Our next door neighbor is a sweet woman, but not terribly socially adept. She has six children and home schools them all. Well, the two oldest boys are grown and graduated and have their own homes on the other side of town. Except for on weekends when they come home to live with mom and dad for the weekend. The kids are isolated. They are nice enough, but they just have no clue whatsoever as to how to interact with anyone other than themselves. Rachel, the mom, does all of the yard work. But only in the back. And she mows the front. The boys don't do anything. They play in the back yard. Even the grown ones. Even now that she has colo-rectal cancer. The daughters wait on the boys and the father hand and foot. Dad doesn't really work, per se, although he is gone to the middle east selling a certain book to people who aren't at all interested in this book about 8 months out of the year. They cook everything - including bread - from scratch, and members of "their community" (not us or anyone living near us - we don't count) bring them food. So, between the 8 of them, they have 6 cars and no garage, because the garage has been turned into a bedroom. And they have an arborvitae hedge out front that they have never trimmed, so it was about 4 feet into the street. So, their family and friends always parked either in front of our house or out in the middle of the street. I was so embarrassed by it that last weekend I finally called and told them we were "doing work anyway and would take care of it." Well, all the better that she was coming home from surgery that day so I could make it seem more charitable than "I've had enough of this", if you know what I mean. But where the heck are her kids? No one was home all day long. No one offered any help as we loaded an entire pickup truck full of cuttings into the truck and hauled it off and paid to dump it... But it's done. My benefit is I don't have to look at it anymore. So, Rachel calls yesterday to thank me. "It was an answer to my prayers." Why does she not pray (or just ask) for her children or husband to do this for her? I have muscular dystrophy for crying out loud, and we have our own home to take care of! Then she asks if we ever got rid of the rats that were under our home last winter? (They showed up when it froze, and it cost us over $500 to take care of.) Yes, we thought so. But, Oscar has been sniffing around the foundation by the back of the house so we're hoping they're not back. Well, she tells me, she wonders if we "may have missed one" because she's seen a rat under their woodpile, which is built on top of a 4" base (plywood on pallets with a lean-to and blue tarp right outside our kitchen window - ugly) and now she's seen it go into our yard. I explained that we could not put out traps in the yard because there's no place to hide them and we won't use poison because of the dogs. We really didn't want to crawl into the crawl space to try to trap them if she knows that they are living under her wood pile and has a convenient 4" access under it she should set traps and get rid of them. Rachel wonders if we might have "an extra rat trap around that they could use". We don't but of course I tell her we do, because the woman won't do it on her own. Then she tells me about the rat that they "enjoyed watching all last summer" going from her yard and into ours. They watched it all day long. They named it Mr. Templeton. My response was mild compared to what I wanted to say. I said "Rachel! You nut!" She says, "Well, you'd understand why we named it Mr. Templeton if you had read Charlotte's Web. We used it as a learning tool for our lessons." I said "Rachel, I try to not give names to anything that I intend to kill." I feel like Amy Poehler on SNL. "Really? Really? REALLY?" Is it just me or am I presuming too much that somewhere along the line that a standardized education might explain that you don't EVER have wild rats running around your house and yard. And especially you don't let them run from your yard into the neighbor's yard without telling the neighbor and decide that "it's a learning opportunity for the children." Heck yes, it's a learning opportunity! It's time to learn about the plague, and germs, and that there's no such thing as "one rat". For crying out loud! I swear to god I could smack her and everyone else who thinks I'm a Liberal Socialist because I think our kids should learn certain things about life and living in society. If that makes me Socialist, then give me a bumper sticker, 'cuz I'm there.