January 27, 2006

Yesterday I waxed nostalgic over our old neighborhood in California, our lovely house, the neighbors and the life we left behind.

In 1985 Tim and I moved from the far northern corner of the state and lived on a rented farm 15 minutes from town. After 2 years of searching we found a Victorian fixer upper, surviving the 1906 earthquake that rocked the entire state with a large back yard, wood stove, and enough room to satisfy. It was downtown, near the turning basin of the inland port. I loved the sound of the horns in the fog, the lights decorating the ships during the holidays, the water and migrating birds. Tim would fish with a buddy in the turning basin, we enjoyed the old fashioned city neighborhood.

We spent our years there repairing what time and other owners sought to tear down. Enduring a frightening chimney fire, several small to medium earthquakes of the ground and many large earthquakes of body and soul.

My son and I dug into the yard like archeologists, sectioning off where the old outhouse had been, finding a barn, the original well for the neighborhood, toys, marbles, bits and pieces of lives long past. Under the house still hung the original back step and plumbing for the first bath on the laundry porch. Tim and I reinstated the bathroom on this porch and found other interesting changes in the structure. Digging deep into the soil we discovered crushed oyster paths from the original gardens. We researched previous owners, finding in them the life of our old house.

Over the years our neighbors became friends; living in the house of her in-laws Dorothy still enjoys her daily walks with her dashund Kathleen and is a hearty 91. Among her memories are those of the Influenza Epidemic, the masks people wore, the carts to carry bodies of the dead pulled by horses passing by at dawn. Mrs. Weed still lives on the corner, as newlyweds she and her husband moved into their lovely bungalow in 1951, the year I was born. Our street was once named Beaver Street, under our house was a waterway, covered over with large tree trunks and tons and tons of rocks and earth. Once these logs rotted caving in swallowing a parking lot blocks from our home.

As I sat enjoying memories of my yard, garden and friends the computer indicated I had mail. My sister Lynn sent me a web-address for sexual predators. Intrigued, I plugged in our current address, and scanned around looking for offenders. I found a few out in the country, far from schools and civilized society, one in our town but we have no school in town. Not so in our old neighborhood in California. Within our old zip code there were no less than 300 offenders, all within reach of neighbors children, teenaged daughters, old ladies and whatever they choose to prey upon. Our neighbors, the ones I miss so much, had told me things had �changed."

I do enjoy certain freedoms here in the midwest, I�m getting used to having few neighbors. People here are friendly. Perhaps one day we will live here long enough to make friends. And Tim and I love our home here with it�s nice big yard.