Friday, November 20, 2015

No-show for the Saturday get-together

Dear sisters and family in Macon:
We aren't going to be able to make it to the pre-Thanksgiving get-together tomorrow. I'm sorry, but things just didn't work out, and it's mostly the fault of architecture.

Our house was built in a time when architecture favored lots of roof lines. I don't know why; maybe it was to confuse the lightning.
At any rate, it has made for MULTIPLE leaks since I've been here (November of 92) and there is extensive evidence of repair prior to that, which is a truly bad record for a house built in 1977.
At any rate, we've had a lot of rain last week, and thought we were going to have MORE roof repaid done. However, a neighbor, and a gentleman who Knows Such Things, said that most of my problem was because my gutters were packed full of pine straw.He pointed out how the mounds of pine straw on the roof accumulated blah blah blah I lapsed into a coma at this point.
See, EVIDENTLY, those gutters have to be cleaned out. I have no objection to that in principle, but naturally figured that since I was retired, it was someone else's job.
That turned out not to be the case.Seems the guy who is supposed to clean out the gutters me.

Well, fortunately, I have all the necessary tools: 40 foot ladder (only needed 8 feet of it, but hey, it was there), an industrial strength leaf blower with a 60 foot extension cord, a pair of nitrile gloves, and an eleven year old boy to climb on the roof with me, a fat black Manx cat named SugarBelly who is interested in everything, and a nine year old girl to hold the cat in between watching Dr. Who episodes.
Even though it was a pleasant 72 outside, moving tons of pine straw is hard work. I wish that was my job, so I could quit it. That homeowner thing, though...
I cleared the back gutters and the roof over the great room while Kenneth was throwing pine cones at the ground. That kid is a modern day Davy Crockett: I don't think he missed with a single pine cone!
Any way, I was almost finished with the back section when he screams (yeah, it was a scream, not a shout or a yell) "PAPA PAT! THERE'S A SNAKE UP HERE!"
It's hard to run on a pine-straw covered roof. Particularly when the pine straw has been up there for six or seven years and is wet & soggy and sitting on a slimy bed of moss. 
Oh, yeah, being crippled and obese : that represents what those of us who are social scientists refer to as 'confounding variables.'
And finally, dropping the blower so it didn't fall off the roof, staying clear of a 60 foot long extension cord, and simultaneously trying to draw a S&W snubbie sort of made the whole thing complete.
So, I get around the corner of the roof, and see Kenneth intensely focussed on a mess of leaves, pine cones, and sticks that have collected in this poorly designed roof trench. Much to his dismay, I make him leave the roof (he wants to stay and catch/play with/adopt the snake) and go back in the house where he will be safe with Alicia & SugarBelly, sweet Liz the Pregnant Lady, and Vincent, her consort . However, when Kenneth screamed, Alicia heard him and jumped, and SugarBelly took the opportunity to escape. She made her escape more extensive when Kenneth came into the house, by going out the door he used to come in. And then, somehow, she got on top of the roof. No, I don't know how she did that. She may have climbed the ladder; heck she may have teleported. Anyway, she set out to see what Papa was doing.
And what I was doing was VERY CAREFULLY sneaking up on that small pile of brush on the roof. I was very glad that it was in the front of the house; the roof is only about seven feet above the deck at that point, so I knew the fall wouldn't kill me, but I still preferred to avoid the drop. And I also preferred not to be bitten by the snake.
HOWEVER, I did make the decision to holster the .38. I'm a pretty good shot with that snubby, but I doubted that the snake was going to be any wider than a pencil, so the only thing I felt SURE of hitting was the roof. And since this entire thing started as an attempt to stop a roof leak, it just seemed inane to poke more holes. I replaced the snubby in my pocket, and picked up a wrist-sized branch that had fallen on the roof sometime in the last ten years or so.
Still HIGHLY focussed on the pile of brush.
And that's when SugarBelly showed her endorsement of my actions, by giving me a comforting lick on the arm. Which I translated as "THE SNAKE JUST BIT ME!!!"
Faster than lightning, I processed all the data, assessed the situation, debated my options and implemented my plan. Really, that's what I did.
It only LOOKED like I screamed and jumped off the roof and knocked myself out.
UMMM....evidently to Liz and Vincent and Kenneth and Alicia, it looked like the snake bit me, making me scream and fall off the roof. 
Vincent ran to my crumpled form, lying on the front porch among the broken flower pots and pieces of the front door, and determined that for the moment, I was still breathing, (although not talking). Liz called 911. Kenneth and Alicia ran and hid, SURE that somehow, this was going to be their fault.
The fire department is less than a mile away from the house, and their response time is incredible. Apart from a minor cut on my head, there was no bleeding, and I was breathing, but the strapped me to a board just in case, and prepped me for transport. The senior EMT was trying to get the story, which required Kenneth to get out from under the bed, so he came out the front porch as they were carrying me down the stairs, and explained the bit about the snake.
What did the snake look like? The EMT asked.
'THAT'S IT RIGHT THERE!' Kenneth shouted (okay, this was TOTALLY a shout, and not a scream. I don't think it was a yell; too much information content for a yell. Definitely a shout).
And he was right, as the harmless garter snake dropped off the gutter and onto my stretcher board. Everyone other than the snake screamed, and only I maintained any contact with the stretcher (because I was tied down). The sidewalk abraded my forehead. The first step split my lower lip. No other manifestations were documented during the next 24 hours at the hospital.

So, that's why we are no show for this Saturday.

Ummm...hardly any of the above is true, but I thought you might need a laugh.


The Chattahoochee Way Pattersons 


  1. A perfect Thanksgiving tale! Thanks for this one, Pat!
    Laura M

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