Sunday, June 5, 2016

'Honour The Neighbour'

I will put this bluntly...I HATE WINTER!! The frigid temperatures, bone chilling wind, snow and ice make it exceedingly undesirable for me but in spite of all that, like everyone else, I have adapted to old man winter throughout the years. It would be highly satisfying for my Executive Assistant (E.A.) and I to be converted to Snowbirds (holiday in Florida for our winter months) and finding a little tranquility like laying on the beach writing my amateur rants with a cooler of ice cold Miller High Life adult beverages beside me, but as usual, money is the principle component of preventing that fantasy.

My E.A.'s father was born in Newfoundland (N.L.). She and I have discussed a few times about moving to the rock. She has relatives who could assist us on such issues as pinpointing a doctor, dentist, financial advisor, hospital and a decent supermarket as well as just settling our roots. We conversed our home would be small, nothing elaborate, but have a picturesque and scenic view overlooking the ocean. The summer months would be comfortable and pleasant but then we have the winter...their winters are absolutely brutal. When N.L. receives snow they are clobbered and pummelled...many times they will sustain thirty, forty or fifty centimetres (that's eleven to nineteen inches) of snow in one storm, and with the wind and drifting, people can be snowed in for days.

We have viewed numerous N.L. winter pictures but one really attracted my attention. The picture showed a heavy duty front end loader on a road. The snow banks were mammoth, I kid you not, they had to be at least forty feet high...the front end loader looked like a dinky toy. It didn't take us long to give our heads a shake and squash the idea of having N.L. as our new residence.

I would also personally like to thank the provincial government of N.L. (Liberal regime) from the bottom of my heart of reinforcing our decision of NOT relocating to N.L. I read their latest budget in C.B.C. news April 14/16. I know Liberals have a deep affection and are fixated with tax payer's money but this financial plan is shocking, sickening and outright thievery. Here are a few highlights of their extortion scheme: a new 10% tax on all books, a Harmonized Sales Tax (H.S.T.) increase from 13% to 15%, a 16.5 cent per litre gasoline tax, 15% new tax on insurance premiums, increase of income tax 1% - 3%, depending on an individual's earnings, tax increase on registering a passenger vehicle, about three hundred fees such as license permits, fines and inspections are going up and another fifty new fees will be introduced. Overall the average household in N.L. will be 'coughing up' another $3,000 a year. TAX, TAX, TAX...typical fucking politicians.

We bought our house in Hamilton, Ontario in 2001 and thoroughly enjoy our home. We plunked quite a few bucks into upgrades but it was money well spent...it's a cozy and snug two bedroom pad...we are very content. When we saw the ad in the real estate paper, it was normal, like other notices, except at the end of the description it read, wonderful neighbours. Throughout the years we have discovered that the word wonderful certainly wasn't fabricated. Some neighbours have come and gone but the folks who are still here are splendid and wonderful.

Nevertheless, we sincerely miss our neighbours who lived adjacent to us. They were an enjoyable couple, just not neighbours but dam good friends. They were highly educated and professional people but were extremely and completely distant from being egotistical and conceited...they were common, down to earth individuals. We would engage in barbeques together. He and I would partake on having some beers and watch sporting events on television. He would play video games with my sons, sometimes till three o'clock in the morning. His wife took a real pleasure in sewing and stitched a Hawaiian shirt for myself and made slip covers for our furniture.

Sadly enough their relationship didn't last...it's like the 1967 Chamber Brothers song titled 'Time Has Come Today', their time had come...they sold their house and divorced. We were truly sorry they journeyed their separate ways.

This past winter (2015 - 2016) was semi-tolerable, mind you I find winter is never bearable. My E.A. bought me a new gas powered snow blower as my Christmas present and I used it on four occasions. I must say it was a delight to operate. My previous machine was a 1985 model...I bought it used for $300. I acquired less than two years service from the unit and had to pay $600 for a substantial tune up...I should have bought a brand new machine to begin with. Yea, I agree, DUH!!

Whenever we receive enough snow to use my blower I make sure I clean some of my neighbours sidewalks and driveways. Our 92 year old neighbour across the street is starting to slow down a snippet so I always clean his property. Notwithstanding his age, a couple of years ago I attempted to clean his sidewalk with my old machine as he was starting to clear his driveway. He noticed what I was doing and gave me an aggressive sideways motion with his right hand...translated into English I think it meant FUCK OFF...pride and dignity are hard to surrender. Before I bought my used blower he would always clean our sidewalk and driveway...it saved a lot of back breaking shovelling and in return I would thank him each year with a $50 gift certificate to Swiss Chalet and a $30 gift certificate to the Mandarin Restaurant.

I also clear my neighbour's sidewalk and driveway who live beside us. I know he appreciates my labouring because he rewards me with a case of 24 Miller Genuine Draft beer (man, that liquid gold is $40 a case) or a pack of kielbasa. At times he and his wife will have us over for dinner and we certainly eat and drink substantially. I recall once instance when one of my trees was obstructing the reception of his satellite dish and he asked me if I would be good enough to trim the limbs. I told him there was no problem and I cut the entire tree down, it might have been 20 feet high and it was dead anyway, not that it would have made a difference. Two days later he's knocking at my door with a gift, yes, another case of 24 Miller Genuine Draft beer. As usual I said to him "you don't have to do this" and his customary reply was "I know I don't have to do this." I also perform my duty with the neighbour next to my 'beer buddy'. Over the years he has helped us out a great deal before I owned a snow blower.

Then we have the woman who lives on the other side of us, she bought the house from our previous neighbours who divorced. I've been blowing her snow (sidewalk and driveway) for three years and she has never once offered me anything. The last two storms of this past winter, I only cleaned her sidewalk and she never even thanked me.

She bought two small mongrels from a puppy farm when she moved in...I call them Yacky and Whacky. Their barks are ever so high pitched and ear piercing and they will yap for ten, sometimes fifteen minutes at a time before she brings them inside. On few occasions they have woken me up after midnight. A great many times they are supremely annoying and irritating. I always say I'm going to phone noise control/bylaw but I never do...may I just want to keep peace.

She has approached us more than once for assistance. One episode was when she kept hearing an intermittent beeping sound and couldn't figure out where it was coming from. I traced the noise to her kitchen garbage can...I didn't need any high-tech equipment to fathom the location of the sound. As it turned out, it was her old smoke alarm she discarded with the battery still connected.

Another event 'we' encountered together was then the city experienced a long power outage. She knocked on our door and appeared to be in a panic and explained her problem to me. She was hearing a loud alarm signal from her sump pump and asked me to eyeball the situation, I obliged her and we entered her home together. I could hear a blaring warning sound from her sump pump in the basement. I don't know anything about sump pumps so I suggested we phone the Fire Department...just to be on the safe side. I called them on my cell phone and the alarm room operator explained to me they were extremely busy...I didn't doubt him for a second they were swamped with calls. However, ten minutes later Ladder 4 arrived at my neighbour's house. Three firefighters (one stayed with the apparatus) walked into her house and proceeded to the basement and shut off the noise. They assured her there was no danger but suggested she have someone inquire looking into it. The firefighters were, as usual, professional, courteous and exceptionally helpful.

I recommended to my neighbour she write a thank you letter to Station 4 (that was the firefighters home base) and she also agreed. A few years later I asked her if she had ever written the letter and her reply was "I tried but I couldn't find the phone number." Now really, we all know she could have written a short note and personally delivered it to Station 4...it's only a five minute jaunt away.

Epilogue

I really don't know what to think of our neighbour. Basically she is a nice woman but on the flip side a considerable amount of times, it's all about her. The smoke alarm and sump pump, well, as far as I'm concerned, are just loyalty and devotion to any neighbour. Be that as it may, she did disappoint me not sending a thank you letter to the Fire Department. As far as snow blowing, some times a little token of appreciation (especially after three years) is always welcomed. I will continue to clear my neighbours properties and clean her sidewalk only. I wonder if the phrase 'thank you' is permanently deleted from her vocabulary.

The End
Harvenut Puritan

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