Birthday Art

Last week was my birthday.  I learned a long time ago that I don’t want to wait around to have friends/family bring celebration to me; if I want a particular celebration, then I just make it happen.  I came to this revelation after wasband #1 and I split up.  It was Valentine’s Day and I was feeling sorry for myself so I went out and bought myself a small bouquet of flowers, some heart-shaped balloons and a couple of pink frosted donuts with sprinkles (one for me, one for the dog).  I had also scored a big box from the new tv of the neighbors (Katy Scarlett loved to sit in big boxes and then eventually destroy them) which I decorated with red and pink markers for her.  Turned out to be a great day and a great lesson for myself.

This is not to say that I don’t love what friends/family do for me – I think when folks think of me it means MORE to me because I am self-sufficient in the “celebrate me” arena.  This year I had an especially nice surprise.  While I was out walking the dog that morning, the little girls next door (Margot and Matilda) came over and did chalk decorations all over my sidewalk.  I’m sure they had help from their parents, but the rainbows and butterflies were clearly Margot’s inspiration.  It was so touching – it’s still there a week later although getting a little faded from folks walking on it and the couple of rain sprinkles.  It was the best birthday wish I got this year!

Do you have a favorite neighbor?  Or a not-favorite one?

27 thoughts on “Birthday Art”

  1. i am not a good neighbor. i don’t go meet them and after years at an address have only a passing relationship with a few of them.

    in my current house i know a couple people but not well enough to call them friends. i am friendly enough with a couple of them but not very good at finding a way to connect

    everyone has their own thing and other than a passing nod and wave it doesn’t go much further.
    the other day was an exception.

    i have a new neighbor across the street. a husband and wife 2 small children about 3 and 5 if i were quessing. i see them coloring their driveway with chalk and kicking a soccer ball

    they needed a ladder last year to put up christmas lights and i grabbed one from my warehouse to loan them and got a chance to chat. friendly waves since then but last week i saw a piano movers truck in the driveway and the next day i heard banging on the piano keys. i went over to tell them about the worlds greatest children’s piano teacher at macphail downtown. i called her and asked if she was still teaching and arranged for them to connect if the neighbors want to.

    as for celebrations i insist birthdays be celebrated on the actual day. weekends before or after don’t work. it’s gotta be the day. it’s a rule. nowadays i’m not off to china messing it up so i can do all the celebrations on the correct day. pandemic raises a little hell with it but we do pretty good. august 4th was my daughter anniversary and also my parents anniversary. they had just been quarantined because daughters husband who installs windows for pella had a guy on his crew test positive. luckily pella does an excellent job of being responsible and my son in law takes it all very seriously so between driving in separate cars and wearing masks and all he did his testing and quarantining and it was all good but his anniversary fell in the middle of it.
    i called my mom to wish her happy anniversary. she’d forgotten. my dads been dead 9 years now and i guess i’m remembering stuff she doesn’t
    i wished daughter happy anniversary by text because she was busy with working from home and had husband and son home with quarantine in place. she said she forgot too.
    sorry i missed yours vs. i’m not great at remembering. glad your neighborhood kids brightened your day. the small stuff counts.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    Chalk drawing is so much fun, isn’t it? It is the henna of the driveway world-dramatic, fun, and temporary. When my son was in high school, he and his friends took Latin. We would wake up to Latin scrawled all over the driveway in colored chalk.

    There is a mixed-race family down the street from us. They have lived here for longer than we have (we have lived here 23 years), so we watched their girls grow up, and we have known them on a happily co-existing neighbor level for years. Now they have lovely grandchildren who walk by our house to go to the park. Following the GF murder, then the Black Lives Matter activity, their grandchildren wrote in chalk, on the driveway with grandma’s help, “BLACK LIVES MATTER.”

    I thought that required a supportive response, so I left some flowers on the doorstep (I call this “flower-bombing” and I love doing this). They knew who did this, so I got the vase back, with a thank you note telling me that they lived in fear of a negative response for a few days after they put it there, so they loved getting the flower-bomb and they did feel supported. They feel the micro-aggression a lot, so it was nice to know they felt the micro-support, as well.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I love the idea of flower bombing. I have a friend who lives a couple blocks away who is a big garage sale fan. Whenever she finds a little vase for a quarter or a nickel, she snaps it up. So whenever she comes with flowers she always says “I don’t need the vase back, it only cost a nickel.”

      Liked by 2 people

  3. We have had a lot of turnover in our neighborhood in the past several years. Our favorite neighbors are the ones to the south whose young children love our garden and help us with it. The 5 year old boy came over last night in his pajamas to make one last check of the Swiss chard and cantelopes, walking down the rows in bare feet. He remembers the names of all the plants, and was worried that the potato foliage was turning brown. He was frustrated he couldn’t see the tubers growing when I reassured him that the dying foliage meant there were potatoes developing under the ground.

    Our neighbors to the north have been there 30 years and are annoying. Their two adult sons have left drug paraphernalia hidden in the fence that separates our properties, and their mom encourages invasive plants that she collects from their country property to spread all over her yard (and inevitability to our yard). They also don’t prune their ash trees that hang over the fence and our roof, and get mad when we trim off whatever is hanging over our yard.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. In a bit of serendipity, while I was just out walking the dog I came around the corner in Tangletown and ran into an old neighbor of mine. Laura actually graduated from school and got a job and moved off to Chicago several years ago but she is in town for the weekend and she was walking her dog. So much fun to catch up.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Good for you, vs, for being self-sufficient in celebrating yourself.

    Funny that you should ask about neighbors today. Just last night, as we were finishing our dinner in the back yard, I said to husband that I miss Mike and Leslie who used to live next door. So we called them and had a nice chat. The young couple who have moved into their old house are very nice, but they are very young, and we rarely see them.

    Our new neighbors to the west (in Tommy’s old house), we don’t see either. They have two boys who never play outside. I doubt that I’d be able to recognize any of them if I ran into them on the street.

    My favorite neighbor, Helen, lives two blocks down the street. She’s much more than a neighbor, she’s a close friend. But come middle of September, she’s putting her house on the market and moving with her partner, Sarah, to an old farmhouse she owns near Frederick, Wisconsin. No more just popping in for an impromptu visit or spur of the moment chat or meal. I’ll miss them terribly.

    Now that I think about it, we know only handful of our neighbors on this block well enough to know their names and what they do for a living.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Even though Margo and Matilda’s family has been there for two plus years, until just recently I’ve been referring to them as the new neighbors. But now we have new new neighbors two houses up with two more little girls, Esme and Lacey. It’s been harder to get to know them since they moved in after pandemic started. But I’m working on it.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. My old neighborhood in Mac-Groveland was quite friendly. Our block had many Catholic families with kids, not a surprise because young Catholic couples chose to live near Nativity, the Catholic school reputed to be the best in town. One of the Catholic moms living in the middle of the block was an unofficial watchkeeper. She wasn’t a gossip, but she knew pretty much everything that was going on

    We had a “block party” one evening each summer. Traffic was closed off at the ends of the block so neighbors could mingle on the street. The food was potluck and BYOB. It was fun to share stories about our houses. For example, at one of the block parties I learned that several neighbors had basements that included a bar. That seemed odd until I remembered that that part of town was developed in the mid-1920s, right in the middle of Prohibition. When folks couldn’t drink in public bars they drank in their basements.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The thing that surprises me is not that the houses had a bar in the basement but that, if the bar dated from the 1920s, it was still there.

      When we moved into our current home, also from the 1920s, I was amazed at how many things had never been updated. A lot of the light fixtures still had pull chains. None of the closets had a light. There was no fan in the bathroom. There are still things I need to update but those seemed like such obvious and easy things.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. When we moved in in 1976, we were just the third owners. The first owner was the architect of the home, and he changed nothing. Then a couple bought it and kept it for many decades, changing nothing but the appearance (paint, carpeting).

        We got into more ambitious changes. We were surprised that so much of the original construction remained. Much of the wiring was the old fabric covered stuff. It apparently had been done well, according to 1925 standards. The plumbing was mostly okay.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. OT – Since there isn’t much going on here at the moment, I thought I’d post this video composed of photos from the Cedar-Riverside area in the late sixties early seventies.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I did remember that, Steve, and for that reason I thought you, in particular, might find it interesting. That whole area has changed so much from when I first saw it in 1972. Dania Hall with Richter’s Pharmacy on the main floor is, of course, long gone, destroyed by an accidental fire in 2000.


        1. I have some sympathy for the guys who attacked me. They were drunk, of course. But the deeper pain motivating them to assault me was all the change going on in the neighborhood. A sleepy old part of town where working men enjoyed getting high in some pretty rough bars was becoming home to students in something like gentrification. They were losing a place they felt comfortable in,and guys like me were doing it to them.

          Liked by 3 people

    1. I was a little disappointed that most of the photos seemed to be from the mid ’70s. We used to joke that every time we walked past Richters someone would whisper, “Acid!”

      Here’s a photo, a little worse for wear, from about 1970. We lived above the store next door to Savran’s. The wings were something I built for a photo project.


      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ooh, I had forgotten all about Savran’s. I loved that store. Gosh, how could I forget?

        The above video is a work in progress, and I, too, am disappointed in some of the photos chosen. Hopefully he’ll find some better choices. I know that a friend of mine has just submitted a bunch he can choose from.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. In Robbinsdale, our best neighbors were probably the parents of Lola and Abby, for whom we were the “grandparents” on the block, and have now graduated from, respectively, high school and college. Sigh.
    The worst one was next door, and we ultimately stopped speaking. When I got back home in 2006 from spending two months in Marshalltown, IA, they had suddenly moved out, and I practically threw a party! The guy who replaced them was great, and he and Husband helped each other with house add-ons (our screen porch).

    Winona: although we’ve met many of the neighbors along our alley at a party two (?!) summers ago, there has been some turnover, and it’s probably time to have another one… I just don’t feel like organizing it this summer. I suspect there are a number of non-mask people near here…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. New neighbors moved into the house across the street from me to the north a couple of years ago. A couple with three girls who now range in age from about three to ten years. I haven’t had all that much contact with them, except to wave hello sometimes and exchange some brief pleasantries. Earlier this year I got to meet their new pug puppy, named Mabel. A little cutie. I spoke with the husband in the spring when things were locking down due to COVID. He had been doing home remodeling on a self-employed basis, but said he had just gotten a new job. He was doing estimates on projects for a home remodeling company.

    Then a couple of months ago, there was a chicken in the street near my car, and I wasn’t sure who she belonged to or whether she should be wandering, so I offered her some kernels from a cob of dried corn and unsuccessfully tried to corral her. I ended up sort of herding her across the street to their house, where the husband called down to me from a second-floor screen porch. I asked “Do you know where this chicken belongs?” and he said, “Oh, that’s Popcorn. She ours. We let her wander…she’s free-range. Is she bothering you?” I said I didn’t mind if she wandered, as long as she would be safe. We chatted briefly and I went on my way.

    I didn’t know it at the time, or course, but it was the last time I was to talk with him. About ten days later he died, apparently by suicide. The youngest girl, the three-year-old, has come over to my yard a couple of times to talk to me, and you wouldn’t know that anything was amiss in the home. She chatters away. I suppose three is too young to really understand and process such an awful event. She likes to pick leaves and flowers to make a “salad” for the birds, which she places in one of my feeders that I put out for the purpose.

    They no longer have Popcorn, but I’m not sure what fate has befallen her.

    Liked by 1 person

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