Legal Quandary

Friday, February 25, 2005

Things I Love about Where I Live

I've noticed that things are a little depressing around here. And that I whine far too often about well…everything. Lest you think that I am an unnaturally dour person, I thought I would compose a little post about the things I love about where I live. I got to thinking about it now that we're leaving. Also because today was one of the rare, beautiful, sunny days in February that just make everything seem better! And look - the trees are in bloom!

Blossoms Posted by Hello

Blossoms Up Close Posted by Hello

1. My neighbors. I've never lived on a street where the neighbors were all so friendly and nice. I've already talked about my next door neighbor, H, and the fact that she's practically a saint. This morning she even called my house and asked if she could "borrow" my child all day to play with her daughter. The kids have mid-winter break and EC has been coming to school with me. Poor kid. Anyway, while not quite as saintly, the other neighbors are great too. At least once a year we barricade the street and have a block party. It's a huge potluck, the kids ride their bikes in the street, and everyone hangs around, eating, drinking and talking. Sometimes we'll all pitch in toward a live band, who sets up in one of the larger backyards. One of our neighbors (since moved) is the son of the owner of a local microbrewery. Obviously, he was a very popular neighbor. We also do a block garage sale once a year. Usually the neighbors end up buying all the good stuff from each other.

2. The view. On a sunny day, I can see 2 mountain ranges and 1 volcano. When I park in the cheap student parking lot, I can also see across the water.

3. The stuff to do. We have memberships to the Pacific Science Center and Aquarium - places we like to take the kids to just hang out because we can go as many times as we want. The aquarium isn't as good as Monterey, but it's decent. Also, a trip downtown usually includes a trip to the curiosity shop on the pier. They have some seriously weird shit in there. The Science Center is just awesome. Our membership expires in a couple of weeks and we have a bunch of free IMAX passes, so I think that will be our Friday night entertainment this week. On Sunday, we're going to a matinee of "Singin' in the Rain." Time I should really be spending writing my analytic, but what the hell.

4. My neighborhood. Aside from the fabulous people, my neighborhood has a couple of cool little places. I've already talked about the fantabulous scone café here and here. A couple of doors down from there is a little neighborhood grocery store. I rarely buy groceries there because I can't afford it, but they also do awesome gourmet sandwiches and bake fresh croissants every morning. Plain, chocolate, and apple. I had a plain one for breakfast this morning (the no sugar thing), but chocolate is my favorite. There's also a really popular pizza place at the bottom of our street. This can be a little annoying on the weekends, since people like to park on our street, but they do have really excellent pizza. There's also a park with softball fields, a soccer field, and a playground at the other end of the street. Within walking distance, there's another coffee shop. Their baked goods aren't quite on par with the scone café, but their mochas are better. So it always comes down to whether I'm going to eat or drink. If I'm doing both, the place with the better food wins. Always.

5. The eclectic houses. On my bus ride to and from school, I pass a wide variety of houses. Some of them I like because they're pretty or have attractive landscaping. (I'm always shopping for my next house). Others just have personality. For example, there's one house that's painted a fairly bright pink, with multicolored accents. Instead of looking as tacky as it sounds, it looks like it comes out of a fairy tale - or at least like a gingerbread house. Another house I pass on the way to school is unremarkable in itself, but has this giant hedge out front - trimmed to look like an enormous dog! There's also the apartment building right next to one of the bus stops. It looks like a huge Spanish villa, with wood balconies and inlaid tile on the walls. What a Spanish villa is doing here, I have no idea - but I think it would just be the coolest place to live! My favorite house by far though, is the Carousel house. All along the sidewalk, there are painted carousel horses laid into the cement and brickwork. The house itself has several horses around the outside. Otherwise it's just a beautiful tudor-style house - this way, it really has personality. I'll try to post some photos, because my descriptions just don't do them justice.

6. Lil Q's daycare. I stayed home with Lil Q for the first year, and we hunted for months for a daycare, got on a couple of waiting lists, and were generally stressed out about the whole situation until we visited the one we ended up placing her in and miraculously, they had an opening. The staff is wonderful and loving. A music teacher comes in to sing with them every Monday, and the Tumblebus comes on Thursdays. What the heck is Tumblebus? It's a standard school bus, painted red, but all the seats have been ripped out, and the interior has been replaced with mats and tumbling equipment. They have two "coaches" who help the kids do somersaults and bounce around. When they're done, the Tumblebus drives off to the next location.

7. EC's school. She was in our neighborhood school our first year here. It was awful. We were stuck with a first-year teacher who has the potential to be absolutely fabulous someday, but unfortunately couldn't keep order to save his life. There were days when EC would retreat under her desk because of the chaos in the classroom. Unfortunately, the principal was totally unresponsive, and balked anytime we asked for more challenging homework, a more structured environment, or anything else out of the norm. It was like he was on a personal mission to make the smart kids dumber. We finally got EC tested for the accelerated learning program - and wow - what a difference! Now I drive her to a different school, which sometimes presents logistical challenges, but it's really worth it. The teachers are fabulous and know what they're doing. The principal is supportive. The schoolwork is interesting and challenging. The school offers so many after school programs that EC couldn't participate in all of them, even if she wanted to.

8. The campus. As much as I complain about the law school, I always love walking around the main campus. Beautiful buildings, multiple fountains, a rose garden, an herb garden, and lots of trees. Our campus is known for the blossoms in the spring, but the fall foliage is pretty impressive too.

9. Our church. I know it's not everybody's thing, but going here is what brought me back to the Church because I felt welcomed and accepted. Our parish is a little odd because we don't actually have a full-time priest, but we have a "pastoral life director" who runs the parish. And she is phenomenal. The first time we came to church (it's within walking distance of our house - another bonus), V came up to us immediately after Mass, and introduced herself. Within a week, we were part of the community. After my divorce, I had always felt like the Church didn't want me. V assured me otherwise and encouraged me to attend a group for people considering joining the Church. Which is where I met M, whom I consider to be one of my best friends - as well as one of the smartest people I know. He's since moved to Chicago, but we still keep in touch.

10. The beverages. People here love their coffee. And their beer. Both are usually done pretty well.

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