Wednesday, April 21, 2021


Temporarily, I've had to suspend operations on the interior of Bleak House. There's a pandemic raging. (You may have heard about it). With most stores being closed, I'm unable to go and select the lumber I need to finish the job, and I'm far too untrusting to purchase lumber sight unseen. When I went outside yesterday morning, it was a delightful spring day. I could've gone for a boat ride, or gone over to the island to finish chainsawing a beaver-damaged beech tree, or I could've gone down to the boathouse and repositioned an electrical outlet. By the time I'd walked down to the boathouse, I'd changed my mind. I was going to tear down the screened-in porch. Not much of it was still screened in, because birds used to fly in there and be unable to fly out again due to the screens. I found it distressing having to remove deceased birds, so I'd ripped out the screens to give them a fighting chance at regaining their freedom. Bleak House may be looking pretty good inside, but outside it still needs a lot of work, and the porch wasn't contributing anything to its appearance. The roof of the porch was starting to cave in and I accepted that the rest of it was likely beyond repair.
In addition to the square footage (it's about half the size of the entire boathouse) it is also incredibly heavy. The thick wooden roof is covered with at least three layers of asphalt shingles. I started by bringing a ladder and trying to remove some of the shingles but the size of the roof quickly made that impossible.
Realizing I'd have to bring the roof down to ground level before I could remove the shingles, I took my larger chainsaw and cut through the pillars supporting the roof. At first glance, it looked like I'd proven gravity was a hoax. The roof held firm and the top half of the pillars hung there like stalactites in a cave. Occasionally, when I'm working alone on a physically demanding project, I wonder if I've reached the point where I ought to call someone to come over and spot me, in case I get into difficulty. This was one of those points. However, there were a couple of two-by-fours bracing the roof from inside the porch, and they were holding firm. I decided to proceed on my own.
The most expedient solution was to chainsaw through about 80 percent of each two-by-four, then get the heck out of the porch. Nervewracking? A bit. Once safely outside, I picked up a length of scrap lumber and used it as a battering ram, to hit each of the partially sawed through two-by-fours in turn. As soon as they began to buckle where they'd been cut, I knew it was time to reach for my phone and start to videotape the collapse of the roof. I wasn't fast enough. The roof uttered a soft groan, and wafted gently toward the ground, like a leaf descending gracefully from a tree in autumn.
Cutting it up and removing the asphalt shingles was the easiest thing I'd had to do all day.
And cleaning up the debris field will be a task I'll leave for the next warm day. But I'm thrilled with how much I prefer the look of Bleak House without the screamed-in porch. It's got a sweet little patio outside and lots more light gets in the windows.
All in all, it was a good day's work.

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