The Amateur Amateur: Diary of a Mad Ham's Wife
Stomp, stomp, stomp. It's not the stomping that concerns me so much as the ominous creaking. If he wants to spend his weekends on the roof, he had better start losing some weight. If he manages not to fall off the roof he may still come crashing through it.
Oh boy, I didn't like the sound of that. I'd better get out there and check on him.
"Are you okay up there?"
"Just dropped my tool bag. Everything's fine."
Everything's fine, he says. What he means is that nothing mechanical is broken. But I'm not worried about some piece of metal getting bent. I'm concerned about him.
He's coming down. I can hear the ladder wobbling (shudder!). He'll go to one of three places: To the basement to get another tool, into the living room to sit down and cool off or to the bathroom to use the first aid kit.
Please, not the bathroom.
The basement. Thank goodness.
Now he's going back up the ladder. It scares me every time he goes up there. If he goes tumbling off the edge of the roof I won't even know it. Not unless he has the good sense to scream on the way down. At least then I'll know to call for an ambulance.
Stomp, stomp, stomp.
Did a little bit of plaster just fall from the ceiling?
Please don't fall through the roof. Please.
Calm down. He knows what he's doing. He managed to put in new electrical wiring without setting the house on fire. He's clever.
Clever, yes, but not very safety-conscious. Not nearly enough. Oh, that one horrible accident -- I can't go through that again.
At least he won't do anything without telling me first. He hasn't done anything really bad since I allowed him to start using power tools again. And he won't go up on the roof unless I'm here. "Safety Officer," he calls me. Worry Officer is more like it. But I have to worry, because he doesn't.
That's it. He's dead. Or injured. Don't throw up. You'll have to be coherent when you call 911.
"S'okay. I overwound the preeble flange and the ocular grimsmack bent and banged into the fnargle blick and broke it. No big deal. I've got a spare."
No big deal, he says. I just aged 20 years.
Down the ladder again. Into the basement. Going to get his spare fnargle blick, whatever that is.
Back up the ladder.
Stomp, stomp, stomp. Creak, creak, creak.
Please, no more loud bangs. I can't take much more of this.
Slow creaking. That means that he's raising the antenna mast. Is it over? Can I breathe again?
Down the ladder. Into the basement.
Squawk! Screech! Squeel!
That's his radio. He's testing his antenna modifications. What a racket. But you can never tell -- maybe it's supposed to sound like that.
How can the man make more noise when he's on the roof or in the basement than he makes when he's right here in the room with me?
Back up the ladder.
Slow creaking again. Uh-oh. He's taking the mast down again. I guess the commotion on his radio was bad noise instead of good noise.
I know that sound. He dropped his wrench. No scraping, sliding sound, so at least it stayed on the roof.
He gets really mad when his tools slide off the roof.
One of these days a loose tool of his is going to come down and take out the postman, a Girl Scout selling cookies, or some other visitor.
If it has to happen, though, let it be the day one of those home renovation salesmen comes around. Not a direct hit, mind you, just a near miss.
I wish he'd come down.
The neighbors probably aren't happy about it either. "Your husband spends a lot of time on the roof, doesn't he?" they say. What they mean is, "When can we expect to see him fall?"
And I just smile and reply, "Yes, he is," and pretend that by stomach isn't knotting up.
It's awfully quiet up there. I haven't heard anything for a while. Is he alright? If I go outside will I find his broken body lying in the Japanese Holly?
I'd better check.
Still up there. Just sitting there, surrounded by tools and junk. Looks like he's concentrating on his argle-bargle or whatever he called it. I think he's safe for the moment. I'll just slip back inside.
Okay, this tension isn't going away as long as he's up there, but if I take some aspirin it's going to make my stomach ache worse. Maybe some Pepto and aspirin together?
Uh oh, he's in motion again. I can hear the tools clanging and some shuffling. He's getting up. He's walking. Sounds like the mast is going up again. Yes, he's definitely putting up the mast.
Careful! Don't make the ladder wobble so much! Oh, my stomach.
Basement. He's going to try his radio again. If he starts cursing then I'll know it was a failure.
Oh, thank heaven!
Up the ladder -- no, don't run up it! You'll kill yourself for sure!
Running across the roof -- no, don't do that. Please be careful.
Collecting his tools. Is it over? Dare I hope that it's over?
Down the ladder.
He's closing the garage door! It's over!
And here he is, grinning at me. Only one small adhesive bandage on his hand. I won't have to break out the Emergency Room Gold Card.
"Finished?" I say as calmly as I can. "How did it go?"
"Great!" he says, all excited. "You look a little funny. You okay?"
"Just a bit of a headache," I say, smiling. "Tell me about your project."
Just keep smiling...
Editor's note: ARRL member Gary Hoffman, KB0H, lives in Florissant, Missouri. He's been a ham since 1995. Hoffman says his column's name -- "The Amateur Amateur" -- suggests the explorations of a rank amateur, not those of an experienced or knowledgeable ham. His wife, Nancy, is N0NJ. Hoffman has a ham-related Web page. Readers are invited to contact the author via e-mail.
Gary Hoffman, KB0H, assisted by Nancy Hoffman, N0NJ