Community Work Day and Post Script
I went to Community Work Day because it’s good to remember how to talk to human beings and use my body to lift and build things and in general, to practice being social and generous. GP and I carpooled three miles to the worksite and puffed our chests a little when the other community members oohed-and-ahhed about the shiny Dewalt chopsaw we brought along for just in case.
Turns out, the chopsaw was the tool of the day as a handful of us worked up on the second story of a small shop building. By 10am the joists were in place and not long after, the floorboards. It took the better part of two hours to carry, lift, measure, and knotch the 2”x6”x14’ rafters (twenty-two in all) but by lunch everything was ready to be raised to make the triangular loft of the building.
Another community member served homemade chili and cornbread, while still others arrived with fresh baked chocolate chip banana bread. Ice water, tea, and coffee were also offered and the crew ate for a few minutes in satisfied silence. For a long while I was the only woman working on the site – a fact I noted with only slight disapointment, but I didn’t let distract me.
Later, a senior community member arrived (In her late sixties? Perhaps seventies?) with work gloves in tow and we set to work together for a while. She laughed when she accidentally dropped boards and once even tumbled a little from a squatting position right over onto the top of her head. When she caught herself and lifted her head up again, she was beat read with laughter delight. “Guess I’d better get down from this second story then, huh?” She smiled.
I spent a good while chiseling angled chunks of wood from the framed walls to allow for one-by braces to be attached. The wooden mallet and plastic-handled chisel worked effectively, but I disliked the job because it strained my “writing muscles” too much (forearms, wrists, palms, eyes).
I worked my way up the ladder just in time to help lift rafters and I found myself surrounded by a new male dynamic. I’d done work with rafters before – in AmeriCorps and helping my dad with a treehouse. But my mind wasn’t up for the concentration it would take to balance myself physically and mentally – while pounding nails twenty feet above the ground. There was something in the air, albeit it very thin, but there all the same. It told me to sit tight, to just lift and hold, to not even mess with the balancing or the hammering. Our work proceeded and my instinct was right. These guys had been working together for years – some of them were even professional carpenters. They had a rhythm and communication method all their own. I tried to observe like a fly on the wall as much as one can while simultaneously helping lift and hold. It was a thought provoking experience.[“But Katey, why are you writing without dialogue these days? What happened to your in-the-moment blog entries?”
“Well, since you asked, I’ve been revising forty pages of in-scene vignettes this month and I’m weary of scenes. And dialogue. And proofreading.”
Did you say forty pages? On top of your three essays? And four books?”
“Ok. But I’m bored.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll get over it. Please be patient. Things will swing again soon enough.”]