Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Eyes of March

Yesterday the remaining traces of last week's snow storm vanished with the aid of some bright sunshine and  very spring-like temperatures.  What a difference 7 days can make in suburbia. Along with the 72 degree temp,   doors began to open and people came out of their homes.  Yes, after a long winter (I am assuming it is nearly over at this point..just call me an optimist) people are starting to reappear in the neighborhood.

The coming of spring is a mixed bag in suburbia.  Sure it's nice to see our old friend the sun but with it comes a few Battles of Suburbia.  Just in all other types of battles, there are going to be winners and there are going to be losers.

I have spent most of my adult life living in suburbia.  Now I know some of you more urban oriented dwellers are TSK TSKing and saying words like "cookie cutter", "sprawl" and "I'd rather die" and/or  you country dwellers are saying phrases like "living on top of each other" and " no elbow room" and "I'd rather die".  Sure...I see your point.  We have lived in urban areas,  rural areas, big cities and small towns  but about the time our Kiddo #1 came into the world we decided that suburbia fit our family's needs.

Soooo...After having spent the last 40 plus years living within spitting distance from  my neighbors lot line, I have discovered a lot of truths about living in "planned communities".  As time and space won't allow for me to list all the ins-and-outs of suburbia living in a single post,   I will share a couple of  nuggets today and perhaps address a few more down the road. 

Thought Number One: Neighboring in the Midwest

Neighboring can be a challenge...or at least it can be for those that might be somewhat apathetic about being part of a neighborhood clique  (AKA me).  Despite the obvious "wordiness" on my part that you read in my blogs, I don't tend to visit over the fence much.  My husband is much more the liaison of our household to make small talk.  I, on the other hand, am the person that actually knows the neighbors by name.  (Husband,  the guy across the street, his name is Jeff)  BUT, in my defense, I am not unfriendly either.  I just keep interaction to a minimum.  Those of you that have been reading my blog for awhile might remember some of my "bad" neighbor stories.   I figure by keeping a modest amount of detachment, will save me from being asked to do all their mending. (yes, neighbor in Iowa sent her kid over weekly with things needing mended.)

One of the components of dealing with neighbors in this part of the country, is that people hibernate in the winter months. Sure, you see them once in awhile, while they shovel snow but then they are just grouchy and cold.  Not overly friendly ...with a few notable exceptions of a couple of houses to the right of mine.

The grouchier neighbors do upon occasion perk up when my husband comes outside pushing his snow blower. It appears that snow blowers foster camaraderie.  Yes,  and if there is ever a time to be nice to the neighbor,  it's when there is 10 inches of snow and the guy next door seems to enjoy pushing snow off walks and drives with a shiny red machine.  (He loves to mow the lawn as well. Yes, he is an interesting person...and when I say "interesting" I mean odd.)

Midwest hibernation is coming to an end...with any luck.
Anyway...as I was saying, people here stay confined to their houses from about late November to sometime mid-March when little by little they come out into the yard.  They may not look exactly like you remembered them in the fall.  The lack of sunshine and  binging on "comfort food" has left them a little pasty and with a few extra  el-bees that weren't' evident 4 months ago.

The fact, they have a serious case of  "cabin fever" makes everyone a little more crazy than they would be in August. (to clarify, I am saying slightly crazier.  It is a given that they have some level of crazy year round.)

 EXAMPLE:  Last week we had 6 inches of snow.  This winter we had 39 inches of snow.  Up until yesterday, the remnants of that snow remained.  I am not kidding you...yesterday as the day reached up into the 70's,  I saw two neighbors out watering their lawns.  (Our irrigation systems are still winterized here, so I am talking about watering lawns with a hose and sprinkler.) I am not exactly sure if they truly believe that water is needed or if they are just needing an excuse to see the pasty, pudgy neighbors that have ventured out into the sun.

Which is bringing me up to my next thought, really.  People in subdivisions by their very nature are competitive and territorial.   These two things go hand and hand.

Thought Number Two:  Keeping Up With the Jones' While Simultaneously Keeping Them Off Your Lawn

Little Crabby Pants..Ruler of Her Sandbox
I would be disingenuous if I didn't confess that I am totally guilty of being territorial . Remember when you were a kid and forced to share with the other little kids.  I did but I expected them to treat my things very carefully.

I haven't progressed much.  I am fussy about our little patch of suburbia. There are a lot of examples of this but let's start with this.  We are "yard people".  Invariably, our lawn will look something akin to fake turf because we work hard to make it pretty. We don't keep our lawn lush because we are trying to prove something. We keep it lush because it looks nicer that way. Although having a nice  lawn isn't without some consequences.  In most cases, half the neighbors will admire it and half the neighbors will  want to murder you in your sleep.   With this in mind, I keep my doors locked at night.

For my part, I am willing to accept those that pray for fungus to attack my grass, but while praying for pestilence, I want them to keep their dog from using my yard as a toilet. Oh, and the multiple kitties that use my flower gardens as their litter box...I am not a big fan of that either.  (I am a big fan of dogs and cats...just want them to use the bathroom facilities somewhere other than my little slice of  suburbia.)

Suburban Moats...next big trend
AND if there is one thing that solidifies my need to protect my territory,  it's when someone blocks the end of my driveway or jumps the curb in front of my house with car tires. (whereby sprinkler heads die a quick and ugly death.) Yes, I recognize I am being petty.  I wouldn't be the first person to feel this way if you think about it.

Last summer, we had a very vivid example of a neighbor wanting us to respect the sovereignty of their yard.   One of our trees had been hanging over the fence.  I don't believe the tree was TRYING to be invasive or disrespectful of the airspace hovering over the fence but the "tree trimmer" that was hired to correct the problem, did so with gusto.

While this is a representation of the actual tree...It is very accurate.
It didn't go unnoticed.  The aforementioned liaison small-talker went out to have a chat with the tree trimmer guy. The talk didn't go as well as one might hope. Tree trimmer guy told hubby that if he was a GOOD neighbor he wouldn't of let the tree branches grow over to the other side of the fence.  This didn't make a favorable impression on Hubby.  The conversation deteriorated from there.

Robert Frost really knew a thing or two about neighborhoods.

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lisleman said...

a weather optimist - just can't make it in Chicagoland. Latest forecast calls for accumulating snow for tonight.
I'm terrible with names but that's true within my own family too. We do have a end of summer block party which is really nice.
Watering their lawn after all the snow?? Don't they know snow melts into water?
I don't like fences but if dogs are let loose in the yard then you need a good strong fence. Not one like our neighbors who is currently holding their fence together with bungee cords. They have 4, yes 4 dogs! Oh, that little patch of dog land only turns green when the dandelions sprout up. Most of year it's dirt or mud depending on weather.

TravelBug-Susan said...

I absolutely love your writing AND your thinking. Brava!

Wendy said...

Sad to say,but yes, when one is living in too close proximity to others, it is actually vital to make sure that some degree of separation exists. Because, sad also to say, there are people like your 'please mend this ' neighbour who will do things exactly like this. I have an ease with my closest neighbours in my area, knowing some but not many of their names. Nodding acquaintance. My husband and I try to maintain decent neighbour behaviour, ie trimming the branches of our trees that do tend to get carried away( although he is an 'ugly' pruner!) My husband also worked with the neighbour to rebuild our mutual fence. I too am a yard person, love to sit in my yard year around, and I am not fond of neighbour to the side who does not cut/weed or feed. Ah, hum. I agree with your post that It is necessary to create boundaries in a suburbia society,even though, there is one part of me that feels a sadness about it all. Now, about the kitty...I have an indoor cat. But how DOES one train a cat NOT to use the 'outdoor' sandbox in another's yard? Hum? Could Crabby Pants send any pointers? Laughed out loud at the bears- been to the tanning salon. Cute line. (Ooh so many fun photos in this post- guess you got caught in the slightly crazier release from cabin fever mood ;) . Love it ) Maybe the neighbours were doing some unknown to you ritual that will make the grass grow and the snow not return. Hum, did you watch them carefully, were they whispering as they moved that hose around? Well, if you do get spring now, you'll know who to thank!

Cheryl P. said...

KC is also supposed to get some rain-possibly-snow tonight. I am hanging onto my optimism in hopes that the weather prognosticators are again wrong. They have been wrong most of the time as of late.

Yes, I would assume that they knew that the lawn was already part bog but were anxious to see what was going on in the neighborhood. Our lawns here are starting to green up so people are getting eager to get outdoors.

As for fences...I am used to having a fence and prefer it. The people behind us also have 4 dogs. Next door to them there is a dog that is truly a spawn of the devil. He manages every once in a while to jump the 5.5 foot fence into my yard. Fences are so common here that it is hard to sell a house without having the yard fenced. Buys for the most part, expect it.

Cheryl P. said...

Thank you Susan, That is very sweet of you to say.

Every time I read your blog, I realize how social your little neighborhood is. It seems like RV people neighbor better for some reason than stick built neighborhoods. Are there ever any issues between neighbors or because of the transient nature do people just grin and bear any differences of opinion?

Cheryl P. said...

I think you and I have some cosmic connection...or maybe we are related in someway. Of course, that would mean you might be related to some "characters" so perhaps you should hope that we just have some spiritual connection. I agree with you that while I absolutely think there has to be a degree of separation in these types of planned communities to insure the homeowners have some measure of privacy, I also, feel a bit badly about it. I love to sit out on my patio or work in my flower beds but often, it is not relaxing at all. Usually dogs are barking up a storm through the fence line or neighbors want to vent about some HOA infraction. I would love for neighborhoods to be made of of dear friends in perfect harmony but that is not reality.

I, too have only indoor pets (2 cats) but there are several cats in the neighborhood that love to sleep on either my front porch or my back patio. As a cat lover, I am OK with that right up to the point I start planting something and realize I have hit kitty poo. Crabby Pants and I don't have any ideas on how to keep cats from thinking my beds or litter boxes and are just trying to be understanding. Perhaps kitty manure is the reason my gardens grow so well.

The neighbor that was out watering is a lovely person so I suspect she might be encouraging spring as you say. Had it been the neighbor on the other side, I would be suspicious as to maybe she was going to spray herbicide on my lawn just to make hers look less pitiful. (Now I know that is mean spirited but she is the one that told me she thought gardening was a waste of time and only crazy people would do it.)

As for spring..it actually is suppose to snow tonight into tomorrow but then quickly warm up. Spring is right around the corner.

oldereyes said...

The suburban neighborhood we live in now is as unsocial as anyplace I've every lived. Like your husband, I know most of the neighbors but I rarely talk to them. Occasionally, Muri and I see them at the park and they don't even know who we are. I think that's partly because of age differences but at least on neighbor seems to think they are better than us for some reason. Every house is landscaped and maintained by a gardener so there's not much competition except at Christmas (lights). One neighbor tried to convert me to his brand of religion but I declined, politely. We also have a retired sheriff and an active Highway Patrolman which is helpful on occasion. The Highway Partolman once chased down a mail thief who was taking stuff out of mailboxes on our street. So, while we gripe about the unsocail neighbors once in a while, I guess we like it here. We must be unsocial neighbors, too.

Lady Jewels Diva said...

First off we here in Aus are just coming in autumn, a.k.a. fall, so we are still sweltering through hot days and I have never seen snow in person because of where I live.

As for neighbours, nothing but users and abusers in my area so I have very little time for them.

As for cats and dogs, there is one ginger cat who runs down the path outside my house every day around 4 pm and shits under my tree. The birds always scare him and he runs off back home like a chicken but I have no idea where he's from or why he loves my tree so much.

Cheryl P. said...

I handle think just as you do...I say hello and try to be friendly but I don't want to sit around gabbing for hours with the neighbors. I have a couple of neighbors I visit with if we are all out doing yard work.

TravelBug-Susan said...

As with any neighborhood, or family for that matter, there are people you like and people you don't like, people who talk too much, people who drink too much, people who don't control their animals, many similarities. Because I work in our RV park office, I get to know many of the full-time people here and lots of the Winter Texans as well.
If I didn't work in the office, I would probably be more of an introvert. The main reason is that lots of gossip flies around this park and I prefer a more private life.
However, when it comes to meeting fellow bloggers whose writing I have been reading for sometimes years, I feel like I already know them. It's fun to meet when they come through our park or when we're traveling and meet while we're on the road.

Trina said...

I am a firm believer in good fences making good neighbors. They visit less and I've found that most people are great in small doses. .
As one of the country folk the only thing I think about suburbia is loss of privacy. My nearest neighbor is 4 acres away and most of the time we never see each other. I have seen the farmers a bit more lately, it's spring and with spring comes the spreading of the chicken poop. Stinky business I assure you. The most I ever get out of a neighbor is a simply light conversation every few months or so about changes on the street.

Cheryl P. said...

I think this is just a sign of the times... this is how people live in communities now. My husband and I talk upon occasion to our neighbors but I don't see most of them becoming life-long friends. We are also a bit older than most of our neighbors. They tend to have teens or college age kids as opposed to our being grandparents.

In Texas we lived next to a Texas Ranger. I thought that was very handy to have someone next door with a gun. Especially given the fact we don't have a gun and even if we did, I doubt that we would use it.

I prefer to do my gardening myself..although I have a service do all the chemicals, and trimming. I do my flower gardens and we both mow the lawn depending if hubby is in town or not. We think we do a better job than the services but maybe we are delusional. The one neighbor that I have a problem with, was the one that said she thought people that wasted their time gardening were crazy. I didn't take the comment well..especially as her yard looked like shit at that time. They have since been working to make it much better. She must of gone crazy at some point.

I wouldn't take kindly to having any of my neighbors try to talk to me about their religion.

Competition...there is very little competition here regarding yards or Christmas lights. Many people use services for their Christmas lights but that is an area that we do very minimal amount of outdoor lighting. The weather is just too dicey. They might go up in late November and the weather could make it be February before you could get them down. The services do a better job as they have the right equipment but the homeowner maintains the strings of lights. Fighting the lights on three Christmas trees is enough aggravation for me.

I wish I could think of some clever way to work in my town's name as you did..but there just isn't any way to work in Olathe. (pronounced O Lathe ehh)

Wolfbernz said...

Hi Cheryl!
It never fails, there's always a goofy neighbor, but to do that to your tree and then have the tree guy say that to you husband.. I know how I would have reacted, so I'm sure that conversation went very well indeed.
But wait, what? Watering their lawns already? Seriously?

Cheryl P. said...

Hubby and I have a farm in Illinois and I agree that the not having neighbors close at hand has some very wonderful aspects. I enjoy the solitude. Really the only problem I have had when we livedin more rural areas is when I needed a gallon of milk...it was a bite to get in the car and drive into town. While I was much better about keeping things on hand than I am now, it still occasionally happened. When we lived in NE we lived out of town and a convenience store/gas station opened up just a couple of miles away and that was heaven.

It may be different in small towns but in the last 15 years or so we have lived in major metropolitan areas albeit on the fridge in suburbs...we find that people tend to keep to themselves. You might know your neighbors by name and visit once in a blue moon but it seems that most neighborhoods don't neighbor all that much.

Cheryl P. said...

I always find it interesting to read your posts or those of others in Aus and see you talking about the heat when we have been up to our asses this year in snow. Actually, I think snow is quite beautiful for the first day or two after a fresh layer but then it gets old in a hurry.

I have lived in neighborhoods as well where I would consider my neighbors "users". Thankfully, that isn't the case in this neighborhood. I have less patience than I once had.

Odd about the cat seeking out that one tree. Maybe he just likes to annoy those birds.

Cheryl P. said...

Yeah, my husband has a lot of patience until he doesn't...then stand back. The discussion got ugly to say the least. We had our own arborist come and even things up. While the tree looks terrible right now, we hope when it leaves out in the spring it won't be quite so disgusting. We can't remove it because the roots soak up tons of water and keep that area from staying damp. The natural run off of rain and such flows between the lot lines.

I think everyone is just looking for an excuse to come out into the sun. That is the first day it got any where close to 70. Of course, tonight another cold front is moving through and we might get some more snow. This is the craziest year weather-wise that I have seen in years.

Cheryl P. said...

It does sound very much like any other neighborhood. Some people that are nice and others that are better at a distance.

Isn't it such a small world sometimes that the bloggers you read would be coming through for you to meet in person.

TravelBug-Susan said...

Yes, a small world after all (starts singing!).
Remember, we have wheels under our homes. We can go where we want.

Chubby Chatterbox said...

It's true that good fences make good neighbors. I've been fortunate with neighbors, and the house next to ours has been empty for six years so no problem there.

Riot Kitty said...

You must be my REAL immediate family. You and I think alike, except you're more polite and eloquent about it.

The Iowa neighbor: Really? I'd have started sending over dirty socks to wash to see how they went with them.

People jumping the curb in front of you house: I'd start leaving nails there. Just in case.

I'm dying to know what your husband said to the tree trimmer.

We are starting to look for a house this year and we're basically ruling out anywhere with an HOA. We don't want to get fined $1,500 for not polishing the door knob or painting it purple.

Lady Jewels Diva said...

Yep, it's a bottle brush tree and used to be thicker to hide him but it's thinning out a bit now.

As for Aus, the heat over summer has been 45 degrees celcius plus many days in a row, that would melt your frozen front yard!

Cheryl P. said...

Six years it has remained empty???? Do people really not want to have you as a neighbor??? Is the place haunted? Should I buy it and turn it into a half-way house for Starving Bloggers?

I never get lucky with empty houses for neighbors...I always have a couple of good neighbors with a nut-bag or two in the neighborhood that keeps things interesting. I am always hesitant to tell stories on the nut-bags on my blog as two of my neighbors sporadically read it. AND one thing about my neighborhood..we may not talk all that much but it seems that the gossip still manages to make it to each and every household.

Cheryl P. said...

I tend to clean up my act a bit on line but if you were a fly on the wall in our home office listening in on what hubby and I say about things...eloquence might not be the adjective you would use.

The Iowa neighbor did all manner of shit to annoy me. I could write a chapter on that B***** with how self absorbed she was. Her explanation was (and I am not kidding) that in her country her household had servants and she didn't know how to do anything for herself and as an American I was used to doing "housekeeping" things anyway. (I am purposefully not throwing in her ethnicity as it would just come across hateful)

Locally a lot of people line the front curb of their property with boulders. Not huge rocks but what they call "decorative" stone. I think it looks crappy especially as most people don't trim the grass and weeds around their rocks. I actually tried to find an online picture of these to put in my post but couldn't find one. I will have to remember to snap a pic as I pass some.
I just plan on replacing sprinkler heads a couple of times a year.

The conversation started with hubby using a "tone" which he does very effectively. Using the "tone" , he said something about "What were you thinking?"
To which the tree guy said something to the effect that our tree branches were too shady to let the grass seed germinate on the neighbor's side of the fence. AND that we were BAD neighbors. Then my husband lost his mind. The rest of that conversation would have to come to you on an email.

As for HOAs..mixed bag of pros and cons. I always prefer neighborhoods with covenants but I want them to be realistic. I don't want a laundry list of things I can't do but I do want provisions that the idiot next door can't put his classic car (the 1958 Edsel that is just a rusty shell) up on blocks in the middle of his front yard. I have never had that problem but know people that have. I have seen horrible things that neighbors have done to their houses in non-HOA neighborhoods. In Texas one of the bone's of contention with our HOA were the people that wanted to fly the Confederate flag. That was not allowed. I did the happy dance when the house two doors down had to take their flag out of the front window. Seriously, every neighborhood has an idiot and it doesn't matter if it's a nice neighborhood or not.

I have never had a lien put on my house by an HOA but they really have such limited power. Sure if you do something anti-convenant they can slap a lien against your property but nothing happens to that lien until you sell the house and even then...it is paid off as part of the mortgage. So really...HOAs are all bark and no bite.

Cheryl P. said...

OMG...that is HOT...seriously, I am not sure I just wouldn't melt.

Jayne said...

It would be very difficult for me to live with neighbors "within spitting distance" after 20 years in my rural paradise. I have to hand it to you.

Cheryl P. said...

I thought of you when I was putting this post together as you have talked in some of your posts how you like your space. I think that sounds like a very nice way to live. I lived with my grandparents as a kid and they lived on acreage in the country and I loved having pastures, woods, creeks and such to explore.
I am not sure that if I won the lottery that I would stay in suburbia but for now I am just 5 minutes away from my daughter and her family and this works.
Luckily for me...most neighbors now don't neighbor so you still are somewhat able to enjoy your solitude. I am the kind of person that enjoys the fence that surrounds my little slice of suburbia. I can go out into my yard and just enjoy being alone. If it weren't for things like barking dogs and such it would be even better.

Robyn Engel said...

Yes, at the end of the day, Robert Frost says it best.

I can't help but feel a tad guilty reading everyone's posts about the snow. We're still facing a drought, but I'm not complaining about plenty of sunshine. Sorry, Cheryl.


Cheryl said...

I hate to burst the collective bubble of the folks on this thread but in "Mending Fences" Robert Frost was not saying that good fences make good neighbors, rather questioning why we need fences at all. "Before I built a wall I'd ask to know what I was walling in or walling out, and to whom I was like to give offense."

Frost lived on a large farm and never had to deal with subdivisions and planned or gated communities. He might write something different today but my guess is his contemporary version of that poem might be even sadder than the one he wrote so very long ago.

That concludes the deep thinking portion of this comment.

This whole thing cracked me up. I could relate to all of it on one level or another. Except the fences. We don't live in suburbia (or at least I don't think we do). We live on a beautiful tree-lined, family friendly street on the edge of the city. On our little section of that street, people take pride in the appearance of their homes and their property. That pleases me because their pride increases the resale value of our little house by at least 25%. Booyah!

Are you married to my husband? Not only is he the only person in our area who owns a shiny, if old, snow blower, he's also the person in our house who remembers our neighbors names. I do know all their kids names and I'm pretty sure that says more about me than the kids' parents. They all seem rather nice and, to give credit where credit is due, they're all really appreciative of what my husband does. "We" receive fresh-baked cookies and bread, the occasional bottle of wine (neither of us drinks), and overly generous gift certificates to places to eat or buy fresh vegetables and other cool stuff.

He also loves keeping out lawn as green as possible but his efforts are futile given that he's fighting a losing battle with poor dirt, weeds that run amok, and voles, moles, and grubs. Only the wealthy have underground sprinkler systems, so there's also the annual drought conditions that brown things up really nicely. At least the front lawn tends to cooperate so we don't have to deal with the pity of being the poor white trash in the 'hood.

We have more ugly tree-trimming stories than anyone has a right to have. The law of the land up here is that overhanging branches are untouchable except by the people who own the land in which the tree is planted. Sadly, those owners don't want to pay to have the job done right so we've been living with the same kind of ugliness you've got. After 15 years, we've gotten used to it and I do enjoy watching the squirrels sitting out on the branch stumps.

Cheryl P. said...

Don't feel guilty at all..embrace your good fortune to not have had to put up with this type of weather.
It looks like we are finally past it...we will be in the 60s for daytime highs this week. YAY. (I hope I didn't jinx anything by typing that)
We should both have some fun in the sun this week...have a good one.

Cheryl P. said...

You are so much "bursting my bubble" (hahaha...my bubble is pretty thick so it really doesn't burst)
But just so you know....I only read the condensed version of poems so they substantiate my half-assed premises. Just as people can find a passage in the Bible to support whatever idea that needs reaffirming. Doesn't matter which side you are on any topic, there is a passage to support or condemn it, ...and you might have to "tweak" the interpretation a bit to make it fit.
As for Frost...I would think his poems would be quite different today.
Yes...I have examples:
Remember the part where he says
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
Today there would be a 911 call in there somewhere. Of couse, he (whoever he is) will see him stopping. There is surveillance and cameras involved.
OH and what about the one that says:
My little horse must think it queer....seriously horsey better watch where he goes with the word queer.
I have looked down the saddest city lane
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
and dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.
OK now that one could of been written today...and Frost would be being held in a KC jail without bail. Looking down while walking in a back ally with no explaination will not end well.
That concludes the poetry section of my comment...
I probably am not married to your husband but I can see where having two men to support me would be a really nice thing. AND it sounds like you live in the nicer neighborhood....so maybe I could split up my time.
For the most part here in suburbia...everyone takes pride in their home and if they don't the HOA would force them to "make things attractive". So from an outsiders point of view.,..alll looks nicey-nice. But our yards in this neighorhood aren't all that large and fences do help define the space and allow for some privacy. In Nebraska we lived on 3 acres and fences just weren't necessary....here a third of an acre doesn't give you much space.
My neighors seem appreciative of my husband when he helps them so I don't fault them for that but I will say...your neighbors sound AWESOME. Gifts and food..seriously AWESOME.
Yards can become a fight. I feel for you fighting drought and poor soil. A person can only do what a person can do.
Yes, the ugly tree trimming incident is still a bone of contention around here. We have an arborist that comes in both the spring and the fall to trim all 28 of our trees. He shapes and prunes and they are...oops "were" looking very pretty. While some branches by their very nature do hang over the fence line, we have told all our neighbors just to let us know if anything needs trimmed and our guy will come back out and take care of it.
This neighbor hired a lawn service who is NOT a tree guy and he just went crazy on this tree. The only way to redistribute the weight of the tree so it would blow over in the next micro-burst or tornado was to top it and take of the longer branches on our side of the fence thereby reducing the heavy side's weight. Now we have a tree that makes Charlie Brown's Christmas tree look like the picture of health. We will see how things look after it gets it's leaves in the spring. It can't look any worse than it does now. GGGRRRR.

Cheryl P. said...

I am fairly PRO HOA. I kind of grind my teeth when I have to send paint chips and beg (or provide sexual favors) to paint my house an "eath" tone but they do, for the most part, keep the neighborhood looking nice. No bright purple or hot pink houses allowed. BUT every now and again, there are issues with people letting their yards go to hell. We have a 6 inch high rule on the grass. Now you would think that 6 inches (we're talking grass here) is rather lengthy and generous before forceing someone to mow. But any given year there is a house about 10 doors down that will be forced to mow.
As for your bat-shit crazy neighbor....He must have control issues. If someone is being paid (via you being charged) to do your lawn work...why would it matter if his grass is greener before the others. He's not the one going to be credited. Everyone is going to accuse your lawn service of doing something "extra" to his lawn. They aren't going to assume the homeowner is paying for a service AND doing his own lawn work.
Personally...I wouldn't do anything if I was paying someone else to do it. We do pay for fertilizing, pest control and such and I don't run out after they put down nitrogen and throw some extra down. I pay them to make my lawn green.
I have said this before but ...I just love your cartoons. Green grass on a very private lawn, heh??? Is there a chance your neighbor could move?

Cheryl said...

Your comment is almost as funny as your post. Your description of Frost had me laughing out loud. He could have used queer in that context without censure but I'm sure it wouldn't have gone unnoticed by some group that would shown up at his house to protest.

We spent 4 hellish years living in a neighborhood with a HOA. I will never do that again. There were no fences there but, dear gawd, it was awful. I felt like I'd stepped into "The Stepford Wives" and there was no way out.

That tree sounds like one of the trees that we lived with for over 10 years. Over half of it overhung our garage and the tree wasn't very healthy. We came home from visiting my FIL in WI to find half of it laying on the ground on our property. Hurricane Danny had done a number on that thing. After many discussions with our neighbor, they opted to cut off what had been broken and leave the rest. We offered to help pay to take the whole thing down but they wouldn't hear of it.

Almost 2 years to the day, Hurricane Irene knocked the rest of it down clipping only a corner of our garage, a corner of the owner's garage, and a bit of another neighbor's shed's roof. I remember hearing this indescribably sound, looking out the window, and watching it slowly heave to the left. It's incredible that it missed every structure when it was completely surrounded by them. I miss that tree because it was the one where all the birds came to visit me.

Maybe you'll get lucky and your ugly tree will go down in a big storm. On their side of the fence.

Please keep writing these weekly posts. I'm seriously going to have a meltdown if you quit.

Cheryl P. said...

Now aren't you just the sweetest person to say "funny" as opposed to bat-shit crazy.

I, too have lived in HOAs where the home-owner police AKA HOA hierarchy, are over zealous and run the neighborhood with the same force that Kim Jong-un is running N. Korea but our current "leaders" seem to be rather incognito. In fact, I have no idea who my leaders are. I would guess if I wanted an introduction, I could paint my house with some glow-in-the-dark paint.

Yes, when my newly maimed tree gets hit with one of Kansas' lovely wind storms, I can only hope it falls away from my house. I think it was quite considerate of your tree to miss all structures. I am hoping that if my tree isn't the considerate type at least let it hit the neighbor's house. (OK..I am a bad neighbor wishing such a thing but her crappy tree trimmer is the one that brought about this

I did check into the possibility of removing it but the consenses is that the huge root system plays an important role is stabilizing the ground between our houses. With my luck, the thing will fall on her house but my house will fall into a huge sink hole.

Please, no meltdowns...our shared husband wouldn't want that.

Chickens consigliere said...

Oh boy, you sound a lot like my husband except he engages in mostly silent, passive aggressive battles with the neighbors infringing on what I like to call his breast fed decidedly non organic lawn. It gets tense at times. And then I have to go out with the snow blower and rack up brownie points

Beverly Steeves said...

my nearest neighbour is 2 miles away. i could twirl nude on the front lawn for days. i will say here in the country people are very competitive about their gardens and green houses. less about their appearance, more about their harvest. and in the spring the farmers are very petty with each other about who had the straightest plough lines in their fields.

Cheryl P. said...

Yes, we are nothing if not passive aggressive around here. At one point the family next door actually came out while hubby was working on weeding landscape beds and told him that they thought people that "wasted" their time primping yards were nuts. (of course, this neighbor's yard was 99 percent crab grass, 1 percent clover)

Things have calmed down a bit as that neighbor has since hired a lawn service. I guess if one does their own yard work they are nuts but hiring others to be nuts on your behalf is good)

Funny line "breast fed decidedly non organic". A couple of years ago, I filled out all the paperwork to become a "Master Gardener" but when I found out you had to sign a paper promising never to use a chemical that was not natural or organic, I hastily shredded them. (once I had recovered from my head spinning in 360 degree spins)

Cheryl P. said...

While we have always lived in major cities, my husband has always retained his family farm. He shares it with his brother. I guess that is true about the being able to spin on our farm as well but with my luck the school bus would go by.

I totally understand that competitiveness in the country. I have nothing to do with the crops ....other than gloat. ....but I LOVE mentally sizing up how beautiful our crops are compared to the other area farms. My brother-in-law's crops should be featured in text books they are so beautiful. AND don't even get me started on yields. It's a good thing I don't actually live on our farm as I could become an agra-bitch.

Electric Addict said...

My neighbor is a crack head and said hi to him once and he gasped in disgust at me. Safe to say I lock my doors at night.

Cheryl P. said...

Holy Moly...A crack head in the neighborhood. I guess it's a good thing that your crackhead neighbor seems be a unfriendly douch bag on top of being a drug addict. I would find it confusing if my neighbor asked me if I wanted a coke and I had to wonder what he meant by it. Yep...keep those doors locked.

BTW..Thanks for stopping by. I love to see new people join in the comments. If you have a blog let me know and I will come to visit as well.

Electric Addict said...

Yea most people around here really aren't too friendly to conversation/standoffish in general. Must be the weather or something. And yep my blog is www.electricaddict.net Thanks for stopping by :)

Katherine Murray said...

I am DYING. That tree could be in MY yard and my other neighbor's yard. The OTHER neighbor climbed our trees and cut limbs that were going over his yard. TOTALLY killed that tree... and ours just looks like crap like your picture. That is HYSTERICAL!!! Oh and with ours? He left some branches hanging in a "V" so in the next hurricane they will fall and hurt someone or something!

Cheryl P. said...

Same thing here, the du******s left all kinds of straggling branches which wouldn't have survived the next big Kansas wind. Our arborist came and pruned the whole tree back making it look stupid but we are hoping that enough new branches will sprout to camouflage it a bit. We really need that root ball to stay put to anchor that side of the lot.

Neighbors..gotta love them ....or NOT.

Linda R. said...

My thoughts on your thoughts. Good fences do make for better neighbors. The downside being the neighbors that have large, barking dogs. I don't dislike dogs, but some big dogs scare me and I do dislike being barked at every time I go near the fence. There isn't much space between the houses and I have to mow, and move the garbage and recycle bins past the fence, amid furious barking.

Also it really irks me when people mutilate perfectly good trees, or cut them down completely. That has happened a lot around here. Huge, healthy trees cut down leaving bare landscape.

Spring is here, at least per the calendar. It's warm now, but we had freezing precip on Monday and snow is forecast for next week that may or may not materialize.

Cheryl P. said...

I could just hug you about now. I think exactly the same way. I like dogs but the neighbor behind me has 4 big dogs and when I mow, their barking scares the livin' crud out of me. I have visions they will come through the fence and eat my face for lunch.

Also, agree about the trees. I love trees and hate to see them destroyed. I even hate it when neighbors don't take proper care of trees. I ESPECIALLY HATE it when they mistreat MY trees.

Snow...I hope they are wrong about the upcoming forecast. Bring on the REAL spring. We are supposed to get some below freezing temps over the weekend but there was no mention of snow. I am keeping my fingers crossed.