Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Inventor. Handyman. Genius

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Inventor. Handyman. Genius

Article excerpt

AS SUMMER APPROACHES, I look forward to the day, sometime in late July, when all the snow will finally be gone from Washington, D.C. But right now I'm writing from the confines of my home, trapped under three feet of snow and occupying my time by worrying about the porch roof collapsing.

I share this snowbound fate with spouse and youngest daughter, the oldest daughter having wisely decided to move to the warmer climate of northern Massachusetts.

As the snow continues, and my fear for the porch intensifies, I have been told that under no circumstances will I be permitted to climb onto the roof and shovel it off, this from household members who never stand in my way when tires go flat, lawns require mowing, or the bodies of rodents need to be removed from locations where the cat has proudly put them on display.

I originally attempted to stand on a ladder and rake snow from that relatively safe vantage point, but family members referred to news reports of injuries resulting from just that technique. So, after carefully coming down from the ladder by falling backwards into the snow, I withdrew to my basement workshop to plan a different strategy. [Editor's fact check: There is a basement, but no "workshop." Just a bench with dusty tools that haven't been used since the last time the author's 85-year-old father demonstrated how to use a saw without injury.]

My first idea was to drill a hole through a rake handle and attach a long rope, making a contraption that could be tossed up on the roof to drag the snow down. It turns out, however, that this technique also requires not stepping on the rope during the toss, which causes rake to halt in mid-air--as if waiting for further instructions--then snap back abruptly, forcing me to fall backwards into the snow. The only advantage of this approach is to entertain the neighbors, who have over the years observed similar inventiveness in stump removal, fence repair, and automobile maintenance, only some of which, to my credit, necessitated calling paramedics.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Undaunted, this inventor returned to the basement workshop [Editor's note: See above.] to devise a different tool for the job. What was needed was an object small enough to be tossed easily, heavy enough to sink into the snow, and with sufficient protrusions to drag the snow off with it. …

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