Sunday, April 8, 2012

Gifts that give again

Over the years I've gotten a number of interesting gifts from Marianne, our daughter-in-law who is married to Clint.  Marianne has at knack of finding things that provide accents to the outside of our house and yard.  Some of those gifts we pretty easy to put into service, like hanging several bird houses of different types from tree limbs.  But some have been a bit more challenging.  About three years ago it was the three story wooden bird condo that eventually was erected high on a 12 foot pole with a weather station on top.  It was a little work, but not too bad. 

 Last year was a switch to comfort for mammals in our very own bat house.  Bat houses have to be put up high in a place with few obstacles in the way that might interfere with the flight of bat coming to the house.  That installation wasn't too bad either given that I have some big ladders and a tree at the back of the yard with few lower limbs.  That's our neighbors house behind the tree.

This year's Christmas gift provided significantly more of a challenge, but I like challenges, and I do like projects that are a challenge.  This one, in fact,  took a while for me to figure out exactly how to approach this installation.  The gift is a weather-vane symbolic of Cincinnati, often called "Porkopolis",since it has a flying pig that catches the wind as a directional indicator (more on flying pigs here:  Weather-vanes need to be placed up high so they catch the wind, and you certainly want them to be in a place where they can be seen.  I suppose I could have put it on top of my garage, a place that is easy to get to and quite visible from my back yard, but I thought this weather-vane needed more visibility than a garage roof.  The best obvious place was on the highest peak of the roof of my house at the front.
Don and I had a bit of "discussion" at this point as I explained that he would not- under any circumstance- go onto the top of the roof to mount the weather vane. He thought about it for a while and came up with plan B. It probably won't surprise you that even though this decision was decided in early January, somehow Don "forgot" and announced one morning in mid March that he thought that he might put the weather vane up that day and could I help to steady the first ladder.  The next discussion didn't take long- and Don remembered plan B!

The problem was how to get it up there.  I do  have a 40 foot extension ladder, but it isn't long enough to get to the peak of the house.  The solution was a three tiered approach from the back of the house, one big strong son to help me, and a day not too hot, not too cold, and not very windy.  April 7 seemed to fit all of those needs given that my son Michael agreed to come and help me, and the weather was scheduled to be dry with temperatures in the mid 60's.  You can see the three tiered approach in the two following pictures.  (1) We would take a ladder and get on the roof of the back porch, (2) then pull a ladder up to that roof so we could climb up to the next fairly flat roof of the back of the house, and (3) then pull a ladder up to that level and lay it against the steep roof so we could climb to the top ridge and straddle that ridge out to the front of the house.  And so I could write this blog, we needed someone to document it for us.  Liz, Michael's wife, agreed to do the photography for us, and she did get some great shots of the process.  Thanks Liz.

So we put the ladders in place, hauled our bag of tools and the weather-vane up to each roof top and started out on the top ridge.

Our first initial observations were (1) the the top roof is really, really steep and the only way to get to the front is by straddling the ridge with our legs and  scooting along the crest, (2) shingles are really rough like very very course sandpaper and hard on hands, knees, and anything else that rubbed against them, and (3) the temperature may be in the mid-60, but after a day in the sun those shingles get very very hot.  But we made it to the front with a little effort (and pain).   Michael managed the supplies and handed me the tools and parts as I needed them.

It only took about 15 minutes on the ridge, but we were both ready to come down.

So thanks to Michael, the weather-vane is now officially installed and only four months after Christmas.  I do wonder what challenge Marianne will give me next year.  Maybe something for the garden?

I must give much thanks to Michael and Liz as well- But have to admit I didn't take even a peek until the weather vane had been installed- and Don and Michael were safely on the ground. I was inside cooking! But I have to admit-  I'm not terribly comfortable on a step stool.  

Thanks again Michael and Liz!