Could it flood?

It's hard to wrap my brain around the thought that the Green River could flood my town. But problems at the flood control dam up in the mountains have everyone very concerned. The Army Corps of Engineers is working on repairs, but in the meantime, everyone in the valley is building defenses. At lunch today I wandered down to the river for a look at the walls going up along the dike.

Other than minor flooding from time to time, this river hasn't flooded since I was a kid, before the dam was built. Back then, the river flooded every year. Farmers in the valley owned rowboats for getting around during the rainy season. Kids missed school, because the buses couldn't pick them up. We lived on the hills, so floods to us were more a novelty than a life-changing event.


In the Wee Hours

Every morning as I drive west toward work, my paths cross with a slight Asian man, out for his early morning walk. Sometimes we're traveling the same direction, but most often, he is on his way back home as I am leaving mine.

Every weekday for more than 20 years, I've seen him. His hair, once black, is now grey and heading towards white. His posture is a bit stooped, and he walks quickly, no matter what the weather.

Every day, I wonder if he sees my Explorer, and whether he recognizes me as I recognize him. If I took a different route, would he notice my absence?


Horse of a different color

These are two examples of a type of art that really appeals to me: creating something recognizable from completely unrelated bits and pieces. I'm always on the lookout for these critters on our travels. The first horse (and my favorite) is on Front Street in Issaquah, Washington. The other is in the railway square in Laramie, Wyoming. This galloping steed has a Wyoming motorcycle license plate on his rump, a nice touch.


Dead Trees & Outhouses

This weekend was the great lumberjacking adventure at the lake. About a year ago, we noticed two side-by-side fir trees, standing dead, about 30 feet from the cabin. Since the trees were about 80 feet tall, this was of some concern. Also of concern were proximity to our neighbor's cabin, to the old outhouse (which was to become a target), and to a metal shed.

Hmmm... this requires the skill and expertise of friend Bernie.

Over the summer, we plotted, measured, sighted uphill and down, and came up with a plan. The downhill tree was easy: a clear path to fall into, no worries about landing on either cabin. We cabled it off, cleared an escape path, notched the tree and backcut, then stood back and watched it come down.

What we didn't expect was that the old outhouse would actually survive: the tree rocked the outhouse off its foundation, then snapped in two and flipped over, end for end. It was quite a sight!

The other tree was a bit more challenging. Safest for both cabins was to have it fall uphill, but it meant attaching cables so we could pull it uphill from two locations and guide it into the chosen alley. Dave & Greg manned the comealongs; Bernie notched the tree, and they ratcheted it slowly until it started to fall. That part worked fine, except that the tree didn't break at the notch--it broke right at ground level. Hmmm... more rotten than we realized.

(You can see the backcut on the tree, about 2 feet above the ground. And the photo is misleading: the tree isn't leaning over the woodshed, it's about 4 feet the other side of it.)

The tree hung up temporarily in a cluster of firs; we reconnected the cables and snubbed it slowly forward, and snap! it broke in two. The lower half fell forward with a whoomp, the upper half fell straight down end first, and collapsed back on top of the lower trunk, folding up in a neat package.

Not exactly as planned, it was better! Easy to cut up the tree, without having to bushwhack through a patch of dense brush to do it.

Once we had lunch and a tasty beverage, we came back outside to dispose of the branches and cut up the trees into firewood lengths. But the real fun was breaking up the old outhouse.

Now, this was no ordinary outhouse. It hadn't been used since indoor plumbing was put into the cabin, but it was once the retreat of the man who built the cabin back in the 1960s. It was painted white inside, had a carpeted floor, a padded seat, a magazine rack, and electric lights! Still, we had no use for it, so out came the sledgehammers.

The happy lumberjacks, with their trophy: the outhouse door.