The population in the vicinity of The Urban Porch is experiencing many changes. My wonderful neighbor who has been renting the upstairs of the house directly next door for the last two years just moved out last weekend, on to a better job and a nice apartment in a different county. I am so sorry to see her go.
During her time living here, we have spent many afternoons just sitting on the front porch together, sharing stories and connecting. I would read her Lenormand and Sibilla cards, or she practiced reading Tarot for me. She waters my plants when I am not home, I take in her packages when she is away and check in with her to make sure she is OK. We text each other funny comments during both the day and at night. When she visits her family for Eid, she brings back delicious Pakistani food from her mother to share, or her killer chocolate pecan holiday pie. I taught her and the woman who lives downstairs from her how to break into their apartments when they locked themselves out (I think they were maybe a little amused and impressed by my unexpected mad skills). We watch out for each other. She left me with a whole bag full of different masala mixes, ingredients and instructions to make Biryani and Nihari dishes. This is a sad departure for me. I am hoping the next tenant that takes her apartment will be as special.
The biggest change this week has been The Long Awaited Eviction of the tenants two houses down. The guy living there was a Loud Obnoxious Drunken Toad who had not paid rent in years and was subletting to a revolving door of people – some of who were rather scary (See Suspended Animation for some of the details, if you really want to know). The sheriff sat parked out in front of the house all day in his cruiser while it was happening. He told me that one by one, neighbors would walk up to his car and tell him “Thank God”, expressing how relieved they were that it was finally happening. I actually met the landlord for the first time ever, who told me everybody in the neighborhood had been calling him constantly to complain about his tenants.
While the people the landlord had hired were moving things out and the wife of The Toad was busy taking carloads of possessions somewhere else, the belligerent Toad did nothing except procure some beer for himself and then proceeded to drink it while sitting on a couch that had been put out on the front lawn. The sheriff was incredulous and actually said to him “Are you kidding me?” It was quite the event. The garbage and junk that was left behind has already filled two entire construction dumpsters beyond the brim, and there is still more in the yard.
The most interesting thing is the psychic calm that suddenly settled over the street since that house has been vacated. It’s amazing how much of a pall disrespectful neighbors can cast, affecting the quality of life for everyone else around them, and how selfishly clueless they were regarding the impact of their behavior. The first night the house was empty there was a perceptible “Ahhhhhhhh!” like a giant sigh of relief in the air. The negative energy and tension emanating from that place suddenly vanished, leaving a vacuum of quiet. For the first time in about a year I actually walked past that house, no longer having to worry about deluded accusations and crazy venom being hurled at me from The Drunken Toad while he held court from his office chair on the porch.
It’s funny, the dog does not want to walk past the place. Maybe he is still picking up some vibes. Hopefully someone will buy that old Victorian, put some work into it, turn it into a gem, and have some really cool people move in. Even though I feel deeply traumatized by the experience and have total revulsion and zero sympathy for The Toad, I have always felt just a tiny bit sorry for his wife. Given that, on some level I hope they find a situation somewhere else that will work out for them….. hopefully not around here.
While these departures were happening, Spring of course has arrived. The last few days have been spent cleaning up the yard a bit. The pillows are back out on the wicker chairs, allowing some comfortable porch sitting on the warmest of recent days; watching The Eviction, reading, enjoying the birds and talking to some of the other neighbors. The House Sparrows are back en masse, with a lot of their bird coupling going on in the bushes. In addition to the sparrows, today’s avian visitors included Cardinals, Blue Jays, House Finches, Mourning Doves, Robins, Crows and a Red Winged Blackbird.
Last night there were two racoons hanging out together in the yard – I think it is long tail and stumpy tail again. Now that the garbage two houses down is being hauled away, it is possible they are looking for other pickings. The fox has not been sighted since the first viewing, but the mostly all white skunk has returned for the night, and the opossum is back too. There are also a pair of black and white cats hanging around, possibly feral, which appear to be left behind after The Eviction.
The daffodils are in full, showy array. Beautiful blue Scilla – always a favorite, which evokes memories of a lawn carpeted with them at a shared hippie-house back in the days of youth – is spreading through the back yard and along the bluestone path.
My one pathetic Trillium is doing its annual “I’m not quite blooming even if you think I might” trick again. Each year it comes up but only goes so far as to hint of the potential blood-red flower within, yet never quite opens.
On the cooking front, the pesto that was made and frozen last summer and fall is getting used up. Aside from the usual basil pesto, I had made a lot of different types, experimenting with combinations of herbs, nuts and greens, both foraged and store-bought. Some of these came out rather interesting, some were a bit intense. They provided pops of much needed green goodness over the winter, and now is the time to use them up in preparation for a new year of harvests and inventions.
I’ve been making homemade yogurt. Years ago, my friend Emrose’s mother gave me her old Salton yogurt making machine, so yogurt was a regular process going on in the kitchen when the kids were small. The machine eventually disappeared – I can’t recall why. All these decades later the yogurt bug has bitten again and I put the word out for a used machine. Don’t you know I was given not one, but two used yogurt makers on the same day! Go figure! One of them is almost identical to the one I had. So far I have made yogurt twice in the slightly newer of the two models and am totally enjoying it. I haven’t tried making any in the second one yet to see if there is a difference. There really is no need to hang on to two of them (see Machine Age concerning my anxiety about the glut of useful household machines here). I may just pass one of the yogurt makers on, if anyone is interested. I will say there is something satisfying about having homemade yogurt with berries that were picked with a friend last summer and frozen, with a small spoon of honey from my brother’s bees mixed in. Some of the leftover homemade granola would probably be a nice addition to round it all out. Maybe tomorrow morning…
What to cook tonight? There is a gnarly knob of celeriac root here that I am not sure what to do with. At first I thought I would make a creamy celeriac soup, since I have leeks and other things that many of the soup recipes call for, but no cream – and I’m too lazy to go out for cream. So I might just cut up the root, season it with some cumin, salt & pepper and roast it, perhaps along with a few other veggies. That will do for a side dish, but I’m having no inspiration as to what else to have along with it.
The truth is, what I really feel like having is egg rolls….