Thursday, May 2, 2013

Weird News

May 2, 2013. The Royals are in 1st place. It's snowing. And we are completely caught up on work in my office. Either the world is coming to an end, or the stars are aligned. My boss is going to buy a lottery ticket in hopes it's the latter.

In other weird news, we had decided to sell our house before it completely collapses. There was a passionate, irrational debate about it in which DH swore he wouldn't sink another $40k into this money pit, and I cried about leaving our neighbors and walking distance to 4 parks, the school, our church and the library. And reliving the nightmare of moving 4 years ago when I was pregnant with Baby R. (This is one of the first posts that leads up to that story.) We called a realtor, signed the paperwork, and then DH decided we were going to lose all our equity and be lucky to break even. Which was exactly what I had told him at the beginning. :)

So we're staying. Which I'm happy about. Except that our crazy neighbor is at it again. (You may recall my Turf War post from last year.) The most recent issue we've had is that she built a fence along our property line in the fall. No one on our side of the block had a fence from our place to four houses down on the corner. Our visual backyard was the size of a football field. Granted, it wasn't all ours to play in, but it was a nice open space in the middle of the suburbs. It wasn't ours to keep open, but it was definitely disappointing to see it built.

But not wanting it there isn't the issue. The problem is that our understanding of where our property line was turned out to be wrong. By 2-3 feet. Thankfully DH built our raised garden beds 3 feet off the property line, but now her fence is an inch or two from them. Which is a huge pain in the butt since two of the beds along the fence are 8' - 10' long, so it's hard for us to get to everything. But we didn't plant anything this year anyway since we thought we were moving. And because the coating on her fence seems to be potentially hazardous, per the following email from another neighbor who had looked up the chemicals the fence company told her were used on it:

Don’t want to scare you…but that fence does seem to be somewhat of a health hazard…especially to pregnant people.
Here are some of the things I read today.  The possibility of the chemical washing off into your garden does seem possible. 
The lady at Guier fence said that it was unusual that the fence still had that strong of an odor.  She said it was not toxic…and that there was not anything that could be done about the smell. 
Wish we could make her take it down!  

Treated with copper naphthenate.  These chemicals all have serious a adverse impacts on human health and the environment.

The oil-based wood preservatives, pentachlorophenol, creosote, and copper naphthenate are all easily absorbed through the skin, as well as through inhalation. The arsenicals are less easily absorbed through the skin, but are readily absorbed by inhalation of dusts or smoke from burning treated wood. Children may ingest all of the chemicals in soil contaminated by leaching from poles.

Wood preservatives are known to cause a variety of chronic health effects, though copper naphthenate is mostly untested. Some of the known health effects are:
·         Impair the immune system: creosote, penta, arsenicals.
·         Interfere with reproduction: creosote, arsenicals, penta.
·         Cause birth defects: penta, arsenicals.
·         Cause cancer (EPA's cancer classification): creosote (B1 - probable human carcinogen), penta (B2 - probable human carcinogen), arsenicals (A-known human carcinogen).
·         Cause genetic mutations: arsenicals, penta, creosote, copper naphthenate.
·         Interfere with hormone function: penta, creosote.
Reproductive Toxicity and Teratogenicity Chemicals may interfere with reproduction in different ways-by causing infertility, death of the fetus (fetotoxicity), low birth weights, or birth defects. Creosote, penta, and the arsenicals all interfere with reproduction, and/or cause birth defects.

Leaching potential and environmental fate Studies on the movement of wood preservatives from poles have found that they move from poles into soil and from the soil into aquatic ecosystems. The mechanisms by which the various chemicals move are different. Some of the materials are water soluble and are transported as dissolved salts. Others are adsorbed onto soil particles and are carried into streams as suspended particles in heavy rainfall. Once in an aquatic setting, the soil particles provide a steady source of contaminant.

So needless to say, we're not happy about the fence to begin with. The coup de grace happened this past Sunday. 

DH's 40th birthday was Tuesday, so Sunday night we had about 30 people over, and I made shishkabobs, corn on the cob, baked potatoes and cupcakes - yum! It was fun. Until our neighbor started walking through our yard with her dog and banging on our side of her fence with a hammer (which she does from time to time, even though it's been there less than 6 months and is in perfect condition). We were clearly having a party; people were sitting on the back porch and kids were playing in the yard. Not the time for trespassing and needless hammering.

Then she walked up to the patio door and called to DH inside and asked him to come talk to her for a minute. During this time she told him that she wanted to have her fence stained so she needed him to move the raised garden beds so the painters could get to the fence. He told her no, and she didn't understand why he wouldn't do it since he's moved them before. He told her he's never moved them. She left in a huff.

So Monday we get home from work and there's a message on our answering machine. She says she doesn't know what she did to piss us off, but she doesn't understand why we won't just move the garden beds, and she's mad that he blatantly lied to her about not having moved them before.

Um, people? I have photographic evidence that the garden beds are in the same place they've always been. Exhibit A:

This was taken the first summer we had the gardens. The red line I drew to show where we thought the property line was. The reason we thought it was there is because behind where I was standing to take the photo is an electrical box that is the corner of our yard. The red line is a straight line down the middle of our houses back to the box. You can see that it's a few feet from the edge of the gardens.

When our neighbor had her yard surveyed to put the fence up, we found out that the edge of our property is actually where the white line is, and it does a funky curve at the back to incorporate the electrical box. 

Why she thinks we moved them and where she thinks we moved them from, I have no idea. Do you realize how long it took DH to build those? And how much time and effort it would take to move them? If we had moved them, she would have seen him working on it for days. Not to mention the enormous section of our yard that would be a big dirt spot. And when did this move supposedly take place?

But the real question is, why does she care if our side of the fence gets stained? She can't see it. If we lived in a subdivision where everyone had fences, she wouldn't even be able to get to our side.

That's not even getting to the petty points of not wanting to do it because she was rude and crashed our party for this conversation. Or that she could have built the fence back to the electrical box instead of on the property line in the first place. Until she had it surveyed, she didn't know that section was hers anyway. Our yards are huge! Neither of us needs that strip of land. If we had built a fence, we would have kept it straight back simply out of common courtesy. If we didn't have garden beds there, I wouldn't care that she put the fence where it is now. It's all ridiculous. Hopefully she'll forget about it and let it go. I'm not going to get into a fight with her over it.
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