Saturday, July 22, 2006


One of the great things about living here is the sense of community and even family that I have moved into. Neighbors talking together over the fence, sharing an impromptu barbecue, getting gifts of Russel Stover chocolates and doing favors for each other without any agenda other than being friends.

Our house is being painted and the colors the painters came up with are not the colors they are currently painting over. The colors are brighter and calmer and very nice. All this painting and plastering and making the outside of the house look good means taking some of the old things down and putting them back up again. Such was the case with the mailboxes out front. The painters put them back up in the correct order instead of the previous order. Problem is that now the weathered plastic sleeves and penciled labels look decrepit. I have a printer and ink and some photo card stock so I designed new labels for the mail boxes: a German Shepherd for the landlady, a tabby cat for Nel and a quill and ink pot for me. Our names are in bold Copperplate Gothic and the apartment number is directly beneath. The shiny new color labels go with the new paint job and I was glad to stretch my creative skills even just that little bit.

That is one of the lovely things about living here, the sense of family between Nel, the landlady and me. For instance, tonight I was outside sitting on the sidewalk outside the laundry room waiting for my clothes to wash and dry, the latest two loads anyway. The landlady asked me if I'd like to join her for sausages and grilled vegetable medley. How could I say no? We took turns watching the food on the grill and talked and laughed while she drank her glass of red wine and I drank my water (I have to work tonight). A neighbor brought over a one-pound box of Russell Stover chocolates and the landlady shared them with me, pressing me to take half of them with me, which I in turned shared with Nel and Michael (who used to live here).

When Nel picks up the mail before me, she brings it up, and vice versa. We share utensils, dishes, bowls and food back and forth but no one feels their privacy at risk. All three of us share a need for some privacy and the boundaries, as blurred as they seem to outsiders, are clear for all of us. The landlady will go on vacation and I keep Pastor for her, which is a wonderful treat for me. Nel watches my plants and checks my mail when I'm out of town and I do the same for her.

There is an open and friendly atmosphere in our neighborhood that extends outside this house and into the surrounding houses and streets, an atmosphere that is peaceful and calming when I've had a bad day or need to take a breath of air in the middle of the night. Here, I am safe and happy and our neighbors feel the same way. Whatever spirit or energy or luck led me here more than a year ago I thank. When I lived at the cabin in my solitude I needed to be there to regain my connection to the earth. Living here, I am regaining my connection to people -- and to ghosts. I can't forget George.

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