meridian hill park

joan of arc in meridian hill park; photo by salem pearce

I took the day off from work today and decided to take photos en route to my massage appointment at Mint (yeah, my life is tough, I know). Since “Mint Dupont” is actually in Adams Morgan, I choose Meridian Hill Park, where I’ve only been once before, and that was really early in the morning during boot camp. Under those conditions, it was hard to appreciate the design and flora.

I find Meridian Hill Park a little wacky. First of all, the park reminds me of both of Morningside Park in New York and of the gardens around the Villa Borghese in Rome. I’m not wrong about the latter: Apparently the architect meant to design a “grand urban park modeled on parks found in European capitals.”

Secondly, its name is rather abstruse. The National Park Service website explains that John Porter built a mansion on the hill and so named it “because it was on the exact longitude of the original District of Columbia milestone marker.” This line is apparently one of the “Washington meridians” — but three pages into Wikipedia, and I still don’t really know what those are, except that there are markers for them all over the district.

Next, its nickname is Malcolm X Park . . . for no reason. That’s just what people call it. And the statues are no help: They consist of a U.S. president, an Italian poet, a French warrior, and a bare-breasted representation of “Serenity” — the whitest statue in the world.

Finally, the building material, concrete aggregrate, experimental (and groundbreaking?) for the early 20th century, doesn’t really stand the test of time. The material is now employed almost exclusively for utilitarian, not decorative, projects. Basically, it looks like design by sidewalk.

With all of those caveats, I do find the park charming and relaxing — despite the disturbing number of people running stairs there in the middle of a summer day. It’s certainly an under-appreciated part of D.C.

a peeps profile

Note: This post, originally published on my Tumblr, was the second in a two-part series about our cats that I wrote as a birthday present for my husband. The first part is about the boy cat, Miju.

In late 1998, a small black-and-white cat was born, and Joe Grossberg adopted her two years later from the Washington Humane Society. Records indicate that Joe paid $65, provided by his mother, since the cat was a Chanukah present and (meant to be) a friend for her big brother.

She was being fostered in the Adams Morgan apartment of Marjan Philhour along with many other dogs and cats. A solitary and … tempermental creature, the little cat was often on edge in this environment. So naturally, she bit Joe when he first visited. And thus, Joe met Peeps.

photo by katie jett walls of red turtle photography

Over the years, Peeps has gained more names than pounds. Because of her size, people always think she’s a kitten. But she’s not; she’s full grown.

Peeps’ hobbies include sunbathing, staring at the wall, sleeping in the puff chair, eating cat grass, and jumping on bookshelves. She would more often opt to be alone than with others, but she at times likes to snuggle underneath a blanket. She earned the nickname “Spider Peeps” via her intrepid climbing to the top of wherever she can mange to get.

Peeps’ favorite food is tuna. She gets a can twice a year — on her birthday, and then again on Miju’s birthday; she devours each serving in one sitting. She also likes ice cream, milk, and coffee, much to Joe’s chagrin.

Peeps is not good at understanding the concept of “the phone.” She is good at detecting arrival at the apartment. She likes sniffing and hates being brushed.

Peeps’ most prized possession is her cardboard scratcher, which she somehow managed to gain dominion over, despite her brother’s alpha cat tendencies toward all their other shared possessions in the apartment. On the few occasions he has dared to use it, her eyes turn black upon hearing the noise of claws on cardboard, and she shoots over to it and hisses and bats at him until leaves.

When she wants to be petted, Peeps rolls over on her back and shows the potential petter her “secret dot.” A majority white cat, Peeps has seven black patches (seven being a mystically significant number in Judaism), including one not readily able to be seen. Her face is half-black and half-white, like a yin-yang symbol, or a black-and-white cookie.

In her free time, Peeps studies Torah. She recently became bat mitzvah (on her 12-1/2 birthday) and has shown supernal devotion to learning. Indeed, as Joe is fond of noting, Peeps is an angel from heaven.

All About Peeps
Full name: Peeps Labanit Choni Hamagel Chetzi v Chanukah Heather Feather Grossberg-Pearce

Nicknames: Pea, Peebee, Peapod, Peasoup, Peek-a-souk, Peashoot, Peashoot Salad, Soup, Soupy, Soupy Sales, Soupselah, Peepselah, Bubelah, Spider Peeps, Speep, Bean, Beanselah, Chetzi

Breed: domestic black-and-white shorthair

Gender: female

Birth date: November 15, 1998

Adoption date: November 14, 2000

Total adoption cost: $65

Adoption weight: 5.3 lbs

Current weight: 6.1 lbs

Likes: talking to Joe, sitting on the heater, sleeping in the couch crack, eating cat grass, barfing up cat grass, grooming, small cakes, Torah study, alone time, smelly clothes and shoes

Dislikes: being picked up, large groups of people, other cats, sneezes

a miju memoir

Note: This post, originally published on my Tumblr, was the first in a two-part series about our cats that I wrote as a birthday present for my husband. The second part is about the girl cat, Peeps.

In the summer of 1999, a small orange cat was born, and Joe Grossberg adopted him the following July from the Montgomery County SPCA. Records indicate that Joe paid $75, made a $20 donation to the organization, and spent an additional $5 on a “box.”

The kitten still had the rather unfortunate name of Tommy Tune when his foster mom, Kim Deserio, entrusted Joe with his care. After some brainstorming, Joe quickly invented a new name and Miju was (re)born.

photo by katie jett walls of red turtle photography

By all accounts, Miju was a rambuctious kitten, a quality he continues to exhibit today. In those early days Joe would come home from work to find Miju bouncing off the walls. Miju was also very soft and very sweet: As soon as Joe picked him up in the shelter, Joe just knew this one was the one he wanted to adopt.

Now fully grown, Miju is deceptively large because of his fluffy coat (which is simply luxurious), but also in comparison with his sister (who is just a very small full-grown cat).

Miju’s hobbies include yowling, eating flowers and other plants, sleeping in the box at the bottom of Salem’s closet, and chasing after his baby sister. Miju feels that focus should always be on him, so, for example, he insists on lying between Joe and Salem when they are in bed. At Passover this year, Miju tried to sit on the seder plate.

The need for attention also makes a very afffectionate cat. Miju is a champion head-butter and loves to sit next to new people (particularly if they pet him).

Miju and Salem engage in an ongoing power struggle for control of what should be Salem’s pillow. He slept with Joe for six years before Salem came along, so in his mind, she’s sleeping on his side of the bed.

Miju’s favorite food is string cheese, and he knows as soon as Joe opens a package. His eyes widen, and he camps out in front of Joe until the treat is gone. Meanwhile, he generally lets his sister eat most of his birthday tuna. However, Miju has to eat the shabbos wet food before she does; in fact, it takes six seconds or less for Miju to appear in the kitchen once the wet food bowl clinks on the counter on Friday night.

Miju is not good at sunbathing or sitting in cat beds. He is good at relaxing on the back of the couch. He loves being brushed with the Furminator and drinking water out of glasses. If he were allowed outside, it is thought that Miju would like to climb trees.

Miju has a heart murmur, a tiny nick in his right ear, mottled gums, and (according to Joe) only five nipples. And he defies convential wisdom about cats by being kind of a klutz. But as Joe is fond of noting, he is still perfect.

All About Miju
Full name: Miju Boon Grossberg

Nicknames: Mooj, Mista Mooj, Mi-juuuuuuuuuuu, Mookie, Mee-who, Mijou, Miju Las Vegas, Mijulicious, Hazzan

Breed: domestic medium hair orange tabby

Gender: male

Birth date: August 15, 1999

Adoption date: July 9, 2000

Total adoption cost: $100

Adoption weight: 7.8 lbs

Current weight: 10.3 lbs

Likes: licking books, batting at any small object that can move, sitting in the highest place in the room, stalking Peeps, grooming Joe

Dislikes: belts, having his undercarriage brushed, grooming himself