Thursday, January 11, 2007

Day Three

We know that most readers of this blog are interested in the sights and sounds of New Orleans and the progress that has been made in the Gulf Coast since August of 2005. Still, we also know that people are interested in the weird life that we are living in our unusual New Orleans home. The team called Mannschaft (Emily, Shane, Linzy, Janeva, and Tim) provided this video insight into our mealtime experiences.

(Special Note: If you did not see yesterday’s video offering, please click back to Day Two and see a wonderful piece prepared by the Transformers. Our interface with YouTube has messed us up a bit as we have tried to upload things, but we finally got that one posted tonight.)

Today we awoke to a rather pleasant morning. Even though the temperature was roughly the same as yesterday’s (47 degrees F), it felt better than it had on Wednesday to get up and face the world in our lovely dining room. Our breakfast crew made pancakes and hard salami for a different kind of morning treat. Despite our best efforts, it still took us 2.5 hours to get on the bus and drive off to our jobsite. We vowed to do better tomorrow.

We returned to the upper Ninth Ward and made our way into Don’s house again, where teams broke up the day’s jobs and got going right away. One team returned to Sarah’s house to complete prep for painting as soon as we can be sure that there is no threat of rain. One team became the Drywall Police as they circulated through the house and put the finishing touches on the patches we installed yesterday. One team finished tearing up the second subfloor in the kitchen. One team tested the idea of sanding the hardwood floors in Don’s house to see if they could be revived (as it turns out, we think that they can), and the other team became assistants to Justin as he rebuilt the rotted-out bathroom floor, sometimes standing at room level, sometimes crouching in the crawl space underneath the house.

Our wall patches got incredibly smooth and are now ready to be textured so that all imperfections will be largely imperceptible. We even took up some new challenges as we noticed that there were areas that had been poorly hung by the professionals who preceded us; we tore them out and redid them. When the Drywall Police (really the Transformers; if you know the tune to the Saturday morning TV show by that name, you must sing it in your head as you read this) finished their review of all things sheetrock, they moved on to painting, measuring, and mitering trim pieces for all of the doors, windows, and floorboards. Everyone worked hard all day long.

We had some new visitors today at Don’s house, including his father, Leroy, whose house we cleared last January. Leroy hasn’t made a lot of progress on his house since we left and the already-terrible aftermath of Katrina was made even worse when his lovely wife, Odessa, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly last summer. We talked to Leroy about his current (though temporary) living situation in Baton Rouge and we expressed our sadness over his loss of Odessa. He told us that he just hadn’t been able to keep moving forward on his rebuilding once she was gone. He hoped that we could help him pick things back up, but we are unfortunately unable to help until he finishes his plumbing, electrical work, and heating system. There is no way for him to accomplish these tasks while we are here, so there is no way for us to take his house to the next step. We wish we could.

The other new visitors today were Don’s wife, Troylyn, and their son, known as “Little Don.” They currently live in an apartment in Metairie as they wait for the house on North Claiborne to be ready for move in. We might have to stop calling “Little Don” by that particular nickname, now that he has grown about a foot since we were here last year; as he made his way through the house greeting the folks that he met then, each of them went nuts over how tall he has gotten. In every room, Troylyn and Little Don just kept saying “thank you, thank you, thank you; this means so much to us.” All of us got to feel the sense of anticipation that this family shares over the prospect that they will soon be HOME.

Once they left we hurried to finish our jobs before we lost the light of day. There is electricity on the lot and we run lines into the house to run our power tools, but there are no light fixtures to use to illuminate our work. Things were all moving appropriately toward their ends when suddenly the bathroom workers got a big surprise; the water main that they had shut off suddenly was turned back on, spraying water up, out, and through all of the work that they had done all day. Justin immediately threw his whole body against the gushing pipe until someone figured out how to stop the flow. Everyone was entirely dejected over the prospect that we would have to rip out sheetrock and start over again. Closer inspection, though, revealed that Justin had, in fact, saved the day, so that things did not get wet enough to be ruined. Once we realized that our work would not need to be redone, we started dancing and singing all through the house.

That mood brought us home to a lovely dinner (described in the video above) that led us into our group meeting for the night. At our meetings, we read notes that have been posted to our website (see and click “Messages of Support”), we check in on policy changes that we might need to make within our community (tonight’s big new agreement: each person will clean his or her own hair out of the showers when finished), we acknowledge the day’s “Blood, Sweat, and Tears” award winner (tonight it was Tim and Kellie, for showing great attitudes as they worked and for backing up the work of others as well), and we share issues that we would like to celebrate. Tonight we celebrated some excellent pictures (you can guess for yourself which ones we thought were the most amazing), the Verrips brothers (without whom we could not possibly be here doing what we are doing), and our improved ability to adapt to the situation as it unfolded and keep moving to finish the jobs we had started.

We’re growing and changing as a group, as individuals, as workers, and as teams. We can’t wait to see where this is all leading. . . .

As we were packing up the bus to leave, Don’s neighbors were intrigued by our moving home and greeted Kate with wide smiles. We hope to see them again tomorrow.

The sun was shining on us today in the Upper Ninth Ward as we worked diligently at Don’s and Sarah’s house. Through all of the wreckage that was still left on this lot, it was a well-appreciated sign of hope and good things to come.

Chris gives a brief demonstration on proper sanding techniques so that window framing could be cut and painted for Don’s house. Aaron and Julie worked diligently and cutting the lumber, and the framing should be finished tomorrow.

Linzy starts up the rented sanding machine in the entry room of Don’s house. After some intense sanding, the hardwood floors look amazing, considering what they’ve been through in the past.

Today Justin repaired the floor in Don’s bathroom. They secured the floor beams that were rotted from a previous leak. a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="">

A helping hand, Geneva lends Shane a hand on the job. Reminding all of us that a little help goes a long way.

Here we see a group of students painting window molding on cinder blocks. We were not sure at first how we were to get the job done, but with some help form Don and ingenuity from the students we were off to a rolling start.

Full stomachs, hard work, sun… Here Elijah and Soraya spend some time after lunch resting and talking about the day’s work and relaxing after tearing up Don Palmer’s Kitchen floor. Job well done!!!

As the ONEders took turns washing the Pitt’s house, the year old dirt left from the storm washed away into the gutter. The dirt just seemed to keep pouring out the crevasses. After the long overdue cleaning was complete Mr. Pitt’s thanked the ONEders for their generosity.

While working on Don Palmer’s and Sara’s house, their neighbor Mr. Pitts asked us to clean the exterior of his house. Even though we were assigned to Don and Sara’s house, we could never turn a blind eye to someone in need. In this picture Justin is washing clean the tragic history of the Pitts’s house, bring a new hope and a clean slate to rebuild his life.

The rough and tough Knucklebusters use caulk to seal the cracks on Sarah Mercadel’s house. It was difficult for us to do the tops of the windows, but we managed pretty well. Some elbow grease and good team-work brought it together really nicely.

Vanessa Cornejo is wiping the extra caulk from the crack. By the end of the day her fingers got a bit crusty, but it was a small price to pay for a job well done.

The students are stunned as we cross the industrial canal looking at the devastation in the lower ninth ward for the very first time.

After two full days of hard work, Sarah finally lets us take a picture with her now that she has had her hair done. It looks great; and soon, so will her house!

Feke Lauti meticulously seals a piece of trim on Sarah Mercadel’s home in the Upper Ninth Ward. Feke’s touch and focus will contribute to our efforts in New Orleans

Yessenia poses for a quick photo while prepping the bathroom floor for brand new baseboards.

Vince and Jed look on as Kate removes the nails from the bathroom ceiling.

Julie cuts the window molding as Aaron ensures she doesn’t cut something other than the wood.

Juan and Soraya stain the window molding for Don’s new home!

The NOLA crew removes the old bathtub to prepare for the new chic bathroom.

Songs of the Day:
"Better Days" by the Goo Goo Dolls
"Revolution" by Aimee Allen
"Steady as the Rain" by Dolly Parton
"Crescent City" by Lucinda Williams