25 June 2011

Quirky is as quirky does

I am Dewey Johnson's daughter: collections of weird, old crap make me feel like I'm home. But when it's not my old weird crap, and it's right next to my house, I start to like it a little bit less.

 Collection of old paint cans three inches from my driveway. Early Summer 2011-present. (Now buried under three truck loads of lumber).

My neighbor is essentially who I would've grown up to be if not for Shaun: she's single, has no children, and struggles with health issues. She also loves dogs and swears like a sailor. I kind of like her, and she's always kind to V in the way that people who are sickly and swear like sailors try to be nice to kids. Aside from her penchant for letting homeless people live in my driveway, I have no problem with her. She's sort of hardscrabble, and I like that. But she collects. Well, no. She hoards.
The lawnmower collection. June 15 2011- present.
Five push mowers and one riding mower. In a standard city lot (40' x 120' or so). No professional mowing business involved. The rhubarb, above, is growing right on our property line, through our fence (thank god for fences).

So, I don't really care about any of that stuff. I mean, it's kind of unsightly, but if I wanted a scenic vista I certainly shouldn't've bought a house in North Moorhead. And V's not the kind of kid who goes wandering into other people's yards, so I'm not worried about her safety, exactly. Though those paint cans must be some sort of environmental hazard...our other neighbors (everyone else on our street, as far as I can tell) HATE it. They hate her stuff, and many of them strongly dislike our neighbor, or worse. Believe it or not, the city came a couple of autumns ago and took everything away (yes. these two collections are all less than two years old), and I don't know about your city, but ours doesn't really show up unless they get numerous complaints. But none of those complaints came from us. Afterwards, everyone on our block got a letter of reprimand from the city, telling us to play nice and not call each other names or tell our children malicious things which they may repeat (seriously. It's an awesome letter). It made me very sad, and not because we had been playing nice all along. It's just sad to me when grown ups are mean to each other.

And truly, my neighbor's collection is nothing compared to what my family compiled, before and after I was born. We owned over half a city block, and my dad and uncle would scoff at only six different lawnmowers. Somewhere in heaven, Dewey's laughing. "I had six mowers by the time I was V's age!"

Still, I feel like I'm not a very good American somehow if this doesn't piss me off more. What's your take, gentle readers? Would you be more annoyed than I am? Is it just my crap-filled upbringing that makes me tolerate this crazy hoarding issue? For the record, Shaun doesn't care at all about her stuff: as long as it doesn't affect him, she can do what she wants. Perhaps we're just the libertarian family on a block full of angry republicans.

I do know that if there's a zombie apocalypse, my neighbor's house is going to have most of what we might need to survive. Perhaps that should be my main comfort.


Charlotte said...

I'm sort of a compulsive organizer so I would totally be annoyed, but I would never say anything to her about it. I'm the suffer in silence type ;) I have the urge to purge my own house all the time and I still think I have too much crap. I told the kids (especially my budding hoarder, Eden) that they need to stop keeping every single drawing they've ever made or we're going to need a second house. I don't think it's wrong to be emotionally attached to things, but lawn mowers & cans of paint??? Not sure...

Megan said...

I think Charlotte brings up a good and valid point. Collecting and saving things is entirely up to each of us, individually. But...I think we must ask ourselves, "If something happened to me and someone had to come take care of this stuff, how would I feel?" If you decide you're okay with having your family members and/or friends clean up the things you've collected and kept, then keep on keepin' on. If, however, you'd be embarassed at this thought, perhaps you should consider tossing an item out here and there.

As for your situation with your neighbor...I think my solution would be to trick my husband into going over and offering to help "organize" and "properly store" her collections ;)