Posts Tagged ‘family’

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My Hobby, TREES

May 20, 2009

It’s not a very big thing.  At least not now, maybe in a hundred years or so.  I adore trees.  Native trees.  The Wife can vouch for me.  I was stratifying seeds in her refrigerator twenty years ago.  Then an entire fridge drawer filled with soil & seeds from November to April.  Of course the soil could not be used for stratification until  I sterilized it.  Into the oven at 400 degrees for 1 hour.  Have you ever cooked dirt.  Guess what that smells like?  I did this each year for many years.  Now days I just keep a handful of seeds in the fridge if necessary.

Oh, and there were the flower boxes filled with hundreds of seedlings.  In the windows, all the windows, INSIDE the apartment from February on.  All trees never flowers.  Plus, there was only one table in the basement next to the washer & dryer.  It, of course, was used for my seed propagation chamber.  Laundry had to come upstairs to be folded.  All two flights.

That apartment and subsequent houses have many great trees in their yards.  Now I work on this house and it’s woods.

I know The Wife loves me, not because she puts up with me but because she hasn’t killed me, yet.  What a Doll!

These days I take it easy on her.  Stratifying, propagation, & first years growth all happen outside.  On her deck.  Hey! it’s some progress!  You wouldn’t want wee critters getting at my trees now would you?

Last year I collected about 1000 River Birch (Betula nigra) seeds and put them in a pot with soil.  Watered them every day and Got 30 plus trees out of it.  River Birch have notoriously poor germination.  All of which I planted out into my back woods where Winter snows brought down several weak trees.

Snow Lost Tree

Except for the smallest one which volunteered to be a off-center Bonsai.

Birch Bonsai

This year I’ve collected Sweet Birch (Betula lenta) & Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

Sweet Birch

To date 13 have germinated.  If you click on the image below you can count their tiny little leaves.

Sweet Birch

Sycamore

I sowed several thousand and maybe a few hundred came up.

Sycamore

Sycamore becomes a very large tree.  I’ll plant them along side the creek down in the woods.  If I plant 50 maybe 10 will reach maturity.  I have no idea what to do with the rest.  I guess there may be several Drive-by-tree-plantings in peoples yards.  The local park needs some more trees I’ve heard.

I may only get a few dozen Sweet Birch.  All of them have homes out back.

I’ll hope to get some Yellow Birch (Betula Allegheniensis) this year as well.  I’ll keep you posted.  I tried to get American Elm (Ulmus americana) but I missed seed drop.  Now I need to hunt for new seedlings if I hope to get any.

The Goal? you ask.  Well the back woods was being regularly grazed by cattle thirty years ago.  That’s when the land owner cut it down before selling it to developers; hence the handful of houses on this road.  The current forest stand is young with only moderate diversity.  My Goal is to have every tree native to this area present in these woods.  The list may include a hundred tree species or so.  I’m still compiling it.  Also Native rhododendrons, azaleas, & mountain laurels are included.  The Wife, bless her soul, is helping me to include herbaceous species as well.  When I’m finished I hope not to be able to see any farther than 20 feet when standing out back.

So I like to watch trees grow..I never said I was Mister Excitement.  A hammock stretched between two trees can keep me busy all day.

Soul without a Shadow.jpg

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AAAAAHHHHHRRRRRGGG!

September 9, 2008

My daughter is telling me all about which boys she likes the most at school.  She’s nine.  NINE!  I can’t tell which is worse.  The fact that she, like my Wife, thinks smelly, hairy boys (well men for the Wife) are a good thing.  Or, that at nine the part of her brain that makes you girls like smelly, hairy, loud, obnoxious boys is pumping it’s venom into her blood stream.  Don’t you know that we smell our drawers to see if they’re good for one more day!.  Don’t you know we depend on you to know better?  HOW does my perfect, beautiful, intelligent, & light filled daughter look at a pile of loutish little mud heathens and think,”Oh boy!”?  How do any of you do that?  Do you have any idea how many guns I need to buy now?  And some barbed wire..and some alligators…. Guard dogs.  Big ones.  Like twenty feet tall or something.

Sigh!

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Please!…

June 9, 2008

I just got word that one of my contractors has been killed in a car crash. He lost control on a turn, over corrected and rolled his truck. He was not wearing his seat belt and was ejected from the vehicle. He died at the scene. His wife who was wearing her belt suffered minor non-life threatening injuries, was treated then sent home. The contractors eldest son is home on leave from the Navy. The family was together to attend the youngest sons High School graduation tonight.

Please! if you are in a car put your seat-belt on. There is no logical reason not too. DON’T BECOME A STATISTIC!

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Chaos

June 9, 2008

The quick & dirty for this weekend goes like this.

The Wife and I are painting the foyer. Late Saturday night Kid One trips over the bucket of paint sending it down the stairs. The stairs, banister, & floor are unpainted wood, or were. Not only did the paint splatter the woodwork but it seeped through some backboards and ran down the basements stairs too. Coming to rest in a pool on the downstairs rug. Unfortunately, as if the previous wasn’t unfortunate enough, the foyer is adjacent to the living room we had a new floor put in a week ago. While I was desperately toweling the paint off of the new living room floor I realized I had not yet replaced all of the table lamps. Meanwhile the paint is seeping into the joints, permanently like. I desperately need enough light to fill the room so I can see all the spots. I yell at Kid One to ‘get me a light fast’. Two minutes later he shows up with a small flashlight.

>BOOOOM!<

Any rationality I had left…Left. I went off like a bomb. I over reacted. The poor kid. He’s a klutz. Just like me. The wife said I sounded like my father but not in the good way. More like ‘this guy needs an intervention or medication or both’ kind of way. I don’t go by the moniker of Polar because I like the cold folks. What an ugly scene. There is nothing good about a gallon of paint cascading through one’s house. But it’s worse, I think now, to down dress your kid for doing it accidentally. essentially I made the situation much worse for everybody in earshot. Yeah, yeah, it was a unusual paint in that one MUST maintain a wet edge while painting or the job goes to hell. Which means one cannot just stop halfway through a wall for an hour to clean a spill. But once the can went down the stairs all that became moot anyway.

I wish that I had said something like ‘Um, your supposed to play Kick The Can with an empty outside in the yard.’

I wish that I had made like a foreman on a Exxon Valdez clean up crew calmly pointing out missed spots and issuing towels. letting Kid One learn how to clean up paint.

I wish that I had made this a lesson instead of a catastrophe.

I wish that I had laughed instead of panicked.

The real mistake here was not made by Kid One but by me.

The real damage here was not done to the house but to the relationship between Kid One & myself, Dad Zero.

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An Ordinary Day

February 19, 2008

I do many different things at work. One, of which, is to check contractor compliance. There are two of us that do this. One in the north and me in the south. As usual I rolled up to a job site the other day to administer a weekly inspection. This was the first time I would meet this crew since they started working in my area. They are typically up north. I jumped out of the truck and walked toward the work deck. I was looking for the owner/foreman when up popped some old guy. He had to be eighty or so and wearing a hard hat and safety vest. I thought to myself, ‘what’s a guy this old doing on a job site. He can’t possibly be working here‘. As the old guy walked up to me I bid him good morning. He says something and then keeps talking.

Well what can I say. This old guy is also a little guy, plus he apparently doesn’t talk loud either. This is important because we are surrounded by heavy equipment, that’s moving: you know, BEEEEEEP BEEEEEEP BEEEEEEP, Rawrawr Rawrawr Rawrawr, clunk clunk whomp! So here I am trying to make first contact with a contractor and instead I’m standing next to Benny Hill’s little old sidekick who’s lips are moving but for all intensive purposes nothing is coming out. So I smile and nod my head a lot. I still want to know why this old man is here? Eventually the crew’s owner sees me and comes over to talk. He, the owner, says something and the old guy walks away.

Now the owner, Larry, and I have lots to talk about and for two hours he and I go over every aspect of his business while walking throughout the site. finally I was satisfied that we understood and were on good terms with each other. As I was concluding the conversation I, offhandedly, mentioned the old guy and asked who he was.

Larry informed me that the old guy’s name was Tommy and that he was the father of one of the men on the crew, Bobby. Larry then told me that Tommy has cancer and was given six months to a year to live last fall. He went on to say, as I was suddenly silent, that he hired Tommy so he and his son could spend what little time he has left together. It seams that the crew was in agreement that Tommy would be better off working with Bobby than at home sitting around worrying about his fate. Larry explained that Tommy could only make it to work several days out of the week. That they gave him the lightest jobs he could still handle. Ironic since, as it turns out, Tommy was a renaissance man when younger. He taught himself how to handle most equipment. Then, naturally, taught his son how to operate just about everything too.

Larry said that hiring Tommy was the best way to handle the situation. He then looked down at the ground and shook his head. He said that he wouldn’t know what to do if it was his daddy.

Larry’s company is very successful and he is one of our best contractors. Larry is well off and in his mid thirties. I like Larry. I like him a lot. Not because he has good business sense but because he will do for his employees as much as he would do for himself. That is not a common quality anymore. I feel both saddened and privileged. I hope I get another chance to talk to Tommy. He saw the doctors again last week. I need to find out how it went.

***UPDATE***

Tommy went to the doctor last week and was told that his cancer has moved faster than they thought it would and into everything. He took this very hard. He did not come back to work last week or this week, though I understand he can still get around. His son is still at work and the crew is worried about both of them. Call me naive but I’m still hoping for the best. Larry and I spent thirty minutes talking about our respective fathers. As I told my son, I will still be trying to impress my dad even when I’m eighty and he’s gone. I think most guys are like this. The one’s that can be that is. Which is probably why we won’t let go so easily.

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Valentine’s Day or Where’s my bullet proof vest

February 15, 2008

heart-balloon.jpg My daughter’s school was closed on Valentines Day because of snow. Which means she won’t be receiving any valentines from her class mates. Being Dad, it falls on me to get her the only valentine she will receive today. On the way home from work I stop at the store to do some shopping. I find a sweet little heart shaped balloon which will be worth more to her than all the gold in the world. Its cost is two dollars. So, at a quarter past five in the afternoon on Valentines day I buy an “I love you” balloon for two bucks at the supermarket. At sixteen past five in the afternoon on Valentines day I get the “I hope she kills you in your sleep” look from the cashier at the supermarket. Well at least I made my daughters day…

I’m such a puttz!

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Where I am

January 20, 2008

At a place

The place of effort

Effort for the family

The family of many hands

Many hands that pound the stone

The stone that crumbles to dust

Dust mixed with water

The water to make mortar

Mortar that fills the spaces

The spaces between the bricks

Bricks that become the wall

The wall of the house

House of the family

The family

That makes a home

quod erat demonstrandum.jpg

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My Kitchen

December 4, 2007

Miss Harley Quinn tagged me with this “Kitchen Reveal“. So here it is…

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White vinyl cabinets
Pond scum green linoleum
1 fluorescent light
Windowless
Galley kitchen

Of all the reasons we moved here
This kitchen was not one of them

So the kitchen becomes a pot
To which we added
5 quarts of sweat
10 bundles of lumber
Stir with a drill
Fold in 1 hammer

We set the oven on Hi destruction
And cooked it for many months
When the timer went off we had

Handmade natural oak cabinets
Stretching to the ceiling
With corner cabinets and spice racks

A Floor with 12″ sand colored tile
Set diagonally
Making diamonds instead of squares

A skylight in between two dome lights
With a spot light over the sink
And counter lights under each cabinet

All visible from the great room
Through the 7 foot by 3 foot pass-through
Cut into the once solid wall

A pass-through decorated by a 10 foot bar
Supported by more oak cabinets and trimmed in tile
For bar-stool seating for 4

A wood valance hung above the bar
4, 4 foot fluorescent bulbs
Illuminating the bar below

With recessed rope lights
Sparkling above the valance
Showcasing the wife’s art

BECAUSE…

My wife loves to cook
And is happy to be in the new kitchen

AND…

I can only make Ramen
So am thankful for my table saw

quod erat demonstrandum.jpg

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I tag Chantal & Susie.

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The Kitchen

November 29, 2007

An antique is
Old
UselessAnd showy
Serving no purpose
That is my aunt’s kitchen

Cooking here is minimal
But style is at a maximum
Old oak floors
And a tin ceiling hung with fans

Antique glass on each cupboard
Displays urns of hand dried
Noodles and herbs
Like a mausoleum

All of which clashes with the
Stainless steel
Digital
LED display
Of the most modern
Double oven

Framed in worm bored antique wood paneling

We are visiting, my wife and I
I am talking with my aunt
My wife goes to the kitchen
Looking for something to drink

She finds the fridge in a recessed corner
It is an old fridge
My aunt thinks it’s ugly
She hides it

My wife opens it
She does not see drinks
She does not see food
Only condiments
Ketchup can make anything taste good

What once was food is now
A governmental experiment
Wrapped in cellophane
Green, red, & brown
Frigid, toxic rainbow

Ten minutes later
My wife hands me my coat
Her stern eyes glare into mine
She says
“It’s time to go”

quod erat demonstrandum.jpg

 

MISS HARLEY QUINN’S
Take on Her Kitchen
________________________

An Antique is
Old
Lovely
And full of memories
This is my kitchen

Cooking here is a constant
Style a vain hope
New sticky tab tile flooring
And an old ceiling with flourescent lighting.

A 23rd coat of paint on each cupboard
Keeping safe hand picked herbs
Like a magician’s hat

All of which comes together with
witch dolls on high
cats on counters
candles that flicker

If you were to visit, your wife and you
You’d have no room to gather or stand

If your wife went to the ever so small kitchen
Looking for something to drink

She coudn’t help but find the fridge
I think it serves its purpose
And it can’t hide

If your wife opened it
She would see drinks
She would see food
And condiments
Feta and truffle oil make everything grand

The food thats there,
made with love and care
Is kept in lead free containers just waiting to be enjoyed

Yummy, savory, a culinary rainbow.

10 minutes later
Your wife hands you her coat and says,
“Please hang this up…we’re staying to sup.”

This is my kitchen. 🙂