Friday, May 18, 2007


There has been no doggie drama for the past couple of days. After Woobie's fainting spell, she seems to have recovered and all is well. She's boarding at a vet's for most of the next week because our house is swarming with construction guys and she acts like she wants to bite off a piece of everyone of them. They have invaded her territory.

This is the family room. What's left of it. Actually, it only looked this bad for a few hours. Once the walls and ceiling were all ripped out, the drywall started going up pretty quickly.

The living room is encased in the furniture equivalent of a body bag.

My mom and I try to escape the house everyday while the destruction and repairs pound and shudder the frame of the house. Today we went to Craig Elementary School in Treme and helped build a playground.

There is an organization named KaBOOM! which is committed to building 100 new playgrounds in the Gulf Coast region. I think the one we worked on today is #49. Regis and Kelly Lee or whatever her name is are going to be building #50 for a taping of their show in two days.

Early in the morning Craig Elementary had a big empty field and an old basketball court. Six hours and three hundred volunteers later, there was a giant climbing structure, a swing set, climbing poles, a large student mural, picnic tables under a shaded awning, benches, planters, a new basketball court and a hundred or more student paintings permanently hung on the back fence.

Volunteers work in teams to assemble playground equipment and there was so much activity going on at all times that being on the school grounds felt like being a part of an ant colony.

Spreading 200 yards worth of mulch was the biggest job. We did that from time to time. Mostly I helped out at the painting tables. The kids were so excited to paint. They got even more excited when a clown came around and passed out plastic noses.

My favorite kids were the second graders. There was one girl who was hanging around after her painting was finished. She told one of the boys that his painting looked good. He answered back that her painting was "stanky!" She turned to me and asked if I could believe that after she said something nice, he said "stanky" back. I told her that if he said her painting was "stanky" that it probably meant that he liked her. Of course, he was standing right there listening. "What?!" He chased both of us with his paintbrush for saying that. But he was smiling.

Volunteers hung the paintings on the chainlink fence at the back of the playground. The benches in front of the paintings are part of a outdoor classroom space.

One of my favorite paintings was of a shotgun-style house. I excitedly said to my mom, "Look at the painting of the shotgun!" The woman next to us clutched at her heart. She thought I had spotted a kid's painting of a gun that was now hanging in the communal play area. No guns. Just architecture!

Overall is was an impressive experience. Highly organized and with absolutely no waste. The was just the right amount of pre-cut lumber to build everything. The right amount of paint. The right amount of mulch. The right amount of twisty ties to hang up the kid's paintings.

The concrete will set-up over the weekend and Monday the kids finally get to play. A group of boys was watching the swarm of activity during the build. One of the boys asked, "Are you going to take it away at the end of the day?" The boys could hardly believe it when they heard that the playground was not going anywhere, that it was built to stay. If I went to school one morning where there was no playground and then before the final bell there was a huge one, I wouldn't hardly believe it either.


Blogger Ms. NOLA said...

Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos and great stories. We need some positive stories about change in New Orleans! You and your mom are so great to be a part of all of this!

May 20, 2007 2:26 PM  
Blogger Brie said...

I love that you two did that - one of the things I love about home.
That "stanky" painting story is hilarious.

June 01, 2007 4:15 PM  

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