You know when you’re in a good mood and then a bunch of stuff happens and you suddenly feel like you need to withdraw, go someplace to be alone, recharge?
I went outside to hang the laundry when my mood changed. Flipped like a light switch from pleasantly content to irked and beyond. Had to get away from clutter and stuff and laundry baskets and crumbs and soccer on tv or else I was going to get into one of my rants.
Hanging laundry next to the guinea pig pen, and the birdhouse, and my flowers in my raised herb garden bed was going to be my calming action.
It did not help. Even though hanging laundry is a form of low impact exercise, which is supposed to be good for you. Right? Stretch to hang it up, bend down to pick it up, move a few steps this way, then that way…
It wasn’t calming.
We live in an old neighbourhood. Many of the original homes were built along here at the turn of the century and boomed a little after each war, when the men came home from battle. The homes were originally used as vacation properties, since we live along the shores of Lake Ontario, with beaches, parks and little forests. The bungalows are small by today’s standards, but if not built on the shores of the lake then within a few minutes walk. This is part of the appeal, now. Never mind small…
It’s a lovely little corner in the south west end of Toronto.
We live in such a home. Ours was built in 1949 and we renovated it by taking down walls and modernizing it to make it feel bigger, and most importantly, more functional and practical.
But our neighbourhood is what one would classify as high density. Not as high density as other neighbourhoods in Toronto, partly because many homes (not all) have driveways. These driveways separate the homes from each other by more than a width of a car.
So unlike other neighbourhoods, if I stick my arm out the window, I cannot reach the other house because there’s a driveway separating us from them. On both sides.
Still is a fairly high density neighbourhood. Because the houses are relatively close together and there are a lot of them.
What this means is that if some idiot decides to blare music inside his house with the windows open, we can all hear it. Worse, if he puts the speakers outside for some party, the noise travels across a quarter of the neighbourhood.
We have such an idiot in our neighbourhood. There is no rhyme or reason to his parties, no pattern that alerts us that, say, Saturday night is upon us and they’ll party, because he just tunes is up whenever he feels like it without any concern whatsoever for anyone else.
Canadians, I’ll have you know, are polite people. If it bothers someone else, they won’t say. God forbid someone issues a complaint…it’s almost unheard of.
13 years ago when my son was born, we initiated the proper complaint making with the city people. We had lived in the house for a number of years before the first baby came along and it became apparent that this music blaring was going to be a thing. So we followed their lengthy and time consuming procedures.
Side note: the city is particularly bureaucratic I’ll have you know; just to find the link to take you to the complaints form in their website takes upwards 30 minutes, given how much text you have to read through first.
We followed their rules. Each time we heard the noise we had to go to our little note pad, mark down date and time, when it started, when it ended…a complete log.
I had an infant at the time. Shortly after that, another one. Each time I sat outside with them, trying to calm them, I had to get up and make a stupid note on a stupid log for the stupid city people.
We did this for two years.
Then we gave up.
One day the idiot neighbour climbed up top of his shed near our fence and asked us if we complained. We said yes. We said:
“Well we tried to talk to you but you called us a fucking asshole.” (I’m paraphrasing)
He said he got some letter and they’re threatening him with a fine and that it isn’t neighbourly behaviour and yada yada.
Neighbourly behaviour? (idiot)
“No one else ever complained”, he said. He pointed to all the houses and mentioned how long he’s known them.
Most are older people, and I rarely see them outside, probably because of his noise. We too approached some of them, because the city said that it would help if we had others with the same complaint.
Most didn’t want to ’cause trouble’. So they hid inside, watching their beautiful porches and flower gardens from behind curtains and blinds.
My next door neighbour, whom he called a friend, personally told me she had mentioned it to them many times to turn down their music. This is not what he said to me. But I knew she had a new boyfriend who lived out of town and she wasn’t around much. She had been a home owner for as long as the idiot (30 years at the time) and she was a lovely, elderly lady whose word I tend to take as more accurate than the idiot. But to be bothered by the music you have to be home, and she wasn’t, not much. (She’s move away now into a smaller condo.)
So over the years we stopped spending time outside. Our back yard is a mess and no one cares but me. I still care. I like gardening and veggies and flowers and a pen for the guinea pigs and when the kids were small we had a little pool, and a sandbox…
So when they started up again blaring the music just recently, I emailed the city back. I said in a short email that their method to control noise makers isn’t working and that we’re still waiting for action from them ten years later, and what are we paying all these taxes for when they do nothing?
They said they have larger than usual volume on complaints.
Ha. Times are a-changin’…
This is not my problem. My problem started 10 years ago and if a simple letter with a threat to fine them doesn’t work, the idiot will, like some wayward toddler (or teenager) continue with their trouble making. He knows the threatening letter won’t come to fruition.
I wrote the city back and told them I expect them to provide us with a solution immediately. I tweeted the city councilor as well.
The city is more concerned about paper pushing than action. They want me, and the neighbours, to make a list, to log the noise, do all this work etc. We did this ten years ago and we are still in the same situation, so tell me how this is solving the problem.
The husband wants to move out of the city and find property on 50 acres. This means changing schools for two kids, and all their activities they’re rooted in. One kid is on the threshold of highschool.
Right now both kids are independent and able to take the city transit to and from many places in the neighbourhood. If we move out of the city the 13yo will need a car at 16 because no way am I going to drive him to every buddy or girlfriend at all hours of the day, for the foreseeable future. Same with the other one.
My aging parents are 25 minutes away. If we move north of the city (where larger properties exist) we’ll be two or more hours away from them. One way.
Plus, if we suddenly can’t afford two cars anymore in the near future (it could happen), we live walking distance to all major stores we need for survival. We have transit up the street that takes us to trains and airports.
There are perks to living in the city.
I’m not keen uprooting the family now. I was when both kids were under grade 3…but now? At age 13 and almost 11? Going into grade 8 and 6?
The man is crazy. 😉 I get it, but still…
I’m very on the fence.
High density living is doable if neighbours treat each other with respect.
But it only takes one asshat.
We have one across the backyard.