Thursday, September 19, 2013

It's not good fences that make good neighbors


Our tomcat Teddy chases my neighbor M's cat and, in return, M's tomcat sneaks in our pet door in the dead of night to eat Teddy's food.

We hear our neighbors' dogs barking but (we are thankful) not in the wee hours. The barking reminds me of our dog Coco, whom we had to put to sleep during the summer. Kind of a neighborly thing, really, dogs asking: "Why isn't Coco barking back as she used to do?" If it wasn't for our cat, the squirrels would be inundating our backyard. Coco's daily exercise was chasing the neighborhood's legion of squirrels.

Beyond the back fence are our neighbors from India. They've been in the U.S. for awhile -- their children speak as Americans while their parents have that Brit-inspired lilt of Indian speech. The wife occasionally holds garage sales with members of her church. I always drop by the purchase small items: a 1980s Denver Broncos' glass from Burger King; cartoonish alligator slippers that I wear during Florida Gators football games; some old plates emblazoned with a lightning bolt "S" as in "Shay." The husband works at our hospital. I was surprised when he was the one who conducted the most recent ultrasound of my heart. The family has put up a "Dead End" sign informing motorists that their odd little street that seems like an alley does not go through.

To the south, our born-again neighbor who's a teacher holds a Wednesday prayer rally. Cars line both sides of the street and I wonder how all of those people fit into that tiny house. Yet another miracle, I suppose.

To the north live my Mormon neighbors. The Mister is also a colonel out at Warren AFB. My wife and I were once quizzed about him by government agents doing background checks for a security clearance. We both gave him high marks for being a good neighbor. He must be a church elder too because he leads the Mormon handcart brigade down Capitol Ave. during the summer's Frontier Days parade. The Misses walks with him. They both dress in old-timey Mormon clothes. She is a terrific cook who bakes us Christmas goodies every year and who made me lentil soup after my heart attack.

Our neighborhood's only other known Democrat is T, M's wife. She's lugging around an oxygen tank these days. T knit us an afghan one Christmas. We rarely talk about politics.

Our tomcats carry on their little game. When shopping last night, I bought an extra bag of cat food. Teddy loves to chase M's cat when they are both outside. But when he comes to our house to dine, Teddy just sits and watches. Just his way of being neighborly.

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