Saturday, September 26, 2020

Death of a Tree, Actually Two Trees


I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the earth's sweet flowing breast.

A tree that looks at God all day

And lifts her leafy arms to pray.

A tree that may in summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair.

Upon whose bosom snow has Lain; 

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me, 

But only God can make a tree.

by Joyce Kilmer

     Love this poem! But I have to beg God's forgiveness in that he is not the only one that can make a tree; my mom and dad were also able to make trees, not only one but four...and this weekend unfortunately I had to witness the death of two of them.

     It's with great sadness that I tell this story, but it had to be done. You see, I'm making several home repairs, maintenance and remodeling. One of the things I am doing is having a new fence installed.

     The old fence had seen better days. It had been built by my mom and dad and the years were showing up on the old gal. Windstorms, weather, rusting hinges and the fact that a car drove through the fence a few years ago were causing it to sag and I was fearful that the next good windstorm would carry it away.

     My fence guys, Bob and Danny showed me how the roots were exposed and had already cracked the existing cement slab the fence rested on and the roots were heading towards the sewer system. The decision was made before they could build the fence for me to contact a tree removal company. 

     Last Saturday, my gardener Ernesto had his crew come out and take down the two trees in question. The other two were a different species that did not grow the same way as the two coming down. They told me the separate names but I didn't write it down, all I know is that all four are non-fruit bearing pistachio trees.

     My dad was a farmer and my mom tells the story of one year at Easter, my dad took us and some friends to a beautiful spot he had found out on the ranch where we could spend the day playing underneath the Pistachio and Almond trees and the adults could hide the eggs. Mom and Dad saw the little trees growing wild near the fields so they brought them home and planted them. That was between 22 to 25 years ago, so you can imagine how big they are now. Last year I had them trimmed so this year they just blossomed. Here's a photo of the trees.

     One tree was growing inside the fence, that's the one at the far right next to the blue shed (which my mom and dad also built themselves and I'm hoping to give it a face-lift as well, stay tuned), the other is growing outside of the fence. You can see how full and lush they are, and that fence is at least 6 feet tall so they had to be at least 36 feet tall!

     This photo is a little grainy, but you can see the concrete underneath already in pieces. This was causing the inside chain link fence to bend and loosen which then loosened the wooded slats, some of the are even missing, as you can see.

     Those trees held so many memories of my dad barbequing for us all and the shade they provided year round, I could feel my dad frowning at me from Heaven, but I'm sure he would have done the same thing. I thought about digging out the parts of the root that were causing the damage but several tree removal services that came out to give me quotes assured me the trees would die. There was no other choice. 

     So my gardener Oscar gave me the lowest quote and he showed up on Saturday and I was shocked to learn that he had not brought a cherry picker or a bucket truck which is how I assumed they would take the trees down, start from the top and cut down. 

     Nope, what they did was to use a chain saw starting at the bottom, letting the trees just crash down onto the street! I don't know how they estimated which way the trees would fall or how they knew they would not hit my neighbors fence across the street, but they brought the trees down successfully. 

     Once the tree was down they quickly cut all the branches off, hurrying as it was blocking the street, then they cut the trunk into pieces that were just barely small enough for them to physically lift! Once all that was done, they use a stump grinder like the one shown below, to remove the the stump and grind the roots. And bing-bang in about 3 hours those trees were gone!

   Here's a picture my sister Lisa took from her car parked across the street. You can see the remaining two trees on the right of the picture and you can see how badly the fence looks from this angle and how badly the house needs to be painted but never fear, that's next on the list!

     Voila! Trees are gone! As sad as I am that the trees had to go it looks so much nicer now! Now I'm just waiting for my fence guys to put up the new fence and I'll share a nice new picture!

     Slowly but sure we are giving this old house a facelift. The house was actually built in 1957 and while it's had some fixes here and there, it's not had any actual major remodeling. Cross your fingers I like the end result.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Dancing Shopper, Health Club Owner, Healthy Eating and Me

Monday I took a vacation day in order to take my mom to a doctors appointment. After her appointment, we had planned to stop by her favorite fabric store, unfortunately they were closed on Mondays! Who does that? Who closes on a Monday?? So instead we went to JoAnns Fabrics and Michaels. 

I also made a stop at WinCo, my favorite grocery store. They make the best chicken strips. I meant to buy only chicken strips, but you know how it is, you end up picking up all kinds of stuff along the way. So my chicken strips cost me $178.43 because that was my total bill! Crazy the way things add up!

I was waiting in line to pay, taking care to stand on the pre-marked  social distancing markers and I was getting a bit irritated because the older gentleman in back of me was breathing down my neck. No matter how much I moved forward, he was right behind me. I know elderly people sometimes forget that we are supposed to socially distance, I know my mom I was trying to be patient but in my head I was super angry and frustrated.

Ahead of me in the line was a young couple and the young man was dancing the sort of dance I remember doing in my youth called The Robot...only he made it look good! So I focused my attention on him and he was awesome and entertaining and the female was so embarrassed and trying to stop him, it was so amusing!

Then I hear the old guy behind me say "I think you almost got that dance move down!" And the young man just burst into laughter and his girlfriend/wife turned red. They then started a  fun conversation and both were so entertaining. The old guy told him to keep moving as it's good for your health and the young guy told him to keep drinking water and remember to stay hydrated and the old guy said "Oh, I know. I've been a health instructor my whole life and in fact I own a health gym and health food store downtown." The young guy said "My bad, I don't need to tell you how to stay healthy then do I?" At the end when the young couple had to leave the young man turned back to the old man and said "Much respect to you sir, it was a pleasure to speak to you." 

It was a pleasure for me to be in the middle of this conversation and I turned and smiled at the old guy and noticed he only had 2 items and my cart was full, so I asked him if he wanted to go ahead of me and he said, "No, that's ok, I got all the time in the world, I just came from a doctors appointment and I live up in the mountains and have a long drive ahead of me and then when I get home all I'm going to do is sit down in front of the TV and rot." I told him that I could hardly wait until the day arrived when I could just sit and rot instead of doing all this grocery shopping. He assured me that I didn't want that day to come and started telling me about his wife that had passed away last year and how much he missed her and how he recently had a hip replacement and he was doing physical therapy and that's why he was in town today.  

I had started to unload my shopping cart and was mortified because it was filled with frozen pizza, chicken strips, ice cream, potato chips, cookies, Little Debbie Snack Cakes, diet Pepsi and beer! The healthiest thing I pulled out of the cart was milk and eggs, at least my milk was 2%! I just felt the old man staring at all my garbage food and looking at those 10-Coronavirus pounds I'd put on and judging me. But honestly I don't think he even noticed, he was so busy telling me the story of his life and I realized that's why he didn't go ahead of me in line, he was looking forward to getting into a conversation with anyone, he was lonely. 

He told me that in 17 years he would be 100, that was a weird way to tell me he was 83. I told him my mom was 82. By then I was done paying for my groceries and he told me, "When you get home young lady, you take one of those beers and you sit down and enjoy it, you've earned it!" I told him I sure would and bagged my groceries and headed out to my car. I could hear him as I left talking to the person behind him, making sure he got in all the conversation he could before he went home to sit and rot. 

There's no moral of the story here, just a reminder to enjoy life even when you're lonely and only have 17 years left before you get to 100. Talk to strangers, make people laugh, make a tired mom feel good by calling her a "young lady" and remember to not become a grumpy old person but continue enjoying life and those around you...ok, maybe there was a moral to this story after all. 

"Life is about moments. Don't wait for them, Create them."


Monday, September 7, 2020

Taking Advantage of our New Normal and Money Savings and Home Repair

      Yep, that is a long title. But I'm inspired this morning to write a post about some of the positives of the "new normal" that we are all a part of due to COVID-19.

     Yesterday mom and I were invited along on a 6-foot clearance shopping trip with my sister Lisa, my sister-in-law Connie and my niece Clarissa. Pre-COVID, we would often meet up at one store or another to see each other, shop together and usually have lunch. We had not done that since COVID-19 and we missed it. It's funny how you take things for granted until you can't do them anymore and then you realize how lucky you were to have been able to do those things. 

     So we met up at Hobby Lobby. Mom and Clarissa had one slip up, when Clarissa saw her grandmother she ran up and gave her a hug. I had just enough time to say "Wait, you can't do that" and they let go right away. Sad, sad, sad...when a granddaughter can't hug her beloved grandmother. And sad that I had to be the bad guy in this situation.

     But we had a good time shopping, I left mom alone with Connie & Clarissa knowing they would keep an eye on her. I really didn't need anything from Hobby Lobby so I instead treated myself to something totally unnecessary that I had wanted forever! A Spirograph Cyclex. Do you remember Spirograph? I had the original one that came with a thick piece of cardboard and little pins that you would use to pin down the paper and the round discs to make your design. You can see a little round container with the pins in this photo, pins are red.

     But the one I bought is not your grandmothers Spirograph, check this out. This is all self-contained, you just put that red tool with the 4 large circles and the 1 small circle on your paper and draw away. No fuss, no muss. The only problem is that I got one that had a defective small circle and I had to take it back and there were no more available so I had to get a refund, but at least I had a chance to play with it and create some artwork which I hope to finish today. 

     From there we went to Burlington and Ross and since I don't have to go to the office anymore, at least until the first of the year, I really don't need to buy anything, I mentioned that in a previous post. I'm finding that I have really saved a lot of money. Between not needing to fuel my car, go out to lunch, Starbucks coffee at least 2 or 3 times per week and not needing special clothing I have been able to build a tidy little nest egg so I decided since I'm home and have the money, it's time to start doing some small repairs around the house. 

     I started with the backyard patio. We still have the original one that my mom and dad put up on October 2, 1984. I know the exact date because mom and dad carved their names into the wet cement. I'm glad they did that so I now know that it has been standing for 35 years! Wow!

     Once the patio is finished they will start on a new fence next, can't wait for that as our old one is raggedy and falling apart, especially after the car that ran through it on Halloween in 2013, post here. Once the fence is done I'm going to have all the windows replaced with new double pane windows and then have the house painted. I'm thinking shades of grey and the finally I'm having them install a sprinkler system as right now we're just old schooling it with a water house and single sprinkler and we have a corner lot with a lot of grass, it's exhausting and hard to keep up with getting every single bit of it. We have to find our silver linings where and when we can!

     What silver linings have come your way?