If good fences make good neighbours, well then, make mine the Great Wall of China.
Early last week, after a gruelling day of ferrying the kids to-and-from all of their various schools and activities and end-of-year festivities, I swung the loser cruiser into our driveway. When I opened the car door, not only was I blasted in the face with the usual heat and humidity of a typical summertime late-afternoon, but also by an outrageously offensive squealing, grinding, growling sound. My first instinct was to look up into the sky, to see if some form of aircraft was in trouble and attempting an emergency landing in the vicinity of the back garden. My second instinct, once I had freed the kids from their car seats and proceeded down the path towards our garden gate, was to peer over the fence into our neighbours' back yard...
Apparently, during my absence that day, our next-door neighbours, in a fit of what I can only explain as selfish insanity, had employed a team of nitwits to dislodge their very large, very inefficient and extremely noisy air conditioning unit from its place over by the side of their deck, and had it re-installed up the hill and around the corner... about two feet from my patio, and about six inches from my children's play area.
People, the noise had to be heard to be believed.
The gale-force blast from the air conditioner's exhaust fan practically re-arranged my face as I took a peek at the cause of the racket, but once I had pulled my skin back into place and re-combed my hair with my fingers as best I could, I gathered my children and my wits about me, and made for our neighbours' front door.
"Tish", as my neighbour likes to be called, attempted to explain that her AC unit had been running "hot" in its place near their porch, and after careful consideration (presumably entirely about her own family's well-being, and certainly not about ours), she and her trades-person had come to the conclusion that right next to our fence was the perfect spot to re-locate the monstrous beast.
I took a deep breath. And then I took another, and when I let out the second breath, I must confess, dear readers, that the words I spoke were not carefully chosen, nor were they particularly polite. As you may have gathered from previous postings, there are a few things that I love and value above all else in this life: two of them happen to be my family and my garden. Well, by re-locating that AC, "Tish" was jeopardizing both of those things... The powerful noise blast rendered my children's play area completely unusable. My beautiful garden, creation of my own two hands and saver of my sanity, was unbearable to spend any time in, unless you were wearing wax earplugs.
I gave "Tish" notice. Notice that, if she didn't put the situation right, she would Suffer The Goddess' Wrath.
It has taken nearly a week, dear readers. One solid week of ceaseless mechanical growling and grinding... day and night. Even when we were in the house with all of our windows firmly locked, we could STILL hear the noise and feel the vibrations it caused in the floorboards. Worst of all, our bedroom windows all face out in the direction of the air conditioner, so for six nights, not one of us has been able to enjoy a solid night's sleep. Child Number One has been sleeping with earplugs. Child Number Two took to reading books when she couldn't get any rest. And Child Number Three... well, we did a LOT of rocking in that rocking chair, let me tell you. And with each swing of the chair, I silently cursed the people on the other side of the fence, who were, no doubt, sleeping like babies.
Not only that, our Garden Critters have reacted to the unholy disruption of all earthly order. We haven't seen our chipmunks in at least six days, and all five of our birdfeeders remain full of seed. Even St Francis hasn't been able to charm them out of their hiding places.
There were four very tired, and very grumpy girls sitting at the kitchen table late this afternoon, gazing wistfully out of the window at the unusable garden, when the air conditioner "experts" finally showed up to move the unit back to its original location. Once the power line to the Great Beast had been severed and the world at long LAST fell silent, we ventured outside and sat and enjoyed the soothing hum of the drills, the little hack saws, and listened to the men grunt and groan as they hauled the beast back down the hill to its (hopefully) FINAL resting place...
I've decided that what we actually need is a much taller, much more solid fence between our two properties, so that no matter WHAT those people decide to do over there, it will affect us a whole lot LESS over here... And while I was noodling this thought over, trying to decide exactly how high the fence should go...
I happened to glance up at the neighbour's house, and noticed that while their monstrous AC unit was grinding away, in a futile attempt to cool their house down in this thirty-degree weather we've been having... all of their second floor windows were hanging WIDE OPEN.
Now, I'm no EXPERT on cooling technology, but it DOES occur to me that habits like that might just cause even the newest and most energy-efficient air conditioner to run a little "hot". I wonder if our neighbours have installed their thermostat on their second floor, too?