Thursday, February 5, 2009

One Dog Night

It's 3.7 degrees F., and falling fast. They (those mysterious people who claim to know these things but so frequently get it just a bit wrong) say it will be in the 40s (F) next week for several days. We hope to get all the snow off the roof that leaked two weeks ago.

What happened was, I glanced up and noticed some stains on the ceiling of the beer hall (it's a pantry, in effect, and it used to house Hub 1.0's beer in the cooler months; it still houses his beer except for times, like now, when we send it all back to Philly with him because it will be a long time before he's up again). I called the stain to Starman's attention, and while we were puzzling it out, it started to rain in the adjacent breakfast area.

It didn't take too long to figure out what was going on -- there is a shallowly-pitched roof over that area, and it had an ice dam. Too many instances of snow mixed with sleet/freezing rain, and not enough instances of us clearing off the roof. Well, poor Starman had to go out and chip away at it, which he was not enthusiastic about doing. In fact, at first he did a couple feet's worth of clearing close to the house (there's a window conveniently located for easy access to this roof) but all that did was move the leak to another part of the roof, so... I threw him out the window again (this time tethered to the house with the sash from my fuzzy robe!) and stood there until he cleared all the ice away.

We'll need to reroof that bit in the spring, putting down one of those self-sealing, impermeable barriers underneath the shingles. But in the meantime we have a roof rake (of potentially limited value as it's designed to be pulled along the roof from below and we're best able to push snow off from above) and some greater knowledge of how all this works.

Incidentally, I understand the economy is in the toilet, but some things never change. I phoned three roofers in our area, left messages at all three regarding our ice dam (this was before we'd fixed it ourselves) and leaking roof, and not one called me back. Silly duffers -- there was real work available from this. I certainly won't be asking any of them to bid on the redo in the spring!

In other leaky news, I was doing our laundry the other day when I pulled a sock up from the space between the washer and the wall. Sopping wet. And mildewy! (Blecch...) But how had it gotten so wet? Come to find out, the waste water pipe -- a bit of PVC that comes out of the wall at the back of the washer -- has cracked inside the dry wall. Every time I do laundry, it releases water, but as I'm a Wear Everything, Then Wash Everything (WETWE) type, the dry wall has a chance to completely dry out between WETWE sessions.

Anyway, it's been over two weeks since that discovery. We've not run out of clean clothes yet, but the plumber hasn't come by and we're not sure when we'll see him. He told me on the phone that he has a house that completely froze up -- heating, water, toilets, showers -- he wasn't sure how much work he'd have to do there before we'd see him. I hope we see him soon; we've got the Coffee Jones/Dino Burger peeps coming in ten days!

Work is okay. Well, actually it sucks for reasons my cannon of ethics won't allow me to discuss. So I'll just say it's okay and leave it at that. I've been sewing a lot, and really ought to take pictures to prove that, but -- and maybe this is the result of the cold, snow & ice -- I don't feel like it.

In fact, we're not feeling the love of our surroundings these days what with all the snow, wood to be chopped & shlepped, cold weather, and icy walkways. It's too soon to think about moving, but it's not too soon to think about thinking about moving. I talked Starman into investing some money into this house with the aim of getting it in prime condition for sale in 10 years or so when we are ready to leave. It's weird to contemplate -- there was a time when I thought I'd live the rest of my life here -- but it's a fairly work-intensive property, and that's not what I want my, uh, autumn years to be like. And the majority of the work falls on Starman, who also isn't looking so happy all day everyday. I know we'll fall in love again in the spring and summer, but I'm determined not to forget what this has been like.

Ah, but we have our health. A cliche, but I didn't want to end this post on a "poor poor pitiful us" note. We're happy with each other, we have good friends and lovely neighbors, and we really have no business complaining about where we live. I just can't see us as seventysomethings managing with wood supplies and the tractor's snowblower/front end loader for snow removal. The prospect of a conventional house with a conventional amount of frontage to be cleared . . . let's just say it has its appeal right about now.


  1. When you get that bit re-roofed, have them install a roof heater. We did that with the greatroom (remember that room?) because it had such a flat roof and the same thing happened. When it was relatively new. I was Not Happy.

    Being tired of the maintenance was what made us move from our last (albeit gorgeous) house. Every morning we would get up wondering what was going to break that day. Plus all the lawn work was just too hard to keep up with.

    Now we have a very big new house which is pretty much maintenance-free (even the pool is saltwater chlorinated, so needs minimal maintenance) and a very good lawn service for the half-acre of orchards.

    Life is good! (Especially now that our cold spell has passed. Not nearly as bad as your weather, obviously, but my blood has THINNED and I've been freezing!)

  2. The problem with the roof heaters, as I understand, is that you have to do the whole roof. Most people install them from the edge of the roof up 18 inches or so. In our case, the ice dam formed up close to the house. It may still be worth it, and we'll ask, but my research suggests that the impermeable membrane is our best defense. That way, if there is another ice dam, the water has nowhere to go, at least inside the house!

    I do remember that great room. :-)

    We're going to have some fun driving around the eastern half of the country to find a place to retire to. For now, we're still happy here -- even in the cold. But in ten years . . .?

  3. Oh. Ours froze up just above the gutters along the edge. As it melted it ran down the *inside* walls. Ack!

    We just got tired of the winters altogether. And tired of not looking forward to the cold and of enduring winter/snow/ice.

    The only thing I miss is my friends!

  4. I just came across your blog. Beautifully written ... congrats :o)

    I had to deal with a leaky toilet recently, which led to replacing the cistern on the wall, which led to redoing the dry wall, whch led to a complete bathroom renovation.

    Leaks can be expensive.

  5. And one thing always seems to lead to another!