Spent some nice time with Ann today, as she needed to write a letter in Spanish and her husband, DJ Sneaky Hippie, was over spinning for the broadcast. She is a dear friend, and as with most of my dear friends, I don't spend nearly enough quality time with her. Of course, one of the features of my life here is a lack of obligation, so we're not beholden to meet some quota of time spent. We're not keeping score, and within reason, we all get busy or go through times when we just don't want to see people so much.

She told me about the Home Buyer Assistance Center, a nonprofit that seems to be doing some (to me, being not from California) amazing things to help people own homes around here. Everyone acknowledges that real estate prices are insane here, so banks are already willing to loan greater amounts of money--it's possible, but don't count on finding a decent 2-3 bedroom house for less than $250,000, as the median home price all across California for December 2001 was $276,940 (according to the California Association of Realtors; for all of Northern California it was $201,410, but in the Bay Area, $469,220. This doesn't really work for anyone: residents don't make enough money to buy homes, and the city suffers, since municipal bond credit ratings benefit from a higher percentage of homeowners, and the city as a community and an attractive place for people and businesses to live benefits by creating a stable, probably family-based population, with a vested interest in improving the quality of life.

So, to encourage all this homeowning happiness, governments and nonprofits have apparently set up programs that will, for example, let you use a $50,000 interest-free don't-have-to-start-paying-it-back-for-15-years loan towards your down payment. And if you go through the free new homebuyer's orientation program (which I want to), you get a certificate that aids in your getting a loan to buy a house. Pretty impressive stuff, and makes the prospects vastly less gloomy than I thought they were.

All of which brought to mind my longstanding scheme to set up a close-proximity area to which I could move all my friends and we could all hang out and have gardens and pets and create a Nice Place To Live[tm]. Which reminded me of cohousing, which has been on my list of things to research, except that I've been unemployed and in Mexico, on a sailboat, none of which is really conducive to thinking about making some kind of intentional community in California. But, I'm back, with actual prospects of employment (yes, still waiting to hear from VA sometime this week), and thinking about maybe 3-5 years from now, or even earlier, I could be at a place in my life where I could buy a house, with a yard, and I could get a dog...or something.

           <mona> HOWLER MONKEY!!

Mmmmmmm, Mona.

Ooh! Cookies!