Thursday, January 13, 2011


I am convinced that I have moved into some sort of alternate universe recently. Very strange things happen here often. Strange things, indeed.

Our house borders a small family business that has apparently been there since about 1959. The building they work out of was sold recently, and the new owner hiked up the store front rent to $1000 a month. One business moved out, and the other stayed. He went ahead and grandfathered them in with some rent control because they had been there for so long. They are... interesting people, to be sure. Two of them are the sons of the founders, and they are on the... well? Bizarre side of normal. They are nice enough guys, but having a conversation with either of them always kind of leaves me with a cackling sense of... "wha?"

I've kind of grown to love those guys, and actually feel a bit protective of them now, because I have realized that though quirky, they really are the kind of people who would do anything for you if you needed help. They can be themselves all they want as far as I'm concerned.

See, The day we closed on our house, we decided to take one last pass at it before heading to our escrow appointment; take a walk around, make sure vandals hadn't done anything destructive, et-ceh-teh-raaah. We happened upon one of the men, and he was on what would soon be our stoop, meticulously cleaning it. Nice of him to do so, but at the time I thought it was sort of a weird thing to do. Mr. Hed walked up to him and asked him what was going on, and he introduced himself as our new neighbour, and that he was glad to do this for us; that the lord satisfied him, and making things beautiful also did.

M-kay. Thanks. We like having a clean porch.

At the time we bought this house, it was 99 years old, a foreclosure, and had about a 30 year history of being a rooming house for students of Reed College. We did get an amazing deal on it, but it was, and still is, a major fixer. Because of this, we ended up spending about a week of VERY hard labour to bring it into livability. Because it had been sitting for so long, we got a LOT of lookie-loos, and curious people walking past, peering into the windows, and coming by for introductions. I had to come to terms with the fact that this house had been sitting for months, and was therefore subject to having homeless people camping out on the porches. On one of the days I was moving stuff into the house, I pulled into the driveway, and noticed two of them sleeping on the front porch. Apparently, they didn't notice us working on the house for the past week, or moving in and out of it during that time. It was quite a shock, and not a good one. As I pulled into the driveway, I honked my horn, but it didn't rouse them. I called the police, and told them about what was going on. They told me they would send someone out, but to call them back if they had moved along on their own.


I got brave and went into my new house through the back door. I then went to the front door, opened it, and because I was scared to fucking death, I sort of yelped with a growl: "HEYYYYYY!!!"

At first, nothing.

So I tried again. "HEYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!"

This time, one of them sort of halfway woke up, and I timidly told him that there were people living in the house now, and they needed to move along. He sort of looked up at me and said. "Oh. Huh. Really?"

"Yeah. Go on now, guys. I need to be moving stuff through here, and trust me, you don't want me falling, or dropping heavy things on you." I thought that would work. Nope. They stayed put until the police showed up. When they finally did, I heard the people complaining about how they had to move all their stuff now, and man, they were tired!

Wish I could save everyone from having to sleep on a porch, or having to find a new porch. Alas, I can't. Sorry, guys.

I still see them once in a while around here, but they don't seem to like drama, and neither do I, so I guess that's good. They do their thing, and try to stay out of the way most of the time. In turn, I stay out of their way. They aren't hurting anyone, and most people around here know that. The cops also told me this, that day, and I was somewhat glad to see that they seem to have a level of respect for them, know what they are about, and also stay out of their way.

That said, however, "Get off my lawn!" has fast become a necessary phrase for me, and I do use it in a serious manner, probably more often than I would like to.

For instance, about 2 weeks after we moved in, I was in my room. I had just showered, and was very naked. I could hear someone talking, in what appeared to be a one-sided conversation. It was weird, and trailed back and forth. I had already been accustomed to hearing people walk down the street while talking on their phones, but this voice just kept coming back.

I was finally dressed, and I looked out my window to discover a hipster in a pair of skinny jeans, plaid shirt and cap, with a wisp of pink hair sticking out, and smoothed strategically across his forehead, ala Bieber. He was pacing around my yard, talking on his cell phone.

At the time, I was still in the honeymoon period of living here, so I tried my best to be nice, and come off as non-threatening: "Can I help you?"


"Can I help you?"

"No, why?"

"Why are you pacing my yard?"

"Fuck, lady! I thought it was a fucking parking lot! You know what? FUCK YOU! I don't need your FUCKING HELP!"

"OK then, please leave."

He did, and I haven't seen him since. But it didn't stop there. I think the most obnoxious visit we experienced actually happened a couple of months later. We'd had some friends over for a backyard bonfire, and they stayed pretty late into the night. The kids were out of town with Grandma, I'd had myself quite a lot of wine, and was tired. I was rudely awakened at 4:48 AM, by some very loud, and also very drunk college kids, who were so disoriented, they wandered onto our property.

I was also quite naked, once again. Shut up. I was drunken, and the kids were... in another state.

Anyway, I remember rolling over and asking Todd if he thought they were in our yard, because the voices didn't leave the way they would if they were just walking down the street. Nope. They just kept getting louder.

I sat bolt upright in bed, leapt up, and went to the window. Sure enough, they were in our yard, carrying on, at this point, trying to climb the chain-link fence that separates our yard from the parking lot of the neighbouring business.

I hid my body, excepting my head, with the curtain and shouted as loud as I could: "GET OFF MY LAWN!"

It was enough to get their attention, and they actually sheepishly apologized, saying they thought this was a shortcut to the bar. Because... yes, apparently that's what my yard should be, right?

As they left, one of them said: "Dude! I think that girl was naked!" And, OK, we had a good laugh about that comment on both sides of the wall.

But back to my wonderfully weird neighbours!

I was minding my business one afternoon, painting the porch, when they each happened by. They told me all about everything, and then some, and then some more. And then some... snatched from outer space and beyond.

Oh mah soul...

The older of the two brothers; the one who cleaned our stoop the day we closed on the house, appears to have some major OCD issues. He can't walk past a yard without doing some weeding. During the week I painted my porch and stoop, I watched him go up and down the block. He had a lawn and leaf bag with him, and he took the time to weed everyone's yard. Very kind of him, sure, but I can't help but feel sorry for the guy, because he really does sort of remind me of a Tazmanian Devil... trapped in a zoo cage. Ever seen one of those? They just sort of run around in circles, on this continuous loop. It's frantic, sad, and truthfully? I just couldn't watch for very long.

How to free this guy? I haven't a clue. Maybe he doesn't want to be freed. This is the impression I get. He does seem perfectly happy and content doing what he does. It's not something I could ever be happy doing, but hey, I suppose whatever floats it for you... that's what you should be doing, right? Right. And, well, it's not up to me to judge people for doing what makes them happy, especially when it's productive, albeit a little quirky.

Recently, I had a friend over to the house for coffee. She walked to a window, and watched as he hacked away at my rose bushes. She was a little worried, and I just dismissed it with: "Oh, that's just Henry. He likes to help out around here. He... means well." It was mid-December, perhaps prime-time for pruning. Fine with me, since that definitely makes for less work, but he was really going at it! He was putting all of himself into the pruning of these bushes, which, by the way, are not very big to begin with. They aren't even that nice, although maybe next spring they will be. Hard to say.

Sometimes this man will pace the parking lot of his business; a pair of pruning shears in hand, and appear to be pontificating with himself. He will then pause, walk back over, and trim the climbing ivy on his side of the fence. Then, he will go back to pacing the parking lot, until he must have completed a thought, and prune more leaves. He does this so terribly often that it seems needless while he is practicing this bizarre little ritual. But again, it makes him happy, and the ivy isn't taking over our yard, so, sure. Why not?

OK, I'll admit that there are times I exhibit certain... weird behaviours. I often pontificate while cleaning. And honestly? This sort of thing has become a comfort to me to see. I would really miss these guys if they had to leave. There are also times when I wish I was even half as persnickety, because I'm telling you... their place of business is absolutely immaculate. On holidays, they really go all out, and decorate like there is no tomorrow. If I had half of his energy, I would be thrilled.

The latest thing, however, has me quite puzzled. There was a Christmas tree in the parking lot a couple of days ago. Yesterday, for most of the day, it was gone. Now it's back. I have no idea why... but with these guys, I guess it really could be anything. I might even ask for it, since we like having things to burn.

Ah, mysteries of life...

Good lord, I think I may be becoming the crazy old lady who knows everything about everyone. Help!



  1. Wow, interesting! I love neighborhood weirdness.

  2. LOL. I swear, I don't need a TV. I have windows!