Tuesday, May 22


The landlady hired a crew to tear-down our leaks-like-a-sieve-thoroughly-rotting -and-going-to-fall-on-your-head-and-crush-you-like-a-worm porch. Apparently part of her contract with the workers was that they would also chop down a dead grapefruit tree in the back yard.

The target corpse was obvious; one of what was probably 8 trees left around the original house when it was carved out of a citrus grove in 1944. It is literally nothing but a stump about 6 feet tall riddled with carpenter bee holes, it's bark sloughed-off exposing the dry, white dead wood.

We've been fairly involved with the process from the beginning since our landlady is Chinese and cannot communicate with the Spanish-speaking crew. I was happy to deliver one-liner Spanish phrases to serve cold drinks or in asking them to please be careful working around my hollyhock plant. David acted as the unofficial site manager and helped translate so the workers could present Mrs. Li with a bill of services. We will be pleased to test the new porch just in time for the summer monsoon season...after sweeping ankle-deep water off the back porch whenever it rains, sitting and observing the weather rather than participating in it will be kind of luxurious.

Imagine our surprise when we discovered the tree they removed was not the afore-mentioned stumpie, but the only half-dead specimen that shaded our bedroom window! It wasn't a mistake, Mrs. Li arrived on cue to make sure they got the one she indicated - but what about the eye-sore standing-firewood stump? I don't know what this means, exactly, except that our life-view of what significance a tree can have differs considerably from the owner's view.

Do you know what a Ju-Jubi tree is? It is on the U.S. import list as deadly contra-band, I am sure. Mr. Li smuggled them over from China and planted them years ago. They are obnoxiously aggressive at sending out vicious shooters many yards away from the mother witch and springing a whole forest of new ju-jubis virtually over-night. They have wicked, wicked little thorns everywhere, even on the leaves, the trunk and the roots! They are THE most objectionable tree I have ever seen. Our neighbors hate them for invading their yards and give us dirty looks. Mrs. Li harvests the ju-jubi fruit (that resembles a miniature pear, sort of, more like a giant jelly bean)that over-whelm the trees every August. She dries them in her yard and sells them at the Chinese market. Every year I worry we will find her dead at the bottom of one of her dilapidated ladders in our back yard.

I just read in the paper that there is a bacteria killing the oleanders in central Phoenix. That's a shock. Oleanders cannot be killed even when you try to destroy them. The ju-jubis are looking extremely vigorous while our faithful old citrus trees are giving up the ghost. Now if something as classic as oleanders are on their way out, too, this only creates more opportunity for the inter-lopers.

We are leafy proof we need better border control.

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