Up on the Rooftop

by Kate

The slate roofs on the houses surrounding mine were supposed to last a hundred years. Some of them are still going strong after sixty five, but my neighbor Teresa recently recieved the news that she had some patches where only tarpaper protected her from the coming snow. I suppose it is impressive the slate lasted as long as it did, considering the level of pollution here in Pittsburgh when the house was built.

The roofers showed up, and the slate started coming down.

There is something very romantic and free about the sight of a figure balanced high above the earth and silhouetted against the sky.

Now, two of my brothers do roofs for a living, along with building barns that are works of art (see here, it is worth the trip) as well as the occasional house, addition, or whatever else needs doing. All five of the Slattery boys have worked on a roof at some point or another, and as far as I know none of the girls ever have and I certainly haven’t.  I am wary of waxing overly rhapsodic on the topic of roofing because I am afraid of hearing them laugh at me from five hundred or a thousand miles away.

I still think roofing, like many types of manual labor, is compelling.

I love ladders, and heights, for one thing.

There are lots of ladders and heights involved in roofing.

And I’ve done just enough traditionally male manual labor jobs- as a (terrible) landscaper, seasonal orchard worker, booted produce person tossing crates on the back dock- that I do remember what it feels like to show up raggedly sipping coffee and smoking early in the morning, pondering the job at hand, and then work in the cold grey mist or hot searing sun all day. There is a certain satisfaction in surveying a clear physical task and then bending to it, working through it, and finishing it. The mind is free while the body is at work.

That said, I will never, ever be hired by my brothers for a roofing project.

I talk way, way, way too much.

17 thoughts on “Up on the Rooftop

  1. The View Out Here

    Oh my, your last line still has me chuckling over here! 🙂 Cute.
    p.s. I followed the link over to the post “Before We Dance”…That barn they built on the farm? Oh wow! Awesome looking structure, inside and out. I love a metal roof.

  2. Deborah the Closet Monster

    I loved these pictures! I, too, relish the satisfaction of completing physical tasks, although I tend to overthink things so much it often takes me a long time to reach the “completion” stage.

    Your concluding comment made me laugh. Back in Japan, one of the teachers I worked with would shake his head at me and sigh, saying, “Much communication. Much communication.” :p

  3. gojulesgo

    I know you’re talking partially about your brothers, but I feel compelled to say what first sprung to mind as I was reading this: Thanks for sharing the eye candy. 😉

    Totally agree about the beauty of doing something that makes you use your hands! There’s nothing better than the tangible evidence of a job well done.

  4. kathryningrid

    What a great post! I’m from a long line of carpenters, one of the only girls to work for the family business, though (as apparently in your case too) without impressive skills. But all these years later I’m glad I got some of the basic learning that my other female cousins and my sisters might have missed. One sister at least *married* a great carpenter, so she just attached herself to the labor biz differently. In any case, your descriptions were perfect, and I too admire and stand in awe of skilled laborers of all sorts. Where would we be without them all! Thanks for this.

    1. sweetridgesisters Post author

      Thanks! I am glad that I got some of the basic sense of a manual labor job through the other work I’ve done. I’m glad that you got to work for the family business. Maybe my brothers will have daughters who are less talkative than I am, and hire them when they get older.

  5. seabeegirl

    My husband has STILL never taken me deer hunting with him, even though I’ve proven I can be quiet while hunting squirrels. Apparently, the deer are a much more serious business. Either that, or he doesn’t want me learning that he actually just goes out to his tree house and falls back asleep. This would account for the lack of deerburger and trail bologna in my freezer the past few years. Yes, he has an actual enclosed tree house, not just some rickety stand. Oh, and by the way, thanks for the pics. I do enjoy watching men perform manual labor; there’s just something sexy about a man wearing some hard-earned sweat! 😛

  6. life is a bowl of kibble

    Kate just tell them if they hire you to work on the roof you promise they will finish ahead of schedule. How? Not only can you do the job but your talk, talk, talking will make them want to finish the job faster. 😉

  7. thedailydish

    Back in Philly we had a slate roof – truly a thing of beauty. Unfortunately had to remove some of them to have repairs made. Fortunately my husband’s uncle is a roofer, so he did it on the (waaaaay) cheap. Gotta love family!!


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