Sunday, June 10, 2012

Of Sweet Gum Trees and Ghosts

So one of my neighbors had a paranormal investigation team out the other day. Seriously. I know this not because I'm Mrs. Kravitz but because I was on my front porch enjoying the early summer evening when the team came over to say hello and ask if I'd noticed any ethereal activity. I haven't. But if there were paranormal activity at my house, I'm blaming the sweet gum tree we thought we'd taken down a couple of years ago. It was a fine tree, and I admit that I occasionally feel guilty about it, but the burrs that it dropped seemed to be multiplying every year, and if you've ever stepped on a sweet gum ball with bare feet, well let me tell you: it ain't sweet. And whoever littered our neighborhood with them has a lot to answer for. We had only the one and it was in the front yard. Since it was relocated (to our fireplace and wood pile) my front yard has blossomed with pretty flowers as the sun can actually reach them now and we can cavort barefoot without fear of our feet coming up bloody. But the root system of that tree is immense! I am constantly pulling up little baby sweet gum sprouts. It's like whack-a-mole but not as fun. They're sneaky little bastards, too. They hide in my yet-to-bloom plants, blending their sharp, green leaves with the softer, rounder greens of the flowers. Or they'll hide under a bush, hoping I won't discover them. Yesterday I got out a sharp shovel, determined to dig up the roots. "How hard could this be? The tree's been gone for years!" I ended up having to get the axe, too. I'm sure the neighbors were thinking I'd gone off the deep end as I hacked away at the ground. At one point, I think I was hacking at the remains of the stump. It was either that or a huge hub where the roots departed for their network under the lawn. I eventually got up about six feet of roots, some of them as big around as my arm, and I left a big mark on the stump. I have new respect for lumberjacks. Swinging an axe is hard! It was quite the wrestling match, and I'm afraid it's just Round One. I'm fairly certain I can take the thing down, finally, as long as it stays within the physical realm. But if it goes metaphysical, I might be toast. Wish me luck. In other news, Alison has decided to switch from cookies to cupcakes. She was responding to a Duncan Hines TV commercial advertising flavor packets you use with vanilla cake frosting to get a whole host of other flavors from one can. So we go off to the store, and I sent her to the cake aisle while I did other things. I didn't notice until we got home that while she'd caved to the marketing genius of DH, she'd bought Kroger brand supplies for the mix and frosting. I inquired as to why. "Well, I looked at the prices for Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines and I could save a lot of money with the Kroger brand. And it was a dollar a can on the icing!" she reported. What of the risk as to quality. "Mom. It's Kroger brand. I bet it's good. But I guess we'll find out!" I love that girl. Oh sure, she'll waste a bit of money with her wild decorations. Last time I checked on her, she had her candy stash (there's stuff in there from three Halloweens ago) and was decorating her little miniature cupcakes with everything from Red Hots to Nerds to marshmallows to Japanese tiny cookies and mint leaves. She was going to use sugar cubes but I did convince her that was a step too far. She has a grapefruit out. I'm hoping she forgets that one. I hope the kids at camp like these things. I've already had three. Like the sweet gum tree, there's not room enough for the two of us on my current astral plane.

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