June Recap

Wow, I just noticed that it’s been over a month since our last blog post. With our Facebook status updates, this blog sometimes gets forgotten so let me fill you in on what all has been going on in our world!

As noted in the last post, Liam played T-Ball for the YMCA and for the most part, he enjoyed it. The temps during June were over 100° most days so it was a bit miserable for the kids (and the adults). Each Saturday, we usually had two back-to-back games and by the time the second game started, Liam was ready to be done. One of the coaches dunked the kids’ caps in ice water during the breaks to keep them cooled off. It was fun but at the same time, we were all kinda happy to see the season end. It should definitely be moved to a winter sport in this area! It didn’t end without an injury though—during one of the games, Liam was charging for the ball and collided with the kid who was running to third base and somehow the kid’s check bone hit Liam in the corner of his eye. There was blood & tears but after we got the bleeding stopped and an ice pack on it, he was ready to go back in a finish the game.

Liam T-Ball Injury

June was also a month of sadness for us. My Mom passed away suddenly, but very peacefully on June 8th. It has been bittersweet losing her. She had been in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s for the past couple of years and she would’ve never wanted to live like that, but on the other hand, you’re never ready to lose your parent. Every Sunday we’d go visit her and even though she no longer knew any of us, Mom lit up everytime Liam was around. Losing his “G-Ma” has been particularly tough for him. He has a lot of questions about death and worries about getting old. Telling him that she had died and breaking his heart was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

Mom

I’m so very grateful for all of the support we received from family & friends during this difficult time. For those of you that may recall, I also lost my brother about the same time last year so June has not been a good month for us the past couple of years.

The one good thing about all the extreme heat that we’ve been having is that it has made for some really nice days in the pool. Liam is getting so good at swimming that I think he will have it mastered by the end of summer. I still make him wear a life jacket for jumping off the diving board and swimming in the deep end but he has been doing a lot of practice without it in the shallow end. He’s just a little fish in water and if there was any doubt about how much he loves it, I think this picture says it all:

Liam diving

So that should about cover it for getting our blog up to date. As we say here in Texas, stay cool & hydrated!

When Life Gives You Trees, Make Firewood

It’s been suggested that chopping down a tree in barren West Texas could be considered a sin.

Well brother, if that’s true, we are sinners!

Unquestionably, the biggest, most aggravating, ongoing chore we’ve had since moving into our wonderful Kirkwood Manor has been keeping the swimming pool clean & free of debris. The big old oak tree in the back yard was perpetually dropping something—we were overwhelmed with bucketloads of leaves back in March & April, pesky little pods scattered by the handfuls daily during Spring & Summer, some kind of cottony fluff started falling during late Summer, and of course there were a couple of different types of seeds & acorns that dropped off the tree almost all the time (for which the neighborhood squirrels were very thankful). Especially bothersome, the high tannin (yup, the same acidic compound that gives your mouth that dry, puckery feeling when you drink wine) content causes oak debris to quickly leave nasty rust-colored stains in the pool and surrounding decking.

Even beyond the constantly-falling tree debris, the tree’s roots had already caused some minor damage to the concrete decking that the previous owners had patched up. There was every reason to believe that the this would only continue to worsen since the tree was just a couple of inches from the decking and less than 6′ from the pool itself. And I’m a little surprised that this hadn’t already caused any problems with the pool’s plumbing. Really, whoever had the pool installed should’ve removed the tree at that time.

But maybe worst of all, the big oak tree almost completely shaded the swimming pool except during early morning and evening hours, so even at the peak of Summer in triple-digit West Texas heat, the water was still a bit chilly.

Even as much as Dede & I both really hated the thought of getting rid of a big, thriving shade tree, we finally decided that, for the sake of enjoying the pool and prolonging the life of the pool plumbing & filter equipment—and preserving the pool cleaner’s (that would be me) sanity—the tree needed to go. So, last week, I found a really nice tree guy, Seth Moore, who had the gear to tackle the job, offered to do it for a reasonable price and came highly recommended. And down the mighty oak went…

oak tree

The mighty oak tree in its previous glory

cutting down an oak tree - day 1

Tree removal progress - Day 1

About halfway through Day 1, I got a call from Seth reassuring me that, “The firemen said there’s no problem. These things just happen.” I instantly had visions of smoldering embers in a pile where our new house had previously been. Fortunately, the house was in no danger, but the tip of a large branch had snagged a nearby high-voltage power line and snapped it, causing all manner of chaos. Fire department crew and electric company linemen in large “bucket trucks” ascended on the scene to restore service to the neighborhood.

When we came home from work that day to survey the progress, we saw a whole row of birds perched on the nearby power line—yeah, the very same one—and I’m fairly sure they were cussing us fiercely over the loss of their beloved tree.

cutting down an oak tree - day 2

Tree removal progress - Day 2

Keen-eyed readers will also notice that the pool water went from sparkling, clear blue to a brackish, black swampy catastrophe by day 3. Yup, there’s nothing like a 40′ tree’s worth of sap, sawdust, and stray clippings to thoroughly wreck a swimming pool. So, the cleanup begins again. Seems even on its way out, that danged ol’ tree was determined to get one last cruel dig at me!

oak tree removed

Day 3 - All gone!

What else is left in the wake of this carnage? Lots of firewood! My best guess is that we probably ended up with well beyond a full cord of wood but from according to what we’ve heard & read, it probably won’t be “seasoned” enough to use in the fireplace for nearly a year.

oak firewood

oak firewood

Wonder if this is going to negatively affect my Arbor Day Foundation membership…

Productivity Is At An All-Time Low!

We finally closed on the sale of our old house and work continues at Kirkwood Manor with painting and other minor improvements.  However, our productivity has taken a nose-dive with the arrival of triple-digit temperatures and an all-inviting swimming pool tempting us every time we look out the window.  As you can imagine, the pool is winning!

We promise to post more house progress photos in the near future, but for now we’re beatin’ the heat!

Liam and Crush

Rob and Liam Swimming