Long Island, 2014

Cris organised another group of us to go to New York City to volunteer with Sandy recovery.

Friday February 21, 2014

Cris did the driving honours again, collecting a passel of cyclists. He started with Forest, then got me, then we swung through Central Sq to pick up Ann. We left the city at just past 6pm, just in time to hit heavy traffic on the highways to NYC. Add in an accident on I90 and we were delayed such that we didn't get to the All Hands Long Island base camp until 11:30. We stopped at the Framingham rest stop for supper. I got a burrito bowl and a smoothie from Fresh City and was surprised when Forest told me that they're owned by McDonalds (the fast food counters were sharing some stuff). After that the traffic wasn't quite so bad, the loss of lanes we'd seen due to construction on my last trip wasn't present. Becky and John had driven down in her car and the GPS directed them to the wrong Park St, so there was a bit of delay getting them to the right spot. I nabbed a bottom bunk in the master bed room when Ann agreed to make the climb into the top one with the air mattress. I got my sleeping pad self-inflated and my overbag (it packed down smaller than my summer weight sleeping bag) spread out, then took my inflatable pillows into the hall to blow them up. I did a quick change to pjs and washed my face then crashed out in anticipation of the 7am wake up the next day.

Saturday February 22, 2014

I didn't sleep at all well, waking (even with earplugs) every time my sleep cycle became lighter. 12 bodies in one room is never going to work well for me (well, okay, when I'm utterly physically spent, I'll crash hard and not wake, but the drive from Boston didn't wear me out). Up at 7, got dressed in work clothes, then headed down to the kitchen to scrounge up breakfast. I finished the last of a box of cereal and recycled the cardboard, then supplemented with some bread and peanut butter, as well as having tea and OJ to hydrate. I filled up my water bottle and grabbed the lunch I'd packed at home (rice and peas!). They didn't bring a communal lunch cooler this time, we all wrangled our own food. Cris had headed out to Brooklyn to pick up Michael, Anke and Laurice and pulled up as we were climbing into the All Hands van with Josh, our crew leader, and his assistant (Joe?).

We were working nearby the base, on Boyd St, in a house that had been gutted and was half dry walled. We were given a group tutorial in the back bedroom on how to hang drywall (so. many. steps[1].) and then my group was set loose on the hallway while the others worked on the kitchen area (I think, the only room with fixtures was the bathroom). I worked mostly with Ann (she cut the boards), John (he had the height to do the high up work), and Laurice (fellow driller). Anke got drafted to do the special pieces since she had some applicable skills already, the rest of us were just enthusiastic amateurs. :-) I ran out of calories and brain energy just before lunch, and handed off the drill in favour of lifting/steadying things. Most of our group walked to a deli to get lunch, Laurice and I hung out in the van and ate our packed lunches. It was neat to get a chance to talk to her one on one.

After lunch it was back into the dusty house - I was diligent about wearing the dust mask, but didn't need gloves - though I did almost catch a finger on a metal sliver on one of the drywall screws. The drill bits would occasionally (read mostly in the last inch) not catch the screw properly, even with the guide, and strip it a bit. I think Forest caught his finger pretty badly, someone was bleeding. It was kind of fun getting to write on the drywall, measurements and lines, but the home owner was hanging out in the entry way watching the work so we tried to stay classy. It's an odd feeling enjoying the work so much but being aware that I get to do it because of a disaster/tragedy for someone else. At one point we had to call in Josh to consult on a corner, there wasn't anything there to support the drywall. He said to install a 2x4. Okay, his assistant got to use the power saw, then John and I tired to nail it up. Gah, bendy nails were long and bendy. We called in "professional" help and were vindicated when he bent and pounded them flat against the wood anyway. :-) We were about to install that piece when things started wrapping up and being cleared away, I think the drywall piece had already been cut but it got shuffled away. Sweeping up was super dusty, but the glasses would fog up over the dust masks so we just squinted - safety third!

Back to the base house and I rushed to grab my toiletries and a change of clothes, managing to get a shower before most people used up the hot water (it was almost warm, much better than the cold one I'd taken last trip!). We all migrated to the big leather couches in the living room, lounging as we waited for a decision to be made on dinner. Wonderful smells were wafting from the kitchen as Mexican food was being prepared. Cris drove the Brooklynites to the rail station and then rejoined us for dinner at the base house. It was delicious and I loved the avocado salad (I had two servings when I saw that there was some left). I had made up a big mug of tea and was going to settle in to read my book when I got talked into going out with Cris, Forest, John and Becky for a drink. I was just starting a no-alcohol 2 month span, so I agreed if I could get ice tea or water to sip on, and we didn't go back to the Speakeasy. We ended up at Saloon next door, it was pretty busy but we were able to find a place out of the way to stand and then got the table by the door to set our drinks on. Olympic speed skating was dominating all the tvs in the bar, I kept getting distracted by that (and being tired) but mostly managed to concentrate on the conversation. Eventually it got too loud and we were getting close to the base house curfew so we headed back at 9:30.

[1] measure the space, making sure you'll line up on studs. cut the board to the right size. lift it up to the wall, make sure the bottom is level, drill in two support screws. take a compass and scribe the board at the ceiling to level it due to the settling of the house (measure the gap against the piece next to it at the bottom, draw a line that far down from the ceiling). unscrew, take it down, cut along the line. put it back up, make sure it's level and fits L-R, sand/shave it down as necessary. try to remember to match things up with finished and cut and sloped edges properly. drill in lots of screws, about 6-8 inches along the edges I think, but 1/foot in the center studs. the screws have to be sunk just right, not too deep or they won't hold, not too high or they won't be smooth. oh, and sheetrock is a brand name of drywall. it's gypsum over paper and the paper is the only thing holding it up O.o

Sunday February 23, 2014

Sunday landed on their every other week rest day, so I was able to sleep in until about 8:30 or so. Forest had left with Becky and John for an early return to Boston, so it was just Cris, Ann and me left. We had breakfast and said our goodbyes - the Long Island project was shutting down in March and this would be the last Dirty Dozen trip (unless we go to Staten Island and arrange our own lodging). We got stuff all packed into the car, and I bought a long sleeve black All Hands Volunteer t-shirt. We headed into Brooklyn to meet up with Anke and Michael at Cubana Cafe in Park Slope. The restaurant didn't open until 10am and we were a bit early, so we stood around in the sun and soaked our weary muscles. I jumped over to a market across the street to pick up some supplies as well. I was going to try and avoid gluten, but the french toast with mango spread defeated me (I wasn't quite up for the huevos rancheros yet). So so good, and I had a mango drink to go with it. After breakfast we meandered across the street to Hungry Ghost to get tea and coffee, also very good. We said our goodbyes and hit the road back toward Boston.

First up was a stop in Middletown to see Sean and Hilary and their kids. The baby is toddling now! We didn't get to hear her whistle though. :-) C was a bit shy at first and then restless, but we were able to have a good chat with their parents over snacks and water. All too soon it was time to head out again, we were only halfway home. The drive was uneventful thankfully and I think I was home by 6 or so. Now I really need to get some boot cleaner, my docs are covered in gypsum dust. :-)

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