Tag Archives: generosity

February 26, 2015

We have lived next door to Frank and Tony for over 12 years now, and there are so many reasons why we are grateful to have them as our neighbors and friends. They have been welcoming and generous towards us since the day we moved in, always inviting us to their family gatherings, bringing gifts from their trips, and always being very attentive to Theo and checking in on how he’s doing at school and with his friends. Thanks to Frank, who has for several seasons given us extra tickets to Dodgers games, Theo has been able to enjoy watching his local baseball team from good seats, and once watched in awe as his Daddy actually caught a foul ball. After our house fire, Frank and Tony were there for us in so many ways, watching over the house for us while we were living elsewhere, dealing with construction work going on next to them day after day, and letting us know when things weren’t going well on our block. Even after we moved back in, they were heroic. One week after we moved back into our house, Theo had caught head lice at school, and our new washer and dryer had not been installed properly. I was distraught, as I had to wash all the bedding and lots of clothes and towels. When I knocked on their door and asked them if I could wash and dry several loads of potentially louse-ridden laundry at their house, they didn’t even wince.

Awonderfulworldbennettlang

Over the years, we have been through many milestones with them: the death of Frank’s father and of David’s mother, Theo’s birth, Tony’s cancer, our house fire, the death of two of their dear dogs and our precious cat, and their legal marriage after many years living together. For too many of these years we have also unfortunately been involved in a strained relationship with another of our neighbors, which has been difficult but has ultimately brought the four of us closer. I think Frank and Tony and David and I have come to value good neighbors all the more because of it. Today, I decided to give them a CD and chose k.d. lang and Tony Bennett’s A Wonderful World, a delightful collaboration between two of the finest voices of our time and a lovely collection of upbeat and soulful songs that will cheer up any room. The CD is also a reminder that it is beloved family, warm friends and good neighbors who make our world so wonderful.

February 15, 2015

To a Brit, there is very little that can lift the spirits like a good cup of tea. Whether it’s drunk at 3 o’clock or 4 o’clock, made with tea bags or loose tea, prepared with the tea or milk poured first, a nice cuppa can warm your body and soul, boost your energy level and make you feel loved and comforted in a way that coffee just cannot. A couple of years ago our friend Krista decided to open up a café that specializes in excellent teas of all kinds, scones and other treats, as well as the usual coffee drinks found in an LA café. Despite all the permit nightmares, she and her husband Nick endeavored to realize her vision of a cozy neighborhood café in a neighborhood of Los Angeles that is lacking in such laptop- and family-friendly spaces. On Vermont Avenue, just across from LA City College, the Red Dragon Cafe (http://www.thereddragoncafe.com) is refreshingly not Starbucks, nor is it a traditional British caff. The walls were painted by local graffiti artists, very few of the chairs match and there’s a little “kid cave” space behind the couch where youngsters can play or read while their parents sip tea. Some evenings there’s live music, even open-mike events. Because it’s not in our neighborhood, we don’t manage to get there often, but today, we drove over there to give Krista a chair we no longer needed for our son Theo’s room. Because it looks nothing like the other chairs there, it fit right in.

20150215_155733_resized

It’s always heart-warming to talk to Nick and Krista. They are some of the most generous, kind-hearted people we know. They have a darling son a little younger than Theo, and an adorable daughter they adopted, and recently they have welcomed into their family a delightful teenage girl who needed a safer home than the one she was born into. And the café is more than just a business; it’s also a way of training and providing jobs for capable local young people. Although Nick has a hectic work schedule and Krista battles with an auto-immune condition, they are constantly giving to others. Whenever I spend time with them, I leave with lifted spirits, and I know it’s not just the tea. It’s because their efforts give me hope and faith in humanity and motivate me to push myself to a higher level as a person.