Thursday, July 1, 2010


The title above has worked it's way into the American Lexicon over the past twenty years. It's the exclamation that comes from the mouth of TV's "Number One Dad", Homer Simpson when yet another something blows up in his face. Today it's shorthand for "Dolt gets surprised" It's Wiley Coyote getting crushed by a falling cliff in the evergreen Warner Brothers "Roadrunner" cartoons, updated for the 21st Century.

It's the word that came out of my mouth Tuesday morning.

Over most of the month of June, I've been dealing with the biggest weed I've ever seen. It was a 20+ foot tall volunteer privet tree that sprung up sometime in the past 4-5 years in the backyard landscape. Privets are often spread by birds, they are a popular plant in the neighborhood, and this particular specimen sprouted inches from a privacy fence, and did some damage to the fence during the growth of it's trunk to six inches in diameter.

At it's ultimate height of twenty or so feet, it was shading a generous portion of the Ancestral Diggins sector of the backyard. I must have pulled 200 tiny privet seedlings that emerged looking for all the world like dichondra, in the rose garden my Dad put in when he first retired.

I attacked the interloper with pruning loppers. These "Homeowner Grade" loppers were up to the task until the branches were over an inch in diameter. A couple of hours of lopping and threading the branches through the rose garden, resulted in a big bushy pile of privet branches beneath the big apricot tree around the side of the garage.

A couple of days before garbage day, I wheeled the green waste container ( we have full-service curbside recycling here in the Inland Valley) back to the pile and methodically cut the limbs and branches up with an anvil pruner and filled the can in about three hours. I woke up the next morning with what felt like Popeye's right forearm after a can of spinach! We're talkin' Pumped Up!

Garbage day came and went, and the gardeners come the morning after the garbage man. I returned to the task at hand once the gardeners were done, and found they had taken a branch or two from my privet pile, and stuffed the green can to the brim!

The next day, I deployed my trusty Milwaukee Sawzall and finished the removal of the remaining standing privet. Over the following days, I hauled the remaining branches to a second, much larger pile...this one under the magnolia tree adjacent to the apricot. I set up my Hitachi 8 1/2 in slide saw, and made smallish, green can-sized pieces of the larger branches and trunk pieces.

I pulled out and cut up the stuffed branches, added some more cut-up privet, and topped up the can with the branch and trunk pieces and waited for next week's garbage day.

All this didn't happen in a vacuum of course, I was coming and going, doing the errands, and one afternoon I realized that there was a whole lot of tree work being done in our subdivision...all of it by professionals driving the requisite big trucks towing big, noisy, woodchippers!

I hatched my "Evil Plan"...I'd take a spin around the neighborhood, locate the tree service truck, park the car and introduce myself and offer $20 or so for them to chip up what I had left of the privet remains! I'd throw the remains in the back of my pickup, and haul it to their location, feed 'em my twenty, and hand 'em a sixer of cold beer...project complete!

OK, fired up with my new mission, I made daily laps around the subdivision...suddenly, the tree services were nowhere to be found! This continued all week until it was time to fill the green can again.

Another week passed...I started making special reconnaissance trips every morning...still not one tree service truck or woodchipper.

The privet pile was drying quickly in the summer heat. I needed to fill the green can once again. This week, I got the jump on the project, and allotted two days to cut up the now crispy remains. With the leaves dried, it was easy to just strip them off with a gloved hand, making quick work of reducing the bulk. I had the can half full when the gardeners arrived to trim the hedges and wisteria. Again they filled the can with fluffy clippings, which I removed before resuming my clipping and filling duties.

I did two shifts this Monday to finish the job. The new, fluffy cuttings had dried enough to easily crunch down to fit atop the now nearly full can. It was scorching hot Monday, so I left the can under the apricot, and headed for the shower.

This morning I needed to move the can to the driveway to make room to wheel my crab pots to the shed. They'll come out again in November when Dungeness Crab Season re-opens. Tonight I roll out the cans for Wednesday pickup.

I opened the gate and rolled the green can out to the front of the garage with the other cans. I looked across the street and there was a tree service truck and chipper parked at the neighbor's house!


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