Posts Tagged ‘neighbors’

It’s gonna be a little kitsch, but I don’t care.

April 11, 2017

The idea came to me when I was on a run, like all of the best ideas do. I think I had passed a house that had a giant butterfly or two attached to the roof (talk about kitsch), which made me think of our neighbor when we were growing up, Albina.

Albina was like a grandmother to us. She was quiet, and kept to herself, and with our side yard being so big (more than two house lots, but just), it wasn’t like we could throw pleasantries over the fence. So we kids talked to her whenever she was out gardening and we were out playing, and she must have talked to my parents from time to time. I know that when she drove past in her little four-door sedan (with the electric windows that we thought were so. fancy.) and we were outside, she would stop and talk to mum.

Not only did we talk to Albina when she was outside gardening (which seemed like all the time – the woman loved her flowers and plants), she sometimes borrowed me to help her run errands. We go driving around the city, picking up various things. I think she liked the company. She didn’t have any family. So I was her stand-in granddaughter. And I liked that. She always took me to McDonald’s for lunch when we ran errands, and she knew all the best McDonald’s with the coolest outside playgrounds. Even if the “cool” ones were far away, she would take me there. She liked to treat me.

Sometimes the errands we ran included picking up new ceramics from her supplier. Albina ran a ceramics class out of the basement on her side of her duplex. The shelves were lines with unpainted figurines. Everything from bears to kittens to clocks to doll’s heads and hands. Everything! She had shelves and shelves. She had two long tables with chairs and so many jars of paint! And there was a TV and two giant kilns in the corner. It was a wonderland!

For a couple summers, Albina taught Kim and I ceramics two days a week. We’d go over in the afternoon and stay for an hour or so. Albina would pick out a piece for us (or sometimes ask us for ideas) and that’s what we’d work on. We did Care Bear banks, a Holly Hobby clock, a baseball nighlight for Joey, and so many other things. We’d paint whatever section Albina had picked out for us, and we’d use whatever paint she gave us. There wasn’t really a lot of choice involved, but we didn’t mind. And we watched Albina’s show, Days of Our Lives, while we painted. Mum wasn’t very pleased about that, but not enough to say something. I laughed to myself when my roommate in college was addicted to that show and I still knew so many of the characters, just from the short time I spent watching it with Albina.

One of our favorite things about ceramics class, though, was the walk. We’d leave our yard, walk to the end, past the three giant pine trees, and turn onto Beanie’s path. (Beanie is what we called her; she always chuckled so at her nickname!) Once we hit her walkway, Kim and I would start counting the ceramics we saw attached to Beanie’s roof, or the side of her house, or hidden in her garden. There were gnomes and butterflies, kittens and frogs, signs and mushrooms and stepping stones. It was all so magical! Truly, each piece felt like a talisman of some sort.

And so that’s my tribute: I want to start placing nice pieces of ceramics around my gardens, fairy gardens, and house. I want to cover my yard in a tribute to Albina. I’ll try my best to keep it from being too tacky, because I want to capture a little bit of the magic that Beanie’s house had. I think keeping most of the pieces at least partially hidden might be key.

We’ll see. I have an entire yard and house to start decorating. Kitschy or a bit magical – I’ll let you know how it turns out.


Oh, trust me – it would be justifiable homicide.

March 15, 2017

I was thinking of how many people would be mad at me – my cousins, my friends, my siblings (well, one of them), my girls, myself (…eh)… And so I didn’t open the gate. I grabbed that dog by the collar and I started the trek across the grass, through the mud, flung open the gate (with my hand very firmly on the dog’s collar), and marched him over to the neighbor’s house. For the fifth time in three days.

Everyone on Facebook has heard the complaints already. My neighbor means well. He does. He tries to be a good neighbor, a good father, and an honorable man. The problem is… well, there are a few of them. There’s a language barrier, which makes any interaction with him a struggle. He works two or three jobs to provide for his large, extended family who live with him. He spoils his two sons (ages 7 & 9 maybe?) rotten so that they’re absolute brats when he’s not around (uh, which is any time between 6a and 10p, because two jobs). So, yeah, a few problems. The latest of which is that they have too many dogs and not enough f*@)s to give.

The first dog the family has is not a favorite in our end of the neighborhood. It’s allowed to roam freely and it will charge and nip you (or just plain terrorize you) if my neighbor isn’t out. And the boys? I mentioned how terrible they are; they don’t care to make the beagle/Jack Russel terrier mix stay in their yard while they play. So I was a little leery when I found out about the second dog, a pit bull/rhinoceros mix who is so sweet, but so huge! and likes to jump on you from behind and smother you in puppy kisses.

I found out about the second puppy, Brownie, the last time I had to go yell at the neighbor for leaving the dog(s) out all night and letting them whine under my bedroom window for two hours at 2 a.m. [That’s also when I saw my neighbor hit his son for leaving the gate open and letting the dog get out at night. Which, uh, no thanks.] I really got to know Brownie, though, when neighbor caught me one day when I came home from work. Sidestory! I had just put down the garage and heard someone banging on the garage door just before it finished sliding all the way down. Who does that?! Creepers and serial killers, that’s who! The “knocking” continued, so I went into the house, stepped around a frenzied Fenway, looked out the front window and didn’t see anyone. Because they were already knocking on my front door. The peephole (god bless peepholes) said it was my neighbor, so I went out and we struggled through a conversation (the man speaks three languages, I’m not knocking him; it’s just painful) about replacing the fence on our shared side of the yard. I knew it was something I was going to have to do after I got my taxes back – that fence is beyond rotten. Slats are missing. We’ve patched the holes as best we can to keep the dogs away from each other. And his kids like to throw things through the missing parts because: brats. So I had unlatched the gate and we were walking back there and talking and Brownie was with him, unleashed, just jumping on the two of us and trying to love on everything. And marking his territory everywhere. Pooping in my yard. You know. Neighbor dude mentioned how the puppy was eating everything in his house and wasn’t training up really well, but his boys loved him. I noted how friendly the dog was cried a little on the inside because all we needed was another problem dog.

And problem dog he was. Thank GOD the sweet pup-pup was as loving as he was. If he was mean, I’d probs be dead or mangled by now. Because that dang thing can wiggle through some pretty small holes, which is a doggy miracle, given the size of the thing. He immediately started busting into our yard, trying to get to Fenway. Or see what there was to see. Or just because – who knows. I just know that half the times I looked up into our yard, there would be Brownie. At first I just coaxed him back through the holes left by the missing fence slats. Neighbor and I kept replacing them, or jimmying together some temporary fix that we thought patched the fence good enough to prevent jailbreaks. But there would be that dang dog again. Brownie would come up to me when I went outside to “fix” it – eventually. He might dance up and dart away a few times, wanting to give me some puppy kisses, but knowing I was going to send him away. If I wasn’t so frustrated, I woulda laughed at how obviously torn the puppy was.

I kinda lost my patience after this weekend, though. Five jailbreaks in three days. FIVE. The dog was tearing my screens trying to see in the house, chewing on my patio furniture, and pooping on the patio! (The poop ended up over the fence on top of the neighbor’s a/c unit. I don’t know how. Honestly. ish.) I was all done being a good neighbor.

I started bringing the dog to their front door, thinking that would emphasize to them how often this was happening. Then I put the dog on a leash to give them an idea that they could let their dog out on a leash. In fact, when the boys answered the door, I started making that suggestion. “You guys need to get this under control, or maybe use a leash.” And then, “Tell your dad that he needs to hurry up and fix the fence, or you’ll have to use a leash for the dog every time because this is getting ridiculous.” That was the time the boys slammed the door in my face as soon as they had the puppy. And I might have yelled through the door exactly what I thought of that response when I was being pretty cool about the dang dog. I thought about telling my neighbor about the door being slammed in my face, but since he had hit the boys before for not listening to him, I didn’t want to be a party to whatever fallout would happen if he knew his kids had disrespected me that way. But I did plenty of fuming.

This is when everyone started telling me to start documenting the problem, or maybe call animal control. But I hated to do that. My neighbor genuinely is a good guy. He’s just not there because he’s trying to live the American Dream and you need a lot of paychecks to do that when you’re making what we’re making. He’s a guy who patched my roof once and has offered 2938209348 times since then to help with it again. He always waves and would help with any problem I had. When I went over to complain about his dog, he thought I was talking about the stray dog that had attacked him, and so he took a butcher knife because he thought he was coming out to rescue me. Neighbor is a good guy – just absent and not able to easily communicate when he is there. So I don’t think he’s manipulating the situation or trying to take advantage of me. The neighbors would judge me if I called the cops on one of us (we’re a tight-knit community and we try to handle our problems inside the family first), even though I’m sure they’d understand once I explained. So I don’t think Neighbor was banking on me not breaking the code, either. I think he just doesn’t know how often it’s happening because he’s not there and his bratty boys aren’t telling him.

I was already past the point of caring how mad anyone got because I was done. I had had a long day at work, I didn’t need to chase down and drag the neighbor’s dog back to his house twice. I wanted to unwind and go to bed in peace. But I couldn’t, because the doorbell rang at 9 p.m. I stared at the door, jaw agape, wondering what the heck. I had just started shutting down the house for the night, but the lights where still on so they could see someone was up. That doesn’t obligate me to answer the door, but I had a sneaky suspicion that it was the neighbors. I had heard a noise outside and did a quick scan, but didn’t see Brownie. Then again, it was pitch black. Which also meant I couldn’t see who was at the door without putting on the porch lights. I couldn’t put on porch lights without them knowing I was up. The doorbell had run again and knocking had started while I tried to decide what to do. Finally I decided that if I didn’t answer and it was the neighbors looking for their dog, they’d probably just open my gate and come on in. Which, after I opened the door, saw it was one of the boys, and let him through the house to go get the dog from the yard, I found out is exactly what happened. But no dog. I hoped that the dog had escaped and was running around the neighborhood, never to be found (yes, I’m a bad person going to hell), but after I ushered the neighbors out of my house and my yard, I heard them out in their front and back yards yelling and shrieking and whistling – but mostly shrieking – for more than thirty minutes. Yes, Spring Break week, but who lets their kids be that loud outside after 9p on a weeknight?!

So I’m done. Done, done, done. I haven’t quite figured out what that means, but for sure there’s going to be a firm discussion with my neighbor. And I’m going to hand him one of my extra leashes, because I’m pretty sure he’ll follow through on that plan. But something has to be done. If the fence can’t be fixed right now, then maybe they need a run for their dog. I’ll tell him that the last thing I want to do is create hard feelings by calling animal control to report the dog when it’s gotten loose, but the situation has gotten out of control.

Like I said – justifiable homicide. The problem is, at this point I’m not sure if I’m more upset with the dog, the neighbor, or those two bratty boys!

Rule the Second: Love Thy Neighbors.

September 2, 2010

It has been a tough week. I’ve been dealing with family drama, my mom’s Parkinson’s has not been very nice, I’m having boy issues, a hurricane is possibly headed for my sister’s house and my mom’s house, I’m working through some issues with The Ex, and on top of everything else, I’m sick. I honestly had no idea what in the world I was going to write about for Love Thursday until I got home from work last night.

I pulled into my driveway and saw my neighbor in her yard. I’ve been meaning to walk over there to ask how much I owed them for the fence since it’s been fixed for a little while now. So I said hello and we exchanged a few pleasantries and I asked Sandy how much I owed them. She said not to worry about it for a little while – the receipt was somewhere inside her house…but she wasn’t quite sure where. The filter on her fridge malfunctioned while they were on vacation (of course) and the entire back half of her house had flooded. They’ve been living out of a hotel for the past week, stopping by each day only long enough to feed the dog and pick up their clothes.

You can imagine how quickly my jaw dropped and I started thanking God that at least my house was (please, please) still in one piece. Ohhhhh, I could have it so much worse than I already do! Thankfully, Michael and Sandy’s homeowner’s insurance is paying for everything, but the clean up is moving at a snail’s pace. I told Sandy anything I could do to help, just to let me know. I even offered to watch CeeCee. Yep, I offered to watch That Irrascible Dog. Yes, it will be rather annoying if CeeCee barks through the night and I’m responsible, and it will be a bit annoying if I have to clean up after accidents, and a little problematic if she eats the girls toys (or worse). But if your neighbors are having to replace floors, furniture, cabinets, appliances – you help them out any way you can. I’m pretty sure Love Thy Neighbor is one of The Rules, anyways. Also? I love that crazy dog, CeeCee. Even if she is a little highstrung. And I love my girls. (If Sandy and Michael take me up on it, I’m a lock for Mother of the Year when Gracie and Bee find out!) That’s why I made the offer even though my life is a bit crazy right now.

Happy Love Thursday, everyone. Go out of your way today to do something extraordinary and selfless for someone you care about. (Although I will stipulate that mine might not really qualify as selfless since I could potentially medal in Mommying!)

I should carry my social planner.

September 16, 2009
I have a funny running story to tell you. I have been kicking butt lately. I don’t know if I’ve just been lucky, or if it’s because of the low temps, or if I’ve finally broken through the mystical “wall” everyone keeps talking about, but I’ve been running my set amount of time in one spurt lately instead of breaking it up. Monday night? I ran for 12 minutes straight. I might also be the world’s slowest runner, because I only covered three-quarters of a mile, but, hey. I ran slowly on purpose so that I could run longer. Endurance first. Speed later. But that’s just bragging; it’s not part of the story.The funny part is all of the people I’m starting to meet. My subdivision is pretty secluded. We’re in the middle of a rural pocket of the city. The street that you drive on (between two major highways) to get to my subdivision? Is home to several cattle farms. R-u-r-a-l. I think that’s part of the reason why the 300 or so families who live in my subdivision are so tight-knit. We have a crime watch group and an email distribution list and, generally speaking, everyone knows everyone. Not me. I know some people. I live directly across from the most social guy in the neighborhood. “Jimmy Buffett,” as we call him for his open bar, loud music, and Hawaiian shirts, now he knows everyone. I’ve been going over to hang out with the guys and gals who congregate in Jimmy Buffett’s garage after I finish my runs. There are usually a few random people hanging out there besides just the people from our corner of the subdivision and they usually remark about how they always see me out running. I’ve become “that crazy running chick.”

I thought I knew most of the people who lived in our neighborhood – or if I didn’t know them, Jimmy Buffett had at least mentioned anyone to me whom I might need to know. Like so-and-so from the next street over knows so-and-so who might work with me – do I know them? Stuff like that. But I found out coincidentally that one of the families from my same daycare live in a different part of our neighborhood, and I thought it was odd that Jimmy Buffett hadn’t mentioned it and I hadn’t known. Then, there was the incident a few weeks ago. See, there’s this dad who I run into most mornings. He carries both of his little boys into daycare, one in each arm. One little boy goes down to the baby room, and the other one is just younger than Bee, but goes into the open classroom the daycare staffs until enough kids are there to separate into classrooms. Anyway, I always run into this dad and we say hello and go along our merry way. So two weeks ago, I was running along the street at the back of the subdivision and I see this familiar-looking guy get out of his truck. It was really hot and my brain was obviously addled, because it took me a minute or two to place him. Then I realized it was Daycare Dad. Now, Daycare Dad is always dressed in casual tshirts and jeans when he drops his kids off, so I thought he had a late shift or went back home to change before work. And one day I saw him drive off towards another section of town, so I had it in my head that he lived over there. So when I saw him that night when I was running, when we started talking, I asked him where he lived. “Uh…here?” he responded. I can’t blame him for thinking I was dotty.

Then, last night, I was almost through with my 12-minute run, about to shift into walking the last two laps, when I saw one of Gracie’s best friends, her little brother, and her dad (another one I usually run into) get out of their car at a different house in my subdivision. Gracie’s friend ran over to give me a hug and I exclaimed, “You guys live here, too?” I hastily explained that I had recently found out two other families from daycare lived in our subdivision, too. We were all happily surprised and set up a possible playdate for this weekend. Gracie was thrilled!

Me, too. This has become quite the adventure. I never know who I’m going to trip over while I’m out running. Maybe, if I’m really good and hope and pray and do all sorts of good-luck dances, I’ll trip over Tom Brady visiting a random relative or something. Yeah, not likely – but apparently in my neighborhood, you meet all sorts of random people when you’re out for a run.