Posts filed under ‘Neighbors’

DIY Driveway in a Day

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but our new driveway was! We had been talking about a driveway for a while and this past month the mud has been worse than ever. One morning Ryan woke up and decided it was time. He went out and prepped the area and then had a dump truck deliver a load of sand (most of the sand is for a different project).

We shoveled sand to drive out the swamp that’s encroached in our yard.

New Driveway - Ryan Shovels Sand (Far)
Ryan Shovels Sand

New Driveway - Sanded Driveway
Sanded Driveway

And then the dump truck returned and gave us a load of gravel.

New Driveway - Big Ole Pile of Gravel
Gravel Arrives

Our neighbor Alvin lent us extra rakes and shovels and from then on out we were moving gravel. For hours…and hours… and hours. The project drew a lot of attention. Cars would slow down to look at us and pedestrains and cyclists would make comments.

“That’s what I call ‘Git er done!'” one guy told us.

Another man passed by twice and reported that our gravel pile was definitely getting smaller. It was good to hear, but my body was still tiring.

At one point I paused to wipe the steady stream of snot off my face and I saw a familiar silhouette walking down the street. It was Jacal. I could not have been happier to see him.

“Can I help???” he asked as I knew he would.

Then there were three of us shoveling and raking.

New Driveway - Help Arrives!  Jacal With Ryan
Jacal and Ryan Raking

Still as the afternoon light started to dwindle, bodies ached, and blisters bled, it looked like the project would have to be completed a different day. Suddenly more reinforcements arrived! Three more neighborhood kids came over to help AND a neighborhood adult!

New Driveway - Teamwork Completes Task (Adjusted)
Bobby, Ryan, Khalif and Tyrek Finish Up at Dusk

That night I parked in the brand new driveway. For the first time in months, I did not have to leap from my car to the grass. The mud has been eradicated.

It was thanks to a lot of hard work… and wonderful neighbors.

December 20, 2009 at 12:25 pm 6 comments

The Unofficial Computer Lab of Elizabeth City’s Hunter Street

I wish I could take credit for this, but I can’t. Ryan Somma started this years before I moved to Elizabeth City.

In the evenings he let the neighborhood children come over to use the computer. We live on a less affluent street. Having easy access to computers within walking distance has proven to be quite popular. Currently, we have eight core kids that we see regularly and at least a dozen more who stop by. Sometimes, of course, we choose to, but Ryan and I never have to spend an evening alone. All we need to do is open our door and suddenly the house will be bustling with activity and music and conversation.

Now, I will say a lot of the computer activities tend to involve MySpace and assessments of who has what Lil Wayne layout. But then– there’s homework. We’ve helped them print reports, we’ve help them Google different hamster species for homework or locate pictures of the Obama family or brains. My all time favorite homework moment happened just two Fridays ago. On that sunny afternoon, two fourth graders came over. With the doors open, the house full of spring air and the birds outside singing, they worked on their fraction homework.

Since we don’t have enough laptops to go around, the evening activities are not all computer related. While they are waiting for their turn, children have helped make dinner (one ten year old is particularly fond of opening cans). At Christmas time, they proved to be dedicated taste testers of the chocolate covered Oreos. They love feeding the dogs. They love walking the dogs. They love petting the dogs. And one girl even took a fancy to dressing the dogs. We talk. We joke. We sit outside. Two teenage girls from two doors down are currently stitching their own plastic canvas icosahedrons. And regardless of sex or age, the children seem uniformly intrigued by Ryan’s ability to solve the Rubix Cube.

I’ve gotten to collect a number of pictures with the neighborhood kids over the recent weeks, so I thought I would share some of my favorites.

Hunter Street - Khalif and Armani Enjoy New Loveseat
Armani (foreground) and Khalif on MySpace

Hunter Street - Ladies on OLPC
Two Girls Share One Laptop Per Child

Elizabeth City - Hunter Street - Qualik Works on Homework
Qualik Works on Fractions

Elizabeth City - Hunter Street - Jacal with Dell
Jacal on a Dell

Hunter Street - Jacal and Tyrek On Computers
Jacal and Tyrek On Laptops

Elizabeth City - Hunter Street - Three Little Boys, Three Laptops, Two Dogs
Three Laptops, Three Boys, Two Dogs

Elizabeth City - Hunter Street- Outdoor Computer Lab
Jacal and Qualik Find A Way to Be Outside

Elizabeth City - Hunter Street - Jimmie and Tykee
Jimmie and Tykee

Elizabeth City - Happy Khaliya, Unhappy Henry
Khaliya is Very Pleased. Henry Not So Much (It looks like his bath stance!)

Elizabeth City - Hunter Street - Ryan Solves Rubix Cube with an Audience
Ryan Razzling and Dazzling Two Kids (and Possibly Mollie) with a Rubix Cube

Sometimes it is hectic and more often than not, it is noisy. But on a whole I would describe the experience as fulfilling.

Incredibly fulfilling.

March 15, 2009 at 12:59 am 17 comments

How to Endear Yourself to Neighbors, Part III

There are things I expected from working at home– missing out on the comradery of an office, no more free baked goods, BUT the ability to sing aloud to any music at any time.  Today, something unexpected occured while I worked at home. 

I was on a business call with my laid back boss.  I decided to enjoy the weather and sit out on my front stoop.  In the middle of the call, my neighbor emerged out of his house wearing nothing but a towel around his waist.

“Hi, Ed!” I said.

Ed just froze in the middle of his driveway.  It was a complete deer in headlights moment!  I’m sure the last thing he expected in the middle of a work day was a witness right across the street.  It certainly was the last thing I expected while discussing trim weights and bar codes!

September 21, 2007 at 3:04 pm Leave a comment

Your Know Your House is Messy When…

Last night I had a dream where I was walking the dogs in my front yard.   Suddenly I see my neighbor, a mother of two, squirming out of her garage.  She was gagged with duct tape and had her wrists and her ankles bound by the tape as well.  Her eyes were wide with terror as she struggled in my direction.  I ran over and picked her up (I have amazing upper body strength in dreams) and carried her back to my house.  The agenda was clear– I needed to get her inside to safety and call 9-1-1 stat.  But…when got to my stoop, just before I opened the front door, I paused.  I had to deliver my usual disclaimer, “Now my house is really really messy… I have a beagle you know.”

So, apparently I’m so self conscious about the state of my house that:
1) The concern is making it into my dreams
2) Even in a dire hostage/kidnapping situation, I still feel the need to warn people about the mess!

December 6, 2006 at 10:00 pm 3 comments

How to Endear Yourself to Neighbors – Part II

Last night I was chatting with one of my neighbors and he asked if Sean and I had gone on a vacation.  I excitedly told him tales from Bethany Beach and Assateague Island.

“Ah,” my neighbor said, smiling at his own power of deduction, “I knew you went on vacation because your trash can sat out there [on the street] day after day.  I kept thinking, ‘When are they going to take that trash can up?’  Then I realized, you must be on vacation!”

“Oh that?!?” I said, “That’s not from vacation.  That’s just laziness!!!”

(Hopefully in time, he’ll learn to appreciate my honesty)

August 14, 2006 at 9:11 am Leave a comment

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