NEIGHBORS FROM HELL

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“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall….he only says, “Good fences make good neighbors.” Robert Frost 

Throughout centuries history has proven that wars seem to have the same issues over and over again. Borders,  power and religion. No matter how evolved we as people feel we are the cycle seems to repeat itself century after century. Which brings me back to a blog I wrote but didn’t publish last summer about my own border war.

 The best neighbor I have ever had was Fred Rogers. Really. He was in my neighborhood, the television one, of course, when I was on Romper Room. He was the best and I guess I am really spoiled by that good neighbor. As my friends and readers know, my home has almost 2 acres on a cul-de-sac with unparalleled views. But because I’m not an island I do in reality have two neighbors- one to the left and one to the right off the cul de sac. 

 Luckily, the house was built on the ocean cliff far away from those neighbors to the left and to the right, giving me privacy, but they are still there. On the right there are 60 year old tall evergreens that give me a natural fence and a wonderful neighbor. On the left I had a beautiful white lattice fence following my circle beach stone drive that was repainted white every other year to match the trim on the house. No that is not a typo. “Had” is the key word here. Had.

I am sad to admit I am a big loser. I lost the Good Neighbor Lottery. I have inherited by just being, in my opinion, The Neighbors From Hell to the left of me. If there was a trophy given, they would win the award, hands down. They reallllllyyyy know how to work it.

 In the past and during years that he and his partner have lived on my left flank (please take note of the military term), during my Florida annual absence they have turned my home into theirs by parking their boat and trailer in my driveway, hitting and damaging part of my fence, cutting down trees on my property to accommodate their view, and more or less, making themselves at home on my land.

 Then last summer, my consistent ‘turning of my cheek’ giving me whiplash, I was blindsided by the Code Officer upon my return from Florida saying my neighbor complained that I had to paint their side of my fence (because they think my house is also theirs..I guess). They are both in their 50’s-I am, well…..much older. Besides they had so much shrubbery along the property line those little mischief monkeys would have needed a machete to reach my fence. They couldn’t even see it from their yard. 

When the Code officer came to look at my legal fence, he noticed my neighbor had so many violations he made them take down all of his violations on his property ( poetic justice, finally).

By this time, my husband had gotten so angry about the whole thing he had the fence torn down before I knew it. Goodbye fence that I loved. Hello easy access to my property. Thank you Husband.

Cause and effect. 

These guys really missed my (their) fence and were real pros in the deepest state of mourning. In retaliation, one night after a few too many cocktails trying to drown their sorrows over the loss of my (their) fence, I suspect, my glass door was smashed out in our cottage, just twenty feet from my old fence line. Hummm…wonder who did that? I beefed up property security cameras inside and out. 

 Fast forward to this summer. After a quiet winter away, forgetting all about the “Fence War” and knowing the good surveillance I now have, figured it was peace…at last. I had hoped they had matured, gotten a life and moved on. Oh, why I am so cursed to be such a Pollyanna! 

Three days ago during an open house I was having, they put an almost naked mannequin on the ex-fence property line looking right at me and my company as they drove in. The wives were appalled and the husbands couldn’t take their eyes off of her! The sleeping tiger had awakened. The kids were at it again. 

 The other day they put up a new art instillation (I wish) smack dab on the property line – a row of white plastic chairs, two wooden benches with recycled metal grates of some kind leaning between them. I guess, as my daughter Alison suggested, it is their contribution to Red Neck art!

Like the Energizer Bunny they just don’t stop. Yesterday they posted two signs facing my property. KEEP OFF and POSTED NO TRESPASSING.

Since it has been probably more than six years since I have been invited onto their property, I find those signs rather sad and bizarre, wondering if those two are ever going to get over missing my fence and start acting like good neighbors. 

 So, the moral of this story for me is, “treat kids like kids”. I have taken the attitude that I always had with my children. If I don’t respond, their glee at knowing it bothers me will eventually be abated. And to be honest, I really am amazed to understand that what I think is so important to them. If they were mine, boy, would they have a big ‘time out’! 

 
(Author’s note: written in July of 2014…All is now quiet on the Western Front…I think they have given up on ‘elder abuse’ and property envy….at least until they think of something else. And I have new respect for the meaning of ‘borders without fences.’)

Copyright Sandra Hart 2014. All rights reserved.


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Where To Begin When Writing

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Except for my children’s books, all of my previous published works have been non-fiction. Giving myself a challenge this year, my daughter suggested that I should try my hand at fiction.

“Write a novel,” she said. “Do something different.”

That thought kind of frightens me, because it is really out of the box in which I have been living, out of my comfort zone. There are so many great novelists out there, I am somewhat intimidated to jump into their pool.

Recently, for my SAG (Screen Actors Guild) voting duties, I watched Frances McDormand in the series, Olive Kitteridge.” I enjoyed the series so much, I ordered the book the series was based upon.

Elizabeth Strout, the author, has such a way with words. From the very first paragraph I was drawn in and couldn’t put it down. It is this kind of writing that really makes it challenging for me to think I could be as talented to paint pictures with words as she does in Olive Kitteridge.

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Copyright Sandra Hart 2015. All rights reserved.

PESTO’S UBER TALE

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On Monday after his morning walk our sweet rescued Pesto became paralyzed in an instant. After our vet recommended a neurologist within an hour he was headed to the MRI and resulting disc surgery.

During all this drama our car was in the shop so I had to rely on the car service Uber to get us back and forth the veterinary office.

The trip we made to pick up Pesto after his operation, Uber sent us a very interesting Egyptian driver, an accountant by trade, who had been in this country about two years. He met online and married a woman living in Miami from Honduras.

Before coming to America he said he never could understand how Americans could feel so strongly about their dogs. In Egypt dogs wander the streets and they are never incorporated into the family unit, but he added that his wife has a little Yorky and he has fallen in love with her. She greets him with all of her wiggles as soon as he opens the door and makes him feel loved. It has taken this experience with the little dog to change his whole life’s mindset about the relationship between animals and human beings. He said that indeed they do have souls and they can love. An admitted revelation he never would’ve experienced had he not come to America.

To me this has been a learning experience, or lesson in cultural understanding, that if we could take this on to a bigger picture and walk in each other shoes, then maybe, we could understand one another much better. The curious custom of loving a pet and regarding them as a part of the family could only be understood by him until he experienced it.

As we arrived home my husband told Ahmed how much Pesto’s treatment cost. He threw up his hands in dismay. “Do you know in Egypt I could get married, have a big wedding and buy a house equal to that!”

Pesto do you really know how lucky you are to live in America ?!

Copyright Sandra Hart 2015. All rights reserved.