John Howell 12/1/15

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2015

By John Howell

Home improvement project leaves yard in need of rehab

Now into the eighth week of the three-week project to add Hardie board and paint to the exterior of our house, it is 8:45 Monday morning and we are waiting for the workers to arrive and get started. Or waiting to see if they are going to arrive at all. 

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They are mostly finished — maybe 95 percent — and the house looks better than it ever has before. Meanwhile the yard is a wreck, having been the staging area for all of the materials, ladders, scaffolding, cutting and so on. 

The five percent of the work that remains has kept them from taking away all their stuff and prevented us from the yard rehab that Rosemary is so anxious to begin. 

We went into this project with the misconception that our workers would have the same drive as the crew of Yats who framed and built much of the large, new white house next door. During the intense heat of last summer, they would drive up in early morning darkness and wait for enough light to start working. They pushed themselves hard all day, stopping for few breaks, working shirtless in the hot sun, smoking cigarettes that they never removed from between their lips from the time they lit them until the time they threw down the butts.

Our workers are less driven. On a scale from one to ten, the Yats were 11 or 12. Our guys might make it to three.

A sold sign has popped up on the house the Yats built. We were told that a buyer signed a contract within two weeks from the date it first went on the market. We have no clue about who our new neighbor will be, but they must have deep pockets.

We hope that they will also be damncat tolerant. The folks who have moved in on the other side have proven less so. Can’t blame them, really, with damncats who never seem to get the memo about property having changed hands. We had hoped that they would come with a big dog, but they don’t seem to be animal people, neither damncats nor dogs. 

With every newcomer who moves in after having paid a steep price for one of these homes, a neighborhood character moves out. Gone is Kim Jong Un who once lived in the dilapidated house with the overgrown lot that has been so conspicuously replaced by the big white house the Yats built. Gone from the other side is the chronic abuser of assorted substances who always made such good sense unless he was trying to. In hindsight we have grown more fond of them with each passing day.

And that’s the way things are in Uptown New Orleans, where the hoods are gone, new neighbors are rendering neighborhood characters as a species endangered, and at 9:50 no workers have yet arrived on what has become a beautiful if unseasonably warm day.