So, it’s been a busy couple of weeks around here, because OMG PROJECTS. And, to be fair, a visit from a much-missed friend from Australia, and a long weekend. So much going on, and much of it good.
But let’s focus on the home improvement stuff, because SO EXCITE. Seriously. I’ve been waiting years — YEARS, I SAY — to be able to accomplish some of these things, so I have to say, I’m pretty pleased.
Let’s start with the weekend before last, in which farewell was bid to an apple tree, a shed was built, and a scalp was sunburned.
Let’s go back in time (cue wibbly-wobbly hazy dream sequence graphics) 15 years or so, when BDH first moved to this fair city to cohabit with, and then marry, yours truly. As a small-town lad with no friends in the area, he was a little shellshocked. And quite lonely. He became a bit of a Mushroom Man, spending the majority of his free time in the basement, in the dark, playing online adventuring-and-killing-bad-guys computer games.
I felt bad for him. And so, one day, when I was cutting up apples for something or other, I got it into my brainpan that perhaps I would plant some seeds in the hope that an apple tree would grow, and when it bloomed, it would remind BDH of his home back in the Annapolis Valley of NS.
And lo and behold, the seed sprouted, and became a seedling. And then we moved to our current house, where we had a garden. And as the seedling grew, and got too big for the pot it was in, we decided to plant it in the garden. We didn’t give it much of a chance, really, since marauding bunnies had trimmed our newly planted shrubs down to nubs, and groundhogs devoured our flowers and vegetables. But we thought it was time for our little tree to make it or break it.
We put the seedling way at the back of the lot, and left it there. It weathered the first winter. like a stick sticking up out of the dirt. A year or two later, it somehow split, right down at the ground level, and it looked pretty fatal. We thought “Oh well. So much for our tree.”
Except it continued to grow. The split healed and suddenly out tree had two trunk-like things growing. There were a few leaves, but never any blooms or fruit. And it grew, and grew, until a few years ago we realized a few things: that 1) our little seedling was suddenly a 15-foot-high tree reaching weedily for the skies, and B) our tree was way too close to the fences on the side and the back of our lot. As a seedling this was fine, but as a tree this was a no-go.
So, one fall, as we stood outside by the Little Apple Tree That Could, we said, we’re going to have to cut the tree down. It hadn’t bloomed much, and had never fruited at all, and as far as trees go it was weedy and didn’t throw much useful shade. And, as mentioned, it was too close to the fences. It had to go.
Except the little tree heard us, and the next spring? It BLOOMED. No fruit, but lots of pretty flowers. And it continued to grow. And as it grew, we thought YOU STILL ARE TOO CLOSE TO THE FENCE. So then the following year, last year, it gave us a billion little apples.
Which, not surprisingly, were eaten by all the squirrels in the woods in about a day and a half.
That brings us to this spring. The spring of our home improvements. And BDH decided, after years and years of waffling and hmmm-ing and haw-ing about how big it should be and where it should go and could we afford it, TO BUY A GARDEN SHED.
And brother, have we needed it. Our garage has been jam-packed full of shovels and gardening tools and miscellaneous other crap for years. We NEEDED a shed.
But we live on a hill, and have the worst graded lot known to modern construction. There are only three flat-ish spots in the entire lot. One is the front yard — not optimal for a shed, and probably against bylaws. Another is where we have our pool — and that is only flat because of the work we put in trying to dig out a level enough space so that our pool, when full, would not just follow gravity and roll down the hill.
The third spot, and the only real spot our shed could go, is in the apple tree corner.
So it was time to say goodbye to the tree. In order to put the shed in, we first had to cut down the tree, and then dig out the stump. So we agreed, and BDH went out and bought the shed, and an electric chainsaw with a really long extension cord to reach all the way to the back of the lot, and ordered in a load of gravel to put the shed on. And we set to work.
First BDH used the chainsaw to cut off big branches and then cut the tree down. My job was then to use my big garden trimmers to cut all the branches up into a reasonable size to be able to cart to the dump, and then Stinkerbelle’s job was to stack up the branches. We were plugging along quite well, actually, working as a team, until there was basically the main trunk of the tree left standing for BDH to bring down.
And that is when I accidentally cut right through the chainsaw’s extension cord with my garden snips.
Fortunately, I did not electrocute myself, but I did trip the breaker in the house, not to mention eliminate the only means of power we had to run the chainsaw. And, despite rounding up every extension cord in the house I could find and stringing them all together like Christmas lights, it still was five feet short of the tree. And so that meant we had to get out a little hatchet, and hack at the trunk until we could cut through it enough that we could then yank on the tree until it could be pulled down.
Which we did, with much effort and cursing on BDH’s part and apologizing on my part.
Then we had to dig out the stump. Have you ever tried to remove a tree stump from your lot? No? Trust me when I tell you, it involves a lot of digging, and cutting, and digging, and pushing, and pulling. And quite a significant amount of creative and emphatic swearing.
After a couple of hours, though, the stump was out, and the hole was filled back in.
AND THEN THE GRAVEL AND THE LEVELLING BEGAN.
Oh. My. Dog. Can I just say at this point that, before we began, I had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what it took to create a level base for a shed? Because now I do, and let me tell you, interwebs friends — IT IS A LOT. There is much hauling of gravel, and raking of gravel, and tamping of gravel, and checking for level every which way from Sunday, involved in the creation of a level base on which to put a shed.
A WHOLE FUCKING LOT.
Even on the one theoretically flat-sh spot in the yard, we still had to account for a downslope of about 4 inches, which required almost a full cubic metre of gravel and a whole lot of effort to do..But after a few hours of teamwork, we finally had a level 8 x 8 base on which to assemble our shed.
That also took a bit of teamwork. Word to the wise: when assembling a prefab shed made of heavy duty plastic-ish material, be sure to do it with a friend, and try not to do it on a windy day. OR ELSE EACH INDIVIDUAL PIECE BECOMES A GIANT KITE.
Also? Wear a hat. Because I ended up with sunburn ON MY SCALP, which even now still peels enough to make it look like I have some sort of mutant strain of dandruff happening.
But despite it all — sad tree, sloping yard, hard work, sunburn — it was totally worth it.
BEHOLD, THE LEVELLEST SHED IN CAPTIVITY!
We’re quite proud of our shed, and all the work that went into it. So we will be modest and smile graciously when people come by, and point and say, “WOW. THAT SURE IS LEVEL.”
And every time I eat an apple, I’ll think of how it came to be.