A few years ago, we had a slight “sinkhole activity” issue at the house and Joan, the neighborhood HOA Nazi, just couldn't stand it. When a house in Florida has sinkhole activity, its recorded in Public Records. Insurance companies keep track of that and when there's sinkhole activity in a given neighborhood, they make you pay more to keep the coverage you bought even if you aren't the house with the problem. When the Nazi's insurance company told her that she'd have to pay more to keep full coverage, she looked up sinkholes on the internet, crowned herself an expert and decided that we had created our own sinkhole problem by over-use of our sprinkler system. That made it our fault that she had to pay extra for sinkhole coverage. Never mind that we don't have a sprinkler system. Minutiae like that only cloud the issue.
She came over one day while I was out and started her passive-aggressive whining and bitching but I happened to get home before she left. I told her that I put more faith in the geologist that said the sinkhole had been there dormant at least ten thousand years and had just been reactivated by stresses on the bedrock that came from a thousand or so houses that sprang up within a few blocks to a couple of miles from us during the mid 2000s real estate boom. She didn't even know what an alluvial sinkhole is. Some expert.
She smiled her Jezebel grin, thanked me for the information, went home and called the HOA to set her plan for revenge in motion.
The thing with sinkhole activity is that fixing it takes time. Each case is different but it generally involves injecting “grout,” which I can't tell apart from mortar, into the voids in the ground to recompact the soil under the house and give the steel pins that they put under the house something solid to bear on.
Injecting the grout takes a week or two and then it has to cure for a month before the pins can be driven into place so the whole process takes about two months even if all goes according to plan.
Joan is one of those people to which nothing ever just happens. Whenever something unfavorable happens to her, its because someone did it to her. Besides us causing her to pay more for sinkhole insurance through over use of our imaginary sprinkler system, she was also torqued because she had to buy flood insurance for the first time since moving to the neighborhood back around 1990. She had not figured out how to blame that on me but she was convinced that someone had singled her out, lied to her mortgage holder and make them think she needed flood insurance. Never mind that FEMA had just updated the County's Flood Insurance Rate Maps and expanded pretty much every flood zone to include lots more properties. Never mind that it had been in the papers for over two years as the County fought FEMA over it. Never mind that half of her house was in the flood zone on the new map. That's just more irrelevant minutiae. In her case, somebody specific had singled her out, gotten her mortgage holder's information and lied to them about her and her alone. She couldn't figure out who to strike back against on the flood inurance trouble but she darned sure knew who made her insurance go up.
Joan is just fine with a porta-potty in the front yard of a house under construction for three or four months because those people never did anything to her. She couldn't stand one in our yard for two or three months because, in her warped little mind, we caused her sinkhole coverage to go up with our imaginary sprinkler system.
One day, about a week after running her off the front porch through the use of actual facts, my contractor happened to mention getting a call from the HOA asking whether he could move the porta-potty to the back yard. He said he told them he'd be glad to as soon as they posted a ten thousand dollar bond. Somewhat taken aback, they asked what the bond was about and he explained to them that the truck that services the pota potty weighs about sixty-thousand pounds and would destroy my concrete driveway if it had to go to the back yard. My insurance company would naturally expect the HOA to reimburse them the cost of the new driveway since there's nothing in our deed restrictions that says I can't have a porta-potty in my front yard when people are repairing the house. (By law, facilities for #1 and #2 have to be available for the workers). That was the end of that conversation.
A couple of weeks later, I was down at the HOA office paying my dues and thanked them for working with me on the porta potty issue. I told them that I didn't understand why it had been an issue when porta-potties stay in other people's front yards a lot longer than that one was in mine. That's when they told me “Oh, that was just Joan.” It seems that she's constantly bitching about something and they are constantly having to make calls and report back to her about why they can't make someone bend to her will. That was her idea to get me back for "causing" her insurance coverage to go up. She tried to get the HOA to force me to move the porta-potty. Some folks are just sick.
So I got to thinking about poor little old Joan. While contemplating something I once read about praying for people that spitefully use you, I realized that the other thing that she constantly does besides bitch is preen her yard. She will spend days in a floppy hat, long sleeve shirt, long pants, boots and gloves, sitting on a tiny stool in 96 degree heat and close to 100% humidity plucking little weed spouts out of her yard. As I thought about the tragedy of a life spent doing nothing but being a plucking bitch, I got to thinking that if she had more weeds to pluck she might have less time to bitch and might even actually make a friend or two. It was a tall order but if you're gonna dream, you might as well dream big.
Unfortunately, nobody in my town sells weed seeds. Its like folks expect weeds to just volunteer. Here I had a plan that was going to give Joan something constructive to do, make her be nice to the neighbors and maybe even enable her to make some friends but I had no
weapon, I mean, no means to give her the gift
that was going to make it all happen.
So I got to looking at what weeds grow around here and there's one that, when its small, looks for all the world like a small turnip plant.
I have a buddy with a farm about three counties over and asked him to get me a pound of turnip seeds and to make sure he paid cash. He asked me if I knew how many seeds that would be. I admitted that I did not but allowed that it would probably be several thousand and, if it wasn't at least several thousand could he get me two pounds? A week or so later I had a paper sack with a pound of Purple Top turnip seeds.
If you aren't familiar with turnip seeds, they ain't real big. Maybe like #4 or #6 bird shot. They don't weigh much either. A pound of them is about as big as a good sized baking potato. Its more than a few seeds.
Not having a spiteful bone in my body and confident that purity of my motives would carry the day, I proudly showed the bag to The Lovely Bride.
“Why do we need a pound of turnip seeds?”
I explained that I was turning the other cheek, being a good neighbor and giving Joan something to do that she enjoyed immensely. I explained that it could end up changing the woman's whole outlook on life. Before I was done with all the explaining, I was practically the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future all rolled into one.
My own wife doubted my veracity.
She said something about Proverbs 24:8, vengeance belonging to God, dieing by the sword, that we are supposed to pray for our enemies and stuff like that. By the time she got done, I didn't know whether to wait for the collection plate or an
altar call. I put up a spirited defense. I had prayed and this was the answer that I got. I said that Joan wouldn't be an enemy if she had something constructive to do. Besides, it was turnips. I wasn't even taking a sword.
Might as well have been talking to the wall.
After three or four days of intransigence on her part, I finally called off the whole operation. I figured that if I couldn't convince my own wife that my motives were pure, I probably couldn't convince a jury.
I've kept my pound of turnip seeds in my reloading room ever since. Every now an then I take them out and dream of what might have been. How Joan would probably have friends and be happy if only I had been allowed to intervene. I sometimes wonder if, at my final reward, I'll be required to answer for the sin of not sowing thousands upon thousands of turnip seeds in her yard to give her one last chance at happiness in her declining years. Then I force myself to move on. No sense in wondering what might have been. We can't change the past. We can only ask for forgiveness.
Besides, the seeds probably won't even germinate anymore.
For the past couple of years, I've had a bunch of young coonties growing in one of those plastic trays that you buy at Hoes or Lowm Depot for mixing individual bags of mortar. A month or two ago, I transplanted them to a flower bed by the driveway. I got to thinking about what to do with the tray and decided see if my turnip seeds were still good.
I filled the tray back up with soil and made a couple of grooves in it. I sprinkled maybe a teaspoon of turnip seeds into each groove and covered them up. A little water and a few days later, turnips started popping up. These seem to be a self-culling variety. At the start, I had about forty little turnip sprouts going but all but five died before growing their first real leaves. Those five have thrived.
So now I have five healthy turnip plants and they will make a nice little pot of greens. I also still have about 0.9999 pound of turnip seeds left.
Sowing and reaping.
I am blessed just for being willing to help my neighbor.
I happen to like turnips.