The builder and I were talking about the roof. That much I remember.
Other details are more hazy. It might have been late 1996 but then again, it was probably more like early 1997.
It was a weekday because I was trying to get to work, and my sons off to school.
I'd known the builder for years. Not well, but well enough for what followed.
We were too long into the renovation of our house, adding a second storey. Over the previous 15 years we'd built three houses from scratch and renovated a fourth, before the second renovation.
The builder wanted to talk about the roof. Which way did I want a section to fall; the angle? Something about where the gutter would have to go and a complication about the steepness of one area and the options available to us. It wasn't straightforward, in other words.
My then husband was already at work and at that time of morning, having a chat with him would have been tricky. So it was just me, the builder and the problem.
Did I mention we were living in the house while renovating it, and the day after the old roof was taken off there was a tremendous storm, and another one a few days later when only a thin layer of tarps stood between us in our beds and the elements, including lightning and thunder?
Or that we'd lived for weeks with tradies walking through the house to get the work done, trying not to leave too much of the rich black soil from our dug-up front and back yards on the floors behind them?
"Sorry about the mess, luv. But it's good soil. If you like gardening you'll be able to grow anything in that," said one, who was keen on vegetable growing.
I did appreciate how much they tried to accommodate the fact we were basically living on their building site, as inconvenient as that was for all of us.
Then the gyprocker came, just a few days before the roof incident. So the rich black dirt on the floorboards and every other thing in our house, including us, were covered in a layer of fine white dust that we tried to vacuum away each night after work, along with the dirt, while our sons did what sons will always do in a crisis - stood in front of the open fridge and asked what was for dinner.
So the rich black dirt on the floorboards and every other thing in our house, including us, were covered in a layer of fine white dust that we tried to vacuum away each night after work, along with the dirt, while our sons did what sons will always do in a crisis - stood in front of the open fridge and asked what was for dinner.
Such was the context of the talk with the builder about the roof.
I wish I could remember what he said because he was very earnest in trying to do the best job he could for us. And he did.
But as much as I can't remember his words, I remember what I said in response, word for word, and I have no doubt he, too, would be able to rattle them off today.
"You could build a *&^%#@! windmill up there for all I care. Just get the #@!$%& thing done," I said, not angrily, not nastily, just with the steely calmness of someone who's already made 13,754 decisions about a house renovation over a number of months, and the 13,755th - no matter how vital in terms of protecting us from regular inundation, death by lightning strike or adventurous rodents - was just one decision too far on that day, as the gyprocker fired up his sander and I ran for the exit.
And if, in consequence, we had ended up with the only house in our street or suburb, and possibly all of the southern hemisphere, with a windmill on the roof, so be it. We would have lived with that and accepted the builder's argument that I'd given the go-ahead. My husband, at that time, would have accepted the windmill too.
He'd made even more decisions than me by that stage, and done a fair amount of the demolition and building work, so an earnest roof discussion might have pushed him over the edge, although he probably would have opted for a lighthouse rather than a windmill.
But we got our roof. The builder did what good builders will always do in these circumstances - an excellent job based on his years of experience in the trade. We got a second floor extension on the small old fibro place we'd bought in a nice street, and life went on.
It all came back to me the other day when I walked a couple of hundred metres up the road to where my second son, a carpenter, and my daughter-in-law are renovating a small brick and tile place on a lovely block with a beautiful spreading red gum tree in the backyard.
I heard my son before I saw him.
"What the %&*$@! hell has this *!@%^$ company sent me when all I *(^%#@ wanted was a $@!%^* simple..." it went on for a bit, but you get the drift.
He'd spent the previous few weeks stripping out the bathroom and kitchen, knocking down walls, building new ones, crawling beneath the house to find the building monsters that lurked there in old pipework and the abandoned detritus of other people's lives, and he was staring down another delay because of a new complication, not of his making.
I'll spare you the conversation that followed between mother and son, mainly because there's only so many times I can write &*^$#@ before a sentence becomes unreadable.
But I think it's fair to say the finished house that will welcome a new baby in early November - my second grandchild, thanks - will be built on love and the word *&^#@!, not necessarily in that order.
On Tuesday this week my three sons were on site to strip out the old windows and install the new. I took photos.
They'll be added to the collection of photos over nearly 35 years of my sons on building sites, including my newborn second son in a baby capsule on the day he arrived home in 1987, with his father in the background finishing a kitchen bench.
Swearing, of course.