Trees, and Complicated Lives

I’m struggling this morning.

I’m not surprised by this fact, just stating the reality of what I knew was an imminent response to my taking the lead and bringing up a project that involves spending money.

And yes, this involves the spouse.

Since earlier revelations of issues and unhappiness I have attempted to not turn this blog into a place whereby I do nothing but bitch and whine. I really want to, because in many ways this blog is also my personal journal, but I can also appreciate that readers likely aren’t interested in tuning in for a daily rant. Thus, very few posts appear here lately due in part to my self-imposed silence on touchy subjects. In short, I wanted all of you to know of my discontent, but definitely not overload all of you with my discontent.

However, as those of you with the responsibilities of home ownership know, things must be done to keep a home livable, functional, safe, and upright. Those things include the property the home stands on. Those things also include, unless you are a person who physically and skillfully calls yourself a Jack or Jill of all trades, chores and projects that include hiring experts to do them.

I used to have a firm belief that I could tackle quite a few projects around the home. I have ripped up and taken out carpet. I have caulked bathrooms. I have sanded and refinished wood. I have wallpapered. I have taped and placed mud on drywall. I have even painted the entire inside of this home… alone. There isn’t much outside that I haven’t engineered or had a hand in except work that involves being on a ladder. I don’t do heights. Ever. I also know my limitations, which used to be things like extensive plumbing issues, or electrical work. Now, with a very uncooperative body, my limitations are many and pronounced. Now I sit and wish for those days when very little stopped me from the doing because I know now that I can’t.

There are two options looming with a house built 23 years ago. Allow little things to continue to grow into big issues because of neglect, inability and avoidance – or – get the work done. I have never voted for the first option. If I can’t get the work done myself, then my call is to get someone who can and will.

We have 9 trees in our yard, having lost 2 in a horrid ice storm a few years ago. Those trees, save for one, have been here since the house was built. With the exception of random low-hanging branch pruning, these 9 trees have never been trimmed. It’s long past time for these trees to have the care that they deserve, as well as our personal safety to be relatively assured during the next big wind or ice storm. This process is also step #1 in the series I am calling Landscaping After 23 Years. You see, there are two areas of our backyard that have never been completed. They are designated planting areas that have no plants. They are areas filled with rocky soil. Very rocky soil that requires a pick ax when forming a hole big enough to plant shrubs. I have grown so used to seeing nothing but bark covered rocks and dirt that I’m almost afraid of a view that includes some sort of plant life, maybe even some color.

Because hard work, and money, is involved in the process just described there are overgrown trees and two areas with little possibility of sustaining any plant life placed there unless the process is done correctly. Correctly, to me, means having an arborist evaluate and prune the trees so that we can then have someone else truck in decent soil and a few plants and I can miraculously cross yard landscaping off my list.

I had an evaluation and estimate done yesterday by a certified arborist. I am pleased. The spouse, however, balked and cringed and asked me seriously if I “really think that the trees need it THAT bad?”

Yes, the trees needed IT that badly about 15 years ago when the cost estimate would have likely been half of what it is today. However, by ignoring and neglecting and fearing instant bankruptcy associated with a tree trimming bill (that we could afford then), we are now facing a larger, but what I believe to be reasonable (which even today we can still afford) fee.

I cannot begin to explain all the nuances and body language and agony and dread that crossed over this mans face and body during this conversation. All of those things have, and will continue to occur, each and every time any major project arises. I have touched here before on the fact that poverty was and seemingly continues to be REAL in this person’s life. Deeply embedded in his psyche is a true fear and that manifests in a need to hold onto money with an iron fist.

The funny thing, and perhaps why I struggle so much this morning, is that it is so very clear when looking at our financial records that we can well afford this work. I struggle because I cannot comprehend, nor come to terms with the fact that the agony and fear induced at the mere mention of hiring contracted workers isn’t necessary. It isn’t practical. It isn’t rational. I also struggle because, quite frankly, I have to wonder if the fear has simply become a habit and that habit is used as an excuse to not participate, to avoid and neglect, to ignore and pretend, to keep a complacent attitude of non-involvement.

While money fears were often of concern early in our marriage, the practicality of those worries, with small children and a much smaller income, was somewhat understandable. By the time we arrived at this home, many aspects of our financial situation had changed for the better, yet the agony over specific and much-needed upkeep and costs has grown well beyond what would need to be done with outside help.

There apparently is no fear when one purchases hundreds of dollars of ‘healthy diet plan food’ which sits on a pantry shelf overlooked, and/or overshadowed by the junk food sitting in the cupboard nearby. There apparently is no fear when one purchases a large home gym apparatus and stationary bicycle costing well more than tree trimming services, yet disregards the fuzzy layers of dust that grow increasingly thick on the surface of that unused equipment. There apparently is no fear when an incredibly large TV appears and replaces the perfectly functional smaller TV better suited for the space at hand. The fear of the dollars invested there was clearly outweighed by the fact that the purchaser “just wanted a bigger TV.” I might venture to guess in these examples that fear regarding monies spent is relative to the items or services personal value to the purchaser.

We are not wealthy. We live comfortably however, even without my contribution via a real paycheck. As arthritis was taking away my ability to work I was planning, and saving my paychecks for some of these home projects because I knew just how long the work had been ignored and brushed aside.

Whether this house remains our home or not, it must be in a reasonable condition, especially if it is to be sold in the future. I wander around, both inside and out, looking at many projects that I wish I could take on. Some are truly wishes. Improvements that would make the home nicer, certainly updated, and perhaps help the house to sell, but not must do projects. Yet some things cannot be ignored. Things like trees, a roof, an increasingly unsafe deck.

The look of horror and the instantaneous need to shoot down a needed project such as I witnessed yesterday will happen again, just as it has for 23 years, and my doubts as to why such a reaction will surely grow and fester.

I am waiting to hear back from the aborist on when the work can be scheduled, because yes, it is going forward.

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9 thoughts on “Trees, and Complicated Lives”

  1. All my sympathies. And…I think I’m going to leave it at that.

    (Pater familias + money + home ownership — a trifecta of things “Alice doesn’t understand but finds both deeply confusing and incredibly frustrating.”)

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    1. Slightly off the subject, but with so many blogs out there detailing just how screwed up lives are because of parents decisions and issues I am scared shitless about how much of an impact my own current situation has had on my totally awesome kids and their families. Will they be authoring a blog someday, writing about their f’d up parents and how horrible we were. I love them with everything I have, but sometimes, secretly, I wish that I had not wanted to be a mother as strongly as I did when I was young, for their sake.

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      1. Or they may be authoring one even now, in secret! Under some ludicrous alias like “Alice Isak”! 😉

        Seriously, though — if you are as open with your kids as you show yourself capable of being — even just in the limited window that is your blog — I can’t imagine that they would air any grievances publicly, instead of with you directly. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I am so glad you’re moving forward.

    I also struggle because, quite frankly, I have to wonder if the fear has simply become a habit and that habit is used as an excuse to not participate, to avoid and neglect, to ignore and pretend, to keep a complacent attitude of non-involvement

    That’s what it sounds like from here. Having grown up poor, the fear you describe in your post is something I struggle with. I do struggle, because it’s not something I want to control me now, in a dozen years, or in two dozen years. Continuing to make my choices based on circumstances decades gone is a terrible idea.

    As, I try to sell to A, is buying our own home now. He’d really like one because he wants something he feels is. I see our fiscal instability and the projects you describe and say, I definitely want a home … but not the stress of wondering every month if we’re going to be able to pay the mortgage and any of the surprise must-be-dones that seem to constantly pop up with homes. There is a time, and I’ll be excited for it, but in my mind … that time is far from now.

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    1. At least you have recognized the fear, and also acknowledge the not wanting to tie your family to something you aren’t comfortable with. There is no willingness to overcome his past here. As the years have marched on I also wonder why the spouse took on a home, let alone a family. He seems to be so lost around us and the responsibility involved with us, yet jumps to help others. Of course, he is not financially responsible for those others, so…

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  3. You already know this but conflicts about $ (or sex or parenting, you name it) is usually not really about $…it’s often times about control/ power/ respect/ fear/ even though it feels like it is about the presenting problem. What I’m hearing from you is you are getting tired of the disrespect (his big choices get a free pass, while your reasonable logical choices get blown off) Totally understand why you would write this post. You have a lot of stuff rumbling around inside. To stuff it, is also not wise…I know unresolved conflict will morph into depression, and a host of physical problems. Rooting for both of you as a couple….especially that hubby would hear your heart. DM

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    1. And yes, I agree that there are so many underlying issues, part of that wall that is growing higher all the time between him and his family. It was helpful to write this today and I appreciate everyone’s input, and their time in just reading the words 🙂

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  4. We’re not homeowners, but we do put off certain financial situations while still spending on other things like crazy…going out to eat, etc. I think we all have our hangups.

    Glad you’re moving forward though!

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