17 October 2016

The Annual Neighborhood Potluck

I've always heard about neighborhood potlucks and parties but have never lived in a neighborhood where such things happened. Before we even moved into our house we were invited to our first neighborhood potluck last fall, but because we were exhausted and had been working feverishly on our house all day we were sweaty and dirty and not much up meeting the entire neighborhood. The party was taking place in the circle right in front of our house, so we made a quick exit some time before the party started.

We joined in for the holiday party in December of last year, held in a lovely home just two houses up the street from us. Why is it that parties always sounds so fun until it's time to get ready and go and suddenly no one wants to go? This happens to us every time. We were 10-20 years younger than anyone else there and our Kiddo was the only child there, but we had a nice time and appreciated getting to know so many of our lovely neighbors.

Since they are all retired, they have much more adventurous and luxurious lives than we who have a kid who had to be here for school and are tied down by work schedules and home renovation. It's funny to joke with them about their vastly more exciting lives. Some travel via RV all over the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Others have second homes in Alaska, or other fun places. They are a fun bunch to know and have great life stories it's fun to hear about. It's also nice to know there is a good group of people watching out for each other and helping keep our neighborhood safe.

I also wanted to make sure we knew neighbors in case of an emergency, especially Kiddo, in case anything happened and she needed to go to a neighbor for help. Because we live in a desert/forest environment the concern of a wildfire evacuation crosses my mind too and how we would all find each other if some are home and others are evacuated. Yet another reason to have good relations with the neighbors and have their help.

I've heard we have a couple of families with kids in our neighborhood but have never seen any sign of them. Because the houses are fairly far apart and yards are wooded, you may hear neighbors but rarely see them unless they are out walking for exercise on the streets. We don't have sidewalks to watching for walkers on the side of the road is always critical.

We had our neighborhood summer potluck last week and again at the last minute we were tired and not really feeling like going. But we gathered ourselves, got food made and went. We were a few minutes late and all the retired folks were already there and eating and there were no seats left. Have to remember that for some of those folks 6p dinner is probably really late, let alone us arriving at 6:20. Ha.

Instead of having the party in the street a few weeks ago, the party was held at one of the neighbor homes. It's usually held outside on a weekend evening in late September, but with the party a little later, they decided to have it on a weeknight indoors. The home was simple and beautiful and had an amazing deck that overlooks the entire valley in three directions. We're talking visibility 80-100 miles south, west and north. It was so beautiful at nightfall and with the lovely, calm mountain breeze and some good company it was heavenly.

We were glad we pulled it together and went, renewing and solidifying relationships with neighbors we don't see much of otherwise. It was fun to learn more about the interesting stories of our neighbors and this time the party was on the east end of the street which is an area we don't really go into much so it was nice to learn who lives where in that area.

We also figured out which of our neighbors have the fantastic rain barrels with rain chains that we often pass by when out walking. They told us that even with a small rain they fill up all five of their 55 gallon barrels. You can imagine how much of their yard they can water with a hose that attaches to a spout on each barrel. With fairly regularly rains all summer it's amazing to think how much water they can enjoy for free in this desert! We have eight water spouts coming off our roof, imagine how much water we can collect once we get rain barrels under each one.Wow! That's exciting.

You may wonder what I made for the party. I did a quick pan of caramel brownies and I made this Bacon Ranch Chicken Pasta recipe that has worked it's way into our dinner rotation this fall. I made it the other night and doubled the sauce and I think I like it that way better. I use all natural bacon and I use Trader Joe's Parmesan Ranch dressing. All the food at the party was wonderful. There was Couscous Salad, classic New Mexican food with all the requisite spicy heat and even meatballs with Prickly Pear Barbecue Sauce. Super yummy. It was fun to sample a little of a lot of things and there were plenty of good desserts too.

When we left the party we were all cheerful and glad we'd attended. The crazy thing is that even though this was the "summer" party, the Christmas Party is just about 8 weeks away. So we'll have a chance to see everyone again soon.

Does your neighborhood have street parties? Do you attend? I've heard there are a few in our street who never attend. How do you feel about getting to a party?

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