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Thursday, September 30, 2004

The Ugly House on the Left

For the past 7 years, since we bought our house from my father, whenever I give someone directions on how to get here, I always say "Once you turn on our street, we're the ugly house on the left." Please don't get me wrong. I'm VERY grateful we have a home of our own. It's just that the realities are, with three kids and one income, the house is the last thing on the priorities list that gets any attention. As a result, we truly have, the ugliest house in the neighborhood. It's not just my opinion. The evidence states that that's pretty much the opinion of the neighbors as well. We've received anonymous hate mail over the years. People have threatened to report us to the homeowners association. Which cracks me up because we don't belong to a homeowners association. Whatever. Knock yourselves out.

It's funny now, but it used to really bother me. I wondered why people paid so much attention to our house. Yeah, the yard was overgrown with weeds for a little while. That was during the time my mother had cancer and I was caring for her in her last days. I didn't give a damn about stupid weeds. Ok, so the asphalt driveway was falling apart and everyone else had concrete. My dad had kidney failure after my mom passed away, and I struggled to then attend to his needs. We moved into the house to help take care of him. When he remarried (his dialysis nurse) and moved away with his new family, we took over with the house. Then came Charlie's dad's passing and subsequently caring for Charlie's mom. You get the picture. With family and other issues, the house just didn't rate way up there on the "gotta do it" scale.

As time passed, we saved money here and there to keep the inside looking nice. But the outside continued to suffer. Neighbors would make comments about how much our property value (meaning THEIR property value) would increase if we would just paint, or put in a new driveway, or reseed our lawn. Well, duh people. We know that. If you want to donate the money to do that, we won't turn it down. {crickets chirping} Yeah, that's what I thought.

So finally, after seven years, things start happening. Charlie and the Grommet start digging up the yard to prepare to install a sprinkler system. Suddenly, the men in the neighborhood start showing up. To help? NOOOOOO. To watch. They're fascinated. They're drawn like moths to a flame. They offer advice on how Bryson should hold a shovel, or how Charlie should lay the piping. They stand on the sidewalk and literally, just watch.

The next day the crew comes to dig up the old asphalt driveway. Sure enough, here comes the Peanut Gallery. Interestingly enough, we've lived in this house since 1992 (with a year break in 97 when we lived in Sioux Falls, SD), and NEVER have we seen so many of our neighbors. Bring out some heavy machinery and suddenly you see neighbors you've never met.

The Saturday before last, the concrete driveway was put in. I swear, if I set up chairs across the street and charged admission, I would have enough money to buy paint. No kidding. Caris was tempted to put on a Broadway-esque show since we had an audience. I told her she'd be better off selling Jello shots. Diva that she is, she harumphed off, not appreciating being upstaged by a house. Averie came outside at one point and seeing all the neighbors camped out across the street to watch, commented, "Geez, if you build it, they will come!"

Now, we're just doing work as we can afford it. That 14 yards of concrete cost a pretty penny. In fact, it cost LOTS of pretty pennies. So there won't be much work going on for a few more weeks. Meaning, lacking paint and a lawn, we're STILL the ugly house on the left. However, I just went out to water down the new driveway and I noticed that our neighbor across the street already has his lawnchairs set up facing our house. I wonder if he knows something I don't know?


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