Yesterday I was meandering up Steward Road (more like weaving), trying to drive, keep my address book on the steering wheel and dial a number into my cell phone just as a song came on the radio called - appropriately - "Balance."

I got the message. I pulled off the road and completed all my tasks while NOT driving. Balance, indeed. Something I always have to work on!

After I returned from Rochelle, for the third straight day I re-started the fire across the creek and continued (in the light rain) to burn old downed branches. While I was working over there, Dave called and said he went dumpster diving again.

Again? I wasn't aware he was dumpster diving at all. Whether this is something he does often, or as a result of having been out of work for over a year, I'm not sure. But to hear him talk about it just cracked me up.

He sounded a little chagrined. "I went a little overboard this time," he said.

It seems he has been dumpster diving to find additional old bread, etc for his pigs and chickens. They get grain, of course, and the chickens are always free-ranging for bugs, but Dave doesn't stop there. (I can attest to the delicious and HUGE eggs they produce.) Yep, he goes out to dumpster dive for his birds and pigs. As he told me the story, I couldn't help laughing. He said it's a little embarrassing when the people from the nearby apartment complex see him, and he tries to explain, "This  is for my chickens and, really, it is..."

You can just picture it, can't you, dear Reader?

He wanted to go into the dumpster, but  felt he shouldn't as it would look really funny to see just his head showing at the top of the dumpster. I think it probably was really funny to see his backside up in the air as he leaned in the dumpster. 

However, he found something really unusual this time. NINE Aluminum dollys (dollies?) still new and in their boxes. These dollies are more lightweight, and can only move up to 190 pounds. But still....

9 new dollies! He couldn't believe it.

"You know me. I was just going to take one, and then I said, well, I'll take another. Then another one, and pretty soon I was taking all of them!"

So, dear Reader, if you are in need of a light weight dolly, just let me know. Dave will be glad to share. He says they are really pretty neat because they fold down and don't take up much room.

I never know what my friends will do next!

I have some pictures to share with you. A lovely black and white duck splashed down ever so quietly yesterday as I was walking along the lake back into the cottage. Mallards are almost comical the way they land, but this duck was quite graceful. He stayed in the lake while I took pictures of him, and lingered as I worked across the lake from him. When I returned to the cottage, he  lifted up from the water and very gently flew away.  I'm trying to find out if he's a Goldeneye or a Bufflehead. I don't think he's a Scoter or an Eider. If you can tell from the photo what he is, please let me know, dear Reader.

The crocuses are blooming by my Beemerville Gate.  I forgot they were even there. A nice surprise!

Also "blooming" along my Beemerville lane and gate are many pink flamingos on my neighbor's property. I think the pink flamingos are wistfull and a little envious of my Land. Such a pink plastic display can only be indicative of my neighbor's highbrow taste, don't you think? I used to call my neighbor's "The Poopers," (and there is quite a story there, dear Reader), but now I call them "The Pink Flamingos." Photo #5 is taken as the flamingos look longingly at my Beemerville lane, and Photo #6 is taken looking toward my neighbor's property.

The Land is always so calm and sweet, steadfast and patient. But I would be remiss if I didn't let you know there have been some interesting  - and rather unsavory- things that have happened out here. It doesn't affect the Land, and now it doesn't affect me, either. But it did.

Should I share the story of  the "Pink Flamingo" neighbors - and how they obtained their original name of "The Poopers?" It's a long story, but this first letter to Mr. Henkel, our zoning officer, will help explain it. You can elect to skip it if you feel it is too sorbid. Just remember, whatever happens around the Land and to the Land does not - in the end - affect The Land's purity. And please keep in mind that before May, 2006, I had never - no, never - in my life ever said the word "poop." 

May 2006
Lee County Zoning Office
Dixon, IL

Dear Mr. Henkel:

Greetings from Peyton Place! I believe it was you who gave this name to our little pleasant valley here in the very, very southeastern section of Lee County. I was always a bit perplexed by your label, but I think I understand now.

I'm afraid I'm involved in The Poop Wars here in Peyton Place in the very, very southeastern section of Lee County, and may need some information from your office. But then I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me give you a little history of what led up to The Poop Wars.

It starts with my new neighbors, Ulysses and Miriam (names have been changed to protect the ... ah... the people involved), who bought the property to the west of me 3 years ago. Ulysses and Miriam live in Wheaton and come out to raise bonsai trees usually on the weekends. They were given a warm welcome by me. I organized a picnic to introduce them to some of the neighbors. In fact, I have been down right neighborly, if I do say so myself. Ulysses is quite short and a bit thick, with a very detailed type of personality which leads me to call him Little Lord Fauntleroy.

All went well for the first year until I received a call late one night from my neighbor, Kyle, on the farm across the road from Ulysses and Miriam's little acreage. Seems Ulysses was caught standing at the edge of Kyle's property, staring into her windows. Kyle was so upset she called me late that night to alert me to the situation. She was frightened and angry. The story goes like this: Big Al, their dog, had been barking and barking so much that Kyle and Jeff tiptoed out of the back of their house in the pitch black, rounded the front corner of their home and Bam! Turned on their floodlight right on ol' Ulysses staring in their window. After this incident, I began to call Ulysses, "Monsieur Voyeur."  We can't call him Mr. Pervert because that name is already taken by Tyson, my neighbor on the other side of my property. You remember Tyson from all the complaints you've received about his airport. Edith, up the road, is the one who named  Tyson, "The Sky Voyeur" because he constantly flies over her house when she's out in her shorts. When I told another neighbor on German Road this story, she cut me off short with, "We call him Pervert." Seems he and his other experimental airplane friends had absolutely terrorized her teenage daughters as they were swimming in their pool. (Just as a reminder, these unmarried/divorced sky voyeur/perverts are in their mid-40's.)

I think you can see why I can't call Little Lord Fauntleroy "pervert." It could get quite confusing around here.

I hope Ulysses/Little Lord Fauntleroy/Monsieur Voyeur has cleaned up his act after being caught with his pants down, so to speak (although this will take on a different meaning as we go on with the story). I do worry a bit about the trampled weeds up at  our mutual fence line which overlooks my pond where I skinny dip. But one must give one the benefit of a doubt, yes?

Then one day, Little Lord Fauntleroy/Monsieur Voyeur talked to me about taking a slip of a wild grape that grew on the fence line and I said I guess he could. (Keep this part of the story at the back of your mind as it does play a part later on.)

Life went on merrily here at Peyton Place in the very, very southeastern section of Lee County until last fall.

As you know, I heat my little cottage with wood and having a good supply of wood can literally mean the difference between life and death. Well, perhaps I'm overstating this, but wood heat is important to my well being.

My helper, Dave, and I had taken down some dead mulberry trees at the front of my land, cut them to woodstove length and stacked them on my side of the fence line for later use.

Last year the mulberry was just right for burning in my stove. Dave came over, we carreeeened down the front hill and backed up to the overgrown wood pile ... oops! My wood pile was mostly gone! A little path from Little Lord Fauntleroy/Monsieur Voyeur's shed made it abundantly clear what had happened. Not to mention a few pieces of MY wood were still laying on THEIR side of the fence where I surmised they had dropped them.

A slow burn consumed me (no pun intended). I discovered this pilferage after Little Lord Fauntleroy/Monsieur Voyeur and dear partner had returned to their home in Wheaton, so I sweetly left a voice mail on their home phone asking them to let me know who could have possibly taken my firewood. I didn't hear a word from them - ever. A cold war (no pun intended) developed last winter. I ignored them and they ignored me.

That is until this spring when Little Lord Fauntleroy/Monsieur Voyeur/Mr Thief (note additional name) asked again about digging up the ENTIRE large wild grape vine.

I have to confess - and I'm not proud of this - I was still a bit miffed about the loss of my winter heat to their cute little summer campfires. I looked at Little Lord Fauntleroy/Monsieur Voyeur/Mr. Thief and said sweetly,

I kindly offered, "You are welcome to take a slip but leave the main root in the ground."

Aha! Apparently no one says "no" to Little Lord Fauntleroy/Monsieur Voyeur/Mr. Thief and gets away with it. But I'm getting ahead of myself. There is yet another tangent going on here.

It's their state of housecleaning. What that means in plain terms is ... their property is a mess. It's an eyesore with junk all over the place. And I'm not even taking into account the time I had to call them and ask them to please bury their waste because I had company. Where they had thrown their waste was unbelievably stinky - and embarrassing for my guests to smell. (Little Lord Fauntleroy/Monsieur Voyeur/Mr. Thief did apologize for that and said, "I guess I forgot to cover it." I guess he did, indeed.)

Back to their mess. There are old plastic pots, newspaper, plastic sheets - all of which blow over on MY property and even in my creek. I sometimes end up with armfuls of junk. I had to do something to disguise the blight, so I decided it was time to put up a privacy fence in front of our old barbed wire fence.

Over comes Dave and we measure off the distance to determine how many sections of fence we would need. Meanwhile Mr. and Mrs. Little Lord Fauntleroy/Monsieur Voyeur/Mr. (and Mrs.) Thief are watching our every move.

Not two weeks later, Little Lord Fauntleroy/Monsieur Voyeur/Mr Thief with his wife dutifully at his side (partners in crime if you ask me) stood at the edge of my Beemerville driveway as I was mowing it. I stopped the Farmall Cub and talked cordially to them.

Little Lord Fauntleroy/Monsieur Voyeur/Mr.Thief pulls out this official looking paper and tells me he actually owns 6-8 feet of my property. (He REALLY wants that grapevine.) Seems the 1444 foot western edge LOOKS like it runs along the fence (which has been there long before 1973 when Jack and I bought our land) but according to my two lovely neighbors the fence actually bows out and is on THEIR property.

"But the fence has always been there," I explained, "and the survey pins are right on the fence line at either end (give or take a few inches)."

Well, that was not acceptable to them. They did agree the survey pins were close to the fence line on either end, but if you draw a perfectly straight line for 1440 feet from pin to pin, the ol' fence wasn't as straight ...therefore they own 6-8 feet of my property.

"Here's the survey," Little Lord Fauntleroy/Monsieur Voyeur/Mr Thief said holding  up the paper.

I waved it off as I could not see with my contacts in. (I know, most people can't see without their contacts, but I can't see WITH my contacts in, so it was futile for me to peer at their survey.) I explained I would talk to a survey company and have it resurveyed but it would take me a while. Mrs. Little Lord Fauntleroy/Monsieur Voyeur/Mr. (and Mrs.) Thief very sickeningly sweetly said, "All those evergreens you planted will have to be moved if you want them on YOUR property - or you could leave them where they are." (Sickeningly sweet smile, again.) "We don't intend to move anything."

My dear Mr. Henkel, you would have been quite pleased with how nice I was to them. I thanked them profusely for telling me. "Heavens!" I said. "I wouldn't want to put my privacy fence next to the old fence and then have it turn out to be on yours. And I do so hope that old apple tree closest to the fence that Jack and I planted so many years ago is not on YOUR property."

I added, as kindly as I could, "Just for sentimental reasons of course." 

Inside I was in despair. I wondered why they hadn't brought this up three years ago. How could the fence line turn out - after all these years - not to be "the fence line?" Why hadn't someone else along the way brought this to my attention? I would call an attorney and Survey Tech in Rochelle the next day.

Shortly after my neighbor's enlightening conversation - in fact, on that very Sunday only two weeks ago, I refueled my tractor and returned to the front of the Land on the hill next to "the fence line." As I put-putted down the hill next to the Fauntleroy/Voyeur/Thief property, what to my unbelieving eyes did I see?

A toilet.

A toilet next to my fence line. Yes. A toilet.  I nearly fell off my Farmall Cub! Didn't they care that I mow my property right next to The Toilet? Had they some how forgotten that I take walks morning and night?

Apparently Little Lord Fauntleroy/Monsieur Voyeur/Mr. Thief has anger issues and this is his way of handling them. Or else...or else he's an exhibitionist. So now, you see, I've an additional name. Mr. Pooper. Yep, he's Little Lord Fauntleroy/Monsieur Voyeur/Mr. Thief/Mr. Pooper. I always suspected Mr. Pooper of having an anal personality, but now I have definite proof.

Let me explain. This is not a porta potty with an enclosure. Mr. or Mrs. Pooper works for a company that supplies equipment for older people and this toilet is one that would be used by an older person. It's a white handicapped toilet with handles on either side to be used to push oneself up from the toilet. And underneath it is a recently dug hole. It's quite a sight. What's more, until the grass grows a little higher, you can see it as you drive around the corner from Beemerville to Steward Road. I do believe Mr. Pooper IS an exhibitionist! And adding insult to injury - or should I say more poop to the pot, this toilet is perfectly positioned in front of the old wild grape vine that he so covets!

The next time Dave came over we took photos of The Toilet. I've never seen Dave so dumbfounded and absolutely speechless. We've had many a good laugh at Mr. Pooper's expense. Can a person who does this have any sense of decency at all?

I think not, as you shall see.

Yesterday Dave and I took a break from our work around the cottage. We decided to go on an asparagus walk. We hadn't picked asparagus for a while and it was time to do so again. It's all wild and we love picking handfuls of asparagus throughout the property. In fact, it's part of Dave's pay.

As we walked up to the top of the hill on the southside of the pond - honestly I am NOT making this up - lo and behold! Mr. Pooper know...poised on the toilet by the fence, living up to his name. He heard us coming (too late!) and jumped up clutching his pants, but not before I saw - to put it nicely - a bunch of flesh. I quickly suppressed my laughter (okay, I did let out a hoot before I suppressed it) and I turned away. Not Dave, though. You know what a sense of humor Dave has. He thought this whole thing was pretty darn funny. He started walking closer to the fence (we were quite a ways away) and I whispered, "No! Dave! Come back!" He walked down the hill a bit farther with this bemused expression on  his face watching Mr. Pooper disappear somewhere to gather his britches (and his mind, I hope). Dave finally turned back - full of laughter.

So you see, the first poop is out - so to speak - and now I know I'm in deep doo-doo.

"He'll never face you again!" Dave laughed. "I bet he sends his wife to talk with you about what you've found out on the survey."

What I found out about the survey is this: Once they heard the story, Survey Tech - dear fellows that they are - took it upon themselves to scope it out with no compensation from me. "We think it follows the fence line but we'll check the pins again."  And so they did. "Yes, the pin at the south end is right on the fence line. The pin on the north end is in about a foot. We say it follows the fence line. Always has."

 But Little Lord Fauntleroy/Monsieur Voyeur/Mr. Thief/Mr. Pooper has a survey that disagrees. Or so he says. Before the manure hits the fan, I wonder if you would be able to suggest a lawyer in Dixon (or Lee County) who would be willing to participate in the Poop Wars, as there may be a good chance I am going to court over this (not the poop, but the fence line). Well...come to think about it ... maybe both.

And while I'm at it ... or more to the point while HE's at it (sitting on the toilet, I mean), could you give me the name of someone I could contact about this poopy health hazard next to my fence?

I do so appreciate this, Mr. Henkel.

Yours in manure,

Just Jane

Well, that's how it all started, dear Reader.  Two lawsuits, three years and $15,000 later, I have my Land as it always was. You might think it wasn't worth it, but it was.  And  in addition, I have written 300 pages on the Poopers (a.k.a. The Pink Flamingos) and other antics of my neighbors.

And all these goings on don't even compare with what happened later. While working across the lake, I discovered my other neighbor's girlfriend standing guard at my opened garage door talking to her boyfriend INSIDE my garage doing who knows what to my electric garage door opener and my entire electric system - but that's another story for another day. (And no, I didn't report them to the sheriff and I definitely should have. I am ready to take a lie detector test, though. I would pass with flying colors.)

So you see, dear Reader, strange things have been going on around here for at least 4 years. But the Land remains The Land. Strong and true and good. And all the rest will - as they say - come out in the wash. And wash day is getting closer...

Pleasant dreams, dear Reader, pleasant dreams!


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