Robb and I live in a very diverse neighborhood, which we just adore. But even in the most idyllic situations, there are things that are, well, Less Than Perfect.
And I need to vent about one of these situations, and ask for some advice.
Our next door neighbors on the southwest side are a very hardworking family who speak virtually no English (to be perfectly clear, their English is just as bad as my nonexistent Spanish). They keep an immaculate house, which just happens to be walled up like a kind of cheerfully painted urban fortress. They have a neatly paved front yard, composed of concrete "stones" laid out like a chessboard. In this yard are perfectly manicured fruit trees, and topiary rosebushes that have colored spotlights shining on then. The house has no doorbell, and is surrounded by a cheerfully painted steel gate. When someone wants to park their car, they park on the sidewalk and honk the horn for minutes on end. When we first moved in, the old man was running some kind of home-based food business, which commenced every morning at 4am, and which smelled like he was boiling down hookers in the back yard. The smell was ungodly, and Robb and I were beyond delighted when he apparently retired.
And then there's the wall between our back yards, which I call the World's Ugliest Fence.
It is made, variously, of cinderblock, rotting plywood, old car parts, steel pipe, chicken wire, and orange construction netting. It is eleven feet tall, way, way taller than the six foot fence height limit, regulated by local law.
I hate this ugly thing with a burning passion.
Our back yard was a complete mess when we moved in. The entire place was choked with weeds. Most of the trees were in terrible condition. Almost every surface had peeling paint. It was truly nasty.
And we've worked really hard to make things nice.
A few weeks back, one of the massive support beams that held up the orange construction netting fell down in a storm. I spoke to one of our across-the-street neighbors, and asked him to ask our next-door neighbor if he would let us take down the construction fencing. This conversation was awkward, and I got the sense that we'd stepped out of line, somehow. But the old man hired someone to pull down the rotting support posts, and take away the orange plastic netting. We had a few weeks of reduced ugliness, for which I was very grateful. The old man told our across-the-street neighbor that we he was happy to do what we'd asked for, and asked through our neighbor if things were how we wanted them. Robb gave everyone honey from our hives, because we know our neighbors really love this. Today, as I was coming home from work, I saw my next-door neighbor on the sidewalk and rushed to give him some fresh eggs from our hens.
He was delighted.
I was delighted.
Until I walked into the back yard and realized that he had a handyman over, who was re-building a structure to hold up more orange fencing.
And I'm so filled with impotent frustration that I don't know what to do. The crappy orange construction netting is going back up. We're going to be stuck with an eyesore that we thought we'd gotten rid of.
So now what do I do?
I don't want to get in a war with an old man over a stupid fence. I don't want to alienate my neighbors. I don't want to call the city codes office, because that would just piss everyone off. But I also don't want to have to look at this fucking ugly eyesore.
I particularly don't want to plant ivy, because it is massively invasive in the State of California, and also a brothel and breeding ground for garden snails, which are the bane of my existence (second only to the freaking fence, of course).
I don't want to build an equally tall fence on my side, for a number of reasons. It would block what little sunlight we get in our back yard. It would be illegally tall. And I resent having to spend what would end up being a lot of money to cover up someone else's mess.
All I'm able to do is stomp around the living room, and seethe.
Prior to the storm that brought down that part of the fence, I was resigned to living with this monstrosity, and just waiting for the day when -- somehow -- the house went up for sale. My plan was to hire a demolition crew on that very day, and rip down the eight foot tall cinderblock wall. I'd remove the rusting car parts, and cart away the orange plastic fencing and plywood.
At that time, I was reasonably okay with the state of things. I didn't love having friends over, and showing off the rusting crap, but I was resigned to the situation.
But now that part of the mess was removed, and is now going to be replaced, I'm furious.
I also have to admit that I'm deeply demoralized by what this fence represents. We are the Enemy Forces that must be kept out with as high a wall as he can build. It's the exact opposite of our relationship with our neighbors on the northeast side, which is as cozy as can be.
What the hell should I do in this sticky situation?