Keep Those Tiny Hands off Women’s Bodies, Literally and Politically!

via Daily Prompt: Particular

I am concerned with one particular facet of The Rump’s attack on healthcare, not only on the masses in general, but on women specifically:

Because ALL politics are personal.

Why this item specifically?  Why women’s health issues specifically?

The Rump shows absolutely no empathetic ability, and this blindness can only lead to personal disasters and unnecessary death, literally and/or mentally, of women all over the United States of America.  Actually, this is a particular threat to women who live in those areas that are not well-served by health clinics that provide all manner of health services to women, like Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood ( has been, and continues to be, a staunchly pro-woman organization.  Of course, this irks The Rump without end, because it is an example of women using their brains to lead their lives, instead of living at the beck and call of assholes like our current Rapist-in-Chief.

It’s no wonder that people have become, on the whole, less tolerant and more outspoken against the rights of anyone who is not white (of Northern European stock), male (even if only because he possesses -what one can only assume is- a miniscule penis), and wealthy (even if only materially, though we all know The Rump is intellectually and morally bankrupt).

The current political climate has brought out previously closeted bigots, whether their unfounded sense of superiority is due to their sex, race, or income.  Fortunately, there are also well-heeled and rational people like Steve Mollenkopf, CEO at Qualcomm, who walked in the PRIDE Parade in San Diego in 2015 (I don’t know if he’s walked in others, but I remember seeing him on that particular rainy morning).

Well, I suppose I can take some comfort in the notion that many of the followers of The Rump are, unequivocally, dying out as his generation passes.  However, I know that there are those, in my generation and even among current young adults (who have grown up in –flyover?– territory where prejudice is rampant) who will carry their personal insecurities to the extremes personified by The Rump.  And that does, indeed, give me pause.




Damp Weather calls for Fungi

via Daily Prompt: Mushroom

It’s a cool, grey, damp day, and I’m inside with my cup of coffee, observing the balcony’s wood turning a darker shade of brown and the thankless trees whom I finally watered yesterday after an all-too-long drought…

I’ve got some mushrooms in the fridge:  portobella and crimini.  I have about a pound of mushrooms, which is not quite enough to make soup, so I shall go to buy more today in order to make mushroom and leek soup tonight for dinner. I will make soup with the mushrooms, my remaining leeks, and some of the remainders of a sack of potatoes that need eating.  A nice winter’s night is good for soup.  I might even feel inspired to bake bread to accompany the soup, too.  We’ll see how productive I feel.  I want to use the biga for something, as it’s been chilled and awaiting use (to make a tasty bread) since March (I’ve used some of it, so it’s not the full 10 ounces that I started with, so I suppose I can supplement it – “feed it” – and then allow it to continue fermenting for even later use).

K has Band practice tonight.  It’s their last chance to run through their field show before the southern California high school band final competition of the season/year (SCSBOA).  I watched their last run-through last night.  It was good.  I admit, I’m not one for the regimented regularity of these formations based on military precepts, but it was good to see something in which Kat’s really invested herself, along with hundreds of other kids (the band – with its color guard – contains about 225 members).  Since Brian decided to bow out of attending tomorrow, I will be driving up by myself to Citrus College, where the field shows will be performed.  There is a marching portion of the competition, as well, but marching is, well, marching – walking in formation with fixed-length strides.  A little too regimented for me.  The field show comes ever so slightly closer to dance, and while I’m not a huge fan of dance as performance, it’s a little more acceptable as a form of potential entertainment…


… And Now for Something Completely Different… Or Maybe Not So Much

via Photo Challenge: Experimental

I’m a BIG fan of experimental cooking and baking.  I rarely follow a recipe verbatim, even on the very first go-around.  There’s just so much that come come out of trying things out, even if only just a little bit differently from the original.

For instance, the first time I prepared shepherd’s pie (I prepared this just the other night, substituting sweet potatoes for regular spuds), I mashed cauliflower as the topping.  It came out really deliciously.  I’ve also made small changes to lots of recipes, including substituting cardamom for cinnamon in biscuits (YUM) and adding cinnamon to curry recipes (YUM, again!).  Of course, I make my substitutions usually with the knowledge of how each spice or flavoring behaves and interacts with the other flavors/ingredients in various dishes.

Of course, there have also been major FAILS, such as when I tried to create lemon-flavored meringues by adding lemon extract to the egg whites prior to beating, not realizing that the extract was, in large part, lemon OIL, which, as all oils will, disables the albumen’s ability to whip up properly…

But my growing knowledge of culinary tips and tricks has enabled me, thus far, to create both sweet and savory items that have been really wonderful to eat (even if I do say this myself).

I encourage others to experiment in their cooking, as well, for what is there to lose?  At most, it’ll be an entire pot of stew which goes to waste (and yes, I’ve done that, too, like when I tried using banana as a substitute for coconut in a curry when I was still in architecture school.  Ugh – talk about MAJOR FAIL!

Fruits are good substitutes for each other, especially berries (though I tend to shy away from berries/fruits with too many tiny seeds which can ruin the texture of almost any dessert)…  My favorite substitution is blueberries for just about *any* other berry, but that’s probably because I simply love blueberries, whether dried, turned into jam, fresh, or frozen.

I’d love to hear how others experiment with their culinary vocabularies, and invite others to share recipes they’ve created by making simple or even more intricate substitutions in existing recipes.  But What I’d love even more is if people send me original recipes, because I LOVE trying new recipes and foods!  Please do so in the comments below!  Thank you.

That Tune Sounds Familiar

via Daily Prompt: Riff

Ah, an often repetitious accompaniment to a solo piece.  Potentially a shortened form of the word refrain, which makes sense to me.  Since I have very little musical talent (my performance in the art was limited to singing in the choir in middle- and high school), it’s not a phrase I use in terms of my own actions, at least not in its more literal sense.  The way that I’ve been able to use the word is in the form of taking a version of a theme and playing with it, so that it serves to describe the solo itself more than the accompaniment.

Unfortunately (for me), it doesn’t even conjure similar words for me, being a more or less slang for another word that I don’t use often in my day-to-day (or even occasional) speech.

However, what I can write about is what I am planning to prepare for dinner this evening.  I am inspired by two things:  ground lamb and sweet potatoes are both on special this week at Harvest, so I picked up a pound of meat and a few large sweet potatoes.  I plan to make shepherd’s pie, using, instead of mashed russets, mashed sweet potatoes, to which I will add butter, fresh rosemary, and (if I can get it in time) parsley.  The ground lamb I will sauté with crushed garlic, fresh chopped rosemary, and diced onion and carrots (I saved a few carrots from last night’s dinner).  On the side, I will steam some sugar snap peas, though I’m considering adding either roughly chopped portobellas or quartered criminis to the peas (to add a little more depth) and sautéing them in olive oil with some crushed garlic.  And I won’t forget to add salt (horrible things occur when the salt is left out of just about anything, esp. baked goods) to each part of the dish.

I won’t give a full recipe, since it’s not an altogether difficult casserole to prepare.  But after sautéing and layering everything in the casserole dish, I’ll dot the top with bits of butter, then cover on the dish and bake it in a 350°F oven for a half hour before removing the lid and baking for an additional 5-10 minutes.  After taking it out, I’ll set it aside to cool for 5-10 minutes before scooping out servings into wide bowls, spooning some of the peas and mushrooms onto the side.

I cannot make the recipe Thyme Gougères (even though I really, really like them) because I’d used all of my thyme in a previous recipe, so I am thinking about making brioche, though the day’s a bit cool for it.  I still have a jar full of biscotti and sticky triangles of baklava in the fridge waiting to be warmed up and served, as well as some two-tone persimmon pudding that needs eating, so perhaps I’ll wait to bake any more until these are consumed.

So I will study.

Don’t Mind Me, I’m New at This

via Daily Prompt: Neophyte

I am a willing potential neophyte for recreational games of the board- and card- types, as well as the deductive-reasoning puzzle-like variety, though I admit, I’m much better when knowing what’s in front of me (like a hand of cards) and learning games that have an element of random chance.  I like working out probabilities, not as an exact science (I was never much for probability, because the odds are always against me, and statistics really have nothing to do with Math).

The word itself, neophyte, reminds me of another word epiphyte, which came up in this morning’s conversation I had with Peter after we ate the breakfast burritos he’d cooked up.  I was considering buying and growing a couple epiphytes in my living room, hopefully training them as vines around an 8′ height, as the living room, opposite the dining area, which occupies the elbow between the living room and kitchen, has a vaulted ceiling that goes up to probably twelve feet at its peak at the wall between the living room and the dining “elbow.”  I’d still need to be able to feed it, which means I’d need to put it in a container to hold water to which I’ve added nutrients, or I can try dipping/spraying the plant occasionally to keep it moist enough to grow.

Hmmm…  I’ll need to keep thinking about how to actually make this work.  It’s not easy having a North-facing balcony in the upstairs northeast unit of a multi-resident building.  Peter said I should be able to grow all kinds of herbs on my balcony, since many don’t like direct sunlight, so I may dig out some seeds that I’ve had for years now and actually try germinating them in my kitchen before setting them out on the balcony if/when they sprout.

In the meanwhile, I’ve been in the kitchen.  I’m happy with my two-tone persimmon pudding (recipe from the NYTimes), which came out very well, especially considering the fact that I initially half-dropped it into the pot in which I was steaming it and splattered some of the batter onto the side of the perforated insert while trying to ease it in with my three-fingered grabber.

Well, I’ve wilted about 6 oz. of spinach, which is now waiting to have added to it onion, nutmeg, and feta to become the filling of something that’ll be good to eat.  What kind of pastry do I want to use for it, though?  I suppose I could go the easy route and make a flan, just beating some eggs and yogurt together to make the custard.  Seems simple enough.  I think I will go that route, then.  I’ll prepare it for breakfast of brunch tomorrow, as I’m meeting Judith to go canvass in her neighborhood for the San Diego Democratic Party, aiming to register any new voters and having conversations about the issues that impact them most, personally, financially, politically.  Hopefully, it’s going to be another gloriously sunny day like today, not too hot and not cold.

Be Careful, There

via Daily Prompt: Gingerly

Hearing that awful SNAP, the accompanying immediate numbness that will dissipate into pain, it’s almost like an out-of-body-experience, in a way.  I balance my weight onto my right hand, which had slid along the asphalt, picking up loose debris and the remnants of oil that had dripped from some car’s engine.  Parking lot pavement is just not the place to take a spill…

Thinking about what just occurred, and how utterly ridiculous it sounds, I can hear my own voice describing the scene to my friend, whom I’m supposed to meet for breakfast.  I gingerly raise myself up onto my knees, then take the money from my left hand with my right.  Is it possible for me to drive myself to an urgent care facility, or should I go to an ER?  It could be an emergency, but there’s nothing life-threatening about breaking a limb.  Just damn uncomfortable.

This brings to mind the occasion when I was a little girl, probably about four or five years old.  I fell off my bed, dislocating my (well, what do you know?) left shoulder.  I remember my sister walking with me, with one arm firmly holding me against her side, my loose arm held against me.  I don’t remember, but I think it took only a day or so for my shoulder joint to be functional again, even if it was not healed completely.  It was returned to a functioning joint, and that was what mattered.  I treated it gently for a few days, then it was back to my regular activities…

Well, it’s not the time to reminisce.

I walk into the supermarket and approach the only cashier on duty.  She turns her head, her straight hair ranging from bright bleached blonde to a dark brown that’s actually darker than my nominally-black-but-not-quite  hair.  Her puts her hand to her mouth and, with wide eyes, points a finger, and tells me, “Wait a second.”  She picks up the phone next to the register and pages the manager, who comes out of the office.  He takes one look at me and puts out his hand to guide me into the office, where I can sit while waiting for the paramedics.  My phone, which is in the front right-hand pocket of my jeans, vibrates, indicating an incoming call.  I pinch it out between my thumb and index finger.  Strange.  It occurs to me that it’s a strange sensation, feeling the rough broken edge of bone against the broken skin.  The phone stops vibrating.  My arm is starting to swell.  I feel a bit faint, but am aware enough to listen to the manager as he gives the address of the store to whomever answered the phone.  He offers me a drink of water, which sounds good to me because all I’ve had to drink this morning is a couple cups of coffee.  He leaves me alone for a minute to fetch some water (though I wonder if he’s going to bring me a cup or a bottle).

He returns with a bottle of generic water.  He twists it open and holds it for me to take.  I take it in my right hand (I’ve put everything down on the manager’s desk) and take a few sips.  The manager says that he hopes that they’ll get here soon to take me to the ER, because even though I’m not bleeding profusely, I’ve apparently become quite pale.  “Do you want to lie down?” he offers.  There isn’t really a place to lie down.  I recline in the chair as much as I can, sliding my butt forward on the seat, closing my eyes.

I am awakened by voices.  The paramedics have arrived.  One of them, a youthful man with a beard, asks me if I think I can walk, or if they should bring a wheelchair.  I think I can walk, I say.  I try to rise from the chair, but I half-fall back down onto my butt, rocking the chair backward slightly.  The second paramedic (slightly older than the first) wheels in a chair, and the two of them lift me into it.  Handing me my keys and wallet, one gives me a towel to place around my left arm while the other pushes me out of the office and out the automatic sliding door to the awaiting ambulance.

I’ve only ever ridden in an ambulance once before, and that was very early in my pregnancy, after I became ill at my favorite tapas restaurant in Washington, DC. (it’s actually the only tapas restaurant I know in DC).  I didn’t vomit, but it felt like I had a really bad case of food poisoning.  It was embarrassing for my as-yet-unborn daughter’s father, to have his date taken out of the restaurant curled up on a wheelie bed.  He rode in the back of the ambulance, looking around, taking in the scene.  He didn’t bother taking my hand.  We were not that kind of couple.  In fact, we were really hardly a couple at all.  It was a one night stand that just continued on and on…  At the hospital, I went into the bathroom, and I must have lost a few pounds in there, sitting on the toilet!  After getting it out of my system, I returned to the single bed.  My daughter’s father looked around the room, taking in the scene.  Maybe he was planning to write a play and needed to be able to recreate the trip in an ambulance and a hospital scene.  But, no.  I think he was just avoiding looking at me.  Earlier that evening, he’d said to me, “You know, we could eat out like this a lot more if you get an abortion.”

I ask the paramedics if they can take me to the university health center where my GP’s office is.  It’s actually the nearest one, so they oblige.  I am taken to the two-story all-metal-and-glass-paneled building across the street from my GP’s office building, a two-story building made of light tan brick.  They wheel me in, and, while one of them wheels me to an examination room, the other checks in at the desk.  Well, not really a room, but a curtained-off area at the rear of the large room we came in.

I find Lisa in my contacts list and phone her.  She’s surprised at the reason I cannot make it to breakfast, and offers to come to bring me home from the urgent care facility, where the paramedics left me in the hands of the center staff.  “I was wondering where you were,” she says, “Do you need me to bring you anything?”

Well, what I really want is my car, because right now it’s sitting unattended in the parking lot.  I suppose it’ll be fine for a few hours while I sort this out.  “No, thanks.  I’ll ask someone to fetch it later, if I don’t come myself to get it.”

“Okay,” she says, “I hope you feel better!”

The song starts in my head:  “Miss Otis regrets she’s unable to lunch today, madam…”

The doctor pulls the curtain aside and says, “Not a great morning, is it?”

“No,” I answered, “I was just about to grab some milk to bring home before meeting my friend for breakfast.”

“Well, we’ll take a couple X-rays, get it set, and then you’ll be free to go get your milk.”

I’m not thinking about milk right now.  Opening a cabinet door in the wall, a nurse pulls out an X-ray machine on an arm!  First, she places a very heavy  “smock” of sorts over my head onto my shoulders, so that it covers my body.  She goes back to the machine in the cabinet.  Extending its arm, she pulls it over, then places a metal plate between my arm and my now-protected body.  She takes a few steps away, and I hear the high-pitched buzz of the X-ray shooting its beams through my arm.  Next, she places the plate under my arm, and shoots a picture of the arm from above.  Then she puts the machine away, takes the lead vest off me, and leaves.

The doctor returns.  I only notice now that there’s a computer on a small table with wheels.  He logs in, brings up a menu, then angles the screen so I can also see it.  Bringing up the images of the X-rays, he lets out a little whistle.  “Lucky you.  It should go back together pretty easily.  I’d give it probably four to six weeks.  Are you right-handed?”
“Yes,” I reply, relieved, “Hey, I want to be awake while my arm is set.  Can you just numb my arm so I can watch?”

[Well, that’s enough for now]

Daily Prompt: Panacea

via Daily Prompt: Panacea

I have never thought there was a panacea for the many challenges that face me as a human being living in our current age of quickly advancing technologies and the spread of (mis-)information both about and through these technologies.

I have access to and have established a means for disseminating my opinions through this particular venue.  Even with as few readers as I can only assume I have, it is an opportunity for me to reach out to others to make my views, as (un-)popular as they may be, known, in the hopes of persuading others to (at least) reconsider their own opinions.

I also use this medium to disseminate factual information:  recipes, for the most part, for that is an area in which I (feel I) have a solid ability to create, based on what knowledge I’ve of the chemistry of cooking and baking, as well as knowing how to incorporate the flavors and textures I enjoy employing.

The rapid dissemination of technological information is no panacea, but it distributes knowledge which can, incrementally, improve the lives of those with access to it.  A concrete example of this is the stent in my aorta.  It’s made of reinforced Kevlar.  The torn layers of tissue were able heal under less stress than they would have had the blood been allowed to continue its outward pressure on the blood vessel.  The aorta may have, and could have, ruptured, causing a lethal loss of blood, ending my time in this universe.  Some would call this a miracle, and perhaps it is, though the cause of the need for the repair was also something that came about as the result of technology, though a more primitive one.

The internal combustion engine is an old (OLD!) technology, and really should be phased out.  The technologies exist with which to power motors without creating excess (read: waste) heat, noise, and environmental pollution.  Renewable technologies exist with which we could power our automobiles and buildings without releasing contaminants into our air, water, and earth.  Strides have been made in the power industry.  These advances allow us to collect the sun’s energy in the form of visible and invisible light, the moon’s gravity through tidal fluctuations, the heat contained in our own planet’s internal structural gravity, and the planet’s rotation through the harvesting of mechanical energy from the movements of ocean waves.  However, none of these renewable sources can serve the general population because there are some in positions of power (and, therefore, influence) who can control how easily such technologies are made available, who choose to prevent the spread of this knowledge, either through ignorance, which is rampant, or for selfish profit motives, as in the case of so many petrochemical companies.

There is no modern panacea.  We can only work, incrementally, to create a better (read: more livable) world in which to exist.  We must fight against those whose personal interests do not coincide with those of the general populace, and we must succeed, for the time has passed in which we can hope to influence their selfish, closed minds.

<a href="">Panacea</a>

New Recipe!

Flax Crackers

(recipe based on Homemade Caraway Rye Crackers)

1 c. flax meal

1 c. a-p flour

5/8 c. warm water

2 T. olive oil, plus more for brushing

1 T. kosher salt for batter

1 T. kosher salt for sprinkling

2 T. onion powder (for one tray)

1 T. dried rosemary, crushed (for one tray)

2 T. nutritional yeast (for one tray)

Stir together flax meal and flour and 1 T. kosher salt. Add warm water and 2 T. olive oil, and mix until it forma a cohesive mass. Wrap in plastic wrap for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Divide batter into three pieces. Rewrap 2/3 of batter.

Roll out 1/3 batter between two silicone mats as thin as desired. Brush with olive oil.  Sprinkle with 1 t. kosher salt, then sprinkle with one of the other three toppings.

Bake 10-12 minutes, until browned. Cool slightly on tray.

Break crackers into random shapes and sizes and cool completely on a rack.

Store crackers in an airtight container.

Those We Don’t Know Intimately

via Daily Prompt: Neighbors

So I’m considering today’s prompt.  In the past, I’d had great relationships with my neighbors in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Though I never knew them terribly well, they were definitely personalities in my life.

My across-the-street neighbor, John, was interesting to me because he was a survivor of a gunshot to the head (years before I met him).  He came over to my place a couple of times, and gave me a lift to the emergency room at the University hospital on Thanksgiving, 1997.

My good friend, Katie Mooney Nolan (does it get any more Irish than that?), was spending the holiday with me.  I don’t remember what her life circumstances were at the time, but I’m pretty sure it was before she married Oli Steveaux.  Katie was the second of two college roommates I’d had.  The first roommate, Joanne, was from Newport Beach, in Southern California.  Katie’s from (and has since returned to)the Bay area of Northern California.  She’d gown up in Piedmont, either near or part of Oakland, across the bay from San Francisco.  She now lives south of San Francisco and the airport, on the peninsula.  But, back to the story…

I was preparing a different sort of Thanksgiving meal for us:  a vegetarian one, as I was not eating a lot of meat at the time.  We started with a couple of glasses of wine in the mid-afternoon.  I started cooking (you can see where this is going, can’t you?).  I was slicing a crusty homemade bread when the knife slid down the side and cut into my left index finger.  I wrapped a paper towel around it.  Katie and I knew that neither of us was in any condition to drive to the ER, so I walked across the street to John’s house.  He put his short tumbler (of honey-colored liquor on ice) on the console between the two seats, and I climbed in the passenger side.  Katie stayed at the house with Mr Tiger, my extraordinarily affectionate and outgoing feline companion, whom I adopted after my soon-to-be-ex husband moved out.  The ER wasn’t busy.  I was admitted and was seen pretty quickly (that’s how I remember it, anyway).  The doctor, a handsome younger Asian man, asked me, “So how deep did it go?”  I didn’t catch what he’d said immediately.  He said, “Did you hit any bone?”  He was joking.  He probably smelled the alcohol on my breath, and probably found it a fairly humorous situation…

John finished his drink while the doctor pulled through a few stitches, then brought me back home.  I washed off the bread knife, and we ended up having a much simpler meal as a result…

Another Charlottesville neighbor lived in the house next door to my first flat, in the same neighborhood.  Ann was an older woman (in her mid-50’s, I’d estimate) with dark hair and a very slight figure despite her frame, which was, by itself, fairly substantial.  There just wasn’t a lot of meat on her bones…  When I told her about my divorce, she simply said, “Well, that was your trial marriage.  You’re preparing for a real marriage later on.”

My first flat in the neighborhood was the upstairs unit of a two-unit brick building.  My downstairs neighbor, Vanthi, was an Asian woman and her young daughter.  She was a landscaper, and, after some tall conifers were removed by the landlord, planted a garden in our front yard.  She allowed me to plant a row.  I planted okra because I was really taken by fresh okra at the time, and I think tomatoes, because I believed, as I still do, that home-grown tomatoes would be better than supermarket tomatoes.  Vanthi also planted a large basil bush.  I remember picking a few of the hand-sized red and green leaves from it for a tomato sandwich that I had made for lunch one day during my tenure working in the Facilities Management Department of the University of Virginia.

So, my current neighbors (or at least a couple of them) have interesting stories of their own.  Our current downstairs neighbor is the (ex-)wife of the man who used to live downstairs with their son, Alexander.  The man’s name is Mark.  His father, by whom he was actually employed as a property manager for his numerous rentals, is in need of a caretaker, as he’s getting too old to want to live alone.  I think Alexander is still living downstairs, though now with his mother instead of his father…

His mother and half-sibling, who is now a toddler.  Mark’s (ex-)wife used a sperm donor for her second child, who is a dozen years younger than its sibling, who is now either at the end of his middle school years or just beginning his high school years (I don’t keep track of how old he is).

My parents were visiting with us a couple weeks ago, and my dad enlightened me.  Since Mark’s father is becoming infirm as he ages, Mark moved in to take care of him.  The (ex-)wife moved into their condo (downstairs from us) with her baby.  She used to drive a BMW SUV, but it was leased.  After the lease ran out, she bought a four-door Hyundai.  She’s looking for work as a teacher.  So that’s the story…

I have a another neighbor here.  She lives with her grown son, who was looking for work for what seemed like years before finding a foodservice job with steady hours.  Once, I was cooking something, and I needed milk, of all things (probably something like macaroni and cheese).  This must have been quite a long time ago now, since neither Kat nor I drink cow’s milk (anymore).  I walked down and knocked on her doorframe.  When she came, I asked her if I could borrow a cup of milk for a recipe.  She kindly gave me the remainder of a half gallon jug, which was more than a cup, but not much more.  I thanked her and ran (well, really, I walked) back to finish the recipe.  Since then, we greet each other on the sidewalk and paths in our complex, and on the occasions when we’re both at the bus shelter.

Another person who used to be a neighbor whom I’d see frequently was Joe, who lives much closer to the high school than we do, within the neighborhood of streets contained between Mira Mesa Boulevard to the north, Black Mountain Road to the east, Activity Road to the South, and Camino Ruiz on the west.  We actually met through, as I was (and still am) an Assistant Organizer for a group of which we are both members.  Joe is (or at least was at the time) fixing up his ranch-style house (typical three-bedroom house on a concrete slab with the garage out front facing the street) in preparation of renting it out.  He’s returned to full-time work now (he was taking a “sabbatical” when we’d met), so has money to fix the house up, I presume.  Joe’s an interesting guy.  He reminded me a lot of my dad, who also bought investment properties that he rented out.  However, unlike Joe, who lives in the houses while he fixes them up, my dad never lived in any of his rentals, since we had our own home already.  My dad and Joe got along quite well, as they have similar backgrounds.  Neither one had attended college, but both were autodidacts who learned enough practical knowledge to find jobs as electrical engineers.  I suspect that Joe will find another house to move into and renovate once he’s got a tenant for this house.  Real estate is a good investment, as long as one has the time and energy to make repairs after (hopefully) buying a fixer-upper fairly cheaply.  Unfortunately, in San Diego, it looks like most of the cheaper fixer-uppers have been sold, at least the ones in neighborhoods where property values are increasing…

I don’t call all adjacent residents necessarily neighbors, just as I don’t call all acquaintances friends.  There is a difference between sharing a wall (or floor/ceiling) or fence, and actually having some knowledge of the person living on the other side.  I’m glad to have and having had some interesting neighbors, wherever I’ve been.