It has has been a roller coaster week. I have had a few emotional ups and downs. Dear reader, as the Victorians used to write, I will spare you. It is the mark of a dear friend that he or she can stand to hear the excruciating details of the knife twists endured by a pal. Since many of you are innocent dabblers in my blog, let us draw a veil over the delicious vagaries of human unkindness and concentrate on the practical matters.
The announcement by my upstairs tenants that water was leaking into their flat was enough to banish any pity party I was having over my broken heart. As a woman who owns ( well, the part the bank lets me have) a small duplex, such communications induce sleepless nights. I have learned to deal with plumbing mishaps with a call to the local firm who always put me right for a reasonable sum. I have a handyman ……more about that on another blog. I know an electrician,whom I trust not to transform my home into a death trap. I have messily painted a few rooms in my day. But roofing…..a whole different story. Mysterious, expensive, vital to the health of my building. Roofing problems in a Caadian climate are enough to startle even the most intrepid. My only experience had been 14 years ago shortly after I bought this place. It took many months of whining to persuade a ” very busy, I can’t keep up with it” young roofer to come and set me up for a good long time. He gave me a guarantee for ten years. People were up in arms. ” A roof should last 20 years” but as he said. ” I’ll be honest wichew. ( Italian extraction) I could,give you for fifty years a guarantee but I won’t do it..I won’t honor it, Ya know wat I mean ?” There was a certain candour in that that appealed to me and frankly I was at the guy’s mercy. What did I know? What do I know now?
When my tenants delivered the bad news I panicked. I emailed all my friends in town and was bombarded with names and numbers. Darlings….they took my predicament to heart! In one day I had the names and numbers of eleven roofing companies. I started to call. The very same day a most charming man showed up, examined the brown spots on the upstairs ceiling and declared that he could help me out right away. I should not delay and , of course, I would want the new membrane material. Only problem was that I seemed to have something wrong with my flashing. I hate when I have to talk about things without really understanding the words coming out of my mouth. Fortunately, I was sitting down when he told me it would cost about $15,000 dollars. Of course the flashing would be extra……my life was flashing before my eyes by then….and the little mater of taxes…But because I was such a nice lady and retired, after all he was a kind man and seriously he was very charming, he would give me at discount of one thousand dollars. Guarantee? Well, only five years…suddenly I felt a great nostalgia for the Gabby of 14 years before.
” Think it over. Very important the roof . You want to take care of that right away. ” And with a dark hint at mould, he was off.
” I’ll be in touch,” I whispered weakly. Then followed a frantic scrabbling through my income tax returns as I searched for a number from 2002 , honestly! Now, I have an odd habit of keeping my agendas. I have about 20 years of my life condensed into various volumes with phone numbers, appointments of long dead dentists, therapists, doctors, garages. Well, they’re not all dead of course, but long out of my life. Gabby’s number was on the inside cover of the very first agenda I pulled out! Fate! He came over this morning! Upstairs he went and in a minute pronounced hat I don’t need a new roof! Condensation. A new baby, lots of washing and drying clothes, a reluctance to open the windows because of the baby… In my gratitude I even suggested we do the roof now anyway. Gabby’s reaction:” it’s gonna rain on Monday..let it rain ( like I could control it!) if there’ any drip. It’ll show, right? I’ll come over . ..check things out and if you need a little touch ….some gravel, a bit of flashing…we’ll arrange. You’ll be good for another four , five years”
Is there really such a thing as an honest roofer? It appears there is! Although as he said modestly, ” Listen, you’re my customer, right? If it was somebody else with a 14 year old roof….who knows? ”
OK so what does this have to do with lessons from nature? Don’t let adversity like snowstorms get you down. You’re not called Snowdrop for nothing – I know this is a crocus. Stick together and help each other. No one goes it alone in nature , flowers, birds, bees, even damned sqirrels work together. How corny it sounds to say the sun does come out but even when things look very dark it’s good to keep in mind. Be courageous even as nature is courageous. Always get a second estimate. That rule is only good for human nature, I guess.
Thus endeth the lesson!