many of us are stressed to the breaking point about these very problems, the frustration and anger is often turned on one another.

One thing is clear: The lack of unity and the selfish pursuits of various parties here is exactly why this area is as it is and has been for so long. This most recently formed group is just another faction intent only on its own selfish solutions, pretending to be doing so for the common good. I would call theirs the same philosophy Reagan espoused: What's good for us will "trickle down" and be good for the less fortunate.

Beyond that, I won't burden anyone reading here with the details of the matter unless they are interested and would like to email me. I will gladly forward the emails directly for your own analysis.

On substation news today: I was a bothered this morning by three cars parking along the alley in front of the substation parking area. I considered they must be from Payne Memorial Church which was obviously having either a funeral or wedding. The alley was also blocked on one end. I called 311 and asked the officer what I should do. He dispatched a patrolman. When he arrived, only one car was blocking the substation. We agreed it should not be ticketed or towed, but since the alley was also blocked, the officer did ask a church porter suggest the cars be moved. They promptly were. I'm sorry that I didn't feel welcome enough there to do it myself.

Often, I've felt the only use the church here has for the block outside of its walls is as a parking lot. They seem oblivious to the people who live here, all commuting in as they do.

A few minutes after the car was removed, a church employee knocked on my door to say quite stridently "that car belongs to a long time member of our church who was here for" a very important funeral. I cut him off and replied that wasn't the point. There was plenty of parking around and that was obviously not the place to do it. I also stressed I had no desire to see anyone towed, but that at one point there were three cars blocking the driveway we've worked so hard to provide for the officers, along with the alley itself, and this was not acceptable. There will soon be no parking, tow away zone warnings up there.

As we were talking on my stoop, a young man interrupted to ask if I had a broom he could use. I said sure and asked if he'd like a bag. When I got them he went about sweeping the street in front of 1710 down to 1702. He borrowed some gloves too and when he was done put the trash and the broom and gloves in my vestibule as I had asked.

People do care on this block, people who live in the old houses here on our side and the public housing across the street. I see it all the time. Unfortunately one of the faction leaders I refer to above insists there are no good people here. As I've said, they see things as "us or them," no in between, no common ground. Apparently I've been relegated to the "them" column. I'm sorry to say that in this case I'm proud of that and have asked to be excluded from their group and their email list. Actually, that's best for them, I'd be too tempted to put their workings online.

From what we can tell, not one officer has used the substation yet. I would be disappointed, but they may know its not completely done and are waiting for the go ahead from Sergeant Hess. The bathroom is certainly functional and I will have the kitchen sink working shortly. The fridge, micro and coffee maker are all ready and we have an abundant supply of coffee and fixings for them (thank you Davis). We have distributed 10 keys to the BPD and one to the Special Police who patrol the public housing and who said they'd pass it between the officers on that beat each night.

It's been brought to my attention that Major Gutberlet in charge of the Central District is not in favor of substations, fearing they will be abused or appear to be abused by the officers. I do wish this concern had been voiced a long time back or perhaps some calls returned. At the HUD meeting yesterday about the future of 1717/1715 he said the substation would be used in other ways. I'm trying to clarify this and hope we can work it out so that it gets used for its intended purpose. I think the Editorial in the Sun last Thursday addressed this succinctly:

http://www.sunspot.net/news/opinion/bal-ed.substation19sep19.story

I've invited the Major to visit the substation and discuss it directly with us. I hope he will get back to me on that. I doubt a single tax payer would begrudge our beat officers a clean, secure place to take a break and use the restroom. Those few officers who would abuse the space can just as easily abuse donut shops, convenience stores and even friend's houses now. That's a problem of supervision, not a station designed to increase their presence here, where it's needed so badly and provides them a time saving convenience.


Friday afternoon, September 20: Louise and John emailed suggesting more pictures. I don't know why one would want pictures when I'm so ready with a thousand words. <g>

Here's the only one I had time to take ...



This was right after Eutaw Marshburn let out. That's Michael and Officer Wilkes supervising the eager kids who had a lot of fun. This is one of the best views I've ever seen out the window. The bracket on the left is the mount for the camera knocked out by the dealers some time back.

For those of you who didn't make it or hadn't seen the picture of the parking area before Charles Palmer graded it and filled it with foundation, here's the before ...



And here's after the work he and his crew did the very day before the event.



Makes a huge difference. Mr. Palmer very kindly agreed to accept our payment for this work over time. I was pleased to see he showed up and could see how much it meant to us. Rather than a muddy pit, the officers have a solid, dry surface. When we can afford it, we'll have it covered in asphalt, perhaps next spring.

The plywood over the window to the immediate left of the substation entry is just temporary. We weren't able to afford the heavy Lucite window we will be installing in time. Things like the Moonbounce were more important for the grand opening. That was money well spent as several little neighbors would readily agree.

Friday, September 20, noon: I went to bed early and slept late this morning. Found many emails of encourgement waiting for me. I've answered a few, but as I was doing so, had one of those maddening crashes that only happens when you haven't done a backup in a few weeks. If I haven't gotten back to you, please email me again. It's been my intention to reply to everyone.

A gentleman from Salisbury Unversity was next on my list when it crashed and lost the data this morning. He'd like to help. From all the way over on the Eastern Shore. That's even more east than Bolton Hill, you know. Too often we think no one cares about the city. I know I used to sometimes. I know better now.

Got a call late morning yesterday from a talk radio station in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The interviewer told me his inner city has many of the same problems. He wondered if I might share our experience with his listeners. For ten minutes, I was on the air in Edmonton. I wonder if someone there is talking to their police right now about offering some space.

Across the street yesterday, a bulldozer, concrete conduit and other supplies and tools were set up. A sign not yet posted refers to residential lighting. From the paint marks on the street in front, I was wondering if they were going to replace our street lamps. I was just enormously grateful not to have them tear up the street the day before during the BBQ.

I know there's a move afoot in Midtown to put in city street lamps again, replacing those freeway overpass lights mistakenly put in long ago. We have a nice old style lamp in front of the house. Broken, but still lights even though the dealers used to kick it often every night to knock it offline. They only stopped when we put in our own ugly floodlamp. In front of Nimrod on the corner, they have the cobra style. They're all over Eutaw as well. We do need lamps in the city that illuminate the sidewalks, not the rooftops.

Vaughn just called me fresh from a meeting at HUD downtown about 1715 Madison, the troubled property across the street. Major Gutberlet and the City Health Department were there, as well as representatives of the building owner. Children living in an open air drug market is a real health hazard and this department understands that.

Vaughn was at a light and could only talk for a moment, but he said the Major promised more attention here and said his department plans to use the substation in its efforts. Perhaps it'll find use in more ways than we'd planned. I'll ask Vaughn to write something here later with more information.

I think our 15 minutes of fame are over. So's my rest. Back to work. I'll be revising the website in the next week, taking out the BBQ parts and updating it for its new role as chronicler of the rehab of one house and hopefully the progress of an entire neighborhood.


Thursday, September 19, 11am: The phone's been ringing this morning. Not very often you find yourself on the front page of the paper. Vaughn and I have decided to go on a diet. I pointed out to him that Don Rumsfeld picture isn't very flattering, either, and he's on every front page.

Again, thank you all for you support last night and the outpouring of encouragement we've been getting this morning. I'll answer all your emails and voice mails in the next few days, I promise. I'm taking a bit of a break now, though I may get back to some small stuff to finish the station this afternoon yet.

I'm going to miss that room. I've spent a lot of time there in recent months. It's the nicest place in the house now, modest as it is. No doubt, the most important, too.

Again, several have asked whether this site will continue. I don't think I have a choice now. Just this morning, we're topping 150 visitors. Makes me want to go back and edit my previous ramblings here, but then that would take away from the truth they convey. I think less frequent, but regular updates will continue. I had planned to turn the site into a photo album of progress on the old house. Kind of a nitty, gritty, shoe string budget version of This Old House. I'll still include my observations of the neighborhood, though. This "column" is like a diary. I feel better when I vent here.

Speaking of the neighborhood, big things seem to be on the horizon involving development and actions against slumlords and others who make this area a problem rather than the neighborhood it was for a few hours last night. I hope we can be part of that.

I got up way too early and have been answering calls all morning. I'm going to take a nap and perhaps a long weekend. I declined a generous offer of a Rehobeth Beach mini vacation with friends today. I'm not sure if our new found notoriety will protect us or make us bigger targets so I don't want to leave. I suppose I've become a real cynic.

Again, thank you all.


Wednesday,September 18, midnight:

Thank you.

For so long, I was anticipating ... worrying about the BBQ. I tend to fret and panic, as those who read here know well. I am a perfectionist. Perhaps I'm in the wrong neighborhood. <g> An understatement if there was one.

Tonight I feel calm and happy. I believe the "event" was a success. Tonight, when I looked out on the dealers so quick to assemble again across at 1715, after the ceremonies, I don't feel any fear at all. Any. In fact I put a few fingers together in a certain combination and let them know my feelings. They almost acknowledged back that I'd had a night. Perhaps just one small fight won.

They're assembling again, ready to take back their street.

I hope my neighbors feel the same though. Even for a moment, this street was ours. We just have to take it. Knowing it and making it real are two or more different things.

I argued with Vaughn about having the blessing of a local pastor at our little program. In this day, one can't be PC and identify with a specific God, if any at all. The woman who gave our short invocation knew that. She ended with a simple blessing to help those who help us. Exactly what this agnostic would ask.

Mr. Scott was ... what? He was exactly what I would have hoped. A voice of calm, reason and experience. Though his audience was small, he exemplified the values we all share and conducted the speaker's program as only a professional who knows and cares for his community would.

Council President Dixon and Councilwoman Pugh spoke eloquently and contributed much to the significance of the BBQ. They were part of a message. A message not good for business as usual on this street.

In short, it was more than I could have hoped for. It will be nothing by itself, I know. But it is something, thanks to so many.

I have to go to sleep now.

And yes. This site will go on. It means something to many people. Perhaps I'll save you the ventings of a scared, stupid Baltimoron. But likely not. If you're reading this, you want to know what's happening. And I thank you for that.

Tuesday night, September 17, 6pm: The rear parking area looks great. So much better than what it was ...



Check out how it looks tomorrow.

We got a lot done on the station today, but there are still many details of paint and trim to do, including the door inside casing and transom AC installation.



It looks a lot more done today, but this'll give you an idea. This is to the immediate left when you enter. You can see how much more finished that is tomorrow.

We're not going to sweat these things now. We must shift gears to assure the BBQ shindig is the best it can be. I'm sure I'll be fiddling with the details of the station for some time to come along with adjusting it to suit its new tenants better.

Council President Dixon will be here between 5:30 and 6 when Don Scott will welcome our neighbors and introduce her and a representative of the Baltimore Police, likely to be Sergeant Hess.

There have been many calls asking about the BBQ. Hopefully, many will be here and it will do some good. If you'd like to volunteer to help supervise the Moonbounce, with cleanup, the grill, general supervision, please
email ASAP and let us know giving us your numbers.

This morning Vaughn's rear tires were slashed. I assume this was a message from unhappy drug dealers. One of the few overt acts we've endured here, other than death threats. The only thing such a gesture does is make us angry and more determined to get rid of them and what they do to this block. There will be a lot of security tomorrow, both visible and inconspicuous.

This may be the last status entry for a bit. I've got too much to do. Tomorrow, you'll see for yourself. Please come, enjoy yourself, meet your neighbors. If you're reading this, please
email and let us know if you'll be joining us.

Tuesday morning, September 17: Mr. Palmer and crew are hard at work clearing and leveling the entry and parking areas. It will only be gravel for tomorrow, but will be level and well packed in. A big improvement.

Council President Dixon's office has confirmed her arrival. I'm working on some notes for Mr. Scott. Sergeant Hess will be speaking, too. The program will be brief, I promise.

Patrick is painting. Vaughn is fixing some blinds. I'll be finishing the plumbing about noon and the wainscot by the afternoon and installing the bathroom window. Then we'll move in the furniture, such as it is, and we're open.


Monday night, September 16, midnight: The substation's refrigerator is purring, full of hot dogs and hamburgers, waiting for the big day. The microwave is blinking, asking for the time. The toilet is plumbed and set. The kitchenette sink is set. Lots of trim work got painted today. More trim tomorrow, as well as some more plumbing and blinds.

Spent an hour with Dion Thompson, reporter for the Sun, this afternoon. He took the house tour. Heard all about the station, the neighborhood and the help from our neighbors far and wide. Accepted our invitation to attend Wednesday, too.

Tomorrow morning, or I should say later this morning, bright and early, Charles Palmer (Asphalt Paving, 410.523.9119) and crew will be grading the officer's parking space in back, taking away the broken cement of the substation landing and packing in a thick course of gravel to be paved next spring. In the meantime it will look and work so much better than the muddy, puddly pit we have tonight. He promises to get it all done in one day. In a very neighborly gesture, he's agreed to carry the cost over a time to help us afford it. He lives in Bolton Hill too. One of his very long term employees lives next door.

It's quiet outside tonight, though there've been a few fire crackers. Thank God no Roman candles. Mr. Thompson did hear the colors yelled out more than once while he was here. He's a resident of Bolton Hill and knows the neighborhood over here.

It's been a long day and promises to be an even longer tomorrow so I must say good night.

Sunday night, September 15, 10pm: Yet another good day's progress on the station. Kitchen counter, sink and toilet plumbing today. More trim and paint, too. I'm taking pictures every few hours as it comes together. I may be working on it still on Wednesday, but that's not stopping the grand opening. The officers can use it around me.

The street is very quiet. I don't see the SPs but I'm sure they're there. I'm glad. I need the sleep.

Way too much to do tomorrow. I'm excited about Wednesday and hope it'll be a good event for all of us. Looks like the weather is going to be perfect. It's been an enormous help to have Vaughn take off some time to work with me, especially on the BBQ details.

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