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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fall's Transit




Calhoun’s Can(n)ons for October 28, 09

The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Phil Potts

The great grapevine is giving up the ghost. Even in the sunny heat of September, the leaves started tossing in the towel and with October’s bright blue weather they’re calling it quits for the year.

In the garden, the four o’clocks are decidedly looking like half-past six. Only the nasturtiums, the contrarian nasturtiums, rouse themselves into mounds of new dinner-plate leaves for one last tumble-running carouse before the frosts take them down. Whoopee time for the peppery-flowered Katzenjammer Kids.

In the street easement in front of the house, in the County’s no man’s land beside the dirt road midway between my neighbor’s house and mine, the huge dead pine tree stands, an arboreal threat to life and limb when the winter winds blow, the branches overhanging the power drop lines to our houses. Nobody knows who planted the thing or when. It’s been there forever. I called the power company and they came out to merely top a bit off, calculating that by reducing the overall height of the thing, should it fall, it would miss their highest power lines. About the “hot” drop lines, they don’t care. Not their problem.

Not the county’s problem either. They claim that the homeowner’s responsible for anything from their property line into the middle of the street. In my case, the street is an un-maintained county dirt “road.” When I say, Well, if I’m responsible for all that, and since you don’t maintain this road anyway, I’m going to block off a good portion and plant a garden. No, the County says, you can’t do that. That’s OUR property. Well, fine, I say, then come take care of this potential liability – the dead tree that’s on YOUR property. And they say, Oh, no, that area is YOUR responsibility. Okay, sez I, then I’m going to block it off and build a garden. No can do, they say, that’s OUR property.

And around and around we go. All benefit to the county, all liability to the homeowner with taxes paying for, What, exactly? Not dead street trees, that’s for sure.

My neighbor calls A Tree Guy who stands under the great dead, bug-infested pine and says, Listen! Woodpeckers. They decide to just lop off a good portion of the limbs, especially those of a size to threaten the drop lines, and leave the rest as perches for the birds. I’m delighted to hear of the decision since my beloved crows hang out there, practicing their mutters. It is a resting place for a local hawk and I often hear an owl up there softly calling on soft June nights. And the tree is always filled with a constantly moving crowd of small birds, all flitting from branch to branch. The Tree Guy says a properly trimmed dead tree can stand for 8 years. I hope he’s right.

More changes as my little red XBox Scion, The Tall Dog Car, was hit and shoved into the car in front of me. No one was hurt as everyone was going slowly to begin with, so the stiff soreness I feel a few days later I attribute simply to the effect of bracing for that Ohhh Shiiiittt moment when you look in the rear view mirror and know the guy behind you isn’t going to stop in time and watch in Slo-Mo as your own car moves inexorably forward, and then hear the sickening metallic crunch as the front end smooshes into the car in front of you. Ooooo, Noooooo.

The damage to my rear bumper was minimal since the young man behind me who ran out of space and time and luck was driving a car with a “normal” bumper set at the “normal” height. However, the destruction to the front of my car was awesome because the Jeep 4X I was shoved into had a Very Tall Bumper set abnormally high, as are all 4Xers, and instead of bumping into my bumper, it smashed into my car’s face.

And all I can think about during the insane Insurance/Repair/Crazy Dance that follows is, I wonder why the insurance lobby didn’t get Congress to mandate equal height bumpers. Would have saved them a ton of money.

Since the car rental agency discourages putting dogs in their rental cars, the pack of Calhooligans must make do with daily walks instead of visits to the dog park. That suits them just fine. For them, all change is good. Whether it’s a changing season, a dead tree, or a broken-nosed car, it’s all just another exciting adventure in a world filled with magical things.

Not a bad philosophy. Smart dogs.











9 comments:

annerallen said...

Great work with the positive thinking thing, Ann! I'm not sure I could be as upbeat in the face of all that nonsense.

The County/road/tree thing unfortunately seems to be a perfect metaphor for local government--and maybe the human community in general: Divided we're screwed, United, it's NOT OUR PROBLEM.

And so sad about your car's owie, and the ridiculous bumper situation.

The final lesson here seems to be that institutions tend to be as stupid/irresponsible as their lowest common denominator.

But nature is, as always, beautiful. Great photo.

Spectator said...

Hola Ann!

Why did you not buy a SUV with high bumpers. Unintended consequences!

Sorry in any case!

Sandra said...

Thank you for the lovely language. What a pleasure.
Doesn't everyone know that dogs (and cats) are happier than people?
It seems that the levels of consciousness between the lowest and the highest are the hard parts.

Ron said...

I have an idea for your pine tree dilemma, Ann.

Lob off a call to "Celebrate Los Osos," and see if they can help you out......... ummmm...... errrrrr....... On second thought, you're not on a main, highly visible thoroughfare, where they can hang their huge banner for maximum exposure, so my idea's not going to work. Never mind.

But, seriously folks...

Back in the early 90s, I wrote a story for The Bay News about a dead deer that washed ashore on the back bay, near homes.

This thing was nasty, so we started getting calls to the office.

I ended up contacting about four agencies (each one passing me to another) to find out whose responsibility it was to scoop it up.

Long story short... no agency had responsibility.

Because the deer was on a shoreline, it was being treated as if a seal washed ashore, where it's a "let nature take its course" policy, but the County ended up removing it anyway "as a favor" for Baywood residents.

Made for a good little story.

So, I guess what I'm trying to say here is, if only that dead pine tree was also rotting and stinking, the County would probably help you out, Ann.

(Nice pic, and good to hear you got through your accident relatively unscathed.)

Alon Perlman said...

Scion? I keep telling people, there is a sleek sports car in there, just stop riding the box it came in, and unwrap it. (Ann? Yours is more the cute upside down bathtub style?)
Still whiplash? Take it easy for a few more days.
Ron, You called it-Ditto, The dance between the Agencies. Try getting a washed ashore derelict boat out of a biologically sensitive area. You have to start the process with calling MB Harbor Patrol although you know that their jurisdiction is only up to the Marine museum, Just because they know more.

Trees with raptors complicate matters, PG&E,-County-Fish and game-game
Fire department response times- Cinderbox trees-Check LOCAC-CSD Traffic and circulation, Concerns regarding response time during an upcoming “Largish” project.
The bottom line- If you want something done, you gotta do it yourself.

Mike Green said...

Ann, The car insurance folks don't give a fig about how much it COSTS to fix just one car (yours)
They simply crunch the numbers to insure their profits, if insurance companies really cared about the costs of autobody repair then they would push for driver training and actual driving tests.
But PREVENTING a problem is not the American way, no siree! Much better to react to a disaster AFTER the fact.
This is pervasive at every level, and folks that stand up and yell WTF this is gonna result in a big problem! get all kinds of grief (thats why we had enact whistlblower laws).
Oh, and get ready to be shocked at the repair bill, you may be the happy owner of a TOTALED scion.
The unintended consequence of having an industry almost completely funded by insurance, disconnecting the end user from the service provider, sound familiar? (Health care)
I imagine the 4X4 drivers insurance is pretty happy about their bumper height.

Churadogs said...

Spectator sez:"Why did you not buy a SUV with high bumpers. Unintended consequences!"

This response is one of the most spectacularly PERFECT examples of a person's "voice," that fascinating window into a person's center/heart/soul. It's Spectator to the deepest core and just too, too perfect.

Ron sez:"Lob off a call to "Celebrate Los Osos," and see if they can help you out......... ummmm...... errrrrr....... On second thought, you're not on a main, highly visible thoroughfare, where they can hang their huge banner for maximum exposure, so my idea's not going to work. Never mind."

Bwa-hahahahahahahah!

Alon sez:"(Ann? Yours is more the cute upside down bathtub style?)
Still whiplash? Take it easy for a few more days."

Yes, the last Helms Bakery Toonerville Trolly-shaped XBox. The next year, not understanding the old axiom of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," they made it bigger, longer, heavier, uglier (looking like a hearse) and more fuel inefficient.Duh.

And no whiplash, everyone was going about 20-25 mph. Had the car in front had "normal" bumpers, this would have been a two-dented bumper deal, instead of a very expensive face smash.

Mike Green sez:"The unintended consequence of having an industry almost completely funded by insurance, disconnecting the end user from the service provider, sound familiar? (Health care)
I imagine the 4X4 drivers insurance is pretty happy about their bumper height."

Unless the 4X is at fault, then his/her insurance Co. has to pay through the nose for the destruction her/his high bumper caused the other guy.

Alon sez: "Trees with raptors complicate matters, PG&E,-County-Fish and game-game"

I'm delighted we can possibly save this very tall "perch." Hope The Tree Guy is right and it'll stand for 8 years. But are you saying that if a hawk perches there it somehow becomes a "protected" tree?

Anne Sez:"Great work with the positive thinking thing, Ann! I'm not sure I could be as upbeat in the face of all that nonsense."

Nobody dead. Nobody injured. The old "If you can walk away from it, it's a happy landing, one way or another." And the dogs are right, the rest is "all nonsense" not worth fussing about. Let's take a walk! Look!Squirrels!!

Alon Perlman said...

Purching Versus Nursing, Tree / Raptor surveys are required. Trigger for requirement unknown, Details unknown, A regulatory burden faced by the Government Agency some love to hate. Private industry less. Private citizens less. Chainsaw totin Cowboys? Yee Haa.
I'm still working on it in the general sense, via LOCAC. (decreased emergency vehicle response during road closures on an upcoming project, A structure fire doubles every 2 minutes. Fuel trees, low overhanging wires)
A good example of citizen interaction. EIR/CUP condition re road closure- Mr Margotsen To CSD/ Fire Chief re road fund, CSD response by meeting, letter, Mr Perlman To CSD re LOCAC Land use. Mr Delegata LOCAC Transportation and circulation land use Chair re Road plans in existance. So if you do see nesting, please don't, let me know. Unless it's a perigrine. (I'm also a member of Audubon).
Let's talk bout it over a cup of Coffee.
Word verification; ova llati
Actually let's cross our fingers for eight years while keeping our hands at 10 and 2 A clock. (Amazing how time really moves in slow motion as the vehicle behind starts swerving. Once, I had time to calculate how much closer I could get to the actual accident ahead, to give them behind more breaking room, (Downhill, freeway slick roads))

Churadogs said...

Alon sez:"Amazing how time really moves in slow motion as the vehicle behind starts swerving."

Yes, that's the really interesting thing about preception and "reality." How fungible and unreliable and "unreal" it all really is.

And, nope, no pregrines, think a sparrow hawk uses it as an occasional perch and a young redtailed hawk and the owl and the crows and all kinds of little hoppy birds, oh and some mourning doves. And the woodpecker who's busy decorating it with polka-dot holes all over the trunk thereby turning it into an art piece.