I am in the middle of home construction 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 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 saw, 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 re-positioned 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 the time I had that done it was obvious 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 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.
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…
The Zombie Plagues
The attack came fast when it came. Mike only remembered the details after the fact.
Molly had, had the right side, Tim the left, Mike had taken a lead of fifty feet or so right up through the middle of the tall grass. It left him blind for the most part. The grass was higher than his head in most places, unless he walked right on the hump in the middle of the old road, and that was not an easy task. He found himself spending too much time concentrating on the next footfall. So he came down off the hump and walked slowly beside it. Watching for darker shadows within the golden brown of the grass.
He had turned his head to look over to the right, and Molly, when his eye had caught movement in the trees just over her head. There was no time for thought. He swung his rifle up and fired. He had no time to register what he had accomplished. He dropped his eyes from the woods, alerted by a yell from Tim on the other side of him and the zombie was on him just that fast. Afterward, he realized it must have been hidden in the tall grass and had sprung at him as soon as he was distracted by the movement in the woods.
He was out of position to fire so he reversed the rifle’s stock smashing it into the forehead of the zombie that had sprung at him. She went down, but she was back up just as quickly. Mike kicked her hard in the stomach as he bought the rifle barrel around. He squeezed off a quick burst as she was falling from the kick.
It seemed as though the entire world turned into a solid wall of noisy gunfire. On both sides; front and back.
The zombie hit the ground in front of him, thrown back by the force of the bullets: A huge section of her side blown away, one arm gone, but she had no sooner hit the ground than she was twisting to her side and rising to her feet, hissing and snarling as she lunged at him again.
The shock nearly kept him from firing. He had never expected her to get back up. The rifle barrel rose on its own as he fired blowing holes through her chest and finally taking her head from her shoulders. She staggered a few more feet and then collapsed in a heap.
In front, somewhere beyond the cars and trucks that blocked the road, the firing continued. Mike looked left to right. Both Molly and Tim were gone. He got his feet moving and started off through the tall grass.
The gunfire fell off abruptly. He reached the beginning of the cars and trucks and began working his way down the length of a pickup truck when he caught movement on the opposite side of the truck out of the corner of his eye. He swung the rifle up fast, finger on the trigger, squeezing as it came up: The only thing stopping him from firing, the uncertainty of what his peripheral vision had caught. When his eyes finished the split second trip, he nearly squeezed the trigger anyway when Tim’s face came into sharp focus.