I am in the middle of home construction, finishing Fig Street, and a half dozen other projects. I spent yesterday doing yard work, cutting tree limbs and trees, clearing out an old garden, and in the midst of that the delivery truck showed up with all the building materials I ordered and, of course, I was here alone when it showed up.
The delivery guy uses a lift to take the stuff off the truck bed, a tractor trailer flatbed actually, and sets it on the ground. So, there it was, a pile of Sheetrock, studs, and other building materials sitting in my driveway. I had been in the middle of cutting down a tree, so I went back to that. A kind of, ‘Finish one thing before you start the next thing approach.’ And of course I was hoping someone might show up to help.
The Tree: If you have ever cut down a tree you have maybe been where I was yesterday. In the ground, stretching up into the sky, the tree didn’t look so big, tall, formidable. First, a short explanation about why I had to cut down the tree: It was where it should not have been. Maybe that’s a little too short, here is a longer explanation: Over the years the previous owners had allowed the tree to grow right next to the house. As a result the trunk was now touching the roof edge, and towering over the garage, and the base was right up against the garage wall, to one side of the door.
At first, I thought, I’ll buy an ax and chop it down. Then I looked it over and decided it would take all weekend to chop it down, and, besides, I don’t know anything about chopping trees down, so I canned that idea. Next I thought of a chainsaw. But, I thought, if I buy a chainsaw to cut down this one tree that isn’t a very good tool cost to tool return ratio. And, knowing me, I will begin to look for other things to cut down. And that is bad, as there is a whole forest behind my house, and I have seen people juggle chainsaws, not that I would, but… So, I decided against the chainsaw. So, how to get the tree down?
I looked it over, judged the tree to be no big deal. Went and got my new reciprocating saw (This is a great tool for any do it yourself-er.). It is like the electric knife you use to slice the turkey with, only a lot bigger and with a selection of blades to cut through nearly anything at all. Cut a car in half? No problem. Cut a wall right out of your house? No problem. Cut a pipe, piece of wood, window opening into a wall (That is why I bought it. I want a window where there is none), no problem. I know these things are true because I have used a reciprocating saw to do them at various times in my life. But, cut down a tree? No. Never.
I sorted through the blades. I bought blades for everything, but there were none marked ‘Tree Cutting’ so I selected one marked ‘Wood and Metal’. I ran out the extension cord, plugged in the saw and started cutting. I mean, why think it out first? It’s a tree. It needs to be cut down. The saw is in my hand. Could it be any clearer? Well, as it turns out, it could be.
I began my cuts on the front, a wedge chunk cut out in the direction I wanted the tree to fall (I saw that as a kid hanging around loggers one day in the woods. The north country used to be full of loggers. That’s how they did it). Step one done. My cat, Buster, peeked around the corner of the house at me, decided I was crazy, and took off toward the other side of the house. But, I have noticed, unlike dogs, cats will abandon you in times of need, or just when you need a little encouragement. A dog will look at you and grin, and your confidence soars. A cat looks at you, shakes it head and runs away and you begin to rethink your entire life. Don’t get me started on cats.
Okay, I moved on to step two, coming from the back of the tree and cutting towards the front notch I had made. I guess now would be the appropriate time to say I had taken off my gloves, believing I did not need them. And, also, to note three other things. First: A reciprocating saw is not made to cut down trees. Second: If you’re going to use a reciprocating, or any type of saw, for something other than what it was intended for, wear your damn gloves! And Third: Don’t try this at home kids. I’m a trained professional writer, and I have written about people who have cut down trees with reciprocating saws, so I have some experience.
Ten minutes later, I realized my plan was not going according to, well, my plan. My plan was simple and effective, cut the tree through until it fell. I like simple plans like that because there isn’t much to go wrong. But the blade was not coming through the tree, so I stopped. That is when I realized I had misjudged my angle, I had cut through part of the trunk and was now cutting a swath through the dirt, stone, etc, that surrounded the tree, but not actually making any progress into the trunk itself.
$#@%*$#, I said. And then a few other things I have neglected to write down here. I looked at my palm, no gloves, so I had blistered the palm in a quarter sized circle. Brilliant, I thought. Then, @#$%^*$# Tree, I muttered. The tree didn’t seem to mind. It sort of just stood there. I repositioned the saw, and began again. This would have been a good time for someone to interfere but no one did.
It only took a half minute of cutting at the right angle to cut through to the notch, and then the tree swayed back onto the garage and the blade, stopping the saw. The tree seemed about to go over onto the roof, and that was when I realized just how big that tree was. Even so, I put my weight into it, convinced it to pivot, and down it came, away from the roof and the garage, just like I had planned it.
That was when I noticed that neighbors on both sides had stopped to watch. Probably sure I would drop the tree on the house or the garage, but I disappointed them and dropped the tree on my truck instead. Everything got quiet instantly it seemed. I heard my neighbor on one side snigger, but when I turned in that direction he seemed to be looking up at the sky for rain. Which, I might add, I should have been doing.
So, there I am. Tree on truck. A huge load of building materials sitting in my driveway, neighbors amused to say the least, a hole worn into my palm. A second blister on my thumb.
I know, quit whining.
Okay, I will.
After I cut up the tree into manageable chunks with the reciprocating saw, I realized that my mistake had been misjudging the size of the tree. And the weight of the tree. And the wisdom of cutting down a tree with a reciprocating saw, and, well, maybe the cat was smart to hit the road early on. Once it was in pieces it didn’t seem so big to me. I had planned to load the pieces into the truck and take them to the land fill. But, the truck was a little messed up, so I dragged the trees around to the back of the house and made a pile, called the wrecker for the truck, and about that time I had glanced up at the sky, dark, puffy clouds, rain was coming. I had to get the materials inside before the rain began. I barely made it.
In the end I sat and watched the rain fall as I sipped a Lipton Iced tea (Love that stuff), picked at the broken blister on my injured hand, and wondered why I ever decided I could cut down a tree with a reciprocating saw in the first place. Was I really an idiot, or only a throw back to the days when… Uh, I have no ending for that, because I’m pretty sure there never were days where men and women cut down trees with reciprocating saws. I mean, how would they get the power out there in the deep woods? And, in my deep woods, there are always bad things lurking about, so they would have been killed and eaten by something long before they cut any trees down, with or without a reciprocating saw.
I thanked God that I didn’t hit the car too, which had been sitting right next to the truck. At least there is something to drive until the truck comes back… If the truck comes back. On the plus side, the tree is no longer growing into the garage roof, and since I was on a roll I actually raked up all the mess I made and things look pretty good. And, all of the materials are here for me to start the remodeling job on Monday. And, skin grows back. My palm will heal. I fear the truck is terminal though.
In other news. I got very little work done on Hurricane, but it is progressing. The oppressive heat wave and high humidity broke for a while last night. A promise of things to come? I hope so. And, Open Office, the software I use, has a new version if you are an Open Office fan. If you aren’t, you should be. It’s free and very good.
The rain was good for all things living, except the cat. He did not appreciate the rain at all. Came running up to me and jumped on my lap soaking wet, and cats do not like being wet, so, instead of shaking like a dog will, he just rubbed against me until he was dry again. Great. None of the drywall got wet. That would have been worse. And, nothing lasts forever. And, the tree is not rubbing against the garage. I know I said that but it bears repeating because it was the whole reason I went out there in the first place. Oh, and the reciprocating saw was not damaged at all. So, I can cut that hole in the wall tomorrow that I wanted to cut to install a new window. Wish me luck…
Hope you had a great week, Dell