Sunday, May 11, 2008

home lobotomy for dummies

At first it broke my heart to take down the tree, but it had been slowly dying for several years and was now 3/4 dead, looking like hell right in the front yard, and compromising the health of the row of spruce trees it was crowding against. The arbourist was going to charge an exorbitant amount to remove it, and as we had been cooped up inside for far too long anyway thanks to the weekly snowfalls we have been receiving and were now itching to get our hands dirty, I said, fuck it, let's do it ourselves.

How hard can it be?

It was a plum, apparently, although I had always thought of it as a hawthorn because of the massive spikes it sported along its branches. I was always fearful whenever Sputnik climbed up into it that she would put an eye out on those spikes (when you become a mother, you automatically develop a fear of someone putting an eye out - it's a trait that's carried on the x chromosome that doesn't surface until the proper progesterone surge happens, apparently). And lately the neighbourhood kids have been running back and forth across our yard, ducking under the very low hanging branches of the plum tree and I was sure somebody was going to be
impaled horribly.

So it was time for the tree to come down.

The first part went quite well. The Spousal Unit trimmed off the larger branches and I hauled them to the backyard. But when it came to sawing off the four-limbed trunk, we realised that we were going to have to break down and buy a chain saw after all. So while he headed to Canadian Tire, I started gathering up the rest of the branches.

All was well until I stood up while still under the god-damned tree and whacked my head hard on the branch. And then the blood started dripping onto my shirt and I had one of those oh shit moments. As in oh shit, I think I did some damage. I flung my gardening glove off and reached up to touch my head and encountered a 2 inch wooden spike sticking out of my head. I withdrew the spike from my skull, staggered into the house, and slapped the dishcloth on my head - the same filthy dish cloth with which I had cleaned up the counters earlier - and called out to the Resident Offspring, "I just stabbed myself in the head". "Oh dear" she replied, but did not come downstairs to check up on her poor dying mother.

She did come down a few minutes later as I was sitting on the stairs with my head between my
knees. I think the moaning drew her away from the computer. Apparently she thought that I meant I had just whacked myself in the head with a branch. I guess she is used to me being a little overly dramatic at times.

Anyway, after staunching the blood flow, I did slap a little Polysporin on the wound and, trying not to imagine the possibility of any sort of parasite being present on the lobotomy spike and burrowing its eggs into my brain, I did survive enough to help the Spousal Unit take down the rest of the tree (whilst spouting bravadoes like "that bitch is coming down because now it's personal!") and cut most of it up for firewood.

This afternoon, I was in the backyard cutting up the remainder of the branches into pieces that would fit into the firepot when the neighbour down the road decided that the first nice warm Sunday afternoon we have had this year would be a good day to let his two little kids ride their little motorcycles that sound like sewing machines up and down and up and down and up and down the back lane.

The Resident Offspring had joined me in the backyard to paint while I cut up branches and started laughing at me as I launched into the usual passive-aggressive stance that I go into when I get pissed off at someone I don't know well enough to yell at. After a while I started glaring over the fence at their father who was leaning against somebody's garage door watching them roar back and forth, and then I tried hucking spruce cones at them to see if I could nail them in the helmet, and all the while the Resident Offspring was egging me on and asking me things like "who's more passive-aggressive, you or Thom Yorke?" and we would get into a discussion along the lines of WWTD (What Would Thom Do).

Finally, I decided it was time to act like an adult instead of working myself into a lather, and take the direct confrontation route, which I generally avoid like the plague. So headed out to the
backlane, walked up to the idiot who spawned the brats kids' father and asked him if he could take them down somebody else's backlane for a while.

And he did!

I am so pleased with myself for taking direct action today instead of hiding behind passive-aggressive moves and getting progressively more pissed off. If that's what having a tree parasite burrow into your brain does, then I just might take up arbour-care as a hobby. Because I kicked ass today.


bloody awful poetry said...

I've always preferred trees to flowers, though. Flowers leave me a bit cold inside.
And Thom Yorke is the King of Passive Agressive! No competition! Although I think it's as adorable as hell that your kids would ask you that question =)


I had a nervous laugh when I imagined you with the spike in your forehead. Probably because it's what usually happens to me when I make any attempt to do yard work.

Seeing as you are taking up Arbor Care now as a hobby, I have to ask you how did you get the stump out? I have a Nanking cherry I cut down last year and I don't feel like paying big bucks to get it out. Perhaps I can borrow your newfound expertise.

Bravo on the noisy neighbour ass-kicking! You are my personal hero. Luckily though they didn't come down my back lane. Or we could be discussing something very different! LOL

Allison said...

I had flashbacks to my head injury when you were describing the spike. I sure hope you're okay though. No need for stitches?

And I laughed out loud at the WWTD comment. I wish I could listen in on your conversations. You should do a video post. ;P

Anonymous said...

I'm proud of you, such unzombie behavior.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'm a tree hugger from way back, BAP, but I am not sad that this one is now firewood.
You should hear some of the questions my smartass kid throws at me (many of them involving TEY).

The stump is still there, Blondie. We too decided against paying a fortune to have it ground out and will just work at cutting down the inevitable suckers over the next few years.
Fortunately the spike was imbedded into the top of my head, not my forehead, so did not mar my fabulous looks.
And I think my neighbour hates me now (although I was very civilized), but at least I love me.

The injury was no where near as bad as yours, Al. It looked worse than it was because scalps are so well vascularized and bleed freely.
A video post, eh? It sounds as though that would involve buying all kinds of new equipment and then learning how to use it. I don't think that speaking loudly at my monitor will do the trick.

It was highly uncharacteristic of me, Leazwell. I may try it again sometime.

BeckEye said...

Thanks for grossing me out today, and I'm glad you live to gross me out another day.

Do you suddenly have the urge to listen to Elvis Costello's Spike?

dguzman said...

OH MY GOD! Well, I'm glad I read this post; our pine tree that's been slowly dying for the last three years has finally breathed its last, and it's going to have to come down. Thank goodness there are no giant spikes on it, or I'd sure as hell have one in my eye.

Good luck with the parasites; hope they don't come out your eyeball.

Anonymous said...

I figure the spike through the head thing has altered your zombie personality; next thing you'll be telling us about a classical piano talent you've just discovered and a fluency in Finnish.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I consider it my life's work to gross you out on a regular basis, Beckeye. Now I have to go listen to Elvis Costello.

Those parasites will probably just eat my brain, Dguzman, causing my family to shake their heads and declare "mom's losing it again".
Do be careful taking down that tree!

I sure wish I were fluent in Finnish, Gifted, it is one of the coolest languages around! And I can already play Mary Had a Little Lamb on the piano. All by myself.

Will said...

Wow. Good work. A new career perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Hey Barb,
Man I nearly pissed myself laughing....oh not at your injury but the events leading up to it and after. That is what I call an action packed day.
Save some of the cursed wood and we'll have us a good time burning in Manitoba this summer. I'll bring the gas.
Take care,

John Mutford said...

I got almost to the end, thinking "A whole Radiohead-free post..." and then passive-aggressive Thom shows up.

Funny story though.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Doubtful, Will. Would you hire me to clamber about in your trees? I didn't think so.

I think the SU is burning all the offending wood near Rocky Mountain House later this week, Bruno, but maybe we can hack another tree down to bring to MB. I'm so glad I can still amuse you with my near-death experiences.

Passive-aggressive Thom is always sticking his nose in, John.

justacoolcat said...


Was the whole tree felled?

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Felled and cut into pieces that will never hurt anyone again, JustA!

Anonymous said...

ya know - you should keep a couple of branches from that bloody brain sucking tree for s'mores this summer. Nothing like a little chocolate with schadenfreude, mmm.

Spike in the forehead, well hell, no wonder the motobikes got to you... you done got plum (tree) loco! ugh.

Direct confrontation, right on! I don't have the cajones for that... I'm more of an anonymous spike-strip kind of girl. We're renters though, so I have a great measure of reputation-twisting available to me, sucker neighbor after sucker neighbor.

Cheers for managing your challenging circumstances, I really should try to learn some civility from you. And dear goddess, heal up that hole in your head. ;)

Deb said...

oh my God, your life sounds like mine.

Stay indoors and wear a helmet at all times. You can throw cones out the windows.

I know you're o.k. because you're writing is as clever as ever and I laughed out loud twice. You rock.

Deb said...

Also: did you know that if you lived here you wouldn't be ALLOWED to cut down your own tree without permission? How stupid. We have a tree lover's bylaw which, while understandable, is still ridiculous.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

schadenfreude smores! Michelle, I love the whole idea so much I can't even begin to articulate how much I love the whole idea! I want to base a whole dinner party around that.
I think getting older is teaching me to be less fearful of direct confrontation. You know, you start to develop that "I'm old, I don't give a flying fuck" attitude. It's the ONLY good part about getting old.

I'm seriously thinking of staying inside and wearing a helmet always, Deb, it's really the only sensible thing to do anymore.
I support needing permission to cut down a healthy tree, but if it's obviously dead, that seems to be a needless bit of redtape.