Friday afternoon I picked up Grace from her first day at her new preschool. For starters, it's a miracle she got in. There was an unexpected opening, and they needed girls. (They don't anticipate any more openings until Summer '09.) And the school? Kid utopia. More on that later, but let me just say that Grace petted chickens.
We drove the four minutes home through our pretty new neighborhood to find our next door neighbor sitting on a blanket on her front lawn with her almost-nine-month-old daughter. We chatted for quite a while and hit if off. Not once did she ask me if I planned to pull some weeds or cut the grass. All night I kept reminding myself, This is how normal people behave.
Last night they had us over for cocktails and a barbecue. It was a beautiful night, and Grace made herself right at home, splashing in their fountain and then running around the backyard squealing. Splash, run, squeal; splash, run, squeal, until the front of her little summer dress was soaked. (She also saw one of the dogs rolling in the grass, and incorporated that into her routine.) I fed the baby while S. and D. prepared dinner, and then we all ate and drank until the sun went down and it was too cold to stay outside. Again, it had been so long since we enjoyed something as simple as a backyard barbecue with friends that I came home and lay in bed reminding myself that we had a life like this before we moved into the NEIGHBORHOOD FROM HELL. The only difference is that Grace is now part of it, and she adds a new dimension of wonder and joy to the simple pleasure of spending time with fun people.
I've been lazy with the camera, but here's the view from my office window. I had honestly forgotten the beauty of Portland's trees. I'm having a love affair, and it's with this totally cool city and its warm (yet equally cool) inhabitants.