I have a habit of giving people nick-names. Unfortunately, I often come up with the names before I’ve actually met a person and they can be kinda critical (eg., Flatfoot, Loudmouth) – but I’m working on changing that.

I also have nicknames for my family (The Meister, Moo-Moo, Veen, Boy, Peckerhead – which sounds worse than it is – , The Percolator, Mr. Velvet Ear, Foxy…). For the record, I’ve asked Mark to call me Boss. He’s probably thinking something else as he says it.

Lately, I’ve found that I’ve been using the words “crazy” and “lady” to describe women in my neighbourhood. I don’t think it’s from a lack of imagination – although I AM and engineer – they just all seem to have some very odd behaviours.


  • Crazy Dog Lady – which sometimes refers to her dog, and sometimes to her
  • Crazy Dog Lady #2 – which I’m changing to Crazy Shaggy Dog Lady.  Shaggy refers to the dog, Crazy refers to the lady
  • Crazy Walking Lady – who also, coincidentally has a dog, but there’s nothing crazy about that dog, and
  • Just plain old Crazy Lady

It’s Crazy Lady I’m going to focus on here, but first I’ve got to tell you about the rain barrels.

For the past several years, the Region of Waterloo has been selling Rain Barrels at a reduced rate ($20-$25 instead of $80-$100) to encourage residents to conserve water.  The program has been very successful and the barrels are only distributed one day a year so you can imagine the line up.

Perhaps it’s the Water Resources Engineer in me, but I know a heavy rainfall from a small one and I know that an inch of rain is a good amount of rain around here.  I also know that you’re supposed to put your rain barrel under a downspout from your eavestrough so that you can collect all the rain that lands on the roof.

WARNING: Geeky Math Bit – So, if you got an inch of rain, and say the part of your house draining to the downspout is 280 square feet, that would be about 174 gallons or 660 litres of rainwater directed to your barrel (which is probably way more than the capacity of your barrel).

This all seems like common sense to me, but perhaps that’s because of the line of work I’m in.

Now imagine you’re Crazy Lady and you didn’t put your barrel under the downspout. And imagine further that you put it under a tree.  How long would it take to fill that thing? Would you think of using your hose to fill that rain barrel?

Now imagine you’re me.  You’re sitting in your back yard enjoying a beer and watching Crazy Lady lift the screen off the top of her rain barrel to see how much water is in it – even though it hasn’t rained since she put it there.  Then you watch her tilt it over and open the nozzle “just in case”.

Imagine you’re still me and one day, after a very small rainfall (less than 2 mm), you watch Crazy Lady put her watering can under the nozzle and tilt the barrel.  Of course there’s no water in there, because it’s under a tree.  But she lifts the screen off to take a look anyway and then walks away.

Finally, imagine you’re me and you watch as Crazy Lady goes to her garden with her hose.  The hose is on and she stops to check the rain barrel.  No wait, she sprays the hose into the rain barrel.

At what point do you intervene?  What’s the neighbourly thing to do?

Do I change her nick-name to Hoser?