Friday, October 04, 2013

up on the roof

Ed was not up at dawn -- we were both up at dawn. His energy galvanized the both of us to attack the porch roof project full steam today, despite the predictions of storms and thundershowers.

So, after a quick and rough breakfast...

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...we rehearsed the game plan. The pulley system, whereby we heave the glass panel up a ladder-like incline and then in some miraculous fashion Ed takes it off the pulley and lays it down flat was, in the end a no-go. I had the ultimate veto power and I expressed it.
I'm too terrified with that one! If it slips or I let go, the whole thing will come crashing and it will be my fault!
If you let go of it under any system the whole thing will come crashing.
Yes, but I especially see the crash coming if we hoist it up outside.

The alternative is to walk all panels (we're down to only fifteen: Ed reminded me that we conjoined the end ones, which were too skinny to manufacture on their own, with their neighbors) into the farmhouse, around three corners downstairs, then up the stairs, mastering a mega-tight turn on the stairs themselves, then finally guiding them out the bathroom window.

We practice with a ten foot board. Tricky, but doable.

It's all in the attitude -- I tell myself. Cautious, but positive. Evincing strength. Yeah. I can do this! (Besides, there is no third alternative.)

Most of the panels weigh only about forty-five pounds. But two -- the end ones -- are more than eighty and unfortunately, we have to begin with such an end one.

Isis watches.

I feel a rain drop. Another. We ignore it all. We have such an intense focus on succeeding with that first panel that I swear it would have to flash and thunder for me to suggest postponing the installation.

We've attached glass carrying handles. Suction cups. Bright red, to keep things cheerful. They help.

Up we go, barely managing the stair turn and then -- out the window, first Ed then me.

You'd think we were home free now. You'd be wrong. Remember, there is no roof over the porch at the moment. It's been ripped off. What remain are loosely placed boards of plywood. If you step on an edge of one, between the rafters, the thing would flip up and throw you down to the porch below.

"Be careful" are my words of choice. About a million times. Be careful, watch it, be careful, you're on the edge! Careful!

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And, too, there is this tricky part, where we have to position the glass at the edge of two rafters. This is no rough approximation: it has to cover exactly a one-half inch surface of each rafter. No more, no less.

There's sticky stuff placed on the rafter. Butyl tape. Ed sprays it with water so that the stickiness doesn't catch the glass too early, before we're ready to let it go.

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Careful! You're on the edge! Careful!
Can you lift your edge of the pane?
No, not anymore. It's stuck.
Switch places with me.

A few more rounds of this and we're done. (The celebratory photo. On the roof.)

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At least we're done with the laying of the first of the fifteen panels. Ed will be clamping them down further with wood strips. With the feverish hope that any screw wont touch the pane. Because if it does - boom! -- the entire panel will shatter. Edges of tempered glass are that vulnerable. (Once they're covered with wood trim, we can rest easy.)

The rain continues to tease us. A sprinkle, then quiet. It's muggy and humid, but we want to continue. With the second panel.

As we pick it up to carry it in, I say to Ed -- let's not get cavalier now. Just because we did one of the heavier panels...
That's right. Accidents happen when you're distracted.
And that's when the panel touches, just touches the metal hinge of the farmhouse door.
There is a small nick. Just like that. Ed looks at it. A quarter of an inch of vulnerability.
I don't think we can use this panel anymore, he says.

A quick consult with glass experts. There's no consensus. One says -- file it down and you're fine, the other says -- get rid of it: fifty-fifty chance it will shatter within a year.

Can you tell where in that dispute I stand?

So now we are down one panel.

But we have learned a lot. The edges of a tempered sheet of glass cannot be scraped by metal.

The day progresses in this ways for us:  He installs butyl and positions the plywood boards while I work on my readings, then we carry and fit a panel. And another. And another. Be careful! Be careful!

Four are in place, eleven still to go.

We look up to see it's almost evening.

But the first part of the roof looks fabulous! I'm staring at it from the corner of the kitchen:

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We need to do a run to Farm and Fleet. Ed will cut tubing to run the screws through, so that they do not touch the tempered glass edges as he clamps down wood strips to hold everything in place. We're learning!

The next days promise more rain. A shame -- we're pumped to keep going. But a good thing, too. I've got work to do!

And the season moves closer and closer toward the colors of fall. And the beauty of that doesn't escape us. Up on the roof, down below. It's all grand.