If a Tree Falls . . . It Breaks the Fence

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IMG_20170408_191948310[1]Yes, I heard the tree falling in the forest. It was not a crash, more of a whoomph, as a massive coast pine from the undeveloped property next door fell during Friday’s powerful windstorm. It was 8 a.m. I was washing dishes when I saw it go. As Annie and I ran out to look, the pine cone-laden tree lay quivering on the concrete behind my garage. My gutter dangled like a broken arm, and the double layers of chain link fences seemed to be twisted into zigzag patterns. It happened in an instant. To the west, a huge piece of sky was exposed for the first time since we moved here 18 1/2 years ago. Perhaps I’ll be able to see the moon better. But now I had a mess in my back yard.

The good news is that it did not hurt the structure of my house, at least as far as I can tell. The gutter and downspout are ruined, but the roof and walls seem to be unharmed. Thank God. The trunk of this tree is almost a foot in diameter. If it had hit the garage . . . It was still blowing like crazy. I flinched at every gust, wondering what else would come down.

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Here’s what it looked like right after the tree fell
Writing abandoned, I started making phone calls. My neighbor, just because I needed someone else to see it. My insurance company, where I learned I have a $1,064 deductible. (Why so much? Why not $1,000 even?) Perhaps it went up after the great flood of 2013. I don’t remember paying that much before. Can I afford $1,064? Heck no. Does it matter that the tree belonged to my neighbor? Nope. It’s considered an act of God, said Zach from State Farm. Sue the neighbor, my friends said.

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Here’s my neighbor Pat hard at work
A tree guy gave me an estimate of $500 for cleaning up the tree parts on my side of the fence. My neighbor, Pat Walsh, a semi-retired mason who hates to sit still, offered to take care of it for free. He had a new chainsaw and was eager to use it. Before I knew it, he was working on the fallen pine. While I was at church and Willamette Writers yesterday, he was also working on the tree-owner, who had not even offered sympathy on Friday. Last night, just as I was consulting with my attorney brother about small claims court, Pat informed me that our mutual neighbor will pay all of my out-of-pocket expenses. Praise God. Pat also thinks he can fix the fence and the gutter for a lot less than $1,064. I am so blessed to have him around. When I’m gone, he gives Annie her breakfast. She adores him. While I was in California last week, he also mowed my front lawn. No, he’s not single. He belongs to the wonderful Paula.

So that’s what I’ve been up to this weekend. I offer you some pictures, and I welcome your fallen-tree stories.

***

Last week, I wrote about my father breaking his leg and my dash to California to help him. Keep up the prayers. He’s still in the care home, doing limited physical therapy but spending most of his time in bed. He’s fine from the hips up, but he can’t even get out of bed by himself. Now the care home threatens to discharge him if he’s not making visible progress toward walking. How much progress can you make when you can’t put weight on a badly broken leg that is just starting to heal? Meanwhile, my brother is wearing himself out making the long drive to and from San Jose to take care of Dad’s affairs until I go back down. When? I don’t know. I jump every time the phone rings or chimes with a text. My last call? Thinking about my tree situation, Dad wanted to know if he had payed his homeowners’ insurance bill. I sure hope so.

Have a great week. Don’t stand under big trees when the wind gusts up to 60 mph.

 

 

 

Photo excursion up Beaver Creek

beaver-creek-122116mI have been scouting with my cameras for covers for my upcoming novel currently titled “Up Beaver Creek.” I’m not sure I’ve got the right shot yet–next time I should avoid shooting in early afternoon on a rare sunny day–but in this week between the holidays, I thought I’d share a few pictures with you.

beaver-creek-122116fThere are numerous Beaver creeks in Oregon and in other states. This one is just north of Seal Rock about the middle of the Oregon Coast. From Ona Beach, it travels east through marshes, farms, and hills. Sometimes it’s a wide river, and sometimes it divides up into trickling fingers that meet again later.

beaver-creek-122116bbMore on the book to come.

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All images copyright Sue Fagalde Lick 2016

 

 

No, these aren’t Christmas trees

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I squinted to read the orange sign up ahead as Annie dragged me up 98th Street. Even with glasses, I can’t always make out the letters. Logging? Wait. Logging?

The road splits by the big house with the twin Blue Heeler dogs who always howl when we pass. The upper road, 98th Court, is graveled and wild. The lower road, dark and tree-shaded, is mostly paved. After a short straight stretch, it makes a 180-degree turn at the blue house where Annie and her siblings were born.

Up ahead, I saw massive trucks and bulldozers. I saw men with hardhats. I saw that the trees enclosed in that big curve in the road were gone or lying in the bushes waiting to be moved onto log trucks and taken away. Jagged stumps remained, some of them several feet in diameter. It smelled like Christmas. The road was several inches deep in mud and sawdust. In shock, I pulled out my phone and took pictures. I asked a flagger stopping traffic what was going on. Something about the airport approach was the most he could say. We live a half mile south of the Newport Municipal Airport. Apparently the trees were in the way.

Tree-lover that I am, I tried to wrap my head around the fact that we grow all kinds of plants and harvest them. Why not trees? These trees are spruce, hemlock and red alder. We cut down evergreens for Christmas trees, put them up in our houses, cover them with decorations and throw them out two weeks later. How is this any worse? People clear space in the forest to build their houses, their cities, and their airports. And yet, this felt so vicious, so lacking in respect for trees that had been in this forest much longer than we have.

Beyond the work site, the forest remains untouched, dark, cool and green. We walked a ways and gazed across Thiel Creek. So beautiful.

It was getting late, and Annie was starting to limp again. This year, she has begun battling dysplasia and arthritis. Her spirit is willing, but her hips disagree.

I saw a tall, slim woman coming toward us. A new neighbor who lives on 98th Street, she was coming to see the trees, too. She was nearly in tears. It’s like killing animals, she said. Trees are sentient beings. She told me about a meeting happening Monday at 1 p.m. at the airport. I said I’d be there.

We gathered around a table in the upstairs meeting room at the airport, neighbors who knew each other and neighbors who were meeting for the first time. We ranged in age from 60s to 90s. Emotions ran high, as they will when one’s property is threatened. I felt for Melissa Roman, the public works official trying to explain the situation. People got red-faced, standing and yelling. Their voices shook with barely contained tears. How could you do this? You’re ruining our neighborhood! How come nobody warned us? It’s all about money, isn’t it?

The poor woman was just trying to do her job. When you mix cities and nature, there’s always a conflict, she said, exhibiting great patience when I would have been in tears. She’s doing her best.

Here’s the deal. One of the airport’s two runways has been remodeled and the navigation system upgraded. Although earlier environmental studies didn’t show a problem, when planes actually got ready to start flying off that runway, the trees on the 3.14-acre section around which 98th Street curved blocked the navigation equipment. That land is private property, owned by a local developer. The city negotiated a plan in which Integrated Resource Management—foresters, not loggers, she stressed–would cut down the trees. Once the logging is finished, they will cover the remaining slash with plastic until spring, then burn it. After allowing time for the land to recover, they will plant new trees. They will also repair the road where their trucks have damaged it.

For those who mourn the death of the trees, at least they are going to a good cause. At the last minute, arrangements were made to send the logs to the Siletz River for a salmon habitat restoration project. Much better than the wood chipper.

I can live with all of this, but my house doesn’t overlook the destruction, nor do I have to drive through the trucks and mud every day to get to work. Plus, well, if you buy a house near an airport, you have to expect to make some concessions. This isn’t half as bad as what I have seen in San Jose and other big cities where entire neighborhoods were leveled.

However, just when people were starting to calm down, Roman dropped a bomb. In the years since the airport was built in 1944, our few blocks of houses have been exempted from the requirements of the “Maintenance Protection Zone” in which we sit. Not anymore. Within the next year, the city will be asking us for easements on our property to cut down trees that rise higher than they should be in the airport area. Although most of us live on county land, because the airport is in the city of Newport, they have power over the situation.

Ooh, that made people mad.

As long as I live on my land, nobody’s cutting down my trees, said one resident.

I’ve been taking care of those trees for over 40 years, said the very old man beside me.

Me, I thought, well my trees need some thinning out, and if the city will pay for it . . . What can I say? I love my trees, but I also worry about them falling on my house.

Throughout the two-hour meeting, I took notes because that’s what I always did as a reporter. I also tried to steer the conversation away from attacks on Roman, who was doing her best. I can see both sides. We need the airport; we love our trees. It’s a bitch being the person from city hall that everybody hates. The old trees were beautiful. The new trees will be, too.

About 10 years ago, I interviewed the previous airport manager for an article for Oregon Business Magazine. He talked about plans to cut down trees. I was shocked. I asked questions, I did research, and I mourned the passing of the forest. Back then, trees were cut, but they grew back, and these will, too. Meanwhile, Santa will find it much easier to get to our chimneys on Saturday night.

Merry Christmas, my friends!

P.S. You can read about the airport-forest situation in the last chapter of my book Shoes Full of Sand. The ebook is only $2.99, and the paperback is also reasonably priced.

P.P.S. This is my first attempt at a slide show here on WordPress. Let me know how it works for you.

 

 

Finding solace amid daily tragedies

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Dear friends,

The world is going crazy. Every day, the headlines scream of another mass killing. Orland, Dallas, Nice, Baton Rouge. And yet, here in my little patch of coastal forest where the main aggravation is moles tearing up my lawn, I can almost feel safe. Almost. Today I offer a poem I wrote after the killings in Dallas. There have been so many since then I can no longer tell which for which loss the flags are flying at half staff. Let us all pray for peace.

MASSACRE DU JOUR

On TV, in Dallas, a black woman

with turquoise hair fights tears

amid the blood and bullet shells.

 

Three days after Fourth of July,

they thought it was fireworks, late

celebrations by boisterous youths.

 

When the cops fell, the protestors ran,

one picked off by the sniper hiding

in a community college parking garage.

 

Twelve cops shot, five of them dead,

the suspect, a soldier still carrying guns

blown into ash when he wouldn’t give up.

 

The blue-haired lady offers prayers

for the blacks, for the whites, for her kids

who worry that they might be killed, too.

 

President sends his condolences,

lowers the flags to half staff,

rails about gun laws again.

 

Freeways blockaded in Oakland,

subways stopped in New York,

Texans marching with signs.

 

Orlando, Nice and Baton Rouge.

Another crisis every day,

more breaking news for CNN.

 

Talking heads talk on and on,

speculate about why and how.

Ads hawk cars and sleeping pills.

 

My dog leads me out to the trees,

away from the scenes on TV.

A light rain is starting to fall.

 

Drops tickle my face and my hands

as sun warms the bones in my back.

Around me, the pine trees stand guard.

 

Robins trade tunes with the doves,

the Pacific whispers in and out.

In the distance, I hear guns.

**********************************

[Copyright Sue Fagalde Lick 2016]

 

 

 

Who needs words when you’ve got a beach?

Recent trips between rainstorms to Otter Rock, north of Newport, and South Beach, south of Newport, yielded some stunning views last week of beaches scoured by the wind and covered with bubbles that blew around like tumbleweeds. Great for walking, meditating and taking pictures.

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All images copyright Sue Fagalde Lick. Republish them without my permission and I will send Annie to eat your computer.

Life and death of a mushroom family

It’s mushroom season on the Oregon coast. My yard and the woods around us are full of them. This week, I’m sharing photos of mushrooms Annie and I found on our walk. The whole series of photos took place in less than a week. These are Coprinus comatus, also known as Ink Cap mushrooms. They’re edible, but you have to catch them quickly because they blossom and die in only a few days.

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They started out as vertical white bulbs, a big one and several others in a row.
Mushrooms black inks cropped
On the second day, the big mushroom had opened and turned black and the little ones were opening like little black-rimmed umbrellas.
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On the fourth day, they were beginning to sag and one had fallen down. By the fifth day, all had fallen, their blooming over. What’s left has merged into the pine needles.

Running away to Neskowin

DSCN3995Some days I just have to run away. If I had a regular job, I’d have to stifle that impulse, but as a writer working from home, I can jump in my car, drive to the highway and decide to go either north or south. Last Thursday, with my car finally back from the body shop, I chose north.

I needed to get reacquainted with my Honda Element, sometimes known as The Toaster, after almost two weeks driving the black bomb, a low-slung Toyota Corolla that was fast, quiet, fuel-efficient and had a great stereo. In comparison, the Toaster feels like a truck. Now it’s a truck with many shiny new parts. Since the accident, I had become a very nervous driver. I needed to get over that.

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A riot of nasturtiums at a house in Neskowin

Thursday’s adventure started in Depoe Bay, where I joined the tourists watching for whales and taking pictures. It was a gorgeous day, the waves wild and many shades of blue. As I stood outside the whale-watching center with my camera, a stranger said, “Look over there. A whale. You’ll see his spout in a minute.” To be honest, I never saw it, but it felt good staring at the waves, resting my eyes after too many hours staring at a computer screen. Workers at the center keep a tally of whale sightings. Folks had already seen eight by 11:00 that morning. They counted 11 the day before.

From Depoe Bay, I continued north to Lincoln City. School may have started, but we still have plenty of tourists, many of them driving gigantic motorhomes. Slow. But I wasn’t in a hurry. Ooh, Robert’s Bookshop. A goldmine, but I had already purchased at least a dozen books in the last month. The outlet stores. Didn’t feel like shopping. Library. Again, too many books. Antiquing? Yes, but later.

I have grown fond of the Pig n Pancake restaurant in Newport, housed in the old city hall building. So when I saw the Lincoln City P n P, I decided to eat there. The place was jammed. Noisy. It wasn’t a dining experience; it was a feeding trough. Party of one? The hostess led me to a tiny table barely big enough to get my body behind and slapped down a menu. The next party was too close for comfort. And I thought: no. I walked out, got back in my car and kept driving north.

I did a lot of grumbling to myself about how if my husband were still alive, this trip would be a lot more fun, and nobody would stick us in a corner. He loved these field trips.

I was thinking I’d go to the Pelican Pub in Pacific City, but first I came to Neskowin, a tiny beach community where I sang during a 2014 garden tour. That day, running late and fixated on the gig, I didn’t notice the Cafe on Hawk Creek just off the highway. But I saw it this time. It looked cute and uncrowded.DSCN4003

I walked in, the hostess took one look at me and said, “Two?” Um, no. But that was the only negative thing. She sat me at a big wooden table, and I sank into a soft-cushioned seat. I ordered the chicken club sandwich, but this was not the usual three slices of bread with lunch meat chicken, bacon, tomato and lettuce. This was a giant hunk of fresh-baked chicken, fat slices of bacon, tomato and onion and cole slaw on a ciabatta roll. Heaven on a plate. I sipped my iced tea, read my book and luxuriated in great food. The waitress left my bill but assured me there was no rush. The meal fed my soul as well as my body.

I had gone far enough. Backtracking to Lincoln City, I spent the next couple hours wandering the aisles of the Little Antique Mall at the north end of town, where I scored some 1930s sheet music and vintage handkerchiefs. I love looking at old stuff and listening to old music.

I got home in time to catch some sun on the deck and quality time with the dog. All in all, a great runaway day. Now that the toaster had a little dirt and few more miles on it, it was time to go back to work.