The House

The House

Thursday, May 24, 2012

It Is All About What The Neighbors Think!

I can’t stand my neighbors! I have lived in this place for eleven years and not one of my neighbors has been kind, thoughtful, friendly or even tried to keep their yards nice. The “white trash” in this town figuratively and  literally are outrageous. I can’t take it anymore.
What is really weird? Most of these places are rentals always have been and they keep attracting the same types of people. What is with that? Do the landlords make the same judgments’ over and over about their renters? Or are these the only types to rent to? Whatever the case…one house had a hoarder and an alcoholic living there. The old guy had lived there a long time. The roof was no good; trees and weeds over took the place, the back yard full of junk. His grandson was living in one of the trailers in the back, grandpa finally in the hospital. No electricity and the place condemned. One of the grandsons’ friends set fire to the place. It went up in less than two minutes, never seen a house go up so fast. It was fully engulfed ten minutes later and catching the house to the east on fire.   As the firemen were cleaning things up one of them rolled out an old freezer and it opened up, the stench must have been horrendous as the fellow started gagging as the others laughed at him in sympathy. That house sat for two years, stinking and ugly before the city finally hauled the trash away.  Someone bought the property, built a darling little rancher and sold it….to a woman who is a cat lady and a hoarder! WTF?
Another big two story house has been bought and sold at least on average every two years then rented. Each new buyer has poured money into this pit. It has asbestos siding and the last renovator simply covered it with siding that is bubbling, bending and falling off. The roof was cheaped out and is blowing off (third layer) There are no gutters and the water for a year was running off the back and straight into the basement through the door outside. Every group that has rented, has been nasty, loud, rude and trashed the place again. Dogs barking, trash blowing around, screaming and yelling, kids running up and down tearing up yards, doing whatever they like, fights and drunkenness.
My neighbor next door is from Michigan (and thinks the Gov. is a great man there) they live here in Colorado and there six months each stay to avoid paying property taxes. They hate Obama. I don’t talk to them anymore; they think it’s funny to insult my views. Their yard is a moon scape derived from so much weed killer and insecticide that two of their dogs have gotten tumors. Hello! Clue!?

 There is an Irish saying: “más rud é nach bhfuil tú mhaith dom, saoire dom féin”; If you don’t like me, leave me alone. It has become my mantra with my neighbors.
The cat lady said a nasty thing to another neighbor in front of my then 8 year old daughter, she of course told me. I don’t acknowledge her at all.
Now I see the thought process behind covenants. The neighbor who screams like a “fish mongers wife” all day at her kids and grandkids threw two large ugly sofas out to the curb two weeks ago. Okay, I think they are taking them to the dump or donating or whatever. Two weeks in a row the sofas are soaked by downpours. The first big rains we have seen in years. The woman puts a “free” sign on them. OMG! I call code enforcement. I have never done such a thing. Today the fellow drives by to look and low and behold, the woman has thrown more crap out there and is having a garage sale. And to top it off, the cat lady (who btw feeds her cats inside and out so every night the raccoon parade hits the front porch with fighting and frightened howling cats)  decides to let her friend the former junk store owner also have a garage sale. One of many that will be held all summer AND they lay the crap all over the yard of the house next door because it is empty. That does it!
As far as I am concerned they don’t think. Not about the trash, the animals,  screaming horrible things, the loud music, the dying grass or trees, the dead cars, the dying dogs, the mean spirited gossip, the bigoted digs, the religious ignorance…..

It is all about what the neighbors think……they obviously don’t care about what I think.

We have a nice little house. It was built in 1900 by a local architect and builder for his own family. I call it a poor man’s Queen Anne; with a touch of ginger bread and pillars. It is well built, with beautiful carved oak mantel piece, egg and dart on thick oak doors, old growth hemlock fir floors. My husband hated the yard though. It was a desert (hello southern Colorado); five hundred year old fir trees and one tiny four foot beat up crabapple tree; which was not identifiable at the time.

I have painted every inch of this house, inside and out. Hubbie got all the “sexy jobs” the roof, the attic, the foundation. It of course is a work in progress and still needs work and after ten years it needs to be painted again. I bought a Van Briggle vase and used it as inspiration for the bright colors. I found out a neighbor hates the colors. All the houses are pale yellow, brown, tan in a word dull. Someone finally painted one of the houses adobe orange.  Colorado means land of color, literally. Yet no one uses color on their homes, their clothing, their yards. Yes I exaggerate some, there are some lovely buildings and homes here, but the slum lords who rent don’t care about this place. They rent to whomever; do as little as possible on their properties. Collect the money and live in Denver, Utah wherever.

I love this little house. We sometimes think we could just pick it up and move it to the countryside. I had a dream the other night where I had money and I bought all the houses and the crappy little fall-y down rectory next door. I tore most of the little old guard shacks down, the nasty asbestos thing, planted trees, and built two maybe three more house in the style of R.J. Okie did for this little house and sell them to the kind of neighbors I want. Nice people, without dogs, who use trash cans, are quiet and like the color of my house.

Sure, that will be the day! (Shut UP Mojo!)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Where have you been all my life John Galsworthy?

Where has John Galsworthy been all my life? I have read thousands of books and never read The Forstye Sage. What a revelation! Charles Dickens go bark at the moon! Galsworthy lived from 1867 to 1932 and his work reveals an attitude of “a man of property”; Soames  Forstye;  timeless and timely. Galsworthy has an insight into British exceptionalism that is familiar and sad in its intransigeant.  Soames is a solidly wealthy man. Not only did he inherit great wealth he was raised to believe in his superiority in that fact. Having grown his wealth with practical English logic almost Vulcan in its detachment, he finds himself in his later years defending his universe to himself thus;

Take his own case for example! He was well off. Did that do anybody harm? He did not eat ten meals a day; he did no more than, perhaps not so much as, a poor man. He spent no money on vice; breathed no more air, used no more water to speak of than the mechanic or the porter. He certainly had pretty things about him, but they had given employment in the making, and somebody must use them. He bought pictures, but Art must be encouraged. He was, in fact, an accidental channel through which money flowed, employing labour. (sic)  What was there objectionable in that? In his charge money was in quicker and more useful flux that it would be in the charge of the State and a lot of slow-flying money sucking officials. And as to what he saved each year-it was just as much flux as what he didn’t save, going into Water Board or Council Stocks, or something sound and useful. The State paid him no salary for being trustee of his own or other people’s money – he did that all for nothing! Therein lay the whole case against nationalisation – owners of private property were unpaid, and yet had every incentive to quicken up the flux. Under nationalization (sic) – just the opposite!
Soames’ cogitations come in the roaring twenties and with a jaundice eye toward human beings he has been able to ride the profits of chaos with the expertise of the great British Empire builders and explorers. He is not oblivious to the “ruffians” in the market running up commodities, selling shoddy goods and undermining the practical English character. His only concern is to dodge these gamblers and come out ahead. He is totally unaware of the benefits bequeathed to him on the backs of slaves and oppression. After this brief attempt at bolstering his own world view he proceeds to one of his many law offices and orders sale of stocks and the eviction of an old woman of eighty three. There! English practicality prevails and all is right with the world!

The attitude of the elite, the 1% is a grand and gross rationalization. What harm does it do indeed!? Soames is a cold man of property, his love of his first wife was that of a buyer of beauty. When he realizes he may lose this perfectly beautiful woman his response is to show her how much she “belongs” to him by “ enforcing his rights as a husband” ; spousal rape. Confident in his re-possession, believing she was finally convinced of his loyalty to her by his showing of intense emotion he is devastated by her finding a lover. Devastated to learn of her careful avoidance of pregnancy, and suffers the role of the victim, why doesn’t she adore me?

I can’t help feeling sorry for him as does his cousin Jolyon Forstye who marries Irene, the woman who from some “perversion” is unable to submit to Soames. Unsentimental, practical, controlled and controlling English man of art bought and paid for, but artless to his core. In his way he feels deeply his position in the Empire and his family, but never expresses it, each rare tender moment with a dying father, the birth of a daughter, the grief of losing his perfect wife, is concentrated, condensed to the point of pain almost unbearable; to be carefully hidden and covered over with business, logic, plans. Force and strength are all he knows. He does not know he is lost, caged and cut off, like Midas.

The crash is coming, war yet again. His type will be undone, the gilded cage will break and like domesticated birds he will not be able to fly for he never learned. A world will crash about him. As a reader almost one hundred years later, to see this hubris repeated yet again makes me feel like an alien in a weird way. The elite of today, those empire builders that had it handed to them after World War II are coming to the downhill side; Tied in knots by their own exceptionalism, their own practical rationalizations’. The “job makers”, the Kings of the Universe, the smartest men in the room, the men of free markets, of world order.

I am reminded of the poem by Kipling;

The White Mans Burden;

Take up the White Man’s burden

Send forth the best ye breed

Go bind your sons to exile

To serve the captive’s need

In patience to abide,

To veil the threat of terror

And check the show of pride;

The savage wars of peace

Fill full the mouth of Famine

And bid the sickness cease;

And reap his old reward:

The blame of those ye better,

The hate of those ye guard

We should trade white for rich as in the new world economy the “burden” is shared and carefully nurtured by the elite of all races, colors and creeds. America may have been handed the spoils of empire after World War II, but the views of the fictional   Soames Forsyte have been sold to the entire world. We fought the fascism of old only to pass down and expand that fascism in a “burden” of democratic fascism to all men around the world. The rich are democratic among themselves, a country apart. They see themselves as the conduit of civilization, nothing would happen without them;  not greatness, no jobs, no art or beauty. They will tell you it isn’t about the money and it would be the God’s honest truth. What is this human capacity for wearing psychic blinders? Are they put on while one is very young? Are we born with them, the psyche’s way of protecting the young ego, and then that same ego is never allowed to take them off? Why is it that the elite rich keep the blinders in place? It seems to me that the culture of wealth must maintain a separation in their minds between their actions and the fragile ego’s knowledge of the harm they do? This wall is kept carefully between themselves and the “lower” classes. (Euphemistically called “working” class)  They must know. They can’t possibly live in such fish bowls where everyone can see all they do as they parade around and deny what we all see and experience. It is a grand culture of narcissism.  

Galsworthy’s ability to observe a class, his keen subjectivity as a Brit, his poetic prose, the beauty is astonishing almost breath taking like fine portraiture. One chapter covering the death of old Jolyn Forsyte leaves one in a state of longing for all death to be as beautiful. All writing should aspire to this.