Painting Poles

We don’t just live in a historic home, we live in a historic area.  Our streets have street lights and street signs just like every neighborhood, but our lights are very special. They are typical 1920’s lampposts made from solid cast iron and they’ve been illuminating our homes for over 80 years. Anything that old needs a facelift every so often, so we paint them every two years- north side on even years, south side on odd years. The problem is that we live in a city with very little finances for such up-keep, so the volunteer neighborhood association has to maintain them. We do this just prior to the annual home tour which raises money for our scholarship foundation and neighborhood events. Annually in March on a Saturday morning, a group of about 15-20 neighbors get together and paint the poles. One group cleans, one group paints, another group “manages supplies.” Alex insisted that we get involved in the neighborhood association early on and volunteer for this. I secretly think it’s because he loves to play with his ladder (that’s him below on the top step).

The first year, Alex and I were on a painting team and we were paired with another Alex, who lives on our most elegant street. He and his partner Mason own one of the younger historic homes which was designed by the owner of a Hawaiian hotel chain.  The house looks as if it could be plucked off the Waikiki shore, with waves washing up against the palm trees scattered around the front yard. Naturally his home is full of 1960’s Hawaiian splendor and has a lush tropical garden in back surrounding a huge pool. As a prerequisite to the painting, we got toIMG_0880 work discussing the history of our respective homes. Eventually we got around to painting. You can’t imagine the number of innuendos possible when painting light posts. As if that weren’t fun enough, imagine my delight when the “supply” team arrived with screwdrivers (and I don’t mean the tool type) and doughnuts. Fifty-ish poles later and we had made a notable difference in the appearance of our streets. Our poles were clean and shiny. We were dirty and slightly sauced. Good day.

How to be Neighborly: You have to get a little dirty for some good clean fun.

Bloody Screwdriver

  • 1 part vodka
  • 1 part orange juice
  • ½ part ginger juice (*)
  • 2 parts blood orange soda

Combine vodka, orange juice and ginger juice in shaker and shake. Put in glass with ice, and top with blood orange soda. Garnish with orange wheel and mint.

(*) See Ginger Juice recipe below


Ginger Juice


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This is the perfect mix in for a cocktail, not too sweet and just enough heat.


  • 2 Tbsp Honey
  • 4 c water
  • 6 inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped into 1 inch pieces


Place all ingredients in a blender, and blend until ginger has been pureed. Strain into 2 mason jars. Remaining ginger pulp can be saved for soups, marinades, or other uses.


Welcome Home

It was November 2012 and I had to get the house set up in time for Thanksgiving, which I host every year. Mission accomplished. My parents, Alex’s parents, my grandma, and our best friends, sat at my Grandpa’s old drafting table (now our dining table), lit by our original hand painted 1930 chandelier, and we shared a delightful French themed Thanksgiving in our new home. It was beautiful and delicious…. and exhausting. A couple weeks later the dust from the move settled, and the dishes from the feast all back in their proper places, I could finally just admire my new home. I relaxed on my living room couch in my PJ’s, glass of red wine in hand, and I was struck by the beauty of this room. The iris stained glass window is a vibrant blue with specks of orange when the morning sun illuminates the small window. The fireplace, with its original Batchelder tiles, glows a golden orange when lit by a cluster of candles. The wood framed windows are a perfect shade of mahogany, the largest of them framing a giant pine tree much older than this home. This home really is beautiful, and it’s ours. Well, it’s ours for now. We are the current a caretakers of this home, and it’s our job to preserve its beauty.

Lost in wonder, I was suddenly awakened by a knock-knock-knock on the door. It was between 8 or 9pm and (remember) I was in my PJ’s. I called to Alex to see if he might spare me the embarrassment of answering the door in said attire. No luck. I cracked the front door open, trying to hide my PJ’s behind the door, and found two smiling men and a welcome bag extended.

How to be Neighborly: Get used to your neighbors seeing you in your PJ’s. It will happen a lot.

Wayne, and Merle behind him, introduced themselves and said “we just wanted to welcome you to the neighborhood….” We said our courteous thanks for the bag and I rushed to shut the door and once again hide my PJ’s from view. I looked in the welcome bag, and there was a list of local amenities, newsletter, homegrown tangerines, and some homemade chocolate bark in cute little mason jars. I put the mason jars on the kitchen counter and went back to the blissful solitude of my living room. Little did I know that Wayne and Merle would soon introduce me to what it meant to be neighborly, and would eventually become two very good friends.

Here’s my version of the perfect chocolate bark.


French Chocolate Bark

  • 1 10 oz bag dark or semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp dried cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp pistachios, unsalted
  • 2 Tbsp cashews, unsalted

Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Spread on a silpat or piece of parchment paper with an offset spatula to ¼ inch thickness. Sprinkle on salt, ginger, cranberries, pistachios, and cashews. Gently push the toppings into the chocolate. Put in the refrigerator to set. Once hard (it will snap into pieces), break into pieces and enjoy. If there’s any left, share with your neighbors.