Gidley Gumbo

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7
Day 8


Corner Beading and Monty Python

Wed, Oct 8, 2008

7:00 am

Everybody is moving a little slowly this morning. Last night a bunch of folks went over to Connie's house to watch the debate between McCain and Obama, so they were out late. I walked down to the first bar I found and got them to turn up one of the TVs in the back. All the TVs were showing it, but the mostly young crowd in the bar were too busy talking to each other to pay any attention to the debate or the old guy in the back hollering at the TV set. "Pandering!" "Two words: Keating Five!" "He did NOT say that!"

I do need to remember about booze and New Orleans, though. In Seattle, you order a Rum & Coke and you get a small glass with a shot of rum and some Coke and you pay $4 for it. In New Orleans, the same request gets you a giant plastic cup that is 90% rum and costs $3.50. Go through three of those and you end up very very glad that not only are you walking, but that you only have to walk about a block to get home.

The sleeping quarters are on the second floor, and the offices and eating area are on the first floor. Just inside the door is a set of 17 shoes. When we return from our various construction sites, we take our shoes off just inside the door because they are filled with amazing amounts of construction dust and grime and we'd like to keep the center relatively clean.

It looks like we're opening a used shoe store, though.

Our shoes have been working hard at any rate

8:15 am

The house we're working on is about one and a half blocks from where the levee on Lake Pontchartrain broke. (This area is called the Lakeview area. Bumper sticker on the door of the Home Coming Center: "Corps of Engineers: We put the LAKE in Lakeview!")

The weather today is much nicer than yesterday. The skies are blue, there's a breeze blowing, it's in the 70's and the humidity is back down in the double-digits. We no longer look like we've been showering in our clothes after ten minutes of work and we all appreciate it.

Carl hard at work in the bathroom

9:00 am

Okay, you probably know by now how I feel about screw guns. I love screw guns. If there's a screw to be screwed, me and my screw gun are happy to take care of it. I thought that it couldn't be better than that.

Today I got: a singing screw gun! It's one of the smaller screw guns and it makes a tiny cute squeaking sound that changes pitch as it goes faster. This is SO cool! Prince Valiant has his Singing Sword™, but I have my Singing Screw Gun!

This is the original door from the house, now sitting in the back yard


Chuck and I are finishing up the dry wall in the kitchen, where we worked most of yesterday. The others are all packed into the bathroom putting up all kinds of weird pieces of dry wall in there. There's lots of walls in a bathroom (who knew?) and every one of them has to have dry wall on it.

Also, there's special type of dry wall called "green board" which is (surprise!) green and is water resistant and needs to be used whenever a pipe passes through it. This is extra expensive and extra heavy, so everybody is just thrilled to be using it.

Amy and Lindsay work on greenwall in the bathroom (that's drywall plaster all over the lens)

I'm glad I'm stuck in the kitchen doing dry wall. (Hey, it just occurred to me that I could have called this the "Kitchen Tour": I'm either cooking in one or building one.)

Sandy measures out a sheet of drywall

10:00 am

Break! Talking to our crew chiefs, who are all kids in their 20's, we find out that they are also all paramedics. This makes me feel better about possibly injuring myself. Although they don't have any of their supplies, so they'd have to apply tourniquets using tape measures.

Amy, the head kid, talks to us about "corner bead," which will be our afternoon project. Corner bead is a pre-built corner made of thin metal. Whenever there's an outside corner, we nail the corner bead all along it. When "mudding" happens, it will cover up the metal and provide a nice neat corner. If we just left the raggedy-ass dry wall at the corner, we'd end up with a raggedy-ass corner that would crumble.

Corner bead is fussy and hard to work with and features many sharp edges. While Amy is showing us how to work with it, she slices open her thumb on an edge. This makes me feel less better about possibly injuring myself.

Sandy makes friends with Rover (or tries to, anyway)

11:30 am

We've dragged out doing the dry wall as long as we can, but we've finally finished every last little bit. (Have you ever thought about the inside wall of your closet over the door? Neither did I, but it still needs dry wall on it.)

One of the more tedious parts of hanging drywall using the "cheese grater" gadget to smooth the edges. It makes a mess and goes slowly. Hence, Chuck's elation when he finally finishes up a doorway.

See, this is what it looks like when your using the cheese grater: it's snowing plaster!

So, it's time to tackle Corner Bead. And it turns out that kitchens have lots of odd little angles that require nailing upside down, backwards, and behind your back. Of all the ways to nail, over your head into dry wall is about the worst as a steady stream of plaster falls in your eyes as you nail.

1:00 pm


Billy-Bob (the owner of the house) insisted on making us lunch (on New Orleans time, of course, so it's an hour late). He hauls over a big-ass pot full of shrimp and andouille jambalaya, a dish made with rice and a mess of seasonings and it is just about the yummiest food you can have after working all morning hanging dry wall.

(A little research reveals that Billy-Bob made a Cajun jambalaya, which features "the trinity" of onions, celery, and green pepper.)

"Of course," Billy-Bob explains apologetically, "Theah should have been twice as much sausage, but Ahm cookin on that damn FEMA stove and it's so small that the first pot of sausage got knocked on the floah."

The jambalaya was spicy (but not too) and had lots of good seasonings in it, and chunks of sausage and bits of shrimp and just about everybody went back for seconds.

Rover also ate well today (what with all that leftover sausage), and we all agreed that he deserved to.

Billy-Bob told us that he's been living in that teeny trailer (with his wife and teenage daughter) since March 1, 2006, which is WAY too long.

Lindsay is ready for lunch!

Sandy, her daughter, granddaughter, Carl and Chuck

Lindsay, Brian, and Amy (back to camera)

Sandy, her daughter, granddaughter and Carl (who is no relation to any of these other people)

The lunch table gets set (the big pot near the end of the table is full of jambalaya!)

Carl servs up a plate full of jambalaya

Amy helps herself to some jambalaya

Billy Bob's jambalaya—Yum!

1:30 pm

There are those moments in life where everything comes together perfectly and you know it and you can just be there. It's 74 degrees, the sun is shining, there's a light breeze blowing, I'm full of homemade jambalaya and I'm not hammering anything. Aahh!

Robert relaxes after lunch

1:45 pm

We waddle back to work, and tackle more corner bead, and hammer more nails at weird angles.

Chuck searches for some nails to hammer at weird angles (that's corner bead on all those corners)

3:00 pm

Quitting time comes really fast, thanks to the jambalaya (which I'm doubly glad to have, because I wasn't planning on making any and was worried about not getting some before I left).

Chuck and I have finished up all the corner beading in the kitchen (which featured some supremely weird angles, such as the trans-dimensional four way corner that required us to invent the 4-Way Split Corner Hamilton to deal with).

The 4-Way Split Corner Hamilton

4:45 pm

One of the vans just got back from their construction site. On the way back, they stopped at a drive-through daiquiri bar. Yes, there are drive-through daiquiri bars in New Orleans.

So, how many people in the van ordered one? "Well, the driver didn't order one..."

6:00 pm

About half a block away, there's "Harrison Avenue Marketplace," which is—well, maybe it's better to tell you about what's there than to try and explain it:

  • There's a three-piece German Oompah band playing such hits as "The Too Fat Polka" and "Mac the Knife" at full volume (and as I'm typing this downstairs at the Home Coming Center, I can hear them playing "Liberty Bell," better known as "The Monty Python Theme," which fits New Orleans so well).

The German Oompah band (that's a clarinet synthesizer the guy on the right is playing)

  • No coffee cups are being sold. There's one lady who creates pictures by combining old picture frames with ceramics that she fires herself, but that's as close as it gets to coffee cups. There's painters and photographers and jewelers and tile makers and for the most part, they're pretty good.

  • About every other booth sells food. There's crayfish etouffee, alligator sausage, Po' Boy sandwiches, and a ton of other booths (I had a pork roulade stuffed with sautéed apple, goat cheese and white cranberries and later the chef did a demonstration on how he prepared it).

  • Plenty of booze (which is weird to us Washingtonians). You can buy spiked cider (cider with wine and rum added), or a Fruit Punch Cocktail (featuring four ounces of vodka) or a variety of beers. Another one of our group asked me where the Beer Garden was (they kept mentioning it in the announcements) and we're looking around for a big fenced off area that serves beer and keeps minors out. Ha ha. Nope, it was a booth that sold lots of different types of beers that you could buy and wander around with.

  • Various community organizations providing information or sometimes selling stuff (St. Paul's Episcopal was selling arts and crafts that their Youth Group had made—some of it pretty good). Connie's outfit, Beacon of Hope, was there and so were other neighborhood organizations.

Basically, it's a giant street party packed with people from the neighborhood celebrating their survival and continued existence by partying and having a good time. Everybody was yakking with everybody else, and I got stopped by one lady who thanked us for coming down and helping with the rebuilding and gave me a brief history of Germans in New Orleans (there's a lot of them here, so the oompah band isn't as out of place as it looks at first glance).

Man, you gotta love a city like this.

(And the oompah band's last song of the night is "In Heaven There Is No Beer"!)

That's it for today. Maybe tomorrow I'll find out what this mudding thing is.



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