I saw the neighbors’ woodchuck shuffling around in our backyard in an amble that also caused every sparrow in the world to fly away from our bird feeder. Also, if you’re missing a sparrow, it’s probably flying back to you after visiting our bird feeder this afternoon.
Saw they’ve got the kid-size car righted and standing on the edge of the patio, so it looks like they had no trouble getting things sorted out with the Kiddie Car Insurance people and finding a reliable Kiddie Mechanic. I wonder if they went to the place on the corner with the quietly despairing signs. Well, it’s still good to see they have that fixed. I hope they’re having fun.
Their woodchuck was unavailable for comment.
I do not envy the neighbors today, because I see that the kiddie-size car was flipped over on its back. I don’t know how it happened, but I know how stressful and exhausting it is to deal with the Kiddie Car Insurance Agency. I hope they can get through the trouble all right. I feel like I should offer them a hug or bake them a cake or something.
They’ve got a woodchuck living in their yard! An actual woodchuck, all ready to come over and chuck some wood if they would. On top of all the other stuff they’ve got going on, they’re also going to be able to run their very own early-end-of-winter forecasts? That’s just too much, right? Why can’t we have a woodchuck living in our yard? We’ve got a great yard, it’s got a fence that really annoyed the other neighbors, and we’ve got this squirrel feeder that we found a real live worried mouse in the other day, and a goldfish pond, and a bunch of perennials that I can’t tell apart but that have names that sound like the butler in some low-effort 1930s cozy mystery movie series starring a reformed cat burglar, like, “Astilbe” and “Yarrow” and “Fescue” and stuff. And they get a woodchuck. I just can’t.
Like, I guess, everybody except the people at the end of the world we have neighbors. One set of ours has some fun stuff in the backyard. One of those trampolines like you see as one-bid prizes on The Price Is Right. A little canvas tent to make sunny summer afternoons pleasant to lounge in. A bunch of kid toys, little plastic slides, child-size cars, tetherballs, you know, stuff. Apart from the days each of these pieces were brought in, though, they’ve never used them. Now, I’ve told you all about how much I don’t how to have fun myself. But I can recognize signs of fun in other people. And now it’s got me worried that the fun that I’m not having is of a lower quality than the fun that the neighbors are not having. I don’t see any way out of this unless they have another trampoline party.
I’d like to get back to the American Face Brick Association’s writing, but it was more important to discuss the kitchen light. I think you find it a welcome break from the world to hear about we haven’t been able to see what’s spilled on the counter. It seems to have been … molasses? Which … we … don’t have? We have no idea how this came about.
So the trouble was that the warp core inside our light fixture broke, scattering space and time and also not illuminating anything anymore. We couldn’t fix the problem, because of this frosted glass dome cover held on by three metallic clips. With our own mechanical ingenuity exhausted we called an electrician. And, I admit now that we’ve seen how to remove the glass dome we feel foolish having needed an expert for it. But without seeing how to do it how would we have known? The answer is to use a good, dependable fold-out ladder to get close to the ceiling, then smash the glass dome with a sledge hammer, and throw the pieces over the fence into the yard of the neighbor we’re fighting with. Let me tell you, I’m not looking forward to the time we aren’t fighting with any of our neighbors! And also have a burned-out kitchen light.
And it turns out the burned-out warp core was actually a halogen light bulb. The electrician offered to replace the light fixture, if we had a new light fixture, because those are getting hard to come by. A couple hours later while I was at Meijer’s for a separate light-bulb-related fiasco I discovered they have two-packs of halogen light bulbs for eight bucks. So maybe we should tell the electricians that or something.
So we put in the new bulb and the new glass dome. And that’s worked great. The space-time rift that was swallowing up coins reversed itself. We found, like, $4.74 in loose change that we’d dropped and heard hit the floor but never saw again. This included a Denver-mint American Samoa quarter, so, I hear you but don’t be jelly. We’ve also found so many dropped pills. Redemption tickets to the Fascination parlor off Morey’s Pier in Wildwood, New Jersey. Long-disappeared previous inhabitants of the house. “Has … has World War II ended? Did we win?” asked one. I asked, “Which World War II? World War II I, or World War II II?” He slugged me. Fair enough. In retrospect, that was a mean and baffling joke, the kind of thing more appropriate for a 90s web comic. I list it here to work out my shame.
Also the new bulb is 300 Watts and let me tell you, that’s bright. The previous bulb turned out to be 150 Watts and it was maybe going before it broke altogether. This, though? It’s brilliant. It’s bright enough to shine around corners. It’s so bright we can see what’s in the refrigerator without even opening the door. Dozens of house centipedes (don’t do an image search) have come out, raising upwards of 26 arms each, begging for mercy and unfortunately reminding us we have house centipedes. It turns out that I have a weird, secondary liver, and not even in my abdomen. Last night we had three people come over to ask if this was the drive-in theater. We didn’t have the nerve to say “it is now!”
We do feel a little bad about using a 300 Watt bulb to light less than one city block, yes. If there’s an LED equivalent I’d switch over to that. The trouble is finding an LED equivalent. What would be as bright but not intensely wasteful and hot? We can’t match it by talking about Watts. But it turns out that every other method of measuring brightness doesn’t work. Like, there’s the candela, which is a larger candle tuned to one perfect-fifth below. But two things can be the exact same candela and each somehow look twice as bright as the other. Then there’s the “lux”, which is short for the “Pop-u-luxe” or, as it’s known outside the Midwest, the “Soda-u-luxe”. This measures how well the thing is fringed by a swoopy, ideally neon fixture with chrome plating. There is no need for this. There is the “lumen”, which measures how ominous a thing you can’t quite see yet is. The more lumens, the more you can’t quite see it coming. This does nothing to help you tell how bright it is.
For now we’re just going to see things in the kitchen but feel bad about it. This is as best as we could hope for, really. Thank you for your concern.
I had been figuring to continue my talk about alarming things. I mean alarming to me. And particularly about things alarming to a wakeful mind that’s as rational as you get around here. Then I went and slept. If we accept that dreams can be warnings of what we must face, then I’m up for something big soon.
For this dream alarm to make any sense at all I should tell you we haven’t met our new neighbors. All we know about them is that they maybe exist. We’re not sure. The house next door is a rental. Sometimes we’ve had great neighbors. Like the ones who were pointing out the adorably silly look of this kitten’s tail, and said someday they’d bring us a pie from work. Those were great neighbors, everything you could hope for. They never even did bring us pie and that’s fine. We were happy to be thought worthy of pie delivery.
But that was a long time ago, and different renters have come in, and left, a couple times over. We’re sure that the last set of renters left. We noticed them less and less, then we noticed we didn’t notice them at all, and that’s how someone leaves, right? We’re not completely sure there’s new ones there, though. The evidence for is that someone goes in and leaves lights on, and there’s sometimes a car in the driveway at some implausible hour like 4 am. The evidence against is there’s not a curtain in the entire building and we dont see furniture either. But someone’s gone raking leaves there. It has to be at least someone who knows what they want out of the place. The point is that I don’t know our neighbors, if we have them. Any interactions we’d have with them would be our first, as far as I know.
So the dream scenario starts with me in the dining room, puttering away on the computer, probably writing this essay only even later. And then looking out the back to see that something’s knocked over part of the fence. This would be very annoying to have to deal with, so I did not. At least not until I looked again later and saw the whole fence was gone. That would be a problem I couldn’t ignore, which is why I did. And before you get all smug about how you’d be more active about this let me point out that you’re a lying liar who’s lying to yourself, by whom I mean me. If someone came in and stole your backyard fence you’d do anything to not deal with that too.
Which is fine except that a couple minutes later, I saw that the neighbor’s house was gone. More, all the houses down the block were gone, replaced with what looked like the clubhouse for one of those golf courses they make retirement communities out of these days. This annoyed me since we have some pleasantly old houses in the neighborhood, getting on a hundred years now, and they might be utterly ordinary Dutch Colonial things but there’s value in having an ordinary neighborhood in kind-of respectable shape. Plus it’s ridiculous to put in a golf clubhouse without a golf course. But on most of what had been the neighbors’ driveway was now a pool.
Recounting this makes me realize that if the neighbors’ driveway had been replaced with a pool, then there’d be no good place to put the ladder for when I change the storm windows out for screens in spring. Our houses are close together and we use the neighbor’s driveway under the well-established legal principle of “I dunno, we’ll do this in the middle of the afternoon when they’re probably at work, if they exist”. That I was not worrying about how to take the storm windows down should have warned me that I was not in my rational mind. Whatever conclusions you draw about me, as a person, from knowing that self-assessment, are correct.
Anyway I was willing to put up with the neighborhood going missing and the fence being stolen, especially with the nice fountains spraying out of the ponds. This until I felt the water spraying on my back. Now the walls of our dining room were gone and I had to say something. I knew that our neighbor was responsible, somehow, and also knew who our neighbor was, and got a bit shout-y. The neighbor tried to point out that he’d left many of the walls in our house intact. Plus now we had the benefits of a covered patio for our dining room, which didn’t satisfy me because I was thinking of the heating bill. “Where do you get the nerve to STEAL our BUILDING WALLS”, I shouted. As I remember I put in the word “building” in order to make clear I was not this upset about the fence going missing, in case someone would mistake a wooden fence for a wall. And I wanted “building’s” but couldn’t make that work.
Also, and this is a real thing that really happened for real, in reality, I was yelling loudly enough in my dream that I was also saying this in real life, waking up my love. After listening a while to find out where this was going, my love woke me up. This was disorienting, and then I realized: oh, yes. Realizing that all this was a dream answered most of my questions about the situation I was in.
Anyway, if all this is a harbinger of the relationship we’re to have with our neighbors, if and when they exist, I think we must say they are very alarming neighbors indeed. I shall have to insist on actual pie delivery before they swipe any walls.
It looks like that sign in the neighbor’s front door is gone. Now I’ll never know what precisely the thing that wasn’t any of my business was. I mean, I know the general gist. It means there’s been a breakthrough, and they’ve come to an agreement about whose job it is to make sure all the car keys are put in the dishwasher, and there’ve been enough shows of goodwill and success on a probationary period that people trust this can be done. But how am I going to know what exactly the flash point was? I mean besides by ever talking to any of them, ever.
Yes, I believe strongly in minding my own business and letting people deal with their own stuff unless they say they want me coming in messing things up. But it’s sorely tempted since I noticed someone’s taped an 8½-by-11 page with close, tight writing on the neighbor’s front door. I mean, yeah, probably it doesn’t indicate anything more than that talks have completely broken down over the issue of who is supposed to take the recycling bin to the curb on which days, and who is supposed to bring it back the next day after the truck has collected it, Ron, after. But what if it’s something really exciting, like there’s a new policy about when new orange juice will be made from concentrate or a memorandum regarding how many articles of clothing may be tossed into the laundry chute at once without jamming it? How am I supposed to live as though that’s none of my business either?
I know this will get me in trouble but I have to say something. It’s fall here. That’s not the part I expect to get in trouble about. The problem is the leaves. There’s leaves falling all around the neighborhood in about the right amounts. Three houses up the street the leaves are a tidal pool eight feet deep, rustling only as someone drives the car to the detached garage, with tethered rowboats bringing people from the garage to the main house. It’s like that all around. Except at our house, and the neighbor’s. Here we’ve just got little scatterings of leaves, not even enough to run the lawn mower over. I don’t know where the leaves are and why they’re not here. But I know this isn’t going to last either. It’s ominous, that’s what it is.
Text and other stuff, like spaces in-between text, that I didn’t make use of in June 2016. Please feel free to take what you can use if you know a better home for it. If you know a worse home, don’t tell me about that, it’s depressing and wasn’t June enough of a problem?
we all want to go viral while staying the unique special discovery of our readers — cut from my open letter to every social media ever. It’s a pretty snappy line and fits with so much of the flow of that. But I thought of it in the shower the morning I had that essay scheduled to post. I made sure to remember to add it in. I swore to myself I was going to add it in the moment I got on my computer. I next thought of it the Sunday afterward while driving to a competitive pinball event in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I do not blame Grand Rapids for this. Also I was right by where the alleged rather large piece of coal was yesterday and I didn’t think to go exploring.
Not yet! — cut from my response to the little girl from a couple houses down that just moved in the neighborhood. She’s nice and friendly and asked if I lived in the house I was always hanging around which is a fair enough question. And I mentioned I’d moved in just four years ago that Tuesday and she was awestruck and asked me if I was old. And I cut that from my answer because I didn’t think of it until like two days later. I suppose I could just tell people that’s what I answered and that would do for most anecdote purposes but then what if someone asked me how she answered? The lie would be exposed for what it was and I’d look terrible. But this is probably usable by someone who’s writing a wholly fictional anecdote could use this after all.
Ghostbusters became a thoroughly enjoyed icon of pop culture despite the warning that it was a years-in-development labor of love by Dan Aykroyd. — yeah, I pulled it back out of April’s scraps file because thought I could do something with it. And no, it’s not working. But I did get to digging around some old Starlog magazines from archive.org. I found some fascinating trivia about the making of Nothing But Trouble‘s production. Also I have to visit 1990 and punch some entitled nerds, mercifully none of them me.
and you betray what you spent ten years telling me were your most cherished ideals with your faithful re-creation of every bullying dynamic that made middle school a festering boil of agony and cruelty — yeah, so that reconciliation letter isn’t really getting any better. I don’t even know anymore. I’m sure there must be some value in writing it since otherwise I waste the four hours each night I spend staring at the dark ceiling composing fresh drafts, right?
but any reasonable person would agree the experience of the Majel Barrett “Number One” casting myth and the mutations in the famous Nichelle-Nicols/Martin-Luther-King-Junior story justify my asking how exactly we are supposed to know what the common lore tells us — cut from a TrekBBS forum thread arguing about whether the space shuttle Enterprise really had been slated to be named Constitution before the Trekkies put in a letter-writing campaign. I am confident the official story that the orbiter was to be named in honor of the US Constitution’s bicentennial is so obviously wrong that Bugs Meany wouldn’t try to pass it off. And furthermore I’m sure the preponderance of evidence is that NASA had no plans to name any orbiters before the Trimble/Hoagland campaign. But dear lord I am arguing when exactly NASA had the idea to name a space shuttle ‘Enterprise’ and complaining about the shortage of primary documentation on the subject in a Star Trek forum what is wrong with me?. Also I haven’t been back since. But I’ve been busy.
whatever happened to that book about competitive fox-hurtling — cut because I lost the name of it so now I just sound like I’m making up stuff by asking.
Lesser Pompous Lakes, All Residential Neighborhoods, 6:30 – 8:30 pm: All residents are requested to go to their windows and look up and down the block to identify the most petty things their neighbors are doing that still annoy them. Get some sheets of paper and write these things down, then wad the papers up around rubber erasers and after ten or fifteen minutes go out and throw these things at the relevant neighbors. Meanwhile in the confusion a small squad of pranksters from South Lesser Pompous Lakes will be able to sneak in to City Hall and leave the cow. No don’t write that part in the e-mail to the newspaper, Jeremy. No, it isn’t funny to pretend we’re going to tell them why we’re doing it, now delete it before you hit send