Saturday, June 14, 2008

Victory On My Northern Perimeter (Photo 1)

Photo by John Hoff

The saga of 416 31st had, more or less, a good ending...

The tenants (and I hesitate to give them that level of dignity) stripped the aluminum window frames as they were leaving. Somebody in the neighborhood called the landlord to say "They're wrecking your house even more than they already have" but by the time the landlord arrived, the tenants had made off with not only aluminum window frames but (reportedly) copper pipes from the basement.

The Polish woman was up all night, wondering if the house right next door might explode like some houses do when gas pipes are ripped out. In response to being called, the city came out--the very next day, no less!--and inspected the place, and boarded it up.

Later, word came the woman who lived at the property claimed she'd moved out a few days before. Good heavens, she had no idea who the strangers were who (for goodness sakes!) got into the house and made off with pipes and window frames. Yet one of the people involved in the stripping of scrap metal was recognized as the woman's son, well known in the neighborhood as a bad character.

The landlord was reportedly apologetic to at least one neighborhood person who spoke to her by phone, and said eviction hadn't happened more quickly because she was ill, and unable to stay on top of much of anything. Whatever. The landlord has clearly paid a heavy penalty for renting to criminally-inclined people, including the loss of her plumbing fixtures.

The landlord reportedly promised she would get the jungle-like lawn mowed, which featured burdock two feet high when I checked it a couple days ago. Unwilling to take the landlord at her word--convinced she has a history of telling whoppers--I called 311 to report the overgrown lawn.

I told the Polish lady, "One way or another, it will get mowed."

The Polish lady is not entirely excited about the impending mowing. The weeds are incredibly high, and the mower will certainly throw extensive clippings into her carefully-manicured garden. Standing there speaking to the Polish lady, I saw (and, um, ate) a dark purple columbine flower. I'd never seen purple columbine before, let alone eaten one. Her garden is amazing, and all the more amazing because she does so much in so little space.

Oh, in regard to eating columbine flowers...

One doesn't eat the whole flower. You nip the sweet, honey-like buds off the top. My mother taught me to do this when she was a child, and she learned it from her own Czechoslovakian grandfather. When I was a kid, I would sometimes find a big columbine plant and just graze until all the flowers were gone.

The Polish lady didn't say anything about the way I ate one of her flowers but just then I noticed some graffiti on 407 31st, and I said I was going to take care of it, RIGHT AT THAT MOMENT, before I left town to pick up a little money doing a job. I had spray paint in the trunk. So I took care of it, and then I left for a couple days to pick up cargo and visit relatives.

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