Trim or fell?

Last week the builder told us that he was hiring a tree company to remove all the branches on the left side of our sugar hackberry (i.e. everything to the left of the orange fence). They are putting up two three-storey townhomes and didn’t want branches sticking through the windows. He assured us that it would be cut properly and wouldn’t lean over to the right.

As you can see, the deed has not yet been done. Today the builder came back. His tree expert said that it was not a good time of year to cut branches off trees, and that even if he did it in the winter it was very likely that the tree would die. The builder has offered to have the whole tree removed at no cost to us.

What shall we do? If it does die, we’ll be responsible for having it removed at a later date. It will also be extremely lopsided, and although you can’t see it in this picture, there are electric/telephone/cable wires leading from behind the garage to our house. On the other hand, I can’t bear to think about the empty space it’s going to leave. It’s alive right now.

We have promised them an answer tomorrow morning.

No snow

Greetings from Houston, Habs and loyal readers. The summer has hit us here, and we are moving slowly from A to B and back to A. Our electricity bill has soared over $300 for the first time since September 1999 (we had air conditioning units stuck in the windows in those days).

Haven’t heard from any of the family lately, so have nothing to report. There are a couple of new entries in the Branch Office, though.

Did you hear about the man in Wisconsin who fell into a vat of chocolate? I always thought that would be a good way to die.

Medical nightmare

This is a warning to anyone in Houston who doesn’t feel too good at 3:00 in the morning. I had to drive John to the emergency room at Methodist Hospital three weeks ago. He had severe abdominal pain. The treatment they gave him was prompt and efficient. We were there from 3:30 a.m. until noon.

Then the bills started arriving (about three days apart):

Methodist Hospital: $7,675.75
Methodist Pathology Assoc. $140.10
Houston Radiology: $533.00
Physician Services: $585.00

Almost $9,000. And we still don’t know if there will be any more. We dread checking the mailbox.

The first bill included charges for two CAT scans — one for $2,020 and the other for $2,391. John has been trying to get one of them removed from the bill, without success. Yes, they did give him two, but he did point out exactly where the pain was coming from. And they never mentioned they were going to give him two. I was sitting next to the bed for the entire nine hours and observed everything. The latest word he’s received is that it’s standard procedure to perform two CAT scans for abdominal pain.

As a matter of interest, I called my insurance company to ask them how much of the above bills they would have covered if it had been me. The response was “none of it!” My policy apparently only covers hospital admissions and not emergency visits.

On a better note . . . John is fine now. And we have both applied for medical insurance together. Hopefully we’ll be covered by September 1st.

So what’s the trade-off, Habs? Free medical, high income taxes, $7.60/gallon petrol, etc.? Or would you prefer cheap petrol, low taxes, and hope you’ll stay healthy?

Are the neighbours snitching on us?

About ten years ago John got a parking ticket for parking outside our house, facing the wrong way. We’ve obeyed the rules ever since, making sure we park facing the right way. This morning, however, when I returned from yoga at 7:50, the street was full of construction vehicles and I would have had difficulty turning my car around to park it in the space outside the house. I wasn’t going to be long, so left Wendy facing the wrong way.

I showered and left the house for work. Would you believe it, there was a ticket on my windscreen. $60 (or $35 if paid promptly)! We don’t live on a busy street, and I’ve never seen a police car drive down it. What were they doing driving past our house at 8 a.m.?

I’m so miffed. It’s not much fun starting out the work week with a $60 fine.