Monday, February 25, 2013

Still Not Tuna

A pecan orchard -- don't let the Beacon Hill HOA near it!
I had only just started to open the can with the manual opener when they appeared, almost instantaneously.  Since it was early evening the cats had been in their favorite places, curled up and comatose, just two seconds before.  Now they're at the kitchen doorway, waiting together patiently but quite intent.  Because as all felines know, the sound of a can opener working means the possibility of tuna.  And that's worth interrupting any nap for.

I showed them it was only diced tomatoes, and they wandered off.  Then I opened a small can of mandarin oranges and turned around to see if they were going to be fooled twice.  Of course they were.  Once again I demonstrated that there was nothing of interest to their refined tastes, so they took a tour of the kitchen to make sure there were no treats just out of sight, then after a leg rub to show no hard feelings, they wandered off again.

These long weeks in the short month are like that.  The thermometer teases us with temperatures just a degree or so over 40 in the middle of the day, only to let loose with winds and cover it all up with clouds again.  Yesterday I felt warm sun through the south-facing bedroom window, so I opened it up for my waiting friends, who in one leap achieved the window sill and a little taste of the good spring days to come.  Despite careful scouting there were no birds to watch, so they carefully sniffed the air for signs of life and stretched out to enjoy the moment, not fretting that it may be only a short preview.

Having no secret dreams of catching a bird, I find my thoughts of an early spring (didn't Phil the prognosticating groundhog promise us one this year?) emerging when I spy the racks and stacks of planting pots in the garage, cleaned up and ready for a new year.  Life must be dull if you don't have plans; this year's include a hoped-for repeat of last year's successes (basil, onions, carrots and tomatoes were the standouts) plus the addition of some of those new miniature berry bushes, which are supposedly being stocked by one large local garden shop in 2013.  Fresh blueberries to go with a cool limoncello on the deck this summer.  Oh yeah.

The view won't be impeded by any trees, courtesy of our industrious HOA Landscaping Committee.  The removal of all the big ones is complete and they're raking and levelling the bare front yards.  Verizon will have its hands full replacing all the fiber optic cable runs that the contractor, Good's Tree Care, ripped apart (just a bonus).  The vanished trees had been ill-chosen and badly placed by the builders, it's true.  The gums were far too close to the houses even when small, and the silver maples had serious above-ground root problems.  I could maybe understand the loss of all our shade and bird perches if they planned to replace them with better species correctly sited, but the sad squares of front yard will be grassed over.  Guess we'll have to go to a park for some shade and bird song.

In the vain hope they ever learn anything, here's a list of trees for builders not to use:

Silver maple -- too big, weak wood, surface roots, destroyer of sewer lines
Ash -- the emerald ash borer is going to kill it anyway
Quaking aspen -- sends out suckers and spreads; there's one colony in Colorado that is now 6600 tons big
Hybrid poplar -- (I have planted these) short life, prone to disease
Willow -- the root systems have been called "a terror," short lived, weak wood
Eucalyptus -- drops heavy branches and copious amounts of shed bark.  Also a fire risk.
Bradford pear --  despite nice shape, lovely flowers and colorful fall leaves, this widely used landscape tree can't stand up to wind or snow
Mountain cedar -- lets loose cascades of pollen late in the year
Mulberry -- (also planted those) surface roots, pollen, messy fruit
Black walnut -- pollen, green nut pods that rot, roots release toxins harming other plants
Leyland cypress -- at every garden center, provides quick privacy, but uproots in storms and is a fire hazard
Mimosa -- lovely, but plentiful seed pods must be picked up; also spreads actively by seed
Siberian elm -- weak wood and millions of seeds
Black locust -- The 1 1/2" thorns regularly pierced the tires of my old riding mower.  They'll do a number on your skin, too.  Drops a lot of twigs and branches.

No more walks in the wood:
The trees have all been cut
Down, and where once they stood
Not even a wagon rut
Appears along the path
Low brush is taking over...

We and the trees and the way
Back from the fields of play
Lasted as long as we could.
No more walks in the wood.

                     -- John Hollander


  1. Gregg! I know you will never, EVER remember me from Freeman, but here's what happened: Last night, out of the blue, I was thinking about Grayson Farner and remembered that he'd left and moved to Canada to avoid the draft (just as you said). Grayson and I had been buds since we were 5 and he was originally on Beverly Dr and I was on Dinwiddie. Then his parents built the house on the corner of Patterson and again, you were dead on with the description. Well, I saw all that you wrote because when he skipped through my head last night, I started a search and landed on you. Now I've gotten all caught up on reading your entries and have to say, I'm loving them all :D Oh, and about your serial dreams, I don't have those but I have a reoccurring dream that drives me crazy. Sorry, I'm getting sidetracked. What I wanted to tell you was that I found an obituary listed recently in Canada that names a Grayson Farner as the son and survivor along with a few others. I cannot for the life of me remember his mother's name, but maybe you'll recognize something of this. Here's the link:
    Would you believe I still have an old photo of Grayson from elementary school, and oh yeah, I knew Bonnie Allan very well. Good old Nalla Rd. I have a memory like an elephant and still keep up with a few from those days, although a number of them have now passed away. Personally, I always thought aging would happen to everyone else but certainly not to me. Ha.
    I have you bookmarked and will be back to continue reading --- so interesting. My own hasn't been touched in years now but may go back to it in time. Shoot, I even have another blog done by my 2 cats but that's in the same shape. Ick, life can sometimes really throw some curves. Anyway, enough of all this, just wanted to give you some info on Grayson....IF it's the same person.
    ~~~Jenny (was Crouch wayyyy back then)

  2. I do remember your name but can't place you (it's been a long time and I didn't keep any yearbooks or anything). Have found or been found by a number of people from back in the day due to Internet connectivity. It's been a load of fun finding out what everybody's been up to and where they've landed. I talk on e-mail with a couple best old friends daily. A long, strange trip indeed.
    I've wondered about old Grayson many times too; I guess he stayed in Canada. I can't look at the old Rolling Stones albums we played without thinking of him. Who the heck else in high school had a Jaguar and such cool parents?
    Your search skills must be well-polished if you can find a name in this obscure spot. Wish I could give you my e-mail here but that's not wise. Anyway, anyone who likes Lemon Drop martinis can't be bad!

  3. Just as cats can adjust so do people. I've have or had most of those trees. Some have grown old or fallen to the elements and others still stand strong. You can't always get what you want but you get what you need, and deal with the rest.

  4. HAHAHAHA, lemon drop martinis! You just cracked me up, Gregg....and besides, who could ever turn one down? Not meeeeeeee.
    Will name a few off here with a one sentence update: Jayne Orange is teaching here in Henrico. Bill Rutherford is living in Illinois and comes down to visit his sister, Charlie, and myself about 3 times a yr. We definitely hit the celebratory cocktails then. Bill Herbert is in Warsaw, Va and was actually mayor of Warsaw for some years. Bill Parkerson is an atty in Northern Va and now married to Sandra Terry. DeDee Segal is now a retired judge and living in Panama City, Fl. Karen Halleck is retired now and also living in Fl. Bobby Kostenbauder died in an auto accident only a few years ago (in Fl). I have tons more but as I'm typing, I'm starting to think that everyone here moved to Fl, gawd. Haha, I have a timeshare in Fl! Did you look at the link for the obit that might be Grayson's mom? Maybe the photo, although in her young days, will look familiar. Yeah, I miss him, too, and think of him every couple days when I pass by his old house. I've debated knocking a million times. Tell you what, though: Grayson was a great kickball player in my back yard. I can see him in my mind running the bases, Dave Hatton yelling, Larry Craft trying to trip him up....and the list goes on.
    I'll ck back here again soon :)

  5. It's like finding an old photo album, reading all those names again. Larry Craft! -- remember him well. Parkerson: exactly what I'd predicted. I'd read about Bill Herbert on one of the RVA Counterculture/VCU memories sites. Don't remember him, but seem to recall Rutherford was a nice guy. A few pass away too early, and most everyone else moves to Florida...that rascal DeDee still there too; I heard once she was a prosecutor in Dade County (that would be a busy job). I kept up with her brother David through Bob Antonelli's Facebook page, but I don't bother with FB anymore. The obit (thank you) looks like it might be of Grayson's mother-in-law. Can't find any evidence of him in the town mentioned.
    I tried to register on a DSF 1965 classmates website but it didn't seem to work. Without a yearbook, it's mostly fog instead of clear memories. A classmate of my brother Steve's wrote a book centered around his HS years at DSF; he lived in the Tuckahoe section also. It brought a lot of places into focus that I'd long forgotten about.
    Boy, you feel old when you tell someone you remember when Parham was Ridge Road and it was a narrow gravel-covered county lane. Now people think Regency Square is ancient!

  6. Gregg, I don't think it's Grayson's mother in law because the last name was Farner; had to be his mom or just a coincidental name. I'm thinking it's his mother. Like you, I tried to find a listing for him in the mentioned town but came up with nothing. Darn shame. Sooo, you remember Larry well! Ever go to his house on Rolando? Right next to his house was a huge pipe that ran underground throughout the entire neighborhood. Was a storm sewer, lol, but Larry, myself, Dave Hatton, Tommy Casey and a few others used to "explore" for blocks and blocks. We always expected to either come across some kind of treasure or at least an alligator. Never did, but gawd, thinking back, it's amazing we came out of the thing ok. Just around the corner was Jimmy Fauber's house. Remember when he used to sing with The Escorts? Super nice kid. Speaking of The Escorts, we had a big multiclass reunion a few yrs back and it was held at the old Broad St Train Station. GREAT fun it was, but found out that Al Wood died not long before the event. He had taken over the lead singer spot ages ago. Bob Antonelli was there, though, and in great form. I've always liked Bob. Back to Dedee for a sec. She got in touch with me yesterday and was in town to see her mom and wanted me to come over. Couldn't do it as I'm flat down with some rotten head and chest virus, but thought I'd tell you that she used to practice in Panama City, Fl, the same place she was later a judge. She looks great and never ages a day other than just a tad of gray streaks coming into her hair. Hate her, LOL...kidding! Love her. Speaking of Facebook, you're not alone. I don't do it, either, and I think we're a very small minority that doesn't. Jim Brent wrote to me yesterday and told me to go over to some link on FB and watch a vid about the old Tuckahoe Jr High. I couldn't; killed me. Just finished writing back to him to see if he can capture it and send it to me. Had the Friday sock-hops and everything, darn it.
    Ok, time for me to slug down some more anti-cold meds, grab a box of kleenex, and try to sleep on 3 propped up pillows. Life is grand :(

  7. Accck! Why didn't Bob tell me about the reunion? I did succeed in getting on the Classmates thing, although not as a paying member. Can only find out a little that way, except that a whole lot of people are missing in action. I guess when you hit 65 you realize you're on the last lap and suddenly find all this old stuff from younger days interesting again. I check most days to see what's going on and what's up with the old neighborhoods (mostly, nothing has changed at all. Ah, Richmond). I'm really sorry (1) you're sick, and (2) you missed seeing Dedee. She was exceptional, as was her whole family. I pity the fool who came into her court obviously guilty!
    I remember the Escorts and am amazed they lasted so long. I have a blog far back which recounts my brief career with a friend from the radio station promoting dance shows (exactly two). We booked the Jokers Wild (I think they were JR Tucker-based), and the punchline is that we made exactly one dollar. We spent it on a beer at the Tempo Room. Surely you were there sometime!
    We'll be in R-Town the weekend of August 3 for Joel Dexter's (one of the TJ, not DSF, crowd) annual outdoor bash. We always visit old spots, residences and old friends and gawk at all the sparkly new stuff like West Broad/Shortpump and the 500 food and beverage establishments. Some come and go before we can get down the next year. Can we fit in the new Village, Strawberry Street Cafe and Joe's Inn and enough of the new ones? And why do we gain 10 pounds there?
    When you feel better, keep on keeping in touch!