Good neighbors and good eggs

August 31st, 2009

Dahilas 1Seventeen years ago this week we moved from Boston to Portland, Oregon, a place we’d never even visited before.  We’d had it with the East Coast rat race — not to mention a two-hour commute each day — and were ready to light out for the territories.

We’ve never looked back.

We landed in a ’50s ranch tucked away in a quiet little neighborhood ten minutes from downtown.  From my kitchen window I can see my neighbor’s barn and tidy home, part of the original dahlia farm from which our small subdivision was fashioned.  I was reminded of this last night when my husband and I took our dog for a walk.  It was twilight, and suddenly the air was alight with swallows.  We stood and watched them dipping and wheeling in their graceful airborne dance.  Then just as suddenly, they were gone.

Swallows’ Haven Farm is long gone, too, but my neighbor honors its memory by growing dahlias of her own.  Come winter, she’ll dig up the tubers and store them in the original bulb house with its wall lined with wooden drawers, but now, in late summer, her garden is alive with color.  She plants dozens of varieties and produces dazzling bouquets, many of which, like this one on my breakfast table this morning , make it across the back fence to our house.  So do vegetables of all varieties, and now that she’s added her own flock of chickens, so do fresh eggs.  It’s like having our own private farmer’s market. 

Her chickens arrived just as we were saying goodbye to ours (see my related post “End of an era“), so the eggs have been especially welcome.  I bake fresh bread each week for my family, and I give her a loaf in exchange for a dozen.  It’s an arrangement that makes everybody happy. 

But then, who wouldn’t be happy, living next door to such a wonderful neighbor — and such a good egg?

Hello, Portland!

August 27th, 2009

Let me arrange a movie date for you

August 25th, 2009

ArrangedHow did I miss this film?  A friend tipped me off, and I’m so glad she did.  I just watched it on Netflix (that cool instant streaming feature) and even though it’s nearly midnight I’m ready to sit right down and watch it all over again. 

Yes, it’s that good.

Suffused with rare insight, intelligence, and heart, it’s an exquisitely acted story of two young teachers — one an Orthodox Jew, the other a Muslim — who find unexpected common ground in the world of arranged marriages that their separate cultures embrace.  Oh, and it’s funny, too.  Skip the latest explosion-filled megadud at the cineplex and watch this sweet gem instead.

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