Sarah Collins, Will You Please Go Home!

I moved into a cul-de-sac recently and discovered that one of my neighbors has no sense of boundaries. Not only does she think the entire cul-de-sac is her property, but everyone finds her wandering ways endearing and sweet. “That’s Sarah Collins,” they say with soft drawls and smiles. “She just does whatever she wants.”

What the blond bitch wants, as far as I can figure out,  is to prowl around my yard, follow me when I take my dogs for a walk, and crap on my lawn.  I’ve always wanted an incontinent stalker.

Sarah Collins stopping by to drop off a little something something.

Sarah Collins stopping by to drop off a little something something.

Now, I’m trying to be a good neighbor. I want to get along.  But can’t I walk out the front door without Sarah Collins strolling by to check on me? And isn’t it enough I have two dogs to clean up after already? Must I add Sarah Collins to the mix? When I walk by her owner’s house,  I notice his lawn is pristine and green. Mine is marked by urine spots. Coincidence? I think not.

I don’t have any options at this point either. Sarah Collins has been ruling the neighborhood for the last ten years. As I speak, she has entered my yard for the tenth time tonight. No longer happy with the view from the ground, she’s walked up the steps to my second story deck and is standing at the gate, waiting to be let in.

I refrain from yelling at her. I want to be neighborly. Still, I previously lived in the land of leash laws and picking up your own dog’s poop. Down here, that’s not the way things work. In fact, my neighbor’s are entertained by the sight of me parading my leashed dogs around the circle,  leaning down occasionally with one baggie covered hand. “Oh, we just leave it,” they say. “It’s what dogs do.”

Perhaps, with time, I will become as mellow as the people I live among. For now, though, I wish Sarah Collins would go home, and stay there.

Ever had a neighbor’s dog drive you insane? How did you deal with it? Suggestions wanted in the comments.

Cats: Not to be Trusted


Please note: No cats were hurt in the writing of this blog post.

My daughter’s dog has a cat. He loves his cat. Yes, that’s his picture above. He’s grooming his cat. He enjoys it. The cat appears to enjoy it too.

There are many things I love about sharing a house with my daughter. I love how she accentuates the positive. I love how she tells my inner mean girl to shut up. I love that she pay attention to what I have to say. I even love her dogs.

I just hate her dog’s cat.


Cat (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

It’s bad enough that cats cause depression, use litter boxes, and indiscriminately kill birds and rodents, but her cat sneaks into my office late at night when I’m asleep and messes with my stuff.

At first I blamed the dogs (cats are expert at shifting blame), until I realized if one of the big dogs leapt onto my desk it would collapse and the mini beagle can’t jump that high. No way dogs were dancing on my desk at night and leaving my papers in a disarray. My suspicions were confirmed the morning I opened my office door to find the cat guiltily looking up from a pile of papers. He fled through a secret entrance back into his bedroom before I could react. After I picked up the papers and straightened out my desk,  I found the cat pee.

Luckily he missed the laptop, kindle and ipad. His watery destructiveness was limited to the desktop calendar, my favorite Grammar Girl book, and a few pages of miscellaneous  notes. Enough to tick me off, but not enough to ruin my day.


Kattenbak (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And it certainly didn’t ruin the cat’s day, mainly because cat’s are hard to discipline.

A dog will drop into a submissive pose and look guilty even if he isn’t. A cat won’t.

A dog will understand he’s done something wrong and attempt to worm his way back into your good graces. A cat doesn’t.

Cats are resistant to having their nose rubbed in something, their snouts lightly tapped, or hearing the words “bad cat.” Almost like their egos are so large they can’t conceive of doing wrong. Cats are very egocentric, possibly sociopathic.

Which is why, in spite of the cat’s bad behavior, I’ll take no further action than to block his secret tunnel. As the bad boys of domesticated animals, I can’t spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder and wondering how he plans to take his revenge. You know, like entwining himself in my feet as I descend the stairs or pinning me under the blankets and smothering me. And that’s only the cat tricks I know about. Imagine how many devious little feline machinations remain secret.

On second thought, don’t imagine that. If you do and there’s a cat in your house, you’ll never sleep well again. And if there is a cat in the house, sleep with one eye open. Cats aren’t to be trusted.

(Evil) cat

(Evil) cat (Photo credit: zven-ug)

Yes. It’s My Yappy Dog.

Yes, it’s my yappy dog. The one who barks and barks for no good reason in a tone guaranteed to disintegrate ear wax. I know it’s annoying.  But, he’s really cute.

nate sleeping

I try to be considerate. When I let him out in the morning, I wait in my pajamas at the patio door, ready to force him inside the second he lets out his first annoying bark of the day. That loud clunking sound you hear is a cardboard box full of zombie dice being vigorously shaken while I hiss “zombie dice” at my dog. Don’t ask me why. Sometimes it works.

After breakfast he likes to go out again. His quiet dog brother (oh, you didn’t realize I had two dogs? Of course not. The yappy one’s noise drowns out the pitter patter of my other dog’s silent feet) doesn’t appreciate the incessant barking any more than the rest of us. Every once in a while, when you hear a snarl, it’s him saying “shut the hell up” in dog language.


Coming home for lunch means more barking. Barking as I pull into the driveway. Barking as I come up the walk way. More barking as I unlock the door and enter the kitchen. Luckily it’s inside barking, which, while annoying, I hope is not as loud as outside barking. Then it’s back outside again until the inevitable yapping returns and we’re back to zombie dice and treats.

Yes. I give him treats to come inside so I can shut him up. Remember when you didn’t want to screech at your children like a nut when they drove you crazy in the grocery store? That’s how I feel about my dog every single day, multiple times no less.

I’ve tried everything I can think of. Water bottles sprayed in his face temporarily stop him, but not for long. Shaking loud, noisy things in his face have the same brief effect. Bark collars? I’ve been through three of them.  They stop the barking for a while, but then it returns. My family says I should have his vocal cords removed.

If I didn’t love this dog so much, I’d probably contemplate foisting him off on some unsuspecting sucker. He’s good looking, friendly, and has a great personality. Until he opens his mouth.

nate and brady

Any ideas for how to make the perfect dog shut up (short of physically harming my precious)? Let me know in the comments. My neighbors will thank you.

Mother Knows Best


Scratching (Photo credit: ☺ Lee J Haywood)


My mother has always been a blunt, no-holds-barred giver of advice.  Her circle of friends is small, her capacity to remember slights limitless. To say she’s a little on the suspicious side is an understatement. She believes there’s two kinds of friends, friendship and friendshit. Her favorite saying concerning friendshit is,  “If you lie down with dogs, you get fleas.”


When you grow up with a cop for a mother, there’s not a lot of sympathy for stupidity.

Since I’m not psychic, I can’t tell at the start of a relationship where it will end up. Like courtship,  the beginning phase of a friendship is all about showing off our good sides and covering up our imperfections.  There’s that unquenchable hope that this time someone finally gets me.  The passage of time, though, can wear down the patina of initial niceness.  A cheap person can only buy a round of drinks so many times before they stop offering. A dishonest person can only fulfill their obligations as long as they can stave off their basic impulse to lie. A self-centered person will try to act like it’s not all about them, but in the end, they’ll insist it is.  That’s the point when you realize you’ve been lying with a dog and the itching you feel isn’t your new hand soap or poison ivy, it’s fleas.


Most of my life, I’ve followed my mother’s advice and steered clear of unsavory or people liable to get me arrested. Unfortunately those around me have not. One contractor friend of my husband’s has proven to be a persistent little puppy. During the initial phase of the friendship, he installed outside stairs, remodeled our bathroom, roofed our house, and installed replacement windows.  His rates were reasonable. We knew him. My husband counted him a friend. You’d think that would guarantee a job well done. Wrong.


Yes, we knew the contractor’s past jobs included  a string of small claims cases and customer complaints.  Yes, I balked at how he always wanted half down to start the job (which basically consisted of his taking the money and parking some equipment at our house) and seemed to be running a Ponzi scheme to pay for supplies and help. Yes, his initial job (a stairway) didn’t meet code and his second job (replacing a roof) started a year-long saga to find the leak we didn’t have until the new roof was in place. And even though he didn’t have a clue as to how to install a corner shower, it didn’t stop him from doing it. No amount of caulk has stopped the leaking in the subsequent two years.


Did I mention it takes superhuman strength to close and lock the replacement windows because they don’t quite line up? It doesn’t take skill to do a shoddy job, but it takes a special kind of incompetence to create new problems. Small wonder that when I finally took charge of hiring contractors, his name didn’t make the list.


Bad Carpentry!

Bad Carpentry! (Photo credit: Yuba College Public Space)

I still do a slow burn every time I enter the bathroom and realize I’ll eventually need to hire someone to pull out the shower and start again. I get a little hot under the collar when I watch part of the roof lift up and vibrate during windstorms. I curse loudly every time I have to hang on the lower window while pushing the upper window up to try to latch them for the winter. Giving him multiple opportunities to do something right became the punishment that keeps on delivering. If I’d heeded my mother’s warnings, after the first job I would have moved away from him as far and as fast as humanly possible.

Instead, I let myself become lulled by excuses and didn’t take appropriate action when I identified him as friendshit. If I had washed my hands of him early on, I wouldn’t have to walk around my house now and see the equivalent of toilet paper on my shoe everywhere.

But, just like you can’t blame fleas for biting you, you can’t blame shady people for taking advantage. Even if you think they’re friends. Which leads me to another lesson from my mother: Screw me once, shame on you. Screw me twice, shame on me.

Ignore my mother’s advice at your peril.