Thursday, August 21, 2008

Have I got neighbors?

This is the front lawn of our home (a half twin we share with another family). Recently our neighbors put up some new "lawn ornaments" -- a surveyor's stake and two no tresspassing signs on the line between our adjoining properties. The signs face our side of the building -- they're hard to see in this photo, but in real life it's rather jarring. "What's up with that?" you might ask...

The saga of the signs
Last Sunday afternoon, I returned home from the barn to find a policeman at our door. When I saw the uniform, my heart stopped. My step-son, who was driving up to see us via the turnpike that afternoon, was late. Car wreck. I thought. The policeman, whose name I later learned was Sandy, looked very subdued. Was he here to deliver bad news? Horrible news? Oh, God. "Is it an emergency?" I sqeaked? "Oh, no!" he assured me. "I can come back later, but I need to speak to your husband." Bob was in the back yard picking weeds. I let the policemen in the door and ran to retrieve my husband.
What would a law enforcement officer want with us? It turns out, our next door neighbor Victor has summoned the police. We have been accused of trespassing. Why? Because when Bob mowed our postage-stamp sized lawn, he curved the mower around a tree and trespassed onto their property by perhaps one foot. This infringement deeply troubled Victor, and apparently the neighbors heard him voicing his concerns -- on volume 10 -- to his wife. Bob wears ear protection when mowing, and he was mowing the back yard during our neighbor's high-volume solilioquy. So while we were surprised by the police visit, the rest of the neighborhood was not.

Our brush with the law
Sandy looked pained as he explained our infraction, and apologized for intruding into our afternoon. He was embarrassed, and I was embarrassed for him. Who would trouble our men in blue over something like this? Sandy seemed to want some background on our neighbor relations. To be honest, we don't interact with Victor and his family much, and when we do he's actually pretty pleasant. Victor's grievances are relayed to us by police, other neighbors, zoning officials, or animal control. Victor called animal control last year when he noticed our cat sitting on his fence. The animal control guy (also apologetic) said he would need to fine us if he was called a second time. That's when Bob screened in our back porch to create a 12X12 outdoor cat cage. We have cat toys and cat perches and logs and cat scratchers. Our cats love it.

This kind of thing comes and goes. Stress in Victor's life seems to precipitate incidents, either with with us or other neighbors. At the moment, our Victor and his wife are remodelling, and it seems to be causing family friction. One overhears things when one lives in proximity to others. Saturday, I heard shrieking voices and doors slamming next door, on and off, all afternoon. Sunday Bob mowed the lawn and the police came.

It's the neighborly thing to do...
At least we are not singled out. Any neighbor doing an addition to their home or re-paving their driveway can expect Victor will call the township to find out if there is a permit on file, or to complain about noise. Sandy offered some perspective. It seems every town has one or two of these folks. A little crazy, a little too much time on their hands. We happen to live next door to someone who is unusually concerned with territory -- which is odd and unfortunate in a tightly packed neighborhood. Sandy offered to call the zoning officer for us and to assist us in documenting the problems we've had with Victor. We didn't jump at the chance but maybe we should.

Oh, back to the signs -- the ones in the picture above. I got home last night and saw the two signs and the stake with the neon ribbon on it. Victor had a surveyor out to establish the property line between our two half-twins (the seam on the house was apparently insufficient). The stake is result of the surveyor's work, and Victor told one of our neighbors the stake and the signs will remain there to delineate the property line. Last night, for the first time ever, Bob spoke of moving. But what would prospective buyers think of these signs? He is at a loss.

My reaction? Oh, well, so we live next door to a family straight from central casting. At least I can blog about it....


  1. Interesting but not too surprising. There are always some of those in every neighborhood. We've had our share and it does bring up questions as to why would these people want to live in a suburb so close to other people if they are territorial? I think it feeds an inner issue to be in control, to establish some sort of dominance over your fellow neighbor and quite possibly just too much time and frustation.. Interesting outlet though.

  2. Wow, that is just ridiculous. I still live in an apartment, and I dream of having my own house where I no longer have to deal with obnoxious neighbors. But I guess this is proof that moving into a house doesn't always free you from having inconvenient people next door!

  3. Wow. Just Wow. I'll take my apartment building any day over a neighbor like that. Some people just don't have enough important stuff to worry about.

    I'd start keeping an eye on them and find stuff to complain about if they put the smallest toe out of line and see how they like it - but I wouldn't want to do that to the poor cops who have real jobs to do. Ah well. It' s a nice thought.

  4. We used to live in a Condo and the neighbor was Guido, I understand I understand. He made life miserable, it was the happiest day ever when we sold that place.
    I used to plot his demise and do things that I knew made him crazy for shear pleasure.

  5. Heh, heh, "At least I can blog about it..."

    At Cafe Press they have t-shirts that say "Be careful or I'll put you in my novel" and "I'll base a character on you and kill him off."...but Viktor would probably take that ss a threat.

    V.possibly suffers from a neurological condition that makes him obsess unnecessarily, like Bipolar Disorder or Obsessive-Compulsive DIsorder, maybe Anxiety. As you point out, these things flare when he is under stress, like renovating his house (which is one of the most stressful things a couple can do, apparently).

    Where I live, in TUrkey, they say, "When you buy a house, you buy the neighbors."

    I was looking at my blog logs and saw a couple of people form here visited my exciting work blog for thesis editing. You can visit my personal blog (Which has horses!) at

    This three day weekend is the Balkan Dressage Championships here in Istanbul. So excited!!

  6. I had a near neighbor like that , he hated the horses and would make sure that he wouldn't move over in the lane if we where going riding by.
    He Died of a Heart attack aged 57 years brought on by stress no doubt!

  7. I had a near neighbor like that , he hated the horses and would make sure that he wouldn't move over in the lane if we where going riding by.
    He Died of a Heart attack aged 57 years brought on by stress no doubt!

  8. KatieK,

    Are you the one who mentioned youtube was blocked where you live? I looked up a list of countries and turkey was on it.

    You nailed it about Vic--he does not work due to the kind of problems you mention -- not a well person.

  9. Kitty Bo, that is the other consoling thought I have when I encounter a difficult person -- "It could be worse, I could be married to him."

    Bless your heart!

  10. I'm sorry, but LMAO, the signs are so stupid it's hilarious... I love your attitude about it... but maybe you should call the police on their yelling and slamming doors, gosh, what a bunch of freaks.

  11. Wow-- that is LOADS of blog fodder right there for you!

    Which also, actually, is why I have attained my Golden Hermit Status! I have no neighbors. And I LIKE it like that!

    Wishing the same for you there. Or at least in time a neighbor who is SANE!

  12. OMGosh--so incredibly awful! So sorry. How about some cookies and a shocked-face apology--unless it would just make him feel more empowered. (Even though I don't consider you wrong, sometimes the "giant" can be brought down by kindness.) At least you would always be able to say you were appropriate--I hate avoiding the badly-behaved person--it just makes them think they're "okay". Like you said--at least you aren't married to him.

  13. So much for "love thy neighbor"! I like my (condo) neighbors, but the husband always slams their door, which rattles everyone's door on our floor (yes that hard). I never said anything--didn't want to strain neighbor relations. Then two weeks ago, they had a baby, and now the door slamming has stopped. Funny that. But unfortunately, I don't see your situation changing much.


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