Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ups and Downs with the New Neighbors

It's been awhile since my last post. Holidays, rain and a project at work all conspired to keep me out of the garden and off my blog.
Plus, we had an unfortunate incident and I needed to give myself time to cool off before blogging about it.
Last week, Weds, Rowen and I went for a walk to the park to hear the municipal band play. (it was great by the way) We were walking back when hubby texted the phone and said that our landlady was out in our yard spraying poison on the weeds. I tried to text him back to stop her, but the message didn't get through. We speed walked home, and sure enough, there she was, with a cloud of noxious fumes drifting across our yard as she wielded a large plastic sprayer around our trees and fence line.
Now, our young son is barely 2 feet tall and he crawls/walks all over the yard, putting things in his mouth, rubbing his hands in his eyes and generally covering himself with whatever filth is out there during his play time. The thought of him rolling around in weed poison made me sick to my stomach.
To the landlady's credit, Gwen is her name, she immediately stopped when I protested. I explained to her that I was working on the weeds, and that just a couple of days ago I had borrowed a tool from a neighbor to cut down all the saplings that the foreclosed property had accumulated. She explained that she had driven by a few times and not thought the property in disarray, but a neighbor had complained to her so she felt like she 'had' to do something. I asked which neighbor, we live on a corner lot, so we have LOTS of neighbors and she pointed out the house. Of course, it's one of the few that we've not met or seen out and about or even waved at. So this old guy, in his perfectly manicured lawn I might add, felt that his first interaction with us should be to complain to our landlady about the weeds around our house. Nevermind the fact that we're dealing with a property that was in foreclosure and trashed when the landlady bought it to make it a rental property. Nevermind the fact that those weeds are repairing the backyard that was a literal mud hole when we moved in. Nevermind that Dave and I are out in that yard every other day at least working on the mess and the yard and the house. Nevermind that we do all of this with a 1 year old in tow and are thus confined by his stamina and attention span. And of course, all the progress that's been made in the 3 months that we've lived there doesn't mean anything to this guy. Maybe he's mad because my veggie garden faces his house, maybe he thinks the potatoes are weedy looking. Probably he doesn't care about pollinator habitat or repairing damaged soil with natural methods. He probably uses all sorts of poisons to keep his worthless scrap of lawn looking like perfection. Probably doesn't give two shits about being a good neighbor and supporting a nice young family that just moved in across the street.

*deep breath*

So, now my ongoing relationship with the lawn has taken a horrible turn. Weeds that we were happily eating and making medicine from are now brown and dead; native plants that are valuable habitat to pollinators that I desperately need in my veggie garden are now poisoned and dying. The compacted dirt patches in the back yard that I was slowly trying to repair are now full of herbicide. Not only is grass not growing there, but now it might be another season before anything grows there, adding to the nutrient loss and soil degradation in those areas. She even sprayed poison on patches of grass that were reseeding! Bright green healthy grass, now has has swathes in it that are just dead. I don't know if I want to put the dead bits in my compost pile, because I'm not sure my compost heap gets hot enough to break down the herbicide, and I can't risk putting that gunk on my veggies. So now I have dead/dying poisoned plants that I have to bag up and dispose of somehow instead of recycling them back into the property. Now I have large sections of the yard that I have to keep Rowen out of for a few weeks at least.

*sigh* It just makes me so sad really. It was a very un-neighborly thing to do. I don't understand why he wouldn't just come over and talk to us if he had a problem with the pace of the yard clean up. Introduce himself, and get to know us instead of spewing poison to our landlady which manifested as actual poison in our yard. I'm sure it never occurred to him that 20 minutes of visiting with us might highlight our need for child care assistance, visiting with us might highlight our willingness to talk through things and find mutually agreeable solutions to disagreements. I'm sure 20 minutes of visiting is waay too much trouble for this guy, it might interfere with his tee-time. I don't cuss often on this blog, I don't feel I need to, but Fuck this guy. I have 5 other neighbors that I have a great relationship with and I don't need his approval or interference.

For the first day afterward I wanted to make a big sign in the yard and hammer it in where he could see it, I was torn whether it should have a big picture of my middle finger or a more polite explanation of organic principles and the time line of repair I have for the yard.

*another deep breath*

Anyway, life goes on, the blog title promises an Up side to all this, so let's move on to that. My 5 other neighbors that I have much better relationships with. Our elderly lady to the West of us approached us yesterday to be contacts for her Lifeline service. We now have the code to get into her house and security clearance should we have to deal with Lifeline support staff. She brings us baked goodies every once in awhile from her weekly social gathering and I see her out walking a couple times a week, she loves saying hi to Rowen. Always tells me about her grandbabies that are about his age.
Then there's the older lady to the South of us, her and her hubby have the corner house across from us, but he is always away for work, I'm guessing truck driver, but I don't know for sure. So, she's home alone most of the week and she's the one that feeds all the stray cats. Her stray cat love keeps my yard bunny free and allows me to get away with no fence around my garden. She's a gardener too, we've struck up a great friendship comparing veggies and herbs and swapping stuff, her beds are more established than mine, so most of the swapping is one way right now, but that will change. :-) She seems really happy to have someone to share the glut with, our first conversation was over some rhubarb that she was literally throwing away because she had too much. I fed her cats one weekend while she was away, and I'm sure the favor will be returned.
Then there's a family to our North-East. They were the first ones we met, as they were out in their yard the day we were moving in. 3 high school aged kids, all really nice, polite and active. I'm thinking babysitters. :-) I've borrowed a few tools from the Dad and sat on their front porch and visited with Rowen a few times. All around Good People.
There's a couple more neighbors that we've waved at, swapped names and all that jazz, we just haven't found common ground yet to spark actual conversations. But the beginnings are positive.

So, the adventure in a new town continues. Small bumps, we'll get past them.
Still thinking about the rude sign though... >:-D


Syeda Zehra said...

Ha Ha ha.

So cruel of me to laugh when you are sad,but em not laughing at your loss but about the rude sign..:)
No stopping thinking about it 'cause after that what will be the difference between him and you.?
BTY how about letting in a mole or two in his perfect garden.?

Jennie said...

Yea, the rude sign would make me feel better, but it would totally lower me to his level, and that wouldn't actually help the situation.

My new plan is to take him some veggies at some point this summer as a peace offering.