Swiss Ave Historic District

On our most recent walk, we explored the Swiss Ave Historic District. I had been on part of the street once before, block walking for candidates, but Rich had not, and I hadn’t seen the whole area. According to its website, the district, “in Old East Dallas, is a diverse neighborhood containing the finest collection of Early 20th Century residential architecture in the entire Southwest. Established in 1905 by real-estate developer, Robert Munger, it was designated in 1973 as the first historic district in the City of Dallas. It is an official Dallas Landmark District and, in 1974, the entire District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.”  One of the historical markers on the street notes that a “muddy country lane” was named Swiss Avenue by Swiss immigrant Henri Boll  in 1857. The street was extended and developed as a part of Munger Place in 1905 by cotton gin manufacturer Munger.  He required that each house had to be worth at least $10,000 and have two stories, but the residents were free to choose whatever architectural style they liked, leading to an interesting, eclectic mix of structures throughout the district.

Swiss Avenue itself is a wide street divided by a tree lined median, with beautiful lawns and huge houses on each side. We enjoyed strolling past and imagining what the insides of these beautiful historic homes looked like, who once lived there, who lives there now, and what stories could be told about the history of each place. When I was younger, I would have loved to have owned a beautiful old house like one of these. Of course I never could have afforded one so big but I do love the charm of old houses of any size. Now I just think I wouldn’t want to deal with the upkeep, though I suppose if you can afford one of these houses, you could afford to pay someone else a living wage to take care of things you didn’t want to mess with.  🙂

We didn’t realize how many streets were part of the historic district so we will have to return another day to see more.

A Little Spot in the Woods

A few nights ago, I took off on one of my walking routes around our neighborhood but I wandered along the woodsy side of a particular street instead of the sidewalk side.  I’d only been this way once or twice but had never noticed the benches near the woods. Upon closer inspection, I spotted various odd items hanging in the trees. I am curious about who might have placed them there!  It’s a residential area so there are houses right across the street and I imagine one of the neighbors is responsible.  A fun little find!

Around Here

We’ve been doing lots of yard work and still have lots more to do! Our alley has been sorely neglected since before we bought this house so we decided to tackle it recently. I should have taken a “before” picture but I didn’t. We sweated it out for quite awhile and made a good dent. It was past time for our brush and bulky pick up by the trash guys; we’d received a note that they were running behind due to the large volume of stuff set out.  I guess everyone has been cleaning house and yard during the quarantine. Rich felt like we could get some of the alley limbs and brush set out before the guys came so we added to our pile.  They still didn’t come for several more days but now it’s all been cleared off.

Meanwhile, I finished the Get out the Vote postcards I’d been writing for Funky East Dallas Democrats, we had a healthy grain/veggie bowl for dinner, and sat out on our porch in the evening enjoying the breeze. We spotted a bird’s nest in our hedges but we are thinking it’s abandoned because we don’t see any bird activity. I wish we had baby hatchlings to watch!  Ajax likes playing in the front yard so maybe he scared the mama off. Or maybe they’ve already flown the nest.

Lake Tyler Visit

I told Rich to “humor me” as I picked up a throw blanket from the couch, held it up the length of my body and above my head, and told him to give me a hug. He looked rather puzzled but obliged.  It worked! We could hug without any skin touching or breathing in each other’s faces. I told him I was going to take my now-named “hug blanket” with us to Tyler to see the kids. I called Sarah to tell her we were on her way and laughingly told her my idea.  She said, “Oh, good! The kids were just asking if they could hug you this time and I said no!”

We arrived after two hours in the car and I pulled out my mask and my blanket. Told the kids what we were going to do and everyone thought it was pretty hilarious but we were excited to get a real hug after months of no contact. Miles took the photo below, which is even funnier than I could have imagined it to be.

Their dock is about finished and it was a nice breezy day so we sat out by the lake and watched the kids play in the water, ate our lunch, had a fun game of “Garbage” with separate decks of cards so we weren’t passing them back and forth, saw the chickens, the new pool, and the ongoing construction, caught up on news, and just enjoyed being together.  It did my heart good. Now I just wish we could see the other two families!


Quarantine Life

A little update for posterity.

Dallas County has had 7904 reported cases of corona virus, second only to Harris County.  There have been 191 deaths in our county.  Texas has confirmed 49,912 cases and 1369 deaths. In the US, as of today, 1.61 million cases have been confirmed (all of these estimates are thought to be low, by the way), and 95,213 deaths have occurred. Worldwide, 5.11 million cases are confirmed and 333,000 deaths. These numbers are mind-boggling to me.  We are fortunate that even though Dallas County has been a hotspot, the hospitals have not been overrun and many people have recovered. Texas is one of those “give me freedom” states in which people are clamoring to get haircuts and massages and go out for drinks, so we have mostly gone back to business as usual with the caveats to wear masks and use social distancing. I am fearful that our numbers will rise as people start ignoring guidelines and assuming that everything is fine. In fact, our numbers have never really started to decline. I was hoping the summer would give us some relief but it appears that we will have to follow our own household guidelines regardless of what the rest of the state is doing.

There is work being done on vaccines and treatments but nothing is definitive yet and it is not expected that we will be in the clear any time soon. There are hopeful signs from the scientific community about the use of blood plasma from recovered patients and fast-tracked work being done on vaccines. Still we have an idiot in the White House who refuses to wear a mask because it makes him look weak and who gets on TV to hawk unproven ideas and medications, while ignoring the medical professionals and scientists who supposedly advise him. He is more concerned about his re-election than anything to do with the health and welfare of the nation he is supposed to be leading.

The economy is a mess, with 38.6 million people applying for unemployment benefits, a 14.7% jobless rate, which is the highest since the Great Depression. Restaurants, small businesses, mom and pop shops and even some retail giants are declaring bankruptcy and going out of business.

People of color are becoming ill in greater numbers due to a combination of many factors. They are often working in service industries that have not shut down even during a health crisis, they often cannot take off work without being paid, they may be affected by additional health issues because of lack of access to nutrition, fair wages, health care and more. Those living in facilities such as nursing homes and prisons are at higher risk because of their close quarters and lack of access to testing and treatment.

We are carrying on. Rich makes a grocery run late at night about every two weeks. Otherwise we rarely go anywhere except a neighborhood walk most days.  I went into the bank the other day because we had a refund check to cash. The doors were locked so the clerk had to come let me in. Everyone was wearing masks but he was not wearing gloves. I was, though!  🙂 I took the cash and put it in an envelope, removed my mask and gloves in the car, and used hand sanitizer. The new normal. Then we stopped at a laundromat and I went in to leave a bunch of kids’ books on one of the tables.  We’re still doing yard work daily, another chore that seems never-ending. I am reading The Book of Longings and it’s interesting. Still knitting a scarf and occasionally working on my “great courses.”  I have not been as dedicated as I should be.  🙂  I’m trying to get grandson Luke’s birthday book finished–I make each of the grandkids a book of pictures from the past year and his is fast approaching. I have a lot of time in my days and yet I don’t seem to get a lot accomplished.

Here are some pix from my a recent neighborhood walk. I call it Spring 2.0–different plants and flowers are blooming!

Recent Fun Stuff

In the mailbox: a card from my volunteer work (where I haven’t yet returned), one from friends in CA, my first book from the gift my girls gave me for Mother’s Day, books I ordered from Powell’s in Portland awhile back and just arrived, survey from the Trump campaign. LOL I take a perverse pleasure in writing my opinions all over these surveys and sending them back. Supporting the struggling USPS, right? Also my friend Bettina came by for a socially distanced visit on my porch. We volunteer together at Center of Hope and she is still working…braver than I!  She messaged me to say there were a bunch of kids’ books there and no one to take them as they are not having clients in the building right now. She asked if I wanted to take them to a laundromat as I have done before. I said “sure!” and we had such a nice visit. I have really missed seeing people in person!

Bonnie texted a few nights ago and asked if we had ever played the card game “Garbage.” I had never heard of it so she sent me an instructional video to watch and asked if we wanted to play with her kids via Zoom. Of course, how could we pass up that opportunity?! We watched the video and it was super easy. We set up the Zoom call, they played with their decks of cards and we played with ours, but played it as one big game. We had a ball and got to chat with the kids while playing. I was so happy Bonnie thought of it and invited us. It takes awhile to play so we stopped after about an hour and will continue another night–looking forward to that!

A Neighborhood Where We Could Not Live (and a couple of churches)

We took a walk in a fancy neighborhood the other day. The larger theme was “fences, hedges, walls, alarms, cameras, guard dogs.” I was kinda worried we’d get accosted and asked why we were there. Rich said he was surprised I was so intimidated. I said I’ve always been intimidated by rich people.  🙂

I’m sure there are nice people who live in some of these houses. Some had beautiful flowers outside and I wonder how the people could not be nice if they enjoy beautiful flowers. On the other hand, many of the houses had crews of workmen doing various tasks on the buildings or in the yards (apparently the quarantine does not stop the upkeep of fancy houses). So maybe the workmen love and appreciate the flowers and the people in the houses just count them as something they’re entitled to. I don’t mean to be cynical and yet I am.

Maybe some of these people give generously to nonprofits or take in strangers or pay for other people’s kids to go to camp in the summer. But you know, I don’t think it’s enough. I want a living wage and a safe place and healthy food and a good education and a peaceful street and a loving home for everyone. Is it rich people’s fault that this world does not exist? Maybe not individually. Systemically, yes.