Monday, October 27, 2008

A Wild and Spooky Sunday!

After all the stress and busy times last week, we were both really looking forward to a busy, but relaxing weekend of Halloween preparations for the big day at the end of this week ... well, at least Saturday was productive for me! I spent the day doing laundry and cleaning furiously in the house, and got a lot more of the Halloween decorations unpacked, and by evening, I was good and worn out, but satisfied with my efforts. Fernymoss and I had a lot planned for Sunday ... we were going to clean the carpet, do a bit of grocery shopping and more decorating on the porch and in the house ... Until the Great Cold Front of October 26, 2008 moved in with a vengeance, with its 45 mph sustained winds with gusts up to 60 mph! This morning, Fernymoss got up a bit earlier than I did and went off to rent the Rug Doctor, but in the time he was gone and returned, we had lost power due to an exploding transformer down a half block away....

Once he got home, he noticed that the neighbors two doors down had gathered in their driveway and were all looking at something over this way ... Deb, our neighbor shouted at him: "Did you see what happened?" So he went over to see what she was talking about, and quickly put the picture together: our ancient huge Maple in the back yard had blown into several sections and basically crushed part of the house next door to us. Now, you have to understand, this (rental) house has a bit of a history on our block, and not a good one. In our 10 years here we've seen a procession of all sorts of 'dodgy' types live there, much to our, and the other neighbors' chagrin. Fortunately, the most recent renters moved out earlier in October, so no one was presently living in the house, because if they had, there would have certainly been some injuries.

In this photo, you can see some of the damage the parts of the upper tree caused ... basically, part crushed the roof of the kitchen (lower level) while the other took off part of the second floor roof, and one huge section actually crashed through the roof about 5 ft into an upstairs bedroom. According to our neighbor two doors down, the impact literally rattled their house, though I heard nor felt anything (because I was sleeping on the far north side of our house. Again, it was really fortunate that no one was in there, because it could have caused some serious injuries to say the least. And, as you can see, there's a lot of branches and tree debris taking up the back yard....
This photo shows what it looks like in our back yard, just behind our ramshackle shed (which we wouldn't have minded it taking out, because it's insured!) and the section of our chain link fence another section of the tree top crushed. As you can see, these weren't just branches, these were major sections of the upper tree that blew down! We have no idea just how old our maple was, but it was very old, because it was huge and shaded most of our back yard ... but no more! It's a goner now, because as you can see in the next photo, there's not a lot left of what was the upper tree. So, today I'll be having to contact both our insurance and start checking out tree removal services to take care of what's left. I'm not looking forward to that...!
Here's what remains, and I called this photo RIP Maple, because it's looking really ragged and spooky, just in time for Halloween. It's really sad, actually, because we have really enjoyed this maple (well, aside from the myriads of spinners in the spring, but that problem is taken care of now), and though we'll have much more sun next year, we'll miss this old friend. While Fernymoss was out taking these pictures (you can actually get a glimpse of me hunting down the last pumpkins in the back garden), the landlord of the property next door came by to inspect the damage, and he was making noises about calling his insurance and just demolishing the place, rather than trying to renovate. We really hope that's the case, because as I mentioned, this house has a "history," and it's not a pretty one. Almost everyone who has lived there since we've been here has suffered from the bad karma of this place, and we and the other neighbors would just like to see the place gone. At least we can be sure that no one (human, at least) will be living there for quite some time! And that's a relief, because we were dreading just who would be the next victims to succumb to the bad vibes this place has in spades....
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we and everyone else on the block had no power due to that transformer explosion, so we decided to go out, survey damage around other parts of the city, do a bit of shopping and get some Popeye's chicken for dinner, simply because we couldn't do much else around the house! So off we went to Big Lots to explore what they had in stock currently ... we cleaned up on a bunch of canned goods (they had some real steals on Campbell's soups!) and other items, one of which happened to be a nice, fuzzy and cushy dog bed that I picked up for Queen Pepa, which you can see her proudly showing off and enjoying in this last shot. Once I made it clear to her that it was her bed, she quickly took possession of it and I think she's going to like it a lot. She's showing her age more recently (after all, she is 14) and though she used to always sleep on my side of the bed, it's harder for her to jump up there these days, so I'm going to put this in the bedroom so she has a cozy and comfy spot to sleep close to her humans. It was the least I could do for her as the colder months are now upon us. And it will serve her well.

When we finally got home, after seeing lots of trees and branches down all around the city, the power was finally back on (after about 6 hours or so), and we did a little happy dance, knowing that we would have not only power, but heat after this crazy day. This is going to be the swan song for the garden tonight, as temperatures are expected to go down into the low 20's tonight. So, we got all the houseplants in (now we have to figure out where they will all go!), cut the final zinnia and calendula flowers to bring inside, and are prepared to say goodbye to this year's garden. After this crazy weekend, I'm not that disconsolate about it ... and even though we had to bring most of the tombstones in for the night due to the wind, but we'll get them back in place before the big day to come.... Thursday night is the big 'Beggars' Night' here in the city, and we're already prepared with plenty of treats and toys to hand out, and we just have to finish the porch decorations and lights, which you'll see here as the week progresses. And Friday night, we'll be holding our annual Halloween Bash, which will top off the week for us in spooky form! So keep an eye out for what's to come this week ... I'll do my best to chronicle it as it happens.

A few final remarks about that Nightmare Before Christmas DVD we got recently ... we watched some of the extras the other night, and they are well worth the rental/purchase of the new Deluxe Edition. The real stand outs are Frankenweenie (Burton's film school thesis film), a wonderful tale of a boy deprived of his dog, who he brings back to life, much to the consternation of the neighbors (with big references to James Whale's original Frankenstein). It's a true dog lover's tail wagger and heart warmer of a short film, in short, a true delight to be seen and savored time and time again. As well as an early short Vincent, which is an imaginative (if a bit primitive) demonstration of the Burtonian filmic vision, narrated by none other than the inimitable Vincent Price (one of my all time favorites). I enthusiastically recommend the whole 2 disc set for Burton afficionados who want some inspiring and goregeous Halloween entertainment!

Ok, after this eventful day, I'm exhausted ... I'll have more later this week, so stay tuned!


Roses and Lilacs said...

Wow, IVG, looks like a lot of cleanup. It really is too bad you lost the tree. A huge old tree like that was part of your garden design and now there's a big hole there.

If it had to come down, glad the house it fell on was empty.

Gail said...

That was an incredible storm! I am glad that the bad house karma absorbed all the damage and that you Fernymoss and Queen Pepe are okay!

You've lost a big tree not easily replaced , but I know you are already thinking about replacements!


Annie in Austin said...

You sound ready to take advantage of whatever changes result from the falling tree, IVG - and thank heavens no one lived in the house!

Good luck with the planning for your favorite holiday...soon you'll be browsing the SUN plant section of all the plant catalogs ;-]

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

FARfetched said...

Whew! It sounds like your entire neighborhood dodged a big ol' bullet there. I definitely agree: 1) good thing nobody was living there at Bad Karma House; 2) the owner sounds like he's just going to take the insurance settlement instead of giving you guys a hard time about it!

I can't remember, do you guys have a fireplace? Looks like sorta-free firewood is on the way, either for you or for your neighborhood.

The winds weren't nearly as bad here as the cold front went through last night, but can get kind of gusty. I'm glad I wimped out on motorcycling to work. We might get frost tonight, too.

Shady Gardener said...

Thank heavens no one was hurt! Isn't it interesting, when you get a look at the tree "innerds," that there was no heartwood. No wonder it blew over. (Our neighbor's tree, that blew our way, was in the same condition!)

Q Peppa made out, because of the storm, too. Had there been electricity, there'd been no shopping trip! ;-)

Glad you all are okay!

boran2 said...

Wow, that was quite a dramatic end for the old maple. I'm glad to see that no one was hurt.

We had a similar event at our house while growing up. A very large old tree in our backyard fell on my father's old car in the driveway. It was a 1954 Chevy, old at that time, a car truly built to last. It suffered only one small fist-sized dent in the roof. Eventually, it was actually stolen, probably for it's parts.

Why not plant a new tree in its place?

Family Man said...

Hiya IVG.

I'm glad ya'll dodged the bullet and no one was hurt. That's one of the only things that I don't like about all the tall old trees around this house. I keep thinking sooner or later that giant oak in the back is going to come down on the house.

I remember Halloween is one of your big holidays, and I remember the pictures. Be sure to take a lot of pictures for us this year.

Take care


Janet said...

I am so thankful you all are okay!!! That could have been super ugly.

I hope everything goes well with the insurance. That can be a long, drawn out mess.

You guys take care!

I sent you an email with my Obama Lawna :)


Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Everyone,and pardon me for being so tardy to reply to your wonderful comments!

The cleanup is mostly done, though we still need to get a tree service to take out the rest of the tree, but we got the insurance check Friday, so time to get that going!

We're really glad it was that house and not ours! Now the silly owner is having some guys put in a garage (!!) in the tiny backyard. I guess he thinks he's going to get the house repaired, even though it's been falling in for years!

Hi Annie,
We have time to figure out the changes, so probably we'll just have the fence repaired and get the rest of the now dying tree out first...

Hey FAR,
Yep, there was a lot of damage in our part of town, lots of big limbs and tree parts went down. So far so good and no peep from the owner trying to hold us liable! I do have things in place w/insurance should that happen though...

Hi Shady,
Yes, Pepa did make out well, and is just loving her new bed! I need to get back into my blogging rounds again very soon, sorry about neglecting you and so many others! It hasn't been intentional, but hopefully after the election, I'll be more in the swing of things!

Hi B2!
What an odd story about the Chevy! Too bad that turned out the way it did (the theft). We'll probably think about a new tree eventually, but it's not high on the priority list just yet! (Though we did discuss maybe some sort of fruit tree, like a peach.)

Hey there FM, good to see you again!
Old trees have their charms, it's true, but when they go ... at least yours is an oak, which is a much stronger type of tree than a maple! One thing's for sure... if we replace it, it will NOT be a maple! They're too prone to this sort of thing!