Tag Archives: house

2485. Dead end street

Wilma had just moved house. She moved into an old house on a dead-end street; a sort of cul-de-sac with a turnaround area at one end.

Counting Wilma’s there were four occupied houses on the street and one unoccupied. There were three empty sections without buildings. These were unkempt. They were overgrown; not that some of the occupied houses weren’t overgrown as well. Pride in ones abode was not a strong characteristic of this little cul-de-sac.

A few weeks after arriving on the street, Wilma thought she would organize a function. She put an invitation through the mail slot of each front door. A cup of tea or coffee and a nibble or two!

No one came from the drug den. No one came from the brothel. No one came from the gang headquarters. Ms Heffernan came, and she was roaring drunk. Someone else came on their own; a young chap. Wilma wasn’t sure which house he belonged to. Not to worry; he was someone to talk to. He was very pleasant, and asked Wilma all sorts of questions about the house she had just moved into and the place from where she had lived previously. In fact he was so pleasant and interested that Wilma showed him around her new home.

The following Wednesday Wilma returned home from grocery shopping and her whole place had been stripped bare. Not a vestige of a possession remained.

No one on the street knew a thing, not even the nice young man she had kindly shown around the house.

2385.  A couple of shipping containers

When Clint and Crystal decided to live together they thought it would be fun to create a house – all their own – out of a couple of old shipping containers. Clint had enough money to do this, and once completed and settled they could work towards being self-sufficient. They had seen television programs about people who did such things. It looked like fun and seemed to be the very thing that would bring excitement to their lives.

They ordered two shipping containers and had them delivered onto the property they had purchased next to a forest.

Of course they would rough it in an old caravan until their house was liveable. The internet was a must. How else could they find out how to do things? And they needed electricity. Both of those took months to set up, and by the time it was done Crystal had taken off to town (permanently) as she had grown tired of the isolation.

Clint started visiting the nearest pub some evenings, just for a bit of company, and that was where he met Beth. Beth was really keen to join Clint’s project even though she had never wielded a hammer or a rake in her life. After a couple of weeks she decided that the alternative lifestyle wasn’t really for her and left.

Clint still had the two shipping containers sitting on the ground not even in place. A month or so later he met Carla. Carla was a realist. She said, “You do realize just how much you’ve taken on?” But she agreed to join Clint’s project and boy! did she get things done!

These days Carla and Clint have finished their home, have two kids (four kids if you count the two goats), and are almost self-sufficient with vegetables, fruit, goats, a cow and a couple of sheep. Not to mention the three chickens.

From the outside it looked like an idyllic situation, and indeed it was. It was idyllic until Clint went off to the pub one evening and that was where he met Melinda.

My Neck of the Woods: Chapter 1

2975 Bradford Street, Gastonia, North Carolina, USA

April 2001 – August 2001

Eric lived in Los Angeles. I lived in New Zealand. We chatted online. We both had reached an impasse in our lives. The textile company that Eric worked for collapsed and Eric was out of work. I’d just left the priesthood and was pretty much at a loose end. We decided we might as well pursue new adventures together. By the time I arrived in the States Eric had got a job at a textile plant in North Carolina. Upon my arrival we rented a house.

Bradford Street was in a Black area of Gastonia. We were the only White people for miles and it was the only house we’ve subsequently lived in where we didn’t have to lock the door when we went out. There were few boundary fences between houses, and some fronts of houses had a covered porch where in late summer afternoons residents would go to relax and call to those who passed by!

The street was full of all sorts of characters. Clover, whose property bordered the back of ours, had a huge vegetable garden where he grew mainly okra. His wife had a strident voice and berated him loudly from dawn to dusk from the back veranda. He loved to lean on his spade and chat. It was mainly about gardening. I too had dug a small garden at the back and planted only tomatoes. The lady in the plant shop didn’t want to sell me tomato plants because it was too late in the season to be planting. I said I’d take the risk and I’ve never seen so many tomatoes on a vine as in that year. Of course, Clover liked to talk tomatoes as well as okra. And Swiss chard (silver beet). And lettuce. And carrots. And cabbages. And rutabaga (swede). And… SQUAWK! SQUAWK! STOP TALKING AND DO SOME WORK!

Next door was the loveliest man imaginable – Richard was his name. He was crippled since birth and found it difficult to walk. He was number sixteen of sixteen children. He lived under the aegis of his brother, Caesar. Caesar was the Methodist Minister and enjoyed living off the proceeds that Richard’s health benefit provided. Caesar had a giant television in his room. Richard had only one dream in life: to have his own little television in his room so he could watch what he wanted. But Caesar would not allow it.

One day Richard tripped on the lawn and fell over. He hurt his leg and arm. He called out to Caesar, but Caesar called back that he was watching television. We gathered Richard up and took him to hospital. The nurse asked “Are you allergic?” “No, no,” said Richard, “I’m American”. The nurse explained what “allergic” meant. “Yes,” said Richard, “I’m allergic to them big pills”. In the long run he was fine and was given some medication that Caesar duly confiscated.

I started to jot down some of the expressions Richard used. Two I remember were: “Look at that man washing his car. Why not wait for rain and let Jesus wash the car?” and “A good morning? I thank my sweet Jesus that I woke up at all.”

The street’s citizens were strict Methodist teetotallers. Richard would come over for a Coca Cola. “No! No! Not that coke; the red one that comes out of a bottle with a cork!” Eric is French, so Richard wanted to try French food. He had read about it. After we had left the area we thought it would be nice to ask him if he would like to come and stay a few days with us on vacation. We drove to Caesar’s house. It was boarded up, and empty. Richard had gone.

We felt so much at home in the street. The only incident was a teenage girl who threw eggs at our window.  She had been told by her teacher at school to throw eggs at the Whiteys’ house. Richard saw to it that the whole street came to our rescue, and the young teenager was duly corrected. Possibly the teacher was never admonished.

Bradford was my first experience of fireflies. I guess I knew the word but had no idea they could be so spectacular. Whole trees were afire. It made Christmas lights look like an inferior imposter. I don’t know why they don’t have tourist buses come by the thousands from non-firefly countries such as New Zealand. Honestly, in the evenings I could sit for hours and just look, mouth agape, in wonder!

One day I opened the back door only to find a cat there placing a little kitten on the door step. The mother was clearly hungry. I put some milk in a saucer in a corner of the kitchen and she drank. I went on with whatever I was doing. Next time I looked, the cat was still there, but with five kittens. I gave the mother more milk. They stayed a week before a gentleman from several houses away came storming in. Why was I keeping his cat? I said she wasn’t getting fed properly and could hardly feed five kittens when she wasn’t fed herself. By now the five kittens were outside and underneath my car. When the man tried to grab them they climbed up into the engine. I watched for half an hour as the man tried to extricate them.

A little basset hound came onto our front lawn. It had possibly been dumped there. It was crying and we gave it some food. The neighbours knew nothing of it. The Charlotte Basset Hound Society said they couldn’t take it. I phoned the vet who said they would try to find someone to take it provided I paid $85 dollars for all the vaccinations it would require. I agreed. What else could we do? The landlord did not permit dogs. I paid the vet. A group stood around patting the “Isn’t-it-cute” puppy. Does anyone want it, I asked. Someone took it. The veterinary establishment were not pleased. They had hoped to get a healthy nest egg by selling a purebred basset hound puppy for a comfortable sum.

After five months we got an opportunity to move closer to Eric’s work. We were sad to go. Clover from over the back fence summed it up: “You’re going to miss the mellifluous voice of my wife.”

1898. The dead tree

I don’t know if you can see the photo of these two old trees. One’s dead, and the other is barely alive. My husband and I planted these trees years and years ago. He’s dead now – the husband. He planted the dead one. I planted the other one, the one that’s gnarled and barely alive. I’ll be eighty-seven this coming October.

There used to be a house roughly where the person taking the photo would be standing. That was our house. The first and only house we had. The two children were born there. It was our dream place; a lovely house, not too big and not too small, set on twelve acres of what could only be described as park land. We planted those two trees (and a number of others here and there) as part of the “landscaping” of our park. Our life was like a perpetual honeymoon.

Jude had built the house himself. And I helped of course, as best I could. I sewed drapes and did the painting and wall-papering and so on. Jude was the one with the saw and the hammer and the screw driver and the muscle. It was like a dream come true!

After the birth of the second child things fell apart. We’d been in the house for four years and we put it up for sale. No one ever bought it and Jude disappeared before any divorce proceedings began. I leased out most of the land to a neighbouring farmer and stayed in the house with the children. They’re gone now – the children. Tony’s a lawyer up in the big city, and Rachel manages a business that teachers adults how to do basic computer things.

My current house gets quite cold in winter, so I’ve asked Tony to come and cut down that dead tree for firewood. The one that’s barely alive has a few more years left in it. It might sound cruel but I’m looking forward to burning logs of Jude’s tree throughout the winter. It’s good he’s serving some purpose at this stage of my life. Apart from building the house he wasn’t much good for much when he was here. In fact he was useless. And mean; really mean. It’s why I did him in.

1784. House renovation

Molly had always wanted a sort of “do-it-yourself” house where she could “do things” like painting rooms. No big hammering stuff. Just arranging this and that, and sanding this and that. In fact, the first thing she did once she had moved in and settled was to sand off the old paint on the staircase bannister and stain it. What a transformation! Now to transform the whole house!

As time went by, she became a little more daring. A little window frame change around here and there. She even bought a skill saw! Hammering nails in and pulling nails out was ho-hum. In fact she almost became convinced that in another life she must have been a carpenter.

It was no use wallpapering the passageway, for example, until the physical renovations were complete. In fact, Molly was practically rearranging the whole house. Once all the physical changes had been made she would begin the decorations. The original staircase bannister had already been removed, which goes to show that one can be over enthusiastic when it came to “doing things” too soon.

Because all the changes were not outside the house, no one had the slightest clue that there was such activity going on inside. No permits or the like had been obtained from whatever branch of government demanded such things. Who would know? And indeed, Molly was right.

There was just one more thing that Molly wanted to do before beginning the decorating stage of her project; she wanted to make a wide opening between the dining room and the sitting room. That way it would become an expansive area, an area of vision and visage! But it was going to be Molly’s biggest task. Thank goodness she did not intend to have doors, even sliding doors, in the newly created space. She was a little too impatient for such precision!

Molly cut a large opening in the separating wall. It took only an afternoon. Thank goodness no one was hurt when the roof of the house caved in.

1741. Filling in her day

What a mess! Frederica had popped out to the shopping mall for a brief period of time – she didn’t want to buy anything but she was simply filling in her day – and when she returned the house was flattened. More than flattened; it was kindling. A jet plane had whooshed from the sky and crashed on top of her house. Thank goodness Frederica lived alone and there was no one inside. She didn’t even have a dog or a cat.

Apparently the pilot had ejected and was safe somewhere else. The fire brigade were at the house but they weren’t doing much; just looking really. There was not much they could do. There didn’t appear to be a flame in sight – just a pile of kindling awaiting fire, and some electric cables that the fire brigade were making sure no one went near.

The plane had hit the house and then had skidded out of the way into a field beyond. The plane was a write-off naturally, and on the way into the field had utterly destroyed Frederica’s back garden and fence.

Frederica was in shock of course, but the scene was so surreal that somehow she had trouble realizing that the pile of stuff in front of her was actually her house. If it hadn’t been for the row of fava beans she had planted neatly to the side of her home, she would not have recognized anything to do with her place.

Frederica went to a fire fighter to ask what happened, and all she got was “Step back, lady, it’s dangerous.” So she stood there by herself and looked. What else could she do? A large gaggle of onlookers had gathered and most were either laughing at the bizarreness of it all or muttering concerns as to whether or not “someone had been inside”.

What added to the strangeness of it all was that no one was asking whose house it was. Not the fire brigade, not the police. Frederica went to a policeman to ask if he wanted her name or anything, and all she got was another “Step back, lady, it’s dangerous” with the addition of “This is no time to be troubling us with silly questions”.

Before too long (they had clearly disconnected the electricity) a large bulldozer and front-end loader arrived and began clearing the house and putting it into large trucks which took everything away to goodness knows where. Frederica wanted to ask “But what about all my stuff?” but the official answered “Lady, stop bothering us and let us get on with the job.” Quicker than Frederica would have thought possible the entire section of land was cleared including the row of fava beans. Even her shattered fence had disappeared.

All of this took no longer than two or three hours (Frederica had lost all sense of time) and in the end, when all was done a man appeared with a sign which he hammered into the ground near where her front gate had once been. It read: LAND FOR SALE.

One by one the gaggle of onlookers disappeared. The fire brigade left. The police left. The heavy vehicles left. Frederica was left alone shocked, confused, and puzzled. It would have made a classic painting of a woman standing forlornly before a subdivision of empty land if only there had been a Cézanne or someone to capture it.

And that’s what can happen if you’ve nothing better to do than wander aimlessly down to the shopping mall to fill in time.

1491. Blocked view

The nagging began when Lenny and Patty moved into their new house. Everything was wonderful at first. It lasted a week.

“That tree outside the window blocks the view,” said Patty. “Could you chop it down?”

“Why don’t you chop that tree down? It’s blocking the view.”

“The view is blocked. We’d be able to see the river and all down the valley if you chopped it down.”

Lenny’s patience was wearing thin. He knew from experience that once the nagging reached a certain pitch there was no way of avoiding the consequences. The tree would have to be cut down.

Lenny got his chainsaw. He cut the tree down. It fell on top of him. He was killed. Patty eventually put the house on the market. There was no point living there on her own.

1407. Fate in a flash!

Kelvin Farquhar entered every competition he could lay his hands on. Businesses were forever running promotions with attractive rewards and prizes. Kelvin had never won a thing. He would love to win a car. But what he most wanted was to win was a house. Once a month the Heart Foundation ran a raffle for a house!

Kelvin Farquhar didn’t have that much money. There was no way he could afford a house on his meagre income. His old car rattled and puffed. When that stopped he didn’t quite know what he was going to do. Winning a house would help him get by.

There’s no doubt that Fate can change everything in a flash! Today was the day the house draw took place. Would the phone ring? Kelvin Farquhar had worked out that they would probably phone the winner in the afternoon, so he drove to get the groceries in the morning.

On the way his car overheated. It was no good for anything after that except towing away. And he never won the house either.

1287. Yet another joyful story

Truly wonderful things happen to some people occasionally. Reading the stories on this blog one could get the impression that wonderful things happen all the time, but that is simply not the case. Today, however, something wonderful happens in the story. Perhaps it’s even true.

Sigrid and Ferdinand had been married for five years. They desperately wanted a baby (or two) but it was not something they could afford on their meagre wages. They skimped and saved; they did without. How wonderful it would be down the track if they had some children and owned their own home! They rented an old house. Both were keen gardeners, but there was very little space for a garden.

Every week, on a Friday night, they did the grocery shopping together. They would make a list and spend the entire shopping time discussing (at times even arguing) as to the cheapest and most penny-saving brands.

They were in the vegetable section of the store when they were approached by an elderly lady. She was bright-eyed and alert.

“I couldn’t help but over hear your penny-pinching discussion,” she said. “I have a proposition to make. I’ve always been a keen gardener, and my house is on a large property with an orchard and swimming pool. Sadly, the time has come for me to give it up and go into a retirement home. I have no relatives. No one in the world! I would like to give you my house and land, and even the furniture if you wanted it. I have no need for it, and you could sell it if you wished. If you want it, it’s all yours!”

Sigrid and Ferdinand couldn’t believe it. The elderly lady had already moved out. They could move in when they wanted. And indeed they did! They photographed most of the furniture (some they kept for themselves) and placed advertisements for it on an online trading post.

“We should really get some sparkling wine to celebrate,” said Ferdinand. So off they went to the store.

As they passed through the vegetable section they saw their elderly friend. She had cornered a young couple and was saying, “I couldn’t help but over hear your penny-pinching discussion. I have a proposition to make. I’ve always been a keen gardener…”

Poem 51: Unpacking after moving house

(The poetic form selected for this week is the List Poem)

Toilet paper!
Has anyone seen the toilet paper?
Does anyone know what box it’s in?

I need a drink.
Has anyone seen a glass?
Does anyone know what box it’s in?

Toilet paper! Hurry!

We need a wine!
Once found we’ll sip it from the bottle.
Does anyone know what box it’s in?

Toilet paper! Hurry! Hurry!

We’ll need a cork screw.
Where’s the cork screw?
Does anyone know what box it’s in?

Toilet paper! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!

Found them! Thank goodness!
What a relief!
At least I’ve found the Christmas decorations!


Does anyone know what box they’re in?

To hear the poem read aloud click HERE.