Wednesday, April 4, 2012
This morning was the first where almost everyone was awakening after a full eight hours of sleep. That made us all well rested and at the same time a bit more tired. We are so spoiled here that we actually ate shoofly pie for breakfast, along with au gratin potatoes and made-to-order eggs. We made three stops on the way to our new worksite, including the chainsaw repair shop (for chain sharpening), the mini-mart (for ice for our water coolers) and the hardware store (in search of machetes, which we didn’t find). Our new site was another one of the totally destroyed houses in Nabb, where much clearing has been done, but much more still awaits.
We drove past the open goat pen and parked in the driveway between two foundations, probably from a house and a barn or garage. The goat came out to greet us, as did a very friendly orange cat. We found that the homeowners (whom we had contacted by phone) were not at home so we went ahead and got to work. We noticed that there were several items stuck high up in the trees, including twisted pieces of metal roofing, trim of several varieties and even a twin size (?) box spring.
Of course, there was also small debris scattered everywhere across the property, mainly composed of construction materials like drywall, insulation, guttering and shingles, but also things like paper, broken plastic and lots of glass. Some of us concentrated on very small areas of the yard and picked up small debris piece by piece. We loaded it into bags then transferred it either into burn piles or a dumpster, depending upon the feasibility of it burning. Any metal pieces went into a separate pile with the expectation that it could be recycled.
As for the pieces in the trees, though, they became today’s special challenge. We knew before we came that people were concerned about debris high in living trees and that no one had a great idea yet about how to get it down. So we came up with the hare-brained scheme of bringing some small handle magnets, tying them to ropes, swinging them onto metal pieces and pulling them down. We brought magnets and ropes with us to give it a try.
Several of us took turns strategizing with the magnets and even trying to make them do what we planned. But when Scott and Matt got on the job, things professionalized. Before long they discovered that the magnets were rarely helpful because they were magnetic; instead, they were helpful because of their weight. Scott and Matt took our new favorite form of rope – parachute cord (thanks, Matt H.!) – and tied it to the magnets. Then they would scope out the scene in the tree, strategically swing the magnets in the air, and land the rope (usually) really close to the limb that supported the piece of debris or the one above it. From there they would take both ends of the rope and shake things all around until the piece came down or else they would use the magnet as a striker to get the thing to let go of the limb. Sometimes it was slow going but when a big piece came down (like the mattress!) it was awesome.
Watching them do the magnet work was like attending some kind of weird combination of a rodeo event and fishing. When they would swing the magnets to get up the momentum for a throw, they looked like they were working lassoes. But when they were working the lines to bring the piece down, they seemed like they were fly-fishing. Some of our other worksites have treetop pieces of debris (actually, they are scattered over several counties) so we might have to go test their skills in some other venues. We’ll let you know about their next performance.
When we started to talk about eating lunch (excellent sandwiches and sides from a local deli called Red Pepper – compliments of Red Pepper owner John Heitz and Shawny’s high school friend Todd Thorne) we also noticed that it looked like it was about to rain. Shawny warned us that once the first drops fell, a downpour was likely to follow. It did.
We all made a break for the cars as the rain poured down. Once in place, we lined the cars up with each other so we could pass food across from window to window, as some food was in our rented van while other stuff was in our borrowed truck. We had a lovely cross-vehicle picnic (including honey shots) and were surprised when the rain just didn’t really seem like it was going to let up.
We decided to spend the rainy period driving into downtown Madison, as our newest arrivals had not yet seen it. It’s a quaint little historic river town, so it’s worth a look. We even decided to drive across the Ohio River and set foot in Kentucky, stopping by the aptly named Candy and Tobacco Shop at the base of the bridge. No one ended up being interested in tobacco but several people partook of the candy offerings, even if they were a bit odd (like gingerbread flavored candy corn – yuck).
When we realized that the rain still wasn’t quitting, we decided to head home and take care of some odd jobs both in the house itself and for our group. Some people also got busy napping. We all rallied in the evening, as we were invited out to the lovely home of Karen’s brother Mike, who made us sandwiches that included homemade bread (made by him) and lots of lovely sides.
We couldn’t stay long at Mike’s, as we have a public speaking gig in the morning at the elementary school where Shelly teaches. It is Career Day at Southwestern Elementary in Hanover, Indiana, and even though most of us don’t exactly have “careers” yet, someone seems to think that we might have something inspirational to say to third graders. We hope they are right.
We have an early morning tomorrow so wish us luck. Getting away at the time we intended is not our strong suit so far . . .