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  • Writer's pictureWendy Elizabeth

Fat Chick on a Hot Shingle Roof

Ok, so I know that some people will hate this title, and feel that it is self-deprecating and unprofessional, but let’s be honest. It is what it is.

I have fixed so many things this last week, that when I finally had to climb onto the garage roof, this was the only sentence that was playing through my head. I found it immensely funny; it was a zillion degrees, I had to climb more than halfway up the ladder, I was wearing old shorts, and had to stretch out as far as I could, onto the roof, to hammer in the shingles. My garage may be quaint, but it’s covered in moss and a bit dilapidated. And, I am not a young Elizabeth Taylor. In my own mind, I was some cute, slightly middle-aged woman fixing the roof with her hair in a ponytail. But, when teenage boys walked their bikes past my house, I am sure this was not the image that assaulted their young retinas.

Caveat: I am not a plumber or handyman, and I don’t particularly enjoy fixing broken things, but my hope is that by reading this, some of you will consider a bit of DIY before making the call. After all, it is your house, and some things (after the initial panic) are not as difficult as they first appear to be.

This week has been a mess of home improvements. In my design life, I automatically look for creative ways to make things work. My first solution is to begin at the end; I think of what I need/want, then try to figure out how to get there with as little hassle as possible. And, hopefully, without spending a lot of money. I don’t usually, consciously, apply this idea to my home repairs, but this week was a little different. Faced with several issues, and an already busy schedule, I decided to stop and think before I picked up the telephone.

The week began with me closing the door to my car. As I pulled it shut, the entire thing (armrest included)came off in my hand! I called the dealer and they told me to come over straight away. They would check the damage and order the part. 24 hours later I was told I needed a new door panel, and it would cost $624. After resigning myself to getting it fixed, I went outside to take another look at it. I considered the possibility of gluing it with some type of epoxy (nothing to lose really; my car, my $624 dollars to spend if it didn’t work). I had flashbacks of my father using duct tape and super glue. I wanted to cry, and felt like a fool for even thinking I could fix it.

When I looked, the armrest had a screw in the middle with broken plastic around it. This meant the screw slipped straight through the hole and the armrest was not secure. I went to the garage, got a washer, placed it over the hole and reattached the screw into the armrest……My daughter and I just looked at it. Fixed. In five minutes. Then we screamed.

The next day I went downstairs to find a large puddle on the basement floor, by the hot water heater. The top of the heater and air ducts were covered with water, there was warm water dripping through the floorboards onto my head as I looked up at it. The wood was soft and mushy. My first instinct was to turn the water off (it is always helpful to know where and how to turn your water off – test it to make sure it works before you have an emergency), but I needed to know where it was coming from. It was warm water, and I was running the dishwasher. I could see it dripping through the hole where the plumbing pipe was. Upstairs the sink cupboard was filled with water. I emptied the cupboard and checked all the pipe connections that I could see. One of the rubber seals was broken, so the joint was leaking all of the water from the sink and the dishwasher. I took the broken seal to the hardware store and bought a new one. Ran the dishwasher again, and it was fine – no leaks.

Later that night I noticed the house was cold, but still humid (we had had the air conditioning unit serviced the previous week). I checked the setting on the humidity regulator, it had been turned down so I turned it up to the correct number. When the unit still didn’t turn on, I went downstairs again. The entire dehumidifier had been unplugged (obviously during the service call). Plugged it in, and within minutes there was water circulating and pouring out into the drain.

Not a big deal. But, honestly, haven’t we all called the repair people for something really simple before, without even looking to see if we could figure it out ourselves?

The fix-it list goes on. My garden gate wouldn’t close, so I loosened the nuts and bolts and repositioned the side panels. This I know was my fault, I am not the most delicate of lawn mowing people. I tend to drive my lawnmower as if it was a jeep, in a race, through the New Zealand countryside. In my haste I occasionally bang into fences and gates.

Which leads us to the garage roof. I had already had my daughter climb up the ladder and help me remove the tree. Afterwards, I was still left with a big hole splintered with wood and debris. My first thought was to call the insurance company, and get a roofing guy out. But, the repair would not have been more than my deductible and, there were no supporting structures damaged. All I had to do was clean up the mess and attach a heavy piece of plywood to the inside of the garage.

With the rain kept out there was still a large hole in the shingles. I left it for a while but it started to collect water and leaves. I was going to send my daughter onto the roof again, but child services, and the thought of trying to explain the process to her, made me decide to do it myself.

So, Sunday came, and there I was……Fat Chick on a Hot Shingle Roof………

For more by Wendy and the Blue Giraffe, go to:

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