Monday, August 27, 2012

Freedom for Vietnam protest August 26th, 2012

These are photos I captured with my phone this afternoon of Freedom for Vietnam protesters outside the Chinese Consulate Sunday afternoon. Vietnam has been under fire recently for human rights issues. In May a blogger was sentenced to five years in prison for ant-government posts on his web site. Makes me glad I live here in the United States.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Life in a big city

I joke that the reason I keep up with real estate news in Houston is because I want to know when the bulldozers come my way. Today I noticed that may very well be a reality soon.
I came home from the gym and found a Post-It note frrom my landlord stuck to my door. On it was his phone number and a note asking me to call him. I hated these little note from him.
Monday before last he came around with memos informing us fire insurance inspections would be Wednesday. I scrambled to tidy up, but I was too busy working to do anything major.
The inspection went ok I guess. Then last Monday I was informed that my apartment
failed its inspection. This time I had more free time to clean the place up.
The inspectors returned Friday armed with a camera and a clipboard. Rumors swirled that my landlord planned to sell the place. I figured as much, but I wanted confirmation before I jumped to conclusions.
I called my landlord this afternoon to see what he wanted. Normally I would have waited, but I needed to talk to him. My window unit has leaked all over and it no longer cools the apartment.
I'll admit I'm not the best at keeping house, but I try my damndest to keep this place tidy. My landlord and I have been at odds over the cleanliness of the apartment. That was, at least to him, part of the reason the inspection failed.
My landlord informed me that he planned to sell the building. According to him the new owner had some concerns about the unit. Mainly the mildew and mold in my bathroom. As much as tried to keep my calm, but I lost it.
I explained that I couldn't afford to rent a Rug Doctor or that I couldn't afford a can of Killz to paint over the mold. In so many words I told him that I have done my part by keeping the place neat and clean. I told him it was his turn to do his part.
We also discussed how long I had before I had to get out. My landlord said that I should stay put because it would be a while before he closed the deal on the property. He also openly admitted in a round about way he was taking advantage of my paying weekly.
Since I started getting paid weekly, I made an arrangement to send a rent check weekly. In hindsight I realize what a bad idea this was. My landlord thinks this will look good to the new owner so that I can go on staying here. After seven years, I think maybe it's time to go.
I moved in here in July of 2005 after looking at some less desirable locations. My job at the time afforded me the luxury of an efficiency apartment. Commuting from my parents' house was no longer feasible and the location was ideal. I  could walk to the light rail platform and several bus stops were in close proximity.
Having shops, clubs, and restaurants in walking distance was an added bonus. I love my apartment don't get me wrong, but living inside The Loop has its drawbacks. There are dozens of apartments like mine and they all have their problems. Some nowhere near as bad as mine.
My air conditioner has leaked every summer. The first I knew of it was when my downstairs neighbor complained to the landlord. Each time the weather gets really cold, my closets sweat. The bathroom and living areas do too, but not as bad as the closets. Damp Rid has helped alleviate this problem somewhat.
My landlord asked me to clean the bathroom ceiling, but it hasn't worked in the past. Bleach can only do so much. Getting a new floor sounds like something that may not happen for a while or not at all. My problem now is where do I go?
Rent inside The Loop has crept up considerably since I've moved here. My job is currently walking distance from home, but I know if I want to change careers I'll need transportation.
It's so frustrating not knowing what's going to happen next. Honestly I don't want to stick around to find out. Ideally I'd like to get out of here, but I don't know that I can afford a new place.
My goal was to get a vehicle, change careers, and find another place. That may have to change though if I want to move out. I hate change, but if it's for my personal well being, I have to start soon. Follow up: I came home from work Thursday afternoon to find a note taped to my door that I had 30 days to vacate my apartment.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Goodbye to an Old Friend

Over the last couple of years, there was speculation that HEB would build a Montrose location. With the opening of Buffalo Market on Bissonet, it was almost inevitable a Montrose could be next.
The location in question was directly across from Fiesta on Dunlavy and West Alabama. I read real eatate blogs and kept up with the latest develooments.
Many people apeculated what the fate of Fiesta across the street would be. I knew they would probably stay in business. No one store has ever really closed because its competition opened across the street.
After all this was the Fieata I shopped at when I lived in the dorms at the University of St. Thomas. It was my home grocery store, even after we were moved into alternate housing in the wake of teopical srorm Allison.
To think that my favorite grocery store would be gone for good was unfathomable. Fiesta had been an integral part of the community for more than 20 years. Before that it had been an Apple Tree and had started out as a Weingartens some 50 years ago.
My first trip to Fiesta was when I moved into the dorms. I was in need of something to eat and the cafeteria was closed for the weekend. I remembered seeing the store on my way to move in.
The August heat was unbearable, but I needed to eat. The walk there wasn't as long as I thought it might be. I walked in the front door and did a double take. The interior of the store looked a lot like the Food King in Texas City.
In fact the layout was eerily similar. I wandered the store and familiarized myself with it. The place i finally found muself was the deli counter. I remember how helpful the staff were. They were kind enough to sell me half of a cooked chicken. I grabbed a tub of potato salad and a soda and ate it back at the dorms.
Later on when I moved into an on-campus apartment, I bought my groceries at that Fieata. Everyone was always helpful and friendly. After college I moved home, but when I moved back I shopped there occasionally.
I got busy with work and found myself ahopping at a Kroger closer to home. Sometimes I'd get things I couldn't find at other stores, but I got away from shopping there.
The store had its own unique character as do most grocery stores in Montrose. There was almost a mom and pop feel to that Fieata. I couldn't think of any other place I could grocery shop to the oldies. The produce and international departments always had aomething exotic. I think that was the first place I ever saw fava beans and treacle tart.
HEB bought the historic apartment complex across the street, but I held out hope for Fiesta. If other grocery chains could stand up to their threat, they could too. I kept up  with all the coverage and even attended the grand opening at HEB.
Then I read that developers had their eye on the Fiesta property. My heart sank because I knew how much that store meant to the neighborhood. I hoped it was another ugly rumor, but I soon found  that it was not.
Firsr came news that the property had been sold. Then came word that a mixed-use decelopment would replace my favorite Fiesta. I felt like I'd been punched in the gut, but the news they would close really hurt.
I missed my chance to say goodbye, but I recently stopped by to take post mortem photos. The rumors are that Party City will open for the holidays and the shopping center and Fiesta will come down in February.
The one ray of hope is that Fiesta will return to Montroae again some day. Rumor has it that they would open where Randalls Flagship  store sits now at th corner of South Shepherd and Westheimer. I am hopeful theae rumors will come true.