Benji, Alice, LE, and Wifey taking a break

Benji, Alice, LE, and Wifey taking a break

Labor day weekend (Friday and Saturday actually) were slated for putting on the metal roof. Only this time wifey and LE were going to come, along with Benji and Susan and baby Alice. We were going to try this construction thing with the kids around and see how it would go. I would head out Friday to set up a safe place for the kids and maybe work on trim painting, and everyone else would come on Saturday to help with the roof.

Alice is about six months old and more or less confined to a seated position, either in a piece of baby furniture or her parents’ arms. Now LE, on the other hand, is currently sixteen-and-a-half months old and perhaps the most inquisitive and headstrong toddler I’ve ever met. She wants to explore and handle everything, and it takes her a while to figure out that “No” actually has meaning. This is particularly unnerving for us parents when sharp objects, jumping cholla, rattlesnakes, choking hazards, and toxic chemicals are involved. (The fact that I have yet to see a rattlesnake on our property is no consolation.)

So in an attempt to confine LE and keep her out of trouble, I picked up a few metal fence stakes and a hundred feet of orange plastic construction fencing. I set up a play area in a clearing made by the backhoe when we had our septic test holes dug. No thorny plants in there, and no tall grass that can conceal a rattler. I set up our large family tent inside the fenced area for some shade and a place for naps.

It worked pretty well when everyone showed up with the kids. The only trouble was that the kids didn’t really want to take naps because the environment was so exciting and new.

We put up the gutters first. Unfortunately I didn’t read up on how to install gutters until after we got back, and there are a few things I would do differently. Namely, pop rivets and clear silicone sealant. Instead we used the Awful Black Goop, some kind of nasty petrochemical sealant for patching asphalt roofs (it said it would work for gutters on the label and was the only sealant in the gutter section at The Home Despot). I snipped the tip off the caulking tube and immediately knew I had made a terrible mistake; the smell alone felt like it was going to give me brain cancer.

Sunday, back in Tucson, we put gutters on our house to channel rainwater away from the back door (where it pools and leaks into the house) and into some simple rain barrels cleverly disguised as ordinary plastic trash cans. Armed with information gleaned from the Internet, I learned that the slip connectors sold at the home store are completely unnecessary if one uses a pop riveter, overlaps the gutter joints by at least eight inches, and uses a dab of clear silicone to prevent leaks. The joints are almost seamless and the gutter looks clean and beautiful. Best of all, no Awful Black Goop. But that’s another story.

Pumphouse with Half a Metal Roof

Pumphouse with half a metal roof, Susan in a blue hat

Anyhoo, back on Saturday, we got one half of the metal roof on. We would have done the whole thing but we ran out of steel sheets. I figured that twelve feet of roof would need six thirty-inch-wide sheets with six inches of overlap; unfortunately the overlap was more like eight inches, so we wound up using seven sheets per side. Since I had twelve and needed fourteen, we decided to just do the south half.

As for how things went with the kids, it was pretty good. It would be nice to have a play area closer to the action so the caregivers are not so isolated all the time. But how close is too close? It’s tough to say. Job sites are inherently dangerous for adults, let alone inquisitive, headstrong toddlers.

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