January at Mesilla Valley Habitat: Sheetrock and Shingles and Blocking and Baking.

Our return to build at Mesilla Valley Habitat coincided with quite a bit of shingling needing to be done – not to mention a whole lotta sheetrock. When we’d come down over Thanksgiving break, the second of the five houses was being shingled but during the intervening weeks work had been moved to some of the other houses leaving much of the shingling undone. Roofing happens to be one of my two favorite things however so I was eager to volunteer. This did mean I missed doing drip edge with Tony however, which had me a bit bummed: he and I knocked out drip edge on a few houses together in previous years and I’ve always enjoyed working with him. Being up on the roof also meant I missed opportunities to work with most of the other care-a-vanners too, but we made up for lost time by stretching our happy hours into the evenings, circling around the fire pit. I pretty much failed to take photos of any of these gatherings and the times spent with old and new friends, but we enjoyed them very much. Anyway, back to building….

It being January we had more than a few frosty mornings which kept us shinglers off the roof until things dried out; those times we joined the indoor crews who had begun hanging sheetrock. Just as us roofers ended up spending weeks hand nailing shingles, the other care-a-vanners and volunteers spent about a month finishing off drywall on all five houses. Even with the occasional other task assigned, we all primarily focused on these two activities as January turned into February. Tony in fact penned a song called ‘Sheetrock and Shingles’ because we felt like that’s all we did. Partially this was how the workflow shook out, but not to be discounted was the fact that these houses had attached 14’x20′ garages as was required by development covenants.

Shingling in particular was slowed through the additional footprint of the garages but also in the need for shingling valleys, where the plane of the garage roof intersected that of the house roof. To create closed cut valleys we ran long the rows of shingles from the garage and then cut the overlapping shingles on the house side at an angle to create a channel for water to run off. This is a little more precise than running straight courses of shingles and thus took us novices more time as we worked to make it as good as we could do.

Ed shingling a valley. Here you can see the rows of shingles from the garage at right running long through the valley and up the house. As rows from the house at left begin approaching the valley, each shingle must be measured and cut precisely to form a straight line.

Inside, the sheetrock crews did a thorough and careful job with each of the houses, even as the lack of variety began to weigh on some of the care-a-vanners who’d been here for multiple weeks. A friendly rivalry seemed to emerge regarding who could pattern the furnace room ceiling on the first try – a closet with multiple HVAC penetrations through the top. I do believe both Darnell and Tony were successful in that difficult endeavor.

Darnell shingling

Me laying out shingles

Missing my drip edge partner: Watching Tony below cut pieces for Valerie’s house

Tom working around the terrible placement of the roof penetrations

The boys getting starter strips on the next house

Mary and Emily from Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine coming out to shingle

Darnell finishing up nailing the ridge vent on Erica’s house

Tom starting the shingling on Valerie’s roof

Tom instructing future homeowner Richard on shingling around vents

Bringing it home on Valerie’s roof

Picture of me as HWIC: Head Witch in Charge of the roof

William adding furring strips around the bathtubs so the sheetrock will lay flat

Steve and Tony slapping up sheets on the ceiling

Tom, William, and a local volunteer hanging sheetrock

Darnell and Lee celebrating a successful fit on the furnace room ceiling

Laura securing a sheet

The mark of the rotozip. Or, “Lee, seriously, you have a lot of gypsum on your face.”

Local volunteer Jamine learning to rip sheets

The Zia detail Steven made for Jessica’s house

Extended happy hour around the fire

Finally, as is apt to happen when I have a willing audience, I restarted baking regularly. I really started working on my cookie game, but I also made plenty of muffins and breakfast loaves for Tom and I for Sunday morning breakfasts.

Regular ‘ol chocolate chip cookies

Banana cardamom muffins

Chewy Molasses Spelt Cookies