Friday, November 12, 2010

Easy Cheesy - What's Not To Love?

It was La Querencia’s first Common Meal by the kids! It was George’s idea. After consulting with the parents, who all agreed, George asked for volunteers, got many enthusiastic participants, and the planning began.

The first task was creating the menu. All easily agreed on mac and cheese, chicken, salad and dessert (the last one was easy!). George googled “Easy Mac and Cheese,” and, lo and behold, up popped up a very easy recipe! There are just four ingredients: macaroni, cheese, sour cream and one egg. None of this Kraft box stuff for our community! George proposed ice cream sandwiches for the dessert, and everyone enthusiastically voted for those.

Prep work started yesterday after school, with the kids coming to the Common House to bake cookies. Fortunately, we had an abundance of cookie dough that had been sold to community members by several of the girls for their school’s fund raiser. Armed with ice cream scoops, trays and parchment paper, all took turns scooping the dough onto the paper, putting the trays in the oven and then, not so patiently, watching the cookies bake.

After a break for dinners at their homes, the gang reassembled for the great Ice Cream Sandwich Assembly Project! It got a little messy here and there, as the ice cream melted, but all was completed without a hitch.

George did the grocery shopping while the kids were at school. It was an early dismissal day, so when the kids arrived home, they all trooped down to the Common House to set the tables (34 people had signed up!), and combined the ingredients for the mac and cheese. It was off to play, then, with a return to the Common House at 5:00 p.m. for the finishing touches: filling the water pitchers, putting the salad greens in the salad bowls, putting all these plus the bottles of salad dressing on the tables and sautéing the chicken (already cooked and in bite-size pieces from Trader Joe’s) briefly in olive oil and mixing Trader Joe’s pesto sauce in with it.

Still a half hour to spare before 6:00! Belinda and Lilly, to fill up the time, choreographed a dance to do for dinner entertainment. The girls also practiced taking a group bow to acknowledge the “Three Cheers for the Chefs” that was sure to come from the impressed diners!

Show time! There was a special Chefs’ Table reserved for the crew. The food was hot and delicious, and everybody raved!

It was a fun evening, a great collaborative meal—and one that we’re all looking forward to having happen again!

Submitted by resident Pat L-B
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Thursday, September 23, 2010

A book and a bear, vision realized.

I recall that at one of our first organizational meetings, back in 2004 (I think) we were asked to describe an activity that we would be doing when we were in cohousing. My vision was that I would be sitting on my front porch reading a book to some children.

Well, today, that came true! Ana, Tessa and Elijah wanted to sit on my porch swing with me, so we did. Tessa ran home and brought back a Berenstain Bears book and I read it to them. What a wonderful moment it was for me, and I hope, for them.

From home owner - George

Comments from the cohousing neighbors:
That's the coolest!!
Thanks for sharing George!
What a wonderful grandpa and role model you are:))!
Agreed. We're grateful for your influence on our children. We believe strongly that our children will have a greater development as human beings because of the connections with others, especially adults. So thanks for caring about our kiddo's, it is appreciated.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Weekend Highs

From the Shultz Family Blog - A family living in the Fresno Cohousing Community.

Our last couple of weeks have been busy getting back into the school routine. We are slowly finding our rhythm and discovering the homework load/busy-ness of Clovis schools. We walk to school every morning and really enjoy the time to talk and spend time with the girls. Chris gets to walk with us on Mondays and Fridays and we love doing it as a family. We also walk to school a couple of mornings with our neighbor friend, Lilly. Her brother Sean walks home with us because he is in afternoon Kindergarten.

Weekends are always fun around here in cohousing. There are a bunch of kids to play with. Last Saturday our house was filled with little people! We had my niece and nephew over, and neighbor kids filling the house with laughter and noise. Thankfully they all get along very well.

Read more about their experience in the Fresno Cohousing community

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What A Day in Yosemite!

What a day! Yosemite was perfect in every way: clear weather, comfortable temperature, very little traffic, easy parking, and a great group of cohousing hikers!
We all chipped in for a 15-passenger van that Bryan rented, and Chris and Jen drove their own van with their four girls. One of our 15 couldn’t go at the last minute, so we were a merry band of 20, ranging in age from 18 months to 70 years.
Bev swears she had the best time of all, holding Winnie the Poodle and watching us all, especially the teenagers, stuff ourselves into the van at 7:15 a.m., some awake, some not so. We picked up Mark at his house in Coarsegold and zipped on up to the park.
Rebecca and Bryan planned a great hike that was do-able for all: first to Sentinel Dome, then to Taft Point where we had lunch, and then a finale of Glacier Point—all in all, 5 miles on our boots. Violette had been to Yosemite just once before and had only a fleeting glimpse, so the views for her were spectactular. The young kids did great. Sammy, the 18 month old, was the envy of us all, especially at the end, with her dad, Chris, carrying her in a baby back pack.
We made it all back to Oakhurst for dinner at El Cid’s and then took Mark back to his home. Mark invited us in, and we topped off the day with a whee of a time on the zipline he and Marilyn have installed behind their house!
We headed home, arriving about 12 hours after we started, tired and happy—a great day for being with our neighbors!

Submitted by resident Pat Looney-Burman

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Monday, September 6, 2010

Loving Cohousing

I just love living in cohousing. Here is a glimpse of a morning here in our community:

I wake up to the sun shining through my windows and the geese flying overhead to rest in the ponding basin just behind our community. Getting the girls off to school, I visit with Heidi who has just come in from walking her dogs. Barbara is walking along the pathway and stops to visit as well. Samantha is trailing behind me and decides to stop and say good morning to the dogs. The morning air is finally cool and we feel at ease taking our time and enjoying the fresh air. more

Extracted from the Shultz family blog. Friday August 27, 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Neighborliness Expands the Circle

It's hard to know sometimes how the things we do touch each other - In cohousing, thank you and appreciation abounds. These two "Thank You's" one internally and one to the neighbor next door are good examples I think of cohousing feels different from other "drive into your garage, close the door" communties. Following the "thanks" you'll also find a story reprinted from the Tree Fresno group about a tree planting. Several Fresno Cohousing residents participated.

David Firth (custodian/sextan at the UU church next door) gave me excellent information on how to enlarge type on my iMac desk-top computer, how to send e-mails, make copies, send copies, and how to FAX using my Canon Printer/iMac Computor. Resident Pat M.

Thanks to George, Michael, and Neil, the crafts room got a coat of primer. Thanks to Katie Kelley and Joe Syverson, we now have the first coat of paint, and thanks to Katie and Joe for putting on the 2nd and final coat of paint. Now we can move on to phase 2. Also - Thanks to Sarah, Katie, Joe and Cyndee for helping to haul the recycling ($23 more for the teen room). Resident Bryan S.

Reprinted from the Tree Fresno site

Planting one tree every two minutes may not be record breaking but pretty darn fast. You've got to dig, pull, plant, fill, build a berm, pound the stake, then tie an eight.

That's exactly what our volunteers did on Saturday, June 12. They put 70 trees in the ground in just over two hours at the Fresno Metro Flood Control District stormwater basin on Chestnut, just north of Alluvial. On this beautiful morning, Basin neighbors and volunteers from all over came out to build sweat equity in the 18-acre site. Soon the top one-third of the basin will be seeded with turf and the result will be much like the beautiful basins at Maroa and Herndon, and at McKinley and Weber.

Trees and turf will be watered by an irrigation system which draws water from the basin itself or from the nearby Maupin Canal. Surface water irrigation systems save millions of gallons of potable water each year. This planting was the 12th partnership between Tree Fresno and the
Fresno Metropolitan Flood Control District in a continuing effort to beautify stormwater basins throughout Clovis and Fresno.
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Would Your Neighbor Show Up With a Truck?

Last night, after attending Back to School Night at my son's school, my husband and I went out to our car and it wouldn't start. While waiting for what turned out to be the first of three tow trucks (the auto club dispatcher just didn't seem to believe that we were unable to put this hybrid car with electrical problems into neutral, nor could it be jumped, so we needed a tow truck with a dolly or with "go-jacks". Yes, this is much more than I wanted to know about car towing, too!), my husband called our neighbors Bev and Neil to see if they could be available to drive us home from the car repair place after the car was towed there. Well, they had an even better idea. They both showed up, Bev in her Prius, and Neil driving the small pickup truck that belongs to the community. Members of the community can use the truck to haul stuff, or for occasions like this when an extra vehicle is needed. Neil handed us the keys, both of them said some words of encouragement, and were on their way. We stood there in the twilight, feeling so grateful that we live in cohousing. Posted by resident Lynette Bassman
Editors Note: Neighbors helping neighbors is a wonderfully common theme in cohousing communities. The days where you popped in at a neighbors' house for a cup of sugar are almost only a memory. The exception seems to be the 150 or so cohousing communities across the United States where neighbors are still stopping by to share tomatoes, or beans, cook a meal or wash clothes for someone recovering from surgery or offer a kind word of encouragment. Cohousing is the future of community today.
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hawaiian Marinara, Peach Upside Down... Fit for a Prince and Princess

What’s it like to cook dinner for 35 people? Well, actually it’s not bad—and to be truthful, it’s exhilarating and I’m coming down from a high! George and I cook twice a month (the community expectation is once a month, but we love to cook….), and I feel like this each time after we prepare a community dinner. Tonight we had spaghetti with a special marinara sauce (a recipe I got from a Japanese woman I worked with in Hawaii—go figure!), regular meat balls and veggie meat balls (thank you, Trader Joe’s, for both), tossed salad with veggies from the community garden, hot garlic bread, freshly grated parmesan cheese, and fresh peach upside down cake baked this afternoon by George.

Usually we do a lot of the prep work a day or two before the dinner, but this week our schedules were packed and we just couldn’t do it earlier. I did most of the grocery shopping yesterday on my way home from work and then started in on the sauce this morning around 8:00 a.m. I chopped the garlic and onions here in our house and then took that to the Common House to load into a big pot. Once I got the sauce put together and simmering, I set the tables while George picked the veggies from the garden and made another trip to the grocery store (eight more people had signed up after I had done the initial grocery run—fortunately, TJoe’s is just around the corner!). I showered and went to work, returned home around 3:30 and even got in a 45 minute nap before heading back to the Common House to finish the last minute things. George baked the cakes while I was napping so that they would still be warm when we served them.

Almost everything was ready when people poured in at 6:00 p.m. Michael helped George get the spaghetti in the serving dishes and tossed with olive oil while I ladled out the sauce. Without a shred of modesty, I say that it was all delicious! There were good conversations going on at each of the four tables. George plated the “late plates” for Joe and Heidi before Michael, Cindy, Jenny and Candy took over the kitchen for clean-up. I saw Chris wiping down the tables, even though he wasn’t on the clean-up crew.

People strolled on the walkway after the dinner, chatting. Jeff pulled Kara and Sean in Kara’s wagon, with the two of them looking like the Prince and Princess of La Querencia! The evening light started to fade, and Venus was lit up brightly up in the western sky. The squadrons of geese took off from the ponding basin (our own “Lake La Querencia,”) passing over our houses, with another squadron coming in for a landing. What a sight!

George and I went down to the pool about 8:15 to join a smaller group of residents, ranging in age from 15 months to 81 years old! Four year old Tessa wanted George and me to stand in the pool “right there” so she could swim over to us. Addie urged George to do an underwater flip—and he did! I tried it, too—and couldn’t!

So—that was my day in cohousing—and I know there are more to come! I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Written by resident Pat Looney Burman
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Friday, August 6, 2010

ice cream, wedding & world class soccer

What a great cohousing time it's was, and what a success! Almost everyone turned out for the ice cream and play, and the last people went home about 9:00 p.m.
People probably would have stayed longer, but it got too dark for the kids to play their games on the green lawn.
We had decorations up congratulating Jeff and Lisa on their marriage and had
a card signed by community.
The kids had an impromptu soccer game. Everyone played from the very little ones to Don Gaede and Bev and Neal's 18 year old grandson all playing together.
Wish you could have been here!

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ice cream social... yummy!

A child plays in the front yard or grassy area with an older youth, while a parent or two or three neighbors casually gather to converse on a front porch. Generally there is a bit of a breeze. That breeze transports curry or basil, garlic or orange blossoms and the occasional swallow tail or variety of hummingbird across the yards. Yards are filled with Yarrow, Coral Bells, and Lavender, Artichoke, Basil, Peaches, Kiwi and Grape. A goose or two (or thirty) can be heard at the pond behind the houses, greeting their friends, or leading a gaggle of new chicks to water. If the day isn't too hot a friend or two will be collecting tomatoes, beans or potatoes or tending to a weed or two in the vegetable garden. The veggies will likely find themselves served up in some delicious community meal later that day, and nourishing the families.

There is plenty of work to be done, a new craft room requires some paint, a floor needs sweeping, a toy or two placed out of the stepping areas. All seem to be accomplished with quiet respect of sharing responsibility with others. Most often from a place of appreciation - for the homes, the neighbors, the quality of life.

Perfect? Heck no... there is the occasional conflict - talked out. The occasional misunderstanding - clarified. The occasional desire to be alone - respected.

When the weeds are all pulled (and often when they are not) there is a delicious, often amazing meal, simple and satisfying - shared with friends.

Some days there is a movie to share, a picnic and concert to attend and even delicious batches of homemade ice cream to try. All in all it's a really good life.
Visit us Sunday from 1-3pm

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Today, one of our elders passed away.

Posted with permission from Tierra Nueva Cohousing community.

Today, one of our elders passed away. Tierra Nueva Cohousing has had other elders cross over in our early days, but Ken has been with us for our entire 12 years of living here. He was a staunch purveyor of World Peace, always bearing witness in any discussion involving conflict, as an advocate for peace. The children of Tierra Nueva adored Ken, as he was fond of reading them stories in our Common House library. Today, a table in the Common House has a photograph of Ken reading to young Aiden, who shared the same birthday, surrounded by roses from our cutting garden.

I was baking bread this morning, just adding flour to the sponge and could see outside my window a tender scene. Ken's wife was being hugged and held on the pathway, by another neighbor. This touched me so deeply. A simple gesture that says so much about why community is important. Why we do the difficult work of relationship. To be here for one another no matter what. To be present for one another through thick and thin, through both joyful times and times of grieving.

This is how a community's heart beats.

ps: something that I thought of later today, about Ken, I saw Ken every morning (their home is very near ours) as he walked to the mailboxes to pick up his newspaper. Very often I was out in our yard gardening. Whenever he passed by I would say "Good morning, handsome!" and he would light up with a big smile. And like clockwork he would reply "Good morning, beautiful!" And every time he said it, I believed him. What a gift.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Community continues to nurture the garden

Thanks to Violette along with Sean and Lilly who helped to fill a new raised bed with topsoid and compost. We then planted lots of sweet pepper plants and a sunberry plant. We also mulched the new plants with hay.

Thanks to Jenny who comes out every morning to help me water the garden beds.

We had a truckload of base rock and a truck load of compost delivered yesterday.

The day before Bryan and Valerie picked up 3 bails of hay so all the new plantings can be mulched. This will help keep the soil moist during the days of baking sun and drying winds.

Just before the rain we also scattered cover crop seeds/beans out by the west fence. We will put the plants to work to enrich the soil so it can be planted in the fall. There are black-eyed peas, fenugreek, and cilantro.

Thanks to everyone for eating the lettuce. Remember to leave an inch or two above the base/core to give it a chance to grow back. It may get too hot for some of them to grow back, but there are a few heat resistant lettuce varieties that might produce through the summer if we are lucky. The new raised beds have mesclun mix sprouts already. There are 14 different plants in that lettuce mix. Once they look like baby plants they can also be harvested, again by snipping the leaves but leaving the roots and core behind. That way they will grow back and keep on giving.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Joining neighbors - feeling good

We had a good work day on Saturday, thanks to a lot of people, including Scott, Julia, Lynette, Jenny, Susan, Violette, Ruth, Valerie, Rebecca, Bryan, George B, Pat, and probably more!

My opinion: being part of a Saturday landscape crew is an ESSENTIAL part of the cohousing experience. Joining your neighbors while working out the fresh air and making your community more beautiful --it's a feeling obtained no where else, and if you havent done it, you're missing something good.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

enjoy the garden video

enjoy the garden

So progress in the garden marches on

A big thanks to Jeff for filling in the space between the small raised beds with base rock and filling the large raised beds with top soil.

Thanks to Dr Don for mowing the weeds along the west fence and to Jenny for planting her tomatoes along the north fence. George pulled some enormous weed roots. Joe and Sean smashed some pumpkins to add to the compost.

Bryan diligently worked on the irrigation both Saturday and Sunday.

The herb spirals are planted. The tomatoes survived the rain and wind.

The plea for help is to have someone water the non-irrigated garden beds. The best time to do that as the weather gets hot is early in the morning. As soon as the irrigation is complete it will be automated. I would just need help on the days I go to work, which is Mon-Fri and call weekends. Hopefully the irrigation will be done by my next call weekend.

Please let me know if you are free to help me with that chore. I will show you the place that need watering.

There is lots of lettuce in the long beds ready to eat before they bolt or turn bitter. There is also red Russian kale, spinach, and chard. The herbs in the herb spiral are newly transplanted, but should be ready for use soon.

Spend some time enjoying the garden



Monday, April 26, 2010

Carlos Reynosa and Lance Canales in Concert

Saturday May 1, 2010, 7:30 pm Carlos Reynosa and returning guest artist Lance Canales
In a House Concert

LaQuerencia (Fresno Cohousing) Common House 2658 E. Alluvial (between Chestnut & Willow). Suggested Donation $15.00 ~ Limited Seating Available. For Information or Reservations: Lorenzo at (559) 367-9528

The Recordings of Carlos have reached across the World on Film, TV Radio & Net. The Passion of his flutes have touched many at his live performances...

Lance Canales

Monday, January 25, 2010

LaQ on ABC Channel 30

The story was covered by ABC Channel 30 La Querencia Residents Explain Sustainable Living

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno, Green Sanctuary and Adult Religious Education Committee sponsored Community Building as a Model for Sustainable Living on Sunday, January 24. Guests learned about how cohousing models a sustainable way of life not just by considering well-accepted environmental concerns such as energy efficiency, but also by cultivating an atmosphere of trust, and nurturing a sense of belonging.

Guest Speakers were Katherine McCamant who has designed and developed dozens of cohousing communities and is the architect of the UU Church of Fresno, a LEED Certified church and Jim Leach of Wonderland Hill Development Company, a full-service real estate development company that partners with cohousing groups to address the growing demand for cohousing.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Joe in Youth Symphony makes the magazine

Fresno Scene magazine (the one that featured La Q last month) has a cover-story about the Fresno Youth Philharmonic Orchestra this month:

Joe even shows up in the photos! (page 9 online page 7 hard copy).


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Garden 2010

How does this sound? Get more physically fit in the great outdoors, boost your self esteem by accomplishing a task that benefits yourself and your community, decrease your carbon footprint by growing your own food and thus eliminating the fossil fuel requirements of food processing and transportation. All of this adds up to working to be more healthy and enjoying the benefits of your efforts.

We will be receiving a delivery of base rock tomorrow to put down paths in our community garden. Tomato, eggplant and sweet pepper starts are doing their thing on the window sill.

Next weekend is 3 days long for many of us. What a great opportunity to dig out the planting areas to grow our own food this year. There will be tasks for all levels of physical strength, age, time restrictions, dirt phobia, and familiarity with gardening.

Next season's garden has the potential to be beautiful, bountiful, and to make us greener and healthier.

Please harvest TODAY: heirloom cutting lettuces, carrots, beets, celery

What we have to look forward to: spinach, chard, tomatoes, eggplant, sweet peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, popcorn, summer squash, winter squash, melokhiya, herbs, heat resistant greens (spinach substitutes), ground cherries, grains, capers, sunberries. And much more. A mix of perenials and annuals so we can have food crops growing year round. We are blessed to live in a climate that supports the ability to have our own sustainable garden.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Holiday Activites

Much happened over the recent few weeks - Starting with a breadmaking class, followed a week later by a cookie exchange in the morning of LaQ folks then a lunch for a large group from our new neighbors the Buddhist Church - two doors down. A week later there was a Holiday Open House, then Christmas Day Potluck, and New Year's Day a Polar Bear Plunge into a 50 degree pool - followed fortunately by hot cocoa and a dunk in the hot tub. This Saturday there will be a Lance canales concert(tickets are still available) Steve and Cindy Concert (tickets on sale now) movie nights, more dinners and so many fun things you won't want to miss any of it!

See the photos on our flkr site & the plunge video on YouTube - plus of course the brief account of the events here - Enjoy! Don't forget to Stop By any Sunday between 1-3 to see the houses and the community and have a very Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Bread Making
I just got home a few minutes ago and got down to the CH for the Tasting
Section of the workshop. Wow--what bread! Pat

Holiday Open House
That truly is one of the best, most joyous holiday parties I've ever been to! Thanks to Don Gaede for this terrific idea. I hope this was the "First Annual," and that we'll continue with Second Annual, Third Annual, etc.

We're sitting in the Sacramento Train Station now (with free wi-fi--yaaay!), waiting for the Zephyr to Denver. Thank you, Bryan, for the early morning ride to the Fresno station. Everything has been on time so far.

Back to the party: our dog-walking friends that we see when we take the boys and girls out walking were totally impressed with our community last night. As they left, Jan said they had lived in Napa for almost 30 years and had never had a connection with their neighbors like we have.

So many thanks to all--Joe, our violinist, the accordion play from Don, all the people who set up, cooked, opened up their homes, greeted people, cleaned up--it was one of my most memorable and enjoyable times in cohousing!. This is what it's all about! Happy holidays to you all! Pat and George

More on Holiday Party
It takes a Village to raise a child and it takes lots of LaQ Villagers to put together a fantastic Holiday Open House!. Got some more people to thank:
Candy, and Barbara Cutright for helping with the Common House decorations. Mary, Candy, and Jenny for organizing the Cookie exchange. Barbara Cutright, Joe, Ana, Ruth, Lilly, Sean, and Emma for making the Paper Candy Canes and using them as CH decorations. Mary and Susan for taking on cleaning up and organizing the Children's room (looks wonderful. Christmas Elves who cleaned up after the party (these are only some of the names I could remember ) Bev, Bryan, Mary and Jared... It was so much fun, Thank you Don and Jenny for your wonderful ideas :) - Violet, for the social committee.

A big THANK YOU to all who helped out last night to make it a BIG success!
Kudos to Joe Syverson (the next Joshua Bell??), Violet and Mary and their helpers for decorations; Susan, Scott and their crew for preparing the common house; all those who opened up their homes; all those who brought snacks to the common house; and the Christmas elves (you know who you are) who cleaned up the common house after the party. Way to go, everyone!

Don Gaede

Polar Bear Swim
We had our first LaQ Polar Bear Swim (George's idea) around noon today, and you can see the brave souls that did it. Fortunately, we had our cheering section as well, and Violette brought out hot chocolate for all of us. The pool temperature was
50 degrees! The Syverson family went in twice, and Scott came running in at
the end, while we were all in the hot tub. Pat