So Whatcha’ Doing?

A little while back, I was working on an outdoor project in my backyard. You see, my property abuts a small 6 hole golf course, and every spring the snow that melts from that golf course is funneled through my yard. There is a very long ditch that’s been carved out that begins in the back, next to the golf course, and runs all the way through the side yard until it meets with the road in the front. The water runs through a culvert underneath my driveway and then down the street. I have lived in my house for just about 20 years now, and every year the drainage ditch gets wider and wider due to erosion. So this year I took it upon myself to fix the problem.

I have been digging up (and moving) large rocks in my yard to line the sides of the ditch. I also lined the bottom with smaller rocks and gravel. I was getting closer and closer to having enough large rocks to finish the job when I realized I was running low. I had talked to the maintenance manager for the golf course a couple years back after the border lines were professionally surveyed who said I could use a small corner of property in the back where my yard meets the gold course if I so desired. He said I could let my kids play there if I wanted to because they were not going to use it. It was just a small wooded area. Nothing special. I told him thanks but no thanks and said I would only use what was actually my property. But I remembered our conversation this year when I ran out of rocks. Since I was given permission to use the land, I went into the woods and dug up a few larger rocks to complete my project. That’s when I heard a voice from behind me.

“So whatcha’ doing?”

I turned and saw my neighbor whom I have never spoken with. She is an older, retired woman who mostly keeps to herself. Every now and then I see her out walking her dog, but that’s it.

“I’m digging some rocks to line my ditch to keep my yard from getting destroyed by the runoff each spring. Years ago, I was told that the maintenance people would take care of the problem since it was caused by their design, but they never did. So I am fixing it myself. I’m tired of my yard getting ruined from the water.”

“Oh, so that’s what you’re doing?”

“Yes.”

She proceeded to make some awkward small talk which ended with a rather disturbing “I see your children have a lot of fun with that treehouse you built for them. I watch them from my deck window.” She was then was on her way. I was left feeling a bit irritated. No, I was angry. Who was this person to question what I was doing when it had nothing to do with her? I was out trying to do the right thing and fix a problem that someone years ago had promised to fix and then left me hanging. Now I have a woman who has never once spoken to me talking to me to see what I was doing because she was watching me while I worked and felt it was her place to confront me. Not only that, admitting that she watched my children playing from her window which I still find creepy.

Here’s what really bothers me about the encounter. She said to me during the course of our brief conversation,Β  “We were blessed with a mild winter.” Yes, she said blessed. She also called New Hampshire “God’s country.” Now that would lead me to believe she has some religious beliefs. Beliefs which I used to hold myself. Beliefs which made me step out where I shouldn’t have and infringe upon someone else’s views. As much as I hate to admit it, when I was a believer, I was this old woman.

When my neighbor barged her way into my yard project, she was sticking her nose into my business with the assumption I was doing something wrong. She felt it was her duty, as someone who watches through the trees, to ask me what I was doing to make sure I was doing the right thing. I felt angry. I felt annoyed. I felt violated. Yet I used to do the same thing. Every time I stepped out and preached my Christian beliefs to anyone whose views were different from my own, I was this lady. Every time I told my brother I was praying for him because of a lifestyle choice I disagreed with, I was this lady. Every time I watched people from behind my Bible and judged the world, I was this lady who hides in her house watching my children play.

I now see that this lady was wrong. What I do on my side of the property line is my business. Even if she is curious and wondering what I am doing, it is not her place to confront me with her own views or judgmental questioning. I wasn’t digging on her land. I was doing what I had permission to do and for the purpose of completing a job that others had promised to do years ago. Still, she butted in and made her presence known with raised eyebrows and an accusatory tone. She was wrong. I was wrong.

Whenever you see someone doing or saying something you don’t agree with or are a little leery of, take a deep breath, then step back and ask yourself, “is this any of my business?” Judging people based on what a book says is not only wrong, it’s absurd. What others do in this life is their business. Unless it infringes upon your right to live a happy life yourself, let it be. You can have your opinions and your deeply held beliefs, but they need to be kept to yourselves. It is not your place to tell others how to live or question their motives. You know, that whole “judge not, lest ye be judged” thing?

The moral of the story is mind your own damn business. What others do is not your concern unless it affects you in a negative way. Same sex marriage does not infringe upon your rights to have a “traditional” marriage. What people wear, listen to or watch has nothing to do with you and what you decide you want to wear, listen to or watch. Your views are fine…for you. What others determine is right for them is also fine…and legitimate. What is right for one is not right for all and we need to stop acting like it is our right to enforce such rules.

Stop being nosy neighbors and worrying about what others are doing. Otherwise you create an uncomfortable situation where lines are drawn and fences go up. How exactly is it “loving thy neighbor” to assume that everyone different from you is wrong?

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19 thoughts on “So Whatcha’ Doing?

    1. This neighbor hasn’t been there the entire time. Still been there about 10 or 15 years. It’s a bit awkward actually. I have smiled and waved in the past only to receive dirty, snooty looks in return. So I never made an attempt to get to know them. They never made an attempt either. Maybe they thought we were too young. Different generations you know.

      There’s another older couple in the house next to theirs. I met them when they moved in. They also keep mostly to themselves and are seasonal residents. They take off once the cold weather comes. The only neighbors we ever got to know well live across the street. We used to spend time with them. Our kids used to play together. The woman was always a bit odd but nice enough. The man was always an a-hole. Very rude, opportunistic when he wanted something for nothing and just an overall unpleasant person to be around. He is also the son of a pastor which I used to admire. Now that I see what a lazy, rude and inconsiderate person he is, I have to wonder where he learned it from and why he thinks he’s better than everyone else.

      So now we just smile and wave at the nice people who drive or walk by who do the same. The people we did get to know turned out to be people we wish we never knew. It’s rather unfortunate.

      Liked by 4 people

  1. Well … I would be curious about a neighbor’s project if I thought it might affect my property. Whether my thinking was right or wrong, I would have a legitimate interest.

    I think your neighbor just managed to push your buttons, the one’s labeled “Busybodies” and “Religious Busybodies.” Over time, these will shrink in size, although I was told they never really go away, they just become less and less noticeable when they are pushed.

    You do not want to have your peace and equilibrium put in other’s hands.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I see your point, though her property and where I was working had no intersecting borders in the vicinity. She just saw someone doing something through the trees that looked out of the ordinary in her opinion and chose that opportunity to make contact. If she had genuine concern rather than just being nosy, she had access to the authorities. I think maybe her curiosity got the best of her…and yes it pushed my buttons. πŸ™‚

      She never officially introduced herself or told me her concerns. It was more of a “Whatever you’re doing is definitely my business. I will get the answers I seek and then be on my way.”

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve just been reminded of something, Ben. You know I live in the ‘boonies’ – there are no fenced-in properties here, no gates (well, people erect them when they’re building, then leave them open after that). Anyway, I happened to mention that when I was in Australia one time. The person I was talking to said, “No fences at all?” I said, “No, that would be considered a social no-no in our area” with a smile. The look on the guy’s face was complete amazement – he had no frame of reference for the concept. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I have a fence that borders the golf course on one side. That is mostly because it is no more than 20 feet from where people tee off on the sixth hole. I would imagine it to be a little difficult for people to concentrate and feel comfortable with my family out in the yard nearby. They would likely feel like they were being watched. I also want to have a little privacy when my kids are out there playing. And I have a smaller area in the back that is fenced for my dogs to run without worrying about them getting into the neighbors’ yards.
      I don’t mind open borders between neighbors. I don’t ever want to live like I’m a recluse. At the same time. I’d like to feel comfortable outside with my kids without feeling like there are judgmental eyes on me while I do it. I never felt like that until this encounter. Now, I feel like she’s pressed up against her glass staring over here at all times. That’s something I need to get over and just accept that I have a curious neighbor.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Methinks the neighbor lady just hit a raw nerve … perhaps you were tired from hauling all those rocks? And/or perhaps her “religious” talk grated on your nerves a bit?

    Aside from that … your backyard is gorgeous! Love the trees, the plants, the flowers, the rocks, and especially the “stream.” You done good, Ben!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I think maybe what bothered me the most was the fact that she had never spoken to me before and the first time she does, she needed to know what I was doing, though it had nothing to do with her or her property whatsoever. I was put on the defensive before I could even say hello. Not a great first impression/encounter. The “praise God while I make your business my business” stuff didn’t help. Maybe since I mind my own business unless something interferes negatively in my life makes me feel that others should show the same level of respect. Maybe I just don’t like busybodies who just “need to know.” I’m sure it’s just a pet peeve of mine but still…

      Anyway, thanks for the compliments on the yardwork. It’s been 20 years and is still a work in progress.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Ben, the elderly (approaching hospice care? lol) can be a peculiar bunch sometimes. Any idea how old she is? Does she live alone with her dog?

    Anyway, unless the elderly have regular interaction with friends and family, I mean 2-3 times a day even, they will get quite stuck in monotonous routines and gradually get overly bored. Hence, they sit around—making it all worse, especially for brain activity—staring around and out windows or off porches, etc, watching anything that is halfway interesting. This includes fun, adorable, playing children too. It helps their own feelings of “in the end and coming to the end” of their lives. πŸ™‚ I suspect your nosy neighbor is BORED out of her catheter and has completed her two jig-saw puzzles 427 times. Perhaps she was flirting with you, a young whipper-snapper all burly, sweaty, and moving boulders around like Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) of Caddyshack? Tell her “Hey, I’m alright!” She’ll think you’re even sexier! Lol πŸ˜‰

    Anyway #2, I’ve had a number of those conversations too with the elderly. I’d think she comes from a similar generation of my Mom’s… their version of God Bless America and It’s the Greatest Nation in the World Ever usually includes irrefutable perfection of THEIR OWN belief system. I have many extended older family who think this way and ironically have NEVER been outside of the U.S., possibly not even out of their state! 😳

    But hey, I could be totally wrong! Maybe you should lawyer-up buddy!!! Hehehe 🀭

    P.S. That is some outstanding landscaping Ben!!! Have you missed your REAL calling? Didn’t you listen to God when the burning water was running thru your yard? Clean out that ear-wax you sexy Rockin’ Mover! πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜›

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have no idea exactly how old she is. Late 60’s or maybe early 70’s. I do believe she lives alone with her dog. She has a younger man (son?) come over every now and then to mow the lawn and such. I don’t know any more about her. I’ve been pleasant and smiled as I waved hello, but those smiles were given sneers in return. Just seems to be a crabby person. Probably lonely and bored like you said.

      Thanks about the landscaping. That was taken months ago. I’ve done more since. I’ve added probably a couple thousand dollars worth of new trees/flowers/shrubs etc. To…uh… stimulate the economy or whatever. Just doing my part to “make America great again” πŸ™„ I don’t spend my money on expensive things. I don’t party or gamble. I don’t do much of anything really. I stay home mostly and spend as much time as I can outside with my family. And If I’m going to be outside, I might as well enjoy it. Maybe that’s my neighbor’s problem. Maybe I’m making her property look bad and she’s just jealous. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

      1. HAH! Ahh, yes. Perhaps she is feeling like she’s losing the game of Keeping Up with the Joneses, huh? πŸ˜‰ Maybe if you built a little temple/meditating-hut to Buddha or Zarathushtra and Ahura Mazda then send her an invitation? 😁

        Liked by 1 person

  5. It sounds like this old lady was just being a bit inquisitive perhaps? I wouldn’t have a problem with that, it depends on the tone of their voice. I like what you’ve done with your property though.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. She was inquisitive but also had the tone of “what the hell do you think you are doing?” That, I have a problem with since it wasn’t her property or business to question. And to make that our first conversation ever was a bit awkward and uncomfortable. Maybe I’m overly sensitive but it seemed like she just assumed I was doing something wrong and she was going to be the police. Her tone softened a bit after I explained the whole situation but I still didn’t like someone walking through the woods to talk to me about something that had nothing to do with them whatsoever. If I looked like I was breaking the law or something like that, the actual police aren’t hard to reach. Hey, I get curious about my neighbors sometimes too. I wonder what they are doing when I see something I find odd or out of place. But if it isn’t affecting me, I let them be rather than ask them what they are up to as if I am in charge of the neighborhood. Respect of privacy is something important to me and so I extend that to others. My neighbor could have introduced herself, been pleasant about the whole thing and it wouldn’t have been a big deal. It was the looking down the nose, hands on hips judging I didn’t care for.

      Thanks for the compliment on the yard. Still working on it. I’ve don’t much more since those photos were taken. Plus, things have filled in as we approach summer here.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ah yeah I don’t like accusatory tones either. No one likes being made to feel they have done wrong over nothing. In most of the places I have lived, I haven’t had much contact with my neighbours. In my previous place though, we would go to their place for BBQs on occasion. It is much nicer when you do have neighbours you can befriend though.

        Liked by 1 person

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