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June 23, 2005: Manual labor

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The last four days have been more than a little exhausting. Our church is a little old one from the 1800's, without a lot of money, so when there's maintenance work to be done, the members gather together to do it themselves. There's the benefit of getting to learn new skills (for example, when they were building the new front steps and porch, a lot of us got to learn how to lay bricks), but it does mean the occasional block of time dedicated to hard work. This past week was a blitz week, in that we have had projects going on every night from 5-9pm. If I wasn't the chair of the Board of Trustees I might have found all manner of excuses to not go every single night, but unfortunately, with position comes responsibility, and all that. So my days this week have been spent getting up, going to work, coming home just long enough to change into grubby clothes, and head over to the church to do things like paint and repair and clean and so forth.

We did a little bit of preview work Sunday afternoon, lugging all the heavy furniture and chairs off the chancel (in preparation for painting) and somehow managing to drag the (extremely heavy and awkward) organ away from the wall far enough so we could get scaffolding behind it. There was also the fun drama of trying to pick a paint color Ė for months now, several women in the church have been pondering whether to go with something a little different, but when it finally came time to make a decision, after all that dithering somehow we ended up choosing the same color itís always been. The one modification is that this time the paint will *not* be flat finish, which means when the walls get their inevitable scuffs and marks, this time around we might actually be able to clean them off without having to paint the whole darn thing to cover them over.

Monday and Tuesday night several of us spent working on painting the chancel (and I successfully avoiding having to climb up on the extremely tall and wobbly scaffolding to do it). Wednesday night we removed all the plastic sheeting and tape and somehow did it without removing any of the new paint (a feat which I have never managed to accomplish when painting at home, of course). And tonight a group of us headed upstairs with buckets and sponges and cleaning supplies and scrubbed down the walls and baseboards and doors of the entire upstairs. While we were painting and scrubbing, other people were busily cleaning downstairs rooms, inventorying the kitchen, replacing burnt-out fluorescent bulbs all over the church, washing every single toy from all the Sunday School rooms (and there are a *lot* of toys), and one entire group focused, all week, solely on removing the old water damaged sink and cabinetry in the tiny little parsonage next door and putting in brand new flooring, cabinets, counters, and sink.

Richard had a meeting on Monday, but came to join in the Ďfuní for the rest of the week. He and another of the basses from the choir headed up to the roof with huge brushes and buckets of sealer and cleaned the flat part of the roof, then covered it with two coats of sealing paint (the reasons for this were made fairly obvious by the line of wastebaskets that had been set up underneath the leaks in the ceiling in some of the rooms below). They came down each night covered in splotches of white sealant, but there was a lot of laughing and joking and talk of pigeons with digestive problems, so I think somewhere in all the work they also managed to have a little bit of fun.

Thereís more work still scheduled for tomorrow night, but I will not be involved (Gosh. Gee. Darn). Iíve assured everyone that I will be thinking about them all when Iím off to Las Vegas with my sisters (somehow none of them believed me, I think). I suppose I should feel a little guilty for skipping out on the last day, but I just cannot muster up even a smidge of regret. Four evenings of nothing but coming home to work, work, work, is more than enough for me.

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