Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Good stones and bad stones, curbstones and gladstones

If I (shudder) had a yard to take care of, I think I'd go this route: River rocks, for some the horticultural equivalent of the leisure suit, were in vogue for many new homeowners in Greenbriar during the Ford administration. Today quite a few remain, and the small, rounded, multicolored stones are the ground cover of choice for 26 houses lining Greenbriar Boulevard and more homes on the side streets. Most stone yards are neat, some are not, but they harken back to when standards of beauty in Florida were less confining, more open-minded. In Greenbriar, deeds are restricted, but not so much that yards of river rock and mulch can't proudly flank lush lawns of St. Augustine grass. Stone yards were more common everywhere 30 years ago, said ecologist Tom Cuba of Delta Seven, a St. Petersburg firm that does a variety of environmental work. "They became so prevalent in St. Pete that they made them illegal," he said. "There were actual cases where people concreted their yards and painted them green." Tacky, sure, but anything that requires less time spent outside on maintenance? That'd be a blessing, because I can't even escape messy outdoor upkeep in an apartment. See, when I moved in, the balcony was a mess; the large local pigeon population, combined with what appears to have been gravel or fine charcoal from whatever the previous tenant kept there, certainly saw to that. As I don't spend much time outside at home (a long story, and one involving several phobias) I just kept the door closed and locked. No way I'm touching that amount of guano, not when never using the space anyway. Unfortunately, the building management has decided that some kind of upgrade is needed to the glass plates in each and every balcony, what with how they're otherwise at risk of falling off (!), and so need to have access to a (clean) balcony; the contractors, quite reasonably, don't want to have to do the job wearing masks and disposable coveralls. It took me two weeks to find a cleaning service that could actually do it, at a reasonable time of day, sanitarily, for less than $500, and without requiring access to lower apartments to rig up tarpaulins. They were supposed to be here for that this morning, but couldn't make it; to add insult to injury, they called four times, letting the phone ring only twice each time, and not leaving a message, before I was actually able to pick up and hear their excuse. Now they're supposed to be back on Friday, which isn't ideal, but certainly better than nothing. So, yeah, a bungalow with a lawn-free yard sounds like a fine idea right about now... (Via Fark.)

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