a story about bricks

1 . November . 2011

indulge me in a moment’s
reflection before i have
to look november squarely in the eye?

the past two months
have been exciting and
challenging in apt 1.

and with simultaneous changes in
our west side congregation
and cory’s mom’s health
the Lord has been kind to
sustain and encourage us.

this post is a doozie;
you may want to skip
to the i-beam video
for a bit of fun
and move on with your day.

august 2011
a month of rain
culminating in
hurricane irene

as record-setting rainfall
began collecting in the
back of our house,
leaving us unprecedentedly

we decided it was time to act,
to fix,
to prepare for future snows/rains
with a large-scale rip-out.

thank you!
to the original work crew,
carrie, em, meghan, nick + ted,
for helping rip out our bedroom + office
and get rid of all of the wet wet nasties
and open up this cool extended-living room space.

the beginning,
taking the first wall down,
jackhammers + caulk guns
ongoing tear-out
framing it up
and so on.

september 3rd,
we returned from
the crisp air and blue skys
and heart-soaring vistas of colorado
with mom + dad
to a very beautiful,
very soggy nyc.

work party.

michael as sawsall performance artist,
getting the party started right.

we were thinking:
the sheetrock + framing are
taking up a bit of good space,
maybe we should expose the
brick columns?
who knows what shape they’re in
but they could look interesting
brings extra light in
from the back window
to the living room + kitchen area.

the original 1890 brick columns
that marked the back wall of the townhouse.
[the bedroom/office was an
extension added many years later]

so the boys began framing up a new
drop-ceiling anticipating putting
the room back together again,
with our new cool brick-pillar-y view.

with the end-o’-project
almost in sight.

we started to get curious.

peeking around,
sorting out the
loose brick and whatnot…

at this point, we were still planning
to simply leave the columns
and reface the brick so it’s
an interesting focal point
of the living room.

hmmm, again:

what if we shore things up,
redirect the load +
eliminate the middle column?

can you hear the bricks
onto the tile floor?

tap the jackhammer
on the cement seams
and it begins to crumble;
one push and
it falls clean.

whoa, nellie.

a very different outlook
than at the beginning of the day.

a car date that night…

leaving manhattan…

…a very romantic trip
to lowes in bklyn.

it really was
very peaceful.

see the maroon steel tube
on the left side of the cart?

a lally column.

a rather innocent name for
a seriousbusiness column that
holds 11+K lbs.

mr. lally’s special column
now lives permanently in
my east wall.

after betsy’s soccer game
the next morning,
reconsidering that second brick pillar…

squint + you’ll see their
halos shining:

emily, regan, keely + i
spent the next several hours
scooping up the bricks,
fitting them into empty sandbags,
tying them securely,
and stacking them vertically
so they wouldn’t lean against
the wooden fence.

go. team.

and be sure to take some
ibuprofen before the 5pm service.

they’re heavy.
and scrape-y.
and awkward.

and awesome.

two or three sunday mornings,
because of early games +
then construction,
cory would make our traditional
sunday breakfast in the afternoon
before 5pm worship,
and it was so beautiful.

resting together
and thanking God for
his continued provision and help.

kicking and running and
other kinds of growing-work
were going on, as well

butterfly swinging

henry was still in jammies
[and tennis shoes]
when the fun began
that morning.

taking a break…

…while c continues sawing…

…prepping, prepping, prepping
for that load-bearing beauty.

a quiet week [construction-wise]
while cory was in london

we dog-sat  noel that week;
it’s always more fun to
dog-walk with friends.

another day…

…and another.

the i-beam arrives
and somehow the
generous driver and i
get it off the truck,
onto the street,
btwn the cars,
up onto the sidewalk and
into the front door of the bldg.

where it sat for 5 days –
nothing says ‘welcome’
to our neighbors + friends
quite like scaling
a  steel beam
blocking the entrance to
our apartment door.

[they were incredibly accommodating
and of good cheer.]


back from london,
with a suitcase full
of darling gifts:
books for the boys
shirts for the girls
nina campbell journals for me
chocolate for all.

as we all savored
and compared
bits and ends of
british chocolate.

the pile kept growing
and shrinking
a work day brought
additional bricks to be
bagged, tied + stacked

and each trash night,
5 tidy bags are placed
on the front sidewalk
with a short prayer of
gratitude for our strong
garbage collectors.

thanks, ted.

laura, lyd, caroline, jane, bets, ez + micah
playing and hairbraiding and
watching toystory1.

[support beams still intact
behind us]

‘happy bday to pastorabe,
happy bday to you’

and crumbs cupcakes for all;
hot dog + happy saturday.

after nathan’s baseball game,
he gets right back at it;
tapping out a few
additional bricks
w the jackhammer,

making room for youknowwhat.

16 ft
6 in x 4 in
of steel.

prepping the joists
to accommodate the beam.

a million thanks to
ted, nick + abe;
the beam dream team.

duvel’s all around.

after the beam was in place,
c bricked it in for stability.

[see the plastic on the window?

when we were installing the lally column,
the teensiest corner of it accidently tapped
the window and, shattercity,
it’s been a bit breezy in here since then.

sunday night, 8:46p

cory, reading over my soulder,
pointed out,
‘your story has no end.’

he’s right,
it doesn’t.

but you get the idea.

again, tremendous thanks to our
friends + neighbors for their
muscular-cheerful support
the past two months in particular.

what a community.

last friday,
after an crispbeautiful evening of
chili + s’mores,
while we were still sitting around
the fire out back telling stories,
someone piped up,
‘hey, can we all pitch in for a bit
to get things in line for tomorrow

and they jumped up and started moving
insulation and ladders and
filling box cutters with fresh blades
anticipating prince lumber’s
sheetrock delivery bright-and-early
the next morning.

and while the boys hauled things
to-and-from the basement,
the girls filled the
dishwasher and then we all snuggled
up to watch the cardinals win the series.

talk about love in action;
i’m regularly stunned.

john, shannon, regan, grace, maurice,
jess, luke, amy, christina, + nick.

and a fist-pump shoutout
to our junior work crew:
for all of their help these past weeks.

as jono would say,
strong work for one(s) so young.

ps –
if you show up in work clothes
this saturday btwn 9a-2p,
a thick slice of pumpkin bread,
warm from the oven
and a hug of gratitude
await you.



One Response to “a story about bricks”

  1. carol c. Says:

    AAAWWWWWESOME! Love the community at work. we were just talking about such an imaginary project at last Catalyst group-working together, scraping one another, bumping into one another, being the boss, being the follower, making mistakes, owning up. iron sharpening iron.
    Apt 1 is providing such a blessed and unique opportunity for building community.

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