Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Neighborhood charm is a happy throwback to more innocent times


Boxes galore came from Arizona to southern California two years ago.


BEGORRAH! 'Twas a mere two years ago, St Patty's week. We were tired and dusty as we finished dry-walling the living room ceiling, moving into our San Diego town home. We weren't expecting an invitation to a party!
New friends, fun parties and a welcome to neighbors!
WE'D SCOURED the area from north county to the Mexico border for 18 months. We were losing hope we'd find our dream retirement home.  A roller coaster of actions and emotion prefaced our purchase: We found the home one morning, and "lost" it that afternoon. We'd jumped in the car after circling the listing in the morning paper. We loved the home and neighborhood, so hurried back to make an offer! The house had vanished from cyberspace. A call to our realtor friend determined that the home had just gone in escrow.   

Last weekend's St. Patrick's Day party featured
Chuck Colclasure playing guitar, Cookie singing.
DRAT! If anything should change, we told him, please call us immediately.  Then, miracle of miracles: the place fell out of escrow over a buyer-seller squabble about a minor repair the owner refused to make. We jumped on it, a lucky move.
That St. Patrick's day week two years ago lives on in memory, a testimony to good timing and welcoming neighbors. Our unexpected invitation came between dry wall, the unpacking of an overloaded truck and a  PODS arrival from Phoenix. We felt like the Clampetts enroute to Beverly Hills. We were messy and tired from cleaning, painting and the aforementioned dry walling.
The Clampetts of TV
fame had nothing
on Cookie and Keller.
St. Pat's fun: Cookie, Keller, right; Chuck and Cathy, left.
A PRETTY neighbor stopped by, urging us to her party that night.  We declined, intent on finishing our work. But as dusk and fatigue settled, we reconsidered: let's go! We showered, grabbed a bottle of wine and plate of Bristol Farms cookies and wow! We came, saw, sang and feasted.  This lovely neighborhood "conquered" us. It's 2014 now and we feel still like extras in "Leave It To Beaver." The dog-friendly, diverse community is old-fashioned, gracious.
Neighbors visit and chat with one another in Cookie and Keller's
diverse neighborhood. Here the Madisons enjoy Halloween, dropping
in to see if our writer and photographer have treats. (They did!)
People water each others' plants, greet one another, stop by for a cuppa. They visit in their front yards. That contagious spirit is due largely to the Colclasures -- Chuck and Cathy -- now our friends. They're community oriented (she's president of the HOA) and brilliant at connecting people. Chuck sings, plays guitar and cooks when he's not teaching and talking philosophy. Cathy hangs whimsical banners outside their town home, heralding every season and holiday. She loves to dress up to a theme.
THE PAIR are "the host and hostess with the mostess." Their annual Christmas party is so much fun, we try to plan trips around it. For their bashes they like to set up a keyboard.  After the potluck feast featuring Chuck's main course, a jam session might ensue, with Cookie and Chuck leading singing.

Here's lookin' at you, kids, from a neighborhood party.
WE LOVE our neighborhood and our community. Every gathering has been fun and we're hoping to start a "food and friends" dining and wine group which will explore ethnic themes and draw us together to socialize and enjoy. Happy anniversary to us!  Thanks to all who welcomed us and continue to make us part of our exciting, friendly life here! May Irish eyes keep smiling (along with those of all diverse ethnicities represented in our area!)   Some time in these two years, I began to call our delightful neighborhood  "home."

School principal Ame Beard, center, developed an inventive
program to train students for life in the business world.
Here Beard and students at Oregon's Chocolate Festival. 

COMING UP: An enterprising Oregon school principal in a low-income venue teaches life skills to be used as students pursue their futures. She uses her hobby -- chocolate making -- as the conduit.  "Sweet Thang" is a rock star! Plus thrills at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  Spring blooms in Ashland, Oregon, fabulous blue cheese from an 80-year old creamery, Ephesus antiquities and more. Christene Meyers shares knowledge and experience -- 69 countries and islands visited and dozens of celebrities interviewed, Tom Hanks to Liza Minnelli -- at www.whereiscookie.com. Remember to explore, learn and live and please share our link.

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