hanging tree of heaven
Sunday, April 9 2023
Gretchen and I didn't have our usual Sunday in living room in front of the fire. Instead, we got up late and decided to go out to Blackbird Infoshop & Café for our coffee before meeting up with a tree expert at the Downs Street brick mansion at noon (more on that in a bit). We brought the dogs, and as we were leashing them in the parking lot outside Blackbird, a Tesla rolled up and a couple youngish lefties (one wearing a Sea Shepherd shirt) got out. They fussed over our dogs and went into Blackbird in front of us. Gretchen was feeling punchy, so she good-naturedly told the youngish couple that if they took both the baked goods she had her eye on, she would "fight" them. We got to talking about the dogs and other things, and it turned out the woman is on the board of a local farmed animal sanctuary (there are two in our area, though Gretchen is estranged from both of them). The concerning thing about Blackbird is that it mostly seems to attract a certain specific type: upperclass lefty vegans who drive electric vehicles. Indeed, as we were leaving, I noticed that the customers who'd just come in had arrived in an all-electric Hyundai Ioniq. There's just not enough of this demographic in our area to support a coffee shop. Perhaps another problem is Blackbird's continued insistence that customers wear masks long after this stopped being required everywhere else. There might still be some people who will only go to places where masks are required, but they'd be a tiny minority at this point, smaller even than the population of electric-car-driving vegans. Most of the time we were there at Blackbird, we were the only customers there, and it was a peak time to be in a coffee shop (though perhaps not, since it was also Easter Sunday). At least the drinks and food continue to be good; I had a mushroom taco while we were there that tasted like I remember them tasting in Tulum, Mexico.
At the Downs Street rental, Gretchen was dismayed by some clutter in the back. I dumped out some bags of what just seemed to be dirt onto the bare ground under the trees. There was an old tire back there too that we learned had been left by an earlier tenant.
The other day when I'd been dealing with the blocked plumbing, I'd happened to noticed that the dead half of a large tree of heaven had snapped off at the ground and fallen against the garage. That garage is made of brick and has a slate roof, so the only damage appeared to be to a part of the eaves, which the tree crushed as it came to rest. I'd told Gretchen, and she'd called the guy who keeps doing tree work for Ray & Nancy (he's the guy who cut up all that silver maple I salvaged back in early December). When that tree guy arrived, we showed him the hanging tree of heaven. He was initially dubious about how to approach the situation, since he didn't feel safe climbing up the still-living tree of heaven. But then I suggested he get a bucket truck or something and either work from the driveway in back or pull in through the gates from the front. He liked that idea, though then there was a debated about the difference in price between him cutting it down and leaving it for me to take away or taking it away himself. I could tell Gretchen wanted let him handle the whole thing, but we could save over a 700 dollars if I hauled it away. Also, it's totally dry, so it might even work as firewood. The tree guy tried to dismiss its value as firewood, perhaps as part of an upsell to have us pay to have him haul it away. He also wanted to have us cut down the perfectly healthy tree of heaven, though doing that would double the price of the whole project. (His selling point there was that you never know when a tree of heaven is going to fall down, and we might as well do it while he has the bucket truck there.) When the tree guy mentioned in passing that he also does some roof work, we had him look at some gutter problems on the front of the mansion. But then he started backpedalling on his level of skill. Nobody, it seems, wants to deal with a slate roof.
Later, on the drive home, Gretchen and I decided the scope for the tree removal project just be the dead tree, which the tree guy would get down to the ground and that I would be responsible for hauling away. The price: $1800, or the same as what Oscar the Cat's recent dental surgery came to. It might've been tempting to have the tree guy do more and carry away all the wood, but that living tree of heaven looks completely sound and could last for decades. And the more we pay professionals to do, the less profit we make on our real estate empire.
Ramona, Neville, and Gretchen at Blackbird today. Click to enlarge.
The dead tree of heaven leaning against our garage. Click to enlarge.
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