Thursday, April 30, 2009

On the Edge of My Saddle

I'm on the edge of my seat, or saddle, anticipating my upcoming vacation. I've got 4 days off from work plus the 2-day weekend in mid-May. I'm the type of person who doesn't like to travel to exotic lands for her vacation. I prefer to stay near home and ride my horses as much as possible. Considering that I usually work around 60-hours a week, rarely get my weekends and holidays off to take care of my personal needs, and am only granted a handful of vacation days a year, most of which I don't get because of one reason or another, I really cherish those vacation days that I do get to use and feel an intense desire to make the best of them.

One would think that I'd be ecstatic to have these vacation days coming up, and I am, but I am also feeling agitated about them. It seems that when I do get time off from work, someone always has to ruin it for me. Either a relative decides that he or she is going to show up on my doorstep that week and I end up being forced to entertain on my time off, or my neighbors start up some construction project that makes my horses edgy, or someone gets sick or injured and I spend my vacation taking care of him or her, or my dentist schedules appointments for everyone in the family and I end up having to drive everyone back and forth to dental appointments all week, (one dental appointment can turn into two or three before you know what hit you), or one of the horses gets injured and I spend all my time dressing the wound, or one of my dogs gets sick and I end up steam cleaning my carpet every day, or it rains and snows and I have to stay indoors the entire week.

The most common disruption of my vacations is that my next door neighbors bring in a bunch of their relatives from California, and they take over the neighborhood by dive-bombing kites at my horses, riding mopeds up and down the road in front of my house, camping out in the front yard day and night, and let's not forget the excessive staring. I can't even shovel manure or fill up a water trough without having dozens of eyes peeled on me.

Anyway, it has already started. The past several weekends these neighbors have had visitors. Fortunately, the weather has been unpleasant enough that they've stayed indoors, but the mere fact that the activity next door is ramping up as my vacation approaches upsets me. Also, another neighbor whose guesthouse bay window looks directly into my dining room window had "guests" move in this weekend with a U-Haul trailer, so it looks like this group is going to stay much longer than the usual week or two, which means no privacy for us unless we keep our window blinds closed at all times.

Any time that these guests come out onto their patio or do something in and around the detached garage, they can see right into my bathroom window. My toilet is raised on a platform while the window is set very low, so if someone does their business or gets in or out of the shower, these people can see everything. So, we have to diligently close the opaque window in our bathroom every time we use it, which is frustrating because it's nice to have fresh air in such a humid room.

Many years ago I was sick with the flu and had to run to the toilet with no time to fiddle with the open window. I had a bathroom scene like that one in Dumb and Dumber where the guy's friend slips him some Ex-lax right before he goes on a date. When I could finally let out a sigh of relief, I turned my head to see this man and his wife standing at my fence staring at me with their mouths hanging open. I think I blurted out an expletive and slammed the window in their faces. If I were somewhere near a bathroom window and someone started using the bathroom in any way, I would immediately move away and give them their privacy.

I get spoiled not having anyone living in that guesthouse all fall and winter, and then spring comes and the next set of guests move in, and I lose my space. If everyone's mothers just taught them not to stare and not to look in people's windows, I wouldn't have to work so hard to maintain some semblance of privacy. I hope someday I can either move to a location where the nearest neighbor is miles away, or move to a location where people have manners and do unto others as they would have them do unto them.

The other downside of having new neighbors living in this guesthouse is that I have to walk outside with my dogs to supervise them if they need to do their business. Otherwise, they will have barking fits over all these strangers coming and going just a few feet from the fence of their dog run. As long as I'm there, they behave themselves, but as soon as I walk away they feel they have to announce to the world that there are strangers next door.

I ordered a fast-growing hedge that starts out at 5-feet, grows to be 15-feet by the end of the first year, and then can grow up to 60-feet tall in its lifetime. Mrs. Mom and her husband helped me track it down last year by doing a much more effective search of the Internet than I have ever been able to do, but I couldn't plant it until this May. It's supposed to be animal-resistant, but I ordered a special product that makes it animal-resistant just in case. I plan to plant just one in my horse's paddock along the chain-link fence by the starer's house, and if the horses leave it alone, I will plant the rest there and order more.

However, if the horses do eat the hedge, I have two other ideas in my game plan. I will ask the starers that if I buy this hedge, would they allow me to plant it on their side of the fence so that "we all" can have more privacy without my horses eating it. If I make them think I'm doing it for them, they might agree. If they don't agree, then I will plant it in my dog run in front of the guesthouse bay window that looks into my dining room window, so that I can at least keep my blinds open and get a little natural light into my house without the accompanying eyes of a stranger. I'd put some outside my bathroom window, but there really isn't room to plant anything there. I have a patio, a tiny strip of grass, and the fence just 20-feet away from my window.

My only worry about planting the hedge in the dog run is that my neighbor always has her gardeners spray poison through the fence onto our lawn to prevent any grass growing through the fence onto her dirt. She has no landscaping -- only dirt and sagebrush, yet for some reason she pays a gardening crew good money to poison our grass every few weeks. I'm worried that she might talk them into poisoning the hedge too. I'll have to keep a copy of my order so that she can refund me my money if she does kill it.

Regarding my horses, I can always trailer them out to different riding locations if the neighbors and their guests get too intrusive and obnoxious, but I know from experience that the horses will still be difficult to work with and on edge from all the activity around them at home. If something happens often enough, they eventually ignore it (like the freight trains that pass by Leah Fry's riding arena), but the first few months of something or someone new in their environment usually makes them Nervous Nellies.

New cars, new people, new activities, new behaviors, and even new pieces of trash in my neighbors' yard affect my horses. As long as whatever happens is something that has been happening over a period of months or years, the horses are fine, but anything new makes my horses nervous, which screws up my plans to ride them. So, for that reason, I have told my boss that I reserve the right NOT to take those vacation days when I have them scheduled should anything arise that might mess up my ability to enjoy my vacation. I don't want to feel forced to use those vacation days if they are not optimal for riding horses. Here's hoping the universe will cooperate just long enough to let me dedicate that one week to working with my horses without interference.

25 comments:

jane augenstein said...

Oh, you poor thing!!! Too bad you can't move your neighbors to another location, like another state! The stress you are under sounds horrendous! I hope that everything goes your way so you can get some much needed riding time and quiet time with your horses.......run away!!!

Kate said...

Think positive thoughts - all those (non) neighborly activities can give you lots of training opportunities with your horses - Just go "ho, hum, nothing important" when another neighborly distraction starts up and work on beaming those thoughts to your horses while relaxing your body and slowing your breathing - my horses are often more sensitive to what I'm thinking about something than to the thing itself - they're looking to me to show some leadership. Best of luck, and hope you get some pleasant vacation days!

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

I think I would go crazy living under such stress at home. You poor thing.

I did have to deal with neighbor's watching everything I did for a little while when Meg and I moved into the town house. The neighbor's on the corner wanted to buy this property and harassed my mom repeatedly to sell it to them(they have horses too and have to keep them in the country), so when I moved in here and brought horses, they were ticked off. They would stand on their deck and watch everything I did for the first few months. Sound carries and I could often hear them make nasty comments about me an my horses. It was aggravating to be outside trying to do anything and have listen to them make a production about it. Being the snotty little brats we are, Megan and I just continued to do what we do and made a huge production about how wonderful it was to be back in the old house and how nice it was to be able to have our horses and always made sure to laugh loudly and carry on like we were having the best time in the world every time we rode by their house. That really ticked them off and finally they stopped coming out to watch.
Petty and immature, I know...but it was so much fun.;)

Lulu said...

I don't think I could handle your neighbor situation. I would definitely be looking to move to a more horse friendly neighborhood.

manker said...

i'm the same way when it comes to vacations... stay local... hit the mountains with my equines. Your saddle looks like youre getting ready for an endurance ride - i guess i'm in that mode since i'm doing one in two weeks :)

running an inn.. i know how you feel about your "space"... but fortunately it's worked well. Take a deep breath and remember ultimately.. it's "your " guesthouse and they are "guests"...

gp

jen098 said...

I think I can top you, though it isn't a good thing. I LIVE NEXT TO MY PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT, AND right next to my significant others FAMILY. I promise I am NOT making this up. I can throw rocks and hit each. Sometimes I tell my honey I don't think I can take it. I too, have kite flying (my own relatives), dirt bikes (also relatives), and an endless parade of prying eyes. Plus everyone likes to give me a blow by blow of what they saw over the weekend. (I saw you riding...) Really? I was THERE. I agree with Kate, try to make those things "sacking out" experiences. One time, I took my broken vacuum, and drug it around my horse to get her used to it. People thought I was crazy, so I try to build on that idea, and told them I was vaccuming the lawn.

This is why I love blogs, just when I think I am alone, someone else is going through almost the same exact thing!

Katharine Swan said...

NM, are you sure you aren't being spied on by the FBI or something? It sounds so excessive. And your neighbors always having tons of visitors whenever you have vacation time? Are you sure they aren't sitting on your roof listening to your conversations -- or maybe tapping your phone line to find out when you'll be on vacation? Maybe there's a whole surveillance crew hanging out inside one of those abandoned cars!

LOL!

Anyway, smart of you to make sure you can still go in to work if conditions aren't optimal. ;o) No reason to waste those vacation days if you can't enjoy them the way you want to!

I'll keep my fingers crossed for you!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Thanks for your stories and perspectives. Katharine's FBI joke reminded me of another story. Some time last year I was having problems with someone stealing my mail, so I was keeping an eye on the roadside mailboxes during the day from my office window. One day two men in dark sunglasses pulled up in a dark car next to the mailboxes and parked. They sat there for a long time and seemed to be watching the house across the highway from me. I figured they were undercover cops because that family was always being visited by law enforcement.

The next thing I knew, my nosy neighbor was marching her dog up the street to investigate this strange vehicle. She walked right up to the driver's side window, bent down to look at the men inside the car, walked ten feet in front of the car, turned around, went back to the driver's side window, got a good look at the men again, and then walked behind the car where she stood staring at them until she made them so nervous that they drove off! That's one good thing about having nosy neighbors. They have what it takes to chase off potential criminals (even though these were most likely cops). They know my routine so well that I'm sure no one could ever get away with burglarizing my house.

Katharine Swan said...

That's hysterical, NM! She's either really, really bold... or really, really dumb. ;o)

Sydney said...

Wow, am I ever glad most of my neighbors that I see or talk to have either been there, done that old farmers that like me to stop once and a wile so they can pet my horse or they are busy doing something so I go unnoticed.

Have you ever talked to your neighbors or invited them over when you were riding etc, to pet the horses?
There used to be this one neighbor kid that rode his bike down our lane, which was ok the only thing was when he seen me coming on my horse he would hop off and sit in a bush or tall grass. As you can imagine this would scare the bejeebus out of the horse I was riding every time. I explained to him that he was scary to the horse and went on my way. This kept happening so I asked him if he wanted to pet the horse and sure enough thats all he wanted! From that time on he would stop his bike, stand in plain sight and wait for us to get close, pet my horse and let us carry on without startling them or staring for a long time from the bushes.
I bet you your neighbors are just curious about the horses and what you are doing with the. Invite them over to chat next time they are staring, I bet you any money it'll get less frequent.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Sydney - These neighbors board horses on their property, so I don't think they are interested in petting my horses. And I used to talk to them all the time, and they were rude to me. You have to have been reading my blog a while to know the whole history.

Callie said...

OMG! That would drive me nuts! Good luck! Hope your vacation is a peaceful one!

fernvalley01 said...

Holy crap!! (pardon the pun) what the hell did they watch you on the throne for? I tell you chickie you must be a hottie for them to be THAT interested! I have no idea what will work to discourage them ,the hedge sounds like a good idea ,let us know haw it works. Hang in there and I hope your vacation works out for you.

jen098 said...

Would you mind telling me what kind of hedge you are growing? We planted lilacs, but they were just little sticks and it will be 20 years before they grown tall enough to do anything.. By then I may be fired from my job for flipping off the people who don't have lives, unless that's what you call butting into my life. Can you tell I had a bad day at work? And now I can look out the window and see that place. I will tell you I feel your pain! Your blog made me laugh (in a disturbed sort of way) so thank you!

KD said...

WOW - you DO have the worst neighbors ever!

The D-Meister said...

Planting a hedge in the dog-run would be hilarious. She might just have a full on heart attack.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Looks like Bombay and Gabbrielle are saying, "Leave our Mom alone, people!" lol!

Gosh, NM, reading this just makes me so frustrated and angry for you having to deal with so much negative outside influences in your life.

I swear, if it were me, there would be nothing stopping me from moving. Those people are stealing your joy and quality of life, my friend.

I'm so sorry you've got such idiots living next to you. I hope you get to enjoy your vacation...or rather staycation.

~Lisa

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

A silly ideat ocurred to me: uy one of those 'you're mooned dolls' at the joke store and stick it in your bathroom window. Anytime your neighbor's look, they'll be mooned! lol!

Ok...I'm a dork. :P

~Lisa

Fantastyk Voyager said...

That is so crazy! How does anyone have so much time to neighbor watch anyway? I would have to completely ignore them or go absolutely bonkers.

Breathe said...

Why don't you come visit us. Get the heck out of there! I promise only my six year old stares, and only for five minutes.

Have you thought of a good old fashion privacy fence?

Is moving an option?

I don't think I could handle what you are going thru!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I had better answer some questions, so here goes...

jen098 - I'm actually going to probably write a series of posts on the hedge to let everyone know whether it works out or not, since horse people want to know what they can plant that their horses won't eat. It's the Austree Red Merlot Hybrid at http://www.austree.com.

A number of people have brought up fencing in their comments on various posts. Right now we have chain-link between our properties, which cost me $6,000 to erect and is considered to be one of the less expensive types of fencing. I put that up back when I never had problems with being under the eye of microscope. Had I known these people would move in, I would have invested more money into something solid like brick or stone, but masonry is outrageously expensive, and horses eat wood.

As far as hedges go, horses eat those too, so this is an experiment.

As far as moving goes, there are many more reasons not to move than there are to move. First off, I'd like my son to finish high school before we move, since we would most like move to a different district.

Secondly, it's expensive. We are putting our daughter through college, will soon put our son through college, and just recently had to buy a new car. Our house is falling apart, so we would have to invest a lot of money into fixing it up in order to sell it.

We bought new bathroom faucets and were shocked by the cost and the amount of labor involved just to switch them out. If a small project like that can suck up all of my husband's time on the weekends, we can't imagine how many years it will take to get the rest of the house in order.

Our kitchen tiles are cracked and loose. Our spa exploded out of the ground. Our carpet needs to be replaced. The interior and exterior need to be painted. The siding on our house needs to be replaced. All the sidewalks and patios are severely cracked and need to be replaced. All of our counter tops in the kitchen and bathrooms, as well as the cabinetry, need to be replaced because they are getting cracked and moldy. We need a new ceiling in our add-on due to water damage... You get the idea. Moving is not simple nor cheap.

However, the biggest argument I have against moving is that it is no guarantee that I will end up in a better place. The neighbors could be worse wherever I go, so I think it is best to save up so we can buy a lot of land someday.

LJB said...

Your plight reminds me how much I value packing up the truck and trailer and going away with a horse or two when I have some time off!! There are way too many reasons around home to keep busy doing everything BUT go for a ride. I hope your vaca time proves fun and fulfilling!

lytha said...

NM, it would be unbelievable if you moved and found EVEN WORSE neighbors. (Oh but that might make a good title for your second book on that topic?)

I'm sorry your house is falling apart, and you guys don't have the time to work on it - geez, what about those shows on HDTV where they show up and fix up your house? I love those shows! (miss them)

Toilet views: Our best picture windows are in our bathroom. Odd, that the best view of our horse area is from the bathroom, but it's a wonderful thing to be brushing my teeth and see my baby in the mirror, grazing. So I took down the ugly curtains to maximize these wonderful windows, and I've been enjoying it every day since. However, there are times when I must shower, and I always think of the young boy next door, what a shock he'll receive one day when he plays in the particular spot in his yard where he can look right in our windows. It's a little corner of their yard, behind a huge hedge, but sometimes he likes to dress up like a pirate and go weilding a sword through that spot. Even though German children are very familiar with the naked body, I'm positive this boy has never seen so much cellulite on a woman before. One day he's gonna learn about the horrors of cellulite from me. It's inevitable. I try to be quick, and jump in the shower fast, and listen (he talks to himself while he fights imaginary enemies). But it's inevitable.

~lytha

Anonymous said...

Hi,
my wife lytha just told me again about your crazy neighbors.
What about the following suggestions:
1) We'll visit you in July, bring a trailer and watch the neighbors all day long for you.
2) Why don't you bring your camera everytime you leave the house and take some pictures of your fence...
3) What about constructing bleachers in front of the fence facing their yard with a sign: "free entry".
4) Have you thought about putting up some video cameras filming them staring? When you have enough material showing them stalk you, can't you go to the police and file a claim? At least you could post that material to entertain us.
5) Putting up some irritating big signs for them to look at, like "who's reading this is too curious", some optical illusions that make their minds dizzy or something like that?

There has to be something that helps... *geez*

~j

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

j - Those are some of the funniest and most creative solutions I've heard yet. The bleachers idea is hysterical. There was a while there when I was catching my neighbor looking in our windows at night, so I started going outside at night with a flash camera in hopes of catching her in the act on film, but of course, she stopped coming around then. I think she keeps such a close eye on me that I can't take her by surprise. She always knows what I'm up to. We have a night-vision camera mounted on the front of our house, but it only picks up on people at night if they are wearing white and come within 10-feet of the camera. Thanks for leaving a comment. You and Lytha must be a happy couple, because you are both so funny and creative. I'll bet life is entertaining at your place.