Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Dish soap made me think of this topic , but I'll get to that a bit later.

I think the amount you get to know your neighbours is inversely proportional to the size of your building. In big condominiums it's hard to get to know neighbours, or on country houses with huge lots. In smaller buildings or houses close together, you really get to know people, for good or bad.

When I think of neighbours, I remember a variety, including:

  •  growing up as a child in a middle-aged to elderly suburb full of adult neighbours
  • living in the country later as a child, and the neighbours who would snowplow the street.
  • the cat-fighting duo across the hall from me in residence..
  • my first summer living out of residence with some roomates, we had some awful neighbours who caused a cockroach invasion next door, then moved out and left the critters to invade the apartment through the ductwork.
  • the friendly chain-smoker in my very sketchy Toronto lowrise building, who had lived there over twenty years and kept a good eye on things.
  • the not-so-friendly drug-dealing 'family business' at the apartment next door when we lived above a store in Uxbridge
  • The couple Jarod and I rented a basement apartment from when we were first married - two workers with the school board. They were both divorcees with 3 kids each, and later in life they met, married, and had another child. The little guy's costumes ("I'm wearing Spiderman to the pool!") were the best.

My next door neighbours have mostly been good ones. I like the idea of next-door neighbours, and I have several friends who have recently purchased properties and been glad to find mostly good next-door neighbours.

I haven't, often, though, had neighbours that I got to know well - especially in large buildings. Until I moved to Hamilton. When I moved to Hamilton, my next-door neighbour was Mats - a German Ph.D. student finishing up his doctorate (on particular ecological details of escarpments). He was quiet, worked hard, had the very occasional six-pack of beer or smoked a pipe outside with Jarod, and had a couple nice guitars.

Mats had to make a difficult choice between two jobs - one in New Zealand, or another in Ireland that would also hire his girlfriend, and was a bit closer to his family in Germany. He chose the latter.

Thankfully, my good friend Jacklyn had just become engaged, and was looking to move to a larger space in preparation for getting married - she moved in next door. And since Mats couldn't take his furniture with him, he left a lot of it for them, which worked out perfectly. And when Jacklyn's fiance Andrei needed to move out of his other place prematurely, we just so happened to have a spare bedroom available at our place.

So we've lucked out with our neighbours so far. Jacklyn moved in, Andrei lived in our spare bedroom until they got married, and then he had the long move next door.

And it's been great to have neighbours we're friends with too. Even with little details like parking spaces. We have a parking space for our car. Since we've sold it, we can share our parking space with our neighbours when either of us has a guest over that drives.

Have extra food? Made too much spaghetti sauce? Trying out a new coffee cake recipe? Your neighbour makes a readily available taste tester/leftovers recipient. And they like it. Everybody wins. (Dear Andrei. Thank you for perfecting your coffee cake recipe. We are happy to try any future refinements you make.)

If one of us goes out of town, the other can come by, feed the pets, get the mail, borrow a movie... Food is easy to share. Need a cup of sugar? The neighbour will probably have it? (Want to share some of the cinnamon rolls you just made? You have a neighbour next door who just lent you sugar...) The same for extension cords, Scotch tape, Scotch, screwdrivers, and a whole lot more. My neighbours are great.

Not to mention the upper deck isn't "this side" and "that side" when it comes to parties, it's easy to entertain twice as many.

And like everything else, you want to be considerate and thoughtful and set good boundaries, and if you're like me you're not always considerate, but thankfully I have forgiving neighbours who like food. It's worked out pretty well. And while sound's not much of an issue. Andrei told Jarod the other day that he heard him playing guitar, and applauded when he finished the song. (Jarod didn't hear him, unfortunately)

And a couple days ago when I was out of dish soap and the dish pile was getting higher and higher, and it was too late to go to the store.... they were away for the weekend, so I just borrowed theirs and bought them a replacement bottle when I was at the store next.

Good neighbours, good stuff all around.

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