Saturday, June 27, 2015

Fire, Trees Falling, Rain and other Disasters

Hello, my pretties. How are you all?

Me? I'm doing better. Have rediscovered Yoga, and I'm working out the kinks in my body and brain.

Things have been happening out here at Afton Forest (Prairie) Preserve. My husband and Dale (man who works part time under Dennis' supervision), have been a "Crew of Two". They have somehow been able to keep up with the mowing in this 316 acre park--not that they mow all of that, but it may be around 150 acres of open places, and trails they mow. It might be more, but I'm not one to ask. They also trim and weed eat around trees and other structures. My husband has had a real challenge this summer, but he's getting through it.

Take for example last week. Last Thursday he came back from lunch, intending to get back on his mower. The house is aproximately 50-70 yards from the shop and a pole-barn shed where a lot of equipment is stored, like tractors, old mowers and the Bob Cat, and anything else not needed on a daily basis.

When he got within 25 feet of the pole barn shed, he saw black smoke coming out of the vents. The thing was closed up, so something was definitely on fire in there. He instincively ran back to the house and called 911--knowing that would get the call to neighboring firehouses to the forest preserve fastest. They came from 3 or four towns, in fact. Well, it was a slow day for fires, I think.

When I heard about it, after my shift was up, from my supervisor, I knew right away the fire had to have been caused by faulty wires in the John Deere tractor--something Dennis told the supervisor (man who retired this spring), about last year, and he did nothing about it.
Dennis certainly had his 15 minutes of fame, which I might add, he could have done without, believe me, for all the excitement that afternoon. He told a few other people this year there was a problem in the electrical system. No one even thought the thing would start on fire, but that's what happened.
Here is the link in local paper. The reporter got it wrong that the tractor "over-heated". Dennis, when interviewed, told her there was a short in the wiring. We first noticed it back in the winter, when the tractor was parked outside, and one morning I noticed the lights were on. How did they come on by themselves? We thought someone was goofing around. But when it kept happening, and the thing wouldn't start, but needed a jump, there was definitely something wrong with it.

The bright spot of all this, later that afternoon, the supervisor came out with one of the insurance men. His name is Terry Hannon.

I have to back up just a little bit. You see, this full time permanent job opening is something Dennis is striving to get. It has much better pay and benefits. Being here for 20 years, you'd think he'd have an easy bid on it, but we aren't confident about it, because of a few things in the job qualifications--which I won't go into, but one is a Bachelor's degree in plants, etc., which he doesn't have. However he DOES hold a CDL-class A driver's license, which he went to school for, and that should count for something, as it is a requirement for the job along with a few other things Dennis pretty much has.

This was the first time he was able to speak with Terry at length about the former supervisor, John. Everyone's story is the same, from the way he was bull-headed, and ignored what was asked of him in his job by Terry, who is boss over all of us. Terry repeatedly apologized to Dennis for the many problems John had caused. Again, too lengthy to go into, but we discovered only recently that John was the negative force behind everything that happened around here. His leaving was like the lifting of a huge black cloud.

Dennis (and I do believe Terry), came away from that impromptu meeting having gotten to know and understand one another better than they ever have. Dennis told him, at one point, that he wouldn't be upset if they didn't choose him for the job. He's going into this whole thing with the right state of mind, not expecting anything. I had to write up a nice resume for him, and he had to fill out a job application for it. That he did mind, but I reminded him, this will be in their records, and the resume reminds Terry about what Dennis has been doing, not only just this spring--which was a lot of new things--but also things he has done in the 20 years here. It's on file, should anyone need it.

After the fire, we knew there would be a parade of insurance adjusters and a few others coming and going throughout the next week.

But on Saturday, when he had decided to take it easy (he has been working his butt off), we were about to watch one of our favorite shows, when we heard this loud--what I have to describe as a ripping, or cracking--and we were almost afraid to see what had happened. I thought something crashed into the house. Dennis thought the roof fell, or something crazy like that.

We looked out past the drapes and there this large maple tree, which has been destined to go down for a while, had fallen down across the road! Well, forget a pleasant, restful afternoon!

This was the same tree, only a few days ago, I saw a bald eagle perched on the top of it. We don't see bald eagles around here, so I thought it was an omen. Well, we now consider seeing a bald eagle perched in a tree in your yard a bad omen. The next day the fire, and now this!

Dennis had never used a chain saw before in his life. They scare him, and rightly so, I don't like them either, but this was one of the "requirements' of his knowledge. Let me say that Chainsaw class 101 happened that afternoon. And, with a good neighbor, who manned his own larger chainsaw, we removed a lot of the downed tree off the road. Fortunately, this was a quiet afternoon. Dennis had put up roadblocks to keep people from coming too close, but I only saw one person sitting at the park entrance, wondering what the hell was going on, why couldn't they get through.

It took a good 2 hours, at least before we had moved branches off to the side, and the larger pieces away, so that you could drive through. On Monday, Terry H. called and said he would send the new supervisor, Bill, down and they'd get the rest of the tree. This happened, I believe on Thursday.

I believe it was that afternoon, I heard a car in the park going way too fast and sounded like he might be doing "wheelies" which young guys tend to do. Dennis got into the park truck--the entrance of the park is very close to our drive. The sound of the car driving around had stopped. I wondered how he would handle it. He had the cell phone, but it had gone dead, so he couldn't phone the sheriff's police even if he wanted to.

He came back and told me he took the attitude of Zen masters from Kung Fu. He talked to them, not like an authority figure, but told them he was young once too, but only spun his car out on gravel roads. He had never done this in a park. They had driven into the grass--which is mushy because of constant rains we've been getting--and even into the prairie grass and there was mud all over his car and a bush stuck to his bumper. They basically made a mess of things. Dennis has learned to let things go. He said to the young man, "What was the point of all this?" Then he said, with that little threat of calling the police, "If you apologize now, we'll just leave it at that, and you'll never come out here again."

That was a new side I've begun to see in my husband. He used to get angry, but I must say, ever since watching "Kung Fu" you come away with Kwai Chain Caine's attitude that you have to accept things and not let them bother you so much.

I've been working on this myself. I'm gradually seeing that fighting the rip-tide current is getting me no where. I'm ready to accept whatever happens with all this, and with my writing, and whatever I happen to do. I've been wanting to quit my job. It would be possible, if Dennis got this job, but I feel as though my need wants to over-shadow things. I need a different perspective and not worry about it. We've been looked over so many times, you would think that one of us would finally have something go right. But we aren't really sure if this job is "right" for Dennis. It's a physically demanding job. He has physical issues in his shoulders, and tendons of one arm. So, I don't know.

We won't know until after the 4th of July. That's going to be a long 2 weeks from now. But we're striving, now for just going with whatever happens.

Rains will come, hopefully we're done with trees falling down and fires. We do have something to look forward to--new doors and windows and a few other things done around here which was ignored by the last supervisor. Terry Hannon OKed all projects we asked for on the house. This house is owned by forest preserve and we don't pay for anything needed fixed, like the new furnace and heat-ducts throughout. And, on the bright side of the fire, the insurance will get new equipment and pole-barn shed. We're waiting to hear how that comes out, as the electrical fire on the tractor, John Deere may be at fault.

Have a good weekend!

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