Sunday, November 23, 2008

33 is a double magic number

I was so wrong to say that getting out of bed yesterday would be a painful experience. It was much easier than I anticipated. We showered, threw on some warm layers, poured some hot tea in our cups, put the finishing touches on the huge vat of spaghetti we made for lunch for all the workers and packed up the Element. We arrived to find men already up on the roof of the house scraping off the decaying shingles and met Lynn, the kind soul that is organizing the effort to fix up this house for the elderly gentleman, Mr. Horton.

From what I understand, Mr. Horton recently suffered a heart attack, which led to the discovery of the living conditions he had been enduring for the last twelve years. Lynn was called in by the state to clean the house and since that time, she has made it her mission to make sure he returns to more livable circumstances.

Judging from the solid brick exterior, the house didn't seem to be that bad off. But once Lynn took us inside for a tour, it became very clear just how sad this story really is. A tree fell into the rear section of the house where two bedrooms and a bathroom are located. Because Mr. Horton inherited the house from his father and had no insurance, he had no way to pay for the necessary repairs. So in the last twelve years, the elements have slowly finished off the rest of the damage---from black mold covering the walls, to rust on the already ancient non-working appliances. The cast iron tub in the bathroom, the only slightly operable water source in the house, opened to the dirt ground beneath. And the toilet sitting nearby was precariously balanced on a pipe that connects it to the structure. Thinking back to it now, i have to remind myself that we toured the house after Lynn and her cleaning crew had already been through it with their brooms and detergents. I can only imagine what she saw the first day she arrived to clean it.

After the tour, Dave and I dug into work. We started demolition work on a caved-in carport structure beside the house with a small group of other volunteers. In three hours, we sorted through all of the old appliances and trash which went to the volunteered dumpster and separated the wood, which was thrown onto a burn pile. A couple of the brutes brought the carport walls down while the rest of us scavenged the ground for more trash and wood. Meanwhile, shingles rained down from the guys on the roof above. While there were not as many people as I had hoped, the eleven people or so that were there worked as a very efficient team. They really are a great group of people and I would gladly go work with them again. Next time, I just wish they would eat more spaghetti, because Dave and I are going to be eating the rest of this pasta for the next week. Here is a link to some pictures from the weekend. By the way, if anyone is still interested in donating either time or funds (or both!) to this project, it will be ongoing for some weeks. Please just send me an email and I'll happy pass along all pertinent info.

Today is the one year anniversary of us living in our new happy home. Our life really has changed in the last year. I can say for sure that I am a happier person now that we found the perfect house that pleases us both. I take actual pleasure in sweeping the leaves off the back deck while I enjoy the view. We now have neighbors that wave at us as we drive by, greet us as we take a walk and sometimes even drop by to bring us barbecue. I look forward to introducing our newest family member to this house and neighborhood next year. I'm sure it will be a wonderful place to build so many new memories.

Today is also my 33rd birthday, which is much less scary and depressing than I ever thought it would be when I was a teenager. Thanks to both mom and dad for bringing me into this world and not following up on their repeated threats to take me out of it. I have a good feeling about this new year.

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