Thursday, April 5, 2007


April 5: Day Seven, Break Week

What a day of work we had today! We started early, as Shawny has a new trick to get us out of bed: if we don’t get up when she awakens us, she sits by our beds and tells us stories about her childhood. Some of us heard about the tornado in her hometown when she was a kid, others about the tobacco farms where she grew up, and others got the scoop on the old moped that one of her friends used to have.

We hustled on out to New Orleans East to finish as many jobs for Alisha as we possibly could. We knew she was counting on us, so we went back and finished re-setting windows at one house and touching up paint and building a fence at another. We were again fixing errors left by other groups.

Among other things, we learned that the amount and quality of work that a group completes really establishes the reputation of the organization that they represent. For example, a couple of college groups were obvious letdowns for the Habitat staffers, leaving them still commenting about the shoddy work (or work ethic) of those groups. We are quite pleased to know that we are in a whole different stratosphere in terms of our reputation. The worst thing that we have heard about our group is: “You work TOO hard!” People are always impressed with our stamina and productivity.

Once we left New Orleans East, we headed back to Rosie’s to go full steam ahead on some of the jobs we still hope to finish. The two huge jobs of the day were 1) continuation of the ramp/deck that Jack began yesterday and 2) tiling the floors in the kitchen, back entry, and bathroom. There were tons of other catch-up jobs too, including finishing the paint jobs that we’ve been working on all week for Sarah and for Rose, moving Sarah’s massive concrete front steps into position, weed-whacking Rosie’s yard, and prepping Rosie’s baseboards for installation.

People fanned out in all directions to make all of these things happen today. There was a frenzy of power-saws and drills, as everyone was moving more quickly than ever in pursuit of the completion of these undertakings. A certain set of people crawled and climbed around the kitchen on all fours, applying mortar to backing board and installing tiles.

Our usual homemade lunch was rejected in favor of a big pile of cheeseburgers from a nearby Burger King. We made several runs to pick up more and more material for the jobs that we were on. We were like an anthill.

We kept going and going until darkness began to fall, at which point we located some light sources (Rosie’s electricity is still not hooked up) to make it so that we could go and go some more. We got hungry as the evening dragged on, and Elijah volunteered to make a run for one of our everlasting favorites: Popeye’s Chicken.

We hadn’t run a light to the front of Rosie’s house, so we improvised for our dinner and ate by candlelight. It was unbelievably sweet to sit in that crowded room with its flickering glow and toss biscuits from one side of the room to the other.

By 9:00 p.m., we realized that we had to stop our saws from squealing into the night. We gathered up everything, packed it all away, and pledged to ourselves that we will return super early tomorrow to keep the momentum going.

Rosie is thinking of a new name for her house: “Saint Mary’s Cottage.” We like it. . .


Bryan and Matt were part of a fence crew that laid out property lines, dug postholes, and set fenceposts for a fence at Natasha's house.

Elijah and Bryan pour cement to stabilize Natasha's new fence around her house in New Orleans East.

Bryan and Matt have spent the week shooting footage for a break documentary. Today they interviewed Kate on Sarah's porch.

Bryan, Lindsay, and Bree work to clear the rest of Rosie's yard where the shed used to be.

Shane tends to the wet saw as he prepares to cut ceramic tiles to be installed on the kitchen and bathroom floors at Rosie's. It turns out that Shane is a bit of an expert at this particular job.

It took a big chunk of our crew to move Sarah's concrete steps back into place in the front of her house.

Here is a perspective on the ramp that Jack and Justin designed as the back entry to Rosie's house.

Linzy, Justin, and Shawny join into the Popeye's picnic by candlelight in Rosie's front room at the end of the day.