Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Just Another Suburban Nightmare

Despite my passionate hatred of suburbia and all things associated with it, I will grudgingly admit that at one time it was a good idea before things got out of hand. I am old enough to remember the numerous shanty-like dwellings all too common in the South during the 1960’s which had the desperate look of something from a Third-world country. Please excuse my admittedly socialistic tendencies, impinging on purely capitalistic motives, but during those years suburban housing developments of relatively low-priced homes did much to foster a sense of community and responsibility.

While I call it a “neighborhood” in the old sense of the word, I largely grew up in a subdivision. Made up of modest homes where families were raised and people actually knew the person living down the street. It also boasted the now strange idea of having things like stores and even schools within easy walking distance.

Now, as I have written about ad nauseam, things have changed. Up until the concept largely self-destructed under the weight of its unsustainably, houses were thought of as investments. You bought a “starter home” and after it increased in value, you sold it and bought an even bigger house. With everyone desperate to not only to move up the social-economic ladder in terms of showing off an increasingly affluent lifestyle but attempting to ensure their retirement by buying as large as house as possible then cashing in on the value. This strange and greedy mutation of the American Dream eventually created the modern concept of the subdivision and the term “McMansion.”

For your average suburbanite the next house had to be further out in the country away from the riff-raff and other social malcontents that they invariably had to spend more money on gas just to return and work amongst these same people most days of the week. These suburbanites also wanted larger kitchens for more assorted fancy and overpriced food processing gizmos so they could look like culinary experts when in actuality the overworked microwave was the center of most food preparation. And of course, my favorite bugaboo, elaborate and overpriced McMansions always come with yards that require countless hours and money for even basic upkeep. This brings me to my latest clash over my resistance to this modern serfdom.

While my current house does not quite meet the McMansion standards, it is far more ostentatious then any house I lived in as a kid. In an effort of full disclosure my wife and I were required to purchase a bigger home to meet the prerequisites needed for the adoption of my daughter, baby Darth Wiggles. At the time, I was exceedingly naïve about the degree of commitment required to keep the beautifully landscaped yards we purchased up to standards.

The previous owners made their living from an in-home business and for them it was simple, they could just step outside when they had free time. Since I even now work complicated shifts and still do not own all the extravagant and upscale lawn tools some things simply slip my attention, not that I have ever based my existence on how my lawn looked. The one thing that I sort of thought was cool was the automatic lawn sprinkler system complete with its own electrically powered pump that drew water from our own well.

Now the sprinkler heads are a pain, at the beginning of warm weather each year I always had to replace several non-functioning heads and while not budgets killers by themselves, throw four or five in a Lowes shopping basket and they start to add up. This does not include the three larger type sprinkler heads used in the backyard my son, Darth Spoilboy, has ran over at times resulting in an artificial geyser shooting thirty-feet into the sky showering everything nearby until I turned it off. Those bad boys are twenty bucks a pop. At least the pump was dependable and something I could always rely on so I could meet the very minimum of lawn care standards for the subdivision, not anymore.

Even before the recent passing of my father-in-law I had noticed something slightly off about the yard as I drove home early in the morning after getting off work. The grass was looking even more sickly than usual but since I largely do not give a rat’s ass what my neighbors think of me, or my yard, I just conveniently forgot about the whole thing. It was not until my wife sufficiently increased the level of nagging to the point of it being painful that I finally looked into the problem.

Concluding this long story, I have discovered that the submersible pump supplying well water for the sprinklers has burned up. The first clue was the fact that I could not reset the 20 amp breaker after that it was a simple trouble shooting procedure using my trusty multimeter, a device that measures voltage, amperage, and resistance on electrical equipment.

At the very least, I am looking at five-hundred dollars just to replace the pump by myself. Since I am lazy and feel this lawn care crap is egotistical bullshit I looked into having it all done by a local landscaping company. The attractive lady in charge of giving such estimates brightly smiled at me saying they could have me up and running for the paltry sum of fourteen hundred dollars. With her sitting at her desk and me standing at least I got to see a whooping amount of her very nice cleavage before I got dizzy thinking about all that money flying away.

Because of the defunct pump and the lack of any significant rain in two months my yard is a small sample of the Mojave Desert surrounded by pretentious recreations of yards surrounding old fashioned English manor homes. Even with the desert-like appearance I am serious thinking about waiting until next spring before I do anything. Maybe I can use this to talk Dragonwife into moving out into the country where there is some real distance between houses, Hell the neighbors might even help on this one just to get rid of me.


Windsmoke. said...

Moving house seems a drastic option just to save fourteen hundred dollars as it could cost you at least ten times more to move house, leave it to nature to water your garden that's what i would do :-).

Sue H said...

Let nature take it's course and to hell with the neighbours! They're probably in the same position as you - trying to keep up appearances! Unless there's some hidden clause in your purchase agreement then feel free to be different - they might even thank you for it! ( you could always say you were doing your bit for ecology and fighting back against global warming! ;-p)

John Myste said...

Speaking of sprinkler systems, how hard are they to install? I was considering adding this feature to my home.

Marja said...

Although the area we live in is the drieest in NZ we never water our garden, only occasionally the vegie garden. When it is hot in summer the gras just gets a bit brown.

Lowandslow said...

Your brain & mine think alike on this. Although I build big homes for others, I have zero desire for another one for myself. IMO, maintenance, especially keeping up the &@$@/ yard, turns the American Dream into the American Nightmare. I downsized several years ago and life couldn't be more simple and relaxed. Course, my kids are all grown, which has a lot to do with it. ;)


Randal Graves said...

The best part about dead grass is the smoke afterward, which puffs in the form of not having to mow. Enjoy, you lucky bastard.

Akelamalu said...

How about covering it in gravel? You wouldn't have to water that. ;)

Mr. Charleston said...

Come on Beach Bum. Where's your spirit? Since you work at night and get home before all of your neighbors are awake, it should be a relatively simple thing to tap into their sprinkler system and steal their water. Good show that! After all, water will soon become such a precious commodity that stealing it will become commonplace. That asshole T-bone Pickens is already buying up water rights all over the place. What's good for the goose is good for the gander, eh?

Cloudia said...

Now who would want to get rid of YOU?

Not me :)

Aloha from Waikiki;

Comfort Spiral
> < } } ( ° >

John McElveen said...

So you can't hold your water! You're just getting old like the rest of us! Hey-man--I made it back on! Sorry to hear about the nickle and dimes- but Home upkeep is an expensive deal!

With winter fast approaching.....I'd look for a good price and wait!

But that's coming from someone who had 5 acres and moved to a postage stamp. Getting ready for the later years! Mow the lawn with scissors I say!

But we don't have litttle Klingons to care for like you do, so that makes a big difference.

Good to see ya Beach!


Pixel Peeper said...

Wish I had the solution to your lawn problems, but all I have is some smart-aleck remarks, like "astroturf" or "cacti and lots of pinestraw."

We have similar issues in Florida. Instead of planting native, drought-resistant grasses, builders put in and homeowner associations require lawns that need a lot of water and maintenance (meaning chemicals and labor). It's insane.

Mike said...

As soon as you fix the pump it will begin to rain. or as an ex-weatherguesser I could plan a party for your house, say Thursday of next week. And it always rains on a weatherguessers picnic. Mother nature is a bitch.

Dudley the Fat Ass Liberal Beagle said...

Trust me. More people will envy your dead yard.. the guy next door to me is a retired greenskeeper. His yard is immaculate. Mine sucks. Everyone likes me. We all hate him and his anal yard.

Nance said...

We can't get rid of our house; frozen sales market. And, since it is on the market (and since we are both compulsively tidy) we continue to be slaves to the biomass.

Once, when I was a teen, my widowed aunt remarried and moved her two daughters into a new subdivision home. Very nice. Everyone cared for their yards admirably, except my aunt's next door neighbor who was a professor of entomology at the local college. He let all growth on his land go wild to encourage the bugs and wee beasties. The house was obscured almost to the roof on all sides with wild grasses and shrubs and trees...a tangled mass that looked more like a giant, square fur ball than a suburban house with yard.

I never heard how his family felt about their roach motel, but it gives me the creepy crawlies to think about it.

Ranch Chimp said...

Thanx for the read Bum ... I love the country and the city, never had much concern for suburbia, I live in the city, apartment/ condo place you can lease or buy. One of my daughter's has one of them suburbia lakefront properties 5 bdr/ 4.5 bth, 4 car garage type's, everything is new and clean, nice lil yard's, familia dog's, you get the pic, her and hubby only have one kid, and dont have anymore planned ... so the size really wasnt that needed, but .... their money, their choice. Later Bum

Beach Bum said...

Windsmoke: I forgot to add that we have been without any significant rain in these parts for over two months. Our heat wave broke awhile back and I admit its actually nice but we are not expecting any rain until October, baring a tropical storm.

Sue H. No, they will not thank me for being different, at best I am thought of as a unfriendly renegade and more than likely a subversive terrorist.

My neighbors do have working sprinkler systems with operational wells.

John: Not including the well, an underground sprinkler system is a medium to hard project that usually takes about three working days to install. Trenches for the waterlines have to be laid out and dug, pipes pieced together, and a controlling system wired up.

Marja: Another reason why I should have been born in New Zealand. Here the summers are dry but humid.

LowandSlow: AMEN BROTHER! Like I mentioned in the post, while other enjoy it, I simply do not feel its worth the hassle.

Randal: My son is actually upset over it, part of his allowance is based on mowing the grass.

Akelamalu: That is an idea but it probably would not work with my wife.

Mr. Charleston: Now that you mentioned it, the one neighbor that I liked was having trouble with his yard and I offered to let him tie onto my system for a while. Of course he moved away a year ago and the new guy and I have not hit it off.

Cloudia: I'm the commie of the neighborhood, they all want to get rid of me for the safety of the Republic.

John: Yeah, with my dad-in-law passing away and us trying to pay off bills before that happened money is tight.

Pixel: That's what bothers me, I refuse to use fertilizer since I feel no need to add even more chemical to the water table. Everyone else around here uses it by the tons.

Mike: That thought occurred to me, I even considered washing my car which should have the same effect.

Liberal Beagle: Yeah, but I'm a liberal amongst zombie republicans.

Nance: Now that is an idea, I'll just declare myself a bug scientist.

Ranch: I just wish I could talk my wife into downsizing the house, if we could sell the thing. We are more than likely stuck here until I retire and unass the country for Mexico.

lime said...

go with the dry look. it's called xeriscaping. just plant a bunch of cactus and succulents. screw the neighbors.