Sunday, February 25, 2007

February 25, 2007

Hi all,
Pictures above are of me and a few of the birdhouses I am working on and the other picture is of Sandra Greer (Pastor Greer's wife) and me putting the finishing touches on the crosses for our Lenten Luncheon.

This next week is our last week here in MS…we will go over to TX for a couple of days and visit friends and then head home to PA.

We have been working at Ernest & Callee’s home these last two weeks. We have hung 3 interior doors and one exterior doors. No door has gone in smoothly. The one exterior door took us two days to complete. The door jambs had to be re-built to make the door fit. Ernest was so excited about the door, he ripped out the old sheet rock and put in new and was so proud of how nice it looked. He is like a little boy with a new dream.

They have not had a sink in either of their bathrooms. The 94 year old momma has had to bend over into the tub to wash her face. Ken installed one in the hall bathroom and we were hoping to get a good bargain like we did with the other cabinet. We drove many miles and hit many stores looking for a bargain. We decided to try a Goodwill Store…lo and behold…they had an old vanity. The sink was blue so I wasn’t sure if Callee would like it so I told the lady I would call her the next day and let her know. Callee didn’t care what color it was…she was just happy to get a sink. We picked up the vanity and sink and the vanity needed to be re-built. Ken bought oak wood and re-built it. I cleaned up the sink and it looked pretty good. Ken went over to install it and Callee was not home. Ernest was so excited and was hoping that Ken would finish it before she got home. He did and fixed an old cabinet they had for more storage by putting a new top on it and fixing up the sides. Callee was so excited. When we went over last evening to check out a few things for our next project, she pulled me into the bathroom and wanted me to see what Ken had done and how she had already put it to use and decorated it! She just raved and raved at how much talent Ken has (but, I already know that).

In fact, his talent has gone even further. Ernest & Callee have a front door that used to be a French door and has been mangled by Katrina and they have been struggling with it. Ken designed a who new front entrance for them. Rebuilding the wall, putting in side lights and new front door. Ken sketched it out on paper and got Ernest & Callee’s approval (they were just happy to get a new door). We figure it will take us the rest of the week to finish up this project.

We had work day at the church on Saturday and I worked all day in the office until 9:30 that evening updating the database I had started last year. Ken went over to finish the bathroom for the Young’s.

After working at Ernest & Callee’s house, I have been making bird houses for the Audubon Society…I have made 25 already and have 10 more cut out to do this week.

Ken & I are doing our PowerPoint presentation for the first Lenten Luncheon on Tuesday this week. I am in a quartet and we are singing a song called, “Read Between the Nails”. Ken and I have made crosses out of cut nails to go with the song and with the presentation as a reminder of this Lenten season.
julie and ken

Monday, February 19, 2007

February 19, 2007

Happy belated Valentine’s Day to all…
Flat Taylor (above) enjoying Mardi Gras.

The sunset with the sailboat (left) looks like snow, don't you think - the white beach

Pastor David Greer & Ken (right) installing the front door of Mrs. Johnson

The time is flying very fast. We finished Mrs. Johnson’s home and moved across the street to Ernest & Callie Young’s home. Both Ernest & Callie hugged us as we came over to tell them we were sent to help them. Callie’s 94 year old mother is staying with them and they are trying to get their home in livable state. Ernest is in his mid-70’s and has been doing everything for himself with no help from anyone. In fact, he told us that we are the first people who have come to help him and he thanks God every day for us. He is on a fixed income and insurance has paid nothing. Everything he has used to try to fix his home has been given to him or he has found it discarded somewhere. Ernest told me that he was sleeping when the water came into his bed. He said he had never been so terrified in his life. His dad’s house is next door and they are still waiting for the insurance to pay for that also. Through all this he has not become disillusioned…he is still hopeful and so full of faith.

He told us that he worked about 48 hours off and on, with little rest and ended up in the hospital with a heart attack. In that frenzy while he was dry-walling their master bedroom, his wife asked him when he got home from the hospital where her daddy’s rifle was. The rifle was from the Civil War and although it had duct tape on it, it meant a lot to her. Ernest said he looked all over for it and one day when she went out for groceries, he opened up a small section of the wall, stuck his hand down and there it was – dry walled between the walls. Although Callie was happy he found the rifle, she was not so happy about the “door” he put in the wall. They laugh about it now.

We have been hanging closet and bathroom doors here also – shimming, cutting to fit (nothing is square). Ernest asked us to help get a cabinet for their bathroom. They had a sink but nothing to put it on. They are very simple and appreciative people. They will take anything. Well, Ken & I went on a shopping trip – hit about 6 stores and ended up at Loew’s in the unfinished kitchen section. We found an unfinished piece of kitchen cabinet that was returned because it was damaged. The only thing that was damaged were the glides for the drawers. It was normally $240 and we got it for $25 as is. We took it over to Ernest and Callie and they were so excited about the bargain. In fact, Callie had tears in her eyes and kept saying how beautiful it was. Ken had to cut the back down to fit and added side panels and it looks gorgeous. He also built a shelf for her towels which she didn’t expect. But, of course, no installation is without its problems. Ken had to do some plumbing to get it to work. We will be going over there next week to put in a window, a kitchen faucet and a front door. The kitchen faucet is hard to describe – it is hard to believe that they use it. There are no handles on it, only the valve stem on the cold water side, Ernest has to turn it off and on with a wrench. The valve stem is broken off on the hot water side. He told his wife until it got fixed he would do the dishes…and he does.

One day when we were coming out of Ernest’s driveway, Mrs. Johnson, who lives across the street (the house we finished up last week) came over and asked Ken if we could put up a storm door for her. Her son was sending her some money and she wanted to have it put up for the summer. We said of course we would. She is sort of like the lady we worked with last year – looking for projects to keep us around.

We were under a tornado warning last week and had to evacuate our RV at 4:00 a.m. We went inside to the church and were under alert until 11:00 a.m. It was a ferocious storm, a lot of lightening and torrential rains.

We went out last week to view the devastation in the surrounding area. It is slow coming back – some have just left and not come back. Those that have received insurance checks, because of businesses closing up, have had to use the money to live on. Many have just started to gut out their houses and do little by little, as they can afford to. Those that have started to rebuild must do so on stilts at least 6’ high.

Although there is snow at home (and I miss the snow, not the cold), I did snap this picture of the sand, which was so pure and white amongst all the devastation – it reminded me of home, without the cold.

Enough for this update – stay tuned for more work details of the Davis family.

julie and ken

Sunday, February 11, 2007

February 12, 2007

Went to choir practice on Sunday and was invited to sing on Sunday with them. I told them I would just like to practice and sit with my husband on Sunday. One older choir member said that it was probably best because there are a lot of ‘single older women’ that would be interested in finding a man sitting by themselves. Beware Ken!

We were invited out to lunch on Sunday with the ‘singles’ group…no one was under the age of 70! I told Ken he had nothing to worry about if these were the women the choir warned me about. They are just sweet little older ladies…kind of like Kay Franz & Millie Phillips.

We finished up with Valerie’s house on Saturday and are now on a house in Moss Point for a Thelma Johnson. We are hanging doors and putting trim around the doors. We put in a front door which took the whole day! Nothing is square and we had to use a lot of shims through the house.

I “measured twice and cut once” on a piece of baseboard – I was so excited that I did it by myself. I also put in door stops and did a lot of caulking with “2 x 4 “ caulk. Monday we should finish up with the storm door and putting on hardware on a couple more doors and then onto another project.

The man across the street, Ernest, came over and asked how he could get us to help him. He said that Ms. Johnson says we do good work and he needed help. I told him to contact the church and see what they could do for him. He is in worse shape than Ms. Johnson…his back part of the house has burlap hanging to keep the elements out. There is still so much to do and not enough people to help out.

We drove to the Gulfport & Biloxi area yesterday and was surprised that not much has been done there – the homes have been torn down, most of the debris has been taken away but there is just vacant ground. If they are building, they have to build higher than the storm surge – everyone that has built, their houses are on stilts.

The weather has turned chilly again. We enjoyed 70’s throughout the week but the weekend has turned cooler (50’s).

Keep warm.

julie & ken

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Spring coming early? February 4, 2007

Happy Ground Hog’s Day – I heard Punxy Phil did not see his shadow so spring is in the near future ~ how reliable is a groundhog?

We arrived in Moss Point, MS on Saturday, January 27, 2007. It has been cold here – of course, not as cold as PA! A couple of nights we got down in the 30’s and it has been raining the last couple of days.

We have been working with a woman named Valarie putting in doors, base trim and crown molding. The crown molding was not like last year where it was in a pile for all the rooms. This was new crown molding and we cut to size. What a change from last year. Valarie had just gotten out of the hospital and is off work for six weeks. She has been very excited that we have come to help her out. In fact, if we need anything, she immediately calls her brother to get what we need. Her mother comes over each day and gives me a hug – she is so appreciative that we are here to help her daughter. Flat Taylor is also enjoying the electric nailer!

One day this past week it rained too hard to work outdoors, so we worked around the church and replaced fluorescent lights. In Ken’s spare time, he is building an entertainment unit for the Youth Room. The Youth Director was so excited that someone could build her one. Ken has been working on it each night til late and has been working on it today (Saturday). It looks really nice.

We visited with Mrs. Finklea (the lady that we worked with last year) and she and her daughter said they want us to come back so she can bake us a pecan pie! She kept telling her daughter (visiting from Chicago until March) that we helped her get back into her house and she was praising Ken for his wood floor he put in. She said she really liked it. She did remember us and was happy to see us.

I had to have foot surgery on Friday – I went in to have the doctor check it out and he did surgery on it! So, I had my foot propped up for the day – I’m starting to walk on it now, nothing too serious.

We were very surprised about the devastation in The Villages in Lady Lake, FL – we had just visited that area last week – had received a tour of the area. WOW.

There are no volunteer groups here. The next group does not come in until spring break in March.

That is all until next week.