Sunday, February 18, 2018

Art Show

Hey there, Friends.

You might recall that last year, right about this same time, there was an art exhibit that featured the talents of the library district's staff. Don't remember? Feel free to click right here for a recap.

Last year I really had no idea what I was doing, or what to submit. You were all kind enough to give me some feedback, and I narrowed down my choices from there.

I still don't really know what I'm doing. I like taking pictures. It's a hobby. I don't expect to make any money from it. I have no idea how artists determine which works to show in an exhibit, or what to call them, or what price to list. My only goal is not to come off sounding like a pretentious ass.

I wanted to be a little more focused this year, or at last give the pictures some sort of unifying theme. I decided that I would only use pictures that I had taken at the Boardman Road Branch Library over the course of the last year. I could call the series Boardman Views and not worry about coming up with individual names. Offers accepted for the price. I'll be amazed if I get any, but that's not really the point.

I narrowed it down to twelve that I had taken that I really liked. I showed that group to my parents and had them choose a final five. I'm not impartial. I love them all.

Without further ado, here are my contributions to this year's staff art exhibit.

My little part of the exhibit

Turkey out for a stroll on a snowy day

What's the story, Morning Glory?

Butterfly in the garden

Mushroom near the parking lot

Snowy view

Thursday, January 11, 2018

In Case You Haven't Noticed, I'm Awkward

Hey, Friends.

Ever had one of those nights where you just cannot get to sleep? That was me last night. Oh, I tried distracting myself -- reading, watching television. Nothing was working. I tried listening to some music. That helped somewhat, but instead of drifting away into peaceful slumber I wound up in that place of sleepy introspection. You know that place -- when your brain starts to ponder and dwell on things, and you cannot figure out how you got on this train of thought but now you're kind of stuck in this inescapable loop of navel gazing and self analysis. It's not a bad thing, but it kind of makes you want to punch your brain and ask why you have to do this now when you just want to get some damn sleep.

Last night my brain decided that it would be super fun to lay there, half asleep, and dredge up a memory from ages ago that I hadn't thought about in years and use it as a platform to to go over all the ways I am a socially awkward human being. Oh yeah.

I fully admit to being awkward in social situations. I know this. I'm much more of an introvert than people may believe.

For some reason it never bothers me at work. I can talk to the patrons with no problem whatsoever. Part of that is that I have been there long enough that I know what I'm doing and it has to be something truly weird to stump me. I know part of it is also that I have on my "work mode" hat, and I know that dealing with  the public is a large part of my job. It's not that I don't like people. I love people. It can just be very draining at times, and sometimes I just want to go home and not see another person for a while. I need to recharge a bit.

It's definitely when it comes to being social that I tend to get fucking awkward.

As odd as it may seem, I kind of prefer being in a large group and not knowing anyone. Seems like it should be the opposite, right? I'm fine with the introductions, chit chat and small talk. In a large group odds are there will be someone there who is much more outgoing and charismatic, who will draw people in and keep the conversations going. I'm perfectly happy to hang back and let them do the talking, join in if I have something relevant to say after getting more of a feel for the group. I'm not saying it always works well. Sometimes the person dominating the conversation turns out to be a total self-absorbed tool. That's my time to wander off and find another conversation, or see if a side conversation sparks off with other people who are getting the same vibes.

I'm much worse in small groups. There's not as much chance to hang back. There is more pressure to feel like I have to say something to ward off one of those uncomfortable silences when everyone just stands there looking at each other. I know it's not my duty to carry the conversation or anything, but I end up feeling like I have to say something. I guess that makes me a nervous talker as well. I don't want people to be uncomfortable or have a shitty time, so I will just babble to fill the void, hoping someone else joins in.

I'm both better and worse one on one. I like to think that my social awkwardness just makes me complex, but I'm sure I also come off as a hot mess. All evidence in this post to the contrary, I suck at talking about myself. Give me any other topic to talk about and I'll be much better. Ask me direct questions and I'm more than happy to answer, but my brain will literally draw a blank if you start with some random, "So, tell me about yourself," nonsense. I will not be able to come up with a single interesting thing to say beyond my name and where I work. How I wish I was kidding. Happens all of the damn time. It's like I suffer mass amnesia on all other facts about myself -- hobbies, goals, dreams. Nope. All gone.

But wait, Friends, it gets even better!

If I actually get the chance to meet someone I admire? Guaranteed that I'm going to be a mess. I like to think part of it is just me being starstruck. I don't know about you, but I don't often get to meet people whose work I have admired for years, most particularly in a one-on-one scenario. I try to talk myself into a place of calm, give myself pep talks: remind myself that he or she is just a person, just tell them I love their work or why it has struck such a chord. I can do this. I could write essays about this shit, so just gather up some of those words and use them. Never works.

That exact situation is what my brain had decided to ruminate on last night. I'm going to keep it vague, but several years ago I had a chance to meet an author whose books I loved. Did I tell him that I loved his latest book? No. Did I find the words to describe how much I liked a certain passage he had written. Nope. What did I say? I told him that he smelled really good. He laughed and said it was one of the nicer things someone had said to him. I was mortified. Why in the name of all that is holy had that decided to pop out of my mouth?! I mean, it was totally true, but damn. I really wished that I had just stayed in my silent mode rather than blurt out the first ridiculous thing that popped into my head.

Why am I sharing all of this with you, Friends? Well, consider it fair warning if we ever meet -- especially if you are someone I admire. I'm almost certain to make that go horribly wrong in some manner. I promise I'm much better with basically anyone know, as long as you don't ask me to tell you all about myself.

I'm also hoping that by writing this all out my brain has finished sorting through all of this nonsense and I will be able to just drift off to sleep tonight with picking up where I left off last night. This could also backfire completely and be utmost in my mind because I just wrote about it. I'll find out one way or the other pretty soon. I know I get shy and weird. I don't like being the center of attention. I have accepted the fact that I'm very awkward at times. I just want to be able to get some sleep and not dwell on it tonight.

Kudos to you if you made it to the end of this rambling. Give yourself a cookie or something as a reward.

And no, we're even going to go into dating. I'm actually pretty good on a date. Before that? Not so much. The guy cannot be subtle about it if he is interested. I will not even remotely pick up on it. I just assume he is being nice and friendly. The fact that he might be flirting doesn't even register. So yeah -- still awkward.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Rest In Peace, Wiz

Hey, Friends.

Sad news to report today. My oldest cat, Wiz, passed away this afternoon. You might recall having seen a picture of her wearing her jaunty Easter chapeau at some point.

Easter Wiz

She was very mellow, and always down for wearing a costume, even if she didn't look terribly amused about it.

If you want to be technical about it, she was my brother's cat. She opted not to make the move to Texas with his family a few years ago. By that I mean she hid in their house in an unreachable place until three days after they had left, then she finally came out.

Wiz came to live with me when I bought my house about 7 years ago. She was here when I adopted Jazz-kitty, and she made it very clear that she was the one in charge. Most of the time Wiz ignored Jazzy, sometimes she would give Jazz-kitty a smack just for existing, but they would huddle together if something scary happened - like a loud noise, or anyone they considered "stranger danger" to be in the house. For the most part they got along just fine, like regular siblings.

Can't leave if you can't get to your suitcase

Wiz never was big on traveling, and she never wanted me to go anywhere either. She knew what the suitcase meant and would camp herself on top of it to try to deter me from leaving.

This is my rug.

One of her favorite things to do was to lay on her rug on the front porch. She got all the benefits of hearing and smelling the exciting things outdoors without actually having to go out there. Each autumn we had to go through a period of me trying to prove to her that it had indeed gotten cold out again. This meant having to open the door to the front porch several times each evening so Wiz could wander out there and determine that, "Oh, it's not warm out here any more. Guess I'll come back inside." It usually took a week or so for her to grudgingly accept that she would have to wait for spring and stop crying at the door constantly.

As I'm sure you are all aware, here in New York we are currently having a winter storm. I never thought I would say this, but I am so thankful for the shitty weather! Work closed early today, so I never had to go in. I got to be here at home with Wiz. I was able to be here with her, to cuddle her and tell her how much I loved her when she passed away. For that I am extremely grateful. She wasn't alone, and Jazz-kitty was nearby looking on.

Snuggling on the couch last night

Rest in Peace, my sweet Wiz. (2001-2018)

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Year In Pictures

Hey, Friends.

I know now is the time when everyone starts writing up their year in review, reflecting on the past and looking toward the future. I'm not going to do that - not really.

2017 was a shitty year. I'm not talking about politics (although that does contribute to it). Everything and anything that could go wrong seemed to feel the need to do so this past year. There were good things too, of course. I'm not trying to get all maudlin on you. Let's just say I'm looking forward to the new year and leaving this one behind.

So, rather than rehash the entirety of the year, I decided to do it with pictures. I know, I know, that everyone does that "Best 9" thing on Instagram. I'm guilty of having done it as well. Mine always seems to come out with a group from the same time period, so I decided to go back and find the picture with the most "likes" from each month. Since you seem to enjoy reading my ramblings here...well, I assume you do since you keep coming back...I'll give you the story behind each one. Okay, so I'll give you as much of the story as I remember. Don't get too excited. Sometimes it wasn't much beyond, "Oohh, that's pretty!" or "That looks so cool."

Ready to go on a year long adventure with me? Let's do this thing.


It's a turkey in the snow. I took this from the window next to my desk at work. I love the turkeys! They wander around the property at work all of the time. I don't get turkeys by my house. Work is like my own little wildlife safari some days.


I have no clue. We shall label this as "Oohh, pretty!"  I thought I knew where I had taken it, but looking closer that can't be right. 


It snowed last March. A lot. That would be my house, flying snow courtesy of my Dad and his snowblower. That would also be my abandoned shovel sticking out of the ground, waiting to dig out the snow underneath my car.


I made this!  My friend and I went to Paintbrushes and Party to do this very cool Hamsa Hand painting. We got a hand template to trace, and the rest of the painting was up to each individual.


This was taken at Mole Mole, which you can probably guess as it says that on the car door. It was also my birthday.


This was taken at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York. I was in Liverpool for a work conference. We got to eat dinner at the zoo as part of the conference, and then had time to walk around the zoo while it was closed to the public. It was very cool.


This was taken in the garden at Vanderbilt Mansion. I love walking the grounds there. Instead of taking a picture of the statue from the front with the reflecting pool, I went around behind it. 


We were at Holy Cow Ice Cream. I went with my brother, my niece, and my nephew. It must have been shortly before the end of the kidlets summer visit if my brother was here. The sky looked really cool, and I remember my nephew was super tired after baseball camp at Marist. This might also have been the day he declared that he had "Swamp butt". I still don't want to know what that means.


View of Poughkeepsie taken from the Walkway Over the Hudson. The views are always gorgeous, and I go there frequently. 


No, I did not go to Texas this October. They were busy recovering from the hurricane that had recently devastated parts of the state. This is from the Wikipedia entry, if you didn't click the link.

"Making landfall as a Category 4 hurricane, Harvey inflicted tremendous damage across Aransas County.[48] Wind gusts were observed up to 132 mph (212 km/h) near Port Aransas.[49] In Rockport, entire blocks were leveled by the hurricane's winds. The city's courthouse was severely damaged when a cargo trailer was hurled into it, coming to a stop halfway through the structure. The gymnasium of the Rockport-Fulton High School lost multiple walls while the school itself suffered some damage.[48] A Fairfield Inn in the city was severely damaged.[50]One person died in a house fire in the city, unable to be rescued due to the extreme weather conditions.[51] As of August 28, an estimated 30–40 people remain unaccounted for across Aransas County, including 9 in Rockport. Nearly every structure in Port Aransas suffered damage.[48] By the afternoon of August 26, more than 20 in (510 mm) of rain had fallen in the Corpus Christi metropolitan area.[37] All of Victoria was left without water and most had no power.[48]"

My brother and his family were lucky. They were away during the hurricane, and they suffered very minimal damage. The area around them was not so lucky. So no, I didn't go to visit this year. Instead you get to look at a picture of a sunflower in the garden at work.


Taken at Esopus Meadows Preserve. I love that sign, and the way the clouds and the sun were creating such different lights. You can also see the lighthouse in the background. It was right after this that I got home to find out the sad news about my neighbor.


Right now you're probably wondering, "WTF? It's an envelope."  Yes, it is. It's a card I got from two of my favorite little library patrons. Made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and people liked it. The best pictures aren't always fancy.

Officially, Friends, we have reached the end of our year in review. Wasn't that fun? I thought so. I decide to add a couple of bonus pictures that I really loved and which didn't make the list. Read on if you wish, or feel free to quit now. You might already have quit and I'm just talking to myself at this point. 


Lili (my niece) and I went to see One Republic at SPAC back in August. It was a road trip and concert experience all in one! We go to a concert each summer she comes up to visit. Who knows what we will see next year? I had been hoping to take her to see Heffron Drive again this past summer, but there was no tour here which makes me sad. :(

Bonus #2

I really love this picture. No one else seems to love it quite as much. To each their own. This was taken in an abandoned building in Beacon, down by Long Dock Park. I was out for a walk/hike with my friend whom I always refer to here as Gertie. I wrote a whole post about it back in April. See the cool things you miss out on when you won't go play in the slightly decrepit abandoned buildings with me, Gertie? You could have seen this up close and personal. 

And now we really are at the end, Friends. 2017 is almost over, and I say good riddance to it. I hope 2018 brings all of us love, happiness, good health -- all the good stuff. See you next year!

**And PLEASE: if you go out and party this New Year's Eve, please be responsible! Don't drink and drive. Or do anything else and drive. Be sober if you are driving, that's the point.**

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Follow Up That No One Asked For

Hey, Friends.

I know, I know. It's been a while. I hope you are all doing fine, celebrating a very nice holiday season.

I meant to write this up and post it last night, but then I got distracted by following Chrissy Tiegen and her LAX to LAX flight adventure. I'm not saying it's a good excuse, but it is what it is. (Okay, so I'm still kind of following it now. Will she make it to Tokyo this time? Will she end up back at LAX again?) I'm going to try not to be distracted and get this finished.

As you can see from the above title, I'm pretty sure that most of you are not going to give slightest bit of a shit about this update. I know people are still concerned about what happened with my neighbor, Walt. I still get asked about it. I don't know anything else, but I promise to let you know if there are ever any new developments. I think we have gotten just about all of the closure on that situation that is ever likely to happen.

This is an update that no one asked for, Friends. It's silly, probably teetering on being ridiculous. Back to the way my world normally functions, really. The idea to do this popped into my head as I was getting ready for bed on Christmas Eve, and it wouldn't go away. The holidays are all about love and joy, spending time with family and friends. I would love to give everyone who bothers to read my little blog here a present. This is it, kids. I'm hoping to give you the gift of mirth -- a little laughter and amusement, even if it is at my own expense.

Now that I've wasted your time with all of this rambling, let's get to the actual update...

You might recall that I wrote a post as a birthday present for someone back in September. (Don't remember, or didn't find your way here at that time? You should really click that link, kids. I'm sure you're smart enough to follow along just fine without doing so, but it might make a hell of a lot more sense if you read it first. Go ahead. I'll wait.)

Are we all back and up to speed now? Excellent.

As you now remember because you just read it and have an attention span greater than a gnat, I managed to score an amazing thrift store treasure. Like I still can't get over the fact that this t-shirt even exists, much less that it made it's way to a thrift store in Poughkeepsie.

It's Christmas time. As I mentioned in that post, I have been wearing my lovely t-shirt as pajamas.

See? I am wearing it. No, you do not get a better picture. I remembered to take the damn picture right before going to bed. Hair is a mess, I'm rocking my glasses since I had already taken out my contacts. This is all you get.

I can report that Santa did not magically kidnap Logan and leave him under my Christmas tree. I'm okay with that. I don't really want to find out that Santa is involved in human trafficking. I'm going out on a limb on this one, but I'm also pretty sure that Logan would not want to wake up wrapped as a present in a strange location and would much rather be with his family and loved ones. Just a guess.

To be fair, today is the third day of Christmas. I also have not received: 3 French hens, 2 turtle doves, or a partridge in a pear tree. I don't know where I would ever put such a menagerie if I did get it. (No one send me any of those things! I do not want or need a Twelve Days of Christmas zoo!) 

That's the magic of Christmas, Friends. People are more hopeful. They are more willing to believe in the goodness of others, that something wonderful can happen at any second. It's the joy of making other people happy. It's the surprise of the little acts of kindness people seem more willing to bestow on others at this time of year.

So no, as awesome as my t-shirt is, it does not appear to have fantastic magical powers. It is super comfy as pajamas though, so I'm considering that a win.

And to make this a full update, let me address the questions that I'm betting some of you have. Okay, so it might be like one of you. I know I would want to know. Basically I'm answering my own questions that I would have if I was reading this somewhere else. 

At the end of the original post, I included a letter, which you can find below:

On the off-chance that Logan ever actually sees this and reads it...

Hi Logan.

We've never met. You don't know me, and I don't know you. I follow you on Twitter and I dig your music. BTR was great, but I really love the music you are making on your own and can't wait to hear more of it. I'm not a creepy stalker, I swear! I've seen countless posts in the last couple of days about your upcoming birthday, so I thought I'd share this story as a little gift.

Unless you hate it. Then we can both just agree to pretend like this never happened and go on with our lives. You can make music, I'll buy it and listen to it, and sometimes I'll reply to you on Twitter.

Are we cool?  Hope so.

Happy Birthday!

@tammyshampoo on Twitter

Now, let me try to read your minds and provide some answers.

1) Yes, a lot more people saw this than I ever expected. That post is now the second most viewed that I have ever written. Just to give you some idea of how insane I know my blog must look to anyone other than myself, my Top Five All Time Blog Posts are:

2) No, I have no idea if he ever saw it. He's a busy guy and probably has a lot of things to do beside reading my ramblings online. Plus, I'm sure he was celebrating birthday festivities and being inundated with birthday messages. I never got a response of any kind, which is totally understandable. He'd probably still be answering people today if he addressed every single individual. 

3) Do you hope that he saw it? Yes, and a little bit of no.

I wrote the thing as a birthday gift, so clearly I wanted him to see it. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. He's fucking mysterious like that. I'm honestly hoping he didn't hate it. We might be in the "let's pretend this never happened phase" and I am clueless. Hell, for all I know this post will make him think I'm some kind of an obsessed creepy stalker and he will block me and tell me never to darken his digital doorstep again. Yes, that's how my brain works, Friends. My mind comes up with all sorts of possible outcomes, and then frets about the worst case scenario. Anything else that happens or doesn't happen is still a better outcome than what my imagination conjured.

This is the important part, Friends. It was a gift. You don't give someone a gift with the expectation of getting anything in return. I may never know if he ever sees it. You all saw it and liked it, so it was kind of a group gift in the long run. I made some great new online friends because of it. That is honestly more than I ever expected to get out of it. The fact that people liked it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

I think that about sums it up. I hope you all enjoyed my kind of pointless, holiday-inspired nonsense. If I brought you even a tiny bit of holiday cheer, then I will consider this to have been a success.

Take those happy thoughts and go out into the world and do something nice for someone else. Spread a little magic of your own.

**And it is the 12 days of Christmas. I can still wear my t-shirt and be ridiculous for a few more days.*

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Loose Ends

Hey, Friends.

So, I thought maybe I should try to wrap up events from my last much as possible.

We'll start with the very sad and disturbing events surrounding my neighbor, Walt. If you don't remember that story just go back one post. I'm sure you can handle scrolling on your own without a link to it.

First, thank you to everyone who had any kind of advice for me. I truly do appreciate all of it. Probably not going to get a dog (Jazz-kitty would not be happy about that idea), but I'm not going to say it will never happen. An alarm system is most definitely in the works, so if you have a recommendation (Simplisafe is already on the list) please let me know.

I went to Walt's funeral last week. I felt like I needed to be there to say goodbye, but also to apologize again in my own way for not having thought to check in on him. Everyone has told me that it wasn't my fault, that there was nothing I could have done, etc. Logically I know this, but he was right next door.  And I mean right next door.

This is the view from my dining room window. That's Walt's car and his house.

There really is no "just try not to think about it" option, since I see it any time I'm at home. His family and friends have been there cleaning out the house. I don't know if they plan to sell it or not -- apparently it was their childhood home. I can't even imagine how hard this has been on his sisters. One of them told me he had pushed everyone away the last couple of years, just shut them right out. If I feel bad about not having checked on him I can only imagine how it must be bothering them.

I still don't really know why the police had asked if I had heard any gunshots, and I probably never will know. As much as I hope it had nothing to do with Walt, I'm not sure that an alternative reason would be much better. 

I think this is probably as much of an ending as this sad event is ever going to get. I'm certainly not going to pester his family with questions, and I don't know that they have any answers either. I have let them know that I will do whatever I can to help.

The rest of this post is mostly going to be photos of High Banks Preserve, and a couple from Esopus Meadows Preserve. 

I know, Friends. You're probably wondering what the hell the one has to do with the other. I considered making a separate post about High Banks with the pictures, but it's all kind of connected in my brain. I had been out hiking and enjoying the beautiful weather, and Walt was....well, you know. The two events are indelibly linked in my memory. I don't want to bore you with too much navel-gazing and dwelling on it. The best explanation I've come up with for myself is that I went from the one thing right into the next so quickly. I went hiking to enjoy the beauty of the world, to relax and get away from all the constant bad news, and came home to a harsh slap of tragedy. Feel free to analyze away, Friends. Let me know if you come up with anything.

Let's end this with the pictures. I'm going to try to remember that while there are bad things that happen to good people (poor Walt), and the news is a constant barrage of horrible things happening all over the world, the world is still a beautiful place. Find that beauty -- whatever it may be to you -- and embrace the hell out of it. Enjoy life. Make the most of it. 

Hudson River from High Banks Preserve

Autumn leaves on the trail

It had rained earlier

Some parks have power lines, this one had a gas line

There were a few pine cones

Mountain view

Esopus Lake

The Hudson River from Esopus Meadows Preserve

Esopus Meadows Preserve. That's the lighthouse in the background.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Oh No

Hey, Friends.

So, I have a story to tell you. It's kind of long, and it might ramble a bit. I'll try my best to keep it in order and coherent. I'm warning you up front that it's not a happy story, and it doesn't have a good ending. Basically, don't read it if you don't want to be bummed out. You've been warned.

It all started back on Thursday morning. I was at home, and I noticed a guy walking up and down my neighbor Walt's driveway. I didn't think anything of it at first. I thought maybe it was Central Hudson coming to read his electricity meter, or someone that was coming to do work on his house.

A few minutes later there is a knock on my front door, and it's the guy I had seen walking around Walt's yard. He tells me he's friends with Walt, but since he got sober a couple years ago he hadn't really hung out with him since Walt still drinks. Understandable. He had stopped by to visit, but had become concerned when he saw Walt's mail hadn't been taken in for a few days.

We went outside to look at Walt's house. I told him I hadn't seen him in a week or so. That's not unusual. I really only ever saw him if he was getting home from work when I was leaving in the morning, or if we both happened to be out in the yard working at the same time. I knew he had been parking on the street in front of his house because he seemed to be having a lot of trouble walking the last time I had seen him, and that would be the easiest way to get into the house.

His friend proceeded to tell me that Walt had cancer, and he had undergone a few surgeries on his leg to have things removed. I had no idea. He had never mentioned it to me at all. He told me he had tried calling, but that Walt wasn't answering the phone. Apparently that didn't surprise him in the slightest. He said Walt was kind of a hermit. He wouldn't answer the phone if he didn't feel like talking to anyone, and he could be sitting in the house and wouldn't answer the door if he didn't feel like having a visitor. The mail not having been brought in was concerning him.  We went to check his garbage can and see if he had brought anything out. I honestly couldn't remember if he had brought the cans down for pick up this past Monday or not. I told him I hadn't seen him coming or going to work recently, and thought he might have retired. He told me he left his job a while back because of his health issues.

He was worried enough that he was going to call Walt's sister. He was considering calling the police to do a goodwill/healthcare check on him, but he didn't feel like it was his place. I promised I would keep an eye out for him, see if I saw any lights on in the house at night to at least indicate he was home.

Walt's a very nice man. I never would have considered him a "hermit". He just liked to keep to himself. He was always very friendly when we saw each other, and we would chat. He started, without ever being asked, using his snow blower to clear out the end of my driveway for me in the winter. He'd be getting home from work and have to clear his way into his driveway, so he just started doing mine so I could leave for work. I'd buy him Heineken (his drink of choice) as a thank you gift. He also gave me my potentially pilfered presidential flowers because they were running rampant in his yard, and we always chatted about our gardens. He also fed the feral cats in the neighborhood (I do as well), and he had a litter of kittens that were born nearby that he let live in his garage this summer and he took care of them. He's a nice man, is my point.

This brings us to yesterday, Friends.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day outside, and since I was still on vacation I decided to go across the river for a hike. That's originally what this post was going to be about, but I'm going to save that for another time.

I finished my hike and ran a few errands before heading home. I got in the house, fed the outdoor cat who was on the back steps looking for food. I was wandering through the house, opening all of the doors and windows to let in the fresh air. I opened the front door, and saw this:

Ignore my Halloween decor

What the hell is going on? There were now 2 police cars parked in front of my house, and they literally were not there 5 minutes ago. Did someone get robbed? Accident on the highway and they parked up here to be out of the way?

So I go outside, and I see a woman with 2 officers standing in front of my neighbor's house. Oh no. Walt!

As I head over to talk to them, the officers head down the driveway toward Walt's back door.

I asked the woman if everything was okay, and she said she hoped so. We introduced ourselves, and it turns out she is Walt's sister.  She told me he wasn't answering the phone or the door, and I told her about the friend looking for him the day before. She confirmed that he had called her. I told her what I had told him -- hadn't seen Walt recently, etc. She said she had called the police to check on him, and then said, "He's kind of a hermit. Doesn't like a lot of people. He's going to be so pissed at me if he's in there just fine and I called the cops on him." She said the cops were trying to find a way in to the house.

The officers came back and asked if everything was okay. I explained that I was Walt's neighbor, just asking what was going on. They asked if I need them to move one of the patrol cars since it was blocking my driveway. I told them it was fine, and went back into my house. I didn't want to be one of those people who stands outside gawking at the scene. Plus, his poor sister didn't need an audience if it turned out to be bad news.

That doesn't mean I wasn't trying to watch from the windows in my house.

It gets dark out pretty early at this point, and a lot of the lights on our street aren't working at the moment. (I just reported them all today. Let's get that shit fixed.) Jazz-kitty is spazzing out in the house, I've got the feral cat curled up and hiding on a rug on my back steps, and I'm just trying to cook dinner and figure out what the hell is going on.

At some point a fire truck and an ambulance arrived.

I see a guy with an ax or a hammer -- some kind of big tool -- walking down Walt's driveway. And then I can hear them breaking down his back door. Oh, God.  This can't be good.

A short while later I noticed that the ambulance had left. Oh, no. What if Walt was really sick and needed help and was stuck in the house? I felt terrible for not having thought to check on him.  And then I saw a guy with a camera walking up Walt's driveway. Maybe they had to take a picture of the damage done to his door?

All the lights in Walt's house were on now. I turned on my front porch light, since they were operating by the headlights of one of the police cars and it was really dark out. They had been there for almost 2 hours at that point, so around 7:30 at night.

I started messaging my friend (and neighbor) down the street, as I had seen that she had been outside earlier. I said that I thought something bad had happened to Walt. She said she thought he had passed away. She saw the officers tell the woman outside something, and she said "Oh no!" really loudly.

And then she told me all of this stuff about our neighborhood that I had no clue had happened. Like before I moved in, I guess there used to be people who hung out and slept in the little wooded area just beyond Walt's house. They would yell and throw things at people. She saw them when she was walking her dog, and they would get scared and run away.

She also said all kinds of people come wandering through our neighborhood now. She always sees a purse, or a piece of clothing just thrown by the side of the road. How have I not noticed any of this? I walk around the neighborhood on occasion when it's nice out and I have never noticed any of this. Not giving me a case of the warm fuzzies, Friends.

So I text my friend because, what the fuck. I'm kind of bugging out in my house while all of this is going down, and he knows how interesting my neighborhood can be.

I'm still kind of hoping that Walt just had to be taken to the hospital at this point. Not looking good, as why would the police still be there three hours later, but I was hoping.

I was still messaging my neighbor, texted my Mom to tell her what was going on. She stops by my house frequently while I'm at work. Maybe she had seen Walt more recently than I had. Nope.

Eventually I get a knock on my door with the announcement that it's the town police. I was kind of expecting that.

The officer said he had an unusual question for me. Had I heard any gunshots recently?


I know I must have looked shocked, because that was not what I thought he was going to ask. I assumed it was going to be more like: did I know Walt? Had I seen him recently? When did I last remember seeing him, etc.

I told him no, but I would be a bad judge of that anyway. Gunshot, car backfiring on the highway - I honestly don't know that I wouldn't have heard a gunshot and assumed it was something else.

And then I said, "Walt's not okay, is he."

And the officer confirmed that he had passed away.

I said I felt horrible, that I should have checked on him. The officer said not to feel bad, wasn't my fault, and from what he had gathered Walt didn't like many people.

I told him Walt liked me, and the short version of how he would remove the snow from my driveway and I would give him Heineken in return.  The officer said, "Well, there was certainly plenty of that in the house."

Whoa. Alrighty, not going any further down that route.

Apparently the gunshots were not the unusual question. He wanted to know if I had a power drill and screws they could use to secure the back door. I told him I didn't think so, but I could check out in the garage -- I have my brother's tool box in there. (I got it when it didn't make the move to Texas with him.) He told me not to worry about it, he'd ask around.

Screw that. I grabbed a flashlight and went out in my garage to look. Pretty soon the officer joined me. We found a power drill, but no battery to go with it. I had a hammer and some nails, told him he could take whatever he needed. He said they'd find something else.

I went back in the house and then it hit me -- Walt had a bunch of tools in his garage. I remember our neighbor behind us telling me that Walt had lent him some of his power tools once. So I went outside, saw a different officer, and I told him that Walt should have some tools in his garage, that he had lent them out to people before. He told me they had looked but couldn't find anything. That seemed odd.

I went back in the house. I was freaking out a little bit at this point. I felt horrible that Walt had passed away, right next door, and it had never crossed my mind to check on him and see if he was okay. But what the fuck did gunshots have to do with anything? Was Walt murdered? My friend down the street had said she was worried someone had robbed him or something.

So I called my brother. He can totally be helpful from all the way down in Texas!

I tell him the whole saga of what's been going on. First, he said I would know if I heard a gunshot. It does not sound the same as a car backfiring. I would have been able to tell the difference.

And then he made an excellent point: murderers don't normally lock the house up after they kill someone. They just flee the scene. The police had to break down the door. If there were gunshots involved, it was probably because Walt had committed suicide. They were probably trying to establish a timeline.

Oh God.

I mean, I felt better hearing the logic that there probably wasn't a murderer running loose in the neighborhood. But, holy shit. Not making me feel any better about not having checked up on Walt.

We talked about Halloween and some other things. I felt a little better after I got off of the phone with him.  Thanks for being there, Bro!

The police eventually left. I had still been messaging my friend down the street. She told me to keep an eye on Walt's house -- make sure nobody tried to steal his stuff.  On it. That's the least I could do at this point.

A little after 9 pm I hear four loud bangs. Oh hell, no. That better be someone setting off fireworks. We can hear them from everywhere -- Marist has them at times, I can see when Vassar shoots them off from my house, and we can hear them from down by the Hudson River when they have them. I get a message from my friend down the street immediately asking if I had heard that.

Yup. I definitely did. So I take a quick peek at the back of Walt's house, just to make sure no one is trying to get in there. Thankfully the moon was pretty bright last night, so I could see that no one was near his house. It was First Friday in the city of Poughkeepsie last night. Maybe they were shooting off fireworks? That was my hope. Two more bangs, but I can't see any sign of fireworks anywhere.

So I text my friend again. He'll probably know. I'm pretty sure he was probably at First Friday.

And then I tried to distract myself enough for the rest of the evening to be able to attempt to get some sleep. I was super paranoid that every odd sound was someone trying to break into Walt's house, and I just felt bad that I hadn't done anything to help him and had no clue what had happened right next door.

This morning I went out and got the numbers off the streetlights and reported them as being out. After all the stories I heard last night about the crazy shit that has gone down in this neighborhood over the years, I want some damn working lights. 

I saw my neighbor across the street, who was out working in her garden. We discussed what had happened last night, tried to remember the last time either of us had seen Walt. She liked him too. Said he was very nice man, and his mother had been a lovely woman. I barely knew her -- she was sick and passed away not too long after I moved in.

We went over to Walt's together to check the back door -- make sure it looked at least shut and like no one had tried to get inside. It looked okay. Didn't seem like anyone had tried to get in.

And then I was telling her all of the crazy stories I heard last night about what had gone on before I moved in. She said that's why she has an alarm system. She wasn't even going to tell me how many times her house had been broken into over the years.

What the hell.

How can I possibly not know any of this had gone down?! I mean, clearly I couldn't have known about the shit that happened before I bought my house and moved in, but still. I'm a little creeped out, not gonna lie.

Walt's sister is at his house now -- I heard voices in the driveway and went out to see what was happening. I told her I had tried to keep an eye on the house, and that I was so sorry for her loss. She thanked me and let me know that a crew from ServePro would be here today, and possibly Monday as well. I didn't ask any other questions.

I told you, Friends. It wasn't a happy story. 

Goodbye, Walt. I hope you are at peace. I'll think of you every time the lilies in my garden bloom.