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Baking Duo

Zettie Louise had requested Junior work at her house on Saturday.  I guessed that yardwork might be involved since the leaves had started to fall early this year.  Stevie dressed in a pair of dungarees and older sneakers with his favorite baseball cap firmly planted on his head. A couple of hours after he went to Zettie Louise’s, I left with Daisy to pick up some groceries.  I noticed that the leaves on Zettie Louise’s lawn were untouched.  When I returned from shopping, Steve was working in the garage and helped me carry in the bags.  Steve said that Junior was still at Zettie Louise’s, so Daisy and I went inside to spend some girl-time baking.

The kitchen warmed up quickly, so I cracked the window over the sink to let in some cool air.  Daisy was wearing her new little baker apron and standing on the step stool next to the sink with me.  I planned on making an cinnamon apple cake.  We could have it for dessert tonight and tomorrow.  I wanted to use a recipe borrowed from my aunt.  I remember that she used to serve it at the wake after everyone’s funeral, so it must be a keeper. The cake was light and sweet and didn’t need a frosting because it had a swirl of cinnamon and brown sugar through it.  Daisy could help by practicing her apple slicing. I cut off a small portion of one of the apples for her to use.  I kept a special little knife for her and her skills were getting better every time she practiced. I cleaned and peeled the apples and entertained Daisy by making long curvy peelings.  We were going to save the peelings to put in the backyard to feed the neighborhood squirrels.  I liked this recipe because the apples were actually grated on my box grater and distributed in the batter. When the batter was together, Daisy lovingly scooped the grated apples into the cake.  The house smelled delicious as it baked and Daisy washed the dishes diligently using lots of water.  I want her to be a good cook.

With my recent change of view about cooking, I wanted to try and pass on some better feelings about cooking for a family.  Eventually, Daisy went outside to the garage to “work” with daddy as I started preparing dinner.  I heard some conversation in the garage and went out to check on who was visiting.  Zettie Louise and Junior were holding  a plate of cookies and offering them to Steve and Daisy.  As usual, Zettie Louise surprised me by doing something unusual and enlightening.  When Junior saw me, he proudly turned his plate toward me to show me the cookies he baked with Zettie Louise.  They were golden brown and delicious looking; I tasted one and found it yummy.  As Zettie Louise started to leave, I thanked her for baking with Junior.  She opened my eyes to another possibility that I had not even thought about.  Zettie Louise smiled and thanked me for letting Junior spend the day with her.  She was very comfortable with Junior and he seemed to appreciate her.  Her actions were changing his view of the world too and showing him new possibilities. So many changes for all of us.  Just when I thought I knew my world, it widened a little more.  And it was good.

Life is a Process

In order to get to know Chloe and Francis better, I decided to have a dinner party.  Chloe agreed that Marie Claire could stay overnight and I would feed the kids earlier, which would give Chloe time to get ready for dinner also.  While I fed the three children, Steve changed for dinner.  I knew that he would watch them while I finished getting myself ready.

It may have been a little bold having Chloe over to eat but she didn’t seem so snobbish about what she ate so far.  Mags had asked me the other day about inviting her to the card parties, since we were getting ready to start up again.  I thought it was a good idea even if Chloe didn’t play cards right away.  She would liven up the group with some new stories while we learned more about her.  I planned on running the thought by Chloe at dinner.

Since there was a hint of a chill in the air, I thought that I would try to make French Onion Soup.  The recipe had a handful of ingredients, but it took a long time, hours, in fact.  Not that much had to be done but a little stirring from time to time to soften and cook those onions.  And those onions wouldn’t cut themselves.  I was definitely suffering for my craft.  While the onions were starting to cook, Chloe knocked at the back door to ask a question about whether Steve would be wearing a tie at dinner.  Francis was unsure of the dress code for dinner parties since they hadn’t been to many recently.  It was at that point that I realized that Chloe felt at home in my kitchen.  She peeked into the Dutch oven on the stove and gently moved the onions around.  I was stunned when she commented on the beauty of the onions.  Chloe regarded cooking as an art and I had always thought of it as another task.  She gently murmured to herself about “the process, the process.”  She had a genuinely delighted look on her face as she leaned over, capturing the smell of the onions by drawing the air towards her with her hand.

A few minutes after Chloe left, I took the lid off the pot and tried to mimic her gesture.  I needed to slow down a little and take a mental note or two.  Cooking should be satisfying for the cook and the diners.  This thought could change my whole outlook on meal preparation.  I felt a little silly all alone in my kitchen but I leaned my head toward the onions and repeated my new mantra – the process, the process – as a small smile of satisfaction crossed my lips.

Dump the Whole Box

Although my heart and head wanted to create something from my newfound French cookbook, lack of time recently forced me into an easier choice for dessert.  I try to bake at least one cake a week since it can last for a couple of nights for dessert.  Summertime usually meant a quick bowl of ice cream at night, but the fall requires something a little more substantial.  I liked baking cakes and had a few that were easy and reliable.  Everyone has a different favorite, so at least one family member was happy with the choice each time.  The range was endless – chocolate, vanilla, carrot, marble, etc.  Sometimes I even make a cake from the new box mixes.  In fact, I talked a modified box cake recipe away from Judy Anne last week.  Judy Anne, being the good southern girl she is, would not want everyone to know that she used a box cake. But I don’t see any shame in using some convenience foods.  We have busy lives and the new developments in food are a sign of progress.

Emmy Wade and Daisy were playing dolls in the next room and Judy Anne and I were enjoying a cup of coffee in the kitchen.  Judy Anne was talking about how much they enjoyed their backyard pool this summer.  I picked up Judy Anne’s recipe box and perused  it while she talked. I have discussed my interest in having a backyard pool often enough to be boring by now, so I half-listened while I flipped through the box. I stumbled upon a recipe just called Dump Cake.  Not an appealing name for sure, but the few ingredients listed drew my attention.  Five real ingredients and a quick whipped topping. One of the ingredients was a box of cake mix.  Wow, this was not Judy Anne at all.  I was trying to think back to when she might have served this at a card party and remembered a couple of times that a semi-nondescript, but delicious, cake made its way to the buffet table.

When Judy Anne was done with the highlights of a backyard pool, I held up the card, turned it toward her and asked her about it.  She snatched it from my hand and tried to hide it in her apron pocket.  I protested and asked to see it so I could write down the recipe.  A very reluctant Judy Anne finally handed over the card and I took an empty index card from the back of the box to copy the recipe.  Judy Anne didn’t need to be embarrassed about the recipe.  Good housewives are efficient with time and this would be a great time-saver for me.  Of course, Judy Anne made me swear that I wouldn’t tell her husband, Stubs, about the cake.  That was easy, since Stubs and I have never had a conversation about baking and I didn’t expect any future ones either.

The cake was as easy as its name.  No real measuring, so no real mess.  I made sure to place the box and cans in the bottom of the trash can and no one was the wiser.  The cake was moist and delicious and the kids and Steve all liked it.  My only real embarrassment came the next day when Chloe came over to borrow some onions for a soup she was making.  Mags and I were sitting at the kitchenette enjoying the cake with some coffee. Chloe saw the cake and asked to try it.  I had already told Mags about the recipe since I don’t keep anything secret from her.  I tried so hard to let Chloe know how not-special the cake was, but she insisted.  I cut a small slice and handed it to her.  Chloe closed her eyes and tasted it as if she was expecting something ultra delicious.  She said something in French that I didn’t recognize and I thought that I probably ruined my reputation with her as a baker.  When Chloe opened her eyes, she pronounced the cake a great success and told me that I must share the recipe.  Mags looked at me and I looked at her and burst into nervous giggles.  Chloe looked at both of us strangely and rightly so, since we  were surprised that Chloe didn’t recognize my deceptive baking choice.  After I let Chloe in on the recipe, we all had a good laugh together.  Chloe said that she was used to making alternative choices in baking since there were so few good ingredients available during the war.  I hadn’t thought about that before; rationing had affected all of us differently.  Chloe still wanted a copy of the recipe for her “American” recipe box she was making.  I swore her to silence about the recipe since Judy Anne would never want everyone on the block to know about her shortcut. Chloe promised that she would create a new name for the recipe in order to hide it better.  That might work, the name certainly needed help.

School Supplies for Everyone

When the school year starts, it has a natural rhythm.  For the children, I always purchase new school and play shoes, new school clothes and school supplies.  The newness makes the process exciting, like an adventure.  For children, each school year brings its own ups and downs with recess worries, homework dread, friendship stress and the business of going to school as practice for a future career.  For me, I get overwhelmed with  making sure I buy the right clothes and supplies without picking up a trend that might be over by Halloween.  I mostly stick with the tried and true classics.  Personally, plaids and corduroy will always signal fall to me.

We managed to get through the trip to the shoe store and Junior insisted on polishing his shoes even before wearing them.  I encourage the children to wear their new footwear around the house for a couple of hours every day before school starts to eliminate the need to treat blisters during the first week of school.  Daisy likes to tap around the kitchen anyway, so it’s fun with a purpose.  I still follow that shopping trip to a treat at Meisel’s for ice cream.  It takes the sting off of it for all of us.  Junior wasn’t happy again with any of the new pants that I purchased and I gave up asking him what he would pick out.  That question has no answer that works for school clothing.  Daisy is always satisfied with a few new jumpers and I found anklets this year with little embroidered flowers on them.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of embroidering her socks myself; they were adorable.  The school supplies gave the children a chance to choose in terms of pencil holders, school bags and lunch pails.  This usually took the longest but I didn’t rush them; these were long-term decisions.

With my new perspective in cooking, I thought I would try and pack better lunches also.  Most lunches are so boring that I could pack them in my sleep.  Junior still had this thing going with peanut butter and jelly but now included strawberry jelly as a second choice after grape.  I am going to try and include more cut up veggies, like carrots and celery, in their boxes. The same ranch dressing that I used on salads all summer makes a great dip for little veggies so I bought some small containers to pack a little to help increase the chances that the vegetables wouldn’t get traded. I can see Daisy enjoying the dip as long as she can talk with her pals while eating.  She is the type to share.

The only surprise occurred when Steve asked the children what they were looking forward to in school this year.  There was a moment of silence as they paused to actually think about their answers.  I had no idea what they would say either.  Sadly, it’s not a question I ever thought about asking before.  As they spoke, my mind moved forward to how to integrate this kind of question more into the dinner conversation.  The children were having experiences away from us every day.  Up to this point, I knew what happened every minute of every day of their life.  Now, most days, a teacher would know more about their days than me.  Something was ending for me and I felt that gulph getting wider each year.  I wonder how I could fill that void; what kind of supplies do I need?

Rock Around the Block

Finally!  Block Party Day!  The guys started early as usual setting up in the center of the street which the local police blocked off with sawhorses.  I had heard that the obstacle courses were going to be  doozies this year.  With the aging population of bike riders in this neighborhood, we needed one just for the little kids and a special one for the older kids.  Zettie Louise had been tapped to help with the course for the older ones and set up a practice grid in her driveway that she tried out over and over to insure that the curves were just right.  The little kids were happy with small walls and cones to drive around as long as they could ring their bells and toot their horns.  Harold had purchased a new barbecue grill this year, so the men would have something new to huddle around while grilling our hot dogs and hamburgers.  There was talk of barbecued chicken and shish kebobs, so I looked forward to seeing how they cooked those.

I made my apple bars and added a second easy dessert, a dump cake.  So called, because I dumped everything into the same dish and baked until done.  I wasn’t sure what the other girls were bringing but everyone has a specialty and I always look forward to seeing what shows up on the community table. I didn’t feel as competitive this year as last and didn’t plan on repeating my choice to stuff two brownies into Harold’s mouth for taste testing.

Edie was established now with the other ladies in our group and made sure that she left an empty folding chair next to her for Chloe.  I wasn’t sure who Chloe had spent any time with yet, but this would be a great chance for her to meet everyone at one time.  I was wearing a new pair of long shorts, had shaved my semi-tanned legs and slathered on my body lotion for a nice shine.  The weather was perfect and not too hot.  I will acknowledge that I am a woman who sweats.  My mother was a woman who sweated.  We don’t glow, we run a little hotter than average.  A little cooler weather never bothers me.  Steve had quickly eaten early this morning so that he could help out with the set-up.  Our husbands are so good at taking care of the heavy lifting.  I don’t mind making a suggestion or two for organizing but I don’t think any of them have been put into place. Mags was going to make a big batch of some new delicious cocktail that I hadn’t heard of; hopefully it would help loosen up the group and make the conversation lively.
When Steve came back in, he showered again and put on fresh clothes.  I had purchased a new shirt for him and it showed off his tan arms.  He had played a good amount of golf this summer and looked good. Friel’s had dropped off the beer kegs and they were sitting in the shade in big galvanized tubs in ice water.  When we went outside, the other neighbors started coming out also and the party began.  A new toy called the Flyin Saucer was being thrown back and forth on the front lawn next door and it sailed from hand to hand.  It looked like a saucer too.  Daisy had her bike decorated with pink bows and headed down to the little kids round up.  Junior took off with his friends to see what kind of devilment they could get into.  It was off to a great start.

When Chloe arrived, Edie invited her to come and sit so they could get to know each other.  That was nice of Edie.  She probably remembered how it felt last year when she was the new girl.  At least she got Artie to stand with the guys this year.  Steve waved Francis over to the group by the grill and there followed a lot of hand shaking.  I sat back to watch the scene.  My neighborhood was really impressive.  We eagerly take in newcomers, value those who have been here forever and make sure that our kids have a good life.  I felt the warm sun on my face, sipped my Gin and Sin, and listened to the friendly conversations going around me.  Oh that Gin and Sin?  That was Mags’ contribution – a great mix of gin, orange juice, lemon juice and grenadine syrup, wrapped around some ice cubes and shaken.  Very refreshing!

 

 

You Say Potato

I wanted to invite Chloe over for coffee before the Annual Block Party so that I could prepare her for our yearly summer gathering.  Being the newest on the block always brought the most interest, and last year Edie and Artie were the crown jewels of the event.  The men would easily take Francis into their group; ex-military meeting ex-military always has something to talk about.  Artie spent last year sitting with the women, a fact people are still gossiping about. I called Chloe and set up a date, asking her to bring Marie-Claire along for Daisy to play with.  I flipped through the pages of the French cookbook and found a cake with cherries.  Steve loves cherries and if it turned out well, I could add it to my recipe box on an index card.  The ingredients were easy to find and I understood how to make it.  I just didn’t know how to pronounce it.  Cherry Clafoutis.  I purchased fresh cherries to pit and made it anyway.

When Chloe arrived with Marie-Claire, Daisy and I met them at the door and the little girls danced away to play together.  Some actions defy language or country.  The little girls were already at home with one another within 10 seconds.  I wanted to make Chloe feel at home but wanted to be true to my own style.  I had the Clafoutis in the oven finishing up and it was poofing up nicely.  I had set a pretty table with my (oh so American) matching cups and plates. I used the good silverware but poured the coffee in the kitchen and carried out the cups on a tray.

When the buzzer sounded, I returned to the kitchen and took the Clafoutis out of the oven, dusted it with 10x sugar and brought it out warm to serve as suggested.  When I placed it on the trivet, it started to deflate a little, and Chloe’s eyes misted up.  I thought I must have done something wrong and started to apologize.  Chloe explained that everything was alright with the dessert but that it brought back memories of her Grand’Mere who used to make it for her.  She explained that KLA FOO TEE always deflated a little after coming out of the oven. Well, at least I knew how to say it now.  The Clafoutis was delicious but subtle.  The cherries were soft and the sugar dusting on the top was the right amount of sweetness.  Actually, it tasted and looked a lot like an upside down cake.

Chloe was curious about the block party and I prepared her as best I could.  I let her know about the expectation of bringing a side dish and she said that she wanted to try and make Salade de pommes de terre.  It sounded fancy.  Chloe explained that it was potato salad.  I brought out my cookbook, which she eagerly looked through, stopping from time to time to make comments on how good some recipes were.

I realized I might enjoy French cooking.  We didn’t have any liquor with our coffee but maybe next time we’ll meet later in the day.  I’m not opposed to a drink after lunch; I will just have to figure out what kind to serve.  Perhaps Champagne!

 

 

 

Bonjour

Since I have never met anyone really French, I visited the book store before my visit to try and score a cookbook that contained authentic recipes.  Clearly, Chloe had worked hard during the war.   I couldn’t imagine what being in the Resistance really meant but it made my brain race with dangerous situations.  Zettie Louise and Chloe might have a lot in common even though they looked completely different.  Lucy was at the shop and she helped me find a cookbook with some French recipes.  I didn’t recognize some of the ingredients but purchased it anyway.

Chloe had lots of visitors over the next few days but found time to call and invite me over for some “cafe au lait.” It sounded vaguely exotic and I wanted to see the inside of the house.  Trucks, driven by men in white overalls,  had been parked outside for the last few days.  I sent Daisy over to Gail’s house to play and Junior was helping Zettie Louise.  Gail didn’t mind another child underfoot if I shared details about my visit to Chloe’s.  There was no jealousy in my getting the first invite since I was Chloe’s closest neighbor.

I had already dropped off a basket of blueberry muffins yesterday.  I added some whipped honey butter on the side.  You can’t really go wrong with muffins; everyone eats them.

I dressed a little better than usual and even wore my thin strand of pearls.  I could up my sophistication level a little.  Chloe’s house looked like a construction zone – ladders, planks, drop cloths and workmen toiling away.  There was a small man hanging wallpaper in the dining room so we sat at a wooden planked table in the kitchen.  It looked worn, but in a good way.  Chloe said that Marie-Claire was with Francis at the park.  Chloe put out a beautiful spread that made me ask who else was joining us. She laughed and explained that it was for us.  Wow.  She could entertain. I started taking mental notes.  The cafe was smooth coffee and Chloe was using sweet porcelain cups but not one matched another.  This must be a new concept.  If one broke, you could easily buy another without a problem.  There was a casually gathered vase of mixed garden flowers that probably took some time to construct in such a natural manner.  It was “forsual” – both formal and casual.  We chatted about our children and our husbands, but didn’t dig into any deep topics.

Chloe talked about Mrs. Kravitz’ garden being the selling point of the house.  It reminded her of her cottage garden back in France.  She had ideas about expanding the garden with herbs and other vegetables.  Chloe spoke well with her accent and sounded European and chic, which obviously she was.  As the time approached lunch and the end of our visit, she pulled two tiny crystal glasses out of the cupboard and poured us both a small portion of something from a crystal carafe.  It smelled sweet and bitter at the same time.  I offered a toast to Chloe and we very gently tapped glasses.  I could already tell that I would like her.  It’s weird how sometimes you just get a good vibe from some people.  We downed our drinks and I enjoyed the warmth of whatever was gradually sliding down my throat.  We smiled at each other and I thanked Chloe for the invitation.  I offered to invite her over soon so we could continue to get to know each other.  As I left, Chloe spoke in French and kissed the air on both sides of my face.  I returned home with an assignment in my head; I have got to learn some French!

May I Borrow a Cup of Sugar?

Vache sacree!  My neighbor is French, as in Paris.  The for sale sign came down a few days ago, so I have been waiting anxiously to see who bought the Kravitz’ house.  Yesterday morning, a moving truck pulled up front and it was followed soon after by a dark sedan with Madame and Mister Underbridge.  As soon as the car pulled up, neighbors appeared on the sidewalk outside to greet them.  I watched for a little while from behind the drapes.  I didn’t want to disturb them when they had so much work to do.  There didn’t seem to be much furniture and some of it must have been from France since I had never seen a few pieces available in our furniture stores.

While I was making supper, there was a slight rapping on the front door.  That’s how I met Chloe, as she liked to be called.  She introduced herself and I invited her in.  I kept my cool enough to introduce myself but was still a little mesmerized by her accent.  She was obviously from France but spoke perfect English. Chloe asked to borrow a cup of sugar and held out an aluminum cup.

I was a little flustered but agreed and went into the kitchen to get it.  She followed me and I asked her if there was anything else she needed.  She looked at the full cup and laughed a little to herself.  She told me that she didn’t really need the sugar but thought that was how she was supposed to introduce herself to her new neighbors.  She said the government had given her a pamphlet on life in the suburbs when they arrived.  We both laughed.  I realized that I could handle this a little better.  I took some notepaper and wrote down our names and phone number and handed it back.  I told her that when she had time, to please call and we would get to know each other better.  We were neighbors after all.  I also told her if she really needed anything to just ask.  I wanted us to get off to a good start and I could tell that she was a little embarrassed at falling for the government’s idea on how to make a friend.  Chloe confessed that she was a little tired from all the moving and thanked me for the note.  She asked to borrow my pen.  Chloe neatly ripped the paper into two pieces and wrote down their names and number also.  She had beautiful penmanship!  I read over the names and spoke them aloud.  Francis, Chloe and Marie-Claire Underbridge.  Chloe explained that Francis was out of the military now and she had met him through her work in the Resistance.   Vache sacree!  I wanted to know everything now but understood that there would be time for us to talk again soon.

I asked Chloe if they had food for dinner and she confessed that three American casseroles had already been delivered by other neighbors.  That sounds right; I warned her that more were coming.  Chloe explained that they were surprised by the abundance, but it didn’t shock me.  We’re good people here on Calista Court.

Chloe would learn that in time.  She thanked me for the sugar and I stood at the front door and waved as she left.  Welcome to Monterey Park, Madame!

The Grand Tour

Several families have toured the house next door for sale this week but I guess none have yet to take it for their own.  I remember when Steve and I first moved in.  It was a dream come true to finally have our own home. We had been saving some money and waited until Steve had climbed the management ladder a bit higher to take on the loan and the commitment.  The government helped with the loan and our mortgage book was slowly completing with each monthly payment.  We plan to have a wonderful mortgage book burning party when the time arrives and the house was paid off.

Yesterday, after I returned home from the butcher, Mags ran across the street to let me in on what I had missed while shopping.  She watched a couple with a little girl about Daisy’s age tour the house next door.  They stayed quite a while apparently and walked around the front and back yards.  The for sale sign was still up but Mags had a good feeling about these folks.  She described the woman as a dark-haired petite woman wearing a chignon and she wore sturdy heeled shoes with rounded toes.  Mags said that she seemed classy and a thin ex-military type man was with her.  The little girl had tumbling long dark curls tied up with a ribbon and she was dressed in a smocked jumper.  I wondered if this was the first sighting of my new neighbor.  I thought about the possibilities while making dinner.  It would be nice to have a playmate for Daisy close by.  Mags is usually a good observer of character and she seemed to like the way this family looked.  It might be interesting to have another couple to socialize with also.  We all know each other so well now that we can practically finish each other’s sentences.

Well, I guess I will know soon enough; for sale signs don’t last long on this block.  I’ll have to let Mrs. Kravitz know about these folks too.  I wonder how long it will take for me not to call that house the Kravitz’s?

You Can’t Get There From Here

The only question left was where.  Molly visited her mother, Mrs. Kravitz, and spent the weekend with her.  It didn’t seem like a happy visit, but it opened Molly’s eyes to the changes in her mother’s health and forced them to discuss the future.  These kinds of discussions come way too late to keep them from having anything but an unexpected result.  Molly wanted her mother to move in with them.  This would involve her moving far from Monterey Park.  It had been the late Mr. Kravitz’s dream for them to own a home outside of the city in order for Mrs. Kravitz to have a garden.  Her garden was a beauty.  Her flowers grew brighter and taller than anyone else’s and resembled a cottage garden.  Edie had taught me that a house with fresh flowers was a better home and I had started to cut flowers now and then to place in a vase on our dining room table.  Snowball was a little too curious about them one time and knocked over the vase and tried to eat some, so I decreased the frequency. But I loved the idea.

After they moved to Monterey Park, Mr. Kravitz doted on Mrs. Kravitz and the house.  When he passed away, Mrs. Kravitz never thought about leaving.  She was already well ensconced in suburban living and acting as our neighborhood watch, keeping track of all of us.

Mrs. Kravitz did not want to leave Monterey Park and her friends.  She argued that her husband was buried nearby with Baby Cecil, an infant she had lost early in their marriage.  Mrs. Kravitz wanted to move into Shady
Pines.  Molly and Mrs. Kravitz made a visit to the old folks home and Molly understood a little better.  Mrs. Kravitz already knew two other ladies who lived there and she would have companions around her all of the time.  Molly, her husband and the boys could still visit and Mrs. Kravitz could visit them during the holidays.   It was a good decision for everyone.

We helped Mrs. Kravitz pack.  She could only take a fraction of her life’s treasures, so we boxed up those she couldn’t part with and Molly took those with her to hold onto.  We took pictures of Mrs. Kravitz in her garden and had the pictures printed and hung in her room at Shady Pines.

Molly had the house repainted and yesterday it was put up for sale.  It was a little strange knowing that Mrs. Kravitz wouldn’t be peeking out from her drapes at us, keeping us safe.  I hadn’t thought about having a brand new next door neighbor ever.  I suspect there will always be new people moving in from time to time.  We have a beautiful neighborhood.  And the most recent additions have been excellent.  Still, I felt a little sad seeing Mrs. Kravitz leave.  I plan to stop by and see her from time to time to keep her up to date on our block.  That will actually give me a chance to gossip a little about our lives.