Sunday, August 28, 2011

Introducing Ingrid!

We've been somewhat hit and miss in remembering to welcome our newest neighbours on the blog as they come. As it goes in real life, we're pretty busy around here. I'm going to share with you the story of one of our newest members now, and hopefully get the opportunity to tell other stories over time.

Ingrid's story makes me laugh. Mostly because of how graceful her landing has been. Before finding Groundswell cohousing I imagine Ingrid lived in a pretty normal (even beautiful judging by her tastes!) home. She probably had a lot of time to herself, and more than enough personal space. I think she was probably a very typical single empty nester. Working days, enjoying her grandchildren, and such. Life was probably very peaceful before us- but I think we win for joyful chaos.

The first time I met Ingrid was at the community garage sale back in May. She had been around the ecovillage a few times before that, but being that I live in Edmonton, it was my first chance to meet her. She arrived with a van full of beautiful things ready for her garage sale table. She was neat and clean, and kind. I liked her instantly. By the end of the day she had decided she wanted to move here, and I don't think a week went by before her things were moved into the smallest unit available in what we call the "Quad". She will live there until her two bedroom unit is ready for her.

That was fast. I should mention that most people don't move this quickly. For some people, including my family, the decision to jump into cohousing takes longer than that. Wrapping one's head around real community, the joys, and possible pains that come with it takes time. It also usually takes time for a unit to be built, or come available, so Ingrid's story is already quite unique.

And with such grace did Ingrid leap! First, let me tell you about the Quad. We built the Quad a year ago, and to our knowledge it is a new feature for cohousing. The quad is a Strata in itself, meaning each person owns their own unit. Two upper units that are about 650 sq ft (Correct me folks, is that right?) and two lower units measuring 400 sq ft. Each unit has a private bathroom, bedroom, and living quarters, but share a kitchen, dining room, and living room. On top of that, the residents of the quad can also access the main common house and the rest of the common facilities in the neighbourhood. Mini cohousing within cohousing so to speak. It was designed for people that would normally not be able to get into the housing market, and also for people who want to have the enjoyment of room mates while still have enough private space. Let me tell you this; the quad is a special place. It is full of energy and life. People come and go, probably more than Quad livers might like for the moment. There is almost always something cooking in their kitchen, and a large amount of laughter that floats out the windows. Ingrid went from living on her own, to sharing a house with three other people who would have seemed unlikely room mates in any other place. Okay- one part of the Quad is being used as office space right now- but they're still room mates, and that's a story for another day.

So my story continues. I arrived back at the village at the end of July. Ingrid has been settled in for a couple months at this point.

The first day after my arrival Ingrid has already offered her tiny but gorgeously kept home for children to bathe and play in. Right away I note that her bookshelf houses nearly every great book ever written about cohousing. She's done her research.

The second day one of the other mother's and I decide we'll go berry picking. We plan on taking a third mom's children with us while she works on installing her floors with her husband. Hoping to even out the adult to child ratio a bit, we invite Ingrid, who jumps right in. Literally. She ends up sitting between two car seats and the smile never leaves her face. She helps pick berries amongst the chaos of 8 children and at the end of it tells us how well behaved our kids are! Music to every mother's ears!

The third day a group of us plan to meet about our "marketing strategy". Ingrid tags along and takes notes.

The fourth day I find her and another room mate up late making gourmet popcorn. 2:00 am would seem late anywhere but the quad, but not for Ingrid! She's busily transcribing the notes from the day before while laughing and drinking wine.

Not a week later Ingrid averts a near melt-down for me and my kids. My husband has now flown home and I'm on my last straw. We're in her home for bath time and I catch her snuggled up with my three rug rats reading stories. She buys me enough time to actually have my own shower AND a cup of tea. My children finish up a story about the little engine that could and then choo! choo! all the way back to our tent trailer.

Ingrid and several other neighbours show up in the barn for an impromptu dinner with some potential new comers. She delights us all with a story about her day that begins with, "Let me tell you all what an amazing place we live!" She regales us with stories about all her errands throughout the day and how people kept giving her free gourmet delights. She is gleeful.

My daughter falls in love with Ingrid's sweet little doll's house. Ingrid shares it with her openly. Sophie sits for hours playing on Ingrid's floor. Ingrid also gets roped in to performing and song and dance with my daughter. Over the next week I see her perform the routine on three separate occasions. Sophie adores her for this.

Ingrid's daughter comes to visit. She has been away in Bhutan amongst other places. Her, her daughter, and some of her daughter's friends show up around the campfire one night with ice cream and organic blueberries. We invent a new tasty treat now known as the full moon. A full moon is when you stuff blueberries and ice cream into the center of a roasted marshmellow and stuff it in your mouth. You really ought to try one. It'll make you howl, or really fat. not sure which.

Another near melt down. Ingrid joins me and my three overheated children at the spray deck where she leaves me in a spot of shade while she entertains my children on the swings and in the water for over an hour.

Ingrid's Granddaughter visits. Ingrid helps a gaggle of children "surprise the grown ups" by making us lunch, and insists on cleaning up too!

Throughout all of this Ingrid comes and goes. She has other friends and family in the area that keep her busy. One can't be certain if Ingrid will be home or not- but when she's home, she's all in. No matter what we throw at her.

Welcome Ingrid! It's a pleasure to know you!

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