Monday, November 7, 2011

Neighbors as future characters

Psst...my comment system, Intense Debate, has taken another dump on my blog. Several of you have reported you can't leave comments. I'm sorry, not the least of why because I love comments and also it must be hugely frustrating not to be able to leave one, and if it doesn't get fixed soon I'm going to uninstall again. Grrr. Please let me know if you're still having trouble -- tweet to me or drop me a line (sierra [at] sierragodfrey.com).

We have some really great neighbors on our street. It's a nice mix of long time residents and newer families who've moved in. My next-door neighbors have been in their house 40 years and they're dears. They refer to e-mail as “the stuff that comes through the Internet.” But they're dears, even their two massive, Cujo-lookalike pitbulls that they keep in their backyard. The pitbulls aren't dears, but their barking helps ward of burglars, and we benefit from the close-proximity barking in that respect. Silver lining.

Anyway, in our area there has been a spate of earthquakes lately (and all over the country). Like, two 4.0s in a single day, and then lots of other smaller but still uncomfortable aftershocks. We live near the Hayward Fault and they say (whoever “they” is; I like to think it’s city officials, but this somehow rarely seems to be the case) that it blows every 140 years. Okay, blows is a bit…explosive. What I mean, is, 6.0 or higher earthquake. And we’re like five years overdue or something. So many of us are rightly turning our attention to earthquake preparedness. (In fact my friend Meghan Ward is going to have an AWESOME earthquake preparedness post for you very soon if not today!--will update with link when she posts it) And none more so than my neighbors.

The other day one of their fugly pit bulls was barking repeatedly. I opened the door all set to give the dog a piece of my mind* . But the dog was only barking because my neighbor was out there doing weird things to his trashcan.

“What are you doing?” I asked over the fence. “What’s all that noise about?”

My neighbor gave me a weird smile, kind a cross between the Joker and a Jack-O-Lantern.

“Preparing for an earthquake!”

I looked pointedly at the barking dog.

“He gets excited when I clean,” my neighbor said. “I’m cleaning out our trash cans.”

“For an earthquake?” I asked.

“Yes. Shoring up our earthquake kits,” he said. “How’s the baby doing?”

“He’s trying to take his nap,” I said, hoping my point was made.

“Great, great! Okay, I’m nearly done here. Two big earthquakes in one day, you know.”

“I know,” I said. “Do you guys have lots of water stored?”

“Oh yes,” he said. “Tons.”

I wasn’t sure whether he stored the water in garbage bins or not. But I decided he would be a good source in the event of a disaster, so I nodded and thanked him and filed his weirdness away for my future gain.

My neighbor is clearly one of those quirky characters that I love putting in stories. And the incident, complete with the maniacal grin and strange use of garbage cans as the earthquake kit (I don't know where they're going to put their garbage now) made the whole exchange one of those crazy ones that you kind of just have to put in a story.


*Last summer and fall when I was pregnant with Rainbow Puppy, those bastard dogs would bark their heads off at 4 a.m. My neighbors were very sorry about it, especially after I played the pregnant-insomnia guilt card, but explained they didn't hear it because their bedroom is on other other side of the house. I had to resort to screaming obscenities out the window at the dogs in the middle of the night, and it worked. I called them by name, that might have helped. So telling them to shut up when they bark is something that generally works for me.

Also, there is a high fence between our yards, which quite frankly makes me bold.

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