For the last week, Jen and I have been dog-sitting for our neighbors up the street. Their dog Ros is a beautiful, good-natured Doberman who likes to run in the park and chase squirrels. We’ve been taking her for walks twice a day, and after the initial dread of waking up early was gone, I started looking forward to it. It took us a while to figure out her rythyms: she didn’t eat anything until Jen figured out that she liked having company. She doesn’t like walking on grass-she prefers the sidewalk. There’s a particular spot in the park that seems to agree with her delicate sense of modesty.
It’s really interesting what you notice differently about the neighborhood when you’re out waiting for your dog to finish examining the base of each telephone pole. There’s the fellow down the street with an enviable garden in his front yard. His privet hedges are immaculate. Behind that, the lawn is full of huge flowering bushes and plants, in that effortless but hugely difficult rambling-English-garden sort of way. His gladiolus are tall, healthy, and straight, blooming endlessly in multiple colors. Ours are crooked, confused drunkards who get the crap beat out of them every time it rains. I wish I knew what his secret was to gardening.
There’s the newly finished house next door, which, rumor has it, was purchased for more than we paid for our house, gutted, and rehabbed. It looks good in a bland sort of way. They replaced slanty cedar shingle with faux-shingle vinyl siding, which looks too clean for my taste. The windows are all big and new, but they’re the kind with fake mullions that are too narrow to fit the lines of the rest of the house. Strangely enough, I like the garage best—it hasn’t been altered from its original condition, and it features an old-school ‘no parking’ sign and bubble thermometer above crooked barn doors.
Up the way towards the park, the people who bought one of the larger houses in the area decided to enclose the property with one of the strangest fences I’ve seen in a while—an X pattern in wide planking, backed with green chicken wire. The house
is was beautiful last year, but I’m sensing a slide into mediocrity—they saw fit to park a mildew-covered popup trailer in the front yard…wait a minute, who am I to be casting stones…?
Last night, we decided to lengthen our usual route by walking down the trolley path to Opie’s for some ice cream. The evening was cool, the sun was behind clouds, and the trees were filled with birdsong. Ros ranged out ahead of us, and I told Jen about my discussion with a bank regarding a home equity line of credit. From what the guy on the phone told me, our house has appreciated a lot more than I’d thought it might, and he was more than happy to extend a generous amount of money at a rate that surprised me. Depending on what two other candidates say today, we’ll be on the road to a new kitchen by Thanksgiving (Turkey Day is the yearly deadline for any Lockardugan renovation plans).
Ros sat at our feet while we contemplated the true meaning of new appliances, eating chocolate ice cream and enjoying the simple pleasures of the evening.