Saturday, September 24, 2011

My Beautiful Barrio

I often joke that I live in the barrio. My neighborhood is one of the poorest in Denver, and as an English speaking white girl, I'm definitely a minority here. Now I realize that the word conjures up images of a terrible third world slum.

And while we do have our fair share of public housing, trailer parks, graffiti, drunks and gangs, on the whole, when I use the word, I'm referring to it's simple Spanish meaning, which is neighborhood. (It's Barrios Bajos that means slum, or bad neighborhood.)

I also often refer to my neighborhood as the land of cracker box houses, and you can probably guess where that analogy came from. And yes - this is actual Google Earth image of my neighborhood with my very own little house pictured near the upper left hand corner...

While my little barrio may be a tad bit lacking in terms of architectural beauty, it makes up for it many times over in a plethora of other ways.

So... here are just a few of the things I love about my neighborhood.

I get to have a HUGE house with a giant yard that has plentiful gardening space. Well, I suppose it's still a tiny house by suburban standards, but it's huge for me... 900 square feet with a full basement, plus a detached 2.5 car garage which is bigger than the entire apartment that I lived in before I bought the house. All this, and my mortgage costs less than it would cost to rent a studio apartment. OK - the fact that I bought 15 years ago helps, but still...
Within easy walking distance I've got 2 grocery stores, a post office, a library, a park, several laundromats, a recreation center with a full gym and a pool, three liquor stores, a handful of clothing boutiques, half a dozen restaurants, a veterinarian, and several drug stores. If I hop on my bike, the list grows exponentially. I really feel like everything I need is literally at my fingertips.

Plus... If I want to go somewhere I can be downtown in 15 minutes if I drive... 30 minutes if I take the bus and/or light rail, or 40 minutes on the bike path. Or I can head west and in the same amount of time I can be in the open space at the foothills of the great Rocky Mountains. If I want a real adventure, just drive a few minutes further and I can be in the wilderness.

But aside from the wonderful location, what I love about my neighborhood is that it's an actual real neighborhood. You know what I mean... the kids all still walk to school, and play in the streets, and people know each other. Neighbors lend a helping hand with projects and tools, etc. and when I've got a bumper crop of tomatoes or zucchini, I can always find someone over one fence or another who is eager for the surplus.

Plus, if you go for a walk on a nice day, the air is filled with mariachi music, which I totally LOVE.

And guess what. As if it wasn't cool enough already, we're getting a very important visitor next week. Yup, President Obama himself is gonna speak outside of our local high school! How totally cool is that!

OK... I know I've been pretty darned cynical about politics lately, but I have to say that I still think it's pretty cool to have the President speaking just a few blocks from my house! Of course, I'm sure that in reality it will turn out to be a bit of a pain in the butt what with the traffic and the security, but still... he is the President after all.

Now I know that there are a lot of disgruntled liberals out there, and while I am certainly disgruntled with politics, my issues are not really with Obama (sorry to disappoint you.) I was actually gonna make this a post about all the reasons that if the left had any political sense at all they'd be doing everything they could to support Obama instead of tearing him down, but I didn't think I could handle yet another depressing political topic.

So for the moment, I'm just gonna sit back and enjoy the fact that my beautiful little barrio is having it's moment in the national spotlight.


  1. "Depressed? It might be political" ahahahahahahah Oh lord. Hilarious!

    Between you & 6512 & Growing, I feel like I need to move to Colorado. Anyhoo, I love my neighborhood too. I envy your square footage and yard, but digging your barrio is the best. Now if I only didn't have to commute to nasty, nasty LA. :(

  2. Aww, good to read a positive post. :-) I think the president was in the town where my spouse works earlier this week, but I didn't get to see him. Although I've been disappointed in how much Obama's been able to accomplish, I still think he's a smart and fundamentally decent human being and will be voting for him (albeit without the level of enthusiasm I had in 2008) when the time comes. The Republican candidates are just so darned scary that I can't contemplate not voting Democratic.

  3. Hey All - CatMan and I went for a 30 mile bike ride today. We were originally gonna ride past the high school and see if we could hear Obama, but we got a late start and figured we'd get stuck in all the roadblocks anyhow. So we just went along the bike path... so we're riding along and all of a sudden there are like two dozen cops on bikes all surrounding one particular underpass. Apparently the motorcade was gonna pass right above and they were there to make sure the area was secure. It was wild.

    Demandra - That one made me laugh too. And if I haven't said it enough already... you have my utmost sympathies in regards to the commute.

    NotEasy - Here's the thing. Obama's actually accomplished an AMAZING amount in only 2.5 years. I mean really if you think about it... health care reform, got Osama Bin Laden, got us out of Iraq (or as "out" as we can get given what Bush left us with) pulled us back from the brink of economic disaster, repealed Don't Ask Don't Tell, upped fuel efficiency standards by incredible amounts, EPA regulation of greenhouse gasses... the list goes on. We just don't hear about his accomplishments because many of them have been quietly done through Executive orders... hence no big battle in congress, hence no media coverage.

    The other thing that the media scantly covers is that the stated policy of the GOP has been to keep Obama from accomplishing anything. Period. They really don't care about getting "their way" anymore. Christ, they even vote against their own bills! Their ONLY agenda is to make Obama as ineffective as possible so people will get frustrated and they can get back in power. Hence we've seen unprecedented use of the filibuster and blocking of virtually EVERY presidential appointment. These events are really without precedent in American history, and it is um... disheartening, to say the least, that the media has failed to give it all the attention it deserves.

    I agree that the economy is a mess, but this whole deal about the deficit is a total red herring. Back in the Clinton era when we were actually running a surplus, the GOP was busy arguing how bad it was to pay off the deficit. Seriously. If anything, the government needs to be spending much MORE right now on more stimulus. Alas, the GOP has succeeded in controlling the conversation with all of this deficit misdirection BS.

    Anyhow, the point is that if we really want to see legislative movement what we need to do is work to get a Democratic majority in the House, and a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. It's the only way we'll overcome the GOP road blocks.

    There I go blathering about politics again. Sorry...

  4. Another great area of accomplishment has been in the AG's office. They've recouped millions, targeted Medicare Fraudsters, etc. Feds, in general, are actually doing their jobs. Amazing.
    So, nice to love your neighborhood! We do, too, kinda. Got crazy, jealous neighbors on one side, and a pimp/drug dealer (I think) a few doors down, but other than that...... great, average folks. Classic old semi-urban neighborhood.

  5. Jay - I often wish that someone would compile a bunch of the real facts on this stuff... CatMan likes to argue with conservatives on Huffington Post, and he's got a pile of links, references and facts that totally disarm all of this BS. I keep trying to get him to put it all together in a blog or something so that other people can benefit from all of his research.

    In terms of neighbors... well, we've had our fair share of crazy ones. Actually the housing crash hit our area REALLY hard. At one point there were 5 foreclosed houses on my block. And just last week the last empty house FINALLY sold. But in reality, it sort of cleared the "rif raf" out of the neighborhood if you know what I mean. No more crazy flop houses or people with 16 dead cars parked all over the lawn.

  6. I love my neighborhood too and it sounds remarkably similar to yours, complete with live Mariachi and friendly neighbors.

    Even we too had an Obama sighting a while back...well, the Mrs. came by to check out one of our community gardens that is manned and supports our very large immigrant community.

  7. Sam - Aren't the Mariachis wonderful? The guy two houses down plays in a Mariachi band and in the summer they practice in his backyard. It's like a free concert all summer long!

    That's so cool that FLOTUS came to your neighborhood, and even cooler that she is supporting community gardens. We've got thriving community gardens throughout Denver. I would love to participate, but my backyard plots keep me pretty darned busy in that department!

  8. @EcoCatLady
    Thank you for reminding people what Obama has accomplished, despite facing heavy headwinds...

    I love the "My President" graphic... that's how I felt this summer when he came to my small Iowa town (Population 8100) for a town hall meeting. Got to see him up close (he waved from his bus) and then waved at his bus the next day when his motorcade left town and passed my office.

    The point of all this -- other than to sound "fangirly" -- is that it's still moving to be in the presence of a sitting President. I felt this odd wave of political "rah-rah" and compassion... he looked so tired and I know he's working so hard.

  9. Janeen - I'm glad you like the "My President" graphic. I actually made that one around the time of the inauguration when I was just overcome with awe that we had actually managed to elect Obama. I fear I have neglected that poor little website though... it's one of my many "get poor slowly" schemes (which is my general economic philosophy - so much more practical than trying to get rich quickly.) Perhaps I should re-vamp it as a new election cycle is beginning. Maybe I can use it as a constructive outlet for some of my political grumpiness... you know, turn all of my energy into making pithy little graphics that people can use to express their political rage etc...

    I think it's SOOOO cool that you actually got to wave at him. Somehow, if anybody's let anybody down in this whole process, I can't help but feel that it's the American people who have let him down, and not the other way around.

  10. EcoCatLady -
    If you want to find humor in "Get poor slowly" schemes, you might enjoy reading Lesley Stern who has written some funny stuff on The Huffington Post:

    Yeah, and I have a photo of him waving too, but it's funny because all you see is his shadow in the glass... but it really is him.

    I'm similarly grouchy and mad these days and am trying mightily to handle it with humor, so I think you definitely have a market for your various satirical products.


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