Summer Help - Canadian Woodworking Magazine

Wood Chuckle: A son-in-law arrives to help with some home improvement projects during the summer. What could go wrong?

Summer Help

Summer Help



Illustration by Mike Del Rizzo
 
Last summer my son-in-law, Geoff, brought his entire family from Manitoba to help me put on a new roof and maybe add an addition to my house. To be honest, I was hoping that I’d be helping him while he did most of the work; after all, I’m a lot older than he is.
 
My dear wife pointed out that I was perfectly capable of reroofing the house myself since I had been a roofer when we got married, lo those many decades ago. She also took the time and patience to point out that I had managed to build not one, but two houses for the family, so I should be able to stick a simple little enclosed porch onto the front of our bungalow. It seemed to me like she actually wanted her son-in-law to have a real vacation.
 
I then pointed out that my son-in-law owed me big time for having taken my Number-One-Daughter away from me, even though I’m still debating whether that should be counted as a mark for or against him. Then she reminded me that he had given us three wonderful grandchildren. I won the argument when I reminded her about the fourth.
 
The entire family showed up around mid-July. After the obligatory hugs and handshakes had been dealt with, and sleeping pods for the children were established far enough away that I wouldn’t hear them (but close enough that their mother would), jobs and duties were assigned, and order was restored as much as possible.
 
In anticipation of their arrival, I placed the ladder against the eaves, fully charged the compressor, and strung and draped the air hoses over the peak of the roof, ready for the son-in-law to get up there and finally get to work. The rest of us were heading for the beach. Believe me, a hot roof in the Okanagan in mid-July is no place a sane person wants to be.
 
Apparently, I am not quite as sane as I thought, because my wife informed me that I was gladly remaining at home to help with the removal of the three layers of old shingles. I informed The Boy that he wished to stay and help as well. The old shingles tore up surprisingly easily with the judicious use of a spade, a wrecking bar and some muscles a lot younger than mine. I utterly exhausted myself carrying liquid refreshments all the way up the ladder to the roof to the ungrateful wretches. They were lucky it was only a single story house – otherwise I would have simply turned the hose on them.
 
Once a section of old shingles was torn off, The Boy and I would gather them up and happily toss the piles off the garage roof and (mostly) into the large bin conveniently placed just out of easy reach. My eldest grandson was helping his father by handing him shingles as needed and supplying him with my shingle nails for the air-nailer I had to remind him to buy. I couldn’t believe he had simply assumed I would be supplying an air-nailer AND the nails for it. He should feel lucky I provided the compressor.
 
Eventually, and through no fault of my own, the roof was finished and admittedly looking pretty good, almost as if he knew what he was doing up there. I stood out on the front lawn and carefully studied every square foot of the roof for flaws and mistakes, but eventually my wife and Number-One-Daughter insisted I put the ladder back up and let the son-in-law down.
 
Early the next morning I was awakened by the type of heavy downpour you can only get from an Okanagan summer storm. Before anyone else could arise I grabbed a bucket from the closet and poured several inches of water in it. I then dumped more water on the kitchen floor and placed the bucket in the middle of it. Then I screamed!
 
The poor guy spent almost three hours on the roof in the pounding rain as lightning danced around his head while he searched for the elusive leak before I started to feel a little bad for him and finally admitted there wasn’t a leak at all.
 
He packed up the kids, and they left shortly after the rain stopped, cutting their Okanagan vacation short. I’m still trying to decide if that was a win or not.
 
Apparently, I’m mean-spirited. No one has a sense of humour anymore.
 
DON WILKINSON
don_wilkinson

YukonWilk@gmail.com