Thursday, January 10, 2008

Day Three: January 2008

Day Three: Thursday, January 10

[Special Note: Please go back a couple of days and look at the still photos that we collected over those days but failed to post. We are still getting our technological groove together and we are catching up for three days of accumulated pictures now. . . Please forgive our inability to rotate the pictures that need it; we hope to figure out this technique soon.]

6:00 a.m. That’s when the breakfast and lunch crews agreed to arise so that we could make it to work by 7:30 a.m. The rest got up at 6:15 and agreed to really hustle so that all of the jobs involved in getting out of camp would be done in plenty of time. The plan started perfectly as the first two teams got up at 6. Things got a little shaky, though, when rain started to pour down at 6:02. No one flinched, as we just kept moving no matter how wet the world became. The breakfast crew ditched its plan to make oatmeal and convinced everyone to eat granola instead. We hustled and hurried and moved like little worker ants, but we still didn’t pull out of the gate until 7:20. With the traffic we hit going to work, we arrived only slightly late at 7:40. Just a little tweaking of our plan and we should make it on time tomorrow.

Our first unusual experience of the day was the discovery of two newborn puppies under one of the houses at our site. Linzy and Amanda quickly became their surrogate mothers as they snuggled them close to keep them warm. Some nurses on site said that the puppies needed to get to a shelter if they were going to survive, so the puppy-mamas, a Habitat staffer named Jarred, and Justin went to find a place. Once the shelter turned them down, they decided that Jarred would take the puppies home and try to keep them alive. They stopped by the site first, though, and had Aaron remove the still-attached placenta from each puppy. For anyone who has been reading our blogs in years past, you might recall that we had a very moving situation involving a puppy in January 2006, so for some of us the rescue of two puppies is a very moving bookend experience.

As the puppy drama unfolded, most of the rest of us returned to the same jobs we had yesterday. The floor crew got the unfortunate news that they had to undo most of their work from the day before and stagger the floorboards differently. They were pretty cheery about the whole thing, especially because they really liked the other volunteers that were working with them and their house leader, Zac.

Another group finished installing almost every single window in all four of the houses that are in progress at the site. Alec, Scott, Matt, Mark, and Tommy were the expert crew who could go into business for themselves once we return. A different group helped to install facing and decking on the roof we helped raise yesterday. Don’t get too scared, parents, but we have gotten quite skilled at operating from the tops of 20-foot ladders, even when there are large sheets of plywood involved. Wow.

The last group finished jobs on a different house then added their talents to the raising of another roof. Several of the newcomers helped to bringing the trusses onto the roof, including Scott, Mark, Nicole, Briana, Julie, and Erik.

Throughout all of these jobs, we endured very confusing surprise cloudbursts where rain would suddenly dump from the sky with no warning or buildup, leaving us running for cover but still getting soaked to the bone. We actually enjoyed this happy juxtaposition: just as we were laboring to provide shelter for deserving families, we were reminded again and again of the importance of shelter and protection from the elements.

The cloudbursts got a bit stronger in the afternoon and a Habitat staffer finally told us to call it a day. We, of course, did NOT call it a day even though we left the Habitat site. We divided into two groups: one that began to install the insulation that will rest behind the sheetrock we will hang this weekend at Rosie Boitmann’s house, and one that went to finish the gutting job at Leroy Palmer’s house.

The group at Rosie’s house climbed into the attic and stapled insulation throughout and also covered about half of the interior walls. The group at Leroy’s house took out two layers of linoleum tile flooring, finished debris removal in a garage and another outbuilding in the backyard, and then followed Don’s request that we remove that outbuilding altogether. In California, that small building might be called a “mother-in-law” unit, as it was a small room with a tiny porch that might have been a guesthouse at one time. At this time, the room was clearly used for storage. It was a cute little building with a lot of character, but its instability meant that the safest move was for us to bring it down.

After clearing the space very carefully by using the bucket brigade method, Chris, Matt, and Scott realized that a few well-chosen cuts with the sawzall would make it possible to push the building over by hand. It wasn’t exactly a breeze for them, but it turned out that a lot of rocking and then a few big pushes brought the building to the ground. Everything unfolded very safely and according to the plan. The cutest part of the whole operation happened right at the end of it all. As the very last move, Matt and Scott turned their backs to the building to push off of a shed in the neighbor’s backyard. Once our building began to give, their backs were literally against the wall, so they just rode the house onto its side with their feet in the air.

Our ten-hour workday finally ended just before 6 p.m. We headed home and melted some Velveeta, added jalapenos, and ate it with our main pantry staple: Ritz crackers. The Elevaters whipped up some curry and rice for dinner as a favor to Team Team, who was assigned to cook tonight. We held our group meeting early (around 8:00) and agreed that it would be good to go to bed early and perhaps get eight full hours of sleep. At 10:30, we all realized that we had lost track of time in our enthusiasm to plan projects, flip through pictures, and just plain talk. Shawny keeps telling us she just can’t believe how outstanding our group is so early in the trip. As usual, we’re just happy to be here. Thanks for your support!

Two puppies found under Habitat for Humanity home. Aaron came to the rescue and cut the umbilical cord of one puppy and Amanda cared for the other.

Erik and Kate diligently prep for the installation of a window. After much hard work, very window was installed in all four Habitat for Humanity homes.

As the New Orleans storm poured down, Bryan, Katie, Aaron, and Shane ducked for cover under one of the Habitat houses. We endured three thunderstorms throughout the day.

Linzy and Lindsay help each other cut the panels for the side of a soon to be completed house.

Bri and Julie persevere through hours of pulling up linoleum flooring in Leeroy’s home in the lower ninth ward.

Yesterday’s hard work didn’t quite pay off like we thought. Upon arriving at the Habitat site, the BLOKEs found that the floor was done incorrectly and had to be removed and re-done.

The group crowds around the truck for a great lunch of lentils, tomatoes, and garbanzo beans.

Emily and Shane couldn’t wait to get off the ground again; they’re always eager to climb into the rafters. Here they are installing all the roof insulation at Rosie’s place.

The rain was pouring on and off all day at the Habitat site. Elijah ducks for cover during one of the many downpours.

The BLOKEs and Elevaters happily install insulation in Rosie’s duplex.


After the first of four down pours that lasted about five minutes made about two inches of water across the floor of one of the habitat houses.

Some Jan Term classes use notebooks to write, this is ours.

Potential from the ground up; foundation is key to a stable and great home.

Everyone sitting on the floor of the bus since we were all soaking wet.

With Chris, Matt, and Scott pushing from the back of the house down it went

Bryan cutting pieces for the sub-fasciae

During the break due to bad weather Aaron whittles away the pencil and the time.

“Measure twice, cut once” as the saying goes. Linzy and Aarom double check their numbers before cutting a piece of siding.