Compulsive hoarding is a mental disorder that is just beginning to be understood. As a hoarder, I have acquired things over the years with a specific purpose in mind at the time of the acquisition, used some of those items for their intended purposes, forgotten the goal for different objects, but now that I find that they have outlived their purpose in my life I am struggling to rid myself of those same things.

You can read the start of my journey here.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bitter little women.

So I'm starting this post on Tuesday night. I can't sleep. My head hurts. I either have the end of a really nasty cold trying to finish up or the beginnings of a nasty sinus infection getting well rooted. I can't tell for sure just yet. So I continue to rinse my sinuses and drink plenty of fluids. But the headache. Well, yeah. I don't think water's going to take care of it.

We have a crotchety old neighbor lady. She has one friend on the entire street and I think that other than that, only one other neighbor and myself are nice to her. She likes to stick her nose into everyone's business, and she's gossipy. She rarely has a nice word to say about anyone, so people just avoid her.

I sometimes think that she's bitter, because she's alone now. Her husband died shortly before Christmas 6 years ago or so, and they never had children. So she's very much alone. But she was bitter before he died. She was constantly telling me what I needed to do in my yard. She has a beautifully coiffed lawn with gorgeous flowers. I honestly wouldn't be surprised to see it in a magazine. Her husband spent countless hours gardening and tending those flowers from his mobility scooter before he died. And I'm sure that she feels that she needs to keep it up for him. I understand that. I really do.

The problem is that she feels that we need to keep our lawn up to her standards. And she's nasty about letting us know. Granted, we have a horrible yard. We know that. It's mostly weeds with grass in between in the front yard. Every year, we dig the weeds out the best we can, but we haven't had the money to lay sod. I don't see it happening anytime soon, either, land we'd need so much weed killer we'd have to sign over our firstborn to pay for it. We keep the lawn mowed, but the last couple of years, the elm tree sprouts have gotten out of hand. My husband spent an entire weekend a few weeks ago cutting them all down and wiping them with poison to hopefully keep them from coming back again.

So we do try. Honestly. But we inherited a horrible yard with no sprinkler system, and when you're raising a family on a single income, sod and sprinkler money can be hard to come by. And when you're raising two children with special needs who frequently need constant supervision, and you're dealing with medical problems on top of medical problems time can be hard to come by. Factor crazy work hours by the husband and you're looking at very little time for both of us to work in the yard together. There just aren't enough hours in the day.

About a month ago, she called me up after 8p.m., asked how things went with our daughter's wedding and proceeded to light into me. She didn't let me get a word in edgewise to try to explain everything that had been going on. She just started berating me. Then she threatened to call code enforcement on us. Out of total frustration I told her that in spite of the fact that her dog yaps at all hours for 20 or 30 minutes at a time, that we've never once complained. That we could easily have called in for a noise complaint, but we didn't. Not once.

Her answer? The dog barks because of us. We apparently have cats in our yard at night, and the dog goes nuts to try to chase the cats out of our yard. Mind you we don't own any cats. We never have. But the neighborhood cats that people let out of their houses to run around are apparently our fault as well, and that's why her dog barks. It's our fault.

After listening to her rant full throttle for 10 minutes, I told her I couldn't do it anymore. I was done. I told her, "I can't do this right now. I've got to go. Goodbye." And I hung up. I didn't feel that I hung up on her. I told her goodbye. She knew it was coming. I can live with myself over how I handled it. I didn't want it to escalate, and I knew the way I was feeling it was going to. I'd say something I regretted, and I caught myself before I did.

No sooner did I hang up the phone than she called again. She hung up without leaving a message. She apparently thought better of it and called back immediately. She started ranting on the answering machine yelling some more. She was quite ugly and said that I "didn't have to be so nasty." It went on and on.

So I told the hubby about it, and he called her once he calmed down. Told her that, if she had a problem that she should call him, and he gave her his cell phone number. He explained that with his work hours and my health and the girls, it's been difficult to get much done, but that we are working on things. He told her that he would be out of town the following weekend, so he wouldn't be able to do anything until after he got back home. She said she understood and would give him time to get things done.

He worked outside all weekend Mother's Day weekend (the weekend after he got back home), and all weekend last weekend. However, we found out that the bitter widow from next door called code enforcement anyway. In fact, they apparently came by and inspected things the Monday after Mother's Day. So she obviously did it out of spite, because she didn't give him time to get anything done.

The thing is, she is complaining about the backyard, which is in bad shape. The back porch is covered with stuff we need to get rid of, but it hasn't been nice enough outside for me to go out there with my husband and go through things. Even cool weather makes me ache from tip to tail, but when it's cold it's like I'm frozen stiff. But from our understanding code enforcement doesn't inspect backyards. It inspects what can be seen from the road.

And we do have something stored at the side of the house that they can see. We've been meaning to get it out of there for awhile. It's a trundle bed frame. I know it shouldn't be there. We've been waiting for a clear space to be able to bring it in, so we can use it. And now that the girls' room is finally clean, we have a place we can put it. It will be sprayed for bugs this weekend and brought in.

We also have 4 pallets neatly stacked on the side of the house that I had every intention of using for raised garden beds. They're made of 4x4x12' pieces of untreated solid oak. They'd be perfect to use, because they wouldn't leach any chemicals into the garden, etc. However, they've been neatly stacked there for several years, and we have used them to store the trash cans in the past as well. They're not an eyesore. In fact, they look like they're part of the house. But now we either have to get rid of them completely, or at least break them down and stack them up in a smaller area. We haven't decided 100% what we're going to do.

And while those are easily rectified situations, the other thing that code enforcement apparently has a problem with is the storage container with all our stuff from the basement that's on the driveway. It apparently "does not meet setbacks". So it's either too tall for the area, or it doesn't leave enough room for firefighters to get through, should we have a fire. We're not exactly clear on it.

According to the letter, we have 10 days to comply. Like I said. The two things are really no big deal. We can do them without a problem this weekend. However, we are not going to be able to unload the storage shed yet. So my husband is going to call in the morning and talk with the code enforcement officer. He's going to ask, if we can have a couple of months to get it unloaded and explain the situation. We already had plans to work on the basement and the back porch this weekend. Looks like those plans may be put on hold for a bit.

It's just been frustrating. We are working on things. We've made huge strides. But because they're strides that our meddling neighbor can't see, they're not good enough for her. And now my husband wants to find out, if the backyard is controlled by code enforcement. If it's not, (I believe it's only what can be seen from the street), he wants to pile the stuff that's at the side of the house right by her yard. Just to give her something to think about. I'm trying to talk him down, although I've had visions of white dandelion puffs and a leaf blower headed in her direction!

In the meantime, I've blocked her phone number. If she tries calling our house, she'll get a message that we're not accepting phone calls. The last thing any of us needs right now is her calling the house and going off on us.

Who needs the added stress?


  1. Oh my God! What a pain in the butt! We have neighborhood rules but they are pretty lax and after this past winter ALL of our lawns here are fried. Florida grass can't take too much freezing temps. It sounds like this neighbor is just lonely and doesn't have a hobby.

  2. Accck!! That's just nuts!!

    I hope you can get the situation resolved without any more crap from the crazy woman.


  3. Oh. Dear. Lord.

    Seriously. I don't even know what to say.

    I am with your husband, that if the Code Enforcement people don't care about back yards, then pile it all up RIGHT NEXT to her yard.

    I do like her (il)logical statement that HER dogs bark because of SOMEONE else's cats, but it is still your fault.

    I wish you luck. And when it gets really hard to bear, just remember that she (in theory) shouldn't be living next door to you for that many more years. If she's old, she may have to move into an apartment, or assisted living complex. (I won't mention the other alternative.)

    But c'mon! It wouldn't take much of a brain to figure out all that you've got going on in your life, and realizing that some things are more important than having a picture perfect yard. (Yay You for having PROPER priorities.)

    Hang in there.

  4. What a spiteful woman! Sorry this is going on and I hope you are able to get time to resolve things

  5. That's the last thing you needed that is for sure. She sounds very lonely good for you for blocking her number. Your husband sounds so supportive!!!

  6. I'm sorry that this woman is poisoning your home life. That is the unfortunate thing about neighbours, if you have a good one, it can be fabulous, but if you don't, it can be a nightmare. It is all the luck of the draw.

    Hang in there. You are doing the best you can.

  7. I know it's hard but really we can only feel sorry for someone like your neighbour. She clearly has nothing better do and nothing happy in her life to focus on.

    Chin up - you have a great husband and awesome daughters!

  8. What a NASTY old woman, I'm SO sorry that you have to deal with her....

  9. Invite her to come work on your yard. She seems to have the time and knows something about yard work! it will give her something to do and make her too tired to complain about anything else!!

  10. What a horrible nasty old woman.

    So sorry she's putting you through all this


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