1000th Day of Daily Blogging

Today is my 1000th straight day of daily blogging. It’s not my 1000th post, that happened years ago. In fact, this is my 3,476th post. That is a lot of blogging!

I would have thought that after coming up with something to write about every day for 1000 days in a row, that I would have been at a loss for something to say today, but luckily, my neighbors served up plenty of things for me to write about.

First thing this morning, when I was taking my mower out of the garage so I could cut the grass, my next-door neighbor told me if I ever saw a particular person — middle-aged, skinny, tattoos all over his face — to call the cops because that person tried to break into his shed where all his tools are stored. He said if he saw the fellow on his property again, the person would be dead. Not a good start to the day!

Later, I set out to walk an errand (rather than “run an errand,” because with my knees, I don’t run for any reason, not even from scary dudes with tattoos all over their face). A neighbor down the block was standing in his yard behind a tree where I couldn’t see him, watering his grass on the other side of the sidewalk, making it impossible for me to pass. I couldn’t holler at him because he’s deaf, so I waved my walking stick. He saw it, swung the stream of water out of my way, and smiled at me. Big doings! In the 1,200 days since I bought my house, this was the first time he ever acknowledged my presence in any way.

I turned the corner, and as I was walking down the street, another neighbor that I’ve had little contact with stopped me to warn about a couple of aggressive dogs that were loose. He’d called dispatch because those dogs are often out harassing passers-by, and although this town supposedly pays for a dog catcher, no one has ever seen the person, so basically, unless I wanted to go home for the weeks it would take for the mythical dog catcher to catch the dogs, I was on my own.

Those dang dogs did come running after me, though they couldn’t get close because I was waving my sticks around. (I don’t know about walking softly, but carrying a big stick — or two — is always a good idea when walking in this town.) Luckily, another walker came up behind me, and the dogs left me alone and started harrying him, which didn’t seem to bother the other walker at all.

Eventually, the dogs ran off, but they found me again on my way home. The same neighbor who warned me about them jumped in his truck and got between me and the dogs until the dogs lay down for a nap — too much excitement for them, I guess. On his way back to his house, the neighbor pulled up next to me and said he’d been talking to the deputy the dispatcher had sent, but before the deputy could do anything about the dogs, he got another call and took off.

When I got home, I noticed the deputy talking to my next-door neighbor. (Since the deputy was just around the corner, that was probably the fastest response anyone in this town ever got after calling the sheriff.) Turns out, the scary dude was hiding beneath my other next-door neighbor’s bushes. I tend to think the dude ran off before he was apprehended because I didn’t see anyone in the official vehicle. Maybe the escaped dogs and the escaped dude are hanging around together, though I wouldn’t know. I’ve decided this is a good day to make sure everything is locked up and to stay inside.

So, there you have it. Other people might be celebrating Father’s Day or Juneteenth or National Martini Day or even World Sauntering Day, but me? I’m celebrating a safe return home after my action-packed saunter, as well as my 1000th blog post.

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Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

Intrusion

For someone who lives such a simple life, I still manage to find excitement. Or rather, excitement manages to find me.

This particular adventure started with the snowstorm last night.

I went out in the dark to brush off the four-inch accumulation from my ramp. The snow doesn’t melt as quickly from the wooden ramp as it does from the sidewalks, and I wanted to make sure no ice formed under the additional two inches that would pile up in the next few hours. It was a lovely night: luminous and oh, so quiet. I stood there, broom in hand, and enjoyed the experience of being inside my own personal snow globe.

This morning, when I went out to finish sweeping the ramp, I discovered that someone (my next door neighbor, I learned later) had shoveled the sidewalk in front of my house. Such a nice thing to have done!

By the time I finished sweeping the ramp and brushing the snow off my covered car, the clouds had cleared away and the sun was shining warmly. So I went inside, opened the curtains to the back yard to get the benefit of the warmth, and . . .

What the heck?

Footsteps led from the back gate, across the newly dug garage foundation, around the carport almost to the house, then back around and into the carport, and finally out the gate. I told myself I must be misinterpreting what I was seeing. This neighborhood is crawling with feral cats, and I thought that perhaps they had sunk into the snow as they made their rounds.

But no. When I went out to look, I could see that the tracks had been made by shoes, so a person had definitely come in the yard, though it didn’t look as if anything had been taken. (The snow that had blown onto the things stored under the carport had been undisturbed.)

I checked with the contractor to make sure neither he nor one of his workers had come for a ladder or some such they had left here, but he said they hadn’t stopped by and he was sure the building inspector hadn’t either since the inspector wouldn’t have needed to enter the yard. The contractor suggested I call the sheriff, but I hesitated, since nothing had been taken.

Instead, I checked with my next door neighbors who have a camera pointed at the alley to see if they could see anything, and there it was — a video of a hooded fellow very deliberately striding up to my gate, crossing the foundation for the garage, leaving camera range, then a minute or so later, retracing his steps. My neighbor husband, being a tracker, followed the footsteps into a well-trafficked street a couple of blocks away where they disappeared.

My neighbor wife came over to stay with me and said I really should call the sheriff to report an intrusion, so I gave in and did. (Is this a small-town thing? In bigger cities, we don’t generally report something so minor, mostly because we know the cops are too busy to care.) While we waited for someone from the sheriff’s department to come, we sipped flower tea and talked about the theft/homeless/street people problem, which is fairly new in this area. There is a homeless coalition housed nearby, and they bus in people from the big cities, many of whom wash out of the program and end up on the streets here. It’s a good thing for those who stay to finish the program, but overall, it’s not a very good thing for the town.

The sergeant from the sheriff’s department came after about an hour, though he did say (when I asked) that if it had been an emergency, he would have been here immediately. Apparently, a couple of ambulance calls took precedence over my non-emergency. He took my name and birthdate, and I offered him a cup of tea. (I have to laugh at myself in light of my post yesterday about channeling my inner elder since offering tea seems such an . . . ahem, old lady . . . thing to do.)

The sergeant said that the guy in the video didn’t look like any of their “frequent flyers.” We told him we thought it might have been our troublemaking neighbor, but that the tracks hadn’t led to his house. The deputy said that the guy doesn’t live there any more, and if we see him to call because there is a warrant for his arrest — fraud and embezzlement. (Apparently, he is a full-service thug — drug dealer, thief, breaker of the peace, and now defrauder and embezzler.) Before he left, the sergeant said that he would make sure the alley behind my house is patrolled.

By the time I had a chance to take a photo after everything quieted down, most of the 6” of snow had melted, but the tracks were still visible. By sundown tonight, the snow will be gone and all but the memory of the weird event will have disappeared. Well, the memory and the locks I immediately went out to buy to secure the gates.

It really had surprised me that a potential thief would be brazen enough to come through the gate even at that time of night (2:35 a.m. according to the video). A lot of things go missing in this neighborhood, but generally, things are not taken from fenced yards. I have a hunch the absence of my car from under the carport (it’s temporarily parked out front since I can’t get around the garage foundation to park it under the carport) made him think the house was empty.

Adding to the weirdness, when I went to get the locks, it turned out they were kept behind the counter as if they were a controlled substance. Apparently, locks are one of that store’s most stolen items, second only to duct tape.

Weirdest of all, none of this scared me. It probably should, but I had the fence put up, am now using my new locks, and once the garage is up and everything stored out of sight, I will have done everything I can to protect myself.

I might be heading toward elderliness (young elderliness, that is), but I don’t intend to live in fear.

And anyway, at least in the writing, it seems that all this excitement wasn’t so exciting after all.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator