Friday, September 26, 2008

Building a shower-South African Style 9/26

Yesterday Darin and I went to Mama Catherine's to help out for a couple hours in the morning. Our kids stayed home with Mama Rebecca and Amos. When we got to MC's, it was pretty quiet. The little kids were in their classroom and the older kids and volunteers were busy doing laundry, cooking and other things. I decided to try and help Darin with the shower instead of disturbing the kids' class. The shower is slowly, but surely, coming along. When Darin and Jason started working on it, they were missing quite a few tools that would have been very helpful to them. This caused them to set up the blocks a bit differently than they are meant to be set, which has slowed the process some. I don't really get it, but there is a system that is supposed to be followed. Anyways, my first task was to take a pick/chisel to try and even out the cement shower floor. So try to imagine me squatting down on the cement floor, gently hitting all the bumps and ridges with my pick in an effort to smooth things out. While I was squatting there, the kids all came out for a potty break. The toilet is right next to where we were working, with the shower and bathroom eventually sharing a wall. So Darin is deftly mixing up some mortar in a wheelbarrow and I am hunkered down on the shower floor and we are surrounded by children. Some of them are patting my head and playing with my hair as I continue to pick at the cement ridges. I don't think those are normal working conditions for most shower builders, but whatever works.

The kids head back to class and Darin decides that my chiseling skills could be put to better use elsewhere. Now I am in charge of preparing blocks to be used on the corners of the shower. The blocks we are using have a ridge on top, like a raised center, and a cut out on the bottom, so they can “lock” with the blocks placed below and on top of them. The corners, however, cannot have the ridge, or the next row of blocks wouldn't sit level. My mission is to chip away the raised part of the block to make it flat. So using my little pick and a scraper thing I get to work. Pick, pick pick, I go with block fragments flying all over. I close my eyes a lot to block the flying bits, I suppose safety glasses would have been a better option, but there were none available. I am hard at work, pulverizing the top of the block. Surely, I have removed all of the ridge by now. I decide to take the scraper and file down the remains. So I put the block between my feet to hold it in place, bend at the waist, and scrape. Over and over I scrape, while a pile of block dust coats my shoes. I turn the block over to Darin for inspection. “Not good enough. There's a quarter sized spot that you missed.” So I scrape some more. Fifteen minutes later, my first block is done. For the next hour, that's all I do. Pick and scrape, pick and scrape. When it is time to go, there are four almost smooth blocks ready for Darin to use on the shower corners. Next week, I will try and up my game and maybe double that amount. Do you dare me to?

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