Writer’s Block, the roof, and My Dog’s Look Of Fear – Picture

I had gotten to a “Logical Breakpoint” and stood up.  Having walked the dog already this day, I wasn’t expecting any weirdness around the house.  I was wondering what I would concentrate on this morning.  I had a blog posting to write and nothing came to mind.  I’ve also got a number of web pages to complete for the board and for CANA here in town.

It’s been wet for a couple days, and today was going to be a 50 percent chance of storms.  If you have ever lived in South Florida or visited for any length of time that means that there is a 100 percent chance that 50 percent of us will get monsoons.  The rest of us may get wet or may not.  Good luck guessing which group you are a part of.

I told Kevin that meant that nobody would be here to work on the house today, just too wet.  It’s warm enough but too wet.

After a couple of cool days, this was the first day that we’d had with a morning low at or above 70F.

I walked to the door and saw it.  “Hey, there’s a truck in the swale!”.

In that moment, I knew I was not going to have a quiet day.

My roof had failed back in December and for the better part of the holidays I was living an I Love Lucy era episode of a TV show.   It was “1950’s Sitcom” life with pans on the floor to catch the rain that ran down the roof and onto the desks in the Florida Room.   The roof must be replaced.

We went through the two days of stripping then resealing the roof.  Decking was repaired.  I got used to having access to it and even climbed up there to cut down the bougainvillea that was growing due up instead of onto the arbor back behind the windows in the Florida Room.

Monday would be nice.  80 and sunny, morning low of 70.  I expected it THEN.

Now the truck was disgorging its cargo of men, machines, and glue.   I was going to have a day of banging and sweeping.

These days, installing a tile roof meant that they would glue them to the roof.  Who knew?  I also didn’t expect that they could do anything with glue on a wet roof, but apparently my knowledge of Project Management doesn’t extend to construction.

They climbed up onto the roof and began moving the tiles.  Each tile was a variegated thing.   Terracotta with black and tan splotches.  Should look quite nice and “distinctive” as the salesman said.

Now it was getting installed.

I knew Rack wouldn’t like it.  When I came back in from taking out the trash bins, I walked into the laundry.  It’s in the No Go Zone, or so I thought.  He walked past the trashcan monster and right into the laundry to the Port Hole.   I have two glass panes in the door so Rack can look out like Lettie did before him.  He’s just discovering it.   I immediately comforted him to let him know that this is safe for dogs and went back to loading the dryer.


Bangbangbang, sweepsweepsweep, bangbangbang.

Rack turned tail and vanished.   If you have never met my dog, he’s a McNab.  Incredibly intelligent and sensitive, he still has issues with random noises from when he was abandoned by his first owner at a shelter.  It wasn’t going to be a good day for him.

He is also fast.  Very fast.  He vanished silently like a dart into the main part of the house.

Closing the dryer, I finally found him after doing a perimeter search.   Next to My Big Green Chair in the living room is a table.  It has an inlaid leather chess board and sits high enough off the ground to play chess or any other game you might like.  It also has his third mat there and he’s taken to sitting next to me when I am watching TV.  I can reach down and pet him whenever I like.  That is one of the nicest things of having a dog, someone nearby to comfort you when you need it, and you can be reassured all is well by his presence.

Not today.  He’s hiding there.  Nose on the floor, he looks up when the noises stop and start.  I can’t say I blame him for hiding.  I did too.  I’ve got my coffee next to me on my bouncy Poang work chair, and the headphones on.  Thankfully they’re noise cancelling.  They muffle the pounding that is outside my own head causing the pounding on the inside. 

It doesn’t do a thing for the dog, but he needs the exposure.

You see with a dog with Noise Issues, you have to make sure that he gets exposed to some noises but not too much.  It is a thing of finesse to find out how much he can take.  Then you have to purposely expose him to a little more each time.  We do this a couple times a week in front of Wilton Manors City Hall on the wall.   Trucks go by.  People walk past.  Dogs bark.  Horns blow.  Rack sits down and shudders.  Then shivers.  Literally vibrating, he will sit for the time we’re there.  Each time we visit, it notches down a slight bit in its intensity.  By the time we leave, he’s more than ready to go, but the shivering has stopped.

This will be one of those days.   When they put the first two layers down, Rack was a mess but when he recovered, Rack was better than he was the day before the chaos reigned.

Lemonade.  I think we will make lemonade out of those lemons and sit here in the banging.

Roof Day Two – The Underlayment

I said before a Roof is a system.  It is a collection of parts designed to work together to perform a job.

In this case, the first part was the tar paper that was laid down once the old roof was stripped down to the plywood deck.

Having gone through a day of hammering, sawing, and general noise, we all took a breather.  I know Rack did.  I sure did as well.  Glad it’s over with.

We went through the weekend with just tar paper on the roof, and it held nicely.  Having a front come through with some rather serious rains proved that point well.   The house wasn’t as cool those days since instead of having terracotta reflecting some of the light back to the skies, we had a black roof.  The Florida Room was decidedly hot since there was nothing there as insulation.

The day started with Julio ringing my doorbell.  Rack greeted him with barking himself sideways.  Nice to know that Mr. Dog is finally finding his voice.

I was told that the work today would be quiet.  There wasn’t going to be “that much noise” but it would be “Steenky”.  His emphasis.  While Julio had a little bit of an accent, he specifically stressed that word and rolled it off his tongue so that he would warn me that we may be gassed out.

It turned out that it was Steenky indeed.

They chased my Jeep out of the Carport and took over the yard.

There was an ugly trailer that was spattered with tar which would cook the five blocks of tar that were delivered to the yard.  We had a delivery of sealant and tar paper to the roof, which was amusing to watch.  Most home improvement stores have to be coerced to deliver to the house, these folks delivered the materiel to the place it was most needed, 15 feet above ground on top of my house.

Tar is slightly less thick than candle wax, and more brittle.  You have to heat this stuff up in order to apply it.  This would be where the noises began.  I happened to be seated out of view of the window when this all started up.  By “This” I mean a rocket launch began that wouldn’t stop until lunch time.  They fired up a propane jet to melt the tar so that it could be loaded into buckets which would be spread over top of the tar paper.  Then a foam underlayment would be bonded to the tar and it would form a solid unit to block the house from the elements.

The roof is held down by straps to meet the Miami-Dade Code for roofs.  It’s not going anywhere, or so that is the plan.

There were five blocks of tar that got melted.  Each time they got dropped into that splattered green hopper, a giant cloud of Steenky grey sulphurous smoke would rise up and fill the yard.  Since the front was coming through and the winds were settling the cold air from up North, the winds were coming from the “wrong direction”.  This meant that instead of the winds blowing the smoke off the property and away from the ocean, they blew the smoke toward the house and to the East.

In other words, the house smelled of Steenky tar instead of the usual mild cooking smells that any house had. 

Suck it up, it’s time to deal.   The noise was more of an annoyance to me, but it sent Rack running off hiding whenever it happened. 

One thing we noticed.  Rack seems to be growing a thicker skin as a result.   His energy level was up and he was bouncing around once they finished laying all that tar on the roof.  The walk at 5pm was one you would expect with a puppy, full of energy and joy.

So putting up with a half day of a rocket engine in the yard, steenky smoke, and an occasional clomping around on the roof was worth the effort.

We have the underlayment down.  Next we have to wait for the barrel tiles to arrive.   That happens in one to three weeks when the tiles are made in Miami and trucked to us here on site.

A Freshly Tarpapered Roof

It took the roofers a day to completely remove the old roof and place down a new layer of tar-paper.  A roof is more accurately called a “system” since it’s a collection of parts that act as a whole.   Its job is to keep the weather out of the interior of the house and to keep the wood below it dry.   That’s not really a big problem in the Desert areas of the Southwest, but here in South Florida, we get 50 inches of rain a year, 40 of them in the six months from June to December, the wet season.

After about 30 years the old one failed and we needed to act since some of those timbers were getting wet.

They ripped the old roof off in a morning, and in the afternoon they put up the tar-paper.  Yes, That Quickly. It literally was a frenzy of activity at one point.  Seated in the living room I heard in front of me one set of nails go right to left, and behind me on the other slope of the roof, they went left to right.

At The Same Time.  In Quadrophonic Stereo Sound.

The dog didn’t calm down until Sunday when with all the stored up energy of a day of roofing and a day of panicking, he became a frenetic ball of black and white tightly coiled furred energy. 

For inspection they had bolted a ladder to the house, I waited for the right time to climb.

I had never been on the old roof and not exactly a climbing kind of person, I gingerly went up onto the new tar-paper to grab this picture and a few others.  Interesting view up there, you can see the neighborhood from a new angle.  Everything was in neat rows on the roof, as well as the neighborhood.  You couldn’t see as far as you would expect since it had been more than 7 years since Wilma and most of the trees have grown back.

But at least the work was done – for a few days.   They will come back as soon as the inspection takes place to put down a layer of tar, then another layer of tar paper.  I’m told it won’t be as noisy.   Rack will appreciate that as will I.

My Roof and the Herd Of Wild Horses On It

The next time you go to a horse racing track, lay your head on the ground next to it.

Actually walk out into the middle of the track in the middle of the race.   You will have an idea of what the sound is like in my house at this very moment.

The chaos started at 7:20 Thursday, January 2nd, 2014 with a phone call.

It turned out to be that the roofer was warning us that our “demolition” would begin today.   One minute later, a white Ford F150 Work Truck pulled into the swale and two guys were hanging out.   The phone call stopped and I was cheerfully told that Charlie Fox the Roofer was saying that work would start today.

Well.  There goes the chance to get “caught up” after the holidays!

We were ejected from our driveway shortly thereafter by a giant truck with black metal panels on the side, and a host of other trucks and other people.

I was helpfully warned by Julio, who appears to be the Foreman or the Project Manager, that “It was going to be loud when work starts”.

Having given them access to the yard, work started shortly thereafter.

8:00AM to be exact.   Literally exactly at 8:00AM.

Let the fun begin.


They slapped some old plywood on the roof as a guide and began throwing pieces of my old roof tiles down it into the back of that big black sided truck.   Standing on my porch you would see bits of terracotta fly into the truck with a slam.


The dog immediately decided that today was “Nope” and tried to find a quiet corner.


Remember those horses running by?  They were joined by someone who took a giant commercial clothes dryer and tossed some 2x4s, old bricks, and probably a dead body in there and turned it on.   All over the top of our heads.


Rack began to shuttle back and forth between the bedrooms and his crate in the living room before deciding that sitting in front of the couch where he could watch me might be the best idea.  “Best” is relative.


It will be an interesting few days.  Friday will be cold (69 as a high) but dry.  Saturday will be wet and cool, Sunday will be seasonable with passing showers.   All that rain is not welcome.   Our old roof was beginning to drip as it was.  Missing the tiles means that the house will go from an occasional drip when the winds were just right to an expected torrent.


They’re shoveling all sorts of things off the roof into the backyard, so who knows, Demolition may end earlier rather than later.


I’m soldiering on here at the house.  Since the office has moved and is under construction, going to the Board won’t cut it and I’d need to take the dog with me.  I’ll grab the Noise Cancelling Headphones and maybe some earplugs on top of it.   As for Rack… Sorry buddy, you get to listen to it too.


At least it is a good week for it.  The hangovers have ended for everyone by now, even if you are like me who only rarely drinks, and it’s a short week.  Not everyone has geared up for the rigors of normal routines.


Besides, we’ll have a choice between an “orange” that looks more like a peachy terracotta, or a patterned variegated terracotta roof with no leaks.  That roof will be brought up to “Miami-Dade Hurricane Code” so we’ll get a hefty discount on our Hurricane Insurance when it is done, and our roofer, Charlie Fox comes with a good reference.  We’re leaning toward the variegated terracotta.  It will look nice for a year or three then we’ll be muttering about having to “get someone up there to clean that damn roof”.


If you’ll excuse me, I just heard something vibrate loose and fall in the Florida room… Oh, that was nothing, just old tar falling onto everything, including my backup laptop.  Now I can see the sky through my roof.


If we get a shower, it’s going to be a wet disaster.  I’ve got to move my gear today…


By the end of all that banging, the tarpaper was on the roof.  This being Florida, even in the dry season, we could have a small shower that won’t even show on radar.  These “Sub-Pixel” storms float in off the ocean, drench your backyard, but not your front yard, and move on to your neighbor’s yard.  It may just water one potted plant before dissipating. 

None of that happened.  It remained clear into the night.  Overcast, but clear.   Ok, so it’s Florida, and not only the weather is weird down here.

The inspection happens tomorrow.  There is a large aluminium ladder bolted to the house.  I suspect that is for safety and anti-theft, but either are good ideas.  They’ll look over the roof to make sure it passes code and then the fun can begin again.

Bolted ladders.  What will they think of next?