Saturday, May 30, 2009

Unorganized Thoughts on a Block Party

We had a block party on our street yesterday. It was a wonderful thing in that is was not so much DISorganized as it was just NOT organized.

That may sound on the surface like a criticism - which given that I did *absolutely* nothing to make it happen would be not only completely unwarranted and even rude, but would legitimately earn me the title of "That Neighbour" (you know the one) - but it is most certainly not. One neighbour had to go around with a petition getting support to close the street; one had to arrange the closing of the street c/w city councillor support (= funding the $250 permit - thank you councillor!) to do it; one ran around putting notices in mailboxes. Easy peasy. Even I could do it (y'know, if I wasn't such a lazy tool). Message? "Bring a lawnchair & a snack to share."

There was a couple of tables set up that ended up being full of watermelon, pineapple, a zillion bags of chips; wagon wheels & several kinds of homemade cookies. One genius super-mom (the "my-hero" mom on the block that is always doing cool stuff with her kids - and sometimes mine!) pulled out a kids' picnic table and had cookie decorating and playdough (not sure which I got when Pepper gave me a "specially decorated cookie" the playdough and sprinkles happened to be the same colour). Kids were occupied when they got bored of biking / rollerblading / scootering down the car-free street (which they didn't seem to!)

We just sat & visited. Hung out, if you will. No one tried to make it *perfect*. People just don't get too many low-key, high-Q moments any more.

My big contribution turned out to be the moment I said "hey, we need music" and pulled out the iPod and sound dock.

There's something kind of unexpectedly unnerving about bringing out your own music selection. I hadn't really considered that in all the various conversations I had had with my (wonderful) neighbours over the years, there is always a part of yourself that you hold back. I said "screw it" and set up the sound dock.

I announced "I play all kinds of music for my kids and have explained to them that there are plenty of songs with bad words in them and ideas/expressions that they will not necessarily understand and they know they are not to repeat things that are swears and that they don't understand the meaning of. If any song needs to be skipped, let me know and I'll skip it."

No one did. The only song *I* skipped over was "I see you baby" by Groove Armada, as it has a very prevalent "Shakin' that ass" line repeated. That one has taken a very focussed effort on our part - including threats of losing things - to ensure our children don't chant it. I thought I wouldn't put everyone else through that.

The only time I thought it was maybe too loud and tried to turn it down, I got yelled at to not touch it. So, success.

My favourite work-nerd moment was when the kids pulled up the crack-sealant in the road and were using it as a giant, tar skipping rope.

Me: "Dammit kids! You've compromised the integrity of the pavement surface! Now water will infiltrate to the substructure and undermine the supportive granular base layer. Accelerated deterioration is the natural consequence" [crickets]

Neighbour Kathy (aside): "Dude, leave work at work."

Me: "Also, your hands are all black from playing with tar"

Neighbour Kathy: "eww"

I wrote this earlier today but was not happy with how it all tied together. I just opened it up and decided "If I just add the words 'Unorganized Thoughts on a' in front of the title, it will all make sense!" *genius*!! So I'd better post it before my "yesterdays" don't make sense any more.

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  1. Oh that's awesome, Too bad that we hve to get "permits" to visit neighbours!

  2. See, this is one of the reasons I'm not too upset about an impending transfer halfway across the country - I hope that the new neighborhood we choose is like this.

    We don;t have that here, barely even wave at our neighbors, and I want that kind of life for my kids.

    I never thought I'd think Iowa would appeal to me more than the Jersey shore.

    Plus, Iowa is closer to East Coldass Bumblefrick where you live, right? lol

  3. kyooty - we do visit our neighbours, just not usually in such a relaxed way. We have *definitely* benefitted by having kids! (they get to know *everyone*)

    AndreAnna - You're moving? That's both exciting and terrifying. Good luck. And yes, I'm not-so-secretly happy it's closer to [ahem] East Coldass Bumblefrick (which monicker I'm keeping, btw)!

  4. That sounds like a great party. Low key, high Q!

    I believe that I also would have gone "work nerd" on this one. And I probably would also have felt properly put in my place when told to "leave the work at work."

    But then, if no one mentions that that sealant is missing, there will be a pothole in the making. Maybe not a driving-along-and-my-big-ass-truck-got-swallowed pothole, but a nusiance nonetheless...

  5. I was thinking of suggesting that for our block but...
    1. I'm too lazy
    2. I fear that too much time talking to Dinosaur Church Man next door will result in me screaming obscenities at him. Not the best for neighbour relations, especially since Mini and his granddaughter are pals.

    LOL on the "Shakin' that Ass", which funnily enough reminds me of Casey! Don't ask -- I don't know why :)

  6. Yes, Mike is being transferred to IA since the base he works at now is closing. It will probably be within the next year or so.

    I wrote about it here in case you give a rat's Dixie and want the full story!

  7. Sounds fun!

    Also, your integrity of the pavement surface moment would make for a great scene in a movie. :)

  8. Owing to my time working for a city councillor, I could've chimed in with comments about thin bituminous overlay and how that can improve street quality.

    /public works geekery

  9. "There's something kind of unexpectedly unnerving about bringing out your own music selection." - OMG YES!!!!!

    "You've compromised the integrity of the pavement surface! Now water will infiltrate to the substructure and undermine the supportive granular base layer. Accelerated deterioration is the natural consequence" You make engineering sound sooooo sexy!