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More Adventures in Retirement!

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One may think that by reading the story title, I must have gone off on some memorable excursion, but this is a tale with a local twist. It all starts out with us getting a call from our church secretary stating that a large tree had been blown over (due to Hurricane Idalia’s winds). I have, in the past, gone out of town (and out of state) to do relief work after various storms and have always included my trusty Stihl gas-powered chainsaw. As I drove up onto her property, there were already a handful of volunteers from our congregation hard at work and trying to take this monster tree apart.

Now, it had been a while since I had traveled down to the Punta Gorda/North Port area in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. It turns out that another “I” storm was going to require our attention once again. I spoke to one of the men who was attempting to organize the effort and commenced to pull out some of my tools. I usually fine-tune my saws before I go out on a big project, and for some reason (that eludes me), it didn’t happen this time. The chainsaw was checked for ample fuel mix, saw oil was added to the lube reservoir, and it was time to get cranking (quite literally). The saw didn’t start on the first crank, the second crank, or the next half dozen times I pulled the cord.

At about the eighth pull, I felt a burning in my right shoulder area. This was the area where I had reconstruction surgery done on the rotator cuff (about ten years ago). One of the men from church, Al Vonburg, asked me to hand the saw to him. He gave it four quick pulls of the rope, and it still didn’t start. He then set the saw down and said, “I’ll just get mine out,” and his started on the first pull! So, I decided that instead of trying to work on cutting the tree up, I would point the men to my utility trailer to put in as many of the branches as it would safely handle.

As I started picking up the cut branches and putting them in the trailer, my shoulder made it known to me that it was going to go into full pain and shutdown mode. (I just hate when that happens!) We got the bulk of the problematic tree safely into the trailer, and it was decided that a professional arborist would be called for the parts that were hanging on the roof.

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Later that day, I unloaded the trailer and attempted to pull the rig away from the church’s fire pit. My old truck is a handy tool, but as it has a standard transmission (with a 5-speed stick shift), I had to reach across the steering wheel with my left arm just to shift into first gear. Luckily, my wife had followed me over to the church with our family minivan (which has an automatic transmission), and we switched keychains (and vehicles).

Soon after that, I got in touch with my primary doctor, and he wrote up an order for me to visit a specialist with an X-ray machine. Here we go again!

Thankfully, the tendons that had been previously damaged were not torn but mainly stretched and strained. My wife brought out that saying, which is as familiar as “I told you so,” but just slightly different. She asked, “What part of this lifestyle do we need to change to keep you from hurting yourself?”

We hashed out several ideas, including one that might be of help (for the near future), with promises and price tags. I started looking into buying a cordless (battery-powered) chainsaw, and the prices were not what I was ready for. The average medium saw was between $300.00 and $600.00 (new).

It was time to go to plan B. I directed my attention to the eBay site and started looking at their offerings. Their prices were much better! I soon came across a saw that was for sale but didn’t have the battery to go with it. Because of this product issue, the price at auction was around $65.00. I was not worried about the battery not being part of it, as I have several DeWalt tools (in the 20 amp size). I put in a bid, raising the price up to $70.00, and by the end of the evening, it was beaten (bringing the new tool price to about $80.00). Now, the bidding closure time didn’t end for about another day (22 hours), so I set my iPhone alarm to sound when it was within the last half hour of the sale. Fast forward to 8:45 the next night, and my alarm goes off, telling me it was time to play. One thing that I have learned about these auctions is that if people are interested in an item, most of the fireworks will happen in the last 15 minutes. The price had not changed since the previous night, so I waited until the last 3 minutes of the sale and entered a price of $101.00.

Growing up around my father, who loved auctions, taught me a few tricks. He told me that most people who enter bids usually do so in even amounts. I saw him win a bid on a boat by 1 dollar, and the man bidding against him (it was a “sealed bid” government auction) stood up to challenge the win. The auctioneer asked the man, “If I have 1 dollar in this hand and no dollars in that one, which one wins the bid?” The guy shut up and sat down! So, I was sitting at the edge of my seat, waiting for the last precious seconds to tick down, and when the eBay clock hit zero, I won the bid.

The item came by way of UPS, and just before I was going to try it out, I got a call from my mother’s place that the underside of her kitchen sink area was very wet. I couldn’t get all the parts that needed to be fixed undone and ended up calling a local plumbing company. They told me that my order would be put on the to-do list and that, as the list was long, they might get to us by Thursday (and this was Friday evening). They did say that if we wanted to pay the weekend prices (over $210.00/hour), they would fit us in for that evening. Being older and not having the stamina to wrestle stuck fittings, I did have the good sense to call upon a friend from church (Mr. Duane Niebel) who had better tools than I had. Within a half hour of his arrival, we had the whole sink top out and, in another few hours, a new one in its place. Why am I telling you this (with the story centering around a chainsaw)? Well, I awoke this morning and ended up having to use a cane to support myself (from lying on my back under a sink). So, today, I opened the parcel with the new chainsaw in it and got to just look at it for a while. I will eventually get to use it soon enough. I just have to be wise enough (and use some patience) and have my mind do the work so my old muscles can recover!

Y’all have a good (and blessed) week.

Steven Goodwin
Steven Goodwin
Steve Goodwin is a recently retired Christian conservative veteran (of the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division), who still feels that "duty to country" did not end when the military uniform got hung up. He and his wife Cecelia live on the edge of a beautifully wooded tract of land just south of the bypass, and are involved in not only church activities, but also attend school board meetings and local community action events as well.
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