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it takes a village

Today was our neighborhood block party. There was lots of food and a bouncy house for the kids, and a makeshift stage for neighborhood musicians, chalk for the kids to draw to their hearts' content and a plant exchange and a map for us to mark neighborhood assets for trade and barter, or neighborhood activities: "Mike and Michelle -- garden with veggies for trade, flowers to share", "Ivy and C -- chicken coop, eggs to barter, cob structure sauna", "Mona -- textiles, music", "Paul and Pete -- carpentry and woodworking, foreign language lessons". Like that.

click to see more picturesBut the main event was the "intersection repair": painting the intersection down the street with a big compass rose design created by a collaboration of neighbors. There were buckets of recycled paint in nine colors and a chalked out design on the street. Everyone brought a brush and spent this gloriously beautiful day painting the hell out of the intersection. Mother Nature herself was completely on board, because she called a temporary stop to the weeks of rain that've put a damper on even the hardiest Pacific Northwesterner's spirits and even intermittently shut down the annual Rose Festival. Until late afternoon yesterday, no one was sure if this long-planned street painting project was going to happen.

But happen it did. With kids running about and a band rocking out in the background. And the end result? Pretty damn awesome.

We stuck around for a bit, but decided to skip out on the evening BBQ even though we'd spent the earlier part of the day making potato salad and cookies for the occasion. We love our neighborhood to itty bitty bohemian pieces, but it was a lot of people, and we already don't get a lot of time together as it is. Plus, with the first nice weather we've had in weeks, our little backyard sanctuary was calling to us.

We were sitting there watching the goings on after the painting was finished, just soaking up the moment and the lovely weather, and Sally said, "Sooo...do you still want to stick around for the potluck?" I grinned. "Do you?" "Not really." I had to hug him at that moment, because that's what you do when someone reads your mind and understands everything without you having to say anything. "Me neither."

So Sally threw a few skewers on the grill and I drizzled some fresh asparagus with a bit of oil and sea salt and pepper, then set the little table on our back porch. While we waited for the coals to get going, we did some trimming of the roses in the back corner and walked around the yard and marveled at how much it's changed in the 8 years we've been here.

Then we kicked back on the porch and talked while we took our time enjoying our dinner -- spicy marinated pork and Thai peanut chicken skewers, my famous dill and vinegar potato salad, and grilled asparagus -- the new star-shaped curtain lights for lighting and the local jazz station on low volume for atmosphere.

Not a bad day. Not a bad day at all.

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