Sunday, Feb. 03, 2008
Dear Diary:

Whenever the spousal unit wants to crack me up, he'll say about some project of which I don't approve, "I sweartogawd, it's only temporary." Without fail, these words will make me roll my eyes so hard that I look like a human slot machine.

There is a story behind all this. There's always a story.

On Dec. 7 we celebrated the 30th anniversary of moving into this house. This can be seen as either:

a) shining testimony that we had a clear idea of who we were and where we wanted to be, even when we were young, or
b) shining testimony that inertia is, indeed, very hard to break.

The truth is probably an amalgam of the two.

I cannot believe how much the trees have grown since then.About a year after we moved in here it became clear to us that we needed a woodshed to protect our firewood from the elements. After having to shovel as much as five feet of snow off our woodpiles, we realized that stacking the wood under plastic just didn't cut it.

Well, we had very little money. We could barely afford the bulldozing fees for the tiny clearing we'd opened up in the woods for the house. The only solution was to build the cheapest woodshed possible within that tiny clearing, cheek by jowl with the house.

Because we had no money, we used poplar logs from the land, loosely joined, and old tin a neighbour gave us from a barn they'd taken down. The second it went up, I knew that woodshed was a mistake. A big, honking, so ugly it made my eyes bleed mistake. Not only was it ugly, it crowded the house, robbing us of light and a feeling of spaciousness.

I whined incessantly gave my considered opinion about the woodshed quite often. The spousal unit reassured me that "it was only temporary" and that "we'll take it down next year and build something better farther from the house."

So long ago.Temporary, in this case, turned out to be 29 years. Why? Well, the spousal unit lost his job in the Great Canadian Financial Meltdown of 1982. It took a few years for him to build up his reputation as a carpenter and for me to build mine as a gardener. Then we had a daughter to put through university. Major money was put aside to wipe out her student debt.

Time and money were very tight for a very long time.

We built a new woodshed a couple of years ago, but the old one still held firewood. We decided it was stupid to spend weeks moving wood from the old shed to the new, time that could be spent planting hostas. We decided to just use up the older wood and in the meantime stock the new woodshed with new stuff we'd culled from storm-damaged or dying trees.

Last spring we used the last of the old firewood. I nabbed the spousal unit as backup for my numerous landscaping frenzies projects, and he did more work on the porches, so the woodshed stayed up.

Yard today.Then last month we got an unexpected thaw. The spousal unit could get the tractor up to our house, which meant he had a way to haul away the logs from our old woodshed. Hammer, pry bar and chainsaw in hand, he took it down.

"But Marn," I can hear my three loyal readers saying, "didn't you mention you guys used up the last of the firewood? What's that stuff where the woodshed used to be?"

Excuse me while I do my human slot machine imitation. It's surprisingly therapeutic.

There. I feel so much better.

Now, where was I? Oh yes. That, three loyal readers, would be crap treasures that the spousal unit amassed. Packrat that he is, he could not leave a building even partially empty. He has given me his word that when the snow disappears the crap treasures will disappear.

I have muttered through clenched jaws that either he will deal with it or I will deal with it. Since my dealing with it will involve vapourizing it in some way, I expect that he will take it upon himself to move his crap treasures as quickly as possible. Take my word for it, gone they will be.

While the woodshed was going down and logs were being hauled, I kept an eagle eye on the spousal unit because I wanted to make sure he didn't hurt my beloved flowering crab, my 55th birthday present. If you squint hard at the picture below, you can see its outline in front of the woodshed.

It was so beautiful.

This tree means the world to me. Not only does it mark an important birthday, it is also a complex mix of memory, anticipation, and sadness.

Memory, because it reminds me of the street where my best childhood friend lived, a street lined on both sides with flowering crabapples. Walking to her house every spring was simply magical.

Anticipation, because I spent well over an hour choosing the most perfectly formed tree I could find at the nursery. Watching this tree thrive this last year and a half has been a joy. Each time I pass it, I try to imagine what it will become.

Sadness, because I know that the spousal unit and I have limited years that we can live in a house with a location this challenging. If our health holds out, we might make it to our late 60's, early 70's, which gives us another 15 years. If not, we'll be out of here in a decade. It will take 25 to 30 years for my tree to hit its stride. I won't be here to see that. My tree is a gift to a future I won't see.

Well, the flowering crab sailed through the woodshed demolition without a scratch. I was delighted. Last Monday I went off to the gym and when I came back . . . oh, man, when I came back.

A few weeks ago we had major windstorms. Part of the top broke off an aging ash tree near the pond. The spousal unit and his brother decided it better come down because it's also near where we park our vehicles. The last thing we want is for a limb to shear off a dying tree and cream our vehicles.

It was carefully notched, chains were attached to it so that when the final cut was made the tractor could guide it out of harm's way and then . . . then the aged ash got caught slightly by the branches of a nearby maple, pirouetted, and came crashing down around my baby crabapple.

I came home from the gym to see my wee beloved tree in tatters, all the branches completely sheered off one side, and its leader�the main branch, the branch that sets the height for the tree�snapped.

When I saw it, it was all I could do not to cry. The spousal unit's face was so stricken that I know he understood how I felt.

This could be a much sadder story. The spousal unit or his brother could have been badly hurt by the unexpected movement of the aged ash, and they weren't. That's the important thing, and I know it.

We've put grafting wax on the flowering crab's wounds, so they will heal and it won't be killed by a fungal infection. The tree will live. Thing is, it's never going to be the tree it would have been.

The spousal unit wants to buy a new tree and replace this one. I've thought about it, and I've decided to keep this one. It will be a very odd, quirky and far from perfect tree and somehow that seems fitting because, hey . . .

It's just like me.


Mileage on the Marnometer: 60.01 miles.

Going Nowhere Collaboration

Goal for 2008: 500 miles

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She's mellllllllllllllting - Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 - Back off, Buble - Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 - Dispersed - Monday, Nov. 28, 2011 - Nothing comes for free - Monday, Nov. 21, 2011 - None of her business - Friday, Nov. 04, 2011 -

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