Pure, unadulterated loathing.
Neighbor hate.
Smile-between-clenched-teeth-as-they-wave-hello-and-curse-your-mother’s-name-under-their-breath, neighbor hate. Feels like home, four years and still their contempt grows, really it’s hers, but I know in order to survive her acquiescent husband has to agree or incur her wrath.

We have a history of confounding and enraging our neighbors. No longer content to piss the neighbors off with our flagrant disregard for the city wide ban of overnight on-street parking we’ve taken it another step. Oh yes, we may have moved our cars to the driveway by golly, but that doesn’t mean we are through terrorizing our neighbors with our mad shenanigans. I can hear the furious screech of Bic pen on angel notepad now, as the grumpy muppet next door scrawls another of our egregious shortcomings to her list of reasons to hate us, right beneath:

Don’t walk their dog three times a day
Neglect their yard
Never around to kvetch.

Let me just take a moment and show you what has got her spitting mad. Our back porch, admittedly less than perfect, still a far cry from some I’ve seen.

She asked us once if the door was broken, I answered that it was not, but that I had a rock wedging it open for ease of passage. By the frozen look on her face, pain behind fake smile, it was clear she would have preferred that I open and close the door rather than have it propped open. About a week ago we pounded stakes into the ground to map out a deck.

She craned and peeked, but never said anything. We spent an entire day ripping up sod and carting it out bag by bag to the curb. She stayed cool, never saying anything, but making frequent trips to the fence to pet our dog and slyly scrutinize the yard from beneath her bangs.

Then we bought a palette of stone and hossed it piece by heavy piece from the truck to the side yard.

She gawked and pointed each time she left the house, which is approximately every 30 minutes for little seven minutes trips to who knows where. Finally it was more than she could take and she asked what we were building.

“A patio,” we said.

“You kids! It’ll look great.” I was perplexed by the kids part, perhaps exasperation that we were working? It wasn’t until we rolled in the shrubbery and it was clear that we intended to fashion some sort of plantlife screen that we really got ’em good’n pissed off.

My next morally reprehensible act had her trembling with rage behind the curtain – I let the girls eat popsicles and snacks from a sack while sitting on the bench shirtless and in diapers.

Doubting she really judged? This is the woman who once said,

“Amanda? Could ya please ask Sean not to call ya man? I mean man? Why can’t he cawl you aman or n’da. Man just isn’t right, you’re a woman. I hate hearin’ him say it.”

Still doubt that she’s peeping and opining? She also snitched on a family member of mine who was visiting,

“Didja know she’s smoking? When ya leave she comes out and smokes.” Shaking her head in that what a shame kind of way, she watched my face the whole time to see if I flinched. No dice, lady. I’m stronger than you. Which is why on a pouring Fourth of July I was out toiling with hammer in hand.

We spent the entire day cutting decking and pounding nails. The next afternoon we rolled out the landscaping fabric, arranged stone and filled gaps with sand. (I also spent a fair amount of time salivating over the hotness that is my handy and strapping husband-purrrrrr)

Then, feeling frisky and slightly combative, I dressed the girls in party frocks and let them play in the dirt, all the while continuing to munch from sacks.

After a solid week of busting our asses and being snubbed by our neighbors, we discovered we were a palette shy of the necessary stones to cover the ground (and no, I did not waste stones by throwing them at the angry muppet…ok, maybe one might have found its way over the fence.)

I took this picture to kid myself into thinking we had no more heavy lifting to do under the hateful averted gaze of our neighbors.

Alas, there is much more to do.

And just so you understand, I am 5 feet 10 inches tall and I have the feet to match. A horrifying-when-I-was-younger-but-I’m-ok-with-it-now size 10. Check out the size of the rocks compared to my feet.

So, forgive me for not writing, I’ve been busy, but I have to say, my chapped, torn up and bruised fingers are so very happy to be back. This is much better than childishly flipping my neighbors the bird.