Is This Your Son?

Being the mother of a magical child with a checkered history can be an emotional roller coaster. I wince when someone calls, “Is this Mrs. Morgan? I wanted to call you about Jasper.” Or when they say, “Are you Jasper’s mom? Can I talk to you a minute?” Conferences are a sort of arduous time, when my guard is up out of habit.
Today at conferences when we walked (the lad and I) into the open-plan conference area (you know, all the teachers at individual tables in a big room. Don’t they all operate that way?) a man looked at me and jumped up from his seat. He and his son were waiting in line to talk to a teacher. He jumped up and said, “Are you Jasper’s mom?”
I looked him in the eye somewhere between resolute and resigned. “Yes, I’m Jasper’s mom.” His son stayed seated, looking at his shoes. “I just wanted to meet you and mention what a great kid Jasper is. We were having some trouble with our iPad and he overheard us talking about it. He came over and explained what was going on. Really helpful.”
I’ll admit it. I hugged him and told him I loved him. The guy I mean. It was nice.

Dang o man 2

Ok, so the check is made out to us and the mortgage company. Only with Both signatures can the check be cashed. Since I already endorsed the check, I sent it off to Wells Fargo so they could endorse it as well. But here’s the thing: After the mortgage company endorses the check, they get to actually keep it and dole it out as they see fit. Not sure why they get to be the boss of the money unless it’s because they own a higher share of the house’s value than we do… whatever, Wells Fargo had the money. We did not.

We were told that we can get a portion of the check at a couple different stages of the repair work.  First third will be disbursed when we hire a roofer, second third when the roof is at the halfway point (they send an inspector to see that the job is being done right and progressing on schedule),  last third when we get a final inspection.  The thing of it is, we had some of the work done the week of the storm. Remember the painter who was almost done painting when the storm hit? As long as he had his gear set up and the paint all opened up, he gave us an estimate and finished up the painting before the week was out.  I paid him for the repair work in addition to the painting he had done already. The touch-up came to a little over two grand.

When the work was done, my house was beautiful. It was Just What I Wanted, which doesn’t always happen with house projects in my experience. I’d have to add the gold painted details in the spring, but the paint job was gorgeous. I feel like I can say that because it’s true.

After I found a roofer, (or rather the roofer found me) I faxed Wells Fargo the contract with “The Roof Guys” and WF sent out a check for a third of the claim amount.  I turned it over to the Roof Guys. The roofers came highly recommended by people in the neighborhood and the owner actually lives nearby. We tried to get bids from 3 different companies, but only The Roof Guys came through with estimates and visits to the house. We get this problem a lot. Nobody wants to work on the roof of a three story Victorian with a super-steep pitch. Plus the houses in the neighborhood I live in are pretty close together, making it impossible to toss things away from the house as you drop them down. Holly in the snow.

The crew who showed up were all English speaking, which is honestly somewhat of a rarity in the roofing business in this part of the country. By the time they started, there was ice built up on the roof. On all the houses in the neighborhood, not just ours. We were hearing about ice dams all over the state. Friends from all over were complaining about the water in their living rooms.  We avoided interior damage, but the ice build-up was pretty dang thick. The amount of pounding on the house and the noise associated with it was remarkable. Things fell of of inside walls and crashed to the floor.  That’s what it took to get through the ice to remove the damaged shingles.


But what I was hearing wasn’t just pick-axes and pitch-forks on the roof, I kept hearing things (ice, big chunks of tarry shingles) hitting the siding and windows of the house. Hitting hard. It was loud. I should have put on my boots and marched out and told them to stop abusing my house. There is a right way to do this kind of work. Either you build a kind of ramp, or chute to the ground for your debris or you hang tarps from the eaves to guide the trash down to the ground or  your wheel-barrow. Instead I called the office of the Roof Guys and said I wanted someone to talk to their guys about the damage they were doing to the house.

He did. Twenty minutes later a humbled roofer came to the door to say they would be taking the utmost care not to damage the house. He wanted to reassure me that they were going to be “super-careful”. They weren’t. Nothing changed.  I called again the next day.  When we went out to evaluate the damage, we were shocked. ouch, down to the bare wood. They beat the house up worse than the hailstorm! While they were working on the roof we had a few snowstorms and days when it was too cold for their machinery to work.

In a couple weeks they finished and moved onto the garage. I was crabby with them at this point and I said nothing to warn them of the dead animal they would encounter under the snow. We went out for the day and when we came back, the tear-off of the garage roof was complete and they had started on the new shingles.  As we hit the back door, chattering away, Jasper looked east at the neighbor’s yard and stopped. We all stopped. On the neighbor’s garage roof, in the deep snow, was an indentation, like a paper punch. It was shaped exactly like a rabbit.  


So we had this hailstorm in my immediate vicinity.  Houses and cars within a couple blocks of here had major damage. We were in the middle of having the house painted and work done on the back (South side). The hailstorm was the loudest thing ever, especially on third floor, being as how that’s right under the roof and skylights. We were having work done on the back of the house, and painting done on three sides, so there was lots of scaffolding outside getting nailed as well.

scaffold 746

Bob and Tom on Holly

Jasper and Bailey both were awakened and wanted to know, “What’s happening?!” Jasper curled up in the  inside hallway and covered his ears.  We stayed away from windows. It was an incredible storm. A real show of force from Mother Nature.

The neighbors had to have the roof of their car replaced. All the watermelons growing in the front yard were smashed to bits. The leaves left on the trees had super-ball sized holes in them.  It was serious business.

The roofers started coming door-to-door the following day.  They were like sharks when there’s blood in the water. We called the insurance company  to come and take a look at the roof, since we figured the roofers weren’t the best judge of whether we needed a new roof.  The insurance company sent a kid (early twenties, maybe) from Circle Pines (not a city kid).  The way he looked at my tall, tall, steep-roofed house was comical.  Houses in my neighborhood are so close together, it’s hard to put a ladder between them. Lucky for him, we already had scaffolding up on the back.

He gave a nervous laugh when I  pointed out that he could just climb the scaffolding to look at the roof.  First, he would check the paint on the house (from the ground level).  Yup, the two sides (East and West) would need to be re-primed and painted.  The scaffolding appeared to have protected the south side.  Adjuster-guy decided that he should check the garage next, did we have a small ladder?  Yup we did.  He walked around on the garage roof circling dings that we couldn’t see from the ground with chalk.

roof dings

roof dings circled in chalk

When there was nothing left to do, and with great trepidation, he started climbing the scaffolding to look at the house roof.  When he got to the top level he put his hands up on the roof and peeked up over the eaves, something like what you would do to see on the top shelf of a closet. His nose barely cleared the roof.  It was one or two seconds.  Yup.  Totaled. We’d need a new roof.  Did I have the measurements for the roof? No.  I only had the perimeter measurements for the house.

Adjuster-guy said he’d use Google to get a picture of the roof and calculate the amount of shingles, etc. that we’d need to re-do the house.  He had some sort of calculator he used to calculate these things.  He never did set foot on the roof.  I guess it kind of stands to reason, since he found damage on the roof of the garage, the house is quite a number of feet closer to the sky, right?  The damage has to be at least as bad as the garage damage.

Plus, if we have an insurance claim that pays for an entire new roof, it’s a pretty good bet that we’re not going to contest his adjuster skills.  He was right on that score.

When he didn’t call back after about a week with a number or even an estimate on damages, I called the number on his business card.  It was a nice little card, with a picture of a black lab, holding a dead duck in its mouth.   When someone answered the phone I asked for him by name.  Turns out the guy who answered the cell number on the business card was Mr. Adjuster, Senior.  Father to the young man who was out to look at my roof.  Adjuster Junior was still sleeping, he’d been all over hell and high water climbing on people’s roofs down in the city, don’t ya know. Oh yah, I knew.

I was calling to ask what he calculated for painting costs, seeing as how our painter was already set up.  Senior recommended that I ask the painter for an estimate and fax that estimate over to the number on the card.  The painter came up with an estimate and we faxed it over.  Painter re-painted two sides of the house and we paid him, content in the knowledge that we’d be reimbursed eventually.

In the end we received a check for right around 17 thousand dollars.  Sort of. When I went to deposit the check at my friendly neighborhood bank, they pointed out that the check wasn’t made out to us.  It was made out to us AND the mortgage company. Stupid mortgage company.

Just My Luck (Roof Bunny Epilogue 1)

I love my kids. Can I start out with that? I love them. But some part of me wonders if they aren’t sent into my life as some fiendish instrument of torture devised to bedevil my days. As if I don’t have enough things bedeviling my days without their help.

If you know the roof-bunny-saga, you know sometimes my own great ideas are my undoing. The snow-thaw-sit-snow-thaw cycle has been hard on me, what with mister bunny reappearing every few weeks.

Last weekend there was an excited knock at my back door. It was jasper. He had found a great collection of roof-icicles, of which there are millions of impressive specimens. The ones he brought to show me weren’t cylindrical or conical shaped. They were long and flat, like clear swords. He brought a few to show me. As he was doing so he was biting off big, crunchy chunks and nosh-noshing them. I asked where he found these oddly shaped icicles. Nosh-nosh-nosh, “I knocked them off the roof.” Uh, oh.

Which roof? “The next-door-family’s roof.” Nosh, nosh, crunch, nosh.