So This Happened…

Spot the difference:

white railsexterior 2016You may be saying to yourself, “My, isn’t that a lovely modern deck, much better than the previous one?”

And you’d be right.   The old deck was built about 25 years ago and it was time for a new one.  But if you are VERY observant, you might also notice a dearth of tree above the roof-line in the second picture.  The absence of a 60-year-old pine tree.  And that change wasn’t planned.

For about the last month, we’ve spent every weekend working on replacing our old deck.

Old deck needs replacing.

We wouldn’t let ourselves replace this deck until we had done most of the hard projects in restoring this house. Sort of like a DIY dessert.

The structure of deck-building

The structure of deck-building is sort of like quilting — all the layers are necessary and you have to “stitch” them together properly to get good results.

Old, sad, crumbling deck boards.

Old, sad, crumbling deck boards.

New, happy, modern boards made from sawdust and recycled plastic!!!

New, happy, modern boards made from sawdust and recycled plastic!!!

Finally it was finished, and my husband ordered some Adirondack chairs.  The builder delivered them, my husband placed them on the deck, and I stepped away to see the full effect.

And I noticed something wrong about one of the trees.

The pine tree on the right should be standing straight.

The pine tree on the right should be standing straight.

A little bit of wind the night before had twisted the pine tree and it had split, but its companion oak tree was still holding it up.

Scary-looking split.

Scary-looking split.

Notice that the power pole on the left looks to be in harm's way.

Notice that the power pole on the left looks to be in harm’s way.

We noticed the damage on Tuesday morning, and called the electric co-op because the tree was threatening their pole.  We couldn’t call a tree service because they would not want to work so close to power lines.  There was a bad storm predicted for Friday evening, so I hoped the power company would get to us before that and take down the tree.

I didn’t sleep well Tuesday night fearing that the tree would fall on the house, but on Wednesday morning it didn’t seem to have shifted any and I thought maybe it would hold on longer than I thought.  Sometimes, dead trees stand for years, and other times, perfectly healthy trees just fall over and pop their roots out of our sandy soil.

There didn’t seem to be any change on Thursday either and I was getting used this Pine of Damocles, but Thursday evening, I was downstairs and my husband was upstairs, when we heard a series of loud thumps, and the power went out.  Our first quick reaction was that the predicted storm had come early, and then we realized something had fallen, we couldn’t tell how much.

First glimpse at night. We didn't go out in case there were live wires.

First glimpse at night. We didn’t go out in case there were live wires.

We called the power company.  They came within a couple of hours, but they gave us the unwelcome news that the only problem was that the tree had ripped all the wires from our house; their pole was just fine.  So that meant we would have to get a private electrician to repair everything from the house to the pole.  They did tape the live wires up to the pole so we could go outside safely.

My husband started calling immediately, but we weren’t able to get anyone to come out until four days later.

First glimpse in the morning, not so bad.

First glimpse in the morning, not so bad.

The fallen tree extends past the house.

Until you look on the other side of the house.

A big branch of the oak gave way and fell with the pine. We were very lucky!  There was just minimal damage to one corner of the roof.  Nothing even fell or broke inside the house.

The pine's last moments next to its old friend, the oak.

The pine’s last moments next to its old friend, the oak.

Here is the earliest picture I have of these two trees.  This is a picture of my husband in 1987, flying a kite for our daughters, and just past his arm you can see the oak by the house, about the same height it is now but much thinner (just like us!).  And you can barely see the curved skinny trunk of the pine, left of the oak.

Early days of the oak and pine.

Early days of the oak and pine.

So!  We spent a day cleaning up the tree, and three more days waiting for power.

I am ashamed of myself for how poorly I prepared.   I have been through a few hurricanes and I know what you should do to get ready for a power outage, but I didn’t do it.  I did move all my favorite art from the upstairs to the opposite corner of the house downstairs, in case the tree went right through the roof during a rain storm or something.  But I didn’t put water in containers or build up a supply of ice.  And I charged my camera battery, but not my Kindles!

But I didn’t think it might be a several-day-long deal, I didn’t realize we might have to get someone besides the power company to fix it.

We got a generator so we could run the fridge for a while, and then an air conditioner unit.  I didn’t worry about the freezer, because I knew I didn’t have much food in there, mostly dye plants.  So what if they thawed?  I would just refreeze them.

But during the afternoon of Day Four, as the electricians were working at the breaker box, I noticed that the freezer was leaking lots of pretty pink juice.  What I had not considered was that the nice solid berries that I had tossed into the freezer in plastic bags, would turn to mush as they thawed, and leak out of the bags.  I tracked the growing puddle, thinking the electricians were almost done, and the freezer would refreeze all that messy juice, but it just kept flowing out.  I was a little worried that someone would see it and, especially if their color sense was not finely tuned, think I had a body in there.

Finally I gave in to circumstances and did a total freezer clean-out right then.  Fortunately I could run a wet vac with the generator.  But in the future I will store my dye plants in leak-proof containers!