How To Disable A Rhododendron

Today was interesting for a variety of reasons. The one that got my attention most was when Diane determined that it’s been some time since I inflicted injury to a body part, and longer yet since I had an opportunity to bleed significantly. With this new-found knowledge she thought it would be an excellent idea for us to go trim her Mom’s rhododendrons.  She said, “Jerrie, were going to go trim Mom’s rhodies before she hires someone else to do it. Get your chain saw and c’mon.” I also got a variety of clippers, one of which was a bit rusty, but it worked.

She felt pretty confident about my improving abilities when she snuck back into the house and caught me replacing a wall socket without turning off the power. I’ve done that a hundreds times, on ships at sea, and in our houses and I’ve hardly ever disrupted power by channeling it through significant parts of my body, which causes VCRs, Radios, CD players, to announce their temporary loss of power by blinking 12:00 … 12:00 … 12:00  over and over until someone can find a smart allecky 12-year-old who know how resolve the issue.

I’m stoppling right here becasue I’ve aleady taken my zolpedim and my ares coordinated well enough to carry on a lotgical ongeragtionl see what I meen?

Sorry about the way I terminated that last night. I lost control of my little fingers … the ones that work anyway. It’s now 0610 and I’ve had the 6 hours of sleep allowed by the dogs. They’ve been fed, I’ve had my meds, and I’ve had my 1st of many glasses of water, my morning banana, and my yogurt. I distinguish my morning banana because I sometimes have an evening banana, too. Last night I had grapes, instead.

We were talking about trimming things with dangerous equipment, I believe. At Diane’s Mom’s  house.

Around Jean’s house are about 15 rhododendrons, four of which are close to the house, one by the corner of the street, and the remainder out back by Milton Creek which runs through the town on its journey to the Columbia River. They’ve been growing for 35 years, the last 15 of which they’ve lived under the threat of pending doom because they were blocking windows, and paths, with absolutely no concern for humans.

Having heard about the pending pruning event, they banded together in a pack of self-preservation by directing all their growth upward instead of outward, interlocking their branches until even a small monkey couldn’t navigate them safely.

This is what I faced, as I strung a very long extension cord across a damp yard and, flirting with electrocution, plugged in my chain saw. It worked, and everyone appeared to still have lights so I positioned it near the one furthest from the house.

Diane and I actually began the dismantling process with small, handheld, mechanical pruner, lopper things, much like those used in movies to remove fingers that are sent back to loved ones, or to facilitate the removal of an especially coveted ring. This worked well for a while, allowing us to get to the innards where the brown branches live and thrive. The outside branches are green and tender and easy to remove whereas the brown ones are more like tree limbs to which the green ones cling.

These inner branches are so thick and intertwined that most work must be done by feel as you clear the way to make room for your head so you can see what you are doing. Just as I was making a breakthrough, it happened. I had a group of finger sized branches gathered in my left hand, and started snipping away, willy nilly, confidence building, until I heard this horrible scream! Startled, I glanced around to see what was going on, and then the pain hit.

It was absolutely horrible! The sneaky rhodie had lulled me into a dream state, causing me to push all my training aside, creating a false sense of security which ultimately resulted in my finger nippers actually nipping a left-handed finger.

As soon as I realized that the scream was mine my training came back with such a rush that I was momentarily disoriented. I fell to my knees, then over onto my right side, curled into a little ball of pain. I didn’t know it at the time, drenched in pain as I was, but the area I cut, on my left middle finger, is where all the nerve endings in my entire body resided. It was excruciating. I know this is true because I am not a stranger to pain. I’ve had a lot of it over the years for various reasons, and this one was the absolute worst. Far worse than childbirth, I don’t care what anyone says.

I heard someone calling my name from far away but it wasn’t getting through the wall of pain very well. Eventually the voice got louder and I realized it was Diane. She was telling me to remove my glove so she could check the injury. This caused me to jump to my feet because I knew if I removed my glove this close to the ground I’d bleed out quickly. I then realized my right hand was tightly squeezing my left middle finger, cutting off all circulation, a trick I had learned during two previous incidents with left-handed fingers … squeeze it, and keep it above your heart. Good advice.

Finally heeding Diane’s demands, I released the pressure and waited for blood to start spurting through the new hole in my glove, but nothing happened except the pain increased. This caused me to grab the damaged digit again and prance around the front yard making the inhaled “sssssssss” sound which everyone knows means it really hurts a lot.

Diane caught me on my third pass and said, “Jerrie, you’re embarrassing us. Stop and take the glove off so we can see if you need stitches,” which I’ve been known to need.

So, I did. I took my glove off then spread the wound so she could see how bad it was. With a deriding remark of some kind at the state of my nearly bleeding finger, she marched off toward the house commanding me to follow. Being in no condition to object, I acquiesced, and followed her like a sad little puppy.

In the bathroom the wound began dripping which she searched for the band aids, which she deemed was the only item required to staunch the now free-flowing blood. OK, it was only trickling a bit and she admonished me, telling me to not get blood all over the sink. So I didn’t. To punish me for cutting my finger she put iodine on the wound before attaching the band aid. Oddly, it didn’t hurt at all, or it just didn’t hurt more than the pain that was already employed.

Once the band aid was secure we went back outside to complete our assigned tasks. Now, however, it was personal so I just fired up my electic chainsaw and went to work taking that rhodie down to size, about three feet tall instead of eight.

As I dismantled the first bush, I could feel the others peering around the house at me, talking about what they would do to me if I so much as touch them. But I wasn’t worried because I know bushes don’t have opposing thumbs, something they apparently failed to consider.

The resulting pile of now harmless branches was further dismantled by the three of us so it would fit into Jean’s brown yard debris container which Hudson Garbage picks up every other week. We also filled four rather hefty garbage bags.

We did the same thing to one more rhodie, by the corner of the house, before calling it a day, but the day wasn’t really done. It was six thirty post-mortem for the rhodie, but many fragments of it was stuffed into the back section of Diane’s Buick, destined for our burn pile. I forgot to mention that. Sorry.

After all that, I find it ironic that I was injured by a finger lopper, not the chainsaw. So did Diane and Jean. I believe they were betting each other how far I’d get with the project before having to make the dreaded Emergency Room Trip (ERT). Well, I fooled them, didn’t I?

Finished, we bid our adieus and motored away. I suggested to Diane that she could just park the vehicle in the garage as I could remove the offending rhodie from the rear with no problem.

From the back yard I retrieved my trusty lawn mower from its home on the lower patio, near the hot tub, removed the bagging unit, attached my trailer, and turned it into a lawn tractor.

Getting the rhodie debris out of the vehicle was uneventful, but it took two trips to get it to the lower 40 burn pile. It’s not really a lower 40. It’s more like a lower 1/2. I just call it 40 for fun. Anyway, once the transport was done, the pile was pitifully small. I was disappointed. I needed to do more.

So, I drove the mower to the middle of the yard, engaged the blades, and started making one crop circle by going around in circles until I’d completed the entire area, pulling the trailer the entire time. I went as fast as I could because the threat of rain was ever-present and I didn’t want to get wet.

When I finished I put the mower away and entered Diane’s house via the lower patio. Not far inside that door is her laundry room and, since I was coated with the smell of new-mown grass, I dropped all of my clothes there, as I’ve been instructed to do, over, and over after previous mowing adventures. Doing this poses a bit of a problem if someone has come to visit during the mowing evolution, and might still be upstairs when I transit the area to my shower, but that doesn’t happen often. Most of the time Diane will warn me but once in a while she doesn’t, just for fun. The object, of course, is for me to make the trip to my shower quick enough that I leave as little grass clipping smell in the house as possible since Diane is terribly allergic it.

Once I was a scrubbed up, it was 9 pm or so, and my day was truly done. I could relax. I could lounge on my half of the couch, eating a bowl of grapes which Diane refused to peel.

Then I took my nightie time meds, and you know the rest of the story.

Now it’s Thursday, and my day is already almost half gone because Diane didn’t wake me up from my morning nap until after 9 am. It’s really OK because I deserved the rest since I worked on Diane’s computer until almost midnight trying to figure out how Windows 8 works. It’s very different. Then, Ozzie got me up at 0530 for his pouch food fix.

Diane is off to visit with the Bethany Quilt Ladies (BQL) with her Mom. That leaves me here, all alone, with a need to conjure up a project that will be meaningful, necessary, and one Diane will like. This concerns me because I tend to pick the wrong projects when left to my own devices.

Oh well. I’ll just have another cup of coffee and think about it for a while. If nothing “pops”, I’ll just take another nap with my iPad.

Hope everyone has a great day.

Oh, ya … Diane took a couple of pictures but they are on her phone and I don’t have them yet so I’ll update this when I have access.

Update – Here’s the last branch of the first rhodie to bite the dust. Neither Diane nor her Mom would let me leave it.


Here’s the remains of the dismantled rhodie from the right side of the house. Diane and her Mom are whittling it down to size to fit the bags. Whatever was left over, because they couldn’t cut it, went in the Buick.


You can almost see my crop circle out there.


These are four of the many rhodies in our yard that are going to yield to my efforts. They probably looked really nice when they were a couple feet tall. Now they are just too crowded. I have no idea what the bush is on the right side, but the birds love it because the cat can’t climb it.


2 thoughts on “How To Disable A Rhododendron

  1. Jerrie I was waiting to see a pic of the injury like you did one other time…..ewwwww…..I feel your pain…. Linda

    • I embellished a little. The injury is only about the size of a really, really nasty paper cut, and only about six times as deep. Here it is. Nothing extraordinary, but it really was very painful. Like every nerve ending in my whole body ended right where I cut it.

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