Hello, Seattle!

No, I’m not going to Seattle. Seattle has come to me. At least, their weather has. In an odd twist of fate, Seattle is getting our normal record highs and we are getting their usual cool and rainy days.

It’s truly a pleasure getting a rest from baking in the sun. In fact, I rather overdid it today, clearing out a couple of overgrown areas where I’d started growing plants in the hope that someday they will be gardens. Since I triage my yard — ignore the spots that will do okay regardless, ignore the spots that won’t be okay no matter what I do, and concentrate on the areas where I might do the most good — there are always areas in need of intensive care.

I worked more than I should have perhaps, but it was cool, and once I got started clearing out a particular area, I wanted to finish. For some reason, that’s not the area I’d planned to work on next, but apparently, after I dug up a monster weed (I needed wet ground for that because when the sun bakes the ground around here, weeds are cemented in) I just continued.

I couldn’t really do much of anything else. A couple of workers came today to grind the stumps of trees that had been cut down, and that machine is noisy! It takes a long time to grind the stump because it can only do one small strip at a time, so they were here all day.

At one point, the worker was loading the machine back on the trailer, so I went out and asked about the roots. The stump wasn’t a problem for me. It was just a stump. A lump of wood. But the exposed roots all around the stump were growing a massive number of trees, and I figured the easiest way of getting rid of those roots would be to grind them. I reminded him of that, but he said they’d bring a tractor to pull them up. I mentioned how disappointed I was to have that incipient forest still there, so he used my pruning shears to cut them down. Since I am a bit possessive of my tools and people tend to forget whose tool they are using, I stayed in the vicinity and ended up digging up thick clumps of grass that were too tough for my mower, which is what I’d intended to do anyway. Surprisingly, it was easy enough to do because of the soft, wet soil, but it still took a long time. As it turns out, it was a good thing he waited because when his boss came and saw all those roots, they ended up doing the roots, too.

That whole long boring story really served no purpose other than to iterate that I overdid it today, which is amazing to me in itself. No so long ago, I could barely do anything. Of course, come tomorrow, I’ll probably be too stiff and sore to do anything, but that’s fine, too. I’ll enjoy the day of rest here in the coolness of Seattle’s weather.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Stumped by a Stump

Shortly after I moved here, I had to have a Siberian elm tree cut down because it was interfering with the electric lines. Unfortunately, Siberian elms are tenacious creatures, and because the stump had never been ground out, the tree stump kept shooting up branches. I sure got tired of pruning that tree! Even worse, for every branch I cut, another half dozen would grow. Last fall, the workers who occasionally stop by to continue with a task they’d abandoned months previously, came back to try to dig out the stump. They told me they’d cut off all the roots that snaked off the main trunk, which should have made it easy to pry up the stump. Not so. They eventually abandoned the project — again — until they could arrange for a stump grinder, as well as schedule others with stumps needing removal to make the price of the equipment more affordable for all of us.

We thought that since that stump had been so mangled, it would die on its own, but that didn’t happen. In fact, this year, the thing grew even more voraciously than it did the previous year. I wasn’t too worried because the stump grinder was finally scheduled to be rented, though as always when it comes to my property, things weren’t that easy. Apparently, the grinder is missing a part, so . . . no grinder. When the part comes in, the grinding will begin. Meantime, I had that horrible mess with the unwieldy growth on the stump. I was thinking unhappy thoughts about the workers this morning as I pruned those dozens and dozens of branches. A new neighbor saw my struggles, and he commented that it shouldn’t be that difficult to dig up the stump.

He doesn’t have a high opinion of the guys who worked on my yard anyway, thinking they are doing me a disservice by walking away in the middle of my various projects and leaving me with half-finished messes, so he figured those guys hadn’t worked very hard on digging out the stump.

He came and worked on the stump for several hours, almost breaking his pickaxe and making his light-weight chainsaw smoke. (Tool envy! I sure would like a battery-powered mini-chainsaw.) He got the smaller stump dug up, but the big one “stumped” him, though he did manage to sever even more of the root arms that were holding the stump in place.

So now, I’m back waiting for the stump grinder.

It would be nice if the stump could be pulverized and the soil readied in time for a late season planting, since that part of the yard seems to be well nourished. Hollyhock seeds I threw in there a couple of years ago on the advice of the neighbor who had grown them and gifted them to me, decided to finally sprout this year, and the plants look like tall bushes with leaves as big as dinner plates. I’ve never seen hollyhock plants that big! And they are still babies.

I don’t suppose it really matters when the stump grinding is done since I am already over my head with work on my various gardens. The neighbor thinks that what he did today should keep any sprouts from growing, and that’s what I was really concerned about. I can deal with unfinished projects (most of the time anyway), but I do resent having to do chores that I wouldn’t have to do if the job had been finished in a timely manner.


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

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