They say silence is golden. However if you write a blog, not so much. If you are following my blog you will notice a new and hopefully improved look, not to mention a new name. So really, I have my excuses. All my previous blogs are now in categories which you can access by hovering over the blog heading above. I hope you like the new look and thanks for sticking with me.
At some point in our lives most of us have experienced the neighbor from hell. I have been meaning to write these stories for a long time and I hope you enjoy my first one. I am calling them “The Joan Stories.”
The Wedding Dress
It was a rainy Sunday afternoon at the end of February 1987 that we first saw what was to become our home. Larkspur, CA at that time was a sleepy undiscovered small town in Marin County. My how times have changed! Now it’s one of the most “chi chi” and expensive places to live in the Bay Area.
It was no ordinary place we stopped in front of that day with our realtor and two small children. A Chinese Tea House made a formidable entry, as did the Moon Gate to the right of that. We went through the Gate searching for the front door. No one answered our knock, so our realtor opened the lock box and in we went. It was dark and a bit spooky. The house was rented to 12 Rock Musicians and even though it was 3 PM, no one was out of bed. We walked into an enormous living room with a huge brick fireplace and ceilings at least 20’ high. There were blue Christmas lights strung up all over the beams which had been painted black. We pulled open the curtains to reveal three sets of sliding doors onto a large veranda. We walked outside and fell in love. We were caught up in the magic of the place. The Teahouse, cypress trees surrounding a tiled reflecting pool, a greenhouse (which turned out to have someone living in it), a stone fireplace next to a hot tub and finally in back on the hillside, a small Chinese gazebo.
Tom and I didn’t say much to each other but went back inside where by this time our realtor had aroused one of the tenants. We went into his bedroom—dark with a mirrored ceiling, peeling grass cloth and kicked in wood paneling along one wall. The bathroom was painted black and dirty dishes were piled in the sink. We backed out of the room and knocked on another door. A dog growled. We never saw that bedroom until we bought the house. The kitchen had orange shag carpeting, orange wallpaper, rusted old appliances and a stuffed Iguana in the refrigerator.
We left, looked at each other and said YES!
We had a lot of work to do before we could move in by June 1st and spent most of our weekends working on the bedrooms, especially the kid’s rooms so those would at least be livable. On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in May, Tom and I were there working in the living room when we heard a voice outside.
“Neighbor, oh neighbor!”
Tom went out onto the deck. Coming up the steps was a woman who looked to be in her mid-50’s with reddish brown hair tied back with a satin feathered headband. She was wearing an old wedding dress.
“Hi neighbor, I’m Joan and I live in the house right above you.”
Our house had once been a summer estate for a wealthy San Francisco family and the house Joan was talking about had been the Grandparent’s and was indeed right on top of us on the other side.
“Don’t mind me, just go back to what you’re doing. I’ve hired a photographer I met at the Silver Peso (the local biker bar downtown). I convinced him to come take pictures of me in my wedding dress. I told him to come here as this is the perfect place for the pictures, you have such a big room, and I won’t be bothering you!”
Joan proceeded to twirl about the place and as she twirled you could see the panel sewn into the back of the dress to make it fit. Sure enough we heard a motorcycle roaring up the street and stopping at the house. It was the photographer looking a lot like a Hell’s Angel.
“Up here! I’m up here” yelled Joan.
“Oh neighbor, did you know I am going to Japan to teach Japanese businessmen how to dance? They don’t know how to dance over there and I am going to teach them.”
When Joan was satisfied with the number of pictures he took, she promised to give us some and the two of them swept away.
That was our introduction to Joan. Who was this woman? Was this a one time thing or the start of something else entirely.
Obviously it was just the beginning as I have several other stories. Are you willing to tell me about your worst neighbor?