So last Thursday saw the arrival of the belated November gales1.
I arrived home after attending the leaving party for a colleague and found Mrs Stevie lounging about oblivious to the stench of smoke and burning rubber in the living room. I ran around looking for fires but found none, so contented myself with opening a couple of windows to allow some air exchange to happen, putting the stench down to combustion byproducts of yet another "cooking experiment"2.
I could still smell burning rubber ten minutes later, so I checked the basement again for a furnace mishap. Finding none I muttered "perhaps I'm having a stroke". Mrs Stevie offered some kind encouragement along the lines of my needing a brain before that could happen, so I decamped outside to see if this was another case of stenches originating in the garage3.
I was testing the air outside with the Steviesnout to eliminate the next door neighbor as a culprit4 but the air was clear.
It was while I was engaged in turning around and ingesting large volumes of air snoutwise that I first saw the damage the high winds gusting about had wrought on the fence, which was drooping in a manner that said eloquently that all three non terminal fenceposts had sheared off, and that the fence was now only held together by the half-rotten rails to which the palings were fastened.
I yelled some emergency Class Four Words of Power and dashed for the driveway and the pile of fenceposts replaced after they were sheared-off the last time the wind blew the fence down, put by for just such an emergency.
In a titanic battle of Man Against The Elements In A World Gone Mad I dragged the mighty, half-rotted timbers over to the sagging fence, pushed the fence back to an approximation of upright and braced each snapped off post with an older snapped off post in the manner like that used by the Riders of Rohan to brace the door of Helm's Deep against the Orc Hordes of Mordor in the movie The Two Towers.
This is where Hollywood was shown to be full of bullshirt. When Helm's Deep's front door was braced, it stayed braced and closed in a satisfying and encouraging manner, and did not burst open the wrong way and tear out the hinges. When I used the same technique on the fence, it fell over the other way, requiring me to run around the entire property line to the other side with more antique snapped-off posts and brace it from the other side, whereupon the bracing on the other side fell away and the fence flopped forward again, forcing me to rinse and repeat, all the while being blown hither and yon by the weather. I was soon forced to re-use many of the Class Fours.
Eventually I had the fence secured, but had noticed that the back fence, the one separating me from Crazy Joe, was flapping alarmingly. Upon climbing around one of the bushtrees half killed at Mrs Stevie's request5 and almost losing an eye a few times to bare branches I discovered that one (and only one) post had snapped. Could have been much worse.
Unfortunately, that post was directly behind the bushtree and I could only reach it with one hand. Bracing was out of the question because a tree was in the way. Replacing it would also involve deforestation. I realized gloomily. When I put the posts in, I did so from Crazy Joe's side of the property line. That wasn't going to be an option this time. In any case, some sort of immediate Action was Called For, before the wiggling of the fence cause cascade failures.
I realized that I might be able to lash the post to the bushtree and restore at least a semblance of stability to the structure, so I dashed inside and down to the basement o' wonders and rope storage, where not a week before I had seen a coil of the same rope I used to manufacture the Stevieling's tree house ladder. Naturally, this was nowhere to be found this night.
I grabbed a short length of rope I used to deploy the submersible pump and ran outside again, not really with much hope. The rope was too short for the task I needed it for.
It was while doing the Impotent Rage Against The Forces Of Nature Dance that I saw the coil of rope hanging from the swimming pool deck, and so was able to enact plan "Lash The Fence To The Tree Before It bleeping Well Falls Into Crazy Joe's Driveway" after all. This involved my poking one end of the rope between the post and the fence (with the tips of my fingers because the post was just beyond arm's length) while fending off the sharp bits of the vengeful bushtree, then running around the other side to fish it out (with groping fingers because the rope was just beyond arm's length) while fending off the sharp bits of the vengeful bushtree, all by the light of the Moon.
I finally secured the post to the bushtree with five or six turns of the rope, pulling the rope taught by tugging hard with both hands while bracing one foot against the bushtree and chanting the Magic Tightening Words. It was a great triumph, and I turned around to survey the temporary6 repairs only to see that all the braces had fallen off the front fence, so I had to go and fix that all over again.
It was all very trying.
- The same ones that claimed the Edmund Fitzgerald↑
- The women of Casa Del Stevie are fond of taking foodstuffs and creatively incinerating them fifteen minutes before I get home. After the last effort of The Stevieling I played The Crazy World of Arthur Brown's Fire at her at volume # 11↑
- Like when the smell of solvents in the basement turned out to be gasoline leaking from the generator in the garage↑
- He has a cast iron stove as part of his heating solution and has been known to burn some pretty noxious things in the past. Tyres had not featured until then, but there is always a first time↑
- Mrs Stevie hated the way the previous winter's heavy snows had made the branches of this dendritic evergreen bushthing splay out and demanded I saw them off. It turns out that dendritic evergreen bushthings only grow on the outside of the area swept out by the tree's branches, and once the branches are trimmed back, they never grow in again. We are now the proud possessors of a tree that resembles the tail of an old lady's poodle, green and bushy at the top, ugly and revolting at the bottom. Should've done what I did before and used string to bonsai the damned thing back into shape↑
- Should be able to replace the posts etc by next summer if the pudding-like ground ever dries out↑