As many of you doubtless know, I have become so insulted by the antics of our reigning city council that I decided that the only way to stop the insanity was to ….. become ONE OF THEM! Yikes – how low I have fallen.

But desperate times call for desperate measures.

No – I am not going to sit around and think of Innovative and ProActive ways to torture our already tortured citizenry. (Is that a word? – I hope Anonymous contacts and corrects me if I’m wrong. I am always open to constructive criticism.)

Anyway – I just got back from another trip to New Braunfels, and I saw so much that would be Verboten in Farmers Branch that I just had to talk about it: grassy cracks, peeling paint, unpainted <gasp> storage buildings, accessory buildings that were not architecturally compatible with the main building. Oh My. I just don’t know how that town can grow at all, what with all the partying, and decay, and blight. That is not upscale and desireable – Is It?

And it was all so lovely, and peaceful, and if it weren’t for all the tourists and gawkers and visitors spending money and clogging up the quaint shops and parks I could have walked around a lot more. But I digress, what I want to tell you about is my brother’s Market Street House.

My brother, Mike, and his wife live in Houston, but visit New Braunfels often. On one visit they found a lovely little house close to Landa Park (the place where New Braunfels holds its annual Wurstfest – beer drinking, German bands, sausage eating, and standing room only). Anyway, the house had been neglected, and Mike, being my brother, loves a DIY challenge. So he and his wife purchased the home and got to work renovating it. They plan to rent it out during the many many popular events that are held in Landa Park and surrounding areas all year around. The events that draw people from all over the world. Even Harley-Davidson owners, who are really very nice people in spite of the “Hell’s Angels” image from the ’50’s.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – “Snooooooze”. So I will get to the point.

The next door neighbors have a yard that the Farmers Branch Code Enforcement squad could spend days investigating. I’ll bet they could get every single one of their 8000+ violation notices written in that one yard. But I love looking at all the stuff there – the little plastic flowers, the interesting  but empty flower pots, the strings of lights, the whimsical little statues scattered around, the non-permitted (in the Branch) outdoor furniture, the wind chimes. I’ll bet there’s even a newspaper in the street in front of their house.  Oh my – how fun. The barking dogs sometimes bother me – but once they get used to your presence they find other things to occupy their little minds.

The yard is fun and amusing, but the best thing about these neighbors is that they watch my brother’s property like hawks. As my brother and wife live in Houston, they can only work on the house every other week. So it sits empty a lot. But those neighbors have Mike’s phone number and they call any time they see anyone there. I know – sometimes when I visit New Braunfels I stay in my brother’s house, and even though Mike tells them that I will be there they come and check me out anyway, then call him and verify. I don’t mind – I think that’s great – that is what caring neighbors do:  watch each other’s backs. Take care of each other. Help each other.

So – does Mike have his nose out of joint because  their yard is, uh, busy? Does he worry about his property value diminishing because they have more than 5 decorative items in their front yard? Heck no. He knows that nothing bad will happen to his property on their watch. And he can still rent his little house out for a tidy sum.  And, junk aficionado as I am, I love to gaze over there.  It makes me think that they are lively, vibrant people with personality. It makes me smile.

I know that other people feel this way, as a reader sent this poem. He suggested that you listen to the Garrison Keillor reading, and I imagine that would be great. But I have a lively imagination, so I’ll pretend that Mr. Keillor is reading this.

Plastic Beatitude

by Laure-Anne Bosselaar

<!– (from The Hour Between Dog and Wolf) –>

Our neighbors, the Pazzotis, live in a long
narrow canary-yellow house with Mrs. Pazzotti’s old
father, their 2 daughters, their husbands, 4 kids,
a tortoise-shell cat and a white poodle.
Their yard is my childhood dream: toys,
bicycles, tubs, bird cages, barbeques, planters, pails, tools
and garden sculptures: an orange squirrel eating a nut,
Mickey Mouse pushing a wheelbarrow, St. Joseph
carrying a lantern, his other blessing hand
broken at the wrist, and two tea-sipping toads
in an S-shaped love seat, smiling at each other
under a polka-dotted parasol.
On the yellow railing around the deck,
a procession of nine pinwheels. This May morning,
they thrash the air with each breeze like clumsy
angels nailed to their posts. On the garage wall
at the end of the yard an electric cord
shoots up to the roof. One half connects to a blue
neon insect electrocuter, the other half snakes to, then
disappears into a pedestal cemented on the cornice.
And there she stands, in plastic
beatitude—and six feet of it—the Madonna,
in her white robe and blue cape, arms
outstretched, blessing the Pazottis, their yard
and neighbors, lit from within day and night,
calling God’s little insects to her shining light,
before sending them straight to the zapper—tiny buzzing heretics
fried by the same power that lured them
to their last temptation.

“Plastic Beatitude” by Laure-Anne Bosselaar, from The Hour Between Dog and Wolf. © BOA Editions, Ltd, 1997. Reprinted with permission.