Apocalypse Planning

I’ve been dodging my neighbor’s phone calls for a bit. We traded messages a few times, but I hate the phone, so I’m slow with my end of the volley.  And to be honest, it’s not just the phone, but annoyance about how she plays her half, like, I pull up after a day of chores and running around, come in for a long-imagined nap, and the phone immediately rings. I don’t answer it, which is sort of how it goes here.  Sometimes I stand there and watch it ring, and sometimes I just walk away. It’s not really call screening, as in screening out people I don’t want to talk to, but rather, there are only a few rare times when it all comes together that I answer.  

So anyway, we have a pretty distant relationship, the kind where she calls me every few years with a complaint or a nosy question. Once, she came over with a pile of evidence about this tree I had planted, and the harm it was causing her. It was weird and ironic, because I’d planted the tree from a branch that flew into the yard as soon as we moved in.  I was excited about being a landowner for the first time in my life, where I could plant things without asking anyone, and be around long enough to watch them grow.  So I planted a small cottonwood twig near the property line --her side was undeveloped at the time.  

Skip ahead 10 years, and my soon to be ex-husband is moving out, and we’re having breakfast and packing, and it’s all sad and weird and full of heaviness.  The neighbor calls right then, insisting that she come over because there’s a mater she wants to discuss.  She has evidence of a problem, which is a little CSI for my taste.   The evidence involves a ziplock bag with large leaf in it, and the leaf has a tiny hole in it, and it looks as though the hole was created by a bug.  Gasp.  A second Ziploc bag contained a Polaroid photograph showing sprouts of the same tree, emerging on her side of the property line.  Due to these complaints, she asked to have the tree removed, and because I was so distracted and weakened by everything else, I agreed.  

If this were a novel, this would seem like a super-contrived metaphor:  on the day we moved in with so much hope, we planted this tree, and on the day that that particular dream ended, the tree came down.  

Anyway, I’m never eager to call back, because it’s always about something I’ve done that’s not as suburban as she’d like.  So far, it’s never been, “Hey, I’m having a bbq and wondered if you’d like to stop by,” or, “cool how your front lawn looks like a meadow!”

They call it phone tag, but my end of the game is slow.  If this were a card game, I’d be that annoying person who takes forever with their turn.

I hear the phone ring, don’t answer it, and later, retrieve the message, “I see that your car is home so please call me right away.” And I take a nap.

Anyway, one interesting outcome of the long phone volley is that each member of this household came forward to confess to what they might be doing that would warrant the phone call.  I’ve been wondering if I let the grass get too long, or if my compost pile is unsightly, or any number of things. 

“So, have you talked to the neighbor yet?” one household member asks.


“Well, there’s one thing that maybe it could be.  I sometimes pee in the lawn when I come back from a run.”

And so on, with each of us revealing our non-suburban behaviors to one another, before I finally returned one of her, “I see you’re home, please call,” messages and actually reached her.  I learned that a branch from one of my trees is creeping ever so steadily towards her deck, and hangs over her beautiful rose garden like a death sentence.

I climbed the tree with my little battery-operated skill saw, and lassoed the branch with a rope while one of the household members stood on the ground holding the other end of the rope.  But right before I began to saw, I chickened out, because there’s stuff about physics that I don’t understand, likes Higgs Boson. Strange particles could possibly be inside this limb, creating havoc when they’re released.  In addition to all the normal physical properties that I don’t have full command of.  For example, when you cut a 20 foot long branch at it’s base, and your rope is only about 2 feet above where you’re going to make the cut, and most of the weight is far, far away, it seems possible that you’d actually kill the rose garden you're trying to protect.  Remember those hospital problems in beginning physics, where that poor guy was always in traction?

But the point of all of this is that while I was up in the tree, feeling powerful and Hunger Games-ish, it occurred to me that I could make a snare of some kind, and catch food.  Either when I run out of money, or during the apocalypse, whichever comes first.  It also occurred to me that I have no idea how to make a snare.  After watching many youtube videos, I’ve learned that you don’t really need to climb a tree to catch a rabbit.  The actual final point here is that, if the apocalypse ever does arrive, we can’t rely on youtube videos -- we’ll need flash cards.  The Author suggested I create the flash cards, and title them, “The Ladies Abridged Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse,” and sell them to ward off financial ruin.  I’ll put in on the list.  Pre-order right here, right now, while the internet still works!  


  1. I had trouble sleeping last night, so I'm fairly cranky and all; but if the neighbor wants the tree branch down, isn't that on her to accomplish? If I recall correctly, from my house owning days, she has the right to take down a branch that's in her air space, but you are not obligated to go do it. Dropping large branches is generally not something a homeowner should do, and if you wipe out the roses you'll never hear the end of it.

  2. Yeah, one would think so, but sometimes it's just easier to take care of something than haggle about it. I paid a guy to take the branch down yesterday. No god particles popped out or anything.

    By the way, I just saw that cool picture of the Great Wheel of Seattle on your blog. That's the first I've even heard of this great wheel. Really, am I that far out of the loop? Apparently, yes. :-)

    Enjoy your time in the PNW!

  3. Good fences make good neighbours I've heard...as well as not answering the phone.

  4. Why hasn't anybody been pre-ordering! I'd love to have survival flash cards!

  5. I am so thankful for answering machines! I'd be even more thankful for call-display except I'm too cheap to pay for it.

    The flash cards are the kind of thing you could do a wonderfully dry-witted job on. Have you seen the Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook series?

    1. I know, about answering machines! Although, it would almost be better without them, right?

      I have seen that series. Crazy! I don't know how those people managed to spend so much time thinking about such horrible possibilities... But thanks for the encouragement. Hope you're having a good summer.

  6. that was awesome and i need the cards! also, do you have a post or list anywhere that turns one towards all the lovely podcasts you would recommend? thanks mailbox mate :)


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