Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Great Giant Foo

Legend has it, that there is a great soaring bird, who’s excrement holds the power of life or death over anyone who is covered in it. The great bird is known as the Giant Foo, and as the legend goes, when the Giant Foo flies overhead and fortuitously dumps a load on you, no matter how sickening the prospect, you may never wash it off, or you will die! Your only hope is to wait, until it wears off on its own.

Sometimes I feel like the one of the Giant Foo’s victims. I’ve always been a day late, and a dollar short. One series of negative events always seems to follow another. No sooner does the dried out crust of the Giant Foo’s last droppings flake off, when suddenly the gargantuan reappears, and once again, I’m covered in fresh excrement!

The Sunday afternoon before last, I was in my master bath, and after a shower, and epliation, I was peacefully applying my make up, when suddenly I heard an unexpected knock on my front door. This is always very upsetting to me, because I moved 50 miles out into the country, precisely to avoid such uninvited visitors. Call me a hermit, call me a misanthrope, I don’t care. I just don’t like uninvited callers.

I ignored the interloper, and continued my makeup application. About 45 seconds later, I heard a knock on my back door! My eyes rolled back into my head! Oh, come on, I thought! Is this person stupid? I have a telephone with an answering machine, and I have a mailbox. There is never any excuse, save for a life threatening emergency, to come knocking on my door. Whoever it was never bothered to knock more than once on either door, so how important could it have been?

A week went by, and the next Sunday afternoon, the interloper gave me a repeat performance, only this time it was just one knock on the back door, then off they went. Now, I’m not fully out. I dress full time at home, and in my yard, and also for selected excursions off of my property, but I’m not ready to answer the door for just anyone as Melissa, especially when they come unannounced. It was probably one of my next door neighbors, both of whom are on the board of directors of our subdivision’s home owner’ association, in which case they most definitely have my phone number! Why couldn’t they call first? They still haven’t called!

I drove into Richmond yesterday for our first weekly family supper at my mother’s condo, since my sister passed. On the way out of the driveway, I noticed that a dead pine tree had fallen down on my property, facing the road out front. It wasn’t in the road, but nearly, and I knew I would have to cut it up and haul it away, or be charged by the home owner’s association to have someone else cut it up and haul it away for me. I’ll do it tomorrow, I thought, and off to my mother’s I went.

My brother-in-law and his daughter were there when I got there. A few days earlier, I had sent my niece a 20 year old Bonsai Ficus, as gift of appreciation for the way she cared for her mother in her last days. She really impressed me! I always expected her to be spoiled, selfish and irresponsible, but she turned out to be a wonderful loving daughter! She stuck with her mom through thick and thin, and I wanted to give her something to remember her by. It wasn’t until her dad told her that Jane was probably not going to make it through the night, that she told him not to wake her if she died, because she just didn’t want to see her mother dead. God love her!

Mom, while evidently still sad, and not very talkative, seemed to be holding up fairly well. Considering that Jane was without question her favorite, this was a good sign. At 89, she is still preparing a weekly supper for all of us. I think it’s good therapy for her. It gives her something to do, and to prepare for each week, and it makes her feel like she still makes a difference in our lives. She kept it simple this week, by making a fresh salad of Romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes, red, yellow, orange, and green bell peppers, baby carrots, celery, red onion, hard boiled egg wedges, feta cheese, and chunks of chicken breast, all drizzled in a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. And of course it just wouldn’t be dinner at mother’s, without a basket full of “slightly” burned, brown and serve rolls! Not too bad this time! These were not the usually black hockey pucks. They were actually quite edible, without first decrusting them! Poor mom! Eight years with her new gas stove, and she still doesn’t know how to operate it. When she wants to broil fish, I always do it for her. She didn’t know how to use the broiler, and bakes them instead. They always came out cooked, but white, limp and flavorless.

The Foo Bird flies again!

Today was election day, so before I tackled the fallen pine tree, I went to County Line Baptist Church to cast my vote, for Virginia’s Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, and House of Delegates Representative. The Giant Foo must have shit once again, because all of the candidates I voted for lost. I will have to wear that coat, for the next four years! The Foo’s political dumps are some of the hardest to live with.

On to the fallen pine tree. I have two chain saws, but anyone who has ever used one, knows what a pain they can be, when not used and maintained regularly. At first I decide to attack the fallen tree with a trusty hand held bow saw. That worked really well for cutting off the branches of the fallen tree. Just a few strokes and they were severed, ready to be thrown onto the brush pile. But when all of the branches were dismembered, there was a twenty foot long, 18” trunk to dissect. A bow saw can rip through small branches in short order, but an 18” tree trunk is another matter. I tried, but the blade kept diverting off to an oblique angle, and sawing through the log diagonally. It was taking forever, and frankly wearing me out. Screw it! I have a bad back, and much better things to do with my time! Off to the shed, for the chain saw.

The Foo Bird strikes again!

I bought a real nice brand new 18” Homelite chain saw back in 2004. I used it once or twice, then put it away in the shed. The next fall, Hurricane Isabel made a B-line straight from the Cape Verdes Islands, to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It came onshore just above Cape Hatteras, and proceeded north by northwest, until it came directly though central Virginia. What was left of the eye, came directly through where I live. It was still September at the time, so the all of the leaves were still on the trees, acting likes sails. Sustained winds were 45MPH. The lights went out at about 4:30 PM; no more TV or computer, so I turned on a portable radio, listened to the wind howling through the trees, at over 45 MPH. Plenty of gusts were still blowing at hurricane speed, 75MPH. I cowered in fear, as the darkest night of my life fell upon me. I thought about getting drunk to pass the time, but the sound of limbs cracking and trees falling outside, had me too scared to imbibe. If I was going to die from an oak tree, crashing trough my roof, I wanted to be sober when I met my maker.

By about 3:30 AM the storm had blown through and there was nothing left to do, but to assess the damage in the morning. Fortunately I had only five trees blown down, and I proceeded to cut them up with my new chain saw. My new neighbors to my right, also had a large oak tree come down, and it just missed the corner of their house. They had no chain saw, but they heard me using mine, and the husband sent this wife over to ask if they could borrow it. I told her I would be right over, as soon as I was finished cutting up my trees. When I was done, I went over to their place and saw that they had a huge oak tree just miss the corner of their house!

My saw wasn’t really big enough for their needs, but because they had none, I lent it to them, and told them to just put it back in my shed when they were done, and lock it up.

The Foo bird shits again.

The next fall I go to use the saw (my relatively brand new saw), only to discover that my neighbor had abused it, and it was now basically worthless! Essential nuts, that kept tension on the chain, were completely missing! Unfortunately they were bastard sized nuts that required a special wrench, so I had a hell of a time finding substitutes. Eventually I found some, that while needing a different wrench size, were the same thread size. By then it was mid winter, and I didn’t need the saw anymore so I put them aside for future use.

The return of the Foo!

When I got home from the polls today, and had no success with the bow saw, I decided to try and fix my chain saw. I struggled with it, using the new nuts to try and align the bar and blade. The substitute nuts worked, but it was to no avail! For the life of me, I couldn’t get the saw to start. I tried and tried again, but nothing, so I decided to fire up my very old 12” Eager Beaver. But the same thing happened. It just would not start. After a good 45 minutes I was soaking wet with sweat, and said F___ it! In frustration, I lifted one end of the fallen tree by hand (ugh!) and struggled to move it 90 degrees, back to the tree line. I was able to move it about one foot at a time, and each time I lifted the end of the log, it felt like my hiatal hernia was ripping in my chest! All the while I’m thinking, damn it, I’m a girl! I’m not supposed to be doing this kind of shit!

Sometimes it just sucks to be tranassexual, and yet I wouldn’t trade who I am, for the life of any cis-man in the world!

Melissa XX


Leslie Ann said...

Quite the shaggy dog story, Melissa. I kept thinking there would be a punch line about the mystery person at the door, but I guess you haven't figured that one out yet. I can't believe neighbors would destroy your stuff and just return it as is. What's wrong with people?

caroline said...

The world is full of wonderful people, sham most of them choose not to move in as neighbours! I am lucky in that half are a great bunch and we often eat together the other half...

I used to do all the tree cutting and heavy lifting but the 20% loss of strength they tell you about has to be an underestimate. No wonder you have been too tired to post for a few days and too sweaty for a new picture!

Lucy Melford said...

Only a 20% loss in strength? I'd put it at more like 50%!

That was a rotten thing to do, ruining your chain saw. Pretty standard and necessary household equipment in your neck of the woods, I'd say. They ought to have bought you another. And what were they going to do when another tree problem arose on their property? Ask you again? Would they dare?

alan said...

I've become very wary of lending tools, even to family...if I do I know I'll be fixing it when I get it back...

One thing that will make a big difference for 2-cycle things that sit between uses is Sta-Bil in the fuel, if you haven't ever used it. I uae it in my 4-cycle lawn mower and generator gas as well, never knowing when they'll be sitting before their next use.

I hate to think of replacing either of those saws with the way they've sailed out of sight price wise...hopefully you can get one of them running again!


lisalisa said...

Wow I am glad I dont have a tree over 7 feet tall.
And I am going to take my unbrella everywhere now. I hate Foo S**T!
LOL :-) xx

Sophie said...

Right, what she said about the shaggy dog story.

I guess I know who all you voted for, none of mine made it either except for the Commissioner of the Revenue. I'm not so worried about the governor, he won't be around long enough to have a really big impact. That Attorney General though is another story.

I'm glad you and your family are able to get together for your regular dinner and your niece sounds like a real sweetheart. It can be rare to see that in young people and it is nice when it occurs.

Melissa said...

@ Leslie, Carolin & Lucy

That's not the half of it. When this neighbor was first looking at the property next door, he thought nothing of coming onto my property without asking, and walking down my path to the pond, rather than walk through the woods of the property he was looking to buy. Then one day when I came home from work, I heard a lot of racket coming from that property down by the pond, so I walked down there to see what was going on. The guy had hired the services of another neighbor, to clear his lot, and he was running a bush hog around, to cut all of the underbrush left after clearing the trees. The problem was the guy cleared 30 feet over onto my property! I was furious! I walked up to him and asked just what the hell he thought he was doing, and he told me that R told him to do it, so he would have a better view of the pond. He said R told him that I wouldn't mind, and in addition to that, he wanted him to clear my entire 400+ foot bank! I said like hell you will! My property is the only one left on the pond, where people haven't shaved everything that grows right down to the ground, and it's going to stay that way! That brush along the bank provides habitat for all kinds of birds, turtles and other little critters. It also provides shade from the summer sun, for the fish in the pond. I'll never understand why people move 45 miles out into a natural setting, and then do everything they can to destroy that natural setting, and mimic the meticulously manicured lots of suburbia.

After my neighbor had cut down nearly every tree on his 3.5 acre wooded lot, and built his 2,500 square foot McMansion, it was time to landscape, and he wanted me to let him drive dump trucks through my back yard and down my path, to unload top soil on his property down by the pond. He said the ground was too soft to drive the trucks down through his property! I couldn't believe his cheek. Those dump trucks would have destroy the soft ground on my property as they drove several hundred feet to get to his. Instead of telling him what I really thought, I just said the path was too narrow for a big truck to traverse.

Once his house was built, he got a dog. He would put the dog out at night, and this is no exaggeration, it would howl and bark non-stop all night long! I had to start running a fan in my bedroom at night, to create some white noise to drown out the dog. Neighbors!

Melissa XX

Amy K. said...

Wooh! I got exhausted just reading of your efforts with the vaunted Tree. You almost had me sweating there!

I wonder who your mystery caller is. Maybe you should get a peephole installed on your doors. I'm always peeking out of mine, and hey... it's cheaper than getting a CCTV system. ;)

I love your blogs. You really have a gift of writing.

Melissa said...

@ Amy

Thanks Amy. I enjoy reading your blogs too. I'm pretty sure the knocker was one of my next door neighbors. Probably my neighbor on my east side. He's done that before, when he wants to talk to me about something. I don't know why he can't just pick up a phone and call me. think it's really obnoxious to go knocking on people's doors, when they don't expect you.

Melissa XX

Melissa said...

@ Alan

Nice to see back again, Alan! I was afraid you had left us. I'm afraid the saws are both shot, and I will have to get a new one. The trouble is, I just got a hefty real estate tax bill this month, so I may have to wait until next month to get one.

Melissa XX

caroline said...

Now I picture you on the veranda sitting in a rocking chair, shotgun across your lap waiting for your mystery caller, probably a little banjo playing in the background!

We have seen films about those backwoods.

Here a study was done and "85%" of those interviewed would like to move to get away from neighbours. We have a small group who stick together because we like our neighbours.

Caroline xxx

caroline said...

Did you link to Simone because of the quote on her banner, "happiness is watching your neighbour fall off his roof"?

I have some like that too.

Caroline xxx

Melissa said...

@ Caroline

No, I didn't insert that link. I'm assuming Simone did. I noticed it's gone now.

Now I've seen "Deliverance", and I don't think we are even close to being that back woodsy! lol While most are just ordinary decent folk, there actually are some very creepy people back up in the mountains. There have been several brutal murders of hikers up on the Appalachian Trail, by deranged mountain men. When you go hiking up there, it's best to do it with a group.

Melissa XX

alan said...

My wife had hernia surgery and was home for 6 weeks; she is very anti-blogging and FB and has no idea I do either...

Read very carefully before you buy a new one; I thought of replacing my old Mac Cat 18 earlier this year as the safety brake was out of it; when I found out I was going to have to spend over $400 to get something in the same size that was reliable, I tracked down the brake band for my 20+year old one.

Besides the reviews on Home Depot's and Lowe's sites, etc., there is another I rely on called "Epinions": It will give you reviews on appliances, electronics, tools, Consumer Reports but free.

Best of luck finding a new one!


Two Auntees said...

It sound like Robert Frost was right, keeping walls between neighbors is more than an allegorical necessity. Is there a good supply of large stones available. Or replanting fast growing trees at the edge of the pond where he cleared. Neighbors.

Samantha said...

Wow, I'm exhausted just reading all of that. But I can relate. Last year IKE came through and took a tree down at my brother's house, but not all the way. It snapped near the base about three feet above the ground, so it was going to be something of a nightmare (or really expensive) to get it down to where it could be cut up. My brother asked me if I knew any good tree people that could tell him how to do it. He's been living here longer than I have and I laughed and said you get a saw I'll drop it for you and get it to where he could do the rest.

He laughed at me and said "Oh, yeah, like on top of everything else you've ever studied you apprenticed as a logger right?" No, but I can control physics and gravity so we'll be good. You know he stood there and watched me laughing. He figured I was certain of what I was doing, but figured there was no way I was actually going to control gravity, because we all know that can't be done.

Long story short, I used math and got it where he could work on it. The saw worked, and I didn't think anything of it, but I was exhausted when I got the hard work done. He just marveled at the tree floating in mid air as I worked. Turned out the saw was pretty shot and dull. Made it that much more amazing I got done what I accomplished to him. But it was a whole bunch of work and I didn't even think of the saw being dull. Later he looked at me and said, I saw it with my own eyes and I still don't believe it. You know the magic not withstanding is the fact that you used that saw all day doing the hard work and I couldn't handle it to make one cut. You're a lot stronger than you look. I'm beginning to believe there's some truth to women being stronger than men. I said yeah, it's the stamina thing, we have plenty of that.

As to the neighbors, wow, I wish I could say I'm surprised, but I'm not. People in this country are growing increasingly rude, selfish and not terribly interested in nature. Everyone, well, almost everyone, wants the perfect manicured golf course look.