Thursday, October 31, 2013

It was a dark and stormy night....

"Squalls out on the Bering, big storm coming in soon" -- apologies to Jimmy Buffett.

This is the storm before it came across southern Alaska.
That's a picture of it before it hit here.
And boy, did it come in.

Overnight Sunday-Monday the power went out between midnight and 1 a.m. and wasn't restored until 5 the next afternoon. 

Gusts hit this house louder than any I have heard in my life, and if you read this blog you know I have been in storms at sea and out in the weather.  The house seemed to handle it fine, the trees outside didn't do as well.

Over by the woodpile in the morning it looked like a war zone.  Three big spruce came down, one hitting the firewood pile, another landing on the snowmachine trailer. Fortunately there was no real damage but a lot of work cleaning up.  In the little triangle of wood lot out front two more spruce came down and in the driveway the shattered top of a rotten cottonwood just missed the Jeep.

The mountainside above Anchorage experienced gusts to 106 mph.  Even the local paper here doesn't mention wind speeds. A search for weather history on the National Weather Service site says there is no data for this zip code. Some days it's great to be off the map, on others, not so much.
Tree on the left  is on the trailer, at 
right, the woodpile.  A third is down 
in the central background.

Once the damage had been assessed, the cleanup began. Pretty obvious, after all that stacking of firewood, I now have that much or more to go through.

But as always in Alaska, before you can do something, you have to do something else. Since the last trip to the East Pole I have been meaning to buy a new chain for the saw. The old one broke out there. Well, as per usual, had to go get a chain for the saw before I could even begin cutting.

Once that was accomplished I went after the first tree, the one on the trailer. Went to the far end first and cut the top off.  Then back to the front of the trailer to remove that section of trunk.  When I cut through that one, the weight of the roots and the attached dirt and rocks countered the weight of the remaining trunk and it suddenly swung upright.  That's the way it still stands, more on that in a bit.

Another view of the main damage.
Spent more than an hour cutting off branches and then bucking the trunk into stove sized pieces to be split later. That finished off Monday.

Tuesday I went after the tree that fell on the wood pile.  This was a little trickier. The top was hung up in another tall tree.  I went to the end of the woodpile and cut the trunk there.  Fortunately after a bit of pinching that almost caught the bar. the two separated, the upper section moved a little in the tree and then stuck again and a long, heavy piece remained on the wood pile. I managed to get that cut from the stump and then pulled it off to the ground. And then began the chore of restacking all the wood.

The tree in the foreground is the third one.  That's the 
one on the trailer behind it.
Next morning I went after the stumps.  I had this grand idea that I could pull them out with the Jeep. I attached to the bigger one first, wrapped chain twice around the stump as high up as I could reach for leverage and connected the ends with a Master lock. Then I attached a tow strap to the chain loop and the Jeep. A steady pull didn't move anything except gravel under the tires. I tried releasing strain and then surging forward.  That was not a good idea.  I tried a couple of short jerks first and then gave it a good hard hit. There was a loud bang and the Jeep came loose from the stump. When I checked, the lock had disappeared but everything else seemed intact. Where that lock went I have no idea, just damned lucky it didn't come through the back window of the vehicle. I have seen tow lines on boats part and people can be killed in the snap back.  It isn't pretty.  Lucky one that time.

Top of the cottonwood that came down.
But no reason to give up.  I went after the second stump. It was looser and smaller and some of the roots were broken. I dug out one large root and cut it with the chainsaw and then attached with just the tow strap.  A nice steady pull ripped that one right out. I had other things to do that day so I quit.

Next day after a trip with Walter to the vet, I went to buck up what I had cut but the brand new chain blade wouldn't even make sawdust. (A well-sharpened saw is supposed to make small chips.) It was then I remembered cutting through a nail somewhere on that first tree, which couldn't have been good for it, and then there was cutting the root out and the rocks around it. That's probably a ruined blade. It was the same as a knife that wouldn't cut butter. So, rather than quit, I went after the top of the second tree still hung up in the trees.  I got a rope around the trunk near the ground and attached it to a come-along attached to another tree. When I cranked on it it moved and fell a little way through the tree.  It came down enough so I can reach far along it and cut out another section that should let the rest of it fall. That was enough of that for the time being.
This the hookup for the first stump, note it is vertical now.
I mean, what could go wrong here? I might be needing
some yellow machinery for this one.

I took Walter for a long walk and on the way back we cut through the woods on the front of the lot. That's where I found two more fallen trees, both angled and hung up at the top in other trees. Those are going to be tough.  One didn't break fully off the stump and the other is still attached to a pretty big root ball. They are far in the future.  We continued our walk out to the power right of way behind the house. That's where I found a tree had fallen across the feeder line to this house and the neighbor's. No way I was touching that. I called the utility and they came today and took care of it.

Hookup for the second.
And, success.
These are the two in the front yard.
So, we are now at Thursday after the Monday storm. A doctor's visit near the closest store that sells chains (it's a 40-mile round trip) took care of that  problem and we'll attack it in the morning.  I sharpened the old blade and if it will cut at all I'll use it to get the roots on the stump that wouldn't come out.  I said will because by the time we got everything done today Thursday Night Football was on, trick or treaters were coming up the driveway and after all there are priorities.

So right now we are not even finished with the part where all the wood is reachable for cutting. When it's all done, I should have again as much firewood as I have now, even if it is the faster burning spruce. Right now it is all so green it wouldn't burn well at least until next winter.

Thinking maybe next summer I will fill the four-wheeler trailer and haul some over to the Jim Creek Recreational Area parking lot and sell it for outrageous prices to the weekenders.

Hoping I can at least get it all cleaned up before the next storm comes through.

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Interesting quotations

· " “Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” — Ernest Hemingway

When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth. Kurt Vonnegut

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a cheque, if you cashed the cheque and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” Stephen King

The thing about ignornance is, you don't have to remain ignorant. — me again"

Never debate with someone who gets ink by the barrel" — George Hayes, former Alaska Attorney General who died recently

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeareon Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

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