A regular summary of irregular news and notes from neighborhood blogs and email lists around the District.

Cat Nip: Someone on the Columbia Heights email list addresses a “Cat food crisis,” explaining, “For most of the 10 years that we have lived in the 3500 block of 11th Street, a well-intentioned woman has regularly placed cat food under certain parked cars for the homeless cats. A couple of years ago, though, we started having problems with rats getting into the engines of our cars, resulting in serious and expensive damage. In one instance, we found that the rats had collected and stored some of the cat food under our hood. We left a kind note asking her to refrain from placing cat food on our property, explaining our reason. She did not stop. We placed a less kind note, which, because we were out of town for a few weeks, remained posted for quite some time. She got the message and stopped putting food on our property. But now, about a month later, she has started doing so again. We are concerned rats will get into our car again. Moreover, our private property is being violated despite our repeated complaints.” Someone else wonders if this is “the same woman who puts food in our tree box for street cats that are taken care of by others, and will not stop no matter how many times she is asked to. She just moves over a few houses every time someone asks her to stop.” The conversation turns to cat abandonment: “In response to the cat food ‘crisis,’ perhaps the reason leading to this should be acknowledged. Selfish and irresponsible people toss out a cat, after they tire of it or when it becomes sick, to fend for itself (has anyone found a cat with its eyed gouged out or hanging on a noose from a tree used as dog bait?). Others refuse to spay/neuter their cats and then let them roam freely. The result is cats throughout a community without a home or food to survive.” Several neighbors chime in with feedback on the impact of cats on the rat population: do they keep the rats at bay; does the food counteract that benefit? Finally, one person responds to some mudslinging by apparent cat lovers, “OK, I can feel this conversation taking a sharp turn firmly away from the point: nobody has said they hate cats or think they should have their eyes gouged out. The problem is the real, costly damage that rats are doing to the neighbors’ cars as a result of rats nesting and hoarding the cat food in the engines of their cars. It really is possible to have this as an issue without also wanting to feed stray cats head first into a wood chipper.”

You Say Tomato: Someone on the East of the River email list wholeheartedly endorses bringing an Aldi to her neighborhood: “For those of you who do not know me well, I am the Coupon Queen, Frugal Fannie, the Discount Queen and Ms. Harris Teeter. I love to grocery shop and I am always looking for a great deal. Well, as you know, I am working to get my Wegmans but in the meanwhile I have a Plan B – ALDI. Aldi is an international grocery store that owns Trader Joe’s.” Attached to her message is a copy of Aldi’s Memorial Day coupons. “I say we have a Ward 7 shopping day at ALDI to see what we could have in our own neighborhood. And if anyone has shopped there already…please share your experience. Enjoy your day! And I hope you enjoy my new international LOVER! LOL” After some discussion of which would be preferable—an Aldi, a Walmart or both—one resident sums up the debate, “Yes food is cheap at Walmart!! Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”

Knock Knock. Who’s There?: A few Tenleytown residents are suspicious of an ostensible PEPCO employee going door-to-door checking people’s utilities bills. One person writes, “We just had a guy ring our doorbell and when we did not answer he came around to the back yard to tell us he needed to see our Pepco and Washington Gas bills to ‘qualify’ our home to prevent rate increases. He said there was a statement about it on our bill which I do not remember but admittedly I do not read them very closely. When I said I would have to go back and review my bills before I showed anyone anything, he said I had to qualify with him and could not call which seems very odd to me. He then lingered outside our house for a few minutes.” Another person had a similar experience, this time while her daughter was home: “She told him he’d have to come back, because she wasn’t the homeowner. I thought it sounded fishy and meant to call Pepco, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet. He hasn’t been back.” She writes that “he showed her name badges and had a ‘uniform.’” One neighbor’s verdict: “There are all the signs here that this is clearly bogus and potentially criminal. She wonders, “Does anyone know what we’re supposed to do under these circumstances? Clearly, don’t give out any information. If you call PEPCO, they will just tell you it was not legitimate.”

Grill Talk: In a post titled, “a new ‘trend,’” someone on the Adams Morgan email list wonders about all the folks grilling in Kalorama Park. They write, “For the second time already in this year’s still-young picnic season, folks who grilled out in the park have simply dumped their used charcoal in a pile on the ground. Is grilling in the park even allowed?” According to the Kalorama Park Recreation Center, it’s not.