Newest addition to the family

The nature eraser family.

My affinity for items / processes firewood related is thoroughly documented on this site. Despite all that, I’m not some sort of obsessive collector dork. Here’s my dealio: Who doesn’t love having a nice crackling hot fire when the weather turns bitey? I just happen to find the additional step of gathering and processing the firewood extremely satisfying. Paying money for wood and then lighting said wood on fire is, to put it mildly, fucking retarded. Why not just take the money you spent on the wood and light that on fire, hmmm? Think about THAT for a second. I’ll wait.

I’ll try to keep this short. A couple weeks ago, a strange little man in suede knee-high boots collapsed a very large tree in our yard. During this transaction, our conversation came upon firewood. I said something like, “Boy howdy, I shore bet you come across a whole messa good firewood logs,” or whatever. He said, “I’m cutting down an oak on Monday. You want it? I’ll cut it down and bring it over, but you gotta split it up.” Of course I fucking want it, man, but make sure you cut into meticulously even fireplace-sized logs, kthnks. Or something to that effect.

To be honest, I forgot about the oak firewood as soon as dude left. It scarcely entered my mind until a few days later when I came home to find this at the end of the driveway:

Upon closer examination, it became plainly obvious that these logs were decidedly not fireplace length. In fact, he had basically delivered a giant pile of garbage at the foot of my driveway. There were three, maybe four good trunk logs and the rest was weird limbs and undesireable bits. Oh, and every single piece was covered in a decade’s worth of ivy. I wouldn’t be surprised if the person who had this tree removed decided simply cutting the damn thing down was far easier then dealing with the ivy. This is the world in which we live. At first I was pissed, but after I discovered a reasonable amount of usable wood in the pile, I rationalized the mess by reminding myself that he brought all of this to my house without my help and it cost me exactly $0.

After a couple moments of rationalization I realized, not only was I decidedly not pissed, I was actually quite happy about this pile of someone else’s yard debris now resting in my yard. It meant I could finally justify a chainsaw of my own. Why not just borrow the Duke’s saw like I have until now? Because, according to the Duke, after years of being brought back from the dead, that old 1970s McCulloch has finally gone to the brush pile in the sky.

I never like to cheap out on tools because it invariably bites me in the ass, but a new saw of reputable make with enough gonads for what I want to do starts at about $325. Right after Xmas = not gonna happen. Home Depot has a 42cc Poulan for $100, but I’ve read they’re prone to breakage, and having a reliable source for service and parts is key. Chainsaws require a lot of tinkering, futzing, sharpening, maintenance, etc. Home Depot is not this source. The Ace Hardware two miles from my house IS this source, but they are a Stihl dealer and, as I mentioned, a new Stihl is going to run almost four hunskies.

As a compromise, yesterday I gave $150 to Joey-in-Canton-whom-I-met-on-craigslist and in return he gave me a used Stihl 025 (which Stihl recently renamed the MS 250). I took it straight to the Ace Hardware for a makeover, which is a good thing, because it turns out Joey had managed to fit a 67-tooth chain on a 68-tooth guidebar thanks to the chain being re-he-he-heally stretched out. In addition to the chain, it needed a new spark plug, an air filer cleaning (which I can now do myself), and I picked up a bottle of chain oil.

Long story a tad bit longer, I was now eager to tackle this pile of sheet. Behold, used greatness:

The first step was to separate the wheat from the chaff as it were. I lucked out here because the ivy was so tangled up with itself the majority of it came off in big stiff chunks. It could have been much, much worse.

And this is what I was left with:

I got about four cuts in and the rain picked up forcing me to quit for the day. Today we’re going to have a late Xmas of sorts with my family, so you bitches will just have to wait for the final product. But I’m excited. Are you excited? Because I’m excited.

Got back

Gia and I returned yesterday afternoon from spending Xmas at the beach with her family. Oh, you didn’t realize we had left. Right. That’s because Gia has forbidden me from announcing to the internets when our house will be empty for any length of time. Not a bad idea I suppose, but it totally messes with my flow. Don’t tell her I said that.

Anyway, beach smeach*, I got a chainsaw today. More to come.

* Spending Xmas at the beach was totally awesome and I hope we do it every single year for the rest of our lives.

Back to basics

Lest we forget our roots, the topic of this post is a mainstay. Not beer, but firewood. Ideally, I would have been able to post about this about two months ago, but alas, the stars did not align until this weekend. As March began to wind to a close, the Geester and I wondered aloud from where next year’s firewood supply would come. We’ve lucked into felled poplar, oak, and hickory trees each of the last few years, and I was starting to think I would have to actually reach out to someone for some logs to split this time around. “Not so,” said the god of firewood. Two weeks ago, one of my parents’ neighbors cut down an oak tree in their yard and offered me the stumps. One week ago, I retrieved the first half of them. This past weekend, I slipt them. On your marks, get set …

Below is what the yard looked like as of Saturday morning. Under the tarp on the left is what’s left of last year’s oak. the pile in the back is the hickory I split in September:

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trivia.commuting.natural gas

It became fairly obvious last night that I am bad luck for the trivia team. Without me for the past few weeks they’ve done remarkably well. Despite me contributing a couple correct answers last night (CUBA!!1!), we fell like Tim G in the driveway after drinking Guinness from his boot. And even though the San Diego Zoo says so, I still don’t believe the water buffalo is heavier than the polar bear.

I’m still getting used to the new routine. My commute is not very long (~25 minutes), but it’s a helluva lot longer than the 2.4 miles I’m used to travelling. I’m lucky to be able to avoid most of Atlanta’s congestion via Atlanta Road, Northside Drive, and 17th Street. I worry, however, that the 17th Street area is going to start to clog up once Atlantic Station starts to become occupied. One thing I don’t like about the commute is that it brings my innate road rage boiling to the surface. I don’t have a hard start time in the morning, so as long as I’m out the door in time, there’s no need for me to haul ass all over the place. But as soon as I join the rest of commuting Atlanta, it’s like a road warrior race. I can’t seem to get to or from work fast enough. I think this is a sign that we should move closer in and sell both of our cars.

Speaking of conserving energy, I’m suddenly glad I sweat through all that firewood splitting this year. I mean, I’d be glad anyway, but all signs point to natural gas bills being astronomical this winter. I’ve heard the news that prices were going to soar, but we got the letter in the mail that our 12-month locked-in rate was going to go up when our term rolls over in October. It’s going to be something like $1.42 per therm or whatever the unit of measure is. The point is, that’s almost double what we have been paying, which means we’ll be looking at gas bills pushing $300 a month when it gets cold. Fuck. That. It may actually be cheaper to use electricity-hogging aplliances like space heaters and electric blankets. Looks like we’re going to need a bigger fireplace.

The Tweener – Conclusion

Nothing like starting a new job to make you think like you have no control of anything going on around you. Not that the job is all that hectic. In fact, the actual work has started quite slowly. my managers have been very forthcoming about the fact that there will be a long learning curve, which was better than my last gig where they said, “Here’s a phone and a computer. Make sure you hit your numbers every month.” Regardless, it’s a dumptruck full of new stuff to grasp, so I’m flapping around like a live tuna at a Widespread Panic show.

This is the part where I wrap up all of the antics from the past couple weeks once and for all so we can all get on with our lives.

Some of the uneventful things I accomplished:

- Washed our ri-ding-dong-diculous windows
- Applied weed killer to my dried-up, dead-ass, weed-infested yard
- Repeatedly, knocked out WICKED HELLA chores (dishes, laundry, cleaning, errands, vacuuming, the whole nine)
- Chopped a half-cord of hickory that ate my lunch for me for several days in a row.

As you may have heard, I finally finished painting the GHAT DAMN closet doors. Some pictures:

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The Tweener – Day Three: Spray it in the face

I’ve discovered that, leading a life away from a cubicle, and, subsequently, away from the teat of connectivity, is not very conducive to regular blog updates. I predicted that several days with no job would lead to monumental creative productivity. Alas, as my head has hit the pillow the past couple nights, and I’ve taken inventory of the day, I’ve realized, “Hmmmm … it seems I forgot to blog again.” Surprising? A little. Refreshing? Definitely. How depressing would that be if I took a perfectly good chunk of free time and whittled it away on the internet?

Yesterday, day three, I worked on the hickory logs some more. It took me an hour to split 5 of the larger ones into 6-7 chunks each. That is ree-ding-dong-diculous. I also gave the paint sprayer a workout on the GHAT damn closet doors. I’m making progress, albeit slowly. The paint sprayer doesn’t get a workout so much as my Barbie Air Compressor does. I have what I believe is the second smallest compressor for sale at Home Depot. It’s like 2HP and holds 6 gallons. A little bit of advice if you’re in the market for an air compressor: THAT’S NOT ENOUGH FOR A PAINT SPRAYER. It will handle multiple nail guns like a champ, but tools that require a steady stream of air need more horsepower and capacity. If you are in the market for an air compressor, and you only need it for nail gun use … I’ve got one I’ll sell you. Cheap. ish.

Lessee, what else … I went for a run for the first time in waaaaay too long. It actually went much better than I anticipated. It’s been so long that I only expected to make it about a half-mile before collapsing in a heap of hot death, but I ran solidly for almost 30 minutes. I am a machine.

Tonight, Chattahoochee plays Norcross. Both bands are doing Beatles shows. Should be interesting.

Brooklyn Lager tastes like Pale Ale.

Mike Justice is still the best blogger in my links list.

The Tweener- Day Two: Hickory Dickory

The day the Duke left for the Gulf Coast, he stopped by first to borrow my camper top. We have ideantical pickup trucks (how fucking cute, right?), so he can use my camper, no problemo. A hickory tree recently fell in one of his neighbor’s yards, and since I’m the firewood dork, he brought me a truckload of hickory logs to split, season, and, ultimately, burn. I’m stockpiling firewood so that we won’t be hog-tied when natural gas prices go up 50% this winter. As we’re unloading, the Duke says, “Hickory is a little bit different from the other stuff you’ve split. It can be tricky. I’m interested to hear how it goes.”

“It’s not like elm is it? I’ve read, and you’ve told me, elm is damn near impossible. Is the grain all jacked up like that?”

“No the grain is pretty straight. Hickory is just … well, you’ll see.”

Well, I’ll see. Feh. I’ll admit, I’ve been pretty spoiled up to this point with poplar, oak, dogwood, birch, pine and the like. If I were smart, I would have said, “Take your hickory logs back to your neighbor’s house and tell him to cram them in his cramhole!” But I didn’t. Foreshadowing? Nooooo …

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12 or 13 corpses

Sick update: The schmutz coming out of my face is still the color of autumn, so I don’t think I’m out of the woods yet. That is all.

The seester is in town from D.C., so we met her and my parents at Pappasito’s for Mexican last night. I am on a big fish taco kick lately, so I ordered the fish tacos. The grilled fish was a little too big and a little too dry, but I suppose that’s better than a little too wet. The jalapeno aioli/chutney/puree/sauce was totally zippity-do-dah.

During dinner, my dad, The Duke, told a most excellent story, and I couldn’t believe last night was the first I’d heard of it. Apparently, while playing golf with a buddy recently, he flipped a golf cart. Now, I’ve done my share of damage to golf carts. I’ve “accidentally” driven into water hazards, flattened tires, cracked the fiberglass siding, and dented the bumpers. I’ve come close to tipping them several times pulling off a little manuveur I like to call, “OHMYGOD, STOP!!” But I have never flipped one all the way over.

I think I’ve got The Duke’s story straight: They had ventured off the cart path slightly near a creekbed in the middle of the 11th fairway. He stopped the cart on some sort of hump that left the drive wheels unable to move the cart forward. So he put it in reverse to get off the hump and get out of the way of his buddy who was hitting. His buddy got back in the cart and away they went, except, when he stepped on the gas, instead of rolling forward and straight, they started sliding backwards and to the left. The cart hit something that stopped it, and the momentum caused the cart to start to flip towards The Duke. His buddy bailed, and the Duke rode the cart two flips down into the creekbed before diving out at an opportune moment. The golfers behind them came running up expecting to find 12 or 13 corpses, but instead, they found The Duke on his cell phone saying, “Yeah … our cart stopped working. Bring us another one.” And they did.

Tomorrow there will be a little light chainsawing. Pictures if Gia will take them.