The cheerful art of roofing by accident Hanaba Welch column

Happy accidents happen. When precision rules, they happen less often.

I learned early in life about good accidents from the late Elda Parsons, local after-school art teacher of choice back in the day.

       The phenomenon:

The artist concentrates on putting oil on canvas or ink on paper or whatever. Various artsy effects occur by mistake. It’s not what the artist meant to happen. It’s better.

OK. It’s not always better. But some of the best artsiest work happens by accident. You are pleasantly surprised. You take credit for the outcome.

        When it comes to music, think jazz.  

        Meanwhile, I have been roofing.  

I’m an artist first and a roofer second. When I see a roof, I don’t think first about how water is shed. I see patterns and textures. Today, by accident, I created a new look. My husband was dismayed. That’s what he gets for taking a nap.

        How did it happen?

Several days ago, we bought a bundle of cheap (except they weren’t very cheap) shingles from the local lumberyard to use as “starter” shingles to provide edge lines of reference for the process of laying down our more sophisticated laminate-style composition shingles to cover the west slope of the farmhouse roof.

If you don’t understand that strategy, neither do I. My shingle descriptions may be wrong too. I could do a little shingle research, but life is short.   

I, the budding roofer, diligently nailed down a whole row of the new cheap shingles instead of the good ones. Now we have one line of shingle tabs of a slightly different color, tabs being the part that shows.

Call it a variation on a theme. We have enough cheapo three-tab shingles for a few repetitions of the aberration.

Maybe my husband will agree to the happy accident approach if we plan for it to happen again at some prescribed point up the slope, thereby turning what was accidental into something intentional. We’ve gotta do something to stretch our supply of shingles.    

Why didn’t we buy enough for the whole roof back when? No one remembers. Ten years ago we started the re-roofing project. If you’ve flown over our place, maybe you’ve noticed the composition shingles on one side and plain old cedar on the other.

        Rule of roofing:

If you pause for ten years and need to buy more shingles when you resume roofing, the color will no longer be available. Anybody got any old Tamko Shadowstone on hand? I didn’t think so.

        In conclusion, a roofing tip:           

Roofing is dangerous. You could fall off. Not a happy accident. Sure, you can make one of those help-I’ve-fallen-and-I-can’t-get-up calls from your cellphone. But what if your phone doesn’t stay in your nail apron when you fall?      

       Wise advice from my precise husband:

Leave your phone on the ground. If the fall doesn’t kill you or knock you unconscious, you can crawl to it. It’s pretty likely you won’t feel like climbing back up on the roof to look for it.   

Hanaba Munn Welch, a correspondent for the Times Record News who divides her time between Abilene and a farm north of Vernon, appears on Mondays.  Her columns, as a tribute to the Childress Engine 501, always contain, amazingly, 501 words.

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