Monday, July 02, 2012

Patience on a Hot Tin Roof

I am going to be terribly boring today and talk about the weather.  You may have heard about the devastating storm that left a swath of destruction across the mid-Atlantic.

I stepped outside briefly Friday night and noticed a barrage of heat lightning, with no thunder.  Suddenly, the wind picked up--there was one particularly terrifying gust that toppled Jon's motorcycle--then things calmed down.  We thought the storm was over, but it turned out this was just the beginning of a pattern of fierce wind, flickering lights, panicking dogs, followed by calm.  After a particularly long period of calm, I decided the storm must finally be over and went upstairs to get ready for bed.  Then came the most terrifying gust of all.  I had an internal sense that something awful was about to happen.  Then came a noise of hundreds of tennis balls being hurled at the roof with great violence.  Hail?  But there was no hail (or rain) and the noise stopped after a few seconds.  All seemed calm and we went to bed, although I barely slept, due to worry about Grace who was spending the night at a friend's house on which an entire tree had fallen, and Brigid, who was camping in a tent at a music festival somewhere in Northern Virginia.  (They are both safe, but we didn't hear from Brigid until late Sunday night.  Her phone had been dead.)

Jon left for work very early Saturday morning.  As soon as I got up, I climbed out of my bedroom window onto the sunroom roof and from there ascended a ladder to the roof over the main part of the house.  A huge tree branch was lying on our roof, and appeared to have made a violent impact with our chimney.  It was impossible to assess the full extent of the damage because of all the leaves.  It was a walnut tree, which explains the thundering tennis ball sound I'd heard the night before.

There was no way I was going to wait twelve hours for Jon to get home to get this mess off our roof.  I got a tree saw and a set of clippers, climbed onto the roof, still in my pajamas and attacked the branch.  There were actually two branches on the roof and I managed to haul one of them over the roof peak and slide down to the relatively flat bit over the bathroom and then saw it into manageable chunks.

The other branch turned out to be still attached to the tree, so I gave up.  I was suddenly aware of the intense heat--our roof is made of tin--and that I had neglected to put on sunscreen, and that my pajama shirt was soaked with sweat.

Here are a few pictures I took on Sunday, after the cleanup.  It didn't even occur to me to take pictures at first.

The only discernible damage is to this flimsy chimney liner, plus two missing bricks, one of which I dislodged while using the chimney as a support while I sawed.  On Saturday morning, this entire area was covered with the tree branch.

The bit of branch that's still on the roof.

That horizontal bit to the left is the end of the branch that's still attached to the tree.

Yesterday morning I work up with unhappy thoughts about sleeping wrong, a bad mattress, a sudden affliction with arthritis, or lupus, or lyme disease, and it wasn't until nearly dinnertime that I realized that the reason I ached so much all over was from my unexpected upper-body workout.  My left wrist is especially unhappy.

We've got an arborist coming today to give us an estimate on removing it.  Last night we had another thunderstorm, with wind and I heard some ominous noises on the roof.  The branch appears to have shifted a bit.  If it falls off the roof on its own, it will likely catch the power line on the way down.


  1. When we built our house, I was unhappy that the previous owner of the property had seen fit to clear cut the lot of all trees. Now I'm actually a bit happy about it.

    I'm glad everyone in the Crabstick family is okay.

  2. You are such a warrior woman--climbing up on that tin roof and sawing at that big tree! I can't imagine how terrifying it must have been to sit through that storm.

  3. Wow, I admire your pluckiness. Well done.

  4. I was thinking about you when we heard the news about the high winds and extreme temperatures.

    It sounds a bit scary. Glad you're all OK so far. Very brave of you getting up on the roof.

  5. You're kind of a badass. I salute your DIY arborist-ing! (that's a word, right?)

  6. We still have yet to clean up. I heard a limb fall on our roof while I was home alone Friday night during the storm, but we packed up and hit the lake early rather than clean up or even go look at it.

    I'm slightly in awe of you getting up there and doing it yourself.

  7. Oh man, that must’ve been a strong wind to tear a couple of branches off of a walnut tree! Thankfully, no one in your family was hurt, and that your roof seems to have borne the brunt of the damage. Let’s hope the damage isn’t worse than what it seems from these pictures.

    Norbert Floth

  8. Well, thank goodness nobody got hurt, and that your roof did not have any severe damages after the harsh weather. Did you guys have your roofs checked? I hope you did. The branch may have caused your roof to have a hole, which may lead to roof leak once the rain attacks again.

    Laurelle  Baughman