Learning About Roofs

I stopped by my friend’s house today to check on the progress of his roof, and I was shocked at what the naked roof looked like, though I don’t know why I should have been since the only roofs I’ve had any dealings with have been my garage roof and that of my gazebo. In both those cases, the construction workers built the roof from scratch, nailing OSB board (Oriented Strand Board) to the trusses.

Every step of the construction of those edifices seemed clean and sturdy, which of course, it would be since the materials were all new. This old roof, on the other hand, is . . . old. More than 100 years old, to be inexact.

At one time, my contractor — the same guy who’s doing this job — and I talked about a new roof on my house. My roof is less than fifteen years old and is in great shape, though some of the granules have come off the shingles, so our talk was more hypothetical than a serious discussion. (The granules were mostly apparent in the detritus after the gutters had been cleaned, so it could have been an accumulation over several years which is normal.)

Anyway, after seeing my friend’s roof with all the various layers of shingles pried off, the contractor told me that my roof could look the same since that’s how they used to build roofs.

He said that because of the additional cost of replacing the sheathing as well as the shingles, I shouldn’t even consider replacing the roof until it leaked, got damaged by hail, or shingles started blowing off. That’s pretty much what I had already decided because I see no point in replacing something that’s working, but it was nice to have the corroboration from someone who knows what he’s talking about.

I suppose it’s possible that when my roof was last reshingled, they replaced the sheathing too because that’s something insurance companies demand, but I don’t think they did it. There is a hump in the roof where the house and the back porch meet, and if the roof had been installed correctly, there would have been no hump. But who knows. They might have replaced the house sheathing but not the porch, or the porch could have been done at another time, or . . . any number of things. With any luck, I won’t ever find out how my roof is made because the roof could hold up for the rest of my tenure here. If luck deserts me, at least I have a vague idea of how much it would cost to replace. (“Vague” because construction materials are inflating at a much higher rate than other products.)

I always figured if the roof had to be replaced because of hail damage or something like that, the insurance would pay for it, but apparently they only pay a prorated portion, and because of the moderate age of the roof combined with the exorbitant hail-damage deductible prevailing in Colorado, I wouldn’t get any money from them. Makes me wonder why I’m paying such a high premium if they’re not going to pay out for damages, but for now, it’s better if I don’t think of that and simply hope for the best. (Normally, “hope for the best” is not a good financial plan, but at the moment, it’s all I have.)

It is interesting, though, watching my friend’s roof being redone. It’s like a dress rehearsal for if I ever have to replace mine, giving me some idea of how the process works. I just hope this second-hand lesson is all I ever have to learn about roofs.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Loads Off My Mind

I miss having work done around my place. There is something compelling about watching men work.

There is still plenty to do around here, but other jobs take precedence right now, such as “my” work crew reroofing the house I’m looking after for a friend. I’d stopped by to check on the work earlier today, and had planned to be back in plenty of time to post a blog before I go to work myself, but I stayed to watch. As I said, it’s compelling to watch men at work.

It’s just as fascinating to watch things being destroyed as being built. For now, all they are doing on the roof is pulling off the multiple layers of asphalt shingles as well as the bottom layer of shake shingles.

It makes me wonder what’s lurking under the outer layer of my shingles. Probably nothing good — there is a bump on the roof where the house meets the back porch, so whoever did my roof did something weird. Luckily, I don’t have to deal with that right now. And except to make sure the guys do the work and to check on them occasionally, I don’t really have to deal with my friend’s roof, either. They seem to have it well in hand.

An extra benefit of having gone to check out the worksite was that I met up with the person who sodded my lawn. I told him my sad sob story (sad sod story?), and he will help me figure out how to fix it. That’s such a relief! I felt bad about the swath of grass dying and another swath being overtaken with Bermuda grass, so it’s good to have someone else helping to shoulder the burden and ease my mind.

And if he doesn’t get time to stop by, if other things take precedence (as so often happens with this overworked crew), then I’ll continue my original plans of tracking down the right seed, reseeding the worst places, and then waiting to see what happens during the fall.

Meantime, it’s good to know that my friend’s roof will be fixed so I don’t have to continue to check for inside leaks. Normally, of course, that wouldn’t be a problem since we’re in a severe drought, but we’ve been getting quite a bit of rain lately, and I sure would have hated for my friend to return after having spent so many months taking care of an ill wife to find that I managed to destroy his house.

So that’s two loads off my mind! Whew.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Science Says

A physicist at École Centrale Paris posted a detailed photo of a distant world that had supposedly been captured through the world’s most powerful space telescope. After the image got thousands of likes and oohs and aahs, he admitted the image was not a celestial body but a slice of chorizo sausage. He claims he perpetrated this hoax to make a point about fake news and how easily things were misinterpreted. He wanted people to proceed with caution and to be wary of studies and experts that support a particular point of view.

It seems to me that if he really wanted people to be wary, it would have made more sense to simply tell people to be wary, but where’s the fun in that? This fellow seems to like practical jokes — apparently, he’d posted the same photo online four years ago, claiming it was the blood moon as seen in Spain. (It makes sense in a whimsical sort of way since a slice of chorizo is a full-moon shaped, blood-colored product from Spain.)

Whether this particular usage of the photo was an actual hoax that he tried to backtrack from, a joke, or a timely warning as he claims, what I found interesting was not that people fell for his trickery (because truly, there’s no way we ordinary folk can tell if a photo is of a distant world or is simply a piece of pork) but that people want to believe in something bigger than they are. Even more, they want to be awed.

According to the dictionary, science is “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.” More simply, science is “the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of natural phenomena,” and “the discovery of general laws or truths that can be tested systematically.”

Despite science being a discipline of shared knowledge that is changed or refined as more observations are made and more experiments are done, many people look to “Science” (with a capital “S”) as an immutable authority, a secular replacement for religion as something both to believe in and to be awed about. Even worse, “Science Says” is often used as an excuse, a not-to-be-argued-with dogmatism, or a justification of one’s beliefs or actions, when in fact, “Science” says nothing. It has no voice. Scientists say things, and as shown above, what scientists say may not be the truth.

We certainly don’t need to turn our attention to scientists for something to believe in or something to “awe” over. We can go outside, look around, and see what we can see. After all, that’s how science as a discipline started, with people simply looking. Admittedly, we won’t see a piece of photo-shopped sausage, but we might see something even more intriguing.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

New and Improved

I’d been buying a seltzer water at a nearby store for the past few months. It was simply carbonated water with natural flavorings — no sugar or salt or chemicals — but it hit the spot on those days when just plain water didn’t seem refreshing enough.

Unfortunately, it was a short-lived product for that store, and now it’s gone from the shelves. The manager told me they have a store brand of the same product, but like most so-called sparkling waters, theirs are nothing more than a clear soft drink, with most of the same ingredients (lots of chemicals!) as a diet soda.

This reminded me of all the other things I liked that were discontinued over the years, as if my liking a product sounded the death knell for it. One example that immediately comes to mind is Space Food Sticks. I really liked those things — they were the first energy and meal replacement bar, and helped keep my appetite — and weight — in check. And then one day, with no explanation, they were gone.

Other products, like Rely tampons had been misused, and girls who had no idea what they were doing died of toxic shock syndrome. The product, of course, was removed, leaving those of us who “relied” on them out of luck. The same thing happened with the original Sensodyne toothpaste, where the pain deadening ingredient was strontium chloride. Used as directed — only as needed — it was perfectly safe, but people used it every day, which caused problems. Now, there is no sensitive-tooth toothpaste that works for me, and to get a modicum of comfort, I have to use the products available every day.

Even something as simple as sassafras tea disappeared, or at least became uncommon, because of harmful side effects. But oh, I did so like sassafras tea and the root-beer-like flavor.

Some products that disappeared are available under the same name, but the product is completely different, such as Dreamsicles. The Dreamsicle of my youth was a creamy concoction, with a soft sherbet outer layer, melding into an ice cream center. Truly a dreamy treat!

Even something as ubiquitous as Dawn changed. The blue-colored Dawn advertises itself as the original scent, but it isn’t. The original scent had no floral undertones. But then, that’s just one of the thousands of products that have been “new and improved” to make more money for the manufacturers and less bang for the buck for consumers.

And on and on. Dozens of products gone or morphed into something completely different. That’s the problem of my having lived during a time of great population growth and growing corporate greed, though that may not be a fair assessment. The past several decades have also been a time of unprecedented product development, so there have been way more products available at any one time than ever before.

Still, it is tiresome always having to find and break in new items only to have them disappear on me a short time later. But maybe that’s a good thing? Who knows. Certainly not me.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Big Sibling

Detectives and other operatives in current mysteries and thrillers look to the internet and the sites where people hang out for clues, so much so that when an author fails to mention those social sites, the absence is glaring. Just as when they don’t mention cell phones. Because cell phones make our lives so much easier and make it harder to be out of touch, the cliché is that the character forgot to charge the phone or is out of range or some such excuse to put the character further into jeopardy.

Which reminds me of Judge Judy and how when defendants talk about a text conversation, and Judy wants to see the message, the defendants always say that it was on a different phone that got broken, and now they have a new one. It happens so often that it’s rather a running joke. But as amusing (or not) as that may be, this post isn’t about cell phones but the social sites.

Have you ever noticed I cannot bring myself to call it “social media”? The closest I come is “social networking sites,” which is what they were known as when I first got online. The “media” part, I suppose, is to make us think these sites have some sort of credence, which they don’t. Not only is the news (on any side of any matter) suspect, so are the lives people portray. As if they are better — or badder — than they are in real life.

In fiction, the lives portrayed online are counted as evidence, especially if someone tells a detective they hadn’t seen the victim in several months, and an online photo shows them together. Or if they say they have never been to a certain place, and a post says otherwise.

Since this happens in real life too, I have never been so naïve as to think that anything I post online is private. I have assumed from the first day that “Big Sibling” is watching me. (Trying to be gender neutral here.) To that end, I have never posted anything I wanted to keep private. In fact, I want people to see my posts and to get to know me in the hope that they will buy my books. Still, I do wonder what I am inadvertently giving away. Anyone can do a bit of detective work and find out where I live, but any official would already know that. Anyone can put the clues together and come up with my age. A few people know when I was born, but generally online I use a pseudonymous birthday. And anyway, that information is available in any official data bank, and especially is available to anyone who has access to my driver’s license, so it’s not much of a secret.

Those officials could comb Facebook for my friends, but then, they would probably already know who they were. And Twitter and LinkedIn? I have no idea who most of my connections are, and I have no interaction with them. In fact, my profiles on both sites are more or less moribund, though the link to my daily blog is posted on both sites. Or at least it’s supposed to be. I haven’t checked recently to see if that is currently the case.

I don’t post photos directly to Facebook, though I suppose they are stored on their servers anyway because of the link to the link to my blog that I post on the site. But that’s okay. Lately all I’ve been posting are images of flowers, not me and whatever victim I might be accused of victimizing. (Though my life is so boring, I’m sure if any official were to check with my neighbors, all they would have to say about me is, “Yes, I know her. Yes, I saw her. I don’t remember what day, but it doesn’t matter. I see her out in her yard every day.)

I am so used to telling the details of my small life that if I did have a secret, I probably wouldn’t have one. I would have blabbed it here, and a blabbed secret is no longer a secret. Though come to think of it, it’s possible they would think that anyone so bland would have to be hiding something (something other than blandness, that is).

Too bad. It would be fun to have a secret. Or maybe not, if fiction is anything to go by. People with secrets are often victims. Since that brings us back to the beginning of this post about officials who come to social sites looking for clues as to who might have wanted to erase the secret by erasing the victim, I’ve apparently come to the end of what I wanted to say.

I hope you have a very nice (and very private) day.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Second-Class Mind

In a book I just finished reading, a teacher accused a grown character of doing a job anyone could do. As he said, “You have a first-class mind. Or if you want to quibble, a good second-class one.” That tickled me for some reason, perhaps because that would be how I’d like myself described, as having a good second-class mind. For sure, no one ever accused me of being a genius, of having a first-class mind. In fact, one teacher in high school said to me, “I bet you think you have a high IQ, but you don’t. It’s average.” Why a teacher would tell a student that — no, let’s be specific. Why a teacher would tell me that, I don’t know. I do know that teachers always thought I was an overachiever, as if my good grades came from constant study. In fact, one teacher told my mother that I worked too hard and that I should take it easier. I’m sure that confused my mother since she never noticed me studying or doing homework, but then, teachers never saw me for anything other than a passable, passive child who didn’t cause trouble.

I’ve been decades away from the influence of teachers who underestimated me, and yet, perhaps they were right. Like the character in the book, I haven’t been doing much with my good second-class mind. In fact, if you must know (which is a silly way to preface a comment because no one “must” know anything about me), I’ve been spending this lazy summer afternoon dozing . . . cough, cough . . . I mean reading. Or should it be the other way around? I’ve been spending this lazy summer afternoon reading . . . cough, cough . . . I mean dozing.

Either way, it’s not the day that’s lazy, but me. In my defense, I was anything but lazy this morning — watering, weeding, chatting across my fence with neighbors.

At least this afternoon was more productive than yesterday afternoon. I have a OneDrive account that I set up when I got a new computer so I could easily transfer my files, and now that my free space is filling up, they want me to start paying for the service. Instead, I spent an hour or so deleting redundant files and folders, and I accidentally deleted an important folder — my blog photos. Come to think of it, it’s not that important since all the photos have been uploaded to my blog, but still, I didn’t want to delete it. I had marked the folder as one to save on my computer no matter what, but apparently, when I deleted it from OneDrive, it still deleted it from my computer. And since the folder in its entirety wasn’t in my recycle bin (each file was listed separately), I had to restore the entire recycle bin. It took my computer hours to get everything back where I had it.

Not that what I did had any importance, it’s that the net result of my falling asleep this afternoon while reading had the very same results as yesterday’s attempt to clean up computer files.

So what does all this have to do with having a good second-class mind? Nothing really except it goes to show that whatever class mind I have (even, perhaps, no class at all), I’m not using it.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Procrastination

I’ve been procrastinating, not having anything in particular to write about. I don’t want to bore people with talk of my yard and garden, and I certainly do not want to continue crying about the brown sections of my lawn that are not improving but instead are getting worse. It’s not as if it’s a major catastrophe, not when people in devastated areas are losing not only their lawns, but their homes and even their lives. Still, I do find it depressing, seeing all that brown when just a couple of months ago those same spots were such a vibrant green. And, of course, the death of anything is hard for me to take. (I’m one of those who truly will not kill a fly.) The unsightly patches wouldn’t be so hard to take, I think, if I could immediately address what worries me, as I always like to do, but it will be a month or even more before I can start reseeding.

So when a friend stopped by to see if I wanted to go on a trip with her, I was glad of an excuse to continue procrastinating. Unfortunately, I had to turn down her invitation since she was leaving tonight and I wasn’t at all prepared to be gone for several days, but it was nice chatting with her.

Then I roamed around the internet for a while and stumbled upon an interesting interactive site: https://dinosaurpictures.org/ancient-earth#0. You can put in the name of your city, and it will show you what that bit of Earth looked like at various times over the past 750 million years. Now that certainly put my concerns into perspective!

And anyway, there is still much for me to enjoy in my yard. In fact, today when I was clearing out weeds, I saw what I thought was a rock, but when I picked it up, I discovered it was a cucumber. Most of the cucumbers on the vine are tiny, no more than an inch or two, so I have no idea how that one grew so fast.

And there are always a few flowers to cheer me up.

Well, what do you know — I just noticed that even with all the procrastination, I’ve managed to write enough to fill a blog post! Yay!

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

The Weed That’s Eating Colorado

So many of the weeds that are taking over this area were brought to this country on purpose. For example, the tamarisk was brought over from Europe to control erosion, and now it’s considered an unkillable monster that sucks up tremendous amounts of water that could be better used for native plants. Some people still think it was a good bargain because it will grow in salty and alkaline soils that other plants avoid, but then, the tamarisk helped create those dry salty basins in the first place. It’s no wonder it’s on the invasive plants list.

People are more familiar with the problem of kudzu, the plant that ate the south. Kudzu is native to Japan and Southeastern China, and was also brought over to control erosion. The vine grows as much as a foot a day! Yikes. I’d hate to have to deal with that sort of growth. I’m having a hard enough time with my own nemesis, kochia.

Around here the weed is known erroneously as ragweed, though the weed I spend so much time digging up is a completely different plant. It took me a while, but I finally tracked down the name, one I’d never heard of, though I’m not sure why. Kochia might not be eating Colorado, but it is so ubiquitous, it sure seems as if it is consuming the state!

Kochia, also known as fireweed because of its red foliage in the fall, was brought over here from Eurasia in the 1900s as an ornamental garden plant. I suppose it might be pretty as a red shrub, but I’ve never seen it turn red. It mostly dries out in the fall, turns into a tumbleweed, and spreads its seeds however far it roams. I’ve discovered it’s easiest to pull the kochia plants when they are small, though after it rains, even plants as tall as two feet can easily be pulled up. If they are left alone, they can grow as tall as seven feet. And by then, I’d need a machete to chop them down because there is no way I could ever pull up such a weed! Luckily, I’ve managed to stay on top of the growth, though just this morning I found a whole bunch of one- and two-foot weeds hidden away behind bushes and tomato plants.

It is a drought resistant-plant, so anyone around here who doesn’t take care of their yard ends up with a kochia forest. And when it rains, watch out! Those things grow fast, though luckily, not as fast as kudzu.

As much of a problem as kochia is in Colorado, you’d think people would be trying to eradicate it, but instead, some farmers in the Southwest grow it for forage. Makes sense, actually, since it is drought resistant and its feed value is just slightly less than alfalfa. But I don’t need the forage. Nor do I look forward to all the seeds from my neighbor’s kochia-infested yard finding a home on my property. At least I have a fence, so any tumbleweeds will have to find another resting place.

I don’t suppose it really matters what the name of this weed is — it is what it is, and a name doesn’t change anything — but with a name I can at least find out what I am dealing with.

And what I am dealing with is a rapidly spreading, drought-resistant invasive plant that really isn’t very pretty.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

Just Flowers

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then this post is worth 6,000 words. Wow! I didn’t realize I had that much to say today!

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.