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.

Sunday, January 13, 2013 it began

I'm taking this first post, like the foreword of a book.  Let you know why I am writing this blog and why I am not a psychopath for the blog title.

The Dead Mama in question is in fact, to my knowledge, not dead.  She is my next door neighbor.  In fact all of this will be true stories of my next door neighbors.  For the past 20 years I have witnessed the daily activities out my front window of a family that is a cross between The Clampetts and the Hatfield and McCoys...that's if the Hatfield and McCoys were one family and all the in fighting was amongst themselves.

The occupants of the house change regularly, but there have been 4 consistent members of the Dead Mama house.  The Parents, Mama and Daddy, as they are called by the children of the house.  The 2 regular children are a 50-something Son, who is an alcoholic and a 40-something Daughter, who is schizophrenic.  Clinically schizophrenic.  Yes, I am just that lucky.  The remainder of the occupants is an ever changing array of extended family and/or friends.  Sometimes I only know what their relationship is to the Alcoholic son and I sort of extrapolate the relationship.

Daddy is actually gone from us now, but Mama is to my knowledge still alive.  She got the name Dead Mama over this past holiday season.  It's a long story to get here, so understand when I say we (my husband and I) had not seen Mama in a couple of weeks, which is highly unusual, we started thinking that she had died and the children/friends etc in the house either didn't notice or were hiding it.  She is the breadwinner in the family bringing in Social Security, her husband's pension and a reverse mortgage on the house, so all of them would be homeless and penniless if she died.  Since fact is stranger than fiction with this family, we figured she had been "Norman Bates'd" and was in a rocking chair in the garage.

We started daily discussing Dead Mama.  One day, rather warm day, they had the fireplace burning something extremely smoky and smelly.  Likely it was green wood or pine logs, but it was so odd to be burning a fire on a 70 degree day, that we thought, "Oh Dead Mama in the fireplace".  After weeks of this, I finally had a Dead Mama sighting.  She is quite senile right now and was outside pulling the shrubs and jasmine vines off the mailbox.  The vines and shrubs she had planted there years ago.

Over the years, I have told these stories at gatherings and parties, to the shock and amusement of friends.  I never give names and never tell anything that I haven't been told directly by them or witnessed unfolding in my front yard.  And I will say this much about them, they are very tight as a family.  Even after kicking a niece, her boyfriend and baby out of the house, using the police and an eviction notice, that woman still comes to the house on a weekly basis.

I really am not mean spirited, I am just amazed by the behavior of this lot, it's so alien to me.  And I suspect I look just as alien to them.  The Aliens at the end of the street.