Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Adventures in Red tape... and other things

I have much to catch up on as I have sat down at the computer often but not had the brain (or time enough) to write updates.  

So I have had some interesting adventures over the past month.  It all started when I decided that I needed to overhaul/renovate my yard.  I hate the fence, I think we need a new one.  I hate the garden.  It is a series of raised beds. I tried last year to grow things... nothing worked.  I realize that I don't have a green thumb (must have skipped my generation .. or I haven't actually studied the book in earnest). There is a tomato "shed" that is useless to me.  There is an arbor covered in grapevines that seems to bear no fruit.  There are plants that I don't know what they are or just don't like.  

So I hired a garden designer to come and do an assessment and give me a better plan.  I am still waiting for his magic blue print.  I will call him today to see about progress.  While he was here, I asked about a tree in my yard.  It is in an odd place.  
What you may not be able to see is the fact that this cedar tree is in the middle of a flowerbed.  Not only does it lean towards the fence and park land behind the fence, the previous owners encased it in a flowerbed.  You see next to it a lean-to structure -- that is the grapevine thing I was referring to. and then to the left of that is the raised beds and icky fence.  If you look at the trunk of the tree, you will see a light color on the bark. That is exposed wood. This is where the fun began, the start of another adventure.

I asked the gardener if the tree was ok.  Is this dying?  He said he wasn't sure, I'd have to get an arborist to tell me.  We also noticed that it had a small oval tag on it, embedded in the trunk with a number on it.  Why would that be?  Does this mean the city of Surrey tagged it?  I know that the City of Surrey has strict rules about their trees but I wasn't sure what this meant.  Did I own this tree or did the city of Surrey?  My property borders park land.  Hmmm?

So I looked on their website re: trees and they emailed me a list of arborists in response to my question re: the dying tree and the need for assessment.  I called one of them on the list.  He looked at the tree via Google map system and said that he wasn't sure where the fence was... have I had the property surveyed?  Ummm... no. We neglected to do so when I bought the place as we were given specs for the lot with our purchase.  

Because of the lovely tag in the trunk, someone from Urban Forestry division from Surrey came to look at the tree. If the tree is mine, then I pay for the arborist to assess and deal with it, whereas if the City owns the tree, they pay for its removal or trimming, if need be.  What did this tag mean?  It was likely a leftover marker from before the area was developed.  But did I own this tree or the City?  Have I had this lot surveyed?  Um... no.

*sigh*  So I call a survey company and they said that they would come the next week. If the pins are in place (pins that mark the yard) the cost is $800, if not, and they have to refile a plan with the city, the cost is $1500.  Hubby balked at the cost and said he would do it himself.  I told him that was crazy.  Survey teams have equipment and read the maps and HOW was he going to find pins embedded in the ground. He was going to rent a metal detector and the long measuring apparatus.  I dug out the specs from the real estate papers.  It seemed to show longitude and latitude or some kind of coordinates. HOW was he going to read this?  Fine he said, we'll just keep your survey appointment.  Well, 30 minutes later there is a knock on the door. It is only Friday. But lo and behold, the survey team is early.  Alright, off you go.  

They finished their job in 3 hours.  And the answers were surprising! We have more land than we thought!  Essentially our fence is not indicative of our border/property line.  We have more land beyond the peak end of our fence and in some places, the fence is over the line.  So long story short, the cedar is mine.  We also own a dead alder that is behind my fence... goody.

So I call the arborist company back to have them look at it.  The arborist comes and looks at it.  I asked him if the tree is dying, should I be concerned about the exposed wood where the bark has receded.  His explanation was that the tree was healthy.  He then ripped more bark off and showed me wood bugs. ICK! and a mound of tree growth and explained that around the exposed wood is about 15 years worth of growth.  Some time 15 years ago or so, something nicked the tree and gave it a wound.  This was the tree trying to repair itself, but as the growth of the trunk is so big, versus a younger tree, the wound is taking a while to get sealed over.  Oh... well the house is 12 years old... so ... 2+2 = done while clearing the lot or building the house.  So I hired him to trim it and remove the dead alder. I asked, did I need permit?

So I slog through the City of Surrey webpage to figure out if/how I can I get a permit to deal with these trees.  In the end, I call them.  Yes you need a permit to remove the tree.  No, I don't need to pay for it if it is dead.  Can I proove it is dead?  email the required 3 photos to this address.... come down and fill out the application in person.  The permit is good for one year of issue.

This is about 2 weeks later.  My in laws were coming to babysit and I was going to run errands, including getting this permit thing figured out.  I have an appointment for April 10 to have the arborist come do his thing... but I need the permit before this. No problem.

Well that is NOT how my day went.  You know the adage, tell God your plans and He laughs.  I dunno what I think of that.. but the day certainly didn't go as I planned.  I was going to go to the doctor and "register" to get an appointment. (Seriously? This is an odd way to do it. and no you can't do it on the phone, you have to go in person.  Hmm... drag my kids in so I fill out paperwork for 2 minutes... ummm no.)  I was going to go to the bank.  Go get this permit.  Look for something in a store....

Where did I end up?  Taking my husband to the Surrey Memorial ER.  I had been there once with my son when he had croup so bad that he couldn't breathe but this was a different section of the ER.  My hubby has suffered from some mystery stomach ailment for a while. He has had numerous tests from medical, naturopaths, nutritionists, the works.  Is it an ulcer?  is it an allergy? no one can tell us.  Meds of some form kept it at bay but occasionally there is a flare up and he can't lie down for the pain is too distracting.  This morning was different.  I told him he was not going to work.  Go back to bed.  I was getting ready to go out and he came to me doubled over and said he would like to go to a hospital. HE? would like to go to a hospital?! Ok that's bad.  

So I tell his mother and then off we go to the ER.  He has a high pain threshold but was whining and moaning loudly in the ER.  The other patients are looking at him.  I said to him "I know you are in pain, but you are freaking the other people out."  "I know that.  If I could stop it I would."

So we waited for meds to kick in so that he would be in less pain, enough to go to an xray.  He needed to be still enough to go in the xray machine.  So we wait.  I had to ask that they bring him meds.  He got meds when he came in. Uh. no.. just blood work. Well it says that he got some. Well he is saying he didn't and if you did, it is not enough.  When we go to the dentist, you have to give him double, I told the doctor.  Quadruple, hubby said.

So after he calmed down and we are waiting for him to go to xray. I asked if he was ok for me to leave.  I wasn't doing much besides advocating for him once in a while, and reading my book.  So I left and went to the tree permit section of City Hall.  Surrey City Hall has moved.  It is now downtown near the Surrey Central Skytrain station, versus being in the boonies off of Highway 10.  But there is no parking.  At least not that I could find.  I got a ticket from DPL because I didn't pay the toll on their lot.  Ugh.

I have to say, the new City Hall is nice.  The ticket/take a number system is automated. You select the department you are here to see and them you get a number and it is displayed on a screen and a chime goes off and tells you serving number "x".  I liked it. It was loud enough that I could here, and the chime was a tone that I could hear as well.  I didn't like the parking ticket. I didn't notice the parking ticket until I was driving an hour later to another destination.  So despite the fact that the dead tree means that I don't need to pay for the permit, nor do I need to replace the tree, I still ended up "paying" for the permit. *sigh*

Hubby stayed overnight in the hospital as he waited for an appendectomy.  He was told that after being there since 10 a.m. on Friday, that it would likely happen at midnight.  I was woken up at 7 a.m. by the phone. It was the surgeon telling me that hubby was JUST coming out of surgery.  He didn't get his surgery... a 20 minute procedure via laporoscopy... until 6 a.m.!! 

So I took him home at suppertime and now he is on lifting restrictions until he heals.  4 weeks of not lifting more than 15lbs.  Really?!  We have twin toddlers.  One is approaching 30lbs and the other is definitely 40, or close to it.  Great!  So I have managed to survive week 1 of me putting them to bed. Me fighting with my daughter.  Me putting my son to nap... sometimes.  Hubby spent last week in bed mostly or playing computer.  This week, he has been working from home mostly to avoid the crush of commuting via skytrain as it is still sensitive to touch the gut. Tomorrow he has no choice and must go in due to a mandatory meeting and training session.  

In the midst of all of that... my tenants broke up and moved out of our suite.  So now I have to decide if I am doing renos there (painting, replace something) and get new tenants. 

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