Blight-ful neighbor…

…. versus spiteful neighbor.

I’ll take the former over the latter, but it’s difficult to put up with extra work. As of today, I have sprayed weed killer, trimmed overhanging branches, cleaned a section of gutter, and cut the sod to drain water away from his foundation.

I have written about how blight control forced the neighbor to clear out the dozen or more trash bags he had lined up along his house. Unfortunately, blight control laws don’t stop indoor squalor nor overgrown gardens (just the lawn proper).

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Street-view of the front of the house, about two years ago. The window is full now and plants overgrew the porch.

The cute little house is full of trash. The lawn is still mowed by the same disbelieving landscaper, but the garden is overgrown with weeds, wild grape vines, and young trees. A maple sapling was allowed to sprout in the seam between the driveway and the house’s foundation.

The Middle School Mafia, who seem to sense when potential victims might be a tad ragey (to use a local term), pulled a subtle prank to test the waters. This past autumn, someone tossed a Nerf football onto the lawn, where it formed a lump under the snow and an annoyance to the other next-door neighbor when spring gusts rolled it across the property line. In the spring, a damaged kick-scooter was leaned against his mailbox, where it remained until another neighbor picked it up for scrap metal after a couple months.

Satisfied by inaction, the Middle School Mafia steer clear of it. Why waste eggs on someone who doesn’t clean it up? Why ring the doorbell on their way home before curfew if, like a tree falling in the forest, no one cares if it makes a sound?*

The neighbor lives elsewhere now, most likely driven out by his own squalor. He retrieves things from time to time, like the boat and trailer sitting in the driveway. On the bright side, whatever vermin infested his house** will find no fresh pickings.

But it is maddening when the taxable value of La Casa de Tontería increases. I asked the folks in the township office: How will the nearby neighbors sell their houses if it comes with the view of a derelict?


*My Old Man began teaching my elder brother and I philosophy with the classic question. As a result, we have a plethora of snide remarks about it.

**The other neighbors are convinced the uptick in cats was due to critter infestations.

Ah, sweet filthy lucre!

Money was running through my fingers like water this week, what with the chariot due for an oil change, toiletries running out, and shoelaces needing a replacement.  I found myself grabbing gas money out of the “Stash o’ Cash”.

Some readers may know it by another name: the emergency fund. I learned to squirrel away bills and coins for those situations that require cash on hand. (I admit it began with a gas-and-pizza fund at college.) It’s a kind of running joke among old friends that some of us follow the “squirrel model” too closely and forget where they put it. (Or add to it without using it, like my grandfather who stashed thousands of dollars in a safe over the course of years!) Continue reading

Ditch bouquet 2016

 

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Spicebush swallowtail (Papilio troilus) on a flowering chicory (cichorium intybus). Copyright 2016 Jean Balconi.

This is photo is for Derrick, whose beautiful garden photos are one of the charms of his eponymous blog.

Years ago I used to have a running series on my first blog (now defunct). I called it “Ditch bokay” (a country spelling I used to see in the Thumb). I’d be traveling along fields or shorelines, only to stop short because of wildflowers or weeds in bloom.  I’d take snapshots with my low-quality digital camera and upload them.

Asters, lilies and the elusive buttercup – there are dozens of beautiful blooms growing in the fringes.

The beauty of snow

Last night I fell asleep to the sound of rain and woke to same.  The forecast called for a chill to set in overnight and turn everything to ice. I was thankful that the cold held off. If it were snow, I’d be shoveling shin-deep piles.

But when I opened the blinds, I sighed over the ugliness of the view. From my office, I see past my oaks and into the wooded lot across the road. In the summer, it’s a wall of green. With the branches bare, it’s a look at the property owner’s collection of stuff. There’s a uncovered boat on a trailer (uncovered generally means “doesn’t run”), a rotting tent, a front loader that hasn’t moved since last year, and something that looks like a fallen stack of lumber.

Then the chill arrived. The rain streaking the windows turned to glittery beads and stripes. The snow is slowly burying the evidence of sloth and blurring the edges of the junk.