If a tree falls, how is that my responsibility?

August 8, 2006

Yesterday afternoon, we had a rather intense storm pass through that
was rather pretty (no, I don’t have any pictures; use your
imagination).  Lots of dust and flying debris about the building at
work, but not a lot, if any, rain.

However, when I arrived home I discovered several largish branches in
my front lawn, broken from my neighbor’s tree, as well as the pool
cover partially removed from the pool.  It is one of those above
ground, inflate the ring and fill it up types and has been a great deal
of fun for the boy and his friends this summer… but I digress.

So, I went in, cleaned up the trash the dog had dug through while I was
away and promptly sat down to play a game or two before attacking the
yard work and house work.  About fifteen minutes into my solitaire
marathon (I set a time limit though, because otherwise I’ll play for
hours) the phone rings and I pick it up without thinking… probably my
first mistake.  One of my neighbors down the street is calling because
one of her neighbor’s has had a tree blow down onto his house and call
I call around to get people to help him?  Since it is one of my
responsibilities as a member of the Elders quorum presidency, I grab my
chainsaw and toolbox and drive down the street; no use wasting someone
else’s Monday night without seeing what was up.

So, Mr. S’s house had a ancient metal travel trailer next to his
driveway with a apparently very healthy cottonwood or poplar tree next
to the trailer.  As healthy as the tree appeared, it was no match for
the winds earlier in the day as the tree had toppled, hitting the
trailer and then settling on the roof of Mr. S’s house.  The house
wasn’t damaged, yet, but if the trailer let go of its burden the tree
would continue onto the roof.  Mr. S, a neighbor’s son and a neighbor
across the street were on the roof, cutting small portions of the tree
off with a limb saw in the hopes of reducing the mass of the tree so as
to save his home.

That isn’t the funny part.

I wasn’t much help from the ground and they already had plenty of
people on the roof and a few on the ground catching the falling pieces
so I opted to replace the dull chain on my chainsaw.  Now, I’ve taken
the bar off of this chainsaw a total of ONE time and that was a while
ago, so I pull the manual out of the plastic bag and found the diagram
for assembly.  Take off the housing, work the chain out of the gear,
work the new chain into the gear, reassemble the bar which has now
fallen off of the chainsaw, balance everything including the chain
guide while I find the housing I dropped and work it on, clamp it down
and set the tension. After ten minutes, I had it all done!  Yay me!

I set the choke, got it running, killed it, got it running again and warmed it up.  Heh. 

“I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay…”

Anyway, I walk over to my best bud Bill, who had arrived a few minutes
earlier, and told him of my new chain.  He’d tried to use it a few
weeks ago but it was with a dull chain so it was less than successful. 
Feeling all cocky, I walk over to a branch, apply the chain saw to it
and… nothing.  A few seconds and all I’ve got is a mark from the oil
on the chain.  Strange.  So I try a smaller branch.  Same problem.

Then, and only then, did I realize I’d put the chain on backward and it wasn’t going to work for ANY branch.

If you are playing along at home, this is the point when my tool geek cred took major hit points.

I was saved though by the arrival of the husband of the first neighbor
in his van, carrying two chain saws, one of which sported an enormous
bar, probably three feet long.  I stowed my puny, chain maligned saw
back in the case and went back to helping move branches for which I am
adequately qualified.  I’ll fix my chain saw later.

Oh, and the tree was untimately felled without destroying the house,
which was good, and without further damage to the ancient travel
trailer, which was bad as he was going to try to salvage it.  It has
one destroyed wheel, a three foot dent in the top and one set of
windows now broken out, but he feels it is still “travel worthy”.  I’m
thinking it must have some special significance, like the only time
he’s been kissed or something, because it is just trashed.  Oh well, not my problem… yet.

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