As much as I enjoy trees, their look, their majesty, their dignity, and everything that they provide to the human race; they aren’t all that great when they fall onto your house. A few days ago my neighbor’s, and I use the term ‘neighbor’ very loosely, Ash tree fell into the back corner of my house. The trunk had rotted, probably eaten away by insects, and half split off and crashed into my mudroom. Fortunately, the mudroom is a separate room that is attached to the side of my house, and though it was damaged fairly badly, we only use the room for storage. Unfortunately, part of the canopy of the tree also hit the main body of my house, putting a hole in the roof, tearing off shingles, and also ripping my nearly brand new gutter from the house. There was also a good deal of collateral damage as well; a stone wall behind my house had a roughly ten foot section collapse, three very large and pretty Hostas that my wife had planted when we first purchased the house ten years ago were destroyed, and several other smaller plants were also completely annihilated. It was a large tree.
My neighbor, bless her, called me last night to inform me that her insurance company says that she has no liability in the situation and that I should handle it myself. I politely thanked her for calling and hung up. Because I’m a pretty smart guy, I already knew that and had already made arrangements with my insurance company and a tree removal service. I didn’t want to get into a discussion of legal responsibility vs. moral responsibility. Just as I am not really legally responsible to keep my yard in tip top shape, I believe it is the correct thing to do. Just as I am not legally responsible to pick up litter, I still do it whenever I see it. I am a good neighbor and home owner. Wait, let me rephrase that: I am a fucking outstanding neighbor and homeowner. My house is well kept, my yard immaculate, my sidewalks are clean, my gardens tended. My wife and I are quiet people, we don’t involve ourselves in other’s business. We are on friendly terms with most of our neighbors. Not to pat myself on the back too hard, but anybody reading this blog would be lucky to have people like my wife, daughter, and myself as a neighbor. There was a time when being a good neighbor meant something. Rampant liberalism ruined that idea. Now before anybody here accuses me of being Rush Limbaugh, don’t. I am neither a liberal or a conservative, I think all politicians are douche bags. I believe that all citizens have the personal responsibility of maintaining their property and everything on it to the best of their abilities regardless of what the law, any lawyers or any politicians have to say about it, and that includes pruning trees that really don’t look all that hot.
Now that my brief essay on moral philosophy is over with, I actually have some okay news. The other day the lovely, talented, highly intelligent, gracious, generous, and living proof that God is an Irish woman, Megan Fitzpatrick, posted free, downloadable plans for a Stickley #802 sideboard that I think looks like a great project. The not so lovely Christopher Schwarz wrote the article for Woodworking Magazine some time during 2009. Though the Harvey Ellis curve is a hair too dramatic for me, I otherwise think it is a great example of Arts and Crafts furniture, and I have the perfect place for it in my family room. I am a huge fan of Arts and Crafts designs, firstly because they look good in my home, and secondly because they are straightforward to build. I believe this will be my next project, though I will wait until the end of the summer before I start it; woodworking in the heat is not for me anymore. With the Stickley sideboard and the ever looming presence of The Hand Tool School I believe that my woodworking for autumn is set. Now if I can get my house fixed and keep any more of my neighbors unpruned trees from falling on it things will be alright.