August 3rd, 2010

Kevin and Lisa

Smoke on the Santiam

Yesterday afternoon, Lisa drove us up to Mill City to a small lumber yard where we'd bought the boards for the repair of the utility trailer. With the work almost complete, we needed to get a sheet of plywood to cover the bottom slats of the trailer. We also needed another bundle of lathing that Lisa will nail to That Darn Roof to serve as anchors for future sheets of roof fabric.

While we were discussing lumber with the guy at the yard, he remarked conversationally, "There must be a big fire down your way."

I hadn't noticed much myself, and said, "It must be past Mehama, because we didn't see anything on the drive up."

Collecting our lumber, we headed back down the hill, and it was then that we could actually see what the lumber guy was talking about. Lisa said it looked like a field burn somewhere to the west. By the time we got back to Mehama, it was really apparent, as the sky darkened noticeably.

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The cloud was sufficiently heavy as to cut the sunlight enough so that we got to start working earlier than usual that afternoon. You could smell the smoke, but it wasn't bad enough to slow us down. I've seen much worse in my days living on Forest Service bases in my youth.
Kuma Bear

Paint Your Trailer

A few weeks ago, travelswithkuma reported on progress on the utility trailer. Yesterday afternoon, we walked to the hardware store (where we are regular and well-known customers) to buy a bucket of paint to cover the replaced boards. The store's owner pointed at a bucket of gray-green paint that had been previously marked down for quick sale and said, "Take that one; no charge."

"Free is good," I said, and carried it away. We still spent some money, however, as Lisa bought some new paint brushes and mineral spirits for cleaning them.

After that, we did the errand to the lumber yard, and with the smoke cloud cutting the heat sufficiently to get working, she started on the painting. She pried open the can and said, "Uh, oh."

I came over and looked. The paint in the can had solidified into a gray-green blob. "Oh, well," I said, "No harm done."

Noting that it was 5:45, we hot-footed it across the property (the hardware store shares its back fence with Lisa's father's property) and got there before they closed at 6 PM. We let the owner know that the can of paint was dead -- as I said, no harm done -- and that we were going to have to buy some paint after all. He suggested some Tudor Brown outdoor wood paint, which looked just right to us, and we took it.

Lisa started painting and I threw away the can of dead paint. After not too long, she'd completely covered the base of the trailer and the lower boards.

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We'll let the trailer sit in the sun for at least a day or so before putting the sheet of plywood over the painted lower boards. It's been a long time (almost two years!), but we're finally getting close to being able to use this utility trailer again. This should improve our efficiency at clearing brush and other debris considerably, as one of the bottlenecks has been only being able to shift stuff with the small hand cart.
Let's Split

Overdoing It

Painting the trailer is essentially a one-person job, because there's not really enough room for two people to work without getting in each other's way, so Lisa suggested that I go split a few more logs while she painted. I was already kitted up in my coveralls and gloves. (I won't do this work without my protective gear. I've already ruined one set of slacks and would prefer to not do it again.)

I got the splitting maul and headed to the cedar pile. To my annoyance, I could get nothing to split. Too many knots in the wood that's accessible at the moment. So I moved to the maple pile. Here, most of the wood is now overgrown with brush that will have to be cleared in order to get at the rounds. Finally, I tried the cedar, which not only should be the easiest to split, but also has been getting the most sun, and thus should be pretty dry.

No joy. I did get one round split, but even the small rounds are full of knots on account of having branches growing through them. They are not at all easy to split. After a while banging away on a stubborn round, I was drenched with sweat, a blister was forming on my hand (even though I was wearing gloves), and I felt utterly drained.

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Admitting defeat, I went back over to where Lisa was finishing up painting the trailer, put away the maul, and sat in the shade for a while.

Initially, our plans called for another roof expedition to rearrange ladders that evening, but we decided we were both too tired for it. Maybe tonight.

The blister on my left hand was caused by my wedding band digging into the palm of my hand as I swung the maul. I've had to set the ring aside for a few days to let it heal up. I have blisters on my feet as well, which I've covered with bandages. I need my heavy boots while up here, but they're hard on my feet. I'm a country boy by birth, but a city slicker for most of the past twenty-five years and thus pretty soft when it comes to this sort of work.