Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sarah and the Purple

Do you remember the children's story, "Harold and the Purple Crayon"? It's the one where Harold (a small and slightly pudgy three year old) uses a purple crayon to draw on the walls. I'm sure his parents were none too pleased with this development but to Harold's credit, when he draws something it comes to life. For instance: he'd draw a boat and then use it to go for a sail. Nifty trick.

Sadly, I am lacking Harold's magical talents with crayons but we do have something in common. We both like purple. Sure I use purple paint where he uses purple crayon.

And it seems I have landed in a bit of hot water "parent"-wise as a result.

You see, it all started with my next door neighbor's stucco wall. It's an old wall - rust-stained and cracking and I look at it everyday while I do dishes. 

My white stucco patch does not exactly blend with the tan wall.

I had some extra stucco from my fireplace project so asked my neighbor Ken(an older father figure type) if he would mind me fixing his wall and giving it a coat of paint.

He said that would be fine.

So I patched the wall - and my kitchen sink window view turned from a cracked wall to a obviously patched wall view - better - but only by a fraction.

Then I was out garage-saling and happened across a 4 foot Aloe Vera for only $3! The 4 inch potted Aloes are $6.95 at the store so this was a deal and a half...except that the woman insisted I soak it overnight in water and plant it the next day.

I promised I would follow her instructions to the letter and we gingerly loaded the prickly plant into my mini.

Now you may have heard how Aloe Vera are used to heal - what you may not know is that they have to karmically since they cause so many wounds! 

Mine drew first blood when I slid into the drivers seat and attempted to buckle my seat belt. It reached out from the back seat and slashed my upper arm...I drove home hanging out the window doing the Havasu version of the "Detroit Lean".

Once home, old "Edward Scissor-fronds" was set into his bath.
Looks almost relaxed doesn't he?
I was all set to start digging his new home/hole right in front of the patched stucco wall (where Edward would never have the opportunity to slash again) when I realized that if I ever wanted to paint that wall (in anything but my own blood) that I would have to get right out there and do it fast.

I'd recently read a cool book on desert landscaping where the author, Scott Calhoun, proposed that desert succulents and cacti really look best when they are treated like living sculptural art. His suggestion was to paint the walls behind these plants in saturated colors so their silvery green leaves would "pop". His pictures were pretty inspiring.

I knew Dave wasn't going to be 100% on board with a brightly painted wall so I told him I was going to Walmart (which he thinks means grocery-shopping - and beer procurement - I don't even know if he realizes they sell paint).

After discarding the idea of fuchsia and fluorescent lime, I settled on a nice deep indigo violet. Paint is cheap at Walmart and $15 later I was ready to paint.

Except that painting stucco...especially old stucco isn't the same as painting drywall. Not only did the old dried out stucco suck up paint like Sunday morning senior citizens at the $1.50 Bloody Mary bar but the nooks and crannies and crevices made my thick nap roller useless.

The only thing that seemed to work was drenching the wall with paint from a brush and then physically pressing it into all the holes. This may not seem that big a deal but imagine only being able to paint a 6 inch square at a time and having to stop to rest every other paintbrush full.

It took me two hours to get this far:

There was a small amount of cussing.

And then I ran out of paint.

Those two small sections drank a gallon of the purple.

I was racing against time. The sun was setting; old Edward Aloe was finishing up his bath; and my neighbors were coming back from their trip to Vegas.

I made a lightening run for more paint and resolved to be up early in the morning to finish the job.

Finally I was done painting. Edward went into the ground with nary a scratch (on either of us). His silver spikes looked dramatic against the indigo wall.

He does look like art.
In fact, he looked so nice, I went to Lowe's and bought a rosette Agave to befriend Edward.
These can grow to be 4 feet in diameter.

Then Dave came out to see the wall...

"Looks like the back wall of a Mexican liquor store," he said.

Given the amount of Dos Equis, Corona and Jose Cuervo he drinks I decided to interpret that comparsion as a compliment.

And then my neighbor came home from Vegas.

It took a little while for Ken to notice anything was different...but when he did he asked me (with grave concern in his voice), "Are you color-blind?"

I assured him that I wasn't and I swear I saw an even deeper worry creep into his eyes.

Dave will get used to it I told myself and Ken can't even see a hint of purple from his yard. You can't even see the wall at all from the street I argued inside my head.

But I was starting to doubt myself.

Until morning came and the sun rose across Edward's spikes.

The shadows he casts are like a show in themselves.

Now that's a view I can do dishes to!


  1. I think it is beautiful!!! Use more saturated colors! Remember, never say Oopps ;)

  2. Love it Mum!! Funny and talented as always!