Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Day Fifteen: January 2008

Day Fifteen: Tuesday, January 22

Today is Katie’s birthday! Well, not really. Katie’s birthday is two days away. But we had such a beautiful summer-like day today that we decided to hold Katie’s birthday party tonight on a beach on the Mississippi River. But, of course, we worked all day first, so we’ll start there. . .

As usual, one person from each group went to Rosie’s house to keep the jobs going over there. Today was a big milestone, as the group at Rosie’s began the painting process in the first house. Things look really different (and really RIGHT) when a fresh coat of paint is applied. There were lots of other jobs to be done as well, including completing baseboards and continuing the sanding job on the porch.

The big group continued working with Parkway Partners, but at a different garden this time. This garden was in the Bywater neighborhood and it happens to be a garden that we restored back in January 2006. Back then, there was a huge tree in the middle of the space, but our group managed to bring it down with very few appropriate tools. Now the stump that we left behind is the home of a lovely thriving fern and the garden has changed dramatically since our last visit.

Now it is a microfarm run by a great guy named John. He wants to provide healthy food right in the Bywater neighborhood, where convenience stores are some of the only sources of groceries. He already had some beets started in one large section of the garden, and we helped him to supplement the soil in the other sections by spreading enormous amounts of used coffee grounds all over the lot. We also moved lots of debris from all around the garden and a few of us weeded the sections that were already planted. All in all it was a pretty easy morning for our hardworking crew, and we finished most of the job before lunchtime.

We decided to eat lunch before moving over to Rosie’s house, so we placed ourselves all over a huge rockpile across the street and somehow got comfortable enough to enjoy our surprisingly great vegetarian sloppy joes (with the necessary addition of our most important pantry staple: Ritz crackers). As we enjoyed our time on the rockpile, we noticed that there was one of those rubber traffic barrels at just the right distance from us to make a great target. We seem to have an obsession with throwing things at targets, so of course we had to make the most of that pile of rocks and the nearby barrel. Almost every one of us took a few turns at trying to hit the target; we found that the thump that accompanied a hit was a triumph in itself. Jed meticulously cleaned up any stray rocks that had landed in the nearby roadway, so we left no trace of our lunchtime game behind.

When we joined the group at Rosie’s house, things just started cranking. Jobs were getting knocked off the list more quickly than ever and even new jobs that emerged proved to be no big challenge. At one point we recalled that the back step of the 4009 side of the duplex had too great a drop from the doorway. (Jack pointed this out before he left; we aren’t skilled enough to notice such a thing.) It looked a little too complicated to solve the problem with the materials that we had, but Chris, Brad, and Obi decided to give it a try. The end result looks great and evened out the distance of all of the steps out of the door. Huge progress was the name of the game today on every job.

As mentioned above, our great productivity was surpassed only by the beauty of the day. It was like a gorgeous summer day rather than a follow-up to the below freezing temps we experienced yesterday. We loved it. When we noticed that the forecast was for rain the next few days, we decided to capitalize on the climate and head out to Macon’s house for an early birthday party.

Our group has spent many wonderful evenings (and workdays!) with Macon, so we knew that we needed to schedule a night at his house. He lives on the river side of the levee, with a long, low beach on which we can build a bonfire and sit right on the banks of the Mississippi. There’s something magical about the place that only gets compounded when you add yummy cheeseburgers, barbecued chicken, and s’mores. As we sat there, a thick fog rolled in and actually dripped on us occasionally, but never to the point where we needed to run for cover. A few of us took spins in the canoe and did a little loop around a nearby pier. Whether or not we were floating on the water, we were all floating on air.

And we celebrated Katie’s birthday! We’ll save part of the celebration for her actual birthday on Thursday, but it was fun to make a special meal together and hang out around a huge bonfire in honor of our favorite unicyclist. Katie is a freshman Nursing major who has shown a lot of guts on this trip. She is happy and full of awe every day, helping to elevate our spirits when the jobs are getting tough. Happy, happy, day, Katie!

Total hours today = 235; Running total = 3878

The Parkway Partners garden that we worked on today

Lindsay and Kate busy at work hauling wet hay to the front of the garden.

Nicole, Lindsay, and Matt place a pathway in order to prevent weeds from growing.

Aaron, Jed, and Tommy help Macon deliver the coffee grounds to enrich to soil.

Part of the pile we made today, which consisted of hay, branches, and miscellaneous objects.

After a long day of work we were all surprised to find out we would be heading out to a bonfire at a friends house overlooking the Mississippi River.

Shawny and Scott helped lug out extra debris from the garden as others worked on various projects at a Parkway Partners garden on the West Bank.

Thanks to our handy laptops Elijah was able to sit out at the worksite with Lindsey as she landscaped Rosie’s backyard.

Here we see Shawny, Katie, and Matt Wheeler working on a plot at Parkway Partners.

Katie and LinZy helped unload the 1500 pound sack of coffee that would be used as compost for the garden.

Sam weeding the garden full of snow peas.

Obi and Brad work on the stairs in the back of Rosie’s house

As we cleaned up, Jed took charge and got us wrapped up quickly.

Our beautiful artwork made out of Rosie’s old ramp.

Bri sands the front door of Rosie’s house

As we arrive on the work site, Shawny gives out orders to the group to get the day started.

Katie and Jed at the bonfire celebrating Katie’s 19th birthday. Happy Birthday Katie!

Jed asnd Makon use their strength to lift the big pile of wood into the bed of the truck.

While working with Makon and Parkway Partners, we came across this interesting sign posted on the local dumpster.

Bri, Amanda, Brad, Bryan, Erik, and Sergio all sit around the bonfire at Makon’s house waiting for the tasty burgers to come off the grill.