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Santa Ana Winds and Mending Fences

October 23, 2008
The Santa Ana winds are at it big time. It is hot and dry and everything that is not nailed down is being blown around. The back and side fence is dry rotted. Unlike many other properties in the area, the landlord of our house and the landlord of the house next door have not been interested in replacing the fence. Many of the neighboring properties, including the house on our other side have sturdy and well-built fences, made of cinder blocks or a combination of wood and heavy plastic, almost like thick PVC or maybe it is a plastic wood laminate. Those fences are positioned at least two feet into the ground and anchored by cement. Not ours, we have the dry rotted wood that sways with the wind, thus creating openings for the dog to escape, and at times, the sways do not flow back but tumble down. A trail of patchwork similar to an erected derailed train and exposed nails, exposed because the newly positioned patchwork just does not seem to line up the old nails, and the nails are too rotted in the wood to pull out, display how many years and how many Santa Ana dust ups the poor fence has weathered.

Today a section came down that previously appeared solid, or semi-solid, being the car right behind the engine. There was a booming crash from hitting the neighbor’s wall, the window on the wall actually. If the fence goes down it hits the wall of either house because the six-foot rule that houses must be apart, by law, you know, the old fear of spreading fires was adhered to the inch without a fraction to spare. A five-inch savings here, a two-inch savings there, eventually equals another lot to build another house that will bring in another mortgage that will lead to raking in more cash for the fat cats. An annoying possibility of houses being too close cannot interfere with making money. They don’t need a fence anyway, haven’t they heard about the concept of breaking down fences and building communities. Did someone say build? {$$$}.

During the Santa Ana’s the fence must be vigilantly watched because the dog posts himself as sentry waiting for an opening, even if that opening leads to an inescapable enclosure. It is just the way he operates. He knows I know this, and I know that he knows that I know this. It is what we do, seven years now, different houses, same story though, because the winds are reliable, so reliable that when I checked the tag of this post I discovered I posted about the winds on this same date last year.

I rushed out to see the damage. It was bad, the whole section came down against the wall and window of the house next door. She came out too, followed by him. They have a reputation around these parts. They argue. Often it is background noise because the substance is not juicy enough to keep my attention. A story I have heard before. She works, he does not. He does nothing around the house, the yard looks like shit, the dog has not been walked in years, and he thinks the praise she gets from co-workers means nothing. I was surprised to learn they are renting because there is something of an end of the road aura about them, but perhaps one day long ago they had a house when he worked and she stayed at home. Something seems to have happened because they are both quite bitter, him more than her, and they are growing old, it shows in their faces and their arguments. His bitterness is more of the varitety that unfufilled entitlement brings. She seems to be passed bitterness, passed surrender, almost indifferent and probably according to someone who dropped out of the sky, abusive. But I don’t see what she says to him as abusive, I see it as her way of just flicking him off so she can get back to the task at hand, like swatting a fly away from your sugar bowl. She has no time or patience to rehash over and over again why the fly is attracted to the sugar bowl, she cannot, it is too time consuming, she can only try to find a means to keep the fly away as best as she can.

Sometimes our child listens to them argue when she is in the backyard playing with the dog, but I think the only thing that really interests her is the sporadic curse words they fling.

I brought out too bungee cords, the kind used for securing stuff on bicycles. I decided to stand the fence up and strap one end to the standing section on the left, and the other end to the standing section on the right. By then she made her presence known and told me she would push the fence from her side, because if not, I would have to lift it from my side. Once it was up, I started the strapping and she decided to prop a stick (or pole, I could not see what) at an angle. The stick’s foot would be supported by the base of her house. It was as we were beginning to work that he decided to tell her how much of a fuck up ideal what she was doing was and how it was not going to work. I felt awkward because the fence was not up enough to hide me, therefore I was in the middle of their dynamic. Instead of trying to convince him her plan would work, she just bellowed, “go away, Harold.” It was then that he turned to me. He had such a smug look. At first, I imagined it was shame, shame that he was shut up by her and I witnessed it, but quickly I understood that it was my turn, that I would be his next target. I realised this as I watched him watch me fool with the bungee cords. I stopped what I was doing and stared back at him, I was reacting to being affronted but standing there not actually realising yet that I felt affronted. But I think he took it as I was staring him down, so he just walk away and went inside.

The fence has lasted several hours now. There are phone calls put into the landlords. She told me she will tell me if the dog gets through the fence and goes over there. So I guess now we wait and see how much damage the winds do this year.

  1. Rent Party permalink
    October 24, 2008 11:54 am

    I like the feeling of earth energy that comes with the Santa Anas, although I realize this is a strange taste.

  2. Rent Party permalink
    October 24, 2008 11:54 am

    I like the feeling of earth energy that comes with the Santa Anas, although I realize this is a strange taste.

  3. Anna permalink
    October 25, 2008 10:33 pm

    I'm trying to imagine you & your dog & your mutual stand-off! I used to get so mad at my beloved dog whenever she outsmarted me!

    As for the fence thing – curiously your post brings Frost's "building walls" to mind. With neighbors such as your, mmmm necessary.

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