Friday, January 12, 2007

Day Four

Today is Justin’s birthday! Before we tell you how we celebrated, the Fab Five want to say hi to their friends and family (and potential dates?) and to introduce you to some of our friends in the Ninth Ward. Watch their video below.

When we woke up, it was warm! 61 degrees! No fleece jackets, hats, or socks inside flip-flops! The breakfast crew made powdered eggs and added rehydrated spinach, velveeta, and diced canned tomatoes. We were true to our word and moved more quickly to leave for our jobs today. What a start!

We feared rain, but decided that we were going to make a go for painting after all. Chris and Shawny took Sarah to pick out her housepaint and were thrilled to help her find just what she wanted: bright lime green (Elijah called it “tennis ball”) and a light yellowish tan (that looked a lot like the color of our pancake batter). Sarah says that she has been dreaming of a house this color for a long time and she was unstoppable in her pursuit of just the colors she wanted. She found them.

Three teams joined forces to tackle the paint prep and begin the job of painting the entire exterior of the house. The other two teams stayed at Don’s house around the corner and either sanded floors or worked on trim. The levels of energy, effort, and diligence that every one of us demonstrated was awesome even to us.

Shawny told us before we came that when we are doing finish work on people’s homes, “Good enough is NOT good enough.” We all agreed to do our work in the way that we would want it done in our own homes, not leaving sloppy edges or problematic quirks that will annoy the people we are trying to help. So far, we are really working to honor that commitment.

As we painted, Sarah sat in outside with us and basked in the glory of her neighbors’ comments, whether they were supportive or not. Most people seemed to support her color choices, saying that it was about time that someone brightened up the neighborhood. A few thought that the colors were “loud,” which only convinced Sarah to gather other neighbors in the street to sway the opponents’ positions on the shades she had selected: “He says that it’s too loud! What do you say to him about that? Isn’t it time to brighten things up around here? Isn’t that what you said?” She frequently bounced that comments off of us as we applied the paint: “Did you hear what she said? She said that it is the prettiest color she has ever seen!” Many of us even changed our positions on the colors once we saw how happy the paint job made Sarah. We started calling it the “Happy House” and Sarah sat out front and beamed all day.

At Don’s house, the floor-sanding went on and on, but there was no doubt that we were succeeding at getting to the original wood. We bought extra sanders so that we could have one person edging each wall while another covered the center of the room with the rented large-scale floor sander. We still have quite a few square feet to cover, so we will plug away in the days to come.

The other main jobs at Don’s were the hanging of the window trim and the texturing of the walls. Though we had pre-painted and pre-cut the trim, tons of work went into making the properly-proportioned pieces fit the slight tilt of the windows (not unlike the door problem that our six door hangers encountered yesterday). Wall texturing turned out to be quite a kick, and everyone in the house at the time took a spin at spraying the thinned joint compound over the walls to help to even them out. Some of us, of course, had a few random (and not so random) hits on each other’s clothes, hair, or shoes, but no one seemed to mind much.

When 4:30 arrived, we moved more quickly than ever to gather and clean our gear, as we knew that we had a birthday to celebrate! Justin’s mom had told Chris to take us ALL out to dinner ON HER to acknowledge the occasion. Because we knew that the French Quarter would be a madhouse tonight due to tomorrow’s playoff game at the Superdome, we called our friend Lisa Trigo and asked her to find us a great small family-owned place that served REAL Louisiana food.

She found us Portside, on the levee side of the Mississippi River out in Destrehan. We filled the entire place on our own. We also wiped out every boiled crawfish the place had prepared, especially after our lessons in crawfish-eating from the restaurant’s owner, David. People tried all kinds of Cajun and creole foods and Lisa came with her husband Bruce, their daughter Lauren, Lauren’s friend Katie, and all-around character Floyd to help teach us how to speak different jargons of New Orleans as they told us some of the corniest jokes of all time. Partially because the restaurant turned up the music when we arrived, partially because we were laughing hysterically, and partially because we were just plain wired, the little levee restaurant was roaring throughout our stay. They had only recently reopened and it was a special night to have a huge bunch of out-of-town guests come gather around their platters of boiled crawfish and dig in.

We read messages from the website as we drove home and even though we have to get up early tomorrow morning (we have to be at work at 7:15 a.m.!), we kept buzzing and humming in the bus until after midnight. A happy morning, a Happy House, and a happy birthday. Lucky us!

Vanessa works away at painting Sarah’s sidewalls. As you can see, she is a master painter!

This picture was taken right before we ended our workday. The house is coming along great! The green is a very happy color, and it makes us smile a lot. In the front of the house two members of the Fab Five, Megan and Kate are interviewing Sarah. The paintwork being done on the roof by Matt, Soraya, and Elijah was completed by the time we left Sarah’s. They did awesome!

Feke and Tommy work away while getting great tips from Dan. Dan is, in fact, our “driver”, but as you can see he does much more for us than just drive. He is a great addition to our team, and we will miss his hard work and dedication to the group when is replaced by our veteran driver Leo. (But Leo will be awesome too)

Check out that floor. Apparently the contractor didn’t believe in a drop cloth so we have been working to sand through paint, plaster, and the previous stain. It’s hard work, but Mannschaft gets it done.

Dan the Man with a master plan to scrape the flaking paint off of Sarah’s house. Dan is our awesome bus driver and we are so glad he is here to share this experience with us.

Aaron expertly nails the freshly painted molding to the window.

The ladies work to make sure Sarah’s house is the brightest lime green the street has ever seen. The color is a nice contrast to the faded paint we are used to seeing.

Justin teaches Shawny how to use the texturizing gun to texturize the walls of the closet we drywalled.

Sarah’s neighbors relax and play music for us as we work and commented on how the house is brightening up the neighborhood.

This is Red’s house that was built in the mid 1840s. We cleaned out his garden so he would be able to grow onions, garlic, tomatoes, and collared greens to share with his neighbors. While we worked in the garden he told us his experiences of Hurricane Katrina as he evacuated to Mississippi and lived out of his car for three weeks. During this time Rosie stayed in his attic.

Team Fab Five interviewing Sarah on her Katrina experiences in her front yard. The interview will be posted on the webpage for everyone see.

A Sight Seeing Bus: This picture was taken outside of Sarah’s house as we were painting and happens frequently as we work. We’re not exactly sure how we feel about this regular occurrence because there are two different sides of the story. They are bringing money into the city and seeing what really happened, but on the other hand, they aren’t out there helping us.

Sarah poses in front of her freshly painted neon green house and commented that the new paint color is a sign of change. She believes that the color is bright and happy just like her.

Kate diligently works on the last piece of sheet rock, which completed Don’s bathroom. She then moved on to finish sheet rocking the living room. Go Kate!

Vanessa does the final scrapping for Sarah’s house before the crew starts painting.

Bree’s lovely teal tank compliments Sarah’s green house, which she worked on all day.

Lindsay, Yessenia, and Rachel pose with Sarah in front of her newly painted house. She commented on how her house brightens and adds some energy to the neighborhood.

As the day winded down, Rachel and Vince show their enthusiasm of a hard day’s work of painting and sheet rocking.

When we started work on Sarah’s house we didn’t know how much of it we could complete. As soon as we found out that the Fab Five, the ONEders, and the Knucklebusters were going to help out we were sure that a lot was going to be accomplished. We were right!

We started off the day chipping away more access paint while priming spots that needed covering. This is the house before we began painting the amazing green that Sarah chose for the house.