As I was leaving my house this morning, a city inspector parked his municipal vehicle next to my boulevard. He turned around, pulled into my driveway, pulled back out and parked across the street. I walked over to the vehicle, the inspectopr stepped out, and before I could say anything he said, "Is there something I can help you with." A defensive tactic, learned no doubt from countless encounters with indignant contractors and homeowners.
"Did someone complain about my yard?" I asked. Because someone already has, yesterday, on the phone. One of my neighbors called me to ask if he could get into my garage, where I have been storing his snowblower. He then asked, on behalf of the neighborhood (he said), if I would make my house a little more presentable. At issue: the weeds growing two feet out of the cracks in the side walk, the dogwood extending over the front step obscuring the front door, etc. The inspector didn't answer my question, he only said the black cap berry vines drooping over the sidewalk were unacceptable. And, if I don't turn my water back on in the next week, the city is going to condemn my house.
A chilly night last night. A bit smelly too, my house and myself in it. It's not so bad, really. Nothing a little fresh water and a few hours cleaning wouldn't resolve. The simple fact is, without fresh water, hygeine is a problem. I'm faced with that now, with my clothes especially. It's no easy thing to keep clothes clean when you don't own a vehicle, and you don't have abundant supplies of fresh water. I may be faced with washing my clothes in the utility sink at Monster Halloween. That, or pay significant dollars to a launderer who picks up and delivers.
The cold got me thinking about the winter. I can't live in the house without ample fresh water. The city is now pressing the issue, making it difficult. I recently discovered, they've been charging me for "estimated" water use, though I haven't been using any city water. That, and they replaced the stop box on the boulevard, which they didn't need to do, which they are going to charge me $1500-$3500 dollars for. And the meter is busted. It froze last winter. I'm sure they'll charge me several hundred if not thousands for it. It all seems like a Minnesota-esque, passive-aggressive attempt by city governance to take control of the property. I'm half inclined to let them, except I suspect they would tear down the house, build a cheap four-square monstrosity, and fill it with a host of economically disadvantaged. I am aware of at least one such example. The head of that family, a man, has a habit of shouting across the fence, swearing at the neighbors. I don't want to do that to my neighbors, even if they don't appreciate the wild/domesticated ethos I've been cultivating here.
I think the yard is beautiful. It is, but it is also a wild sanctuary in a place where people who have been taught to fear the wild live. For them, I suppose it's a symbol of the breakdown of civilization. I see it as the other way around - the hyper cultivation of the yard as symbol of disconnection, indifference to the health of the Earth and the denial of our origins - which will lead to the collapse of civilization.
The inspector was aggressively defensive until I looked him in the eye and he realized that whatever my situation, I'm not trying to be a jerk. He told me I have a few days to resolve the black cap vine issue, and I'll have to contact the water department about my water issues. A few thousand dollars to turn the water back on, in a house that won't sell, which has an interest-only mortgage set to mature in May 2011, with a 2 percent rate increase, every six months.
Do I give the house and land to the city? To the Bank? They are both making it exceptionally difficult to justify keeping it. Do I fight to keep it? Why?
On a different note, I spoke with the CEO. He didn't want to hear it at first, but when I told him the Point of Sale system alone will prevent him from expanding in the United States, he heard that. He said he would call back, but he hasn't. I think I'll call him again and let him know in even more explicit language how joylessly I am looking ahead to the checkout process at crunch time.
And as far as going on a date this weekend, well, I'm on a bike.