Border Conflict

Today’s guest post comes from Crystalbay

Fifteen years ago, I had the great blessing of moving into the cottage in which my parents lived for over half of a century.  We’d lived in the same story and a half home in Minnetonka for thirty years and been the social hub of our cul de sac. I’d just walk out of the front or backdoor and there were very friendly neighbors happy to see me. Our children grew up together, our parents died, graduations and marriages seeded this small community, bonding us together as only sharing a neighborhood could.

All of that pretty much ceased the day we moved to the lake and I’ve been isolated out here ever since.

The people on one side hadn’t worked in three generations as grandpa bequeathed them a fortune from grain.  She bought a huge boat and named it “Migrain”.  I haven’t set foot on their four-acre property in six years after taking an aerial photo of our properties to show them, being offered a glass of wine, then told, “When you’ve finished this, go home”.  They’ve always had at least four big dogs.  One time, a friend was visiting here with a like-sized dog and the romping dogs next door compelled him to join and have dog fun.  My neighbor took out a garden hose and sprayed him, all the while yelling, “Get this damn dog off my property!”

It’s really the neighbors on my other side, however, with whom there’ve been years of blatant conflict. They adored my sweet, quiet, old parents and were very kind to them throughout the years.  Then came us with home renovations, gatherings of friends and old neighbors, audible sounds of grandchildren, AND five indoor/outdoor fur persons.  They were cat-haters and were given to screaming at any cat who sauntered into their yard as though their lives were threatened.

The first summer after my divorce, I agreed to let a friend use my dock for his 16’ fishing boat in return for mowing.  In my divorce, wasband got the boat with no dock and I got the dock with no boat.  The two sets of neighbors got together and wrote a memo that this was a violation of city ordinances and they didn’t want “To have our property turned into a public marina”.  I had to tell my friend to dock elsewhere.

I’ve already shared the hidden fence disaster.  To show their disdain for us, the first fall we lived here, they had their huge boat house structure hydraulically deposited right on our property line.  This obstructed our view of the lake significantly.  I called the city and was told they were violating the city code of a 75’ setback for anything obstructing a neighbor’s view.  They were incensed that I’d done this.

The next year, they threatened to build a fence along the property line.  I should mention that this line is about three feet away from the cottage.  Again, I called the city and was told that they weren’t allowed to do this.  Again, they were outraged that I’d inquired.  What came next was very creative on their part: they augured holes two feet apart running the length of the property all the way down to the lake so that they could plant arborvitae trees – the ones that grow rapidly up to 40’ tall.  This would’ve created a virtual wind tunnel out of my 75’ wide lot.

A funny thing happened to those baby trees, however.  Late one night, I slipped out there with a toxic solution.

Fightin'tree

I’m leaving out half a dozen similar examples of conflicts, but the big one came last summer when a twin tree (shared rootball) fell across their yard, leaving the huge rootball exposed from the tree still standing. Leaning dangerously over my roof, I might add.  Another one of their trees is leaning toward the cottage has a branch 3’ in diameter which has split 5’ from the trunk.  They refused to do anything about these potentially cottage crushing trees.

I did my homework and learned that my insurance would cover damages AFTER I paid my $5000 deductible.  I wrote them a very civilly- worded letter offering to chip in $500 for the cost of felling the trees.  He called, yelling that I’d broken the law by putting the letter in his mailbox.  I said, “Well then, I should’ve walked it over” to which he replied, “That would be trespassing!” I had four different certified arborists assess the trees.  All of them concurred that they were a clear and present danger to my home and provided estimates of the cost to fell them.  I’d learned my lesson by now that I’d be breaking a federal law unless I mailed the next letter to them.  I included the assessments and estimates in the letter.

He then called saying that my home would collapse before these trees fell because, “Your home is in a swamp!” My home is on the same level ground that his is.  Ultimately, he hired a crew to do the job and told me both trees down would be cut down, but only if I gave them $500 in cash upfront.  The crew came and told me that he’d only hired them to take one tree down.  I told them that he’d lied to me and they left, wanting no part of a neighborhood feud.  He called later that day, yelling all sorts of wild, rageful, and irrational things, ending his diatribe with, “Don’t you EVER call this number again!!!!!”

This is where it stands today.  Two trees about to crash into my cottage and sleepless nights when there’s a storm or a strong wind.  As bad as the potential disaster, though, is the level of contempt I feel towards these people and a fear of unleashing it!  I don’t do anger well and have very rarely even practiced it on anyone in my life.  Let’s just hope against hope that I die before the trees fall.

Question:  What (if any) problems have you had with your neighbors?

73 thoughts on “Border Conflict”

  1. Sorry to hear of your woes, Crystalbay. What a sad commentary on the lack of civility by your neighbors. We’ve been lucky with neighbors except for a short dust-up with the guy below our apartment just after we first got married.
    He was loud, noisy, obnoxious, and an imbiber of intoxicants of one sort or another. When we returned home one evening at 10 p.m., my wife stomped on the floor to let him know his blaring, window-rattling, floor-shaking music was being heard by someone other than him. He stormed upstairs, pounded on our door, and reamed us out for being the inconsiderate neighbors. I thought he was ready to take a swing at one of us, but he backed off.
    Things were tense until we moved about a month later, thanks to my new job.

    Other than that, our various neighbors have ranged from quiet, m.t (their).o.b. types, to wonderful folks with whom we occasionally socialized and had all around excellent neighbor relationships.

    Chris in Owatonna

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  2. “K” and I started out great, would stop and talk to each other, fed each others’ animals for vacations, even exchanged house keys. But we had a misunderstanding after my cat (I also could have been another neighbor’s cat) dug up some sets she’d recently planted, and it went downhill from there. I ended up putting my cat’s on leashes in the back yard, and we ended up barely speaking. But all things change – they moved in 2006. The people there now apparently have no interest in getting to know their neighbors. It feels very strange.

    The last guy who lived there, though, became great friends with Michael – he had been an organic farmer, and was by then a contractor, hired Michael to help upgrade the house.

    My wish for you, CB, is that the ones with the trees decide to move for some reason, or you outlive them!

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  3. Morning all. Well, all our stories are going to pale (pall?) compared to your nightmare, CB. Awful!

    Years ago when I lived in a different house, the home next door was owned by an elderly woman, who had lived in the house her whole life. My house had actually been built on her property years earlier, so my back yard butted up right against part of her driveway, with a concrete ledge between. When we got Katy Scarlett (my first Irish Setter on my own), we built a fence and technically we put the fence on her property since we placed it right next to the concrete. She didn’t notice this until 2 years later that she hired some survey folks to come out – clearly our fence was within her 15″ (or whatever the easement was). She wrote us a letter saying we couldn’t have our fence that close because it would keep her from upkeep on her wrought iron fence and copied her lawyer. Except there was no wrought iron fence! Apparently decades and decades earlier there had been a fence, in fact the concrete had been the base of the fence that went all the way around her property. AND it turned out that her lawyer was no longer practicing; I actually drove over to where the office was listed and it was no longer there. I decided to be official, wrote my letter about eminent domain and how the fence had been there two years already and I copied MY lawyer (my dad – although I didn’t really send him a copy). She came over to the fence a few days later and talked to me about being good neighbors and how pretty my dog was and then said “well, we won’t worry about your fence until I need to paint my fence – then you’ll have to take your fence down” (she was standing RIGHT THERE WHERE THERE WAS NO IRON FENCE!) I replied that was just fine and we never heard another word about it.

    So stressful for a couple of weeks, but nothing like trees about to fall on my house! Current neighbors are beyond delightful!

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    1. Old neighbors can be a challenge. But except for the loud housemate, our many old neighbors have been a rich gift to us and our kids when we lived on the shore. Taking care of old neighbors, counting the church members in our larger a North Shore neighborhood, has been a blessing to, a purpose to serve.

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  4. Oh dear! What an awful situation. Our neighbor to the south hates our dog and her barking, but he is tame compared to your neighbors. Our neighbors to the north do things like plant “wild flowers” (noxious weeds) that reseed in our yard, and they have an ash tree that shades our yard to the point that we can’t grow grass in that spot, but they tell us to just trim whatever we want if it is hanging over our property, and we do.

    I just read that the guy who tried to start a white supremacist enclave in Leith, ND is at it again and now is trying to take over the town of Antelope, ND, a town of about 20 people a couple of miles from the Canadian border. He is trying to use gofundme to get money to purchase land in town. Ish.

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    1. Our dog hating neighbor built a small shed in his back yard that has become a haven for garden-eating bunnies to live under. I sometimes think he did it on purpose to get back at us about the dog (who hardly ever barks now).

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    2. In trying to make sure I was spelling things correctly, I ran into the term “suprematism” which refers to a geometrically inspired art movement. I think they could have found a better word for it.

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  5. Am I allowed to add a story here about good neighbors? My neighbor to the east in St. Paul was a sweetie, even if he was bonkers about lawns. My neighbor on the other side was so kind that he volunteered to mow my lawn and shovel my sidewalk after he learned of my heart problems. One reason I was reluctant to leave Minnesota was that I’d be leaving those dear neighbors on both sides.

    Today we go to the ocean! Some sort of birthday celebration. I will try to write a TB post this weekend for next week. Be well, baboons!

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  6. My novel of my childhood portrays how giving were the neighbors of my childhood, sharing work, tools, celebrations, an grief. The neighbors when we lived on the shore south of Silver Cliff were just fun, a wide spread of ages who often gathered at the beach of one of them. My kids had several grandparents in the group. Man next door was a great friend. I should write of our adventures.
    In North Mankato interesting but mostly nice. Sweet old man on one side whom we helped out a lot. Man getting Alzheimer’s behind us, but we could live with it. Fun young family with sweet little girls down the alley who came often to see us. Man on other side was sweet an giving when sober. Loud and raucous when drunk. Not threatening when drunk, but did bad things. Family was a mess. Too much to tell.
    Then moved into an association, bad fit for us. Our house partners were deaf and played everything very loud right against our common wall. Took anger on my part and a letter from the association. They did not hold a grudge. But we moved into this apartment building for a few reasons. Like it here. A fun mix in the building of ages, races, types, people from. All over the world. Woman above and next door are great. This time of year we are out on our patios Nd deck and talk and share.
    I have been blessed my whole life by neighbors.

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  7. The neighbor across the way spied on me shamelessly. There were frequent comments asking for my opinion on the restaurant I’d eaten at the night before. The doggie bags were on the dining room table. I finally had to cover the windows and patio door with film that blocks the view inside.

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    1. My daughter just texted me about neighbors. The crusty but loving old woman across their alley died, a hard death to pastor, losing a complicated friend and neighbor. Our son in law did much free work for her. Today is the funeral. The parsonage sits between the woman’s house and the church. Her children and grandchildren are walking through the parsonage yard to carry things to the church. They do not live close by. They could easily not walk through the yard, but must see the parsonage as public land or the like. But also they stop and look in. My daughter was in the basement doing laundry and two women were standing in the yard watching her.

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  8. Rise and Make Peace Baboons!

    I have not encountered anything like your neighbors CB. I had a work supervisor with whom I went to war over the adequate protection of children, but that seemed like an ideal appropriate for a Child Protection Worker. But never a neighbor.

    Most of our neighbors are pretty terrific, doing all the neighborly things quietly. Recently our worst neighbor rented his house to a family full of kids and teenagers. Dad installed a basketball hoop in the cul de sac which provides us with hours of pick up basketball games. The kids are polite and the parents are lovely.

    We do have some Interesting Neighbors, though. Like Sleeping Beauty (sleeps days, works nights) behind us, who over the years installed a dense, thorny, thicket-y forest around her castle, complete with large dogs. She attempted to plant some trees to complete the forest on our property line. We talked with her about this getting the response, “I don’t care–I’ll move before the trees shade your garden). After checking with the city to determine the laws about this, then discovering this was not OK, a very large local rabbit (6’4” rabbit!) destroyed the plantings. WE suspected she is paranoid, because she seemed overly concerned about her privacy and not very concerned about friendly, neighbory relationships. Following her rude response, though, I decided I really am out to get her–but the forest grew and I cannot see her anymore.

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  9. You have my sympathy, Cb. That sounds like a horrible situation.

    Our neighbors to the east are wonderful people we get along well with. We have the keys to each others’ houses, take care of each others’ pets, water plants, mow lawns and shovel snow for each other. We enjoy the occasional cook-out, dinner and evening chats around a back yard fire together, and they always invite us when the have a party. As if that wasn’t enough, he works for the Guthrie Theater, and with some regularity gives us free tickets to shows.

    Our neighbors to the west are a bit more problematic. They have been our neighbors since we moved in, so we have seen their five kids grow up and move on. All, with the exception of one. Tommy never graduated from high school, and has never held a job. Instead he does the backyard mechanic/drug dealing thing. He has fathered six kids, never been married, and has lived with his various girl friends in a room his dad added to the back of their house. He has a violent temper and drug fueled fights are a regular occurrence – usually in the wee hours of the night.

    At least once a year Tommy gets sent to the workhouse for some violation or another, often preceded by violent fights with the arresting police officers. And we have a front row seat to it all.

    Tommy’s mother passed away in February, and now Parky, his dad, lives there with and ever-changing cast of Tommy’s unemployed brood and their kids. We shudder to think what might happen when Parky dies.

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      1. It is, for a lot of reasons. The house itself is large and rather dilapidated. I can’t imagine a buyer that would want to live in it. If it is sold, it may well become Section 8 rental property, and we’ve had exceedingly bad luck with Section 8 renters in this neighborhood.

        Should Tommy’s four siblings agree to let him stay in the house, there’s no way that Tommy and his kids, none of whom hold a job, could possibly pay the real estate taxes, but it would take a while for that to catch up with them. We could be in for some rough years ahead.

        Speaking a bad neighbors. Two days ago, I had all my outside windows professionally cleaned. A few minutes ago, the girlfriend of one of Tommy’s kids decided to hose off their lawn furniture that’s been sitting outside all winter. In the process she has sprayed water all over the windows in our dining room – including the large picture window which is now all streaky. Arrrgh!

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  10. OT – shall we make another attempt to gather Keepers CD’s for the next BBC meeting? I’ll see what I can scrounge up. I believe tim has the ones OC contributed.

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    1. Alas, I will not be to make this month’s BBC. I may yet try to, but I have to take apart a bed and get things moved out of Miss S’ room so we can have some plaster work done. Bed needs to come apart because it is being replaced (and, being a semi-lofted bed, it’s too big to get out through the door in one piece).

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  11. We had one snoopy neighbor in my old neighborhood. Deedee was a good person, although gossipy. She kept an eagle eye on the lives of everyone on Juliet Ave, missing nothing. After my divorce, she paid special attention to my social life.

    A friend and fellow wolf fan came to stay once, sleeping in my spare bedroom while she worked at the International Wolf Center offices. Neil is about my age, and very cute. After two days here, she left to fly back to Virginia. She went out the door and reached my sidewalk, pushing her wheelie suitcase, just as the woman I was dating showed up for a weekend date. Carol is as blonde as Neil, and just as attractive. As luck would have it, when the two women met, not three feet away there was Deedee, pulling some of her six kids in a plastic wagon. Deedee stared, her mouth open.

    I could have explained that Neil shared my passion for wolves, not my bed, but I smiled and said nothing. Life offered me that one brief chance to become a legend in my neighborhood, and I took it.

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      1. wooo hoo
        73 is a good place to come to the world from. old enough to be honored and young enough to accept it.
        have a great day steve.
        i think you ar eint he right place and the neighbors you value most are nearby .

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  12. We lived in Lindstrom for one wonderful year. Our home, first floor of an old home, became a gathering place for a group of senior high kids through our church. Neighbor across the street was a parsonage, wonderful Methodist pastor with two wonderful daughters whom I taught. He asked if his kids could be a part of the mostly Lutheran group of kids, which they did. The. He asked, since, he was so busy building a new church, if his church youth group could join the Luther League we were running by then. Then the catholic priest a block away asked if his kids could join. We ended up with about 85 kids in the group. The sweet little old Swedish woman who lived above us loved that kids were hanging around. Some of the hangers on at our place, about 20 , not the 85, and never all at once, got to know her.
    Can you imagine how people would react to this today, a bunch of HS kids hanging out at a teachers house?

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  13. cb i have an old saying . dont shit in your hat. if you are going to live there and the neighbors are going to be the way they are dont do anythhing to make the situation something that makes your lifeunpleasant.
    everyone is odd except you and me and someties i wonde about you bt your neighbors are an extreme.
    by the same token i cant believe i let my critters run in my previous lives and today i would never let my dog run loose. it isnt the way the world works any more.
    maybe you should do an evaluation of the property and have a threat to sell it to the group that would most upset the neighbors and therfore coerce them into giving you 100,000 extra to sell it to them instead. you can take the money and find a nice location to live out your years and do the things youd like without the horrible vibes that emminate for the borders on tyour cottage. crystal bay is hot property and the time is right ot talk to builders again after the long drought. what you cold do with 500,000 may make it worthwhile.

    i am upset to open the trail baboon and read negative blog issues. i know it is your life crystal but let me thank dale and the rest of the community for making this a good news haven for the last 5+ years. i am the snide and vengeful one here an do it in fun but if i had to read about jerks and problems everyday i wold go elsewhere.

    i love you but i dont want to hear about your angst to start my day.

    whats up with the space exploration station lady who is setting the new record of 199 days in space because they couldnt get her down kind of the opposite of im falling and i cant get up. her call to 911 says im up and space and i cant get down. but at least she gets a record book entry for it.

    i am serious cb about considering the sale of the cottage. if youd like some help looking into it i would be happy to get involved and make sure the people you talk to dont screw around wiht you too severely.

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  14. In my second novel I make Clair an old man, older for his 65 or so years, who moves back to a new house he build in the woods on the farm. He wants to be a hermit, an Anchorite, but his few friends in town and the new neighbors on the hill keep intruding in his life. He gives up the effort and accepts it all, new friends with all the good and bad complications of neighbors and friends. It has bee. Fun to write all that. Now I am writing the darker climax.

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  15. i have always had decent neighbors. there was a weird guy when i was a teenager who had guys going over to hang out i dint see the appeal to and it turned out to be a sex thing i was glad not to be involved in but other than that. always had at least a couple neighborhood folks i could relate to. old stu at the house i bought next fdoor to the gold course in edina with his dirt floor basement and the odd scenerio that played out in edina. the folk who moved ito the urban sprawl in 1957 when we moved in there was a cornfield to the west and that was the end of town. the twin cites had far away places we would hear about like lake minnetonka and hudson ( my dad was working in bridge and road construction at the time so he traveled early monday morning til friday night each week) he would come back with stories about exotic places like hudson and hinkley and fergus falls. he built a lot of bridges. the really boring ones that are on the freeway all needed to be built in 1960 as the freeway system was in place. we had the neighborhood out of the erma bombeck books and the tv shows. ill bet there weere enough kids to fill a baseball team every block. they couldnt build elementary schools fast enough and everybodys dad did interesting studd with new companies like northwest airlines and honeywell. the next door neighbor wa s akjapanese guy in advertising who raced his sports cars in ralleys around town on the weekends. other side was a house with 5 dirt faced kids whos dad was the firestone tire guy. i go around the neighvbor hood in my brain and it is 3 kids , 5 kids, 4 kids , two kinds , 5 kids 4 kids 4 kids. and the old man in the underground house who never came out. dewberry vittera herbold bowman bartholde, andrews christian gregoire and nastapol are the ones out the back door and across the street. a block in either direction was too far to go because you had all these people right here. my best friend jd grace moved away in 1st grade. a whole 3 miles and i never saw him again. .
    ive got to get to work bt my current neighbors are pleasant but distant . i have been ther 10 years and not made a friend. its an odd world today. im an easy guy not to make friends with in a republican suburb but still….i am uprooting my family right now and the neighbors we willl encounter will be interesting to be sure and i hope it works out ok bt thats the way life is huh? . i was looking forward to living in kenwood and ended up in eden prairie instead. nice folks are everywhere you just have to dig a little deeper some places.

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  16. “Good fences make good neighbors”. I hope to goodness Robert Frost wrote that, because I believe he did and that makes me happy ( if not correct).

    In any case, such is the case on my estate. I often say that my westside neighbor is one of the finest features of my property, even if she didn’t appear on the MLS sheet.

    But that is its own blog post.

    Like most Baboons, I’ve had either boring or excellent neighbors, but today’s post reminded me of one I haven’t tbought of in years.

    My first apartment in Madison was a studio in a newish building on the west side. Pretty much unremarkable except for a couple of odd incidents, neither of which actually had anything to do with me.

    First, there was the lady downstairs- I think she was on the third floor and I was just above her. She had developed a deep and abiding hatred for the guy who used to live in my apartment, one Mr. O’ Malley. I don’t think I ever met him, but I have a strong mental image of him (go figure, I always thought of him as a sort of Walter Mitty type). Management had told her he had moved out, but apparently that didn’t take. From time to time, I would hear a voice wafting through the kitchen exhaust vent, “O’Malley, you @$/&@!”

    Creepy at first, eventually sort could dismiss it.

    And one night, there was obviously a domestic disagreement above me. Lots of general shouting, then a large crash and silence.

    Next morning when I went to catch the bus, a sheet of broken glass was waving in thd breeze on the 5th floor. No crime tape or body on the ground, and it was fixed by the time I got home.

    I finished my lease there, then moved to a lovely old apartment with the Murphy bed I wish I still had (turns out, you can get the hardware for one online today). The building was across the street from Bethel Lutheran . Office manager was a tuxedo cat who wore a bowtie and preferred staying in the office over the weekend to going home with a co-worker.

    Yep. They allowed cats 🙂

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      1. Knew I could count on you, clyde. Must revisit the poem.

        In our case, I really think the fences improve relationships. The raspberries along my back fence have wandered along and invaded the back fence of my neighbor.

        She very archly informs me she is going to by golly eat those raspberries because they are on HER property! Just so.

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        1. Our neighbor to the east had wanted to plant raspberries along our fence line. I asked her not to as I knew they’d be in my yard in no time, and I didn’t want to deal with them. She planted her raspberries elsewhere – bless her heart.

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        1. You can visit the Frsot farm in southern NH. It has a walk which identifies sources or sites of poems, more imaginative than real but he did live there when he wrote the poems identified.

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  17. TIm has suggested that CB move. I wonder what other sort of happy ending we could imagine in this situation? I was in intense conflict with a coworker for several years, and now find myself a mentor and role model for her. How weird, given the animosity and nastiness she, and I, (to my shame), engaged in. I made a decision one day that the anger was poisoning me and I worked hard for months to give it up. I realized I was carrying out a family pattern in which my mother and her mother always had to be offended and at war with some other person, usually another woman, and I decided I was going to end that pattern. It somehow worked, but I can see that it could easily flame up again without constant vigilance on my part.

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    1. I have too many conflicts in my life, but by now I have decided whose fault it was, or who shared the blame but could have changed his mental set.

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  18. The second apartment we lived in (husband moved us in while I was in the hospital delivering daughter #1) was a great experience. It was budget friendly, no amenities, bare bones-ish place, but my cousin and his wife and eventually daughter lived in the same building and most of the other inhabitants were also young marrieds with a child or two (or three). It became almost like a commune, which was fun while it lasted. One by one, we matured, got better jobs, could afford houses or plusher apartments, and moved on. I cringe at the thought now, but there was always someone to watch the kids, someone to talk to, someone up for whatever you wanted to do. Grilling on little hibachis in the back yard with 6-10 kids in a blowup wading pool, it was all good for its season. We lost touch with all of them eventually. I know that at least 2 couples divorced, my cousin died (he’s the one I donated a kidney to) and I only hear about his wife and kids on FaceBook. I remember the whole experience fondly though, and sometimes (like now) wonder where they all are and what they’re doing and how those kids grew up.

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    1. My first neighbor in the US – Lisa in Wyoming – and I are still friends. Both divorced and remarried, but have stayed in touch and visited each other as often as we can. We were and remain soul mates after almost fifty years.

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  19. My wife has an elderly cousin whose wife tells stories of the commune feel of the Quonset hut married student housing of post WWII. Says it was their best life despite the rich life they have lives for the last 50 years.

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    1. My parents lived in Quonset hut student housing called Macville at Macalester College when they were first married and were still there when I was born. They were glad to graduate, but it sounded like they had a pretty good time there.

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        1. My senior year at Mac I lived in one of the houses across the street from the football field. Those houses are gone now – lost to the expansion of the field (and additional amenities). We were one of three or four student rentals on that block – houses were owned by Mac – our neighbors to the south were an elderly couple and loved having all the college kids around. Loaned us stuff for a winter “beach” party in our house when we let them know we would be having a few folks over…no “don’t get too noisy” from them, just “here’s some stuff you might need.” Bless them.

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    2. U of m ones were on Hennepin right before it crossed under 280, or some were. Some at that site still stood in the late 60’s,used for storage.

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    3. My aunt lives in a lovely little cottage that used to be married student housing at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa. It’s now part of a staged care senior community and no longer affiliated with ORU. It’s really a wonderful place.

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  20. Lived in a house in North Minneapolis for about a year. The house to the south of us held an assortment of adults and some kids – though who was related and who was not was a bit sketchy. Kids liked to tease my dog, which I was not a fan of, and wound up going outside with her if I could hear them outside as well (this was really a case of crap rolling downhill…the kids likely hadn’t seen much modeled in the way of “good” behavior). The so-called grown-ups were also, well, challenging. Mostly they were easy to ignore because they were mostly indoors – though the smells that wafted out of the house suggested that the adults were not in any condition to be keeping an eye on their dog-teasing offspring. Occasionally there would be shouting and loud noises that were not happy sounds – once I heard something that I was pretty sure was a kid being whacked (and whacked hard enough that I heard it in the next house over). I was concerned enough that I wound up calling my uncle, who had worked in child protection, to find out what, if anything I could or should do. Sadly, his answer was that there wasn’t much I could do – I hadn’t witnessed anything directly enough. He said even though there was very likely a situation next door that warranted investigation at the very least, there wasn’t enough I could attest to that would trigger so much as a note in a file. Not long after that, half the residents of the house moved out and things quieted down. I still worry about what happened to those kids – they would all be adults now, though hard to know if they were able to rise above the horrid conditions they lived in when they lived next door to me.

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    1. When we first moved into our house, the house to the east of us was owned by a woman who worked as a waitress at the Blue Horse restaurant on University Ave. At some point after her daughter married and moved to Hawaii, she purchased a small dog. That dog would bark for six to eight hours straight. Sometimes she’d leave the dog in her fenced-in yard, and I would bring it a doggie bone, in hopes of quieting it down, all to no avail. Her neighbor on the other side, a crazy old busybody saw me doing this, and told my neighbor that I was trying to poison her dog. After months of no progress, we finally reported it to animal control. Until that dog arrived we’d had no problems and had had casual, but cordial relations with this woman. Now she refused to be civil with us. Clearly this dog was traumatized by being left alone so much, and rather than finding a way to fix that, she chose to sell her house. That’s when a five year nightmare began.

      The new owner rented out the house to a family with two little girls. Sweet little girls who lived in a state of constant anxiety and fear. The parents, both alcoholics, would fight and threaten to kill each other. Fighting, shouting and cursing were the order of the day. On several occasions the two girls would run to our house to ask us to call police. We did this a couple of times. but by the time the cops arrived, he would have gone hiding the basement, and the wife would claim that there wasn’t a problem. (She typically was the aggressor.) I tried to alert the girls’ school of the problem, spoke with a social worker and contacted child protection services, all to no avail. After five long years, the family was evicted for not paying the rent and for excessive police call to the property. Like Anna, I still wonder what became of those two little girls.

      When Mike and Leslie – our current neighbors – bought the house, we were ecstatic. Bad neighbors on both sides was just too much to handle.

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  21. Ooops! Dale forgot to check the comments box when he published vs’s guest post. Is our Dear Leader becoming fuzzy as he ages? When we can talk, I have a little story to post about a triumphant moment from my birthday beach visit. It’s a dog story, so it will be legal in vs’s post.

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