No, no. Not Aramink – although obviously I loved Aramink or I wouldn’t still use the name. Places are important.
What I mean is that I love my house – the one I live in right now.
Here it is, post-Jack’s-encounter-with-the-garage nearly a year ago:
That odd roundish projection between the garage and the front door houses the staircase between the top and middle floors. I call it the topless turret. Isn’t it scandalous?
To the left of the front steps is a little flagstone courtyard with a raised bed and fountain. The azaleas are gorgeous in the spring. A big old oak dominates the bed, and a stone wall just the right height for sitting marks the border. I have a smaller herb bed in the patio, too. (No, not that kind of herb – it’s right in front, for Pete’s sake!)
My house is perfect for Jack and me. It is three stories tall and clings to a cliff. The back of the house, which overlooks a wooded park, is all windows. It feels like we’re in a tree house, since we’re up in the canopy of the temperate rain forest. Jack’s bedroom and bathroom, and the main living areas (including my office) are on the top floor. My bedroom and bath are on the middle floor with the garage, laundry room, and another tiny little room I use as a sewing room. The bottom floor has Jack’s party room and a huge workshop. It also has an area that hasn’t yet been completely finished out. I’m planning to do something about that this spring.
From the upper deck of our house, off the kitchen and living room, we can see north across the Arkansas River to the cliffs of North Little Rock. We can also see west across the park to the other side of Hillcrest, which is the name of the historic neighborhood where we live. I took these pictures about two weeks ago.
When we moved in the back yard really needed help. The house clings to a cliff, and the back yard was pretty steep. When the house was built a patio of native Ozark stone was built around one of three huge oaks in the back yard. A wall bisected the yard about halfway down the cliff. One side of the wall was even with the ground nearest the house. The ground on the other side of the wall was 5 feet below that. Did I mention that the house sits sort of on a cliff?
Not much grew in the back yard but those big oaks and a herd of overgrown azaleas. I bet you never knew that azaleas roamed the south in herds, now did you? Unfortunately, they do. The herd that was in my back yard had pretty much outgrown the grazing land, too. One of the sad truths about southern landscapes is that people tend to show very little imagination when it comes to shade planting. Azaleas and hostas are the staples. Ferns get thrown in as afterthoughts. Yawwwwwwn.
I’m engaged in a little landscape project now that should eliminate the boring sameness of the cliffside azaleas. It involves removing the three-level koi ponds (which leaked) and installing one somewhat larger pond that people can splash around in. No, despite the helpful suggestions of some, I won’t be stocking that particular pond with catfish.
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