Potent or poppycock: a feng shui cure too strong?

Potent: possessing strength or power

Poppycock: senseless talk (from Dutch pappekak, meaning soft dung, if you know what I mean)

Last week I was clearing out a drawer and came upon a small compact mirror for which I had no use. I was about to give it the heave-ho when I remembered that it could be used for a feng shui cure.

Here’s the feng shui cure: when you have negative energy coming at your home from outside (like from a problem neighbor, noisy traffic, etc), you tape a small mirror on the wall with the shiny side facing towards that negative energy with the intent of warding it off by reflecting it back out.

My next door neighbors to the south are perfectly nice people, but they are renting the house and the owners live up in Seattle. Neither the renters nor the owners seem to give a rip about the condition of the house or yard. For ten years the place has become increasingly unkempt.

I haven’t been in the house, but the shades are all wonky and the garage is stuffed to the rafters with cardboard boxes and garbage bags full of who knows what. That’s their problem.

My problem is that their yard is completely overgrown with noxious weeds – blackberry, dandelions, ivy and a big thicket of Canada thistle. All of them are getting into my yard. The thistle is the worst because it spreads underground as well as by wind-born seed – and it’s nearly impossible to kill.

Which brings me to yesterday.

I was sitting at my desk, with a view of the street, when suddenly I hear a fire engine rumbling up the hill, siren wailing. It stops at the end of my driveway. Then another one arrives. And three more! Within a couple of minutes the joint is jumping – I counted 23 firemen in full regalia at one point – some clambering over this neighbor’s house, some hauling hose, some standing around pointing or talking on a cell phone.

My neighbor was up on the roof with a puny garden hose, trying to douse the flames. It turns out he had been burning cardboard in the fireplace (WTF?? especially since we have curbside recycling). The chimney is uncapped and the roof is (old, dry) wood shake. A formula for disaster.

With 23 young bucks on the case (why are firemen always so cute? Is that a job requirement?), the fire was put out before it destroyed more than the attic and part of the roof. No one was hurt and no important belongings were lost.

I certainly meant no harm – I just want the owners to sell the property to someone who will care for it. They’re coming down from Seattle to assess the damage this weekend. Here’s hoping they decide it’s time to let it go…

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