Last Sunday evening, my husband and I were at our church after hours.  We were walking through the sanctuary and the lights were dim.  Walking up the aisle, I spotted a small, nicely folded afghan at the end of a pew.  I smiled with the thought, how nice it is to have the confidence and ownership within the place you come to worship, to leave something of comfort behind, waiting.  It's belonging. Those of my congregation who sit nearby know to whom the blanket belongs.  It's about being part of a family.

I've lived in Santa Rosa County since 1994.  I am a transplant, but it has become my home.  It was a slow change, happening so gradually I didn't notice.  One day, I happened to walk into a meat market store I frequented on Stewart Street. To my surprise, the owner knew me by name.  He smiled at my three little girls and gave them a treat.  Currently, I am known in the shops I typically frequent because I have shopped there often for years:  the farmer's market, the feed and seed, the bank and of course, the hometown newspaper.

Upon returning to the Santa Rosa Press Gazette as a news reporter, it was like coming home.  The faces greeting me in the mornings are the same, my desk resides in a familiar corner, and the memorable scent of the old press lingers, even after it's departure five years ago.

I've always tried to slow down the sands of time by keeping the life of my family simple. Now, those three little girls are grown women facing life assuredly, hence opening a new chapter of life for my husband and me.  Whilst traipsing up and down Caroline Street, taking photos and writing about the life of Santa Rosans, I report on the happenings of our community. My neighborhood is very much a part of my life.

My husband asked me on Sunday night why I was smiling as we walked towards the door.  I told him it was the afghan and I thought it was sweet someone from our church felt comfortable enough to leave it for another cold Sunday.  "Huh," he said, "I thought someone just forgot their blanket."  My reply to that was simply, "That's why you've got me."