Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Brightness in the dark

As you already know, if you read my previous post, this hasn't been a particularly sunny period of my life. Since I lost my job in March, I've had the displeasure of watching our family sink into an ever-deeper financial abyss, bringing our home renovation to a screeching halt. But I don't want to dwell on that today. In fact, I'd like to do just the opposite. At times of darkness, sometimes that stupid cliche about looking on the bright side holds some merit. So I offer you a subject of brightness. Here it is:

This is the parkway in front of our house as it looks today. At this size, it's probably kind of hard to see anyway, but this picture doesn't really do it justice. The flowers when you see them live and in person are pretty spectacular, and walking along side them makes you feel like you're strolling through a lush suburban garden. It is exactly as we intended it to be. But better. Just looking at these flowers brightens my mood. Just tracking their progress from little sprouts into glorious, bloom-happy full-sized plants has been an inkling of pleasure in a period where such delights are too few.

This brings me to another bright spot: Our neighbors. With the spring and the explosion of flowers and blossoms all over our property, I've had the happy occasion to speak with numerous residents near to and far from our house. My encounters with them are not accidental. They stop me cold, usually as I'm climbing into my car, so they can rave to me about the work we've been doing on our property. It almost never fails. As soon as I walk out of the house, whatever person is there, walking by, walking a dog, delivering mail, jogging — whatever — that person feels compelled to come tell me that they love what we've done with the house. They wince as they describe the house as it was previously. A blight on the neighborhood. An eyesore. A shit hole. On one occasion, a woman ran nearly half a city block to get my attention. She said she lived up the way in Beachwood Canyon and had been hoping to catch me for a while.

These encounters make me feel like a movie star who just appeared in that role that for some reason everyone connects with. I guess a renovation isn't only about what you get out of it. It can also be about what you give.

If it sounds like I'm bragging, let me say here that I am fully aware that my husband and I can't take all the credit. It has taken a cast of thousands to get the front of our house looking the way it does from where it was when we started. Notable among the players are:
  • Pia Dominguez of Barefoot Landscaping who did our initial landscape design including choosing the plants on the front parkway — though not on the side parkway, which is fodder for another post.
  • Stumper Landscaping — They did the actual work on the landscaping. Bill Weber at Stumper, I must say, is a sprinkler genius and one of the nicest men I've ever worked with.
I'll post a more thorough list if and when we ever finish the front of the house. For now, the parkway will have to suffice. I guess a dark side of this bright side is how crappy the curb looks, broken and crumbling in many places. With the city and its financial crisis, I'm not expecting any repairs soon.

And at least I know with our own financial crisis we're in good company.