Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Dog's Life

Bucket assumes a relaxed, though not very lady-like, pose.

Can anyone please tell me how the expression "leading a dog's life" ever came to be associated with hardship and drudgery?

Borrowing a cup of 2-cycle oil

Tuesday morning my neighbor, Jerry Joe, drove down to our place to borrow a can of 2-cycle oil. He and a friend were planning to spend the day cutting firewood, but needed to mix some chainsaw gas and didn't have any oil. Our place is a lot closer than town. However, I'd recently used my last bottle of 2-cycle oil to mix up a can of gas for my chainsaw, so Jerry borrowed that instead.

When Jo and I (and the dogs) took our afternoon walk, Jerry and his friend were still cutting and hauling firewood. I think they were trying to cut enough for Jerry, his friend and Jerry Joe's son. Jerry has a fairly large house that he heats with a wood-burning furnace. To me, those wood-burning furnaces are the worst of both worlds. You have to go to all the effort of cutting firewood, but if the power goes out and the forced air part of the system stops working, you're going to get cold. I'll stick with my Vermont Castings wood stove that heats just fine when one of our ice storms takes down the power lines.

I was glad to see that Jerry had taken down a couple of dead trees that were within falling distance of the power lines that come down to our place. I've been thinking about cutting down those trees for a while now, but just don't trust my tree-felling skills. About the time I get to thinking that I know what I'm doing when it comes to getting a tree to fall where I want it to fall, I'll make a major miscalculation. When I'm cutting in the woods and misjudge where a tree is going to fall -- or, more likely, make my cuts in the wrong place -- it means the tree gets hung up against neighboring trees. When cutting near power lines, the results can be much worse.

Several years ago, I got a chance to see that there is actually quite a bit of slack and give in the power lines. I'd really studied how to fell this particular tree so that it would fall right between two nearby trees. I made my cuts in just the right places and the tree fell to the ground exactly where I wanted it -- well, almost. I'd gotten so involved in keeping the tree from hanging up on its way down, that I'd failed to take note of it's height and how close I was to the power lines. The top of the tree hung up on the power lines long enough for me to skip one heartbeat and then came on down. The power lines whipped up and down violently for what seemed like five minutes, but was actually only several seconds. Jo said the lights down at the house blinked off and on several times, but in the end no damage was done, except that our telephone line ended up wrapped around the bottom power cable. It stayed that way for several years, but caused no problem. A crew from our electric co-op was eventually unwrapped the lines.

About this time last year, a different neighbor cutting firewood on the edge of the co-op's easement had a similar experience. Again, the power lines held, but for and instant the two power cables and the telephone line were all making contact. He popped the fuse for this section of power lines and, despite our surge protector, fried the modem in our computer.