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This Day in My History

2000:  Advice for Tourists
2001:  The World Changed in an Instant
2002:  Come Fly with Me
2003:  If the Shoe Fits, Buy It
2004I've Gotta Be Out of My Mind

2005:  Madam Sheila

"Beijing Opera"

Books Read in 2006
(Updated 9/11)

"Meet the Neighbors"

Meet the Neighbors

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9 October 2006

The City of Davis decided to try an experiment this week to encourage neighborhood cohesiveness.  They sponsored a "meet your neighbors" night.  Representatives of various neighborhoods around the city volunteered to host one of these "meet the neighbors" evenings and the city sent out all the materials necessary to get it going.

We received an invitation from someone who lives across the street, who announced there would be a meet and greet in her carport on a certain night and that people were invited to bring dessert or chairs.  We decided to see who would show up.

I was going to make great things to bring, but I had coffee with my friends Joan and Nancy in the morning and we had such a good time that it was 2:30 before I got home and I didn't feel like going out to the store, so I assessed what I had on hand, checked with the Food Network web site and ended up making brownies a la Emeril Lagasse.

Talk about simple.  Butter, unsweetened chocolate, sugar and flour.  That's it.  You should add walnuts, but since I didn't have any, I threw in some peanuts.  Makes a very dense brownie.  You're supposed to "pour" a frosting over it.  I made the frosting, but it was very stiff, so it didn't so much pour as spread.  But everyone raved about them.

The event was to begin at 6:30 and Walt got home at about that time, so we packed up the brownies and headed across the street.  I wouldn't say it was a huge turnout, but a number of people came. 

* We met Elizabeth who has lived here 10 years and whom I have never seen, much less spoken to.

* We met John, a student who has four roommates and who is studying music, intending to go into musicology and study ethnic music, especially Celtic music.   We talked about Jeri's job at Berklee, about Lawsuit, and about his studies.

* We met the woman who organized the thing.  She's head of the Neighborhood Watch (which we didn't know existed), who has just had a book published and who is going to have a book signing downtown soon.

* We met a couple whom Walt sees all the time, but whom I didn't recognize.  The man and I talked at length about fees for city services — well, he talked and I listened.

And our next door neighbors were there talking about the shame of having students renting houses and how shabby the yards looked and how they should hire someone to keep the front of the house looking good.  It took me back 33 years when they had the same complaint about us and told us that if we couldn't afford a gardener we shouldn't live in the neighborhood.  Lots of water and grass clippings have passed under the bridge since that time.  We seem to be friendly now (we share membership in the "dead children" club, unfortunately, which tends to create an unspoken bond between you), but I'm sure they still cringe when they pass by our rather casually maintained front yard.

The few people in the neighborhood that we actually know weren't there.  "Know" is a relative term, since that means we know their names and that they have been here about as long or longer than we have (we've been here 33 years), and at one time in the distant past we used to speak with each other.

There were representatives of the police and the fire department there.  Apparently there were sixty such parties taking place  around the city and couples from each of the two departments were visiting each party to introduce themselves and answer any questions that anybody might have.  And to eat some dessert.

When we got ready to leave, we filled out tickets for a raffle to be held later (I won't win. I never win.) and were given a "goodie bag" that had been supplied by the city.  "Take two," the hostess encouraged us, saying that there was enough for each person in the family to have his or her own bag.

We came home and I went through my goodie bag which contained a pencil, lots of junk mail, and a magnet with emergency telephone numbers for city departments, along with an emergency preparedness guide.  Almost all of it went into the recycling bin.

It was a nice evening.  Something different to do, and very nice that the city was encouraging us to all get out and meet the people who live around us.   We saw some of our neighbors, whom we may never see again, but perhaps if I see Elizabeth in the supermarket some day, I'll remember that this is a neighbor and smile a bit as we pass in the pasta aisle.


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Our street (our house marked with red "X")


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