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December 31, 2011
The JawSaw

Gail poses with the JawSaw (and its removeable extension arm) in our backyard

As we have done for the past few years, we took advantage of the long break between Christmas and New Year’s to visit our mountain home. This year, we hosted guests.

Our son Joss’ old high school classmate Rafael remains one of Joss’ best friends. We had originally invited Rafa’s family to the mountain back in the summer to play board games. The trip was cancelled at the last minute when Joss had a spell of spontaneous pneumothorax. We postponed for a week, but that trip was also cancelled when Joss ended up requiring surgery. We all ended up playing board games together in Joss’ hospital room.

This time the plan worked. Rafa came with his parents and two sisters. Joaquin Ruiz, with the help of his wife Carol, manages a startup called “Padopolis” that publishes an online catalog app for the iPad. (Their website is www.catalogspree.com.)

Rafa and his father Joaquin with Cameron and Joss

We spent a couple of days visiting and having fun. The adults played Euro board games such as “Forbidden Island” and “Sneaks and Snitches.” The five younger folk played with air soft pellet guns outside the house and Nerf guns inside the house. (Nerf’s new series of Vortex guns can shoot more than 50 feet!) The group declared that searching for lost Nerf discs was just as fun as shooting each other.

Joss and Cameron form an alliance for “Capture the Flag” with Nerf guns

As usual, the play was accompanied by work. This trip, Gail had a new “toy” that she was very excited to try out. The JawSaw is a chainsaw that is housed in a U-shaped toothed frame. The blade swings into cutting position with the push of a lever. As a result, the tool is very safe and easy to use.

Gail and our son Cameron had successfully used the JawSaw to prune all of our backyard trees in the Bay Area. Up on the mountain, the target would be all of the Manzanita that was growing rampant on the south side of the house. Our friend Steve has been tackling this infestation for years with a hatchet and regular chainsaw, but so far the Manzanita has been winning.

The southern slope from the house is overrun with Manzanita and other brush

Gail, Cameron, Russell and even Joaquin all took turns cutting and stacking Manzanita. While we have barely made inroads into the infestation, Gail was pleased that we have made a visible impact.

Cameron and Russell were so productive with the JawSaw that they worked well past sundown

Our visible progress

Gail and Russell also put Varathane and hose clamps on the last six glu-lam beams supporting the house.

It was a great time and a great end to another year. Of course, next year the monster project of stair railings awaits us…

We also brought up all of the materials for our stair railings in the back of our van. But that’s an adventure for another day…


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