Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Neighbors Part one- a kinder gentler time ends

My beautiful bride wrote most of this...

In May we will have lived in our house for 30 years. We have seen a lot of neighbors on the whole block come and go. We still are only the 3rd longest residents of the block. Our northern neighbor for about 15 years was an elderly lady named Winnie. She was born in Wales but moved to our town as a young girl. She married, and had a son. She was about 80, and widowed when we moved in. Hers was the oldest house on the block, having been moved from across the street sometime long ago. Although she did not have a car, she had a driveway that would accommodate 4 cars, 2 deep, 2 wide. She had a gentleman friend name Emmitt who would visit each day, parking his 1959 chevy in the driveway. She was wonderful, kind and cheerful. Oh, and she was quiet. Eventually her son moved her into his house in Reno. She outlived him by about 5 years, just passing away this last year at over 100.

The house was "flipped" by some "frugal" investors. The next owner was a husband, wife and 2 kids. They were a bit reclusive, but still....quiet. He got a new job south of SF, so they moved and rented out the house.

Renters move in. Couple, with 2 sons, about 9 & 10 (hers) a toddler daughter (theirs). Dad and I share the same first name.

First morning we hear thunks on the side of our house. We step outside, the 2 boys are throwing rocks at the side of our house. Request for a cease fire was met with attitude.

They never seemed to finish moving in, but instead left boxes, appliances, furniture, tools, and other household stuff in boxes in the four car driveway. Their stuff managed to inch its way closer to our yard as time went on. Several times I had to move wood or other long things they had leaned against our house. Occasionally, they’d make room for a non-working car. It looked like Al’s Junkyard. They kept saying they were going to finish and get rid of the stuff. Finally, we wrote a letter to the owner, who apparently called them. By the time he got there at the end of the week, it all disappeared, except for a couple of non functioning cars. Within a week or so, things started piling up again, though not as many boxes. Now they had space for additional non-working cars. I think they had three, at one point.

Within the first several years, small things begin to go missing. Mom starts driving off with guys in sports cars and big burley biker dudes. The male half (they are not yet married, that comes later) who has blue collar workaholic tendencies, looks depressed and works even HARDER, and constantly. Does lots of "improvement" projects of dubious quality around the property. "Stuff" has been accumulating, and continues until they leave. Throughout their stay, male half would do primarily woodworking projects late into the night, highlighted by hammering and use of a high pitched planer. I would have to walk over and ask him to stop after 10pm, EACH TIME!

We had a hot tub put in our back yard, Elder & younger sons sat on their roof, smoking and watching us use the hot tub at night. I think they wanted to see us skinny dipping. Kept finding burned cigarette butts on our patio.

One night we heard a loud noise in our backyard as we happened to walk around the side of the house. Younger son had jumped over the fence and was in our backyard—he had scraped himself and was bleeding. He had no explanation why he had jumped our fence. We escorted him home pretending that we were worried that he had hurt himself.

Additional family came to “visit.” They stay for about a year. Names like Justice, Rebel and Independence (Indy) At least 10 people living in the small house. This situation went on and off for several years, one person even living in the drafty carriage house at one point, and a tent in the back yard during winter another time. One friend who stayed there and/or hung around a lot, my wife calls “Swarthy Man”. He seems to be Dad’s best friend. Another frequent guest is Donna. Donna periodically contributes to the non running car collection when a jilted lover ruins her old BMW by putting sand in the rebuilt engine.( she loves the BMW more than ANYTHING)(actually she has two) Donna is a chain smoking, loud mouthed, big boobed, blond bimbo. One year, around Christmas when my late mother in law was visiting from out of state, Donna side swiped MIL’s car the day before she was set to leave. Fortunately, swarthy man has an auto body shop, so he fixes it for free in a couple of days.

Dad manages to knock over our garbage can in the street awaiting pickup, spilling it out. I happened to be walking out the front door when this happened. He made no effort to pick it up so wife did (with some attitude, admittedly). He called her a bitch. Around this time He “went away” to a county lockup for 6 months somewhere for not paying child support.

Mom asked me to give Younger son a lecture about the hazards of messing with matches—being a fireman and all. She’s mostly concerned about fires as she had found him lighting matches and setting small things on fire. WE see him lighting small fires. I am still impressed with the prophesy of my "chat". One of the things I told him was that he was just one of those people who always gets caught.

Mom gets a new boyfriend, but Dad still lives in the house. Boyfriend was just out of jail and sometimes stayed at the house. Big fights. Dad leaves loudly, many times. They separate, but Dad comes back within a few weeks and boyfriend leaves (back to jail?) Rent a room to a Latin couple with a baby. This lasts for several months, giving way to the couple leaving and family members and swarthy man coming and going all the time. At least 8 – 10 people there again off and on for another couple years.

Monday, February 19, 2007


After a period of blog blank, where I couldn't think of ANYTHING to write about, Drunken Housewife ,has once again inspired me.
The only problem is this. For the worst neighbor, it is a ten year long epic tale which includes, but is not limited to, at least two felony convictions, SWAT teams, drunken family fights, Meth addiction and recovery, numerous abandoned/run over cats, lies, betrayel, abandoned vehicles in the driveway next to our bedroom, a crappy trailer which replaced the abandoned vehicles and became party central briefly, Sea Scouts, and lice.
I don't know where to begin.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Is it paranoia,cynicism, an overactive imagination...

Or is it a CONSPIRACY?

I got a notice from SBC that "our" contract is about to expire and I can UPGRADE to double my download speed for just a few bucks more. At the same time, it seems like things are running SO SLOW recently. I've done disk cleanup, Ad Cleanup, checked the defrag.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I have pictures of cats, and I'm not afraid to use them!

You can't win if you don't play. How many of YOU tried to come up with a fitting nom de blog for Iris Uber Alles?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Local vs Big Box or online buying

Somewhere recently, I read about a father/son discussion about where to make a purchase (shoes?). Dad presented the son with the idea of price vs supporting local business and people. I was reminded this afternoon of another factor in the equation. Service. It almost seems automatic that local business provides better service, but that is NOT always the case. About a year ago, she who must be obeyed, decreed that we needed new, preferably granite counter tops. This would be a substantial investment, and I thought we should shop locally. We first went to a granite company just a few blocks from our house. We walked in the door which chimed, announcing our arrival. We walked past a door where there was a person on the phone. We waited, and waited, and waited, and waited some more. Eventually another person walked in without acknowledging us, rummaged around for a car part and left. We waited some more, looking at a few samples that were laying around. Finally the first person came in, and we explained our interest. He seemed bored, offered us a couple of samples and we were on our way. No one met us when we returned the samples. Another local company specializes in kitchen and bathroom remodels. As soon as we indicated that we only wanted a new counter top, they lost interest. Still wanting (for some reason, are we masochists?) to support local business, we thought we could buy the new sink and faucet. We were shuffled off to Jessica, a cheery young girl about 20. We explained the measurements of the counter which were custom made. We loved a Farm house sink and picked a faucet to go with it. The sink did not have holes for the faucet, it would have to be in the counter top. I explained several times the space limitations. I got a cheery "Oh, It'll be just fine" The sink is a special order, no return. There is (or I should say there WAS a 25% restocking fee) $1300 later the sink and faucet arrive. I start taking measurements, there is NO DAMN WAY this is going to work. Jessica cheerfully refunded the money for the faucet (minus 25%) and when I asked if they could at least help me try to sell the sink, "Oh NO, we couldn't do THAT"
We eventually sold the sink for half price on Craig's List, bought a sink that WOULD work from a local hardware store (which got bought out by Home Depot right after we got it) and had the counter done through Costco, where we had a personal rep who walked us through the whole thing, meeting with us at the granite company etc.
I can deal with surly teenaged help, but the attitude of some local business's is just beyond my understanding.