Home Sweet Home! Be it ever so humble; there’s no place like home!! These are only a couple of phrases that come to mind when I think about my house. It doesn’t matter where you live, it’s very important to make that place your own. It doesn’t matter if you live in an apartment building, a ranch, a bungalow or a condo. Wherever you call home should feel like your sanctuary; your safe place to escape the demands of life’s responsibilities. It’s the one place in the world that you should be able to remove your protective armour and drop your guard in order to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labour. If you’ve had a hard day at work it’s wonderful to be able to come home to your very own piece of paradise. A place that reflects your personality through decorative touches, a place to gather loving family and friends for fabulous foods and memories in the making. A place where you can be totally yourself. A place to dance with no inhibitions and be silly. A place to hang your head and cry when bad news comes to visit. A place to form unbreakable bonds with the people who mean the most in your life. A home is a wonderful place to put down roots and create traditions with family. A loving home where one feels safe is sacred to me and I cannot rest easy if I sense danger nearby. It doesn’t matter where you lay your head at night as long as you have the peace and serenity of knowing that your home is your sanctuary. To achieve the many benefits of your home being and feeling like a sanctuary the first goal is to know and feel that your are safe inside your home.
But…what if you no longer feel safe in your home because of the constant intrusions from your neighbours who appear to be oblivious to the fact that you have the right to expect privacy? What if your neighbours run roughshod over boundaries with no regard to your legal rights as a property owner? What if your neighbour acts like you should be instant besties just because you live next to one another? What if the hair stands up on the back of your neck every time she speaks to you? What if she flirts with your husband and tries to treat him like he’s her new property manager because we live right beside her? What if the neighbours on both sides of your hours are obnoxious, nosy, and are related to each other? What if they decide to aggravate and harass you endlessly as a means of entertainment to each other? What do you do when your neighbours destroy private property and trespass? When do you say enough is enough and who do you get to help you in order to bring back peace and harmony into your life?
In order for all of this to make sense, let’s go back to the very beginning of this unending saga of annoying, chaotic and rude behaviour of our neighbours. It all started just over 10 years ago when we bought the house we are currently living in. I think it started off on a bad note when we found out (after we had already bought the house and had all our worldly belongings packed with nowhere else to go) that the young man before us had commit suicide in the garage. The house sent empty for almost a year after the owner had beed buried down the street from me in the cemetery at the end of my street. We moved into our new home at the end of November during a snowstorm. We hired a moving company to help us move our things to make the move quicker and easier on us physically. When we pulled into the driveway the wind was howling and the snow was falling heavily. We started unpacking the moving truck as quickly as possible in order to avoid any of our things getting wrecked. We weren’t in the driveway of our new home for even an hour before my son came to tell me that there was 2 old men inside of our garage looking around. I just couldn’t believe it! Who does that? And what did they want inside a garage that was clearly not theirs? I had my husband chase them off and watched where they went when they left. To my utter shock and dismay I watched them go into the house on the right of our new home. I went to the garage to see what they had been looking at when I was horrified to find that the car that the previous owner had killed himself in, was still in our garage. And like vultures circling the dead they were staring at in morbid curiosity.. That told me what kind of people we had just moved in next to. But I was determined that they would keep their distance now that they knew the house was occupied with new owners. Boy was I wrong, nothing could be further from the truth.
For the first few years I felt sorry tor the woman who lived there because her husband was so verbally abusive to her that I actually came to her defence a few times when I could hear him screaming and berating her while I was inside my house. We will call the man Fred and the woman Ethel. I had a few run-ins with Fred that first summer because he kept pushing his lawn mower up my driveway between my BMW and his house. At the time we had a Doberman who went ballistic every time Fred did this. Fred would yell and swear at my dog to shut up and I would tell him to get out my driveway to which he replied he couldn’t gain access to his yard on the other side because it was obstructed with a huge pile of junk. I told him in no uncertain terms that he needed to clean up his shit because I didn’t want him walking so close to my car with his lawnmower. Later that week a mysterious scratch showed up on the back of my car that looked like it had been done with a key. I had no proof so I had to let it go! Fred made every excuse and offer to gain access to our backyard but we refused his entry. Next, he tried to get close to our guard dog by asking if he could give her bones. Again, we said no. Our last house had been broken into a neighbour who lived a few houses down from us. It had happened in the middle of the day and my husband had come home to drop my daughter off when the neighbour across the street warned him that there was someone who was inside our little house. He went inside and held the loser who had shot up outside my daughter’s bedroom window before he broke in. So when we moved we were looking for a clean break.
We would often come home and find Ethel in our driveway or looking over the fence into our backyard. The final straw came when she cut big holes into our tree that blocked their view into our backyard. That very weekend my husband built a fence down our driveway on the property line and built a privacy screen to cover the whole from where Ethel had cut our tree. After that we never spoke to them or even made eye contact. Until one day when Fred came over and asked my husband if he would report him to the city if he decided to rebuild his backyard shed. He said he didn’t want to pay for the permits that the city requires. My husband just kind of brushed him off by saying as long as it isn’t near my property I don’t care what you did and never thought anything more about it. But ever since we put the fence up it sent a clear message that we were done with the games and drew the boundary lines that left no doubt that we would no longer tolerate any more intrusions from them.
This is the third summer that new neighbours moved in beside us on the left side. Turns out they are related to the horrible neighbours on our right. Great! I could hardly wait to see how this would play out, but I also wanted to keep an open mind as the new neighbours were about 25 years younger than their obnoxious neighbours. It didn’t take long for my new neighbour to annoy me. It was around 9pm one hot summer night when I was returning from walking my dog when all of a sudden a woman jumped out of the dark and called me out by name. My dog went into defence mode and started barking and snapping at her. But she just got louder and excited as she started rambling about how happy she was that I have a dog and that she would watch her anytime we wanted to go out or go away. The hairs stood up on the back of my neck. Something just didn’t seem right. I didn’t even know this woman’s name, we’d never been introduced and she was speaking to me in a very manic fashion. Her phoney niceness and pushiness was an instant turn-off for me. She asked if she could pet my dog and I said no, she is here to protect me and I don’t know you so I don’t want to give her the wrong signals. I don’t want her to trust someone I don’t even know. I then turned around and went inside my house, with my husband quickly following behind. I instantly had a gut feeling that this bitch was going to be a problem and that I needed to pay attention. A couple of weeks later another strange incident happened. While my husband was cutting the front lawn our new neighbour (we will call her Drunky) walked over to him with her arm in a sling and in a very slutty voice asked him if he could start her lawn mower because she had just had a shoulder surgery. Being sweet & naive my husband said I have to get something from inside and then I’ll be back shortly. When he came inside and relayed what had just happened I instantly thought her actions were not normal. How many woman approach a strange man and ask them to do them a favour? Especially wearing a sling because of surgery? I became angry and said, “can you not see that this woman is playing you?”. I said yes and it’s because she’s trying to manipulate you to cut her lawn for her. In spite of the fact that she had a man and her full-grown adult son living with her. I said, “now she will be coming over all the time”. My husband was in disbelief. But in less than 5 minutes she was banging on our door asking my husband what was taking him so long? As soon as he shut the door I looked at him and said, “see”? He never went back outside and we noticed she had moved onto another neighbour who was cutting her grass for her. After that she continued to talk in a little girl voice to him and call out to him over the fence and giving him compliments on how good the yard looked. Ironically, I’m the one who does all the gardening and yard work. I hadn’t even exchanged a hello with her man but here she was blatantly flirting with him. Not long after she TOLD me that she had TOLD my husband that she was going to be taking care of my rosebush since it was on the side of my house facing her front door. I put her in her place by telling her that it was my rosebush and that I would be taking care of my rosebush. She tried to debate it with me but I shut her down in a hurry. I didn’t even try to soften the blow. Anyone who knows me knows that I will not engage in drama and head games.
But, the bullshit just kept on coming. A couple of weeks later Drunky came over to tell my husband that we had a bees nest growing under our front porch and wanted to know if she could spray the nest in order to kill the bees? He explicitly told her that she could not and that he would take care of it later. Two days went by and my husband was working so he hadn’t gotten around to taking care of that bees nest. The next thing I knew I was sitting in my living room getting a headache because some very strong fumes were drifting into my living room window. I had been working on my laptop on the couch when I noticed something flying by my window. I got up and looked out the window in time to see a man heavily spraying poison all over my front porch. This went on every 20 minutes until I went outside and silently sat down on a chair and started reading a book. The next time Drunky’s friend came down the driveway to spray my front porch, he stopped abruptly when he saw me and ran back to the group gathering next door. I called my husband and told him what was happening. He came home in time to see Drunky getting married in her back yard so he kept his distance in a respectful manner. The next week when he went over and broached the subject of destruction of private property her man (we will call him Cleatus) softly backed down and demurred that their friend should not have done such a thing. But, my husband did not let them off that easy. He told them that they were responsible for the actions of their guests and their actions were not cool at all and couldn’t happen again. Cleatus agreed.
When the had that big snowstorm at the end of this past winter, part of our old rickety fence had fallen down. It was old and ugly and whoever had built it must have been related to Homer Simpson. We discussed different solutions and I was adamant not to have a wooden fence, for several reasons. First, they look like garbage after 2 years unless you paint or stain them every couple of years. I was not willing to do that. Also, we had been growing hedges and trees and would not see the fence anyway. So, as soon as the snow melted my husband started planting fence poles for the new Frost fence we had decided to put up. Cleatus had the audacity to come over and ask my husband why he had decided against a wooden fence. At the same time, he never made an offer to contribute to the costs of a fence at all. So my husband told him his reason was that they were ugly and he preferred this type. Drunky was enraged. We could hear her yelling and screaming about how she wanted a wooden fence. To make matters worse, my husband had hired a surveyor to locate the property line and when he erected the new fence, we took back 3 feet of our property that they had paved over. Another thing my husband pointed out to Cleatus, who once again deflected all blame to the paving company. Now the funny thing is that while Drunky thoroughly enjoyed surveying our property from her perch on her back deck and watching and copying everything I did; she certainly did not like the new unobstructed view I now had of her backyard. So within a week Cleatus built a privacy screen that was an exact replicate of the one my husband had built 2 years before. I could’t care less. The less I see of her face the better. Not to mention having to inhale her stinky cigarettes as she chain smokes.
Shortly thereafter my husband installed an old-fashioned lamppost atop the stump from the evergreen that had died and we had had to have removed. It was so beautiful and thoughtful of my sweet, loving husband. But the very next day Cleatus approached my husband and demanded to know what he was trying to prove with the new lights. My husband responded that he liked it. Cleatus informed my husband (we will call him Teddy) that we were pissing a lot of people off with our new lamppost. By the way, it’s on a timer that shuts off at midnight. Teddy even replaced the bulbs with low wattage as a courtesy. However, that wasn’t good enough for Drunky, so they proceeded to install a 20 foot long storage container delivered and placed right beside my new fence in front of their garage, in order to block all light from my lamppost. But she quickly learned that this only congested her parking situation since there is 6 vehicles on that one property.
Meanwhile, I was extremely frustrated with Drunky’s cat coming into our yard and crapping in my gardens and shedding all over my outside furniture. And his presence was attracting the other male cats to come around spraying my doors and car tires, making the inside of my home smell like a full littler box even though I don’t have a cat. So I called the bylaw office and reported her cat for roaming at large. She was paid a visit by the bylaw officer and informed of the penalties and fines she would face if her cat was not kept indoors or on a leash. I believe this is when she became vindictive and revealed her true colours.
Yesterday a city worker knocked on my door, went into my backyard and then next door into Drunky’s backyard. I don’t answer the door to a strange male, I don’t care who he represents. I’ve watched way to many episodes of Forensic Files and spent 4 years studying Criminal Psychology & Behaviour to take any chances. Today the Fire Chief paid a visit to my door and again I didn’t answer the door but called my husband at work to tell him of the latest updates. I was at the Pharmacy when my husband showed up to tell me what he had learned about our visitors. First, he got a return call from the man from the Enforcement Department at City Hall who laughed and said that the complaint was about our fence being unsafe and falling down. He said he did an inspection and there was nothing wrong and that is why he never left us any paperwork. Next, Teddy heard from the Fire Chief who said he had received a complaint about our lamppost being a fire hazard because it was plugged in by an extension cord. Again, my husband was told that there was nothing wrong or illegal with anything we were doing and to just keep an eye on plugs because they can wear down and cause problems.
Although I was relieved that Drunky’s attempt at retaliation had backfired I was still annoyed because I think she is willing to get herself in trouble just to even the score in her head. So, my hero, my Teddy he took the initiative all on his own to stop at the police station and just ask some questions and get some advice about what to do to protect ourselves. The officer was incredibly helpful and friendly to my husband. He took a full report and said not to worry about anything and to just keep on being happy. My husband said he just wanted them to be aware that if our house or garage mysteriously burns down or gets broken in or vandalized that it’s those neighbours to the left of us. Drunky and Cleatus.
I miss the tree and the flowers that Drunky has killed in my front garden and it’s cost a lot of money and time trying to get that garden to heal after all of the toxic been spray chemicals that was poured into the dirt; but tonight is the first night in a long time that I will feel safe in my sanctuary. I don’t care what my neighbours do on their property. I only ask that I get the same respect for privacy that I have always given them. I don’t even want to be civil and wave or acknowledge their presence now because they’ve shown us time and again that if you give them an inch, they take a mile. If they weren’t my neighbours we certainly wouldn’t be friends and I think they are finally starting to realize that we did not come with the sale of their house. As for Drunky, it won’t take long for those in authority to realize that she is a public nuisance with no basis or merit to her claims and we all know what happened to the little boy who cried wolf.
There’s a series on cable TV called Fear Thy Neighbour. It portrays true stories of feuding neighbours who assault or kill. It is something to be taken seriously. So, don’t ever just hand over your trust to anyone, even a neighbour, even if they seem sickening sweet and innocent. Always have others earn your trust, especially where you live or work. After all, these are people you are going to have to see on a regular basis. In my opinion it’s better to be cautious like the old saying, it’s better to be safe than sorry. And remember the other old saying my Italian relatives always say, “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer”. Wise words to live by!