Liralen Li (liralen) wrote,
Liralen Li


I had a small accident yesterday. Stepped on a floor sub-board that wasn't fastened down, it flipped, and I went down a good four feet to the mud under the house. My left leg stayed up on the floor, the right knee hit a joist, slid down, and then my foot hit the ground. Took me a few minutes to get up, and when I did, I worked another two hours. *laughs* So I know nothing is torn apart or broken in it, and then it got a little too stiff for me to keep going.

So... uhm... haven't been writing as often here. I apologize for the delays. We're now heading for home, but I can fill in.

Wednesday is Hump Day, usually, as it's the day when all the soreness of the previous two days catches up with us; but it wasn't so bad this time, with the two half days. I was able to get right into caulking all around the house. Turns out that they accidentally used a silicon caulk that couldn't be painted, so, yesterday, the ladies chiseled out the old caulk and it had to all be replaced.

Marian and I worked at it as a team, as both of us had done a lot of finishing caulking behind our guys, and it was fun working with her. She didn't treat it like some secondary job, as there's a particular art and craft to caulking right. It's the stuff that fills in all the cracks, and keeps the elements out of the places where they'll do the most damage. Once sealed, the work that everyone else does will be kept safe. It's a different way of looking at it, I guess. But we worked out way around the house, front to the sides, and then the back and up the scaffolding they put up the back of the house. It was funny to hear, at this time that the chief of the Mission works had kept this house aside for us to work on. His faith in us is pretty solid.

The house was one story for the front part, and there was a two-story box to the back of it, that had a flat roof. The scaffolding up the very back was to reach the top roof, as it was rotting, too. Originally they were just going to put another layer on top of it, to give it a pitch to keep the water from pooling on it, but when Clay got up there, he saw so much rot, they actually took the whole thing off, and reroofed it all.

After they were done tearing stuff off the top, I went in and caulked the wall as far up as I could reach, which was all the way to the roof while I was up on the second story of the scaffolding. Including all the big gaps along the siding. When I had finished the high up work, the other group came in and one of the ladies said that since I was more skilled than her, she'd do the caulking.

I nearly headwalled right there, but gave in and asked Don and John P. if I could help them out. They were puzzle-piecing the last of the sub-flooring in. Clay had started it, but was willing to leave it to us, as the managers really wanted him up on the second roof to figure out what to do with it. They'd ripped out all the flooring the day before, and put in joists on 16-inch centers instead of the haphazardly wide gaps of the old floor. On the joists we were putting 3/4 inch thick sub-flooring, tongue and groove plywood, made so that the edges would fit into each other and support each other without the benefit of cross-beams across the joists. So we could just lay them by putting glue on the joists and then driving flooring nails through the panels into the joists at 8-inch intervals.

If that sounds like a lot of math, it kind of is. And it gets more complicated when the walls aren't quite square. *laughs* It's knitting-level geometry with tape measures and circular saws with dull teeth that jog at the slightest provocation. It was fun, though, too, and we pieced and placed, and got good with the glue guns and nail gun. I got checked out with the flooring nail gun and with the circular saw under the eagle eyes of Don and John P., and it was good. It always takes me a few cuts to feel good about handling a circular saw again, but Don gave me plenty of tries with it and cutting blocks for some supporting bits that had to be put under the flooring at gaps.

I do like working with a nail gun, too, especially with a solid safety. It was also fun having John P tell me that when I was a little too heavy-handed with the trigger that I was double-tapping the floor, which was a bad thing for floors, but good in other situations. That amused me. So I had to keep a light finger on the trigger, make sure I had my finger off the trigger until the safety was off, and then hit it.

John took Jet to the beach on Wednesday, allowing me to just keep working with Don and John P.. I was grateful for that, for all that it was pretty hard work, and the heat, even in the house, just made me sweat like crazy. I drank multiple bottles of water, and it helped. Knowing that it was a probable problem really helped, and having gotten used to Denver's dessicating heat I knew that I had to drink more than I felt like drinking. One of the other group's folks came down with dehydration symptoms, and it wasn't fun.

By 5 I was ready to head back to the dorm, shower, and then let everyone else decide where to go for dinner. We ended up at the Blowfly, a yearly institution for us, especially now that they were supporting the Shed, too!

We all went, and we all had wonderful meals. Jet really enjoyed his catfish, and I had soft shell crabs on a bed of crawfish and shrimp etouffe on rice. John had the Fra Diablo, which was good and red with spices, and I ended by bringing back a slice of pecan pie. Their bourbon pecan pie is astonishingly good. It was good to go as the whole group and just talk and really get to know each other. I think that's the best thing about these mission trips, is actually getting to really know the people that you're with and figure out more than just the church surfaces.

A few pitchers of beer doesn't hurt in getting to know each other, either. I found myself especially thankful for John, Clay, and Russell, along with, in the past, Gabriel, Gary, and Jeffrey, all of whom were real leaders as rebuilders, willing to teach everyone else what they knew and let them get on with their part of the job. I've learned a ton about construction that I never thought I'd know, before these trips, and more about the pride that really drives a professional to do it all right.

After getting back to the dorm, I spent an hour on the screened-in porch talking with Dee, just catching up with her and seeing how she was doing.

On Thursday, I just waded into doing more of the flooring, while one crew painted the house gray, and the others worked on the tricky roof. Another, hired crew worked underneath our floorboards getting the foundation solid and level. They were underneath us and using the power plug in our room. At one point, Don and I had to move a board, and in the process, flipped some switches off. The guys underneath went into a furor about the breakers, and after listening for a while, I went and flipped the switch back on and there were yells of triumph from underneath. That was kind of cool to suddenly realize what was going on.

I felt a little sorry for those guys, being under the house in the mud and muck and having to put up with us using the nail gun right over their heads. But they were very proud of their jobs, and it was really fun trading jokes with 'em and helping them out when it was possible. It was a little funny hearing myself apologize to those guys when I went through, as one guy was actually fairly near me when it happened.

We were mostly done with the second room, laying out the last whole pieces, two four footers and an eight, when I stepped through. When everything worked immediately after, I knew that I was going to be useless once I stiffened up, so I kept working until 3 pm. It also helped me to immediately face the fear of falling through again, and get over it with a vengeance. We got those three boards laid, glued, and nailed, put another one in place, and there was a very strange piece that we had to measure twice and cut just once. It had an eight foot tail to the doorway, and then a U-cut out of the far side to fit the other half of the doorway. Don was really uncertain of it all, but I methodically measured and had him cut it until it was done. By that point I couldn't go down on my knees for anything.

Then they had a debate about how to feather the height into the next room, which was badly tilted down toward the back of the house. And I sat still for too long and stiffened up.

So I gave up, and went to the van where Jet was waiting patiently. He'd been carrying out bits and pieces into the dumpster. He'd painted, caulked, and had a good time. Everyone remarked at how patient and quick he was, and he knew when he was better off with his iTouch in the van than wandering about. I found him in the van and we took Marian's grocery list and headed to the Winn-Dixie, where I leaned on the cart, Jet fetched what was on the list, and we got through it all pretty well. At the checkout, the bag boy offered, with more conviction than they usually manage to muster, if he could help us out to the car with all our stuff. *laughs*

I refused gently, and Jet and I got everything out to the car.

We went back to the dorm with the food and beer, and got everything into the fridges. Then we changed into our swimming suits and went back to the work site.

Don on the Beach
I've been to Biloxi for five years, John for six, and Don's been here eight times. None of us have gotten to the actual beach before this year. All of us have some inkling that this might well be the last year that we come all together, as they're declaring all the rebuilding from Katrina is done. Anyone that left their house for this long from Katrina seems to just be trying to take advantage of the system, and coming in new from somewhere else. There's still need for the Mission's building services, but it's no longer storm-related.

So in order of the fact that we might not be back, we all went to the beach, together. To touch the water, see the terns, and actually see what draws a very great number of people to this place. It was a beautiful evening, and we took advantage of it. Clay, John, Jet, and I went out into the surf. The wind was up, so the chop was deeper, but still warm. With the wind, the water was warmer than not being in it, so I went deep and stayed there. The coolness helped my leg, and I knew it was just sprained as I was quite capable of walking out, if slowly. Jet leaped and splashed out and did just fine.

A smaller group of us had dinner at Shaggy's, a bar that is also further down 90, in a platform that has no solid walls. When a hurricane comes, they just ship out all the durable goods, tie the flaps up so that they don't provide any resistance, and after the storm they just come back, hose everything down, and go on with life. Since it was so much further West, we usually dropped in on our way to Biloxi from New Orleans, but they had a newer place in Biloxi itself, right on the water. My knee was pretty stiff, so I took the stairs very slowly.

The food was, as always, amazing, and they had the Eastern Oysters, and we traded oyster stories and myJohn was very happy to wax poetical over the delights of raw oysters as he'd had them on the Pacific coast as a kid and as a grownup.

Both John P. and Marian were very kind about my knee, offering me a hand here or there, and looking for an Ace bandage for me to wrap the ice pack with. And helping with the laundry in the morning, and doing other small things for me. I appreciated it all very very much.

I slept all right, given that it ached. Ibuprofen helped immensely with both the pain and the swelling, to the point that the thing just feels really stiff. I've been icing it on and off during the day with a Ziploc bag in the car. We basically packed up and did the sheets laundry in the morning, and left by 9. We dropped by the house to say good-bye, revisit the scene of my fall, get pictures, and then we left.

Jet and his Alligator
First was a stop at a Souvenier shop that Jet had seen in a Before and After book for Katrina. The Before had the bright green alligator head at the door, and the After had it completely destroyed so Jet took his own picture for his iTouch background that was the After the After. With it bright shiny new. The boys bought swim trunks as well, as Jet's were too small for him, and I got an insulated cold liquids cup that I've been thinking about for years, but saw at Starbucks for $24, at Ace for $12, and found here for $6.99. So, it seemed like a sign, and now I actually have something from Biloxi Beach, too. *laughs*

Across the highway was the quintessential beach, too. With the umbrellas, a bar on the right, beach and water trikes that could go on either surface, and plenty of white sand. It was beautiful, with skijets, and a lovely view as far as the water would go.

A few miles down, we were able to visit Harry's house again, from last year, and saw it in all its glory, complete from when we were there. It was solid and blue and whole from front to back, and the neighbor from across the street yelled at us, asking what we were doing when we got there. I loved that he was looking out for Harry and told him that we were people that worked on the house a year ago and were back to see how it had ended up. He was a little awed about meeting the people that got the renovation started, as Harry had told stories about us.

From there we headed north and west, through swamp, across the Mississippi, and ended up in Longview, TX, which had three different places touting their Texas BBQ as the best. Carter's looked great, but was only open until 7 pm. The second place was just closed. Adam's Rib was not just open, after we had our dinner, we were hanging out looking at the smokers, and a man came out to stoke them and invited John in to take a closer look! That was neat, and not something we could have gotten if we'd gone to the truck stop next to the freeway...

I am still really stiff, but icing every few hours, before the knee gets too hot, seems to be helping a great deal. Not much to be done for the hip and the rest of the leg that got a little wrenched, but sleep and heal, and take plenty of ibuprofen with my morning and evening meals.
Tags: beach, building_things, food, katrina

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