The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Saturday, December 13, 2003


Once upon a time, there was an anonymous blogger from Missouri who went the by the moniker of Juan Gato. (When the Volokh Conspiracy got their fourth or so contributor and he was called Juan Non-Volokh, I briefly thought that it was the same person. But then I got straightened out and I've never been confused about anything ever again, thank you very much.) He later retitled his blog The Shallow End, then Broken Finger, and then The Genius I Was. A few weeks ago he retired from blogging. (Stephen Green, the VodkaPundit, has a drinks-based blogroll -- I am under "Rum and Coke" -- and abandoned blogs like Juan Gato's are listed as "Under the Table.")

One of Juan Gato's regular themes was to post a link to some article involving human injury at the hands ... er, branches of a tree -- say, some addled hippie falling out of a tree he was squatting on to save it from loggers -- and to proclaim, "It's us or the trees, people."

Truer words were never spoken.

Early Tuesday morning I was awakened by some godawful crash. I was startled, and wondered if someone was breaking into the house. I heard no more noises, and convinced myself that the cats had knocked over a chair. After an hour or so I drifted back to sleep.

Tuesday night I decided that I should lift some weights. We have a weightlifting machine in my "lanai," which is a little room adjacent to our living room. The lanai is 20 by 10 or so; the front half has an entertainment center and a couch, and the back half contains the weights and a stationary bicycle. The room is lit by two rows of track lights. I flipped the switch for the back half lights, and nothing happened. I looked up. I saw a little tab extending out of the wall, near the ceiling. "Why have I not seen that before?", I asked myself. The answer was that the track lights plugged into that tab and hid it. Said track lights were lying on the floor. Hence the noise I heard while in bed.

Fortunately the light bulbs had not broken and there was no real mess. The track had been mounted on the ceiling with three small screws, and I assumed that the screws were not strong enough to support the load.

Last night Sherry and I were about to watch a video. ("Bueller ... Bueller ...") When I went to the entertainment center to insert the tape, I noticed a fair amount of dirt on the top of the cabinet. I couldn't think of anywhere that it could have come from except the ceiling. We began to wonder if a tree branch had hit the lanai roof. Most of our house has a sloped roof with wood shingles, but the lanai roof is flat and covered with tar sheet. A year ago November while we were in China, a branch from a large redwood tree broke off and hit the roof. (Yes, all redwood trees are large. This is a big fucking tree.) The branch put a small tear in the tar, causing water to leak into the lanai, and I had to pay some guys to replace a section of the sheet.

This morning I went outside, stood on the railing of my deck ... and saw a ten-foot tree limb easily six inches wide. And there was a puddle of water in the lanai. Beware the trees!


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