Thursday, September 24, 2009

Enormous Changes at the Last Minute

[Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park]
In anticipation of the rainy season I thought I ought to have the small leaking area of the roof repaired. Patty had some work roof done recently and she recommended the roofing company who did it.

I called them. They came out and did an inspection and an estimate. The roofer claimed he could not patch the section that was leaking but had to replace the whole section of roof, ideally the whole roof. With my usual charitable view of human character I assumed the man was a liar and a cheat in addition to being a shagetz. The last one wasn't his fault but it didn't make me any more inclined to trust him either.

Another guy has just been here and said almost verbatim what the previous guy had said. I could not initially credit what either said. How could a roof be worn out? It didn't move. It doesn't do anything. No moving parts. If just lies there passively, periodically getting pee'd on by the rain. But the human analogy soon came to mind. Most people, men in particular, live lives much like that of a roof, yet we wear out and die all the same. And when in old age we do develop a new case of shingles, it is not a good thing.

The first guy I attributed to Patty occasionally being a guppy and too ready to spend money. But the second guy came recommended by Frank, an almost pathological skinflint. (Frank once invited me out to lunch at a particular lunch place in the city near where we worked. It turned out he had a two-for-one coupon such that if I bought my lunch there, he got his free.) The company also has recommendations from online home maintenance company recommenders.

So I really am on the hook for at least the weather side of the roof, and probably for the whole thing. The weather side - the south side - will be worst but much of the decay process is "drying out", i.e. oxidation. The shingles would eventually fail even in a cave, exposed to neither sun nor rain. Like us they fail by aging alone.

The first company said they could replace the whole roof for $7200. The second guy said that for $8000 but he would also replace the gutters and the side roof over the former sun porch. This sum matches neatly what spending the winter in New Zealand would have cost.

I came pretty close to buying the airline ticket SFO-Auckland-SFO last night but decided to wait until today to see if I could buy it with credit card airline miles. Now this.

Maybe I can recast the issue. I meant to go to New Zealand because in the winter El Cerrito is dreary and dark. It rains all the time and the rest of the time it is overcast. Daylight hours will shrink to 9 1/2 hours, darkness swells to half again that long.

But perhaps I could escape not to the southern hemisphere but only to the dry pines of the mountains of Nevada. If I lived in my bus in the sunshine under blue skies, the hours of daylight would be no longer than in El Cerrito, but all of them would be sunny.

In driving to see the ichthyosaur (Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park) a few years ago, I happened into the mountains of central Nevada and liked what I saw. Nothing so grand as the Sierra, but attractive nonetheless, pines, not steep, easy to hike, utterly remote, no people, no cars. No underbrush so no deer and so no hunters. Trees small so no loggers. The nearby Berlin silver mine closed in 1911. Even so, a good paved road part of the way. One could park an RV up there and be not only undisturbed but undiscovered for as long as one liked.

I wonder how cold it would be there in the winter?

Cheap and a day's drive from home. Even more isolated than the Northwest Territories in 2007, I could read and write and walk and ponder. Having long since become a curmudgeon, am I becoming a recluse as well? I guess it is OK to be a curmudgeon and a recluse so long as one is good at it.



  1. Yikes! In December and January aveage highs at nearby Austin are in the 40's and average lows in the 10's. Maybe this isn't as good an idea as I thought.

  2. Anonymous3:05 PM

    There's always Florida
    Anon 2

  3. boychek B Pena4:32 PM

    Curmudgeons under the age of 70 are not allowed in florida. You could try Ensanda, Mexico. the only problem being dodging the occasional drug smuggler.....

    Or Joshua Tree state park..peyote is included and handed out at the entrance..

  4. Anonymous10:15 AM

    Hehe, I hope the roof caves in during winter when you're inside, that would be lolatastic

  5. Wow! Anonymous may be a bit of a pointless jerk, but 'lolatastic" is a great word.