Good morning, Colonel!

I waved to the Colonel again this morning, and he waved back. He is a retired colonel of the United States Army. He probably does not know who I am—I am just a face behind the steering wheel of a car. But we frequently cross paths in the morning. He walks west on the sidewalk, part of his morning routine, walking for his health. I drive east on the street, on my way to work. We do not see each other every morning—neither of us has a routine so precise that one could set a watch by our passing. But when I see him, I wave, and most of the time he waves back.

His wife and I have spoken a few times. She represents our part of the city in the state legislature. Last year she and her staff helped to unravel a difficulty my family was having with a state agency. To the state agency, we were just another family in the system, to be passed from desk to desk and phone to phone with no resolution in sight. Once the agency heard from an elected official, though, they were able to produce the paperwork my family needed, and they did so quickly. They say that you can’t fight city hall, but if you know how to go over their heads, even the most powerful government agencies will respond.

Therefore, it is partly out of gratitude to his wife that I have started greeting the Colonel with a friendly wave. At the same time, I am grateful to him as well. I don’t know all the details of his service, but a little internet research tells me that he spent thirty years in the army, including two tours in Vietnam. He has risked his life fighting for his country. He deserves no less than a friendly wave from a passing stranger in the morning.

The Colonel and I have never spoken to each other, and possibly we never will. We don’t even smile when we wave to each other. I know that he waves to other drivers when they wave to him first. Our greetings are part of the morning routine, part of being neighborly. I like to think, though, that they are a little more than that. I like to think that my anonymous greeting is a thank you to the Colonel and to his wife for their faithful service. J.

 

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Murder in the neighborhood

Mrs. Dim is at it again.

Let’s get this straight from the beginning: a weed is an unwanted plant. There’s no other way to define the word. I believe that each person who pays a mortgage and property taxes has the right to define which plants are weeds on his or her property and which plants are wanted. If I think roses are ugly, then I can call rose bushes “weeds” and remove them from my property. I have no right to harm my neighbor’s rose bushes.

One of the native wildflowers in this neck of the woods is called daisy fleabane. It’s an elegant plant with small white daisy-like flowers with yellow centers that bloom in the spring and the summer. You can see clumps of them along the highway—the highway department encourages their growth. At first I didn’t recognize them, and I mowed them down along with the rest of my lawn. Two years ago I deliberately avoided a patch and let the plants grow and bloom. I did so again last year. Mrs. Dim called city hall to complain about my weeds. A man came out from city hall, looked at them, said they were fine, told her so, and called me and told me so. End of story… or at least it should be.

Again this year I recognized the emerging daisy fleabane and mowed around the patch. A few had started to bloom, but the leaves of many more were recognizable.

A week later, the next time I mowed, the plants that had been flowering were desiccated. The leaves of those that had not produced flowers were yellow with no flower stalks.

I suspect herbicide. I believe they have been poisoned.

I wonder if Mrs. Dim would confess to the crime if I asked her. She might point proudly to the label of her broad-leaf herbicide to show me that it says “weed-killer,” as if that proves that she is right. Short of a spoken confession or some photographic evidence, I do not have enough proof to file a case against Mrs. Dim and accuse her of the attack.

I have to love a person like Mrs. Dim. Not only does the Bible require me to love my neighbor, and to love even a person who chooses to be my enemy, but resorting to hatred and revenge would only allow her side to win. She is a bitter old lady who seems to want everyone else to be as miserable as she is.

In this case, it helps that I have some daisy fleabane flourishing in a more sheltered part of the lawn. It is blooming nicely. I will encourage it to spread.

I wonder, though, about the values of a person who poisons her neighbor’s plants. If it is acceptable to kill a creature because it is noxious and detrimental to the neighborhood… well, once we start down that road, where does it end, Mrs. Dim?

If I am living in this house twelve months from now—and feel free to join me in praying that I have moved by then—I think I will invest in one of those motion-detector security cameras that are advertised online. I will hide it on my deck, aimed at my patch of daisy fleabane. If I get footage of Mrs. Dim poisoning my wildflowers, I can meet her at the police station and show the footage to the authorities. Then I can lovingly charge her with trespassing, malicious destruction of private property, and whatever else the authorities suggest. She can counter-charge me with raising plants of which she does not approve. That should cause a few police officers to smile, perhaps even chuckle. J.

daisy fleabane

First Friday Fiction: The Mystery of the Yellow Mustang

“That yellow car is in that neighbor’s driveway again,” Dorothy Dimmerton observed one morning.

“So what, Mom?” Johnny asked, yawning between bites of cereal. “Maybe he’s bought a new car.”

Dorothy shook her head. “I don’t think so,” she said. “That car was parked there one morning last month, and then it was gone for three weeks. Now it’s back. I think something funny is happening next door.”

Johnny yawned again. “Maybe he test-drove it last month and kept it overnight, and now he’s finally bought it,” he suggested.

“I looked for a sticker in the window or for a temporary paper plate. No, that car belongs to someone else, and I’m guessing that whoever she is spent the night at his place.”

“Welcome to the twenty-first century, Mom,” Johnny said. “What the two of them do in his house is their business, not ours.”

Dorothy cleared her throat, and then said nothing else. However, she resolved that she would keep an eye on that neighbor’s house and driveway until she had solved the mystery of this yellow car.

Dorothy Dimmerton had spent most of her life on army bases. Her father had been a soldier. Her husband had been a soldier. They had needed her help to keep their houses on base tidy and efficient. Dorothy followed the same pattern of tidiness and efficiency today. The problem was, nobody really needed her. Johnny didn’t care how the house or the yard looked. That neighbor next door obviously didn’t care either. All Johnny needed was a bedroom where he could sleep or play video games or watch movies when he wasn’t at work flipping hamburgers. He even bought his own breakfasts. Dorothy kept the door to Johnny’s room closed so she didn’t have to see its disorder.

Johnny might not need her, but the house needed her. It wouldn’t clean itself, as Dorothy’s mother had frequently said when Dorothy was a girl. The lawn needed her—it relied on her to water it every day and to mow and trim it once or twice a week. The deck behind the house needed her—every day she had to blow leaves and other debris off the deck. That neighbor next door seemed content just to run a mower over his grass every week or so. She didn’t know what kind of job he had or who his family or friends might be. So far as she was concerned, he was useless, taking up space in the world for no good purpose.

Now that she was watching, she saw that yellow car in his driveway every morning except for weekends. She didn’t know what time of night it arrived—early to bed and early to rise was one of her mottos. She did sometimes see the driver when she left in the morning. She was young and slender, well-dressed, but Dorothy tried not to stare at her while Dorothy pulled weeds or raked leaves or moved the sprinkler from one place to another.

Then, one Saturday, she was able to declare triumphantly, “I finally saw her face!”

“Whose face?” Johnny asked as he poured milk on his cereal.

“The driver of the yellow car. Usually she isn’t here over the weekend, but the car is there this morning. Right after I started the mower, I looked up, and she was staring out the window at me.”

“Yeah, what time was that? Seven o’clock? Six-thirty?” Johnny deliberately yawned as he asked.

“You know I have to get the work done early, before it gets too hot outside,” Dorothy answered, “but you’re missing the point. I know who she is now…boy, are you going to be surprised!”

“Surprise me, then,” Johnny told her.

“She’s the woman who murdered her husband last spring.” When Johnny didn’t react, she said, “Don’t you remember? It was on the TV news.”

Johnny thought for a minute before he said, “Yes, Mom, I remember. But you’ve got the story wrong. She didn’t murder her husband. A girlfriend he had on the side killed him.”

“Maybe,” she sneered. “Maybe they worked together.” Dorothy shook her head and snarled, “I wonder if he knows that he’s sleeping with a murderer.”

“Who says that they’re sleeping together?” Johnny asked. “Maybe Tom’s letting her use a spare bedroom.”

“I’ve seen her,” Dorothy retorted. “I doubt it. I doubt it very much.”

Every morning but on Saturdays, the suspicious woman would leave that neighbor’s house and drive off in her yellow car. A few minutes later, that neighbor would lock the front door, get in his own car, and drive away. Dorothy fumed at their effrontery. Didn’t they know that they were bringing their filth into a nice, respectable neighborhood? Dorothy didn’t say a word to either of them. She didn’t even make eye contact with them. If she pushed the mower with a little more vigor as one of them came out the door, she doubted that they even noticed. Well, if they were going to ignore her, she could keep on ignoring them. She had no intention of lowering herself to their level by treating their malfeasance as normal behavior.

Summer ended and school began. Schoolchildren walked past Dorothy’s house on their way to the bus. She kept a careful eye on them, making sure that none of them set foot on her grass. Most mornings she was outside, blowing leaves off the deck, then gathering them into piles she could scoop into a bag and leave on the curb. After one such morning of diligent work, she glared at Johnny at the kitchen table and exclaimed, “I can’t understand how she can show her face in public like that!”

Johnny sighed. “Who are you talking about, Mom?”

“The whore who is living with that neighbor next door. The way she walks to her car, you’d think she owns the place.”

Again, Johnny sighed. “If you ever spoke with Tom, you’d know that there is more to the story than you have imagined in your dirty little mind.”

“I suppose you believe whatever he told you,” she snarled at Johnny.

“I do believe him, and you should too. After her husband was killed, Jessica went and stayed with her parents for a while. Then she tried to come back home, but she couldn’t bear to walk into her own house. Memories of the murder were too painful for her. For a while she tried living in a motel, but that was using up her money too fast.

“Tom and Jessica work at the same office. He found out what she was enduring, and he offered her a spare room in his house. They have separate rooms, even separate bathrooms. They both drive their own cars downtown so no one at work suspects anything is going on between them. The main reason they do that, though, is that—really—nothing is going on between them.”

Dorothy paused. Perhaps she was being too hard on that neighbor and his friend. Perhaps, in his own way, he was being helpful and useful to another person in this mixed-up world. Dorothy didn’t often consider the possibility that she could be wrong. Even now, a thought in the back of her head suggested that that neighbor had lied to Johnny to cover up his sin. She guessed that she would never know the truth. Not knowing, she felt no regret for the cold shoulder she was showing them.

Weekend repairs; or, flies in the ointment

The weekend was good and I don’t wish to complain… but I will anyhow. There were three flies in the ointment that kept the weekend from being perfect. Murphy’s Gremlins were not interested in leaving the family alone all weekend.

The first of the flies arrived Friday night, as a puddle of water began to flow from under the refrigerator. I pulled the refrigerator away from the wall, expecting to find a leak in the hose that connects to the ice maker. At first I found no such hole, and I began to suspect that the leak was coming from the dishwasher. Since the dishwasher was not running at the time, I put some green food dye in a glass of water and poured it into the dishwasher drain. When the puddle under the refrigerator did not turn green, I rechecked the hose and finally found a small leak. For a short-term solution, I turned off the water line to the icemaker, hoping that we had enough ice to make it through the weekend.

Of course Murphy’s Gremlins act on a Friday night, not in the middle of the week. And of course they choose a weekend when family from out of town is coming to visit. At least I was able to visit with more talented do-it-yourself relatives about the needed repair. From the internet, I had gathered that I needed either to replace the entire hose or to cut the leaking section and attach the two pieces of hose with a connector. My relatives recommended a connector and also suggested that I take the removed section of hose with me to the hardware store to be sure to get the right size connector.

Murphy’s Gremlins visited again Saturday afternoon when the spring on the garage door broke. I’ve reattached broken springs on that door before, but this time the spring managed to break at both ends. A fair amount of trial and error was required to get the entire system working again (and I have several unattractive and painful scrapes and cuts on my hands from the repair), but after about an hour (and with some assistance from my daughter when two hands were not enough), I got the door working again.

Sunday, Murphy’s Gremlins got some help from Mrs. Dim. After returning from church, family members decided to take some pictures of each other in front of the house. One part of the family had flown in from out of town and rented a car at the airport. When we came back from church, they parked in the street, since they would be the first to leave after our cookout. Of course they parked on the very patch of pavement where Mrs. Dim likes to leave her trash bags of cut grass and other lawn maintenance residue. (The city ordinance forbids putting such trash on the pavement-it’s supposed to be left on the lawn within six feet of the pavement. But Mrs. Dim doesn’t want to risk hurting her carefully-tended lawn, so she usually puts her bags on the pavement.)

So, while we were involved in family photographs, Mrs. Dim began dragging her trash bags right to the property line. The first she placed directly on the line; the others were more on my side than her side. (Yes, they were on the grass.) I think my out-of-town family assumed that I exaggerate when I describe Mrs. Dim’s petty and childish behavior. Now they got to see it for themselves. When we were on the other side of the house, I whispered to my sister, “This is SO going on the internet.”

All of these problems were relatively small. No one crashed while traveling, and no one was taken to the hospital from my house.  The weather was virtually ideal, everyone got enough to eat, and we enjoyed each other’s company. It would take a genuine curmudgeon to find any reason to complain about the weekend-but a curmudgeon is exactly what I am. J.

Job interview fantasy

Do you create silly scenarios in your head, imagining situations that will never happen? I do.

I imagine myself applying for a job at a Christian company. In the job interview, they ask me some difficult questions: which law in the Bible do you find hardest to obey, and why; and which commandment in the Bible do you find easiest to obey, and why?

How would you answer these questions?

I think the hardest commandment for me to obey is “love your neighbor.” Some of my neighbors are easy to love, especially the ones I don’t see very often. I can love people I never met and donate money to feed them and to send missionaries to them. Other neighbors make obedience to that command much harder for me.

In particular, I find it hard to love Mrs. Dim. The sound of her voice, like the sound of her lawn tools, wracks my nerves. Her negative judgment of me, based on the quality of my lawn care, offends me. Her deliberate insults bother me. Some days, just hearing the sound of her car’s tires on her driveway sets my heart racing with anxiety.

But if I saw her ox or her donkey wandering, I would help bring it back home. If her car was stuck in ice and snow, I would help push it free. If she collapsed in her yard, I would rush to her aid, carrying a cell phone to call 911. If that’s not love, what is?

I find it hard to love Mrs. Dim, in part because she gives me no opportunity to love her. Other people are also hard to love. A message has been traveling around Facebook to the effect that each of us should care as much about the people we see every day as we care about our favorite celebrities. That’s good advice.

Which commandment do I find easiest to obey? I have no trouble not cooking a goat in its mother’s milk. I realize that some legalists have banned all dishes that mix dairy and meat because of the slim chance that one of the animals that provided the meat was the offspring of the cows or goats that were milked. No pizza with both meat and cheese. No cheeseburgers. No casseroles with both meat and dairy. I would struggle to accept those dietary restrictions, if I thought that’s what God intended, but Jesus and the apostles have declared all foods clean.

The original command probably banned a practice of Canaanite religion. The zeal of those who try to observe it in extreme ways today is admirable, but the freedom Christians have is beautiful. We do not have to worry about what we eat or what we drink or what we wear, aside from good stewardship of our bodies. It is easy to follow commandments that have already been fulfilled for us by the righteousness of Christ.

So, do I get the job? J.

 

Why nobody likes me

Mrs. Dim and I had a disagreement this weekend. I described it to Dwayne at City Hall as a difference of opinion; it could easily have been called a shouting match. I did not intend to shout at Mrs. Dim. In fact, I had not planned on speaking to her at all. When she began shouting insults at me, though, I found myself raising my voice to be heard.

This year Mrs. Dim is paying a young man to mow her yard (giving her more time, I guess, to play with her leaf blower). He had already mowed twice this year when I was not at home, and his mowing had taken him far across the property line into my bed of wildflowers. I was glad to be at home this time as he was working, so when he was ready to mow outside Mrs. Dim’s fence, I went over and introduced myself. “I’m J.,” I said, and “I’m Scott,” he answered, and we shook hands. I showed him where the corner of my property is—the surveyor’s stake is still there, pushed deep into the ground—and indicated the landmarks to follow that line to the other corner of Mrs. Dim’s yard. Scott was very attentive, and even after I went back inside he was careful to mow only to the line and not as far as he had mowed earlier this year.

Poor Scott, though, found himself in the middle of neighborly squabbling. Even before I had the chance to introduce myself, Mrs. Dim was already shouting, “Go back in your house, J.,” and, “A real Christian wouldn’t do what you’re doing, J.” She also shouted, “This is why nobody likes you, J.” She openly acknowledged that she had instructed Scott to cut my weeds. I tried to get Mrs. Dim to tell me what the word weed means—I was hoping to establish that a weed is an unwanted plant, so I could say that native wildflowers are not unwanted in my lawn, even if they are unwanted in hers. Instead, she only pointed at my wildflowers and shouted, “That’s a weed,” leading me to handle the daisy-like bloom gently and answer (in as loud a voice as hers, I regret to say), “This… is a flower.”

Scott handled the situation well, mowing along the property line and then over to Mrs. Dim’s fence. I went inside, hoping the problem was over for the time being. After Scott left, Mrs. Dim played her radio in her garage at top volume for about half an hour to show her displeasure—surprisingly childish behavior for a woman who is nearing seventy years old. I put on a Schubert CD and kept the windows closed and was able to survive her tantrum unharmed.

This morning I called City Hall to verify that I have the right to raise wildflowers on my property. I indicated that they are the same kind of wildflowers that the state’s highway department encourages along the highways. Dwayne said that, of course, I’m allowed to grow native wildflowers on my own property, although he was unwilling to put that statement into writing for me. Instead, he said that if my neighbor is coming onto my property and cutting down my plants, I should either call the police or hire an attorney.

I think I handled the situation as well as was possible for me. With my battles with anxiety, confrontations are difficult for me. Although she has not taken the time to get to know me, Mrs. Dim knew how to make her insults stick in my head. I have had to remind myself repeatedly that people do like me—at work, at church, where I teach, and lots of places. It’s only Mrs. Dim who doesn’t like me.

 

People have asked me why I don’t just talk to Mrs. Dim when I have a problem with her—when her prolonged leaf-blowing is getting on my nerves, for example. This episode, I think, verifies what I already suspected. Mrs. Dim cannot be approached calmly and reasonably. The better approach for both of us is for me to maintain a healthy distance. With any luck, someday soon she will relocate to a retirement community where they will let her play with the leaf blower as much as she wants, and I won’t know anything about it. J.

 

Compact Communities–a better way

The automobile killed the small town and the city neighborhood. Small local stores closed when people chose to driver farther so they could shop in bigger stores. Zoning laws effectively prohibited businesses from being interspersed with housing. I know of one medium-sized city where it seems that all the churches were built in a row along the highway, each with its own parking lot. New schools tend to be built out of town, while the old school buildings crumble. People drive for an hour to go to work and for an hour to drive home, even at the cost of ten hours a week spent in traffic and not with their families.
To reduce our dependence on cars, we need to change our way of living. We need to return to urban neighborhoods and small towns with homes and schools and stores and churches gathered together rather than widely distributed. This might sound like a program that only a large government department could initiate, regulate, and finance, but it is not. Aside from possible tax relief on the part of local governments, no government agency needs to be part of this change. In fact, some compact communities have already been established in the United States.
Begin with a few dozen families who want to exist and thrive without owning and operating automobiles. Find a company or two that needs a new facility—light manufacturing, perhaps, or administration of an on-line business. Find a town or an urban neighborhood needing to be revitalized. Some construction may be necessary to have the school and the stores and the churches centrally located. Most families would have an electric cart, like a golf cart, for times when walking is inconvenient (such as a shopping trip in town). Many families would own bicycles. The main employer might operate a small fleet of vans—either electric or run on natural gas—to bring workers to work and back home again. Many more jobs would be created in the school, in the stores, and in other public services.
Instead of a new and used car lot, a car rental agency or two could operate on the edge of town. When a family needed a car for a trip out of town, they would rent the car they needed. The rental agency would maintain the cars, providing a few more jobs. The town might need a few vehicles—a police car, a fire engine, an ambulance, a garbage truck—but the streets generally would be quiet. People walking or bicycling from place to place would greet each other, not with angry diatribes about the traffic but with pleasant exchanges.
I’m not suggesting that this town would become a utopia. Crime would still exist, and people would still do bad things to each other. Employment would not be guaranteed. Prices would fluctuate according to the national economy. Without the burden of cars and all their expenses, people would have more money to handle the hard times. They would also have more time to do what they wanted to do, without having to factor in a long drive to and from work.
In the twentieth century, retirement villages were designed and built with similar ideas of a compact community. Developers found investors who expected a return on their initial outlay. They would select a piece of land, build a model home or two, and invite potential customers to inspect the property. Those who were interested would buy a share in the company, and gradually the villages arose. Amenities were added as the population grew, because businesses want to be located where customers can find them.
The same kind of compact communities for working families can be funded in this way. It will not require government investment to make these towns happen; it will only require developers and investors who understand the dream and approve of it. Some corporations may take an interest in helping to get these towns built. WalMart probably would not be interested*, but Walgreens is known for its neighborhood stores. Lowes and Home Depot may not care about such towns, but Ace Hardware might want to be involved. Surely some restaurant chains would be interested in designing a store without a drive-through window or a parking lot. Urban hospitals might provide branch clinics for such compact towns and neighborhoods. I can imagine a large school district with elementary and high schools in each compact town or neighborhood, using twenty-first century technology to provide the kind of advanced and diverse classes that smaller school districts cannot afford.
These carless communities are not impossible, nor are they overly expensive to achieve. The result would be attractive, friendly communities, free from the cost and nuisance of cars. Let the investors know: “If you build it, they will come.” J.
* I have reconsidered WalMart. Since customers already order from WalMart online and pick up their deliveries at the nearest store, WalMart might consider sub-stores in compact communities, dedicated only to distribution of items ordered online.

Of weeds and wildflowers

Let’s start with some important definitions. A weed is a plant on your property that you do not want. It might be as small as a patch of moss or as big as an oak tree, but if you don’t want it, it is a weed.

A wildflower is a flowering plant that grows without being planted or tended by any person. Wildflowers grow in the wild, of course, but they also can grow on your property. If you like it and want to keep it, it is not a weed. It is a wildflower.

Obviously, one person’s wildflower is another person’s weed. Each person should be free to make up his or her own mind about the plants on his or her own property. Members of a household may need to negotiate with one another about weeds and wildflowers, but unless a neighborhood association or city council defines certain plants as weeds, the definitions can change at each property line.

I have neighbors whose lawns are nothing but carefully tended grass. They use chemicals to kill the broad-leaf weeds that they do not want, and they limit flowers to carefully nurtured plants and shrubs in carefully tended beds. They labor every fall to remove the leaves from their lawns nearly as quickly as the leaves fall, and in spring and summer they spend hours of each week mowing and trimming and edging their lawns.

My lawn does not look like their lawns. A few days after the last snow melts, tiny flowers appear across the lawn. I think they are called cinqfoils. Most of them are white, but some of them are pale pink and lavender. I love the spring cinqfoils, and the first time or two that I mow, I leave patches of them to continue blooming.

Before the cinqfoils have finished blooming, the violets are in bloom. I have allowed and encouraged violets to grow along the edges of the lawn, especially in front of the house. Other places where patches of violets are thick also are spared mowing until several weeks into spring weather.

Then while the violets are still blooming, some wild daisies (at least they look like daisies) emerge. Some years I have mowed them down, but when I realized what kind of plant they are, I decided to leave a bed of blossoms for them also. In fact, I might leave that patch of lawn unmowed into the summer to see what else appears there when the daisies are done.

White clover grows in the lawn. I like the clover because it fills the spots where the grass is thin. It also takes well to mowing. One summer a drought killed off much of our clover, but it is beginning to return, and I am delighted to see it grow.

I do not spare dandelions the way I spare violets and cinqfoils, but I also do not work hard to fight them. When I have time, I might dig out a few dandelion plants, but I am not going to start spraying to kill them, for fear that I will lose my other valued wildflowers.

I watch my neighbor as she works harder than a golf course manager to maintain a lawn that meets her standards. I know that she resents my wildflowers, because I know that to her they are all weeds. I would like to take her aside and say to her, “Mrs. Dim, were you never a little girl? Did you never look for four-leaf clovers, and when you found one you felt that you had good luck? Didn’t you used to love to blow the seeds of a dandelion into the air? Was there never a time when you picked violets or made a chain of daisies? Why would you want to deny your grandchildren the same simple pleasures? I hear you complain that they spend all their time on video games and electronic devices. But maybe, Mrs. Dim, just maybe they would take more interest in the outdoors if their outdoors were not so carefully managed and sanitized.”

Of course I will never have this conversation with my neighbor. She has every right to maintain her property the way she likes. But I feel sorry for her. She is missing so much fun and so much beauty by eliminating the wildflowers and all that they represent.

J.

The dog and Mrs. Dim

Here is my side of a conversation I would like to have, but probably never will have:

Good morning, Mrs. Dim. You know, we’ve been neighbors for several years now. One thing I’ve noticed all this time is that, when you let your dog outside, he comes out of the house barking, and you always scold him. I suppose you don’t want his barking to bother the neighbors. If so, I appreciate your concern; but, let me assure you, your dog’s barking is far from the most bothering sounds we hear coming from your property.

They say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I guess it’s probably true. I think your dog enjoys hearing his name every time he comes out of the house. It assures him that you like him and that you are paying attention to him. He barks, and then you bark back. Yes, it’s tough to train an animal, but one of you is well-trained. The other one is getting what he wants every time he goes outside.

I don’t expect this little conversation to change anything. I just wanted to let you know how I feel. Your dog’s barking doesn’t bother me in the least, so please don’t worry about it anymore.

Have a nice day, Mrs. Dim.

J.