Math; the cacophonous noise of numbers.


Archways (Photo credit: The Massie Boy)

The architect who designed our house was a fairly rotund fellow: sturdy, stout and elliptical. Perhaps because he was forced to face his oblong softness in the mirror each morning, he may have developed an aversion to curves. And this may be the reasoning behind his blueprint full of geometrical angles so sharp and precise it would be possible to surgically slice yourself if you weren’t careful rounding a corner from the kitchen to the laundry room.

We fought tooth and nail, my husband and I as a team, attempting to insert an arch here or there, or a hollow that suggested pliability. In the end, we were successful in sandpapering a lot of the inside edges away, and felt it would be safe enough for folks to walk through the house without wearing Teflon clothing.

But the roof … stayed as was first drawn.

I should rephrase that. The roofs stayed.

Gable roof

Most houses I’ve lived in have had two slopes for cover: front and back. A little like topping off four walls with a Hallmark card tipped on its side. Nothing fancy, just functional. Usually, it kept the rain from sliding inside and down to the basement. Sometimes the rooftop capped a little extra space where field mice were grateful and Christmas ornaments slept patiently. It was traditional and comforting—nothing too out of the ordinary that would cause folks to drive by and shake their heads in wonder–because where I grew up, if you weren’t regular, you were likely prayed for in church.

But the house I live in right now would be worthy of an entire diocese on their knees 24/7 for a month’s worth of assistance. Every time I go outside to look at it, I wonder if the house’s crowning design is even structurally possible. There’s a very good chance much of it was done with the aid of mirrors.

crazy calculationsRolling out the blueprints to familiarize ourselves with the architect’s vision, we’d find mathematical angles from algebraic equations that surely made Einstein pace. There were unfamiliar words like cross hip, trusses, soffits and underlayment sweat sheets. Some terms might have been written backward, just to keep us from asking about them.

Several of the planes would be done in copper, others would be shingled. Apparently, all of them would be connected. Regardless, the long tube containing the rolled two-dimensional version of our home’s pinnacle puzzle oftentimes remained in its safe scroll form.

Remarkable as the finished product is, and the mathematically improbable achievement aside, I tend not to think too much about the rooftops unless one of two things occurs.

1. My son traps a wayward radio controlled aircraft somewhere in the maze of cedar and ductile metal.


2. We have an ice storm.

English: A buildup of ice on a branch after an...

Living where we do, this is not an uncommon thing. The weather is fickle here in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where precipitation is capricious and Mother Nature is determined to throw as many weathermen under the bus as possible with the intent to increase their incoming mounds of hate mail and angry tweets.

If it’s a matter of unruly dirigibles, we wait for a good, solid Nor’easter to blow through and bring the airship back to earth. There’s nothing anyone can do without a crane, a tightrope and a harness. If the roof is brought to my attention via the weather, then it’s usually due to the fact that I can’t get to sleep.

Pellets of sleet or the pinging of hail resonate with precise metallic tonality—a common occurrence for those with tinny plates above their heads. Soft spring rains can lull you to sleep, but winter’s transformative temperatures makes the sound akin to that of a full onslaught of air attack with BB guns.

Crash part 3

Crash part 3 (Photo credit: andysternberg)

The true test determining one’s degree of torpor is the ability to snooze through the assault of sliding snow and ice. Because of the many pitched roofs, all built at a dizzying array of levels, pancake sheets of solidified snow slide down a steeply pitched plane, before crashing to the next grade. Here, knowing its jarring noise roused you from your fragile slumber, the arctic blanket waits until you’ve resettled yourself and then it melds with the newly met wedge of snow. It now carries on its domino-effect late night charades—ever increasing the clamorous intensity until the miniature iceberg finds its last slide and thunders down to crash upon a groaning, snow-filled deck below. The clatter can catapult you from a dead sleep and have you diving for cover, firmly believing there’s an air raid above you.

Yes, I now know the difference between a ridge and a gable, the flashing and fascia, the dormers and drip edge, but it’s the rioting in the rafters that leaves me bleary-eyed and bushed.

Next house, I shall live in a cave.


Don’t forget to check out what was cookin’ in the Scullery (here) and what we all talked about down in the pub (here)!

14 thoughts on “Math; the cacophonous noise of numbers.

    • Thank you, Kami. And I’d have to say you pretty much nailed it as far as choosing the perfect adjective. Riotous. Although not in the “ha ha comedy club” way I’d prefer. Sleep well and soundly!

  1. Ya know, life is so much simpler when one lives in a one level house that you can always put the wheels back on, hook up the truck and move when you want to view your property from a different angle.

    By-the-way, Mom just got back from a run and is now doing her Yoga thingy in the privacy of the master (that being her title, I guess) bathroom. Funny thing is, all three of our daughters joined her. It’s rather humorous. I enjoy the peace… ok, now the peace is over. It was nice while it lasted.

    Hmm… you have to deal with the pleasures of Mother Nature’s showering of ice pellets, snow avalanches; while I have the challenge of keeping one’s sanity while listening to three screaming little girls. Your’s I consider a symphony. Mine, respectfully I would gain more comfort for cleaning my ears out with barbed wire.

    OMG, I just remembered, today is Sunday. That means they get to have a friend over. Please share with me where your new cave is. I don’t care how cold it is.

    God bless,

    Stoshu 🙂

    • No way, José! I’m keepin’ my cave location classified. Now that the bathroom is free, go do some yoga. Turn off the lights. Bam! You’ve got a cave.
      And I know what you mean about the house on wheels bit. In order to maximize the jaw-dropping views, I also tried to convince our architect to put the house on a giant lazy Susan. No takers …

  2. Almost forgot, my bride and I just had a discussion (which I lost, right) of when it’s appropriate to take down the holiday lights. She said one week after Christmas (which she did) and I said not until May 1st as it helps to attract the rabbits. So much easier to shoot under the lights. They make great stew, minus the pellets.


    • Recipe for madness: Take one 17 yr old frenetic female scientist, one foolhardy fourteen year old boy, an Englishman who’s petitioning on behalf of his homeland for the claim to his birthright (thus far, the Colonies are resisting), livestock who are running some sort of money making racket on barnyard brawls and a waiver presented to anyone who crosses my threshold. Mix it all up with a closet full of single malt scotch. Spread it evenly over a mountaintop surrounded by the odd gun-toting, moonshine swilling redneck who’s usually dressed in camo and carrying the Confederate flag. Bake at 100 degrees plus high humidity or set outside to slick with ice. And cut into weekly portions. Tada! Serve with a smile.
      Thank you so much for reading! 😉

  3. Brilliant Smelley, simply humorous and continuous savant-like writings! You are OBLIGATED to continue to write as the Dragon Scroll is written. Become the dragon warrior. You are a writer that deserves gratitude and kudos with wonders of aptitude; being that unknown to most of your apical speech.

    Thank goodness you speak real English… the midwestern type. Oh, that’s right, you’ve slightly adapted the East Coast/English/Blue Ridge grovel. (I only tease you of this… as long as you continue to invite me into your experimental kitchen of wonder. One that will only mirror that of my alma mater, the CIA.)

    God bless and please, continue writing. It keeps us going.

    Stoshu 🙂

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