Sunday, June 05, 2005


number thirty-two

I don’t even like yards, so I am hard-pressed to come up with a good reason why I am becoming obsessed with mine. 963 words.

[NL]—Standing, looking over the CG’s lawn, I began to worry a lot about my vacation. I have seen a number of other houses this week, many of which are larger and more ornate than mine. The CG’s was the biggest and most ornate of the bunch. I love my house, and I wouldn’t trade it for any I have seen, but it struck me that the CG’s lawn was perfect: even, thick, short little grasses, glowing greenly in the spring sun.

Last week, we had gone to another of Sunshine’s coworker’s houses before gong out to dinner. She lives in a house very similar to the house we had originally been offered by Sunshine’s employers. It was tall and thin, with a loft making up a truncated fourth floor. It had no yard, only a tiled square of patio in the back, walled-in for privacy like all of the houses I have seen. It was nice, and even then I felt pangs about my vacation.

The next day, we had been to yet another coworker’s house for a little Sunshine-inspired gathering to watch Miss Universe. This house is huge, with yellow walls and rounded corners, arches over everything, and a whole office/playroom floor under the main living room area. Miss Universe was fun, and I got to hang out with some really great people. Outside the strip of backyard was a deep, forest green in the twilight.

I have never loved yards. Growing up, I feel I was saddled with the sporadic upkeep of some fairly challenging specimens: sloped, sparse, root-filled over-grown rock-piles that stretched on for hundreds of acres, dotted with ground hornet nests and prairie dog holes. Examples of gardening difficulty having to be tended with an ancient, hundred-pound, dull push mower that leaked gas and billowed smoke which needed, sometimes, several hundred pulls on the ripcord to start. Naturally, I would put off the cutting until the grass was up to my navel, assuring that I had to roll over every square inch of yard at least twice, lowering the mower onto clump after clump of brambles and saw grass to get the level somewhere near passably kempt. Long ago, when I was leaving the nest, I promised myself I would never mow the grass again.

Over the sixteen, or so, years since that day, I have kept my word. I have occasionally lived in places which have had little yards, but never have I lifted a finger to save them, and more often than not I have been guilty of burning them off with lighter fluid. The chagrin I felt when I discovered that I was going to have a house with a yard here in Mexico was pretty apparent to Sunshine, who had immediately promised to do all of the yard work. But arriving in México, and seeing the little strip of green grass behind our house beginning to overgrow, and the little square in front burned to a crisp by the desert sun, my heart began to change a little. I still will never mow the grass, I swear, but the lawn here is closer to another one of my houseplants than to those monster yards of yore. Instead of horror and hatred, I felt the same desire to see these plants grow and prosper.

So we hired Hector to mow the stuff, and to trim it all up. There are many plants in the landscaped corners of the yard, and he tend to them as well. But the sun is pretty intense here, at its worst it is extremely hot and dry, and Hector only comes once every two or three weeks (this is my prediction: Hector has only actually come once). If I don’t do something, the grass burns black in a matter of days. Sunshine told me that the housing people told her that we would have to replace the yard, if we killed it, when we move out. So, I water the yard. I water it once a day in the late evenings. I water a lot of plants, actually. I repotted fourteen of the Geraniums Sunshine had recovered from a work function before I got here. They are doing well. The lawn is doing well also: the scorched earth of the front yard is almost completely verdant a little over a month after my arrival. The back yard is emerald green.

Sunshine’s boss, the CG, threw a party today to say goodbye to several families who were rotating out of post in Monterrey over the next few weeks. It was a nice party, and I feel as if I have now met nearly everyone. But looking out at his massive field of verdant lushes, I began to worry that I was about to kill mine dead. Our vacation had initially been scheduled in May, but the Hemispheria Conference had postponed it. Now it was to be next week, but first a Conference in Mexico City was to take up the end of this week, too; beginning with our flight on the seventh. We are now leaving for our vacation from México City, instead of here. This is very exciting for me, as it means a sort-of double vacation. But now, instead of being gone for six days, I will be gone for the better part of thirteen. We have begged Hector to come by and water the grass as often as he can while we are away, but he is a busy man, and there will be just so much he can accommodate. I already feel guilty. The plants and the cat will be fine while we are away, but I am pretty sure the yard is going to be a goner.

Maybe it will rain a lot while we're gone.

Destined for Forest Lawn Photo © the Author

Quiet Reading Room

This is a quiet reading room. Often, I find it is uncomfortable to digest long tubes of columned text directly off a computer screen. This journal is dedicated to the collection, percolation, and ultimate integration of my personal experiences. Subjects that I want to examine and then talk about--sometimes talk a lot about--€”are presented here. This central content can tend to thousands of words, maybe millions. I was afraid that readers were leaving the presentation boggled, spinning, googly-eyed. Or perhaps when confronted with twenty-four inches, or yards, of monitor sprawl they were just giving up. I am not even certain that I have necessarily solved this inevitable content problem of modern information enjoyment, but here is what I have done.

After long and highly scientific routines manipulating double-blind control- and test-subjects, peer reviewed journal publications, and hours and hours of hands-on experimentation, I have crafted this quiet reading room. There is no scientific way to control the length of the articles I write, but careful handling can somewhat soothe the contextual presentation. In other words: I have dropped the traditional speculation about lexicon, and attacked the question of the matrix itself instead. Brilliant. After years of diligence what I eventually crafted is this reading room.

The walls are contoured to relax instead of constrain; the paper is made to soften instead of reflect. The light is dimmed--just so--€”to prevent strain, angled to prevent umbra, and color-coded to soften harsh red lights and deepen wimpy light reds. There is nothing I can do to control aural environment, but my recommendation is that it should be kept quiet. About ambient sound: these entries are probably best read as far as possible from emergency vehicles, preferably from beneath the muffler of a vintage fire fighter pilot's scarf, puffy old duvet, or snow that is still falling.

My theory is that the wide web world is filled with potent and material opportunities that are just too difficult to digest for many people to take part. Enjoyment of this stuff is regulated to the routines of crawlers and robots at the peril of humankind's peaceful future survival. In an attempt to delay this likely outcome: welcome to this quiet reading room. It is for people like you to relax, kick back, and hate my content for better reasons than the dizzying vertiginous specter of its lousy dpi presentation.

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