Liralen Li (liralen) wrote,
Liralen Li

A Much Harder Day Than I Wanted

Last night four folks all came down with the stomach bug all at once, and the folks that had come down with it yesterday all stayed in as well, so everyone was wiped out and our crew was down six folks. So all the skilled guys had to juggle people to cover all three jobs we had going. And the folks that were left did a lot of work cleaning up the facility we'd stayed in. That turned out to be very useful when the jobs were done and we had to get all packed to head out to New Orleans.

The C Ave. House
Originally uploaded by Liralen Li.
I ended up going back to the C Ave. (also known as the Cave House) house and ended up staying there even after the majority of folks left.

As you can now see it's pretty cute on the outside, and now pretty cute on the inside as well. The big crew finished putting in all the cabinets, light fixtures, and most of the doors. And then the manager, who had said to install the bedroom baseboard to allow linoleum decided that he really wanted it at carpet height instead. So we had to rip up all the baseboard. I got to learn how to do it properly, without nicking anything, and get it all setup to be put back in. Since there was no cutting to be done, just a move up by 3/8ths of an inch, it was quick and simple with a nail gun. Pop pop pop...

But then there was putty to be put on all the nail holes, and the caulking to be done again. This time I took the caulk into my own hands and I just didn't let go. There was an extra gun in the house, so anyone else that needed caulk could do it and I didn't have to feel guilty about hogging anything. I just went at it. I could do three to four feet of it in a single pass with a single swipe of my finger. So I just went fast and accurate, it's more of a Zen moving meditation than anything and nothing else can be on my mind when I really get going because all my concentration has to be on exactly what I'm doing and how fast the caulk is coming out, the angle of the tip, and watching, all the time, as to how it seals.

It kept my mind off how much all my dozens and dozens of bug bites itched, not something that worked particularly well at night when I was trying to sleep while people were running to the bathroom and being sick. *sighs*

With putty, I would put it on, and I got a little putty knife to use to knock it down exactly level with the surface, and then I'd wipe the knife off on my volunteer's shirt. That was really cool to be able to do. Then just a lick of paint on all the nail holes after all that was done and we were good. I caulked the whole of the living room, next, and then there were five new doorways put in that needed a bead right where the frame met the trim and where the trim met the wall, as well as the cracks where everything met up at the corners. So there was plenty to fill in. The hard part was noticing where the folks who hadn't done it before either messed up or completely missed along various seams.

It was quite a lot of work, but it was also really gratifying when the really experienced guys would not go through the doorway and say, "Oops, she's in the middle of layin' a bead..."

Right at lunch time, John got me to go get some stuff that some of the guys said that they needed, and he and I took our sandwiches with us to go get the Stuff. I got a tiny nap in the car while John ran around Home Depot to find things, after I'd eaten my PB and J sandwich, chips, and drank a whole bottle of water. I did that every two hours as the temps, finally, got up into the 70's today and it was really warm for once.

Then all but four of us left for the next house. Jim, John P., and Jo were left with me to finish off the last three doorways, hang closet doors, and finish all the caulking, spackling, and painting. It was a good deal of work and the nicest thing was that all four of us knew what we were doing. So we didn't much get in each others way, we could see what needed doing, and we could just say, "Huh, that's missing." And the person that could take care of it did. They'd just do it and not take it as a personal insult that something had been missed or was missing, and just do what needed to be done.

That was very sweet and the work went very solidly. I loved that. One thing I have to say about good contractors and construction guys is that they're extraordinarily neat. They vacuum, sweep, and clean up like no one else. If they're good they're not only detail oriented and thorough, but they can tell you the system they used to get where they were going. They really good ones will not just show you what to do, but what not to do, and why not to do it, as it's not rocket science, but the difference between doing it the right way and the wrong way is hours worth of work versus minutes.

It was funny when I worked in the closets and could hear Gabe's voice in the back of my head going, "Of course that's gotta get caulked, it'd be half-assed if you just left it."

He's the guy that coached me through my learning curve last year, when I spent four days puttying and laying caulk in a finishing process that was a step above what we were doing in this remodel. With Gabe, the walls had been painted first, down to the bare floor. We'd done a house nearly four times bigger than this one, and had framed all the doors, done all the baseboards, and I'd gone through with the putty, laying it on thick. We'd sanded all the putty down, wiped everything off, and then used masking tape for the top and bottom of each piece of trim and baseboard.

Then he handed me the caulk gun because none of the other ladies wanted the exacting work of doing interior caulk, and I did every inch of that house's trim and baseboards, every window and door frame, inside and out. Or nearly every inch, there were piece he did as well. And after me came a lady with a paint brush to paint the trim or baseboard, and after her came John, who carefully pulled up the tape while everything was still wet so that the caulk line to the wall made a perfectly straight line. So I learned in a far more exacting job than the one we were doing here, and by the last day of that job, I could fly with it; and Gabe shook his head when he described how I was doing it to his dad, "She even does that stroke with a single finger after to smooth it out perfect."

So I did it on that seam in this house, and the next and the next and the dozens and hundreds after that, as well. It was a lot of work. And then when all the caulking and puttying was done, I pitched in on the painting. That was kind of soothing, and after Gary had showed me how to load up a brush and why it worked when held a certain way I found that I was going probably four or five times faster with the paint than I had been at the start of Melody's house. That was really amusing to see how much I'd improved that way.

Finally, when it came down to the last half a door, I washed out my brushes, helped Jim haul in the table saw and a bunch of extra baseboard into the house. I'm very glad I'm strong enough to just do it without even the least worry. And then John P. and I left to go back to the center and pick up some ginger ale for the sick people on the way back. John P. also bought a box of Mississippi Mud ice cream sandwiches, and we ate one each on the way back. He talked about a project he'd come up with from his tour of duty in the Air Force, and it was really interesting to listen to, and it would probably be a great deal of fun to help him with it like I'm helping Mimi with her computer things.

When we got back, we put out Melody's sweet potato pie, and I had another big slice because I knew that it was going to be late before I'd get to eat, likely. I got my shower. I packed, and then a lot of other folks got the place cleaned up. Vacuumed, mopped, the bathrooms all scrubbed out, the laundry done, everything. I just got out of the way and tried to nap a little in the car before I had to drive the hour and a half drive to New Orleans. We had a car full of people who had been sick, and they were very good natured on the drive. They just weren't at all hungry so we never did stop for dinner. Then John started feeling sick on the way there, and just as we were on Canal Street, he suddenly jumped out, leaving me with the phone and orders to "Turn Right."

He thought we'd pick him up, we thought he was telling us to go and turn right at Magazine and the guy on the cell phone was trying to talk me in and tell me about the parking, so I had too many things going on all at once. Two of the guys in the car jumped out a block later saying that they were going to go back and find John. So I went and followed instructions and got the car to the hotel only five blocks away, got it completely unloaded, and then put it in the parking lot they told me to put it in. Then the two guys that went to find my John came back to the hotel without him. I got... cranky.

I told them to just stay at the hotel and I walked down Canal, and two blocks away I saw John walking toward me, looking more alive than before. He was shivering and cold, but he said that he felt much better for having thrown up. Yeah, sadly, it looks like it's a virus. Everyone that has had it has been violently sick once and then spent the next day nauseous and not wanting to eat much, but then they've been fine. So John will likely be completely over it by the time we go out tomorrow, whenever that is.

Even tonight, he was joking with people. "I've never thrown up in New Orleans before, and I bet I was the only one doing it into a plastic bag."

Angie had helpfully handed him a plastic bag, as she was one of the ones struck down with it today, and she'd been ready in case she was the one to get sick again.

I think I might have had it Tuesday night. I just refuse to ever throw up. I was shivering and had a really aching gut that night and I hurt all over, so that might have been me working through it. I hope so. Then I don't have to do what everyone else is doing, and I'd be okay with that.

He checked us in. I went with the last of the drivers to the far away parking lot and we paid for our parking and walked back together, and John was looking a little pale, but okay. We just went up to the room and collapsed.

He's slept from about 8:30 on, and I've been trying to catch up on two day's worth of email and things. That's been pretty amusing. After all the work I did and the driving to boot, plus the pie and the ice cream I haven't been hungry at all. I'll eat more tomorrow to make up for it, I'm sure, but I'm good for tonight... so we're safe in New Orleans, and John's recovering quickly.
Tags: building_things, katrina, travel

  • Bao-zi My Way

    We've been doing a lot of experimental cooking during the pandemic, much as everyone else has been. Some notable highlights have been the TikTok…

  • New Growth

    It's funny how something as simple as a toothbrush working again as it should could be a sign of hope. Small things working as they ought to. The…

  • Still Sad and Observations about the Longmont Police

    I burned Hell Money for Morgan when he died during COVID in an ICU for an infection of the ankle. He was younger than I, and he was a kind man…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.

  • Bao-zi My Way

    We've been doing a lot of experimental cooking during the pandemic, much as everyone else has been. Some notable highlights have been the TikTok…

  • New Growth

    It's funny how something as simple as a toothbrush working again as it should could be a sign of hope. Small things working as they ought to. The…

  • Still Sad and Observations about the Longmont Police

    I burned Hell Money for Morgan when he died during COVID in an ICU for an infection of the ankle. He was younger than I, and he was a kind man…