We're not sure why, but people just seem compelled to walk up to Grady and start talking.
Check back here regularly to find out ...
Who did Grady meet?
22 Dec 2000: Curious Driver
Today while Grady was unloading the Fiat 500s from the 40 ft. shipping container
parked in front of our dirt, a man stopped his car in the middle of Blossom
Hill Rd. in order to talk to Grady. "Hey! What is that?" he asked.
Grady explained the Bambino. "What do they go for?" he asked. "$4500
or so," Grady replied. The guy handed Grady his card and said "Give
me a call in a couple weeks."
23 Dec 2000: Latino Guy and Anglo Lady
Today Grady met a Mexican man and his English-speaking female friend. They
knocked on our door to ask about the Cooper S. Since the man didn't speak
English, his friend translated for him. The man wanted to buy the Cooper,
but Grady explained that it wasn't for sale. He quickly pointed out that we
have several other Minis that are for sale. Spanish ... English ... Spanish
... English ... business card ... Grady's supposed to call them after the
1st so they can see the cars.
30 Dec 2000: Santa
Today Grady met ... Santa. He stopped to ask if he could have the lumber
piled in front of the dirt (left over from the platform inside the shipping
container). Grady explained that the wood was full of nails but Santa said
that was ok ... he could pull the nails. Santa gave Grady his card (Santa
For Hire: Parties - Presents or Coal Delivery) and started to load the wood.
Santa also said when we start digging, we can dump our dirt on his property
up in the mountains for free.
31 Dec 2000: Fiat Guy
Today Grady met a guy who lives down the street. He pulled up in a Fiat
600 with Abarth racing mods. He checked out the Bambinos and offered to help
with any wrenching. Top o' page.
2 Jan 2001: Plymouth Guy
Today Grady met a guy who knows a guy who runs a local Mini club. Apparently,
the Mini guy also has a Moke. The first guy (a Plymouth fan) told Grady there's
another guy who has bunches of Minis and Mokes and lives on Garden Hill Dr.
OH ... that's us. We just moved the cars to the dirt.
3 Jan 2001: Glass Guy
Today Grady met the owner of Campbell Glass. He and his friend were driving
around on their lunch break (which is apparently what they do) and stopped
when they saw Grady. "Are those Goggomobils?" the guy asked. "No,"
Grady responded, "those are Fiat 500s." So, Grady gave him the car
tour. Upon seeing the Mokes, the guy's friend commented, "I could go
for one of those." Grady told them to stop by any time and the guy gave
Grady his card in case we ever need glass. (Note: We've visited Campbell Glass
several times in the past ... usually after the Geo has made a trip to SF
and had its window broken. Fast, speedy service from the folks over in Campbell.)
3 Jan 2001: Mr. Planning Dept.
Today Grady met a guy from the Los Gatos Planning Department. Gee, several
of our neighbors seem disturbed by the cars on our dirt. The planning guy
said we couldn't have picked a worse street to be on ... apparently just the
mention of some of our neighbors cause the folks at the planning department
to roll their eyes. So, now Grady gets to build a fence to hide all of those
nasty lil' cars from the sensitive view of others. Yippee ... we've just learned
that we own dirt on the most scrutinized street in Los Gatos.
4 Jan 2001: CHP Desk Guy
Today Grady met the guy behind the desk at the California Highway Patrol
Office. The VIN guy is at CHP on Tuesdays and Thursdays to identify cars that
have mismatched or otherwise odd numbers. But, apparently, if the VIN guy
is too busy, the desk guy gets to ID the cars. Upon seeing the Moke, the CHP
desk guy asked, "So you're the one with the ... (pause) ... Dune Buggy
5 Jan 2001: The Three Import Specialists
Today Grady met the Vehicle Import Specialists. When walking into the office,
Grady found one propped behind a desk and another playing on a scooter. The
nice San Francisco man behind the desk had just transferred from Textiles.
That's all we have to say about that ... they were nice and we don't want
to get them in trouble.
17 Jan 2001: The Neighbor
Today Grady had a closer meeting with the neighbor who was upset that we
were beginning to remove the poison oak. This might not seem like much of
an important meeting but read on ...
17 Jan 2001: The Mob
Today Grady met 5 of our neighbors ... all men, all walking in a pack down
the hill, luckily not all carrying torches. Apparently, the men were upset
about the fence that Grady was planning to build (see 3 Jan 2001: Mr. Planning
Dept.). After much "discussion" which included cars, poison
oak, fences, house plans (or at least an attempt to get Grady to tip his hand
re: our plans) and other neighborly chit-chat, the agreement was to put up
a partial fence along the side of the house that faces Blossom Hill Rd. and
across the driveway. The fun continues.
17 Jan 2001: The Parks Guy
Today Grady met a guy from the Los Gatos Parks Department. Apparently sometime
between the morning neighbor meeting and the friendly mob encounter, someone
called the Parks Dept. to alert them that we were trying to remove poison
oak from the hill. The parks guy actually turned out to be cool. He told us
we'd have to wait until the end of the excavation moratorium (April 15) to
pull out the poison oak shrubs but that there was nothing stopping us from
clearing the poison oak from the trees overhead (yes, climbing poison oak)
and removing other dead limbs and debris (i.e., the pool, the shack, and the
"cabana"). So ... A very busy day full of meetings.
Feb - Mar 2001: Nobody Really
Since the fence went up Grady hasn't made many new friends.
13 Apr 2001: Tree Guys
Today Grady met 4 large men who want to pay us to remove a walnut tree that
we were planning on taking out anyway. They were stuck in traffic on Blossom
Hill Rd., saw Grady's phone number on the sign in the Mini parked in the driveway
(yes, one is currently for sale) and called. They give us $500, take care
of the permits, and remove a tree that we don't want. Bonus.
14 Apr 2001: A Cop
Today Grady met a cop because ... well ... the tree story was too good to
be true. Turns out, the guys paid us the money but didn't get the permits.
So while they were removing the tree, someone called the police to alert them
that men were removing a tree from city property. Of course it's not city
property it's ours but the cop had to come out and file a report. He was quite
pleasant. When he asked Grady what he did for a living and Grady replied,
"I'm basically a bum." the cop responded with "So, I'll put
down 'self-employed' then." So now the report goes to the town lawyer
and we wait to find out if the lawyer wants to spend time dealing with the
Sometime April 2001: A Cop
Today Grady met a cop ... pretty sure it was the same cop he met on the
14th. Except this time the cop was responding to a call by "a neighbor"
who complained that we were removing poison oak. Uh, Hello? It's poison oak.
It's a nuisance, a fire hazard, an itchy thing.
Sometime April/May 2001: Mr. Parks Department
Today Grady met the head of the Parks and Forestry Department. Grady's being
careful to do everything on the level so we're getting Mr. Parks Department
to assess the poison oak situation and discuss whether or not we need a permit
with the town engineer. One way or another, the poison oak is coming out.
26 May 2001: A Cop
Today Grady met a cop ... definitely the same cop as before because he said
so. Grady arrived at the dirt around 10:30 am as the cop was pulling up to
the driveway. Turns out "the neighbor" called again to report that
we were removing trees and brush. When the dispatcher called, the cop explained
that he'd been called multiple times on our property, had checked things out,
and nothing was ever happening. But, it's his job, so he had to check out
the situation yet again. After telling Grady that he didn't see anything happening,
Grady took him to the back of the property where Maurilio and team were removing
the final 1/4 acre of poison oak (no permit needed). The cop told us were
weren't doing anything wrong and left, driving back toward Blossom Hill. As
Grady walked up Francis Oaks to check on Maurilio, the cop drove up, rolled
down his window, and said "I'm just going to go talk to your neighbors."
He then pulled into the driveway next door.
June - Sept 2001: Neighbors
With the moratorium over, work begins. And with activity on the property
comes neighbors. While most of the neighbors seem to be much more pleasant
than when we first bought the place, you can't win them all. Most notably,
one neighbor found it necessary to call the cops on us because we were removing
a dead tree stump. Yes, a tree stump ... dead ... tree already gone. When
the cop arrived Grady explained that he'd talked with the head of the parks
department at length before starting on the yard work. The cop asked Grady
for the park guys name and number so that next time a neighbor called he could
direct them to someone who "gives a shit." Even more baffling, although
not involving a cop, was the most recent neighbor incident. In mid-September,
our next door neighbor felt compelled to walk onto our property and paint
some of our white irrigation pipes ... red. Why did he do this? A fan of Clint
Eastwood's "High Plains Drifter"
or just insane ... you be the judge. Go ahead, try and figure it out, we can't.
So, we've now installed a black chainlink fence between us and the folks next
door. Of course, the installation of the fence also caused a stir. The lady
of the house is concerned that it will stop the "migrating" deer
and her husband has specifically told Grady that "we'll tangle on this
one." So far, no tangling.
Ok, Grady already met this guy.
But on June 6, we received a letter from the neighbor aka 'James Bond.' The
letter claimed that our property was 'distressed' and was causing great angst
for our neighbors. Because 'distressed' can be a vague term, our neighbor
was kind enough to site, in a numbered lists of further lists the
various ways that our property was distressed. Of the listed items, about
80 to 90 percent of the 'offenses' were either in our backyard or in an enclosed
area. Of the 10 or so percent of items that were visible from the road, about
90 percent of those were already cleared by the time we got the letter (which
was dated 2 days prior) ... so you do the math. Oh, and he left copies of
the letter for our other neighbors.
July 2002: 'Bruce'
At some point during the summer,
Grady met Bruce. Except that Bruce turned out to be Dave but we didn't learn
that 'til later. I'm jumping ahead. Bruce has lived his entire life 'on the
hill.' His dad built the house he's currently living in as well as the house
next door to his which is currently occupied by Duke & family. Bruce used
to play with the kid who lived here in the early '50s. They used to play in
the natural spring ... the same spring that is now buried inside our hill
and, if Grady has his way, will become a grotto inside the house he someday
builds. Bruce now works for the Food & Drug Administration. Bruce talked
about the wall, the cars and the various letters we've received from other
less-friendly folks on the hill.
15 July 2002: 'Bruce' at Peet's
So Grady already met Bruce, but
I didn't. On Monday, July 15, my first day driving to work from my new home,
I decided to stop at Peet's for an extra caffeine boost. While standing in
line, I heard the man behind me talking about the 'corn gig' that was like
slave labor but if he could get 'fruit salad' that'd be good because you just
stand around in a white coat pointing at people at things. 'Bruce?' I thought.
As I inched my way to the front of the line, I heard the man continue his
conversation, 'I finally met the guy with that big, steel wall. He's nice
enough. Got the neighbors upset with all those lil' cars though.' I bought
my coffee and scurried out of Peets without turning around to face Bruce.
July 2002: Our First Dinner
Erin Saul! Thank you miss E. for
climbing over the boxes to get to the table and partake of some Whole Foods
1 August 2002: The Neighbor
Ok, so while helping us move in,
a friend found a home for the large, ceramic hands my mother gave us as an
anniversary gift several years prior. The hands are now nestled in the ivy
at the base of an oak tree next to our mailbox. Enter the neighbor conversation.
'Uh, Grady, I have a question for you.' 'Yes?' Grady replied. 'Are those hands
going to stay?' 'Yes, the hands stay,' Grady stated. 'Well,' the neighbor
continued 'my daughter is creeped out by them. If your goal is to make this
place look creepy you're succeeding.' At this point I interrupted with 'Those
hands were an anniversary gift from my mother' and walked away. The hands
are still nestled in the ivy at the base of an oak tree next to our mailbox
... and now there's a straw hat, too.
August 2002: The Phone Guy
We had some difficulty getting the
phone hooked up. Something about not wanting to climb a pole. Confusion about
houses. While we were moving stuff, mom hung out at Playfaire to wait for
the phone guy. She later reported he showed up, was extremely rude and didn't
do a thing. When the phone guy came back a few days later, Grady discovered
the secret, magic word to get to the guy's core ... Everquest. Our phone guy
was a total computer gaming geek.
August 2002: 'Lou'
In addition to the phone, we had
some electricity problems ... more specifically, intermittent voltage surges
and sags. PG&E sent someone out to fix the problem and from Grady's reports,
he must have been the oldest PG&E employee. But we like to call him 'Lou.'
Moving slowly and hunched over with a screwdriver wrapped in duct tape, he
checked out the situation. Lou replied 'Broken Neutral.' He looked up the
pole, commented that he didn't want to stop traffic (he'd have to use a lift
bucket to get up the pole, he was much too old to climb), paced a bit and
then said 'I'll be back later.' Lou left. However he did come back, fixed
our broken neutral and we've had decent power since.
12 August 2002: The Mayor's
He's not really the mayor, but she
is his wife. And, while driving up the hill, she stopped, rolled down her
window and proclaimed that she 'loves the hands.' She then suggested that
they put a pair of legs in their yard at the top of the hill, or maybe put
a giant pair of underwear in the hands. Yeah! Someone on the hill with a sense
16 August 2002: Our First
The Santa Barbara Johnsons drove
many miles north and brought a Kegg. Having already dropped Sally off at guide
dog school in Marin County, the crew was on their way to deliver Sam to Berkeley
and opted for a sleep over at Playfaire. Andy got the new couch but the rest,
with minimal bedding, hit the oriented-strand-board floor. In the morning,
we toasted bagels over open flames using our new dual-fuel range. The first
cooking attempt in our 1/2 kitchen. Kudos to Tim, Karen, Sam & Andy for
13 September 2002: The Postman
Or, as he's now know to us, the
cranky old guy postman. He's getting close to retirement age ('I hate this
f*cking job.') and wants nothing more than to get out of here, move somewhere
north where there are few people and lots of fish. Grady had to sign for his
package so mr. cranky old guy postman handed him a pink pen with a feather
on top and said 'you can use the faggot pen ... actually my wife gave me this
pen and I keep it because no one wants it enough to steal it.'
14 September 2002: Good Neighbors
Yes, we're finding that there are
good neighbors on the hill. Today some of those neighbors stopped their car
long enough to compliment Grady on the flowering vines he'd just planted along
the upper wall. 'You're going to have a great property,' the neighbors said.
I think hell just dropped a degree.
14 September 2002: Another
This particular neighbor has been
nice from day one. Today he suggested that Grady take over the road association
for Francis Oaks Way. While talking, Grady mentioned 'Bruce,' received a confused
look and learned that there is no 'Bruce' ... his name's Dave.
18 September 2002: Yet Another
Yes, we've added another good neighbor
to the list. His name's Bob and he lives across the street from our driveway.
Sounds like he's not to keen on how some of the other neighbors have been
treating folks, including us.
19 September 2002: Strike!
After three good neighbor encounters,
we return to our more traditional reports. The same neighbor who had issues
with our poison oak removal, is now sticking her nose into the brush clearing
Grady started on our property across the street. She strolled down the hill
under the guise of a friendly inquiry, as she has done in the past, and asked
'What's going on on the hill? I didn't realize your property went up
there.' Grady told her he was terracing. 'Are you going to plant grapes?'
she asked. 'I'm not planting anything,' Grady replied. She started to struggle
with her fake smile and Grady started to anticipate the arrival of the police
... but they never showed. Instead, her son started circling in front of our
house on his bicycle. We think he's a spy.
15 November 2002: The Letter
Today we received a letter from
'the mayor' stating that he'd been patient but that the continous construction
at our place was becoming an issue. He proceeded to essentially threaten us
by 'reminding' us that when we go to build our new house we'll need the support
of all the neighbors so, basically, do as he says. He then claimed we would
not get any trouble from him. (Mixed messages much?) and closed the letter
by stating he was warming up to our new house color.
20 November 2002: The Letter
Now the neighbor asks Grady if we
were upset about the letter. Duh! He claims he's not mad at us and never intended
the letter to make us upset ... he just wanted to inquire about the garbage
project. We think there might be some schizo action happening.
27 November 2002: The Neighbor
Sings A New Tune
Maybe it's because it's the day
before Thanksgiving. Maybe there's another reason.. Whatever the reason, the
neighbor was nice today. While taking out his garbage, he commented to Grady
that he likes our new house color and he really likes the retaining walls
Grady and Maurilio built for Bob. He's interested in retaining walls at his
place and wants to know if he should talk to Grady and/or Maurilio to get
some built. Very strange.