ashes in the woods, bleach in my eye
Friday, October 9 2015
Susan came over this morning to walk our dogs with Gretchen (and, until we get muzzles for everyone, she left her own dogs at home). Meanwhile I went down to the north end of the Gullies Trail to salvage another 117.5 pounds of firewood, mostly from a single largish long-ignored piece of trunk along the trail. It was warm and humid enough for me to remove my shirt before executing the most arduous part of the chore: carrying the load back home.
Later clouds thickened and rain began to fall. But it was a warm rain, and it felt good to walk around outside in it. While I was out, I performed a little survey around the house to locate all the local White Ash trees and assess their state of demise from the ongoing Emerald Ash Borer invasion. Since our house is high on a plateau in something of a nutrient and moisture desert, it's not great White Ash habitat, and they tend to be restricted to hollows and the bases of slopes. There is a single eight-inch thick White Ash about thirty feet south of the house, and it has already died. Further south of that, along the mountain goat path leading to the woodshed, there are a couple more that are still alive but bad affected. Both appear to have received the assistance of woodpeckers, but the cambium in their trunks is so compromised that they've sent up desperate sprouts from below the damage, similar to the way American Chestnut responds to being attacked by the blight. One of two White Ashes grows so close to a Canadian Hemlock that its trunk actually wraps around the hemlock's as it ascends. But now both trees are unhealthy, one from the Woolly Adelgid and the other from the Emerald Ash Borer. Thanks, international free trade!
An ash wrapped around a hemlock just above the mountain goat path to the woodshed (visible just to the left). Note the sprouts from the ash as it tries to survive. (Click to enlarge.)
There are also a couple White Ashes just east of the greenhouse, 23 feet away. Back in 2008, I'd actually managed to thread the greenhouse's four inch drainage pipe directly beneath the smaller of these (through its roots) without killing it. Both appear to still be healthy, though the larger is only 5.5 inches thick and the smaller is 4.
Meanwhile, Gretchen continues to be afflicted by a mild illness that makes her feel cold even in perfectly comfortable temperatures. As I mentioned, there was a rain falling outside that was warm enough for me to want to walk around in, but all she wanted to do was huddle in the focus of a parabolic electric heat radiator.
This evening I did some bleaching of places in the basement that have recently been environments conducive to the growth of mold. This included the entrance way to the smaller ("Gunther") guestroom, where the carpet floods on the rare occasions that water pours into the boiler room via the well's electrical conduit. Gretchen had wanted me to rip that carpet up and resurface the slab with faux wood, but I've been holding out, wanting to control the flooding and leave the carpet in place. Another potentially moldy spot was the part of the shag carpet in Gretchen's library that I recently flooded in order to wash out Ramona's urine. I'd had a fan blowing on it since then, but there was only so much that that could do. Another place where mold needed abatement was on the ceiling in the walk-in closet, where a leak from the plumbing had spilled onto the drywall. I've still yet to fix that leak. While I had latex gloves on my hands, I also used some of that white wall compound to over up some dark patches along the bottom of the wall in the main guestroom closet.
I did the bleaching of the ceiling in the closet last, and somehow while I worked I managed to get a drop of bleach into my left eye about a half inch noseward from my pupil. I immediately washed it out as best I could and the burning soon subsided, though this was replaced by a feeling of irritation, like there was something in my eye. This was probably swollen tissue where the bleach had landed. My vision wasn't affected, though the white of my eye in the affected area was visibly bloodshot. I looked up this scenario on Google of course, and though a lot of people who had experienced this same accident expressed fear they would surely go blind, the prognosis is good so long as the bleach is immediately washed away. I did not feel the need to seek any medical attention beside what I could provide for myself.
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