Neighbors

I haven't yet provided info on the flavor of my neighborhood. I should do that. I know a few folks, hopefully will get to know more over the next year or two as life changes for me. After awhile, some of these characters might take on more starring roles.

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Firstly, we are smack dab in conservative, god-fearing land, to our immediate right. It's ok, the folks are very nice, but the house next to us has a jesus fish on the door, the one next to that often has a friend over with pro-life stickers on their suv and a cute little girl that tells me God loves me, along with two other kids. It's good to have kids on the block. Our house has a basketball net attached to the roof that is impossible to take down. We have a ball, but I have yet to play. The little boy comes over though, before we get home from work, and plays. The trio of kids play in various people's yards, I often find a discarded bicycle helmet or ball by our front door. I'm fine with this. I do live in a community, and I want it to be a community, not everyone shut up in their own plot of land.

We call the guy with the fish on the door "Fence Bill," because there is a Bill on our other side. He's very friendly and lends out his tools to us. We called him that because the previous owner of our house got a fence restoration thing going a couple years before they sold the house. The fences are shared 50/50 by the folks on either side, and he collected money from the shared fence neighbors and repaired and replaced the almost 30-year-old fences himself. But Bill didn't want to, so that fence is old, and, as of three days ago, starting to sag. It will be interesting to see how that plays out. Anyway, he's a nice guy, but I rarely see his very overweight wife. They have a tv set up off-camera if you are looking through the front window, but Fence Bill is often there, in profile, staring off into apparent space, when it's really just at the TV. They are both retired, quiet, and good neighbors. Fence Bill owns a house just up the dead end street connected to ours; it was his father's who has been in a nursing home since sometime shortly before we moved in. The house has lights on a timer and a gardener takes care of it, and Fence Bill's yard. It will be interesting to see what he does with it in the future.

The house to the other side with the other Bill is quiet, too. Someone yells in there now and then, I'm not sure who, or if it's at the tv, or a person. I have only seen the mother, a retired-age woman who is also very nice, and only recently did I see their Downs Syndrome daughter. I hope she isn't who was being yelled at. Her room is low in the house, the windows facing our yard, and I can see trophies on display when the curtains are open. She comes and goes everyday on a special bus, to school, I guess.

Further up the street that direction is the Colonel. He's more of a Lieutenant Colonel, or Colonel Lieutenant, I don't know, but I just like getting to call him "The Colonel." It's very Garcia-Marquez to have "The Colonel" in your hood. All I know is he fought in WW2 and now has Japanese exchange students stay with him. I wonder on the workings of that one, what fuels it. He manicures his shrubs with precision, often out there for over thirty minutes working on one. We haven't spoken, but at the annual block party last year, his current exchange student came by. I wonder if it's like Sixteen Candles in there…."he takes out the garbage and helps with the laundry…you betcha!"

Up the dead end street is Dorothy. She's clearly the one who wears the pants in the hood, organizing the block party, providing me with a phone tree for the neighborhood watch program, and generally being the street's maven. She's nice, very efficient. She too is on the older side (DLJ and I must be the youngest on the street, except for the house o' kids previously mentioned.) I get confused as to who owns what kids on the dead end street. There's a couple teenagers that drag them selves to the bus stop in the mopey way they do that sort of thing, and the little asian boy who came by selling magazine subscriptions. I bought a year of Better Homes and Gardens from him, Dorothy watching approvingly a few feet behind before we let them in as I went to get the checkbook. $12, and hopefully some neighborhood approval. DLJ saw Dorothy in the store last week; her little boy sold so many subscriptions he won a prize, and will be whisked off somewhere in a Hummer Limo. With Dorothy at his helm, I was not suprised that he won.

Behind us are two houses, the plots of land don't line up neatly, which I like, staggered. Behind us and Other Bill is a couple with college-age kids that hang out on the back deck smoking in the summer. They chop wood all winter and have a hot tub, and large, friendly dog that they encourage to chase squirrels. I offered to pull up their ivy where it grew along with the stuff on my side, but they didn't take me up on it. Next to them is a nice , late 40's or 50's couple. They have a pond with a waterfall, which sounds very pleasant in summer. I saw the inside of their house and met them when their pond started leaking and made part of our backyard squishy. Raccoons get into the hoses and cause leaks. They also have some silver tinsel at the top of their roof, they've had previous issues with woodpeckers. It's Wild America in their backyard, I guess!

That's all I know, so far. A large house encrusted with a swimming pool will be up for sale soon, says JP, father of the brood' o' kids. Next to them is an older man who walks his golden retriever and waves. and across the street is one of those mystery houses with antennas growing like trees behind it.

It's a good, solid hood. I hope it grows and becomes closer knit as we stay. It might be already, and we are just the youngish folks with no kids, so we aren't as hooked in.
The fact that so many are older is actually a good sign; they moved in when the houses were built, and felt no need to leave. That's good. Like us, and now the house that might go up for sale, it's clear that turnover will be occurring as folks truly retire and scale down, or move closer to their kids for their retirement years. I look forward to new folks moving in and watching the hood change. I'd like to really make it a connected place, where we can share tools and ideas (does everyone need to have a tree trimmer? No!) and our lives. It will take time. There's always the summer block party, though, and I'm planning a spring gathering just to invite folks over from the street. As long as they don't ask us to go to church with them, I think we can be neighbors worth knowing for everyone. ;) Just don't be looking for a fish on our door.

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