Thursday, August 02, 2012

I took time out of my hectic writing schedule- fifteen minutes of writing, get an iced tea, check Facebook, email, pet Damnit, untangle Margie's knitting from Damnit, go to the yarn store and replace expensive knitting needles with two heads and a cord between 'em- (Why? Never mind or it will be explained in painful detail- again!), banish Damnit to front porch, chase Damnit and apologize to the mailman-again. click on book. Reread chapter. Begin cycle again- to do some yard work at the old homestead- in May.

My task at hand was to remove a stump that was in the way of a new field stone wall that will terrace the front yard. Simple enough, remove stump, build wall, right? Of course not.

A chain saw blade, six Saws-All blades, two axes, a shovel, two months and my patience later, I managed to chip the stump to about a foot high- low enough to be covered by dirt behind the wall. For a while, I thought the stump was petrified, a feat worthy of the science books, considering I cut the then-live tree down only two years ago, just a bit shy of the million odd years I'm told petrifying takes.

After hacking on and off a day or two a week since May, I found my enemy and it is geology! As the tree grew, rocks, yes, rocks were incorporated into its core. My stump was armored!

I told a couple of friends, who promptly told me I needed to abstain from chemical "enhancements" and suggested rehab. "Trees don't grow rocks," I was told. Thinking I might need "Enhancements" at the rate I was going, I figured it was time to prove my enemy existed.

Yes, it was time to grab the camera.

In the first photo, you can see a rock of unknown ancestry in the center of the stump. It has the saw marks of its victim, an expensive chain that has gone on to become a new washer or dryer.

In the second photo is a piece of shale, the remains of fill used to, well, fill in a mine collapse in the area of the tree. The rock fractures when the saw hits it, throwing up a black dust and yes, the first time it happened, I had one of those "What the" moments...

The homestead is in the center of the Anthracite coal field and the shale, incidentally, is a piece of Marcellus shale, known for the gas drilling and fracking that is in the news these days. Where there's anthracite, there's shale. Harry Chapin missed that. The piles of mine refuse here aren't slag, they're shale. I'll give him a pass on that because I really like the song!

Unfortunately, our estate, at three-quarters of an acre and in a city, will not see a drilling rig or gas cash. But I've already replaced shocks from roads damaged by the fracking water trucks (No, Ma, I said "fracking." Ma worries about Miranda and Sunshine reading my "adult" content). You would think they could spare a couple of bucks for my trouble!

I spent an hour chipping the shale out of the pocket. It and it's family of shale pieces ate five expensive Saws-All blades over the course of the project.

Did I mention this has been the second-hottest summer on record here in the the land of 30,000 bananas? I drown in sweat every day I worked on the project.

Damnit, on the other hand, split her time between grabbing chunks of stump and leaving them in the high grass and dipping in her puppy pool (we called it a kiddy pool once- she stayed out for a week), followed by an enthusiastic shake. Now that I've finished the stump, I started to catch up on the grass. Thanks to Damnit, that's cut a few feet, hit a chunk of stump, cut a few feet, hit a chunk...

As I finish the wall and add dirt, grass seed and plants, I'll post a couple of photos in an upcoming post.

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