But not big trouble.
Limb had to come down, but the tree itself is fine. Don't know what caused the branch to split like that. Happened overnight one day a couple weeks ago. We didn't have any big storms. Maybe it cracked over the winter and the split was working its way out from the inside for months.
I'd have taken it down myself, if I owned an extension ladder and a chain saw. Normally I jump at any excuse to buy a new tool. I need a taller ladder and I will buy one soon. Somebody in town is selling one for 40 bucks. Saw it for sale on a flyer at the general store. Forty-eight footer.
Who besides a fire department needs a 48 foot extenstion ladder?
Professional housepainters, maybe, but if you're working that high up and not using a scaffold you're crazier than I was when I used to paint houses back in college. I never worked on a house over two stories tall, but it wasn't unusual for me to be 25 feet up in the air and standing with only one foot on the rung in order to reach a spot over there it wasn't worth the trouble of climbing back down the ladder and moving it to reach when I could just stretch a little.
Keep in my mind as you visualize this that while I had just the one foot on the ladder I had no hands on it either, I'd have the brush in one and the bucket of paint in the other.
Sometimes I did this trick with a sander instead of a bucket and brush.
I was 19.
I'm not 19 anymore.
I don't need a 48 foot ladder.
I'll pick up a 24 footer at Lowe's.
But there's no way I'll let a chain saw in the house.
I couldn't get one in past the blonde anyway, even if they didn't scare me.
Guy from the tree service came by. Hundred bucks to drop the limb and cart it away. Two fifty if we had him do some other tree work that needs doing. Dead ornamental that needs to be uprooted so we can plant something else in its place. An ugly tree-like growth clinging to the side of the garage that needs to be removed just to make the world a more beautiful place.
Then there's that very strange tree in the front yard that the former owners told us cost them 4000 dollars and needs reshaping. Supposed to look like an umbrella. I tried to do it myself last summer. Looked like an umbrella all right, an umbrella that had been blown inside out in a storm, forced back into shape but with half its ribs broken, and abandoned on the subway as a lost cause.
"Yes, faitful reader?"
"About the tip jar over there in the top right hand corner of your page?"
"What about it?"
"That work all right?"
"Easy to use?"
"Very easy. Safe and secure too. Why do you ask?"
"Oh, no reason."
Actually, it could cost more. I have to have another tree service in for an estimate. I'm not hiring that guy for any more jobs. He didn't inspire confidence. When he showed up in his truck he was yakking on his cell. He climbed out of the truck and kept yakking. He came up the walk, still yakking. I met him halfway and shook hands and introduced myself and he said, putting his hand over his cell as if it was a regular phone with a mouthpiece, "I got to take this. Long distance," and went right back to yakking.
I told him I'd wait till he was done. He didn't hear me. Yakking.
But he paused long enough to ask me to show him what I wanted done. So I led him to the back yard.
The ability to multi-task is highly over-rated. He talked to me, yakked into the phone, talked to me, yakked, the whole time he was there. The important long-distance call might have been business but if it was they were talking about how the guy he was talking to's divorce was impacting on their business together. The tree guy's end of the conversation consisted of him saying, "Yeah, that's tough," and "I hear ya," and "I know where you're coming from," and then offering examples of messy divorces among his friends and family.
A real grown up homeowner, as opposed to me, would have said, "Look, tree guy, if you can't give me your full attention, you don't really want my business, so hasta la vista, ok?"
But this guy owned the business and I kept thinking, Nobody running his own business can be this stupid this long, he's just waiting for a good moment where he can politely say shut up to the important customer on the other end of the line. The moment never arrived. The cell stayed glued to his ear the whole time he was there. He was still yakking when he climbed into his truck and drove off.
I should have called another tree service.
Guy said his climber'd there that afternoon to drop the limb.
Week later, still no sign of him.
Maybe if I rented the chain saw, I thought.
One morning I looked out the window and saw three strange men in the backyard staring up at the tree.
Big truck with a chipper parked on the street.
When I walked out there to see if what I thought was about to happen was going to happen, the guys smiled and waved as if they had no doubt I'd been expecting them.
"You're here to drop the branch?" I asked.
"Make the check out to cash," they said.
Spring seems to have come to stay in our neck of the woods, which means it's mending time.
I like to say that, "spring mending time." Makes me feel like I own a farm. Makes me feel as if all the niggling little chores and minor repairs I have to get to over the next month or so add up to real work.
This month's to do list:
Replace some trim on the shed doors. Re-hang the garden gate. Finish painting the fence. Last summer I painted most of it, but I didn't get to two sections on the neighbor's side. Sand and repaint the floors of both front stoops.
Spread new mulch around all the shrubbery. Lots of shrubbery came with this house. Former owners claim that they put $17,000 worth of landscaping into the property. They said this like I was supposed to be grateful.
All I saw when they gave me the tour was a lot of extra work.
Personally, I consider a lawn an extravagance.
And mowing one a weekly act of penance.
There are guys who like mowing their lawns.
We have a much larger lawn here than we did in Syracuse, and the grass actually grows. Back there I was happy if there were more weeds than bare patches of dirt. Here, I can putt on what grows out there, I keep it cut to the right height. It's an emerald carpet! So in addition to having to mow more square footage, I have to mow more often, because this is grass you can actually watch grow and really see some action. I could sell tickets, it grows that fast, like watching time-lapse photography.
Added to this, it looks so darn nice! I want it to stay that way. So I worry. I don't want a lawn I have to worry about, but I've got one, and I do it. Worry.
I've been out spreading Turf Builder. I'm morally opposed to Turf Builder, but there I am, pushing another fool machine around my yard, giving my neighbors a good laugh.
We already did our major home improvement for the year when we put in the new furnace but we have plenty of other projects lined up.
We're going to put up window boxes, have the house power washed. The blonde has big plans for the flower gardens. I'm going to paint the 11 year old's bedroom.
I'll paint the 9 year old's bedroom too if he finally decides on a color. Last year he wanted to paint it all gray, with clouds and rain drops, to remind himself how sad he was about leaving Syracuse and how he missed his room at our old house.
He's decided now that he can live without the raindrops.
He wants a mural. All of his favorite places back in Syracuse. Like one of those comic maps of cities with cartoon buildings all crammed together and the businesses that have paid for the advertising enlarged so that Joe's Automatic Transmissions is taller than most of the downtown office buildings.
I'm thinking...blue. Blue's a nice color for a bedroom.
There are a couple of screens need replacing. The outdoor faucet drips. Thanks to that 17 thousand dollars worth of landscaping we have two fountains I ought to pump out, clean, scrub, refill, and dose with all kinds of chemicals I should be arrested for even considering letting loose in the environment.
Fence posts could be reset. The wooden swingset and the deck could probably stand some water proofing. I'd like to install new porch lights. There's a short in one causes bulbs to explode after a week.
Two new storm doors.
Lots of small jobs, no real work, nothing adding value to the house. In a way, I'm jealous of the work David Parsons has to do on his bathroom.
That's a real job. Probably require ten or twelve trips to the hardware store. It's not a real repair job unless you become best friends with the clerks at the hardware store while you're attempting it.
Have to get the pool ready for summer soon. I never had any ambition to own a pool. I would never have gone out and aquired one on my own. I had a friend who owned a pool. After several years of owning this pool he came to me and said, "Lance, whatever you do, never, ever own a pool." He said this the way one of Napoleon's soldiers might have said, "Whatever you do, don't invade Russia in the winter."
But the pool came with the house. It's an above ground pool, probably 20 feet in diameter. Kids love it. So I'm not complaining, too much. But we need to buy a new filter and pump, a new cover, and I should lay new outdoor carpeting around the deck...
"Hey, Faithful Reader?"
"About my tip jar?"
"You were saying...?"
"I'm sorry. I can't hear you. I'm on the phone. I have to take it. It's long distance."