Monday dawned, and I have to say that my attitude on my way to work was SO much better. Of course we had to start retraining Charlotte that toilet paper goes in toilets again and that it’s okay to flush again. Luckily she went right back to it, and even more luckily we didn’t have a stress interruption in the housebreaking. I’d worried about that.
When I got to work, I found that my two co-workers in Farmington STILL had no power, so I continued obsessively monitoring the outage map – I was very worried about my cube neighbor. However I was able to actually get some work done, and that was a huge improvement. I have to say though, my head is really only now getting back into its normal place, and the other people who were out the longest are telling me that they’ve had the same problem. It’s like we’ve all got some sort of really low level PTSD. It’s very strange.
That evening on the way home I went out on a limb and stopped at the grocery store. I didn’t go nuts, but I picked up food for the fridge. A lot of it doesn’t require refrigeration until it’s opened, so that was safe enough. I also got milk, and I got really adventuresome and bought frozen vegetables. My theory was that even if the power went out again, they’re cheap. I didn’t pick up ice cream though – that felt like asking for trouble.
We were all set to grill the most thawed of the steaks. I was SO looking forward to that meal – nice steaks on the grill, some broccoli, some mashed potatoes (yes, instant, but we were just easing back into normalcy.) The steaks were on the grill, we were standing in the kitchen… and the lights went out. On some levels I wanted to laugh, on some I wanted to cry, but what I said was “where did we leave the flashlights?” Bob got his hands on one, and that gave us light to find the others and light the candles. I refired the woodstove (I’d let it go out because the days were so warm,) and since it was too newly lit to be hot enough to boil water, we just had the steaks for dinner.
Later vynehorn asked why we just didn’t steam the broccoli on the grill. Partly it’s because we haven’t had good luck with non-meat products on the grill, but mostly because it didn’t occur to me.
We didn’t call CL&P right away, because I figured they were just switching to work on something else. But after about an hour, Bob called. It turned out a circuit had overloaded, and they were working to fix it. After around two hours in the dark the power came back on, and we never lost it again. However I carried a flashlight in my pocket for the rest of the week.
My cube neighbor got her power back on Tuesday. She was out the longest of anyone I know.
It was also on Tuesday that I was poking around on the town website and found a note saying that the town would be picking up brush and storm debris for *two weeks.* I looked at the calendar, and realized that in order to make that pickup, we were going to need to get ALL the debris to the curb over the coming weekend. You see, daylight savings time had ended, so by the time we get home it’s pitch black. The only time available to do the work, other than taking vacation days from work, was going to be the weekend.
Saturday morning we got up, grabbed the gear, and headed out. The first thing on my agenda was more preventative than recovery. Our frontage pretty much grows wild. It looks awful, but more importantly it had occurred to me that as the dozens of saplings try to get to the light, they’re growing out at an angle – straight towards the utility lines in the street. If the town was going to take brush away, this was a good opportunity to cut those trees before they became a problem – otherwise I was going to have to drag them up my driveway and across to the back of the property to the brush pile (and that IS town land.) So we cleared those out, cut them into shorter pieces, and stacked them up. I cut what I could with the lopping shears, and Bob took out the “bigger” ones with the chainsaw. I don’t think anything we cut was more than an inch and a half in diameter. Once that was done, we started cutting up and hauling the brushy debris down to the curb.
I hate our driveway.
Luckily for me Bob did the worst of the job, which was the actual hauling to the curb. I took the lopping shears and chewed my way into the enormous pile of brush by the garage – pulled the pieces out, cut them up, and made draggable bundles. By sundown we had cleared half of the front property (the other half can wait until spring – we don’t use that area,) the side of the house, and the back yard, and two of the three of us were wiped out.
Sunday was the “repeat” in “lather, rinse, repeat,” only we started chewing our way back towards the archery range, and the chainsaw was required almost as much as the lopping shears. I got the chunk of maple tree off of my shrubs and out of my garden, and started clearing the pathways. A lot of this day involved Bob dropping broken trees and then me denuding them of their branches. The hard part about this phase was keeping an eye on the property line markers – I had no intention of clearing the empty building lot behind us, but it’s easy to get momentum and just keep going. We cleared the pathway, and cleared the path to *our* brush pile, and I turned to clear the range.
When Bob came back from dragging a load down to the curb, I looked at him and said “Bob, I can’t find the range.” There was so much stuff down everywhere that the visual markers had changed – I couldn’t tell where the range had been. I found the bow stand, and the lights, and I finally realized that the reason I couldn’t get my bearings was because the big open area – the target and the overshoot – were buried under a tangle of branches taller than I was in places. Up until then I’d been making good progress, but confronted with that tangle I just didn’t know where to start. So we just waded in. Bob cut up the main limb with the chain saw, and I started going after the branches small enough for me to cut. I just kept whacking off chunks, and when the pile got big enough I would drag it out of the woods, through the yard, and leave it at the side of the house. Bob would haul them down the driveway and toss them on the brushpile. The mistake I made was in stripping down to shirt sleeves (because I was sweating like a butcher.) Oak branches are prickly, and by the end of the day my forearms looked like I’d taken a cheese grater to them.
Interestingly, I discovered that we have multiple kinds of oak trees on the property. The tangle on the target area looked to be either pin oak or red oak. The tangle in the overshoot was white oak.
At one point I took a break from my lopping shears and went down to the street with Bob. The neighbors that we don’t know (they of the perpetually for sale house) decided that it was appropriate to toss all their debris on OUR frontage – and they weren’t breaking theirs down. Given that I’d spent an hour the previous day clearing that frontage, I was unamused. So Bob and I picked it all up – and it took both of us to pick up the entire pine tree that they’d dumped sideways across my mountain laurels – carried it across their driveway to *their* frontage and dumped it. Apparently, they took the hint. If they hadn’t, I was prepared to rope off our property with fluorescent pink tape. If *that* didn’t work, I was prepared to dump it all IN their driveway. :-)
By the time the sun was going down, we’d cleared away the disposable debris on probably 2/3 of the property. I grabbed the camera and headed down to the curb with the last load. Since Bob had been dragging the stuff down to the curb while I dragged it out of the woods, I hadn’t seen the pile in a while. I was flabbergasted – especially since we hadn’t even addressed a third of the property.
Here’s the pile. All of that is ours – it’s about fifty feet long.
Here’s the pile with Bob for scale.
I had him calculate it. We figure that in two days we cut, hauled, and stacked approximately sixty five cubic yards of debris. It will get smaller when either chipped or compacted, of course, but that’s what we’ve got right now.
My father said “are you sure they’re coming?” and I said “No.” He asked “what will you do if they don’t?” and I said “Rent a chipper.”
So at the end of the second post storm weekend we had removed the brush, but still had trees and branches all over the property. Daylight savings time left us at just the wrong moment – we won’t run the chain saw in the dark.
Oh yeah, there’s more. But we’re winding down…