Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Two Outdoor Projects Checked off the List Despite Nearly NonStop Rain

Regardless how many outdoor, job-jar projects you hope to accomplish during the warmer months, or what their level of complexity, it's tough to get any of them done when it rains every day as it has in Greenville for six to eight weeks.

We've actually been getting a break or two from the rain -- a couple lasting as long as 36 hours. Those of us intrepid do-it-yourselfers only need a small window of clear sky to screw up the courage to embark on a project. Two such rain interruptions occurred last week and I sprang into action.

My house is roughly 60 years old and has more than a half dozen old-growth trees surrounding it. Four of these are nasty old pine trees that tower three or four stories into the air. The others are regular old trees of one sort or another. I'm not sure what they are. They have branches, leaves and bark. They're trees, okay? Although not quite the skyscrapers the pines are, they are huge as well. I have been agonizing about the ones in close proximity to the house almost since I bought the joint more than six years ago. Every fierce storm with whipping winds catapults me into panic mode.

We had such a storm two weeks ago. As the cat dashed for the perceived safety of the crawl space under my bed, I sat in my recliner sipping some Black Maple Hill on the rocks and wondering exactly what I would do if one of these trees or their branches came crashing through the roof. 

I have avoided having the branches overhanging the house professionally trimmed simply because of cost. I figure it would run between $600 and $800. I hate to spend that sort of money without adding any real value to the place. So, I have been paralyzed by indecision compounded by my skin-flint philosophy.

After the big storm a couple of Wednesdays ago, I decided I needed to do something. The trees beat my house to death. I figured I could delay the major expense of having a tree service do the trimming by doing what I could myself.

I hopped online and began shopping for pole chainsaws. The branches most involved with the house were no more than 8 or 9 inches in diameter and most smaller than that. I figured a 10-inch blade should be long enough. Because I didn't want to deal with all the mess of a gas-powered saw, I shopped electric ones.

I belong to Amazon Prime. I joined primarily for the free movies -- none of which I've ever downloaded -- but with membership comes free 2-day shipping on most stuff purchased through them. I buy a lot on Amazon. I found a 10-inch Remington chain saw with a pole expanding to 15 feet for $99. Free shipping, no tax: a bargain!

Two days later my new toy arrived. I had to wait a day or two for a sunny afternoon; but as soon as the sun broke through, I was on the roof with the saw, the pole and 50 feet of electric cord ready to go.

Here's the thing: Even though the saw itself probably only weighs six or seven pounds, and the pole another three or four pounds, once you get that saw dangling out 15 feet, it feels like 30 pounds. That's tough enough to wrestle with if you are standing flat-footed on the ground; but standing on the edge of your roof or the top rung of an 8-foot step ladder, it's positively scary. 

I wasn't able to safely reach everything I had intended to cut, but still got rid of a bunch of it. Once I had trimmed all the branches, I then had to cut them up to put out by the street for pick up.

It wound up being about a four-hour job.

My second little outdoor chore was replacing one of the wood railings for the steps leading from the back of the carport down to the sidewalk. I had replaced the one on the other side two or three years ago for the same reason: wood rot.

Tearing out the damaged railing was pretty simple. You just get a big hammer and bang it out. 

Breaking out my electric miter saw, I cut a 2x4 to size and nailed it in place. Several of the vertical spindles had also come away with the railing, so I had to reinstall those as well. From the time I got my tools out until everything was put away and the clean up completed, the project required about 90 minutes. 

Then I had to put a coat of primer on the railing. A day later the weather report was for 24 hours of clear skies, so I painted the new wood, as well as the all the railings across the back of the carport to match. 


So, until I accumulate the cash for a new shed that will require assembly, as well as the cost of pouring a concrete pad to set it on, my outdoor projects are kaput.


  1. Are you available for handy work? More important, do you work cheap?

  2. I am competitively priced. Have hammer will travel!