Tom Sawyer Lawn Mowing

As part of the gorgeous long weekend, we painted the floor of our porch (looks great!) with Joe’s help cleaning up and Dale also decided it was time to mow the lawn.

We bought a manual push mower earlier in the summer. Apparently the models going back decades were a lot heavier, but these have gotten lighter in weight and are really easy to push.

Dale mowed our small front lawn, the we asked Benjamin if we could mow his. We started to mow, and mowed as much as we could until we had to ask his guest to move his ride-on-scooter from the middle of the yard. That got a lot of attention – Ben’s daughters Sea and Terra were right out there, and they were fascinated with our mower. They decided to mow the rest of their lawn themselves. Then Paul and Mary’s daughter Meghan decided to take a turn too! Sheila’s eldest son, Caleb, who is 7, started taking turns as well.

From there we moved on and they mowed Floretta’s lawn. Hamish, Sheila’s youngest son, wanted to mow, so we told him he needed shoes, and if his Mom said yes, he could have  turn.

Sea and Terra got called in for dinner, so the other kids finished off Flo’s lawn. Then we moved down the street, and mowed for Boris and Natasha, then one house further, mowed for Maria, who gave the kids freezies for their trouble.

It was SO much fun. Who knew a lawnmower was such a great way to have fun and get a lot of work done.

The next day Ben came along and edged everybody’s yard. It looks GREAT on our side of the street.


Playing Possum?

Here on Mulberry Street, there is a fair amount of wildlife – we have fat and sassy raccoons, feral cats, and plenty of opossums. Most of them live in a massive, disintegrating garage with a falling steel roof located behind the houses on the east side of the block.

Our large dog loves heading out into the yard and trying to catch them, but they tend to stay just out of reach on the roof of that garage, or in the eavestrough, or on the top of the 6 foot fence. We have seen lots of possums, or maybe just the same possum over and over again – walking the fence, ducking into the crumbing concrete blocks of the garage, or one walking in the river running in the eavestrough in a rainstorm.

Last Saturday, we were out for a long time on a beautiful day. We went out picking apples out in the country, and took a nice drive to buy some fresh sausage and the autumn leaves. We arrived home in our car, and saw a very large possum lying by the curb. It appeared to be quite dead.

Sheila told us it had been there since morning, and she had called animal control early in the day, but they were taking their time picking up the corpse. In the meantime, a whole bunch of neighbourhood kids had been poking at the fly covered corpse with sticks and fingers.

Yes, it was really d-e-a-d and not just playing possum. For some reason, which I don’t really understand, it was a huge attraction to the kids up and down the block. It may be part of learning about death, but given the state of the corpse, I thought it was pretty gross.

We are the Sunflowers

7 squealing girls running up and down the street. Yes, Sea, the camp counselor, has decided on a new game. Unfortunately, there are a lot of slow, sleepy, angry wasps about. They are swarming around people, as they tend to do in mid-September, before the first frost. The entire pack of girls gets to squealing when they are approached by a wasp.

Anyhow, they are all singing:

We are the sunflow-errrrs
We are the sunflow-errrrs
We reach for the sun
We sleep all the night
We are the sunflow-errrrs

While it’s great to see the girls having such a fine time, the squealing and singing gets a bit wearing after a while. Natasha’s response to this game “Why would they want to be sunflowers? I would prefer to be a Venus Flytrap. You can call me Audrey!  *Munch munch*”


Well, it’s been another busy week on Mulberry Street. Dale and Chris and I were out one evening dropping election flyers in another neighbourhood.  Last night, Dale and I had an invite to a Women’s evening at the local pool hall. Dale has been invited to join a Tuesday night bowling league. We were out far too late, and I didn’t get nearly enough done today.

Driving home on Thursday, along the 2nd main street to the north of us, we noticed a lot of Working Women.  We also saw a hand to hand drug deal go down. Normally, we don’t see that much of it, but I guess we don’t normally drive home along that street very often. The same women were out working yesterday afternoon as well.

Aggie shouted out across the street earlier to tell us how nice our porch railings looked. She suggested that it would improve my property value, but all I care about is preserving all that nice wood. Worth the effort.

The Hummer that was seen a couple of weeks ago on our block was back today. This is the second time it has pulled over for a period of time, waited about 15 minutes, then gone down the block and waited a bit more. It’s a huge white Hummer (original version) with lots of chrome. It actually seems a bit suspicious to me – is the driver dropping off a woman to do a job, or pick up “John” for a short while? Every time, the vehicle picks up the woman and leaves.  Odd.

Then there is “The Car”. It has been parked near the end of the block in a no parking zone for about 3 days now. It’s a pretty decent looking car, and its license plates suggest it was licensed fairly recently. The windows have been left open, and there is some personal debris in the seats. As of this evening, there were 2 parking tickets, and an Abandoned Car Form on its windshield.

It seems odd that somebody would abandon such a decent looking car – even if the engine had died, it would be worth something as scrap, and the tow would be free. So, I am left wondering if this is one of the stolen cars that Justin told me about. See, apparently many stolen cars are not reported to the police at all. People just keep their eyes open and pick them up wherever they are dumped, and don’t bother with that part. Considering the cost of comprehensive insurance, that probably makes some sense – why report it stolen when you can’t get insurance payout and you might well just find it dumped in an alley somewhere nearby.

Anyhow, I wonder if that car is stolen and not reported. If so, the owner will get a nasty surprise with all those tickets!

Maria’s cat came home a couple of days ago, none the worse for wear for being tumbled by the car except for a bit of a limp. Everybody is relieved. Meanwhile, Floretta’s cat Lindy decided to leave home forever and is wandering the streets begging cat food from people. Lindy decided that whatever other people were serving was preferable to Floretta’s brand of food.

Industrious City

Yesterday was a very busy day in Industrial City, at least along Mulberry Street. It as a very nice day, mid 20s, a bit of wind, no rain. Perfect mid-September weather. And we all were so very busy. Don was helping Sheila and Charlene paint their porch railings. I was staining/protecting my porch railings. Aggie was weeding her yard and mowing her perfect lawn, with her cockatiel in a cage on her porch. Paul and Mary’s 2 sons at the end of the block were showing their virtuosity at heavy metal music. They are both fine musicians, though I have little appreciation for their musical genre. Or their singing. Ow.

Doing all that work doesn’t mean that people were unable to have fun! Aggie’s bird was having a fine time talking in his cage. Don was answering back, getting the bird going. Aggie kept coming out of her side yard, telling the bird to BE QUIET! She had no idea that half the racket was caused by Don’s teasing.

While we were all painting/staining the deck, there were numerous and varied kids from up and down the street, playing various games. They had water guns – the blasting kind, which needed constant refilling. Bahir, the little cutie from next door, had a tiny water pistol, which he lost somewhere on his travels. Benjamin’s daughters, Sea and Terra were out, as were 2 of Sheila’s sons and a couple of random children of unknown origin.

At one point they left a kids play tent in the middle of our front lawn.  They shared bikes and scooters. Ben showed Bahir how to ride a 2 wheeled scooter, but then lent him the 3 wheeled one.

What really strikes me as neat is how much sharing goes on. No one kid has all that much, so trading and sharing toys is pretty standard. Ben has 2 Nintendo DS machines and a couple of scooters. Charlene and Sheila’s boys have tricycles and water guns. Some other kid I dont know has an electric scooter. Anyhow, 2 of Sheila’s sons spent hours on Ben’s porch playing Nintendo.  Sea organized a game of restaurant with the tent, and play mustard.  The water fights went on and on.

Ben’s daughters are quite interesting. Sea, the elder, is basically a camp counselor for the entire pack of kids on our side of the street. She organizes all kinds of games (including the baby bear cubs). Terra is a bit more of a Union Rep. After the all afternoon Nintendo fest with Sheila’s sons, she told her father that it was really HER turn now – “I didn’t have my designated time on the DS today”. Designated time?

It’s not like the adults don’t have fun either. Ben went down to the corner store, accompanied by Sea, his escort, armed with a huge water gun. When they returned, Sea was accompanied by her father, the armed escort.

The play day ended with a game of Zombie tag. “You’re IT! You have to chase me to eat my BRAAAAAINS!!”  “ohhhhhhhhhh, BRAINNNNNNSSSS!!!”

By the end of the day, Boris was out on his porch, scaring the heck out of people by popping off his unloaded paintball marker. “pop, Pop, Pop!” He said he would shoot a paintball through Don’s apartment window! They got into a great conversation about paintball, and i think Don will be going out with Boris to the paintball field very soon now.

I saw it on Mulberry Street Moment:

Ebikes are very popular here. For less than $1,000 you can have motorized transport, slow as it is, that requires no license and no insurance. Considering how many people around here have suspended licenses, no licenses or no money for insurance, this shouldn’t be a huge surprise. What IS the huge surprise is the uses people have for their Ebike. On Sunday, we saw one Industrious young man trying to drive his Ebike down Mulberry, but he was having a terrible time keeping his balance. He was carrying a computer desk and office chair on the back!

Sad Moment of the Weekend:

Maria’s cat was hit by a car on Sunday while we were out at the hardware store. The car may not have actually run over the cat, but it rolled under the car and took off running. Maria and a number of others, including Dale, went looking for the cat, but it was well hidden. He was a prime singer in the Stray Cat Choir and I know that Maria was very upset he was hit and missing. No updates today.

Weekend Update

Just the usual to report.

Don has definitely moved in across the way. He lives on the 2nd floor with a tuxedo cat, who is often to be seen lounging on the porch roof. Sometimes Don is also seen out on the porch roof smoking, so he doesn’t make the apartment smoky.

Floretta’s granddaughters and Ben’s daughters were running across the lawns on all 4s pretending they were bear cubs. Cute! (“Tushie in the air, tushie, tushie in the air!”)

We had a fun (as usual) chat with Boris and Natasha, in which Natasha recounted how she managed to get a job as a sous-chef with no experience (or even talent) cooking, and her accidental assault by the Austrian chef with 3 gallon pot of goulash. Good times.

The kids are all back to school now, and there are fewer people visiting and taking up our valuable street parking spots. Yay – we were about to bulldoze our lawn to get a spot. Oh yes, and somehow during the last rainy week, the passenger side of our car got covered in coarse paper bits. We need a trip to the car wash.

Otherwise, not much new to report. Since Angry Car Guy left, it’s been a bit quieter here. He has been seen though, stopped at the corner and staring up the street, and occasionally letting off a profanity. He hasn’t forgotten us.

Bloody Murder

I like to read the local newspaper online every day or two. It gives me some idea of what’s up in Industrial City. Sometimes there are funny articles. Once a week, they publish the Police Blotter, an extract of police calls from the past week, which mostly has entries like this one:

Main and Mulberry
A car was observed driving erratically down Main Street at Mulberry at 10 am. An observer told ICPS that the driver ran into 6 curbs and nearly decapitated a woman with a cart who was crossing the street. Industrial City Police Service responded to the call, and pulled over the driver. A 54-year-old man from IC Suburb was charged with Impaired Driving. His readings were .352 and .349.

Queen and Church
Industrial City Police Tactical Squad noticed a a skunky smell from man smoking in Queen’s Park at 4.20 pm. He was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana.

Lately, in our neighbourhood, there have been a goodly number of cell phones taken in robberies at 2 am or 3 am. They are stopped by some random person, and asked if they can lend their cell phone to them. The random person then takes the phone and runs. We also live about 2 blocks from an area with a higher than usual number of crack addicts and “Working Women”.

In general though, this place feels pretty safe. In fact, it feels a LOT safer than where we lived in Ginormous City, and mostly because we know our neighbours are always there.

Back to the story though. I was reading the local news online, and I saw that Industrial City had its second homicide of the year. I was stunned. Only TWO? In a city of more than a half million? That’s a pretty low murder rate. If Ginormous City had such a low rate, they would have about 24 a year. They have a lot more. I looked at the article again, and suddenly things started looking a little bit different.

An 83 year old man was found stabbed to death in his bed. His co-congregationists from the local Baptist church dropped by to deliver dinner on Tuesday, but he didn’t answer. They called his son, who checked and found his father murdered. It appears the deed was done sometime Monday during the day. Apparently this man was a very long time resident of his street, and was much loved, both by the Baptists and his neighbours.

He lived within 2 blocks of our house.

I realize that this sort of thing can happen anywhere, and certainly happens less HERE than it does in most other places.  It was just – odd. I am hoping they sort out the perpetrator situation and lay some charges, and quickly. It’s just a bit spooky.

I still feel safe, but it is food for thought.

“I saw somebody get runned over!”

I was out on the porch a short while ago, and Don’s daughter was up in the window of his apartment.

I should perhaps update the story a bit-Don moved into Angry Car Guy’s apartment on Wednesday, and his 3 kids are visiting this weekend. His 3 kids and Sheila’s 3 kids and occasionaly Charlene’s 2 year old have been across the street most of the weekend. We have seen Don and Sheila sitting snuggling on the porch roof .We have seen Don’s 3 kids on scooters in the pouring rain. It’s been rather nice.

Anyhow, I went out there, and got a shoutout from Don’s daughter – not sure her age? 7? 8? 9?

Daughter: “Hey, I just saw somebody get runned over”

Me: “Oh NO! What happened?”

Daughter:  “Well, Angus, no Hamish, no Angus (Sheila’s 2 younger redhead sons) was out on the road and his FOOT was runned over by a SCOOTER!”

Me: (blink, blink) Well, did somebody kiss his foot better?

Daughter: Yes, we did!!

I was expecting a lot more drama, and am glad to hear it was just Angus’ toe that was the casualty.

Summer Heat

It’s been a hot summer. Today is no exception. Very busy day on Mulberry – nobody seems to have left for the holiday weekend except Boris and Natasha, and probably Aggie from across the way.

Today has been exceptionally hot for a September day. Mid afternoon, it was 31C/88F with a humidex of 40C/105F. Horridly steamy, but it doesn’t seem to have stopped people from getting things done.

I was out in the back for a couple of hours this afternoon, knocking apart old furniture left by the previous owner, mowing the yard and fighting back the nettles, which seem to like growing in the middle of the rosebushes. Benjamin next door was out with his weed whacker, mowing his lawn and edging 3 others.  Most of the kids were indoors, because it was just so horridly HOT outside – huddling by the window air conditioners I assume. Floretta was out on her porch, hoping for rain to cool things off.

Around 3 or so I went out front to pull some weeds and mow the lawn that Ben edged.  It looked a bit like rain, and Dale suggested we mow before it rained. Well, didn’t quite make it! It started with a few fat drops, then the skies opened. It poured in varying degrees of monsoon volume for about 20 minutes.

What was so much fun was that the kids suddenly appeared on the street. Don’s 3 kids, visiting for the weekend, put on their swimsuits and sandals and rode their scooters up and down the sidewalk. Sheila sat on the front steps with her legs in the rain. Ben’s 2 daughters came out and sat on the sidewalk, with their feet dangling in the fast moving gutter water. Charlene carried her 2 year old into the water in the street and set him down in it. I pulled weeds and got soaked.  The wind was blowing some spray onto Dale on the porch.

It felt so GOOD. It was so excellent to see the rain so appreciated by the kids – one of whom was making her Croc into a boat and sending it sailing down the road towards the grate.  It was almost reminiscent of an earlier time, before video games and TV, where a break in the weather could itself provide all kinds of fun.

Sadly, it’s over for the moment, and it’s still HOT and HUMID, but they are calling for storms, possibly severe, for the next 12 hours. It would be so nice NOT to be so hot. Floretta hopes so too.

Playing Possum

I should have posted this on Tuesday night, but the week has been far too busy.

Tuesday night, everybody puts out the garbage for pickup Wednesday. If you call ahead, Industrial City will also tell you the next time they will come to pick up large items.

This past Tuesday appeared to be the time that Floretta’s household put out a lot of trash. They had the usual 2 recycling bins, a compost cart, a full garbage pail, a second pail of junk from the yard, and a broken toilet.

Darius (or was it D’Andre) was out on the porch throwing things at the second garbage pail.  He hit it with a stick. He threw a shower shoe at it. His friend/uncle/cousin/some random guy hopped off the porch and kicked it over. Why this display of violence towards trash? Darius (D’Andre) was convinced that there was a small possum in the pail. Anyhow, they whapped at it quite a while, then gave up, leaving the bin lying on its side in the middle of the lawn. Never did see a possum, but if it was there, it was playing dead, and left later when it was a bit less stressful out on Mulberry.

Move forward to Friday afternoon. The broken toilet remains in the middle of Floretta’s yard.  She told us she called Industrial City offices at 4.30 on Wednesday, and they assured her that it would be picked up by 6 pm. Well, it was still there on Thursday, so she called back and they assured her that they would send a truck by 6 pm.  6 came and went, so she called them Friday, and they assured her they would come then. When we arrived home, the toilet was still there. I assume that the toilet was eventually picked up as it’s not there today. Either that, or she gave up and got one of the boys to put it in the backyard.

We did offer to buy her indoor plumbing if we won the lottery….