Journal Entry: June 15, 2009

This is the story of my first chainsaw….

T–‘s family came down for a visit this weekend. They got in around mid-day on Friday, so when I got home I found Karla and John as well as T–‘s cousin Owen to greet me. They all went out back to play with AB and I went into the office to take care of some business before turning the room over to them for the weekend.

T– cooked up hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner, then we watched Hudson Hawk. After that T– went to bed while the rest of us watched Kicking and Screaming. That one was better than I expected it to be. Then Karla went to bed and John and Owen and I watched Never Back Down, which was a decent modernization of Karate Kid, in my opinion.

Saturday morning John and Owen went to the science museum while T– and her mom got to work organizing the kids’ clothes. They’d brought a chest of drawers for AB with them, so the women spent the morning moving AB’s clothes into the new drawers, and getting the old chest ready for Alex’s stuff.

While they were doing that, I took AB up to Sears to pick up a new chainsaw. I’d been in a week before and picked out the one I wanted, so I walked in the door, grabbed a cart, and loaded it up in about a minute. Then I got to stand in line for a quarter hour and the lady rang up all my stuff before telling me I could use T–‘s credit card. Apparently it didn’t matter that I’m authorized on it, or that the purchase had already been applied. As a matter of policy, she had to void it out. I didn’t have another method of payment on me, so the whole trip was just a waste of time.

We went back to the house, and T– and her mom made up some fantastic fajitas for lunch. Instead of working in the yard as I’d intended, I spent the afternoon sorting through old notebooks and folders full of papers to figure out what to keep and what to throw away. I got rid of four or five times as much stuff as I saved, so I think it was a pretty productive afternoon.

Then everybody piled into the car to go swimming. I skipped that, spending the time mowing the lawn and taking care of some stuff in the house. When they got back we had pizza, and then watched some Conan before everybody decided to go to bed early.

AB kept waking up during the night, crying, so even with the early bedtime we were all pretty slow getting up the Sunday morning. Still, we made it to church for services, and my little sister and her family were there, too. Afterward, we all went to P F Chang’s for lunch, which is one of my favorites.

After lunch, T–‘s parents took AB back to the house while T– and I ran up to Sears. With her handy ID available, we were able to complete the purchase I’d attempted the day before, so a little after one I showed up at the house with a shiny new chainsaw. I gassed it up, oiled it up, and then spent about fifteen minutes and four or five reads through the manual figuring out the throttle was too low. Once I had it running, though, it made quick work of a tree stump that’s been plaguing us for months.

That was really just a test use, though. My real concern was for a couple huge, dead limbs hanging over our backyard. I had to borrow a ladder from B– just to get up high enough to work on the lower of the two branches, but I figured that would be enough. The higher one is broken in half and hanging down, resting on the lower one. I figured as soon as I removed the lower limb, the dangling one would come crashing down of its own accord.

Unfortunately there was nowhere to put the ladder that would be clear of the falling tree. I eventually managed to find a place on one of the tree’s healthy limbs where I could climb up and sit on the limb and reach across and down to cut the dead one. So I got up in the tree, and John started the chainsaw for me and handed it up to me, and then he and T– stood off to one side to watch.

A brand new chainsaw with a fresh chain is an amazing thing. I leaned across, said a quick prayer that nobody would get hurt, and then squeezed the trigger and started cutting through the limb. In a matter of seconds it sliced clean through, and the limb fell straight down. A perfect cut.

With the saw still roaring in my hands, I started looking around to see what other dead limbs I could reach from my perch. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted T– and John behaving erratically, and when I looked down at them I finally realized John was screaming frantically for me to “Turn it off!” I wouldn’t be able to start it up again from up in the tree, but he seemed pretty determined do I hit the kill switch.

I immediately heard the hissing roar, but I didn’t realize what it was until John darted over underneath me, kicked the fallen limb away, and then pulled back the ivy around our gas meter to reveal that the big round dial had been broken clean off. A moment later I could smell the gas that was jetting out of the broken pipe. T– ran into the house to call the gas company and John ran in at a dead sprint, passed her, found the pipe wrench in my tool chest, and darted back out to the meter to close off the emergency valve in a matter of probably less than a minute.

I was stuck up in the tree the whole time, though, and to me it seemed like a lot longer. When he finally got it shut off he was able to step up on the ladder and take the chainsaw so I could climb back down. For a while I just stared, wondering what we were going to do, until T– came out to say that someone from the gas company was on his way. Then we checked one more time to make sure the meter was well and truly off, and got right back to work.

I carved the fallen limb into three pieces small enough to drag out front, and then we cut those down into fireplace-sized logs for John to take back to T–‘s brother. We cleaned up the rest of the branches, and then stood for some time looking at the dangling limb.

It was still there, even without the limb supporting it. Worse, we couldn’t find any way to get at it. That ladder of Bruce’s is ridiculously tall, but it couldn’t reach the broken limb. The best plan we could come up with would be to climb up onto the limb below the break, then shimmy out along it as it climbed higher and higher to get into position to cut it. Oh, and to do all that while carrying a running chainsaw.

John tried jumping and grabbing the dangling branches to pull it loose (in spite of my warnings that he was going to kill himself) and at one point it was actually hanging from the stricken limb, and it didn’t budge.

Just as we were giving up on that the gas man showed up, and he came back, looked over the broken meter, pulled out a pipe wrench, and methodically disassembled the whole thing. He had a very quiet manner about him. He said, “I’ll be right back,” and went around to his truck where he spent some time finding the right piece. Then he came back, reassembled the whole thing, lit the pilot light on our water heater, and got back in his truck and drove away.

I’m sure there’ll be a charge on our next gas bill. I shudder to think what it might be.

After that I decided I was done for the day. I cleaned up all my tools, then went inside and watched Get Carter and Cool Runnings and Mars Attacks with Owen while I played Civ on the laptop. We had leftovers for dinner, and then T– and her mom sewed up some new curtains for our bedroom and with John’s help they upholstered a headboard for our bed to match. It was a pretty impressive improvement to the room. Then it was time to go to bed, and this morning I woke up to say goodbye to her family before I headed to work.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

One Reply to “Journal Entry: June 15, 2009”

  1. It’s good that someone was watching you. You could have gone up in a ball of fire if the gas leak was right under you and you had a running chainsaw in your hands.

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