Hybrid House, Part 5

Oh boy, The Captain and I are just drying the tears from our eyes after saying goodbye to the wonderful folks from Midland, Michigan who came down and worked on several houses for the past two weeks.

There was one particular group of six or seven men who came into our new house, and did a real number on the interior framing—in a good way!

These retired men, from all other fields of expertise, put their heads and skills together, and did a magnificent job framing up the inside of our house.  I am neither architect, nor engineer, nor draftsman, so they had to make sense of the house plan the way I drew it–without any detail.

They drove down, brought their own tool trailer, and home-baked cookies from the Cookie Lady of Trinity Lutheran, for their breaks, and got down to work.  They were only at our place about three and a half days, but they worked together like a well-oiled machine and what they accomplished is beyond amazing.

When we left off, they were putting up the inside walls.  Then came the exterior framework, and then  . . .

the ceiling joists.  This blurry photo shows Pat in the foreground, Jerry in the red jacket, and Eldon in the back left.

Ron P. is on the left in this photo.  Ron is on the ladder, nailing up joist hangers, as Emory looks on.  Eldon, the background, is also installing joist hangers, while the men in the background cut the ceiling boards.

Eldon is putting up joist hangers, very accurately, I might add.

Jerry seemed the master mind behind most of the major carpentry decisions.  He is a retired chemist, and is only about 6 foot 7, but this photo makes him look about 10 feet tall!!!

And just like that, they were finished.  It seemed like they were here no time at all.  Their work is exact and precise, and downright professional.  We are really blessed to have had them working in our new home, and I’m sure everyone else who has been blessed by their generosity feels the same.

Here’s part of the crew, from L to R, Pat, Ron, Eldon, Jim, Ron P., and Jerry the tall fellow in the back.   They are standing in the living room, in case you were wondering.  This is the first time they have ever done “new construction”, in their total of eleven disaster recovery trips.

And here’s the whole wonderful dozen on the front porch of the Miracle Bayou Tree House!  Sitting, L to R are Jim, Judy, Ron, Eldon, and Ed.  Standing, L to R are Marsha, Dorothy, Emory, Pat, Ted, Jerry, and Ron P.

And as we were saying our goodbyes, they floored us with more generosity from some of the ladies back in Midland who can’t travel with the group but want to contribute in their own way . . .

with gorgeous hand-made quilts . . .  and not just one . . .

The colors in this one are so bright and cheery . . .

And then these muted shades of beige, blue, and brown are so comforting and peaceful.  All three display hours of love and dedicated handiwork, for which my family will be forever grateful.  Thank you, ladies.

It was a teary good-bye, I have to admit.  They worked hard, we shared a few home-cooked meals, cracked a few jokes, and told a few tall tales.  It was a wonderful few days in our lives that I, for one, will never, ever forget.

I just want to say to Ron and Ron, that neither one of you turned out to be the “bad Ron”.

To Pat, I want to say you have a gift of encouragement, and thanks for sharing it.

To Eldon, your questions made the wetland tour an interesting one for me, so thanks for asking.

To Stretch, I mean Jerry, thanks for catching all the flaws in my design and making everything come out plumb and square.

To Jim, thanks for keeping the crowns on top and for making sure the attic steps didn’t open onto the back porch!

To Emory, thanks for all the compliments about the food and for doing the dishes three days straight!  Dort trained you well!

To Dort, Judy, Marcia, Ed and Ted:  Thanks for all you did for folks on neighboring bayous.  I know they are as thankful as we.  Thanks for the restoration work, and thanks for the heater.  It’s heating up the den quite cozily as I type this.

To each of you in the Trinity Lutheran Recovery Group:

The door to the new house will be open any time.  Just let me know in enough time to cook you a good bayou meal, okay?

God bless each one of you as you have blessed us.

Smiling brightly,

BW

Epilogue:  As a result of a question in the comments section, I realize I’ve failed to recognize a very important link in this whole story, and the details leading up to all of this.  It’s called history.  After Rita flooded the five bayous in 2005, a group of folks at Grace Lutheran in Houma, LA helped with recovery, headed up by a woman named Courtney Pellegrin.  (I am giving you the short version.)  Courtney, with the help of others, formed a non-profit called Bayou Grace which continued to help people in their recovery and educated disaster recovery volunteers about the plight of the people here and the vanishing wetlands.  At the time, Bayou Grace was working with other organizations to help folks rebuild storm-worthy homes.  Through my friend, Lillian Miller, a connection was made, and Bayou Grace committed to helping my family rebuild.  I eventually began doing presentations at their Tuesday night dinners and met hundreds of wonderful, giving people from all over the country.  Meanwhile, I applied for The Road Home grant, which took almost three years to complete, while our damaged home flooded again for Hurricane Ike, in 2008.  Just as Ike arrived, so did Diane Huhn (from Michigan).  She had come down the year before as part of the recovery effort, and ended up coming down to volunteer a year of her life as the Volunteer Coordinator for Bayou Grace, organizing all the recovery crews and lining them up with work.  We eventually met through our blogs–she won a Community Coffee prize and came to collect in person.  Knowing my family was still on the list of families that had be designated rebuilding help, Diane was instrumental in making that happen.  She had met these folks from Trinity Lutheran, did a presentation at their church in Midland, MI last year, and knew that our need and their generosity would make a perfect match.  So, I have been very remiss in this whole story in not recognizing these major players in this mighty miracle.  For that I deeply apologize.  Lots of things had to happen over a four-year period for all this to fall into place; but Providentially, it did.  And honestly, friends, it’s nothing short of a real miracle, all the way around.  So to Courtney, the board of Bayou Grace, and Diane, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Thank you very, very much.  You kept your promise, and yes, it does restore our faith in humankind.    BW

PS:  It is also important to note that Bayou Grace’s focus changed about a year ago from reconstruction to environmental outreach, including community gardens and small wetland restoration projects.  Even so, they did not let my family fall through the cracks and kept their three-year-old commitment to help us recover.  Now that is integrity, yes?

To see what else they did in their two weeks here, go to Diane’s blog.

 

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Comments

Hybrid House, Part 5 — 20 Comments

  1. Thank you for your post. I don’t cry often, but this brought the tears a-streaming. These are some of the most amazing folks I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. The bayous are blessed to have such generous, hard-working, caring individuals on our side. MIDLAND ROCKS!!! I LOVE YOU GUYS!!!

    • Diane, I’ve written a post script Epilogue to this post. You and I know you were instrumental in making this miracle happen, and I was remiss in not including that in the story. Now I’ve clarified all that, and am quite ashamed that I didn’t preface their whole visit with the background story, because it is so important to how all this came about. It just wasn’t by some arbitrary and unconnected series of events. And there, smack dab in the middle of it all, is our good friend with a debilitating disease and a huge heart, Lillian. She’s been ill, so I need to call her and make sure she reads this blog post. And I should email Courtney with the link while I’m at it. Thanks again, Diane. I just can’t say it enough. Because of you, Bayou Grace, and Trinity Lutheran, and Peanut (our builder), I know without a doubt, this house will be finished with the funds we have and we will be living in it before hurricane season.

      • Thanks so much for your kind words, Wendy. It is difficult to find words that accurately describe the gratitude I have for the founding members of Bayou Grace and the numerous friends, supporters, community members, partners, funders, staff and board members who have never wavered in keeping this thing going for nearly five years now, even in the very lean times when a bake sale meant we could keep the lights on for another month. And of course to the thousands of amazing volunteers who have given so freely of their time, talents, sweat, laughter and finances to help hundreds of bayou families in their recovery. They, including you and your family, deserve all the credit. My title may be Volunteer Coordinator, but really I am nothing more than a connector. Wonderful people from all over the region and country contact me with a desire to be of service and help others and all I do is connect them to wonderful people that could use a helping hand. Pretty simple. I have the easiest, greatest, most rewarding job in the whole wide world. And on occasion I get lucky enough to score on spot on the Wetlands tooner and hook a red or two or five. What more could a Yankee girl ask for?

  2. I’ve typed and erased 4 different comments…No words. I know y’all are thrilled with the progress and the Mission workers feel the same. Did they find y’all or did y’all find them as part of the “

  3. The warmth and actions of a few can be more meaningful than the ramblings of a thousand.
    You have been blessed by being on the receiving end of such a group. I am very happy for you and your family.

  4. This is wonderful. Just wonderful. I was ok until you got to the quilts, and then I started to cry. Took me right back to my grandma’s quilting parties and the quilting days at the church.

    Carpentry, cookies and quilts. Not a politician in the world who can deliver those 😉

  5. Wow, tears already and it’s not even 8:30 a.m. What a blessing. As I grow older I see that those long hot summer days my Grandfather spent after retirement rebuilding someones home or church with a group of men he had never met until he joined Campers On Mission really did pay off. Twenty years down the road, that lesson will hit your boys and mean even more than it does today. The quilts were such a sweet thought.

  6. Oh wow; I’m beyond words. I’ll just say that all the other commenters have expressed perfectly what I feel. There are truly angels on earth in the guise of helping humans. Thank you all!

  7. And quilts too? Yeah why not? I dig quilts own 5 or 6 Amish and other wise.

    Ahh good old Lutherans, kicked me out of Bible school, then were my first post college employers, and now are thrashing about in the bayou. I guess I better keep an eye out for them.

    You sure those studs are flame retardant?

    Whose Du’ing the drywall?

    New Lodge saute pan today…. I want to cook someday.

  8. What beautiful connections and generous hearts your new home represents. Thanks for sharing your story…the quilts really got to me, too. Nothing like the simple gifts…

  9. It was a fabulous few days for the folks from Midland as well. Thanks for all your kind words. It’s great fun framing a house and Peanut’s help made our job a breeze. Wendy, you touched us with your food, and you and your family touched us with your hearts. As the work continues the house will look more and more spectacular.

    Our only problem is that people in our crew have started answering their phone with “who dat!”

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