I often marvel at how sweet and small-townish our neighborhood feels to me. Kids have a lot to do with it. There were very few children at Sea Ranch; we had no -- zee- ro -- trick-or-treaters the entire time we lived there, and Christmas was a whirl of cocktail parties and potlucks, plus a fast hour of caroling in the old barn. Pleasant, but definitely an adult holiday in its observance. Before that, in Berkeley -- much as I love the place -- there was (and, I assume, still is) an element of cool and political correctness that encouraged solstice celebrations and the recognition of Chanukah, Kwanzaa and other alternative observations, but not the whole Santa Claus, reindeer, snowman, red-and-green, go-for-it aesthetic that Jer and I see on our morning walks about the 'hood.
I answered the door three times today. First, Maddy and Hannah (I think I have the names right), who live up the street. Hannah's in the middle single digits; let's say 6 -- I'm bad (but getting better) at guessing kids' ages. Maddy's a gangly pre- or early adolescent (12? 13?) whom we met at the block party last summer. It was her idea, that day, to get all the kids to lie down in the street in creative poses and have someone else trace them in colored chalk. We admired their work the next morning; it was like CSI Eastmoreland.
Anyway, today the two of them were collecting for the Oregon Humane Society. They had a homemade donation box. Maddy did the spiel -- it didn't take much to convince me to contribute (again) to that particular cause -- while Hannah sang Christmas carols, consulting a lyric sheet but singing con brio. Maddy's braces were red and green. How do they do that? Will she do yellow and purple for Easter?
An hour or so later, another knock. It was Joseph, the older of the two boys from up the street. I hope I have that right; Lewis is the younger, if I remember correctly (always a dubious assumption), but it's hard for me to tell the brothers apart when they're not together. I'm sure old people all look alike to them. He was bearing a cookie tin -- "Bearing" is the word; he held it out, on flat palms, an offering. I oohed and thanked him but he stayed at the doorway, expecting something. "Um, do you know what it is?" he asked. "I'm guessing cookies. Did your Mom bake 'em?" "Yep, and my brother and me." I realized afterwards, dang, I should've opened the box while he was there. It was quite an array. Among other things, lemon bars, chocolate chips, those confectioners' sugar-covered balls that're either pecan puffs or Mexican wedding cookies or maybe pfeffernuse; we'll find out soon... Thanks, Lanell, Hans, Lewis and Joseph!
The third knock was from the UPS guy. I'd ordered a new iron after reading about it on the QuiltArt list. Happy holidays, Reva. I'm not going to mention the brand name here; you can discern it if you click on the photo. It does the coolest thing (okay, we're talking about an iron here, but still); it senses your touch on the handle and lowers into business mode; otherwise, it rises up onto retractable feet (with a cute little R2D2-ish sound that one might find annoying before getting used to it) to keep from scorching. Bottom line, it's happy resting horizontally, so much more stable on the ironing board, don'tcha know, which is important to someone who's sent an iron toppling to the floor on more than one occasion. Plus, it steams in 3 or 4 different modes, and it's just so cute. It looks like a cross between a first-generation iMac (the Bondi blue one, before they offered a choice of strawberry, blueberry and other fruit flavors) and a high-tech running shoe. It ships with an adorable little watering can, skinny and elegant, that's one of the most satisfying utilitarian shapes I've ever encountered (Excuse me while I drift off into one of my fantasy lives as an industrial designer...).
Ahem. I'm back. And I can't believe I'm rhapsodizing about a f*#@ing iron. Maybe I really am living in Mayberry.