Friday, February 15, 2008

Good Neighbors

A couple of weeks ago I tried to be a responsible house person and started taking down the Christmas lights. This seemed like a good idea at the time. But some of them are pinned up quite high, and I have my doubts about our ladder, and I ended up leaving a couple of strings of them just dangling there.

Meanwhile, all the neighbors are still turning theirs on every night. That's Travis Heights for you. To hell with the season: Christmas lights are sparkly!

Maybe if the rain lets up a little this weekend, I'll put the lights back up.

I love this neighborhood; this is one of the reasons why. I've lived plenty of places where people just let stuff go, and have on occasion been one of those people - though, for the record, I would never park in the yard, never! But this is different. It's not even a matter of marching to a different drummer. It's more that, while the drummer is joyfully encouraged to explore his or her own musical experience, no one would expect the marchers to adjust their personal ideals of tempo to match.

We had a neighbor a few years ago - I shall call him "Hank" (for 'twas his name), who hated us because we were such lousy, irresponsible house people. Cats everywhere, for starters. Hank kept his yard tidy, his lawn manicured, and his trees and bushes pruned. He had no pets. Oddly, he seemed to like my kids, but I always knew we were not good enough for him. God knows I used to try. I studied the Reader's Digest New Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual, but to no avail. Someone gave us a second copy as a gift, and as a gesture of goodwill, I gave it to Hank, who pretended to be grateful. Once, a limb from one of our trees (the entire neighborhood was a hackberry forest) came down and felled the fence between our backyards. It sagged for a week before I hauled the fencepost up and lashed it to the tree trunk. Hank informed me that the angle at which I'd done this would pull down all the rest of the fenceposts; so I went out and bought some quick-set cement, dug out the fencepost, and set it in place. Hank grudgingly admitted that this worked, but it took me much too long to get around to. I tried edging the front yard, but couldn't find the sidewalk, so left big, uneven ripples in the edges of the lawn, overlapping the concrete. Hank watched, waves of 60-something-responsible-house-person disapproval radiating from him. Occasionally he'd trap one of my cats and I'd have to go bail it out from the pound. It got to where I just avoided going outside at all, but this only made things worse.

But I feel like I belong in Travis Heights: relaxed; offbeat; a little messy; full of congenial, well-fed dogs and cats; and above all else, happy.

Because in Travis Heights, it's always Christmas!

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