Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Getting rid of dead wood

Or, In Which Head Nurse Turns Into A Remodeling Blog. Temporarily. Again.

The 75-foot-tall, 60-year-old maple in the back yard has been reduced to a very large pile of extremely massy logs. The lean-to that sat off the kitchen and blocked the view of the window, and which I hated with everything including my toenails, has been reduced to a very large pile of trash and siding.

A whole bunch of different guys came and invaded my back yard this morning. Half of 'em were your typical tree crew, with ropes and great big chainsaws and leather straps hither and yon and one very tough woman who was roping off with the rest of 'em. The other half were the cheerful, dreadlocked hippies from across the street, who'd agreed to take down the shed in exchange for all the wood from the maple and a small consideration. By ten they were all hard at work; by one-thirty the entire character of the back yard had changed.

Boy, is it gonna be hot in here come summer. I hadn't realized how much shade the tree was providing. That, combined with the fact that it held two different species of woodpecker and a group of bushtits (BUSHTIT! BUSHTIT! Hi, Mom!) and a whole colony of squirrels, made it hard to get rid of. When the one-armed tree guy showed up, though, and looked doubtfully at it before saying, "Ma'am, thar ain't no way we can make this here tree safe," I knew it had to come down. The next big storm would've sent it onto the house, probably killing me and possibly killing Max.

The cheerful hippies uncovered a nest of baby rats at one point. Mama sped away as soon as that part of the wall came down, so I lifted up the babies on a shovel (their eyes weren't even open yet) and put them down in a protected place. Mama had gotten them within about fifteen minutes. I'll deal with that later; I didn't have the heart to kill little baby *anythings* whose eyes weren't yet open and who crawled around squeaking pathetically.

I don't have the heart for much, lately. Chef Boy and I are dunzo after five years. The only respectful way to put it is that we had irreconcilable differences and leave it at that. Part of all the chopping down and clearing away the dead, dying, and rotted stuff is so that I can see my way clear to what I have to do with the house. I'm sure there's a juicy metaphor there, but right now I'm not going to examine it.

Anyway, the whole damn shebang of tree and shed was accomplished without too much blood loss and no maiming. Only one person stepped on a nail, and only one person ended up under a falling wall. Luckily, it was a very light, poorly constructed falling wall.

When the tree guys had topped the tree (which was the really dangerous part; past a certain point, it was so rotten they couldn't climb it and had to work overhead) there was, for about ten minutes, a huge solid mass of trunk standing in the yard. All the branches had been cut off, and I could see the shape of the trunk, how it had twisted with the prevailing winds for years, where the critters had built nests, all of its history right there. 

Then all of the tree crew and all of the hippies grabbed the end of a rope and held the top of the trunk steady as one person chainsawed through the bottom of the trunk. You'd think it would take forever to get a tree like that down, but it pulled down surprisingly easily. One big cut, and the whole thing was on the ground. Turns out the trunk was rotten clear through and it never showed.

I'm sure there's some juicy metaphor there, but right now I'm not going to examine that one either.


geena said...

I'm sorry about you and ChefBoy. And the tree.

Bardiac said...

I'm sorry to hear about you and Chefboy.

Are you going to put in a new small tree so that there will be one there in 50 years?

Take care, okay?

Dr. Alice said...

Sorry to hear about Chefboy. Good luck - and glad you got the tree down before it imperiled the house.

Heidi said...

Aw, Jo, I just want to give you a big hug. (((Hug)))

woolywoman said...

Oh, hell. Sorry. Guess now you plant the tree you want. (metaphor unintentional.)

painting with fire said...

Ouch - sorry to hear about Chefboy. Glad you took the tree down before bad things happened.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about you and the chefboy.



Anonymous said...

Sorry about you and Chefboy. It's a bummer, even when it's the right thing to do. Like the tree, right?

Penny Mitchell said...

Metaphor away. Got'cher back, babe.

Kimberly said...

Thanks for helping the hippies, they usually need it.

GingerJar said...

Sorry about Chef-boy...but sometimes that's just the way life cooks it up.

See...you were right about the tree...rotten at the core...metaphorically speaking.


shrimplate said...

Can you plant fruit trees? Or maybe an avocado? Pecans? Anything "productive" and also shady?

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about you and Chefboy; even when it's the right thing, it's never easy. If I were on the same continent, I'd offer you a fine Belgian beer or two out in the garden. Take care of yourself, eh?