Replacing My Roof – Part 1 – Facing The Inevitable

My house as of July 27, 2016

My house as of July 27, 2016

This past winter I went up in my attic to put some things away and noticed that water had been dripping from the wood near my roof vents. There was still a foot of snow on the roof, so I put down some plastic sheeting and bins in the attic to catch the small leaks. Once the snow melted I went up on the roof to assess the situation and nothing looked “wrong” so, considering I didn’t really have a load of money set aside to fix what seemed like minor drips, I bought a few tubes of roofing caulk and slathered it around the vents. It seemed to fix the problem, but I knew that a new roof would be in my not-too-distant future. I asked on social media if anyone had any suggested roofers and noted them so I could contact them when I was ready.

I started saving money toward replacing a roof, not really knowing what it would cost. Friends of mine said they had theirs replaced about eight years ago for around $6000, new plywood and all. Another friend, with a much more complex roof had theirs redone for around $7500, and that was just replacing the shingles, etc. (Their plywood was fine.) I knew that my plywood had some areas of concern, so my goal was to save $10,000 before calling for estimates.

This spring I decided to look around in the attic after a rain and noticed that one of my vent pipes had drips on it. I went up on the roof and saw that the pipe boot had deteriorated, so I went to Home Depot. For around $10 I bought a new boot and some more roofing caulk, and I replaced the old pipe boot. The leak seemed to be fixed, but now the writing was clearly on the wall.

Just this past Monday we had some really heavy rain, and I decided to check how my roof was doing while it was pouring outside. I went up in the attic and there was dripping from not only where I’d repaired the leaks this past winter, but also in three new places. Saving to replace my roof was as a part of my budget since the winter and now that I’d met my savings goal, there was no point in putting this off any longer. It was time.

Monday night I made a list of contractors based on recommendations from friends and family. I contacted five roofers through their websites and asked for an estimate to replace my roof. (Note: If you’re a roofer and you don’t have even a basic web presence, I’m not going to consider you for work. A fancy website is great, but even something basic shows you’re a “real” company.  If there’s NOTHING, no website, no Facebook, no anything I can find within a few minutes on Google, I can’t take you seriously with thousands of dollars and my house’s well being.) All five roofers responded to my inquiries within a day and I’ll be writing up my impressions of getting estimates in the next post. I’ve already had two people out for quotes and it’s been eye opening.

What’s More Important?

"VOTE" with a person's feet making the letter V

Photo by Theresa Thompson – Flickr

There’s something about Presidential election cycles that gets people talking. Sometimes it’s good. Often it’s ridiculous, but it’s almost always interesting in its own way. Lately the conversation seems to be around how Bernie Sanders isn’t a real Democrat and that he’s not doing things to help the party as a whole, so if you’re a Democrat you should vote for Hillary Clinton.


I’ve been registered as “No Party” since I was 18 (Pennsylvania’s version of “Independent”) so I obviously am biased, but when you’re thinking about the candidate you support, what they stand for, and their vision, what’s more important to you, the future of their political party, or the future of our country?

If you’re a registered Democrat and are legally allowed to vote in Pennsylvania’s primary on April 26, 2016 (Pennsylvania has a closed primary), take some time to really think what’s more important, your party, or your country?

Everything is Going to be OK

Sheep and WolfAnyone who knows me knows that I worry. A lot. About everything. Is my house going to be all right while I’m out of town on a business trip? Is my car going to break down and leave me stranded and then be so expensive to fix that I can’t afford it? Am I going to lose my job? Does she like me? Where is my life headed? What if? What if? What? If?

I remember that as a kid I used to have such anxiety about going to school in the morning that I would actually vomit I was so upset. What was I worried about? At this point I can’t remember. It could have been other kids, or a test, or something else that to an eleven-year-old seems like the end of the world. No matter what it was, no matter how bad things got, they ultimately worked out. It may not have gone the way I wanted to, it may have been a real painful experience, but I got through it, found a new normal, and things were ultimately all right.

I don’t get upset to my stomach in the mornings anymore, but I do tend to worry about things that I can’t really do much about. It’s been a tough row to hoe, but I’m getting to a place where I am better able to look at things and realize I’ve done what I can to be prepared, and if something goes wrong, I can deal with it. I may not always know it at the time, but with the help of friends, I get there eventually.

I know a lot of people who are going through some really rough patches right now. They know who they are, and they’re adjusting to their own new normal, but while things aren’t as they expected, and things are painful at the time, they’ll be ok. Sometimes it’s hard to see that while you’re in the thick of things, and for me, I’m lucky enough to have a dear friend who I can tell literally anything, and who cares about me enough to tell me when I’m being ridiculous, or gives me another way to look at what’s going on. A friendship like that is what life is all about, and knowing I have someone like that makes them more special than I can articulate in a rambling blog post. Hopefully you have someone like that too. Maybe you do, but you just don’t know it.

I got a lot of push back after my post yesterday, a lot of people asking “Were you talking about me?” If you’re reading this, the answer is, “Probably not.” I also realize that I came off as harsh. Heck, I found out that it’s very possible someone thinks of me as that special person they can rely on when times are tough, and for that I am astounded and humble. As I’ve said many times, “I’m just me.”

I know first hand what it’s like to feel alone, that you have no one to turn to, that you don’t have anyone you think you can reach out to. That your problem is stupid and you shouldn’t bother someone else with it, while simultaneously being completely overwhelmed by it. Whether it’s a material problem like a leaky pipe or an intangible problem like the end of a relationship, just remember, you don’t have to go through it alone. Don’t be too proud to ask someone for help, or just to listen. You’d be surprised how many people care about you. If you don’t think you have anyone, drop me a line. At the very least, I’ll be here to listen. As someone who knows that pain of feeling that you’re all alone in a struggle, I don’t want anyone else to deal with that. 

Whatever it is, no matter how bad, you’ll get through it. Everything is going to be OK.

The Opposite of a Fair Weather Friend


Rainbow over Bethlehem PA

Photo by Discover Lehigh Valley

 I think everyone is familiar with the idea of a fair weather friend, someone who is only around when things are going well, but as soon as times are tough, they’re nowhere to be seen. Lately I’ve realized that I have a few people in my life who are the exact opposite. When things are going well in their life, I never hear from them, but when there’s drama, or something is broken, they turn to me.

I’ve been told I’m a good listener, and knowing that someone feels they can trust me to confide their dark unpleasant bits is a humbling honor, but what does it mean when they don’t think of you when things are going well? Why am I not thought of when it’s time to plan a gathering or do something fun? I’m not sure, but the more that I think of it, it kind of sucks. Am I being used?

Thoughts While Mowing The Lawn

Manual LawnmowerIt’s weird how doing the most mundane things can bring the greatest clarity, taking a shower, going for a run, or in my case, mowing my lawn. Is it the repetitive task itself that allows us to think, or in our hyperconnected world, is it just that time away, a moment to unplug, that lets us think?

Recently I woke up and realized I’m not where I want to be in life. Could things be worse? Sure, and any time you say that you’re not feeling great, someone, with good intentions, will remind you that so many other people have it far worse. I understand that they mean well, and are trying to make me appreciate what I do have, but instead it just makes me feel like a dick for complaining, or even thinking about being unhappy.

I’ve been meaning to eat better, exercise more, and in general, get in shape, for the past year or so. I haven’t made any progress, maybe a few pounds here or there, but after a few weeks, travel for work, or just laziness, or both, would have me skipping daily exercise, going for takeout instead of making something at home, and the scale this morning showed I’m exactly where I was a year ago. It dawned on me the other day the reason I’m not making any headway. I’m not really doing any of this for me.

Sure, being healthy is great, but why was I trying to get in shape? I told myself that it was so I would feel better, have more energy, motivation, live a better life, but now I see that it was a lie. I was doing it so someone would find me attractive, give me the time of day, anything. I’d punish myself, feel generally crummy from eating less and sore from exercising, and was I getting any more attention than before? Nope. So why bother?

I probably didn’t put all of those pieces together as it was happening, but looking back on things, it makes sense. Should I lose some weight? Exercise more and eat healthier? Absolutely, but I need to do it for me, not to hopefully impress someone I probably haven’t even met yet.

All of that food I was eating from restaurants wasn’t only keeping me overweight, but it was also not helping my budget. Sure, I’m doing OK, but I’m not making any real progress toward saving. The enemy of better was good enough. Contentment is one thing, but being complacent is another. There are things that I want to do, that, unfortunately, require money. Looking over my finances from the last year or so shows that I’m spending way too much on food from restaurants. Not because I was out with friends, but because I just didn’t feel like cooking.

It’s said that you shouldn’t worry about what other people think of you, but I do. A lot. I have a feeling other people do too, but that doesn’t make it OK. I don’t like where I’m at, I’m not happy, and I’m not sure how to fix it. I feel stuck, sad, and lost. I don’t know how to get where I want to be, but I do know some things that I can change to get me back on a positive track instead of stuck in neutral like I’ve been. Hopefully once I get back in a good routine I’ll be able to figure out the rest.