Smokin’ In The Boys Room

May 26, 2013 at 12:48 pm (Day to Day, Employed Posts!, Family, Food News, For Jeff the BF, For Mason, For Stevie, Giant Food, Holiday, Homemade, Thank You, Weather) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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And by “boys room”,  I mean the outside. While I work this weekend, my BF has decided to do many manly things, like, work on his motorcycle, cut large tree limbs with a chainsaw, and smoke much meat. It sounds like so much fun I just wish I could have had these days off to be here for all of it. Ahem. No, really. (Not really). I like to spend my holiday weekends working and taking care of sick people and listening to their families tell me what a crap job I’m doing. It’s what I got into this profession for. That rewarding feeling of spending more hours with other people’s families instead of my own. Without sarcasm, I really do like my job. It’s just some families make it very difficult to keep calm. The patients are fine. It’s just the families sometimes. Still, I think it will be better than the manual labor that needs to be done here. Sweaty, with heavy lifting. Oh wait, that’s my job too. Ha. OK. Enough. That’s my work rant.  Back to the meat!

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Apparently this is stuff you need. Along with a starter tube thing that gets the coals going, a temp gauge, (actually two temp gauges, one for the cooker and one for the meat), water for steam, spices, herbs, liquids, “rubs”, side dishes, buns, etc…and of course: The Meat. This will all cost you approx. 90 dollars or so. If you had to buy your own smoker, that could be an extra 100-500 dollars, depending on quality and advanced smoking technology. Or something. This smoker in the picture was the gift the BF got for working so hard at his job for this many,  past 15 years. It seems like it’s nice smoker machine. I have just been informed that the meat is at 162 degrees. The number we are looking for is 190 I believe. We are doing pulled pork as the maiden smoking. I keep typing “we”, but I literally have done NOTHING except take the pictures and type this. Soon, I will get dressed and leave, so I won’t even be here for the big finish. But, of course I have a preview. Please feast your eyes below on three hunks of pure animal flesh, cooking and smoking, slowly, and at a certain temperature, for maximum tenderness and pullability. It really smells good too:

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Two on top, one below. That sounds like a good name for a band or a book title. The key to cooking this right, I am told, is slow and low. Also, coincidentally a good band name or book title. At any rate, what we want is to put it in our mouths and not even have to chew. The meat should literally pull apart and melt like butter on our palates and slide juicily and effortlessly down our throats to our waiting tummies without any pesky chewing involved. But usually it’s on a  bun with sauce, so please, family, while I am gone, chew a little, please. Bread mostly needs to be chewed, somewhat, to break it down. Then swallow.  No need to ruin a good weekend with “Heimlich’s” or “ambulances” or “hospitals” or “morgues”. Thank you.

Thus ends the meat post for today. I hear and smell lots of manly things going on in the neighborhood today, so I need to get the hell out of here! The outside temp is up to 75 degrees. Sunny and beautiful for the Midwest. The meat temp is at a cool 165. The BF is cutting sticks with the chainsaw. The boy/son is playing XBox in his room enjoying none of the outside weather. The daughter is still at my sissy’s house and will prob go from there to her cousins house to spend the night, after she stops here first to eat meat. She loves meat. Yes, I see what I typed there, but I’m leaving it. It’s too early (for me) to try and fix the innuendo. She’s 14 for cry-yi. Some girls are salads and try a vegetarian phase, not mine. She is steak all the way.

Let them eat meat! And don’t forget it’s Memorial Weekend. Hug a vet! Thank a soldier while you are grilling those hot dogs and drinking that beer! Even if you just send up a big toast and a cheer into the great unknown. It’s all good karma to the universe. Later.

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4 hours on a Friday afternoon

August 17, 2010 at 5:06 pm (Day to Day, News, Pictures, Tree Trouble) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

(To take down a tree. Four hours on a Tuesday just to write about it. Sheesh.)

Programming note: Sorry it took so long to get this up. I am sure all 15 of you have been waiting and wondering, “where the hell is her tree story??” Well, I’ve kind of been busy with extra things I decided to pile on right at the end of my summer. Like motorcycling, school obsessing, and complete body overhauling. I can sum all that up later. But here’s the gripping tale, in it’s entirety and original text with fabulous pictures. Ready, set, go:

Who needs Yoga X when you can stand outside and sweat from heat and stress. I didn’t do jack shit except be nervous about the tree man, he’s awesome! His name is Ken and me and the neighbors all agree that he’s our hero! He makes it look waaaay too easy.  That’s him in the tree.

Let me re-cap our situation: Tree tipped onto the house.

Cut cut cut, with a handsaw. It’s all we could do last Sunday.

It was about 6 inches off the roof and then resting back on it by Monday morning. We bought a chainsaw and tried to do it ourselves. HA. HA. HA.

The roof is steeper and the branch is higher off the roof than I anticipated so…I was no help. We needed a professional.

That’s from the front. Just thought I’d throw it in there for perspective. The tree is still mostly intact. And here’s just one more picture of the crack that cost me all my money. Damn trees.

And this is Friday. It was about 3 o’clock when he started. About 95° with little breeze and the sun was beating down and the branches were getting thinner and thinner. We were hot on the ground. I was standing, obviously, taking pictures, and Ken was in the tree and his 2 friends were providing the muscle and assistance  to get each piece from the sky to the ground. I really have to say thanks to them too, because without them it would not have been possible to do anything. So this pic is already after he took off the one over the house. He basically hopped onto the roof and chainsawed off a couple of feet that he could reach by hand, then climbed the tree, hung out over the roof, tied it off and chopped it down in bite size chunks. There is NO WAY we would have EVER been able to do even that. The heat must have gotten to us because we were crazy for thinking it. Trees are big and scary tall! After he scaled back up the main trunk he chopped chopped off the bothersome “smaller” limbs. You can see some of them jutting off the one limb he is LAYING on.

That’s my second favorite picture. Yeah. Look close. Do you see a blue line? No? Well it’s there, and it’s the only thing holding him to the tree besides his feet on the branch with the spikey hold in his boots. But you can only reach so far over before you have to basically lay across the limb, stretch it out, grab the chainsaw that hanging off a loop on your pants and start, wield and cut with ONE hand. Zip and done. That’s what it looks like from my perspective. He was like a squirrel just moving from branch to branch and making cuts like he was painting a big picture. I took so many pictures with the camera so I hope he doesn’t mind, but it was pretty exciting. Once you get comfortable with the man in the trees and everyone is kind of gelled and working together, it was really moving along. Ken also brought his truck and chipper rig that was parked in front of the house. I got pics of that too. It’s a scary, dangerous, machine. And like my neighbor said, this tree process draws people to the site like a car accident. But they mostly slow down and keep moving.

Well that’s the top. And this is from the side. Every time he cut one branch going up it looked like 2 more were right behind. One over the driveway, one over the house, one hanging over the yard…OH! there’s another one straight up. They’re all loose looking and flappy. But he just keeps climbing. Climbing and cutting. Dropping them, every single one, perfectly in between our houses. Precision targeting. Not one of the limbs touched the house or the wires or the fence or even the gutters. It’s an art form.

That’s from the front because you can see how high he really is. I thought it was an interesting view that you would like too. The tree is, was, tall. Tapered. Flimsy to me. I’m not crawling up there. Ken is in the middle of the picture. In the tree. Directly above the peak of the house. Here’s another look.

Look at all that blue sky! This is the pan out on my fav shot of the day. The one below these words. Ken finished with all the dangling limbs, all the ones that were kind of sticking out in all directions. Then he’s getting ready to drop the final top piece and prepare to work his way down. He’s just standing up there in the tree. Looking so casual. Literally on one leg, one boot spike technically, with the other one crossed over like he’s just chilling at the bar. You can’t beat this kind of cool. He was actually tying ropes and sweating like crazy, but you would never know it from his relaxed posture. (And, just from an arty viewpoint, I think that the colors of the sky and his clothes and safety gear, boots, not to mention the chainsaw, really bring the whole picture together).

OK, let me speed things up. He’s on the way down now. Shimmy, rope, tie off, ready, cut, hang, drop, untie, repeat.

So, as far as I can tell: Go up. Cut everything in your path. Then once you are at the tippy top, start cutting above you and go back down. Makes sense when you see a professional do it. This might be kind of boring to see I guess, but if you’ve had something like a giant, 50 year old tree taken down piece by heavy piece, it’s overly interesting and strangely satisfying. The worry is pretty much gone for his safety because he obviously knows what he’s doing (been doing it for over 20 years) and he makes tree “walking” look like he’s walking around the yard. Then you forget (not really) that he’s up there and then he’s done. Back on the ground and cutting the last huge piece.

Oooh! You can see some chips flying! That final piece was the size of a love-seat.

This is another picture of the last piece with real chainsaw action, just because. If I could carve wood I would have made it into a sofa seat.  We wouldn’t have been able to move it but that’s besides the point. We could have rolled it. How nice it would be to sit in our tree chair on a warm summer night and look up at our tree trunk. No that’s ok. Cut it up please! Thank you. Our chainsaw cannot handle the diameter, which I measured just for you.  33 inches at it’s widest point. Here’s the pic:

Looks good and smells good too. It has a weird open-guts-tree smell. Fresh like in the rain but woodsy and sandy and barky all at the same time. That description doesn’t exactly sound enticing but it’s not bad. We’re all out there smelling the tree. Intervention!

So now we can really move fast with the cleanup process. This is the pile of logs that were laying around.

These are all the branches. I tried to get a good view with lots of debris so you could get a feel for what four hours of tree cutting can really get you.

I am so grateful that the guys cleaned up almost everything. What we had left was alot. Plus, Ken wanted to use the new chipper. And in my need to help and start moving the big backyard pieces to the tree holding area we have now, I sustained my first real working injury. Crap. I was scared too. Right after I picked up one of the bigger pieces, which I lift stuff all the time so I didn’t even think about it, my right middle finger felt immediately numb and fat. It was black and blue and looked seriously pinched and just injured. It was hot and painful, and looked really bad. I’ll admit I got a bit worried. And of course the BF, who is always warning me not to do stupid shit because I don’t have the best insurance, walks up at that moment. I iced it and hoped for the best. And I stopped doing anything. The nurse next door took a look and said it will prob turn a nice black and blue color, but since my circulation was fine, I should just ice and rest it. Man, this forty year old body is killing me! It’s been some days now and it is ok. KNOCK ON WOOD. It never turned real nasty and it seems to have gone back to mostly normal. It’s a weird browny color but I can use it so I’m not complaining. I was even able to finish my motorcycle class using my bum hand. Right hand throttle ya know! FUN! No hand pictures though…they would have been good right after but I never even thought of it! Anyway, this is the chipper below.

Notice the chips flying out the chute end. Nasty going in. Shreds coming out. Makes that movie Fargo seem extra creepy when you have a wood chipper sitting right in front of your house and you see what it can do to tree limbs that are as big as a human leg. Here’s a few more pics from a different angle.

I like that picture because it kind of shows the effort it takes to heave those branches in. Throw and let go. You do not want to be holding onto the branch when the blades grab it. It sucks it in so fast that even standing there watching it over and over you can’t believe it’s so quick. One more for good luck.

I like this one because you can see inside the truck. It was empty when we started. And it’s not nearly full when we were done. Well, when they were done. I was pretty far away actually. Walking around taking pictures. This was before my finger got a boo boo.

And finally, the finished product! Now I have two trees with one trunk, going straight up, looking like they are doing a booty bump. I was joking around that with my luck there will be a terrible lightning storm that night that will hit the first one and take out the second one in a domino effect. Money well spent.

This is post cleanup. The BF and the boy chainsawed what we had left and stacked it all in the holding pile. I cleaned up the small stuff.

And here we are. Right back to where we started from at the beginning of summer. It’s like gaining weight. All plus more. It is obviously my destiny to be the keeper of the trees. Or at least their parts.

That’s everything nicely stacked. Here’s an individual pic of the big logs just cause I like the way they look. All that used to be in the air. Isn’t that amazing?!? I know. It’s been a long day and the kids want to go out and fish for a little while. They have been very understanding in my need to share with my fans.

If anyone needs any wood?? Camping? Fireplace? Carving? Just to have a piece of the story? It’s always here. And anytime I dare to try and get rid of it all, nature provides me with more! It’s the gift that keeps on giving. I was just thinking that even if I had no trees in the yard, cut to the ground, I bet branches from other areas would start showing up, like from the wind. Or tornados would bring them right to me. Well, that’s hopefully too crazy. Incidentally, it’s been dry as a bone around here all last week. Looked like rain. They said it might. Never did. About one hour after Ken was done and cleaned up and everything was in for the night, it stormed. There was thunder. There was lightning. The wind blew. The rain fell. The earth was clean. And it hasn’t rained again since. I’m not trying to say anything in particular. It just seems strange.

This is the last picture. My newly shorn tree posing for the camera. I should make it the first cause it’s so pretty. This is also the end of the story. Thanks for hanging all the way through. Later.

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We interrupt this program for another appearance by Mother Nature

August 10, 2010 at 12:42 pm (Day to Day, Exercise, Home Improvement, P90X, School News, Tree Trouble) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

That Bitch!!

When I left a few days ago, happy, P90X’d on day 30, I was recovering from Core Synergistics. I am actually still sore but who has time to think about it when the natural world gives you so much more to do! Let me explain.

I have trees. Big trees. They keep falling down. Not the whole tree, just parts of the tree. Limbs crack and break and then lay across the yard or the fence or the neighbors garage or her house…it keeps happening. Every single time it storms I worry. Every single time a tree part falls on my neighbors house it is the calmest, clearest, least windy day EVER! Every. Single. Time. I leave, the tree is fine. I come home, BOOM, it’s laying on something. Then I have to get tools (now the BF and I have to get tools) and we cut it up and drag it to the nice wood/limb/branch pile I have going in my backyard. I’ve posted pictures of it. I’ll post again in case you don’t believe me. It’s ridiculous now because every time I get it mostly cleaned up, nice and neatly stacked for continued ease of  disposal, more falls and the pile grows. It’s a joke to the neighbors now.

The far left side and the far right side wood piled up is the old stuff. Everything in the middle is from yesterday.It doesn't look like alot I guess in this pic, but trust, its all tangled and gnarly and high.

This time I really got a surprise. MN (Mother Nature) decided to shake things up by NOT felling the tree limb I was actually worried about but a completely different one that I never even considered! Tricky! I should have known. I took pics of this tree. Foam was coming out of the bottom. I do not know what that means in tree life, but it’s probably not good.  Got pics of that too.

So anyway, this real dangerous, heavy, stretched out limb just hangs over my neighbors house looking menacing every day and extra scary in storms. The birds don’t care. The squirrels don’t care. They just keep adding weight to it, running up and down, just doing their thing. I panic thinking it will fall. It’s huge. It’s old. It has NO chance in hell of missing her house and landing neatly in between on the driveway. It’s just that kind of tree. But it’s expensive to remove this kind of tree. Thousand dollar or more type money, which I don’t have. So we wait, and hope, and cringe every time the wind blows, but so far so good.

And oh yeah, there is also another limb that goes off it in the other direction, over my house, that looks fine. No worries. We noticed on Saturday when we got back from motorcycle class that it was dangling its leaves on the roof. Brushing ever so slightly like it was caressing the house. We tell ourselves, well we’ll have to get up there and trim those back. Not me…the BF…he’s much better at that sort of thing…plus it could start interfering with the satellite dish! Oh my! Can’t mess up the TV! He’s off on Monday (yesterday) so we can do it then.

So Saturday is class—sitting, talking, learning, then leaving. Expect to arrive early on Sunday and be prepared to ride the whole time! Ok. After class we take the kids clothes shopping for school, have a nice dinner and chill in the evening. Everyone’s happy! No P90, no other exercise except the brain stuff earlier.

Sunday 7 am. Off to class. Riding riding riding. It’s fun. It’s stressful. I feel worked out. 5 hours on a machine I have never set foot across in my life. And I get to control it and ride it and shift it and stop it…it’s too much fun! Not for everyone though. We did lose some people on the riding portion. 3 out of 12 had to go. As deemed by the instructors. Dropping the bike more than once or stalling it over and over in traffic, or actually flipping off of it, it did happen, right next to me, is pretty much instant exit. So needless to say, I was burning some stress calories and actual cals pushing that bike around. But I survived it and actually had a pretty good time. I am by no means ready for the road. I could drive it fine and turn it and stop it and all that, but I had some trouble with the quick, up and down shift (I think my boots were too fat and I couldn’t get my toe under the gear lever smoothly every time) and apparently I go WAY too slow for the other people! I’ll admit I was putt-putting it, but I shouldn’t be the leader. I need to follow someone else to gain speed! It’s not my fault!

After we got home, the kids are going to hang with their dad and he shows up to get them and notices that lovely, dangling, brushing, tree branch is now sitting on the damn roof solid. Crap. Seriously?? It must have cracked at a seam overnight (no storms, no wind) and laid itself gently to rest on the roof. Nice. So what is the afternoon like now? Up on the roof, the BF, not me, cutting branches and getting the limb up and off, then call someone to remove the rest because it is heavy and big and probably too much for us. Accomplished. The BF managed to use a handsaw to remove enough of the branches that it is up about 6 inches and if it continues to lean it will just rest back on the roof and not cause any major damage. It did crinkle the nice furnace exhaust pipe thing that our friend Jeff put up last fall but thank fully that was easily straightened.

If you look close you can see the crack. The left side is the main trunk to the ground, go across the limb to the dead knob and it's right underneath like a gash in the side. Just enough to bring it down. But not too much that it crashes on to the roof.

Here’s another question. Why, after all these years, have I never purchased a chain saw? I have needed one almost every spring and summer since I moved into this house. That money spent would have proven itself worthy over and over again. Well, we own one now. A big, nasty, loud, long-bladed monster tree cutter. A few inches short of the commercial kind. I’m not spending 500 dollars on one, but I can handle 200. After removing enough and watching it basically lean right back on over to the roof and then calling some tree services and getting a quote for 1000 dollars (WTF?? Seriously?? We already took half that shit off and it’s practically stand-up accessible) Then for another $1300, he’ll take off that other limb that is super-giant, super-heavy, and hanging so far over the neighbors house that it could be considered a whole tree all by itself. Really? Only 300 extra dollars to take off the giant limb as opposed to the half cut one? I was nice and didn’t say anything. What a rip. They have a bucket! I guess that’s what we pay for. Either that or he just didn’t want to do it so he throws out a ridiculous number hoping we would laugh and tell him to move along.

So I get the idea that since it’s obviously just going to lean back on the roof, we can go get a chainsaw and hack that sucker off ourselves. We can get it on the roof and just hope we can cut it back enough it will swing and miss the house when it goes all down. Ha! Lofty goals on Sunday night! Monday morning. Different story when my shaky ass is standing on the roof, on that treacherous angle, trying to hold limbs and not fall to my death on chainsaw chips and debris. I REALLY underestimated my ability to stand on a roof with confidence and move around. I was constantly afraid of falling off, therefore I was afraid to move too much and therefore not much help in the removal process. The longer I was up there I felt a little better, but those slippery chips were too much for me. Bright ideas look 100 times better from the ground looking up.

I have to give every kind of respect for people that can work on a roof with no problem. That is an awesome balance thing and confidence and surefootedness that I do not have! Your job is tough and scary and I can see why people pay you the money to do it.

Once the BF and I realized there was no way we could do it ourselves, because of my chicken-shitness and his lack of reach over the house and up to the limb, we decided to use the trim, wait, let the tree limb lay back on the house, trim, wait, lay, etc…method of removal. It might take awhile but the lower the limb comes down, the easier it is to remove. The person we finally got to take a look and remove it for us said that method is not going to work and is not really smart. He’s a 20 year tree guy and he has removed stuff for us before. He’s back in the biz after hurting himself some years ago, and ready to take on some small jobs! Ha! Small jobs! That’s what he considers it. I don’t care because he’s cutting us a really good deal and he knows what he’s doing. He hopped onto the roof to look at the tree like he was walking on the flat ground. Jealous!

Anyway, so there it sits now, about three feet off the roof, maybe four. Alot of the weight is off and if it starts lowering, our tree guy said just leave it. Don’t be fussing with it anymore. But, again, I have a giant pile of branches and limbs and leaves and sticks and junk in my yard. So this week is cutting and stacking neatly to make room for all the rest that is about to come. This might be the most yet! Seriously. I just thought about it this minute. We are going to have basically a tree’s worth of trunk and limbs in the yard. I really got to wrap this up and get outside. Those lazy kids of mine are still sleeping and I’m wasting hours typing and we have some work to do. I’m going to need some bribery options to really light a fire under their asses. I’d like to get all of what we presently have cut up today if possible. That’s prob going to save us alot of time and pain down the road. Especially if it starts storming like its supposed to.

Ugh! I may skip P90X again today. I was going to sneak it in (I have missed 3 days already!!) and I’m feeling nervous and agitated, but this might have to take precedence. Ugh! Kenpo too. It’s fun. I don’t HAVE to do it. It’s my choice. It’s voluntary but I feel guilty. I don’t even know why! It’s ridiculous the things that go thru my head. I’ll try to do it later. I swear. It’s not like I’m going to turn into a lump of fat in 4 days. But still…I also have the stress of this cycle class, the test is next weekend. I have to read the book. I have my real school starting the next week and I have to read that material. I have no money. All my savings money is going to stop a tree from poking through my roof. I have laundry and house stuff, and frankly I’m feeling a bit queasy right now thinking about it all. I let myself stress way too much about things I can’t even control. AND things that aren’t even going to happen for 2 weeks! (I’m thinking school. I’m trying to tell myself I need to make it fun like I did when I first started. I love it. I’m afraid of failure. But I love it. Nursing is the best job in the world and I just have to get through. I think I need some BF support tonight. Help!! Thanks honey!! I love you. Sorry for being a baby. Love you!) I feel like an old lady shaking her fist to the sky cursing the powers that be. Ugh!

Enough of the whining. Stop thinking. Start doing. Alright. The tree limb is still high and mighty for now. The crack is still cracky but not split all the way through. I will get dressed, cut limbs, exercise, figure out the money situation for the week and do laundry until it doesn’t matter. I will read and absorb and take it one little day at a time. Hour here. Hour there.

If you are still reading this, WOW!, and thank you. It’s like listening in to someone’s therapy. I hope to never look at it again! The internet is a great big toilet bowl of random crazy and I just laid a big old load down! Feels better! And you helped wipe! Alright, eeww, that’s probably enough there.

We need a picture of calm. A picture of soothing. I don’t know what I have, butt, I’ll find something.

Oh man. The hilarity never stops around here. I think it’s bad when you have to add a whole new category to your site, dedicated to tree trouble because it just keeps happening. Ugh! The picture below is much better. I found it trolling for something to illustrate all this text.

Just breath and relax:

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