Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Or so says Robert Frost.  I think.

I moved into my home almost 10 years ago.  It was the thrill of a lifetime for me.  I was nearly 50 years old.  I had gone from homeless to renting an apartment, to renting a house, to purchasing a townhouse, and then finally to buying my own single family home in less than 10 years.  To say I was thrilled really doesn't touch the way I felt about it.  

When I was looking at it, I made sure I had an outdoor space to sit and read... that was the deck in the back of the house.  I thought it would be splendid.  I looked at the yard and planned where I would plant flowers instead of the rocks that were there.  

When I moved in, it was late September - 2001 - which was an odd time to put it mildly.  I never sat out on the deck that year.  I did, however, plant tulip bulbs all over the place in joyful anticipation of the spring.  

That Thanksgiving, I planned to stay home alone since I was working on my master's thesis and I was exhausted.  I had planned to do nothing that day.  But, as is the case every year, turkeys were on sale for like $3. a piece, so I bought one.  I love to cook, so I opted to make myself some mashed potatoes, stuffing, and the rest of the traditional fare.  I sat down, alone at my dining room table, and looked out the window at my neighbors gawking at me.  The whole family, the grandparents, the parents, the kids, the grandkids, the whole shootin' match, looking out their dining room window at me.  Loser, sitting at the dining room table, alone on Thanksgiving, eating a whole dinner - alone.  So, I got up and closed the blinds.  And suddenly felt like there was something terribly wrong with me.   

By spring, I had noticed that the neighbors behind me were really "in my face."  When I tried to sit on the deck, I felt like I was invading their personal space and so I stopped doing that.  My yard is small, theirs is large.  My deck goes half way to the property line, and sits above the fence, so we are almost eyeball to eyeball.  

I came to really really dislike these folks.   The nice neighbor who lives next door to me and is also in their backyard dislikes them even more than I did.  They have big gatherings in the back yard late into the nights in the summer.  I don't really care because my bedroom is in the front of the house, but hers is in the back, so it is an issue for her.  One time she yelled at the man "Shut up, you old bastard!"  Which I think is the only time I have ever heard of her using bad language or being anything less than loving.  She is the type of person who mows lawns that aren't even hers (like mine for example).  

Then one Sunday, I visited a church I didn't normally go to.  (It is now my parish, but it wasn't then.)  I nearly fainted when I saw my much hated neighbor marching up the aisle in his deacon's apparel.  He gave the homily that day and I saw the little jolt of recognition when his eye caught mine.  I decided I really had to stop hating him and his family.  

It has been a long process.  I started attending "his" church.  I introduced myself to him and told him "I live in your backyard."  He didn't argue with me.  I met his wife when I was on the welcoming committee with her.  I met their son, who is a lovely young man.  We are on first name basis now.  


They have a gardener who takes care of their lawn and garden.  They also work on it quite a bit.  It is beautiful.  They have a rock fountain as the centerpiece of it - I enjoy listening to it in the summer.  So, last summer, they apparently sprayed herbicide all over the fence because anything I had within 3 feet or so of the fence died.  This includes my ornamental grass that used to be gorgeous.  My honeysuckle.  Half of my lilac bush.  Two aspen trees.  One rose bush.  Various lilies and iris. 

I had hoped they would come back this spring.  I go out and check them every day.  Dead.  Dead.  Dead.  

I look over at their beautiful lush garden and I can't describe to you how very unchristian I feel about it.  Now when I see him at church, I think about how badly he has impacted my life and how he probably has never given a thought about me.  

I think I have to talk to him about it, but I don't know how I can without crying.  I have been crying just writing this.  

Some people just seem to get everything and they can't seem to stop there.  They have to destroy the little bit that other people might have.  

Sorry, I am not over my cold yet , and I am sure it is coloring my world in a dark, dark way.  

I will pray for him and me.  And I would ask for your prayers too if you would be so kind.

Thank you.  


  1. Our Lord also had to deal with high priests and Pharisees who thought nothing of having Him killed. It's not much comfort, but it's all I can think of right now.

    "The Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."

    I, too, live in close proximity to people who often invade my privacy and treat me like I'm one of their tenants. When I get to the point where I'm ready to scream, I think of those words from Our Lord. It's very hard, and I will certainly keep your intention in my prayers.


  2. MC, such a shame. I don't blame you for feeling badly. You're right, they never thought about what this would do to your side which is why you need to approach them in the event they decide to spray again. If they are thoughtful at all they will offer to help replace your plantings. This is why we moved, our neighbors were nightmares. Now if anyone blocks my driveway, out comes the tractor and over the ridge their car goes! (just kidding really, but the intention is there). Move to Catawissa, there's a nice lake lot for sale. Wooded, we're on a ridgetop. We don't bother each other. I'll get you your own cat and a chicken. Sending prayers.

  3. Oh that is aweful Mary-C. It's not clear from your blog, but do you think they did it intentionally? I can't think of anything to say that would make you feel better. I think you should say something, though there's not much that can be done at this point. My heart goes out to you. It would hurt me too to see those beautiful plants dead. May your heart find peace.

  4. My neighbors came home yesterday from Arizona, since last October. I shuddered.
    It has been so nice without them here.

    It was down to two choices of homes, to buy, and take care of my mom. She wanted to come home, but had no home to come to. My siblings sold hers long ago, when I lived far away. She had passed out from diabetic coma and could never be alone again.

    But air travel and shuffled among ten children in myriad states, to live a spell with each, had taken its toll.

    "I wanna go home, Keystone", mom said.
    She often confided in her favorite child (long story). I told her in Oregon then, I would go to Florida and get my car, buy a home in Pennsylvania and take care of her.

    She was to fly home from Oregon a day before her birthday, and all were coming for the party. But two days prior, out there, she had a stroke, and hung on to life until her birthday, and then died.

    I now had a home in a state I no longer needed, for us.
    The seller owned three lots, and sold two to me, along with a small home.
    Mom would have loved this place, but in retrospect, death is better than the neighbors I have.

    Yes, I love gardening too. But first, I must remove 5 huge trees and a quote was $1,000 each. Garden will wait; no sunshine.

    So I landscaped to take my mind off mom dying, and added $3,000 in new shrubs, small trees, a sole tribute to mom, and many soft Alberta spruce, along with Japanese red maples.

    When I am away, my neighbor has not mentally accepted this is not their property. I came home to find them removing my clothesline and poles, digging them out.

    "Those are on my property" I told the Mrs, as the Mr continued digging.

    "I told my daughter she could have them", the Mrs advised me.

    "You cannot promise your daughter what does not belong to you", I replied.

    Another time, they were on ladders up in my trees, removing bird houses. I went outside and at the bottom of the ladder, took pictures of all the removals, as they were doing it. When they came down the ladder, I said "Integrity is a prized item, and hard to get, but easy to lose. When you steal, you lose integrity forever and fast. Put them down and remove your ladder".

    A few days later when I came home, my new laurels (huge) were molting from a chemical applied. These were brand new, in new soil, mulched, and the STATE flower, so guaranteed to grow. They are dead.

    The spruces were torched by fire, at the top, and I had to cut back to save the trees. My perfect shaped $300 shrubs are all missing cone shape and now flat, probably gonna die.

    The wind blew a tad and my soffit came off. I bought new lengths and cut them, took a ladder and went on the roof area to fix the missing parts. That is when I noticed NONE are nailed down, they are just inserted together....a quick remodel to sell.

    The grandchildren visit and think it is still gramma's trees to swing upside down, giving me a heart attack each time that they do, as I worry a fall will make me lose my home.

    They have removed the plugs of all greenery I put in between our homes, and put them replanted on the other side of their house, when I was away. I stripped the south side completely bare of any plugs to steal, and the place looks in need of something. But why bother if it will be stolen.

    They moved the utility shed 200 feet away, so that it would not be near their view when they sold it. The cement slab is bare, and the shed needs moved back.
    Why? In FL I do not need a snowblower; here, you need the National Guard to remove 15 FEET of snow.

    I can't start the snowblower without electric start, as Lipitor ruined my muscles and the doctor stopped the med when I coughed up blood. So I string a cord 200 feet each time it snows and I need the snowblower to start.


  5. REST....

    They told me to stay away from the neighbor on the other side of them as he is "riff-raff". He put a chain link fence down the entire driveway, dividing the two of them.

    Finally, I had the property surveyed and posted, so everyone knows what is mine and theirs. I found out then that his garage is on my property.
    When he saw the posts, he knew the line and planted oat grass ON THE LINE. That will spread entirely on my side as it grows.

    I used to go to the cemetery every day, now maybe three times a week.
    I wanna move.

    On my second day here, the Mr came over and asked to dig in my yard. He showed me the spot, and I agreed. He dug a small baby Jesus out of the ground, with His head planted upside down.
    He said his daughter advised him to do this and it would sell. I bought the place two days after he planted Jesus the Realtor, upside down.

    They do not go to church, but watch Joel Osteen on TV speak the Gospel of Prosperity; give me money and God will bless you. God wants you to succeed, they said he said.
    So I said, Jesus said "The poor will always be with you", so I am not sure God wants all to have success after all.

    They had keys as they rented the place before I bought it. My blinds go missing, cupboards had stuff moved, and significant theft when my car is not in the drive. I spent $600 on new locks TWICE.

    Will you marry me so we can live happily ever after? I need outta here.
    In lieu of honeymoon, I will build a fence.
    I'll bring my snowblower too.

  6. Thanks everyone. I don't think they did it deliberately. I just don't think they considered that spraying the fence might impact their neighbors. Some people are just like that. It hurts me that he is a holy man.

    I don't think I am that holy, but whenever I put fertilizer on my lawn, I let my neighbor know so that her cat doesn't come over here. I think it is incumbent upon us to think of others - constantly.

    I won't even use herbicide - I don't think it is good for any living thing. Plants, animals, or humans. To think of my back yard being full of killer is hurtful to me.

    I really need to GET OVER IT!

  7. MC my heart also goes out to you. I think his position in the church makes it all the more important that you do, and the fact that you are fellow parishioners gives you a little help in approaching them. At least I hope so! I will certainly pray.

  8. If you want a few iris starts let me know and when they are done I'll send you some of the rhizomes. They are either light or dark purple. Hey, if everyone sends you some cuttings or rootstock, you'll have your garden replaced in no time! You could think of it as a friendship garden since it would come from all your blogger friends!