Getting Grounded in the Tree

autumn tree

There’s been a lot going on the last few weeks, not the least of it being the “month” of Jewish holidays. Sometimes there seems to be no time to breathe, much less compose a post. At the office today I got up to take a short walk. It is too windy and cool outside so I walked about the hallways. As I headed back to my desk I was captured by the view out the window. I always appreciate that I can gaze out the windows and see trees and mountains and birds. Today is a perfect autumn day – clear blue sky, fall-colored leaves, puffy white clouds. I went and stood by the window and practiced a moment of mindfulness. Looking at the tree, the leaves, the bark, the branches the pods. Just breathing.

A Moment of Harmony

GC and BC enjoy a moment of harmony

GC and BC enjoy a moment of harmony

Life has been hectic-busy lately. I took off for another vacation in Arizona to visit my son and celebrate Rosh Hashanah. When I got back, work exploded. *grin* That’s always a fun thing because I love being busy and challenged. It does mean, however, that there isn’t much time to curate vacation photos or write posts. My husband took care of the kitties while I was gone but now they are all over me all the time. Sometimes there can be too much of a good thing. Here you see a moment of harmony. Don’t let it fool you – they are waiting for me to go back and sit down so they can stake out their claim on my lap.

At Least It Wasn’t Raining

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The big broad Hudson (looking back to NY, NJ ahead on the left) under a beautiful blue sky

Yesterday was one of THOSE commuting days. It took me 2.5 hours to go 75 miles up, and just about 2.5 hours to return. That’s 5 hours commuting to spend about 6 hours meeting with folks. I spent a LOT of time simply sitting in traffic, waiting to inch forward. I remembered why I used to try to be on the road by 6am and not leave the office until after 6pm. That made for an extremely long day but a much shorter commute. Yesterday the weather was beautiful, although a bit chilly in the morning. I should have tossed on a jacket for the ride up. I was in the convertible and even with the windows up and the heat blasting, my shoulders were cold. Riding up it took me nearly 90 minutes to reach the Palisades. I think that might be 40 miles. That’s terrible progress. I think the fastest I ever got moving on the NJ Turnpike after Exit 11 might have been 40 mph. Most of the time it was 25 mph. On a road where I can usually hit 80 mph.

IMG_2165

Pretty sailboats on the Hudson by South Nyack

Coming home I spent quite a bit of time sitting on the Tappanzee Bridge (No, I will NOT call it the Mario Cuomo Bridge) as you can see by the pictures. Apparently there was some accident further north on the NY Thruway. Heading from Westchester county to Rockland county in the afternoon rush hour is always slow, but this took it to a new delay for me. I apologize for the poor quality. Every time I picked up the phone to take a picture, we got to inch forward half a car’s length. I finally held the phone up and pushed the button and hoped something would come out. Of course the camera assumed I was looking at the barriers, not the pretty sailboats out there on the Hudson. Still, I think you can get the idea. I do love looking at the river, the palisades, the mountains, the boats. That and the Kensico Dam and reservoir really make up for the ride on the NJT between exits 11 and 14. *grin*

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Before cropping

New Shoes (a silly little post)

I was running errands the other day and just happened to find myself next to the shoe store. I didn’t think I NEEDED any new shoes, but I thought I’d check out the stock, see what was new, see if there was anything on sale, see if anything appealed to me. After all, we are changing seasons which does mean less warm, toe-showing weather and more wet, soggy, keep-the-feet-dry weather.

Amazing as it might sound, I found THREE pairs of shoes that appealed to me. And slippers to replace my favorite no-skid Penn State socks. Some of you are new to my blog, and don’t know me from my SecondLife days. In those days I was renowned for my spike heels and steam-punk boots. I do still have most of those shoes and boots, but I’ve found lately that my “beach” persona has been more dominant. I’ve been wearing sandals, flip-flops and top-siders all summer and I’m loathe to give up the ambiance. I have 2 pairs of top-siders – one faded, stained sea foam and the other pink. Neither seemed right for fall, so I had to indulge in a new color. The other pair, although they look kind of like slippers, are so comfortable that I couldn’t resist. I NEEDED a pair of fall shoes that weren’t boots. You will probably call these boots but as they say, if the shoe fits, buy it. 🙂

4 new shoes

please note that I do still like buckles and metal on my footwear!

Late Summer Garden Glory

closeup white cosmos

Not only is it NOT a weed, but I believe that the thick hairy plant I accused of being a weed is actually a cosmos. That means it had every right to be growing where it was growing (where I dumped the cosmos seed). It seems to be a different variety than the ones that bloomed earlier. I have to say, I REALLY like this variety. *grin* And to think I was so disparaging earlier in the season. I’ll have to remember to be very careful weeding next spring and hope that this one self-seeds.
white cosmos

I’d had 2 hanging plants in the middle of my grasses and rudbeckia. One of them was finished by the end of July (I don’t even remember what they were – maybe orange zinnias? superbells? something orange-y that was done by August). I treated myself to a red begonia to replace it. I love the color!
red begonia

One of the other perennials I have been trying to get established is my pink guara. I “discovered” this plant a few years ago and fell in love with it. The way the flowers appear at the end of a long thin stem make it look like a cat toy. 🙂 I kept buying them and planting them and they would not come back the next year. This is the first year that my guara came back and I’m so pleased. I may pick up a few more to string them together. The recommended planting guide says to put them in a clump. Maybe that would have helped them winter-over as well. Whatever the reason, they came back this year and I am loving them.
pink guara

As for those trying-to-be-cucumbers… Well. We are definitely going to run out of something before they actually become cukes. For starters – how can they be growing when it looks as if the vine has already shriveled and died? There is no way these round balls are going to have time to elongate into cucumbers before the first frost. Ignore the little sign that says ‘lovage’. I was using that to support the vines when they were still green and healthy looking. What am I going to DO with these ‘fruits’? Do you think they are edible? Do you think they will turn all green? Did I grow ROUND cucumbers? Is there such a thing?
cucumbers

It’s now officially fall, but the temperature was over 90 yesterday. That means I have to keep watering everyone. We haven’t had rain in quite awhile. This is about the time I’m done with maintaining my garden but Mother Nature isn’t doing her part to take over automatic maintenance. In the past I was so energetic and ambitious I would get pots of mums and line the walk with them. I’m not doing that this year – WAY more effort involved than I feel like expending. It’s almost time to start pulling out dead plants, tossing them to the compost, dumping the dirt, and stacking the planters on the front porch to wait for next year. But until then – I’m going to enjoy the view.
thick cosmos

One More Shore Dinner

Sunset on Sandy Hook Bay

Sun setting over Sandy Hook Bay

We did it! We snuck away last weekend on a SUNDAY night to have dinner down the shore. Now if you know my husband, you know that he NEVER does anything anymore on a work night. *grin* I remember when we used to go out bowling with friends on Monday evening, starting at 9pm once the leagues were done. Hard to imagine that now. We were both going to be working from home on this Monday, because we had a kidney stone follow-up appointment. When he suggested heading to Inlet Cafe in Highlands, NJ, I was thrilled.

Highlands beach

public beach at Highlands, NJ

We drove down with no trouble. I took the local way, not the Parkway, for those of you who know what I mean (and care about which road is which *grin*). Of course we took the convertible. We’d scoped out the parking the last time we were here, and I headed for the little municipal lot I’d noticed then. Although there were cars there were still spots. It only holds perhaps 10 cars maximum, maybe even only 8. What I hadn’t realized was that there was a BEACH behind the lot. There is a small gazebo, and a small beach. If you don’t mind swimming in the bay (as opposed to the ocean), there’s no reason to head over the causeway to Sandy Hook. All of a sudden the allure of renting in the Highlands became much clearer. There are a lot of cute looking restaurants and cafes in that area, as well as the Twin Lights (the historic lighthouse situated on the bluffs above the bay).

view from our table

view from our table

It’s only 2 blocks over to the Inlet Cafe. They have a corn hole game set up, 2 large lawn swings, some benches, and of course a great view of the water, in case you have to wait for a table. They have 3 dining areas – indoors, outside under a roof but with open sides (the bar was there), and then outside at tables along the water. Of course we opted for outside. We had a table right along the water and it was perfect. Like many of the restaurants there, they had a dock so you could motor up in your boat, moor, have your meal, and head out again. I always enjoy watching the boats come and go.

swans by table

motor or paddle right on up!

The drinks were great, the food extremely tasty. That is why I’m posting a food picture. I had the tuna tacos and Jim had steamers. That’s my ‘chick drink’ martini – vodka, chambord and pineapple. I do appreciate getting a good-size drink, but it shouldn’t be filled to the brim. Use bigger glasses so that I can have the proper amount of liquid without losing half of it every time I lift the glass. 😦 That’s probably my only complaint of the evening.
Fish tacos and martini

I want to call out the wait staff as well, and the hostess – both pleasant and professional. My husband had left his fork on his salad plate and so had no fork when his entree arrived. I was looking about for our waiter, wearing that familiar “diner in distress face”. 🙂 Another waiter went by quickly, arms full of dirty dishes. He might have been 2 steps past me when he stopped, backed up and asked if I needed anything. He brought a new fork in under 30 seconds. Now THAT is good wait staff.
sign post

Before we left I wandered down to the dock to get better pictures of the swans. I know they thought I had food, so they posed for me, hoping for a reward. Alas, I’d eaten MY dinner. As we were leaving, we wandered over to see the lawn swings, and the sign post and check out what else might be there. We were easily 6 feet from the hostess stand as we headed to our car, but she called out to us, thanking us for coming and wishing us a good evening. Again – she could have ignored us, as the waiter could have justifiably ignored us. But I went back to chat with her about how much we enjoyed the meal and how management should be aware of that waiter’s professionalism and concern.
swan and reflected lights

We got back to our car and the little municipal lot was now full. As I was about to unlock the doors I felt eyes upon me. Next to us were 2 LARGE dogs. They looked like happy friendly dogs – a lot of snuffling the window and drooling – no growls or barking. I’m not sure they’d have FIT in my car!

guarding their car

Car Guardians (St Bernards?)

I am not sure the restaurant is open all through the winter. I seem to remember being told that they close for a month or two. In any case, we really, really enjoyed Inlet Cafe and will be heading back there for the food, service and view!

more swans and water

Great ambiance. Water. Swans. Boats. Pilings. Shore.

Triumph O’er the Treetops

The Big Red Lift

The Big Red Lift – like a big insect. How will it ever FIT?

They came! They sawed! They cutdown! The Organic Tree Care crew came today!!!! Like the commercials I hear for having junk hauled away: I pointed, they cut. The dead branches are gone gone gone! Let the winter winds blow! I fear no hurricanes for the dead branches are not with me. Clear skies above my deck and no easy critter access to my attic! Can you tell I’m just a wee bit excited? I bet now we will have the calmest hurricane season on record, and the least snow and ice during the winter. No branches will fall anywhere in town, thanks to my preventative measures. You’re welcome 🙂

First job avoid the wires

First job – avoid the wires. Success!

When we last checked in with our heroine (that would be me) she was frustrated by not hearing back from her justifiably busy and preoccupied new neighbor and disgusted with the need for a permit to cut down her own tree and she had settled on an end run: remove the tree dead branch by dead branch. The tree man came and gave a revised estimate over the weekend. It turned out to be less than the prior estimate although I’d been expecting more. I’d asked to have more branches cleared than just the ones on the dying tree. Thinking about it I expect it’s much more work to take down an entire bifurcated tree than to just do pruning, and the new quote reflected that. That was the second joy (the first of course being that I needed no permission for this end run). Paul (the tree man) promised to get it done in the coming week.

Coffee break

I always offer coffee/water to contractors. You don’t see the cups because they are drinking the coffee.

On Tuesday I came home and found a voice mail from my new neighbor – Mari Sue (NOT Mary Lou *grin*). She apologized for taking so long to get back, she was in agreement about the tree and we should get together and talk. It was late and I didn’t respond that night. The next day Paul called and said they’d come on Thursday to shear my shrubbery. That reminded me to return Mari Sue’s call. I told her that I was making her life easier – she didn’t need to do anything, decide anything, the tree was mine and I was going to have every dead branch removed the next day. She said that was wonderful, she and her landscaper had looked at the tree and agreed that it should/could come down. I said that come the spring we could revisit the situation, but that for the time being I was taking care of the obvious problems and leaving us some privacy thanks to the branches that were still alive. We ended the call happily agreeing to meet for coffee soon.

Cut back the driveway tree

2nd job- cut back the tree along the driveway. Most of it is done already in this pic.

Thursday the 3 men showed up. First we played musical cars. I’d left my cars in the street but they needed more room than just my driveway. So I moved my cars further down the block and they backed their trucks up to my property. Then they unloaded The Lift. This machine is SO COOL. It’s like a robot. The arborist controlled it with a remote control box he held in his hands. I looked at it at the end of my driveway and couldn’t quite envision what it would do. It looked huge.

Fitting the lift down the driveway

Look at how SMALL it is now with its legs and neck pulled in. It fits!

While all the maneuvering was going on my next-door neighbor Larry came out. He was naturally curious as to what was happening, especially as one of the feet of The Lift was now resting on his property. Larry is a totally laid-back person. We have a fine relationship and always grant each other’s contractors whatever access is needed across property lines. I knew he wouldn’t care if I was trimming his tree. Indeed, he didn’t care and was horrified to see the cantilevered branch which of course had come from his tree. He offered to help pay for the work. I thanked him and said that all I needed from him was what I already had – his permission to let the workmen cross the property line as needed and that he was totally comfortable with me trimming his tree. Legally once a tree or its parts cross a property line, the property owner can remove whatever is on/overhanging the property. I told him that he owed me nothing, he was not legally responsible, and that I never expected him (or Mari Sue) to contribute to this effort. It’s good to have neighbors with whom you get along. Let’s not mention Mari Sue’s predecessors.

Adjusting the Lift legs

Had to include this – look at how he can adjust each leg and adjust the angle of the foot – see his little remote control there on the right

We had 3 areas that needed work and I didn’t see how that machine would get there unless it had a long neck like a giraffe and could stretch all the way to the back property line. I’d asked to have the maple tree along the driveway (Larry’s tree) trimmed back from the house. Several branches were brushing the roof and others were against the side. In addition that tree was the source of the cantilevered branch on my garage. I wanted that and its siblings, which were lurking over the garage, removed. The third area was the impetus for all this work – the dead tree trunk between the 2 garages.

the cantilevered branch

The Infamous Cantilevered Branch

I’ve mentioned before about the power and phone lines being above ground. There is a thick power line stretching from the southern corner of my property across the driveway to the house. I watched the men start lifting the cage up and up and wondered how they were going to miss the wire. The neck of the lift moves from side to side, up and down. It was completely fascinating to watch. I was riveted. (SEE – I TOLD you I already practice some of the 7 habits of mindful people!!) I watched as they moved that neck slowly side to side. They got it to the far side of the wire and began going up. The neck actually brushed against the wire, and a bulging piece of the neck actually held the wire momentarily. But it all moved so slowly and they slid it just a bit more to the side and the wire was free and the cage was going up and then extending forward to do the tree along the driveway.

goodbye cantilevered branch

Handing down the branch! Bye Bye!!!

They began trimming those branches and I went inside. I was nominally working from home. 🙂 Soon I felt this NEED to go see what they were doing. I’m glad I did. There was a slight misunderstanding of what I wanted and I walked out there just in time. The request was to trim back the branches from the house, but had been received as remove the branches over the driveway. I said that I was quite happy with what they’d removed so far – the house was clear – but they could leave the higher branches. Those provide a lot of shade and relief in the summer. I didn’t want them gone, just trimmed back.

clearing the garage roof

Clearing the rest of the garage roof

Next came my cantilevered branch on the garage roof. To do that they had to move the lift further down the driveway. Watching him place the legs one at a time and adjust the placement of the feet was extremely interesting. I couldn’t believe how much smaller the lift now looked down the driveway. It was tucked in between the house, the tree and the garage. It fit and it worked. An amazing machine. The balancing branch was easy-peasy to remove: he grabbed hold of it and handed it down. Had there not been any other tree work needed, that is exactly what I’d have done. I’d have gone up on my step ladder and nudged it to slide further to the ground. Which is probably why it was a good idea to let the professionals handle it. *grin* I jumped up and down and cheered when they removed that branch. I’m not sure if they were amused or thought I was a crazy lady but they smiled back.

time to tackle the dead tree

Time to tackle the dead tree – have at it!

Next he began cutting the overhanging branches. One of the men got to do all the fun stuff – moving the cage, cutting the branches. The other two had to retrieve and drag the branches down the driveway to the truck. There was a lot of ground-cage communication. They also did a lot of checking and verification with me. By this time I’d dropped any pretense that I was working and was out there watching, taking pictures, cheering, and pointing. 🙂 What a GREAT morning! They cleared all of the overhanging branches and even removed some small dead ones that had already fallen and were snagged in the ivy.

going going

going… going….

FINALLY it was time to get to the dead tree. Only half the tree was dead but the other half is not all that healthy. I definitely wanted to be watching during this part because I wanted them to keep whatever could be maintained. That tree provides a great deal of privacy between our deck (especially the hot tub) and the upper floors of Mari Sue’s house. Since I’d been keeping my deck umbrellas closed all season because of fear of falling branches, I’d noticed exactly how little privacy we will have if that tree goes away completely. In the summer the deck umbrellas will provide privacy now that I can open them. In the winter it’s usually dark when we are in the tub so the lack of leaves is not as big a problem.

another one bites the dust

Another one bites the dust. These were all BIG branches

It really took him very little time to take down the dead trunk. The lower thicker branches had to come off in several pieces, but that top part came down in one piece. *laughing* In hindsight I realize that it looked a lot like a denuded Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. 🙂

And then it was gone. Gone Gone Gone. It was wonderful. I looked up and saw blue sky, unimpeded by dead spindly branches. The garage was clear of branches. I walked about, checking the property, making sure that everything I wanted gone was gone.

GONE! a cleared garage

Look at that – a CLEARED garage. Any branch you see is alive

I noticed a dead branch hanging down behind my garage, caught on the telephone lines running down the property lines. I really couldn’t tell over whose property the branch was hanging, but I figured none of us needed a big dead branch hanging on the wires. Yes, PSEG and AT&T (or maybe Verizon – who knows these days, right?) are supposed to keep those wires clear but is has been YEARS since I’ve seen them come around checking, much less coming to warn me they’d be doing work back there. That is why we keep a generator and a Hogwart’s Owl standing by on the ready. 🙂

the house is cleared as well

Both house and garage unencumbered yet we still have shade

Sure enough the arborist freed that branch. Then he cut down some dead branches overhanging Larry’s property. *smile* It was the least we could do since he’d been dropping all of the dead branches onto Larry’s back yard. I told them they could drop them on my yard but they said Larry’s was better. His back yard is all ivy in that corner. My yard consists of stepping stones and plants. The men explained that the ivy was a much better cushion for the branches and would decrease any splintering and breakage. They cleaned both yards once all the branches were down.

take it all away

Take it all away!

It’s done. I feel so GOOD! I can stop worrying about dead branches smashing into my deck and/or house and find something else to worry about. *grin* The crew was great. I can definitely recommend Mickiewicz Arbor Experts, LLC in Jackson, NJ. They were on time, they were pleasant, helpful, polite, patient, professional and left both properties clean and clear. Let it blow, let it snow, let it froze!


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