They Have The Nerve To Say I’m A Safety Hazard


July 1, 2016

Earlier this week, I was given a written lease violation by my apartment complex manager, citing me and my neighbor for illegally trapping and taking the life of rodents, which for the past several years have become out of control. These rodents like to dig up and destroy our flowers. Below is a copy of my response to the office manager, who declared our acts of murder to be a safety hazard. As you can see in the above photograph of a refrigerator which has been sitting in the middle of the sidewalk for two months, the entire apartment complex is nothing more than one big safety hazard.  The cement mixer has been sitting in the yard even longer.  Making matters worse, just to the right of these two items is the only remaining playground equipment left in the complex, a set of monkey bars.

The first month I moved into Pine Village Apartments fifteen years ago, I told the then office manager that my gutter leaked, and with if being winter, this caused the stoop right outside my front door to become an ice-skating rink. The office manager replied, “They all do.” Not only was her reply crass, but she was telling the truth, as I have found out over the years that indeed they all do.

A few weeks later, my next-door neighbor’s little girl came over selling Girl Scout cookies. As she stepped back when I opened the door, she slipped and fell on the ice-covered stoop. Being an habitual writer of letters, I wrote the owners of the complex, informing them that it was a miracle that this little girl did not bust her head wide open on the edge of the stoop, slipping on ice because the gutters leak. Fifteen years later, the gutters still leak. A few years back, the owners had to replace the roofs on all the buildings in the complex, because they too leaked. However, the owners had their landscaping crew replace the roofs as cheaply as possible. All they did was to lay sheet metal on top of a 1×1 inch framing they laid on top of the old plywood. The roofing fascia in which gutters are attached are all rotted, so they left the leaking gutters alone, re-hanging the old gutters. The fascia is so rotted; the gutters are barely hanging, as it is hard to drive a nail into.

When it rains hard, it’s like walking under a waterfall to enter an apartment. I have had my UPS man toss a package to me because of the waterfall on more than one occasion. And, because the gutters leak, it rots the storm doors. Belmont Properties, the owners of my apartment complex have replaced so many storm doors, that they now no longer replace them. When a storm door goes bad, they just remove it. Thankfully, I have a relatively new door. After it rains hard, I swing my storm door back and forth six or eight times to drain the water from it. The apartment complex looks quite cheap seeing every other apartment not having a door.

For three years, I worked as a part-time maintenance worker for the complex. I know what a safety hazard is. This apartment complex if full of them, and no, it’s not trapping rodents.

Steven H. Spring

June 30, 2016

Linda Midkiff
Office Manager
Pine Village Apartments
355 Clifton Road
South Charleston, Ohio 45368

Dear Linda,

In regard to your lease violation, dated June 22nd, I would like to reply in writing, as is my right as stated in the notification. You cited both David Hazlett and me for trapping rodents and taking their life, citing section XVII-2 of my lease agreement and section 17.G of the attached Rules and Regulations. Reading both of the sections, I see nothing specifically regarding the trapping of rodents. One might argue that it is the rodents who are both a safety and health hazard, not the trapping of them. Coming from an apartment complex that in the past has trapped and illegally dumped many cats, I find this citation ludicrous. Making matters worse is that one of your maintenance men actually feeds rodents during the winter months.

Ground squirrels, which are what David and I are attempting to get rid of, have become a nuisance in that they are destroying our flowers. The especially love lilies. We are not the only tenants who complain about rodents destroying our gardens. I have even heard you complain on more than one occasion about the problem. David and I both take great pride in our flower gardens and to see flowers destroyed every single morning is demoralizing, not to mention the cost associated with replacing them. You stated that the single rat trap in which we use to trap these rodents are a safety issue for children on the property. This could not be further from the truth, as neither of us has children nor do we ever have children visit. When a trap is set, it is always placed well out-of-the-way on our patios. No one ever knows that the trap is there.

What I find especially irritating is that for years, David and I have maintained the lawn and surrounding common area in the summer and shoveled snow from the sidewalks in the winter. Last summer, my eighty-year-old next-door neighbor bought a weed eater for us to use. David then bought a leaf blower so he would not have to sweep the sidewalk. Before David moved into a handicapped apartment a few months ago, he and I maintained the entire four-apartment side of our building. In addition to maintaining the lawn during the summer months, we also trimmed many of the trees around our building. One might argue that the low hanging branches of the trees are a safety hazard, especially the very low hanging dead branches of the big oak tree by the driveway. With no leaves, these branches are especially hard to see. They very easily could poke someone’s eyes out.

I will never forget how, last summer before Ken bought his weed eater, David was sitting on the sidewalk leading up to Ken’s apartment with a pair of scissors trimming his grass. While I was talking to him, you walked over to talk to us but said not a single word about David trimming Ken’s grass with a pair of scissors. After you left, I said to David “If I were the office manager, I would have told you ‘If you want, you can borrow our weed eater.” However, you said nothing, totally ignoring David’s act of kindness.

In the winter, David and I always shoveled the snow off the sidewalk running the entire length of our side of the building along with the sidewalk where they park their vehicles. Not only does David, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, shovel snow but he buys salt to make the sidewalk passable. Two winters ago, while at the grocery store, I saw David with a five-pound bag of rock salt getting ready to walk home, as his car was not running. As I have no vehicle, I walked home with him, which is roughly a one-mile hike each way. I kept asking him to let me carry the bag of salt, but he would not let me. He had to stop and sit down three or four times in order to make it home. I did not think he was going to make it home.

He and I have both been known to shovel water off the sidewalk when it rains, because the sidewalk has settled maybe an inch or two and when it rains heavy, not only water but also mud collects on it. I have seen David many times shoveling both water and snow from the sidewalk well into the evening hours. However, I think I can safely say for the both of us that the days of shoveling snow and water are over. This will not be a burden on me, but I worry about both David and Ken. However, it is not my responsibly to shovel the sidewalk. Nor am I paid to. In the summer, David and I will probably maintain the grass around our gardens, as we both take great pride in our yards. Neighbor Ken appreciates our work as well and he occasionally likes to cut the grass in his little front yard with his weed eater too. David says he no longer will cut your grass. He has recently given to his mother many of his flowers, as he is so disgusted with this lease violation. However, come next spring his outlook might change.

David and I spend many hours each week making our section of Pine Village look its very best. It is not our job to do so. However, to get shit-on for some trivial matter such as trapping a rodent population that is out of control, and destroying our personal property is asinine.

Belmont Properties should be embarrassed.


Steven H. Spring


It’s All In My Genes

Grandpa's Father's Band (1C)November 13, 2015

As I turn a rather significant milestone number on this date, oddly enough a Friday the 13th, I have begun thinking more and more about life. I have always been one to self-analyze, and events from forty years ago still haunt me to this day, however, lately I’ve been wondering how much my life could have been different, if not for just one or two events. Everything in life has a bearing on each individual’s outcome, and we all could say if only such-and-such hadn’t happened, or if I hadn’t met so-and-so, however the two events that could have greatly shaped my life only caused a much longer period of time for the events to come somewhat into fruition. Or maybe I’m just a late bloomer.

I never knew my father. My mother moved back home with her parents when she divorced him and lived with her father until he passed away sixteen years ago. My grandmother died in 1971, and Mom died maybe two years after Grandpa. All I knew about Grandpa’s musical background was that every once in a while when I was very young, he would get out his Old Kraftsman acoustic guitar that he bought from a Montgomery Ward catalog in 1942 and played and sang all those old-time songs like You Are My Sunshine. Grandpa always complained about his health, and once after listening to him talk one more time about not feeling well, I ask him if I could have his guitar when he died. I did not realize it at the time but this request would cause much trouble between me and all my siblings.

When I bought my first Stratocaster on my fortieth birthday, in the midst of a rather serve mid-life crisis that cost me everything, my next younger brother and an ex-brother-in-law would come out to my old farmhouse every other Saturday (with all three divorced, this worked out well for visitation with the children) and we would play all day, cook a big feast and have a great time. They both had been playing since they were teenagers. I would set the pace on rhythm and they would take turns on lead and vocals. This went on for five years until I finally lost the farmhouse and moved into an apartment fourteen years ago. At first, they would come out maybe once a year, then gradually less often.

That all ended some years back, mostly I believe because of Grandpa’s guitar. Willie, my ex-brother-in-law was killed about five ago when he was electrocuted at work and suffered a massive heart attack and died a week later. When I would tell friends about my playing it was always my two brothers, not an ex-brother-in-law. It was my guitars that gave me the will to live during my mid-crisis. And still do to this very day.

Getting back to the above photo, this is a photograph of my great-grandfather’s band. Looking at the photo, my great-grandfather is sitting in the front row, on the right side playing what looks like a G chord. I grew up living with Grandpa but never knew that photo existed until right before he died. After I asked for his guitar, my brother soon spoke up to request the photo.  When I first saw this photo, I ask Grandpa if they played bluegrass, since there were four mandolin players plus that crazy looking instrument in the front row, not to mention that Grandpa’s father side of the family comes from southern Ohio hill country. Grandpa let me know that they played country music, not bluegrass. It was like he was offended that I asked if they played bluegrass. If anything, they probably played a little of both. When my mother died, riding with my brother on the way to the cemetery, he told me that it was he that should have got Grandpa’s guitar. I told him that he should have ask for it. Fifteen years later, I believe the guitar lies at the heart of why I have nothing to do with any of my siblings.

However, it is on my father’s side of the family where the story get’s interesting. All I knew of the man was that he was a photographer in the Navy. I was born in the Portsmouth, Virginia Naval Hospital. I have an 8×10 photo he took of me when I was very young that I tried to recreate with my son. It is eerie to look at both photos side by side in a photo album. Somebody told me a few years back that he might have been a police photographer in Los Angeles. When Grandpa died, at one of his viewings, my father’s sister showed up, having seen the obituary in the paper. I spoke with her for five minutes and was amazed by what she told me. Not only was my father a photographer but their father had a darkroom in his basement. I do not remember if she told me he was a professional or just a very serious amateur. However, to have a darkroom in his basement, he was definitely serious about photography.

So, on one side of my family I have a grandfather and great-grandfather who were guitar players and on the other side I have a father and grandfather who were photographers. One look at my apartment and it’s easy to see why I have wall-to-wall guitars, amps, stereo speakers, PA system and 20×30 enlargements hanging on every conceivable wall space. In an even weirder occurrence, I bought my first 55 gallon fish tank back in 1982. But it was not until almost twenty years later that my mother thought to tell me that my father’s father also had fish tanks. I now have two 55 gallon tanks plus a 125 gallon tank. A few years back, I had a third 55 gallon tank in my kitchen and a 30 gallon tank in the bedroom.

Taking long walks down to my local library several times a week gives me plenty of time to think and reflect on many things. Reaching an age that I have yet to disclose and will not do so, I think about what could have been. If only I had Grandpa teach me to play the guitar when I was young. I loved rock & roll and thought those songs Grandpa played were as far apart as the aisle separating the two Houses of Congress. If only my mother and father hadn’t divorced and I grew up with a photographer for a dad and a grandfather who had a darkroom in his basement. I could have shot some great photos at all those concerts I’ve attended since the early ‘70s. It wasn’t until I got out of the Navy before I started shooting concerts, having bought my first 35mm SLR camera and lens while overseas right before I was discharged after serving four years. They outlawed cameras at concerts several years later. I wonder what might have been. It seems to me that I was born to play the guitar and take pictures. If only I had known.

I do regret that when young, I was too foolish to think that Grandpa played hillbilly music when I only wanted to rock. I only wish I was smart enough to have asked Grandpa to teach me how to play the guitar and teach me all those old-time songs. I can, however play You Are My Sunshine. Oh yeah, I turned 60. But, don’t tell anyone!!!

Steven H. Spring


2013 Year In Review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 17,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Half Breeds

December 18, 2013

No, this isn’t a racist rant against human beings of different races propagating, but about tropical fish doing so.  I decided to use this particular title just to catch reader’s attention, purely for shock value.  In nature, I know very well that a male dog will attempt to breed with any female.  A miniature male Chihuahua would try to breed with a Great Dane bitch, even if he needed a stepladder to do so, however, it seems that for the most part, the animal kingdom usually stick with their own kind, much to my amazement.  How, for instance, do birds recognize their own?  How do they know what they themselves look like, in order to breed with a similar looking mate?

Earlier this summer, I restocked one of my fifty-five gallon fish tanks with several different varieties of American Cichlids, such as Red Devils, Texas Cichlids, Black Convicts, Jack Dempseys and Green Severums.  About a month ago, maybe two, I noticed that a pair of Cichlids had bred, as there were maybe 30-40 very small fry swimming madly among the rocks at the bottom of the tank.  However, much to my amazement, the two Cichlids that had produced the fry were a Texas Cichlid (probably the male, as it is the larger of the two) and a Black Convict.

As a serious tropical fish hobbyist, I bought my first fifty-five gallon tank in 1982, after first buying a ten-gallon tank maybe a year earlier.  I know people think I’m nuts when I tell them I communicate with my fish, especially the Red Devils, however I am serious about doing so.  Red Devils have such a personality!  I had one who lived to be almost fifteen years old.  They are such a large, aggressive fish, that once they get so big, I end up keeping just one by itself in a fifty-five gallon tank.  I tell people who get up close to the tank that he isn’t mad at them for looking at him, he is mad at me for letting them do so.

Over the years, I have had several breeding pairs of fish, although only once did the fry survive long enough to grow large enough to avoid becoming dinner to the other fish in the tanks.  I currently have two fifty-five gallon tanks and a one hundred and twenty-five gallon tank.  Living in a very small apartment, my neighbors and friends were always amazed that at one time I had another fifty-five gallon tank and a thirty-gallon tank, three of which were given to me over the years.

As the fish in my largest tank are getting somewhat old, hopefully all of the young fry survive, as they would save me a lot of money when the time comes to restock that tank.  With a little bit of luck, the breeding pair of Cichlids will do their thing several more times in the coming years.

Steven H. Spring

Rapidly Entering The 21st Century

September 10, 2013

It all started innocently enough two years ago when my nearly twenty-year-old television set finally kicked the bucket.  I replaced that TV with a modest thirty-inch high-definition flat screen.  That was it for my big move into the twenty-first century, that is until about three months ago, when all hell began to break loose.  Regular readers and viewers of my blog will know that I purchased my first new camera in thirty-three years this past June, finally going digital.  I took full advantage of my new toy and shot more than twelve thousand photographs, nearly every single one of a flower, in just three months.

After seeing what my photographs looked like in HD on the small LCD monitor on the back of the camera, compared to what they looked like on my ten-year old computer’s CRT monitor, it did not take long for me to decide that I must get a new HD monitor as well.  My real concern was what my photographs looked like online to other people compared to what they looked like on my old monitor, after I had made some adjustments such as to color, tone and brightness and then matting and framing them.  This past Saturday, just before halftime of the Ohio State-San Diego State football game, the FedEx man delivered my new twenty-three inch HD monitor.  After setting it up at halftime, my first thought was why I ever waited so long to update my computer.

It’s not as if I am anti-technology.  The reason why I waited as long as I did to buy a digital camera, replacing my Canon A-1 that I bought in 1980, was I did not want to, nor could I afford to replace all my lens.  Earlier this year, I found out there was an adapter that would enable me to use all the old lens on a new camera.  The main reason for not updating both camera and computer monitor over the years was lack of money.  I have too many hobbies and passions and every one is expensive.  Barely surviving on SSI (Supplemental Security Income) disability income, I consider both of these recent purchases to be “major.”  I am very grateful for this government assistance, however, living on what I receive; I consider the current poverty level of $11,500 for a single American to be living high on the hog.

Now, all I need is a cell phone to complete my trifecta.  Nah, that ain’t gonna happen!  Besides, what I really need is a brand new Fender Stratocaster.

Steven H. Spring

The Royal Baby

July 22, 2013

With the seemingly nonstop news today that Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge had gone into labor (or labour as the British spell it) and has given birth to a baby boy, I just do not understand why American television goes gaga over anything concerning the British Royal Family, which in itself is nothing more than a largely ceremonial symbol of its long ago world empire.  America fought its Revolutionary War more than two centuries ago to rid ourselves of the British empire, yet now days, we seemingly cannot get enough of any and all things British.  It was just last year that American television seemed nearly consumed with the Royal Family’s celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s 60th year as the Queen Mother.  Now, it’s the birth of Prince William & Kate’s first child, who is deemed worthy of being third in line to the royal throne.

Great Britain, like much of the rest of the world is in the mist of severe economic hardship, yet seventy-five percent of its citizens see nothing wrong with supporting yet one more royal mouth to not only feed, but to provide a lifelong gift of extreme luxury.  If they don’t mind the Royal Family and its untold number of princes, princesses, dukes, duchesses, counts, countesses, barons and knights living a life of opulence, that’s up to them.  However, for the American press to go ballistic over anything to do with the Royal Family is rather asinine.

Chris Matthews, a political pundit on MSNBC devoted his entire show, ironically named “Hardball” this afternoon to the birth of the royal baby, as if no other worthwhile news event occurred today.  Isn’t there still a war going on in Afghanistan?  Mr. Matthews was so giddy with excitement that he concluded his show by announcing “We had a baby.”  Really?  We had a baby?  Maybe I should send flowers.

Call me unsentimental, however, I have far more important things going on in my life to get worked up over the lives of pampered millionaires who have absolutely nothing to do with me, let alone this nation.

Steven H. Spring

OSU Alumni Football Ticket Policy

I acknowledge that with the recent hiring of Urban Meyer as head coach, alumni football ticket demand will be very high this coming season, however this does not diminish the absurd policy OSU enacted several years ago of not informing ticket buyers exactly what game they are purchasing tickets to.  As some one who has been on disability for the past fifteen years, I do not purchase alumni tickets very often.  I find the cost to attend games against significantly inferior opponents too great, that there are far more important things on which to spend my limited income.  However, if I knew I had the chance to purchase tickets to the Michigan game, that is an entirely different ballgame.

Why on earth would anyone buy something without knowing exactly what they are buying?  There is not one establishment that would stay in business with this type of asinine practice.  During the past four years, I have written President E. Gordon Gee, Athletic Director Gene Smith and Alumni Association President Archie Griffin numerous times in an attempt to have them change this preposterous policy.  In response, I have received letters from various university and alumni personnel trying to explain the rational for this policy.  However, not one of their replies adequately explains the logic behind this ludicrous policy.

I rely on the generously of relatives to purchase my two alumni tickets and take me to a game.  Last year, my daughter purchased the tickets but by the time we found out what game we were to attend, she had already made reservations to be on vacation in Florida.  As a result she was struck holding two costly tickets to a game we could not attend.  This scenario alone is ample reason why OSU should change this policy.

Am I the only alum who finds this practice disgraceful?  This policy reeks of superciliousness and should be changed immediately.  If OSU does not feel required to change this procedure, then we, the alumni of The Ohio State University should boycott all alumni events and sporting contests.  Now is the time to Occupy Ohio Stadium and the OSU Athletic Ticket Office until this outrageous policy is reversed!

Steven H. Spring
OSU, Class of ‘87