Tag Archives: neighborhood

Bad Dick!

We call our next door neighbor Richard Cranium because we don’t want the kids to pick up on “Dick Head.”

I gave up on killing him with kindness about 5 years ago. When I moved in with Brian, I said, “I’m going to make that guy be friendly with us!” I had heard horror stories over the years about how awful this guy was.

10 years later, 4 failed attempts at mediation (he refuses), a police report we filed for harassment & trespassing.

We called the police several years ago because he had dumped a bunch of hedge clippings in our yard. Brian went over and told him to clean it up, to which Richard Cranium replied, “Fuck off!”

We called Resolutions Northwest to seek mediation, and every time we saw him outside, we’d ask him when he was going to come clean up his mess. Finally, after nearly a month, I got so fed up with the mess that I cleaned up the clippings and dumped them on his grass. We came home later that day and he had neatly piled all the yard debris back in our yard, in the middle of our path, about 8′ in from the sidewalk. I called the Police non-emergency line (503-823-3333 in Portland, btw) and asked, “At what point is this harassment and trespassing?” To which the operator replied, “Right about now. We’ll send an officer over.”

The police officer warned him about trespassing, and actually made him clean up the yard debris:

Cleaning up his mess under police supervision, circa 2008

Every time he attacks us, it ends up biting him in the ass. Seriously, when he complained to the city about our retaining wall, nearly every other neighbor on the block had to replace their sidewalks, including him. Once he sent a threatening letter (on his law firm letterhead, trying to be extra-intimidating!) about how he would remove our retaining wall because it was 5″ over the property line. He implied that a survey had been taken, so we demanded to see the survey. A few days later, a survey crew was out there, and it turns out his fence was actually over the property line on OUR side!

So why does he keep coming after us when it always turns out badly for him? Definition of insanity?

He’s definitely escalating lately. Last week he was raking his leaves into the street in front of our house when I arrived home. I was staring at him, trying to decide if it was worth confronting him, when he called me a bitch! Right there in front of my children! We called the police, but they said it was free speech. Seriously, in front of my children? So Brian told him to stop trying to bully us, and we called Resolutions Northwest again.

Today is leaf removal day, when the city sweeps the streets. We parked our cars directly in front of our house, because we were worried that he’d park his car in front of our house, preventing our leaves from being removed. Instead, he used his leaf blower to blow the leaves out of his yard into ours:

He blew them out from under his boxwood bushes, after Brian spent most of the afternoon yesterday clearing all the leaves out of our yard.

Brian went out and confronted him:

BRIAN: “Hey, why are blowing your leaves in my yard?”

RICHARD CRANIUM: “Hey Dumb Shit, how’s it hanging?”

B: “Stop blowing your leaves in my yard.”

RC: “Why don’t you blow me?”

B: “I think you’d like that.”

RC: “Maybe I would, why don’t come try it?”

B: “Why don’t you just stop trying to be a bully?”

RC: “Well you’re a dumbshit.”

B: “Maybe I am. But you’re a bully. So stop it.”

We both agreed that confrontation got weird in a hurry. How’s it hanging? Come blow me?

Brian came in, and we decided to call the police non-emergency line again. We are concerned that he seems to be escalating, and clearly attempting to provoke a physical confrontation.

RC looked up and saw me on the phone, so he cleared up most of the leaves from the sidewalk and quickly sped away in his car.

He left just enough to be annoying. Jackass. Of course all the leaves he blew in the yard are still there.

The police offered to send an officer over to talk with us, but we decided to just try mediation again. I don’t know why I worry about seeming like I’m over-reacting. It just seems to petty to call the cops over a leaf incident. But this isn’t just about the leaves. This is about RC’s ongoing harassment of us. His attempts at intimidation.

But other than yelling at him, calling the cops and seeking mediation, there’s not a whole lot we can do. He WANTS Brian to attack him physically. He’s purposefully trying to bully us and provoke a physical confrontation, and we won’t give him the pleasure. He always tries to intimidate me, saying, “I’m a lawyer, and I can destroy you.” Well we’re not lawyers, but we’re not stupid either. So we document. And we try for mediation. And we hope this all goes away soon.


Filed under Home

Nothing Could Stop This Block Party

It’s startling to me that one week ago, I sat here in my living room planning out my day thinking it involved the Hollywood Farmers Market and then a block party. My plans certainly didn’t involve my little son being hit by a car on the way to the farmers market. The block party was a welcome distraction after our unbelievable trauma that morning.

I live in the best neighborhood, and sometimes it feels like every weekend is an organic block party. It’s BLISSFUL, and I mean BLISS. FULL. to walk outside and find neighbors and friends, and let the kids play while the adults catch up on life’s little whatevers. Sometimes you’ll find the kids sitting on blankets doing art projects, sometimes¬† riding their bikes & scooters up and down the sidewalk past the other kids drawing with chalk. Often, faces are painted or the many nail polish colors are out. Always, it’s a good time.

But when it comes time to throw an actual block party, we mean business.

We have a bounce house...

We invite the firemen!

We have a police officer!

We have a potluck...

and it was good

We even had a movie in the middle of the street!

...and popcorn! We rented a machine from the bounce house people.

We have a loosely-formed and ever-expanding group of Mommies On The Block or MOTBs, who plan the party. The first year, there were 8 of us and we all agreed on a amount that we would each be willing to throw in, $50. We put out a donation box for the rest of the neighbors, and after counting up the donations we divide the rest between us. We each end up spending between $25-35 each year, which is awesome for such a fun party.

We block off the street several hours in advance of the party, to give everyone a chance to move their cars and start getting their stuff out. The kids go crazy knowing they can ride their bikes IN THE STREET! Who knew the street was so much fun?

The trick to throwing a block party in Portland is to get a permit from the city, which also provides you some insurance through the neighborhood association. There is a small fee to pay, and your party is insured. Event planner’s dream come true, I don’t mind saying. You get every neighbor to sign a petition agreeing to the street being closed, then turn everything (petition and event application and street closure application) in to your particular neighborhood association with the fee. The association forwards it to the city, who issues the actual permit. Whew! But worth it to have the insurance. And oh yeah, and to make it legal!

Once you have a permit, you can arrange for barricades to block off the street. They run about $45, and we got them at American Barricade on Columbia Blvd in Portland.

So… speaking of permits…. Our A-hole neighbor whom we like to call “Richard Cranium” because we don’t want the kids to pick up on “Dick Head” decided to try to ruin the block party. Fortunately for me, he had been out of town so I hadn’t able to get his signature on the petition (I was just grateful that I didn’t have to ask him for anything). We know he knew about the party, though, because of the awesome flyer painted by the kids last year and updated for this year.

Regardless of this killer flyer, he obviously thought we hadn’t gotten the permit because… wait for it…


Can you even believe such a-holiness? It didn’t work, of course. The officer showed up and started handing out “Junior Crime Fighter” stickers to all the kids, and posing for pictures and flashing his lights. It was only as he started to leave, when we thanked him for making time to come, that he revealed that Richard Cranium had called to complain.

Actually, Officer Friendly called Richard Cranium “Mr. Whiny Face.” Sweet, sweet justice.

I sure wish Mr. Whiny Face would stop being a Richard Cranium. But we won’t let it ruin our BEST NEIGHBORHOOD EVER. We’ve got a great thing going, block party or no!



Filed under Family, Home

Future Trouble ‘Round Here {Wordless Wednesday}

Those juice boxes could be beers before we know it.


Filed under Family

Backyard Movie Theater!

My neighbors had a brilliant idea! We all went in on a projector & giant screen so the kids can watch movies in the backyard. When I tell people we’re watching a movie in the backyard, the response is usually, “What movie?” I say, “Who cares? We’re watching it in a backyard!”

It took a bit of finagling to figure out all the cords and speaker wires. It was certainly a group effort, but it paid off.

The screen is 8’x8′, and good for either rear or front projection. My next door neighbor found it on Craig’s List and drove 2 hours each way to pick it up.


First movie attempt: Yogi Bear. Snooze. We lasted about 20 minutes before we all agreed it was boring.

Once it got a bit dark, the movie looked awesome. Turns out the choice of movie did matter after all. We quickly abandoned Yogi Bear in favor of Gnomeo & Juliet. Of course with stopping one movie and starting a new one, we didn’t finish the movie until 10ish, and the kids were definitely hitting the wall as we packed up. Packing up only took about 5 minutes, btw.


Gnomeo & Juliet was a hit with the kids, and had enough grown-up jokes to keep us entertained as well.


Projector: $250

Giant screen: $150

Speakers & receiver: dug out of neighbors’ garage

Miscellaneous cords & cables: $50

*Watching movies in the backyard with neighbors all summer (and summers to come!): priceless

Happy Summer,

*Several families went in on this together, which made it doable


Filed under Family, Home