Summer in My Neighborhood

We live in Astoria's oldest neighborhood, just outside of the original fort built over 200 years ago when trading followed the Lewis & Clark expedition.  It's lined with Victorian homes and a few later additions built on vacant lots or to replace a home destroyed by fire.  We are halfway down the lea side of a hill that runs down to the Columbia River.

We live in a four-square Victorian, so called because every floor including the basement has the same square feet of space.  It isn't elegant, just comfortable, and has fussy old moldings and two half-columns in the living room. 

What I love best about the house is a front porch that runs the width of the house.  Here, again, there are columns at each corner, and spindle railings.  We have a wooden glider (the swing, not the airplane) in front of the window.  One particular slat along the back has been reduced to toothpick width by a long succession of cats.  In front of it is an old table bought at a church rummage sale that was supposed to be for Ron's studio to hold still lifes, but was commandeered for the porch the first time we had tea out there and was just never brought back in.

The women in our neighborhood and a few other friends meet regularly for girls' night out.  I had to miss last week because Ron wasn't well and I was afraid to leave him.  So everyone met as usual, then on Friday night, brought pizza, salad, and other goodies to our front porch.  Barb set up two long skinny tables covered with red and white checked tablecloths and two bouquets of daisies from her garden.  Her husband, Steve,  made a salad and Curt, who often takes us to doctor's  appointments, went all over town getting the kind of pizza everyone preferred.  In honor of the occasion, I brought out to the porch a twig settee that lives in the dining room but is seldom used.  It's covered in pillows, on one of which is embroidered, 'Writers never go to bed alone.' My agent sent it to me ages ago.

If you don't live in an area where it rains five days out of seven from October to May, it's hard to appreciate what a sunny evening on a front porch means.  We said grace, we chowed down, then we sat until dark talking and laughing and realizing what a precious moment in time it was.  We all enjoy each other's company so much and try to find excuses to party together as often as we can, but there never does seem to be enough time.  We run from jobs to home, taking care of the hundreds of demands, large and small, that take up our time.  But this summer evening, the blessing of free time enveloped our front porch - and some of the world's nicest people.

Life is good.


  1. Muriel, It sounds like such fun. And it's the way life should be. You need to plan another of those get-togethers when your Harlequin books arrive on your doorstep.

  2. Excellent idea, Roz! Chinese food sounds like a plan! I think it's probably just you and me here, today. Nice to know you're out there! I do miss our buddies. Funny how close you can get to people you've never seen!

  3. Wow, that's the kind of house I've always wanted to see- I've read about them, but never seen one myself. As far as rain, I had to laugh. Out here in New Mexico, everyone gathers out on the porches to see it rain. It's an occassion that's extremely rare. What I miss the most is green- we have a lot of sand, but no ocean, and no green....

    1. Every part of the country has its special charms, I guess. I used to love the high desert as a young woman - near Palm Springs. I guess it's burning as we speak. But Ron has to be near the water - lake, river, ocean, he doesn't care - part tadpole, I guess. He says it's his Viking ancestry. I'm happy wherever he is.

  4. So, when we come to visit, we have to come when it's ladies night out time so we can meet everyone.

    And, here in AZ, rain is rare.

  5. You got it. We'll have a special do so you can meet our neighbors. They're so cool!

  6. It is, thank you. Always good to hear from you, Liz!

  7. Muriel, I love your writing. It's like I can see what you're describing. Love it.

  8. Thank you, Syndi! Are you home, or at RWA?

  9. Muriel, I'm at home unfortunately. But I'm making plans to hopefully get there next year. If not next year, then in 2015 when the conference is in NYC. My husband even volunteered to chaperone me for that one. LOL

  10. Beautiful post as usual Muriel. Sorry for the late comment. RWA was quite busy, but I couldn't wait to catch up on what I'd missed here.
    Syndi, too funny because the nyc one is the only one my husband doesn't want to go to lol.


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