Monday, May 17, 2010

A Life More Ordinary

If someone had told me ten years ago that I would like life in an HOA controlled suburb, I'd have looked at them as if they had permanently parted company with their sanity. Yet, here we are, living the most conventional life imaginable, by all appearances, and happy in it.

Although Colorado carries with it a certain panache, bringing to mind hearty souls bounding up and down mountains effortlessly, hiking trails, plunging down ski slopes, the fact of the matter is it is the Midwest, with all the attendant cliches. It's impossible to escape the taint of a lack-of-cool that goes along with that.

When we lived in the metro area, in a house that was one hundred years old, and vaguely haunted to boot, there was a certain cool factor with that. I've come to discover that reliable electrical wiring may not carry with it any street cred, but it has a lot to recommend it. As does the peace, quiet, and unvarying atmosphere of a community where the houses look oddly similar, but the people turn out to have a wide range of viewpoints, despite needing to have their landscaping approved beforehand.

I was standing by a wrought iron fence, contemplating the beautiful morning, the pleasant wind, and the clear blue sky as my dog gave a shrub a rather thorough examination with her nose. The quiet neighborhood, with people departing for work, children shuffling off to school, garbage cans neatly lining the street awaiting pickup was strangely soothing, until a decidedly unfriendly growl caused me to turn to my left. About a foot away stood a black Great Dane, one I've encountered before, usually with a sullen teenager attached to his collar, hauling him away with admonishments not to eat the passerby. Said teenager was nowhere in evidence and the Dane rather elegantly cleared the fence in one fluid motion. It would have been quite impressive, that an animal so huge could move in such a delicate fashion, and clear a five foot fence if it wasn't for the fact that he was eying Puddles like she was a Scooby snack.

At the same moment, the House of Yorkie across the street suddenly deployed all four of their furry ballistic missiles when the garage door went up. I've met that pack before, and the first time I'd seen them I'd stared in amazement as the garage churned out a seemingly unending stream of yapping killers. As if they were being manufactured within. A vending machine of furry fury.

I had been so lulled by the quiet morning that the explosion of canine aggression around me caught me slightly off-guard, and instead of reacting in anyway, I stood helpfully gaping rather than actually doing anything. As the Great Dane decided to advance, and the Yorkies imperiled my ankles, the street came alive with owners shouting "No!" in various tones of alarm. Previously sullen teenager appeared as if from between blades of grass, urged into action, he cleared the fence in an ungainly manner that I'm afraid might cost him future generations. Clutching his sensitive bits, he still managed to grab hold of his mammoth dog before the Black Knight could devour my own. Team Yorkie froze solid, quivering with the anger peculiar to all tiny terriers, but locked in place by one command from their owner. Everyone concerned spared me a quick, "Sorry! Are you okay?" and then as quickly as the serene morning had been shattered, it was restored. All the residents of the area had sensed a disturbance in the Force and had hurled themselves forward to slap a containment lid on the proceedings.

That's what I like about the suburbs. Yes, I'm sure that long lives of repression don't do a body good, but they do make for more pleasant walks. My dearly departed Scotties and I would take a morning walk also and whereas tranquil mornings frequently had similar uproars, it was far rarer for something to be done about them. In particular there seemed to be no less than five pitbulls who were all wildly skilled at escaping their yards, a fact that thankfully never ended in bleeding tragedy but did have me practicing my canine command presence, regularly. The house that was covered in Christmas Tree stands attached to every available surface had indeed presented some visual interest, but it also housed a miserable drunk who would sometimes roll forth from the house, spouting obscenities at all hours of the day.

On no less than six occasions, I exited my metro home to a street alive with patrol cars, on two occasions officers had guns drawn. I'd retreated to the basement until an armistice of sorts had been declared on both occasions.

It turns out I suit a conventional life. As much as I'd like to think myself a free-thinker, a raging individual, and someone who could never be described as ordinary, I am fully content surrounded by rules and regulations. Fewer drunks, more Yorkie drill sergeants. I happily traded visual interest for tranquility.

Last weekend my friend Cynthia stopped by for a visit, and watched as I let my dog in and out, over and over, trying to teach her about being in the garden without me.

"You're the last person I thought would like the suburbs," she commented after asking if I'd gone to war with the HOA, and I replied that they'd yet to bother me in anyway, "this just doesn't seem like you."

There was always something happening around my house in Denver, some of it fun, some of it a nuisance, most of it disruptive. Strangely enough it wasn't a good area for anyone with a reclusive bent to their personality. We knew all of our neighbors, what they did, where they worked. If an ambulance was parked in front of someone's home, the neighborhood turned out, regardless of the hour, a horde of people all murmuring essentially the same sort of things, "Is Tom all right? Do you know what happened?"

At some point being a loner started to carry with it a vaguely alarming connotation, but like most people who favor reading as a pastime, I am frequently happiest when alone with a book. Neither social, nor anti-social. I like people a great deal, I find nearly everyone endlessly interesting. I think we are all only ordinary on the surface, concealing our very individual feelings, thoughts, hopes and dreams. Strangely enough, I have always believed that if you meet a person with purple hair, that individual is likely closer to ordinary than the guy in the golfing shorts. Purple hair is wearing his or her self-perceived difference as a badge of sorts, a contrived kind of personality. When you get to know people, get to know their stories, it seems no one is commonplace. They just wear clothes, drive cars, and live in houses that suggest that.

Maybe I give people too much credit. After all, I confess that by the standards of most, I am closer to being the wild-haired, oddly attired, lady in a cabin, talking to logs than I am a soccer mom. Whatever a soccer mom truly is, as opposed to what she is perceived to be.

I like the suburbs. It turns out they are less social. Although the Yorkie brigade tries to kill me on four mornings out of five, I've never exchanged more than a casual pleasantry with their owners. As far as I know each and every one of those dogs is actually named, "Nooooooo!". As I walked my dog past the recycling bins of the neighborhood, they all told a different story, but I've no names to attach to those bins, either.

I know why I like the suburbs, they are oddly distant, and surprisingly mysterious. I'm left guessing about more. It wasn't exactly a surprise the day I found out that the tree stand house in my old neighborhood contained someone consistently pickled. It made sense. It fit. Here, where so much looks the same, I know less about these distant people.

I like this life, in all its ordinary glory. The mild intrigue of a bin filled with champagne bottles, the ever watchful, distant-but-pleasant people who live here. I like guessing what is beneath the veneer of sameness.

The dog owners withdrew, and the picture of an unvaried life was restored. It is somehow more pleasant to guess at what goes on behind those doors than it is to know. Life, or perhaps Yorkies, teem.

I like the suburbs because they are strangely more intriguing.


saz said...

very thoughtful theme for a post...makes me think..a lot...

and suburbia isnt quite as the soaps would have us believe....friendly, the heck it

slommler said...

I lived with the HOA for about 15 years but it was a condo and I felt like I was on display most of the time. It drove me bonkers. Though the people were endlessly interesting. And surprising as to the things that would come to life every once in awhile. HA!
Glad you enjoy your space and that you were rescued from the dog attacks.

The Bug said...

As far as I know each and every one of those dogs is actually named, "Nooooooo!". - LOLOL!

I'm actually a bit terrified of unknown dogs. I probably would have had a heart attack with the great dane - yikes!

Dr. M & I are enjoying our quiet street too. There's a little more external variety than yours (no HOA), but mostly everyone tries to present the same front. We like the civility. At this point in our lives we just don't want to deal with drama.

Thanks for the hip tips (heh) - I'm going to try some of them out tonight.

Suldog said...

Dogs of a serene nature are very nice - I've had quite a few dog buddies in my life - but I have never quite understood the desire to own dogs that attack whatever moves. Are the people who own them threatened so much that they feel a need for doggy guardians? Or are they folks who are attempting to assert their own authority via dangerous animals? Or maybe, by controlling the dangerous animals, they somehow prove their own value to themselves? Can't quite get it. I'm a cat person, myself.

There is definitely something comforting about conformity and sameness. One of my favorite books is Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis. When I first read it, at a young age, I scoffed at Babbitt's life. Upon each re-reading, as I age, I find myself desiring certain aspects of it.

Cricket said...

Yay - a new post! I always look forward to them. Uniquely "shimpy": a paean to the suburbs. Why not? How bad can they really be... look how many people live there.

House of Yorkie? Priceless.

I suppose I'll have to take up this theme myself sometime. Cabo wrote a piece about refreshing his soul in the woods that almost pushed me to it, and now this. I saw his point, I see yours, too. I get it. I really do. And yet...

I like to be left alone. I hate tranquillity. I don't know what I'd do without the constant noise and craziness. Cars, planes, people fighting in a language I don't even recognize, walking past a shop with bins of God-knows outside, neatly packaged for sale. Hot grease and diesel, three radios all tuned to a different station, and me all up in the middle of it, walking among a hundred people who haven't the slightest interest in what I'm doing.

In the middle of all that, I think I find an interior tranquillity.

I agree that the purple-haired folk are quite possibly trying a bit too hard. Picture this, though:

I go to pick up the little one at preschool. It is snowing lightly. I stop at an intersection. A man, perhaps forty, and normally dressed, is skipping down the road. He is waving an enormous flag. At the top of the flagpole he has attached a large crucifix. He occasionally shouts and points skyward. I wave. He waves back and begins to sing loudly.

My son asks "what was that man doing?"

"I have no idea, buddy."

Whatever he was doing, I don't think he was pretending.

If it hadn't been pick-up time, I think I would have had to stop and "interview" him. Apparently, he is a local character. I've kept an eye out since. No luck, yet.

I was on vacation with my wife once, tossing and turning in bed. She asked what was wrong.

"It's so (bad word) quiet. How am I supposed to get any sleep?"

I suppose we're really not that different from all the other critters out there, in what we choose to call home. Thanks for yet another thought-provoking post.

Teri said...

"quivering with the anger peculiar to all tiny terriers,"... isn't that the truth!!? Best Friend's little rat terrier is something. Another friend calls her the "Rat Terrorist". LOL

Kathryn said...

Oh, you're funny.

I definitely identify with " . . . I am frequently happiest when alone with a book. Neither social, nor anti-social. I like people a great deal, I find nearly everyone endlessly interesting."

Except for me i guess it would be "lots of people very interesting." I think you've more patience than i.

I often think i'd like to live in a more social neighborhood, yet i know that i'd be somewhat uncomfortable with it.

As always, i so enjoy what you share. (And somehow, during one of my off days, i missed your last post. I admire you very much, Alane, for recognizing & voicing: " . . . Maybe it's actually your similarities, whispers that inner-voice of self-examination.")

Clowncar said...

Nice post. a lot of truth in the statement "I think we are all only ordinary on the surface."

I grew up in Iowa, and did not find the Midwest to be normal. Or boring. Or repressed. Or any of those other easy cliches.

A bit of synchronicity: I currently live in a 100 year old Colorado house that I on occasion believe to be haunted. Not in Denver, though.

Gary's third pottery blog said...


Becky the Design Lady said...

We - me and my mutts - live in a more rural setting and the most dangerous encounters we have are likely to be skunks.

I lived in the big city in a large apartment complex for many years, not knowing my neighbors and enjoying my anonymity.
A move to a farming community almost made me insane the first year or so. Everybody knows when you're not home, when you have company over, when you're out in the backyard, front yard, garden or anywhere else. If they noticed that your car wasn't in the driveway they want to know where you were. It's like living among a multitude of my mother.
Happily, my current neighborhood isn't quite so interested in my non-interesting life.

Tabor said...

Being as I like to wander around my front yard in my PJs in the early morning and shout at my husband to come to dinner int he late afternoon I could never make it in the suburbs...but I DO know that they are just like the rest of us and someone in your neighborhood was sitting pickled on his back patio as your wrote this post.

Frances Tyrrell said...

I think you would escape cliches where ever you live, Alane!

Suburbs are mysterious indeed. Some years ago in one of Toronto's most uniformly bland satellite suburbs a man died from strangulation by one of his own pet pythons. In adjacent homes people would have been coming home from work, having supper, watching the late show etc., oblivious to the silent struggle just doors away.
Something to ponder as I walk
the dog (sometimes called Heel)past local suburban homes - porches, petunias.. pythons?

Kerry said...

You had me with "team Yorkie." I am in awe.

Hilary said...

I grew up in the heart of Montreal but have lived in what would be considered Ontario suburbia for the past 25+ years. I love the security of knowing my neighbours. If I had to leave town in a hurry five minutes from now, at least 8 different neighbours come to mind who could feed my cats for me and take in my mail. I feel more at home here with these folks than any place I've had on my own in the city. It's a good cross between city dwelling and a bit of country.

We have a huge dog population on our street too.. all great critters. Your descriptions of your local canines made me laugh out loud. You have such a way with words, my friend. I'm generally more of a cat person, myself but am about to throttle one of my own who has not once but TWICE somehow managed to right click while I'm typing, and delete my comment while casually pacing between me and the keyboard. Bring on those Yorkies!

DUTA said...

I prefer my neighborhood dull and tranquil. I don't feel attracted to diversity of people, languages habits, buildings, which make things look more spicy, more interesting.
Like you "I happily traded visual interest for tranquility".

Cloudia said...

Counter-intuitive and very well written!

Aloha from Hawaii (Medical MJ State)

Comfort Spiral

Shrinky said...

Just yesterday my sis' and I had a conversation about the type of folk who keep vicious dogs. I think many see them as some form of penis-extention. When I walk my gentle giant (Golden Retriever) on the beach, all he does is swim, or chase pebbles. I know I can safely leave him off the leash around toddlers, he never jumps up, doesn't run ahead of me, and always comes immediately when called. It doesn't happen often, but there have been several times our peaceful walk has been abruptly ruined by (what at first glance appears to be a stray escapee from Baskerville, since the owner is almost always at least half a mile out of sight), a set of jaws cased in powerful muscle. It INFURIATES me when irresponsible idiots think it's alright to let their uncontrolable animals loose to harrass and terrorise the general public. (Oops, I'll zip it here, before this turns into a full scale rant!)

There is a lot to be said for a peaceful, anonymous neighbourhood. Nothing wrong with safe, secure and predictable. Colourful characters are only interesting if you don't have to live next door to them, give me polite and remote neighbour's any day!

Another well penned and thoughtful post, it's always a joy to visit here!

PhilipH said...

Milady Alane: your magnus opus, in my opinion.

It's pure and honest; witty in an understated way which makes one smile with one's heart.

Loved it. Great.


Land of shimp said...

saz, it has truly surprised me how distant people are in the suburbs. It's a friendly sort of thing, lots of waves, and smiles, but it's very impersonal. It's cordial, but it isn't a familiar sort of friendliness.

Not long after we moved here last summer, we had all the windows open on a summer night, about ten at night. We heard someone apparently screaming, and both dashed outside immediately, listening for what direction it was coming from, trying to figure out if someone was in trouble.

We didn't hear the screams again, but it was so strange, as we were the only ones out on the street even looking. All up and down the street were lighted windows, open for the breeze.

slommler, I think I'd feel very differently about the suburbs if it wasn't for the fact that our subdivision has privacy fences around the backyards. Some developments don't allow them (it allegedly interrupts visual flow...which, yes, that would be the entire point of a privacy fence!).

Dana, the first time I saw that Dane baying his lungs out at me, I will tell you exactly what I said, "Oh.Holy.Jesus." (keep in mind, I'm not a churchgoer) I figured we were done for, but I've met that big hound before, and whenever he's outside, his person or people are usually right there with him, to haul him away. This is a fact that is not a great source of comfort, actually, as it suggests he may actually be dangerous.

I'm not prone to fear of dogs, most aren't actually dangerous even when they make a big noise, you can usually let loose with a big, commanding, "NO! SIT!" and if that dog is someone's pet, they know the command. That's what used to happen with those dogs that ran around our old neighborhood.

That Dane is so large, I couldn't even gather my thoughts enough to think of the word "sit" (although I thought of one that sounds remarkably similar, that's for sure). Great Danes are just plain big, but this is the biggest Dane I've ever seen. He doesn't appear to be a gentle giant, either.

Just saying, that fear you have of strange dogs is actually kind of a good thing in that you won't do anything daft.

At our old house, next door was a house that was rented out. It was a nice, 100-year-old bungalow so usually the tenants were decent people. The family that lived there when Rob first bought the house (he owned it before we got married) owned a Rottweiler named Apollo.

Well, Apollo could handily hop the fence. I used to find him in our yard, our side yard, on our porch and each time I'd just say, "Hey Apollo, let's get you home." and lead that huge dog home.

Thankfully I only found out AFTER they moved that Apollo used to by one of two dogs...but one day, the other dog started a fight with Apollo...and he killed her. Dead.

He'd also bitten one of the children in the neighborhood, so he had issues with people.

I darn near died retroactively when I found out that I'd been casually grabbing a hold of the collar of a dog with a known aggression problem. He never so much as growled at me. Seemed to like me quite a bit, but I'm just saying, fear of unknown dogs, and steering clear of them is actually not a bad thing :-)

Land of shimp said...

Jim, I agree and am equally baffled. I've never had a dangerous dog, and worked really hard with all of my Scotties (we had three) to make sure they lost the Scottie tendency to snap (two of them never had that tendency). But I'd be calling in a trainer if I couldn't handle anything like that with a dog.

Frankly, if I had a dog that couldn't be broken of aggression...yeah, I love dogs, but I value humans. I would not keep a dangerous animal.

So I don't get the whole "Oh, he protects my family!" deal. By some pepper spray, and learn to dial 911. If a dog will go after people? He may someday go after you. Trying to encourage aggression in dogs is an absolutely marvelous way to end up either attacked yourself, or having the dog hurt someone you would never intend for him to.

The other one I never get, and Jim, please forgive the gender stereotype, but I've only ever encountered one woman who said anything similar, so I associate it with men: Men who over-identify with their dogs testicles. You know the type, "We could never have him neutered! It would change his personality! I wouldn't let anyone cut off my balls, and no one is taking Slim's either."

Dude? Neuter your dog. He's less likely to run away in search of literal tail, won't mark territorially, will have fewer aggression problems and if you aren't a (respectable) breeder, there's NO excuse for doing something that the only place it leads is unwanted puppies.

So that's the one that baffles me. He's a dog. Yes sir, we get that you love all your bits and parts, and no one is suggesting that you be castrated. Now be a responsible pet owner, you mook, and neuter that dog already.

Drives me berserk. Can you tell?

Good to see you, Jim :-)

Cricket, I like silence. I have lived in cities, and can tune out the background noise of my fellow bipeds, but oh for the quiet! Thankfully, I married someone with the exact same preference.

To each their own, and may we both be accommodated :-)

Teri, isn't that the truth? Now, I've owned Scotties, and for small dogs they are incredibly strong. That's partially because they were bred to hunt things like ferrets, and rats that go to ground.

But when terriers are bred down past that "actually just a short working dog" status, Rat, Yorkie, Silky, Cairn...OH MAN! It apparently really HONKS THEM OFF!

My BIL had a Rat Terrier and used to issue "SDW" Small Dog Warnings. She wasn't dangerous to people, but that dog was a SPAZ. You couldn't humanly give her enough exercise. She's bust through a nylabone in an evening. It was impressive, and not a little bit scary.

She died last year, of old age, but was initially a rescue dog. Someone thought, "Oh, cute little puppy!" and ended up with the Terrible Terrier syndrome.

I like them because they are tenacious, and have no idea they are small but...yeah, I don't think I could actually have one smaller than a Scottie (well, Westies are a bit smaller, but Westies were also originally working dogs).

Land of shimp said...

It's always good to see you, Kathryn. Thank you, I hope I am a patient person. I try.

Isn't that one of the tags we could apply to almost all of life though? "I'm trying, work in progress here."

I suppose I could go all Yoda on the situation, "There is no try, there is only do!"

But I've always disliked that quote. There is value in an attempt, and even if you don't achieve the "do" repeated attempts are the only way to get better at almost anything.

Hehe, truthfully? I never liked Yoda much.

Clowncar! I didn't realize you are a fellow Coloradoan. Judging from your description, I guess you're most likely to be up in the Springs, or in Grand Junction. Although there are plenty of older homes scattered hither and yon in Colorado (passed a bunch on my way to Fairplay to pick up our dog...which, what a beautiful drive 285 is, no?) ...but you mentioned parks in a post, so I'm guessing you're in one of the long established cities.

That or Boulder (you don't need to tell me where you are, by the way, I'm just babbling) ...which, I lived in Boulder when I first came out here. Fun, and all, but a little to wacky at times.

Anyway, greetings my fellow Coloradoan! If you are ever in Highlands Ranch, let me know, and I'll buy you a cup of coffee :-)

Gary!! Every person who comes through my house comments on that yellow vase, by the way. The blue one is lovely also, but that yellow vase? A total crowd pleaser!

Becky, I think you've pretty much nailed it. Too small and everyone feels as if they must keep an eye on each other, and therefore practically stalk you. Too big and there's never a moment's peace. Somewhere in the middle and you sort of all into your own, separate grooves.

Although our Canadian neighbors are awfully sweet, and do things like shovel the darned walk for us. No matter how often we do the "Thank you, but you really, really don't need to do that! thing.

In fact, one morning Rob was out there at the same time as ...oh, let's call him John ...and John waited until Rob's back was turned to start shoveling our walk.

Rob: I'm standing right here!
John: I'm only doing a one-shovel lane today!

They seem very grateful that, compared to the last family that lived here (constant pool parties, I take it) ...we are as silent as the grave.

Land of shimp said...

Hehe, Tabor, I wander around my backyard in my PJs a lot. I do put on proper pants to walk the dog though.

I had to laugh because when I read the "probably pickled right then" thing I thought, "Good lord, it was eight in the morning and I...oh, well, you're probably right, come to think of it."

Frances, what a nice thing to read in the morning, thank you. Yes, there is always something happening behind those doors. Things we know very little about, and that may be a good thing.

That's funny, Kerry, because I was in awe of the four terriers the first time I saw them. I mean, the door went up. One Yorkie. Oh, okay, two well it's good for some dogs to have a pla...whoa! Three? Those are some determined dog ow...OH MY GOD, four? Are they entirely deranged?"

And they are NEVER on leashes. Ever. Just these low to the ground, scampering creatures. Yorkies deployed everywhere, with impunity, it seems, as they are all clearly well trained to the master's voice.

Four tiny terriers held in check by one command? I am in awe...truly.

You know, Hilary, there is something else to take into account here: Perhaps I haven't bonded with anything other than my immediate neighbors because...I sort of don't try. So there's that, too. Perhaps they are not really the ones who are a wee bit distant?

I am friendly, you know that, but I'm also very self-contained most of the time.

Hehe, brings to mind the old saying, "All the world's a little bit strange but me, and thee. Sometimes I worry about thee."

Cats as editors. Well of course they'd disapprove of anything not written about Dogs!

Good to see you, as always :-)

Oh Duta, we are of one mind about peace and tranquility. Hello, nice to see you! I always associate you with new, interesting, beautiful places.

Isn't that a lovely way to be thought of and about?

Cloudia, hehe, you live in paradise visually, I know you do. Isn't it funny that MM is approved for Hawaii and things like "Stress, Anxiety."? I know people in Hawaii still have stress...but I'm guessing someone in East Orange NJ has less success alleviating that stress by simply looking out their window :-)

Land of shimp said...

Shrinky, aren't they just? I mean, it seems even more direct than the little phallic sports cars some are prone to.

I'm with you, give me a good, gentle souled dog anytime.

(who needs to be walked right now, hence the rather short reply, thank you for coming by, I'll be over to see you in a bit).

Philip, Philip, I am always so pleased to see your screenname, and thank you.

I hope Flossie is keeping well enough, and that your friend with the broken hip is on the mend, too!

If I don't walk my dog soon, she'll likely leave me for another, so anon, anon. I shall see you anon.

LadyFi said...

What a fabulous post.. even though I have no idea what HOA is (must be an American thing). I love the way you describe an ordinary morning and turn it into something so extraordinary and lovely.

Clowncar said...

In Pueblo!

Land of shimp said...

Thank you, LadyFi. An HOA is a "Home Owners Association", frequently called Strata in other areas and I'm completely spacing what they are called in the UK...although I know full well my mother pays them on her flat in Scotland, I just can't think of the name.

The town I live in Highlands Ranch (I really don't worry about some person from the internet showing up at my door uninvited because I've stated my town name, on the internet, the only two stalker-types I've ever had both knew me personally, and were more of a nuisance than a threat) is actually one, giant HOA as a town. There are HOAs per subdivision, but even my town is an HOA.

I think that might actually mitigate how intrusive the HOA is. We pay annual fees that fund things like town recreation centers but for the most part, an HOA exists to tell you things like, "No, you can't paint your house purple, or have pink flamingos on your lawn."

That sounds dreadful, but in truth, it isn't. I've no great yen to have a purple house (I have purple walls inside, though) and aside from one note left on my garage door when we didn't shovel our snow promptly enough, I haven't heard anything from them.

Sidenote on that, I ran into the Treasurer of this subdivision, who had evidently left the note. He apologized, saying, "I hope you understand." I did. I also explained that the only reason I was late shoveling that day was that my husband had just had surgery for a hernia.

At which point the man offered to shovel my walk for me so...whereas having someone keep a close enough eye on your place that they immediately notice when you let the snow shoveling go for a 24 hour period has its downsides, it also isn't done heartlessly.

I know they've given one of my neighbors hell, and been really unpleasant, so maybe my tune will change someday. For now? They don't bother me, I don't bother them.

Thank you for the kind words, by the way :-)

Oh! Of course, I should have guessed, Clowncar. I haven't had reason to head out to Pueblo for ages (seriously, I think it has been ten years) but that makes perfect sense.

Funny sidenote about Pueblo: About three or four months ago someone showed me a link for "Foodie Towns that Will Surprise You" and she was showing it to me because a town in Michigan was on it that surprised her.

Personally, I was stunned that Pueblo was on the list!

Pueblo = haute cuisine? Really? Didn't know that!

Clowncar said...

Pueblo does one thing better than any other city in the world: green chili. I'm guessing that was what put it on the map.

It's related foodie claim to fame is sloppers: hamburgers smothered guessed chili. Tasty. But have a bottle of Tums handy for afterward.

Katy said...

I live in a small village in the middle of a large city. I know... only in Houston where people don't belive in zoning laws.. So is suburban esque. I like the nice schools my daughter get to attend. I like that the village police patrol the streets so no one dares to roll past a stop sign let alone break in to a house. My only complaint is that whatever reason.. these village people (most of whom are insanely rich) don't seem to belive in walking their dogs on a lesh. They would much rather run after them and yell when they try to attack my dog. Drives me insaine. I don't get it. I really do not. People need to be responsible pet owners. Train your dogs!

Brian Miller said...

life in teh suburbs is fairly interesting...i do miss my country home, but...neighbors always add the intrigue...

Slamdunk said...

I bet that is quite a change--from city to suburbs. I went from suburbs to city to rural--I have found that I prefer the latter.

Jo said...

Oh, goodness, this made me laugh right out loud. I live in Kitsilano. At one time it was the equivalent of Haight Ashbury in San Francisco, and in fact the two neighborhoods still look exactly alike. But I have all sorts of eclectic neighbors. I would love to live where you are, where everything has to be approved beforehand. I love my colorful neighborhood, but I am not crazy about my noisy neighbors.

Kitsilano is dog-central for Vancouver as well. We even have a dog bakery around the corner, called "The Barkery". I haven't been attacked yet, though -- knock on wood. :-)

Dave said...

I really enjoyed this story Alane. You are a brilliant writer! - Dave

ethelmaepotter! said...

This is perhaps your most brilliant post to date. (And that's really saying something!)

You began with an essay on suburbia. I've always dreamed of a white clapboard farmhouse, sitting shaded by towering oaks in splendid solitude on twenty or more acres. But your story makes me rethink that dream - I DO like suburbia; there IS, as you said, a strangely soothing ambiance to the mundanity of everyday life. I can set my watch by the arrival of the school bus at our neighbor's house; I look forward to the splashes and squeals of delight as their children take to the pool; I love the smell of freshly mowed lawns in the summer.

And then, in a seemingly effortless transition, you delve into one of the most hilarious stories I've ever read.

The imagery of the Great Dane "usually with a sullen teenager attached to his collar," is fantastic. As are "...the House of Yorkie across the street suddenly deployed all four of their furry ballistic missiles..," " he cleared the fence in an ungainly manner that I'm afraid might cost him future generations," "...each and every one of those dogs is actually named, "Nooooooo!" and "the Yorkie Brigade."

And then right back into your brilliant essay on suburban life.

I must confess my new two little Morkies, when in the presence of any life form other than myself, can turn in a flash from lovable clingy lap dogs into barking life threatening furballs of vicious fury. I have a feeling obedience school is in their very near future.

Great read and so happy you're back!

Pauline said...

It's funny how that happens - when I lived in a log cabin the woods of Northern Vermont, everyone knew of and about me. Here in the "suburbs" of my little home town, I hardly know my neighbors. Maybe familiarity is too big a risk for people who live in close proximity to one another.

Nancy said...

As usual, a thoughtful and interesting post. As yet, I have not lived totally urban. My children live within walking distance of everything and have the lifestyle associated with knowing more than they want to sometimes. I, on the other hand, have always been a suburbanite, and on more than one occasion, lived in a more country setting. Yet in my dreams, I continually see myself in a high rise overlooking a busy street. I think I like the idea of knowing, but in reality prefer being more reclusive and private.

Teri said...

Hi! The boxes arrived today and in perfect shape. Thanks so much! I LOVE it more in person! I'll be over at the food pantry this week... photos to follow!

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Shimp: Colorado has such beautiful country. I'm sure that is shown in your acceptance of the area.

Deb said...

This is my first visit to your bloghome and I thoroughly enjoyed my stay! Interesting food for thought in this post. I live in a VERY rural area but have had encounters of a very mean kind from some dogs in the neighborhood. Actually...a farmer down the road has geese and peacocks and they are mean ! I carry a large stick when I walk by their farm. Really. Take care.

Land of shimp said...

Clowncar, I not only believe you, I know that to be true. Green chili Nirvana exists in Pueblo!

Katy, I'm with you, when on a public street even a well-trained, beautifully behaved dog needs to be on a leash. The reason being is not simply to do with the dogs behavior, there are plenty of people who are afraid of dogs. Really deeply frightened by them. It almost always dates back to a dog that snapped at, or bit them but it still exists as a reality.

It really isn't about "my dog would never..." it's that we do have an obligation to help assure that others feel safe around our dogs. Now my dog is a silly little thing, and completely nonthreatening. She looks like a live Muppet, but she's always leashed when outside and not in a dog park.

It's not just for her safety, it's for the comfort of others. My pet peeve? People who don't pick up after their dogs. Those owners make the rest of us suspect, and I don't appreciate that one tiny bit.

Dogs poo, 'tis a fact. If you get a dog, you are inviting poo into your life, and if you're walking your dog? No excuses. Have a bag with you, and retrieve that stuff from the lawn's of others. It really isn't fair to leave a steaming pile on someone's lawn to favor our own delicate sensibilities.

I think that life in the suburbs feels full of potential mystery, Brian. It's rather delightful. There is an allure to speculating, to not quite knowing for sure.

I'm glad you're enjoying the rural life, Slamdunk and thank you for stopping by.

Jo, what I discovered is that I like person freedoms more in concept, than in practice when it came to my own leanings. I do value freedom of thought, freedom of expression, freedom of speech...but I also appreciate that here, unlike my last neighborhood, there is ZERO chance that someone is going to turn a disused commode into a planter on their front lawn.

The Barkery...hehe, that is absolutely fantastic.

Thank you so much, Dave. What a lovely thing to be told, and I greatly appreciate it.

Thank you also, Ethel. Again, it is such a kind thing to say, and I really do appreciate it. Are you enjoying dog ownership?

By the way, I need to give credit to my husband, who accidentally inspired the "As far as I know, each and every one of those dogs is actually named, "Noooooo!" comment.

We have a GoldenDoodle across the street, sometimes referred to by me as "The Running Dog" and he's a great big, lovable bundle of glee. His owner runs by with him most mornings, and it's always a struggle to keep Puddles in check when he does. Finally they met, nose-to-nose as it were a few weeks back. Running dog took an off-leash opportunity while his owner's worked in the front yard, to sprint like mad towards Puddles so they could meet. The resulting cuteness reached almost unheard of levels.

I tried to tell Rob about it, saying, "The Golden Doodle across the street. You know, the Running Dog?"

"No, not familiar with him..."

"Well anyway, he came busting down the street, trailing his person, who was busily shouting "Nooooooooooo!" all the way..."

"Oh! I know that dog! The big fuzzy one? Yes, go on."

That dog. The one easily identified with, "Noooooooooo!"

Land of shimp said...

Pauline, I think that is a very astute observation. Thank you for it, I'll have to keep that in mind.

Too close to risk any kind of intimacy lest they are unable to take it back.

Nancy, I think that it might be best to keep that to the realm of imagination. In dreams there are no smells of a week's worth of dinner smell lingering in a communal hallway. On the balcony overlooking the city in our dreams, there is rarely an invasive sound of traffic, let alone fumes. Profane cab-drivers bellowing from the streets below are rarely the stuff of dreams.

But are often an unwelcome part of the reality :-) Surbanite power! *Fist Pump*

Teri, I'm so glad the lighting fixture arrived in good condition! I look forward to seeing it installed in its new home. Maybe it will tell you bedtime stories of all the pool parties it witnessed.

Hey, if it can ever explain the red smudge on the kitchen ceiling when we got here? Do let me know. It was rather tragically mute while living with us, but you never know!

It does indeed, Fishing Guy. I know myself to be fortunate to be able to access that regularly. Thank you for stopping by!

Deb, they are indeed mean, and I think the stick is a very wise plan. It's like the gunslinger walking into the local saloon and ordering a hard drink, sends the message, "That's right, don't mess with me."

I'd advise carrying a plucker if the stick ever fails you. Let them know you mean business.

And where track shoes, just in case :-)