We’re getting a new roof put on the house in Casco. The contractor thinks we might have been able to go two or three years more with the old one, but Arlene was a little nervous about it. The edges of lots of the old shingles were starting to curl up, which isn’t good.

After lots of thinking about whether we wanted a metal roof or traditional shingles, we settled on shingles. Metal roofs are supposed to be better in Maine because they let the snow slide off more easily, but there’s not a long enough history with them to know how they really last. Mostly, I don’t like the way the metal roofs look compared to shingle ones, which really should last for twenty or thirty years — as long as I’m going to have to worry about this one.

Our contractor is “Porky” Proctor. He’s about my height, probably an inch taller, with a long gray ponytail and a worn forest-green baseball cap with a badge-shaped emblem on the front reading “registered Maine poacher.” He was away some of the week before Labor Day fishing around Jackman (go ahead, check on Google maps. It’s on the main route from Augusta & Waterville to Quebec City. It may not be the last town before the border, but it’s close).

At any rate, the back of the house was done by last weekend, except of course for the ridgepole, which has to wait until the front is also done.

There’s a lot of material waiting in the front yard.

Porky was going to rent a dumpster to put the trash in, but it turned out to be more expensive than he had figured. He built a plywood box on a trailer chassis he had, registered the trailer, and towed it over to the middle of our driveway. One of his guys spent most of Saturday morning picking up scrap shingles (the ones they had taken off the roof during the previous few days) and tossing them in the trailer. We were warned not to drive over the area where the pile of scrap shingles had been because there were lots of nails there and we could puncture a tire. There was about enough room to the right of the trailer to get our car through to get out of the garage and driveway. I asked if they could move the trailer a little to the other side to make more room. “Hell, no,” said Porky. “I’m not going to drive it over those nails!”

Bad weather was forecast for Saturday afternoon and Sunday. The roofers wanted to be sure the house was watertight and then leave. They covered the lower portion of the front, where they had stripped off the old shingles, with big sheets of material called Ice and Water Shield that’s a modern replacement for tarpaper (which I guess I should call ‘roofing felt’ anyway). When they thought it was OK, it looked pretty much like this:

Keep your eye on that yellow arrow!

On Sunday we did get showers, heavy at times. Early in the afternoon Arlene noticed a drip under a kitchen cabinet. Oops, right above our cookbooks. One cookbook was good and wet and a couple more had been dripped on. There was water coming through the wall as well as dripping from the bottom of the cabinet. We moved all the stuff on the counter away from the leaky area and phoned Porky. “It’s leaking,” he said as soon as he recognized Arlene’s voice. He came over right away, looked at the area inside, looked at the situation from outside, got out a ladder, and went up on the roof. I had gone outside before and seen that there was a pipe (see that yellow arrow) coming up in the area above the leak that’s the vent from the kitchen pipes. I was suspicious that it was the source of the leak. Really, big continuous areas of roof are relatively unlikely to leak. It’s places where something different happens, like around pipes, changes of angle of the roof, chimneys, that you’re likely to have problems. Porky said he doubted that it was that pipe, that it was packed well with the Ice and Water Shield. He found some shingles out of place that might have accounted for the leak. But when he looked more closely at that pipe he saw two places where the shield had come away from it. He put some more up there and pushed the boot around the pipe down to keep everything tight. By the time he was done he had made three trips up the roof in the rain. The roof was fine for the rest of the day.

I had baked half a recipe, that’s two loaves rather than the four loaves that the full recipe makes, of Red River Cereal bread that morning. I sent half a loaf home with Porky. He had spent a big chunk of his Sunday on our roof in the rain.

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