World's Weirdest Home News II
You can't make this stuff up! More strange house-related tales from the news wires
Wacky wildlife home invasions, garden-tool weapons, and the world's dumbest DIYers. It turns out there's no shortage of weird home-related news for us to learn from and chuckle at. Here's an international roundup of cautionary tales.
Ohio resident Lillian Bernhagen assumed a loud bang she heard one recent night was just a side effect of stormy weather. But according to The Columbus Dispatch, police had to let the 94-year-old homeowner know that a 128-foot-long blimp had landed in her backyard. The blimp was on a 20-city tour, carrying an advertisement for Hangar One Vodka; it broke away from its moorings at the Columbus airport because of a windy storm. Bernhagen's response to seeing the dirigible that covered half her yard—and caused her to miss church? "Wow."
Most homeowners are used to their pet dogs coming to beg for scraps at the table. But for the Anderson-Dixons of Ashbourne, Derbyshire, England, it's 3-year-old Joe the camel who comes looking for a treat. The Rex Features reports that the family is no longer surprised when Joe pops his head through their kitchen window each day and chows down with them. There are four camels and dozens of other animals on the property, but Joe is the only one brazen enough to eat breakfast with his owners.
In America, citizens who require urgent assistance from trusted officials dial 911. But in Germany, it would seem that a police hotline can double as a helpline for kids who are asked to pick up after themselves. After his mother told him to tidy up his toys an 11-year-old boy in the town of Aachen dialed a police emergency line and reported that "I have to work all day long. I haven't any free time." BBC News Europe reports that the child went on to accuse his mother of "forced labor." After a quick chat with the boy's mother, authorities decided not to respond. For the record, kids, trying to get your mother arrested probably isn't the best way to lighten your load at home.
Sometimes contractors get hungry on the job. According to the Chicago Tribune, a 30-year-old contractor finished up his work and asked the homeowners if he could use their restroom. Immediately afterward, the wife noticed that her diamond ring was missing from the bathroom vanity. She confronted the repairman, who responded by swallowing the piece of jewelry. A trip to the hospital and a little ipecac later, the thief coughed up the ring. No word if the wife will ever wear it again, though.
Homeowners are often afraid to prune the landscape for fear of hurting their plants—not themselves. The Arizona Daily Star reported that Green Valley resident Leroy Luetscher, 86, was gardening when he dropped a pair of hand pruners, point-side down. He lost his balance while trying to pick them up, and landed facedown right on the handle. The X-rays showed the handle went straight into his eye socket and 6 inches into his head. Surgeons were able to remove the pruners and rebuild the area they damaged. Luetscher is recovering well but is in no rush to return to his garden.
Alcohol and gardening tools are a bad combination. An Ambridge, Pennsylvania, woman was forced to hide in her basement for three days after her drunken husband, 51-year-old Fred Poore II, threatened to kill her with a garden hoe. The Associated Press reports that Poore had been drinking and behaving violently for several days. Eventually, his wife managed to get to a phone to call for help. Police found Poore "babbling incoherently" and arrested him on aggravated assault charges.
The U.S. really felt the heat this summer, making homes with air-conditioning units a target for thieves in states like Illinois, Texas, Arizona, Georgia, and Florida. CBS News described the cross-country epidemic of stolen units, many of which were sold for scrap, and even told of instances in which thieves had scaled ladders and rooftops to nab the units. The trend now has homeowners in high-risk neighborhoods caging and triple-locking their ACs.
Here at This Old House, we encourage readers to grow vegetable gardens. But, Time magazine's Moneyland blog reported that Julie Bass of Oak Park, Michigan, recently faced jail time for doing just that. The City of Oak Park's planning code prohibits the planting of unsuitable live plant material in front yards—and that includes veggies. Oak Park residents rallied in support of Bass and even started a Facebook page called "Oak Park Hates Veggies." Eventually, the charges were dropped.
Wildlife that's native to warm countries typically don't venture out of the climates they're accustomed to. Not without human help, anyway. The Canadian Press reported that five baby caimans, a type of crocodilian usually found in South or Central America, were seized from a home in rural Quebec. Authorities were called when neighbors noticed "bizarre comings-and-goings" at the home. Thought it's uncertain just how the animals were obtained, one thing is sure: Quebec requires a zoological permit to keep these kinds of reptiles in residential structures.
A raid of a Swedish woman's apartment ended with the discovery of a wild hedgehog, says The Local, a European news website. The Gavle resident claims to have found the hedgehog in the street back in June, and took it home to take care of it. But her act of kindness may not go unpunished. It turns out that Swedish law prohibits the possession of wild animals, an offense punishable with hefty fines or imprisonment for up to one year.
German archaeologists in Saxony-Anhalt recently discovered remnants of a brightly-painted, patterned wall dating back about 2,600 years. It was likely part of the entry of a very important home or building in a prehistoric, Iron Age settlement in the Alps. The salvaged wall is now on display in The State Museum for Prehistory in Halle, Germany—proving that even back then, people had awful taste.
Some people may find garden gnomes and bright-pink plastic flamingoes offensive. That's nothing compared to this massive, 4-foot-tall middle finger in Park Orchard, Australia. The Manningham Leader reported that 47-year-old resident David Muscat used his chainsaw to make the lawn decoration after complaints were filed against him for illegally removing trees from his property. Muscat, infamous for terrorizing his neighbors, faces the equivalent of a $10,600 fine after pleading guilty to removing trees and doing garden work without a permit.
Business Insider Europe reported that a 31-year-old Swedish man known only as "Richard" was arrested in August 2011 for attempting to build his own nuclear reactor. Using a smoke detector and radioactive waste obtained from foreign companies, the man spent upwards of $5,000 on the project. He also made it easy for cops to nail him by regularly updating a blog called "Richard's Reactor."
The Associated Press reported that a home complete with a medieval tomb and the skeleton of a Russian man who died some 800 years ago recently hit the market. The property is on the Swedish island of Gotland and was built in 1750. The property may sound creepy, but don't worry: The real-estate agent says buyers needn't be afraid. After all, the house is a steal at just $640,000.