I Was In The Neighborhood

Neighborhood

I recently wrote about some neighbors from Hell, and some of you indicated that you had some first-hand experience.

In nearly 50 years of marriage, we’ve never had any really bad ones, merely ‘interesting’ ones, like the kids in the other half of our current semi-detached.  A girl, 8, and a boy, 6, who never ‘walk’ down stairs, they sound like they have a collection of bowling balls, which they pour down.  My son works all night, and ‘tries’ to sleep during the day.  These two rattle cups in our kitchen on the side away from them.

In a public housing complex, one neighbor was a single mother. She’d had a son, and then, 25 years later, a change-of-life daughter who she indulged.  The kid wanted a kitten, and was given one, but neither the 10-year-old, nor her pet was allowed in the house when Mom was not there.

Too poor/stupid to buy a harness or collar, the girl put a heavy cord around the kitten’s neck and tied it to a cedar bush while she was at school. One day the kitten was startled by something, and leapt up into the bush a couple of times.  My wife happened to look out our back window, to see it dangling from the cord.  She rushed out in time to save it, and spoke to the mother.  The kitten bit the girl, and she threw it down the basement stairs.  It survived that, but eventually ‘disappeared.’

She was given a pet rabbit. I’d forgotten about the no pets in the house rule.  I came home from work about 3PM one afternoon, to see a blue, plastic, recycling box inverted in the back yard, in the blazing sun.  An hour later, the kid showed up and removed an almost heat-stroked bunny from beneath.  I told her not to leave her pet in the sun.  “Well, it was shady there when I left.”  [The sun moves during the day, you little ****!]

Like daughter, like Mother. She came by her dumb honestly.  I came home one day to see the mother’s car with a coat hanger sticking out of the top of the driver’s window – oh-oh!  Sure enough, when I went inside, the wife told me that she’d locked her keys in the car.  The wife had explained the catch the lock with a coat hanger, but her fingers weren’t strong enough.

I went out and had it open in a couple of minutes, and took a bundle of keys that a building custodian would be proud of, to the door. I told her that she should have another set of keys for just this situation.  “Oh, I have a second set of keys.”  “Well, where are they?” “On the chain, with the others.”

The kid was a little pudgy, and her mother restricted her diet, possibly why she wasn’t allowed alone in the house. We always had a bag of hard candies in our glove compartment, to suck on, on long drives, to avoid the need to stop at Burger King for drinks.  This was when I first started regularly locking the car, when the candy disappeared for the second time.  I also installed a locking gas-cap, because some people in the complex had their gas-tanks siphoned, and others had water, pop, sugar and sand poured in.

In my Racism Hurts post, I wrote of a beige neighbor from Guyana, who was such an asshole that he qualified for the ‘Paki’ label. A problem to others, he was more entertaining, if irritating to us.

We rented a brand new house which a relative had purchased as an investment. A pair of young professionals had it built, but he got a great job offer in another city, even before they moved in.  We had to meet his wife there to get the keys.

She assured us that they had not lived in it, but her brother had, for a couple of months, while getting an apartment after a messy divorce. What few possessions he had left were locked in the garage, and would be gone by the weekend.  I grabbed the garage-door handle and lifted….and the door rolled up.  Of course, he had to surrender the key; it’s not locked.  I rolled the door down and said nothing.  It’s not my problem.

Our problem was the young couple who moved in on the other side. She was the airhead instigator. He was the ‘Yes dear.  Yes dear.’  A new house – we went almost a year without a paved driveway, clattering in over mud and gravel.  Finally, I helped the owner lay timbers as a frame, on their side.

A city by-law requiring that all structures, like fences and driveways, had to be 2 feet inside the property line had been rescinded. The legal maximum width for a single dwelling driveway was 17 feet.  We drove two cars, so he and I made it 18 feet wide, bringing the timbers to about 3 inches from the property line.

After it was filled and paved, I came home one day, and found three little bamboo sticks between the houses, the kind you tie flowers up to. Not very straight, the line between any two would miss the third by 2 or 3 inches, but Hmmm….

Sure enough, the next time he saw me outside, he told me that my driveway was on his property.  “No, it’s not.”  “Yes it is!  You’re going to have to tear it apart, and remove some of it.”  “It’s not on your property!  Why would you think it was?”  “Well, I measured.”  “Measured from where?”  “I measured from the house.”  That explains the gardening stakes.

I asked why he hadn’t measured from the survey marker. “Huh?”  I walked down to the sidewalk and pulled back the sod we’d cut to put the timbers in.  There, 3 inches on his side, was the large steel spike that the surveyor had pounded in at the property line.  “Uh – Okay.  Never mind.”

That winter, I began by pushing the snow on the outside of the driveway, into the drainage swale between the houses. One day, I came home to find my wife embroiled in an altercation.  Apparently (the female) one of them had figured that, in the spring, when the snow melted, instead of flowing downhill into the sewer, the melt-water would flow 3 feet uphill, over the edge of their foundation, and flood their basement.

There she was, on a snowy, December front porch, in a bathrobe and slippers, screaming, “You fat pig! You fat pig!” at my poor wife.  Not exactly the way to win an argument.  Still, from then on, I pushed the snow down a short driveway, and piled it on the City-owned Boulevard in front of their house till they couldn’t see over it, across the street, and there wasn’t a thing they could say about it.

They say that good fences make good neighbors, but even Trump couldn’t build a fence high enough to make this pair of morons good. 😯

2017 A To Z Challenge – C

Challenge2017

In mining other people’s prompts for this post, I dug up a lot of other options but, for the letter

Letter C

it all came down to one choice. I have to write about CANADA!

Canada 150

This is Canada’s sesquicentennial. That’s just a sesquipedalian word that means we’re 150 years old this year.  We’ve been at this ‘country’ thing for a century and a half.  The Government is so thrilled that it directed the Bank of Canada to issue a new, commemorative $10 bill, which features people and places that even Canadians have never heard of.

Canadian Bill

The US gained its freedom by revolting, a definition still agreed on by much of the world. Canada became independent by asking nicely.

50 years ago, we celebrated our Centennial. I should apologise to the rest of the world, especially the Americans, for Pamela Anderson.  She was declared Canada’s Official Centennial Baby, being born the soonest after the stroke of midnight that began July 1-1967, CANADA Day.

The problem was that she was born out on the Left-Coast, beautiful-bud, British Columbia. The Centennial was already 5 ½ hours old in Newfoundland and the rest of Canada, by the time it dawned on her.  Continually told throughout her childhood that she was Special, as she grew older she decided to inflict it on prove it to other people, by getting into TV/movies.

The best thing that she ever did for Canada was move to California, where she became the bulbous Baywatch bitch. After that was cancelled, she became a born-again vegetarian, and endured a lackluster career of dressing up in lettuce leaves and shoving her boobs and her unfounded, ill-considered opinions into other people’s faces.

Canada Kicks Ass

The wife and I got married as a Centennial project. We were going to leave it until the next year, but saw little reason to wait, so we moved the date up to Dec. 2 – 1967.  We almost caused an evil-minded, judgemental, Catholic sister-in-law to wear out her fingers, counting the months till the birth of our first child.  The daughter fooled her, and saved her fingers, by being born 10 months and 1 day after our wedding.

When we got married, both we and Canada were filled with naive optimism. For proof, you can click on the YouTube link to see and hear.  The French have the stirring, martial, Le Marseillais.  The Americans have the patriotic Star-Spangled Banner, with bombs bursting in air.  We have Canada’s Centennial Song. One little, two little, three Canadians – Weeee love you. Now we are twenty million. That was then.  Now, 50 years later, we are 33 million – perhaps 34 million, if you count the illegal immigrants being welcomed with open arms by the RCMP, as they leak across the border into Manitoba and Quebec, trying to get away from Trumpetopia.

As the wife and I near our 50th wedding anniversary, both we, and the country, are older if no wiser.  Both have become harder and more cynical, especially now as we endure a Care-Bear, second-generation Prime Minister who is spending the country’s, and our children’s, financial future on frivolous, feel-good, social-engineering plots.  When he visits Donald Trump, he’s on his knees, and not to pray.

This too shall pass! We are tough.  We will prevail.  You can tan my hide and make work boots out of me.

Please use your boots to walk back over here in a couple of weeks, to see what indignities I inflict on poor, unsuspecting Letter D.   😯

Canadian Flag

Flash Fiction #130

Microsoft

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

GRAVY TRAIN

He was here, finally! He’d worked long and hard – too long, but he was finally in Seattle, surrounded by the two things that made his life worthwhile – great coffee, and computers.

It had taken a while for Microsoft recruiters to notice him, but they had, at last, offered him employment. He would almost have worked for nothing, but the pay was great….and the perks, pun intended!

Where else would the morning commute to work include a dedicated subway Breakfast Car serving bacon, eggs, and Starbucks Coffee? Take that, you nap room Googlers!   😛

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

The Smartest People Say The Dumbest Things

atheist-i-am

Perhaps tired of having ‘God’ and Christianity shoved down their throats, in their Government, and into their schools, many Atheists, agnostics and free-thinkers can become a little bit testy and aggressive.

The older, wiser, calmer leaders of the movements often advise the firebrands not to call Christians or Christianity stupid. “They’ll just try harder to defend their position.  You’ll never change their minds with insults.”

Personally, I’d settle for ‘Live And Let Live.’ Minds are not going to change, not when a well-known scientist, a PhD in Paleontology, who knows about evolution and that the Earth is really 4.5 billion years old, says that, when he goes home, he believes that the world is only 6000 years old, because that’s what his religion tells him, despite scientific evidence to the contrary.

If the above admonition is to be taken seriously, then, the smartest people in the world say the dumbest things. There is a group of people, both professional and amateur, known as Christian Apologetics, from the Greek word ‘apologia’, meaning speaking in defense.

They make it their crusade to provide answers for questions, and explanations for the doubts, of non-believers. They could be named Pretzels, for the mental gymnastics and theosophical knots they tie themselves in, trying to buttress their blind faith.

Some of their claims are amazing, and just mind-numbing.
Atheists really believe in God, but they don’t believe in Satan, so that they can sin.

Yin Yang

This is like believing in Bugs Bunny, but not Elmer Fudd – Sonny, without Cher – salt, but no pepper, or Yin, with no Yang! They come in matched sets.  Belief in one of them enforces the need to believe in the other.

BTW, nice backhand insult, that Atheists sin….because we all know that believers in God never sin.

Atheists are angry at God for something He did, and deny His existence.

This is dumber than the first one. If I believed in ‘God’, to be angry at Him, I’d believe in His omniscience, and know that, even if something happened that angered me, He works in mysterious ways, and it would be for my good, or the good of all.

Even if I were angry at God, I’d still believe in His power, and know that denying Him would result in everlasting torment. This is like a five-year-old, running around with his fingers in his ears, yelling La La La.  Mommy will still spank.  Angry or not, I gotta believe.

Atheists really believe in God, they just don’t know they do.

This one confuses the Hell out of me – so to speak. Does this mean that, even if I deny that God exists, I still get to go to Heaven??  If that’s the case, what’s the fuss?

If someone showed you proof that God existed, would you believe in Him then?
Duh! That’s what this dispute is all about, but nobody’s done it, in 2000 years.  Atheists and Agnostics are not petulant children, rebelling simply for the attention.  This belief by ‘smart’ Christians, simply shows how foolishly desperate they are.

A female phoned in to The Atheist Experience podcast, and asked, “If Y’all don’t believe in God, then who do you worship?” She was told that Atheists don’t believe in deities, so they don’t worship any. “Then y’all worship Satan.” They told her that they did not believe in either God or Satan, so they didn’t worship either. “Well, my preacher told me that, if y’all don’t worship God, then you worship Satan.” The one moderator said, “Then he lied to you.” and thereby made a mistake.  He had no more proof that the preacher had actually, intentionally lied, than the preacher had that they worshipped Satan.

“Well, if that ain’t the truth, then why would he have said it?” (Oh, so many reasons!) This gave the moderator a chance to retract his earlier gaffe.  “He may have been in error.  He may have wrongly believed something that someone else told him, but he does not know, and he has no right to make claims about who Atheists may, or may not, worship.”

A recent post that I read, attributed Christians’ belief in an ‘Assault On Christianity,’ to the rise of the internet, but the Information Age stretches back even further than that.  As long as any religion could fester in its own dark little private hole, like the five-year-old above, they could close their eyes, plug their ears and pretend that they were the only, or at least the most important.

Now that TV, movies, videos and all the other new social media keep displaying the fact that there is a large majority of other people on Earth with contrary opinions, insecurity sets in, and they get their particular emotional/religious crutch kicked out from under them.  This ‘new assault’ isn’t new. It’s been there all along.  They’ve just never had it brought to their attention, or had to face it. 😯

I don’t believe that all Christians are stupid….but some of them say real dumb shit!

manure

I’ll Drink To That

Beer

Two old Irishmen were sitting at the local pub
drinking a few beers. So Paddy says to George,
“George me buddy, ol’ pal. When I die could you
pour a couple of beers o’er me grave?”

George says, “Why certainly, but could I strain
it through me kidneys first?”

***

A cop is staking out a bar for drunk drivers. At
closing time, he sees a guy stumble out of the
car, trip on the curb, and fumble for his keys
for five minutes.

When he finally gets in, it takes him another
five minutes to get the key in the ignition.
Meanwhile, everybody else leaves the bar and
drives off.

When he finally pulls away, the cop is waiting
for him, pulls him over, and gives him a
Breathalyser test.

The test shows he has a blood alcohol level of 0.0.
The cop says, ‘How is this possible?’

The guy says, ‘Tonight I’m the designated decoy.’

***

A Brit, an Irishman, and a Scot go out to a pub
and order 3 pints. They each find a fly floating
on the top of their mugs.

The Brit pushes the glass aside, and demands another.

The Irishman says, “Get out of there!” and flicks
the fly away with a finger.

The Scot picks up the fly with his fingers, gives it
a wee bit of a squeeze and says,
“Alright, spit it out now, ya little bastard!”

***

Drive carefully: 90% of people in this world are
caused by accidents.

 

WOW #10

Drake

The Word Of the Week for this week will be;

CANARD

Definitions for canard
a false or baseless, usually derogatory story, report, or rumor.
Cookery. A duck intended or used for food.

Origin of canard 1840-1850 Canard is from Old French quanart “drake,” literally “cackler,” from the onomatopoeic caner “to cackle” and the suffix -art, a variant of -ard, as in mallard or braggart. Canard is all that is left of the Middle French idiom vendre un canard à moitié “to sell half a duck,” i.e., “to take in, swindle, cheat.” Canard entered English in the 19th century.

I don’t really know why I chose Canard as the Word Of the Week.  It’s not all that old, and it’s not cute and cuddly.  It is interesting that, in both English, and French where it came from, it has the word value of ‘lying, cheating and swindling.’

It wandered over and got used in Jules Verne’s The War of the Worlds, when it was only 50 years old.  Never a common word, it is still used occasionally to reference American politics, where lying, cheating and swindling are competitive sports.

This week, Lewandowski distinguished himself by reviving the birther canard—the thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Margaret Talbot, “The Trouble with Corey Lewandowski on CNN,” The New Yorker, August 6, 2016

I started out researching pollard(ing), which is trimming a tree back severely, to produce a ball-shape, and more, leafier, shorter branches. I was soon at bollard, which is a short, thick iron or steel post used to tie ships to; from the bole, or trunk of a tree, and found that the meaning of the surname Bullard is, “son of a monk or priest.” I was in the –ard neighborhood anyway.

There is a Random House Dictionary. I sometimes feel that I should be using it. That’s what my research often feels like. I hope to see you here again, the next time I fail to be inspired for a Flash Fiction.

The Evolution Of Religion

Prayer Beads

Finally, an eminent scientist is setting out to prove that the rise of religion was caused by evolution.

In humans’ mysterious journey to become intelligent, socializing creatures like no other in the animal world, religion was the innovation which played an essential role. We needed something to literally stop everyone from killing everyone else, just out of grumpiness.

How did we manage it? Did humor help? Exercise?  Storytelling?  Singing?  Dance?

CAUTION, CONFORMITY CONFIRMATION

Religion is a complex, multi-tentacled Hydra, which draws from many psychological inputs, to ensure the survival of (most of) the race. It creates an US and a THEM.  Anything we recognize as US, we deem safe and acceptable.  THEM, on the other hand, are not family, clan or village, fit to be driven out.

Each species of primate can manage to keep up a special bond with a certain number of others of the same species. This goes up as brain size increases, from monkeys to apes.  Humans can maintain significantly more social ties than brain size alone, seems to explain.  Most of us keep a surprisingly large number of social ties, including 5 with intimate friends, 50 with good friends, 150 with friends, and 1500 with people we can recognize by name.

Reading this, I immediately knew that I was well below the standard. Of my 5 most intimate friends, I’ve only physically met two of them.  I am friendly with 50 to 150 people, but they are store clerks, Osteopaths, etc.  While they may like me, or put up with me and my silliness, I doubt that they regard themselves as my ‘friend,’ and I barely remember the names of the people who reside in the same house with me. 1500??!

It is well known that repetitive actions like pacing the floor, or twiddling thumbs, lower anxiety. The Jews and Muslims have prayer beads, and Catholics have their rosary – the same thing, with a cross attached, although most Protestants have given it up.  Buddhist monks spin prayer wheels, and all of these focus the mind to help achieve a calm, Zen-like state.

Religions have taken all the calming practices, and made them into group activities. If everyone bows, kneels (in the same direction), waves their hands, etc, at the same time, each person feels less aggressive and more accepting, and everybody feels part of the group.

A couple of other calming activities are singing – think hymns – and dancing, although Christianity has largely got away from that. It smacks too much of ‘having fun.’  Anyone forced to observe me singing or dancing, would not be calm or friendly.

Another couple of aggression/tension reducers surprised me. Not ‘group’ actions, because not everyone performs them simultaneously, they are humor and story-telling.  Presenting funny or spell-binding tales to a rapt group, especially youngsters, binds them into a less war-like group.

My singing and dancing may be banned in some States, and I can’t remember who my friends are, but apparently, my blog-posts and jokes make others less likely to assault me.  Hey!  I’m religious, and I didn’t even know it.   😯