Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving style

Thanksgiving this year is particularly odd for us. We are spending it alone in Julie and Pete's in Santa Barbara. We stopped in to visit them, but Thanksgiving plans sent them off to Merced to Julie's mother's house. We had one day together before they left, just enough time to get a happy dose of their little family. Three boys under 5 years old, and all of them adorable and amenable to hugs and affection. I got to carry a baby on my hip again

Julie is the sister of our ex-brother-in-law. Obviously, we all still consider ourselves family. We could have tagged along to Julie's mom's, but that would be serious backtracking and we want to keep moving south. We've planted ourselves here a few days while our Tahoe gets some maintenance done at a local Chevy dealer. I must admit it is so nice to have some space to spread out. Julie and Pete literally turned over their house to us and we're making good use of it--especially the kitchen. Robert and I prepared a fairly complete Thanksgiving meal substituting turkey cutlets for a whole turkey. I made the usual sides and we sat down to a beautiful meal. (Julie, please don't be horrified that I hung a basket on your little stray lamp that I found near the piano. I needed a little light, it needed a little lampshade. BYW, I've left you a little surprise in the freezer--homemade pomegranate gelato.)

We've seen little of Santa Barbara. Instead, we behave like we're at home in the neighborhood, walking Guinness, the family dog, and escorting Allison on a borrowed bicycle to a school playground. The weather is perfect every day--almost enough to make you buy into why dumpy houses sell for a million dollars. Honestly, what goes for a million here is astonishing and makes our modest house back home the bargain of the century. We ask ourselves, "how can working people afford this?" but somehow they do, only they can't seem to afford repair or upkeep. I have a theory that the homes that are in best shape are owned by the older neighbors who aren't saddled with mortgage payments. They can afford to maintain their homes. The California real estate game is an animal I do not understand. It's like watching someone stack blocks as fast and as high as possible. Your senses tell you the thing will fall, but with California we all keep watching it go higher and higher.

Maybe that is changing. Supposedly, the bubble is or has crashed--I don't know, I can't keep up with everything, and to figure it out would take more hours out of my life than I care to give. All I know that back home in Missouri if there was a bubble I didn't see it. The outdated home we bought 15 years ago hasn't appreciated all that much, (which gnaws at me when I hear of the big bucks "everyone else" is making), nor has our neighbors'. However, our neighborhood is in good shape and stable. Good old Midwestern stability: Boring, but steady. Now, pass the potatoes, please.

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