My Neighbours

I live in such a typical suburb.

I thought I would give you a slice of life from around the neighbourhood.

On one side we have an empty house. A recently-divorced professional woman bought the house about 15 years ago. Let’s call her Lynn. She soon put up a chain link fence to keep her dog in. This was a blessing since it freaked out at me every time I showed my face outside my own door. Lynn met someone and moved in with them, had two kids, and left the house empty for several years. During this time, the yard and garden maintenance was minimal, so I spent several afternoons each summer cutting back brush that grew over and under her fence. I felt I was helping her out, since she had two babies. Then she started renting out the house, and I found out she has another property, which is maintained by a property manager!

The tenants have been quite a slice of humanity. I empathize with people and their struggles, but clearly, her tenants wanted to live in a house for the space and privacy, with none of the responsibilities of home ownership. So I cheered Dave when he started his own business and Katya had a new baby. I admired 20-year-old Megan when she started bringing home old motorbikes and ATVs and fixing them in the driveway. I was sad for Nathan and Debbie when the house was put up for sale and they couldn’t afford to buy it. And I have also kept my windows closed because every one of these tenants smoked very stinky weed on their deck or in their yard multiple times per day!

The house is currently empty and up for sale. The price is about 20% higher than the new normal, even now that everyone is desperate for housing. Interest rates have repeatedly gone up and the market has cooled. I predict Lynn will have new tenants by winter.

One advantage of living next door to Lynn’s house is that half of her yard is woods. It creates a big privacy screen between her place and the three nearest houses, including ours. It also dulls noise from the next street. In those woods, cardinals and hummingbirds nest. A future neighbour could cut down the whole wooded area and replace it with more lawn and/or a big garage. I will be crying when that happens!

My neighbours on the other side are Todd and Brenda. Their daughter and her two kids recently moved back home, along with a storage pod of their belongings. It is parked in the driveway, along with their four vehicles (one each for the adults, plus a work truck). Everyone has so many vehicles! But I enjoy hearing the kids play and splash around in their wading pool.

I mentioned Todd once because when he was putting the garbage out, I told him I’d seen starlings nesting in his attic. He was trying to scurry away because he was embarrassed to be caught out in his pyjamas. He decided not to deal with the starlings until the nestlings had fledged. That was about 3 years ago. You can imagine the bird mess in his attic now!

Earlier this summer, Todd started listening to the radio on his deck. I noticed it was left on overnight. By the second night, I couldn’t sleep from the noise (which was obnoxious talk radio). Rom volunteered to have a chat. It turns out Todd had raccoons nesting in his attic! He was trying to scare them off with 24/7 human sounds. When this proved to be ineffective, he had to get Pest Control to relocate them. He has left the radio on at low volume for the rest of the summer, to ward off a raccoon return. I don’t notice it anymore! Meanwhile, the attic has been remediated and it is critter-free. The vents, flashing, and so on have all been repaired or replaced. As a bonus, we didn’t have multiple broods of starlings grow up in the neighbourhood this year, and I had a lot less bird poo on my car. Plus, we have a greater variety of songbirds. Much better!

Across the street we have Ryan and Nora. They have a flag holder on their porch for plain red and black flags, which Ryan has confirmed represent anarchy (at least to him). He is an old-school communist/leftie, about 60 years old. Nora commutes every day and holds down the fort for their two young-adult daughters, while Ryan…doesn’t. I think he has disabilities preventing him from working. He can be seen zipping around silently on his electric scooter. Unlike our other neighbours, the family has only one car, and various family members take the bus regularly.

One time our front door latch was not behaving and the front door blew open when we weren’t home. Ryan called the police thinking there might be a robbery in progress. He meant well and it’s not a bad thing to know the neighbours are observant.

A few years ago, Ryan came over to chat with me outdoors, tall can of beer in hand, joking that Nora was mad at him. I can see why, as he literally fell over and rolled around on the lawn. Perhaps it was his eighth beer? Anyway, their daughters have fledged and I now rarely see the parents except when Nora is in the driveway shovelling snow.

Ryan and Nora’s house backs onto a green belt. If I had known that area was protected from development, I might have held out for a house to become available on that side. Wild pheasants live there and roam the neighbourhood. This summer we hear a lovely barred owl whoo-ing most nights.

Behind us on the next street live Tim and Nicki. We have very few interactions. I knocked at their door when I was about to put up a new fence between our properties. They didn’t answer (although someone was home) so I left a note. After the fence went up, their little dog was able to squeeze under it, so they filled the gaps with rocks and lumber on their side. Luckily it’s not really in my view. A few years ago, one of their trees blew over onto our shed…at Christmas. They asked if they could delay removing it since their chain saw was at their camp. I said no (because of damage to the roof of the shed) and they found someone to cut up and remove the tree that very day. I have since found out that insurance-wise, I am responsible in those situations! I had no idea. Nevertheless, they did pay for some new shingles and fence boards to repair the damage.

Some time ago, Nicki and Tim started putting up bird feeders on their deck. The whole family, including their two adult kids, became avid bird watchers. The first time they saw a cardinal, they gathered on the deck and they were so happy, they were jumping for joy. It was adorable.

I know two more sets of neighbours. One is a young Francophone family. Their two-year-old already says Mom instead of Mama. I bet that makes her very sad. The other has two small dogs. The most recent acquisition is a Havanese, which is, for lack of a better word, very yippy. But makes up for it with his cuteness. I can almost see their older dog sighing in resignation over all the commotion.

I had a previous neighbour, before I remarried, and had started dating again. I got home one night around 3 am. The next morning as I left for work, this neighbour asked me if I had started shift work? Busybody! 😊

I like our neighbours. They are mostly unobtrusive.

Do you know your neighbours? Do you get along with them?


  1. What an interesting history of your neighbors and neighborhood. We have mostly been fortunate with neighbors at our many locations with just a few exceptions. Right now I live in a very quiet area with quiet neighbors who are friendly enough. The couple across the street have become good friends.

  2. My husband interacts with our neighbors; I, on the other hand, wish we didn’t have neighbors at all so I pretend they don’t exist. *laugh*

    Our house is on a corner. Behind us is an elderly man named John who has an ancient ugly RV parked right next to the property line (as opposed to in his driveway or anywhere close to his own house), so this eyesore — that appears to be ours because of its placement — is a sore spot with me. My husband says John is a nice guy. I, however, think John = ugly RV. Which is not nice.

    Next to us is Sue. She’s in her 70s, a gardener, polite. She has a crush on my husband.

    Across one street are The Daves (father and son) and Big Dave’s wife. They don’t seem to work, but take meticulous care of their yard and garden. The parents are retired, I’m guessing. The son is probably 50(?) I think he likely has some kind of disability, or else is supported by his parents for other reasons.

    Across the other street (corner lot, remember) are three houses in a row. In one (a rental) is a family with a teenage boy (probably 20 now, actually) — we never see the parents but the kid plays drums. Loudly and badly. In another is a very angry couple with a recently-graduated (from HS) son. They yell at each other a lot. I call them the yelly people. In the third is a very large woman with a very tiny yippy dog. I only see her when some disaster is happening, like when the water line to her house broke.

    I don’t live in a suburb, exactly. But I do live in a neighborhood. (I live on an island.) There are no sidewalks, but people walk. There are not “friends” here so far as I can tell, but no one is unfriendly. It’s not the best neighborhood I’ve ever lived in but it’s the nicest in terms of real estate, if that makes sense.

    • Hi Mrs. Fever, I am sorry to only be replying now! I like your Neighbours Story. Down the street we used to have Coughing Woman and Her Barking Dog. I fear they are both gone now. I once had yelly neighbours – they argued loudly about everything, but it was just a style of relating for them, and they seemed to enjoy it. A band practices in a garage up the road; I am happy not to be closer!

  3. We have a mixed bag. One next door neighbor will stay in my bad graces forever. Just when we moved in, she tried to help herself to a little self guided tour to our house without invitation or permission. Then just after Smol was born, she picked a two week long fight with PiC over fencing that we were replacing because it was falling down. It was a whole thing that started with their lying and only stopped when I had some very polite but stern words with her about her bullying and harassment. They are, as they say, dead to me.
    Another set of neighbors are quite cordial and helpful, we lend each other a hand now and again with whatever’s needed: packages taken in, bins being put in or out. Borrowing the use of a bin on a yard work day. We like the lady who lives behind us, with her dog, and the folks up the street we’ve gotten to know because they love having Sera play with their new puppy. I’m not a very social person day to day but it’s nice to have a few friendly faces in the neighborhood.

    • Friendly faces and minor helpfulness are just right for me. I recognize and nod and say hi to loads of people on my daily walks, but know very little about them except which dogs are whose!

  4. I enjoyed reading about your neighbours and neighbourhood. One of my neighbours is a widow and lives alone. We chat whenever we see each other. She’s been in the neighbourhood longer than me. The other neighbours have changed more often so I don’t know them well.

    • Hi Natalie, I apologize for not replying when you sent this comment! One of my neighbours has been in the neighbourhood longer than me and is also chatty, but most aren’t. We have new neighbours next door in the house that was rented! Someone paid top dollar for it just before prices started to fall. I feel bad about all the money they shelled out for an average home like mine. We have barely caught a glimpse of them; they are never out & about!

  5. I wonder what percent of people become close friends with any of their neighbors. I’m guessing 20%.

    • I might have said 20% about 15 years ago but now I would guess 5…people avoid making eye contact in public places, and everyone pretends not to see anyone else – except for that 5%!

  6. Freckles

    I got quick a chuckle reading about your neighbours. And the song from Sesame Street “These are the People in Your Neighbourhood” ran through my head the entire time. I live in a townhouse complex so my neighbours and I are all in very close quarters.

    • Hi Freckles, Are you friendly with them, or just civil, or do you all ignore each other 🙂

      • Freckles

        We do the ‘head nod’ or the quick wave if crossing paths outside (on the way to the garbage shed). My direct neighbour (our units are attached) gives me a small Xmas gift each year because I often brush the snow off her car while I’m doing mine; but at the same time we’ve never been inside each other’s homes although we actually have shared a joined wall for 20 years! If you can hear your neighbour through a wall you tend to ‘give them some space’ when you actually physically come across them.

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