Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Sue's nice blog about me on "Replete Life" last night made me think I ought to write about neighbors, because I am so lucky to have good ones. I've lived in this house 15 or 16 years. When I first moved in the house to the west of me was occupied by an eccentric and lonely old man, but the previous owners of my house gave me to undertand that if I reached out to him, he would be mine to raise. So I was never as charitable as my instinct would have me be, but I found it true. Once when he was mugged, I went to the corner to see what happened, saw him standing, talking to the ambulance and police people, and went back home. Next day, he was on my porch, saying he wanted to tell me all about it, it was a long story. "Could you give me the short version?" I stammered. I once asked him to throw my paper on the porch when I was out of town and thereafter he threw it every day, often hitting and demolishing the plants in my pots and planter boxes. When he died, Susan and Jay bought the house--the first time I saw Jay in a stained T-shirt I asked if he was my new neighbor's contractor, and he said, "I am your new neighbor." Oops! They have become such good friends, and both are good about looking after me. Jay does small household chores, like changing lightbulbs I can't reach--once when he came to do that, Jordan said, "Oh, here comes the handyman!"

On the other side, when I moved in, the owners lived there with small children who used to stand in our shared driveways (right by my bedroom) at 6 a.m. on Saturdays and scream, "Daddy, Daddy!" They moved out and rented to a 30-40-ish couple who had two dogs; one, Grant, part wolf, used to howl all the time, and I would rise out of bed saying "Grant, G--dammit!" until my kids laughed and said that was his name. The next tenants were a woman who never ever came out of the house--I suspected she had anxiety problems and wanted to offer to help, but they were so unsociable that I put that thought aside. He had a homemade-looking camper from which he sold golf balls. As one friend said to me, "But, Judy, what's in the golf balls?" And the first time Jamie saw the camper in the driveway, he said, "Oh, Mom, I am so sorry!" The man's worst habit was that he would get a fast-food drink and when he got home just throw the paper cup in the bushes. They also let their recycling bin overflow, so the driveway looked awful. Megan said, "Mom, you don't have to live that way," so I called the landlord and complained. Then came three series of college students--some noisy, some considerate, some very friendly. I did call the police one weeknight when they had a big party in the backyard and started karioke at 11 p.m. I didn't want to get them in trouble--I just wanted them to be quiet. I wasn't the only one who called.

Then my neighbor across the street told me a divorced mother with two young children was moving in. I groaned, thinking of noisy children, but Alex and Hunter are a delight. They were soon in and out of my house, especially when my Frisco granddaughters were here, and were very familiar with my refrigerator. To this day, they call me Juju as my grandchildren do. And Sue, their mother, is a true delight and a good friend--we drink a lot of wine and talk about life, men (she's more interested than I am), books, and food on long summer evenings.

And the four of us--me, Jay, Susan, and Sue--have become like a small social unit, often sharing drinks or dinner, though almost always on my porch. It is so wonderful to have good neighbors and to know that I can count on them in times of trouble. I am blessed.

A problem with Kindle: the last two books I posted abut, The School of Essential Ingredients and Justice at Guantanamo, turned out to be ones I want in m private library. I asked Megan for Kristine's book for my birthday and ordered a used copy of the other "in new condition."

And a problem with Weight Watchers: the last two days, in spite of having done so well last week, I have really cut into my bonus points, though I would tell you I ate lightly. A veggie sandwich at lunch today did me in because it had cheese and avocado, even though I didn't eat the bread; tuna nicoise tonight was also more points than I needed, and when I added a couple of glasses of wine, there I was over my limit. My most low-point meal: smoked salmon, hearts of palm, grape tomatoes, and either raspberries or blueberries. But that can get monotonous. Who would ever thought I'd get tired of smoked salmon?

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