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Ever since the last couple of 4th of July fireworks extravaganzas here in Bend, Oregon, I have been trying to fireproof my house. Then the Paradise, California, fires occurred only two months ago, and on reviewing that location it became obvious to me at least that our city is very similar to Paradise. We have lots of Ponderosa pines around here, and a fair number of deciduous trees also, just like Paradise. Also, we have had parts of our city evacuated when there were nearby forest fires. I know some of the City Council people and I have asked repeatedly for them to make private fireworks illegal here in town. They haven’t done so, and the last two July 4ths there have been uncontrolled fires within half a mile of my house. Those didn’t include the three different groups that within a block of my house were firing rockets up between the full-grown Ponderosa trees. Fortunately, none of those rockets set a fire. But it was the 4th of July, and around here that means it’s dry and sometimes hot. It will only take a tiny spark to set our city to look like Paradise.

So, I have been clearing everything flammable away from my house. I don’t think that is being unreasonable, but it is obvious when looking around town that most people are not responding to the obvious fire threats. Bend looks like paradise now and I hope it doesn’t look like Paradise come Thanksgiving Day.

One of the things I have been doing is removing the bushes and small trees that have been growing near my house and near the fence around my property. The big Ponderosas blew over a year and a half ago, but only one hit my house. The house behind mine was demolished by another tree, and two others went down within striking distance of mine but didn’t hit any houses. It seemed necessary to have one removed, whose roots were growing under where I am sitting now. Sad to see it go, but it was it or our home.

That is the background to my becoming a backyard lumberjack. It is really hard physical work cutting down even smallish hardwood trees with hand saws. Mostly I have been using a 14″ Corona pruning saw, which is amazingly good at cutting limbs, and a 1¼ hp Skill saw when possible. Those combined with a pick and shovel for getting at the roots, hoes and rakes for clearing up debris, and an arm-size branch-cutting snipper for up to ¾” branches. And a five-pound sledgehammer for compressing and thus filling my 30-gallon garbage can to the max. I’ve done this every single week since spring.

One of the sad things is that when I am done all there is to see is smooth dirt. The trees and bushes are gone and the wooden fence becomes more prominent. It isn’t ugly, but it isn’t beautiful either, by any stretch of one’s definition of beauty. I still have a couple of smaller tasks to go. There are some bushes under my front eaves that are directly beneath the attic ventilation ports. They have got to go because that is the source of many houses catching fire in a city holocaust.

These personal problems are probably far more than anyone is interested in, but this is what has been occupying a big chunk of my mind and body lately.

It is about time to get back to saving humanity and converting the rest of the Universe to a friendly sentient being.