Saturday, June 14, 2008

Eye Sore house

If you ever come down to my neck of the woods and drive into my neighborhood, you will easily be able to pick out my house just by looking at our windows. We are the trailer trash of our neighborhood. The eyesore of the block.

Listen, if you are on the market for window coverings and you have small children NEVER BUY VENETIAN BLINDS. Why do you ask? Because children like to look out the window. And if the blinds happen to be closed when they look out the window, well then they will pull the blinds to the side, or stick their faces in between the slats and pull them as wide apart as they can. Or perform puppet shows with the blinds. Or sometimes, they just like to grab the cord and pull it up and down and up and down for hours of amusement. Our blinds are broken, bent, have missing pieces and completely torn off ends. I've seen abandoned buildings with nicer windows than ours.

To make matters worse, we have the most pathetic straggly bushes lining our driveway, droopy flowers that you can see were never planted correctly and a big dead spot in our teeny front lawn from where everyone pulling out of our driveway runs over the grass. The condo board has wanted to kick us out for years for our pathetic front yard. But neither of us are gardeners and in fact I happen to be a bona fide plant murderer. Yes, it is true, I admit it. These hands are covered in plant blood. My sister-in-law, who is a Virgo and a Kiwi, which means she is a nature loving extremely organized insane person, keeps buying me plants that she swears I can't kill. But there in lies the problem. If you swear it can't be killed, those words become the plant's death sentence. I have killed a cactus, a feat even Da Man is shocked by. But my sister-in-law is so sweet and so determined that I have a lovely flower presence, she makes me a few pots of artificial flowers to put out in lieu of the real things which I can't seem to grow. She even goes to the trouble of giving me seasonal pots to put out at different times of the year. (Told you she is insane!) But for some reason she doesn't like that I don't bring the pots in during the winter. I don't know what the big deal is. So I've got spring flowers with some snow on them. They still look pretty.

My parents have wonderful green thumbs. All my friends would admire the amazing plants that my mom and dad could grow in their NYC apartment. They have this money tree (I don't know why it is called a money tree, maybe wishful thinking on their part) that they have been growing since I was 12 years old. The thing is so tall it is curled over on the top where it hits the ceiling. Whenever my parents come to visit, they drag me to home depot where they spend lots of money on things called potting soil and fertilizer and then buy lots and lots of pretty flowers that will die the week after they leave me. My father doesn't approve of my black thumb of death.

"Aigo!" (a Korean term of disgust usually used by old people- in this case it means "WTF is wrong with you?") "How can you be my daughter?"

"Hey, don't blame me! You and Mom are the ones that failed to pass on the green gene. I say the blame lies completely with the both of you!"

My dad just shakes his head in disgust and points at a corner of our tiny rock garden and orders me to dig. After I dig out bricks and rocks and red clay until my arms shake uncontrollably, my dad orders me to stop and proceeds to continue with the planting, giving me a gardening lesson in the process. But my hearing is completely impaired.

"You have to blah blah blah and then blah blah blah every day," he says. "Don't forget! It is really important to blah blah blah, ok?" I just nod my head until he stops staring at me.

"Aigo," he says again, this time it means "you retard." He knows and I know that they will all die before the week is out. But perhaps this is all part of some greater lesson that he would like to impart on me. Perhaps he hopes by pushing me to work hard for something, part of the gardening gene may actually blossom within me.

Or maybe he just likes seeing me perform hard manual labor all the while sweating like a pig.


Lisa said...

Dude-ette! I have two words for you:

Landscape service. I inherited the people who mowed, fertilized, did spring and summer yard clean up and will do anything I ask them to from the former homeowner.

They really don't charge all that much and in the fascist covenant controlled subdivision where I live, the neighbors would be patrolling my yard with pitchforks if I didn't outsource and forget about it.

Now the blinds, I can't help you with. :)

pacatrue said...

My problem was bushes. I never hacked them back enough and I ended up with bushes that were 8 feet tall, trying to get them back to 6, when they were supposed to be, like, 4. Oh, and uhhh not so good with grass. Or hedging. Or things that are alive.

Yeah, I used to want a nice big yard. Then I had one. Now I want a nice small yard.

JaneyV said...

My name is Jane and I'm a plant murderer. I haven't killed any form of flora in oooh weeks but the lawn needs mowing and if Hubby doesn't get back from China soon, there's going to be a massacre.

Sooo funny Ell. I too am the offspring of a genius plantperson who will follow every instruction to the letter and they just die. I moved into this house in February and it has a lovely garden. Oh but it's getting tired looking already. It doesn't help that our dog eats it and her pee burns the lawn. I just thank goodness that I don't live in a country where your neighbours get to control how your garden looks. What is with that? Who pays the mortgage? Not Frau Yourgrassisaninchtoolongyoumustbeshot!

Here there is a saying that "An Englishman's Home is his Castle". And this Irishwoman is a 100% subscriber to that - although the obvious gender and national bias has to be overlooked first.

The first thing is - you don't need flowers. Grass everything over then put Da Man in charge of mowing. If you need shade or want privacy on your boundary - grow trees - get someone else to plant them - once they're in they are hard to kill (although I have managed - but in my defence, it was a very damp year and all the trees in the neighbourhood got that fungus, although mine were the only ones that fell over). And there actually are bushes that thrive no matter what - we call them the bushes from hell - because if there''s one thing that's worse than a plant that dies no matter how much you love it, it's a plant that grows enthusiastically no matter how you try to tame it.

As for the blinds - well my mother always said that venetian blinds were a curse and she'd never have them in the house (she had 7 kids) but her objection was the surface area for dust to collect on. She objected to anything that collected dust on principle. They do serve a purpose though - even broken they stop your neighbours from seeing how messy your living room is - or is that just me???

The best solution are louvered shutters but they require painting (and therefore maintenance - evil notion) and, oh yeah, they cost as much as a house to install. So either ditch the old ones and get new ones or ditch them altogether and let the neighbourhood see inside the Oh-zone. ;0)

Conduit said...

Don't get me started on gardening. It's noon on a Saturday here and I'm praying for rain so I have an excuse not to cut the grass. And I've given up trying to maintain the flower beds and shrubs. Since I've owned this house, I've twice completely dug it all up and replanted it with noble intentions of keeping on top of it. I have conceded defeat.

And the roller blinds in my office, facing the street, have a big hole in them which everyone can see from outside. Thank God my neighbours have no say in the matter, or I'd have been out years ago.

Erica Orloff said...

I have NO blinds downstairs because I don't see the point, thanks to Demon Baby. Besides, no one lives in back of us. Though when my dad stays with us (for a month at a time) he is convinced some serial killer is lurking on the fairway at night, waiting to peer into my upstairs bathroom window to catch me naked. Which I assure him isn't the case--AND I have a big tree sort of blocking the window. However, my bedroom, where I DO have blinds--missing like half the slats.

As for a green thumb, Ellen . . . I teared up at this because my grandma grew a money plant and I LOVED it, and it is hard to find them . . . I have a garden out front and think of trying my hand at one.


laughingwolf said...


you have my deepest sympathies, re. both kids and green growths ;)

my kids are now in their 20s, and i live in an apartment, so... little worries

Lana Gramlich said...

I have a green thumb in the temperate zone of North America, but as for the subtropical zone, forget it. I'm with you. I've had coworkers give me plants & seeds that they assure me will not only grow, but that I'll have to maintain carefully or they'll take over the yard. So far, nada. They're always surprised when I tell them they were wrong, again & I've gotten to the point where I've told them, "Look, just don't give me anything else. There's no point." Considering I live in the middle of the woods, I don't see much point in planting other things. I'm already surrounded by trees, flowers & gardening or maintenance req'd (beside cutting the lawn, which we hired someone else to do.)

Steve Malley said...

I feel your pain. My own home sat vacant for a long time. It looks like it may fall down at any moment.

To deter squatters, vandals and abandoned-house-types, I started burning a light in a single window, high on the north tower.

Now the neighborhood rumour is that we're haunted! :)

Bernita said...

Ha! I have some plants I'd love to kill - like the Killer Vine From Hell that is crawling over my roof tree.

Merry Monteleone said...

Ello, you and me both!

I love to cook and I love garden fresh veggies for to cook with... but I can't grow them, sorry. Now, my papa looooved his garden. The man had everything back there, complete with a shrine to St. Joseph, that I guess helped things along...

Not me, though. I can even kill grass - I won't garden, even if I try, I'll kill everything out there. My hubby gardens and when he's out of town he always comes back royally pissed that I didn't pluck or water or whatever at the right time... hey pal, you want a garden, you better take care of it... leave it to me and it'll just be dirt and rocks out there.

Carleen Brice said...

Thanks for the laugh!!

Robin S. said...

Hey girl,

Tell Daddy to go tend his own damn plants. Tell Daddy you're a bit busy, having put yourself through law school, working, and having three beautiful girls.

Tell him he's got his yard - and you've got yours. Parents can be tyrants.

cindy said...

so you're one of those, huh? haha! ;*) i also love aiiiiigo! =D the chinese version is aiiiiiyo! or aiiiiiiyah!!! hee!

Patti said...

i have a green thumb and great blinds...wooden levolors with ribbon tabs. i am not retarded. but, we can still be friends right?!

wait, what kind of bird are you trying to show me with your fingers? red-thrushed woodpecker?

Sarah Hina said...

I have plant pushers in my family, too. The shame that comes when they spy their presents' droopy leaves and weedy new friends is enough to almost make me care.


Great post, Ello! :)

Mary Witzl said...

My father was a botanist who could bore anyone to death with his talks about soil pH, compost, shade-loving, rootbound this or that -- and so on. My mother grew up on a farm and had a real knack for raising her own vegetables. I took it as a given that I had inherited this from them and was shocked to bits when I first tried gardening and found out how hard it was. For decades, I ignored gardening and killed the odd plant, then, almost overnight, I turned into a gardener.

Now you can't get me out of the garden, and everything in it looks pretty good. And I am here to tell you that if you ever want to learn, you can. There is no such thing as a green or black thumb -- take my word for it.

Ruins your fingernails, though, and it has turned me into a crushing bore.

Vesper said...

Funny post, Ello! Sorry for your troubles.
My plants suffer mainly because of trees and squirrels. :-)

preTzel said...

My name is Prez and I, too, am a plant murderer. I killed an aloe, barrel cactus, and some wierd cactus all in one week. As I was using tongs to pull the barrel cactus from it's grave...err, pot, it went *poot* and turned to dust. Mr. preTzel thought it was hilarious. The aloe was goo. Complete and total goo. Now the weed that Teen gave me that I've been trying to kill for 5 years. It's a freaking beast now. Total beast. Teen says he's waiting to come downstairs one night to find me mummified inside the plant. It might happen. It's a beast. So have hope little one - you might yet find the one you're trying to murder just will survive. :)