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.
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