Liralen Li (liralen) wrote,
Liralen Li

High Places and the Shed

On Thursday, I was tired, sore, and managed to turn off my alarm instead of setting it, so by the time I was up, breakfast AND lunch had been put away already. Luckily, I found some banana bread in the fridge, and John was gracious enough to give me half a sandwich for my lunch. When other folks found out that I hadn't packed a lunch I soon had grapes and chips and carrots as well. It was very cool to know that everyone wanted to take care of me.

It turned out to be a very busy day, and I ended up not writing a journal entry for it until I was in New Orleans, but there were a few things that I really remembered well.

Me Clearing Nail Heads Two Stories Up
This is me up in the gable at the top of the second story of the house, grinding off the head of nails on either side of the extension ladder. It was getting hot in the sunshine, and basically the way the grinder works is by using a really rough wheel of grinding material to rub against the metal of the nail, the metal melts and flakes off against the friction, and a plume of melted metal sparks goes off to the right of the contact point, as that's the direction the wheel is turning.

And, yes, when those sparks bounce off a reflecting wall, or I have to angle the thing so that the plume of sparks hits my arm, they kind of hurt, and I found little red dots on my skin after the shower yesterday. There's probably a few more today.

During a break from the hot work, I found out that Harry had bought "sticky buns" at his local bakery and they turned out to be these lovely, yeasty pecan caramel rolls with plenty of nuts and chewy caramel. So I had a much finer breakfast than I thought I'd be able to manage. I have mostly been just eating oatmeal all week for breakfast, with raisins, brown sugar, and a touch of half and half. *laughs* But the pecan sticky roll reminded me that I really enjoy those. I wanted coffee with it, but settled for a bottle of water. I needed that pretty badly. The heat of the melted metal plus all the bending, crouching, and then bracing to keep the pressure on the nail head was kind of difficult. When I stopped to try and take some pictures, the camera felt like it was vibrating in my hand, and I could really feel the click of the shutter.

I was moving pretty slowly that day, as I was short on sleep, and had spent most of the night aching because I'd forgotten my ibuprofen. My feet were pretty swollen from standing most of the last couple of days, but I followed John around when I wasn't grinding nail heads down, and we did a lot of shoring up of the firring. The parts where the nails didn't grab into wood behind the stucco, we had to drill holes and then use 4" long screws to screw them into studs on the other side of the wall. If there wasn't a stud, we tried to add scrap wood so that it would have something to hold onto through the stucco.

John was doing all the drilling and the screwing, and I helped by swapping out tools for him, and handing them up to him on the ladder, but before too long, I had the power drill and was just following him with screws for every hole he made. That worked a lot better, and we were able to go alot faster until someone noticed that the car park was made from the same stucco. It had to be sided as well as the house. So Lysa, John, and I went into the neighbor's yard (after John, with Summer and Harry's help, got permission from the neighbor) and went up on ladders to fir the side of the car park.

That went just fine, and of course when we were done with all that I had to go up and remove all the nail heads that still stuck out. There weren't that many of them, but some were high enough that the extension ladder was a very good idea, and I leaned my body against the rungs to reach for the further nails.

From up there, I could see all the activity going on on the roof, where they were creating frames for the windows up there, and had cleaned all the crap off the flat roof and were thinking of putting down the felt for the bottom most layer for the new roof. Problem was that they had to have the inspector see everything on the bare roof before they could layer on the new stuff, and he hadn't appeared. They'd called for him the night before, and he was supposed to show up in the morning or early afternoon.

By lunch time the guy still hadn't come, and various folks were grumbling a bit about it. I had a good lunch, for all that I didn't bring anything, and had two offers of grapes as well as a whole bag of chips to go with the half sandwich that John offered me.

John and Jeff did a stint up on the roof, reframing a window for one of the high gabels for the attic. That was actually a lot of fun, as they were up on a pitched roof with an extension ladder, so they'd call down measurements for Lysa and I and we'd cut 2x6s and 2x4s to their dimensions and bring them up to them, though, usually, Jeff would be back on the ground even before we'd finished and just take them from us.

For a little while we could run things up the stairs inside and just hand them to the boys on the roof through the non-existent window, but once they got the window in we'd go up and down the ladder. There were these utterly enormous bumblebees, bigger than both my thumbs put together that would buzz by near the rafters and roof of the house when we were working up there. I managed to "catch" one with my camera between errand running for the framing.

They made things a little harrowing. Not to mention the huge wasp that was wandering about under the eaves of the car park when John told me to just take out all the edging with a crowbar. Lysa and I were a little worried that there might be a huge wasp's nest somewhere in there, but luckily there wasn't any such thing, as I levered and banged away at it.

After all that I got another chance with the grinder at a wall we'd finished earlier in the day. It was better for the glue to get a chance to try and dry before I did this, as taking the nail heads off was kind of vibratory and if it wiggled too much, it might loosen the stucco a little or the bond of the glue with the wood. As it was, none of these budged when I did 'em and they got easier with practice as I figured out the best angle for the tool and the way to control or direct the spark stream. My right forearm was still covered with burnt metal dust by the end of it, but fewer of them actually burnt me.

John had a good talk with the project manager, and the interior structural work was going at a wonderful pace, and the roof getting completely stripped down to the bare wood was a huge job that Craig hadn't thought would get done. The framing inside was going at a good pace, and all of the nearly dozen termite nests that we found were all done away with, chipped out, pulled out, yanked out, or even sawed out in some instances. And new framing was put into its place that would hold sturdy. One major beam had to get replaced, and the interior crew got it done.

So Craig was pretty ecstatic with what was finished, even if the inspector hadn't come in time for us to do more roofing or actually get much siding onto the house. All the siding, however, was painting, dried, and awaited hanging by whomever was going to get to it. That was very cool. Painting it before hanging it meant that all of the boards, including the sides, were completely covered, and there was no tricky brush work to get between the slats once they were up.

By 4:30, Harry actually bought an ice chest's worth of beer on to the site. When the power was out and the compressor had all the air released and no one could use a nail gun, folks headed for the beer and a little time out before heading back to the dorm.

Oak over Harry's House
During the week Harry had spoken about the storm itself. About how he'd been prepared to just sit it out in his house. He had his gun, his supplies, his water and ice, and he'd boarded up the windows and gotten all ready, but his ex-wife called, hysterical, with their daughter, so he'd gone inland to be with them. It had gone badly there as well as at his house, and when he finally had a chance to get back, there were mountains of debris around his house. There was a full block between him and the ocean, with houses across the street, and another two rows of houses between them and the water. That first two rows is now utterly gone, no evidence of them but concrete steps and foundations.

ALL that housing debris got pushed in with the water from Katrina. The only thing that saved most of Harry's house and the houses on his street were the old live oaks. Huge, sprawling, strong things, they actually diverted the debris away from the houses, leaving it in piles before and after and on the empty streets. So when Harry came back, he had the main structure of the house, still, but the streets were full of twisted bits of house, so it took him hours, the first day to pick his way to his house from the railroad tracks above them, and then by clearing a bit of his path each day he cut it down to half an hour. Anyway... I took my time out to take picture of the trees instead of drinking a beer. XD Shows you where my priorities lie.

We headed back, showered, and left en-mass for the Shed. It's an annual tradition, and we've been there on every trip so far, usually on Thursday. It started as a literal Shed, where some guy went out to smoke some meat and then serve it with a few sides. When Katrina hit, they pulled out all the big kitchen equipment, the water went up to the four foot level, washed away everything, and when the waters receded, they drove around with a pickup and found the picnic tables, the walls, and other stuff, and within three days they were open again.

The benefits of not investing too much on infrastructure. *laughs*

You get in the front door, wait in two lines, and order your food and drinks at a window. They serve you your drinks, and then you go out and find a table; and when the food is ready they'll bring it to you. There's a few of them indoors, but it was warm enough this year that we went outdoors and settled at the picnic tables under the strings of lights beyond the usual Blues stage. They often have live music on the weekends, but we've only ever been there on Thursdays, so I've never heard anyone there. Last year it was so cold Lysa and I were borrowing the guys' stocking caps and shivering and trying to huddle by the bonfire. This year it was warm and humid and almost steamy.

While I was waiting for my food, I got a txt from DAWGs: Pulling in now.

I'd talked with DAWGs the night before and got across where we were going to be and when, and I sent a txt message right when we were all getting ready to go. Coming from Mobile, the drive took DAWGs about an hour. I gave DAWGs a welcoming hug, and then sat down at the table again and everyone was like "Who's that? You don't usually hug complete strangers..." *laughs* And I explained the Internet connection and getting to see DAWGs for the first time, and it was cool.

The SamplerBaby Back Rib Plate
Our food arrived. John got the combination plate, which had a little bit of everything, and I got the Baby Back Ribs, with half a rack instead of a quarter or a full rack. We both, as you can see, got the potato salad, which is actually a "Stuffed Baked Potato Salad" with sour cream, bacon, scallions, and other goodies, and the BBQ beans by their recipe, which is sweet and spicy and obviously has been dripped upon by the smoked meats.

It was amazingly delicious.

DAWGs arrived with a pulled pork sandwich soon after, and we just sat down and talked for the next hour, hour and a half, and it was amazing to hear the stories of being in Afghanistan, of being a Marine, and of the training exercise that they had to do. John Parsons was sitting across the table, and he'd been in Vietnam in the Army, so he had a lot of good questions for DAWGs about experiences and feelings about various things. That was really cool.

DAWGs had to leave at about 10, due to the drive, and then it was just all of us setting in the warm spring night and talking. I really enjoyed the crew this year, as they've all been really fun. Let's see if I can name them all and their relationships.

John and I. *laughs* Don Alspaugh came with his sons Clay and Russ. Jeff is the son of one of the ladies at church and he came with his wife Lysa. Carol came on her own, and was the wife of one of the men that died in 2010 whom I was pretty fond of knowing. Amy is the wife of Karina, two ladies who are in all but name married to each other and have a son that we all adore. Amy's best friend Donna answered a call just a week before the trip, when we knew that to get the group tickets we had to buy 10 of them, but only had 9 people flying. Donna was just all over the place. Jennifer did all the food coordination for the trip, and she brought along her friend, an ex-contractor and cool lesbian from Georgia, Christina. Jo-Anne and Jim Bell, John and Marion Parsons, and Gary and Vicki Kinzie are all long-time members of the church and have ALL gone to all the trips I've been on. They're kind of a core group for us, a Gary's a retired building inspector and really has a pretty vast understanding of how best to do nearly anything.

Gary, Jim, John P., Jeff, and Clay have all been either general contractors or handimen that made a living at building stuff. Don, Russ, and John are just pretty handy... and good at doing nearly anything. So it's a very skilled crew. I *love* all the ladies as we're all willing to do anything, and do all the hard work and not hold back when it's something we've never done before, and I'm pretty proud of that fact. *laughs*

It was a good night to contemplate just how good the company all was... and I happily drove my car load home and went to sleep just a bit earlier than last night, and made sure I set an alarm for tomorrow. Didn't want to miss breakfast and lunch again.
Tags: building_things, travel

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