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Monday, August 29, 2016

The Tree, Part Two

The story continues.

On Tuesday morning, I received a call from John, the owner of Adirondack Tree Experts.  He informed me that he found a company with a crane large enough to remove the trees.  What a relief. We would need a 90 ton crane and he would hire it for the day.  One of the trees was slowly falling toward the house, so my only response was "when can they be here?"  He told me that he would clear his work schedule for the next day and send his crew out in the morning, along with the crane operator, to get these trees removed.  He sent me a revised contract for my signature which I promptly printed, signed and returned.  With that, we were ready to remove the trees.  Below is a pictorial of the days events from last Wednesday.

They arrived at 11:00 AM and found a location for the crane to set up.  Then they started extending the boom.

It was really something to watch these guys as they set up.  They worked together like a well oiled machine.  Everyone taking his part in the setup and prep for the removal of the tree.  The crane operator was able to maneuver in, around and under the power lines with the greatest of ease.  I was concerned that the power lines would pose a problem, but they did not.  Cheverly is a very old community and our power and utility lines still run above ground.

I thought it unsafe to stay in the house while they removed sections of the tree over the roof, so Baxter and I stayed at Dewey Street for the day.  I checked in on the progress a couple times.  The superintendent of the job told me that it would probably take 4 hours to completely remove the trees. But when I returned to check on the progress around 1:00 PM, they were loading the last of the trees into the truck and cleaning up.

A walk around to the back of the house revealed where the two trees previously stood.  Such a welcome sight to see them gone.  Not because I took any pleasure from taking them down, but relief knowing that Crest Avenue would not be destroyed from them falling onto the roof.  The trees were very diseased and had lived as long as they could.  I actually waited too long to address the problem.

I thought ahead on the morning of the tree removal and took a picture from the front of the house with the tree still in place.

And this is after.  The removal of the trees really does make a difference in the appearance of the property.  These trees were enormous.  They provided a great deal of shade in the back yard. However, I must say that I am rather enjoying having lots of sunlight back there.  Everything has taken on a new look and now we must set about redesigning the gardens in the back.  My head is full of ideas.

If you are in the MD, DC or VA greater metropolitan area, I highly recommend Adirondack Tree Experts.  These guys are friendly and knowledgeable and they will help you through what can be a stressful situation when or if you are faced with removing a tree or trees from your property.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Tree, Part One

Where do I begin?  The removal of the trees did not happen as planned last Thursday.  What should have been a relatively simple tree removal turned into the most complicated of issues. We nearly ended up with the trees on the house.  Read on for the whole story.

On Thursday morning, Baxter and I were up very early and moved the outdoor furniture and plants out of the way so the guys could work unimpeded.

The zero-gravity lounge chairs, several tall stainless steel planters and the wrought iron chairs were all moved to the patio.

The ferns and a few clay pots along with a suffering palm tree where moved to the deck steps.  With these few items out of the way and a few other items scattered about the yard, we had plenty of open space for the guys to remove the sections of tree from the back yard to their equipment in front via the sidewalk along the side of the house.  But, as we all know, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

I took this shot of the tree that was to be removed as I was preparing space in the back yard that morning.  It appeared to be leaning toward the house more so than before Wednesday night, but I thought maybe I was just imagining things.  It turned out, I was not.

The guys from Adirondack Tree Experts showed up at 7:30 AM.  They were ready to get to work removing the diseased gum trees and I was ready for them to get to work.  I took them to the location of the trees in the yard because at that point, only Dan the estimator had seen them.  When I showed them the trees, they immediately expressed concern about the job.

On the previous evening, we had quite a strong thunderstorm come through the area.  There was lots of rain and thunder and lightening, ... and wind.   We were fortunate that lightening did not strike the tree.  But we were not so fortunate with the wind.

As you can see in this picture, the already diseased trunk split in the high winds that came with the storm on Wednesday evening.

This split in the trunk caused a whole new problem.  Not only were we dealing with the massive decay at the base of the tree, but now the very structure of the tree was severely compromised. Would it be safe for someone to climb the tree and begin the process of removing it section by section? After closer examination it was decided that no, it was not safe for anyone to climb the tree.

Here, you can see a closer shot of the actual trunk that has split horizontally, or "planked".  This was also due to the high winds in the storm on Wednesday evening.

The tree was now in the most precarious of situations.  The guys left because there was nothing they could do that day.  I was on the phone with the owner of Adirondack immediately to see what would be the next steps we needed to take to get this tree removed.  He was gracious enough to reschedule his day and come over to take a look.  After close inspection he said,"We're going to need a crane". My heart sank.  What was I in for now?  I had had trees removed from Crest Avenue previously and it was a relatively simple task.  Now we were talking about cranes!!  He told me they had a crane, but it was not large enough for this job.  He would do some checking and get back to me.

I spent all of Friday, Saturday and Sunday worrying about what time of the day or night this tree was going to fall on the house.  The rest of the time I spent on WeatherBug checking radar to see when the next storm would arrive.  A tense and unhappy weekend it was.

On Monday evening as I arrived home, a young man called out to me from across the street.  He was the crane operator from another tree removal company who had been sent to assess the situation and to schedule a crane to come for removal of the tree.  "I'm sorry, but we do not have a crane large enough for this job" he said.  I thanked him for stopping by and he left.  "What do I do now", I'm thinking to myself.  Is there a crane large enough to remove this tree?  And, if so, how much does a crane large enough to remove this tree cost?  I decided to take a sleeping pill and go to bed and deal with it the next day.  Because, after all, tomorrow is another day.

Come back on Monday for the conclusion to The Tree.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Tomorrow is Tree Removal Day

Tomorrow the trees come down.  I am a little apprehensive but I know I have hired the best company in the area to take them down, so I am not going to wring my hands over it.  The guys who do tree removal for a living know exactly how to handle the trees.  They are very agile and seem to have no fear whatsoever when they climb the trees and start the removal process.  Some people are expert bloggers.  Some people are expert tree removers.  That's what makes the world go 'round.

We will spend this afternoon and evening and tomorrow morning preparing for their arrival.  There is outdoor furniture that needs to be moved and the large potted grasses will need to be relocated for the day.  They are, unfortunately, sitting right along the pathway the tree will take as they remove it, piece by piece.  So be sure to check back with us for an update on how things go.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Southern Pimiento Cheese Spread

I have a wonderful recipe to share with you today.  This is a favorite in my family.  My mother especially loves it.  I think the next time I visit her I will bring a fresh batch of this most delectable cheese spread.  Read on for the recipe.

Let's start with the ingredient list first.

  • 8 ounce package cream cheese
  • 8 ounce block of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 8 ounce block of mild cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup jarred pimientos
  • Dash of salt and white pepper
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream

  1. Cream cheeses, salt, pepper and mayonnaise in the bowl of a food processor until smooth. Add horseradish and sour cream to bowl and continuing processing until fully incorporated.
  2. Remove to a glass bowl and stir in pimientos.
  3. Serve at room temperature with an assortment of crackers and crudite.

Let's get started!

Collect all your ingredients.  You want to do this with all recipes. Get everything together in one place so you are not running all over gathering this and that as you are assembling your dish.

The first thing to do is drain the pimientos.  While they are draining you can move on to shredding the cheeses.

We will be using a quarter cup of pimiento in this recipe.

Unwrap the two blocks of cheddar cheese.  These should be kept in the refrigerator until you are ready to shred.  Have you ever tried to shred a block of cheese at room temperature?  If not, you don't want to try that.

For this recipe, we are using the side of the grater with the small openings.  The cheese for this recipe should be shredded as finely as possible.  This will make for greater ease incorporating all the ingredients together in the food processor.

Here we have the mild and the sharp cheddar cheese grated.  As you see, both eight ounce blocks fill the grater to the top.

We will use the food processor with the standard blade attachment to combine all our ingredients.

First thing into the bowl is the grated cheddar cheese.

To that we add the eight ounce block of cream cheese which has been cut in cubes.  The cream cheese should be at room temperature.

Add three tablespoons of mayonnaise.

And the salt and pepper.

Process until smooth.  Add one tablespoon of prepared horseradish.

Add one tablespoon sour cream.

Process until fully incorporated.  Scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula and give the mixture a few more pulses.

Remove the cheese mixture to a large glass bowl and add the pimiento.  Use a large spoon or spatula to mix it all together.

Fill a crock with the cheese and set out your favorite crackers.  I love Triscuit brand crackers.  I like the original and most of the new flavored ones as well.  I particularly like the Fire Roasted Tomato & Olive Oil. Those are really, really delicious.

On crackers or used to fill celery sticks, this is a most delicious spread that you will come back to over and over.  This recipe makes a smooth, spreadable flavored cheese unlike what you usually find in the deli at the grocery store.  This recipe is vastly superior in taste and texture to those store brands. I hope you will try Southern Pimiento Cheese Spread at your next gathering.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Lawn & Leaf Chute

Sometimes I find just the perfect thing that I need that I didn't know I needed until I found it.  That sounds like an Abbott and Costello routine.  But no matter how it sounds, I found something new that I just know all of my readers will want.  It is called the Lawn & Leaf Chute.

Most municipalities will no longer accept yard waste in any form of traditional plastic yard waste bags.  For years, we were required to use clear plastic bags to dispose of yard waste.  No other bag would do.  No heavy duty black bags.  No tall kitchen white bags.  Only clear plastic bags, which were impossible to find.  The town would tell us they were happy to sell us clear plastic bags from the Town Works department but they had hours that made it impossible to go over and pick up the bags during the week and they were closed on the weekend.  Ugh!  A few years ago that all changed. We received notice in the monthly newsletter that yard waste would only be picked up in tall brown paper bags.  Fortunately, you can find these bags everywhere!  And they are incredibly inexpensive. So I did not have an issue with moving to brown paper bags for yard waste.  Except for the fact that filling them with yard waste was a nightmare!  They fall over.  Limbs tear them apart.  An unpleasant experience.  Until the Leaf & Lawn Chute.

I was in Home Depot over the weekend and as I was making my way to check out, I found an end cap with these odd looking, green corrugated boards.  I had to investigate further.  It turns out that someone saw a need and took advantage of the situation and designed this foldable plastic insert that can be positioned inside the yard waste bags making the task of collecting yard waste a breeze.

It is just a matter of inserting the contraption into the yard waste bag and making a few folds and the next thing you know you have a nice sturdy bag with which to work to clean up your yard.

I began filling up this bag with great ease.

And the next thing I knew, I had filled it quite full of yard debris.  When the bag is full, you simple grab the sides of the insert and pull it out.  Place the bag curbside and the next morning the grounds crew will pick it up.

Then, simply fold it flat again and store it in your shed until the next time you are cleaning up the yard.  You simply must get one of these.  No more struggling with paper bags.  Such a great invention and nicely priced.  I think I paid $1.85 for mine.

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Heat Emergency has been Activated

I told you earlier that we were in for a scorcher today.  And it looks like the weather forecasters got it right.

We are at "Feels Like 102".  In the words of Paris Hilton, "That's Hot!!"

I Have "Vinca Disappointment"

I am a victim of "vinca disappointment".  You will recall several weeks ago I placed an online order for vinca vine (also known as "periwinkle").  The plan was, and is still, to plant it in the front yard around the new holly/pyracantha garden. I ordered several vines from one of the gardening papers we all receive in our mailboxes during the spring and summer months.  When it arrived, I was not very encouraged when I saw the packages containing the roots.

There was very little of anything that looked "alive" in this package.  Oh, there was a little green here and there, but the plants looked like they were in pretty bad shape.

The second package didn't look much better.  Inside the packing envelope was my invoice and some sales brochures and so on.  There was also a printed booklet which stated that the plants may not look healthy and alive due to handling and shipping, but not to worry.  All one needed to do was plant them and indeed, with time, they would flourish.  So, I took them at their word and planted the roots in fertile soil and watered them regularly.  And what has happened?

This!  This is what we have now, several weeks later.  Yes, there is green in this pot.  But I am not certain that it is vinca vine.  It could very well be weeds.  Now, ... are these vinca vines alive and will they eventually start growing.  Maybe.  Possibly.  But from this stage, I will be in a nursing home before they fully take root and provide ground cover in the front yard around the holly/pyracantha garden.

Actually I tried two different styles of planting.  Since I received my order in two separate bags, I separated the roots and planted them individually from the first bag (that's the picture above this one). The other bag of roots I just planted all together in the center of this pot.  Neither style seemed to work better than the other.  So, ... it looks like I will be going to the garden center and buying flats of healthy vinca vine which can then be planted in the yard.  And these?  We will see.  I might continue this experiment for a little while longer and see what happens.

Of course, we will not be planting vinca vine this weekend or next week or any time in the foreseeable future.  We are expecting temperatures to be around 107 today, that is with the humidity factored in.  That is the continuing trend for as far out as the weather people can predict.  So no yard work until this heat wave has passed.  In these temperatures and with the humidity, you cannot drink enough water to keep yourself out of danger when working outside.