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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

High Shutters & Eating the Rat

"You're not going back out on the roof after work today!"

The above was told to me by Ms Rivers as I walked into the house after work today.  An explanation is due in order to have that sentence make any sense.  But first, a few background points:

Vision - Because I don't have great depth perception, heights represent something of a challenge.  Heights, as in what would be experienced when climbing out on a roof.

Wasps - I love studying insects, and for the most part I'm fairly knowledgeable about a great number of them.  Want a brief dissertation on the Carpenter Bee?  I'm your man.

Stress - I tend to get what I would call "delayed reaction" to stress.  As in during the heat of the high stress moment I am fine, but afterwards, when all is said and done, it seem that entirely bodily systems collapse.

Shutters - We got new shutters for the house.

Okay, background briefing completed.  On to the story.

When we bought our house in December of 2013, we really didn't like the black, fake shutters that adorned the front windows.  Last year we had a few things going on (including having an entirely new bathroom built in the house), so shutter-pendctomy just wasn't in the mix.  This year?  Well we picked out a replacement shutter color we liked and ordered them from the local big-box homestore.  The shutters arrived, and last Sunday I replaced the first floor set.  They looked good.  So it's on to the second floor set....three windows actually.

The second floor windows are, by the way, easily accessible via the front porch roof.  So, yesterday after work I decided that I would at least remove the old set and fill the holes left by the mounting screws.  Being something of an insect dork, I also knew that the shutters...or more appropriately behind the shutters...would be the perfect location for a wasp/hornet nest or six.  In actuality there were something like 12+ of them, all thankfully unoccupied.

The actual shutter removal and hole filling wasn't technically very difficult.  The porch roof is very sturdy, the surface is not slippery, the pitch is slight and it's really not that high off the ground.  Seems easy right?

Well, it was terrifying.  I just get very uneasy about heights.  I can't judge distances very well...I never have been able to, truth be I tend to be very careful.  Have I mentioned that just being up on the roof was terrifying?

It took about 30 minutes to remove the old shutters and fill in the mounting holes.  As noted above, lots of abandoned wasp/hornet nests, but outside of an annoying flying bug or two, nothing in the air to worry about.  The old shutters are now back behind our house, waiting for a trip on Saturday morning to the recycling center after which I am sure that Chinese prison laborers will eventually turn them into iPhone cases.

Then there was the delayed reaction.  Sweating.  Stomach cramps.  The rapid heart beat.  A poor night's sleep.

By the way, now that the old shutters are down and the mounting holes are filled, I have to put up the new shutters.  I'm going to wait a little bit before I take that task on, you know, to give my innards time to adjust.

Now why would I go through all of this if it's some bothersome?  Therein lies the "eating the rat" part.  The story has been told by Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy that, after having been bitten by a rat as a child, he hunted down the offending critter, killed it, and ate it.  Yes, that's pretty violent and disgusting at the same time, but I consider the story to be something of a metaphor for the desire to attack that which I fear.  I won't cop to being afraid of heights, but I will confess that they make me very uneasy.  All the more reason to take down the shutters.  And put up the new ones.

I can think of no better way to end this posting than with a song that references a roof and a rat (as in "rat race").  Gentle readers, I give you Mr James Taylor.

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