Sunday, September 30, 2012


SATURDAY, October 13
My drywall partner Adam and the creative
door cut.
Click HERE for today's pictures
     Final Day for our participation in Las Cruces Habitat builds.  A couple has already pulled in for next week's build (from Calgary, Alberta!)  Good friends of some already here, having worked in Las Cruces before.  Today one of the Honor Societies from NMSU joins us - about 9 of them, both male and female. Also Homeowner Liz is back, with her brother and two other family members.  A big crew!  After devotions we divide up into three groups again: Soffits & drip plates, caulking and painting at Candace's; drywall at Leticia's; and the floor beams at the new site.  
     Rick and I are back at Valle del Luz to drywall for another day.  Pete pulls me aside and asks me to check the bedroom we did yesterday as we never finished getting all the screws in there.  I asked Adam, one of the honor guys, to help me check the screws.  While I was trying to sink the ceiling screws - unsuccessfully - Adam was checking all the others.  My shoulder was just plain tired and sore and I couldn't get the 'umph' to drive the high screws in.  Adam did it well.  Eventually I asked and he admitted that he worked for two years with a contractor in Denver - he probably knew more than I!!  (Probably??)  So....Adam spent the rest of the day installing sheetrock while I measured and cut and sanded the edges.  We finished both closets in the bedrooms, part of the bathroom, and then moved out to do the living hallway, and one big wall of the living room.  
     I took the zip tool again today and cut out my own door frames - creatively I might add.  I noticed that Pete left one of them in the coat closet.  He said he would check with Leticia.  (JK I am sure!)  I knew that Pete was going to come back later and finish up the door entries around the frame.  
Rick and Thomas
     Rick and Norton got out of the utility room and into the mess of cut-outs in the kitchen.  Rick paired up with Thomas, a good steady worker, and they made good progress in the kitchen, and also got two walls of the second bathroom finished.  
     Others finished the furnace enclosure (a finicky, time-consuming piece of work!), one child bedroom, and parts of the other.  Pete did not expect us to finish the drywall on the house and there is still a good day of work left.  
     What a beautiful day it was!  Temps in the 70's and sunshine.  Why wasn't it like this the whole time!!!  The mountains were incredible - especially in the evening sunset.  I am sorry to be leaving tomorrow, but looking forward to the national parks coming up.  We gas up, clean the windshields, and purchase a few groceries.  Happy Hour with everyone and goodbyes.  Jeff and Karen pulled out this afternoon around 3:30 - hoping to get part way to Austin, TX tonight.  
     Thus concludes our first NEW CONSTRUCTION Habitat build.  I absolutely loved the experience!  I so enjoyed working for Pete - he is an incredible supervisor.  He kept us all busy and engaged; he taught you the why's as you went along, especially if you asked because you wanted to know; he challenged you to try things you might not have done before and then celebrated your success with you.  Evidently last year they had to cancel the last 3-4 builds (almost two months worth) because the money ran out in February because Pete had accomplished by then what they thought would take until May!  This year, Habitat assured Pete they would have their funding in place and be prepared to build 5-6 houses.  This was an excellent build for us to start out on, although it may create high expectations for others!  

FRIDAY, October 12
Click HERE for today's pictures
    Today looked very much like yesterday!  A stop at McDonalds, meet at Valle del Luz, I had devotions today instead of Rick, and then the crew broke up for the day....Jeff and Tommy STILL  at Kenmore St doing detail stuff on soffits, etc.; Dyana, Sandra and Julie out at Sierra Alta getting ready for the new CAVs to frame that house next week.  
     Rick and Norton split off from their crew as local volunteer John was back to help today.  That group went into one of the small bedrooms and began ceiling work there.  My crew, minus Local Rick - who was to show up later - quickly installed the already cut ceiling panel into the hallway and then decided to go to the third bedroom and do the ceiling there.  Although we had a little difficulty because I measured the panels a little tight, we only had to put up three panels because the room is just a little under 12' square!  Closet ceilings done.  That group continued to work on the main bathroom.  
Master closet - waiting for door cut. 
     I bounced back and forth at times, always trying to stay ahead of the installers needs to have sheet-rock panels measured and cut and ready to go.  At times I was operating the lift to raise the panel into place.   In the meantime, Pete had gone over with me what he wanted on the closet interiors and the process to get the big panels inside.  So I was also cutting and trying to get some help to put up the wall boards there. 
     Rick and Norton spent the ENTIRE day in the utility room!  Once they finished the ceiling, they decided to just go ahead and finish the whole room - it was a MESS of cut outs for vents, water lines, electric boxes, you name it - every panel except one had a cut out, and one had 6 of them!  We kidded Rick that he never came out of the his room except to get a ladder!  
Part of utility room ceiling with all its cutouts.
     After lunch, I asked Pete for help in cutting out the doorway to the closet. Then Pete said, "Are you ready to do some 'kick as...' sheet-rocking?"   Pete had been running around all morning handling mini disasters (eg. the shingle company came to deliver at the Kenmore house, but didn't have the promised man power to distribute the shingles on the roof) and wanted to just do some work and see results!  Wow!  It was all I could do to keep up with him, but I learned all sorts of faster ways to install the sheet-rock   The two of us managed to completely sheet-rock the rest of the master bedroom by quitting time.  
Pete walks through our finished bedroom. 
     I found I really enjoy putting up the sheet-rock - altho the ceiling stuff is physically hard with 12 foot panels.  I like the smaller stuff only because it is easier to handle on your own.  I got to use the zip drill today to trim one of the doorway openings.  Power tools!!  Pete is awesome at giving you a new responsibility, and constantly reminding you, "You can't do it wrong!"  
     Cooler today, even a little thunder and a flash of lightning early this morning.  A FEW drops of rain fell during the morning, but not enough to even wet the sidewalk.  
     This evening we all went out to one of the Habitat Board Member's home up on the bench east of town.  Located on Pinnacle View Drive, but could we see the Organ Mountains?  No!  High winds began to blow around 4:30 and so much dust was stirred up that the mountains were faintly outlined.  You could barely see them! Naturally when we drove home the winds had died down, but it was also dark!   The meal was a wonderful soup dinner (three choices) and everyone brought salads, desserts, breads, appetizers, etc.  So much to eat!  I thought Ray and us were the only desserts, and we ended up with 6 different options!  We brought home an untouched pie - Rick will probably eat it for breakfast in the morning!  
     Quick walk down Santa Fe St. for several blocks when we got back at 8pm.  We were full and needed to walk a little off!  Tomorrow is our last build day.  I am finding I am ready to head homeward, but a bit anxious because I don't have another build lined up.  I have really enjoyed the new construction and I want to do more!  


THURSDAY, October 11
Click HERE for today's pictures
Valle del Luz house ready for sheetrocking
     SHEETROCK DAY!   We drove this morning (after a stop at a different McDonald's for coffee) to a new site north of Las Cruces, only about 4 1/2 miles from Habitat HQ - a new development area.  The home is being built for Leticia, a single mom with two children.  It has been at the point of exterior finished (for the most part) and framing on the interior since February!  Hopefully Leticia will also get into her home soon!  Rick had devotions and used his James 2:14-18 text again.  
     The sheet-rock has been delivered and is stacked in two areas of the house.  This house has a different design and layout from Candace's - no garage, 3 bedroom, 2 bath.  The living room is definitely bigger.  After Rick's devotions, Pete went into detail about sheet-rocking do's and don'ts.  I was beginning to worry if I could do this!  But he takes pride in the 'mudders' saying the Habitat houses are the most ready and it takes them fewer days to tape and mud because of the good job done putting in the sheet-rock  Our task today was to put up as much ceiling sheet rock as possible.   
Rick aligns a panel
     We split into two crews of about 5 each.  Rick and Jerry, local volunteers, are also here.  One crew, my Rick, Bill, Pat, Norton and Candy, began in the living room.  They had the tougher job and Pete helped them get started as to where to place the initial board.  A second crew of Ray, Karen, and myself, along with Rick and Jerry, went to the master bedroom.  I mostly watched the initial board go up, trying to understand the process and figure out where and how I could help!  We were using a sheet-rock lifter to help position the 12 foot boards in place which was a HUGE HELP!!  We learned about screwing the sheetrock into place, where to screw, how to measure, how to cut the sheetrock, factory edges and sanded edges, and how to operate the lifter.  Eventually I was measuring, cutting, breaking the sheet-rock   After lunch I made the mistake of standing around for a moment, and Pete put me to work helping him put up one of the side wall panels in the master bedroom (the rest of my crew was in the bathroom and there was only so much room in there to operate!)  Then I got to start using the power drill to place the screws in to secure the wall.  
On the ladder to screw in
the closet ceiling
My finished closet ceiling
     Las Cruces Habitat method is to place the panel over all openings (which are marked on the floor), screw it in enough to hold, cut out the opening with a baby saw (electric), and then finish screwing.  Eventually I took a small panel on my own that could be cut to fit the entry closet, measured, cut, and then installed it into the closet (ok...Norton helped me put it into place and put in the first screw...but then I did all the rest myself!)  I was proud of my closet!  
     Our group was split up today.  Jeff and Tommy returned to Candace's house to finish up the last of the detail work.  When they arrived, they found the garage door had been installed.  The heating crew was still at work.  Dyana and Sandra went to a third site and did the floor beam layouts for the initial exterior walls there.  When the new CAV group arrives to start next Tuesday, there will be work at three different sites to keep them busy!  Sheet-rocking at Candace's will definitely be on the roster!  
Ray entertained us at
Happy Hour
     Back to clean up, Happy Hour (I gave out my snowflake ornaments and the Habitat Scribble cards I made at Wal-Mart on Monday).  Ray gave a history lesson on colonization (he has worked State Department, Peace Corps, etc. in addition to his university professorship).  Rick and I took a walk this evening down past the sports complex, watching a LONG inning of peewee fastpitch softball (lots of walks).  
     It rained briefly today.  Clouds all day, and a few raindrops during lunch.  Dark clouds coming home from the job site, but by evening it has cleared.  

WEDNESDAY, October 10
Click HERE for today's pictures
     Day 8 of our Habitat build in Las Cruces.  I was sore this morning in my right arm from some of the awkward positions I was hammering in yesterday. Little did I know today would just get worse!!  :)   
Ginger sits in the middle of her furnace framework. 
    Back to our usual routine this morning of leaving by 7:30 and having a few minutes at the McDonalds for some coffee.  Bill and Candy came early today as well. Then back to Candace's house!  The Heating and Air Conditioner contractors are scheduled to come in this morning, so I need to finish my furnace framework!  Pete assigns Dyana to help me when he realizes there is more to be done and he forgot to tell me a few things!  We finally get it all cut and lined with the OSB boards, everything hammered in.  I move on to another short job, after which Pete tells me that he made a mistake....the cold air duct was supposed to be on the opposite side!!  At this point, Rick (local guy) helps me saws-all a board out, nail in supports, put in new crib boards, and then put OSB on the opposite side.  All this was after the heating boys had already sealed our first frame.  AGH!  I told Pete that when sewing, ripping out is my least favorite activity!  I feel the same way in construction - very grateful for the power of the saws-all!!  Later I saw the sealant being applied again to our new portion!  
Rick does demolition on his
attic access box. 
     My Rick spent the morning building a box also!  An attic access box.  He also had it mostly built in the garage, when it was realized that the overhead space wasn't enough to meet code.  Rick had to saws-all his box out and move it to the hallway area right next to my furnace frame!  But at least it wasn't 'on the roof' work today for which he was very grateful!!  
     After lunch Local Rick and I were sent up to the trusses to nail in 4 14' boards as additional supports, angled along the truss boards from gable to as far as we could get.  IT WAS VERY AWKWARD HAMMERING!  And my sympathy for my Rick working up on the roof or in the attic went up considerably.  I was sweating buckets up there.  Local Rick put nails in 2/3 of the truss boards and I got the rest.  I wasn't very good at this - it took 55 hammer swings for one nail and 50 for the other - two nails into each board.  I had to rest after every 15 swings!!  
     Momentary break to go fix something else....I can't remember what...and then Rick and I were back up in the attic to finish our job!  Pete had a long 'punch list' of little detail finishes that had to be done.  And of course, everyone was working in and around the heating boys!  (Who incidentally told Pete after we all left two things: 1) they were very impressed that we were all volunteers from all over the country, and 2) we built a very CLEAN house! Pete passed the compliments on tonight at dinner.)  
     During lunch today, Rick suddenly shouted, "There's a roadrunner!"  Sure enough, the bird was walking down the street.  Smaller than I expected.  
     This crew, just like at Pagosa, has bonded and is working together like a well oiled machine.  Our local volunteers, Rick, Jerry, and Julie, have been present often and added a great deal to the crew.  Wish we could get them to join us for Happy Hour or the potlucks.  
     We leave the job site around 2:15 and all meet again (unplanned!) at Albertsons - potluck dinner tonight and everyone is doing their last minute shopping!  I pick up some frozen eclairs and cool whip - hoping to make the 3-2-1 cake.  
     We postpone Happy Hour/Dinner until 5 pm tonight - Bill and Candy are providing the hot dogs, plus we have french fries, spinach salad, popcorn, chips and dip, chili, potato salad - and for dessert my eclairs, cake, and little cordials with liqueur. Quite a feast!  The cake came out quite well - I made two big batches and then layered them with Cool Whip.  Not to mention all 30 of the mini eclairs disappeared!  
     After dinner I finished up 9 ornaments to give to everyone (and Candace) - will do that tomorrow night probably, blogging, scribble, and then a chance to read!  G'night!  

TUESDAY, October 9
Click HERE for today's pictures
     Back at it in Las Cruces!  We thought we might be moving on to a new site this week, but Pete told us this morning that we still have one, if not two, full days still to go at Candace's house. 
Rick is STILL up on the roof! 
     The jobs remaining are specific little tasks that need to be done before the subcontractors can really move in.  Rick was back up on the the sun....again!  (Rick thought he was done with the roof, but alas, no!)  Lots of nails to be hammered in.  I think he was disappointed to hear Pete say we might be putting down shingles on Friday and Saturday!  More roof work! 
     I bounced around today from realigning and installing walls, putting up top wall plates, applying OSB boards to wall joints for the sheetrocking, and finally....building the framework for the furnace to sit on!  I didn't finish the latter job - still have boards to cut and nail in tomorrow.  I didn't seem to be able to hit a nail squarely today which was frustrating!  
Maria, from the Habitat office, stops by! 
     Windows were installed today, doors to follow soon.  Candace and her daughter and boyfriend came by around 1 and cut the floorplates away in all the doorways.  That made the interior start to flow more!   Other work today included porch fascia application, soffits, and airgun nailing the big plugs through the floor plates to secure the walls to the cement floor.  That was noisy!  I put in ear plugs as Dyana was doing that close to where I was working.  
     After work....I put together some of my Christmas ornaments so they are ready to give away to everyone, then Happy Hour, TV, reading, and blogging!  
     Today wasn't AS warm - temps in the low 80's.  I was in the shade all day, unlike Rick who thought it was quite warm up on top!  

SATURDAY, October 6
ClicK HERE for today's pictures
Lady Chile Rugby team volunteers from NMSU
    Oh....roll out of bed again before 6am to read and reflect and find out WHAT ALL THE CHEERING WAS ABOUT LAST NIGHT!  Both Rick and I woke up several times during the night to hear loud crowd noises, cheering, and 'sports sounds'.  Rick thought at first a Friday night football game, until it was still going at 2am.  I thought I heard the crack of a bat around 5am.  Turns out there is a massive slow-pitch slowball tourney this weekend with teams from all over the country (264 of them) playing in the 48 hour long Whole Enchilada Softball Tournament!  Continuous games from 5p Friday night to 5p Sunday evening!  At least we will miss the second night!
     This working for six days in a row is hard business!  One CAV couple is taking the day off to hike.  Another two of the gals are going to the Saturday market.  But Pete wanted to have some experience at the site along with the anticipated crew from the NMSU Ladies Chiles Rugby team and some homeowners who are coming to put in sweat equity time.  So....back we go!
Rick and Addie work on the rafters.
     We end up with about 10 rugby players, a young man serving some community service time, and two homeowners - in addition to Rick and Julie local volunteers, and nine CAVs.  At times we were in each other's way today!  
      Rick managed to grab one of those cute rugby players to help him up on the roof finish up the soffit job - he then spent the rest of the day working with John and Pete to move roof decking into place.  This is the one time Pete really swings his hammer and goes to work - he likes to put the decking down. Sandra took a crew of three rugby players to begin installing windows.  Dyana and I had a crew working to build the last of the interior walls and continue to install.  Local Vol Rick also was working with a couple gals to finish up the half wall separating the kitchen - a wall that also had some awkward angles to deal with.  Dyana had to keep reminding me today to let the rugby gals do most of the work - this was their only day to volunteer and they wanted to be busy.  That was hard because I was still learning myself, and was now back in the position of teacher!  We got all the walls finished and up except ONE - a mistake was made on it which will be fixed on Tuesday.  Other crews worked in the space between the top of the wall and the rafters, installing filler boards to anchor the two together (the space was less than 2").  
Rick prepares to monkey through the
roof 'skylight'. 
Rugby gal, Local Rick, and Liz, homeowner
     We ran out of decking material 2 boards short of finishing the roof.  We said it was a nice skylight in the garage!  Other details to finish up on Tuesday, but another good day of work and Candace's house will be ready for the electric and plumbing subs to come in later in the week.  We will probably be moving on to another job by Wednesday.  
     Not so hot today, but still definitely warm in the sun!  We finished up around 2:30 and scooted back to the trailer to be ready to leave for Albuquerque!  (See Balloon Fiesta Weekend Blog!)
This blog will take a break for a few days....back on Tuesday!! 

FRIDAY, October 5
Click HERE for today's pictures
Rick up in rafters
     Back to the site today and a morning of Rick working on the roof and Ginger putting together interior walls and installing them!  Dyana led devotions and then we got busy!  We were joined again by Julie, and local homeowners who were putting in some of their sweat equity time in preparation for the construction of THEIR house later this year.  In Las Cruces, each potential homeowner must put in 100 hours of sweat equity BEFORE they get moved from the prospective list to the homeowner list!  
     Rick and Bill worked all morning (day?) up on the roof rafters - along the side eaves of the house - installing the boards necessary to create a soffit.  This had to be done before the roof decking goes up.  Bill was not as comfortable up on the roof, so he did much of the cutting and running around while Rick worked up in the trusses, climbing over his 'jungle gym' on high!  
Setting a major wall into place! 
     Others worked on the fascia of the house front and back, building walls, porch work, etc.  Candy and I went to help Sandra install some short walls, and then we needed to build one before we could go any further.  I learned more today about the markings used to relate to the framers the necessary construction: K stands for a King board (either side of door or window), T for trimmer (next to the King board and upon which the header rests).  On the interior wall a Cripple goes above the trimmer boards.  On the outside walls, that was where the headers I built the first day went.  Then there is a 'ladder' - where cross pieces must be placed to join the wall to another perpendicular to it.  Overall things went more or less smoothly, until we had installed a wall that was supposed to have a ladder added, but the ladder had never been marked on the board.  Ouch!  I didn't understand what Pete meant and hammered about 3 nails in wrong and had to pull them out.  Then I went up to put the nail in from the top, and the rafter was in my way.  I haven't learned to toe-nail at quite the angle Pete can do.  After nearly a half hour of struggle, I called Pete over and in 5 minutes he had it all fixed and in.  It must drive him crazy to have to let us try to do it ourselves!  
Lots of walls into place!
      However, after lunch Pete was pushing the wall construction a little faster, which meant at times he just picked up the hammer and took care of things!  The bathtub for the master bath had to be brought over and placed in the bathroom before the last wall went in.  It won't fit through the doors!  
End of Day 5 progress....
     By days' end we had 2/3 of the interior walls up, including some of the really long ones and all the 6" walls, which are wider because of the plumbing that goes up and down them.  Those walls were 'fussy' because of the holes that had to be cut for vents, pipes, etc.  
     Some of the group is choosing to not work tomorrow.  We have that option since this became a 6 day week.  Other homeowners are coming in to work their sweat equity time, as well as the NMSU women's rugby team!  Rick and I will probably go in and at least work the morning until lunch.  
Sunset enroute home from Target & Applebees
Downtown mall sculpture with Organ Mts.
           Back to the trailer to clean up and we take off for downtown - it is First Friday and the 'Ramble' - the equivalent of Baker City's art walk!  First, we hit the post office for some postcard stamps and then the Cultural Center - a great history of Las Cruces exhibit inside which we find educational.  There is not as much to the downtown area as we anticipated, so after a quick look around, we decide to head out toward the mall and appetizers and a happy hour somewhere.  We end up at Applebees again and a spot at the bar so we can watch both a football game AND the playoff baseball game - with an appetizer sampler.  I must have been thirsty as I went through 4 refills of my diet Pepsi while Rick nursed his beer.  Walk through Target and then a beautiful sunset while we drove back to the park.  Quiet evening reading, TV, and drawing, writing, etc. 

THURSDAY, October 4
Click HERE for today's pictures
Ginger putting up the hurricane clips
Hurricane clip
     Another beautiful and sunny morning in Las Cruces!  The mornings have been in the 50's, so it is a good time to get busy and working!  Crews were divided into three groups today: the roofing boys, the wall framers, and the hurricane clippers!  Candy and I were in charge of the latter.  (We eventually were joined by Julie, Pat, and Karen).  Hurricanes aren't a major problem in Las Cruces, but high winds can be, so the code calls for hurricane bracing on every outside joint between the roof truss and the top wall of the house.  Each brace has TEN nail holes - five on the truss and five on the wall.  Fortunately, the nails are shorter than the 8p, but a bit thicker.  Unfortunately, the top section must be hammered THROUGH the metal plate covering the joint on the truss.  If lucky, you might hit holes in the plate, but generally NOT!  Pete showed me how to hold my nail with pliers so I could give the hammer a really wicked swing without endangering my fingers - and drive the nail right through the metal.  It worked!  Overall, Julie and Candy mounted most of the lower section of the clip and I went around with the pliers and did all the top ones through the metal.  Since there are 32 trusses and each side end of the truss had to be done (except for the back and front ones), it took us most of the morning and even a few hammers after lunch!  But I felt good about the job we did.  
The last truss goes up!  
     Rick helped with the roofing crew again and had a little scare when they ran into problems transitioning to the garage trusses.  He had done the measurements on each edge of the house and when things didn't work out right, was afraid it was his error.  The crew had to go back to the rear of the house and readjust everything in the middle (not the sides!)  It WASN'T Rick's error, but mostly working too quickly in the heat yesterday and not always lining things up right.  Pete worked the group through the 'fix' and before lunch the last truss went up and into place.  
     We were amazed at how much has to be done BETWEEN putting up the last truss and the roof decking.  I worked on the hurricane clips, others went back and were installing sections of wood between the trusses.  Others were putting braces up over the porches.  In the meantime, wall framing crews were busy assembling the larger wall sections in the shade provided by the trusses in the back of the house!  All the small sections had been put together yesterday out in the trailer.  
     It is a LITTLE cooler today...maybe only 92 instead of 95!  Still I didn't feel quite as hot.  I think it is because I was working inside and the trusses provided a little shade.  Rick got overheated during the morning (he was in the sun the whole time), but felt better after lunch.  The sun is brutal.  Rick has been soaking a bandana in water and leaving it around his neck - for sunburn protection AND to cool him off!  
Our wall!! 
     Shortly after lunch I finished up with the hurricane clips.  Pete assigned Candy, Julie, and I to assemble Wall #33, which had not been put together yet.  Off to the wood trailer to find the base and top board sections, select and crown 6 2x4's, and then hammer it all together flat on the concrete at the back of the house.  The wall we are building separates the kitchen from the master closet.  We learned how to 'ladder' several places where another wall will abut (Candy cut those pieces with the chop saw, which I haven't learned to use yet.)  Then we were able to hammer our wall up and in place.  That was rather fun!  And a sense of accomplishment to take the loose wood from the trailer and put it all together to the installed wall point!  
Rick goes around and marks each truss
end to be cut off. 
     The trusses were delivered with a mistake in the eave edges - they all had to be marked plumb and then cut.  Rick worked up and down on the ladder after lunch marking the new lines and he and Tommie then cut the wrong section off.  That is a step that usually doesn't have to be done!  
House at end of Day 4
     My vocabulary is growing!  New tools include the twister, cat's paw (small and large - I wanted to call the large one a tiger paw), and materials as in sheathing, decking, hurricane clips, various nail sizes, or 
techniques... framing, shiners, nail patterns (different for every step of the way I think!)  Mind boggling!  Pete is very patient with all our questions, and we keep asking them often trying to learn as much as possible.  
     We knock off work at 2p and are home by 2:30.  The trailer today is only 97 degrees, but drops to 79 with the air conditioner blowing right on us!  We relax, shower, and prepare for a night out on the town.  The group is going to the Empire China Buffet tonight!  
     Later....China Buffet was awesome.  There were five different buffet areas to check out - 3 with various Chinese dishes, a Mongolian grill, and a sushi bar.  Too many choices, except skipping the Mongolian was easy as they didn't have any sauces, nor a huge choice of vegetables.  Rick loved the spicy shrimp, I the green beans and the mushrooms!  Baked salmon, and all sorts of seafood available.  I overate considerably!  Good thing lunch had been lean!  
     Afterwards we drove the short distance to the main Mesilla Valley Mall and walked off our dinner at Sears.  Rick picked up a couple of items, and I found a clearance rack of medium size shirts.  Ended up buying three tops all for just under $20!  Back to the HabiHQ to do some laundry!!  Necessary task!  

WEDNESDAY, October 3
Roof trusses arrived this morning early!
Click HERE for today's pictures
     Today's good news??  Rick and I figured out that we needed to switch hammers!!  (Yes, I lost the perfect measurement, but....)  His hammer is shorter and has a smaller grip.  Too big a grip was part of what was giving me so much trouble and wearing my arm out.  That really helped me - hopefully it didn't mess Rick up too much!  Other discovery?  The side walls of the house are called 'sheathing' not 'sheeting' as I had written the past two days!  (I have gone back and corrected previous blog entries!)  
Rick installs sheathing. 
     We stopped again at MacDonald's for our coffee, and then to the site to find the roof trusses had already been delivered.   Devotions and WORK TIME!  The goal was to have everything totally ready for the installing the trusses after lunch.  We needed to finish sheathing the whole house, inspect the nailing job and mark a big red X when the board 'passed', and then check the inside for 'shiners' - nails that missed the mark and needed to be hammered back out and reinstalled!  Others finished up the garage and porch beamwork.  Rick was given the job of measuring along the side wall of the garage and house and marking for the trusses.  All the outside walls then had to be plumbed one more time to be level and additional wall supports were hammered in (all to be removed once the trusses are keeping everything square.)  We are both learning sooo much!  
Hammering in the lower nails.  
     Today's temps are to be in the mid 90's or higher, with winds upward of 20mph by late afternoon (we put the awning up before leaving this morning.) Occasionally we felt the beginnings of a gentle breeze, but mostly it was just plain HOT!!  Heard later...record breaking HOT for October!  Agh!   I finally put some sunscreen on the back of my neck late morning....and very glad to have my hat!  Dyana and Pete just kept reminding everyone to DRINK, DRINK, DRINK!  And an enforced break time mid-morning.  
     After break, Sandra and I marked boards to be used for spacers when the trusses go up -  14' lengths to be marked every 24".  We got that done fairly quickly and then went to help across the street in the trailer where other gals were 'crowning' 2x4's for the interior wall construction.  
Hard-hat ready to help with the roof! canopy up today because the trusses are in the way, so everyone scatters to find shade wherever they can.  At least the walls are providing some in little nooks and corners!  
Rick looks like the heat doesn't bother him at all! 
     After lunch Candy and I asked Pete if he wanted us to frame interior walls or what....we ended up with hard-hats and a job on the roof trusses!  I thought it would be a non hammering job, but were we ever wrong!  Once the first truss was in place at the back of the house, our job was to take the larger 16p nails and put two nails every 6 inches: one straight in and one toe-nailed into the bottom board.  I found I had to move my ladder every 18" of progress!  And very glad that Rick and I had switched hammers this morning!  Rick was positioned on one end of the truss and once it was confirmed everything was in place, he nailed it in!   
     We stopped today 15 minutes early as several were starting to get a little overheated.  We will finish the roof trusses in the morning and then start installing the interior walls.  Pete likes to go up and put most of the roofing sheets in place himself.  I've heard he is really fast, so we'll look forward to Thursday's 'show'!!  I took a few pictures today of the two Habitat houses next to Candace's since we won't be here for the 'finished product'.  Here is what the front and back of the house will be like: 
Front of house - only flipped right to left.  
Back of house - porch and small yard.  

     Rick and I stop at MacDonald's enroute home for cold drinks and ice cream treats!  We earned it today!  Sat and enjoyed the air conditioning while we let our bodies cool down a little.  Back to Habitat HQ for showers...and to turn on the air conditioning!  (It was 99 degrees inside when we returned.)  Thank you little trailer - an hour later we are down to 81 degrees inside!  
      We wander out to Happy Hour, and then I spend the evening on the phone with Candy Arledge and Shelli Swanson!  Nice!  

TUESDAY, October 2
Click HERE for today's pictures
    The good news today?  I only had to hammer 8p nails instead of 16p also!! But still, by 2pm I thought my arm was going to drop and I couldn't hit the nail straight anymore.  The other good news?  Late in the day, after pulling out my tape measure to check for 16" distances so I could hit the studs (I didn't have a chalk line), I discovered my hammer is exactly 16" long - instant measurement!!!  
Putting up the sheathing! 
     We left a little earlier this morning, so we could meet at the MacDonald's and sing Happy Birthday to Candace, our homeowner. pick up our free coffees!  I led devotions, and several people came up later to thank me for my words. Then we all got busy.  Pete instantly put me in charge of fixing the sheathing wall from yesterday, after I mentioned it needed to come down first.  Rick spent the first couple hours doing odd jobs - demolition, cutting out windows, drilling more bolt holes, etc.  Then he came over and joined our sheathing crew, pretty much for the rest of the day.  
     Candy came to help me and we SLOWLY got the rest of the back wall of the house covered.  Grateful when Rick came to help, because it is a three person job to put the board up, hold it in line, and get it nailed in place.  Then two people can finish up with the specified nailing pattern.  
     It was warm today!  The next three days are supposed to be over 90 degrees.  Ugh!  Fortunately we take plenty of breaks and are encouraged to drink, drink, drink our water!  Our lunch today was brought by St. Paul's Methodist Church - Subway sandwiches, chips, apples, etc.  I grabbed one of the vegetarian sandwiches.  Oh, plus homemade cookies!  After lunch I made everyone get together so we could get a group picture before Patty and Wayne take off on Thursday morning.  (Our resident Canadians!)
Afternoon section of wall that we put sheeting on. 
     The hardest part of each day seems to be from lunch until cleanup time.  It is really warm and you are getting tired!  Good thing quitting time comes early in the day!  
Rick came to help!  I am up on the ladder
to take the picture! 
     Tomorrow the roof trusses are supposed to arrive in the morning.  Pete figures that we will be able to start putting them up after lunch.  We are about a half day ahead of his intended schedule!  Much of today involved getting the garage headers and framework in place, and the beams and supports for the front and back porches.  The rest of us put up sheathing and/or cut out doors and windows!  
     Enroute home Rick and I returned the antennae booster to Lowe's and then stopped by Wal-Mart to pick up a Queen size fleece blanket - we have found our thin short little blankets aren't enough (or big enough) and the heavy sleeping bag is much too much in this weather!  
     Happy Hour tonight lasted for nearly 3 hours as people just sat and visited.  We had some of the leftover subway sandwiches, I brought some dip and veggies.  I have been taking my needlepoint or drawing stuff to keep my hands busy - so tonight Karen brought out some knitting, and Sandra has been working on some scarves.  
     I forgot my hat today, and was so grateful to Pat for finding a loaner in her truck!  It would have been a miserable day without a little sunshade!  
Las Cruces Habitat crew: Pete our construction supervisor is in the sunglasses next to me in front row.  


MONDAY, October 1 
World Habitat Day 
We went from this empty slab.....
     Oh, boy am I going to be sore in the morning - I'm hoping I will be able to lift my right arm.  I have never in my life pounded so many nails in one day.  It was awesome!!!! Today was really a first experience in  a new construction build for me - all of it.  Rick had some of the basic knowledge, but not the process and order for everything.  Our construction supervisor, Pete, had everything laid out and labeled, ready to go.  All the outside wall framing was measured, cut, and ready to assembled.  Rather like putting together a puzzle - 'this piece goes here!'
Hitch Problems!! 
     'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the JobSite' - well, not funny, but it wasn't serious!  We stopped for coffee with several others at the McDonalds and just after noticed the long line of Habitat rigs lined up at the side of the road behind the tool trailer.  Evidently the hitch ball had been replaced during the summer, and they put the wrong size on.  The trailer had come unhitched - thank goodness for tow chains!  It took a short bit for the guys to put things aright long enough to get the trailer the additional half mile to the job. 
Rick and Jeff cut the timber for headers. 
     After a group celebration of World Habitat Day and birthday song for one of the office workers, we all helped unload lumber and tools from one of the two trailers parked in the vacant lot across the street.  Rick went to work cutting the timber for the headers, while Candy and I learned how to assemble a wall frame.  Thus began my hammering!  I am responsible for helping put together walls #2 and 11 in this house!  Then Pete gave me the job to assemble headers - two thick pieces of timber with a sheeting in the middle.  They had to be lined up and then nailed 9 times on one side, flip, and 6 times on the other.  
I made this Header all by myself! 
     I was amazed how fast an experienced crew can work!  An hour later, walls were starting to be stood up on the bolts in the concrete slab.  Rick began work with the concrete drill to anchor some more bolts, while I learned to 'plumb' the walls with a huge level and cross braces.  That job lasted until after lunch since we had to unbuild a few corners and realign things!  
A beehive of activity!  
     Dyana, our team leader, set up a portable tent for our shady comfort during breaks and lunch.  Habitat provided cookies, birthday cake, and a few donuts for break time.  Coffee and plenty of water provided!  
     After lunch I finished up the plumb work, and then started to help apply sheathing to the corners.  Again we had to redo a few things - I guess a common problem when you have this many working at once.  But overall, I was amazed at how smoothly everything went.  Pete just goes around spot checking everything, answering questions, and giving you a job if you stand idle for a moment!  He is particular, however, and won't hesitate to say, 'Take it out and try this!'  I learned to use the cat's paw claw, the huge lever claw, levels, and the difference between 16p and 8p nails!  Dyana's role as team leader is to make sure everyone else is busy before she finds a job.  
....and finished with this by the end of the day. 
     After lunch the sun began to really feel hot.  I can't say I was disappointed when the "clean up" call came around!  We were in the middle of 'fixing' our sheathing, however, and had to leave it until tomorrow.  At that point I was working with Rick, one of the local volunteers.  We had Rick and Vince and Jerry, local Habitat volunteers, present today, as well as Candace the homeowner who came after she got off her McDonald's shift around lunch. The slab was swarming with activity!  
     Rick and I stopped at Lowe's to pick up an antennae booster, hoping to get the TV signal in the trailer to work better.  Then a round-about discovery route home - in which we bought gas and found the Wal-Mart!  Showers, a few postcards, and Happy Hour from 4p to 6p in the shade of one of the big RV's on our side of the road.  
     I tried to call Luke this morning during break - couldn't get my phone to work.  I was getting disgusted with T-Mobile.  Discovered this evening it had accidentally been turned off.  I felt stupid, but was more relieved it wasn't more problems with the phone!  Rick came out and admitted he had packaged the antennae booster back up to return - 'Remember that little button on the connection, dear?  I needed to push it!  That IS a booster.'  We will get more brilliant, I'm sure, as the week proceeds!  
     I tried to get caught up on drawings, blogs, ready for a devotion Tuesday morning during the evenings.  Rick had a good long talk with Luke on the phone!  In bed by 10p ready for another new day of learning....and more pounding!  
Click HERE for today's pictures

SUNDAY, September 30
Alamogordo to Las Cruces; Group Gathering for Habitat

Organ Mts. just before St. Augustine Pass
     On the road again!  We pack up to a BEAUTIFUL Alamogordo morning - clear blue skies and a gentle sunshine of warmth.  Our destination is only about 68 miles away in Las Cruces.  We were hoping to make one stop at the White Sand Missile Range Museum, but it was well off the highway and we decided to make it part of our visit to Aguirre Springs Recreation area.  The Organ Mts. are spectacular as you drive through St. Augustine Pass at 5700' and then drop down into Las Cruces and the Rio Grande valley.  
Our Habi-home for two weeks.  We will LOVE the tree
behind us on the west side!  
     We were arriving in Las Cruces over an hour early, but discovered we were probably one of the LAST of the group to arrive! This is the first build of the season for Las Cruces, so no worry about having to wait for the group ahead of us to leave.  The Mesilla Valley affiliate has installed 12 RV sites with full hookups around the Habitat HQs.  Nothing fancy - gravel parking lot with hookups!  We are situated on the far end across the street from the office.  Lucky us - privacy with a fence on our side and a large tree on the west side right over our bed.  The weather in Cruces does not get windy every afternoon as in Pagosa, so we will be ok to leave the awning up more often.  We have put the table outside, as there are NOT any picnic tables here!  
     We get ourselves settled, meet Dyana, our crew leader and Jeff and Karen, our next door neighbors, and then take off for the Albertsons we passed along the way to do some grocery shopping.  Since we have to provide our own lunches, we needed a few things!  Plus I made a mango salsa for the potluck tonight, so needed supplies.  Afternoon spent making salsa, salad, dip, and cutting up vegetables.  
     A brief happy hour gathering meeting all the new faces and names.  Our group hails from Washington, Alberta (Canada!), Illinois, Michigan, Texas, and California - oh, not to mention Oregon!  Rick and I are again some of the younger ones.  Four couples have been on Las Cruces builds before.  We have one single older man, a Cal State college professor of history. 
Candace's home that burned is on the left. 
     Around 5:30 we all bring our potluck offerings to the Habitat office and join our homeowner and the Habitat staff for a potluck dinner.  Habitat has provided pulled pork from a local restaurant.  It was EXCELLENT!  Rick sat down next to the 5 yr old son of the homeowner and had a great time engaging the little guy in conversation.  He had a broken arm.  The single mom (also a 6th grade daughter) moved into her Habitat home two years ago.  Last New Year's Eve, the home burned.  I found the house on Google maps - complete with a burnt out roof!  The site has been razed and the house is ready to be rebuilt from the foundation up.  We will be doing framing.  Candace, the homeowner, was emotional in her gratitude for this rebuild.  The affiliate has made a lofty goal to have Candace back in her home by Christmas.  Two months!  Wow!  
     As I came out of the Habitat office, the sun greeted me with another dazzling display of God's glory!  (Complete with man's power lines!)  I think I am going to love southern NM sunsets!  
       Phone calls to our moms and Jed, and a quick chance to update here on the blog.  Work begins in the morning at 7:45!!  I can't wait!  
Las Cruces sunset #1