Self-portrait: After the Thanksgiving feast, Berkeley, CA.

The above scene is the dining room at my brother-in-law’s,  also effectively known as my back yard. Of interest to no one except my cat, who can’t read, is that the critter to my left is Emma, also known as She Who Can’t Stop Raiding My Cat’s Food Supply.

We co-house with my brother-in-law and his family, but in the cheating way, since by now (after 5 or 6 years in the same duplex) we have our own discrete homes on the shared lot. They’re heavy investors in our home, and we share finances and water bills and vehicles and lawn mowers and waffle irons and the gargabe & recycling cans and, up until recently, a phone bill (my brother-in-law’s tweens began to have their own cell phones and the number of accounts just got an eensy bit too much to manage).

We have neatly printed lists, sequenced by general food category and aisle, for our two local grocery stores (the mainstay, Trader Joe’s, and the organical produce source, Berkeley Natural Grocery), and we alternate taking on grocery runs for each household weekly. The cashier usually gapes at the groaning shopping cart (to the brim! every time!) and I have but to say: “Co-housing for the win!” It being Berkeley, they pause a beat, get it, and then tuck into the multi-family haul.

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