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Beverly Avent, 54: Fairfield Court resident, retired cashier

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I have a box in the house for each holiday: Halloween, Christmas, St. Patrick's Day. I put up eggs for Easter. I have flags for presidents' birthdays, Fourth of July. I do everything. I love to do it. It makes me feel good to have something that looks nice. You won't pass by here and not see some decorations up. Look inside there, [motions to the front door] there's decorations in there too.

I lived here for 20 years. I know the rules. I used to just put lights up for Christmas, but then my grandbabies started making their own decorations. And I put them up myself. Some inspector from the rental office came by here one time because she say she wanted to see if I was using nails or something to hang them up. But every single one I hang up there with paper and a string.

Somebody from the rental office said they had received a complaint … said that these decorations were a distraction. So, I said, “Well, who is it distracting?” I looked through the lease, and wasn't nothin' in there about decorations or distractions. I took it to HUD (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development), and they couldn't tell me anything. So, they not gonna stop me from putting them up. This is mine. I pay the bills here. I'll take them to court if I have to.

Every morning I get up at 5:30 a.m. and I pick up my little fence. They knock them over. I don't know why. Sometimes folks don't want other folks havin' nothin'. But I'm not gonna let them bother me. You see how there's no grass there? They used to have a sprinkler over here. One day I came out and turn on the sprinklers and wasn't no water. So, I guess they took it out. Then the grass died. So I said if cactus can grow in the dirt in the desert, it can grow here. So, I got myself some cactus.

They diagnosed me with sarcoidosis and bacterial meningitis. I was in a coma. I had to learn to walk and talk and do everything all over again. They declared I'd be paralyzed for the rest of my life. And look at me now. So, I'm not worried. What they say [throws a glance at her next-door neighbor, who is sitting nearby] … I'm too blessed to be stressed, too anointed to be disappointed.

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