Forgetting momentarily how clueless I am with anything mechanical, my wife suggested that I go out and rent a chain saw to take care of this little tree problem we woke up to this morning at 2am. I told her that I might as well just cut off my hands right that instant and save the chain saw the bother.
Update 1 (noon, same day) : the tree is still there.
Update 2: the recruiter in me is always there…hit up the guy redoing my neighbor’s driveway: “My chain saw isn’t much of a match for that tree,” he said. “I know what you mean, this $400 in my pocket is feeling really heavy,” I answered. Deal done.