Saturday, November 2, 2013

I feel sorta bad about this

There has been very little interaction lately with 'the neighbors'.  Honestly I am grateful.  A little over 2 weeks ago, Rumson met Ed at the mailbox and informed him that 'they were having a garage sale Saturday, if we wanted to add some stuff'.  To date I have not seen a garage sale.

I have noticed a large blue tarp on the roof however.  This neighborhood was built all at one time, so everyone tends to re-roof at the same time.  5 or 6 in a year for a couple of years and then 20 years of waiting.  Well next door has a roof that probably was put on late 70's/early 80's.  So I do suspect they have a problem.

It has been extraordinarily quiet.

But what I feel bad about is being happy at their probable misfortune.

Years ago, when Daddy was alive and we'd get weekly, or even daily visits to keep us updated on their lives, Rumson told us that he took a reverse mortgage out on the house.  It was in his parents name.  He told us that he intended to transfer it to his name when both parents died.  Now I am no expert, but I am pretty sure there is a point that the equity is out of the house and the reverse mortgage people expect to get the house.  I don't know exactly when they did this loan, but I suspect it was over 10 years ago.  Daddy died about 4 or 5 years ago and this was done well before he died.

We have been anticipating that day when Dead Mama really does pass on and the Redneck Circus would be forced to move along.  24 years is a long time to have dealt with a less educated and less classy version of the Clampetts.

So yesterday when I got a Zillow alert saying our property has now increased in value (yay we are no longer underwater!)  I went to the web page to see what a recent house sold for down the street, assuming that is why our value went up.  That's when I saw a little blue icon over the house next door.  I clicked on it, thinking they were renting it.  But instead found out, they are in Pre-forclosure.

According to the webpage, they took out a loan 2 years ago and the bank is starting proceedings against them.  The only thing I can figure is that the Reverse Mortgage ran out and they took another loan to try to pay it back.  Since not one person works over there, except for the yardman who pretty much only does my other next door neighbors yard and theirs, I suspect that things are going very badly and I anticipate cop cars in the future.

My concern is once the bank does move them out, Crazy Woman is likely to still be hanging around.  She's spent most of her adult life next door and she is just unstable enough to keep coming there.  I mean she took off on a Baker Act years ago and they just left on vacation, leaving her locked out of the house.  I do worry about Dead Mama.  She is so feeble and mentally vacant these days.  Add the fact that some days I can only tell the difference between she and RumSon by whether or not the person is wearing a shirt.  For the record, he doesn't.  Alcohol has ravaged him, so he looks like an 80 year old woman.

I'm torn.  I feel sorry for them on a human level.  But on the other hand, not having 3-5 trashed cars in my front yard; not having schizophrenia and dementia up close and personal; not having family tragedy acted out like bad Shakespearean drama in the yard/street/neighborhood:  MIGHT just be a pleasant change.

It's a quandary, for sure.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Creepy! I mean seriously Creepy!

I just had a run in with RumSon.  I had opened my garage door to get the mail/paper and bring the recycling bin up from the street.  MG kitty decided it was too hot outside, so he followed me in.  I noticed his water bowl in the garage was nearly empty, so I brought it inside and refilled it.  By the time I walked back out, RumSon was in the driveway, about 6 feet from the inside of my garage.

We have yard tools and such just inside the garage door, so I immediately got suspicious.  He was on his cell phone, well it was to his ear.

He tells me that the electric company had just installed a new meter and he was wondering if they gave us the same one.  He's staring at it, sort of....I explained that ours is broken, the old one burned up and we are awaiting them to come replace the meter.  He then told me the lightning was really bad the other day.

Then he starts explaining his meter.  Which frankly I didn't care.

And I was saved by his phone call going through and mid sentence with me, he starts talking to the person on the phone.  I did not want to sit and listen to his call so I said Later and walked inside.

I watched him walk back to his house from the front window, empty handed.

Dammit I never have had to worry about leaving the door open for a little while, now I am wondering if he is coming over to see what we have in the garage so he can borrow it.

The same way they borrowed our yard day they'd ask to borrow it...3 days later it would show up at our back door.  They'd ask again and 4 days later it would come back.  Eventually, it just stayed at their house.  Last time I saw it was this past winter filled with wood.  That was right after they had cut the tree up on my property.  I joked with Ed and said we should go get the wagon, it is ours and most likely so was the wood.

I am trying to stay humorous about the entire situation, but it gets harder and harder to do so.

By the way, the garage door is now closed again...even though I am leaving for work shortly.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Random Meme on a Sunday afternoon

I follow a lot of groups and pages on Facebook that can only be described as 'extreme fandom'.  Which means I have a FB page filled with pointless and random crap that can only be described as filler.

Mash ups that have no relevance:

Just in case you wanted to know Martin Freeman is about a foot shorter than Jared Padalecki
 Screenshots with the dialogue typed on the picture:

Just in case you forgot what they said...
 Then there is this...

I mean, what the hell?

So I guess what I am perplexed the most is why anyone would bother with doing this at all...Now I love me a Schrodinger Cat or anything from some ecards:
Yep, had those days
 But seriously, why and what is this:
Doctor #9 and a couple of random dudes?

and don't get me going on the shit passed around supposedly from George Carlin's Mouth:
What the Fuck people, I didn't say that?
 Is the need for attention so great, that just having your meme go viral make you feel special?  I'm at a loss.  Maybe this is why....

Good night everybody, I'm here all week!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Probably going to hell

Because of my work, I spend my drives to and from, in complete silence.  Years ago, I'd drive to work with my own personal soundtrack to face my days in News.  Think "Eye of the Tiger".  But now, sitting in a room with 20 computers...and their fans, numerous satellite receivers and yes still a few tape decks, also all running with fans and the best part, the massive air handlers for the building above my head, it is a very noisy place before I even add the volume from 2 station's programming.  I adore that few minutes of silence before I go to work and after I leave.

These zen moments truly make me realize, I am not normal.

For example, there is an old Chi Chi's Mexican restaurant I pass daily.  It has been numerous endeavors since the Chi Chi's closed, currently it is a church.  And because of that and what I think every day passing it, I am going to hell.

When it first opened, I thought as many delicious Margaritas as I drank in that restaurant (ok in the bar) I probably sighed a few "oh God's" while I was in it is only fitting it is a church now.  Yes, I know.  Hell.

Then we get to the name.  CREPA.  Christ REsurrection Power Academy.

Who doesn't think of some sort of Religious Power Rangers going out on the street, forming in a giant Jesus on the Cross to fight evil?  Yes.  Hell.

Then I figured they were a group that performs exorcisms.  "The Power of Christ compels you!" said the old priest in the Exorcist.  Which if you think about it does sort of fit in with the Power Rangers idea...I mean who would be a better exorcist...screw that Old Priest and New Priest stuff, call in the CREPA!  Yes, I am currently creating my own ring of hell.

But these are the types of things I think about on my silent drives to and from work.  Of course most of this comes on my drives home.  I love driving home.  Not just because the day is over and I get to take my bra me that is a good thing, but because at 1am, there are rarely people on the road.  Which means I can drive and zen without the constant, "what the hell is that guy doing"  "Whoa, turn signal dude"  "What the hell asswipe" interrupting my lovely thoughts of giant evil fighting Jesus rangers tackling Satan in a throwdown on the Arlington Expressway.

For the record, I am certain that the people from that church are wonderful and lovely people and I do not mock them.  I just have a very strange imagination.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Back where he belongs...thanks to bad weather

willingly came in for a nap
With a Tropical Storm threatening, I picked up the MG cat and brought him inside.  He has been coming in late at night or early in the morning...when he is hungry, but quickly heads out the door and back to Dead Mama's house.  So when he yowled to go outside, I ignored him.  The worst of the storm was coming at the time no one was at home to bring him inside, so he spent a long 30 plus hours inside.  

Early this morning, seeing as how it was just wet and windy, we let him go out again.  I did not expect to see him again until late tonight.

Much to my surprise, when I went to get the mail, he shot into the garage and the kitchen door.  So I gave him a late breakfast and continued getting ready for work.  After half an hour, I just found him curled up on the bathroom floor sleeping.  NO desire to go outside (which is good because a tropical storm influenced thunderstorm is on the horizon).

I noticed lots of activity at Dead Mama's today, but no sign of MG.  So I suspect that inside time at my house, just reinforced where home actually is...and where it is not.

Thank you Tropical Storm Andrea.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Just like the Clap...she's back

Day 6
This morning I called like normal for MG.  He promptly ran up to THIS bowl.  Yes, she's been here again, sometime since yesterday afternoon.

The sad thing is she is very sporadic.  She did not put food down yesterday at all, MG ate from his dry food in the garage and twice inside with the other two.  I am just so worried that the reason all the her other 'cat charges' disappeared over the years is because the voices in her head told her to feed them strychnine or some other more physical damage.  

I am literally holding my breath every morning and evening to see if he will show up when I call.

I know why she started paying attention to him.  He's a slut.  We had a slut cat in college too.  We'd let him out and watch him walk up the porches of every other apartment around the pool.  He'd meow and get a treat, some attention, he'd lay down under someone's chair as they sunbathed.  Every person in the pool area knew that cat.  MG is exactly the same personality.  I have seen him helping a neighbor 2 houses down work in his garden, my immediate next door neighbor says he jumps up on her window sill and looks in at her.  Which is exactly how he came to our attention.

A year and a half ago, it was early winter and still warm enough to have the windows open.  I was feeding the lot inside (which was 4 cats at that time) and I kept hearing meowing.  This is not unusual at food time.  But it seemed like there was more meowing than normal.  So I got all the bowls down and said "There, eat!"  and all 4 cats were eating away and I could still hear "Meow?"  

I looked out the kitchen window and next to the BBQ was this orange cat.  I said, "Hello, who are you?"  And instead of running he jumped up on the BBQ.  I went to the back door and opened it and he walked right in.  I pulled a bowl and filled it with some food and he ate.  He was very polite.  All the other cats sniffed at him.  JC, my old guy was like...'chah, another one huh?' and went back to his spot to sleep.  Pirate was fascinated by him, Storm growled and scoffed off in a huff.  The Rat Bastard was so happy to not have an old guy cat or an annoyed girl cat that he was doing backflips over the new one.

Thus started the game.  Every morning and night, he'd jump onto the window sill and cry.  When it got cold that winter, I just let him inside.  I reopened the cat door I had locked after CaliCat died and other than he would not push it open (I had to tape it open until he got used to it).  He hung at our house for nearly a full year.  

It was February or so of THIS year that suddenly Crazy Woman noticed him.  And that started my fun.  I need to talk with them about this.  However I really do not want to go over there and knock on the door.  The last time I did, they made me come inside and 'sit a spell'.  It's dark and hoardy and smells like Dead Mama is always cold, so it is HOT and stuffy on top of it.  Not to mention I have seen Crazy Woman 3 days running in the same clothes...imagine that smell.

I'll just have to wait for one of those fun days I get caught at the mailbox.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I just caught Crazy Woman!

My windows are open...I just got out of the shower, in my robe and I heard a clinking....I looked at the clock and it is way too early for Ed to be home and then I saw her.  Crazy Woman about 15 feet from my door.

She had just fed MG cat on my porch!

He's happily eating away
When I heard the noise, I was working on makeup, since Ed and I are planning on going out, so I said "Hey, is that you?"

She was scurrying so the best picture I could get was this through the window.

She's in red pants today...picture is blurred to protect the crazy
Holy crap on a cracker!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Attack of the Water Bowl

From my porch to their yard
Yesterday I wrote about the sudden arrival of a food bowl on my front stoop.  It is absolutely delicious for Florida in May, so we had our windows open yesterday.  Last night Ed decided that instead of leaving the windows open like we normally would, he would close them...because you don't know if Crazy Woman will show up to deliver more food and decide to break in.

It's not without precedent.  Years ago, I let the cats outside on a day like today for a romp.  (Those excursions ended when they chased a black racer snake into the house and it took a week to track it and remove it...story for another day).  I had left the door slightly cracked, so they could come in and out and needed.  I was doing chores inside.  At that time the house was divided into a living room/dining room and a family room/kitchen with doors connecting the dining room and kitchen and the front entry connecting the living room and family room.  (After remodeling it is just one big great room).  So I could not see the front door from the kitchen.  I walked back to the bedroom area and encountered Crazy Woman in my front hall.

She was just standing there staring at the floor.  Scared the bejesus out of me.  At this time I didn't even know her name.  It was just bizarre that she walked to my front door, found it cracked open and just walked in.  She told me some nonsense about being injured by the water company and then left.  I quickly ushered the cats inside and closed and locked the door. 

So, concern over her not knowing boundaries is founded.  

This morning I opened the blinds and the windows and found Crazy Woman had been by, a water bowl has joined the food bowl.  I'm glad I pulled the blinds and Ed closed the windows.
Little blue water bowl next to food bowl.  Yes, MG visits here.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Oh that's just a bit creepy...

waiting out the rain
Rain for 4 days solid, makes for a cranky outside MG cat.  He's spent more time inside than outside this week.  Because the rain has been flooding, there are not many places he can go and escape water.  If he has been out, I call or open the garage door and he'd run through the rain to get inside.

Bottom line:  He hasn't been next door around Crazy Woman.

Yesterday morning I went to check on a plant I put outside (dying Poinsettia from Christmas) and noticed a ceramic saucer on the front stoop.  I hadn't talked with Ed about it and thought perhaps someone had given him some food he didn't like and he put it outside for something else to eat....HIGHLY unlikely, but weirder things have happened.  This morning I wanted to mention it to him and looked out the window.  That's when I saw the plate had been replaced by a matching bowl...and that matching bowl was filled with cat food.

Yes.  Crazy woman's need to feed is so strong that even when she knows he's inside MY HOUSE, comfortable, dry and with food...she walks TO MY FRONT DOOR and deposits cat food on my porch.

White bowl of cat food.  I am standing IN my front door
I don't know how to explain to these people that I have been taking care of this cat for a year and a half.  What they are doing is confusing him.  I've fed him, kept him warm in the winter, dried him when he was wet, put expensive flea medication on him, etc, etc, etc.  I EVEN TOLD THEM face to face, HE'S OUR CAT!  

I think these people have serious problems understanding boundaries.  Physical and otherwise.  Years ago we had a battle royale with Daddy over the property line.  He was convinced he owned all the property between our houses.  His side yard.  Didn't matter that most of what he thought he owned was between the street/mailbox and our front door.  Can anyone explain to me how someone can think land 40 feet past someone's mailbox is their property?  I actually had to get the plot map out and show him where his property was...then asked him to move the junk cars off my side of the property. 

Yep, these people definitely don't understand boundaries.

chilling in the garage during the rain

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sunshine? Avoid the Mailbox

I just got out of the shower, got dressed, sopping wet hair and barefoot....decided before I dried my hair, I'd get the mail and newspaper and bring the recycling bin up.  It's a beautiful day afterall.

I started to head up the driveway with the recycling bin and I hear RumSon calling for Yardman.  My mantra started, "please don't see me...please don't see me..."

"Hey Stapht" (understand that is how my name sounds when uttered in the Florida Cracker dialect).


So I turn around and much to my delight, I am regaled with details of the current mental health care that Crazy Woman is under.  As I suspected a few weeks ago, she was going off her meds.  Seems in the last week or so she totally stopped them again.

Now she is one step away from permanent institutionalization.  She is violent when unmedicated and they have voluntarily locked her up as many times as they can.  Well evidently, noteworthy for those of you who do have a mental case nearby, there is a new program (12 years old) that they come to your house and shoot up the crazy, as an alternative to Baker Acting.

Just for a minute imagine how much fun that job is...300 pound woman, schizophrenic and off her meds, prone to violence and you get to show up and give her an antipsychotic shot.  Sign me up for that one.

For the record, I just said hello.  And Goodbye.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

My cat dammit!

February 12, 2012
I haven't written lately, because frankly I am pissed off.  SERIOUSLY PISSED OFF at the lot next door.

The lovely creature above wandered up last year during the winter, this is the first picture I took of him in February.  I believe he wandered up sometime around the Holidays of 2011.  I say that because I lost my sweet Cali Cat in April of 2011 and remember thinking it is typical that one wandered up within 6 months of her passing.  She was the outdoor cat who patrolled our yard against usurpers. 

EVERYONE at the end of the street is well acquainted with MG (Mostly Ginger), he's quite a social creature.  Most know he calls our house home.  I am positive he belonged to someone who moved and left him behind...a foreclosure in the neighborhood next door perhaps or a house down was a rental, until it recently sold.  I suspect that house because the cat appeared right after they moved.

But suddenly in the past couple of weeks, he has been disappearing.  He's not sleeping on the chairs on the front porch; hasn't been waiting for breakfast or dinner; hasn't even been greeting me when I get home from work in the wee hours of the morning.  Then I saw it, him next door in the driveway following Crazy Woman as she does her 'fruit loops' walk around the yard.

This partially disturbed me because she has a record of sporadically feeding stray cats, but they never last for very long before they disappear completely.  At this point I should mention the dog.  Yardman has a bulldog /boxer mix that I was informed years ago, "hates cats".  So far I haven't found anything other than Dead Mama's family that this dog likes, so he is always leashed.  Ed and I call him "Cujo". 

I had noticed MG frequenting their yard, but he roams through about 4 yards at the end of the street, so I didn't really care too much, until two weekends ago when I saw Cujo chase MG up a tree.  I ran outside to rescue him.  I got there just as he was coming down, so I scooped him up and brought him inside until the dog was locked up again.  Dead Mama and Yardman saw me grab him.  So fast forward to this week.  MG was gone again, I was worried, he had not even touched the dry food I had in the garage for him.  So I went looking for him.  

He was under the POS car in their driveway.  I called him and he reluctantly came.  Unfortunately, just at that point both RumSon and Crazy Woman appeared.  That's when I got pissed (and sad).  Seems Crazy Woman was convinced MG was homeless and needed her care, so she started feeding him.  Obviously he is an opportunist, so food and PEOPLE outside all day long to pay attention to him was he started hanging out over there.  OVER a year I have been taking care of this creature...A YEAR!  

THEN RumSon, repeatedly referring to him as "SHE" I admit he has a full coat and in winter it is impossible to glance and tell...but I digress...RumSon informs me 'she' is a friendly cat and Crazy Woman was worried no one was taking care of 'her', so she started feeding 'her'.  I corrected RumSon and said, I have been taking care of HIM for over a year now.  Giving him medicine, feeding him, keeping him warm during the winter....and at that point Crazy Woman wanders towards us.  She doesn't really 'engage' in a conversation, so she stayed about 30 feet away staring at the ground.  

RumSon starts telling her the cat is being taken care of and she doesn't have to worry.  He then tells me that its a good thing because "Crazy Woman" constantly opens the door and lets the cat in.  He then has to find the dog and lock it up.  Yes, knots started in my stomach at that point.  The thought of MG being trapped in that house with Cujo absolutely horrifies me.  It would horrify me if I had no connection to the cat...but this animal has slept on my pillow for most of the winter....I've bonded with him.

I'm hoping that RumSon stops buying cat food and Crazy Woman stops feeding him.  He'll just wander back over to our yard.  It's has been a week since that conversation, MG jumped up on the window sill in the kitchen like he used to for breakfast.  Maybe he is back to eating here.  I am beside myself, but I know absolutely no way to 'convince' a cat not to visit another house when that cat loves people and they are always outside, especially if they start feeding him.

All I have to say is if something happens to MG, there will be a border war at the end of the street.  

MG and General fighting for attention

Saturday, March 16, 2013

I swear this was going to be about cats....

Original blog story
I was laughing this morning because every time I opened a window, both cats had to come sniff the air out of that window.  Like it was different.  So I was taking pictures at the windows as I opened them.  Pirate always looks at me...but the Rat Bastard Bitty Cat (unofficially his name, General is what the Vet's office calls him) is actively sniffing the most recent window opened.

That's when I saw RumSon talking to a man in their driveway.  I could not see any car in the yard, so it caught my attention....especially when it was obvious the man was in a dark uniform, something like a badge on his chest.  I saw Crazy Woman hightailing it to the backyard, so I went outside and looked for a car, expecting to see a white one with lights on the roof.

The Man!
As I suspected, in the street is a Police Car.

He only stayed a few minutes and then slowly drove around the cul-de-sac and out of the neighborhood.

Sorry, through a dirty garage window
Crazy Woman was fugitively sneaking around the back of the house to look for the cop after he left.

So either she is completely off her meds and violent (they always call the cops when she is in that state) or Dead Mama died and they are calling it in to the cops.  I more expect the former, over the latter, simply because Crazy Woman was so furtive.

If it is any indication, we'll be seeing lots of police cars in the near future.

I really had a funny cat story for today....

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I've got an excuse....

The culprit
At three o'clock or so this morning, General aka Itty Bitty, aka Rat Bastard, started playing with the shade cord above the bed.

Normally I leave this shade open about 10 inches, because all night long he and his sistercat Pirate jump on from the headboard to the window sill to watch possums or raccoons or whatever strange beings (the neighbors) are in the backyard.  This window faces North and only in the MIDDLE of summer does any sun light really get in, but I use it as an alarm clock, because at about ten in the morning, it brightens the room enough to slowly wake me up.

When he started playing with the cord, I woke up fairly rapidly.  He has a tendency to tangle up with the cord and pull it onto the bed, resulting in the blind unfurling.  If the angle is right, it will miss the space between the wall and the headboard and land on our heads.  He usually does this in the morning so it is my head he lands on, with a claw stuck in the cord or the blind on my head, so I am well attuned to the sound of  him playing and immediately start swatting at him to get down.

He comes down with the cord in his mouth, pulling the release just enough to unlock it.  I untangle him and set him on the bed and the blind starts to lower, I grab the cord and let it slowly drop, so I can evenly pull it back up again.

I should mention the cord is above Ed's head and he sleeps elevated with this funky wedge pillow for acid reflux, in essence his head is close to the place I have to be to get the blind to lock again.

I slowly start pulling the blind back up and try to lock it.  It won't lock.  So I sit up in bed and try again, still trying not to hit Ed.  It won't lock.  About the fourth time I tried, I glanced towards Ed and realize his eyes are open and he is watching me and has been for a while.  Scared the bejesus out of me.

"General?"  he asked.
"Of course, who else.  I think the lock is broken."  I said.
After two or three more attempts I said "screw it." and let the blind down.

The end result was a sleep that lasted until Noon.  It's my day off, so no work worries, but I really need to do some chores and I don't move quickly in the morning (or morning for me).  Coffee can take nearly an hour.  Limbering up my bones can take two hours, especially if I slept for ten or eleven hours.

I'm hoping to be out of my PJ's by the time Ed gets home at five.

I blame the cat.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Boundaries People! Boundaries!

Earlier today, I could hear the sound of a chain saw going.  I was just getting out of bed, so I didn't think much of it.  I stumbled to the kitchen to make a coffee and feed the cats, it was then I saw Yardman in my front driveway.  He was chopping up some little tree branches.

Yardman lives in Dead Mama's house.  I know his last name is different from Dead Mama, so I know he is not a son.  Honestly I don't know his relationship to anyone.  Initially when he moved in several years ago, we called him Rum Son's special friend.  Neighborhood code for We don't know the relationship and frankly it is none of our damn business.  Yardman has made a pretty profitable business in the neighborhood of doing work for the neighbors.  He does everything for my immediate next door neighbor, she has him trimming and mowing etc every week.  Usually when he works her yard, he will blow our driveway clean too.  But for about 2 years he was using our garden cart to do his yard work, so I considered it payment.

I initially didn't think much about him in the driveway.  I thought maybe one of the turkey oaks dropped a large branch and he was cleaning up for me.  When we lost a tree during the Tropical Storms last year, he helped me cut it up and dispose of it...mostly in his backyard.  I believe the heater no longer functions next door and the fireplace stays lit most of the winter.  Well not this winter, it hasn't been cold enough.  So I continued with my coffee and got ready for an appointment I had this afternoon.

When I pulled out of the driveway I looked to where he had been cutting and discovered a very large tree  that had been down for about 2 years was gone from my front yard.

Tree was here
Yes, he came 20 feet into my front yard and chopped up a dead tree in my yard.

I'm not sure if I am offended or relieved.  Part of it did a good job of blocking our house from view of the street and kept headlights from shining into the front windows.  Eventually we planned on cutting it up and burning it...most of my trees are like that, we let them dry out in place and then eventually chop them up.  I don't have one of those "yards of the week", I prefer the natural woods look.  (No I don't have 4 foot weeds in the yard, but I don't have a ton of grass and watering...I let it xeriscape itself).

Since I like Yardman, being the most sane of the lot and the fact he shared Oranges with me this winter, I am sticking with the not offended part of this.

However, this isn't the first time next door has confused the boundaries between our yards.  Back when Daddy was alive, they used to park cars within 20 feet of my front door.  Our lot is not wide (just about the size of the house) but is long and deep.  Our driveway can easily hold 6-8 cars on's a long driveway.  So having their junk cars on my property and CLEARLY my property (between my mailbox and house) was fightin words.

Eventually I convinced Daddy that my property did not start at my sidewalk (like he thought).  Yes, think about that for a minute.  But actually started at the end of my driveway and the street.

Daddy was quite annoyed at this when he found out.  You see the street dead ends at my mailbox.  He asked me years ago if I minded him planting bushes at the end of the street to keep the garbage trucks etc from running into the yard.  He believed that property was all his, but the city gave us the front part of this parcel.  Running on a diagonal to the back, where they own the property.  I still don't know why this was such an issue for Daddy, since they drive onto their property through the grass to the right of the trees.

Bushes at the end of the street, tree used to be to the left of the mailbox.
Can you see to the right of the bushes where they drive their cars?

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Actual conversation today while out running errands.

Me:  "Look, there's a turkey vulture on that roof"

Ed:  "What?"

Me:  "I've never seen a vulture on the roof of a house before."

Ed:  "Me either."

Me:  "Wonder if someone died inside.  Should we call the cops?"

Ed:  "Maybe Dead Mama is there."

Me:  "Perhaps, she moved there.  I did see a ton of black crows flying over the house the other day.  I thought it was vultures at first.  They were really high, like that bird over there."  As I pointed to another bird flying above the road.

Ed:  "It's the Birds."

Me:  "creepy bastards."

Friday, February 8, 2013

The WILDlife

I'm taking a bit of a change in direction.  I felt particularly bad just writing about the exploits of Dead Mama's family.  It just seemed mean, albeit hysterical, to concentrate on them alone.  I have so many entertaining stories about just living here, it seemed logical to just expand the focus.

At one point you could not walk to the back of anyone's yard and not hit undeveloped woods.  Typical Florida scrub, lots of water and turkey oaks, pine trees and tons of Palmettos and other native palms, and of course, wildlife.

When I was very little, we had a swing-set in the backyard.  Shortly after my parents put it up, the local bear population took to nighttime play on the set.  We'd come out in the morning and find bear tracks in the sand around the swings.  Another time we heard a bobcat right at the back of our property line, spotlights only revealed the glowing eyes.  But the biggest backyard attendees were the raccoons, possums and snakes.

Today, the bears and bobcats are gone, we are pretty much just left with a raccoon here or there, far fewer now that the city has issued those massive garbage cans for the automatic trucks, a possum on the odd day and the ever present snakes.

Several years ago, when we had a full house of cats, I would crack the front door and let them go outside for some recreation.  One warm winter day, they were frolicking and I was surfing the internet, when I heard a loud bang as the front door hit the wall.  I have a computer room at the back of the house with a long narrow hallway connecting it to the living areas.  As I walked out of the room to see what the bang was about, I witnessed about a foot of black snake tail disappearing into the bathroom off the hallway.

I knew I must be seeing things, so I cautiously peeked in the door and sure enough there was a very large black snake in the bathroom.  I made a noise that could probably be used on "The Walking Dead" as a zombie cry.  I closed the door and shoved a towel under the crack.  And called Ed.

Years before this, JC mouth delivered a very small black snake (think pencil) in the dining room and I called Ed when he worked at a retail big box hardware store on the weekends with a panicked what do I do?  He was not leaving the garden center on a Saturday afternoon in Spring to deal with a 5 inch snake, so using a broom and screeching, I got the snake out of the house.  I am sure much to his delight, as to mine!  So when I called Ed to say there was a snake in the house, he was trying to blow me off again.

How big is it?  he asked.  I replied, HUGE.  He didn't believe me.  I told him it was over a foot long, because that much I saw disappear into the bathroom.  He said he'd be home when he could, about an hour or so.  Well I wasn't about to have that snake outside of the bathroom.  So I closed all the bedroom doors, blocked the doors into the family room and living room using chairs, ottomans, benches, even a hall tree turned on its side.  At the door to the bathroom, I erected a toilet paper package wall (something good about buying from the club stores!)

Ed finally got home and laughed at my snake corral.  I told him, if it shot past him, he had no choice but to go outside.  Ed scoffed, took his snake grabber and a 5 gallon bucket and went to open the door.  I flew over the ottoman and was standing on a dining room chair by the time he said, "OH SHIT! That's a BIG snake."

Thank you Captain Obvious!

As I stood there, I heard some scuffling, then a "dammit" from Ed.  The cabinet door opened and shut.  Ed said, "he's gone."

At this point I must admit, my voice went up about 6 octaves as I said, "WHAT?!?!?!"

Seems the snake, who was a non-poisonous Eastern Racer snake, had done what these snakes do best, fled the danger by squeezing into a crack between the cabinet and the wall.  He was gone.

Thus started Ed's week of hell.  I woke up for work at that time at 3am.  I would not get out of bed without a check of the floor, bathroom, hallway etc.  And Ed lost the snake, so therefore he was the one doing the checking.  When I got home in the afternoon, I had several hours alone with the cats and my new friend "Monty" (as in python).

After a week of this, I was sitting in the computer room (feet under me on the chair) when I noticed the cat contingent paying a bit of attention to the closed closet door behind me.  I mean they were laying down, pawing under the door.  Not a good sign.  I then saw the little black head of Monty peeking out from under the door.  I pulled the cats out, closed the door to the room (first opening the window, like I thought the snake would climb up the wall and out) and called Ed.  As I waited for him, I re-erected my snake corral.  Just in case he tried anymore Houdini routines.

When Ed got home he had to clear the entire closet out to eventually find Monty.  Because he was in the corner, Ed was able to grab him with the snake grabber and get him in the bucket.  Yes, with a lid on, these guys are like cobras, they rear up.  As he walked over my barriers, while still in the house, he offered to show me Monty.  "NOT INSIDE" I shrieked...can you imagine if he got out again?

Back in the woods, we released him.  He was about 3 1/2 feet long.  About average for these guys, we have  a few slightly larger in the yard.  As Ed opened the lid (holding the bucket sideways), Monty propelled himself out, just as happy to be free of us as we were of him.

After that two things happened:  no cat gets an unsupervised outdoor visit and all the Racer snakes are named a variation of "Monty".

Monty Junior was sunning at my mailbox a week or so ago.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

if one is good, two is better....

Life at the end of the street has always been an adventure.

Years ago, long before I lived in the house I do, my family lived in this neighborhood.  In fact we had 2 households of family here.  And our exploits were probably just as entertaining to someone else.

On a winter's eve, while I was away at college, my Mother decided to start a fire in the fireplace.  She didn't want to go through the major procedure of collecting kindling and building a proper fire, she just wanted a little fire glow in the family room.  So she pulled one of those artificial fireplace logs.

And since the one seemed so small in our large wood burning fireplace, she decided to disregard the instructions and put two in at once.

There is a reason they say to only use one, these suckers burn REALLY hot.

And rapidly a roaring flame tornado was whirling up the chimney.  I'm told from the street your could see flames coming out of the chimney.  This caused a bit of alarm and the fire department was called.  Conveniently one of the volunteers on the truck was a friend of mine from High School and kid from down the street.  Needless to say, it was bad enough for my mother to have the fire trucks roaring down the road, but then to have a friend's son get off the truck to assist...she was mortified.

I guess after my Great Aunt started a fire and forgot to open the flue, then discharged the fire extinguisher all over the entire family room instead of the fire (it got away from her).  Our family got the reputation of the 'fire starters' in the neighborhood.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How to handle a snake...

Before Surly Contractor, we had a real quirky family living next door.  I grew up with them, even went to the prom with the youngest son.

How quirky you ask?  Well, they had a spider monkey for a pet when my family moved here in the early 70's.  The mother smoked pot for "medical" reasons.  And do the Dr Evil hand quotes when you say "Medical".  They had a horse in the backyard, but no one rode.  Interesting people!

Mrs. Quirk is one of those real strong willed, but incapable humans on this planet.  She'll do her best to handle it, until she can't and calls for help.  Somebody then has to solve her problem, that of course she has made worse by what she has done.  She's divorced and living in a different county now, estranged from the son I was friends with, sort of...I mean she kicked him out when he was a senior in high school.  Hence us going to the prom together because he ended up at a different high school and wanted to go to prom at our school.  They reconcile and then she kicks him out again, maybe he steals her pot or loses his job, and she wonders why he can't function in society.

I guess this neighborhood has always been populated with interesting people!

Years ago, when there was little development around us, and lots of woods and wildlife.  Mrs Quirk, on Christmas day, looked out her sliding glass doors and discovered a water moccasin sunning on her pool deck.  For anyone outside of moccasin area, these are very poisonous and highly aggressive bad ass snakes that will actually attack you...unlike a rattlesnake that warns you and flees if possible.  It was a big snake and having kicked her son out and divorced her husband, Mrs. Q decided it was up to her to deal with this menace.

Since she had a .45 hand gun, she decided, this would be the best method of dealing with the snake.  On the concrete.  It's amazing she didn't kill herself or someone else with the ricocheting bullets.  The snake was perfectly all right.  Bullets wedged in the fence, in the bricks, snake still around the pool, but now angry.

Eventually another neighbor came down and killed the snake for her (made more difficult now that the snake was angry), but the pool deck to this day still bears the marks of the snake attack.

Do you think it's in the water here?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Howdy Neighbor

I will say this much about my neighbors, they are a friendly lot.

I was just watching TV as my lunch cooks and I caught movement reflected from the front yard.  I looked over and RumSon was walking through the yard.  My first thought was he was coming to my front door.  But instead he walked to the middle of the yard between our houses, stopped and waved.  I figured that was it, he saw me and was definitely coming over, but instead he took 3 more steps towards my house, stopped and went back inside his.

I'm really hoping my other neighbor was outside at her mailbox, if not I'm going to have to start closing my blinds.


It's a busy day today.  Crazy Woman has just pulled the car forward 5 feet, then backed it up 4 feet.  She sat in the car for a few minutes with the door open, then got out and opened the trunk.  After looking inside for a few minutes, she closed the trunk and walked back to the house.  The car must have been in the incorrect position for her daily circuit of the yard.  Yes this car is parked on the grass.

I'm definitely going to have to look into hedges or permanently closing my blinds.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Fred Sanford lives here...

Daddy loved to collect stuff.  A lot.  They are in the house next door because he was a house flipper and renter, originally he was going to flip the house and rent it, but lucky me, he decided he'd live there instead.  I honestly don't know how many homes he owned and rented, but I do know he constantly collected things, "just in case" he needed them for a rental home.  Rum Son's trade was HVAC repair, so I guess that made it handy.

NOTHING ever went to the curb without first going through next door.

We had a dead washer.  It was totally dead, the repairman said it would cost more to repair, than just getting a new one.  So we bought the new washer and called the City to arrange pick up of the broken one.  If you call, they send a truck around on a designated day and pick it from the curb, so you don't have to have a  broken appliance sitting curbside and being an eye sore.  I called and was told when to have the washer curbside.

A day or so before, we pulled the thing out and dropped it at the street.  By that evening the washer was gone.  I just thought they had come early and picked it up.  Until I looked and saw the washer sitting in the driveway next door a couple of days later.  So I had called the City and they showed up to find no washer.  That was a great use of city funds.

Of course, Rum Son had to come over and tell me that they had dumpster dived my washer.  I mean who comes over and says, 'I rifled through your junk and took stuff.'  It's downright creepy.  Makes you wonder if they open the trash cans too.  Anyway, seems their washer was broken and he wanted to see if he could fix it with ours.  I told him, good luck, the repairman said it was beyond fixing.  Rum Son assured me he could fix anything.

That washer sat next to the garage door for weeks.  A couple of times, it actually looked like someone was working on it.  But most of the time it sat with other piles of junk, rusting in the rain.  I guess eventually they gave up and toted it down to the curb, where it sat for several weeks before the City came to pick it up.

From that point on, nothing was ever delivered that we didn't arrange for a haul away of the old item at that same time.  I just didn't want to see it out the front window for a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Eviction is best when it's all in the family

About 5 years ago, I drove home from work to hear the dulcimer tones of Dead Mama's generator.  This is a sad, salvaged item that hops, skips and jumps its way through life and is so loud that my Nephew's rock band would probably go over ask them to turn it off during a set.

I also note Rum Son and his niece, her boyfriend, the yardman friend and a stranger are outside having an argument that is louder than the generator.  I opted against picking up the mail.

Rum Son had been filling me in on his niece.  The boyfriend is allegedly an out of work EMT.  The niece works but not at anything with any real money.  They have been living there rent free for years.  The boyfriend, stays up all night and sleeps most of the day and expects Daddy, who was well into Dementia at this point, Dead Mama and Rum Son to watch the 2 year old and the infant, while his girlfriend is at work.  

I am told, they had a 1200 dollar electric bill.  Rum Son expected the niece and boyfriend to pay half or at least pitch in a significant portion.  She goes to the office and pays on the bill, 50 bucks.  The shit hit the fan.  They fought over it. Things became horribly messy when in an attempt to get even, the niece called the Department of Children and Families and reported Rum Son as abusing and neglecting his parents.

Out comes a poor DCF worker who Rum Son tells me finds no sign of elderly abuse, but in a vindictive turn, Rum Son files a DCF complaint against his niece and boyfriend for the same charges against their 2 little kids.  And to top it all off, starts legal eviction proceedings on them.  He proudly told me he taped the eviction notice to their bedroom door.

Meanwhile, while they were busy filing DCF charges and eviction proceedings, no one paid the electric bill and it was cut off.  Hence the lovely sounds of the overloaded and tired generator, puttering away and the meltdown between the family in the driveway.

The next day, around dinner time, we had a friend over who had brought over tickets for a charity event we were attending.  Through the front window, I see Rum Son, shirtless, dirty and smoking a cigarette, making a bee line for our door.  

"Rock, paper, scissors?"  I asked.  Recently we have added "Lizard, Spock" to the game, since The Big Bang Theory started that routine.  Ed volunteered to go and I was left to explain to our friend.  I still don't understand someone coming over to tell their woes when it is very obvious that company is over.  I guess he was hoping THIS would be the time we invited him in and offered him a drink.

After about 5 minutes outside, Ed comes back in and Rum Son paddles off to his house.  Understand, Ed 'yadda-yadda'd' a lot of the conversation.  I am not sure what the point of the visit was either, unless Rum Son was hoping we'd make a monetary contribution to his cause.

The stranger from the day before was DCF, who was sick and tired of constantly being called into the middle of the family battle.  In true form, that led to a battle with DCF and both family members.  He also explained that they had 2 water mains coming into the house and the water company had turned the wrong one back on.  Yes, no power, no water and 7 adults and 2 children in the house.  I'm so proud at this point.  Then he was whining about the Electric company needing another deposit before turning the power back on.  I don't know if he came over to explain the fight from the day before because he was embarrassed or just felt he needed to tell someone lucid his side of the story.

Somehow, either by canvassing the rest of the neighborhood or some other means that I don't want to know about, the power came back on later that night.  Old spark and putt generator was turned off and every light in the house was on.  They wonder why they have a 1200 dollar electric bill.  Evicted niece disappeared for a long time, until suddenly showing up again with children and a new boyfriend in tow.  And by children I mean a new baby too.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Pardon this your Coke in my tree?

First off,  (taps microphone), My name is Stephanie and I am addicted to Science Fiction.

In fact, for 10 years not only was Ed a grand PooBah in Star Trek fandom, but we worked for a Star Trek/Sci Fi Convention promoter.  Name a Star Trek star prior to the Enterprise series and I can tell you a story about them.  Nice stories for the most part, but there are a few who are not my favorites!

In the beginning, Ed was merely the grand PooBah of a local Trek club.  This club is set up with clubs being named ships and people holding 'rank'.  I was the Communications officer.  Go figure.  We gathered up an interesting little group of about 40-50 souls from all areas of the geekdom:  misfits; socially dysfunctional; parent dwellers; technical nerds; and thankfully a handful of 'normals' who saw the love of Trek as an avenue to doing good.

We floated around apartment complex clubhouses and local restaurants for monthly meetings, ending up at our house periodically when no other place was possible.  It meant 20 cars or so parked in our driveway, in the front yard, on the street for a couple of hours on a weekend afternoon.  The following happened about a week after one of those gatherings.

Surly Contractor lived next door to us, truly next door, as in I can't see his house unless I go out my driveway.  The distance between driveways is about 10 feet at the widest, so while I get to watch Dead Mama's family antics out my front window, I have to deal with Surly Contractor daily.

Surly's family consisted of a Middle Eastern wife, who he dominated because her culture was such and 2 horrible teenage delinquent kids who liked to hang out with Dead Mama's grandsons...mostly in my back yard.  His business was run out of his house (illegally) and he had been reported for doing this a few times.  Nothing like having work trucks coming in and out of a residential neighborhood all day, especially when at that time he was a painting contractor.  I say that time because he did some sort of crazy spray on roof business and repair handyman work at different times too.  All of which got him lots of TV coverage, when his shoddy work was displayed on "I'm telling" consumer hotline.  Nice guy.  NOT!

Ed and I were heading out one day and Surly Contractor stopped us as we were getting into the car.  He asked us and I am not exaggerating here, "Did you put some coke in the palm tree by my swimming pool?"

I should explain, to reach that palm tree, we would have had to gone past 2 fences and through a gate to reach it.

"Ah what?" I said.

"Crack cocaine.  I found some in the palm tree and I was wondering if it was yours.  I know what crack is, I used to be addicted to it."  he offered.

Suddenly a great many things became obvious with THAT statement.

Ed snapped at him, "No, we did not put crack in your palm tree."

Then Surly asked, "I know you have a lot of friends and parties, did any of them put it in my tree?"

He of course was referring to the 2-3 months of Trek meetings that had been held at our house.  I snorted, seriously Star Trek fans may be a lot of things, but the number of drug users I met was...nil.  Drinkers...that is a different story, but drugs no way.  I told Surly in a contemptuous way, "No our friends did not go into your yard and hide drugs, nor did we."

Ed and I left.  At the end of the driveway Ed asked, "Did he just accuse us of hiding drugs in his yard when he has TWO teenagers?"

"Ironic, isn't it.  The man is a ex drug user himself, his kids are delinquents and he thinks our Star Trek club hid the drugs inside his pool enclosure."  I said.

Then the thought of it sent both of us into laughter.  Seriously delusional man.

I mean I have my own house and yard...why the hell would he even think I would put drugs in his tree?

Friday, January 18, 2013

It's a family reunion!

Yesterday a new car, meaning one from this millenium, arrived in the driveway next door.  It has Ohio plates.  I can only assume one thing, some of the family is down for a visit.  The confusing thing is that the 'No Muffler Monster' (aka their only running car) has disappeared since the Ohio car arrived.  I hope we don't end up in police involved incident because 2 factions of the Hatfield and McCoy's have gathered together.

Within the first year Dead Mama's family moved in, I was given great detail about how they originally came from the Ohio/Kentucky border area.  I assume that this section of Ohio is more like Kentucky than say Cleveland.  I honestly don't know what Cleveland is like, but I doubt they talk with a southern twang.

The entire lot used to pack up and travel north every year, but I think when both Daddy and Dead Mama were diagnosed with Alzheimer's, the trips North ended.  The first time they left to head north was a very entertaining event for Ed and I.

As usual, Daddy and Rum Son over the course of a week, gave us great details about how they were leaving to visit family in Ohio.  To be honest, the mundane nature of who they were going to visit and what relationship, was forgotten immediately.  I simply did not care that they were going to see Old Aunt Agnes, who was Dead Mama's cousin's sister-in-law's Aunt, who lived on a farm and raised chickens.

Ed and I watched with great anticipation as they serviced cars, loaded up supplies etc.  We had noticed however that Crazy Woman was, well crazier than normal.  We were new to her then and didn't understand her..."off her meds" behavior.  We knew she had schizophrenia by this time, it was in fact one of those pieces of important information we pulled out of the usual mundane pitter patter that came from Daddy and Rum Son.  It was an, "Oh by the way..." kind of announcement.

Yes, that was our reaction too.

So as the rest of the lot worked on packing the car, we noticed Crazy Woman, talking to trees, circling the car, sometimes even pulling things out and bringing them back into the house.  Of course that was met with someone bringing it back to the car and an argument ensuing.  Now you might understand why Crazy Woman's Fruit Loops the other day, piqued my attention, she is obviously not taking her meds right now.

The day they were leaving, and by this time we had been told their route, towns they were staying in, anticipated arrival time, etc, I noticed that Crazy Woman's car was gone.  She randomly just got in the car and took off at times.  However a short time later there was a knock on the door.  By the way, the knock always tells me that it is one of Dead Mama's family, because in spite of a door bell and a door knocker, they knock by hand.

Rum Son is at the door, and after the usual pleasantries, I am expecting a "goodbye, we'll see you in 2 weeks", but that is not what I got.

To my horror, I am told that Crazy woman is off her meds, tried to hit Dead Mama and Rum Son, then "took off when we called the cops to Baker Act her".  I must have missed all that during the day, at the time I worked overnights and was in bed until noon.

Rum Son then tells me, 'we don't know where she is,  if you see the cops, there is an active Baker Act on her'.  He also tells me the cops assured him, 'they would cruise through looking for her'.

Frankly my mouth is open, I sort of gargle some noise, but before I can actually articulate something, I'm told, "we changed the locks on the house, so she can't get in while we are gone."

My brain is in overload now, I mean you have a mentally ill family member, who is a threat to herself and others, off her meds and on the loose in town, BUT you are STILL going on vacation??  At that point he cheerfully said goodbye and left on vacation.

So in a nutshell, we have an mentally unstable woman, in a car, with no place to go to since the locks are changed on her house and no relatives at home to deal with her, likely to be wandering around the neighborhood for the next 2 weeks.

They had lived here such a short amount of time, I didn't even know Crazy Woman's name at that point.  And she showed up, several times in the 2 weeks.  I did not call the cops.  Can you imagine the call??

"Oh hi, My name is Stephanie Danley and my neighbors, the XXX's left on vacation, but their daughter is loony and there is supposedly a Baker Act on her.  They changed the locks on their house and she is now wandering around the yard talking to trees.  You tried to get her 3 days ago and she became violent, can you come get her now?"  "Ah no, I don't know her name, I think I know her last name and I can give you the address." "oh, OK, thanks, goodbye."

My biggest fear is the cops would come to my house first, then to hers, if they came at all.  I work in the media and I know they don't file Baker Acts under addresses.  And I know that Baker Acts, unless the person is trying to kill someone, generally get low priority.

The next 2 weeks we made sure the house was locked and the alarm was on.  Thankfully either the police found her or she found a place to go because she disappeared.  Everyone returned home from Ohio and we got the details of the trip.

And I wish I could tell you this was the strangest thing that happened in our neighborhood.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Palin vs "Boo-eee"

Palin was one of my very large cats.  He came to us by way of the Surly Contractor, our neighbor on the opposite side from Dead Mama.  During a cold snap, this little white kitten was on a job site, so he brought him home and locked him in the garage.  Surprisingly, (not) the kitten burst from the garage and went up a tree.  Ed came home to find the man trying to swoop the cat out of the tree with a pool net.  Ed stopped him and went inside, got a can of cat food and opened it.  Down the tree the kitten came and Ed volunteered to take care of him.  White cat #3.

When Dead Mama and family first moved in, they had a small, white yappy dog.  Now don’t get me wrong, I may own lots of cats, but I am a fan of dogs, specifically nice, polite, well-trained dogs that will slobber on you and wag their tails.  Dead Mama did not own one of those dogs, she owned a creature that would run down the driveway barking, be it in your yard, a car, a bike, didn't matter...the dog challenged everything.
Now usually someone would come after the dog calling its name, I have no idea how it is spelled, I just know what it sounded like…”BOO-eee!”   And we heard it often, as someone would come charging after the dog calling his name and reassuring you that he was nice and wouldn't bite…as he was snarling 3 feet from you, 15 to 20 times a day.

It was particularly annoying to my Father’s 2 Miniature Pomeranians, who like my Father, were living with us for a short time.  My Father’s dogs were brother and sister, with the girl dog being far more outgoing, dominant and protective.   “Boo-eee” loved them, but was much bigger and play usually went into fighting very fast, especially with Dad’s girl dog.  Our dogs never went outside without someone with them, unlike “Boo-eee” who sometimes was outside, unchained for hours.  But then again so are the humans in that house, outside and unchained. 
One lovely day, Dad’s dogs and several of my cats all came outside for some sunshine and play.  We came to the front yard, because no one was outside next door, particularly “Boo-eee”.  My cat brood completely accepted our dogs, I think primarily because all the cats were bigger than Dad’s dogs.  I think the Dogs accepted the cats, because they were outnumbered and out-sized!  Palin loved ‘our’ dogs exclusively and would get very upset when the dogs became agitated. 

About 10 minutes in to our respite, the ever familiar yapping started from next door and Dad scooped up both dogs, while I herded cats back into the house.  Dad’s girl dog started barking immediately and vigorously upon the sight and sound of “Boo-eee”.  As was usual, Rum Son started walking over calling, “BOOO-eeee!”  At that moment, Palin streaked across the yard towards “Boo-eee”.  I suddenly had flashes of me in the Vet’s office with a mangled cat, so I started running after him.  I think “Boo-eee” was surprised by this streaking white animal and stopped dead in his tracks, just in time to have Palin leap on his back.

Barking turned to squeals and “Boo-eee” turned around and ran back towards his house…with my cat riding him like a cowboy.  I literally stopped in my tracks and stared.  As “Boo-eee” approached his humans, Palin decided enough was enough and jumped off.  He walked back to us, puffed up and stiff legged, tail up in the air and meowing.  He stopped at my Dad and looked up at the Dogs, as if to say, “There, took care of that bastard” and walked back into the house.  All the humans started laughing.

“Boo-eee” was fine, not a scratch on him, however he rarely ran over into our yard barking after that.  Palin, on the other hand was impossible to live with for months.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Yard Loops...or rather Yard Fruit Loops

I intended to spend my day off yesterday, quietly reading with a cup of tea, enjoying a rare summer like winter's day.  Instead Dead Mama and family decided it was a day for live theater.

Florida has had a very mild winter thus far, in fact we are in a streak of late spring/early summer type days.  It's because of this mild weather, the entire Dead Mama story started.  It was simply unusual for them to be quiet and ABSENT from the yard.  Seems after 7 days of warmth they decided to come on out, like little redneck butterflies emerging from their cocoons.

After disappearing for nearly a day, the somewhat regular running car of the household was back in its usual spot by the garage door.  There is a blue car that is sometimes there and sometimes not there.  I don't know the relationship of that car, since I have seen several different people driving it.  The blue car was parked at a right angle to the driveway in the grass.

The first sign of activity yesterday was from Evicted Niece.  I'll go into detail about her later, but in short, she was legally kicked out of the house several years ago.  Evicted Niece is very technology driven, she is always seen with her cell and a cigarette.  I watched her walk into a tree while texting as she walked down the sidewalk.  She hastily went back inside after that.

Shortly afterwards, Crazy Woman started doing Figure 8's.  She would start at the front door, walk out to the Blue car, walk around it and back to the front door again.  On each circuit she would do something: open the car door; open the trunk; touch the hood; etc.

I hit the Mother Lode, literally, when Dead Mama made an appearance during Crazy Woman's figure 8's.  Since Dead Mama has Alzheimer's or some other degenerative disease of that nature, she tends to do unusual things.  Yesterday it was trimming bushes, by the trash cans.  They really didn't need trimming and I didn't see any signs of her doing anything, but she seemed happy.  I went back to my reading.

Then I heard the shouting.  Dead Mama had wandered back to the front sidewalk where she was in an argument with Crazy Woman.  To my alarm, my outdoor cat had wandered over there too and was sitting in their driveway.  Rum Son had come outside as well and was wringing his hands by the red car.  I have no idea what it was all about, there was lots of gesturing from Crazy Woman and raised voices from both.  Rum Son just frantically got into the car.  I'm worried he'll just peal out and my cat is in the driveway.

Actually that was a stupid worry, the car is 20 years old if it is a day.  It is in terrible condition.  It has no muffler, its so loud that once I was on the phone when he fired the car up and they heard it on the phone...even when it was out of my sight.  I doubt that car even had peal out capabilities when it was new.

As soon as the rumble started from the car, my cat got up and went under the blue car in the grass.  Dead Mama and Crazy Woman continued their argument.   Rum Son pulled out of the driveway and left.  The argument ended moments later, with both walking into the house.  My cat became bored and walked back home.  To my relief.

About 5 minutes later, Crazy Woman came out of the house, walked to the blue car again.  Touched a spot on the hood, opened the car door and started the car.  She pulled the car up into the driveway, then backed it down almost to the street, where she stopped and pulled it back up.  I thought she was just going to pull it up and down the driveway for a while, but she parked it and got out.  For the rest of the afternoon she continued her loops, still walking around the blue car, now in the driveway.

Oh did I mention she was talking to herself as she made her loops?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A View from the front yard

I have the strangest view of a next door/across the street neighbor in the neighborhood.  This is my front view, with my neighbors in constant sight.  No, there isn't a street in front of my house, it dead ends at my driveway.

Almost immediately upon them moving in, it became evident that these were 'outdoorsy' kind of people.  I don't mean hunters or fishermen, but people that just hang outside.  Daddy was and Rum Son is a smoker.  So I figured they didn't want to smoke in the house.  Dead Mama likes to putz around in the garden and Crazy Woman likes to talk to trees.  What completely floored me is that all that outdoor activity was in the driveway facing my house, even though the back of the house has a huge wrap around L-shaped deck and the front porch is wide and covered.

Originally the Garage door was open day and night, but recently the garage door opener must have died, because they were raising it manually.  Now the garage door just stays closed all the time, I believe there is a junk car in the garage.  It would be unusual to have a car in the garage, but not unusual to have a junk car.

When they first moved in, there were at least 5 cars at the house.  A daughter, who my husband and I referred to is the "Normal" daughter, lived with them along with her 2 teenage sons, and all adults had a car.  Over time, cars would die and it became evident that Daddy was a hoarder, because no car left the property.  At one point, about 18 years ago, there were 3 cars parked at the back of their property, but in clear sight of my front yard, that had ceased to function.  Its always been about a 50-50 ratio of running cars to junk cars.

Over time that first lot of junk cars became buried in a jungle.  It is a highly wooded area, or it was, and there are parts of the yard that we have intentionally left as Florida scrub forest.  One of our areas just grew into the junk car lot and hid it from view.

After sitting in the back for several years, I saw a tiny little bulldozer, a bob-cat, out in the yard and they were working on removing the shrubs around the cars.  I ran out there because they were clearly on my side of the property line clearing out an area full of lantanas and sapling live oaks that I wanted to keep.  The bob-cat was being driven by my other next door neighbor, who was even more disgusting than Dead Mama's family.  At least Dead Mama's was friendly, this guy was surly and well known by a local TV Consumer Reporter, because the guy was a shoddy contractor.  Yes, I was just that lucky.

After a detailed boundaries discussion, I stood out there while they cleared their property, because I knew the surly contractor would intentionally bulldoze my property, just to piss me off.  So I witnessed the discovery of the lost car.

Seems over time, they had forgotten there were THREE cars back there.  Daddy got all excited, because he knew he could get all those cars back running again, then he could sell them.  Rum Son joined him in opening the hoods and looking inside.  Christmas to Dead Mama's family, for sure.  The surly contractor pulled them out from the weeds and sat them front and center in the yard.

For weeks I watched as they periodically worked on one or the other of those cars.  Now you got to ask yourself, if they were fixable, why the heck didn't they fix them the years ago that they broke?  Finally they accepted defeat and must have called one of those junk dealers.  I watched one day when a truck with a flatbed trailer pulled up.  There was a detailed discussion between Daddy, Rum Son and the truck driver, with assistance periodically of Crazy Woman.  The discussion got heated and the junk dealer went back to his truck and left, sans any junk cars.  I don't know if they were asking money for the cars or if that dealer refused to take them because of condition or probably more likely, he was fleeing for his life after Crazy Woman's last comments.  I supposed they found another dealer, who either paid them for the scrap or decided to take the cars, because one by one they disappeared from the yard.

Only to be replaced by new junk cars about a year later.

Monday, January 14, 2013


For the privacy of all, I intend to not use real names for my neighbors.  I think it is rude of me to do so, I will assign them nicknames over time.  Dead Mama is obvious.  And Daddy for the elderly man.  My husband, Ed, and I refer to the daughter as Crazy Woman.  I know that sounds harsh, but for years we've watched her outside talking to thin air or being hauled away by the cops for another Baker Act (Involuntary Mental Health Commitment Act), so I can't think of any other name for her.  For the son who drinks, I must tell you a story to explain.

5 years ago, we did a total house remodel.  We replaced nearly every surface inside and out.  This constant stream of activity was enormously interesting for our neighbors, who came over to watch the work on a daily basis.  I'd hear from my sub-contractors about who came over and why.  So when we had finally completed the inside, The oldest son and Dead Mama came over to look around.  I obliged, after all I was sort of proud of the work we'd done,  Right in view of our front windows, we had a large built in made to house sports memorabilia, a giant fish tank and our bar.  We added a wine fridge on one side and shelves full of liquor and bar ware.

About 6 months after we completed work, I looked out the front window and see the Eldest trotting over, shirtless, dirty jeans, etc.  After a vigorous game of "rock, paper, scissors", Ed lost and went to the door.  I did not want to be pulled into it, so I went to the other side of the house.  I could hear the conversation muffled on the front porch, generally we don't invite them in for fear having them stay for hours.  Then Ed came inside, got something and went back outside for a moment.

After the Son left, I asked Ed "What did he want?"


"Rum?" I asked again, confused.  I mean who comes over and asks to borrow a cup of rum?  Pirates?  I looked out the window and could see him walking back to his house with a bottle of Rum.  "You gave him a whole bottle??"  I asked.

"No, it was a nearly empty bottle with about a cup left in it.  I mean he had no cup or container, what was I going to do?"

Valid point, how else to give him rum.  So we watched him walk to the side of the house and place the bottle on a bedroom window sill.  Then he walked 10 feet over to the garage and went in the back door.

Ed and I just looked at each other confused.  I mean who borrows rum, then places it on a window sill before they walk into the house?

While we were still pondering this, the shades and window opened and the Son pulled the bottle off the window sill and put it inside the bedroom.  At that point we realized he was TRULY an alcoholic, I mean we suspected this for years, but hiding booze from your family is a telltale act.  He asked for booze a couple more times and we politely declined.  I didn't want to get into being a liquor store for the guy.

Rum Son, seems like an appropriate nick name.