Liralen Li (liralen) wrote,
Liralen Li

Monday, A Good Start

The rain is pouring down and the wind whips through the trees making them roar louder than the train that goes through every few hours. Lightening cracks the sky to let the thunder roll through and it seems like the beginning of a bad novel. It is a very stormy night, though not all that dark as all the light off the casinos bounces off the clouds.

It has been a very busy day.

Usually they call Monday "Stand-around Monday" as the coordinators work with the group leaders on figuring out what projects they want to do and can do and what they have that needs to be done. But we pretty much got our project, and they started out by saying that it was handed over from the American Red Cross, and that a number organizations and groups had looked over this project and hadn't gotten anything done on it. They wanted us to try it, so we went to look.

2011 Project House
It was a house that got flooded during Katrina, and the man's family had lived there since the early 50's. He'd been personally so devastated by the storm that it took him five years to figure out he really did want to restore his place. Harry has a daughter, and she came for part of the day, and he helped with the work all day as he's unemployed. He was volunteering with the Red Cross for the last three years, though they couldn't quite help him out other than to hand him over to the Back Bay Mission.

All 18 of us could work on the house, which is unusual for us, but the stucco siding all had to be covered with real siding. The interior had to be cleaned up. The back flat roof had to be replaced, and there was one exterior wall that had to be completely replaced, and a number of the interior walls needed extensive work.

Knowing what we had to do, they delivered a load of 2x4s in two lengths, 2x6s, and a huge load of siding. The first task of the day while the skilled folks went into discuss the various projects within the house, was to unload the lumber truck. The man driving the truck helped us unload.

He was also a fireman in town and he noticed the empty swimming pool in the backyard and talked about the worst smell he'd ever smelled coming from a swimming pool. He'd helped deal with restaurant refrigerators filled with seafood, various houses that had been abandoned, and the worst smell he'd ever run into was a swimming pool that had been left for far too long.

The Container
The next job was to just empty out the house, so that we could work in it. There was stuff and furniture all through the house, some of it there because the owner thought it would make for good places to stop and rest or were tools that he thought he'd want to use. But we packed up everything, moved it into a steel, covered container he wanted to put things into, and we asked him to throw out what he didn't need anymore. That took quite a lot of energy.

John took care of most of the organizing of what went into the container as he's a good packer. Jo Bell helped him with that, and there were four or five of us that carried to the containter, from the house, or did things that just needed doing. Carol, Vicki, Marian, and I ran back and forth There were two whole piles of bricks that a neighbor had needed to get rid of, so he'd taken them, and we had to move them away from the house so that we could work. Some of the folks that did the wood moving went onto the bricks, like Amy and her friend.

The house is mostly a one-story house, but there's an intricate attic. The roof over the attic was relatively new, so didn't have to be replaced. The sheet rock had already been taken out of most of the house, and there was a terrible ceiling that we ripped out to just clean it out. I spent a good two hours pulling all the staples and nails that stuck out of the studs that the old ceiling had been on, so that we can put a new one back up on the cleaned wood. Hundreds of staples each had to be pulled out to make it smooth and even.

Christina, Jim Bell, John Parsons, and a few others were up in the attic, pulling out a defunct heater and all the ducting that was up in the attic. It was hot and small space work, and Christina fit perfectly in there. She's a general contractor, and both the other men have been general contractors or handimen at some time in their lives, so knew what needed doing better than the rest of us.

Amy, her good friend that came with her on this trip, Russ, and others took out the side wall, the wood and concrete that was holding it together, and began to replace it with new studs.

John, Jeff, Lysa, Jennifer and I worked on some of the framing that had to go into stucco that had to go up in order to be able to put the new siding up. The cool thing was that the framing was all wood that had to be both glued to the stucco and then held in place by nails that were fired through the wood and into the stucco with .22 rounds behind a nail. The literal nail gun was simple enough with a metal piece that hit a nail loaded into the barrel. The .22 round went into the back and when it was closed, a trigger hit the firing pin and *bam* the nail goes where you aim the thing.

It was nice to be trusted enough to fire a few rounds. *laughs* After all the gun training I've had in the past, it felt safe enough, and it turned out that loading the rounds into the thing was difficult with gloved hands. So I handled all the rounds with bare hands while John kept his gloves on for the work that he did.

We managed to just keep going until about 4 pm, but then ran out of the small caulking gun's glue tubes, and they only had huge tubes of wood glue, but no caulking gun to do it with.

Besides, the weather report said that there was going to be a storm coming in tonight, probably around 5. But when we quit the skies were clear and it was hot as hell in the sunlight. We'd done the good thing with sunscreen and all, but it was still pretty debilitating to come into this humidity and heat.

We were pretty tired when we quit, but John and Don wanted to see some of the houses we'd worked on in the past. We stopped by the house we worked on last year and were very pleasantly surprised to find the owner out in the yard with his dog. He recognized us and invited us in, even in the shape we were in from the day. All of us were filthy, covered in dust, dirt, and the remainders of the house we'd been working on, but he let us into what looked like a brand new house, with beautiful finishing work, and the outside was prestinely painted and finished.

This was the same house that had half the exterior walls rotted away, the roof a mass of swiss cheese holes that we filled back in and reroofed. We'd replaced everything, put in a new floor plan to better match what he could do, and reframed the windows so that they were standard sized windows again.

Last Year's House
It turned out beautifully. It was astonishing to see the finished house and see all the things in place, and the lovely new quarters he now lived in. The extra room was filled with all his most precious things, and his room was very well lived-in and used. The walk-in closet worked out nicely, and the back to back front closet and bedroom closet was good as was the layout of the back kitchen. That was amazing to see, and even more amazing to be invited in and have him ask us to actually sit on his furniture in the state we were in.

He said that he appreciated all the work we did. That...

I think that touched on something I came for, perhaps. Like Harry at the house who actually was amazed we were there at all, and that we did the things we were doing for a man we didn't even know. He wants to buy us pizza and chicken for lunch tomorrow rather than our cold lunches, just as an expression of appreciation for our help.

I tried to tell him that we were amazed that people like him needed our help... in some ways. In Longmont, it's proven difficult to find people like him that need this kind of help. Most folks that own a home also have insurance around us, and/or they're taken care of by other means. Or there's other safety nets, we don't get to just walk into someone'e house and help take care of their problems. It's intriguing to realize that as the boys at home have really tried to get something like this working in Longmont and have run into all kinds of barriers.

Here we can just do it.

We headed back, got all showered up, and being clean felt like Heaven. *laughs*

While we were all gathering to get ready to go to dinner, I had my head in my hands for a bit as it just ached from the sun and noise and all the work all day. Christina rubbed my back and grinned at me for being the quiet, smart one. *laughs* Known so quickly. It's kind of nice.

When the carloads were ready, we all went to Oceanside and went to a little bar on the main drag. A drizzle started to fall, and most of the other Coloradons found some cover, but John, Russ (who's from Portland), Lysa, Jeff and I stayed out at our table, under an umberlla, and ate our dinner in the slightly damper conditions. My Cajun Roast Beef and gravy sandwich was very good. I enjoyed the spicy beef very much with the rich gravy to dip in on the side. It was dressed with lettuce, mayo, tomatos, and pickles. *laughs* I was so hungry I inhaled it all and then asked for a brownie with ice cream. That was very good.

I don't drink. Period. *laughs* Allie can get me to have a Bailey's now and again, and sometimes I just have to have some white absinthe; but on the most part liquor and I don't get along all that well. So I use th calories the other folks get through liquor on sweets. That was nice to be able to do.

Then, just as John paid the very last bit of the bill, the wind kicked up, the rain started pouring, and we all hightailed it to the cars. The drive back was a little crazy as it was raining buckets. Like someone was standing there throwing buckets of water at the windows. I didn't exactly take it safe, went a little faster than I probably should have, but didn't hydroplane at all. Just took the way-back out of the way route home and met nearly no traffic.

once back at the dorms, John went off with Clay, Jeff, Lysa, and Russ to the casinos to play Black Jack. I stayed at the dorm and called Allie to just chat with her and then called Jet to see how his day was. He said it was very full, given Odyessy of the Mind practices for State AND school, he'd been very busy indeed. His team made states so they're practicing for that competition in mind.

I sat out on the screen-in porches at the dorm, and it was wonderful having the rain pouring out of the gutters and everywhere while I just listened, watched, and talked to the people I cared about. Then I took myself inside, got the picture upload going, and wrote this. I think I still have to just leave the machine up a bit to get all the pictures gone, but I think this will manage.

I'm pretty tired, so will probably just go to sleep now. *laughs* It was an excellent first day. We all learned what we're doing, and I'm happy to say that I feel now like I can do it, and do it well.

One really cool thing was that I realized that not all the bottom bunks were taken last night. So I've moved from a top bunk to a bottom one, and don't have to worry that my turning around in the middle of the night will wake up my bunk mate. I am much happier now, and will probably sleep like a rock when in bed. The two ibuprofen will likely help as well, including taking care of what was probably a dehydration headache.
Tags: building_things, travel

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