May, 2014: a summation of events thus far

I’m not an apologetic blogger. I blog when I blog, when there’s something to say. It’s been awhile since I last blogged (months) and it’s best for everyone that I only blog when I feel like it, because then I might have something of interest to contribute. That brings us to now, when I have something of interest to report.

We’ve dedicated Spring 2014 to the exterior of the house, which I haven’t been able to capture well in photographs. The first thing to happen was a new roof. We had seen during our home inspection that the underside of the roof was black in two spots, and we suspected that leaks had happened, were happening, or were immanently about to happen. Further, shingles had come off the roof and were actually in the eavestroughs and all over the backyard. I picked up a shingle in the backyard last November and it crumbled in my hand. (We still bought the house, as you know, because Mark is crazy. To be honest, I tried to walk away.) This spring, I trolled through the backyard with a grocery bag picking up garbage and shingles, and to a one they all crumbled in my hand. It was unbelievable.

We chose to work with a roofer that our real estate agent recommended to us very strongly. I gave the man a call and was instantly impressed, and after an estimate and quite a lot of communicating back and forth, we opted to work with him without even seeking other estimates or questioning other roofers. Sometimes you just know for a fact that you’ve found the best. The end result is an A++ roof that looks, frankly, amazing. Also, post spring time rain storms, I can verify that it is in fact waterproof, and that’s 90% of a roof’s job.

Our house is red brick and cream siding (I’ve lamented that fact before) and honestly, the red brick often reflects a lot of light and tends towards orange. The former roof was a medium-to-dark brown, and it looked really bad. The dark brown was just a very bad choice, both aesthetically and environmentally. A dark roof absorbs heat and heats up the inside of your house. It’s just smarter to go for a roof that’s lighter in colour: go easy on the environment, decrease the heat you create in the summer, decrease the heat stress on your roof so it lives longer.

In terms of the aesthetics… I can’t quite say why the former roof didn’t work. I can often explain quite coherently why something works or fails aesthetically, but this time I’m at a loss. The colour was maybe too monolithic, and maybe it was too depressingly dark, and maybe it just made the top of the house look grumpy, I don’t know. I lack an explanation for why it was so bad, only that it was. When I walk the dog I eye the houses on our street that also have dark roofs and yanno…. the dark roofs don’t look good on the other houses on our street either. The street next to us has smaller houses that are tucked in closer together and THEIR dark roofs look really good, and the houses have charm. It’s inexplicable. Maybe the rule is The Bigger The House, The Brighter The Roof.

Our roofer brought us sample boards of roof shingle. We took them outside in the late afternoon light (the golden hour) and eyed our choices. The only one worth considering was “resawn shake”, a multi-coloured shingle that sampled all the shades of cedar without actually trying to look like a cedar roof.

End result: the wood under the old roof hadn’t rotted, and a new roof went on immediately. The roof looks amazing. The house looks amazing. It doesn’t mimic a cedar shake roof: rather, when I look at it I see a pixellated pale brown roof in cedar colours, and it is perfect. Overall, we made a guess at what would look good (I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t know how to choose and I really took a leap of faith) and it paid off in spades. The front of the house gets a lot of afternoon sun, and that warm golden light makes our roof glow in the brightest, most golden of ways.

Speaking of gold, surely the roof cost us a million dollars! It did not. Everyone who looked at our house guessed that replacing the roof would cost $10,000 but it only cost us $6,700. That’s tax in, with an upgraded shingle, and new roof vents. That’s why you need to know that my roofer is called Joe Lowrey, and his business is called Lowrey’s, and you’ll want to go to to find Joe, and his phone number, and if you need a roof or someone you love needs a roof, you call Joe.

The guy is great, his roofers are pros, and he replaced our roof in a day and a half. We found two nails TOTAL in our driveway/yard after his team ripped off the old roof and put on the new one. We got instant, perfect results. Most importantly, though, is that Joe is a very nice man and I trust him completely. He cared about us, he cared about our horrible roof situation, and he made us his top priority this spring. Our roof went on the MOMENT the temperature would allow a new roof to be installed, and I am so grateful.

Moving along to other things: I’ve spent the spring raking out the yard of (I would guess three) years of debris and waste. I pulled five large size compost bags of leaves from the backyard, ten from the front yard (full size maple tree, natch!), endless crabapples, piles of grapevine and thorny rose canes were cut and hauled, and then oversized and badly placed cedar trees were cut down in the front yard and left at the curb.

God bless the City of Ottawa and their green bin/yard waste program that took away EVERYTHING we left at the curb, even the sticks that weren’t tied up as per the City’s guidelines. GOD BLESS YOU, CITY.

But why aren’t there photographs? Oh yeah, well… yeah. See… yeah.

The giant messy mess was scraped up and carted away, but what it left underneath was a… giant messy mess. The grass in the front yard and backyard is patchy at best, and there are large swaths of the yard that are bare dirt. The before/after pictures I took resulted in “that’s still a “before” picture right? result. Without the monetary resources to cart in INFINITY dirt and buy INFINITY mature plants, there hasn’t been much to show. It’s very sad, especially since my lower back has fucking had it up to here with this shit. (Direct quote from my lower back, no edits, no punches pulled.)

I’m hoping that later this summer all the pansies, hydrangeas, hostas and dirt shovelling will result in maybe just one photograph that is worth taking. Maybe just one. That moment, though, hasn’t happened yet. I continue to wait and hope.