Concrete-and-cinder-block walls, the whole way.
Needless to say, none of the other neighbors had such an unnecessary and psychotically elaborate structure lining the sides of their sections of the stream.
Also needless to say: Teh 'Bride and I immediately let those stupid walls go to pot. I think Mr. W. lectured us on how much work it took to keep them in good repair. I think our reaction to the lecture was, "Yeah, thanks. Got any Mallomars?"
Anyroad, skip ahead
But anyroad, that was like 6-7 years ago3; now, we have hired Teh Fantastic Mr. Fox to do work on our yard and the exterior of the house. And one of the things he did was wrestle those cinder blocks out of the stream. And he brought them up to the front of our house, by the curb, where, in theory, they should have been carted away by the Large Item Garbage Dudes who allegedly come when the Regular Garbage Dudes see Large Items of Garbage in front of your house.
But it's been weeks now, and even though the LIGDs took other crap from the front of our house, including smaller pieces of cinder block, there's this one three-blocks-long chunk that is still there.
Or was, till this morning. Because yesterday Ian raked the leaves in our front yard so it would be clear for him to use the pitchback (which he got for his birthday) today; and so he got up first this morning to play, but that 90-year-old neighbor, Mr. Y., was already out there raking away the leaves that Ian had raked out to the street yesterday. So Ian went out to help him.
And then Mr. Y. got his sledgehammer and he and Ian busted up the cinder blocks so they could be moved away from the front of our house.
And so now it occurs to me that we — teh 'Bride and I — are this neighborhood's "bad neighbors", in that we are considered the ones with the eyesore of a yard, one small step away from having a rusted, wheel-less shell of a Chevy Mustang lying in our front yard. And I'm sure Mr. Y. saw those cinder blocks and thought, "Well ... the cinder blocks are already in place ... how long could it be before these hillbillies break out the rusted-out, wheel-less Mustang shell to put up on those blocks?"
And that's probably what mobilized him.
Because to him, clearing out those cinder blocks was like a preemptive strike by the Neighborhood Beautification Committee.
Tuh-hilk! Teh 'Bride 'n' me, how the rest of the neighborhood sees us: As Jersey Hillbillies
And so it occurs to me that we have somehow become the embodiment of the Teabagger movement.
An overstatement? I think not! Because guess whar we dun jest got back from?
Shootin' clay pigeons with shotguns in Ian's ex-babysitter's backyard, is whar!
Ian's ex-babysitter, Mrs. K., is a very nice lady, salt of the earth, and we love her, and her husband, Truck Driver and Second Amendment Enthusiast Uncle Buck. Last year, they invited us to their annual Thanksgiving clay pigeon shoot (only noobs call them "clay pigeons", though; we vets call them "birds") ; and even though neither Adrienne, nor I nor — needless to say — Ian had ever fired a rifle before, we said okay.
And Buck showed us how to shoot and we all (about 10 or 12 of us, all told) went into the field in his backyard and shot "birds" that were flung into the air by these "things" that were attached to the backs of their "pick-up trucks". And neither Ian nor Adrienne shot much (or at all), but I shot for the whole two hours.
And even though Mrs. K. and Buck consider us to be bleeding heart liberals bent on taking away everybody's Second Amendment rights, they invited us back again this year, where, once again, I did most of the shooting. And just let me say that, once again, if my shooting percentage were a baseball batting percentage, I'd be a benchwarmer at best, or, even more likely, I wouldn't even make the team unless I was blowing the manager. Or, to put it another way, the local clay pigeon population was not exactly in danger of being put on the Endangered Species List because of anything I accomplished today.
Last year, the kick from the rifles gave me an aching shoulder the next day. This year I don't think that will happen. Because this year, I somehow managed to hold the rifle in such a way that I absorbed most of the recoil with my right cheek. Luckily, it was my face cheek, because it's more padded than my @$$cheek because, as you know, I have a notoriously flat Irish @$$.
In any case, tomorrow it should look as though Teh 'Bride was beating me about the head and face again. Tomorrow she'll be all, "O baby, you know I love you and this will never happen again!" And I'll believe her. I'm so lame.
And so the Lurvely Couple of Mrs. K and Buck probably think they have converted us.
But the joke's on them because, before going to the pigeon shoot?
I contributed $50 to the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence in memory of John Lennon.
1 Fine print: Though not soon. Or violently. Or embarrassingly, like being caught in the company of male hookers we try to pass off as "personal assistants" while dressed in nothing but diapers (having nothing to do with old-age incontinence) or multiple latex bodysuits, even though I do have the rock-hard (WAIT FOR IT!1!) abs to be able to make such a get-up work but I can't figure out how to do so without getting Teh Ghey all over me, not that there's anything wrong with that.
Point is, we hope to live in this house for the rest of our lives and we hope those lives — our lives — will be long and fruitful. To be even clearer: The we "hope to die in" this house, above, should not be read as some sort of weird death wish or murder-suicide pact.
One of my favorite descriptions of Henry James' prose, especially in his late-career novels, is: He seems to be chewing more than he bit off.
I believe that I, in this footnote re: dying in this house, have achieved "chewing more than he bit off" status.
Another description of HJ's late-career prose: Like watching a hippopotamus try to pick up a pea.
I achieved that status somewhere around post number two, I think.
2 But not a very good one. When we had the house inspected before the sale, the inspector took one look at the metal shower that Mr. W. had installed in the half-finished basement — the draining in which was assisted by the sucking power of an electric motor — and pointed out that it was "an electrocution waiting to happen". Because, yeah, Mr. W. had attached the switch for the motor to the metal exterior of the shower wall itself. And — SPOILER ALERT!1! — showers are frequently wet.
Also: The plumber took one look at something or other Mr. W. had rigged on the boiler, and begged us to let him come back with a needed replacement part the next day because the thing that was on there was on backwards ("I'm not even sure how he got it to fit" qouth Teh Plumber) and "was an explosion waiting to happen".
There were a whole lot of electrifying and explosive things waiting to happen in this little house, and none ever did (THAT'S WHAT MRS. W. SAID!1!). I'm not sure if Mr. W. was a homegrown terrorist or just mechanically incompetent.
Our plumber back then, for what it's worth, was a Unitarian and a cross-dresser (though not at work; I mean, not the latter at work, because he probably was still a Unitarian while at work) and, as far as I know, he was no relation to Teh B*tch. (Full disclosure: This guy was kinda homely. Teh B*tch is a FAR more attractive shemale. See for yourself:
3 When the Kenyan Muslim in Chief wasn't even president but we, presciently, already KNEW that he and he alone was responsible for everything Dubya and Cheney did, up to and including fucking their wives, I think, though I think Teh 'Bride is still resisting my wife-fucking theory because she's soft on terrorism.