Friday, February 23, 2007

Abandoned vehicles and crazy math

I want it clearly on the record that we never actually wanted any ill will upon our neighbor.
A mysterious disappearance would have been welcomed. But we are for the most part GOOD people.
So when the ambulance pulled onto our quiet street, in our quiet town, on our quiet little island, we might have felt a little guilt for all the little snide remarks we had made at our neighbors expense over the past week.
But only momentarily.
I mean, come on! We're not fancy magical people! We didn't MAKE anything happen to her.
But there IS the bird story.
Another blog.
Make a mental note to remind to blog about the bird story.
So an ambulance pulls up outside our house and naturally we went to spy out our window to see what was going on.
As soon as I got to the window to inspect, our crazy neighbor was making her way to the back of the ambulance - fully dressed complete with shawl, handbag, and scarf covering her wily white hair. Within a few moments they packed up into the vehicle, and drove off.
And that was that.
And we, being the new neighbors on the block, knew NO ONE on the street to go and gossip with. By the time I had pulled on my shoes and jacket to go out and see if I could butt in on any sideline conversations occurring on the sidewalk, everyone had already cleared and gone back inside their respective homes.
Trevor and I were left to our own imaginations.
And over the next week, our imaginations had leaped to the most likely scenario - we wouldn't be seeing her again.
Let me illustrate with the following calculation - known as The Relative Law of Pneumonia:
(1 Old lady + 1 ambulance) / # days gone = % chance likely she will return
For example:
1+1 / 7 days gone = 28.5% chance likely she will return
That's science people.
Ok, maybe not.
I may have just made that up.
But I watch NUMB3RS and therefore consider myself a mathematical expert in all things elderly.
You know, I blame this nutty tangent on the coffee.
I am SO tired lately.
Which I blame on the washing machine.
The washing machine that is IN our kitchen and not in the basement.
Where the dryer is.
Make sense?
Yea, I didn't think so either.
Which is why we are building a laundry room in the basement, so the washer and dryer can be united as a laundry collabarating team!
The washing machine and microwave - not a great cleaning duo so much.
But the washing machine and dryer? Much better.
So, in the meantime, on the weekends, I am acting as an assistant contractor to my husband, part drill sergeant, part Nazi.
Hence the coffee.
Hence the weird mathematical chitter chatter.
Hence the awful digression into talking about laundry equipment when I'm trying to stay on the topic of our crazy neighbor and her joy ride in an ambulance.
But at least I haven't broken into rambling directives in German.
Ok, back on task!
Right, she was gone awhile.
Like, 10 days.
And we were SO sure she wouldn't be coming back. She's old and was taken away by ambulance - my money was on pneumonia and either hospitalization in an old person's home, or death.
I'm not going to sugar coat by the way - I've already veered off topic a couple times already and this blog is taking on great lengths, and finding a more discreet way of explaining that we believed she may have died will just take up more space, and require more effort on my part.
You know, like explaining how I won't sugar coat something takes up time and space.
Exactly like that.
Oh my god. What is WITH the random tangents today?
Let us circle back to the story.
Friday afternoon - the Friday before Christmas - our elderly little neighbor was returned to her house. I must admit I was pretty ambivalent about the situation. At that point in time we hadn't really interacted with her much, and therefore didn't know any better.
Know any better - meaning NOW, retrospectively as I write this, I NOW know better and believe it would have been nicer if she didn't return.
But at that point in time, being ignorant on her CRAZY ways, and being a decent person, I thought it was nice that she didn't die at least.
Even if she did have police on speed dial.
Ok, so remember this: it was late Friday afternoon.
Got it? You will need to remember this little nugget.
Saturday morning comes, Christmas eve, and Trevor and I were getting a few things in order before we head out of town for Christmas eve dinner...when Trevor discovered his car had been cited as an abandoned vehicle.
His car.
His well maintained, clean, relatively new car.
The car he drove to the ferry terminal the day before.
The car he drives to and from the ferry terminal every day of the week in order to get to work.
And the citation? Was of the variety reserved for those cars you see on the side of the road, with piles of leaves and garbage accumulating under them, usually of the old and beat-up variety. The very kind of citation that claims the car has been abandoned for more than 72 hours and will be towed and impounded at the owner's expense if it is not moved within 72 more hours.
Upon contacting the 800 # on the citation, Trevor learned a few interesting tidbits of info:
- The parking department was on vacation all week and therefore an officer was dispatched when someone (ahem) called in the "abandoned" vehicle. Therefore, they didn't "know any better" and just cited the car as abandoned.
- The person who called in the citation was "the lady neighbor next door"
So, to recap what happened:
- Crazy lady comes home from hospital at roughly 4pm on Friday evening
- Crazy lady calls parking enforcement Saturday morning, claims Trevor's car has been "abandoned" and asks that it be towed
Now, if we do a little math (bear with me here, this time it's not convoluted), we learn that 72 hours PRIOR to when the car was cited was...Wednesday morning.
Remember that thing about Friday?
3 weeks in our new house at this point and we've learned two valuable lessons about our neighbor:
1) she's very protective about her driveway
2) she's a LIAR
Fortunately our cities parking enforcement department is very understanding and we were let off the hook.
At the time I thought they were just laid back and nice.
But in hindsight?
We now know that they have had PLENTY of experience dealing with the "neighbor lady next door".

Thursday, February 08, 2007

How many midget burglars w/poor troubleshooting skills do you know?

Coffee cup in hand, I was enjoying my first Saturday morning as a home owner. Still in my bathrobe, I had been up maybe 20 minutes and I was in the living room marveling at how nice the sunlight comes into our front two rooms.


I’m being serious.

This is what being a homeowner is like in the beginning.

Much like a new romantic relationship, you find incredible enjoyment at the littlest of things. Finding out the heater works? Leaves you beaming all day long. The hot water not only works fast, but lasts a whole shower? FANTASTIC!

It can be sickening and downright boring to everyone else, but to you? Yes, the fact that you have a sunny living room is, like, the highlight of your morning. Because it is YOUR living room.


My point here…

Oh – right.

So I’m in the living room, bathrobe adorned, coffee sipping, sun marveling, and there’s a knock at the door.

What the hell. It’s 8 in the freakin’ morning on a Saturday and there’s someone at our door already?

I tip toe to the door (because we have creaky floors) (and yes, for the record, we love those too), and I peak through the peephole.

Why, there’s a man who looks an awful lot like a cop standing on our porch.


We’ve been in the house all of 7 days and we’re already being visited by the police?

Just fabulous.

Being the good law-abiding residents that we are, I open the door figuring there must be some random explanation for our uniformed visitor, and it couldn’t possibly involve us breaking the law.

Cop guy: “Is that your car parked out there ma’am?”

(I quickly make note that he’s pointing at Trevor’s car that is parked at the curb directly in front of our house)

Me: “Yes.”

Cop guy: “Would you mind moving it please? Your neighbor next door has called and complained that she cannot get her car out of the driveway.”

(At this point I’ve sized up that the car is a bit close to the driveway)

Cop guy continues: “She wanted us to come and tow the vehicle…”

(Tow? TOW? Why the hell didn’t she just come and ask us to move it forward 12 inches?)

Cop guy: “…however, if it’s yours and you’re able to move it…”

(um, YEA)

Cop guy: “…I’d rather we just do that.”

(I’d rather we just do that too)

Me: “Uh, yea, bit of a no-brainer there. I’ll get dressed and take care of it.”

At this point I’d like to provide a little bit of background information…

- We were warned by the previous owner’s brother (the surviving heir) that the neighbor next door is a bit “crazy”. Given that the previous owner’s brother was a bit on the “loo-loo” side himself, we just assumed she was “old-lady crazy” and figured we wouldn’t hear much from her.

- Of all the driveways on the block, hers is the only one with painted red on either side.

- For the record: Trevor’s car was technically in the red, but not blocking the driveway.

Now I’d like to provide a little bit of background information on the neighbors garage/driveway situation:

- Her house makes our house look good (we bought a “fixer-upper”)

- Her garage should be leveled as it is clearly a deathtrap for any rats that live in it.

- At this point in the game, we were not entirely sure of her even owning a car, let alone housing it in the deathtrap-for-rats garage of hers. I.e. she had not driven a car in the time we had been there, and therefore, well, what the hell was all the URGENCY about?

- Her driveway is no more than a dirt pad with tire marks. At the foot is a small 3 foot high fence that runs the length of the foot of her drive and then stops at our property line. The fence is locked at all times by a chain and padlock. Additionally, she stakes two pieces of rebar into the ground against the fence and wedges them in place by large rocks.

We assume this is her idea of a “secure gated driveway”.

Note: the fence ends at our property line where there is NO fence to continue on from there. So, if any intruder is thwarted by the chain/padlock/rebar/rock security system, and they don’t think to merely step OVER the fence, then they can just walk around the fence on our property line and get onto her property that way.

To do what exactly, I don’t know.

I suppose what I’m getting at here is that her security system is probably only effective on midget burglars with poor troubleshooting skills.


Trevor’s car was encroaching on her driveway and I headed out to move it. At which point I discovered a parking ticket on the windshield.

To sum up:

- the night before Trevor parked the car and didn’t pull far enough forward.

- at 7pm the Crazy Old Lady (from this point forward will be referred to as the COL) called the police and they came and ticketed the car for inappropriate parking.

- at 8am the following morning she called the police, apparently appalled that the car hadn’t budged in 12 hours, and asked them to come tow the car.

Not once did she come by and ask us to move the car.

Given this was our first interaction with the COL, we gave her the benefit of the doubt. She’s old, lives alone, probably isolated. I figured she felt intimidated about coming and introducing herself, and maybe she didn’t even realize it was our car. We’re new to the neighborhood, she probably hadn’t noticed what kind of cars we drive at this point.

Oh how empathetic and benefit-of-the-doubting I can be sometimes.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Being Good Neighbors

Upon buying a new house and moving into a new neighborhood everyone has different ideas about how they will get along with their neighbors. Some may only hope to be on a first name basis after awhile, making a brief acknowledgment in passing from front door to car. Others may hope to aspire to a greater level of friendliness, sharing recipes over the fence, trusting each other with house sitting responsibilities, and maybe sharing a drink from time to time.

I can tell you however, that there are not likely many people who hope that they will have a neighbor who calls the police on them 4 times in 3 weeks.

No. Not likely.

But Trevor and I have been blessed with such a neighbor.

Do not despair however – we find only humor in our “eclectic” crazy old lady neighbor.

Since we find such great humor in her antics, it became abundantly clear to me that I should begin what I will call the Crazy Lady Chronicles.

To date I have four solid stories to share, as well as miscellaneous anecdotes to pepper here and there. Amidst my trying to blog regularly on Bloggity Woggity and Never Ending Projects, I will try to throw in a CLC entry.

And like all things certain in life, I’m sure the CL next door will provide me with many more little ditty’s to share with my blog audience. I anticipate she will be great fodder.

That being said…I will post my first entry of the Crazy Lady Chronicles shortly.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Time for the finger

Time is a fickle friend of mine lately.
It seems that ever since we bought our house, I have no time to get to all the things that need getting to. But when I'm at the office, time sloooooooooooooooowwwwwssssssss down.
No offense to my job - but it's just not where I want to be right now.
How frustrating is that?
But that's not really my point of blogging this afternoon.
My point of blogging at this very moment is because a random stranger pissed me off at lunch.

So, let me drag my soapbox over here and take a moment to set the record straight.

Attention you stupid bitch with the bad attitude:

Should I choose to park in a spot at Whole Foods, that is my right. If there are no signs posted to the contrary, that means I may park there for as long as I please. If what pleases me is to take whatever time necessary to put my bag in my trunk, get in the car, plug my iPod into my car charger, take off my coat, and THEN back out of my parking spot - that is my right.
Let me review YOUR rights...
You reserve the right to vulture. I do not necessarily condone this behavior, or practice it in general unless absolutely necessary, but I will admit that you have technical right to block half the lane with your fancy car and wait for someone to move so you may park. You reserve the right to wait as long as you feel is necessary. You reserve the right to stay put rather than drive and find a spot, perhaps 10 yards away, because my spot is closer. You have that right yes.
Let me review what is NOT your right...
Upon my vacating what was previously MY spot, YOU do NOT have the right to HONK at me and then as I look in my rearview to see why I'm being honked at, GIVE ME THE FINGER.
This is not your right.
I will not apologise for taking a mere 20 seconds to dock my iPod and take off my coat. I will not apologise for making you wait a couple more seconds for a parking spot that is no more yours than mine. I will not apologise for the precious 20 seconds you feel robbed of - 20 seconds you will be later to your nail appointment, 20 seconds that are just NOT significant in the grand scheme of things.
20 seconds that (coming from someone who would love a little more time in her day as my intro to this blog will support) will not KILL you to loose.
I do admit that the one thing I am sorry for is not stopping my car and asking you what the hell your problem is.
Because clearly you have some judgement skills issues that need refining. Either that or you have Tourette's of the hand.