No Trespassing On The Turk

 

Turk guard 2

Our transition into the new neighborhood hadn’t been as smooth as that into our previous ‘hood. Back in Indiana, the Hoosiers welcomed us with baked goods and Krampus (Which, contrary to how it might appear, was truly one of the kindest gestures involving a horned beast I’ve been involved in – read about in case you missed it.) And while I did believe one neighbor who enjoyed gardening between midnight and 4:00am might have been burying bodies, we lived there for 3 years and I never caught a whiff of decomp so it was fine.

But finding footing in our Massachusetts neighborhood has been a bit tough and if things hadn’t changed when they did, I feared we might have been labeled as “those neighbors best avoided.” The fact that we have a long, secluded drive doesn’t help either. We live in an enclave of about 5 houses but we actually only see two from our house. As we came and went this summer, we tried to meld into the ‘hood but it seemed to be in vain. No returned waves. No driveway chats and no damn baked goods.

The same brand of thinking that caused me to assume the night gardener was a murderer, led me to conceive a storyline in which our neighbors avoided us due to fear of The Turk’s urge to wage jihad because of his accent. (While I now know better I think it might have been a little bit true.) Our little hamlet was void of neighborliness. I wasn’t jazzed about it but I hoped in time I might adjust. Even in Turkey we’d had outgoing and friendly neighbors so this would take some adjustment.

But thanks to the start of school and bus stop time, all that has changed and I’ve become exposed to neighborhood gossip in a way that makes Mama happy to be alive. While only 2 of the homes have school-aged children, bus-stop time brings everybody out. Finally, after three months we’ve seen the faces of the older couple we’ve heard splashing in the pool behind our trees and their love of surround sound yacht rock became clear. The mini-horse we’ve strained to see behind our garage came out to visit with his retirees’ and Dalmatian brother. And then there’s the other mom, who, over the past 2 weeks, has provided me with a 10-year history of our new abode, which explained why the neighbors were leery. While I’ve found it fascinating, I shouldn’t have shared my newfound knowledge with the Turk.

“Did you know this house used to be a drug den?” I lobbed my bus stop findings at him over coffee.

“What?” The Turk exclaimed with a spit take.

“Right? Crazy huh?” I was entertained but regrettably I underestimated the Turk’s response.

“What you are talking about? Drug dealers are here?”

“Relax. It was like 10 years ago before the house was flipped. The neighbor said the people dealt drugs out of here. It’s kind of brilliant really. I mean, the house is hidden in the woods so you could grow weed or run a cartel out of here without anyone really knowing.”

“Why you say something like that! What if Alexa listening?”

Crap. He was right. What if the CIA had us tapped thought that stupid Amazon device? Our overall paranoia has been solid ever since a particularity probing immigration process 13 years ago. I leaned towards Alexa and said, “Just kidding. I’ve been watching Ozark on Netflix. My mind isn’t right. I’m just a good mother who can’t even keep a fern alive and who knows nothing about drugs!”

The Turk was rolling his eyes and flailing his arms while I was trying to plant evidence for my innocence so I decided it safest to get past our home’s drug-induced past and move to the theft-ring portion of it’s history.

“So after that the bank owned it because I guess drug dealers don’t always pay the mortgage on time, and it sat empty for a while but it was repeatedly broken into and the copper pipes were stolen.”

I found this fascinating but the Turk was clutching his chest. “What?!?!”

“Yeah, I guess they stole all the copper piping and then during the flip they continued to break in and steal stuff.”

“Oh my God.” The Turk was growing pale.

“But that was a long time ago. They put the fence in to prevent the break-ins and we’ve got all new stuff. It’s a win.” Usually I’m the crazy one but now I was losing the Turk.

“My God. What if they come back?”

“Who?”

“Them. The people who buy the drugs.”

“Dude it was over 10 years ago. I don’t think tweakers have that kind of memory.”

“How you know?” He was on the fast train to crazy town.

“It’s all good. The house was flipped and sold to another family 5 years ago. They had no tweakers or thefts so I think we’re good.”

I thought I had talked him down. I thought sanity had returned so I left him to his work from home day as I headed into the city for a day of ear appointments and hearing aid adjustments with Nugget. Upon our return we found him at the bottom of our driveway hanging these signs.

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“What the hell is that?” I asked.

“This is to keep out druggies and tiefs.” (All these years and the man still struggles with some words but I find it too cute to correct him.) He proudly pointed to his new signs.

“Right, because criminals are known to obey signs.”

His eyes lit up with a new idea. “Maybe I should get gun?”

“NO! Did you hit your head!?!?” (I’m a solid no gun gal and until this moment so was he.)

“I was best shooter in Turkish Army. That is why I was commander.”

“I don’t care if you were Turkish Rambo. No. No. No.” I was adamant but I know him well enough to know that he cannot be trusted on something like this. We might have finally melded into our new hood but it would be short-lived if there was a gun-totin’ Turk strutting up and down our driveway looking for tweakers.

For now, I’ve distracted him by allowing him to add safety lighting on the garage and more signs (Insert my embarrassed eye roll here). I thought I was good until this morning when I saw he’d been researching driveway gates on his iPad. So much for not being “those neighbors.”

Hopefully I can continue providing the sane face of our family long enough for our neighbors to realize that he’s harmless, just a little nutty.

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Thar She Blows!

thar she blows

Now that we have moved to a hotbed of biodiversity, I’ve determined my children will become outdoorsmen. What’s the point of living in New England if you can’t legitimately rock some L.L. Bean?

Lots of men garner their sportsman skills during boyhood from fathers and grandfathers who lead them on this journey but in our house that is not the case. Sure, when we lived in Turkey I witnessed their father, The Turk, join army friends to hunt wild boars and wow me with sea fishing skills but none of that seemed to make it across the US boarder with his new American passport. This summer, as the Turk hid indoors from mosquitos while the boys and I enjoyed our new wooded homestead, I realized if my little men were to become outdoorsmen, it was up to me.

I decided to started with fishing and while it was a great idea to “teach my men to fish so they could eat for a lifetime,” I wasn’t certain I had the knowledge to be the master baiter. (Hehehehehe. See what I did there? A dirty fishing pun. I’m twelve.) The last time I’d fished was when we lived in Turkey. From a dock in the Aegean, The Turk taught me to angle like the native fishermen using a reel but no rod, bait that looks like bamboo and exercising caution over certain catches. “You catch that one, he electrocute you and you die. Do not catch that one.” My beloved warned. That was my lone lesson and we did pretty well but none of that was going to help me as a freshwater fisherwoman.

Prior to that Aegean outing, my experience consisted of pond fishing in Iowa when my dad would bait the hook, remove the catch and often help his lone daughter cast the line. (Because her coordination was a bit slow to develop.) I was not what one might call a skilled angler. I needed a refresher course if I was going to teach my offspring the ways of the sportsman. Fortunately a family friend is retired nearby and was more than willing to be a surrogate grandpa helping me to hone (Scratch that, I mean, develop) my fishing skills. After a morning at his pond I was ready for a solo run.

We headed to the sporting goods store where I normally spend copious amounts of money on items for peewee football, so it was refreshing to give them my money in a new department. (When I’m eating dog food during my retirement, I will constantly remind my offspring that my 401K was spent on football gear.) After gathering the requisite equipment it was time to make it official and get a license. The keeper of the fish department issued my license but must have been looking at Number 1 when he filled in the “physical description” segment. According to my fishing license I’m a blue-eyed blonde weighing 120 pounds and while that’s flattering, I’m a green-eyed burnette and haven’t weighed 120 pounds since the 5th grade, but I’ll take it.

Our first excursion was a success likely because I’d spent several hours at home preparing the rods while cursing the process. A fat dude at a skeezy bait shop recommended a nearby dock and though his shop likely doubled as a mob front, he knew his quality fishing spots. (Likely because he needed occasional drop spots for his mob business involving cement shoes.) The boys reeled them in one after another.

One thing I didn’t take into account about leading my boys to sportmanship was the gross-out factor. When you take two kids fishing alone, you are in a constant swirl of wormy hands, tangled lines and slimy fish thrust in your face. It’s parental purgatory. Who actually enjoys the touch of slimy fish while freeing them from capture or the feel of worm guts under mildly manicured nails? Not I, but just like you can never let dogs see your fear, you can never let your sons see your gross-out factor. That simply provides them with an upper hand. (P.S. – having brothers is a huge asset to a gal grooming boys to become men.) As the fish came flying at my face followed by “Mom! I got one! Take it off and help me put on a new worm.” I muttered my mantra, “I’ve touched worse…I’ve touched worse.”

Nugget is down with fishing but his interest only lasts about 10 minutes then I spend the remainder of the outing untangling his line, (that he’s attached to everything from nearby trees to my thigh) plying him with snacks and trying to keep him from falling in. Last week while he was in summer school I had the luxury of taking only 1 kid fishing. Foolishly, I believed it would be relaxing like fishing appears to be on beer commercials. With his first cast he caught a tree and needed his pole restrung, then there was a broken reel and the fish that swallowed the hook. After averting disaster for 5 full minutes and swearing non-stop under my breath, I was ready to test the repaired line. Immediately I  hooked something Number 1 and I were certain was the freshwater brother of Moby Dick.

“Hold on Mom! It’s a big one!”

I tried to be cool but it was impossible. This was it. I had a big one. “It won’t reel! I can’t get it to work!” (I’m still working on my repair skills.) I was frantically spinning the handle while watching my pole bend like a scene from a National Geographic show about Amazonian monster fish. The pressure was palpable. Here I was, showing my son girl-power in action. His mother was about to reel in a big-ass fish!

“Don’t lose it Mom!” His excitement was building and he was jumping up and down a little too close to the edge. I did not want to face the choice of saving my child or reeling in my big–ass fish because I can’t guarantee I’d drop my pole. (Don’t judge, the kid can swim.)

Fortunately I didn’t have a Sophie’s Choice moment because my line snapped. I watched as my bobber, bait and line all took off across the water. Moments later a penis-like head popped up near the bobber. Because I am missing the parental edit button that prevents me from the deletion of potty words in front of my offspring, I yelled – “Screw you dickhead! You might have broken my line but you head looks like a penis!” As the words came out of my mouth I wished I was with my one-eared kid who only hears half of my profanity.

“Mom!” My judgmental ten-year-old exclaimed. But within seconds he reconsidered, “I mean you are right. His head does kind of look like a penis.”

So it wasn’t a big-ass fish. It was just a big-ass turtle but it was a nice teachable moment for my son to understand the importance of accurate trash talk. My sportsman development has a ways to go but I’m finding more joy than anticipated in the ride. Especially when the Turk opens his beer fridge and screams, “What the hell? Why there are worm in my fridge?”