The trouble started ... well, sometime in the reasonably distant past, but it amounts to, we have an 80-year-old house and many of its component parts are getting to be that old. Among them is the roof. While upstairs a few weeks ago bunny_hugger noticed alarming signs of moisture on the inside of the roof, where it's not supposed to be. Later evidence suggests this was probably condensate from the shower, as the fan from the bathroom goes into the attic through a half-competently installed ceiling fan and I take hot showers which can last as much as three-quarters of the day, but, it just brought our attention to the fact the roof, which we knew would need replacement in the next couple years, has fewer years than that to last.
Worse, there are some spots noticeably weaker. I sought advice from my father, who had to be physically restrained by my mother from hopping into his truck and driving here later that afternoon, because this is the sort of thing he loves to do. But following his direction, and a couple photographs mailed to him, we spent an afternoon going around the roof and tapping boards to see what ones felt like they were weak or soft or absent. We came to a roster of a somewhat unsettling ten spots that needed some shoring up, by tarpaper and plywood, to feel reasonably confident of the structure holding through any but a catastrophically severe winter.
This forced us to do a couple rounds of tool- and equipment-buying at hardware stores. My favorite of this is that at the Ace Hardware near us we asked about fifteen-pound tarpaper. The woman working said she thought they had some, but wasn't sure where, and went looking in likely spots including the out-building. Their computer said they had some in stock, but nobody was sure where, and someone suggested maybe the basement, which it turns out they have. She disappeared downstairs for a while and came back with thirty-pound paper, apologizing that maybe they did have the fifteen-pound stuff but she didn't want to make us wait. I thought the oddness of the experience well worth the wait (I tend to be like that), and the heavier paper won't do us any harm.
To get plywood we went to Home Depot, with our measurements, and picked out an 8 foot by 4 foot piece. The guy who does the cutting there looked over my measurements and told us we'd have to get some more plywood, and I didn't believe him because apparently I'm too stupid to think of the total area the measurements implied we needed to cover. He was right, of course, and gracious enough not to taunt me for my foolishness. (He also find a smaller piece of plywood we could use for the little bit we needed, so we didn't have to have the huge remnants of a second 8 by 4 sheet.) He was also gracious enough to not charge us for all the cuts needed, even though the posted policy is that it's 25 cents a cut after the first two. (It's possible the sign is there so the staff can waive it as a matter of course, producing customer delight, and yet it's still there in case a customer is particularly annoying.) So we were well-stocked.
Back home, we measured out tarpaper to fit around the plywood, and I went upstairs, and, naturally, found I couldn't possibly do this.
Trivia: The 1875 report filed by Reuters's Ernest Collins, on the New South Wales budget, was said to have cost £ 1,200 in telegraph charges, and was called for years the most expensive press message ever transmitted by telegraph. (It predated press rates for telegraph messages.) Source: The Power Of News: The History of Reuters, Donald Read.
Currently Reading: Double Victory: A Multicultural History of America in World War II, Ronald Takaki.