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April 23, 2009

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certainly something went very wrong when garage doors replaced porches at the fronts of houses. in recent years, seattle has been overrun by new townhomes--clusters of duplexes, quads and more shoehorned into lots where single family houses stood before. most are uninspired, poorly sited, cheaply built cookie cutter development, but even among this general drab dreariness there are degrees of distinction. the worst among them sport too few windows and offer as their greeting to the street garage doors. Faust sold his soul for absolute knowledge; today's car commuters trade theirs for convenience. the built-in garage makes it possible to go from kitchen to car to cubicle and back without ever stepping outside. the lack of an interface with the street makes every home a fortress of solitude, a paranoid refuge from imagined hordes. not so with porches--those inviting smiles on the faces of buildings. adria and craig's is especially lovely--deep, broad, comfortably worn by generations of sun-soaked lazy afternoons. it is itself a destination as well as departure point for conversations with passing strangers. recently, craig and i were basking there on our backs, eyes closed, watching pink eyelid movies, when we both looked up to find an elderly neighbor staring at our inert bodies, close enough and about ready to poke us with her cane. "i thought you might be dead!" she said. "not yet!" and everyone laughed.