Friday, February 6, 2009

Better Homes and Other Desert Islands: Chapter Three

Early in my blogging career, it became apparent that I was somewhat more chronologically enhanced than many of the readers who drop by for a peek in the windows of my Backordered Life.

So I figured, as long as I have to cope with the vagaries of middle age - a midsection that makes "watching my weight" a little easier every day and a stand-up comedy forehead (full of one-liners) just to name a couple - I felt the least I could do would be to share the wisdom that came packed in the saddle bags.

So far, it's been pretty darn helpful, hasn't it? Where else could you learn the cleaning properties of paint thinner? Or view the list of eternal truths that have been made manifest to me in the quiet moments between the 'stomp up the stairs' and the 'slam of the door' which indicate my girls are getting ready for "camp"?

No where else, that's where.

Therefore, I thought I would continue my astonishingly useful series, "Better Homes and Other Desert Islands", this time with a leisurely stroll, outside in the yard.

When we first moved to Las Vegas, from a Caribbean Island, no less, I found the landscape a little sparse. And neutral. And, oh let's just get it out there: It was Variations on a Theme of Dirt. We're talking Dirt on Dirt, with Dirt Accents.

My friend Collette told me I was moving to the Land of the Bare Naked Mountains, and boy howdy, she wasn't just whistling Dixie.

I realized just how right she was when, on the day we moved into the house, a gentleman arrived at our door, asking if I would like to buy a rock.

Yes. A rock.

At first, I didn't understand the offer.

"You sell rocks?" I asked.

"Yes. Would you like to purchase one?"

"Purchase a rock? Why would I purchase a rock?"

If this was a legitimate method of earning a living, I had a backyard full of the little money-makers. I certainly didn't need this guy's rock.

"You put it in your yard. It's decorative."

Finally, light began to dawn. I looked over his shoulder and saw that he had a truck with a flat bed trailer filled with these ENORMOUS rocks. Seriously. Gibraltar sized. The rig included a crane that would hoist your rock-of-choice onto whatever corner of your property you had hoped to decorate with, well, a great big rock.

And being the complete smart-donkey I am, I started to laugh. I couldn't help myself.

"You're a door-to-door ROCK SALESMAN??"

He solemnly averred that he was, indeed, a door-to-door rock salesman. And he wasn't particularly amused by my amusement, either. (I have learned that they rarely are...)

So in an attempt to smooth his now-ruffled feathers, I inquired as to the cost of these rocks, trying to look as though I hadn't really comprehended the sheer magnificence of the specimens on the truck until now, but now - oh, NOW - I was so overcome by their rocky splendor I was in peril of swooning.

Mollified, he quoted the price.

Let me say, this was where the swooning ended. After checking his non-verbal cues for indications that he was kidding (zip; the guy was a poster child for the expressionless features for which rocks are uniquely famous) I told him I would actually have to sell the house just to pay for the rock.

You will not believe what he told me next:

"We have a finance plan."

A finance plan! For a big rock!

Oh, this guy was too much! Can you see it?

"Hello, Bank of Foreclosure credit department? Yes, this is Miz DeNae. I would like to apply for a loan. Collateral? Of course I have collateral. Solid, dependable collateral. You've never seen such collateral. Long after we've gone the way of all the world, the cockroaches, your interest rate, and my collateral will still be here."

This served to illustrate that landscaping in places like Las Vegas would require a different mindset from the other places we've lived, where the primary goal was keeping said landscaping from becoming self-aware, creeping into our basement, and walking off with our children. (We were pretty sure the blackberries in the Pacific Northwest and the jungle vines of Puerto Rico were one radioactive spider bite away from away from taking on Batman.)

So, as promised, what follows are my helpful suggestions for beautifying your yard. Grab a pencil; this is the most comprehensive list you'll ever need.

1: Put in a swimming pool.
WHEW! That was EXHAUSTING! But take it from me, it's the most transcendent bit of landscaping this Las Vegas housewife has ever seen. Those palm trees and cute little purple cacti and even the lawn we optimistically re-plant every year, confident that this time it will survive, can't begin to compare with the glittering, gurgling glory of our backyard pool.

But I will admit, sometimes I feel it's missing something. Something big. Something solid. Something hoisted off the back of a flatbed trailer.

For the life of me, though, I just can't put my finger on what it could be.


Lacy said...

Hey DeNae, I know a great (and really cute) rock guy whenever you are ready for that eternal piece of yard beautification :)

MommyJ said...

Really?? Rock salesman? That's the oddest thing I've ever heard. I want to know how much a good rock costs... maybe I'm interested.. do they ship to the east coast?

Lara said...

I lived in Mesa. And while I don't see the need to spend a fortune on a rock, lots of other people certainly did. I just had lots of tiny ones in my yard. And no lawn. Or any pool. You are a lucky woman.

Thanks for the laugh!

Lesia said...

A wonderful twist on this story is the hugh, custom-made, rod iron and whatever that stuff is that they use in the tunnels for the Splash Mountain ride in Disneyland. My ex created this lovely specimen for the Luxor Chariot show (which was canceled soon after he was trampled by the horses and chariot-but that is a whole other story. Fear not, no one lost an eye!). You can view this "rock" on the east side of town being displayed in a coworker's front yard. They didn't even need a crane!

Mallory said...

I love reading your blog! I've finally stopped lurking, because the hilariousness has just been too much! I used to collect rocks when I was a kid. Too bad, they weren't lawn decoration quality...or size. said...

I want a pool.

Is pool-envy a psychological or a medical condition?

R Max said...

How much was the rock then? I could be interested...

Yes, I am eagerly anticipating reading the TP book! I haven't read the first book yet but I have seen the movie which kind of ruins reading the book for me...

Amber said...

You've seen my backyard, right? Including labor we've got north of $10,000 worth of rocks back there. Just the rocks. Luckily, my husband was able to set all those rocks and get them at cost so we certainly didn't pay that much but...yeah.

I think we're getting a pool this summer. It'll be a phony above ground one but I really think it'll be worth it. Or maybe we should just come play in yours...

Jessica G. said...

A pool! That would be perfect! Unfortunately, I live in Utah, where we only have weather warm enough to actually enjoy your pool for about three and a half days.

Kristina P. said...

So, they have door to door rock salesmen? Awesome! Where do I sign up?!?

linds said...

You should've just did what we did at our house and that was to take 5 minutes, round up all of the tumbleweed that you can find (you could find enough to landscape probably 10 different houses) and staple it to the ground. That way, it blends in quite nicely with the rest of the scenery. Also, if it blows away, you KNOW you can just go find some more!!!
p.s. don't buy "frass," a.k.a. Fake Grass...again something that we did...but it's VERY pricey and it melts if you spill hot stuff on it!!!

InkMom said...

I swear Las Vegas is like a foreign country or something.

Silly, silly MommyJ -- on the east coast, we build our houses upon the rocks, not next to them!

Melanie J said...

Oh, my, you're funny. I found you at MMB and I'm super glad. Hilarious!

Jessica said...

I live in Tucson...we've got rocks here too. However, down here most people just don't even bother with the grass. Of course you could landscape like my lovely neighbors. One neighbor filled their yard with white rocks and then set their 2 dogs out to "decorate" it. That's right, almost more brown rock than white ones. The other neighbor chooses to decorate with weeds and about a dozen empty Pepsi cans. He goes out to BBQ with a soda, empties it and then lets it blow into the yard. I think it is the litterbug landscaping method. Makes the yard that I spent money on, look like a million bucks.