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Thursday, 29 July - link

nature denuded

I come careening down Washington Boulevard, eager to make a 9am appointment. Men with barrels of toxic air were coming to kill insects who had made their nests in my four walls. I make it by 9.15am; they had been there and left already - there was too much foliage surrounding the building. Plants adhered to the sides like a self-destructive friend who might be slowly taking pieces of the house down with them. I like these plants, I was loathe to cut them. Their green envelope seduced me - maybe I didn't need this much counter-termite terrorism.

But poking around out back, I pulled a board away from a building and a score of tiny white insects backed furtively from the light, mocking me with their wriggling thoraxes. They had chewed through boards, through shelves, through walls. Gas them, I declared, gas them all.

They were going to tent it like the circus was in town, and fill my home with vikane. This at least if I could clear a space around the place - cutting back bamboo and bougainvillea. I was going to be sleeping in this place Saturday, even without furniture, because my summer sublet was up. If I couldn't get these guys working today, Wednesday, I would be sucking the remnants of bug-killer my first snooze in the place.

With help from Jamie, musician, real estate agent and grade school friend, we tag-team called landscaping companies until two showed up at about the same time. I set them to work on either side of the house. One of the companies yammered about an exclusive deal to handle the property. I was hard on a 2pm deadline and I wasn't believing promises. Hard negotiations with a middle-aged Asian man I suspected of picking up random Central American workers at Home Depot and dropping them off at my house with tools - they didn't seem to have much of an established crew mentality, no relationship to the boss, and I never saw that hard bargainer again, not even to pick up the money. He asked for more cash than the other bloke - Jose. Jose owns his own company, Kojack's Landscaping, hires friends and family, quoted me less money, and had a bunch of ideas for how I could improve the garden which was being swiftly denuded under his ready electric shears.

Jamie found me a carpenter to dismantle part of the roof, and so by 12.30pm, three hours after the shit hit the fan, I had four guys cranking to create a foot of space around the whole house. I was moving plants and remaindered tchochkes from the previous owner out of the way of the professional destruction. Then I went and bought everybody Paco's Tacos. As they ate, I sat down on the toilet. Lid down, pants up, I snoozed on the only seat in the house.

Bamboo was flying, out of an eight inch crack alongside the house where it was growing and wending its way into the foundation. A beautiful pile of jasmine growing over a trellis was revealed to be little more than a thin layer of young green growing over and choking its dense, dead ancestor vines. Shears, electric saws, leaf blowers made swift work of the overgrowth. Gone gone gone. Privacy provided by plants, gone. The backyard pushed from being a sanctuary into a stage. A naked yard.

I hate change as much as the next guy. My last home was perhaps a testament to that - peeling seventies wallpaper, aging gnarled evergreen bushes and browned hydrangeas. Here I decided to push myself a bit, to embrace the purge. Time for a stripping, let new growth occur. Emptiness begets inspiration. I have seed for no-thing!

The hours dragged on, the work finished, the workers peeled off. I was left in the empty house, powerless with my Powerbook. No electricity to write, waiting for the return of the termite guys, I laid down on the tile floor, feeling the cool of tiles under my arms folded under my head, I practiced deep breathing.

Posted on 29 July 2004 : 11:35 (TrackBack)
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Justin's Links, by Justin Hall.