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Jill Ottman

Jill Ottman

I think every homeowner keeps an ongoing list of what needs to be done on the property in his head. I actually have three of these — lists, not heads, although probably more than one person out there thinks I am a living embodiment of Cerberus, the hound of Hell.

My first list is what must be done to make certain the city doesn’t come after me. I keep hoping my crumbling front sidewalk doesn’t attract attention because it’s really difficult to find a concrete contractor in Laramie, and patching the holes simply won’t fix the problem. List numero dos is what I want to do over a reasonable ten-year span, assuming the next tornado doesn’t peel off my roof or my neighbor’s dead tree doesn’t fall over one night and squash me like a bug. The third list is pure fantasy; you know, the “line closets with cedar,” “install french drains” and “put radiant heat system in basement floor” stuff.

My house is a small cedar shake cottage, well-suited to a more jaunty color than its rather dull pale green. I also have a solid but boring shed out back that needed some help. That 10+ plus year old coat of green paint was beginning to fade and flake off in spots, and I felt it was time to freshen things up. So, I hired College Pro Painters and this summer they gave my little house new life and breath. Breathing is what a few folks in Laramie may have forgotten to do for a while, because I chose to paint my house …pink.

Sherwin Williams “In the Pink” is not an obnoxious color. It’s not Pepto-Bismol or Barbie Dream House or Flaming Flamingo. It’s tranquil and soothing, but also decidedly rosy, and certainly not that weird Mary Kay car shade that makes you wonder as one glides by on the interstate, “So, is that pink?”

The contractor and his crew came to my house each morning with giant smiles on their faces. “It’s so nice to be working on a project that’s not sage or beige or white” they said. They started calling it the “Mellencamp job.” I flirted seriously with the brief idea of having them start by painting alternate shingles to really give the neighbors genuine anxiety attacks. However, I am now of an age where I realize messing that deeply with your neighbors’ minds is just plain unkind, plus, you may need their help occasionally.

It’s nice to live in a place where a little bit of mild personality flexing with regard to architectural choice is allowed. I know I couldn’t and wouldn’t have done this if I lived in the middle of the woods or a high end subdivision. Assertive color schemes should remain in a largely urban context. The ongoing mess reported in the Powell Tribune last week concerning a rather ugly paint job on a house in the Cody Ranchettes subdivision is unfortunate. Frankly, I think the homeowners who are involved have not achieved an “eye-pleasing Gestalt at a distance” and probably should have read more carefully their homeowners association covenants concerning housepaint choices. HOA covenants can be burdensome, but so is having to interact with your neighbors after you call them very rude names. Their cause also might have been strengthened had they chosen to use more polite language (see last six words of this column’s previous paragraph).

Most of the neighborhood wasn’t thrilled about my “Mellencamp” house, but now that the job is finished, the trim refreshed, the pink spattered grass on my lawn has grown out and I have put up new house numbers, lights and a mailbox, they’re coming around. Fresh, new pink definitely looks better than tired, peeling green, and it certainly makes giving people directions to any house on my block much simpler. My mother frets, “Now everyone knows a woman lives there.” Well, she is right, but the woman who lives there is one who is pretty simple and pays for the thrills and the bills (we’ll skip the pills that kill part).

A little pink house — maybe not for you — but definitely for me.

Jill Ottman lives in Laramie.

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