Friday, April 15, 2011

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Thought for the dayA baby is God's way of saying the world should go on.

Today's thought for the day comes from a picture that once belonged to my mother, and is now hanging on the wall behind me. One year ago today, our youngest grandson entered the world, and two days later, my father left it. As we went through the ordeal of cleaning out my parents' house, this old dime store picture that was hanging on their kitchen wall helped me put things into perspective.

Life goes on. And it is good.

I never expected to miss my father. He was an extremely difficult man, to say the least, and became even more difficult after my mother died in '96. But, to my surprise, I do miss him. Time has a way of softening the dark memories, allowing the good ones to shine through. For that, I am grateful.

Whatever happened to good neighbors?

 Yesterday, we had an unexpected visitor. Her name sounds like Pow-ee, although I have no idea as to the correct spelling of it, and she's my age or maybe a little older, and is originally from Taipei, Taiwan. She's lived several streets away from us for almost twenty years, and although we've seen her walking in the neighborhood a few times and always waved and smiled at her, this was the first time we actually met her. 
My husband was on the side of house chopping wood when this tiny little bit of a woman, less than five feet tall, came into the yard yelling, "Helloooo."  She was wearing a long duster-type coat, or at least, it was long on her. Very long. She was looking for some help finding an address that was written on a piece of paper. There was also a phone number on the paper, so my husband told her to come on into the house, and we could call the number.

Pow-ee visited with us for almost an hour. She's quite the chatterbox, and even though her English is a little broken, we enjoyed talking with her. She was really fired up over the strange lack of neighborliness in this country, although she didn't put it in quite those words. She said she just doesn't get it. Says where she comes from, neighbors are like family, and will do anything they can to help each other. Then she told us about a couple who live next door to her now. How they'd asked her to call a taxi for them, and she gave them a ride instead. She gave the woman a ride to work, and would've been willing to do so every day, because, after all, they're neighbors.

But the next day, that woman passed her by with no acknowledgement. Didn't look at her. Didn't say hello, didn't wave, nothing. As though she didn't know her at all. Pow-ee doesn't understand how anyone could treat her this way. Neither do I.

She spoke of another neighbor who's ignored her request that he not plant trees on the edge of her property. Even after the police got involved, this neighbor continues to thumb his nose at her and does whatever he wants, without regard or respect for her. She doesn't get it. Says where she came from, the elderly are always respected.

Is she right? Have Americans forgotten how to treat each other? Yesterday, Grammy got on her soap box in an  "L is for lunacy" rant about the lack of civility and empathy in today's young people. Is the disconnect between neighbors just another manifestation of that? Or do some of us still know how to truly be a good neighbor? I certainly hope so.

Our new friend came back to visit today. She didn't stay as long this time, but she came to bring us several bags of Oriental treats. After all, she said, we're neighbors. She says we're "her kind of people." I think I like that. And I think I'll bake her some chocolate chip cookies this weekend. After all, we are neighbors.


When I was a kid, there was a small farm not far from our house, and behind the tiny barn was a small mountain of mule manure. Some of us kids thought that was a great place to play king of the mountain. My mother was never impressed with my aroma when I returned home from one of those ventures, but my father claimed to love the smell of manure. Said it was "good luck", and a "walk through the tulips." If he were still here, I would've had to buy him one of the products I'm about to tell you about in this week's weirdest news story. He would've loved it.

See y'all on Monday. Until then, take care of yourselves. And each other.

What's that smell?

Weirdest news story of the week:  You're gonna get a three-fer this week. The first story was one I passed over last week, but decided to bundle it with two others I found this week, for a genuine bovine trifecta. In the first story, a young German girl wanted a horse, just like almost every girl dreams about at one time or another, right? But when this young girl was denied the horse of her dreams, she settled for the cow her family already owned. Not only does this young lady saddle and ride that cow, but she's even trained it to jump hurdles. The locals have gotten used to the strange sight of this young girl trotting the countryside on her cow, but it seems that her parents are now considering getting her that horse she wanted. In the second cow story, a couple tried to board a plane at JFK airport this week with a dead cow in tow. The carcass was neatly wrapped, but the staff denied this couple their odd request. (TSA never said anything about dead cows!) And now for the third story, and my personal favorite. A German company has recently come up with a new product that's scored a financial home run for them. Called "Countryside Air to Go", it's a can filled with "the air sucked out of an aging wooden stable, straw-lined and filled with gas-producing cattle." As the company's ad says, "Simply put your nose to the tin and peel back for the authentic smell of the country." That's right. It bears the distinctive aroma of cow farts. Evidently, former country-dwellers who've had to move to the big city miss the ol' scent of home and have been forking over five pounds a pop for the pleasure of snuffling up the pungent aroma. Know anybody you'd like to grace with this unusual gift? Check it out at  Oh, and word has it that the company is planning to add products bearing the smells of horses, pigs, straw, and manure. My father would've loved it.


  1. I think you may be right about the lack of neighborly feeling, but only in certain parts of our country. I definitely see it at work here, in the east, but my sister, who recently moved to the midwest, says that Kansas is a different story.

    She still talks about how she and her husband had a terrible scare with their daughter and spent a weekend in the hospital with her. (She's okay now.) But when my brother-in-law dashed home for a change of clothes, he unexpectedly found two neighbors collaborating to mow their lawn in their absence.

  2. We've shared our cul de sac with most of our neighbors for the last twenty years, and most of them are very friendly. Makes me feel fortunate. :)

    Re the bovine stories: people are paying for cow farts? Sheesh. Now I've heard everything.

  3. When I lived in France, I knew all the neighbors on the street. Over there, you spend time outside everyday. Everyone walks to the bakery for the day's bread, and on market day everyone walks to the town square for fresh produce and gossip. Here in the States, the culture keeps people more to themselves. I don't like it as much. We socialize with friends on our street, but that's it. I miss Europe!

    Have a wonderful weekend!!!

  4. Ever since I moved to the south I've heard about southern hospitality but have yet to see it. My neighbors aren't neighborly, in fact they all want me to go back where I came from. Which is the north. And believe me, I'd love to.

    I love the cow farts. We had a load of manure delivered to my old house one year and the dogs rolled in it for days. Needless to say, they weren't allowed in the house.

  5. I grew up in Bronx, NY. We knew all our neighbors and everyone looked out for each other and each other's children. Years later when I was raising my children in a small town in Pennsylvania, we lived in a very family-friendly area and again, we all looked out for each other and each other's children. Most of us were raising families and we car-pooled each other's children to games and events and socialized on a daily basis. I still count these people as dear friends 35 years later. Ten years ago we moved to a very nice development and I can say I only know 2 families very slightly. You seldom see children outside playing and unless their parents are jogging around, you would not know anyone was living here. Life has gotten busier (I guess) and their is little time for neighborly contact.

  6. We moved to the South, and I did except more "Southern friendliness." But I do know my neighbors' names, unlike in New England where I lived for seven years and never got to know my neighbors' name--they valued privacy above all things.

  7. I loved the story about your neighbor. I'm glad that after all those years you finally got to meet her, becoming now good neighbors. I miss that, since my husband and I moved to a nice subdivision. Just like 'Starting Over' said, life gets busy. We don't hardly know the neighbors, and it has been almost three years since we moved into this new home. I enjoyed the weird stories...quite interesting!


  8. Loved your Neighbour post and identify with the notion of new life helping us to always look forwards. When my gran died, I was devastated, but two newborn foals on our farm, next morning, assured me, even at about aged 16, that life would go on.
    Great that you've welcomed your elderly neighbour - sounds like you need to treasure her!
    Re the Wierd stories - there was a cow being ridden over showjumps on UK national news recently (makes a change from wars and pestilence!)
    Thanks for all your N postings :-)
    All best

  9. Hi, Ladies. Thank you all for stopping by and for taking the time to leave a comment.

    Dianne- How wonderful to hear that neighborhoods like your sister's still exist! Sounds like a throw-back to the '50s. I think you're right about there being a regional difference, though.

    Linda- Our neighborhood used to be like that, too, but my hubby and I are the only ones left standing from the original group that moved here in the early 70s. Nowadays, most people only live here for a year or two, or rent month to month.

    Nicole- I can see how mingling with your neighbors every day while walking to the market would make for a wonderfully friendly environment. It's harder to form relationships when you're always inside of one car, passing by your neighbor, who's in his.

    Anne- Ouch, I'm sorry. When we moved to GA from MD, some of the folks here teased us about being "damned Yankees." They said Yankees only visited, but damned Yankees STAYED. (Of course, it didn't matter a hill of beans to them that MD was actually south of the Mason-Dixon line ... )Nonetheless, I've found southerners overall to be very friendly, but only if I'm willing to make the first move.

    Starting Over- Maybe that's it. Maybe we're just busier these days. You're right about rarely seeing kids outside playing anymore, or people just hanging out to socialize. It's go-go-go, talk to ya later. Too bad.

    Connie- Your tale of living in New England reminds me of one of my favorite stories about living on the Eastern Shore of MD, which, I suspect, is very similar. It's a very private, closed type of community, but they kinda take it to extremes. A long-time resident, who'd been born in Baltimore, but moved to the Eastern Shore as an infant, passed away at the ripe old age of 96. In the local newspaper's obituary, it said of her: "96-year-old Baltimore woman passed away ..."

    Doris- Thanks. Life is always full of surprises. Why Pow-ee chose to ask US for help, I'm not sure, but I'm glad she did.

    Karla- I'm glad the foals helped ease your grief when your grandmother died. There's something about being around animals that makes us more aware of the natural cycle of things. Very cool that you saw the cow making jumps on TV. Maybe it was that young German girl. (Surely there can't be TOO many people out there riding cows, can there???)

    Y'all take care.

  10. It would be nice if everyone treated their neighbors like you do. I'll keep that aromatic can idea handy, just in case! Julie

  11. It's very thoughtful of you to be thinking good of neighbors though some are really not friendly at all truth need be said.Great post and i hope we all learn something from this pot.Keep the good work going.Meanwhile plz do check my blog on freeing your mind read it,follow,be inspired and comment to improve my works too.Have a wonderful day.Thanks.

  12. Hi, Julie. Thanks for the kind words. I reckon to have a good neighbor, you have to be one.

    Hi, Ebendy. Thank you so much for stopping by. You're right; not everyone is as friendly as we'd like them to be. But I say, smile at him anyway. It could become contagious.