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What Sprang Up in Our Neighborhood?

From the BookShelf Writers

The BookShelf Writers consist of four Estero Bay women who have been writing and critiquing together for over five years. For more samples of their work, please visit www.the

Each issue, this column will feature one of the BookShelf Writers: Debbie Black, Catherine “Kiki” Kornreich, Judy Salamacha and Susan Vasquez.

July 1, 2021

What the heck is that? What will the next blob blow up to be at the Happy Little Holiday House? Story & Photo by Debbie Black

Our neighborhood in Cayucos is probably just like yours if you have the good fortune to live here on the coast — it’s wonderfully organic.
Being a retired landscape architect, organic suits me just fine. Tiny bungalows, new crispy contemporary houses and everything in between — all different colors, no two houses alike. No sidewalks. Even the horrible mess of overhead wires has a somewhat slap-dash, organic nature.
Are there lots of trashcans and a few weedy yards? Sure, but I now prefer that to a tightly regulated, uniform neighborhood. I’ll take the organic, eclectic, and relaxed and all that comes with it.

We’re a neighborhood of walkers. We stroll with our dogs down the middle of the street. The lack of sidewalks is okay with us. Drivers wave and ease past as we scuttle to the side.

A chalkboard by the front door of one house offers wise words like, “Every day may not be a good day, but every day has some good in it.” At another house, a small umbrella shades a basket offering good avocadoes for $1.25. We’ve had a neighborhood iguana, various macaws and exotic birds, as well as all manner of wildlife. We have singles, couples, families, babies, nonagenarians as well as a myriad livelihoods and professions, active and retired.
As varied as we are, the one thing we have in common is our love of the bay. Beautiful, dynamic Estero Bay. The Great Unifier that brought us all to this place and gives us cause to appreciate every foggy, sunny, windy, calm, crowded, or quiet day.

So, our neighborhood probably sounds just like yours. We do, however, have something uniquely ours—the Happy Little Holiday House. That’s what I call the sweet turquoise cottage on Orville Avenue that I walk by every day with my dog, Chase.
A few years ago, the little cottage was purchased by Nelson and Erin who lovingly reroofed it, painted it a happy turquoise with festive awning and installed new landscaping, a tiny front yard sitting area with striped umbrella and new white picket fence. But wait! This cheerful addition to the neighborhood gets better.

Enter the ideal renters, Marcia and Tawnya, who moved into the little cottage in December 2019 and immediately began adding fanciful garden decorations. Every day, I noticed something new: hearts, stars, a red glass ball, stacked stones…
Then one day in October 2020 (deep into the bleak pandemic), a curious blob materialized in one of their planters. What the heck was that? Neighborhood anticipation didn’t last long. A few days later, right before Halloween, up popped a 10’ tall ghost—much to the delight of all of us, from toddlers to seniors.

“We got so much positive feedback and the neighbors all made a point of letting us know how much they loved and enjoyed it, that we decided to do it for every holiday—becoming our holiday tradition,” Tawnya and Marcia shared with me.
They said the kids in the neighborhood have a contest to guess what will be next. The favorite, so far, popped up for St. Patrick’s Day — a leprechaun riding a unicorn that the kids named “Sparky” and “Sparkles,” respectively.

So far, the two women have added Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter and Memorial Day. In addition to the inflatables, they’ve put up holiday-specific lights, flags and house decorations. Now you can see why I named it the Happy Little Holiday House. We get to celebrate holidays all year ‘round!

Tawnya and Marcia have given this neighborhood a little pocket of happiness. You can’t walk by or drive by without smiling. Like everyone else, Chase and I are anxious to see what pops up for the Fourth of July! There’s already a blob there.

At this point in my life, I have the time to stop and savor the things that make my neighborhood colorful and unique. Things like the HLHH.
More than anywhere else I’ve lived, there’s a feeling of togetherness here. Maybe it’s the relaxed coastal attitude. Maybe it’s that shared appreciation for the ocean and Estero Bay. Maybe it’s the “negative ions” coming off the water. Maybe it’s all of that. Without a doubt, it’s organic, and it’s part of what we share, from point to point, on Estero Bay.

Debbie Black is a member of The BookShelf Writers. To see more of her work, please visit

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