Monday, March 27, 2006

Monday new homes

Monday – helped some friends move yesterday. They came out from Cincinnati about a year ago, were renting, and finally succumbed and purchased their own home. They didn’t want a ‘used’ house, but a brand-new one. I can understand the lure of a new home; being the first one in, not having to re-due things the previous owner did to mess up the place, all choices are yours, clean slate and all. We had a new home once, all I can see are the windows without shades or coverings, the bare yard, the pure white (OK, ours was ‘Navajo white’, I don’t know what they call the current shade of white being used) walls where every mark is yours, the new carpet that shows every stain is yours. I would much rather have an older home, already set up, with established trees and plants and window coverings and then change things than start with a blank empty canvas.

I don’t know about the rest of the country, but here new houses are put up in big tracts, where all the homes look the same, all the yards are one of the three variations the builder offers, everything is neat and sterile. This house had a lot of windows, but it’s only eight feet between houses and you just look out at blank walls. The back yard is less than twenty feet deep, looking out at a big block wall with a house towering up right back there. Most new homes are now two stories, because the lots aren’t big enough to get much square footage on one level. Their next door neighbor has been in that house a few months, and already put a pool in the backyard. This means there is no dirt left in their back yard, just a pool and surrounding concrete. To me laying by that pool would seem like laying in an oven with a pan of water next to you. Small, square box with towering houses all around, blue sky right overhead but no view except for the other houses.

It’s around 1,800 square feet (167 sq. meters) and costs $380,000. Back in Cincinnati it would be $150,000 but out in California probably close to a million ($1,000,000). But the yard size; it seemed like a little prison to me, looking out the windows at walls, the back yard seemed more like one of those prison work out areas than a back yard. And he said the lot was listed as a ‘premium lot’, being larger than normal. We drive down the roads looking at houses over the block walls, and can see that the new average back yard is only five to ten feet deep. His is big enough for a small pool, so I can understand the rating of ‘premium’, just not the rational. It’s more like a condo or apartment, but with some air between you and the next guy.

Worked a little more on our yard as well. Put down the rest of the flagstone, tried to figure out what we will do to the front courtyard, and moved some pipes around back. I had put a deep sink out along the side wall, useful when potting plants, and an easy place for washing up after yard work. But we moved some sheds around earlier, and now the sink was out by itself. So I moved it over to the front wall, more hidden by the big oleander and one shed. Part of the move was to reorganize the electric valves, used to automatically water parts of the yard. I still want to move an electrical outlet over to the new work area and move the electronic timer over as well.

The California poppies are blooming quite well now.

Each plant has lots of bright yellow-orange flowers. These are surrounded by the black olives that have fallen from one of the big trees in our front yard, not yet picked up but loved by the pigeons and mockingbirds.

Imagine a California hillside, covered with green grass and just blanketed with so many flowers you almost can’t see the green for the colors. Some years there are areas outside of LA that look like that. We just have plants scattered around the yard, surrounded by our basic desert rock. But they still look pretty.

A nice field scene from Wikipedia.

And now somebody at our place has teeth –

Not very many, but it’s still cute.

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