The good neighbor

Bailey A

Bailey B

I came home from Oakton on Wednesday and MK and I were going to have a bit of lunch. Just as we were sitting down, we received a call from our neighbor’s daughter. When I say ‘neighbor,’ I mean our wonderful neighbor, Mr. Delaney to the north of us.

Mr. Delaney, which is what we usually call him, is a widower and in his eighties. He has been living alone for some time. His wife had suffered from postpartum depression after the birth of their third child and was never the same. He took care of her and raised the three children. We knew about Helen because one day we heard her in between our two houses and making sounds that were indescribable. We rarely saw her as she pretty much kept to herself and rarely came out, although we would see her smoking from time to time. She has been gone for some time. Two of the children live in the area (far western suburbs and Chicago) and one in Michigan.

A few years ago, Mr. Delaney’s companion dog, Aida, passed away and he was quite despondent. Our family went into action and found Bailey, one of three dogs belonging to a family friend. It turns out Bailey just never fit in the group and so he got farmed out and ended up with Mr. Delaney. The two of them were constantly seen walking the neighborhood. Mr. Delaney, by now, has a cane and Bailey walks ever so slowly.

We got a call from Mr. Delaney’s daughter, as she was concerned for her dad. It seems Bailey was ill and Mr. Delaney did not know what to do. His daughter called a mobile vet they have used and he was to come over around two. MK went over to find the dog on the floor, looking miserable, and not moving much. She came home and we both went back a little later. Mr. Delaney did not call us himself as he is very private and never wants to bother anyone.

I ended up helping the mobile vet, but it was with great care as Bailey has, like his predecessor, Aida, not really ever liked me. I used to think that Aida might have been abused by someone who looks like me. Anyway, the good doctor had a canvas muzzle and we were trying to decide who would get it on. Mr. Delaney did his best, almost had it on, but didn’t get it tightened fast enough. He tried again and I jumped in and tightened it. I then had to hold poor Bailey down as the vet took his temperature (104 degrees) and then shave a spot on his leg to take a blood sample to see what the infection is caused by. That was followed by another spot shaved on his back for a bag of saline for hydration.

During all this time, I was on pins and needles as we proceeded since Bailey really doesn’t like me and was trying to bite the doctor in spite of the muzzle. The vet lost his hearing half way through the visit as his hearing aid battery must have dropped out. Even at my ripe old age of 63.5, I felt quite spritely surrounded by 87 and who knows what age.

After that, we went back home (next door). MK cooked some rice and hamburger for Bailey and I took that to Mr. Delaney in the early evening. By this time, Bailey was acting like his former self, the antibiotics having granted him a new lease on life.

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It is July, is it summer yet?

It is green but almost a bit too chilly to be enjoyed.  Is it July?

It is green but almost a bit too chilly to be enjoyed. Is it July?

I know it is July since I gave Stewart his heartworm and Frontline meds this morning as I faithfully do on the first of the month. I stupidly went out the door wearing a pair of shorts and a t-shirt and soon realized my folly. Luckily, I was not out of doors for very long. The temps are supposed to rise to seventy degrees as a high, but near the lake, and we are less than five miles from the lake, it is to be around sixty-five. It is funny; I believe I complain more about this than I do about the winter.

Stewart spent Monday afternoon at Pet Supplies Plus as they did their best to remove the dreadlocks he grows and to make him smell less like an animal. His dog funk smell was decidedly way too much so off he went for a treatment. This time, it took less than it usually does, about three hours in total for his Monday afternoon. He came home and crashed. It was a good thing for him because he has not had his charges (our grandchildren) this week, and he has not been getting as tired as he usually does. He chases around with the girls when they are here, following them around and doing their bidding and getting in a de rigueur lick here and there.

The yard is looking beautiful since we had landscapers come out and mow and trim, a few days after mulching the way back (especially to keep down the mud). The areas around the bushes and under the tree next to the house are also looking better as well, now that they have been mulch-replenished. Stewart will be less muddy but I am sure he will find some way to have mulch in his undercoat. We had been thinking of having the lawn taken care of by landscapers, on a regular basis, just like just about all my neighbors, but I think that I am not yet ready for that.

Tuesday afternoon was pleasantly warm and sunny, not warm enough to hit the pool, so I went into the garage and pretty much redid all of the areas needing my attention. I sorted and cleaned and put things away, to the point that I feel like I can go in there and not get physically ill from the disorder I see.

Kayaking? Not sure when, I cannot believe I have still not taken it out but somehow the stars have not been aligned.

Interestingly enough, on the neighbor front, the yarrow that had shriveled up like the Wicked Witch of the West when hit by water is starting to grow again, making me think that I was right that some airborne plant remover somehow found its way to their leaves.

Wednesday? Off to my office hours and then maybe take it easy today.

Posted in Family, Grandchildcare, Life in general, Meteorology, Nature, Pets, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment

Gutter Gardens



Everyone has to have gutters! Having no gutters means that you will have issues with the foundation of your abode and slowly do damage to the exterior as well, with mold and water inside coming at a later point. Thus, why not take advantage of this fact.

Millions of people in the world are starving. We need to make sure that they have gutters. Gutters can be used for the horticulture of tomorrow!

Just plug the downspouts a bit; nature pretty much does that naturally, anyway. I have spent a good part of my house maintenance removing composting materials from mine. Composting materials are perfect for producing great plants. Now I can leave the materials where they are and just plant something.

I am thinking maybe rice. Rice likes water, rice likes rich composting materials, maybe we can save the world with our gutters.

For those areas of the world that do not have gutters, perhaps we should provide gutters and go from there. The sun beats down on roots and gutters and thus we could have a great means of growing the produce we need. It is time to form the World Gutter Fund (WGF)!

The other day, as I was walking Stewie in Deerfield, I realized that someone had gotten a hold of my idea, already growing plants in their gutters. I am hesitant to talk to the people, as I am afraid they will take my idea and market it. As of yet, they have not yet figured out that they can grow something other than the maple trees that inhabit their gutters.

Gutter gardens, a thing of the future!

Posted in Horticulture, Life in general, Nature, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment

No ordinary Joe!

Chicago / IL / Etats-Unis - 6/29/15

Chicago / IL / Etats-Unis - 6/28/15

Chicago / IL / Etats-Unis - 6/28/15

I usually take my car to the local dealer for oil changes. It is not overly expensive, they take note of things that are getting to a point of repair, and they wash my car. Last week, I had need of an oil change and I had a strange wheel well-inside fender issue as the plastic had come loose and had been literally eaten by the tire while driving.

The guy they assigned me as my ‘care specialist’ while there had taken care of me before. A tall, well-put together, in-shape guy with a crew cut and a pretty much omnipresent smile are the best way I could describe him.

At my second visit where they were going to install the inside fender wall, he came into the waiting room to explain that they were almost done and to ask me a few questions, since he wasn’t sure he totally remembered what he had told me about the work. Joe mentioned to me that he was retired and I somehow missed that he had said as well, “from the marines.” I said I was retired also and he said, “Oh, from the Marines?” I replied that I wasn’t and we commenced to talk about his previous experiences.

He told me that he had duties in more than one war zone and had come through with being shot and being put back together with metal as well, in more than one part of his body (including his face). To look at him, you would never suspect that he was a victim of any of this at all.

We started talking about the VA (Veteran’s Administration) and how they do not always meet the needs of the people they serve. I remember my father-in-law, a veteran of WWII, trying to get services from them and often just giving up on the long waits and hoops with which he had been provided. We talked about going to war and getting the preparation beforehand (non-existent in his case) and then help afterwards.

Despite my dislike of the political reasons for many of our warring escapades, my feelings are put aside when it come to dealing with our vets. They put aside their lives, go and do their military duty and then come back and try to put their lives back together after many often-traumatic experiences. How are they treated once back? In my estimate, more often than not, not well at all. To get treatment, they need to jump through hoops, to deal with the emotional ramifications, and receive very little if any help, at least that is how it panned out in the past. Going to war and coming home are very hard things to do. Add into this a society that may look down upon their activities because of political disagreements and not being very welcoming. Again, I feel that we need to put aside the political element and do our utmost to help them readjust to a normal life.

Joe told me that his life, once back, was a disaster. He got to the point of being so low that he was actually homeless. He had no ability to deal with the demons in his head. He became an alcoholic. He had had a romantic involvement with someone, got her pregnant, and then ended up marrying her. Lucky for him because she searched him out when he was living on the streets, found him, and helped him get back on track.

Now Joe goes to the VA and helps out, talking to guys in the same situation he was, trying to give them the perspective of someone who has been through the same thing and was able to put aside the nightmare of war and its ramifications and learn how to deal with its horrors.

I thank my lucky stars that I was never in his shoes because I am not so sure that I could have dealt with it. I thank my lucky stars for him and the guys like him because they are protecting us on daily basis and living through hell to keep us safe. I certainly hope that our society and government do a better job of pre-war prep and then help them when they come back because that is, most assuredly, the right thing to do and we do not have a very good track record in this area. In my head, a red carpet for life is the way to go for these folks who have put their lives on the line on a daily basis for many years.

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Mini-fences do not good neighbors make

Deerfield / IL / Etats-Unis - 6/26/15

The driveway median work has continued and the other day I spied yet another message posted on the edge of the big fence between the driveways and just about at the spot where our two houses’ front portions end facing the street.

I had a bit of difficulty totally understanding what was meant. It was posted sometime after I left a 6:00 AM in the morning or so to go to the gym pool. The words were structured in such a way as to leave my mind mentally hanging in confusing.

As it turns out, MK managed later to be coming home just around the time that more work was being done at partitioning out the almost two foot wide space between the driveways that was formerly completely inhabited by white marble morsels of stone. It was a look I have abhorred for many years and as the stones get older they always look dirty. Once, in the past, as we have lived here since 1987, I put fresh ones down. I didn’t want to do it but I respected the fact that I was the newcomer and it was not my prerogative to change these things. Nor was it tops on my list of things to do.

Anyway, the driveway median is now partially stripped of the marble stones and about an eight to ten foot stretch now has a mini-fence down the middle and soil on the neighbors’ side with a ground cover set in place.

MK, when she returned home, tried to have a conversation, but the neighbor managed to scurry away quickly once she got out of the car and a complete conversation was avoided.

Neighbor did say, “I hate these stones.” He also added something to the effect that I wanted them. MK replied, “We do too, Rich has hated them for years. Perhaps it might be good to talk to us and we can do something about it.” By the end of her words, he was gone, not wanting to hear what she had to say.

Status quo is in effect, a mini-fence is up, and no further progress has ensued. Like world politics, there is probably no real solution to the silliness of this situation.

Posted in Life in general, Neighbors, People and their characteristics, Stupidity, Thoughts and philosophy, Tolerance, Unfairness | Leave a comment