It stood strong a for a long time in Forest Park, Georgia. Near the end, it was defenseless against the icy cold nights, with its leafless branches glowing darkly against the inky blackness of space and Orion's winter sky. It also was tormented when its green shoots failed to provide precious leafy shade against the summer sun's blazing heat. I felt it was almost a religious symbol in its day. When the great old oak finally fell it took the power-line with it and forced us out of the house on Christmas Eve. Little did we imagine we would be gone for 4 days. This was not easy with Bridget on a ventilator, and with her feeding tube, and especially with her in a wheel chair. Thanks to Nino and David for the holiday emergency electrical repairs, Aunt Pat and crew for beginning with the tree removal process, and Bridget's sister Angela for the use of her couches and putting up with us as house guests.
We ended up at red-headed Angela's, since the local hospital did not want Bridget there, even long enough to allow her to plug in her ventilator to a spare outlet. The firemen had to beg the hospital to let Bridget come there for a few hours till she could make other arrangments."Yes, I know." they cried, "But this is a special case!" the paramedic repeatedly pleaded with the voice at the other end of this cell phone. I wished I could have reached through that phone and choked the heartless bastard at the other end. If not for people like Bridget in true need, then who are hospitals really there to help?
This was precipated after the power company engineer gave us five minutes to get her out of the house before he cut the power off. Bridget, a myotonic dystrophy patient and my longtime friend, could not get her power restored until licensed electrical repairs were made to the power meter base on the side of the house. The big old tree damaged it beyond measure, and even smashed the mailbox to smithereens. No amount of begging helped us. It was us against the world with no where to go. Now it is 8 months later and that old tree is still there taunting me and everyone else is long gone from the scene. I think it past time for it go. Rush wrote a song about it. So how do we evict it from our yard, with no brave Canadian Maple Leafed trees around to help us?
It is like a curse. I am reminded of this every time I look out the window. How do I remove that giant oak tree in my front yard that has been looking like a felled victim that Paul Bunyan forgot? It has been there since Christmas and unless something drastic is done will be a landmark for Santa and his reindeer this year too. The city code inspector has come out and asked me how long it will remain as the city wants the neighborhood to look nice. It looks like everybody that promised to help, has come out and done their share and left. I even paid a couple hundred to get it cut back to the last fifty feet.
Now that same 50 feet of solid oak lies on its side across the middle of the front yard, a popular perch for the birds and squirrels with its branches reaching skyward with new leaves even now. Someone forgot to tell the tree it is over and done with now to stop sprouting the greenery. I guess the chainsaw will sing the song, as I turn into Leather-face or perhaps Farmer Vincent of Motel Hell in Forest Park. It is hard for me to get out to do anything with only meager help for an hour or two a day 5 days a week. There is hardly time enough for a bath or a nap, which is also badly needed!
I have been stewing trying to figure out how to get this and many other things done. I have been studying my home repair books and going on line looking at videos for inspiration to untangle this Gordian knot. There is so little space for me to work within, so a work and storage area to free up the inside of the house is badly needed. There are all kinds of odd jobs and projects that are in need of doing and this will enable me.
For instance, the lawn mower is broken and has caused me to have to pay someone for the last few years to cut the grass. Also the chainsaw I bought at the pawn shop for 50 bucks to cut the giant oak sprawled across the yard was broken when someone cross-threaded a tightening screw for the chain and fractured the plastic case retaining the screw. Now it is causing the chain to fall off. A Stoic, the tree remains there taunting me, and tempting the neighbors to call the city again to complain about our unsightly yard. Seems even in the wintertime here, no one wants firewood that badly to come out and cut it up haul it away for free.
The only decent covered area that is outside of the house is on the porch with an awning that keeps most of the rain away from the front door when the wind is not blowing too hard, which sometimes happens with tornadoes and thunderstorms frequenting the area. That is where I will be building a workbench to repair the things I need to get fixed and build the things I need to get going around here.
The only way out of this mess is to repair that lawn mower to save a little money, so we eventually can buy a used wheelchair van for Bridget. Then, I can also use it to haul loads from Home Depot to save some money there too. The tree is not going to cut and haul itself away, so it looks like I will have to repair the old chainsaw too. Yesterday I trimmed the azaleas and rosebushes that were threatening to encroach upon my newly found potentially sweltering work area. It is out on the front raised concrete slab covered by the old metal awning that needs painting. It leads to the front door of the 50 year old house and is attached to Bridget's wheel chair ramp she uses when she goes to the doctor or when 911 is called to the residence. There is so much in need of maintenance.
I am flustered at my inability to do it all. A work bench I am building is going to be my light at the end of tunnel, and allow me to have a place to work on that chainsaw and lawnmower in a covered area outside, and still be able to throw a tarp over everything when night comes in case it rains and blows up a bit of a storm. Now I have to get everything assembled. This is not my first go around at this rodeo. Many years ago I used to build things all the time. It is going to fun and interesting to see how it all turns out. I will let you know how it is going.
Last night I found a work bench design in my Reader's Digest New Complete Do-It Yourself Manual circa 1990. The great thing about an old book on your shelf is that you can dust them off and hear the author speak anytime you want, even though most of them are probably dead and gone. Thankfully, the wisdom, and experience of those craftsmen are well preserved in that old book, ready for me to use any time I want. It my own personal time-machine to the land of knowledge.
I can build it with lumber that I bought at the Home Depot for another project that will now have to be put on the back burner. It was going to a simple wooden floor built deck style in an already excavated corner our foot dirt crawl space. I needed to do that so I could have a place to store the things inside the house that are taking up living space. I bought four 2 x 4 . 6 feet long each and a stack of plywood. Each piece of plywood came as 4 x 8 sheets cut vertically down the middle into 4 x 4 sheets since I could not get a bigger piece into Kelly's station wagon-SUV. Every trip to home depot cost me $20 an hour to get there and back with the materials I need to do the work, so I take the trips sparlingly when I can.
I cut the long pieces of 2 x 4 into the lengths I need to build the frame of the work bench and stacked them neatly on my pair of saw horses that I repaired yesterday. I fell short one 2 x 4, since I bought them for another project, so I scrounged under the house and found a long strip of 3/4 inch plywood I recovered from the neighbors trash, when the land lord showed up and they moved over night. That was just what I needed to today as it can go on the back side of the workbench and will be out sight, but structurally it will work just fine instead of the 2 x 4. The $20 an hour it cost me to get Shawn's friend Kelly to get me to the Home Depot and back during one of the one to two hours Bridget's nurse Mariatu is here, is an option I am saving for when I actually have a bigger list to make it worth my while, as I mentioned to you before. Soon enough I feel we will be making that trip again.
Kelly remembers when the Purple Onion strip club was still there on Stewart Avenue in Atlanta, before the 1996 Olympics convened here and convinced the city fathers to relocate the toothless hookers, male prostitutes in drag and wholesome strippers working down there trying to make an honest living. I never knew until Kelly told me, that the hidden corner near the wall on the other side of the door was called the "Amen Corner". I quickly figured out the special role of that blessed corner, when I used to visit the establishment as a young lad. It was an education, and for me school was always in session! I miss those days being bad and being sent to to corner. Heck fire, I did not even mind the dunce cap. Strawberry and Mercedes, where are you now? Sigh.
Tomorrow I begin to assemble the legs and frame while I dig around for those screws I have for that purpose, lost somewhere in that pile of boxes. I will know where when I find them. My arms are already aching and my hands cramping some from that circular saw I used to cut the lumber today, you know the one that my mom and dad bought me over twenty years ago and has served me so well every since then. However the blade seems to be hanging up at the end of the cut and wood tends to splinter a little there. Do you think it needs a new blade? I will have to be extra careful that the saw does not recoil on me. Is that the correct word for it?
My safety glasses disappeared overnight. Probably purloined by that same squirrel that I suspect took one of my sandals. He eyes me whenever I go outside for my brief excursions. My friend Tennille got the sandals a few summers ago. She is named after the Captain and Tennille, a popular singing duo in the 1970s. You remember the song, Muskrat Love? She is the love.
I store one pair of sandals on the front porch for easy access and the other pair in the utility room for backyard egress. I bought a new pair at Family Dollar yesterday to replace the missing footwear. I use them whenever I take the trash to the curb on Mondays and Thursdays or to slip on quickly to get out the house a minute and get the the bills and junk mail piling up out in the new mail box I erected after the great old oak fell, curiously, with a barely a sound. Today there was nothing unusual in the new box, just more bills and more grocery store and pizza advertisements. I might call Papa John get him to deliver us one with pepperoni and extra cheese in the crust. I can't wait!
It is morning now and I went out on the front porch to grab my sandals and walk to the mailbox. Unbelievably, another pair of my sandals are missing again. I must be cursed. It is like the mystery of the missing socks. A wormhole must have opened up nearby. Somewhere in a galaxy far, far away there is a civilizaation with a giant pile of odd socks that disappeared from planet Earth. It is one of physics deepest mysteries and no one talks about it openly for fear of invoking the curse on themselves.
To keep the balance of nature, we get their extra nuts, bolts and car parts. Unfortunately, Pandora's box once cracked open also flooded our world with telemarketers, Democrats and Republicans, and Rush Limbaugh clones languishing on the other side of the universe. Nobody knows really knows the ulitmate source of this great evil, but it could explain UFO visits to this planet in the ETs vain search for the cosmic wormhole's plumbling leak that is causing all of our troubles. Strangely, this phenomena all started accelerating about the time Mothman was reported in the 1960's. It has spiked dramatically since Authorsden writer and impish wag Georg Mateos went missing from among us. Was he was abducted by aliens, taken back to his home planet perhaps, and placed in a dark dungeon somewhere with Elvis, and Amelia Earhardt? The possibilities boggle the mind.
It has been rumored that the source of dark matter, dark energy, and the missing mass of the universe has been discovered. The Hubble Space Telescope confirmed it, and the findings were recorded in a NASA classified document. It was quickly and subsequently leaked by the Obama Whitehouse to Oprah. It turns out the missing mass consists of our lost socks, keys, sandals and airline luggage largely making up the rings of Saturn.
During the four days we were evicted from the house while our electrical power was being restored to Nikola Tesla's grid, I was studying Einstein's equations, and the late American physicist John Wheeler's black hole theories with Tesla's ghost. We concluded that poor Einstein was only a little wrong, and the Big Bang will reverse itself as a result of this huge exchange of matter and energy causing a gravitational red shift. This will result in Ramblin' Wrecks from Georgia Tech and Varsity chili dogs spontaneously appearing everywhere we look as we all melt into in a quantum foam of pure joy. After stuffing ourselves to the gills with the delicious treats from Georgia Tech heaven, we will all weigh so much that the universe will implode and disappear into a super-massive blackhole, ending with a great whimper. If this happens at the same time another great oak falls in Forest Park, will there be anyone around left to hear it?
It is estimated this implosion will occur when the source of the universe's expansion, politician's hot air, finally runs out. This will also be around the time American's finally get their credit card debt paid off and they regain their dignity again. We may face extinction at our own hands, or like the dinosaurs die enmasse in one fell swoop of fate. Some, like Darwin's swinging ancestors, adapted and survived and are now are taking orders at Mickey Dee's and teaching Freshman Anthroplogy at the University of Maryland. Hopefully, long before that happens and the sun is just a dark spot in the sky, we will have a chance to figure it all out.
This all could take a long, long time to happen, so settle down and relax and read on a little bit more. In the case of this story, fortunately the end is near! Before we hear the cracking of the proverbial wood ahead of us, and the next great oak falls our way, we will have a drink with Strawberry and Mercedes, while we peel back the deepest layers from the purple onion of life.