Next door neighbor young Nikki buttonholed me this evening, asked if
I'd mind looking at a problem she had.
She invited me into her home. Yukon the Dog (big dog!) went nuts
because he likes me for some reason so I spent a moment calming him
down. I'm quite clear on whether or not I prefer Yukon to like me vs
not like me, though either situation can be injurious. Big strong
dog of high energy. I must say I like him, and he does respond about
instantly to my vocal requests for behavior modification though it's
quite clear that his enthusiasm makes that a challenge for him.
Wee toddler Wesley spotted me first at the patio door, screamed "HI"
with a 3000-watt grin from his highchair. I'm no good on dates but
I think Wes is about 18 months. Quite bipedally mobile now, speech
recently developing like a bloody avalanche.
Turns out wee Wesley had put not just one but two of their TV remote
controls into a hole in a speaker enclosure just big enough to clear
them. It was like a mailbox: stick remote in hole, let go, it
disappears with a clunk. The speaker enclosures are not easily
disassembled. Therein was the prob.
I went home to fetch some dacron fishing line and a couple of bits of
welding rod. With the speaker on the floor, while holding a small
(but high-tech 3-watt Luxeon if you care) flashlight in my teeth and
peering into the hole, I endeavored to steer a little lasso with the
welding rod, lasso a remote, snug up the loop with the welding rod
(like straightened coathanger wire) and retrieve said remote. This
actually worked! I got the first one right away. The second one was
bigger so I was having a bit more trouble with it. Just as I was
getting the loop about where I wanted it ...... I felt something
pushing my head. It was Wesley's head -- he wanted to see in the
hole too. Wesley and I aren't exactly strangers.
There was only room for one head to peer into that hole. I pushed
back. So he pushed harder. If I'm looking into that hole with a
flashlight then he wanted a look too. I was laughing almost too
hard to ask Nikki to grab a photo if she could.
So then I said "Wesley, I can't see" and gently pushed his head out
of the way with my hands. I'd been back at work about 4 seconds
when .... yup I felt two little hands pushing on my head. That kid
was absolutely determined to see what was in that hole that his bud
Don was finding so interesting.
About then Daddy (Travis) got home. He had some galactic-strength
stickystuff he uses to waterproof splices -- he's Trav the cable guy.
This stuff is SERIOUSLY sticky neat stuff. Trav and I work together
well. He gobbed some of that on to a bit of welding rod that I'd
bent an angle on the end of, and I used that to fish the second remote
outta there slicker than ... uh... it worked quite efficaciously
indeed. No testosterone-fueled competition going on there, I just
happened to be the guy with the rod in hand. He coulda done it just as
well as I and maybe quicker. Or maybe not. Doesn't matter. Mission
Then to more serious matters: he wondered if I could make a part to
fix the broken latch on one of his laptop computers. We pondered
that for a bit. I thought mebbe I could fab up something like that
in my machine shop today, and so I did. I used a milling machine to
make it but it was more artisan craft than precision machineshop. I
essentally machined a "blank" out of aluminum. I did machine the
necessary slot with a modicum of precision. I brought the made
bit, two files and a drillpress vise next door. The drillpress vise
was for holding the piece while I filed it to fit, catching the
filings in a mail flyer from MIdway USA (purveyors of supplies for
shooters) on the kitchen table while Wesley tried to grab a file to
have a go at it too. This kid is gonna be an engineer or artisan, I
think. Few people are both but he might be one of them, who knows?
It worked. I love it when a plan comes together.
We have wonderful neighbors both here and at the lake. After the
Minnesota obligatory several years of reticence, Nikki and Trav now
don't hesitate to ask us for help with about anything they think we
might be able to help, and we feel the same. Trav has more than
unstintingly helped me on several projects where young strength with
thoughtful intellect and skills have worked well and helped hugely
to get 'er done. Nikki is an RN, now on the cardiac ICU at
Regions. Possibly a good skill to have immediately at hand? Duh!
It is necessary to be a good neigbor to have good neighbors. It isn't
always sufficient but we've been shot with luck.
Being a good neighbor takes work but as you imply, it can be fun!
During a windstorm a few years back, a lady on the next block lost
a branch off a front yard tree. One of her neighbors was attacking
the downed branch with a bow saw. Clearly, he wasn't making much
headway and appeared exhausted about 20% into the first cut. He and
I talked about it and agreed that a chainsaw would be very helpful.
His face showed relief and gratitude when I got back with mine.
I had the branch sectioned up into ~12" long firewood in a few minutes.
I put the wood at the curb for pickup, figuring that if my neighbor
wanted it, she could easily lift the little 'logettes'.
After returning home and cleaning up, SWMBO presented me with a plate
of cookies the lady delivered. Does anything taste better than
'favor' cookies and a hot cup of coffee? I don't think so. :)
My next door neighbor noticed that the brake lights and turn signals
on his daughter's car were intermittent after the car had been in for
some body work. I traced the problem to a section of wire loom
underneath a plastic dress panel in the trunk. The wires looked as
if they had been crushed in the jaws of a largish pair of scissors.
Two wires were completely broken and the rest were barely
hanging on. There weren't any sharp edges within a foot of the
break, so I was hard pressed to explain how that could have happened.
I still don't know. I retrieved a solder station and some other tools and
supplies. Neighbor grabbed all the tools and soldered all the matching
colors together. He's younger than me and didn't have any problem
laying in the trunk and working overhead.
A little cleanup with alcohol, some heat shrink tubing and the lights
and signals returned to reliable operation. That's a happy neighbor!
Over the years, I've taken the opportunity to repair flat tires, move
piles of tree branches and repair power tools for folks in the area.
As a great philosopher once said, "I think I have good neighbors, and
so do they."
Funny how that works. :)
I think that Robert Pirsig in his book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle
Maintenance talked about Quality time. That is what I've always found while
helping a neighbor or working with a neighbor helping me...
When I moved to Fairview Oregon the guy directly across the street came and
introduced himself. We talked and got along fine. The reason He had not come
over sooner is that he was stuck in his chair with a bad knee and had the
joint replaced. It was later after he was healed up that we met. Anyway he
was feeling pretty down because he had arthritis so bad his working days
were over. I was in my early thirties at the time and he was probably old
enough to be my dad. He had been the head mill wright at an aluminum plant.
So he had done a lot of different things and prior to that he had worked at
Freightliner running a turret lathe machining truck brake drums. So he had
some machine work as well in his background. So we had some common ground to
Over time I had got a welder, then a Jet mill and 14" gear head lathe.
Anytime the garage door was open my neighbor took it as an invitation to
come see what was going on. I pretty much did the same since he lived
straight across the street.
As time went on he would come and turn something or mill something and it
got to where if I wasn't home Tammy would just hand him the key to the shop
and he would do what ever he needed done. He slowly realized that he could
still do some things, but only on his good days. His bad days limited him to
his chair. Over a few years he accumulated a 13" belt drive lathe,
mill/drill, 4 X 6" band saw and a real nice wire feed welder, along with
some other stuff. He essentially got smaller versions of about everything I
had. He would buy old pickups and sell the parts and turn it into a trailer
and sell it for money to support his shop.
Often on a hot summer day I would be sitting on the porch enjoying the
cool evening and he would come and sit and we would talk about everything.
Tammy said when she saw us out there it reminded her of two old farmers.
Over time (about 9 years) we went from 1 kid to 3 and the house having
only 2 bedrooms was to small, so we moved to the country. I would stop by
and see him see him often. Even though it hadn't been very long since we
moved. About 2 months after we moved another neighbor of ours from down the
street in Fairview called to say he had died. He was really upset as he was
just as close to him as I was. It was like that old man who walked with a
cane connected with everyone in that small town. Always doing what he could
to help everyone. For me it was like my dad had passed away. I was a wreck
for about 2 weeks.
Almost two decades later I look out my front door and across the street
sets a field of Christmas trees. About ready to be harvested again and think
of that old man.
Yes good neighbors are to be treasured.
Very very well told.
Gunner, taking a break from cutting down wind damaged trees on the
"I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the
means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not
making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of
it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different
countries, that the more public provisions were made for the
poor the less they provided for themselves, and of course became
poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the
more they did for themselves, and became richer." -- Benjamin
Franklin, /The Encouragement of Idleness/, 1766
I've always been well behaved in front of witnesses ;)
"Additionally as a security officer, I carry a gun to protect
government officials but my life isn't worth protecting at home
in their eyes." Dick Anthony Heller
Some years ago, NYS had an ice storm. We've had several in
the deacdes I've lived here. I think this story I'm tellling
was during the 1991 stirm. My paretns were affected by the
storm. Plenty of branches down. The next day, my Dad was out
chatting with the neighbors. One side of my parents is
Marvin and Thelma, he's a country boy from way back. The
other side are Robert and Harriet, who are a pharmacist and
a nursing supervisor.
So, the professionals are moaning about the tree blocking
the driveway. There is simply no way to get the cars out,
and they both are needed at thier hospitals where they work.
No problem! says Marvin, who pulls the rip cord on the chain
saw he was holdig. Minutes later, the driveway is clear.
I havn't told Marvin, but he's one of my heros.
Sounds like that hole in the speaker enclosure could benefit from some
sort of "remote blocker" like maybe a piece of coat hanger wire with its
ends looped under the heads of a couple of wood screws?
Hopefully Wesley hasn't mastered the fine art of (un)screwing yet or
you'll have to use security headed screws.
Just my .02,
Amen to that in spades! It do feel good to have someone look at you with
awe like you're some sort of effing genius. And those "thank you" cakes
and cookies don't hurt either.
But, I do try and draw the line on loaning tools to neighbors who don't
know how to use or treat them. I'd rather do the job for them myself
than have to suffer the return of a damaged prized possession I've
treated with TLC for twenty plus years. ********
And in addition, I'm willing to give a not-so-nice neighbor lots more
slack than I would if they weren't living right next to me.
Because, I can't think of anything less comfortable than I and my family
having to live for years next door to someone we're on bad terms
with....and having to see them several times a week. (Well, maybe
preping for a colostomy is less comfortable, but I only have to do that
for one day every 5 years. )
I repaired a flat tire for the neighbors across the street.
They reacted as if I'd performed some kind of miracle.
Strange, but gratifying.
They were kind of freaked when I filled the tire with nitrogen
though. Neither one believed me when I told them that it was
the same gas as in 80% of the air they were breathing!
Yup! After a while, you get a sense of when intervention is necessary, too.
Neighbor showed up asking for some pliers to 'fix his garage door opener'.
Instead, I visited and had a look for myself. The opener was binding
during the opening cycle. I sighted down the rail and it became clear
that the axis of the opener worm had very little to do with the axis
of the door tracks. Grabbed my socket set and moved the anchor on the
door jamb so that it brought the worm drive in alignment with the door
tracks and the arm that pivots on the top of the door. It worked fast and
smooth after that. Guy was practically jumping up and down with delight.
Don't ask me what he planned to do with the pliers! :)
Hey as long as I don't go into 'doormat' mode, I'm willing to be cordial
to practically anyone.
Sounds very UN-fun.
Shortly after we moved here (1984), we were playing cards one evening
when neighbour came to borrow a saw and SWMBO sent him home with our
Their stove had died beyond economic repair and he wanted to trim the
counter top to accommodate a larger and somewhat older stove. In the
meantime, we had brought the small stove from our tiny former kitchen
with us, intending to replace it once we got fully settled in. A trade
was arranged on the spot and completed in a few minutes, to everyone's