12 Monkeys, Trees, and Gay Republicans

Gimme a phone and I'll beat you to death with it
So I'm watching "Army of the 12 Monkeys" on the TV and Bruce Willis just beat a pimp half the death with a rotary telephone. I thought it was ironic in light of my previous post.

I had a very important appointment today. About the time that I had driven halfway to another city I got a call telling me the appointment was canceled. So my entire day was wasted. And supposedly they want to reschedule later. Problem is, I can't take off from work just any time I want to. There is too much work to do and not enough people doing it. Ironically, they're talking about cutting some of us, which will only make the problem worse.

When I got back to the house, I spent the rest of the afternoon cutting up dead trees and hauling them to a fire behind my house. Good God, that is a lot of work. One of these days I need to buy a chainsaw.

Old school chainsaw
I cut down one dead tree that was still standing. I had to use an axe. It's been years since I cut anything down with an axe. I think I was probably 12 the last time I did it. It was a lot less work back then. My whole body hurts now. My arms are scraped up from lifting and carrying the trees and I just generally feel like Jessica Biel rammed me with her SUV and then backed over me again.

Jessica and her SUV

The tree I cut down is still back there, still upright. I cut all the way through the base. It's no longer connected to the stump anymore. But its still standing. It's so tangled in the other trees surrounding it that it refuses to fall. I shoved and shoved on it, swinging the damn thing around, but it wouldn't fall. So chopped it may be, but 'down' is more of a relative term.

Evil zombie tree
The reason I bother to blog this is that while I was out there cutting up dead trees and chopping one down, I began to notice 5 or 6 trees that were dead, but still standing. That's a lot of dead trees just in the area behind my house alone. I don't know what has caused this and I'm concerned about it. The largest tree in my backyard is a tall sweet gum tree. In a storm some months ago the tree snapped halfway up, sending the top half crashing into my neighbor's yard. It's huge so it bothers me that it just snapped off like that. And from what I can tell, all the dead trees are sweet gum.

The people who owned this house before me had some sort of problem with the neighbor living behind cutting down several of their trees on their property. When we moved in we had a chance to talk to him. He has a fireplace and is always cutting up firewood and burning it in his fireplace. But he's very particular. He only burns oak. All the oaks at the back of our property have already been cut down. I assume he burned them. He doesn't have any interest in sweet gum. It doesn't burn clean. It doesn't burn well at all, actually.

One time he was back in our trees trying to cut one down and my significant other saw him. It was during normal work hours, but she happened to be home. She said he looked around, as if making sure no one was around, and then began cutting. She ran out and screamed at him. To be fair, she had been very sick and wasn't in a normal state of mind. So she likely was extra loud and forceful. I don't know. I wasn't there.

Nature massacre
So, what's killing all my trees? On several the bark has stripped off halfway up the trunk. Underneath, the wood looks terrible. The whole thing is dead from the inside out, but still standing. Is this some tree virus? Is there some insect that preys on sweet gum trees specifically? Did I kill them myself without realizing it while I was out there spraying poison ivy vines with a poison that kills them? Can spraying poison ivy or poison oak vines that are attached to a tree, or near a tree, kill the entire tree? I'm wondering.

LOST: Elm trees, several. Last seen summer of 2012
Something else bothering me is the fact that we used to have a lot of elm trees all around this neighborhood, including behind my house. But I didn't notice very many back there today while I was wandering through the woods looking over dead trees. I know there was a plague of some sort that already swept through here and hit a lot of elms. But I never noticed it affecting ours. The few I do see look fine.

Anyway, all those sick trees back there are sweet gum. And I don't know much about sweet gum trees. There were none in the neighborhood where I grew up. Not a single one. I'm totally unfamiliar with them. 

Regardless, I've got a lot of trees to cut down. And then we get to decide what to plant in their place. We're leaning towards evergreens, lots and lots of evergreens.

But no damn pines. I hate those things whenever they're anywhere near my house. The are like tall, snotty, green toilets that shit all over your yard and house four times a year. They fill your gutters and kill your grass. And they don't even have to be close to your house to do it. Those damn needles will blow for a long distance.

Anyway, I'm off to Google sweet gum trees and see if I can find out what sorts of things kill them, or whether maybe I accidentally did it myself while spraying the vines that were growing all over back there. Dammit.

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