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broodings from the burrow

November 19, 2017

coffeeneuring 2017: ride #3
posted by soe 1:57 am

There are nine books to write about for June, so I’m going with the easier option of a Coffeeneuring ride, especially since Rudi posted those photos for me.

Coffeeneuring Ride #3: Shop Made in DC (1330 19th St., N.W.) and Shaw (Watha T. Daniels) Library (1630 7th St., N.W.)

Shaw Library

Saturday, Oct. 21; 4.7 miles

Hot chocolate, cardamom kouign amann

If you’re going to talk about the revitalization of D.C.’s branch libraries, it’s impossible to have that discussion without highlighting the one in the Shaw neighborhood. This happens to be my current secondary library branch, the one I’m most easily able to get to on my way home from work. (more…)

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November 14, 2017

coffeeneuring 2017: ride #4
posted by soe 1:37 am

No, in case you were paying attention, you did not miss posts on rides #2 or #3. Because ride #2 was to my regular library, I didn’t think to take photos inside, so I want to go back and get some to show it off properly. And I had a good portion of the post for ride #3 done when I realized that I wanted to include shots that are on Rudi’s phone (and he’s sleeping).

So, we’re skipping ahead to ride #4:

Coffeeneuring Ride #4: A Baked Joint (440 K St., N.W.) and Rosedale Library (1701 Gales St., N.E.)

Rosedale Neighborhood Library

Saturday, Oct. 28; 11.63 miles

Hot chocolate, brownie-chocolate chip cookie bar

For this ride, the first of the longer ones I was planning for Coffeeneuring, I thought I’d thought things out enough. I’d requested some of my holds to be delivered to libraries around the city, hoping they’d arrive spaced far enough apart to accommodate my plan. I got the notice that Exit West had arrived at the Rosedale Neighborhood Library, and knew that library was the nearest branch to Mason Dixie Biscuit Company, where I planned to do the drinking portion of my ride.

Rosedale Library's Featured Books

The ride out went mostly fine, given I wasn’t fully sure of where I was going and that I’d put my phone in my pannier, rather than leaving it accessible for consultation, which meant I kept having to stop after a certain point.

The Rosedale neighborhood is in Northeast, just past where the H St. Corridor development extends, which means it’s a diverse neighborhood. On this Saturday before Halloween, there were lots of kids about and holiday preparations were firmly underway.

Rosedale Library Display

The Rosedale Neighborhood Library, which shares space with the local parks & rec/community center, was built in 2012 to replace two of the one-room kiosk libraries that had served the community since the 1970s (you can see the H St. one, now an arts space, here).

Like Northwest One, Rosedale’s branch is a large, communal space divided into sections using low-rise stacks. It’s got an open industrial ceiling, but they use these cool leaf mobile sculptures to help make it seem more homey, to help soften the light, and, I’m guessing, to help dampen the sound.

Leaf Sculpture Mobiles at Rosedale Library

This Saturday afternoon, the library was doing brisk business and I don’t think there were any empty chairs. I quickly found Exit West, perused the videos, and then went over to check out the new releases shelf, where I found a cookbook devoted to pumpkin/squash recipes that needed to come home with me.

Back outside, I looked up directions to Mason Dixie, only to discover, thanks to Google’s omnipresence, that it closed in 15 minutes. I’d considered many details, but never that a restaurant would close mid-afternoon. Clearly that option was not going to work. Retracing my steps homeward, I thought about where I could head that would still be open by the time I arrived. A Baked Joint came to mind and I pointed my bike toward the Mount Vernon/NoMa area of town.

A Baked Joint is a sister establishment to my favorite cupcake shop in D.C. and I hoped they’d share the same approach to making hot chocolate, which involves a large frappe glass, oodles of whipped cream, and chocolate chips. Should you find yourself craving cocoa, they have my vote for best in region. The bakery case was starting to look a little bare, so the cashier recommended this half-brownie-half chocolate chip cookie bar. It was large and rich, and I definitely should have brought half home with me to eat later instead of gorging myself on the entire thing in one sitting.

Coffeeneuring at A Baked Joint

I found a table outside next to their greenspace and read my books for a while. I had just commented to the woman reading at the table next to mine that I kept hoping the light above us would turn on when I looked down and realized there was a rat near my foot. (I had seen the holes in the ground when I sat down, so I knew there was a burrow, but I’d figured they’d wait until it was legitimately dark to come out. Oops!) We both agreed that was the sign that it was time to move!

After taking my dishes inside, I came back out to the bike racks (the cafe is conveniently located next to a bike shop, so there were lots of places to park) only to discover that my seat cover had been stolen. When I’d arrived, some young men had been hanging out nearby and while I was inside I noticed they were pulling wheelies awfully close to the tables (I have seen some very balanced guys ride wheelies for blocks in traffic, so I will give them the benefit of the doubt that they were totally in control and not actually endangering anyone). Because they were gone when I came back outside, I didn’t give them another thought until I returned to the bike. And I didn’t actually see them take it, so I could totally be wrong. They didn’t take my pannier or any of my lights, thank goodness, so it clearly had been a stupid dare, but since I use a seat cover because my silicone gel-filled seat has some big, leaking holes in it, I was irked. Luckily, I had a plastic bag I use for rain protection in my pannier, so I tied that over the seat and rode home on it. Since the seat cover had big chunks of silicone stuck to the inside, I’m really hoping whoever stole it decided to put it on their head and then got them stuck in their hair. It would serve them right!

Much to my delight, the company where I buy the seat covers (I’d wondered if they’d be stolen, so had ordered two and then had the first one taken from in front of my office the first week I used it) had a free shipping sale two days later and new ones (3 this time, with one being boring black so as to attract less attention than the ones I prefer) arrived within the week.

So, not quite the ride I’d planned for or wanted, but still it was good to check out a new neighborhood and a new library.

If you missed it, this post explains what Coffeeneuring is and why I’m visiting local libraries during it.

Category: books,dc life,sports. There is/are 3 Comments.

November 6, 2017

coffeeneuring 2017: ride #1
posted by soe 1:03 am

Every fall, M.G. hosts a Coffeeneuring challenge in which participants ride their bicycles to someplace and drink coffee or another similar beverage. This is my fifth year taking part and I decided to put more thought into the option to a theme within a theme than I did last year, when my plan to finish knitting projects and books during the event scaled down to knitting and reading.

So, I opted to make this year’s theme within a theme visiting some of D.C.’s 25 branch libraries. Some of these libraries are ones I’ve been to before, while others are entirely new to me.

Coffeeneuring Ride #1: Sugar Shack Doughnuts (1932 9th St N.W.) and Northwest One (155 L St. NW)

Sugar Shack in Shaw

Saturday, Oct. 14; ~6 miles (I’ll give concrete details after I get them from Rudi’s Strava details)

Hot chocolate, doughnuts (sprinkled and Butterfinger)

I kicked off my first Coffeeneuring ride by convincing Rudi we ought to ride over to Sugar Shack in Shaw and see if they still had quidditch doughnuts (they included a Golden Snitch doughnut hole) in the afternoon. Alas, they did not. But because I like to stay up to date on my doughnut shops, I knew that Sugar Shack’s social media feeds always includes offers for free doughnuts in exchange for certain things, like wearing a sports jersey or having a “q” in your name. So before we left home, I checked and that day’s challenge was to sing the Hogwarts school song and you’d get a free house doughnut. If you’re familiar with the Harry Potter world, you’ll remember that the song has neither a set tune nor tempo, so all you have to do is sing a couple stanzas and you’re golden. So we did. (Rudi opted for singing to “Ode to Joy,” while I literally just made up a melody as I went along.)

Sugar Shack Goodies

Which meant we got to eat two doughnuts each — one for lunch and one for dessert. Mine were sprinkled and Butterfinger (the ones on the left), which I combined with a cup of hot chocolate. The doughnuts were tasty, but the hot chocolate lacked whipped cream or marshmallows, which, in my opinion, make hot cocoa such a desirable drink while out. (And, yes, those are knitted doughnuts hanging from the ceiling in the photo at the top.)

Northwest One Library

We then ventured down to Northwest One, which I’d ridden past before on my bike, but had never stopped at. Located in a municipal-style building, the library abuts the Walker Jones Education Campus, a K-8 school. They have an adequate number of bike racks, but they’re right next to the trash and recycling bins, so if there were a bunch of bikes, it could be challenging to lock up. Inside, the library is a single main room divided into sections using the stacks (and some small meeting/study rooms off to the side).

Halloween Display at Northwest One

The room is tall, with many windows, so there’s a lot of light. The library has tried to make the room scale better by hanging a bunch of Calder-inspired mobiles from the ceiling, which makes the space very cheerful.

Northwest One Library Interior

I got them to unlock a dvd I’d already checked out, found a made-for-HBO baseball movie (Soul of the Game) that takes place part of the time in D.C., and pulled Jeff Zentner’s most recent book off the new-release shelf.

Northwest One

We stopped by Giant and did some grocery shopping on our way home, which meant we were heavily laden down for the last couple miles. But all in all it was a very enjoyable start to the Coffeeneuring season.

Category: dc life,sports. There is/are 5 Comments.

November 22, 2016

coffeeneuring #9
posted by soe 1:46 am

Coffeeneuring #9: Sugar Shack Donuts (804 N. Henry St., Alexandria, VA)

Storm Clouds Moving into the District

Saturday, Nov. 19; 12.1 miles
Apple cake doughnut and caramel apple cider

I’d planned to get up and moving earlier than I did on Saturday, which meant that when I did finally walk out the door, dressed for the early afternoon’s sun and temperatures, that I was in for a surprise within minutes. We live below ground, which means that our view of the sky is rather a small one and can give false impressions, as it did then. Only half the sky was still blue when I emerged on the street and by the time I pedaled down to the river and across the Potomac, barely a sliver remained free of clouds. The wind picked up, which did not make the ride an enjoyable one. The gusts were particularly bad near the airport, where a lack of ground cover gave the wind a running start. By the time I reached the edge of Old Town, I was glad to encounter a bus shelter where I could seek refuge while checking my directions and putting on the measly warm layers I’d brought with me.

I stopped in at Fibre Space (nothing on their side of the street to lock the bike to) for a while to see if they had something in stock, but they were out, so I continued on to my destination: Sugar Shack Donuts (bike racks right out front). I’d bought a Groupon for a half dozen doughnuts earlier in the season, imagining Rudi and I would have more opportunities to ride together, but his unavailability wasn’t going to stop me from visiting. The selection was diminished, but there were enough to put together a box to bring home with me. I added their drink of the day, a hot caramel apple cider, and parked myself at a table in the back of the shop. This marked my only Coffeeneur stop that necessitated sitting indoors, but the waning daylight and impending rain and plummeting temperatures did not make me think that I needed to make myself miserable in order to be consistent.

Sugar Shack Donuts

Knowing that rain was possible, I’d packed a slender personal collection of comics, Young Avengers, Vol. 1: Style > Substance, rather than a library book that might be ruined by the weather, and my Christmas mitts. I read my book and started working on a thumb and ate my very tasty apple doughnut and nursed my cider. I texted Rudi to say I’d decided to catch Metro back to the District, rather than ride back in dim, damp, blustery conditions. This wise decision was reinforced when I emerged from the shop to discover that the rain had indeed begun and that my main headlight was dead. I got off at GW and pedaled home from there, being extra-cautious since I was down to my tadpole light in front.

I’d planned to go out one more time, on Sunday, but it was such a miserably windy day that I made the executive decision to make Saturday’s my final Coffeeneuring stop of the season.

So, with that, over my nine rides over seven weeks, I covered 63.2 miles, just shy of my personal Coffeeneuring best from two years ago.

My theme was reading and knitting. I’d hoped it’d be finished objects, but not a single knit item was completed, although I did get closer on the eight projects I worked on. Of the nine books I was reading at my stops, I had better luck, finishing six of them so far. (Not Your Sidekick, Magic in Manhattan, and The Girl Who Drank the Moon are all still in progress.)

Thanks, once again, to MG for hosting such a fun event!

The rest of this year’s rides: 1-4, 5, and 6-8.

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November 15, 2016

coffeeneuring #6, 7, and 8
posted by soe 1:37 am

Coffeeneuring #6: Grace Street Coffee and Dog Tag Bakery (3210 and 3206 Grace St., N.W., Georgetown)

Sunday, Nov. 6; 6 miles
Masala chai and roasted pear and ginger tart (split with Rudi)

Rudi under Taft Bridge

Rudi’s and my plan was to ride up to Beach Drive, enjoy the fall colors of Rock Creek Park, and then find someplace for a drink. It started out fine, but at the Taft Bridge, cyclists were coming up the hill to say that the gate was locked at the zoo, making that route impassable. I didn’t fancy going up and around, just to get back down again, so I decided we’d seen enough foliage and, after fooling around on the exercise equipment and snapping a few photos, that we should just skip to the hot drinks.

Mugging for the Camera

Rudi said a friend had recommended Grace Street Coffee, a new coffeehouse in Georgetown, so we decided to check them out. Located down the street from Dog Tag Bakery and Chaia Tacos, Grace Street shares its modern space with a juice bar and a gourmet sandwich shop. They also have a back garden with seating, which probably gets some nice sun in the early part of the day.

Grace Street Coffee

Grace Street Coffee

Grace Street Coffee

We took our drinks across the street to the park along the canal, and I ran into Dog Tag to get us a munchie. The ginger-pear tart was delicious and substantial enough I didn’t mind sharing with Rudi. My masala chai was, however, the spiciest drink I have ever had; I’m pretty sure there’s now hair on my chest. (Ew!) While this makes a nice change from the overly bland chais I often encounter in D.C., it would have been inedible without a snack and water to clear the palate.

Coffeeneuring along the Canal

Grace Street has hardly any space for bike parking, which is really its only drawback, and its sidewalks are very narrow. Rudi and I ended up finding an alcove and locking our bikes together. If you end up going, I’d suggest bringing a cable lock, rather than a U lock. (Or, even better, there’s a Bikeshare station at the end of the block…)

Viv and a Leafy Hat

The knitting is a hat I hadn’t picked up since fall, with a complicated pattern, a misplaced stitch marker, and no notes on a pattern stored on my phone. The book is the second part of the Vivian Apple series of apocalyptic, feminist YA fiction. (more…)

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November 6, 2016

coffeeneuring #5
posted by soe 2:39 am

Coffeeneuring #5: Grassroots Gourmet (104 Rhode Island Ave., N.W., Bloomingdale)

Grassroots Gourmet

Saturday, Nov. 5; 5.2 miles
Hot chocolate and mini bourbon chocolate pecan pie

I eschewed the sunshine of Big Bear’s west-facing patio for the shady sidewalk of Grassroots Gourmet, a new-to-me bakery just up the street.

At this point, I don’t think I’d say Bloomingdale is a transition neighborhood anymore, but it’s definitely more of a economic mix than my corner of the city. And I think Grassroots Gourmet reflects that, selling their baked goods at local market price, but their drinks for significantly less than you’ll get them elsewhere.

To be honest, I wasn’t blown away by either my drink — my cocoa was perfectly adequate, but nothing to write home about — or my mini pie, where the crust seemed to overwhelm the three-bite snack. (I totally recognize that a thinner crust would probably have created a dessert that wasn’t sturdy enough to handle, so this was probably just my being overly picky.) However, both staff members I met were super friendly and clearly went out of their way to know their local neighbors, and that would be enough to bring me back earlier in the day when I could catch some sun from their sidewalk seating and try one of their other baked goods (they also sell cupcakes, muffins, normal-sized cookies, and bars and quick breads, as well as being a retailer for local bread) with a cup of tea. As it was, they let me hang out outside there with my knitting (my Christmas fingerless mitts) and my book (Not Your Sidekick, from my Ninja Swap package) even after they closed up, even specifically telling me that if anyone hassled me about it to let them know.

Coffeeneuring #5: Grassroots Gourmet

There are several bike racks out front that they share with the bar/restaurant next door, that I’d imagine would be very busy during brunch hours.

The ride was fine, except for two things on the way back from the cafe: first, the light at R and Florida did not trigger for my bike, causing me to have to wait an extra cycle until a car triggered it), and second, at one point a flatbed truck moved partially into my bike lane to get around a car, causing me to shift too close to a piece of heavy equipment covered in orange mesh netting in the curb lane. My handlebar snagged in the holes of the mesh and I came up very short, but stayed upright (the light was red and I was going slowly; if it had happened at speed, I would have gone down). I may have gesticulated and yelled vigorously at the truck driver about rights of way before pedaling the adrenaline off the rest of the way home.

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