Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Sorry, Robert Frost: "Good NEIGHBOURS make good neighbours"

I love our school day morning routine:
- 6:45 (or earlier if Jonathan so decrees):  Get up.  Get Jonathan's breakfast since he's usually hungry right away.
- 7:00:  Wake Allison.  Have my own breakfast while she's having hers and Jonathan's watching a DVD.
- 7:50:  Allison's bus comes.  Then I usually have time to shower, get dressed, give Jonathan a bath and get him dressed, and finish making his lunch.
- 8:45: Walk Jonathan to school for the 9:05 bell.

The problem with a routine is that it only works if nothing happens to interrupt it.  Yesterday, for some reason, Allison missed her bus.  She was ready and watching out the front window, but she must have been distracted; she didn't see the bus right away, and by the time we clued in, it was driving away. Aaagghh!

Our next-door neighbour Bill was just leaving for work; when he saw Allison and me looking out the front door in consternation, he called out, "Karen's home if you need to drive Allison."  I could've taken Jonathan with me, but it's so much quicker and easier not to have to.  So I pulled my coat and snow pants over my pajamas, ran next door, and asked Karen if she could come over for a few minutes to stay with Jonathan while I drove Allison to school.  She grabbed her keys and coffee cup and came right over without a moment's hesitation.

We have awesome next-door neighbours.  I've talked about them before in this blog.  One Saturday during a spring thaw a few years ago, Richard had to go to work and our sump hole was about to overflow because of a malfunctioning pump.  Bill came over to our house at 7:00 a.m. to check it, then promptly went over to Canadian Tire to buy a new pump and had it installed and working by 9:00 a.m.  He and Karen go on trips and bring back hats, placemats, and shells for our kids.  (Once they brought us a piece of Newfoundland cod that had been caught the previous day and that they'd brought on the airplane with them.)  They make baked beans and bring over a bowl for us.  I look out and Bill is cleaning out our eavestroughs ("I was doing ours, so I thought I might as well do yours").  They take Jonathan for an hour so Richard and I can go to a school open house; we come back and they're entertaining him with their guitar and mandolin and fiddle.  And I know we aren't the only people they do this for:  they have tons of friends, which is no surprise considering how hospitable and friendly they are.  The annual neighbourhood barbecue that they host probably has a lot to do with it, too.

Actually, all our neighbours are great.  We don't exactly socialize with them a lot, but if we were in crisis there are probably ten houses on our street I wouldn't hesitate to run to for help.  When we were checking out this house back in 2000 before we bought it, the realtor pointed out how many of the homes on the street had additions on the back:  "That's a sign that people would rather build on than move."  No wonder.

Going it alone sounds fine in theory or when everything works perfectly -- but what about when it doesn't?  One of my favourite quotes is from the movie About a Boy, in which a lonely young boy with a depressed single mom realizes he has to broaden his support base:

"Suddenly I realized - two people isn't enough. You need backup. 
If you're only two people, and someone drops off the edge, then you're on your own. 
Two isn't a large enough number. You need three at least."

It's great to have backup.  Thanks, Bill and Karen, for being such great neighbours.


  1. Newfoundland cod?! Baked beans?! Home repairs?! Gifts?! Baby sitting with live music?! I want to be neighbors with these people too!!!

    This is a very sweet tribute, Jeannie.

    Something tells me you're not a bad neighbor yourself. :)

    1. Sometimes I think we've got our roles down pat: we're the needy, they're the needed. :-) But someday, dang it, we'll have something they need, I just know it!

  2. Oh, I love this, Jeannie. I so long for that kind of neighbor care. We had very sweet neighbors in Austin. I'm hoping after some time in SF, we'll have built a little community around us. Thanks for sharing and linking up!

    1. I hope you will too. I do feel blessed -- and that's what Thankful Tuesday's all about to me, just appreciating what's right under our noses. Thanks for dropping in!

  3. Back in our early years of marriage, our water heater went out. We called a plumber to put in a new one and arranged the day to be there when he came by. Then my wife had to go to the ER. I ran next door, explained the situation to our neighbors, and they said "We've got it. Hope she's all right." She was, after several hours with the doctors and nurses, and when we got home we had hot water. Great neighbors.

    1. That's so nice. The neighbours would probably say it was "nothing" but it was something!

    2. OK, since we're swapping neighbor stories --

      Every year near Christmas, our elderly neighbor shows up at our back door with gifts for each person in our family. We moved away 3yrs ago and she STILL comes! For the past 3 years she has driven about 15 miles and surprised us with a tap at the back door.

      My current neighbor is a retired police officer. He lives atop a ridge near us. Whenever we get snowed in, he comes down and plows our drive. He just shows up and does it and drives away! I could go on and on. What blessings!

    3. Another great story! Thanks for sharing, Adriana.


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