Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Barnyard Neighbor, Poppy Socks, and a Killer Salsa Recipe

Chillin' with Poppy and Cooper
Sometimes I stitch on fiber, other times I stitch with beads.  However, the most important stitching that I do is relative to the fabric of my unexpected giggle with my daughter, a shared moment with my husband, a bit of inane silliness with my dogs, or a chance encounter with the neighbors.  I haven't gotten much creative stitching done in the last week because it has been filled with those Life Stitches....and I have the bruises and the warm fuzzies to prove it.

Last Tuesday I was going through the mail and found a note from a neighbor.  It was mean spirited, awful and --worst of all---anonymous.

OMG!!!!  "Neighbors for Peace & Quiet"?????    WTF?????   Really?
It was a Gut Punch.  I probably don't need to describe the feeling that immediately came over me.  Talk about Harshing my Mellow!  The sun stopped shining, the rooster seemed to crow even louder, and every single neighbor became a suspect...who could have written such a hateful note?

Was the whole neighborhood really against me?   We don't have a homeowners association or deed restrictions.  Was I truly an inconsiderate Barnyard Neighbor?   I didn't think so...after all, I asked permission from my immediate neighbors before embarking on my animal husbandry adventures. Sure, my rooster crows.  I cannot hear him if I am inside my house so I am pretty certain that none of neighbors can hear him from inside their homes, either.   My dogs are always by my side and I have a fully fenced in yard.  They run up to the fence and bark at passersby, but they stop when directed to do so.   Ugh.   I like to live in a state of grace...happy with my life and at peace with those around me.  I felt as though I had been pushed from that place and I was riddled with anxiety.  Yuck...the angst was awful.

Sharing my picnic with my pals
I obsessed about it to an embarrassing degree for the next several hours, finally calming down enough to pray for a bit for guidance.  It is funny....I notice that when I am at my most emotional, my brain is at its least functional.  Does it work like that for you?

...but I digress....

The rules regarding animals in the area in which I live are somewhat gray, or at least enforcement is relatively lenient.  Six families on my street have chickens!  Most have at least one dog. Admittedly, I am the only one with goats, but what the heck...they are really cute, my husband lets them in the house more often than I do, and I love 'em!  They are family, for goodness sake!

So....I wrote a little note of my own.  It came from my heart and was certainly not anonymous. I hand delivered copies of both notes to every neighbor who could possibly have an interest in what happens on my little speck of dirt.
The  BarnYard Neighbor responds.....

I armed myself with fresh Bribery Eggs, put on some lipstick, and made my way around the 'hood.  I delivered 40 notes in all and then poured myself a big ol' glass of Merlot.  I was kind of nervous... I lead a rather hermetic lifestyle.  My husband and I stick to ourselves. We are more the "smile and wave" kind of neighbors than the "let's organize a block party" kind of neighbors.   It could go either way.  I drank another glass of wine and decided to Let Go and Let God.   It didn't take long for the responses to start pouring in....

People that I have never talked to picked up the phone to offer support.  Some proffered opinions on the identity of the mystery writer, while others shared neighbor horror stories of their own.  One lady told me that the rooster makes her smile every day, reminding her of her youth on a farm.  Another neighbor offered to take up a petition, while yet another did some quick legal research to bolster my position.  I even heard from one of the guys who had made my suspect "short list."  [True Confession:  It was a humbling phone call because my suspicions were so misplaced.]  He told me that while he "didn't have a dog in this fight," he did not like that an "anonymous coward lied about speaking for the whole neighborhood."  He thought it "only neighborly" to tell me that he didn't "give a darn" what I did on my property.  Call after call, email after email....all offered support and encouragement.  The local Neighborhood Watch guy even conducted his own informal investigation to see if I was, indeed, a neighborhood menace.  He assured me that his interviews revealed that HE was the only one who had a problem with the rooster, although he promised me that he was not the author of the note.  He admitted that he only heard the rooster when he was outside in his yard.  I mentioned that I thought his overzealous use of lawn equipment might label him a serial leaf blower.  He  laughed and backed off.  In an over abundance of caution, I delivered fresh eggs to his house this morning and will do so weekly hereafter, with fingers crossed for continued harmony.

So there you have it.
Oh!  ...and I think I know the identity of the fellow who penned the note.  Oddly, he was never on my suspect list at all.   Nonetheless, I received some eyewitness information from three different sources, all pointing in his direction.  Moreover, several other neighbors have received anonymous notes that spew hatred....a boat in the yard, a barking dog, an RV sitting in a driveway....each has been enough to earn a hate letter.   While the guy appears quiet and unassuming,  he yelled at one neighbor for her barking dogs and even went so far as to say that she "belonged on a farm."

Hmmm...I am no Sherlock Holmes, but.....She belongs on a farm?  I am a barn yard neighbor?  The agricultural references kind of point in his direction, but I will never know for sure.  I have never seen him smile and he has never returned my wave.  I have always felt a bit sorry for his wife, who seems nice enough, but now I feel sorry for him, too.  I cannot imagine living  with a heart so full of anger and I pray that  he finds his way.  Life is much happier with a peaceful heart.....  

...and chickens.

...and dogs.

...and goats.

All in all, it was an amazing experience.  It was great to realize that my neighborhood really IS the Nirvana that I thought it incredible oasis of Old Florida independence in a sea of concrete and busybody homeowners associations.  The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming and the rooster is crowing.  All is well in my world...for the moment!

Poppy Socks?!!

My husband and I were in Atlanta last week-end and while he was getting dressed I heard him say

"Dammit!  I hate Poppy Socks."  

HUH?  It took me a second to clue in....

THIS is Poppy:

THESE are Poppy Socks.

Oops...Sorry, Honey!

 and SALSA, too!

Summer is coming and in our house that means that there is always fresh Salsa in the refrigerator.  This is a tried and true recipe that is easy, delicious and addictive!

Fresh Salsa

6 large tomatoes
2 avocados
1 red onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 large red, green, or orange pepper
3 sprigs of cilantro
3 basil leaves
ground pepper, sea salt
several tablespoons of lime juice (to taste)
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
jalapeno pepper (optional...very spicy)

Throw everything into the food processor and coarsely chop.  Chill before serving.   


  1. I loved your solution, completely and utterly, to your neighbor issue... wow. You're such an inspiration, Pat, in lots of ways - not just the creative! - and I am so glad you have some resolution on that. It would have totally blown me off center if it happened to me. Poppy is adorable!! I have a pup the loves socks, too - but he's finally stopped chewing and just drools all over them... ;)

  2. Nancy...what a perfectly wonderful description! Yes, I was absolutely "blown off center!" Can I steal the phrase? for Poppy...he is a naughty, funny looking fellow (half black lab, half whippet) who shares Cooper's proclivity for eating couches. Sigh. They are quite a demonic pair, but we love them!

  3. ::::hand clapping graphic::::
    Nicely done, Pat! I hope your sad/angry neighbor finds some peace in his life. I'm glad you have found the humor in all of this! Yay you!

    1. It is all about finding the giggle, wouldn't you say, Beki?

  4. Pat - you are truly an inspiration for making me stop and think about life, motives, and what really makes people happy. (all business aside)
    Things like that knock you off your ground, and it makes me sad to think that somebody is so miserable that they not just want to share it - they need to. That's what makes them happy.

    Kudos for the way in which you handled the neighbors. To receive such a warm response, that must have been worth it !

    1. The warmth of my neighbors certainly helped me deal with the one bitter pill, Amy! You are soooo right about miserable humans...they need to mulch the bitterness garden to better let the anger fester. None for me, thanks!

  5. What an absolutely brilliant way to handle such an upsetting experience. Seems you have very nice neighbours indeed - except for one sad soul.
    BTW thanks for the salsa recipe and now its BTB (back to beading).

  6. Thanks, Helen! Let me know how the salsa recipe works is a staple in my home. By the way....Your work is lovely! The pictures of your bracelets on your latest blog post had me positively drooling!

  7. perfect response, perfect outcome, nice job!

    1. Thanks, Marcia! You are a wonderful example of good living through grace and humor, so that is high praise, indeed!