and everything still dances to the background of bulldozers and chainsaws

children? what children?, i heart my neighbors, whining and complaining 3 Comments »

I have so much to tell you!

First, there is the thing about the neighbors. I have mentioned the neighbors before. There are a lot of them.

Dog-Poop-Catapult Recipients left. Oh, that was a major event! Boxes upon boxes of undefinable objects sitting out at the curb for weeks, trips back and forth to their 600 cars. At first I thought only some of them were moving but no, Big Daddy took his SUV and left also. With all three dogs: Big, Medium, and Yappy.

And then there was quiet.

For a day.

Then the pickup trucks arrived, and the New People came.

I was going to give New People a big bag of apples, and then I got to thinking that maybe they don’t eat apples and anyway isn’t apples a weird thing to bring a new neighbor? So I skipped the gift thing.

He is a karate instructor. She is bigger/taller/more muscular than he is (and he looks pretty buff).

Which explains the sounds I hear at night, like someone is using the wall between our places as a kickboxing dummy. Not that there aren’t a lot of various loud sounds coming from my place from time to time, but every night. Like at 10 pm. THUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMP.

He also spends a fair bit of his time on the phone. On the porch. Which is under my bedroom window. While he smokes. Until 1 am.

However, everything balances out:

Day before yesterday, another moving truck appeared behind the house across from me, the house that’s next door but with a strip of grass between. If you’ve been keeping up, this is the house of Judgy Bus Stop Mom. All day as I was in and out I noticed the three-year-old standing on the truck ramp but never saw anyone actually putting anything in the truck. Were they moving or simply storing a moving truck in their driveway?

J.B.S. Mom said hello to me, first time in months! She didn’t mention the large moving truck not six feet from her, so clearly she hadn’t noticed it yet. I didn’t want to give anything away, so I didn’t either.

At the end of the day they were finished levitating their invisible goods into the truck, and it was now out front with a trailer attached and they were attempting to drive a car onto the trailer. I dragged my free stuff that even Craigslist doesn’t want to the curb. J.B.S. Mom was out there watching Husband try to drive the car onto the trailer. “Once you don’t want something, no one else does either,” she remarked to no one in particular. Still nothing about moving. Perhaps no one had told her? I was prepared for a big emotional scene with her crying and sobbing about how much she’d miss me, but I think the strain was getting to her so I let her off with a have-a-nice-life nod and a semi-smile at her semi-joke.

This week Serena had her Worst Day Ever At School (something about a lost mitten; no pie for her!) followed by One Her Best Days So Far At School (something about a friend and plans to play together the next day). Life should be like that. Passionate and intense.

Eric amused himself in the Indian grocery yesterday by turning in circles in one spot until he fell down on the floor last cleaned in 1982.

I now despise Freecycle as much as Craigslist; could you explain why you are upset at me because I wasn’t home when you came to get my crappy FREE dresser, when you never told me when you were coming? And also? Woman who came to get my daughter’s very nice outgrown clothes? Is there a reason you didn’t tell me your six-year-old was INCREDIBLY FAT AND THEREFORE CAN’T FIT IN THOSE CLOTHES so you’re going to sell them on eBay? I know you are so couldn’t you have just been honest about it? And then I would have given the clothes to the 4000 really nice people who emailed me repeatedly and actually wanted clothes their kids could wear instead of making up that bogus story about your house burning down. I wish I had had the balls to just not let you have the clothes.

And today it is sunny and it is warm and I will go outside. The end.

maybe they are sending smoke signals

i heart my neighbors, whining and complaining 1 Comment »

Spring is here, sort of, I think. Normally I would start opening windows this time of year and pretend that the air outside is better than the air inside, but this year I can’t, because:

A. The windows are stuck closed.

B. I have sprained both wrists opening jars of martini olives and therefore can type yet not operate window mechanisms.

C. The neighbor has been having a bonfire since January.

You guessed (B), didn’t you?

But no.

In January, the chain saw started. One tiny treelet at a time. All day long. And what do we do with our chainsawed treelet pieces? Why, burn them, of course! In a great smoke-belching fire. All day! Since January.

So apparently the neighbor has decided to do something with the house that was all boarded up since I moved in here. I had no idea there were that many treelets on that property, enough to require the constant use of a chainsaw and keep a fire burning for three months straight.

I mean, I guess they are using the chainsaw to cut down tree-things and then burning them. But I just had a thought about the movie Fargo. Could the boarded-up house have been filled with discarded doll heads or random bodies stashed there?

Good thing there’s a whole 20 feet of sort-of woods in between my driveway and the House of Burning Nutjob. I feel safe now.

further proof of my awesomeosity

children? what children?, domestic bliss, i heart my neighbors, NaBloPoMo 5 Comments »

Yes, it’s a word if I say it is. It is!

Is too.

Oh, and don’t mind me. I am learning to touch type, after all this time. It’s going quite well, actually! Here, I’ll show you: thd id where I type tbe worjf “aeseinre”. [translation: this is where I type the word "awesome"] See? Not bad, eh?

It’s raining today. Usually when it rains here where I live, it rains. Like all day. Not the all-day for three or four days straight of northern California where I grew up, but just all day. Real rain that is hard to ignore.

It was raining this morning when I took Eric to his bus. He was poised on the porch, thinking about the three steps down and his role in navigating them, and I offered to carry him to the bus thinking I would get less wet that way. Nope, not a chance, he’d prefer to walk himself, thank you. I was reminded that he practically runs now, while just a year ago he wasn’t even close to walking.

A few minutes later it was time to walk Serena down to her bus stop and wait with her there. We donned rain coats and hats and while we walked the, what is it, 50 yards or so, we talked about how much we like to be out in the rain. I was a little surprised that only one lone kid was there but figured maybe people were waiting till the last minute. Usually we are the last to arrive at the bus stop, and we stand near the edge of the little knot of people, parents socializing while their kids shuffle nervously awaiting the bus.

Just the one kid, holding a lime green umbrella, wearing a light jacket that wasn’t even zipped. Brr. He said he wasn’t cold. Soon we were joined by two other kids: a girl with no rain coat, no hat and no umbrella who said she liked getting wet, and another shorter kid who never spoke and come to think of it never l showed his face. Umbrella kid is fairly gregarious, it turns out. I still don’t know his name but I know a lot of other things about him now. Kids like it when adults talk to them like people.

Standing there, my shoes slowly becoming wetter and wetter (they’re not even close to waterproof, it turns out)(the nondescript leather slipons), I enjoyed the feeling of the rain on me. On my coat, actually.

Eventually the bus came, but no one else ever joined us. I noticed several cars idling nearby and saw no-hat girl’s mother in one. One kid materialized from nowhere, probably one of the cars, when the bus arrived. The other cars seemed to contain the rest of the waiting parents. Who drove to the bus stop 50 feet from their doors and idled there for ten minutes. I was the only parent who waited with the kids in the rain. I wondered where everyone else was. I walked back through the rain after Serena got on the bus and as I opened my door, the neighbor was coming out of their house.

“The bus just left,” stating the obvious, but helpfully. (I’m such a good neighbor.)

“I know, we’re driving,” she replied.

It’s easier to pile two kids into a car and drive ten minutes there and ten minutes waiting to drop off and then ten minutes back again than it is to wait in the rain for a bit?

You should see these people when it snows.

And! Just to recap, I am awesome because I stood out in the rain with four kids while the other parents stayed dry in their cars.

[Fist pump] Yessss!

just like high school

i heart my neighbors 2 Comments »

I’ve been holding back a little in talking about just how much I adore waiting with Serena at her bus stop. I love it so much that I have convinced myself that someday [soon] she will no longer require that I wait with her every morning but will instead walk the 107 feet by herself and wait with the over-protective parents kids. By herself. Without me. Leaving me to my coffee and to the whatever-else-it-is that I do all day.

[NOTE: Good parent that I am, I have just succeeded in teaching Eric to say "sucks".]

So daily we wait at the back of the bus stop pack, soundly ignored by all the other parents/kids. It is so cool being invisible! You should definitely try it. You can make faces and stuff at the other parents and they don’t even know! So cool.

This morning there was a New Adult at the bus stop. She joined the pack at the back and seemed to be connected to the little brother of the kid Nathaniel has been playing with this past month. I struck up a conversation with her while mentally taking notes:

  1. tattoos…check
  2. stylish-lesbian eyewear…check
  3. conversational elements that suggest she is open to the weird stuff I spend my day thinking about…check

Yeah. My new BFF, I’m pretty sure.

So me and my new BFF (note to self: find out her name) are walking back toward our respective front doors and meanwhile the next-door woman, who in the past has refused even to make eye contact with me and I haven’t spoken to since December even though our front doors are 20 feet apart, suddenly rushes up, butts in, and gushes about how much her daughter LOVES sitting next to Serena on the bus, LOVES Serena, Serena is SO WONDERFUL blah-de-blah. While at the same time effectively cutting BFF out of the conversation we had been having. And meanwhile I’m thinking that MY ONLY CHANCE EVER AT HAVING A FRIEND SINCE 1997 HAS BEEN USURPED! BY A USURPER! Who can’t remember to take her keys with her when she takes out the trash!

But, ooh! Popular I am! I TOLD you they all know how awesome I am.

i didn’t get the manual on this

children? what children?, i heart my neighbors 2 Comments »

What would you do right after having put all three kids on the bus and shipped them off to their respective schools, all of them, for the first time in three months?

a.) Go for a bike ride immediately, since it looks like it might rain later and you’ve totally been slacking lately.

b.) Get lots and lots of work done! Because you are so awesome and people love you and you are so organized awesome!

c.) Read a book! Which you haven’t done in months even though you are pretty sure you do remember books.

d.) Catch up on your blog reading. After all, these are your PEOPLE, they understand you (even though they don’t know you and you, like, stalk them a little), and you cannot start your day without them (and three cups of coffee)!

Yes, exactly as I thought.

Nathaniel’s bus experience:
The bus comes at 7:37! That’s am! And he has to be at the stop 10 minutes early! At 7:26 he is lacing his shoes and eating a bagel with peanut butter:

Oh, I’m going to be late where’s my lunch what if they don’t let me eat my bagel on the bus my poison ivy huuuurts it’s all over my legs and I can’t walk what if I can’t walk at school what if I……

The sound trails off because I have pushed him out the door and closed it. And locked it. That was two hours agao and he hasn’t come back so I’ll assume he made it on the bus.

Eric’s bus experience:
[Eric, looking out the front window]

Bus! Bus! Bus! Meeeeeee! Bus! Buuuuuuuuus!

[waving arms excitedly]

I put him on the bus. We are happy to see his old bus driver from last year. He gives me the hand so I know it’s time to go. All the kids who go to Serena’s school are headed for the bus stop so I go in to get her without waving that last time to Eric.

Serena’s bus experience:
We walk to the end of the street where there are approximately 4,902 other kids from the neighborhood, all awaiting the bus. I found out last week that the girl who lives in the house not 30 feet from our front door is in Serena’s grade. At her school. I had no idea. I heart my neighbors! So my mission in life today is to make contact with said girl’s mother to employ my various charms in arranging a playdate for Serena, who is somewhat socially-challenged. Like I don’t know where she got that from.

As we approach the bus stop, I see the mom! I see the girl! The mom turns and glances at me, and then moves away in the other direction and engages another mom with in conversation, her back to me.

Okay then! I am awesome! I turn and speak to the other neighborhood pariah, the mom of 28 kids who all look somewhat alike and are all dressed in nearly-identical striped shirts.

I look around and notice that I don’t know any of these people; in fact, I have never seen most of them. These are my neighbors? Who knew?

It’s last-in, first-out, so after all the kids are on the bus and I wave to Serena half-heartedly, I turn and walk toward my house, ahead of all my neighbors, knowing that they are probably looking at my ass. Which is awesome so have a good look people!

And tomorrow I might actually talk to you!

Because I am, you know, awesome.

the dog poop wars: seige of the catapult

get off my lawn!, i heart my neighbors 8 Comments »

So, in case you were wondering, I finally had a chance to find out what would come next after the “Hey”. Remember my lovely neighbors, them of the three (count them, three!) dogs and the blatant disregard for borders and yards and basically anyone but their own selfish selves? Remember them?

Well. After seething for several additional days while watching their dogs roam free through our yard, adding deposits at will, I finally had enough. It happened while I watched one of the neighbors stand in front of my front window, not fifteen feet from it, while watching her dog on the thirty-foot leash walk and poop indiscriminately through our yard. I put my shoes on and warned the children, “I’m going in! Cover me!” and stepped outside.

As I rounded the corner, the neighbor’s head whipped around as if it was on a string and her eyes got huge. I was grateful that there was a package on my front doorstep that I had been unaware of, as it gave me a reason to be out there besides telling her what I went out there to tell her, which was, “Hey! I’m your neighbor, and I have three children who would like to use their yard, except they can’t because your dogs are pooping everywhere, so I’d like you to clean it up. We talked to you about this six months ago and I thought the matter was taken care of.”

[I know, I know. I'm SO good with people, aren't I? Wait. It gets better.]

Eyes still the size of Eric’s pancakes, she said, “I’ll tell Joe.”

Joe? Who the fuck is Joe????? SHE’S out there with several of the dogs, doesn’t that mean anything?

Here’s a snapshot of who I think is living in that house:

Older-guy, 40-something, khaki pants and loafers-without-socks. You know the type. Real estate agent. This is Joe.

Woman-with-pancake-eyes, sort of, uh, solidly-built, wears long coats that make her look like a sausage. Hard to tell the age. I used to think she was Joe’s wife-woman, but Michael says as per a conversation he had once with Joe, she may be a daughter. Whatever. She’s not aging gracefully.

Several twenty-somethings or maybe teens (who can tell?), heroin-thin, ripped t-shirts and bad attitude, the usual. Maybe two girls and a guy? It’s hard to tell. Among them they have at least four cars and park right in front of our house, not like we ever have company or anything, but we might. Someday. Maybe. In another millenium maybe. But still, that’s “our” space, right?

So I go in the house, dusting off my hands and thinking I’ve taken care of the matter.

Not so.

This afternoon I was dumping cat litter in my own trash can (and NOT in my neighbor’s yard! Imagine!) and I noticed that the little yardlet out back between my driveway and theirs was covered in new dog poop. Lots of it, like four times the usual amount (not that I count it or anything). Bigger dog poop than previously, which meant that instead of being responsible ablout the whole thing from yesterday, they just let ALL the dogs out in the back instead of just the little useless yapper that usually is tied up there.

Without thinking, I walked over and rang their back doorbell. Instantly dogs barked inside and eventually the door opened to reveal one of the twenty-somethings, glaring at me and attempting to hold back three poorly-trained dogs who clearly wanted to gnaw my eyeballs out. I asked her politely to please clean up the dog poop back here, and she called me “ma’am” in a deprecating voice, told me it was their yard and they could do what they pleased, and she slammed the door shut in my face.

So I did what anyone would do.

I searched around for something, a piece of cardboard, and went over to the multiple piles of poop not a foot from my car door, right up by my driveway. They were wet and fell apart easily (hmm. SOMEBODY should have picked them up before they got that way!) and were difficult to move, but when I got them moved, they MIGHT have accidentally somehow been flung onto the neighbor’s sidewalk (which by the way already had poop on it in several places, but now it had, well, more). Might. Accidentally. Something like that.

Then we had to run out for cat litter, which I suddenly found we were completely out of and we had to get some immediately.

When we got home, the poop was gone from their walkway and the grass had been raked or something (not very well), and Joe’s business card was stuck in our door with the message, “please call.”

When I call him, I’ll let you know how it goes.

If only she hadn’t called me “ma’am”.

[tags]neighbors, dogs, poop [/tags]

in which I show my most neighborly side

get off my lawn!, i heart my neighbors 1 Comment »

I realize I am totally taking my life into my hands, or at least the fate of dozens of glass ornaments and the feet that might crunch into their shards, but today I did a 180 and bought a Christmas tree. The Christmas-tree place was thankfully devoid of customers, everyone else in the universe having already bought theirs weeks ago, leaving only the Charlie Brown trees on the lot, but I did get some personal attention from the Christmas Tree Guy.

CTG: Can I help you?

Me: I have two kittens and a toddler. Do you have anything I should take home, or should I skip the tree and just go straight into therapy?

CTG: [laughs deprecatingly]

Me: Seriously. I want a tree.

CTG: Well if you put it in a corner you can attach it to the wall with fishing line.

Apparently he does not know my landlord. No holes in the wall, please.

Me: [ignoring comment] How about this little one? I could maybe put it on a table out of their reach.

CTG: [laughs louder] Sure, if you want it to topple over and kill someone. No, your best bet is to put it in the corner.

Me: [withering stare] I don’t have a corner. [looks around] I’ll take this one.

So they put my tree in its plastic net on top of my vehicle and I don’t even care if it’s going to scratch the top. See how far I’ve come in letting-go?

Once home I unload groceries, taking them around to the front door, and prepare to set up the Christmas tree stand so I can bring the tree in and set it up to surprise the children who I have already informed dolefully several times that we probably won’t be having a tree this year.

As I step around the building to the door, I notice that my neighbor is standing on her identical-to-mine porch. In her socks. I can hear her talking, is she on the phone?

“I’m. Locked. Out. He. Locked. Me. Out. He. Locked. Me. Out.”

I put two and two together and figure out that her smaller child, about Eric’s size, has somehow locked her out. Fun!

Uh, what should I do? I’m pretty sure that my key won’t fit her lock, and if it does I do not want to know about it. So I won’t mention it.

I get another load of groceries, and bring it in and then begin putting the tree stand together. I can still hear her talking out there. Loudly.

I should mention that even though our front doors are, what, 15 feet apart? and we’ve been neighbors for, what, 3 months? we’ve never said a word to each other. I’ve never actually seen her face. Usually all I see of her is when she takes the trash-can-on-wheels around to the front of the building every Tuesday afternoon for Wednesday morning pickup (I do mine in cover of darkness of course). And all I see of him is about once every 2 weeks when he grills something outside my front door. Mmm, tasty!

So now I’m going back out to fetch the Christmas tree. She’s on the phone, still on the porch in her socks, and she makes eye contact. She starts saying, “My son locked me out and–” when I make that face, you know, the wow-I’m-really-shocked-face, big round O-mouth, wide eyes, the works. I am showing how shocked I am. Oh, no, she’s locked out! It must have been weird to her, though, because I think I began to make the face before she got the words out, not knowing that I’ve been eavesdropping and already know she’s locked out by her kid.

Oops.

[Is there a "How To Act Human" course?]

She tells me that her husband is on his way from his work, 40 minutes away, to unlock the door, and we make polite talk about getting locked out and how she was just taking a diaper out (must have been quite a diaper) when her son locked the door, and now of course he’s refusing to unlock it. (“Why is Mommy making that face in the window? Funny, funny Mommy! Hi Mommy!”)

I go and get the tree, and bring it toward the door. She’s play-by-playing my movements to the person she’s on the phone with, “The least I can do is open the door for this woman with her Christmas tree….” and she opens my front door. Which means she can see into my house.

Gah.

I close the door and proceed to erect the tree. The kittens are very interested in this process.

Soon there are voices outside. The husband? Nope, another mom and two identical toddlers. I work at the computer, trying to ignore the voices right outside my window. Should I go outside and be neighborly? Commiserate? Train binoculars on them through the window?

I think I’ll just stay in here and hide.

[tags]neighbor, ignore, oops[/tags]

won’t you be my neighbor?

get off my lawn!, i heart my neighbors, whining and complaining Comments Off

Dear Neighbor-across-the-way,

I realize that energy costs have plummeted lately, but is that any reason to leave your porch light on all night? You know, the one with the 400-watt bulb that shines right into the grand 2-story foyer window in my house, 200 square feet of wasted space, just a mere ten feet from yours? That’s right, the one that lights up my entire house, cheerfully bringing us daylight at 3 am, as if we were suddenly transported to Hammerfest, Norway. In summer. That one. I notice how you turn the light OFF at 7 am every morning, so I know it’s not an oversight, and besides, who is coming to visit you in the night anyway that needs a porch light? You don’t have any friends EITHER.

Maybe that’s from your habit of allowing your moving truck to block the ENTIRE communal driveway, effectively blocking out 15 other neighbors from ingress or egress to their homes. After all, YOU are DEFINITELY more important.

But are you sure you want to store your dirty laundry in piles on the upstairs foyer where I can see them through our mutual 2-story windows? Because when you have THAT light on, the 200-watt beauty that lights up your entire house like a Macy’s shop window in December, we can see everything.
Like last night when you were leaning naked over the railing from the 2-story foyer while apparently calling to your husband down below. “Get me a towel!” you bellowed. Or maybe, “I’m ovulating!”. Don’t think I didn’t see you. Because I did. We all did.

So can I just say?

Ew.

Love,

Your Neighbors

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it’s not all Mr. Rogers here, you know

get off my lawn!, i heart my neighbors, whining and complaining Comments Off

Last night Michael delivered the Bad News: there were people moving into the townhouse opposite ours.

We’re fucked. Er, I mean screwed. Uh, in trouble.

A little background, which would be EVER SO MUCH EASIER TO UNDERSTAND WITH PHOTOS, but I don’t have any. Yet. I am still refusing to document our lives in Humid-Hell Pennsylvania (which you would think by now would relax on the humidity dammit, as it’s SEPTEMBER ALREADY, ISN’T THIS AUTUMN YET? No? WELL IT SHOULD BE!), but I will. Soon. Because (shhhh!) I have located the Missing Camera Cord.

So. Background. We live in a little prairie-dog community (which would be great, if there were prairie dogs here, which there are not, because prairie dogs live in Colorado, and we do not. Anymore.) of apartments charmingly referred to as townhouses. Our building has 8 such beauties in it (I’ve previously referred to how well-built they are) and our front door inexplicably arises from the side of the building, where there is a sidewalk going not to the front of the building where guests might park, but only to the back of the building, where I park my car in the driveway that is sized to fit the car exactly and nothing more, because there’s absolutely no way the car will ever fit in the tiny garage (which apparently NO ONE here uses, except to house grills and other important accoutrements, since their Big & Tall SUVs barely fit on the driveway, let alone inside the garage without scraping both doors and probably the roof). So my front door faces the front door of another townhouse, its exact opposite twin, about 20 feet away.

So. Michael says, he says: There’s people moving in next across the way.

My first thought was: So they’ll finally turn off the light in the incredibly space-wastage two-story entry hall upper area, which has been lighting our entire house at night as well as the three nearest communities, for 2 weeks now. Yay.

But my second thought was: There will be people. Living 20 feet away from us. In plain view. (It’s easy to ignore the two twenty-something couples that live next door, six inches away from us, forgetting to pull their trash can to the front every week so that the trash piles up, and up, and spills over into their driveway 4 inches away from mine, and let their dog roam loose for hours in “our” yard, leaving little piles of reminders to rememeber it by.)

And so they are. They parked their Hertz Rent-a-Truck behind their driveway all day, effectively blocking their neighbor’s egress but also ours and everyone else down our line of 8 tiny driveways, and we could no longer navigate the tiny road attached to said tiny driveways, so thoughtfully marked “one-way”, because said Hertz was upwind of our tiny driveway, rendering it completely useless. So we parked in front of our house, near the signs that read “no parking” so thoughtfully spray-painted on the road.

We watched them bring in their stuff, one item at a time, all day. The rule was: bring in a dresser, take a break. Bring in the sofa, have a beer. Leave the truck a few hours, it’s not going anywhere, let’s go to dinner!

We hate them.

So should I bake them a cake or something?

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who lives in our neighborhood

i heart my neighbors, random observations Comments Off

Just now I glanced out our bedroom window while cutting off the rest of my thumbnail that broke while trying to get this damn thing apart, and I saw the Two Archery Guys walking back to their house? houses? and thought it might be a good idea to post about who lives in our neighborhood while it’s still our neighborhood.

1. Mr. Santa Claus — fat guy with white beard, partial to Hawaiian shirts, who hangs out in his garage and waves glumly to our passing car. He never smiles, just waves. Been doing it for months now. At first I resisted (he must think we look like someone we know?), but after the third time I simply began to wave back.

2. The Two Archery Guys — these two carry huge suitcase-looking-things and big compound bows to the prairie behind our house and shoot arrows at things. Hopefully not the prairie dogs. They walk to and from the same cul-de-sac. Are they a couple? Or are they just two neighbor-dads who happen to share a passion for medieval bowmanship?

3. The Couple Who Never Speaks To Each Other — they’re right across the street from us, on the corner of a cul-de-sac, so we see the side of their backyard. This summer they started building what we think will eventually be a deck. At this rate it looks like they might be enjoying a margarita or two on their new deck by the end of next summer. The slowness might be due to the fact they they apparently never speak directly to one another, but we think their dog acts as interpreter.

4. Nate — every neighborhood has one obligatory kid who runs wild through the streets, right? Parents are never around? That would be Nate. One day he let himself in to our yard and claimed he had followed a frog into our yard from his and it was now sunning itself in one of our window wells. Right.

5. The Loud Family — next door to Nate, as luck would have it, is a family with four children under the age of 5. We can hear them 3 houses down at our house. Clearly they have a relaxed parenting style, because when Michael was talking snakes with the dad (we had snakes in and around our yard, scaring the bejeesus out of Nathaniel and Serena when they almost rode their bikes over it), informing him that there were snakes in the neighborhood, potentially poisonous, the dad turned to his oldest and said “You hear that? There’s snakes around here, so be careful honey” and turned back to Michael. If it were me hearing about snakes? I would have immediately ushered all children inside until said snakes were caught by an experienced snake handler and brought to justice.

6. Everyone Else — We see families hypnotized by large-screen TVs while oblivious to the panoramic nightly sunset display. Others come and go from the park, or walk their dogs regularly. One guy races his two dogs, gleefully chasing each other and prairie dogs, through the prairie behind our house. Moms cluster under the park gazebo while their children brave the summer sun and heat of the playground. New dads proudly push strollers alongside their wives, conscious of their post-baby bodies, yet determined to give their babies an airing.

Just so you know? I rather think we’re the odd ones here, what with Michael’s chanting and our Waldorf weirdness and the moonlight energy rituals we’ve done outside, and our nakedness behind open blinds, and, well, isn’t it nice to be different?

It’s our neighborhood, and we’ll miss it.

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