SPOON: a roof!

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[ A stack of roof trusses — two by six boards in an arch shape, held together by plywood braces at the corners — stands in the yard next to the house. Another truss sits alone next to them. Behind the stack is a big black dog. ]

I was, I gotta admit, worried about the roof. Partly just because I was gonna be working higher than I ever have before, partly because it was gonna be tricky & new. I spent a lot of time over the spring & summer noodling over ways to do it safely.

Cutting all the truss pieces was pretty nerve-wracking, because they had to be precise, & I am NO good at precision when it comes to cutting wood. We wound up buying a nice 12″ mitre saw, which made the job no more than tedious — if loud, given that we had to run the generator to have enough power to run the saw. Until we’ve got more solar, that’s the way of things.

I started with the idea of assembling them on the second floor, once we got a couple sheets of plywood down to work on, but that rapidly became a no-go because there just wasn’t enough room. Building the trusses on the ground was easy — put together the first one, make REALLY sure it was EXACTLY right, then just build each one after that on top of the first one, using it as a template. My roof would be all sorts of skewed if we hadn’t done that; even good precise cuts aren’t enough to make things line up otherwise.

But they line up JUST fine.


[ The trusses, in place, neatly lined up on top of the first floor. They’re held together by a couple of two by fours screwed on horizontally. ]

Getting the plywood up was a LOT. The first course? That was pretty easy. The second? Not so much.


[ Four sheets of plywood cover the steep part of the roof. A pair of two by fours are screwed over them, running horizontally, one a foot or so above the other. The van is parked right next to the house; its roof is just below the bottom of the house roof. ]

Yep, we used the van as scaffolding again. It was the least bad option. It also wasn’t tall enough for us to put the higher sheets of plywood in place, so I added little steps.

… my friends, less than two inches of board is NOT enough to stand on. We wound up grabbing the EXTREMELY sturdy set of shelves we’d stolen from the abandoned house, screwing THAT to the lower part of the roof, & using it as a ladder.

I KNOW it was a terrible idea. It was also the least terrible idea we had.

I mean. LOOK how steep this shit is.


[ The house from the side. The roof is a gambrel roof, shaped like a barn roof, with very steep sides leading up to shallow-pitched sections on either side of the ridge. The steep parts are really, really steep. ]

The top sections, on the other hand, are nice & shallow. The only trouble is getting up there.

See, we have two ladder halves, both stolen from abandoned houses. Alas, they don’t fit together. & neither is tall enough to reach more than the lower foot or two of the roof.

BUT if you haul one of them upstairs, it’s plenty tall enough to reach from there to the roof.

As long as the top part of the roof isn’t covered in plywood yet.

We got the first two sheets up fine, CJ working from outside, me up on the ladder & then on top of the first sheet of ply once it was in place. The third one went up from the other side, no problem.

The last one had to wait until my friend Michael — man, you ROCK, THANK you — came up to help for the day. Turns out he’s installed a wood stove or three, so I asked his help with that part particularly, & he did all the framing bits for the chimney pipe to pass through, & then looked over the rest of my plans & said they made perfect sense. Which was mostly what I needed — I was PRETTY sure I knew what to do, but after you’ve spent months doing stuff you’re PRETTY sure about, especially with everything ELSE going on, getting some backup is HUGE.

The other thing he did, while packing up to head home, was ask if we wanted to borrow his nice, long, extremely sturdy extension ladder.


& after I got the last pieces of stovepipe we needed, after I got them installed, after CJ shoved the last sheet of plywood up & I screwed it in place? That’s how I got back down from the roof. That was the ONLY way I was getting down from that roof.

& then I laid on the floor of the van for a while. Have I mentioned I’m afraid of heights? I’m afraid of heights. & I do NOT like ladders, they fall over. I’d much rather stand on a nice steady van roof.

But CJ footed the ladder & Jasper flopped on top of me while I laid on the van floor & whined & eventually I felt better.

Not long after that? FIRE.

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