Archive for August, 2008

For lack of something thing to add to today’s blog, I am going to share a letter I just sent off to my dear, now, one and only sister who lives near Woodbury, New Jersey. It will give you a hint as to how things are shaping up for me after being floored from hearing about the fifty thousand dollar law suit that I might have prevented had I told Heidi and Nicholas that they could not be part of last New Year’s “Picnic In The Park” and sent them home. It also reveals a bit of an idea of how I came to live where I am now living in Port St. Lucie. That is, if you are interested)

Hi, Jean,
    What a nice way to end the day: a letter from you. Sounds like a lovely afternoon with the Rolli’s and only sorry that I could not be a part of it. However, I have never regretted encouraging Carl to make the move to Florida. I have no idea of how I would have managed to stay where we were because it just wasn’t working out between the two of us. Things were bad, really really bad. Not that they were all that good down here, but at least I managed to remain sane.
    I, too, have been thinking about what the people in the New Orleans area are going through. I was caught in the evacuation of hundreds or thousands of cars heading north when Hurricane Andrew was blustering its way into South Florida and I never want to be in another. . . (This is an addition and not a part of the letter. My oldest daughter and I had driven down to Fort Lauderdale to visit Bev, daughter number three as people from Miami and other parts south were streaming north. We did not stay long in Fort Lauderdale. I doubt I was never so happy ad relieved to pull into my driveway as I was that day). . . How much worse it’s got to be now what with stations running out of fuel! President Bush, according to one news report, assured the people that the levees have never been stronger. That may turn out to be another “Mission Accomplished” misstatement. Let’s hope not. I got to thinking about the Great Wall of China and how it was built with nothing much more than human labor. Than I got to thinking about the billions of  American tax dollars spent and being spent in Iraq, and what could have been done with that money if it had been spent building a levee that would protect the entire northern Gulf region against the worst hurricane possible. 
    Looks like my neighbors, MayLynn, Heidi, NIcholas and their parents have moved, although the parents must be coming back during the day to move the last of their furnishings. I’m truly glad to have them gone and out of my life, although I know when it comes to Heidi, I am going to think about her once in a while and hope that perhaps I made a bit of a difference in her life. I let her know I loved her and was growing quite proud of her. Love, Mary


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A Small Dilemma

For lack of something else to start what I hope to be a more day to day chat with my blogging friends, I am going to post a letter I wrote but not yet certain I should send to my neighbor who lives to the back of my house. It should help to explain why I have been unable to think of much else these past several days. Perhaps someone can give me their opinion.


To ********* ` August 28, 08

Sometime this past Sunday, I stopped for a short visit with a friend here in the neighborhood who is also a friend of the people who own the dog that bit Heidi last New Year’s Day. I am sincerely hoping that what I heard was nothing more than neighborhood gossip, gossip without foundation. I have a difficult time absorbing this: the owner of the dog has been sued for fifty thousand dollars. I have a difficult time believing that because, in a sense, I feel some responsibility for the entire matter.

While I do not socialize much with my neighbors, I talk with them enough to know what’s going on. From the time you first moved to this area, there wasn’t a parent I talked to who approved of their children playing with your children because neither Heidi or Nicholas appeared to have had any disciplinary training whatsoever.

On the day of our annual New Year’s Day Picnic In The Park, Heidi and Nicholas showed up. There were those who wanted to send them home because the picnic was for the families immediately surrounding the park and not for those dwelling on Floresta Avenue. Both children, without asking, started helping themselves to the food. I told them they had to ask first. One neighbor told me that Nicholas helped himself to a nice size piece of watermelon, ate it and threw the rind on the grass . . . with a trash container not more than five feet away. If it had not been for me, the children would have been sent home, and the incident with Heidi and the dog would never have taken place.

Although I remember MaeLynn coming over, your two children feasted all afternoon without a parent showing up to make sure the children were welcome. There were those who questioned me about the children’s parents and how they could be so unconcerned about where their children were and what they were doing. I defended you by explaining that you both had to work, as so many parents do these days. When I left, Heidi and Nicholas were still there. It was not until later I was told about Heidi being bitten and a law suit instituted. My friend, the friend of the people who own the dog, told me that Heidi had eaten something sticky and had trouble cleaning her hands. The dog’s owner took Heidi over, and into her house to wash her hands. While in the house and without asking permission, Heidi attempted to pet the dog. I can believe that because when the two children first started coming to my house, they never asked permission to do anything. They simply did whatever they felt like doing. I had to tell them that it was not polite to open closed doors, open and look into drawers, pick up and handle things that did not belong to them. I had to put a stop to Nicholas coming to the door just to ask me if I had grapes. I had to crack down hard on the constant fighting between the two of them over the smallest thing. I had to threaten Nicholas with refusing to allow him to come over if he didn’t stop riding his bike on the porch and scratching the wall—as he did the newly painted walls of the house next door. I had to threaten him the same way to get him to stop hitting the outside walls of the house with a stick. or anything else he picked up. While I know you probably did your best when it came to teaching the children manners, as far as the neighborhood was concerned, those two children were like little savages with no parental upbringing whatsoever. Although I had never heard either of them curse, at least two parents told me they did. One time, after scolding Nicholas for some misbehavior, Heidi came into the house and told me that Nicholas had called me a bad name. Nicholas may be a child, but he is already an accomplished liar. Nicholas, knowing I had grapes in the house, came over one day not too long ago without Heidi. I told him that if he took Scamp for a run on his leash all around the outside of the house, I would give him a dish of grapes. He and Scamp went out the front door and I went to the Florida room where I could watch them go by. I doubt he had time to take Scamp off the porch before I heard him come back in the house. Even though I told him I knew he had not done as I asked, he looked me in the eyes and insisted he had gone all the way around the house. I told him he had not because I would have seen him. He still claimed he had. When a child can look me straight in the eyes and lie like that, I have cause to worry. Should he become angry enough with me about something I had scolded him for, he could get me into serious trouble with the police. It would not be the first time a child did just that. A grade school teacher in a school my children once attended, lost his job because of a lie one of the children told her parents. I know it was a lie because my youngest came home and told me about another lie the same pupil tried to tell about another teacher. Children can, with just one lie, ruin the reputation of an adult, especially one living alone, and, I believe Nicholas is capable of doing just that. After that incident with Nicholas lying to me, I never again allowed him in the house without Heidi being present.

Back to the reason for this letter. Once, while trying to comb some tangles from the fur of a dog I had recently adopted from a shelter, he bit me in the lip. My lip did not require any surgery, but it was swollen for almost a full week and took over two weeks for it to heal to where it was not readily noticeable. After the New Year’s Day picnic, I did not see either of the children for several days. The picnic was on a Tuesday. The following Saturday, thinking you would be home I walked over to your house to see if anything was wrong. Nobody was home. If the children had not shown up the following week, I would have returned, but Heidi did come over. The only injury I noticed was a cut on one of her fingers. I washed her hands with soap and water, disinfected the finger, applied Neosporin and a clean bandage. If Heidi had been bitten as bad as it is claimed, her lip could not, in that short space of time, have healed to the point where not so much as a scar could be seen, and she never mentioned the bite.

In one way, both of you are responsible. If Heidi had been taught what every child should be taught, and that is: NEVER, NEVER, PET A STRANGE DOG WITHOUT FIRST ASKING PERMISSION of its owner, and, if she had been taught to obey rules, she would not have tried to pet the dog. But then, Heidi had not yet been taught to obey any rules. I surmise that through observing the children. I’ve no doubt that if the owner of the dog had so much as thought about Heidi petting the dog, she would have told her to stay away from it. The dog may have been sleeping and felt threatened when touched. It was, as I so often say, just “one of those things”. The owner of that dog is a responsible dog owner. The dog is never allowed outside the house without its leash. If your children tell you otherwise, they lied.. . . insert … the older child did tell me the dog was outside. . . . Once, early on, Heidi, wishing to stay here instead of going home after school, told me she did not have a key and did not know where one was kept. I found out otherwise. I told her she was welcome to stay with me anytime after school but she must never again “fib” to me about anything. As far as I know, she hasn’t.


However, back to the picnic. This is what bothers me. I should not have persuaded the others to allow Heidi and Nicholas to stay at the picnic. It was not my place to do so. If I had stayed until they went back home—which I now realized I should have—Heidi would not have been bitten. I would have brought her over to my house when her hands needed washing. Again, she could have run home, washed her hands and returned to the park. It wasn’t as though she lived a mile away. But mostly, she should have been at home instead of being left in the care of strangers and that is exactly what those people were that day as far as you were concerned. I’ve no doubt the woman who took Heidi into her home will regret her kindness for the rest of her life. It has certainly taught me a lesson.




I’ve been troubled ever since this past Sunday when I heard that the owner of the dog found out she was being sued for Fifty thousand dollars! If it was only one thousand, it is a law suit that should never have taken place.

I am still hoping it amounts to nothing because, I am always going to feel somewhat responsible. Just the idea of a neighbor of mine being sued for trying to do a kindness for one of your children leaves me wondering . . . Just what kind of people are you?

There are those who think I am being a little foolish for allowing your children to come into my home without other adults present. I am beginning to think there may be some wisdom to the warning.

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Hello, Again

For today, all I am going to leave on my blog is a copy of my last comment to “A Birthday Story”. It will explain everything. Be back with something new tomorrow.

Sorry about taking so much time to respond, but just now recovering from a wonderful family reunion at Bird In Hand Motel, Bird In Hand, Pennsylvania. Seems I came home with more than just memories: came back with a slight sore throat, a case of the “blahs” and the knowledge that, at 88 going on 89, the body takes umbrage at such insults to its constitution. Kinda took the “starch” out of me for a few days, but I’m back at last, the brain is beginning to stir and even the body is back in action. Why, at this moment, there isn’t a dirty dish waiting for me in the sink!

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