My sister Holly's house is adobe style, you know, Alamo looking. It's a comfy two bedroom with a sizeable back yard, like my x-wife (joke, never married), that I'd guess lays 1,000 to 1,200 or so square feet.
Her house is in a neighborhood of houses that stand less then 30 feet apart. That's close in my mind, but I assume not unusual for a classic American neighborhood.
Lounging in Holly's cinder-block-walled backyard you'd never know you weren't miles from the next neighbor. Thirty feet apart is plenty enough.
Holly's neighborhood is quiet as cotton. I'm roam it mostly during the day, when folks are working, but even at night and on weekends, I rarely see anyone out and about working around their homes. It's been quiet like that every time I visit, and I'd accepted it as an odd and unique characteristic of Albuquerque, N.M.
While visiting her, I realized that if you walk around a neighborhood in Vermont, you don't necessarily see anyone out and about either, really. I'll travel up and down the road I live on for days without seeing neighbors.
So there you have it. The Nob Hill section of Albuquerque, and mostly the entire state of Vermont, are places people spend a great deal of time inside. If you like to be out and about pampering and tinkering on your home, you'll be the exception, but not necessarily exceptional.
My travels far and near have shown me that American's as a whole don't work on or around their homes much. Now don't get all cranky with me. I said as a whole, I'm sure you work around your home a ton. I'm saying, for those of us who work on our homes, the amount of time we spend is very little, relative to the amount we could spend.
American's aren't out at home, we're just out.
We're at Costco, the kids soccer game, the balloon festival (I still don't get balloon festivals, I may never), the barber shop, mall, Farmer's market, the Creamy stand, the strip club, did I say that?, and of course, work. Some spiritual stalwarts can be found at church.
Contrary to the theory that suggests we spend little time working on our homes, I found most of the homes I walked by in Albuquerque to be in very good form and function.
Course my sister lives in a good form and function neighborhood, full of sweet little adobe style, self contained, humble yet smart, places. Some of them with stone lawns, some with grass, which by the way is in most cases green as Gumby. Some of them have plantings consisting mostly of cactus, and desert evergreen trees. I don't remember the name of one in particular that is prevalent; I think it starts with a p, and smells great burning. Most all had paved drives, which goes a long way in spiffing up a place.
There is sameness to the homes, same as here, but in the neighborhood I trolled, home conditions seemed to be more consistently above average condition than ones here.
Here in Vermont as you drive along you'll pass a fine abode, clipped, nipped and tucked within an inch of it's OCD suffering owners lives, only to see the next home you pass is all around no count, and has been left un sided for 30 years to keep the taxes low.
What the heck am I trying to get at? I'm trying to say, I really enjoyed walking around my sister Holly's Albuquerque neighborhood. It's not a rich one, but the homes were consistently well kempt (kempt as I was writing I could see where I might use kempt, and I didn't even know if it was actually a word, and I didn't know if the word I should use wasn't kempt, but kept. But I had a good feeling about the fact that throughout my 50 years on this earth, I've heard, and actually have used the word kempt. So I took a flyer and used kempt, then I looked it up, and, it's a word, and the right one in the space I used it. Not only do you by default learn something new everyday, you also teach yourself something new everyday. But no one ever says that, do they?).
I do figure one reason Albuquerque homes may present themselves a few ticks better then some of our Vermont homes is that it's just nicer weather out there. One is more apt to spend more time outside, and therefore, more time is put into working on their home.
Don't get mad at me for siding with the New Mexican homes. I'm just writing what I observed, and, I feel the overall merit of a home, like books, should not be judged by their covers. It's what's inside that counts. And besides, by gol, we've had a hang of a lot of rain this spring and early summer, leaving an under abundance of great outdoor working days. I though, like some others, don't let the rain hold me back. I love it. Sure, rain might keep us from a few tasks, but, you ain't gotta shovel it.
Rusty DeWees tours Vermont and Northern New York with his act "The Logger." His column appears weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.