If you thought you’d heard the last of our weather woes, you were wrong! Chapter one was the flooded basement, chapter two was the leaky roof, and now comes chapter three.

It was a warm and sunny afternoon Monday, relatively speaking. That is to say it was not particularly cold, and there was no rain. My mood was giddy. “Perhaps,” I thought, “there really is something to Tiff’s theory that I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder.” On the drive home, I cranked my new classic rock CD mix. There’s nothing like Styx cranked to eleven on a sunny afternoon.

Once home I decided to walk to the store to buy a bathroom scale. I carried my iPod and marched in time to the pulsing beats of techno music. There’s nothing like techno cranked to eleven on a sunny afternoon. After much deliberation, I selected a scale with a digital readout and a body fat indicator. Upon returning home I was somewhat dismayed (okay, really dismayed) to discover that a third of me is fat. Since something like 60% of our bodies is composed of water, that leaves only 7% of me to be anything else. Scary.

To take my mind off this bad math, I decided to play some World of Warcraft-based capture-the-flag. There’s nothing like playing video games on a sunny afternoon. I had just captured the flag and was returning to my base when the doorbell rang. (In real life, not in the game.) What a dilemma! I had the flag and needed to capture it for my team. If I just left, I’d letting the team down. Yet the door needed answering. After a few moments of indecision I just got up and left the computer.

The man at the door introduced himself as Randy, our new neighbor on one of the back corners of our property (replacing the drunken idiots). “Did you know that one of your trees fell over?” he asked. I did not! We walked to the back of the property to survey the damage. A tallish tree of indeterminate species had become uprooted, had fallen across the fence into Randy’s back yard. We spent about half an hour talking amiably, discussing what to do with the tree, but the whole time I was worried about my game of capture-the-flag.

It was a warm and sunny afternoon Tuesday, relatively speaking. That is to say it was not particularly cold, and there was no rain. My mood might have been giddy if I were not faced with the prospect of purchasing power equipment. I’m not a manly sort of man, and, for example, chainsaws are as mysterious to me as computers might be for a logger. I stopped at the hardware store on the way home from work, and I examined their chainsaw selection. I narrowed my options to two models, both gas powered, but it took me twenty minutes to decide on the 16″ Poulan Woodsman 2150 LE saw instead of the 14″ saw. When I got home it was too late to cut anything, but not too late to play capture-the-flag.

It was a cold and damp afternoon Wednesday, typical for this time of year. My mood was apprehensive. When I got home, I pulled on my work boots, my work pants, and a warm sweatshirt, then headed to the shop to puzzle out the chainsaw. I spent twenty minutes reading the manual before I even opened the box. Much of it was baffling: bucking, bar length, chainbrake, kickback, etc. I took my time, though, and soon had the chainsaw operational. It roared with delight at the sight of all our trees. “Let me chomp that redwood,” it said, but I ignored it. “Come on,” it said. “How about that little apple?”

I carried the chainsaw back to the fallen tree. I made my first cut directly at the base of the twelve-inch thick trunk. Midway through the cut, the tree groaned and cracked, then shifted its weight, pinching the chainsaw and almost crushing my leg. It occurred to me that this was no trivial task. This tree was fucking heavy. I’d been treating the job as a light-hearted romp but there were some serious forces at work here. (Namely gravity.)

I stopped to reconsider my plan. “Maybe I should take some weight off at the top of the tree first,” I decided.

I walked around the block and knocked on the neighbor’s door. Randy’s wife, Miriam, took me to their back yard — a thick morass of mud — and showed me the damage. The tree had fallen onto the fence (a barbed-wire contraption erected by the previous owner of our house) and directly onto a stout metal post that had been used to anchor a clothesline. There were branches splayed every which way. The entire tree was entangled with some sort of vine.

After spending a few minutes surveying the wreckage, I devised a plan of attack. I fired up the chainsaw. For the next half hour, I methodically sliced my way through the mass of branches, cutting the wood to manageable size (though not attempting to trim it to any sort of final, usable size).

As the light turned gloamy and a heavy rain began to fall, I returned to our side of the fence and attacked the main trunk once more. Again my cut into the base of the tree was stupid: the moment the chainsaw had passed through, the fat log shifted, sliding heavily toward the fence, several hundred pounds of unstoppable force. The tree butted into thick mud with a thunk. Nothing was damaged (not even me), but only from sheer luck. I spent a few more minutes cutting before the chainsaw suddenly stopped, turning itself off. It restarted fine, but the chain would not turn. I turned it off and restarted it, but still the chain would not turn.

A close examination revealed that a little twig had managed to find its way into the, well, I don’t know what to call it…into the body housing where the chain winds itself up and around. The twig was stuck, but after some coaxing, it came free.

It was here that my troubles began.

Even after removing the twig, the chain would not turn. It would not turn when the power was on, and it would not turn when the power was off. Worse, eventually the chainsaw refused to start at all! Worse still, when I let the chainsaw sit for a spell, oil oozed from the lubrication “port”, an opening I cannot see.

Frustrated, I gave up and called it a night.

And that’s where we are this morning: we have a tree that is half-sawed, a fence that is half-damaged, and a brand new $160 chainsaw that half-works. I’ll try to take the bar and chain off this afternoon, try to see if I can spot what’s causing the lubricating oil to leak. I’m not sure I know what I’m looking for, though.

During this entire process, I keep hearing Walter shout, “You’re out of your element, Donny!” I’m better off playing computerized capture-the-flag.

11 Replies to “Saga Without End”

  1. J.D. says:

    Kris tells me that this entry makes me sound really depressed. That wasn’t my intention. I actually feel pretty good. I was hoping this entry would be sort of fun and goofy, maybe not laugh-out-loud, but mildly amusing. I really am out of my element here, but it’s fun for me, and I’m sure the damage to the chainsaw is minor. I’ll admit it would be nice if the house didn’t have so many little problems, but that’s part of owning an old house, right? I’m okay! Really!

  2. Dave says:

    Just don’t cut off your damn leg with the chainsaw, oh high-on-life-boy.

  3. Rich R says:

    You really need to be careful (or have someone else do it). I have a small chainsaw and only use it for very small jobs.

    Some stats after quick-o web search:

    The average chainsaw injury requires 110 stitches and the average medical cost was $ 5,600.00 in 1989. Data according to The Davis Garvin Agency, an insurance underwriter specializing in loggers insurance. In year 2000 corresponding costs can be estimated to be over $12,000.00.

  4. J.D. says:

    Oh, you who are concerned with my chainsaw woes, let me allay your worry. I managed to get the chainsaw to start (though it was a little finnicky). The chain still would not turn, so I took the thing out to the shop and examined it. Eventually I noticed that the handbrake was stuck in one position, not loose and floppy like it was yesterday. “Hm,” I thought. “I wonder why that is?” Then I noticed that there were some arrows pointing down and the word “reset”. “Hm,” I thought. “I wonder why that is?” I pulled the handbrake back. Lo and behold, I was able to move the chain by hand. I fired the thing up and then massacred Jose, Jesus, and Joel. Well, not really. But I could have massacred Jose, Jesus, and Joel because the chain turned once again. The chainsaw rattled a bit for some reason, but everything seems to be fine with it. I’m going to go fell that maple in the bag yard now. Or maybe massacre Nick and Jeff…

  5. tammy says:

    As the daughter of a logger I know exactly what you did wrong. You were suppose to make a face cut first which means you slant the bade in on an angle and cut a v in it. Then depending how big the tree is you stick a wedge in there. Then you go to the other side of the tree and start cutting. It wll fall in the direction of the face cut and because of the wedge it will not pinch your blade. If it’s small the face cut is enough. You know you could have called Mart.He would love to cut that tree for you. He’d totally be in his element.

  6. mac says:

    Is the body really 60% water as in H2O, or is it 60% Hydrogen and Oxygen? There’s a lot of H and O in fat, perhaps it accounts for some of that 60%? Which would leave more for “you” in there? I am not a doctor though.

  7. Pam says:

    I just happen to be a doctor, but any scientist (and possibly psych majors) should know that random H’s and O’s are not water! As J.D. says, the human body is about 60% water (less in females due to increased fat) – the actual H2O – but if it is any consolation, fat tissue is about 10-15% water, so that should give you a few more % to add to the “other” category

  8. J.D. says:

    Oh! I forgot to include on of the most humorous aspects of all this:

    Kris has “owed” me a major Christmas gift for the past month. It’s not that I’m difficult to buy for (I’m easy to buy for), but that Kris is difficult to purchase. (Or something like that.) What I mean to say is that Kris refuses to give me anything that I want (of which there are many things) and insists on giving me something I need (of which there are few things. Will she buy me comic book compilations? No way in hell. Will she buy me computer games? No way in hell. Will she buy me the Sports Night DVDs? Well, maybe, but probably not.

    What a happy situation when she found out we needed a chainsaw. It took her less than thirty seconds to find her checkbook and write me a check. “Here’s your Christmas present,” she said. “Go buy a chainsaw.”


    That was supposed to be incorporated into the above entry, but somehow it slipped my mind.

  9. tammy says:

    Now you know how we feel when husbands give us vacumm cleaners or blenders for Christmas!

  10. Jeremy says:

    A chainsaw is a GREAT present. GREAT!!!! I can’t think of a much better present. Except maybe a microwave 🙂 I want a chainsaw for christmas. Stihl, prefferably.

  11. Joel says:

    Any entry that has a quote from The Big Lebowski is laugh-out-loud funny.
    Also, regarding Jeremy’s comment, see my comment for the next entry, “Goal-Oriented.”

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