I heard a thump on the porch and went out to see the newspaper had been delivered. Ordinary enough, you say, but here’s the rub: It’s Sunday’s paper being delivered at 5 PM Saturday afternoon. I opened it up, relishing the notion of reading tomorrow’s news, but was disappointed to discover sections A, B & C are missing. I called the Times-Picayune’s automated system to report the problem, but of course they only have options for today’s paper and yesterday’s — not tomorrow’s.
Speaking of communication problems, there’s a corrupted database table that’s messing the comment feature of this blog. I won’t be able to fix until I get some real internet access, which we still don’t have at home despite a five hour wait for Cox yesterday morning. Long story.
And speaking of the newspapers, here’s Stephanie Bruno’s latest installment (#14?) on the story of our renovation:
COUPLE IS BUSY WAITING AS RENOVATION DRAGS ON
Saturday, December 09, 2006
NOTE: Bart Everson and Christy Paxson have been waiting for work to resume on the rewiring of their Mid-City house and repairs to their basement living area. While they wait, their neighborhood is slowly reviving, and their lives go on.
Bart Everson led contractor Mike Kaplan through his house about 10 days ago, discussing in detail the work that would be done when Kaplan’s crew again returns to North Salcedo Street to complete repairs.
“About 75 percent of the wiring needs replacing because it is the old kind, so that means we’ll be getting light to all of the ceiling fixtures when the work is done,” Everson said.
“In the basement, we’re installing recessed cans, so those need wiring. In the kitchen, we want some under-the-cabinet lights — those will help after dark. And, of course, Mike will be rewiring the washer and dryer.”
For the past year or more, ever since Everson and his wife, Christy Paxson, returned to their flood-damaged house, the couple has done without laundry facilities and have instead patronized a couple of neighborhood laundries.
“The one I like the most is the Bienville Washateria. It’s near Nick’s Irish Bar and Italian Pie,” Everson said.
When Everson can find a chair that isn’t occupied, he uses his Blackberry to work crossword puzzles, surf the Internet and catch up on e-mails while he waits for his spin cycle to complete.
“Sometimes it’s really crowded, so then I either go to the laundry near the gas station on Carrollton or else I just drop it off.”
Opting for the latter is a luxury. “You wouldn’t believe how absolutely perfectly the laundry is folded when I get it back,” Everson marveled. “It’s just perfect, every little sock and panty.”
Perhaps it’s the perfection of the folds or the hominess of the Bienville Washateria, but Everson isn’t as desperate as one might think to quit his weekly trips to the Laundromat.
In fact, though Kaplan is a few days tardy in reappearing on North Salcedo to do the wiring, Everson doesn’t plan to call and bug him. “Why would I?” he asked. “He’ll get to me when he can — I trust him.”
The friendship between the two began before the storm and has strengthened since, reaching a high point on Thanksgiving when Everson went to Kaplan’s for the ritual feast.
“Christy had gone home to Indiana, so I was alone, but there was a big group of people at Mike’s house,” Everson said. “A lot of Mike’s workers aren’t from New Orleans and don’t have family here, so Mike and his girlfriend took it upon themselves to see to it that they had a good meal and some company.”
Everson says the crowd also included friends, family and neighbors from Kaplan’s Northwest Carrollton neighborhood.
“The youngest was probably 2 and the oldest 70-something. There were people from Mexico, Spain, Brooklyn, Texas, Canada and all over. It might have been the best Thanksgiving I ever had.”
Despite the good cheer of the holiday, Everson said lack of general progress and the slow rate of repopulation of his neighborhood sometimes cloud his days. He is also concerned about demolitions.
“FEMA puts notices in the paper and publishes lists of houses up for demolition online,” he said. “Then they ask for comments. I’ll go look at the buildings, and most of the time it’s hard to tell why someone would ask to demolish them.
“On the FEMA comment form, it asks you to suggest an alternative to demolition. So I always write something like, um, renovation! Isn’t that a reasonable alternative to demolition? And when it asks for suggestions for funding mechanisms for the alternative, I suggest the historic preservation grant that is available through the state right now. Doesn’t that seem logical?”
Of course, Everson knows that logic isn’t necessarily what carries the day post-Katrina, just as he knows that Kaplan sometimes means three or four weeks when he says he’ll be at Everson’s house in two. But Everson isn’t worried.
“What do we do while we’re waiting?” he asked. “Why, we just go on living our lives.”
. . . . . . .
Stephanie Bruno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.