Monday, April 29, 2013

Busy Weekend

   Laurie and I spent our Saturday babysitting Alex so that Chuck and Rebecca could attend a wedding. As with other times when we've been there, the little man prefers staying awake and being the center of attention to sleeping. He did sneak a power nap in when I took him out for a walk around the neighborhood and took another between his late afternoon snack and dinner.
Alex models his tasty spring jacket
  Sunday was one of those days where doing one chore led to another and another and another. I had to replace a section of the fence in the back yard that had rotted away. In the abstract, it's fairly straightforward, but since it was a section that was behind a large evergreen, it became a challenge of maneuvering, with some strategic trimming and the removal of the thorny vine that grows out of our neighbor's yard and into the bushes.
   Once I had that done, I had a few slats left over, so I decided to replace a some that were in need in another part of the yard. These, at least, were not behind a bush.
   Then it was on to gardening chores. The compost we've been "growing" in a trash can was transferred to the vegetable beds. The bags of potting soil went into the giant pots for the basil. The bags of mulch were spread.
   A profusion of dandelions had sprouted in various places around the yard and I had pulled up a few near the veggie beds. Now I was on a roll, so I decided to dig up the rest of them. There turned out to be more of them than I thought, as I realized when I saw how full the trash can was when I was done.
   Then  it was on to pool-related chores. Chlorine added, skimmers emptied, Robby the Robot (our automatic vacuum) bag cleaned out. Yes, the pool is open and, according to our Temperature Team, the water is about 65 degrees. Had the air been a bit warmer yesterday, it might have been the occasion for First Dunk 2013, but that was not the case.
   The shed was next. The poolside umbrellas came out for the season; the remaining fence slats went in. Snow shovels were moved to the back; the rake and lawn mower moved to the front.
   I thought I was finished as I gathered up the various tools I'd been using, but I noticed a nail on the steps that needed a couple of taps with the hammer. This, of course, led to a walk around the deck, tapping any and all other nails that needed it.
   With the list of backyard chores exhausted, I took the tools inside. Some of them are kept in the basement, where a basket of clean laundry was ready to go upstairs. And you can just imagine what that led to...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

All the Trees Are Gone

    When we bought our house some thirty-eight and a half years ago, we were surrounded by large old trees. An oak tree stood on the front lawn, along with the two maples at curbside. There was another oak and another maple in the back yard. In addition, our next door neighbors on one side had an oak and two more maples in front of their house while the neighbors on the other had yet another maple.
   One by one, the trees came down. The oak in the back yard went first, so long ago that I don't even recall what happened that resulted in its removal. The oak in the front was next, the victim of a caterpillar infestation that had us bombarded by the squirmy things every time the wind blew.
   The maple in the back yard was removed as part of our back yard redo.  By that point, a large part of it was overhanging both our roof and the neighbor's and no one was happy about the potential damage it would do in a major storm.
   Somewhere along the way, the oak next door and the maple on the other side were taken down, both victims of old age and rot.
   In 2011, Hurricane Irene took out one of the two maples next door. It fell over and ended up resting on the power lines across the street. With that one down, our neighbors opted to have the second one removed as well.
   Which left only our two maples... until Hurricane Sandy took out one, along with the power lines, and left us in the dark for six days. (The full account of our Post-Sandy adventures can be found here, here, here and here.)
   What we did not notice immediately, though it became obvious later, was that the top of the other maple had been snapped off by Sandy's winds. What remained was not a happy tree and, in fact, when the Town of Oyster Bay inspector came to determine what needed to be done, he marked it for eventual removal.
   Today, the tree has been cut down to the stump and all the pieces removed. It is only a matter of time before the stump is ground down and the sidewalk is all repaired, leaving no sign it had ever been there.
   Our block, which was once home to all those massive trees, now has only a couple of much younger ones that are perhaps twelve feet tall. We will miss the shade that the two maples gave the house on summer afternoons  and the picturesque view of a light snow resting on the branches.
   But I'm not going to miss all the leaves in the fall.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Two-Thirds of the Way

  I was born seven years too late to celebrate a birthday on the whimsical date of 4/4/44. As a result, I have had to look towards finally doing so when 2044 rolls around.

  Yes, I know I'll be 93 then. I probably won't be playing as much volleyball as I do now. Or riding my bicycle to work. But I hope to be a lot closer to being caught up on reading all the books I've collected over the years.

  In any case, as of today, I'm exactly two-thirds of the way there.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Opening Day

  Sammi and I went to Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on Monday. It was my first visit to the new Stadium, my first Opening Day since a bunch of us working at DC used to go to Shea to see the Mets back in the mid-'90s, and my first Yankee Opening Day since 1978. (As you might imagine, it was Sammi's first Opening Day ever.)
  We had a package deal that included a round-trip bus ride, a tailgate party with plenty of food before the game, and tickets. well, certainly not the best tickets in the world, as we were in the very last row of the grandstand, though we were overlooking third base and had no trouble seeing everything.
  Not that there were that many familiar Yankees to see, since half the starting line-up (Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Texiera) is on the disabled list. I'm sure I wasn't the only Yankees fan who looked at the line-up and asked, "Who are these guys?"
  Since we'd arrived early, we had time to walk around inside the Stadium a bit and Sammi took a lot of photos. (We also got a very helpful and friendly Stadium employee to take the one above as we posed in front of the giant batting helmet.)
  The game itself could have gone better for the home team but Boston jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second inning. The Yankees scored a pair of runs and kept it close into the late innings, but then the weather and the fans' hopes went from warm and sunny to cold and cloudy-dark. The ninth inning, as the Red Sox scored three more runs, was punctuated by a rain shower, which prompted most of the folks in the stands to head for the exits.
  We had actually left our seats in the eighth inning and were working our way down, level by level, stopping along the way to watch the remaining portions of the game from different spots. It was just starting to rain as we reached the gate and headed back to the bus.
  All in all, a fun time and some great- father-daughter bonding.