Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Dad Thing

They're outside my study right now, cutting down trees. Lots of 'em.

I'm very sad.

Some of them had to go, and I knew it. There were trees cropping up under and around the power lines. Trees planted so damned close together along the driveway that they were killing each other, and threatening to fall on the house. Whoever planted them never really gave much consideration as to what they would one day become.

But then there's the Mighty Blackwood, home of the Awesome Tree Swing. Turns out that this particular tree, gorgeous and elegant and aged and wonderful, provider of shade, home to birds, shelterer of my children... it's fatally flawed. And when it falls - which it will, one day - it's going to crush the Pirate Ship cubbyhouse, and take out the electricity line all in one go.

And no: since it's a blackwood, we can't just take out the crown. That will kill it.

I'm devastated, because it's a gorgeous tree and it's meant a lot to all of us. We'll plant something in its place, but you can't replace a tree that's near a century old. Just doesn't work that way.

Ah well.

This year is moving fast, and taking shape. Monday-Wednesday are turning a bit hardcore and feral. Yesterday afternoon, for example... my timetable went like this:

1430 leave house for Scottsdale. Stop at post office. Collect children at 1440. Home by 1515. Snacks for all children. Round up all martial arts gear and weapons. Get boys into scout uniforms. Leave house by 1600.

Collect two other kids from another house by 1610. Drop off the daughter there to play. Drive the four boys to scouts.

1630: commence a martial arts afternoon with scouts. Introduction, demonstrations, show off some weapons, warm 'em up, teach basic body movements, strikes, and break falls. Finish with iai-do demonstration: quick draw into flat, waist-level cut that splits a watermelon, which is then given to the scouts to finish off.

1845: drop off the two extra boys. Regather daughter.

1855: home. Coerce one boy into violin practice. Coerce the other into cello practice. At the same time, prepare Cantonese-style Chicken Long Soup for the family.

Meal on the table by 1920, as Natalie arrives. Feed family. Formal handover of kids. End 'Dad' responsibilities.

Zip into Launceston. Watch 'Franklyn' (damn' strange movie!) with Bruce and the others. Home by midnight...

So. You get the picture. Communcations are likely to be slightly more sporadic this year.


  1. Ohhh...sorry about your trees dude. That sux!

  2. Yeah bummer about the trees. OUr neighbours cut down a number of trees a while back...they used to hang over the end of our balcony, attracted birds throught the day and fruit bats at night, off ered afternoon shade, and stopped us looking into their backyard. But nope, down they came one day. I've no idea if it was because they needed cutting, or if the neighbours just didn't like the leaves falling all over (which would be odd considering the amount of junk and crap they have in the yard)

  3. It's like losing a dear friend. There's only one thing for it, to remember it fondly, keep it in your heart; all you can do :(

  4. Heidi - most of the trees were badly placed, poorly grown, and unnecessary. But the Mighty Blackwood... Elder Son came home today and cried for half an hour, and I damn' near joined him.

  5. What will be done with the wood? Sculptures by Nat? Sold to flute makers? Surely some good can come of this?

  6. I must confess some confusion reading the title 'the dad thing' and the post leading off with 'They're outside my study right now, cutting down trees...

    It conjured some ninjaesque training exersise with boys armed with sharp weapons outside you window after being given the direction 'clear a path'

    Certainly as effective an opener as Tori Morrisons novel 'Beloved' "The shoot the girl first".

    At least with so much going on you don't have time to be bored.

  7. I remember boredom. It happened to me a long, long time ago. It still happens occasionally, but only in very brief stints - like standing in line at a bank or retail outlet, for example. And even then, it's not so much boredom as frustration.

    Sometimes I think I miss boredom. But then I recall Andrew buttwalking across the deck of The Keep with a banana down the back of his underpants, and I think: no. No, I'm better off not being bored. And so is everyone around me.