15 November 2005

Where late the sweet birds sang

The writing is on the wall. Our firm is decidedly infirm, and the chances of achieving employment in this area are slim, if I wish to exclude jobs involving pig manure.

So, I must get off my lazy rump, prepare the Slanty Shanty for sale and move to a more upscale regions; where the jobs may involve; oh, I don’t know, cow manure, maybe.

Well I can dream, can’t I?.

The clean-up and repairs are more daunting than one might expect. It’s not that the structure is ancient; the oldest portion was built in 1882, but apparently the high tech tools of the day; squares, spirit levels and plumb-bobs, were unavailable to the builders.

To make matters worse, in 1972, the house was struck by a heavily laden truck that had lost its brakes coming down the mountain. Rather than using the insurance settlement to repair the structure, an addition was built-on to buttress the then seriously tilting house.

As a nod to traditionalists, the builders were true to their Victorian predecessors vision, and built the buttress with opposing tilts, bulges and non-square angles. Imagine M.C. Escher loaded to the gills on bad absinthe and mushrooms, wielding and axe with a murderous gleam in his eyes and I think you can picture the house.

I fell in love with it immediately.

So, now I am scraping and painting, replacing gutters, knocking down starling nests and pressure washing the siding, as starlings are not fussy about where they poo. A freshly washed vehicle, your beverage, picnic table or bald pate; it’s all the same to them.

And that is not the only reason why I hate them. They would alight in the wee hours on my satellite dish, degrading the porn signal and shrieking violently at each other. Apparently, none of them are happily married; they only stay together for the sake of the eggs. Of course, the eggs hatch and grow up in this unhappy environment and as a result, if there were an avian version of “COPS”, the starling clan would figure prominently.

So I do what I can to discourage them from staying in the area, but I’ve never been successful.

When I replaced some roof shingles, I figured out why; the roof vent for the garage was missing a portion of the wire guard. About were scattered starling feathers and other detritus.

I pulled out the ladder and a flashlight, and gingerly inspected the garage attic. The rafters hung stark in winter chill; bare ruin’d choirs, where late the “sweet” birds sang.

Below them lay mounds of guano.

I mean, this is a commercially valuable deposit. What the hell am I going to do with all this bird poo?

The only thing that comes to mind is to build a catapult and go visit the tax office.

And that's the way I likes it.