Her Ladyship

Notes from the gutter.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

All over but the shouting

And I'm sure there's going to be plenty of that too as The Texan and I get all the furniture and assorted sundry back in place. But I am pleased to report that the floor-work on our place is OVER. Now, good news: we no longer have to depend upon the the responsibility of strangers and can focus on getting the house back in order. Of course, bad news: now we can no longer blame the irresponsibility of strangers and must get the house back in order.


Saturday, I went over to the South side of San Antonio with a few friends for a long-scheduled day of volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. Now, thinking it over, it probably would've been better not to have planned to do that after a week of lifting furniture and shifting possessions out of the way of the floor guys, but c'est la vie.

It is a really big development: apparently Habitat has built around 500 houses there over the past three years. A few more streets are planned and then they'll move elsewhere. On the way there, we drove past a few chickens in the road (this is an urban setting, mind you).

Anyways, I had envisioned it to be something like when we used to volunteer for Hands-On DC, or DC Pick Up Your Crap as my friends and I used to call it, where you'd go to DC public schools and spend as much time being feted for your "volunteering" as you did actually working. Not so much with Habitat. We showed up, signed waivers, had a short instruction period where we were told basically not to hurt ourselves, and put to work.

According to the schedule, Saturday was supposed to be spent painting and landscaping. But our leader said they were really anxious to get the shingles put on the roof, so anyone who could handle it, get on up there. I thought, oh pshaw, this is a single-story house and the roof is like any other roof. How bad could it be? Well, I got to the top of the ladder and found I could not swing my leg over and step onto the roof. Never has a 22.5-degree incline seemed so steep. Back down I went.

After a few minutes, I tried again, and this time did it. Of course, I got around on the roof by scooting around on my ass - no way was I going to stand up. We had some problems getting the shingles all lined up, but after a while, we got the hang of it. I went slowly because I am not used to handling a hammer and had no interest in pounding my thumb. There were a bunch of girls there from the same church and sorority working on the roof next to me and Little Miss Sunshine to my immediate right kept trilling about how many houses she had worked on and all the wondrous skills she had accumulated in the process. She then went on to, oops tee hee, tell her friends her high school "nickname" (which I would bet $10 she made up herself), and by and large forced her friends to call her that. We had to work lined up, so if one person went slow, they managed to slow down the whole line. Of course, that person was me. So when Little Miss Sunshine was sitting there, waiting for me, she'd tell her friends, "I am going as fast *I* can." I was ready to tell her where she could put her hammer while she was waiting, so I decided to take a break, get some water, and switch to the other side of the roof.

Habitat does provide everything for its volunteers - from bottles of water to hand sanitizers to sunscreen - so when we were digging around in the cooler for more water, we assumed that the bag of cookies was for everyone to share. Um, turned out they weren't. Sorry, rightful owners of the Rainbow Chips Ahoy. Next time, don't stick your food in the common cooler.

Anyways, after four hours on the roof, it was time to have lunch. And because I am lame and a horrible person, I...bailed out on Habitat for Humanity. I KNOW. I was just beat though. Instead of staying through until the midafternoon, my friends and I left for some Persian food and air-conditioning. We agreed that we'd go again, but tell the organizers that we'd only be there for the morning. More than four hours of manual labor and I'm all in. Sad, yes, but hey, you have to acknowledge what you can do, right? It makes my friend ZFF's trip to Thailand where he spent two WEEKS working on a Habitat school all the more astounding.


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