Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ishimwe blog

Here's a link to the blog of our friends, Faith and Roger Shaw and the home & school they are shepherding in Rwanda, with lots of great photos.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cleaning the roof

The garage and cottage roofs (rooves?) got their annual cleaning over the last several days.

A year's worth of leaf litter accumulates, and then whole biospheres develop in the troughs between rows of tile. Full-fledged plants take root in the composting litter as nature takes its course.
Many tiles were broken by heavy-footed workers doing various maintenence
chores, including this one, so after cleaning there was an extended session
of repairing and replacing broken tiles.

Let it rain!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


It's not (just) a house, it's a home! and it's supposed to be just for people (and their pets).

But up in the eaves there are invaders who take advantage of the habitations provided by the cavities between rows of Spanish tiles. Mostly rats, I think, based on certain evidence they leave behind. The cavities run up the roof from eave to ridge...warm, dry and dark...with an occasional random passage into the attic space via a knothole or gap in the wood roof sheathing below the tile. These intruders leap from nearby tree branches onto the roof, bringing the nuts and seeds from the trees with them. Then, in the shelter of the eave, they snack, leaving the husks and other detritus to accumulate, eventually clogging up the entire space. Their calling cards litter the patio below, a fresh supply every morning.

After trimming the trees back (an annual task), I set up a scaffolding and delivered the eviction notices.

Scrapping out the bulk of debris with a long stick, and then vacuuming out whatever I could that remained, I made my way around the perimeter of the house. I don't know if or when this was done before, but the house is 90 years old. There was a lot of material up there!

Below, a closeup of one of the "cells" after scrapping and prior to vacuuming:

After cleaning, I insert a square of galvanized hardware screen, stuffed into the irregular shape with a small stick,

and fix it in place with a squirt or two of silicone to discourage its easy removal. I used this screening rather than some solid material so as to allow for ventilation.

From the ground, these screens are hardly noticable, and hopefully the droppings on the patio will be a thing of the past. Now the squatters will no longer be able to get in there...on the other hand, anyone still in there won't be able to get out either! I'll be dealing with that in a future blog entry.

It was a dirty, nasty project, and I was loathe to undertake it. But later that afternoon, when it was finished and everything was cleaned up and put away, I had a very satisfying sense of accomplishment. Difficult and challenging jobs can sometimes be avoided and put off, but taking them on and discharging them brings a much more rewarding feeling and knowledge that you've done a good thing.

Of course, I had a lovely scene at my back while I worked...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

On the Sea Terrace

Added a stone border and some soil, leveled the planter and removed a cistus (rock rose) that competed awkwardly with the shape of the large rose.