18 February 2017

memories of March

We have now gone a few weeks with no snow; however next week's forecast is now hinting at a little bit more, later in the week. Of course it would be forecast for the day of an appointment that has been cancelled twice by snow.. we shall see about that! They are only expecting 1" but that's what 'they' always say at first.

I recall several late-season snows in Portland that painted the West Hills white - and since we live at 750' those would now be us. Even mid-March photos from my office showed snows just a few hundred feet above my fifth-floor perch! It's therefore prudent to be prepared for a last, brief burst of white in the coming few weeks.

We now have modern cleats for all four wheels of the SportTrac. That will not keep us from slipping sideways off our own driveway, but it's handy once off the steepest part. The Fiat has also shown its worth this cold season, enduring many trips that it should not have been forced to take.

Some day soon we can begin planting our garden, basking on the porch, and looking at the winter of 2016/17 as a distant memory. 
Not yet.

11 February 2017

a stunning turnaround

After a white season like we've had, it was quite surprising to see how quickly the year's largest snowfall disappeared. Five days ago we had 13 inches on the ground - and on the trees, which broke many of them and tilted others beyond recovery! Today we are down to small piles wherever I shoveled it into mounds. It was pretty nearly gone by Thursday morning but now it's barely a memory.

All vehicles are back on top of the hill where they presumably belong. Plenty of firewood is now available for the coming seasons.. assuming I can get our chain-saw to work again. Plenty of scars will remain to remind us of this winter.

08 February 2017

why do I ache so?

Let me count the ways! 

  1. Shoveling a long path downhill, to remove icy slush (heavier than snow)
  2. Carrying bundles of firewood uphill from the point the Fiat gets stuck - that location is just below where the Explorer is stuck from trying to go down the un-shoveled path!
  3. Chain-saw and hand-saw removal of several trees, the big one 8 inches in diameter! (I had help)
  4. Walking back and forth to the mailbox, once on snowshoes.. yes it's uphill both ways, in the snow!
  5. Removing snow from the cracked porch awning that I built four short months ago, and
  6. Trimming and fitting a long stick to support the cracked section!

No doubt I've missed a few points here. Yes I should hurt - I don't believe I have ever shoveled thirteen inches of snow at a time, not to mention how long a walkway I carved from the Big Garage past the house and down to the cars. Oh yes: I also shoveled around our mail-boxes, as the local plow made them almost completely inaccessible for little mail-trucks (I suspect they had to back up to reach them).

Task #3: missed the car, but not by much! The pine in back is a lost cause.

I found a few extra g-free ales in my garage refrigerator.. those won't last long!

06 February 2017

adventure and excitement!

Awoke Saturday morning to a radical forecast change: Snow Returns!
Not merely snow - bunches of it. First forecasts were 3-5" then 5-8", then a generic "more than six" from the NWS, assuming it would start around midday Sunday. Weather Underground went 8-12" before Saturday was over.

Well, it started around 8am not noon - and it kept going. The temperature was just above freezing, the best way to get copious amounts since it's the best for moisture content. It snowed about 9" by bedtime, and as the showers failed on Monday morning we had Thirteen Inches on the ground!

That makes three 6" totals and a 13" total this season. Amazing.

Then the fun began!
I noted that a few cottonwood saplings on our slope were none too happy with their heavy snow burden, and began leaning over our driveway. One rested gently on our front porch awning that I had put up a few short (green) months ago, so I shook it until it became more upright. Not truly upright though, it's still at about 30° from vertical even snow-free as I type this. Two others were across the driveway and were not interested in being vertical again. No matter, as our two cars were down the driveway. The Explorer was 2/3 down but off the asphalt, its weighty momentum pulling it down and off the slick driveway before six inches had fallen. I then drove the Fiat gently downhill past it, parking it under the wavy pine at the bottom of our property where it could easily reach the plowed roads if necessary. The pine keeps snow off the car.. well mostly. Unless it snows a Lot..

Then I went down the hill for a visit.
Oops - a large cottonwood had fallen across our access road, so neither car was going anywhere. Not simply that of course: it had fallen directly into the pine and in front of the Fiat; most of the wavy-pine branches hed been stripped off the tree and onto the car!
Time to get busy.

I went to the garage and got out the new chain saw, filling it for the first time with gas and oil. Once convinced that it worked I chopped away the two saplings that rested in our upper driveway, then went down the hill. I swapped out my soaked gloves for dry ones then visited the big tree and Fiat. Once I lit into the 8-inch diameter tree I did fine, but the chain saw kept stalling. Finally it came to a stop at an awful moment and the bar became stuck as the tree flexed. Back up the hill for a hand-saw, then down via saucer to the bottom. After a few moments I bravely gave up & asked for a neighbor's help. He contacted a family member with a Big chain saw while I went back to work.

In the end I managed to use the hand-saw to cut the tree apart and retrieve the power saw - but the chain no longer felt like moving. Just then the man with the real saw showed up, and he carefully chopped branches away from the car. Thanks to its 12-inch coating of snow it seems to have received no dents or scratches; thank goodness that pine tree was such a soft and wavy one!

That was so much fun that I trudged up the hill, grabbed a beer and visited the hot tub for a while.
Enough fun, please?

After a few weeks of worry a friend pointed out the many ways that chainsaws protect their owners, and I was able to push the hand guard forward and thereby disengage the auto-shutoff control. The saw took down several more branches around the driveway and chopped up more of the big tree that beat up the pine. The pine's fate is still uncertain.