Voices and Vistas: Scouting in the Gutter Repair World

Note from Author: Voices and Vistas is a recurring column about the people I meet and the books I read. Some of the topics discussed in this column will branch off into other stories or columns. Some will exist for their own sakes. The voices refers to the literal voices and thoughts of the people I meet, and hopefully, the sounds of our talk in the city.

Vistas is a term that requires more involvement. First, it reflects my own weirdly long memory and the things it wants to see.

Webster’s defines it as

  1. A distant view through or along an avenue or opening.
  2. An extensive mental view (as over a stretch of time or a series of events).

When we hear the term vistas we are asked to look at the foreground as it relates to the background. We are looking for a longer story, one we can follow into the past or the future. This broadening of scope is something a web magazine platform can offer to media. And it is this capacity of our minds that we have and risk losing when we clip our attention spans. We can continue to exercise this capacity of thought, despite the ever present urge to click a fast link. “Vistas” implies a longer read, yes, but hopefully a more interesting one.

Sometimes the voices will exist in and of themselves, and sometimes they will connect to other voices, trends or texts and will become a longer, richer strand. This is the thinking behind Whitman’s impressive use of the term Democratic Vistas. And it’s probably best to give him the last word, since he gave me the idea in the first place.

“A live nation can always cut a deep mark and can have the best authority the cheapest … namely from its own soul … The fruition of beauty is no chance of hit or miss….it is inevitable as life….it is exact and plumb as gravitation. From the eyesight proceeds another eyesight and from the hearing proceeds another voice eternally curious of the harmony of things with man….”

Spring Cleaning

I’m taking a break from garage sale sorting and writing and phoning people to drive a new Raleigh crimson 10 speed from the 70s. It formerly belonged to Bill Chown, the indomitable Becky Chown’s dad. When the bike was given to him as a wedding present, he efficiently told his kind wife, in so many words, that he was interested in golfing and running, and would not need the bike. So there the bike sat for 20 or so years, proof, perhaps, that Bill liked it enough not to sell it, but not enough to ride it.

That’s where I came in. I haven’t had a bike since college, and the addition to one has completely lowered the drop top of my thinking to that cool California place of the imagination, or so I feel even when I’m gliding the suspect roads of suburban stagnant Wesbury (suburban stagnant, I feel, after living in OKC a year). The bike is a life saver. When one can recover old passions, then he knows there’s still many gifts around to find.

So I ride to the golf course entry and back and I see a Sooner hatted guy with salt and pepper short hair walking to his truck, and I give the usual wave. I park the Raleigh and before I close the garage door I see the guy has pulled up to my yard. “Hey, is this your house?” I say yes, though it’s moms. He asks if I want an estimation on my gutters. It’s free of charge..but “I’m not gonna lie to ya, we try to make money.”

“Oh, no hassle,” I say. Especially since we are reaching a home repair phase in this house’s life, where much repair and excavation will need to happen in a ridiculously timely fashion.

The materialization of a scouting gutter repairman was kind of a blessing. Glad i went aimlessly biking. A few months ago mommed asked this guy Lonnie over, and from the accounts I absorbed, it seems like Lonnie climbed up to the backyard gutter, said yeah it needed some work, and then deftly left without offering any sort of leash to that thought.

And that’s the last I’ve heard of our gutter situation. So I’m glad it’s been rekindled.

So James Smith of Superior Seamless Guttering starts writing on yellow paper while looking at our sad, sagging gutters, kept company by mattings of helicopter leaves. 43″ here, 26″ there. I take him around the back and he starts making marks with an arm that’s tattooed with heart that says 100% inside of it. Sandy in cursive outside the heart. He’s impressed with how good the roof looks, which is encouraging, but sees where the seams are getting loosened up along the mountainy bisectecting crease of the backyard roof slants.

I am kind of tickled that he’s just driving around looking for fixable gutters. How many times have I walked around lame Campus Corner looking for an OU Daily story, or scouted a used book shop for a misplaced first edition, or a Warehouse Music or Hastings for the right kind of CD in need of a spiritual repair via close listening. I know a bit about driving around and looking for sustenance, so my mood is not weighty–Danny as a home repair person would’ve been way pissed two years ago.

“Yeah, I live over here. And we’ve been really slow. So…If I see that they need it. I mean honestly, see right there, the gutter should be right up to the roof. You shouldn’t be able to see any of that…and these trees, they just do a number on the roofs.”

I try to come up with a summary answer for why the trees are damaging our gutters and roofs but I cannot understand the concept at all. So I say, “they just suck.”

“That’s about the best way to describe it,” James says.

He shows me the measurements and the estimates. I kind of linger long enough in small talk to where he offers me a freebie piece of advice that he didn’t have to give. The TEAR OFF estimate is at $62 currently. But, he says, with a good hammer I can get up there, unply the nails and remove the gutter myself. Really pretty easy.

Even though James, admittedly, is out to make money, he’s also willing to share a few tips. Which I greatly appreciate this afternoon.

(c) Danny Marroquin All rights reserved. Contact Danny through email.

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