Thursday, October 13, 2016

Cleaning Gutters III

The annual ritual of cleaning gutters culminates with climbing to the summit of the house, a pitched pinnacle 2.5 floors above the ground, where I do two tasks.

First, I wrap the furnace chimney with duct tape. I started doing this in the 90's, when the chimney started dropping bricks on unsuspecting passersby. The logical thing to do would be to remortar the chimney, but that's a lot of work, so instead I just cut away old duct tape and put new duct tape on. That duct tape works!

Secondly, I take the pole branch cutter and do primitive bonsai on the bottom of the leaf canopy of the oak tree extending over the house. That oak tree makes me uneasy. It's not counterbalanced in any kind of meaningful way, so some rainy, blustery evening I'm sure a ton of wood will crash through the roof. To kick that date as far into the future as possible, I concentrate on cutting branches on the far end of the moment-arm of the canopy, so when that branch finally falls, only 1,800 pounds of wood will fall through the roof, rather than a ton.

Waving a pole branch cutter around on the pinnacle of the house reminds me of a crab or a praying mantis waving its arm around. Sometimes praying mantises even join me, and we wave arms together. This year, I saw no praying mantis, but I did see an enormous butterfly - a monarch?

Climbing down from the summit is probably the most dangerous thing I do all year at the house. I use two ladders. The ladder from the shed roof to the bedroom roof isn't on a flat surface, so I have to call upon rusty rock-climbing skills and move as slowly and deliberately as possible in order not to topple as I dismount.

As I get older, scrambling over the roof will get harder. I remember taking ballet in the 80's from aging George Zoritch, who in his day was one of the greatest ballet stars in the world. One day, Zoritch showed up to class limping, with bruises on his face and his arm in a sling. He got overconfident on the roof of his house. If it could happen to him it certainly could happen to me. Important to stay focused and humble!

Rain is forecast for Friday in Sacramento - early for the usual California rainy season (which typically starts Nov. 1st). I'm as ready as I've been in years!

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