Saturday, September 8, 2007

The neighbors, part II

Remember my next-door neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. B&B? We're the best of friends now.

It's been a few months since they cut down two of our bushes without asking us. The bushes have already grown back into decent-looking shrubs. I had started wondering what the neighbors' next move would be.

Then recently when KC was in town for a visit, Mrs. B&B decided to pop over. KC answered the door and tried to talk to her through the screen door, over the frantic barking and jumping of four dogs.

KC said Mrs. B&B seemed perplexed that Ben and I weren't home in the middle of a weekday. She didn't say what she wanted, but she said we should stop by her house when we got home.

I'll admit, I was a little freaked out by this. Here was a woman who had never once come to our door in the past three years, not even when she wanted to cut down our bushes. What could possibly drive her to speak to us now?

Naturally I assumed that she must have a complaint. Something about the dogs? About our garage (which borders their back yard)? About the hexes I'd been putting on their house?

Finally, my curiosity couldn't bear it any longer, and I went over there. The neighbors were sitting on their front porch. "Hi," I said. "My friend said you stopped by."

Mrs. B&B stood up. "Yes, I did," she said. "I just wanted to ask you -- you know, I had talked to your mom about maybe doing some cutting on these bushes over there, and I had some other ideas -- and then I thought maybe I better ask you about it."

She went on to describe her proposal for the area between our two houses: Take out the remaining bushes and scraggly plants, mulch the whole area, scatter some potted plants, and put up a wire arch that her son had brought her from some old house in Texas or California or someplace.

"I almost just went ahead and did it," she said, "but then I thought, no, I had probably better ask them about it first."

Go for it, I told her. I have no other plans for that area.

And then I took the opportunity to offer the almost-apology that I've been thinking for so long.

"We're really not gardeners," I said, "and the yard is not always our top priority. So I really appreciate anything you want to do to make it nicer."

Mr. B&B smiled knowingly at this. Mrs. B&B continued prattling on about the bushes and the arch and how she felt like she needed to ask us first. I waved as I walked back to my house.

Two days later, the arch was up.

In other news
My brother-in-law Kenny is our new city commissioner. He was appointed to fill a vacated seat. This is somewhat weird for me.

Since I took this job, I've worked with Kenny occasionally, especially when he was president of the Chamber of Commerce last year. I mostly enjoyed having a family member around, even just to chat with before meetings.

The city commission, though, is going to be weird, I think. I'm going to have to present things at commission meetings and answer questions about grant projects and be professional, with my brother-in-law sitting up there.

I already told him, though, that he'd better be nice to me because I could easily begin circulating some unflattering family photos. Such as this self-portrait, which came about when I stupidly left my camera lying around at a family gathering.

And also
My niece Valerie made me a pillow for my birthday. She's learning to sew.

Check out her hand stitching: