A domesticated life

How many of you are nest builders/maintainers?

In 27 years of owning a wood-sided domicile, I spent the first ten years mowing grass, planting perennials, washing windows and picking up fallen tree branches.

I built a wooden deck, backyard water garden and rock path (the last two composed of three tonnes of rock I hand-carted three times, thus lifting nine tonnes in a matter of a few weeks (with knee and lower back problems bothering me for years afterward)).

We paid to have our roof shingles replaced once after a series of hail storms denuded the shingles.

But I don’t mow the lawn anymore.  Instead of grass, our lawn is covered with Vinca major, two versions including a variegated variety and the common variety as well as Vinca minor, poison ivy, Virginia creeper, honeysuckle, and tree saplings that sprout up in between.

Portions of our asphalt shingles are covered in moss which creates a heavier gravitational pull on individual shingles, resulting in chunks of shingles breaking loose and sliding into the gutter or onto the ground.

Missing shingles expose the wood underneath, leading to wood rot and water leaking onto the sheetrock ceiling of our living space, creating stains and eventually holes (one wet place in the sheetrock was bounced upon by two raccoons playfighting in our attic — much to their and our surprise, they fell through the sheetrock at four o’clock in the morning [Intruder alert!]).

I’m no Johnny Fix-it-on-the-spot.  I’m not Rip Van Winkle.  I’m more like the monkeys with the leaking roof who knew when it rained that they needed to fix the roof but when the weather was nice there was too much else to do than fix a roof that wasn’t just then leaking.

However, given enough impetus I can force myself into situations that require a modicum of handyman skills.

Yesterday, I watched a video online about how to replace broken roof shingles and felt like an instant expert.

Pulled our aluminium extension ladder from the hooks on the garage wall, leaned the ladder against the house, making sure it rested against the cathedral ceiling section for extra support, climbed on the roof and surveyed its condition.

Lots of dead leaves collected in the crooks between the cathedral ceiling eaves and the eaves of the ranch house roof section — swept them off (and for the first time in years, no raccoon poop in the leaves! Cutting down the 20-foot tall fig tree and 30-foot tall foxglove/empress tree, Paulownia tomentosa, last fall removed the raccoon, squirrel and roof rat pathways to our roof.) and looked at the shingle condition.

The fifteen-year life of the 25-year shingles has expired, I’m pretty sure.

Anyway, I located the spot on the roof where the water was leaking down into the front bedroom (a/k/a the study/office/storage/tinkerer’s/writer’s/my room) which has shown a widening paramecium-shaped area of discolouration in the popcorn ceiling.

I used a long crowbar to remove roofing nails on the shingles above the broken piece and the broken piece itself, removed the broken piece, slid in a new one (thanks to the roofer for leaving us a couple of half-used shingle packs) and nailed everything back in place.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

Well, while sweeping the leaves, I felt light-headed and heard blood whooshing behind my ears.  With the ambient temperature well above 90 deg F, little breeze and dark asphalt shingles, it gets hot on a roof.  The fifteen to thirty minutes up there and this middle-aged guy felt a heat stroke coming on, his core body temperature rising faster than expected.

Into the house I went, sat on the sofa with my house companion (wife, not cat, in this case), let my body cool and returned to the roof to remove the shingle.  In that five to ten minute period, my body temp shot up again.

Back inside for a hand-made popsicle (using a Zoku quick pop maker and Minute Maid Simply raspberry lemonade) to cool off.

I returned for the final stage of sliding in the new shingle and tacking everything into place.

I would have snapped a selfie up there but I didn’t want the photo to be my last.

Now that I know how to replace shingles, I’m practically a real man.

Well, I’d say that but as I drove through the neighbourhood, there was a man and his wife, he dressed in plaid shirt and denim jeans, she dressed in plaid blouse and denim leg-length skirt, working on their roof in the hot weather, not taking a break.

I’m still a real man, but now with extra skills.

My wife’s honey-do list might just get done, or at least shortened, if I keep up this skill-building feat.

Meanwhile, our second Cornish Rex cat, Erin, seems to have reduced his eating down to a few nibbles — his body weight is like a feather — don’t know how much longer he’ll live.

Germany plays Argentina in the 2014 World Cup final today — how many jokes going around about Germany’s sons playing the sons of the Boys from Brazil who immigrated to Argentina? We shall see…

I wondered why I had stopped writing lengthy blog posts and short stories — it dawned on me that since I got hearing aids I can spend time in the forest listening to the forest rather than returning to a computing device to blog about what I’ve seen and thought.

Speaking of which, now that the basic form of the cedar bridge is done, I can progress to the next phase of turning it into a kinetic work of art using my new microcontroller-based system, the Micro Python board.

Two dragonflies were mating in midair outside the sunroom window just now and somehow a squirrel found its way onto the sunroom roof. Life in the forest is never boring, much more fun than debating the [de]merits of recently revealed details of the the NSA spying program that exposes the fact freedom is illusory and privacy a luxury in the electronic world.

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