There goes the neighborhood |

There goes the neighborhood

by Ron Walker

Just down the road is a small cottage. Three sheep have the run of the front yard. A mile in the other direction, U.S. Senator Dean Heller resides on an estate befitting a prominent government official. Halfway in between, on Garms Circle, is where Orllyene and I live. It takes all of us to make a neighborhood.

It was just a year ago that Debbie and her husband Greg became our neighbors. Greg is a retired American Airlines pilot, turned rancher. He says he’s working harder now than he’s ever worked in his whole life. Debbie is not so easily explained. Getting to know Debbie is like trying to capture a drop of mercury with your bare hands.

“How did you and Greg meet?” I ask. “Well, we met on spring break, and that was the end of college,” she replies, with a mischievous smile. “Wait a minute. You have an accounting business,” I interject. “I went back to school and restudied accounting. Right now I’m taking 20 clients to trial balance. I’m so glad they stayed with me when we moved here from California,” she explains. Later she tells me about a health food store she opened in Sun Valley, a marketing venture that utilized her floral talents in Palm Desert, and several physical fitness projects. Debbie’s business savvy is clear. The conundrum is that she’s also a dynamite jazz dancer. I discovered this when she taught my dance classes while I was recuperating from a hip replacement procedure. She has the stamina of teenager and the grace of a gazelle. Maybe 5’4″ and all of a hundred pounds, Debbie is pure electricity. She lives her life the way she dances. Full Out. This summer she put in a garden. She promptly proceeded to supply the neighborhood with tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, potatoes and watermelons. This fall, she processed bushels of apples. In her garage are two freezers full of apple juice, which she plans to enjoy and distribute.

Sitting quietly in her comfortable living room, with a toasty fire blazing away in the fireplace, I hear myself say, “Debbie, how do you see life? You treat everyone totally the same.” Long pause. “That’s a hard one. Life is to be shared and enjoyed. At first I was depressed when we moved here. The wind blew every day, but now this is the friendliest neighborhood I have ever lived in,” she says. Keith and Carla gave a party the other night. As the party was winding down, I heard Orllyene say, “Debbie, you were the life of the party. You made us all so happy.” “No, no, you were the life of the party,” Debbie countered.

Debbie’s fervent friendliness makes me ask about her spiritual beliefs. Softly and deliberately she replies, “I believe in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Putting people in the box of religions stereotypes people,” she says. Her spiritual side shows itself as our neighborhood good Samaritan. Sometimes her gift is a jar of delicious homemade soup. At other times, it’s a cheery call on the telephone. As busy as she is, she always has time to visit.

If you’re ever out this way, and would like to meet Debbie, I’m sure it could be arranged. Come to think of it, I’ll bet she’ll even offer you a glass of apple juice.

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Ron Walker lives in Smith Valley. He can be reached at

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