Monday, November 27, 2017

Family Feasts, Family Fun

Together again: Dylan, Sarah, and Jacob on Saturday, Nov. 25th.

We weren't sure it was actually going to happen, but it did. My older son, Jacob, was able to drive down from Utah to spend Thanksgiving weekend with us! Now that my children are adults with separate lives, having them together is inexpressibly precious to me, and we had a wonderful time.

*** WARNING*** LOTS of family pictures ahead!

Brunch at El Rancho: Mom with her three chickadees...
Mary, Dylan, Sarah, and Jacob (ages 63, 20, 28, & 26).

Jacob actually left his home in Utah around 6:00 on Wednesday evening, after he got off work, and drove through the night. It was 5:00 a.m. on Thursday when he and his friend Cody arrived at my house. By the time I got up at 5:30 to take Mark to work, the guys had already crashed, trying to get some shut-eye. I didn't see them until a little after 9:00.

Despite Jacob's timely arrival on Thanksgiving morning, though, we didn't hold our family Thanksgiving feast until Saturday. As usual, Dylan and Sarah had to work on the actual day of Thanksgiving, so we had to work around their schedules. Saturday seemed to be the best fit, although even then Mark and Jake had to work.

We began Saturday by meeting up with Sarah, Dylan, and Chris at 10:30 and heading to our favorite Mexican restaurant, El Rancho. It was Jacob's suggestion that we do so, because he feels like going there is an important family tradition. We knew that our Thanksgiving feast was only a few hours away, so we ate lightly, but it was fun. Cody impressed us with his Spanish fluency as he chatted up the staff (having served a two-year mission in South America).

Dylan hangs my Christmas lights, with help from Sarah and Chris.

After we got back to the house, Sarah decided it was time to put up the new outdoor Christmas lights I'd purchased. Unfortunately, when she climbed the ladder she realized she was a little freaked out by the height, so she enlisted her little brother's help. Dylan was quick to jump on the task, and the lights were nicely hung in record time. I love them!

Sarah steadies the ladder for Dylan.

Love the new blue-and-white twinkling lights!

It's beginning to feel a bit like Christmas...

Brooke looks on while Chris and Sarah set the tables.

After spending four hours in the kitchen (with ample assistance from Jacob and Sarah, plus some help on the stuffing from Mark), I was so exhausted by the time we sat down to eat that I forgot to take pictures of everyone around the table. These are the moments when I remember I'm not as young as I used to be...

Thanksgiving dinner included corn (on the cob or not), green bean
casserole, stuffing, mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, and...

It was 5:00 when the nine of us gathered around two tables: Sarah, Chris, Jacob, Dylan, Jake, Mark, Cody, Brooke, and myself. After a prayer, we all shared what we've been grateful for this year, and then we dug in. Why is it that Thanksgiving feasts seem so much tastier than everyday food, to the point that we eat until we're uncomfortable? Afterward, we ask ourselves why we do it, and then we do it again next year!

...platters of turkey and rolls, as well as sparkling raspberry lemonade. And,
of course, four kinds of pies: pumpkin, apple, razzleberry, and lemon meringue.

Posing in the arcade at Family Fun Park, not too far from home: (in back)
Cody, Jacob, Chris, Jake, and (in front) Marcus, Sarah, Brooke, and Dylan.

Before there was even time to digest our meal, the kids were off to have fun at the arcade, mini-golf, and go-carts of nearby Family Fun Park. They had a blast. When they came home, they were chattering excitedly about the fun memories they'd just built.

Let the games begin! Jake and Sarah handled the photography.

As for Mark and me, we put on a DVD and settled in front of the TV. Within half an hour, we were both asleep in our recliners. We are such hardcore partyers these days...not! But I have fun just knowing my kids are having a great time. We could have gone along with them but, sadly, by that time my knees had taken all they could handle for the day.

Jacob, Cody, Chris, and Marcus take their putting very seriously.

Dylan jumps for joy when his golf ball finally drops in the hole.
They tell me Sarah got the only hole-in-one of the night. You go, girl!

Jacob retrieves his ball.

Marcus, Brooke, Dylan, Cody, Jacob and Chris wait for
the next go-round on the go-carts.

Next up, the go-carts! (Except Sarah and Jake, who took pictures.)

Jacob leads the lineup on the left while Chris, Cody, Brooke,
and Dylan are lined up on the right.

It was a great day with an awesome ending for the kids, who were getting the most out of Jacob's final day with us. After they returned, we enjoyed visiting some more until everyone had to go home for the night. Then Jacob and I sat up until 1:00 a.m. It's hard to have your children living so far away, and I miss talking to him in person.

Brooke and Chris zoom around the curve.

Cody, Marcus, Jaden, and Jacob talk in the kitchen.

Working backwards in time, we now go back to Friday. After Jacob prepared some breakfast burritos for us, he was anxious to get out and see some of his old friends, so he and Dylan and Cody set out to have their own adventures until lunch time. They returned later with an old friend, Marcus, who used to be a regular fixture at our house (and my boys at his) back when they were kids. He joined them for a lunch of chips with dip and some deli subs I had in the fridge. Later that night, we were also joined by Marcus's brother, Jaden.

After lunch, they went to Marcus's house to watch a DVD, but ended up talking more than watching. At 5:15, the guys returned to help make our dinner of grilled steaks and homemade potato salad, which Jacob had requested a few days before he came to visit. Cody made up a batch of homemade orange soda for us, as well.

Marcus heads out with a dry-ice bomb, with Jacob, Jaden, and Dylan behind.

A large part of the attraction of making homemade soda, of course, lies in using the leftover dry ice to make dry-ice "bombs" with which to blow up plastic bottles outside. At least, that's the case for teenage boys and young men who love extremely loud noises. I didn't protest since it was only 8:30 by then, and they'd exhausted their supply of plastic bottles before 9:00. I hoped the neighbors wouldn't mind.

Sarah comforts Diego, who was freaked out by the noise of the "bombs."

Diego didn't appreciate their noisy fun, though. Sarah brought him inside before the guys got started, but after the first explosion he was quite jumpy despite all Sarah's attempts to calm him. He recovered quickly once it was over, thank goodness. The guys went out again later to see more friends, but were back for the night by around midnight.

Love having Sarah, Dylan, and Jacob in my living room together!

A huge spread of pies at my sis-in-law Dana's extended-family Thanksgiving.

Although we had to put off our own family Thanksgiving until Saturday, most of us did have the opportunity to feast and enjoy family on Thursday. My sister-in-law Dana invited us to join her side of the family, including four of her seven sisters and their families and their children's families, for their big Thanksgiving celebration. Jake and Dylan didn't make it, and Sarah only got to stay for forty-five minutes on her lunch break, but the rest of us were able to attend for almost four hours.

Sarah loves cuddling Peyton, the new son of her friend Tahna (Dana's sister).

It was fun to see family (besides Jeff and Dana's children and grandchildren, many of Dana's other relatives have become like family to us over the decades) and get caught up with those we don't see that often since they grew up and moved away. My niece Ashley, for instance, came all the way from Texas with her husband and four children. It was great to visit with her, even though I somehow neglected to take pictures of her family! 

Ethan (my niece Amber's guy), nephew Marcus, niece Emma, & nephew Micah.

And, of course, there was a ton of good food. We brought olives, cranberry sauce, a big green salad, and two pumpkin pies, but we ended up taking most of it back home with us because there was so much food available. Our two pies weren't even touched!

My nieces Hayden, Elsie, and Amber with Amber's son Hunter.

My nieces Haley and Elsie with their dad, my brother Jeff.

My niece Brinley enjoys her meal.

Dana's sister (my friend) Jona surrounded by her girls: two new daughters-in-law 
(Alicia and Meghan) at left and two daughters (Mallory and Kimberly) at right.

Dana's niece (and my friend) Emily, with her new daughter, Jasmine.

After we were all stuffed and ready to carb-crash, Dana jumped right into the games, beginning with an old family favorite called "Do You Love Your Neighbor?" Other games followed, and then a sing-along with Dana's nephews on piano and guitar. Such a spirit of merriment!

My sis-in-law Dana starts up a game of "Do You Love Your Neighbor?"

Jacob and Cody, however, were ready for some real sleep after having driven all night and getting less than three hours of sleep before starting the day. Jacob wanted to go home and nap, but I wasn't done taking pictures and visiting, so I suggested that they nap on the couches in the foyer of the church. Jacob didn't think he'd be able to sleep there, but fifteen minutes later he and Cody were both sound asleep, completely unaware of the noisy goings-on in the gym full of people on the other side of the door. They slept like that for an hour and a half!

Jacob slept soundly for an hour and a half in the foyer of the church.

It was about 5:00 when we got home, and by then the guys had caught their second wind, so they went visiting some of Jacob's old friends for the evening.

Cody and Jacob in Cody's new car, ready to start the long drive back to Utah.

And now, fast forward back to Sunday. No matter how much I dreaded it, nothing could stop Sunday from coming, along with Jacob's inevitable return home to Utah. Dylan, Sarah, and Chris came over a little after 9:30 to say their final farewells to their brother. The guys didn't set off as early as planned, but they were all packed up and ready to drive away just before 11:30. We had a wonderful visit, and I cherished every minute. I have much to be grateful for, but the most amazing blessing in my life is the joy of having three special people who call me "Mom"!

We wave good-bye sadly as they pull out of my driveway.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Rest of the Story

Nov 4, 2017: One of the big Ponderosa pines in my yard,
with the dead branches trimmed away.

When I wrote the post about my new metal roof and the amazing volunteers who installed it for me a couple of weeks ago, I focused solely on the roof and the work that went into it. However, there was another huge effort those volunteers undertook in my behalf on that first day, and I'd like to recognize their work, as well. It was certainly no less important to me than the roof!

A few days before the roofing project began, one of the contractors stopped by to check things out and mentioned the oak branches hanging low over a portion of the roof in back. I told him I'd be quite all right with having them cut back those limbs if someone brought along a chainsaw. So, on the morning of the project, cutting off those branches was the first thing that happened before they began.

Another big pine that stands about 10 feet from the one
in the first photo, while in the process of also being trimmed.

Once the roof project got rolling along, a few of the volunteers who weren't immediately needed on the roof offered to trim away some of the dead branches on the trees around my house. I was thrilled and gratefully accepted.

My property isn't that big (.35 acre), but it's heavily treed with pines and oaks. Raking leaves and pine needles is a twice-yearly headache, but I do love my trees for their greenery and their shade. Lately, though, I'd been noticing a lot of dead lower branches on many of the larger trees, as well as some heavy branches hanging so low that they were getting in our way. Without a chainsaw of our own, it was really too big a job for Mark and me to handle.

The men got right to work on removing the lower branches from my very tall Ponderosa pines. These were branches that hadn't had pine needles for many years. It was a huge job, requiring tall ladders and a far each. Pretty scary at times, especially with a chainsaw. One of the men, Darny, finally went home to get his pole-saw so he could cut off some of the branches without a ladder. He worked for hours, and it was quite demanding physically. I don't know how he did it!

Notice the fat juniper pine behind the beanstalks
on July 24th of this year, against my west garden fence.

Charlie handled most of the chainsaw work. One of the first things I asked him to do was completely remove a juniper pine that was partially growing into the wire garden fence at the back of the house. Not only do I feel that junipers are the ugly runts of the pine family (unlike my beloved Ponderosa pines), but I also hated that it blocked the late afternoon sunlight from a large portion of my garden. Right next to it was a young oak that also blocked the sun. (By young, I mean maybe forty or fifty years old.)

This stump is all that's left of that juniper pine now!

Charlie was happy to cut out the juniper, right down to a below-ground-level stump. He was less than enthused at the idea of cutting down a healthy oak, though. I agreed; I do love my oaks. They're beautiful and they provided excellent shade in the summer. So I asked if he minded cutting it back, just to let more sunlight through. He obliged and, in fact, cut out much more than I'd expected. 

Since Gambel oaks tend to reproduce from root sprouts rather than acorns (which also fall all over my yard every autumn), they are often found growing close together in clumps. In fact, they can grow so closely together that they almost appear to be one tree with many trunks. Most of my oaks grow in groups like that, including the one Charlie pruned for me. When he was done, he'd removed all but one tree (or trunk) and the lower branches. It will be perfect when spring returns.

Next year, the west end of my garden will get a lot more sunshine!
The juniper by the fence is gone, and the multi-trunked young oak formerly
to its right has been trimmed back to a single slender trunk beside the fence.

At one point, I told Darny the story of the ugly bush in my front yard (which I almost cut down because it was growing through my chain-link fence) that turned out to be an apple tree in disguise. I didn't discover its true identity until several years ago, when Dylan and I were raking pine needles and I was mad that someone had apparently thrown apples into our yard. "Where are all these apples coming from?" I demanded in frustration. Silly me. Despite my second husband pruning it before we got divorced, it still looked like an ugly bush. A really tall ugly bush.

My ugly apple tree-bush, just about to get pruned back.

I mentioned my plan to go online and learn how to prune the apple tree correctly, now that the weather was getting cold enough for the tree to go dormant. Darny recommended that I instead ask Charlie how to prune the tree. He said he and his wife had some trees that weren't doing so well until Charlie came and pruned them, and now they were great. So I did. And as soon as I asked, Charlie headed right to the tree and started in.

The apple tree after its pruning, with half the tree
now disembodied and laying on the ground!

He cut away more than half the tree, which was almost alarming, but then he explained his reasons for doing what he did, as well as what steps I had to take next. I already knew that pruning was important because a tree that has too many branches to maintain has less energy to send upward to nourish those developing blossoms and apples. He went on to point out that a shorter, wider tree with most of the branches growing outward rather than inward is an apple tree that will be easier to pick apples from!

How the apple tree looks today, after I finished
the rest of the recommended trimming this afternoon.

So today I finally went out and finished the job. I used a long-handled lopper to cut away the remaining small branches around both trunks (Charlie had cut out two or three trunks), and then I selectively cropped the upper branches so that they were well-spaced and most were growing away from the tree's center. At last, my apple tree looks like a tree! The only thing I didn't do was cut back the tops of the branches, to keep the tree shorter. That will be a job for someone younger and more agile, such as one of my children... Now, to wait until the warm weather of late spring to see if we get blossoms, and then September to see if we get apples. If I didn't totally kill the tree today...

The north oak tree in the front yard, which I haven't trimmed yet.
Notice the low limbs & small branches sticking out everywhere.

Then, since I was in a "lopping" sort of mood, I moved on to the two Gambel oaks right in the middle of my front yard. You can see in both the photo above and the one below that these are typical groupings of several oaks growing together. I didn't get to the one pictured above today, so it still has a bunch of new trees and tiny twisted branches growing on, in, and around the trunk and the lower part of the tree. A few of the larger lower branches still droop down and get in the way, although Darny took care of a couple of the worst ones when he was here.

Notice how straight-up the left side of the tree appears. That's because there were two really long branches that reached over the fence and drooped low enough to scratch my car when I pulled into the driveway, if I wasn't cautious. Darny was kind enough to get rid of them on my request.

The south oak in the front yard, which I trimmed today.
It looks so nice and tidy now. My OCD is satisfied!

The oak to the right side, though, I tackled with a vengeance this afternoon. It was a much more complex task than the apple tree and I spent about an hour and a half at it, lopping away, often with both arms raised above my head while I strained to cut through higher limbs that were larger than usual. Once, the lopper closed with a snap when the handles were on either side of my head, and it delivered a blow to my right jaw with all the strength I'd been mustering. It's still a little sore, but I guess I know now that I don't have a glass jaw! A while after that, I managed to knock myself in the left temple, and I lost count of the times branches directly above me landed on my head. When I was finished, my hair was peppered with bits of bark, and more had settled itchy-scratchy inside my clothes.

To say that my whole body throbbed by the time I was done would be a gigantic understatement, but the sense of accomplishment I feel now is almost heady. I can't wait to recover enough to tackle the other tree!

Now there's a huge pile of limbs to be hauled away! A few people carved up 
some larger limbs for firewood, loading them in their trucks, but still quite a pile!

I also need to mention that there were three other men whose assistance was invaluable in the tree-trimming effort. While Darny and Charlie chopped branches, these men patiently picked up the fallen twigs and branches all across my yard and hauled them away to a pile in a corner of the driveway. That in itself was physically demanding, and I appreciate them so much!

The fun hasn't ended yet. A group of my roofing-and-trimming heroes were talking in the hall at church on Sunday. As I passed by, one said, "We were just talking about you." "Uh-oh," I replied, laughing. They explained that they're arranging to have the Young Men youth group do a service project, at my home and others, raking up leaves and branches to haul away. The blessings keep coming, giving me so many reasons to give thanks this Thanksgiving and always. God is goodness, and many are the good hands that do His work. I'm deeply grateful for each and every one!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Little Things

A new shower curtain rod and butterfly clips make me oddly happy.

It might seem strange to wax poetic over something so small as a new shower curtain rod, especially after the great blessing of having a long-awaited metal roof put on my house just eight days ago (for which I am more grateful than words can express). Yet, I think that's one of the beautiful things about human nature. Our ability to find fun in the smallest things is there to make life meaningful on a daily basis, if we take a moment to look for those simple joys.

Yesterday, while Mark was cleaning the bathrooms (his only weekly indoor chore, because toilets make me gag), I told him to throw away the old shower curtain liner and take down the shower curtain so I could put it in the wash. At the same time, I noted the increasing rust on the old curtain rod, the same one that was in the bathroom when we bought the house twenty-four years ago. Later that afternoon, while we were out running errands (I got a $203 refund on leftover roofing materials, hooray!), we stopped by Walmart to buy a new shower curtain liner. That's when I noticed a stack of curved shower curtain rods nearby.

In the past, whenever we've stayed at a hotel or resort with curved shower curtain rods, I've always thought that someday I'd get one for my home. I love how it holds the curtain away from your body, because I hate hitting the wet curtain with my arm or hip while showering. It's one of those things that creeps out my OCD and makes me feel less clean somehow.

So, although it was more pricey than a straight rod, I put the curved rod in my cart. Then, as we wandered on down the bathroom goods aisle, I saw a box of butterfly shower curtain clips. Okay, I admit there was nothing wrong with our clunky, old, round, pink clips (other than being a bear to snap open and closed). But, hey, as long as I was making five-year-old shower curtain is still in great shape and has butterflies on it.

I'm sure that watching Mark and me trying to figure out the instructions on the rod and then install it would have been like watching a Three Stooges comedy. Eventually, though, it was up and seemingly solidly in place. And the butterfly clips were so much easier to use than the old pink ones. What can I say? I love it. I almost look for excuses to walk in the bathroom (is it too soon to comb my hair again?) just so I can enjoy looking at it.

Oh, I know that a few months from now I'll barely even notice the new rod and clips. A year from now, I'll also be so used to the new roof that I no longer pause to admire it each time I pull into my driveway. That's another aspect of human nature. We tend to take for granted that which is there everyday.

And so the challenge is to keep our eyes open and our senses attuned to simple joys, to cultivate a continuous feeling of Thanksgiving that makes us aware of our multitudinous blessings, the greatest of which cannot be purchased at Walmart. The love of family and friends, for instance. The kindness and charity of those who are willing to serve selflessly. Inner strength and humor and resilience to face life's challenges. The satisfaction of honest work and accomplishment, a job well done. The beauty of the natural world and the privilege to live in freedom. A good night's sleep. A quiet moment of calm. A baby's laughter. A big bear hug.

And, above all, the tender mercies of a Heavenly Father who loves His children and a Savior who gave Himself to redeem us all.

May our lives continue to be richly blessed, and may we all have clarity to recognize the little joys that surround us, just waiting to be acknowledged. Happy Thanksgiving!

Not to focus too much on material blessings, but I wanted to share this fun timepiece. So far, I haven't gotten so used to this clock that I no longer notice it, even though I've had it for five months now. My dad and step-mom have a similar clock, which plays songs by the Beatles on the hour, and I've always admired it. When I decided to use my stipend for hosting a student teacher in my classroom (last spring) to splurge for something I'd always wanted, I chose this. It plays six different classical pieces on the hour. With the flick of a switch, it will play six Christmas songs instead. The kids and I are excited to finally flip the switch on Thanksgiving, because none of us have heard the Christmas songs yet. One more week!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A New Roof

November 8, 2017: The front view of our brand-new metal roof.

Typically, a shingle roof will last about twenty years before it needs replacement. When we bought our house in 1993, the roof was only a few years old and in good shape. But that was in 1993, twenty-four years ago. We've badly needed a new roof for the past five or six years, with one serious leak during Winter 2006, but it's hard to come up with a couple thousand dollars for materials and roofers when you're a teacher and single mom. Thus, I've basically held my breath and hoped for the best throughout the summer monsoon rains and winter snows for the past several years.

Our new roof, as viewed from the back of the house.

Then I retired. Although that has locked me into a modest income which will still require my masterful (ahem) budgeting skills, I did receive an immediate blessing in the form of relatively generous benefits from the school district upon retirement (such as the district buying back my 112 unused leave days). Not only would I be able to put a roof on my house, but I would be able to afford the metal roof I've been wanting. I admit to gasping and then gritting my teeth at the $3,030 price tag, but this type of roof is extremely desirable when you live under the threat of forest fires for up to one-third of the year every fire season.

(A week after the roof was installed, Mark and I hauled the leftover materials--some edge trim and lots of screws--back to the roofing supply company. They took them back and refunded me $203, bringing the cost of roof materials down to $2,827. That sounds a little bit better!)

Nov. 4, 2017: The old shingle roof on the morning the project began.

The cost would have been higher if I'd also had to pay for labor, but I received another great blessing in the form of our high priests group from church. When I mentioned my intention to put on a new roof, the high priests group leader told me not to worry about it. He'd get a crew together and even gather shingles to put on a roof with little or no cost to me. Tempting...

However, I explained that I wanted a metal roof and, since I could actually afford one at the moment, I was going to do that. I'm pretty sure he gulped before admitting he had no expertise in metal roofs, but then he told me he knew people who did. Over my protests, he insisted that he'd get a team together to install my roof, even if I was paying for materials.

Unwrapping the materials delivered by the roofing company.

He was as good as his word. It was a lengthy process, about eight months from that conversation to completion of the roof, but he quickly took the load off my shoulders and ran with it. Contractors from church got two estimates on supply costs for me, so all I had to do was choose the color and call in my credit card information.

When the materials were delivered two days before the project began, I had a little panic. I took a picture of the tiny pile, texted it to one of the contractors, and typed "I'm having a hard time believing there's enough here to cover my whole roof!" He was amused. "Good, it's thin!" he texted back.

Removing low branches hovering over the roof, with my blessing!

The first two men arrived before 8:00 on a Saturday morning. They expressed some concern regarding how many men would actually show up to help, but they needn't have worried. Less than an hour later, there were about fifteen men working hard to complete the task at hand despite the autumn chill.

We had about fifteen men from church there to help do the job!

Close to half of those men were in their seventies and eighties, but these were men who grew up in a time when people learned how to work hard and take satisfaction in a job well done. They were most impressive! Each man was invaluable to the team and the task.

Laying out waterproof paper to protect the metal from the shingles.

One of the nice things about a metal roof is that the shingle roof doesn't need to be removed. They did put down a layer of paper sheeting to protect the underside of the metal from grating against  the shingles, which could lead to corrosion and rust, but my two layers of shingles remained in place. I'm hoping that will mean a little extra insulation that, perhaps, will positively impact my winter electric bills. We'll soon see.

Measuring and installing the eave trims (or whatever they're called).

I offered to help. I offered to feed them breakfast. I offered to bring them a case of tacos for lunch. They turned down every offer, providing their own water, milk, doughnuts, and breakfast burritos. So I settled in to watch and chronicle the project with my camera. Occasionally I brought them paper, pencils, and Sharpies as they requested them. 

Josh, Dirk, and Fred pause for a photo.

I'd been told by a couple of people that a metal roof was quick to install, only two or three hours. That was not the case. One of the contractors told me that an experienced team can put one on in about six hours. However, most of the men on this job had never done a metal roof before, so there was a learning curve as the contractors trained them in the process. They had expected to finish the roof in one day, but after almost seven hours they were forced to call a halt when a brief but solid rainstorm passed through. Even after the rain stopped, the wet metal was too slick to walk on safely, so they agreed to reconvene on Wednesday, four days away. 

The metal sections start to go on.

Making big progress!

Getting these huge sections on the main roof was a three-man job!

The siding between the back of the front roof and the top  of the
back roof was warped, so they decided to cover it with metal.

I think it looks way cool with the little metal wall instead of siding!

Not everyone returned for the second day to complete the job, but that's because they didn't need as many men to finish up. Besides that, it was a weekday and I'm sure several of the men had to go to work. Nonetheless, we still had about ten men there. There was still one section of roof to complete, plus much of the trim, and they worked hard for another six hours. 

The team returned on Wednesday to complete the job.

In the end, they spent more than twelve hours putting my roof on. How do you thank someone for that kind of commitment in both time and energy? All I can say is, those men are my heroes. I thanked them profusely, of course, but I think the best thing I can do is find a way to pay it forward. Someday there will be a need that I can fulfill for someone else, and I can only hope to do so with the same kind of dedication as these men showed.

Finishing up the back side of the roof.

The next project that needs doing is new siding on my place. The old redwood siding is pretty well warped and faded, and I don't like it enough to fix it the way it is. I'm not really a fan of redwood, you see. Four years ago, another man from our church volunteered to put new siding on the south face and the chimney (you can see it, tan and light-blue, at the right side) so I could refinance my house. I love those colors more than I'd expected and would love to redo the siding on the rest of the house in those same colors someday. I'm not sure I have the means to commit to that dream yet, though.

Meanwhile, I have a new roof with a thirty-year warranty. I'll be ninety-three by the time it lapses, perhaps in an assisted living center by then, perhaps in a nursing home, perhaps even dead. It's doubtful that I'll ever have to worry about another roof, and that's a great feeling!