Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Part 2 of Spring Habitat Travels 2014

Las Cruces, NM

Monday, March 3, 2014
Habitat Orientation

Jardin de Esperanza
    A good night’s sleep!  We have a free morning, so after a leisurely time and a little breakfast, we head out for a walk down toward the Downtown Mall area.  A good chance to explore a little. We found a beautifully maintained community garden - Garden of Hope.   Back in time to shower and be ready for our noon potluck across the street at the Habitat office. 
     We finally get a chance to meet everyone!  Bill and Linda are first time CAVs from British Columbia, Kit and Brenda from Maine, Steve from Montana, Terry & Michelle from Rochester, NY, Joyce and Fred from Boulder City, Nevada, and Warren from South Carolina who is scheduled to arrive this afternoon.  (He had motor home problems in Texas and had to wait til this morning for repairs!)  Seems to be a good group.  Great food for the potluck, and everyone seemed to enjoy my Italian sourdough tomato bread! 
     Marie, Habitat Director, explained all the décor on the walls: charts of houses built each year, letters from children, pictures of CAVs (we found our group shot from October 2012), Pete’s schedule of house building, homeowner bios and work hours, etc.  It is a BUSY room!!  Dyana spoke briefly as our team leader and Pete as construction supervisor – we will be mostly finishing houses: paint, trimwork, maybe laying some tile. 
Two of the four Habitat Houses
After lunch Pete led a caravan of cars out to the job site.  Now we know how to get there in the morning, AND we know somewhat what to expect.  Two of the houses are waiting for the stucco to be finished (one is still chicken wire) as well as the mud and tape in the interior.  The other two are all done in terms of paint, but one needs cabinets installed, the other just has a punch list.  A nice neighborhood, basically HFH negotiated with the developer for four lots when the subdivision was put in (a reduced price, but still costly!)  The site is about 6 miles from our RV Park. 
An example of the homeowner bios -
I worked on this house Tuesday. 
     One thing I liked is that the bio for each homeowner is posted on the front window of the house.  I read a couple of them while we were out there – they almost made me cry.  But….it reminded me again why we are doing this!  It ISN’T just for the Happy Hours every afternoon! 
     Rick and I made a quick trip to Walmart for a few more groceries and forgotten items, then back to relax, chat with Luke, etc.  Our neighbor Warren arrived around 3:30 pm and got all set up.  I went down to WW at 5 but was turned down because I don’t have my actual CARD with the number on it.  Sent Luke a text and hopefully it will come SOON in the mail and Luke can send me a copy.  Tried calling WW national HQ, but they couldn’t help me.  Hmmmm.
    Brenda wants to go to the Zumba class at the Fitness center just a couple blocks away at 6, so I said I would go with her!  It is only $2!!  Fun, but not as good as Annie and Melissa!  I had trouble following the steps and it seemed everything was the same….for an hour!  Agh!  That should have burned off some calories though! 
    Quiet evening as we prepare to WORK tomorrow!! 
    Oh….I did spend the day working on a design in honor of this affiliate.  Will color it tonight.  It has agave cactus, the Habitat logo, paintbrushes, hammers, screwdrivers, etc. on it!  Plus an M and a V for Mesilla Valley!  

Tuesday, March 4

Gathering before devotions

  Up and at ‘em today!!  We gather out front around 7:25 – Warren, from SC, is going to follow us out as he missed the chance to see where the site was located yesterday.  We offered to just drive him, but he wants to take his ‘tools’! 
Rick attacks the eaves with Kit
     Dyana gives devotions today – an excellent poem from a Habitat worker  named Burke back in 2005.  I want to find a copy of it.  Rick is on for tomorrow and I have Thursday.  Then the ‘Habitat is not a hand out, but a hand up’ and we start talking PAINT!  I volunteer for the inside crew to paint trim, doors, molding, etc.  (Boring off-white, but it has to be done! )  Brenda, who is also the national CAV team leader recruiter, is with me as well as Linda, a first-timer from BC Canada.  Brenda ends up spending all day with a caulk gun, filling in the gaps in all the door frames, floor molding, etc.  She and I fill nail holes in the moldings.  Linda mans a mini roller and paintbrush, and the two of us trim doors, etc.  There is considerable trim work to be done!!  By the end of the day we at least can say two bedrooms are completely done, and parts of a lot more. 
Ginger adds a little of Rick's trim paint...just
to paint something other than WHITE! 
Linda makes neat
shadows in the laundry!
     Rick works all day outside with the exterior trim crew.  They are painting soffits and eaves  of the two houses that have the stucco done.  Both crew almost finished by the end of the day and should be done by morning break tomorrow. 
Michelle had a little trouble
getting OFF the roof!
     We took our morning break at 10 and then lunch around noon.  Breaks are the opportunities to get to know each other as we sit in a circle in the sunshine and visit.  What is your occupation?  Talk about family.  But mostly, people talk about previous Habitat experiences, common acquaintances met along the way, etc. 
    We break at 2 to spend 20 minutes cleaning brushes!  Lots of them!  Then home to shower!  I went over to the Habitat office hoping to get on-line and I was successful!  The connection is better there.  I shall try it again tomorrow!  But hopefully, the company is coming to fix the internet in the morning as well. 
Dyan in her Mardi Gras finery
Rick and Steve have a good conversation during HH
     In celebration of Fat Tuesday we have a Mardi Gras Happy Hour.  Mostly Dyana put out her decorations – the rest of us didn’t have much time to prepare!  I cut up half of the giant pineapple I bought in Socorro (for $2.38!!!).  There is a firepit between Pete and Dyana’s trailers – a nice touch!!  Also they have a picnic table there.  A good Happy Hour location!  The fire felt good as the evening is cooling off. 
     By 5:45p people are heading back to their rigs for the evening…..  while watching TV I drew another Habitat Mandala...this time with the names of this group's participants!  AND paintbrushes, but no drab colors here! 
Mesilla Valley Habitat - our names are in the center section.  Includes the New Mexico symbol, stucco house and Habitat logo person, hammers, and COLORFUL paint!!

Joyce works on the eaves of one house. 
Dyana painting on the doors and trim. 
Morning break!  Rick found shade in the back.  The rest of us were seeking sunshine!

Wednesday, March 5   

Rick back on the eaves.
     Not quite as cold last night!  We never put the heater going, however, so the trailer was still 46 degrees when I got up!!  I quickly plugged it in and cuddled into my blankets.  I will be sad next week when it is dark again when I arise in the morning!   As soon as the sun crests the hills it starts to warm up – it promises to be a beautiful day in the low 70’s and clear blue skies! 
     Rick has devotions this morning and uses his James scripture about faith without actions being dead.  Always a good one.  I am on for tomorrow and Saturday.  From start until morning break, everyone pretty much goes back to whatever they were doing yesterday.  Rick is back painting trim outside, and I am back inside, patching nail holes and painting baseboards and molding. 
Brenda caulks the
  After break things change a little.  Dyan said we were leaving our house and moving next door to ‘clean’.   That meant cleaning windows, vacuuming junk off the floors and mopping.  Brenda and Linda did the windows and I did the floors.  Eventually, right before lunch, Pete instructed Brenda and I in how to install the blinds in the windows.  Oh boy!  We barely got started before it was lunch break! 
Mopping the bedrooms!  
     Rick replaced door hinges between break and lunch!  Eventually Fred went to help him.  Dyan had said when we were painting not to worry about paint on the hinges because they were going to be replaced!  Guess they were the wrong color. 
     Paula, the office accountant, makes treats every Wednesday for the CAV crew.  Today was chocolate chip cookie brownies with walnuts.  VERY good!!  I tried to refrain, but it was CHOCOLATE!  It felt so good to sit and soak up the warm sun while we ate lunch. 
Bill works his way down
to paint the eaves.
Rick did clean up work in the afternoon while Brenda and I worked to install three windows of blinds.  We should have gotten more done, but it wasn’t the fastest job as we were learning how – and having trouble getting the screws into place!!  The power drill was really heavy, especially for the ‘lefty’ angled screws!  I went to get our little one out of the trunk and we used it a little, but I thought it had run out of power.  Rick later said to just hit the bottom and it works!  We shall try it again later in the week. 
     Tomorrow we are ALL painting the interior of the house that was textured today.  Any other unfinished jobs (like the blinds) will be covered later in the week.  Should be interesting as Pete says the crew will completely prime and first coat the entire interior of the house tomorrow!  Oh boy!! 
     It has been interesting coming to Cruces at the end of the build season.  Totally different work than in the fall.  Fall is framing and sheetrock, etc.  We are into finishing work now.  Many CAV’s don’t like to paint and they pick their builds accordingly.  (Others refuse to mud sheetrock, so they avoid those places.)  I figure it all has to get done at some point!
The Bio for the house we cleaned today.
     Back to find the internet works….ONCE!  And then bang, gone again!  So it is back to the office after showers to at least get the email addresses loaded and a few pictures printed off for tomorrow. 
     Happy Hour is lean tonight, but three couples and Warren enjoy a good time and Chuck even came over for a little bit.  Dyan had other plans for the evening.  I took the rest of our pineapple and some of the Johnny’s garlic chick peas.  Michele brought white hot dogs, a specialty of New York.  Basically pork I think.  She had catsup and mustard to dip and had roasted them and stuck a toothpick in small pieces.  Good.    Had a good chance to talk up CHRPA  as some of them are interested in spending time in Tucson.  I am really enjoying our neighbor Warren, who we suspect is in his late 70’s. 
     Back to the trailer at 6 for a relaxing evening!  No internet, so……Shalom!!  

Thursday, March 6  
     Another beautiful morning…AND the internet worked this morning so I was able to post my devotional blog, my RemboldsRoad blog AND to Facebook!  Wow!  All before 6:45am! 
Homeowner of the Paint House!
     I had devotions today, so I used a Scribble from our last visit to Cruces and a James scripture.  Also showed the prints of the mandala designs I have done.  I will send out copies of all this as soon as I have a more uninterrupted internet connection! 
Rick checks out items while
painting in the kitchen. 
  We are in a third house – the homeowner is Felicia Mendoza, a single mother with two young children.  Our goal today is PAINT and only PAINT!  After spending no more than 45 minutes cleaning and prepping from the texturing done yesterday, we blitz paint the white primer on. About half the crew takes rollers, the other half brushes to do all the corners and small spots.  Ceilings, walls, everything is primed.   Rick does ceilings and walls with a roller, I take a brush in corner a bedroom and the utility room (including the furnace closet!)  By 11
Ginger rolls briefly
 in a bedroom.
:40 we are ready to break for lunch – the house completely primed.  Wow. 
Rick in a closet!
  After lunch….back at it with instructions to start where we started earlier, giving the primer maximum drying time.  The new color is eggshell cream, so it is easy to tell the difference between the two colors.  In short….the whole house is done BEFORE quitting time!!  That included several breaks for Pete to discuss things with the gas company boys, several guys to help unload the cabinet delivery for the house next door, Steve who had to leave for a couple hours to deal with a mini crisis at the motor home (his wife Pam is recovering from foot surgery).  I was done with my corner brush early as was Fred, so we went out to start the cleanup process.  I cleaned ALL the brushes today!  And we were still finished by 2:15.  Dyana and Pete were pretty impressed with our crew as painters! 
Cleanup of brushes!
     Back at the trailer to talk with Luke, visit the office for some internet time, shower, and head over to Happy Hour around 4:30.  Dyana was there briefly and then just Warren, Steve, Rick and I.  After Warren left, Rick and I went to Steve’s trailer to meet his wife Pam.  We sat there and visited with them for another hour!  Good folk! 
A favorite sign posted on the
door of the tool trailer.
     We talked during Happy Hour how most Habitat CAV crews work together so well.  Common goals?  Common places in life?  BTW, Warren next door is 82!  And he was telling me today while we painted together in the utility room that last year he got his brother to go with him on a build.  His brother is 91!!!  Oh, that we can still be doing this kind of work at that age! 

Friday, March 7
A Little Bit of Everything!

     Another day on the job and it was a multi-tasking day for the group.  Steve was going to be gone, having to take Pam to the doctor for progress report x-rays on her foot, etc.  He hoped to be back by noon, but things didn’t go as expected!  (L)
Putting up the blinds!
     Following an excellent devotion by Joyce, who reminded us of a spiritual moment in Pagosa Springs when the team leader had them sign the framing of the house with a blessing for the new homeowner, we broke into our various task groups.  Pete asked for volunteer who wanted to learn to lay tile, then volunteers who wanted to learn to install cabinets.  Rick went with the second group along with Fred.  Brenda and I knew we were to finish installing the window blinds from two days ago!!  Linda came to finish shortening the blinds as we got them up! 
Linda has the job of shortening all the blinds.  :(
     We are getting faster with experience, and by break time had finished with the remaining five windows.  It helped that Rick told me how to get our little power drill to stay working (hit it on the base to drive the battery back into contact!)  All the other groups will be at their jobs for the day! 
Pete lays down tile while Bill
watches 'how'.  
     So….after break we are back in the same house to tackle the ‘punch list’ – this is a list of final little things that have to be done or corrected to call the house ‘DONE’.  Warren was installing bathroom mirrors and towel racks.  Linda and Brenda began the job of cleaning the door hinges of paint, which ended up a job that took the rest of the day for Linda.  (Brenda went with Dyana after lunch to install a bathroom cabinet.)  I swept out the house, re-papered the bathroom tile floor (protective paper), repaired the rips in the paper in two houses, and then started in on the little bits of blue masking tape everywhere that indicated something to fix: maybe a dirty mark on the wall, a hole to be patched, a nail hole to fill, more caulk needed in a seam, etc.  I armed myself with nail filler, caulk, and a can of interior paint.  It was hard to keep track of what I was doing at times, but by the day’s end most every blue tape was gone!
Rick levels the cabinets...
again and again!
   Got a message from Luke during lunch – a good mail day!  My WW card arrived (so I can go weigh tomorrow!) AND Kady’s packages arrived, so she can get packed to go!  So…. A little confab when we got home to determine our direction for the morning.  Four of us women are going to the Farmer’s Market before we report to work.  I am going to drive and swing by the WW site first.  We should be back at the job site no later than 9:30.  I took money and an order from Pete, as well as an order from Steve and Pam. 
     A quick visit to the office to post some blogs before Maria left for the day.  The new internet modem is on the table, to be installed on Monday.  It can’t come too soon!  That shall be my birthday present from Mesilla Valley Habitat…if it gets done!   Then another visit to Pam to bring her a couple of my scribble books to ‘read’ – something different from what she has to entertain her for the weekend!  She is going crazy.
     Rick and I thought about going out for a bite to eat (we haven’t really eaten a true dinner all week!), but we are going out tomorrow night for a NICE meal (Bday dinner for me with Jed!), so….we pull the fake crab from the fridge and make do!  It is windy this afternoon, but the fence protects us a lot from the worst of it.  Should die down later tomorrow afternoon. 
     So….another quiet night in the little trailer in Cruces!  I contacted Silver City this evening just to see where they were at in their build and if they could still use us. 

CLICK HERE for all our Habitat build pictures to date
Organ Mts. from the end of the cul-de-sac at Habitat build site. 

Farmer's Market and More!

     Rick and I split up this morning!  He hitched a ride with another car to the site, while I drove Brenda, Linda, Joyce, and myself to the WW meeting to get a weigh-in, and then down to the Main St. Mall for the Farmer's Market.  We spent about an hour shopping before dropping off our goodies and arriving just about at break time!!  
     The market is about four blocks long - plenty of vendors who set up every Wednesday and Saturday.  Produce is lean right now - mostly greens and hothouse tomatoes, etc.  I picked up some lettuce for next week's salads, some 7 grain bread, some cards for birthdays, muffins for breakfast, and the nut orders from Pete and Steve (pecans and pistachos!)  
     At the Habitat site, Rick spent the day nearly finishing his cabinet installation!  I bounced around painting exterior door trim, installing weatherstripping, cleaning bathtubs, etc.  All punch-list stuff.  I have NO pictures of today's work because I left the memory card in the computer this morning!  (And the Smart Phone does not come onto the job site!)
     Today is MUCH colder...as forecast!  We even had a little light rainfall off and on, both at the site and at the Farmer's Market.  But the wind had died down and the weekend is supposed to improve as it goes.  
     We clean up and Jed arrives right at 4:45 in time to whisk him away in the truck for our dinner out at the Empire Buffet.  Rick and I had mentioned at lunch that we were headed there for my birthday dinner and we ended up with a group of 16!!  I think all the CAVs came!  We grabbed Warren at the last moment because he had missed the announcement.  
My seafood plate: crawdad, octopus,
and frog leg.  
     This Chinese buffet is awesome.  For a flat rate of $10.79 dinner, you have a sushi bar, a Mongolian grill, seafood galore, plus the usual Chinese buffet dishes, a salad and dessert bar.  Oh my.  I ate WAY too much, but I was feeling quite adventuresome, so I tried frog's legs (so-so), octopus (cuter than it tasted) crawdads - (one bite wonders) and stuffed scallops.  I went back for the buttered seafood - shrimp, crab, and scallops!  Probably more butter than I have had in the past two months!!!  

We dropped Warren back off at the RV park, and then headed back to the mall to WALK around for a bit!  Spent most of our time in some weird decorating store and then in a B&N bookstore!  Back at the trailer, Jed gives me a present - his digital drawing pad.  But we struggle to get it working correctly!  However, he DID show me how to set up the phone as a wireless HOTspot, so.....I CAN get the computer on-line when I HAVE to!!  Hurray!  Then a game of Love Letters in which Jed wipes me out!!  (NOT showing the Love!)  Rick set the clocks ahead so we would get to bed at a decent hour (before midnight?)  
Dyana took our picture across the table at the Empire Buffet.  
 SUNDAY, March 9 
Birthday Hike and More!

     Thirty six degrees this morning when I got up at 7….and a little dark still.  I hate this daylight savings time change.  Like the late light, but hate the morning dark!  But….it is a beautiful dawn.  Clear, cold, and SUNSHINE! 
Near the trailhead to Soledad Canyon
     Jed gets up around 8:45 and we dine on the muffins I got at the Farmer’s Market.  We packed up jerky, cheese, and apples for our hike, but I managed to leave the backpack in the trailer.  Good thing Rick had a couple water bottles in the truck! 
Jed at start of trail
     We were able to follow Pete’s directions to the trailhead (written out on a napkin last night at the restaurant).  We are about 10 miles east of town at the base of the southern half of the Organ Mts.  We check out the map at the trailhead and take a good loop hike.  I have to remind myself constantly down in these ‘south lands’ that hikes need not always be through pristine virgin old growth forests, alpine slopes, with lakes tucked beneath snowy peaks.  There is a beauty in the open spaces, the Joshua trees, the yucca and agave, the cholla cactus, the rocky crags.  We even found a few wildflowers along the way!  The canyon floor was covered with golden grasses.  Deep blue skies (which clouded over right as we entered the narrowest – and coldest – part of the canyon!)  We could see out to the valley floor, Las Cruces spread out before us.  The furthest part of the trail entered almost a slot canyon feel and ends at a solid rock wall with a waterfall seep.  There was an old cistern catchbasin halfway down the wall but it was empty (Jed climbed up to check).  It was cool up there! 
On the trail!
     We backtracked out of the waterfall canyon and then found the rock house ruins.  An abandoned metal feeding trough was nearby.  Took a few pictures using the walls as a tripod, and then we headed up to the saddle of a pass behind the stone house.  From here we can look down onto the Dripping Springs trail.  It is probably the best known trail on the west side of the range. 
Rick and Jed
     A fire, prescribed or not, has come through this area in the past 4-5 years.  There are many yucca, Joshua-style, burned and left lying on the ground.  Other trees show evidence of a burn.  I think they prescribe burn now after a series of fires in the past.  I heard on the news a couple days ago about a prescribed burn on the Dripping Springs trail last week. 
Entering the narrow part of the canyon
     Back down into town and we follow University Ave west to Mesilla, an old border-disputed town just south of Cruces.  Every Sunday afternoon there is an arts and crafts fair in the plaza.  Many of these vendors are the same ones who were at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday.  But first….we are hungry!  We find a little Mexican diner, Emilia’s, right next to the plaza.  Live music is playing inside, and the price is right! 
Family portrait at the rock house
The 'waterfall'
  Leaving the restaurant, we stop at a few of the booths, one of which was a scroll-saw artist who does lots of crosses and Christian designs.  I had seen him at the market and wanted to show Rick one of the crosses.  Well, we purchased it AND a nativity cross that is awesome!  He also had Noah’s Ark, Moses, Miracles of Jesus, Last Supper, and Easter designs.  Quite impressive! 
New Nativity! 
   Back through town and then up to the Habitat site to show Jed where we have been working and what we’ve been doing!  By 3:30, Jed was on his way northward.  He has turned in his thesis to his advisor and while she is looking it over, he will begin work on the article he has to write for a professional journal.  Graduation is nearing!!!  Still slated to defend in mid-April sometime. 
     Laundry, phone calls with Moms, and a lazy evening complete the day!  It is going to be cold tonight – maybe even hit freezing.  Bundle up!  
View from saddle toward Dripping Springs and northern part of Organ Mts.

MONDAY, March 10, 2014   (I had to put the year so it was easy to do the math to 60!!!)

Billy the Kid info in Mesilla
     Brrrr last night!  When I got up at 7 this morning, it was 32 degrees outside and a brisk 45 in the trailer.  But our little heater brought it up to 59 within the hour - tolerable!  By 10a the sun was shining warm and bright.  Eventually the day hit the mid=70's....delightful!!  
     We didn't have much planned for today!  A lazy morning, but by 11 we were up and ready to go!  Our plan was to hit a couple of museums in downtown Las Cruces and then head down to Mesilla Plaza again to really have a chance to look things over.  Well....the museums are all closed on Sundays and Mondays!!  So, straight down to Mesilla.  We poked in and out of little shops the bordered the plaza, not purchasing much of anything except a chocolate covered pretzel and some postcards!  Mesilla is the site of Billy the Kid's trial and has some great history.  
Our new trailer decor! 
 Leaving Mesilla, we drove back up past the University where we had seen a Dollar Tree.  I wanted to pick up a couple of the stick on decals available with inspirational sayings on them.  Rick picked out one and I selected the other.  Then on to Olive Garden for the lunch menu!!  This was my official birthday dinner I guess!  At $6.99, their unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks meal is unbeatable!  (Even if the salad is all iceberg lettuce!) Two bowls of soup, two bowls of salads, and two breadsticks later, I waddled out of the restaurant!  (Plus my strawberry passion fruit drink!)  Good thing we were headed back to 
At the Olive Garden
Wal-Mart where we could alk around a little.         We picked up a couple of small hyacinth flowers to brighten up the trailer.  We didn't think the smell was that strong, but we are thinking we might have to put them outside for the night.  Mostly...groceries for the coming week - salad fixings!!  Eggs to make some more egg pancakes.  A few things to put out for Happy Hours.....
     Back to the trailer to talk with Luke on the phone,  Liz on the phone (we sang to each other), make up salad for the week, boil some eggs, and make 6 egg pancakes to wrap in tortillas for breakfasts.  I had to borrow a spatula from Warren to flip the pancakes!  Oops, forgot that!  
What a birthday cake! 
 I decided I needed a birthday cake, so I made up a chocolate 3-2-1 cake in a mug and plopped one of the WW raspberry ice cream treats in it!  I could have lit the wooden stick, but.....no.  :)  
     Dyana sent out an email around 5 asking if anyone was willing to work in the office for the day.  I responded that I could if no one else volunteered, so....guess I am spending tomorrow babysitting the Habitat office from 8:45 to 1 pm.  Something new and exciting!!  

CLICK HERE for all my birthday weekend pictures

Tuesday, March 11
Minding the Office....

     Well, I think I said something about new and exciting at the end of yesterday's post.  New maybe, but definitely NOT exciting!!  Rick left to spend the day at the site finishing up his cabinet installation with Steve, and then worked on the punchlist for house number two: cleaning tubs, sweeping, etc.    He said the stucco crew came and applied the first layer to the chicken wire house (number 4, which won't be completed until next fall.)  That was pretty interesting to watch.  
     In the meantime.....I headed over to the office shortly before 8am and got my instructions on how to use the two-line phone.  I was put at the desk right inside the front door, where I set up my laptop so I could work as I had time.  Maria and Paula left for their training at 8:45, Marie (the director) came in for an hour and half around 10, and then Paula returned at 12:20 or so.  So....I wasn't 'on my own' very much of the time.  I think I took about 5 phone calls and was there to welcome Alma, a young gal who came in looking to apply for a home.  She really needed a Spanish speaker, so hopefully Maria was able to call her back later in the day! 
     One of the phone calls was from the Habitat CAVs during morning break.  They called to sing Happy Birthday and then informed me they were eating all of the birthday treat Brenda had baked for me the day before!  I said bring me a piece of evidently it fell into the dirt before they could get it home!!!  I felt bad Brenda made it special and then I wasn't there!  But everyone told me how yummy it was! 
My official birthday cake!!
     I spent most of my free time negotiating with Banner Bank and American Fidelity to locate the missing two thousand dollars floating around in cyber space!  Got that finally solved.  But I also discovered our Toyota car payment hadn't gotten set up correctly and it needed to be paid.  Took care of that over the phone with Toyota Financial. So....I was able to take care of some very necessary personal tasks!  Also got some cards, both real and digital, sent out.  
     Headed back to the trailer at 1pm and called Katy Nicole in Baker City to catch up on church news and just visit. After that visit, I walked over to Pam's trailer to pay her a social call!   Talked with Pam until all the Habitat workers arrived back from the job.  
     Rick surprised me with a birthday cake from Baskin and Robbins at Happy Hour.  He tried to get one from Dairy Queen, but guess they don't sell ice cream cakes at the DQs in Las Cruces!  It was very tasty, and since he announced it at the job site, EVERYONE showed up today to partake!  Even Pam made her first outing from their motorhome to join us!
     Joyce loaned Rick and I the movie UP to watch, but Tuesdays are the only good TV night, so it will probably wait for another evening!  I got started on a composite Habitat scribble this evening.  Will put the finishing touches on it tomorrow.  
     Today was an absolutely gorgeous day in the mid 70's.  While tonight isn't supposed to be as cold, tomorrow is forecast for about 20 degrees cooler!  What a temperature roller coaster down here at the moment!  

WEDNESDAY, March 12  
Tile Grout.....
Eerie Eastern sky enroute to job site

     It is a cool morning and the skies in the east over the mountains are eerie colored.  I think there is alot of dust in the air!  Joyce shows up to the site dressed for a blizzard!  But I think that was partly because Dyana made some mention of the beach girl's thin skin in last night's email.  
Joyce with hat, mittens and scarf
(and Dyana!)
 While a few CAVs are working with Dyana on the punch list in one house, the rest of us join Pete to clean all the tile laid over the past few days and prepare it for grouting.  Then we got our grout lesson and were turned loose!  Oh boy!  I went into the Master Bedroom to both clean and prepare.  In the process I discovered a couple of tiles that didn't feel like they were stuck to the concrete.  Pete came in and pulled them up - no adhesive on the bottom.  Oops.  He said to just grout around them and they would get laid down later in the day.  I struggled somewhat with the grouting, somewhat because the tiles were pretty uneven, but eventually I got it on fairly well.  Rick worked out in the living room on a section there.  We then had to clean it once with the sponge, clean the grout once, wipe it all down again, and then buff it with a dry rag.  Quite the process!  But it came out look
Preparing the cracks between
ing pretty good.  All the house but the bedroom is tiled.  (They will be carpeted.)

Pete and Rick put grout down. 
     By lunchtime we had the tile finished.  After lunch, sweeping and the layer of paper was put down to protect the tile during the rest of construction.  Terry, Bill, and Pete worked to finish the one section that still needed to have the tile laid down.  I helped paper the floor, and then was getting a preliminary lesson in using a copying saw to prepare the joints in floor molding when the cleanup alarm sounded!  I suspect that will be my job tomorrow.  Rick was beginning work on cabinets with Steve after lunch.  
Our hyacinths are powerful scents!
I had the job to clean out the
grout bucket into the dumpster!
   Before Happy Hour I worked to put personal touches on my composite drawing for the team.  Things like beards and hats, overalls and scarves, ponytails, and tie dye!!!  

The finished Mesilla Valley CAV Composite
     A lean Happy Hour today with just Warren, Dyana, and I, then eventually Rick who joined us after his walk.  We had a good discussion on death and dying, Habitat build quality, and companies that discontinue favorite brands!  (Yes, rather varied!)
     We watched the movie UP!  tonight, compliments of Fred and Joyce.  I nearly cried at the beginning, but it was fun!  Some good laugh moments, and I thought of Marg often with all the dogs.  
The sidewalks and driveways all got poured today - what a beautiful job this crew did!  
I realized I have never posted our Habitat RV Park site ....tucked into the end on the west side!
Steve and Rick finishing up the papering of the tile!

THURSDAY, March 13  
Cabinets and Coping...

Amanda and family ready to
      Brrr!  It got chilly again last night - down near freezing, but we had left the heater running so it never got below 55 in the trailer.  Such a good little heater!  But for the first time, I actually put on my warm gloves during devotions!  We have met inside the past few days because of the cool temps.  
Habitat is not a hand out, but a hand UP!
     Today's jobs are rather set:  Rick and Steve knew they were going to be doing cabinets in the kitchen before we started.  I knew I would be doing the coping saw work on the molding corners for Fred and Warren.  Others were hanging doors, doing yard work, installing bathroom cabinets - you name it!  We were joined during devotions today by Amanda, the fourth house homeowner and her....father-in-law?  A few others related either to Amanda or Amber showed up to work also.  That was fun.  Amanda is very excited and she won't be able to move in until next fall!  
Steve and Rick leveling....again and again!
     Rick and Steve had a bit of a frustrating day.  They had difficulty leveling the base units for the kitchen - Pete finally helped them determine a high center in the floor which was throwing things off.  At day's end, all the base cabinets were screwed in, but they had hoped to get further than that. 
Coping floor molding...all day long
in the sunshine! 
     I was outside all day in the breezy, sometimes cool, sunshine.  I gradually peeled off my fleece shirt, then my long-sleeve t-shirt.  Basically I cut several right and left angle corners and then waited for Warren and Fred to figure out how long they needed the pieces!  Had to cut some of them over when they mis-measured, but....we got it started.  Much of the molding is awaiting the door frame molding first, so we did what we could.  Will probably finish it up tomorrow.  
     An ant hill (well, now three ant hills) in the center of our break and lunch area has entertain the group for this week.  (It doesn't take much!)  Today Terry was building them a 'subdivision'.  They have been provided food, a playground, stone structures, you name it.  They are mostly red ants and very industrious!  
Lunch time entertainment....Terry and the Ants  (Sounds like a movie!)

  Today was our dinner out as a CAV team at La Posta in Mesilla Plaza.   This is a historic stop on the old Butterfield Stage Line.  (Mesilla was once the largest town in the SW between San Diego and San Antonio, TX!)  A busy place as they were having a huge tequila tasting tonight.  But we were finally all seated in a back room (to ourselves!)  I enjoyed visiting with a couple of parrots out in the waiting courtyard - covered with papel picado, plants, and painted walls.  The green and yellow parrot was very social!  
My social parrot!
  All 16 of us dined together.  It was nice to see Pam 'out and about', although she is limiting how much she walks on her 'boot'.  Good meal, although I told Rick my sangria was more ice than anything else and definitely NOT worth the $6 price.  Otherwise I had a chicken fajita salad which was very good.  The salsa was HOT!!!  Rick had 2-3 bowls worth!  

Chuck, Brenda, Kit, and Dyana
     We walked around the Plaza again as we left - and saw the progress that had been made in the reconstruction of the plaza bandstand.  The whole upper level has been added since last Sunday!  
Mesilla Plaza bandstand and church
     We can hardly see the Organ Mts. as we drive home.  Dust?  Something is in the air!!  Tonight should not be as cold as last night, however!  
     Evening spent catching up on letters, emails to Silver City, Pam, Kady, etc.  Oh, and drawing an Ant Scribble!!!
In honor of our ant hills!!
FRIDAY, March 14
Cabinets and Molding!
Felicia works to cope a corner on trim.
     Great day!  I was outside in the sunshine again all day (got hot by afternoon - preparation for Tucson weather!)  AND  I worked all day with Felicia, the homeowner of the house!  Pete assigned her to help me with the cutting of the molding.  And she already knew how to 'cope' the corners!  She did not, however, want to run the saw!!  
How did we fail to
realize this closet
door opens inward?
 Since we were getting to the point where we couldn't do any more floor trim until the door trim had been installed, we turned to doors.  The door hanging crews were still busy at work, but we were able to get started in a couple of the bedrooms.  (As it turns out, the first door Pete showed us as an example will have to be removed today because the door was installed backwards and NONE OF US NOTICED IT!)  So.....not as much coping today, but lots of 45 degree cuts on the chop saw!  Such fun!   A little frustrating at times to get accurate measurements, but I realize that each one has to be hand-fitted to the door!  So...lots of "take another 1/16 off here or another saw width there!"

     Felicia works as a manager down at the Pro-Ranch Grocery store and has two children:  A 4 year old boy and an 8 month baby girl named Nevaeh (Heaven spelled backwards!)  She is very excited, but still has 22 hours to work before she can move in!  She said the dedication and closing is supposed to be sometime in mid-April.  I am so bummed to miss it!  
They look good, but still not level?
 Steve and Rick were firing on all cylinders this morning!  I think it was the matching outfits!  By lunch, when Steve had to leave to take Pam to doctor, all the upper cabinets were installed, vent holes cut into the ceiling, etc!  Rick spent the last part of the day putting up the doors and trim work.  The kitchen looks good!! 

           Everyone enjoyed the ant picture!  Terry just laughed and laughed, and then quickly started playing with his 'estate' during break.  Rick told him he should have been a city planner!  
Terry reigns over his ant kingdom.

     I announced at morning devotions that it was PI Day!  We would be bringing some type of Pie treat to Happy Hour!  People couldn't believe that I had received a Pi Card this morning (thanks, Marg!) but they don't realize the importance of this day in a family filled with mathematicians!  As it turned out, we couldn't find a pie at Albertsons that was going to be easy to cut into 16 pieces (or cheap enough) and the Belgian Eclairs were on sale and in easy to serve sizes!  So mini-chocolate cream pies???  Dyana had crab dip to die for at Happy Hour and Linda brought an artichoke-spinach dip.  Needless to say, that was dinner!  
     I worked on a Habitat Prayer drawing during the evening.  Over 40 names of Habitat homeowners, affiliate workers, family prayers, and church community prayers, as well as a few global concerns. 

SATURDAY, March 15

A Final Push for Completion....

     This will be my last post from the Las Cruces Mesilla Valley Habitat CAV Build.  What a fantastic group of people we have worked with these past two weeks!!  Plus....it rained a little last night! 
Manning the copy saw and chop saw. 

     Rick hitches a ride with Steve this morning, as I manage to get one more WW weigh-in off the record at 8am, and then drive out to the site.  Got there just in time to raise my hands with the Habitat 'Hand Up' mantra!  
     I was back on the chop saw all day, cutting door trim and floor trim.  Lots of coping corners, recutting, measuring, etc.  Others were cleaning, painting, and doing outside yard raking, etc.  Rick was behind a paintbrush all day, doing the trim work on Felicia's house.  
Rick did NOT just sit around all day on the roof!

     I discovered today, while Amanda and her parents put in some hours, that Amanda is Jacobs brother.  Jacob has the first house and will move in soon.  Amanda and her son will be moving into the fourth house next fall.  Both of them and their collective 4 children are living at home with their parents at the moment.  No wonder Mom and Dad were there helping them accumulate their hours!  They want their house back!!  
Ants with football
   Steve found a football this morning in the yard and added it to the ant colony.  During morning break we had all sorts of stories going with the ants, but then the little neighbor boy poked his head over the stone wall....and asked for his football back.  Too bad ants!  Then we had to take our group picture....got everyone in the shade in back of Amanda's house with one of the tools they used recently!  
Our group picture!
Steve, Dyana, Chuck, Michele, Terry, Warren, Joyce, Fred, Kit, Brenda
Ginger, Pete, Rick, Bill, Linda

     The morning was warm and sunny.  I had put on my shorts to weigh and left them on.  During lunch big puffy white clouds started moving in, and then....by quitting time, we were surrounded by dark and ominous clouds...with obvious rain touching down all around us.  The wind began to pick up considerably!  Finally it was clean up time....jobs left undone will have to be completed by the next crew.  We did not finished the trim and molding work in Felicia's house.  :(
     Pete went around one by one today to speak with each CAV and thank them for their contributions during the build.  He is so encouraging and such a great build supervisor.  
     Cleanup and laundry on the agenda!  Then we gather for Happy Hour in the office space as the weather is cool and windy outside and we definitely all wanted to gather for a final 'fling'.  A few toasts, Bill and Linda presented Pete with a present (A book on How to Golf by Tiger Woods) and an abundance of laughter!  
Pam and Ginger! 
 Pam had texted us to let us know she had arrived and was at Sunny Acres RV Park.  After Happy Hour we drove over to pick her up and out to dinner at a brewery nearby.  While noisy, it was a good cheap meal.  We shared stories of where we had been recently and build climate.  I think Pam is going to be happier here in Cruces than she was in Mason.  First, Pete and Dyana run a high class build, and second she has Peace Corps friends joining her for the two weeks!  We drove Pam through town to see the Habitat 'camp' and then back to her place.  She will be pulling into our campsite, so we have to get out for her to come in!  

     FAREWELL TO LAS CRUCES!  Next post from Silver City!  

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