Tuesday, November 17, 2009

That's a real estate you got there, son!

We love to go leaf-peeping in autumn. We drive along the country roads that loop around our town like fettucine around a meatball, and for a week or two in late October / early November it's glorious to see the color spectrum spread across the sky...especially the red/orange/gold/brown part of the spectrum. Even the air is awash with the fragrance of falling leaves and withering mountain greenery, "where God paints the scenery."

But I'll be doggoned if we don't see some other things that just make me want to scratch the cranium. The choices some families have made about houses can boggle the average already-boggled mind. And I'm not talking about who can afford what, or whose idea of elegance it is to make a brick-and-mortar mini-Taj Mahal to house their mailbox, or whose collection of wooden yard doodads, bendovers and metallic reflecting balls atop former birdbaths merits another look.

First, I see houses with very steep front yards sometimes. It's like, the house is way up in the clouds from the street, and the practical side of me wonders about how to get in and out of the driveway on a snowy icy morning. Then you wonder, if you're out there tossing the old baseball or football around, you'd better make sure to catch the ball, or it's going to roll to North Carolina once it gets going down that hill. And cutting the grass! I've seen guys who stand at the top of the hill and let the mower down gradually on a rope to mow their lawns. I wouldn't find that enjoyable, but maybe some do. It's their choice.

And then there is always the question, asked for generations now, "Would you live next door to a McDonald's?" And I mean, literally, your side yard and deck adjoin Mickey D's parking lot, meaning that as you sit out on the deck on a mild evening, your conversation is punctuated with raspy intercom caws of "WelcometoMcDonald'sMayItakeyourorderplease?" You can go a little farther down the block in this neighborhood - and these are all nice houses, all built AFTER the Golden Arches bloomed there - and you wouldn't even know that Big Macs® were sold mere yards away. A real estate agent told me that the house that butts up against the burgertorium parking lot sold for just as much as the houses way down the block.

I don't know. You hear about people who buy houses down by the airport and don't mind going outside to get the paper as the gleaming underbelly of a 747 glides earthward twenty feet overhead too. There's a toll bridge a few miles up route 40, and southbound traffic zooming by has an unencumbered view directly into the upper floors of a newly-built house that is so close, if the traffic stops, people in the cars can catch a couple of plays of a ball game on TV inside.

I know it's everyone's choice. I know a guy who loved the way his house was right behind the beltway; he said the traffic helped him sleep at night.

So there you go!


Ralph said...

Those metallic "gazing balls": you put them on the birdbath pedestal in the winter, when having unheated water in the bird bath would freeze and thaw and crack that expensive basin. It's either that, or keep the empty basin on the pedestal, vulnerable to winter's onslaught. We have one (but we only put it in the back yard!) Unlike our pink flamingoes, which we have in the front. Some things kitsch are beloved, while others are reviled. No accounting for taste!

Mark said...

Hey Ralph - I am entranced by those gazing balls! My Dad always had us turn over the birdbath top in winter, which meant thirsty birds would perch atop an arid freezing piece of crockery! Do the birds ever come to yours and get real close to see exaggerated fisheye views of themselves?
And you know, this being the home of John Waters, there are plenty of pink flamingoes around! People like to adorn them with Ravens hats, Santa beards, or Jimmy Buffett shirts, but it's still BallTEEmore, hon!

Ralph said...

You took the words out of my mouth! We spent a lot of time with friends in Bal'mer in the 80s and took a little bit of them with us.

JimInPcola said...

I dunno, I guess I just feel kinda weird about willingly gazing at Mark's shiny balls.