Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Hot? Up on the roof I've been broiled alive. I get up there early and work hard until 11, then break for breakfast and maybe deal with mail and a short film. Rossellini's film on St. Francis this morning. Then I go back to work from 12:30-2:30 and broil, take a break and bicycle with Sweetheart where we dunk in the river work clothes and all. I go back to work at 4:30 and I work steadily up there until 7:30, or real dark. Late supper. Start all over again the next day. Until the roof is done. This old roof is causing all sorts of surprises and tricks to hurdle. An old roof is three times the work of a new roof or modern house. But it has stages and angles and each inch is a discovery. Good poetry.

I'm finding light dips and slumps in ye old roof, my buddy. I've just ordered longer screws to go along with my regular artillery. I once worked on an old house where I had to build the middle of the roof up 8 inches! When the job was done, from the ground, one would never see the skirmish. All buried. A bridge under the steel.

I'm tearing off layers of shingles this morning and have reached the bone of 1790. The age of this house. Timber that hasn't seen the light of day for maybe a half century. "Hello in there", I say, as John Prine once sang those words.

O what a day. I mean O What A Day. We got 5 sheets of steel onto the roof and things are coming up roses. Bountiful. We are over the hurdle of what the roof will look like, the imagination runs wild. Even after all the years I've put on roofs. I don't know everything. I'm proud of that. Greg Joly came down in his newly rebuilt Toyota truck (re-call and Toyota gave him a whole new frame) and climbed the roof and worked with me, like when he got this job for me in his neck of the woods to rebuild an old country cabin falling into the ground. I did it. I hired him as a helping hand.

Think of it, Greg has also published two of my books of poems, each letterpress, each put together like the awls and screws and hammers in our hands. Thoughtful. Deliberate. Type that bites into the paper.

The day strung beautifully, low humidity, and Sweetheart ran between taking many photographs and some movies of the work, plus always there to help lift the steel sheets from the ground to us on the scaffold. What a pal!

In the stack of roofing, sheet 5 came up damaged. Bad news of the day. Took three photographs and emailed them immediately to the lumberyard. A new sheet expected late next week.

Neighbors wave to us on the ridgetop as I screw on the new ridgecap. Shiny. I wave back. Greg saddle rides the ridgecap to keep it all down tight as I move along.

Sweetheart and I go for a swim at 3:30 when work is done. Drench off the work grime. Sweetheart sits like a wood nymph on the ledge of stone inches from the water splash. Her hair all light. Then she is up to her knees in the water. Pants sky blue.

photos © susan arnold