Tuesday, February 21, 2006

My Plea

Dear Neighbors In The Austin Stone House Down the Street,

There's no way to be tactful about this, so I'm going to be as straightforward as I can and hope that you take this in the constructive spirit that it is intended: Clean up the outside of your damn house!

I know you guys are really nice people. You've bought cookie dough from my kids when they were shilling for the Boy Scouts, and we've seen you having picnics on your lawn with other families who, like you, adopted gorgeous baby girls from China. You're also one of the handful of sign-posting Democrats who live in this neighborhood, and--trust me--that fact alone makes me think twice about telling you this. But I gotta say that the disastrous state of your home exterior forces me to tell you that "you're just not representin" us well in this neighborhood.

First of all I'd like to remind you that the "baby girl" is about four years old now and way too big to fit in the red plastic safety swing that's still hanging in the tree out front. Take it down before the rope rots of its own accord and falls into the yard. Put something else up, if that works for you. Build a treehouse or a fort. Hang some bird feeders. Whatever.

Second, pick a holiday theme and stick with it only for the duration of the holiday. You are not required to put up new decorations at any time, but it would help if you took one set down before putting the new ones up. Today as I drove past I saw a sunflower windsock in the front garden, a Spring Flower seasonal flag flying from the rain gutter and icicle Christmas lights that have been up for two years without a rest. At Halloween, you added some pumpkins to the mix, though those went away somehow.

Also, there's that hay bale/shrubbery yard display that's been up on the corner of the yard for several years. Back in the day at Halloween you'd put up fresh hay and a scarecrow with pumpkins. At Christmas there was a stuffed Santa. Two Fourth of July's ago you put up flags and a stuffed effigy of Uncle Sam on the hay. He was never removed. The flags went away but, for some reason, Uncle Sam has been gently composting in the sod for two seasons and though he no longer sits atop his slowly dissolving hay bale, I can still see his red and white striped pants peeking out from the pile of leaves behind the display. Put him--and us--out of the misery and remove him.

Third, there's the fence. The wooden stockade fence. Surely you've noticed that it's falling down...everywhere. You live on the corner of two major streets, so the fence wraps around your house and we--all of us--get to watch as planks lean tiredly in twos and threes before falling completely over and leaving gaps in the fence that look like the dental work of a professional hockey player. We couldn't care less what you did do the backyard or even if you left it as barren as the Gobi Desert...as long as we didn't have to witness the complete devastation through the disintegrating fence.

See...our neighborhood association isn't one of those that dictates what kind or color of flower you can plant in your garden. Hell, we don't even care if you have flowers. Still, this is a really nice part of town, but even if you neglect to mow your lawn for so long that neighborhood children get lost in it, the worst that will happen is some gentle hinting from your next door neighbor or some college kids will drive by with a flatbed of mowers and offer to do it for "$30. These old houses were mostly built in the early 1940s and each one is distinct, and while we're always looking for creativity and individuality (I have an old gravestone in my herb garden), we're not looking for something whose attempt at a departure from the traditional results in decrepitude. You know...something Dan and Roseanne Connor would call home.

Sincerely yours,

Mrs. Half
"Yard Police"


Blogger The Gradual Gardener said...

Hysterical! And I love the gravestone idea...Should I ask if anyone's under it?

7:02 PM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

No one's under it, but it's real. My parents lost twins before I was born and they replaced the really old headstone with a new one. I asked for the old one.

7:47 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Doesn't sound like they are doing well at all? Makes you wonder what they do with their time? Work to hard? Drugs? Alcohol? Depressed?

We have a couple eyesores around us. There is the next door neighbor who decided the easiest way to have privacy was to let the weeds grow, and kill his landlord's shrubs. There are weeds that are about 30 feet high. Then there's the house that Jack built. The city actually stopped them from working on it. I have never seen a slanted house before.

3:51 AM  
Blogger The Gradual Gardener said...

Uh oh...Dan, do you live next to me? I guess I better go pull some weeds...

4:51 AM  
Blogger Arabella said...

Being surrounded by concrete has its benefits.

7:04 AM  
Blogger Tink said...

There's a house down the street with a yard filled with dead vehicles. There's at least 12. They don't bother mowing around them or even putting them in a neat little row down the back yard. But they do decorate them for the holidays. It's redneck central.

7:05 AM  
Anonymous V-Grrrl said...

I lived in a neighborhood with a homeowner's association and there were still a few diehards who insisted on doing things like putting the trampoline in the front yard, parking cars all over their lawn and until it turned into a dirt parking lot, beginning to repaint the house but then stopping halway through and LEAVING it, leaving old appliances on the front porch, stacking junk in the yard and covering it with heinous blue plastic tarps, and having a decrepit porch swing on a frame in the front yard. Did I mention this is a waterfront home, less than 20 years old, and is probably worth close to $400,000? Another house in our neighborhood had a garage so stuffed with electronic components that the owner couldn't get the door down. He also had two abandoned cars in the yard stuffed with more electronic componenets (mighty expensive closets, I'd say) AND best of all, he NEVER cleaned his gutters so over many years they filled with enough dirt to support plant life, sprouted trees and then collapsed, hanging off the house with saplings in them!

7:12 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

Yikes! These seem like the same sort of people that would also put out a bed of silk or plastic flowers.

On the other hand, I like the term "Santa on a hay bale" and plan to use it in everyday conversation.

7:49 AM  
Blogger kate said...

The people who live behind us own the lot next to us as well, which we affectionately refer to as the "dead tree forest." Many of the trees have fallen/are threatening to fall into our yard. They do not remove them. These people also have a trampoline frame in their front yard (never seen it with the actual trampoline), a pet duck with its own kiddie pool, about 15 dirtbikes lined up, a decrepit tree house and swing set, and more. Glad to hear we are not the only ones dealing with this type of eyesore!

7:52 AM  
Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

Ha ha! I hope you feel better now after writing this. We keep our yard to normal standards of decency, but we had a neighbor across the street who spent hours a day on his park-like lawn. He would routinely call the Homeowners Association with complaints about us, ranging from parking on the street outside our home sometimes (for shame!)when we were using our driveway for a game and for putting our brush out by the road (on the week our city was picking up brush). He's moved now, thank God. Not that you're anything like him, of course. You just reminded me of that situation. Heh heh.

8:50 AM  
Blogger Server Girl said...

so funny!! damn neighbors!!! :)

10:44 AM  
Blogger theyellowwallpaper said...

I love it...Yeah, I hate it when you see someone just lettin' a house go like that. I've never understood paying so much for your home, only to let it slide like that.

10:47 AM  
Blogger Misfit Hausfrau said...

Well done!

We are fortunate to live in a neighborhood with the mighty and powerful Homeowners Association. Last year they walked around with clipboards and rulers, measuring how high the exposed concrete was on certain homes. Do you think they would tolerate the mess in your neighborhood? I think not.

11:09 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Harridan said...

wEveryone has one of these, don't they? Our "Section 8 Housing" neighbors left their decorations up for months, left their poor, ratty dog tethered outside at ALL hours, and left a side window broken for a very loooong time (in winter) - their cat was exiting and entering the house through it. I was afraid it was going to slice itself open!

11:25 AM  
Blogger mama_tulip said...

There is a house near us that has a new couch on the front lawn every week. It's kind of a rite of passage for us to drive by and check out what colour it will be this week...

11:41 AM  
Anonymous paige said...


My neighbors have a van and 8 years worth of trash in their backyard, but I don't think I'd ever say anything, no one likes whitey moving in over here. I got a very nice "Stop displacing poor people" note in my mailbox last week. I should make a sign for my front yard: White AND Working Class, Bitches!

Wait, maybe not.

Anyway, yeah. Multi-seasonal yards that make no sense are insane, and you're much more tactful than I would be if I had to drive past shit like that all the time.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Virenda said...

LOL, oh I have thought similar things for SO long.

I have a neighbor who is THEE nicest guy but his whole outside is disgusting.

Every time I go outside I get to find new
and unusual things.

Lawn frog missing one leg? Check

Two dolls with torn off heads? Check

One drunk and disorderly wife? Check

2:45 PM  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

There's one in every neighborhood. Ours used to live right next door to us. Thank God they moved.

5:29 PM  
Blogger Melanhead said...

Is that a FEMA trailer?

7:19 PM  
Blogger Mignon said...

Maybe it's art? Or social commentary?

"Uncle Sam has been gently composting in the sod..."

(Doesn't it make you sad every time you see that headstone? That would be hard for me to keep around.)

7:57 PM  
Blogger Brooke said...

Hehehe! So, did it work? (If not...print it out and put it on their doorstep.)

8:17 PM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

No,no. This letter is just me venting. I would never say anything to them. I mean, they'll fix things eventually. Or they'll sell the house. Like I said, they're nice people. If they were mean and horrible...well..that would be different.

8:25 PM  
Blogger Katherine said...

Oh God, that was so funny!

1:58 PM  
Blogger Ditsy Chick said...

These kinds of yards drive me nuts! We have a neighbor with a front yard the size of a postage stamp and he parked his car on the thing! GRRRRR!

Are you going to print this out and send it to them? I'll sign my name.

9:53 PM  

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