No Trespassing

You don't pay taxes, they take taxes. Check comes, money gone. That ain't a payment, that's a jack.

-Chris Rock

I think you'll all sleep a little better tonight, after this update on how hard this town's working to keep our world, our streets- our lawns-safe for democracy.

I learned more about this when I opened my mailbox and found an envelope with the city government's return address.

Well. That's never good news.

Usually, they want money. For something. It isn't always clear. But in my experience, it's easier to write a check than to argue.

But on closer inspection, it turns out, that they were writing to let me know I had become a nuisance.

Frankly, I figured that there was already a good degree of consensus about this, and that I really didn't need them to rub it in, but then I read more closely.

My specific "nuisance violation" (pursuant to KRS381.770) was "trash and debris" in my front yard.

I maintain that although my house is guilty of many, many unsightly infractions, most of them are confined to the indoors (outside any jurisdiction beyond those governing taste), and this report was in error.

Since I was both innocent and mystified, fortunately, the report elaborated, in handwriting: "dog food sack in front yard and brush pile."

Now, before all you villagers start lighting the torches to join in the accusatory mob, let me at least attempt to defend myself.

I left the "dog food sack" on my front porch one morning on my way to work.

Admittedly, that's not the appropriate place for it-but I was in a big hurry, and had my hands full, and didn't have time to throw everything in the Herbie. I planned to do that after work.

And the reason I left it outside, on the porch, is because dog food sacks-even when empty-smell a lot like real dog food to marauding canines, and I didn't want to leave it inside the house, where my interior environs would quickly become coated in a thin green layer of Iams-confetti. (Even though one of my dogs has suddenly decided to go on all-popcorn diet, but that really has nothing to do with this. If I could convert her palate to a taste for government employees, I probably would've about the time I opened this envelope.)

My best guess, and I'm only surmising here, at some point while I was at work, the gale-force winds we've been enjoying lately blew the bag off the porch.

Thank GOD there was someone around to catch this transgression before somebody got HURT. Before the property values plummeted!

As for the "brush pile," I can only conclude that the items in question were the branches recently cropped-with no notice or information to me-by some utility. Don't know which. Don't care.

All I know is sometimes I see big trucks with cherry-pickers on my street, and there are men in them armed with giant clippers. Possibly, I just forgot my medication and they're a figment of my imagination, but I don't think so.

But I can say two things: seven twigs do not constitute a "brush pile."

And, when I prune anything, I take the "debris" straight to the yard-waste receptacle so it can be appropriately recycled, if I can ever remember to take it to the curb. (Which I never do. Because I never remember when they pick up, and I know if I leave it out there on a non-designated day, that there's probably a special cop assigned to come around and cite me for it.)

What I'm really wondering is: who has enough time and energy to report this kind of thing (assuming-one can only hope-that we don't actually pay city employees to drive around canvassing the city for just such menaces as this)?

Did the twigs somehow obscure someone's view of the overweight softball players urinating against the fence in the park?

Did the Iams bag blow across someone's windshield-impairing driver safety-while they were cruising for a meaningless sexual encounter that they could procure in the nearby park (to the right of the playground, in the-aptly named-dugout)?

Come on.

I live on a street where a harvest gold commode was considered a perfectly acceptable means of porch ornamentation for nearly a year. I didn't see anybody write that down.

We are-by and large-a live and let live neighborhood.

Sure, we all have our idiosyncrasies, but we accommodate.

One neighbor doesn't like noise, and frequently called the cops for loud parties, until the kids all got together (in a touching display of unity) and convinced law enforcement that he was a schizophrenic and the voices were really inside his head. Sure, everybody hates my dogs, but only one of them barks, and in his defense, he does it because there's a Jack Russell rodent living behind us who yaps just loud enough to crank up all the big dogs (but not loud enough to get himself busted). And personally, I only really lose my mind when somebody blocks my driveway (and have never once asked law enforcement to intervene for any nearby noise, drugs, or prostitution). I have a pretty high tolerance for "nuisances" as long as they don't directly involve me.

One of my fellow columnists writes lovingly this week of living in a neighborhood where people bring you pie when you move in.

When I bought my house, all I remember is the local musicians misting up with memories when I told them the address, saying, "Yeahhhh. I used to buy some great weed there."

They were confused (if you can imagine). I bought the house from a 76-year-old grandmother, who (I am relatively certain) was not doubling as a drug lord in her spare time. They were (fondly) remembering the neighbors (who don't live there anymore).

Nobody brought me pie. Just brownies. And I was afraid to eat them.