Showing posts with label Trees. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trees. Show all posts

Friday, December 07, 2012

The Annual Visitor

There it sits with patience, or is it insolence, in a dark corner of the basement.  Plastic green sheeting with bright red handles protects it from dust and mice droppings.  Every year it gains weight.  What does it eat down here?  It has melded into its little corner with such fossilized determination and like a big fat dog it fights our every tug and pull to break it free from other large unidentifiable objects.

Finally it falls between us with a soft whoosh like a beached green whale just inches from our toes.  Hubby lifts the heavy end and I lift the other heavy end.  We both grunt and groan and wonder if we really want to do this.  Every year we put off the task until we reach a tipping point in time.  The lump gets bumped and dragged past the covered unused dining room table, past the antique doll house and over the threshold toward the stairs.  This is where we wipe our brows and put our courage to the sticking place.  At our age this could be a life or death decision.

With hands tightly grabbing canvas and stitched pulls we drag it ever so slowly over each wooden step up to the main floor using our (my) body weight to prevent it from running back down the stairs and taking me with it.  At the main level it is like a heavy dust mop as we pull it down the hallway.  It accordians various throw rugs until it reaches the designated place: the bay window.  This means we no longer have a place to eat breakfast.

We should feel successful at this juncture, but an even greater effort and struggle awaits us our expended energies.  We catch our breath.

Hidden in the dense plastic branches, there are green tips to match green holes, red tips to match red holes and black tips which are impossible to see to match anything.   Then buried deeper in the darkness of the plastic pine needles, there are numerous male and female plugs, so many that we have never been able to count them all.  One year long ago when I was determined I labeled them AA, BB, CC, DD.  We have never again found the DDs in the dense green.  There is one string of lights that no longer lights (perhaps related to the DDs) and we must add our own little string across that area.

After an hour in which we do not swear because it IS the holiday season, we have a perfectly symmetrical plastic tree in place.  It does not smell of pine, but smells of age and mildew, a perfect tree for old people.  We tweak the ends of various wire branches turned inward like the bowed head of a timid dog that has been subdued by its master and does not want to be here.  Then we decorate each branch in red and gold glass ornaments because it is an adult tree with sophistication and no whimsy as all the family ornaments have been given to the children now that they have their own homes. 

Once it is lit sharing all its glory we remember why we go through this every year.  It cleans up pretty good and so does my floor!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Working for the Soul

I have posted elsewhere (FB and emails) about my days of work recently. The cool fall weather, the dormancy of ticks, and the necessity of the size of weeds at summers end have motivated us to clear parts of the forest on either side of the long drive to the house. The wooded view as we drove in was no longer enticing and welcoming, but more like spooky and scary, and while appropriate for the Halloween season, it seems out of place when welcoming guests at other times of the year.

We have now cleared the leaning and/or dead trees that rested against each other and formed a sheltered structure for the wild roses that in turn learned to climb to the tops of the lovely and healthy maples, dogwood, and holly trees and shaded them from sun. I pruned limbs and prickly vines and then piled them beside the road in the clearing. We had piles of dead wood and piles of scratchy brush all of which was later gathered in our arms and placed in the old wooden trailer we use for hauling large amounts of 'stuff'. Hubby bravely climbed on top and did the elephant dance to smash it all down so that we could grab more armfuls and put on top once again.

Frequently the angry roses would grab our butts and legs refusing to be dumped. I still have a tiny thorn in my arm that will have to fester its way to the surface.

Hubby and I argued about what wood to take to the dump and what to cut into firewood. We have enough firewood to last through the winter of 2012, so I was inclined to get rid of much of the wood. (This will ensure that global climate cha
nge really will be global warming.) This photo is just one of the long piles we have waiting for the first cold weather. The problem is that some of this wood is old and some still too new for burning and in our dedicated rhythm we were not as careful in stacking as we should have been.

The wrens and the flickers were not happy that we took away so much dead wood, but eventually forgave us when they saw how may broken tree stumps we left behind for them to poke through. They will have a rich larder of wood insects through the coming snows. We also left enough small bush areas for the mice and other small animals to find shelter.

The free crepe myrtle that was planted at the end of my flower bed two years ago got moved with the help of Pedro. He works for a landscape company and knows exactly how to dig and move small trees. The shape of the crepe was not long and lean but more like an umbrella-shaped weeping willow, and therefore, taking up too much flower bed space. We (actually Pedro and hubby did the work) also joined the two flower beds and I now have a good sunny place to transplant my scattered roses this fall. (More work!)

This is the crepe myrtle shape I had hoped for!

My new rose bed.

After these past three days, the old joints ache with fatigue and overuse and my arms are scratched as if I had wrestled with a mountain cat, but soaking in my jacuzzi in the late afternoon before starting dinner was a reward enjoyed so much more because of my hard work. I am thankful that I do not hate hard work. I am thankful that the goal is its own reward for me. Besides, now I don't have to do any exercises this week!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Not to Put Too Fine a Point on It

Some people cut a little brush and others cut a lot of deadfall. The tree trimmers came today. We did NOT cut any live trees, only the dead ones that were in the path of the deer fence and that were too large for us to deal with. At $300 an hour we think this is a bargain as the largest logs could not be cut by any chain saw that we own. The photos were taken through the screened window upstairs and like most of my photos can be clicked on for a high resolution. (It took only 2 hours to remove a ton of stuff!)

They shred most of the small limbs into mulch that goes into the ravine and will be good for the rest of the trees and plants and bugs growing down that way. We have removed some food for the woodpeckers, but we have dozens of other trees that are dead or dying.

The work is dangerous and watching them do this gives me tremendous respect for the skills needed in this job. The large logs they are able to cut so that they fit almost exactly as they drop them not too gently into the back of their big truck. This is all done by eye.

It is interesting to see the different colors of the shredded material that comes out of the chipper. Some is rich and red, and other brown. We did not try to save this as mulch because there is so much poison ivy vine mixed in with it. We also sacrificed some of our future firewood because we did not want to interfere with their progress by trying to pick and choose. Everytime you talk to these guys it is money! ;-)

If my dad were still alive he would love watching this. He had worked hard all his life and had a deep appreciation for work that was completed by hand and machine. I miss the guy on days like this.

Now I must go outside and measure the edge of the final flower bed to see how much more landscape brick I have to save for. I need it this month...but probably won't be able to add it to the spring's expenses.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Being in the Moment

Honoring my ongoing promise to myself to be more 'in the moment', I fixed a dinner of rosemary lamb chops, garlic and curry roast potatoes, and a healthy baby spinach salad with orange-wedges (from my favorite clementines), thin red onion slices and almonds. The meal was beautiful to look at and in honor of being in the moment I did not rush away to take a picture for the blog. (The picture above was taken on another day with silly glasses that do not match.) I took my time to inhale each captivating smell as I sat down for dinner, and while we do not say grace, I was thankful in my heart and soul and to the powers that be for this meal. I slowly chewed each bite of food and let the flavors linger before swallowing. My husband and I respected the value and precious quality of this meal and the quiet time we had to linger over it.

My husband had made a fresh pitcher of cold green tea and in keeping with the spirit of the moment I brought the glass to my nose to inhale as if it were a fine wine before taking my first sip. The green tea had been enhanced with a sliver of the little kaffir lime that had clung to the tree for months before falling to the floor when I turned the tree in the sun that morning. When I inhaled, the aroma was like a verdant spark. It was lime but not lime. It was like a sweet floral perfume but not heavy or out of place. It was better than even drinking the lovely green tea itself. This gift from the 4 foot citrus plant in a green plastic pot tucked in the corner window was one of the best gifts I got over the holiday season.

I will try to be in the moment more often.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Too Much of a Good Thing--Again

(Photo above I took from the deck yesterday evening as the sun was setting across the river and my weary body was screaming for rest. Click on photo to see the details of the last of our fall beauty.)

I have taken dozens and dozens of pictures in the yard this fall as the season peaks. The variety of tree species complimented by the diverse fall colors have been most obvious this fall, and the peak beauty has been more exciting than I have noticed in the past.

Since all good things must come to an end, the prior night's wet winds brought millions of leaves to carpet everywhere. The weather yesterday was in the 70's and we knew we had to get the leaves off of the the driveway and the lawn before the coming front that would bring more leaves and more rain. We had to use our non-environmental leaf blower because the new lawn was still too wet and soft to walk on and rake and the gravel driveway does not lend itself to raking.

I created large snake-like drifts of leaves in places down the long winding driveway and these we captured and put into a metal garbage can. They were broken down with the weed eater into a wonderful rich nutrition that was added to the newly created raised garden beds that now await the birth of spring. Hubby is so excited about this humus rich black gold that we have created that he cannot walk down the driveway without stopping to enjoy the results of his many days of labor.

Since the ticks are dormant we can wade into the 'jungle' and clear the non-indigenous wild rose that strangles everything in its way climbing high into 30 foot trees. Even though I covered my body in loose clothing and wore jeans, the tiny tenacious thorns at the ends of the branches would fly over my head and bite me in the butt, pull off my cap, and tangle my hair as I pulled them away into the open areas. I also fought with the green briar (such a lovely name for such a nasty plant). I now look as though I had fought with a wild cat---so glad I do not care about that stuff.

The day before, we had created a large and very warm brush fire with all the downed limbs and weeds we had cleared. Yesterday flew by too fast for us to start on that project once again, but now the holly, dogwood, linden trees and other plants are free to breathe once again and we have space to put in our plastic net deer fence around the perimeter. The deer have mowed the mums and trimmed my pyracantha hedge and the low growth of the new hybrid dogwood. While I spray deer repellent it has become a careful dance between them and us as their fall food cache diminishes.

I awoke this morning to another carpet of leaves almost as dense as the one we cleared yesterday! Some times I think mother nature is too rich for me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Too Much of a Good Thing

If you look closely you will see two trees (actually two sprouts from an older cherry tree that is growing straight up right next to these two widow-makers) that are going to fall anytime soon across the path to the dock. The last tree fell without a wind, heavy rain or anything else that would give one pause.

This is the wood from the most recent tree which we have put at the back of the wood pile to dry.

This is the first tree (another cherry) that fell that we still have to move to the wood pile!

This is the pile of old logs (perhaps you remember from my "build that house blog") that my husband asked the builder to leave so that he could use them for firewood. Yeah, right! Here they sit sheltering snakes and creating food for termites. He did say he would split the wood this year...we will see. The orange tarp to the back shelters a LOT of wood that has been split and cut for the fireplace. Enough to keep us warm for this winter and perhaps next!

Friday, October 10, 2008

One Down, Three Thousand to Go

This is the second time in a month that our contractor has been blocked from exiting (first time was entering) the lot to work on the patio due to a fallen tree across the road. This happened just 30 minutes after he return from an errand! Please bring your trailer by if you need any firewood this winter. We have two widow makers over the path to the dock and no cash to deal with them at this time!!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

And Thus Retirement Begins

I certainly thought that I would have more time and more motivation to blog after retirement. But that is certainly not the case. Blogging becomes one of the "I'll-get-to-it-later' activities.

Spring is planting time and I have spent a good part of my days starting the container plants on my deck. Since I am being lazy this year, they are all from purchased plants. In the future, I anticipate being more frugal and starting from seeds. I am an addict when entering the garden/landscape stores. It is as if I have been given a shot of some drug that suspends time and makes me need to see every planting table, pot and greenhouse section of the store at least three times. I wander and dream among all the treasures for sale . The trees are particularly enticing. Finances and deer that eat everything I plant are putting a healthy break on the purchases. Hubby and I have to figure out a fence system or see if the deer are being more tentative now that we are here full time.

Frugal YET!..we buy a water fountain that is so heavy it took four men to lift it into my husband's tiny trailer. There it sits until we figure out where in the back yard under the deck we want to put it. There it sits until we figure out how in the hell we are going to move it ourselves! It was 50% off since it was last year's fountain design. My mind boggles at the thought that even fountains have styles that come and go. The intricate pattern which may be over the top for some folks, reminded me of my days in Indonesia and the temples overgrown with jungle vines that we visited.

I also bought a number of herbs --- rosemary, sage, various patio tomato to compete with those hubby has in his garden

We also bought a calmondin orange tree. We had one of these many years ago in our other house. It produced wonderful flowers in February which filled the house with fragrance like the breath of an early spring. Then I harvested hundreds of tiny lemon-like oranges for drinks, baking, etc. The tree got to be about 6 feet tall and I had to give it away when we moved. Now I have a new one foot tall tree with blossoms on my deck waiting to re-establish the pattern.

I also bought a Kafir lime tree. I spend too much of my time hitting oriental markets looking for Kafir limes for my cooking. They are a rare and delicious treasure. And now I have a three foot tree filled with blossoms on my deck that has just been re-potted. Both trees will have to be moved inside next to the south facing window and pruned judiciously each year and re-potted every few years. AND moved back out onto the deck every spring. But, the rewards will be well worth the work involved. Thus the addiction begins once again.

(I will post pics on my other blog.)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Barking up the Right Tree

According to an article I found on the Internet (the pentultimate location for research information) there are "probably 118 species of native trees," This was stated by Robert Zahner, coordinator of the Arizona Register of Big Trees. "Approximately half of those are endemic to the desert Southwest, which means they occur only in southwest New Mexico, southern Arizona, and southeast California, and also, of course, in Sonora, Mexico. Nineteen species are endemic to Arizona, which means their national champions must be in Arizona" he says. In spite of this information I still could not find the species name of these beauties below. Of course, since I did not take pictures of the leaves, I am at a bit of a disadvantage. But while these photos may frustrate amataur botanists, the beauty below should give artists lots of inspiration. (As in my prior post, the photos have been reduced in size, but if you click on them, they are still pretty inspiring.)

This last little guy gets honorable mention because he is hanging in there!!