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Be warned: This is not so much a gardening-related post as it is a home ownership-rant. You have been warned…

This is our first house and I know some of you readers are in the same boat because I have read your blogs too. It’s hard getting into that first house, especially in Portland. Jay and I value living as close to the city center as possible for several reasons: cuts down on commute times to and from work, reduces reliance on cars if you can walk/ride a bike to nearby destinations, easy access to public transportation, yadda yadda. So we turned up our noses at moving to the nice quiet suburbs and opted for a lovely little (emphasis on little) 1927 bungalow in not the best area in town. Not the worst either, mind you, but certainly far from the top of the list.

We have put a lot of work into our house and sometimes I feel like it’s all for nothing. We are not the biggest house on our street, but I think we’re close to the nicest. And it’s for stupid reasons, such as: we don’t park on our lawn, we don’t have random people living in a trailer next to our house, we don’t get in domestic disputes that end up on the street, we don’t sell meth, we don’t let our kids (if we had any) run wild in the street day after day with nary an adult in sight.

Whew. That felt good to write. It’s a deep feeling of frustration I have that people can live in a home and not care about maintaining it or the neighborhood they live in. I can’t understand or be sympathetic to that kind of irresponsibility in grown adults that should know better, and do know better. After 4th of July, most of the houses on our block didn’t EVER clean up their used fireworks off the street. Everyone has five new cars in their driveway, but I would guess most live in thousands of dollars of debt. Every other house has a pit bull that has to run up the fence snarling at me every morning and evening as I walk to and from the bus stop. Yes, dog, it’s still just me. Again.

I came home tonight to find the neighbor kids that are never supervised during the day had littered all over our front yard. And I mean all over. I counted five pop cans on top of more than a dozen candy and ice cream wrappers. I was so frustrated I was shaking. Instead of just bottling up my frustration, I realized this was an opportunity to teach these kids that their behavior was not okay. Even if their parents think it is. So I went to their house, knocked on their door and had a conversation with their parents who kept saying it couldn’t be their kids. Then the kids walked to the door, I asked them about it, and they both readily admitted to it: “Oh, yeah we threw our garbage under that yard with the big tree.” I asked them if they were ready to come clean it up and we all walked together to my house and they cleaned up every loose paper.

It took me about an hour of watering the backyard to stop being so mad about the whole thing. And I know it’s not the end. I am sure there will be more annoying things. But I will be damned if thoughtless people stop me from trying to make a difference in my own small way. I will still build my food forest and make people clean up their litter. I will still take on the task of building chicken coops and trellises, despite my neighbor behind me making sexist comments the whole time I am in earshot. I might not be able to change their behavior and their choices in life, but I will leave this little urban lot in a better place than when I found it.

Okay, thanks for weathering that little storm with me. What is a blog if we can’t write about what we’re feeling, right?

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Written by Renee Wilkinson