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A Moment with Maria
- Out on the Roof

"Do what you have to do."

People can say that to others approvingly, as advice, encouragement or as a means to indicate you and they are not in agreement. We say it to ourselves too.

Generally I think to redirect our thought process from the fear or distaste we feel about the chore in front of us to the severe consequences that we might face if we do not "do what we have to do."

I have certainly utilized this phrase in many situations throughout my life. However, it didn't become a mantra until I as a single woman in my 30's purchased a 50 year old house that had needs, a lot of needs. And I was the one the only person who would be meeting those needs. I was not prepared.

There were so many instances where the only reason I performed the task was simply because it had to be done. Period. And I was it. There was no other reason on earth that I would ever otherwise have done these things.

A few remain vivid in my mind; catching mice, killing mice, climbing to the top step of ladder to stick a hand in a gutter in which I had previously seen big spiders, killing big spiders, investigating foul smell under porch and discovering dead possum and friends, lighting the pilot light on an old furnace, digging railroad ties out of ground and so on.

However, this phrase was not fully brought into practice until my first winter in the house. There was a blizzard with ice and wind and 14 inches of snow the first week of January. It was followed a few days later by two beautiful 30ish degree-days with bright sunshine.

I remember admiring the sun on the snow. when I heard it. The drip, drip, drips. Water was coming through the ceiling of the 20'by 30' addition on the back of the house. It came and came through beams and doorways, plaster and paint. I was shocked and horrified.

I learned the phrase, "ice dam." I wasn't alone, there were stories in the paper about new buildings leaking; suggestions on how to ice dam proof your roof and advice on making insurance claims. The leaking went on and on. I was traumatized.

My new house the whole family room ceiling ruined. What could I do? I stared out the upstairs window at the roof and the ice and the snow. Would this happen every year? I saw no solution except to hope we never ever again got a lot of snow. Eventually I got a nice insurance check (matched by a nice premium increase the next year) got the ceiling fixed and was assured the roof was O.K except for the fact that it was virtually flat, and was too big to be virtually flat.

So, I could expect given the right circumstances that this ice dam thing could happen again. It was a hazard of living in Northeast Ohio with a large virtually flat roof.

The next winter I waited and watched for the snowfall that would be too much. It came, 10 inches of it. It sat there on the roof looking pristine and sparkly but underneath I knew it was turning to water with no place to go ultimately but through the roof.

I looked at it through the window and cursed and fretted. I would do what I had to do if I knew what I could do. My brain worked it over, hmmm let's see snow that needs to be removed from a virtually flat surface hmmm, do they make some kind of tool to facilitate snow removal? Do I own one and can I operate it?

Eureka, yes I had it. I would shovel the roof. Could I do it , well I didn't know but I knew that I would. I could get to it from this very window.

So I did and I do. It is cold and a little scary near the edge and really hard work. Getting in and out of the window is very tricky. I've slipped twice and had visions of dying in the bushes below. My shovel went flying out of my hands once down to the yard and I swore a blue streak while standing on the roof in the middle of a snowstorm.

I've only broken my never shovel the roof after dark rule, once. I bring my cell phone with me just in case. I'm not crazy I don't like it. My parents think it's insane. My sisters appear puzzled and my friends laugh.

My Aunt offered up my male cousin to do it for me but I said that's O.K. I would and could continue to do what I had to do.

I know I shovel the roof more than I have to just so I don't need to worry. My boyfriend says he is certain there is no need for all this shoveling. It is not necessary he says.

I say he wasn't there for the indoor rainstorm and he can't understand. He HATES snow and cold and shoveling. But he doesn't like me to do it so if he can, he does. He has one tough time fitting through that little window.

I do it only because I'm sure it has to be done. He does it for me. That works too.


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