sparrow

Friday -- Doing What We Can and Getting to New Orleans

I got up early on Friday, not so much because of breakfast, it turned out, but more so that I would have the time to pack everything before we left for the work site. Since the work site was 30 minutes west of Biloxi, in the direction of New Orleans, the whole group decided to pack all the cars up with Stuff, and head out to the City directly from the work site. We were only going to shower when we got to the hotel.

I managed to get breakfast as well. *laughs*



On the way to the job, I was tired enough to say, "I really ache, and I have no idea why."

Everyone laughed, as I think that by this point everyone was aching from the unfamiliar work, and John piped up from the back seat, "It must have been the pea under your mattress!"

I think we were also a bit punch drunk with tiredness, as the whole car roared at the joke and later Donna said that she was cracking up about that all day. That amused me.

Jeff got called away to do more of the structural framing work. Lysa followed John with the power screwdriver and put screws in while he drilled. There were a few things that had to be done for the siding starts, and Clay introduced a couple of us to the circular saw and the siding.

2" strips
So the job was to rip 2" wide slats from the length of the siding board. Clay had the lovely idea of trying to saw through four boards at the same time, just mark the top one, hold everything together, and saw through all of them at the same time. We *thought* it might be possible to nail through them all to hold them still, but then realized that we could really damage the top boards trying to get the nail out, so we settled on trying to hold it by hand.

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By we, I kind of mean *me*... *laughs* At least for the started board job. They just needed that little piece at the bottom so that the first board would kick out just the thickness of the board, as all the subsequent siding boards would be offset the same way by the board under it.

Gary was nice enough to stop by and try to help me get through all four boards, but the saw kept coming up and when I really pushed down on it to get the blade to go through all four boards, I bent something. So we reconsidered Clay's good idea, and I just did the boards individually rather than all at once. It was a lot more tedious, sixteen cuts instead of four, but I could actually do them. When we got to the last board, I found that I hadn't gotten through it at all! So it was good that I was doing it this way.

While I worked through all the 2" boards, folks started coming to me for other cuts as well. I learned that the blade takes an extra 1/8th of an inch when I cut on the line. Clay wanted me to cut to one side of the line, so I started doing that. There were a few random pieces that had to be cut for the gables up on the roof, so I started cutting odd angles to particular lengths, and folks marked their lines as they needed.

The inspector still hadn't come, and both the roof crew and the siding crew were cranky about it, but the inside framing crew and the folks that were doing the big pillars for the front and back porches were good and busy still.

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Lunch was just leftovers from the rest of the week, and Craig came to talk with us to thank us for our work, to ask us abuot what we loved and what we hated, and in the midst of all that the inspector actually came.

Craig saw him and wrapped it up with a, "Okay, let's get back to work."

*laughs*

We all did willingly.

The siding crews started up, three different ones, started by Clay and then Gary, and then left to do it themselves, they started giving me measurements for boards within a 1/16th of an inch! Eek! I'll admit that frightened me until Gary said that there's no way we could do that and to just do a + or - after the number. So they started doing that, but I was minus a full 1/8th of an inch on the first three or four boards. When I knew that I was consistently wrong, I was able to make the adjustment and then I was sawing within an 1/8th of an inch.

That felt utterly awesome. *laughs*

One of the interesting conversations was that Summer was watching us and she asked me where I was from. I answered the way I usually do, which is: "I was born in Ohio. So that's where I'm from."

But she was just a teenager and I couldn't stay obnoxious and finally conceded that my parents were from Mainland China. And then, maybe because I was tired, I rambled a bit about Dad's family having been in a big compound with servants, and that his mom didn't know how to cook because she never had to until they'd gone to Taiwan to escape the communists. That's when Vicki stared at me and said, "You're a Chinese princess!"

Of course it reminded me absurdly of John's comments about the pea this morning, and I laughed and laughed, but Summer was mildly taken by the idea of a Chinese princess working on her house, and I didn't disabuse her of the notion. I'd never really thought of it that way, especially since it doesn't matter here. But it was funny to think about.

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Vicki took a turn at the saw and said that she felt really good doing it, but conceded that she didn't have the upper arm strength to keep going. So she handed that over to me and I went at it, giving it over to Clay when he wanted it, until they pulled the plug on me.

Literally. *laughs* I didn't want to stop, and the siding crews didn't really want to stop either. But everything had to be put away so that the other folks could get done and home at a reasonable hour. Corbin had been up since dawn most of the days, getting things bought to bring to the site, and he'd stay after to lock up every night, and he's really the one that paid when we were the overzealous ones.

I was gratified when they pulled the plug on the compressor, too, and we all had to stop for beers, pictures, and good-byes. We also got some pretty... appalling stories about a visit to Harry's neighborhood by Dick Cheney. With all of the secret service guys that were supposed to keep the VP safe, to Dick actually just saying to Harry. "Huh... had a tree knocked down in your yard, huh, that's rough." When the whole house was flooded and unusable, the roof was knocked out, the walls and all his belongings soaked to uselessness, and for the past two weeks, Harry had to take hours just to get to his house from the railroad tracks because the roads were filled with the debris of all the surrounding houses. They'd plowed open the roads just for the VP's entourage, so Dick never saw the actual amount of carnage involved.

Everyone
Back row, left to right: Corbin, John Parsons, Gary, Clay, John Rostykus, Harry, Don
Middle Row: Carol, Marian, Vicki, Phyllis, Jeff, Christina, Russ
Bottom Row: Jim, Jo, Donna, Lysa, Amy, Jennifer

We got a pretty good picture. *laughs*

Then we headed to the Big Easy. Still sticky and stinky and tired, we just drove all out for the city, trusting that we'd get our rooms and shower up there. As per tradition, I just dropped everyone off at the hotel, and Jeff and I headed to the parking lot, unloaded, paid for two day's worth of parking in the lot and walked together back to the room.

The shower was heaven. And then, since no one was especially hungry, we headed for the French Quarter Music Festival. During the day, there were bands spread through the French Quarter, each spaced carefully from the others so that they didn't interfere too much with each other, and the crowds still let pedestrians by, usually. *laughs* In the evening, though, most of the attention was on the five big stages by the River. We headed to the Riverwalk, and all of us walked by all the stages until we got to the Harrah's Louis-Louis Pavilion Stage, where Glen David Andrews was playing along with Amanda Shaw.

*laughs* I just went through my journal of the trip from four years ago and I was gratified to find that I remembered to write a paragraph about Amanda Shaw and her Cute Boys when we heard her at Mulate's. She was the fiddler for a Zydeco band at that time, a fiery little red-head who had a voice that seemed far too big for her body and more energy than we could even believe after a whole week's worth of work.

Don remembered her very well, and she was just as energetic even as a guest for Glen Andrews. And even as we wlked into the clearing, and I heard the wail of the fiddle, I laughed and said, "That's her."

And it was. She was going to have a stage for herself the following night, so we knew that we'd probably go see that, too, but it was a nice treat for a warm night by the River of rivers. We watched, raptly, as they played, the ships sailed by, big cargo containers, freight haulers, and insanely motored tug boats; so long as she was playing and singing with the leader of that band, and then when they were done, we wandered off.

Bob, John and I headed straight for the Acme Oyster House, and the line stretched the length of the block, but we got in it anyway and waited the hour for the grilled and fresh oysters. They were well worth the wait. Crisp, cool, and sweet, the fresh oysters were wonderful with their sauce. The grilled ones were buttery, garlicky, and had a lovely crisp cheese crust. Bob even enjoyed one of the grilled ones while he'd not so much a fan of the raw ones. *laughs* Bob got the jambalaya dinner, and John and I shared coleslaw and red beans and rice to boot. It was lovely, spicy and I finally felt like we were really here.

After that, the boys escorted me back to the hotel before they wandered back into the night and to see Bourbon Street. I was too tired to deal, and I knew what it looked like, smelled, like, and that I just wasn't going to be impressed. *laughs* And I was definitely tired enough by that time to just go to sleep.
Reassuring, in a way, to know that your labour-saving saw-through-four-boards wouldn't have worked after you had to go through the trouble of sawing it a board at the time. There wasn't any faster, more efficient way to do it. You did the most efficient thing available. :)

Sounds like a very satisfying day and a lovely evening.
It's very true!! It was pretty much the most efficient way possible, it turned out. *laughs* So good to have proof.

It was a very satisfying day and week! And nice to get the reward of the stay in the Big Easy.

thank you!
The stories I could tell about Dick Cheney at his "undisclosed location." Sheltered doesn't begin to cover it. The year-round residents got very, very tired of it all.

Lots of great grins in that group picture, even after a very hard week. Congratulations on a job very well done!
I could see why they'd get pretty tired of it all. Whew.

It was a wonderful week! Thanks!!