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. 😯

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The Cats Who Own us – Part 5

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TONKA

Pictures of cats equals increased stats, so it’s time to tell you about our fifth and final cat.  All of our cats are ‘rescues’ of one sort or another.  This one is no different.  We changed the names of a couple of our cats, but not this one, although, like all the others, we’ve added a few.

He came to us named Tonka, and it suited him so well that it stuck.  It means ‘large, great, or powerful’, and is where the Tonka Toy Company gets its name.  We think that there is a cat breeder in the area who is trying to crossbreed to get Bengals, and throwing away the failures.  We have seen another female who is a twin in appearance, although not quite as chunky.

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This one’s sire might have been a concrete building block.  He has great coloration, but is big and hefty.  If our cat Micah is the feline equivalent of the dancer, Fred Astaire, Tonka is our Arnold Schwartzen-whozitz.  Like a muscle-builder, he has no neck and short vocal cords, so he has the tiniest, squeaky little meow.  Someone adopted him, but for reasons unknown, gave him up.

The Humane Society has cages placed outside, so that people can at least leave unwanted animals there, instead of just abandoning them.  The staff came in one morning, and he was the catch of the day.  They have struck a deal with several of the local pet-food stores to feed, water and care for cats, display them and try to get them re-adopted.  It works!

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The daughter had gone to a nearby outlet to get food for her pets, and seen him.  When she called to arrange to be taken shopping, she gushed about how great a cat he was.  Like the damned fool I am, I let the son drive her and the wife one Saturday morning.  Instead of dropping her at her home when they were done, and returning the wife here, they all ended up at the pet food store.

The next thing I knew, the son was home with instructions that I bring a cat crate and return to the store.  We were already a couple of cats over our quota, and if I bring along a cat crate, I’ve already admitted defeat.  I went to pick up the wife (And only the wife), without the crate.

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Isn’t he wonderful?
(No comment)
Look at him!  He’s so strong and handsome.
(Less than no comment.  Brad Pitt is strong and handsome, but I don’t want to take him home either.)
Where’s the cat crate?
I didn’t bring it.
We can’t take him home without a crate.
(Now you’re catching on.)

And the clerk says, “No problem.  We have temporary, cardboard, cat crates that just fold out.
(Shut up!  Shut up!  Shut up!)

He’s the biggest of the bunch, and at the bottom end of the pecking order.  Even our little female, Contessa, half his size, can run him up the stairs, or up onto the tall feeding box.  Then again, she’s raised several litters of kittens, and has learned not to take shit from any of them.

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He’s a placid cat, and almost as much a loner as I am, often found (accidently) on the powder-room mat, or the basement landing.  He willingly accepts being picked up, which none of the other three do.  He’s used to being picked up by right-handed people, and will often try to scramble over to the left shoulder, if picked up ‘wrong’.

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While he doesn’t have much to do with the other three cats, with his humans he’s very loving, and sometimes very demanding.  When the son sits to read, he crosses his one leg.  Tonka will jump up and settle into the hollow at his knee.  When I read, he often jumps up.  I will lean back, let him plant his butt on my ample belly, and lie against my shoulder.

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Once there, he nuzzles my ear, and purrs into it, and I purr back.  He rubs his face on my books and eyeglasses, marking them with his scent to identify them and me as ‘his.’  He also licks my mouth and moustache.  I think I’m being groomed, although he may just be checking what I had for lunch.

Matthew & Tonka

We didn’t need a fourth cat – any more than we needed the third – or even the second, but, sucker that I am, I can’t imagine life without him.  We do what little we can, to make life a bit better for as many animals and humans as we can.    😀

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#472

Flash Fiction #22

unidentifiable-on-a-stick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Purrfect

Hi Mom.

I’m fine – a little sleepy and tired, but I’m fine.

Since Ricky turned three, he’s been really active. I need to keep a close eye on him.

The only time I get to do housework is when he’s asleep.

We got that rescue cat for him, that I told you about, from the pound.

It’s a grey and black male, almost a year old, very patient and loving with him, even when he treats it rough. – – –

Mom! Gotta go; I’ll call you back….

RICKY! It’s okay to pet the kitty – but not with your sucker!

 

 

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

Sorry that I’m a little late this week – for those who noticed, or cared.  I’m planning a road trip, and we just celebrated four birthdays in one party.  🙂

 

10 Q

tagged

to Benzeknees for sharing these four blog awards with me, and 10Q to the rest of you who have stopped around to read my silly posts.  Hands up, those of you who figured out where I was going with the strange titles.

This is the last acceptance speech, for the final (for now) award.  Keep those hands up!  Stop all that clapping!  This is the “I’ve Been Tagged Award.”  Benze tagged me, fair and square.  I hope this is for a writing award.  I’m too weak/tired/out-of-shape to be wrestling.

What book are you reading right now?

The old man with no attention span is reading three books at the moment, Wretched Earth by James Axler(?), Fire Ice by Clive Cussler, and Sinai Secret by Gregg Loomis.  I read a chapter of one, and then go blog, a chapter of the second and feed the cats and dog, and a chapter of the third, and help with supper.  Repeat, ad infinitum!

What mini-vacation (0-100 miles from your home) have you particularly enjoyed within the last year?

I took the wife and grandson to Detroit for a weekend last October, and the son to Detroit again just a couple of weeks ago.  The excuse was knife shows, but there was lots of other stuff to do and see.  I just finished posting about the most recent trip.

What is your favorite form of entertainment?

Old Mister No-attention-span flits from one diversion to another.  Reading and writing blogs has cut down on my book-reading a bit, but I still seem to average a book a week.  We watch 2/3 hours of TV on weeknights, Bones, Castle, Hawaii Five-O, NCIS, NCIS-LA, Body of Proof, Criminal Minds, CSI, Elementary, Poirot, Lewis, Dr. Who, Midsomer Murders, which is about to end its season and be replaced by Miss Marple.

Of what accomplishments are you the most proud?

My various deficiencies have prevented doing much that I am “Proud” of.  Getting through over fifty years of working with (barely) enough to retire on.  Almost 50 years of marriage to one woman.  Raised two intelligent and well-mannered kids, and am helping with a similar grandson.  I regard my blog-writing as prosaic, but receive the occasional accolade from some readers who should know.  That pleases me!  The wife insists that I tell you that I taught her how to tat (make lace).  It involved an eight-foot, heavy, black plastic telephone cord, and I had no idea what I was doing.

Who has been most influential in your life in the past year?

No one person, although I’d like to mention my first two followers, BrainRants and H E Ellis.  They, along with many other bloggers have greatly improved my quality of mental life.

If you were raising money for a favorite charity, where would you direct our checks?

On a small scale, I’d recommend the Archon Family Improvement Foundation.  Both the semi-handicapped wife and daughter could use some assistance with mobility, medical procedures, housing, transportation, in-home support.  A few thousand directed toward that might allow me to pay off my still-mortgaged house.  On the big scale, money could be directed to medical research, including stem-cells.  Our love of animals would ensure payments to Humane Society and SPCA.

If you weren’t doing the work or career you are in, what would you like to be doing?

I’ve worked long and hard to become retired, and I want to continue in that, hopefully healthy, mobile and reasonably pain-free.

If you could have named yourself, what would your name be and why?

Unlike many others, I am happy with my complete name.  It’s a good, solid, unpretentious, 1940s’ name.  I was to be “George John Smith” but the first-name-last, last-name-first form confused my mother, and I accidentally became “John George Smith.”  Still works!  In effect I have renamed myself by adopting the blogging cognomen of Archon.

What would you most like to tell your children, or important young person in your life but haven’t?

Something I haven’t told someone??  Not likely to happen!  You can’t get me to shut up.  I’m just full of unsolicited advice and opinions.  My youngest child is 42.  My grandson is 21.  The only thing I tell young people these days is, “Get off my damned lawn!”

How do you change your mood when you are grumpy?

Change my grumpy mood??  Whatever for?  I’m a carrier, like Typhoid Mary.  I spread it around.  I revel in it.  Everybody gets to share.  When someone or something bugs the shit out of me, that’s when I do my best thinking.  Then, out comes the blog, and another pissed-off post gets published.

What particular skill could you teach us on your blog?

My resources and abilities are severely limited.  I could let you talk to my highly creative and productive wife and daughter if you’d like.  I could demonstrate logical thought, concern for others, respect, even good English usage/composition ability, but, if you don’t already know these things by the time you read my blog, it is unlikely that I can teach, those who will not learn.

I would like to throw out another big Thank-You, especially to Benze, for honoring me with all these awards and giving me the chance to open my heart and mind.  I would also like to thank all who came here to read, and comment, and like, and support me, by putting up with my silliness.  The grumpy old dude will return soon.

 

Steve

Everybody, meet Steve.  Steve, meet everybody.  Steve is very quiet, because he’s dead.  We’ll get back to that in a while.  Several of the bloggers I follow have ongoing series of posts about one of the weird and wonderful characters that infest their life.  You’ve already seen why this will not be a continuing set of tales, but I thought you might have some small interest in a guy who provided carefully concealed amusement, for me, and others, for twenty years.

At about five foot, four, Stevie – but never where he could hear you call him that – was like Grumpy the dwarf, or Papa Smurf with hemorrhoids!  He strutted around like a little Banty rooster, and that’s what he always sounded like – or like KayJai – fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!  Not really depressed, just low-level pissed off at everything and everybody, all the time.  Voted most likely to be found on a tower with a sniper rifle.

He was a highly competent worker, turning huge piles of sows’ ears into silk purses all the time.  He didn’t like the raw material, but then, none of us did.  He didn’t like the machinery, or the way the maintenance department kept it.  He didn’t approve of local plant management or senior company executive policies.  Like a stopped clock being right twice a day, they eventually drove us into bankruptcy and unemployment.

While he could appear friendly, he didn’t like people, especially women.  Have you seen or heard of the movie, ”The Forty Year Old Virgin?”  When I joined his line, he was thirty-six, and wouldn’t go near one.  The earthy old woman I took over the job from, offered to take him home and make a man of him.  It was like watching the Tasmanian Devil.  I thought his head was going to spin off.

He was also nicknamed Birdman, an appellation he was somewhat proud of.  He had a huge, encyclopedic knowledge of tropical birds, parrots, cockatoos, toucans and macaws.  He owned several, which he allowed to fly free, inside his house, when visitors came over.  He was sometimes contacted by humane societies, pet stores, or other owners, about found, injured or ill birds.  Stevie nursed them all back to health.

Steve didn’t like anyone in any position of authority, especially politicians.  He had a particular hatred of the Liberal Party, and PM Pierre Trudeau.  Don’t get him talking, he never shut up.  He was always threatening to sue someone for something, but never got around to it.  He had a constant quartet of epithets that he doled out regularly.  Blow it up!  Burn it down!  Kill ‘em all!  Call my lawyer!

My friend’s line was down one day, and he came over to talk to me while I worked.  Being polite and sociable, he thought he’d acknowledge Steve.  As he walked past, all he said was, “Hi Steve.  How are you today?”  Five minutes later, he had to pry his ear out of the monologue.  “Fucking useless politicians!  They’re gonna drive this Goddamned country into the ground.  We should kill the whole bunch of those stupid assholes and burn the fucking Parliament Buildings down.”  My buddy finally escaped and came over to see me.  He said, “You know what?  I haven’t spoken to Steve in eight months, and it’s as if the conversation never ended.”

The company installed a new piece of equipment one time.  Local management came around and wanted to take a picture of it for promotional purposes.  Steve refused to continue working while that happened, like an Aboriginal, afraid that the magic box might steal his soul.  “That’s not what I get paid for.  Take a picture of it between shifts, or have someone else do this job while you shoot pictures.  I’m not going to be in your Goddamned advertising!”

A casual inquiry about his family, one day, revealed that he hated them too, mother, father and one brother.  They were all too nosy and pushy, and wanted to run his life.  He left home when he was sixteen and had barely spoken to them since.  He blamed his parents for passing on defective genes.  He was sure that he would die before his time of some weakness that he’d inherited.  Maybe he was right, maybe it was the stopped clock thing again, or maybe it was losing his job and his purpose in life.  A year after the company closed, he passed on.  As a loner who made me look gregarious, he had no newspaper obituary.  I don’t know what took him.

I don’t know about winter time, but in the summer he liked to go commando.  Working with hot vinyl, he liked to wear loose-legged track shorts.  “Hanging out with Steve” took on a whole new meaning when he balanced on one leg and reached forward.  Princess Purity, behind me finally had enough, and complained to the area supervisor, who spoke to the plant manager, who informed the union executive, who called in the union rep to have a little talk to him about baring his soul, and other portions.  He dyed his hair and “manscaped” himself years before it became common, or even acceptable.

Probably because he was so abrasive, he had trouble with the teenage boy who lived next door.  The kid would jump the fence and steal, or damage, or just move stuff around, to piss him off.  He tore out the four-foot wire fence and installed an eight foot wooden fence all around.  The kid figured out how to get over that too.  He complained to the parents a couple of times, but they denied that it was their kid, so he covertly installed video cams and a recorder.  After another invasion, he invited the parents over to see a little movie.  He told them that the next time it happened, it would be the police viewing the tape.

I’ve never seen anyone work so hard to be happy by being unhappy.  I was never one of the very select few invited to his home, but I miss him, if only because society needs a leavening of people like him to help the rest of us feel normal.

P.S.

http://granmaladybug.wordpress.com is now on the air, dispensing wit and wisdom about cats, candles and cooking.  Only the brave need apply.