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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WOW #6

Dictionary

The Word Of this Week is one which I often run into while researching other words.  It is

Cognate

Linguistics. descended from the same language or form:
such cognate languages as French and Spanish.
or; allied or similar in nature or quality.

1635-45; < Latin cognātus, equivalent to co- co- + -gnātus (past participle of gnāscī, nāscī to be born)

For example, I will get ‘hound’ – a type of dog – (cogn. German, ‘hund’) showing where the word came from. (etymology)

It is a cousin to recognize, the action of again (re)perceiving someone’s familiar identity.

My Mother insisted that I not harass my brother by calling him stupid. She told me that people will live up (or down) to your expectations.  When he was three years old, my grandson told me that he could neckerize someone.  His pronunciation was a bit off, as many small children’s is, but his usage was right on.

As we did with our children, his mother never talked down to him. When our kids were young, we had neighbors who we were friends with.  Their son was my son’s age.  Forget ‘snips and snails and puppy dogs’ tails,’ this kid was made of high-tensile springs; forever skipping, running or hopping.  One day, the mother asked my wife, “Does your son never shut up?”  My wife rejoined, “Does yours never walk anywhere?”

Another time, Skippy’s mom suddenly complained, “Why don’t you ever talk to your kids like they’re children? How come you’re always using big words?  They don’t understand them.”

As the boys neared the end of Grade 7, they found that Skippy was failing English, and might be held back. My wife commiserated, and suggested that he might need some extra help.  Suddenly the accusation changed to, “It’s all right for you and your kid.  You’ve always used adult language with him.  No wonder he does well in English.”

My adopted cognomen is Archon, a name (cogn. Latin, nomen – name) with the same meaning as Grumpy Old Dude.   👿

Book Review #9

 

inferno

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This will be a review of Dan Brown’s most recent book, Inferno – but first, a word from our author – as usual.

I am always leery of “Best Sellers.”  That just means that marketing has appealed to the lowest common denominator, including people who write things that I rant about and make fun of in my usage blogs.  Take out the prurient porn, and Fifty Shades of Grey is really just a shit piece of prose.

So, when The DaVinci Code burst on the scene, I waited till I got a few actual readers and professional reviewers who said it was worth the read, before I dived in.  Lots of action and suspense, it all took place in one, 24-hour period (cute gimmick, that).  I caught many of the background references, but felt there must be more.

A book-reading co-worker lent me his copy of The DaVinci Code Decoded, an explanatory companion volume.  Sure enough, page by page, hundreds of little details turned a rock concert poster into the Bayeux Tapestry.  For example, if you spoke Italian, you would know that Bishop Aringarosa’s last name translated into “red herring.”

I went back, and read his Digital Fortress, and Deception Point.  Not as frenetic as The Code, these were still good solid books.  Later, Angels and Demons had that “many things happening” feeling, while The Lost Symbol was less so, but very enjoyable.

The Book – Inferno

The Author – Dan Brown

The Review

This is another Carnival ride novel, beginning with that reliable old cliché, amnesia.  It all occurs in a couple of days, until returning memory flashes and characters’ comments show the hero (and us) how we got here over the previous three days.

As with The DaVinci Code, I felt that I could use a lot of explanation.  The bad guy is six foot–five, with vivid green eyes.  I thought Brown might be referring to Osama bin Laden, but he was long dead before this book was written, and he personally did not possess bio-engineering abilities.

The plot turns on overpopulation, and how society must collapse if we don’t control it.  It took until 1820, for the world population to reach one billion. In a hundred years, by 1920, the numbers had doubled, to two billion.  In only fifty years, by 1970, the numbers doubled again.  Not merely “added another billion”, but doubled, to four billion, and it appears that, after only another fifty years, 2020, we’ll be hip deep in eight billion of our “loving neighbors.”

Being restrained and “civilized” is all very nice but, if we don’t have a good war or two soon, we’re going to have a bad plague.  As I finished this book, the news spoke of 20,000 dead to Ebola.  You may not get to read this review.

Although Professor Langdon doesn’t remember it, he traveled without a passport from Boston to Florence, Italy.  He goes by train to Venice, and is flown to Istanbul for the grand finale.  The world-travelling author provides great descriptions of many beautiful buildings and locations.

Brown always keeps our mind spun around.  The hero’s amnesia – isn’t.  The “good guys” aren’t always good.  The “bad guys” aren’t really bad.  The perils are only imagined, and the quiet, safe periods often have an avalanche bearing down on them.

one shot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Concurrent with this book, I was simultaneously reading Lee Child’s, One Shot, and remarked upon the difference of construction.  While far from plodding, Child’s books move in one direction till that plot point is achieved.  Chapters end on one page, and a new one begins on the next page.  They can be 30, 40, 50 pages long, taxing my attention span.

Dan Brown flits and flutters from thought to thought to thought – the hero, the villains, the damsel, the cavalry, the Blue Mosque, and then back around again, perfect for my Adult ADD.  Chapters end where they end – and the next one begins two lines below.  They are often only a few pages in length.  One chapter began on line 40 of the left-hand page, and ended on line 20 of the right-hand page, an entire chapter, less than a complete page long.

The plot-line centers around Dante’s Inferno trilogy poem, and a couple of well-known paintings which illustrate it.  The action and suspense are well built.  While nothing in the book is really what it seems, it still feels believable.  As many good books do, it describes a social problem, and causes the reader to think about both large-scale, and personal solutions to it.

If you haven’t read it already – and this literary Smoothie hasn’t ruined it for you – I suggest you give this book a try.

Flash Fiction #18

campfire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Leave-taking

The summer, which had seemed so long in coming, now seemed so quickly over.  Tomorrow they would have to close up the cottage and drive back to the city.  Tuesday, the kids went back to school.  But right now, they had promised themselves one last campfire.

Before long, the neighbors joined them, and even folks from around the lake.  Children played, and built S’mores.  People sang campfire songs, and the adults relived the happy season.  Eventually, silence reigned, and people quietly contemplated the leaping flames.

Finally, the fire burned out.  Somberly, but not sadly, everyone departed, looking towards next year.

 

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

 

Department Of Agriculture

 

 

Lawn Mower

Department of Agriculture

Bulletin: No. 265

 

The Care and Operation of a Rotary Power Lawn Mower

 

The rotary power lawn mower is a boon to shiftless suburbanites whose lawns are full of Dandelion, buckthorn, and other weeds too tall for the conventional reel-type mower.  The rotary power mower however, is not an unmixed blessing.  Unseen sticks and stones, to say nothing of unburied rocks, will raise Hell with the blades.  So will nails, bits of wire, and other metal debris.

These problems fade into insignificance though, when compared with the unhappy result of running this type of mower over newly deposited dog shit.  Until you have had your shoes shined with pulverized dog shit, you cannot appreciate the extent of this problem.

Now cat shit, to be sure, smells far worse, but cats, as everybody knows, are more careful to cover up their waste than are dogs.  Moreover, cats do not shit as much as dogs, unless you have a very large cat, or a very small dog.

There are several approaches to the problems of animal excreta and the rotary power mower.  First, you could buy a dog, bigger than all the other dogs in the neighborhood, and train him to keep all the other dogs off your lawn, and also to shit on the neighbors’ lawns.

The obvious drawback to this method of combating the problem, is that one of your neighbors might buy a cow, and train it to shit on your lawn.  It has been estimated that a rotary power mower, operating at 3750 RPM can hurl a normal cow flap as high as a second storey window, and over an area of 5000 square feet.

Building a fence is a second possible solution, but it is expensive.  Also, it is no good unless you can train the wife and kids to keep the gate shut.  Then too, some dogs will jump the fence, even when full of shit.

There are various commercial preparations, sold mostly to evil-minded old ladies, which are supposed to stop dogs from screwing lady dogs on your front porch, pissing on your shrubs, and shitting on your lawn.  These chemicals are worthless however, since it is second nature for dogs to screw and piss.  A dog’s philosophy in life is, “Anything you can’t eat or screw, then piss on it!”

This then leaves three other possible solutions:

  1. Let the God-damned weeds grow.
  2. Move into an apartment, and use the mower as a fan.
  3. Wear only brown shoes when mowing the lawn, and associate only with people who either don’t mind the smell of dog shit, or are too damned polite to mention it.

**********

 

Having previously told you what it’s like when you create a little odor, this is what it’s all about when you really get down to business

 

THE DUMP LIST

 

GHOST DUMP

That’s the kind where feel the shit coming out, have shit on the toilet paper, but there’s no shit in the toilet.

 

CLEAN DUMP

The kind where you shit it out, see it in the toilet, but there’s nothing on the paper.

 

WET DUMP

The kind where you wipe your butt 30 times, but it still feels unwiped.  So you have to put some toilet paper between your butt and your underwear, so you don’t ruin them with a brown stain.

 

SECOND WAVE DUMP

It happens when you’re done shitting.  You’ve pulled up your pants, and then you realize you have to shit some more.

 

BRAIN HEMMORAGE THROUGH YOUR NOSE SHIT – or the – POP A VEIN IN YOUR FOREHEAD SHIT

The kind where you strain so much to get it out, that you practically have a stroke.

 

RICHARD SIMMONS SHIT

The kind where you lose 30 pounds.

 

CORN SHIT

Self explanatory!

 

LINCOLN LOG SHIT

The kind of shit that is so huge that you’re afraid to flush the toilet without breaking it into a few pieces with the toilet brush.

 

DRINKERS’ SHIT

That’s the kind of shit you have the morning after a long night of drinking.  Its most noticeable trait is the tread marks left on the bottom of the toilet.

 

“GEE, I WISH I COULD” DUMP

It’s the kind where you want to shit, but all you can do is sit on the toilet, cramped, and fart a few times.

 

SPINAL TAP DUMP

That’s the kind where it hurts so much coming out, that you swear it was leaving you sideways.

 

WET CHEEKS DUMP – or the – POWER DUMP

That’s the kind that comes out so fast that your ass cheeks get splashed with toilet water.

 

LIQUID SHIT

That’s the kind where yellowish-brown fluid shoots out of your butt, splatters all over the inside of the bowl, the whole time burning your tender anal sphincter.

 

MEXICAN FOOD DUMP

A class all its own

 

PHOTOGENIC LOG – or – GUINNESS RECORD DUMP

That’s the kind that is so huge that it stands out of the water and waves at you.  You remove the toilet paper, grab a camera, and take a picture for the World Book of Records.