Bada bing bada BOOM

Wednesday night found us listening to the snaps and booms of firecrackers in our neighborhood. Around 11:00pm, we heard a succession of loud booms. We assumed someone had put some big firecrackers in a trash can, for these explosions had that kind of muffled sound. Seconds later, however, our power flickered and went off. It came back on for a few seconds, then all was dark again. Finally, it flickered back on, but we observed the other side of our street was still shrouded in darkness.

One of our pets, an Australian red claw crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus), requires special attention in the case of power outages; they can’t survive in a tank of unaerated, still water. They can breathe air and require their water to be oxygenated if they can’t climb out of it; the water’s surface area has to be disturbed by air bubbles or a filter’s flow. If a tank loses aeration, the crayfish must be removed from the tank, put in shallow water deep enough to keep the gills wet, but shallow enough it can raise their heads out it.

So, assuming the power situation was tenuous, I caught her (no easy feat – thank goodness I have a net) and put her in a Tupperware pitcher with just a little bit of water. It’s a good thing I did this, for the power did go off again. She suffered a 3 foot fall when she wriggled out of the net before I could grab her and get her in the pitcher. Other than losing a few small legs, she’s in good shape now, thank goodness.

Now, back to the story. Flash forward to 4:30am Thursday morning. We were awakened by the raucous sound of chainsaws and the rumble of chipper/shredder machines, courtesy of Asplundh Tree Expert Company. Nice. I’d been up until about 1:30am reading in bed, so this was an especially rude awakening for me. At about 5:30am, Howie and I gave up on trying to sleep and just got up.

It seems the tree branches in our neighborhood caused the transformers to blow. Hmmm, ya think? My neighbor Mandi tried a few months ago to get AEP to trim the branches along her property; they were resting on the lines and causing them to spark. She was told they were not trimming “pole to pole” this year. Evidently, they’d rather wait until the trees are so bad they cause a whole section of town to lose power, then send out crews to trim all the branches.

Please note that I am not disgruntled with Asplundh, but with AEP.

Before I got up, I used my Dash to send my next-door neighbor Mandi the following e-mail. It was tongue in cheek, a feeble attempt to make lemonade from the morning’s lemon crop:

Good morning, neighbor! This comes to you hot off the presses despite the fact that our power is still out. Thank goodness for wireless phones. πŸ˜‰

Please forgive any grammatical or typographical errors; I am writing this on my phone and am sleep-deprived. I wonder why…


Fellow naturalists MO and KB had an unexpected opportunity to witness a flock of reclusive chainsawed AEP boobies early Thursday morning. The boobies’ enthusiastic cries echoed through the trees in a bizarre duet that drowned out native birdsong and set teeth on edge, yet afforded the friends a rare glimpse into boobie behavior.

When present, boobies play an active role in suburban forest ecology, thinning tree branches and keeping them from damaging high voltage power lines.

Despite MO’s persistent efforts to lure them to the region with the promise of a veritable feast of forestation, the boobies are reluctant visitors, an extremely rare sight. Formerly suspected extinct, their unexpected appearance heralds what MO and KB hope is the boobies’ return to the tree-clogged region of south Newark.

When asked if their return made the pre-dawn wake-up call worth it, KB rubbed her reddened eyes and replied, “I’ll have to think about that one.”

— Sent from my phone. —

Again, it’s not the Asplundh guys who are the boobies — it’s the people at AEP who let things go for so long. Asplundh just did their job, which woke us up.

It was interesting to watch them work and to talk to the guys who were waiting on the sidelines before doing their tasks. And I really wished I could go up in one of those cherry pickers and get pictures of the house and yard from 70′ in the air! I have many photos of the tree crews at Flickr.

AEP-asplundh-3w AEP-asplundh-13w

One of the guys told me he’s worked for the company seven years and the lines behind our houses are the worst he’s seen anywhere. He also said they’ve not trimmed our neighborhood’s branches during that time (that I knew – we’ve lived here nine years this month). Thanks again, AEP!

It’s AEP’s policy to leave branches and logs behind when trees are removed due to weather emergencies. So, my neighbors have large piles of brush in their yards, piles the must dispose of or pay someone else to dispose of. Fortunately for us, the branches they took from our trees were left on the school property behind our lot.

Mandi and the neighbors on the other side of us are having the crew come back and remove the trees which the crews said are likely to cause future issues. Now’s the time since this will be done at no charge to the homeowners. They’ll leave the unchippable branches and logs, but disposing of those is minimal compared to the cost of having those trees taken down by a tree company.

We may have a large chokecherry tree taken out if AEP will do it along with the others. Additionally, Mandi’s having one of the guys who does tree work on the side come out and take down a few trees in her yard.Β  I hate seeing big old trees taken down, but I can understand why she’s doing it; they’re messy trees that drop a lot of limbs, plus are old and on the decline. She’ll be able to use the greenhouse behind the house, too, since it will finally see sunlight again after who knows how many years in the shade.

Our huge old sycamore isn’t being touched, nor are our two large firs. We’ll still benefit from their shade on these hot summer days and enjoy the sycamore’s mottled white bark glow in the gold light just before sunset.Β  I do, however, hope to have the tree guy trim a few of the branches back on the tree row bordering our property in front if we can swing it. The shade they cast is just enough that many of the sun-loving plants in our front yard grow sort of sideways, reaching for the light. I call the plants in those beds by their botanical names, followed by horizontalis. πŸ˜‰

A special note to Jen from work: Aren’t you happy I not only told dozens of customers about the chainsaw serenade at work Thursday afternoon, but now written about the transformers? I’ve even posted pictures! Now you’ll not only want to jam pencils in your ears, but your eyes as well!

5 thoughts on “Bada bing bada BOOM

  1. So the power company is not in the business of preventing emergencies but just dealing with them. We live in a weird world.

  2. No one wants to wake up that way. Just this morning, I woke to the sound of the garbage cans being emptied and banged around. It’s hard to sleep as he makes his way up the street.
    AEP seems to have some asinine ideas!

  3. Ahh, nothing like the sound of chainsaws in the morning… rates right up there with leaf blowers and horns honking. But on the bright side, it got you to post to your blog again ;~)

  4. Yes, that it did, Brenda! πŸ˜‰ The guys were back yesterday to take out some of the trees along the school’s property line and they also removed more of my neighbor’s trees. She’s so excited — sunny yard! We sat and watched the guys all day, just hanging out and talking. It was great. I’m so thankful to have a neighbor like her and the couple that moved in on the other side of us are nice, too.

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