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Watch the Watering : Penthouse Dweller Finds Trees a Weighty Problem

November 09, 1986|BUSTER SUSSMAN

Judy Blume, New York author of such best sellers as "Iggie's House," "Super Fudge" and "Forever," writes about the most personal problems anyone can face. Her books explore such traumas as being a fat preteen, having a first period, masturbating and premarital sex.

But there's one problem she hasn't written about--overweight and over-watered potted trees.

It's a problem for her because she owns a Manhattan penthouse.

And being the owner of the penthouse, she, in effect, owns the roof of the 16-story building.

Buck Stops With Her

So, if her trees dribble or if their weight causes ceilings below to buckle, the buck comes back up to stop with her.

"If I were to do a textbook on real estate," she says, "my first rule would be: Don't buy an apartment directly under the penthouse.

"When this building was put up it didn't have a penthouse or at least nothing like what we've got now," she explains.

"To hold down weight, all construction on the penthouse was done as light as possible. So if you were to poke your finger through the wall, you'd find my penthouse is just a tar paper shack!"

Trees Attract Squirrels

But back to her trees. These provide landscaping for the deck.

"We had one landscaper who decided that our tree pots needed a good dose of pebble ballast so they wouldn't blow over in a storm. Unfortunately, the pots got so heavy that one more pebble would have sent them crashing down through the deck and apartment by apartment to the cellar."

The trees, although they're not what you'd call forest giants, attract squirrels.

"I don't know how the squirrels got here or how they learned I had trees."

Her garden also attracts bees, which she admits she'd prefer to do without. And, the air is filled with chirps and warbles with a chorus of Manhattan's surprisingly varied population of birds.

Putting in New Floor

Blume says the worst part of the refurbishing came when she installed new flooring on the deck.

"I was trying to write, and outside my window there was this gang who had decided the job should take forever, arguing and yelling and tearing up the deck. And, they wouldn't do anything the way I wanted it done. After all, I was just a woman."

However, all that is past and now she's learned to live with the birds, and bees, and dribbling trees.

After creating her Riverside Drive dream castle in the sky, what did Blume do next?

She bought another dreamy fixer-upper--a century-old farm house in Connecticut.

Moral: The reason for overcoming a problem is so you'll have time to find a new one.

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