Thursday, February 5, 2009

Keeping Up With the Joneses

The weather here has been amazing this week and I've been itching to get outside and start playing in my new garden. Every time I think about it, though, I get a little twinge of sadness because I know that whatever we do to our garden here will never be as wonderful as the garden we had in Washington. In fact, it's daunting to do anything here in the land of perfection because it's all so ... well ... perfect. Are we're so ... well ... not!

Other than a brief sojourn in a townhouse many years ago, we've steered clear of neighborhoods with Homeowner Associations (HOAs) because we've always been leery of the arbitrary rules they seem to impose like what kind of plants you can have, and how tall your grass is allowed to be, and things like that. We live in one of those neighborhoods now and they send out a little newsletter each month that bugs me so much that I actually miss the guy next door in Washington who had the lemon yellow El Camino on blocks in his yard.

For example, the last newsletter politely scolded some rude unnamed lowlifes for forgetting to take in their trash can on the day trash was picked up. My God! They left it out until the middle of the next day. That rendered the neighborhood into an immediate ghetto! Shock! Horror! And you know who did this, right? Yes; it was me. DH took out the trash, and left to go out of town and I forgot that he'd done so, and it only occurred to me the next day. We are pigs. We might as well just put out a junked car on blocks in our front yard and be done with it.

The newsletter also informed us that it was the week for our once-a-year "big brush" trash day. Now, of course, I had no idea what this was and I didn't think about it again. Until I saw trucks parked all up and down the street disgorging workers who were cutting massive swathes of stuff from the trees and bushes in my neighbors' lawns. OK. So this is how you get a perfect neighborhood. Wow. In front of each house, there was a HUGE pile of brush, each one big enough for a giant bonfire. Well, in front of each house except ours. Oh noes! We were already in trouble with the HOA for not bringing in the damn trash can and now we haven't done the proper grooming of our brush.

Oh but it wasn't too late after all. We were eating dinner on Friday night, and a helpful tree-trimming person came and said he could still do our house in time for the big brush pickup. I could tell DH was thinking he'd rather use that money to go skiing, but we looked at those tidy piles of brush in front of all our neighbors' houses and caved. So treetrimmer guy (TTG) agreed to come back on Saturday morning with his team.

TTG proposed to do a radical whack job to our stuff as he'd done to our neighbors' lawns, but I nixed that right away. "No. No. NO. I do not want to top the crepe myrtles. Only dead and diseased limbs."



So we got our lawn groomed, very gently, but still done. We also got a dead shrub removed from the front of the house. And we had a big overhanging limb removed from the ancient live oak in the back yard. That was the one I was really concerned about because it hung right over the bedroom and I was worried about the potential for it to come down on our heads in a wind storm.

TTG turned out to be a really nice guy, and so did the neighbor across the street because during all the cutting and sawing, the sprinkler pipe in the front yard sprang a leak. This is not a sprinkler like you use with a hose; it's a permanent water pipe that affects the water to the house. San Antonio is experiencing a terrible drought, so it's imperative not to waste water -- we can't have a pipe draining water out into the lawn. So TTG came back on Sunday and he and the neighbor helped DH try to fix the stupid pipe all day long. TTG refused to take extra money, so we gave him the martin birdhouse that had been on the limb that was removed from the live oak tree because he'd admired it. We haven't given the neighbor anything yet, but I believe cookies are in his future. It's a pity that even after all that work, they weren't able to fix the pipe and we had to have a sprinkler service out on Monday, but it was nice of them to try.

And brush day was today and I was able to hold my head up because I, too, had a nice neat pile of brush that was nearly as large as the ones in front of my neighbors' houses. All I can say is it's a very weird way of Keeping Up With the Joneses...


Nanci said...

LOL about the trash can thing. We, too, bring down the tone of our street by forgetting to wheel them back within seconds of their being emptied.

Congrats on your big pile o' brush, though!

Gillian said...

That big brush thing is a good idea, actually. If we had it here then maybe we wouldn't have become bushfire central a few years ago. Or maybe fewer homes would have burned.

I admit, though, that when I saw the words my mind immediately turned to Aladdin and wondered if all hairbrushes for big hair had to be turned in once a year. Old brushes for new, and one inhabited by a Genie...

If you think my brain has melted, it's because it's suddenly got a bit cooler here. It's only 103 degees right now. Five pm, too. It'll be positively temperate overnight.

Tomorrow is going to be a scorcher. I think I shall spend it at my computer, which is just below the only airconditioning in the place. (The word verification says 'ovene' - these things have brains?)

Brian said...

Ha, ha, I'm so glad I live in England where there'd be a revolution if anyone tried to enforce any kind of collective tidiness!

Tess said...

Well, none of your neighbours better visit the Sunshine Coast! They'd have fit after fit. People leave garbage cans out all the time. Yet still, somehow, our area is quite picturesque. Imgaine that!

I would NOT do well in a place like that. As Sean can tell you, I don't like people telling me what I can do and not do, unless it's in a specific employment situation.

Elizabeth Chadwick said...

We have one set of neighbours who belong to the tidy squad. He's an ex policeman and she's a headmistress.
One day we heard bawling and swearing outside - F words the lot and discovered tidy neighbourhood obsessive and another neighbour having an almighty row because neighbour insisted on parking his blue and yellow truck (used for his employment) outside his house in full view of tidy-man's front room - so lowers the tone of the place. Ye Gods!
I am so glad you are settling in my dear and getting used to the local habits!

Steve Bezner said...

You realize your probably on trash can probation young lady. You better read up on the history of punishments for 2nd offense trash can violators. Good Luck, and if you need an attorney to litigate your trash can offense, I might be able to recommend one.