Flashing Palm Trees and Elvis Impersonating Birds: Just another Day at the Duncan’s


The day my husband announced he was going to order a fake palm tree to put next to the swimming pool, I was really just fine with it.

Since my gardening skills are limited to raising dandelions and morning glories that somehow grow with no effort on my part whatsoever, I thought a fake palm tree was a fine idea.

Maybe slightly tacky–yet nothing that would rile up the neighbors.

I worry about this because on occasion–and usually unintentionally–my husband riles up some of our neighbors.

He just isn’t used to worrying about etiquette, and especially neighborhood etiquette.

He is a country boy.  He believes that rusted cars are perfectly suitable yard ornaments.

This is the man whose gas-exhausted lawn mower sits in the middle of a half-mowed yard for a week and a half–in the exact spot it ran out of gas and directly to the American flag bearing nativity–our Cheistmas/Independence day decor.

So again, I thought this palm tree thing was pretty mild.

Until the truck showed up.

I was cleaning windows when I suddenly locked eyes with the driver of an over-sized semi who was carrying the parts of what would become the biggest spectacle on our street.

I could see the wonder in his eyes as he stared into my second story window: a look I am used to when it comes to dealing with my husband.

My husband ran out the door like a kid on Christmas as box after box of to be assembled parts were carried out of that truck.

Speaking of Christmas–if you have ever watched The Christmas Story–it was like that.

The sexy leg lamp.

leg lamp

The night sky aglow with tropical green and orange highlights, groups of men gathered around the house mesmerized by this 12 foot flashing monstrosity of a tree. Women stood closely by with their faces twisted in confusion–possibly despair.

On one side of me was my husband’s tear soaked face as an Elvis impersonating Blue Bird unpacked in one of the flashing branches, and on the other side of me were annoyed whispers.

“What has this neighborhood come to?”

Sorry–it just slipped out.

After clearing airspace with misguided pilots trying to land in the backyard and making sure that neighbors and visitors are properly instructed of all safety precautions.

“Do not stare directly at the tree.”

Even then, who knew that a 12 foot flashing palm tree with plastic coconut trimmings could cause such separation among the people.

Two groups dominated the fight: pro-tree and anti-tree.

My husband, along with most men I know and over half of my friends made up the pro-tree side.

The anti-tree movement contained of me, a disgruntled neighbor, and some people who I never actually met but heard about through the disgruntled neighbor.

Six years have passed, the bird has grown and moved on to pursued its dreams on the Vegas strip, the disgruntled neighbor moved on to the construction of a large and unattached garage (also ours) and I have finally made peace with the palm tree.

I have found it generally makes for good writing material.

And I kind of like making this card with it:


feliz navidad


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