Sunday, May 7, 2017

I'm free -- (followed rambling update and recap and such)

So, pizza existed and thus I am no longer a hostage.  I am home.  Woo!

There are still some things to be officially closed, there's a lot of paperwork to do, and some of the stuff that was resolved was in that, "We're not going to go to trial on account of you being clearly and unmistakably innocent, but if you get arrested any time in the next six months we'll totally bring this up again in hopes that by then you will have lost the proof that you're innocent," way that District Attorneys do.

That said, the things that required me to put my entire life on hold, not live in my own house, and so forth if I didn't want my sister's family to be torn apart, are over.  I can return to my life, assuming I remember what that consists of.  The great stress is over, so hopefully I can be creative again, so on, so forth.

It took eight months, two weeks, and one day.

~ ~ ~

There are lasting damages, and I don't just mean trauma to my sister's whole family and the fact my four year old nephew is terrified of police now.  The neighbors tried to trick the police into shooting my sister (through her six month developed fetus, for fuck's sake) during fence repair and expansion.

I have previously said that it was a rose bush, I was wrong.  All of this started over cutting a single branch off of a lilac bush that had been illegally planted on my families land (years ago) after the neighbors illegally cut down the trees my grandfather had planted at the property boundary.  It's difficult to say, but I think they were trying to move the property boundary some 15 feet in their favor.

It's called usucapion.  The idea that if you use something for long enough, and no one disputes it, it becomes yours.  The idea is in fact about property boundaries.  You don't want to have to tear down all the walls and rebuild them three steps to the left just because someone found a 500 year old map proving that your triple great grandparents were slightly wrong about where they built stuff.

The thing is, it was always subject to abuse which is why Justinian (yes, we're talking Eastern Roman Empire, Vandals and Ostrogoths here) reformed that shit.

Anyway, my sister wasn't trying to make waves, so the fence in question was being erected well onto our property.  It required removing a solitary lilac branch from one of the illegal plants.

That's when the neighbors went apoplectic.  Interestingly, in spite of going off and giving justifiable cause for a combative response, according to the witness statement he filled out, the paterfamilias of the family thought my sister responded to him quite calmly.  It was only after he took (and copied) a boundary survey he had only ever been given permission to measure that he felt . . . well, the various conflicting accounts get a bit distorted at that point.

It is definitely the case that after taking the boundary survey, which wasn't just a boundary survey, by the way --more value than a mere boundary survey-- but for our purposes the fact that it was a bona fide boundary survey is what matters, went into his house, closed the door, and gave no indications he'd return things got heated.  It did, after all, appear that he was stealing the boundary survey.  It's not as if he said, "Instead of bringing a ruler out here, I'd like to bring it in there," and got a response of, "Well well taking it out of our sight and camping out with it is in no way implied by measuring, but sure, you can do that."

The various statements the neighbors gave to the police indicate that he never actually measured it.  He copied it which is probably eventually going to mean hostilities between himself and my aunt.  She was the one who paid for the survey, non-boundary parts included, and she has very strict rules about what is allowed to be done with it.  Mostly she wants to be paid before anyone is allowed to get a copy.  Her stance is that she paid for it to be done, and if anyone else is going to benefit from her investment she wants compensation.

If said paterfamilias had asked if he could make a copy he likely would have been told about my aunt's stance and thus avoided the almost inevitable showdown.  He's got time though, my aunt's taking a break from all this right now, so her wrath will not descend upon the neighbors for at least a few months.

As a frequent recipient of her wrath myself, I don't envy the guy.  This is the woman who made her eldest daughter homeless in winter in fucking Maine and justified it as tough love.  She's scary.

But, anyway, a single lilac branch.

* * *

That got off track, didn't it?

This started on August 20th of last year during fence repair and expansion.

For a while we tried to keep that up in spite of the omnipresent threat of the neighbors trying to have us killed.  Also worries about what might happen if they decided to indulge in their hobby of lobbing things (golf balls, baseballs, hockey pucks, apples, I'm pretty sure there was one softball which kind of surprised me since I don't think they play it, so forth) through the glass greenhouse while we were on the shrapnel side of the equation.

And we know for a fact that they were trespassing onto the property by going through the woods so we couldn't see them coming, at the time.

But four hours after the August 20th incident was over and statements were being given to police (as in, if the police record keeping is to be believed, four hours to the minute after the first written statement, but I personally think they were rounding), after my sister had inquired about how to lodge an excessive force complaint, the first officer on scene (the one who put a gun, then taser, to my sister's pregnant belly) decided to call DHHS and say that he had just realized my then three-year-old nephew had been unsafe more than four hours prior when the whole thing went down.

Just so everyone is clear, according to his own written statement, the stuff he told them wasn't true.

Unfortunately we can't line up what he said to DHHS with what he said in his incident report because DHHS usually only paraphrases him in the documents they have shared.  There are a couple of direct quotations, but it's mostly paraphrase.

That's not important right now.  Various things happened when DHHS got involved.

This including my older nephew's father finally admitting he was the father and dropping the whole "I think god did it to her, like he did with Mary" routine he had been doing for three and a half years at that point as part of his, "I will only ever pay zero dollars and zero cents in child support," ploy.

When going through papers an official report on the child support stood out to me because instead of saying "none" or something to that effect, it broke the nothing he had paid down by month.  Just so you know which part of zero was in this month as opposed to that month.  That's probably why what he paid will likely never be a simple "nothing" in my mind.  It's monthly installments of $0.00 and you can look up each month to see what the $0.00 paid in that month looked like.

For a time DHHS considered awarding full custody to that guy, who had no home in which to keep a child and repeatedly un-potty-trained the kid because it was easier to stick him in diapers and walk him around town until he shit himself, then keep walking, than it would have been to let the child use bathrooms (which were, in fact, available in the places he was walking.)

As things eventually worked toward their ends the full custody to Mr. un-potty-trainer was dropped (but he does have partial custody now) and DHHS forced my sister from her home via the threat of taking away her child for good.

Then they claimed she was currently married to someone she'd never married, which for a while seemed impossible to disprove because while there is such a thing as a divorce certificate there is no such thing as a "never married in the first place" certificate.  They also altered her recorded address which still manages to cause lasting trouble.

Their reasoning was that any time you sleep in a place other than your house (a couch in a friend's house, a mattress or bed in relative's house, a desk in a Calculus C class) that place automatically becomes your legal address and doesn't stop becoming your legal address ever.

Why your address doesn't revert back to your actual home when you return there and sleep in your own bed has never been adequately explained.

But, for a time, she wasn't sleeping in her own home and instead had to crash in our parents' homes.  Given the location of the one she spent the most time in, it was impossible to do real farm work of any kind.

At this point I want you to think back.  What started all this?  A solitary lilac branch being trimmed as part of fence repair and expansion.

Focus on fence repair.

Do you know what happens to farm animals if fence repair is stopped?  They go wherever the fuck they damn well please.

Oh, sure, you can hold off on necessary repairs for a little bit, but for that long?

My sister was forced to get rid of all of the animals except the chickens.  Even Bones.

I talked about lasting harm.  That's thing one.

For almost three quarters of a year there has been no farm work done, the livestock is all gone save chickens.  Free-range fox-ready chickens.  (There are five at the moment.)

No livestock.  No plants.  No livelihood.

My sister is beyond broke because of all of this.

* * *

Other problems include relationships.  Some may never mend.

Even for the ones that do, it's been a lot of time under incredible stress.  The fractures that causes don't go away overnight.

The four year old may be afraid of cops, the man who raised him with my sister, father of his brother, is afraid of the entire state of Maine.  My sister's home is her boyfriends trauma.  That's a god damned mess.

* * *

Random note about cops.

When my sister was telling part of the story to someone the person said, "Fuck cops" it turned out there were a lot of cops behind him.  Estimates place it at around a dozen.

This awkward situation was defused when the cops, Portland cops, were told that the discussion was about Cape Elizabeth.  Portland cops gave nods and sounds of understanding.

* * *

It could be argued that this means my sister should leave Cape.

We were there first.  My mother was a child when my grandfather built that house, greenhouse, and so forth.  I grew up on that farm at least as much as my house because my parents both worked and someone had to watch us kids, the horrible neighbors weren't there yet (their house was actually owned by a good friend), neither were the bad cops in the department (not sure about the town.)

They're neophytes, and it might be arrogant, it might be narcissistic or stupid, but fucking asshole newcomers won't drive us from our land.  Our home.  I can say "our" because my sister feels the same way.  She's not going to let some random new-on-the-scene jerks who have twisted ideas about what Cape Elizabeth means to them drive her from her home.  We may only have three generations at the farm, but that's the immigrant side of my family.  That side of my family only has four generations in America (the United States, the continents, the hemisphere, whatever you want to define it as, only four generations here on that side.)

The possibility still remains that my aunt can drive my sister from the farm, turn it into a housing development, and finally make the transition from "tippity top of the middle class" to "actually fucking rich" (the very, very bottom of rich, but actually fucking in the category none the less.)

My aunt has the potential to do that because she owns half of every molecule of the property.  As for any others, my generation of the Witham family (Witham-Rose family I guess, since my sister dropped her last name and upgraded her middle to her new last) will no more be driven from our homes than we will be driven from America.  Fuck the neighbors, fuck bad cops, fuck Trump; but we will not be moved.

My house and the farm are the homes my sister and I grew up with.  She's as attached to home as I am.

When we were children we had serious conversations about which of us would go on to live in our house, and which would live at the farm, because the idea of either stopping being ours was unthinkable.  None of those conversations ever reached a conclusion, and they didn't matter anyway.  It just sort of happened that I ended up with the house in South Portland and she ended up with the Farm in Cape Elizabeth.

I don't know if she remembers those conversations, I barely do, but it's always been a given that we'd do everything we could to keep home.  The fact home was two places didn't change that.

* * *

I broke my ankle in the very first steps of cleaning my home.  Cleaning being a necessary prerequisite to repairing and maintaining.

Now that I have free time again, I think I'll get back on that.  While my ankle had me out of commission I got the news that will actually allow me to really make a difference: my mother and father have both renounced all property that remains in my house.  I can keep it, move it, or trash it as I see fit.

It's going to take a long time, but this place will again become a place where people, not just me, can live.  More than that, a place where thriving is possible.

* * *

So that's where we are.  The horror has passed, but there's a lot of work to do.  Now that work can start being done.

No comments:

Post a Comment