“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.





Curiosity and Life in General

NASA mission to Mars: Rover Curiosity touches down

Congratulations to NASA. A new mission begins that will give us knowledge about what is going on way up there in Mars. It really is hard to believe that so much has happened my my lifetime.

Where is my safe little world of yesterday? I have been around long enough to see the world become smaller and smaller and life become more and more complicated. Men on the moon.  Senseless mass murders in public places of safety. Impossible packaging on all things bought because some unhinged or evil person decided to taint Tylenol. Cell phones, the internet, advances in medicine.

Everything seems to be changing too quickly for me. Each time I get a new Mac or iPhone, Apple soon comes out with a better and newer version making mine obsolete. Xboxes, Wii’s for everything! STOP. Let me breathe just a little. I am not ready to get off, please just slow down!  I don’t want to live in a world all about “things.”

The greatest “thing” that made my day when I started kindergarten in Wintersville, Ohio was the mega-box of Crayolas that my mother bought for me to bring with me on my very first day of school. I was the luckiest person in the whole wide world. Reds, greens, blues, so many colors I could use to make rainbows and houses and skies and pictures of my dog. I coveted those crayons like nobodies business and couldn’t wait to show them off to my soon-to-be new friends.

Until, that is, the world of other little people’s stuff entered into my life. My soon-to-be new friend Donna had a baton. Shiny silver-colored with a nice white ball on the end. Uummmm….. I soon found the ability to covet more than one thing at the same time.

By the end of the week, although I still loved my new crayons and my friend was happy with her baton, I keep eying Donna’s baton and she kept wanting to use my crayons. Here is where the World of Barter was born in my un-evolved little brain. Donna and I decided to switch (just for the weekend) our coveted treasures. She took home my Crayolas and I got her baton.

How much fun I had with that baton all weekend and I lovingly took care of that baton, so when Monday morning came and we had to give back our bartered items, mine came back to me (you’re right) mostly broken(just as much as my heart was when I looked at my well-used coveted gift from my mother).

That was my first painful lesson in trusting that others will treat your “things” as you do.

So good luck on Mars. Let us begin to love and tolerate our differences more. Let us be grateful for what we have and not covet more than we need. Let’s slow down and smell the roses.

©Sandra Hart 2012