Monday, April 18, 2011

Neighbor versus neighbor’s tarp

I thought of entitling the piece “Spy vs. spy”. So much more catchy.  Alas, nothing to do with the topic, but regular readers know that rarely deters me. In my humble hometown of Anchorage, Alaska, we have exactly one daily newspaper, The Anchorage Daily News.  I receive said paper on a daily basis and peruse it with mild interest.  Not so this Sunday afternoon.

Copy of tarpsagain 012bbbb

No doubt most garden bloggers are writing about spring.  Sensible, and most welcome after a long winter.  Since my spring news consists of the latest triangulations for measuring snow cover, counts on moist doggy land mines (I’m up to six, but there is still plenty of snow….), and tracking the dust storms from the winter road gravel, I figured I wouldn’t bore you all with my unsavory spring details.  I can thank my local paper for a more compelling topic.

Finally, after long neglect, the topic of blue tarps appeared in print in a newspaper with the largest circulation in Alaska.  (Yes, even I am impressed, at least thirty other people must have read that article, too!)  Dirty secret or just uninteresting, I’m not sure why it hasn’t been written about before.  Of course, not one to bypass obscure and meaningless topics, I have written about blue tarps, it being an integral part of living in this state, and I being intrigued by certain blights, warts, and general weirdness associated with Alaska.

Check out my salutary shot on the subject here, and for my jolly Christmas card on the subject, click here.  And now experts have determined what we all knew: blue tarps bring down property values, tick off neighbors, and are only slightly less conspicuous than the sun at midday, Donald Trump’s hair, and a train wreck.  I feel like the cat that got the cream.  You don’t have to take my word for it, read the opinion of long-time residential real estate brokers, Barbara and Clair Ramsey in full here.

Their article “Home next door can affect ability to sell your house”  to which I would add the subtitle “No, duh!”, contains some hard truths, readily apparent to 99% of the population in general, and to approximately 75% of Alaskans. Some people cannot fathom this simple truth, as captured so aptly by the columnists, that “the vibrant blue telegraphs this bold statement: “I will be the first thing you see when you look out your window!  Not the mountains, not the view, not the trees…just ME and only ME!” 

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Perhaps only Alaskans can truly witness all the horrors possible with this medium, but I have included two humble examples, for a taste of what we live with every day.  Surely, you are pleased neither one is your neighbor!  Two more exquisite extracts, rife with vindication for me: “not quite certain why blue tarps have become so popular as a universal outdoor cover” and “the appearance of a blue tarp is never a positive selling point.” 

I’m thinking of running off a few copies and mailing them to especially egregious cases as a favor to the city, neighbors of “blue tarpers”, and humanity in general.  One bright spot: I have noticed increasing numbers of people flipping the blue tarp over and using the gray side instead, for as the Ramsey’s rightly note “some color choices blend more easily into the surrounding scenery” and “tarp color choices include white, green, silver, brown, clear, mesh,and camouflage.”  I eagerly await my first camo tarp sighting.  But perhaps that’s the point.  I might have seen one and not known it.  What a radical thought…. 


Will buyers be negatively influenced by one of your neighbors?  Or are you the naughty/colorblind neighbor?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

*Things are going to change, I can feel it….

Yes, today is that special day that only happens once or twice a year.  That day when the choking vapors of bleakness dissipate with the new dawn of opportunity.  A day where past mistakes are rectified and promising new things are nurtured into growth.  A day where…oh, forget it.  Who am I kidding?  Today is election day and I am mad.

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One of my faults is a cynical streak.  Mostly, I am a realist or an optimist or some amalgamation of both.  I want to believe the best of people/organizations/situations, but I like to prepare for the worst.  Everyone makes mistakes, (though politicians campaigning would have us believe only their opponent has this problem).  Didn’t some angry voter quip,”To err is human, to forgive, unheard of?”  Witness any blubbering politician holding a news conference to admit to the long denied illegal or immoral act.  Yup, a cynic.

My cheerful attitude was all set to coast through this election season, smile plastered on…and then the dreaded ads started.  Annoying at first, but one can always flip the page of the newspaper (yes, I am a dinosaur and read the news on paper) and carry on.  Afterwards, and closer to that fateful day, we are treated to a barrage of piffle on the radio.  Even my beloved classic radio station, KLEF, is not immune.  Forty minutes of dire or folksy political advertisements and twenty minutes of music.  Inspiring!  (A cynic or realist here, you choose.)

How often one hears a particular candidate on the radio is in direct proportion to: how irritating their little jingle is, how much money they have in their political war chest, or how far their views are from one’s own.  I haven’t turned the on radio in days.  When one expects to hear a harmless number from Tchaikovsky or Copeland, and ends up with hot air instead (and not from the horn section), lips are pursed, teeth are ground, and radios are flipped off.  I’ve even taken to muttering.    

Why all this spleen? I am rather sick of hearing how a certain candidate or proposition is going to heal all wounds and set the choir singing and the alternative is bankruptcy, joblessness, children suffering, angry mobs, and old folks having to fund their retirements by working in sweatshops. OK, enough inner cynic, enough

People are risking their lives and dying on a daily basis to have this privelege I am fussing about, so I realize that my biannual peeve is just this: grumpiness.  I hereby resolve to grow up and be more thankful for my opportunity to vote.  And the cynic in me is trying mightily not to be discouraged by the symbolism of a strong wind this morning, blowing lots of cold, wet snow into town.  Slick, near whiteout conditions whilst driving to my polling place.  Is there a double meaning in that?

*Lyrics from “Loser” by Beck

Stood in line to vote lately? A shout out for a beloved politician or ad?


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