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The Mayday Experiment: Who'll Stop the Rain?

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Ahhhhh, this rain. Ordinarily, I would never complain about the rain. I love the staccato on the roof, the velvety moisture in Colorado’s dry air, the rolling complaint of the heavy sky. Even when I was in Ohio, so similar to Colorado this month in spring temperament, I embraced the mud sucking at my feet and my halo of frizzy hair as more blessing than curse. I was never one to complain about it, but instead smiled at the morning sight of another gray day and grabbed  for my favorite sweater. But this month? The rain is killing me.

Last week we gathered to put on the second half of the EPDM. The first half, on the shorter end of the roof, had gone smoothly a couple of weeks before, and we had no reason to believe this side would be that much more difficult.

The main difference, however, is not just a steeper slope on the back half of the roof, but the hole cut in the center for the skylight. Which meant a complicated dance, gluing both the roof and the EPDM and folding them back on themselves while holding this giant sheet of sticky rubber taut – any slack would be instantly catastrophic, allowing it to stick to itself.

So with Reg Archer and Victoria Salvador on the roof, and MSU volunteer Joshua Adams and I on tall ladders at the end, we walked through a sort of “dress rehearsal," keeping the heavy rubber taut and handing it off in a slow-motion choreography a couple of times. Once we were certain we all knew our roles for the first section, Victoria and Reg rolled the smelly yellow sludge of an adhesive onto both the plywood roof and the EPDM. Spiderweb threads dried midair and created a cotton-candy cloud around the rollers, and the fumes were just enough to make me feel unsafely woozy thirteen feet in the air.

Just as they finished rolling out the first side, we felt the big raindrops hit and heard thunder roll through the faint strains of the Five Points Jazz Festival a few blocks away. We unfolded the taco and hurriedly committed to the final steps of our dance before scrambling off the ladders in the nick of time. As a result of the timing, the adhesion on the edge of the roof is incomplete, and trickles of water found their way through the still-curing adhesive; that will have to be remedied…if we ever get a dry weekend again.

Thinking it would be a typical short Colorado rain, we settled inside the garage door with tea and decided to wait it out, but once the deluge truly hit we realized it was folly — the plywood would be too wet to roll. When the rain finally stopped, we secured the loose EPDM with heavy boards, and hoped for better luck the next week.

Better luck was not forthcoming. But after watching  heavy rains leak through the plywood-covered hole that we had cut for the parapet gutter, we figured that in the time we had before the gray sky loosed its liquid load, we could at least try to create a temporary diversion for the coming week of springtime rains. With a piece of aluminum drip edge essentially upside-down, we used Tyvek tape to divert the water before it hit the plywood, directing it off the edge of the house until we can complete that section. We removed the wood weights and pulled back the unglued side, and were about to attempt to do our complicated dance again — but one glance at the sky was enough to tell us it was too risky, with dark clouds roiling and no glimmer of light on the horizon behind them.

So until it’s dry again, tiny sits, with a half-adhered roof and scrap wood littered across the flapping EPDM. We only need a few dry hours, at a time when four people can be here…will we get them this week? Stay tuned.  

Lauri Lynnxe Murphy, a 2005 Westword MasterMind winner, is blogging about her tiny house project, The Mayday Experiment, on Show and Tell. If you'd like to support her journey, you can pledge here. See more of her work at lynnxe.com.

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