bedlam and bad men

Someone was in our yard yesterday… sometime between 10:30 AM and 9ish when we got home… our locked chainlink gate was askew (pushed inward, so I know the dog didn’t do it before I put her in the house when I left for work) and the black city garbage cart had been rolled from in front of our gate to the fence.  The plastic lid was dented down where they used it for a springboard, and then hopped to the top of the compost bin (which is now uncovered so as not to serve as a step-stool).  It looks like they moved our smoker and garden cart slightly and then discovered that they were chained to the double-barricaded-from-the-inside-and-scissor-gated-from-the-outside entrance to our basement.  Our biggest fear was that we’d find chickens missing- a friend recently lost most of their flock in two separate thefts from their *locked* backyard coop. All lay-dees were accounted for. 
A piece of hundred-year-old trim that we removed from the eaves behind the gutters (for safekeeping (and probable lead-paint removal) until some other work is done and it can go back in place) was moved across our yard and propped up against the back gate, as if they’d thought about taking it with them and then changed their mind?  Or were just leaving us a clear message that they’d been inside our yard, and could return if they pleased?  The chain on our gate was cut shortly after we bought the place… the gate left wide open, nothing missing… just a message.  You can’t keep us out. 

A creepy crazy man who goes by Montgomery Ward walked by singing late the other night, as we fumbled with the front door lock that was jammed (we finally removed the key that was broken off on the inside of the lock years ago and it works great now)… The fellah swears he heard him sing, “I touched your door, now it won’t open” before going back to a rambling bellowing version of “American Girl”… “oh yeah, all right… take it easy baby… HUSH THAT NOISE, PUPPY! Hush THAT NOISE, PUPPY!! (to our rottweiler, who was leaping at the fence with snarling throaty-growl stiff-bark force at this guy)… make it last all night!  She was… an American Girl…”.  We sat in the dark on our covered back porch and listened as his song faded into the distance until we were sure he was gone…

doesn’t she look tough? She has one job, and she takes it very seriously… she’s a secret sweetie though, with serious separation anxiety… but she’s a very good girl. Mostly.

An acquaintance of ours, who goes by Sledge and is a frequent volunteer at the farm where I work (he got his nickname from the many days he’s spent doing demolition work on the building- jackhammering, sledgehammering, and moving piles of rubble all in the name of the cause), was jumped less than half a block from our studio last weekend.  He hangs out with some kids who have an art space down the block, and we’d seen him riding around that evening, when he rode with us for a few blocks as we were headed to a barbeque in Logan Square before he headed back south… he stumbled upon a gathering in the side-yard of our SWAT-team/chef dad and homeschooling mom/realtor/chicken-keeper extraordinaire neighbors, and had helped them move piles of dirt around in their backyard/sideyard farm.  They and their rowhouse tenants farm three city-owned lots, and have a top-bar hive, a turkey hen and at least a dozen chickens in a strawbale coop, and a big ole dog pack (theirs, and neighbors dogs dropped off for informal doggie daycare) led by their lanky jet-black and tan german shepard, aka, “The People-Eater”. Sledge had never met these neighbors, but saw that they were working, introduced himself, and helped out for a few hours. That’s the kind of guy he is.
We met these neighbors a similar way, just walking by… except there were already so many people helping to build their chicken coop that night that we helped in a way only we could- we came back and knocked on the back gate, holding growlers of homemade beer, after first quickly debating at home…”Are they doing what I think they’re doing? They’re building a strawbale structure, they have chickens, and they live down the street. We have to meet them…”. Fast forward to fast friends. She helped us find our home, introducing us to the former owner of our “cabin” while he was in town to close the place up after his tenants moved across the street… foreclosure threats piling up from the banks in the mailbox. She gave me antibiotics that saved our Wyandotte chick from certain death (the feed store was closed, the baby needed them THAT DAY). We gave her sourdough bread and endless thank-yous, and buckets of spent-grain for chicken feed. But back to Sledge…

After leaving our neighbors yard, he was taking pictures of rust-stained stone blocks from the sidewalk under the rail tracks, when he was approached by a guy who offered to sell him drugs… Sledge declined, but proceeded to strike up a conversation with the guy “about basketball, rhythm, and Yahweh.”  He rapped with the dude for a minute, and thought they were having a good conversation, and gave the guy the four bucks he asked for to get on the train.  As he turned to leave, the guy cold-clocked him in the face, and punched him several times, knocking out his crowns (Sledge sports even more false fronts than me, also from bike-induced face-to-ground contact…) and giving him a black eye.  He pulled himself up, swinging back at his attacker while grabbing his face (and probably after spitting out his teeth), and asked him incredulously, “But what about Yahweh?”  He said the guy continued to hit him, now while quoting scripture, then emptied his pockets (cell phone and wallet with $200) and ran.  He shook his head while recounting the tale- “I should have known better… I was at a rave the night before and was surrounded by so much love and goodness, that I let my street-smarts go out the window”.  It’s sad, but you can’t trust anyone around here that you meet on the street… everyone’s got an angle.  I wish it weren’t true but it’s how it is.

Buying Bedlam Farm is looking pretty good right now.  The fellow is buying us lottery tickets today… a girl can dream, right?  He has family and we have some good friends out that way… and the countryside reminds me of the Ozarks where I grew up, and the tree-covered hills my heart aches for still, and room to roam that I took for granted before coming here 13 years ago… just how precious it is on this hot, flat, and crowded earth to be able to hike for an hour without seeing another human soul if you choose… 

There goes $75,000. Selling Bedlam Farm. Jeff, You Were Off A Bit.



Any angel investors out there want to chip in towards the Alewyfe B&B at Bedlam Farm? And Bedlam Brewery? Surely there’s room in one of those out-buildings for beer. The door will always be open for you, and your pint glass never dry…

But always, even when the world seems rotten… look for and remember the goodness… and the promise of peas.

One thought on “bedlam and bad men

  1. Elizabeth

    I hope you can make it happen… and if you can’t, check out the land prices in Washington County for other possibilities. I think they’re pretty good. My wife and I are dreaming about buying some getaway land up there. Good people, good land.


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