This post, or at least its title, has been sitting in my "draft" section for a few days now. I was busy trying to find pictures from an earlier era, or get out a new post of my own so it didn't seem like I was just padding content. To hell with it. I have a shout out to make, and it isn't going to wait for the perfect framing device.
Several years ago, though I didn't know it at the time, I was living in paradise. One friend went so far as to name my home "St. John's Wood," in reference to the abundance of trees that stretched out behind my little house. It was a two bedroom, situated on a gigantic lot yet less than two feet away from another little green and white house with similar dimensions. (We got a bigger living room, the other house got a skylight and a rocking back porch. Otherwise it was a push.) Like all things in life, this living arangement wasn't perfect. The homes were poorly insulated, the kitchen was about as big as a walk-in closet, and its proximity to the river caused a strip of our floor from the living room to the bathroom to host a nightly death march of spiders and beetles from 10-2. It was those things that we were focused on (well, that and the less than stellar landlord who liked to park his friends broken cars in our yard along with his construction supplies) when we moved. But-hence the earlier "paradise" remark-there was plenty to recommend this particular property. The backyard had a large firepit, and a ready supply of wood. If you were willing to clamber over an old stone wall you could charge into the woods and find yourself on the Greenbelt, or at least at the off-property neighbor's hammock. A previous resident's freed rabbits gamboled on the lawn, half wild pets that you could enjoy but never had to tend to. During the summer, the yard would get truly overgrown, and for brief moments you could forget you even lived in the city. Hell, even the landlord's negligence was sometimes a positive, as not only was the rule against additional houseguests never enforced, but entire yellow school buses of hippies could come and spend a summer as our guests and it didn't matter. That being said, one of the best parts of living in that house-now burned to the ground so said landlord could make skinny townhomes-I didn't truly appreciate until I didn't have it anymore.
Good neighbors. Now, I don't have issue with my current neighbors; Boy is best friends with the boy next door, and the person directly across the street from me always gives a friendly wave. I'm just not friends with them. The whole class/hobby/age thing has kept me from getting to know any of them, and I'll be the first to admit that it's just as much my fault as it is theirs. But at my last home, things were different. Chelsea and Nate welcomed us from the very start. Of course, it helps that Wife knew Chelsea from before, but she knew her because she had dated one of Wife's best friends. It could have just as easily been akward as it was pleasant. It also helps, I'm sure, that our houses were practically touching-you'd be in for a rough time if you couldn't relate to people in such close proximity. Whatever the factors behind it, we've never had neighbors we got along with in that fashion before or since.
Unsurprisingly, one of the big points of connection between us was food. Nate actually works at a restaurant, and the rest of us-Chelsea, Wife, and myself-are all enthusiastic hobby cooks. They were always offering up leftovers of soups they made or cookies fresh from the kitchen. Not only did I feel comfortable going over to ask for a cup of sugar, but they were the type of people you could actually talk to about what you wanted it for. In addition to movies and the cartoons of the Eighties, food made up the bulk of our conversations.
Then their family began to grow, and the little green and white house didn't quite do it anymore. Several months before we decided that we'd had enough of the marching insects and the ceiling mold the landlord wasn't concerned with they left for a bigger house. We promised to keep in touch, but apart from Facebook it hasn't really happened. It's just the way of life. Boy has chess club and piano practice; I blog and have started going to FNM's. Wife works crazy eleven hour days and then wants nothing more than a glass of Chardonnay and an episode of Bones. The only freinds we really see are those we can get to come to us. But I've missed those conversations. That's why I was so happy when I saw that Chelsea decided to start a blog of her own. I was even more happy to see that she raised the bar by making Turducken for her very first post. So long story short, if you enjoy the food conversation here at "Catfish's Dishes," you might enjoy her conversation as well.
You can go to http://www.tattoosandcookies.blogspot.com/ if you would like to meet the new (virtual) neighbor.