We’ll let the minor factual inaccuracies pass in this, the 21st article about our renovation, because Stephanie is such a nice person. But dang, Steph, this is what happens when you make up quotes!
WHEN ONE DOOR CLOSES, A VACATION DATE OPENS
Saturday, June 23, 2007
By Stephanie Bruno
NOTE: Bart Everson and Christy Paxson made some progress on their Mid-City house before leaving on a well-deserved vacation earlier this month. Now the couple is back and glad to see rebuilding activity increasing in the neighborhood.
A recent 10-day trip to Vero Beach, Fla., provided welcome relief for Christy Paxson and Bart Everson, whose Katrina-triggered home rehab project is in its 18th month. Paxson was ready to relax after a demanding year teaching sixth-grade science students. And Everson relished a break from the non-stop community meetings he attends in his Mid-City neighborhood.
“But before we left town, we were determined to get at least one task complete, so Christy and I took the downstairs exterior doors off their hinges and stained them,” Everson said. “Our carpenter, Mark, had told us months ago we needed to seal the raw wood, so we finally just did it.”
Everson said it would have been a simple task for a carpenter.
“It sounds easy,” he said. “Just take the door off the hinges and lay it down on the sawhorses, stain one side, let that dry, then flip it and stain the other side. Of course, we don’t have sawhorses, but we made do, and when we were finished, the doors looked great.”
“There was only one problem: We couldn’t get one of them to fit in its casing.”
That wouldn’t have been a major issue, except for the timing.
“We got up early the day we were leaving on our trip, to finish the job,” Everson said. “But when the door didn’t fit, we were out of time and just had to leave it off. The house was wide open. On a minute’s notice, our carpenter saved the day by going over and getting the door hung for us.
“We relaxed, knowing the house was secure. It wasn’t until we got home that we found out he had hung it, but he hadn’t locked it. For 10 days, anyone could have just walked right into the house.”
No one did, however, at least in part because the door is on the rear of the couple’s house and until recently was inaccessible. “But when workers tore down the big shed behind the house next door to us, it exposed our backyard and the door,” Everson said.
Everson has been watching the progress next door and at other houses on his street. He says he calls the house next to his “the leaning tower” because of its condition.
“It’s like a lot of New Orleans houses that just aren’t plumb,” he said. “Work has been continuous on it in the past month or so, and now the downstairs walls have been reframed. The renovation priorities are hard to understand, though, because there’s still peeling paint here and there and random patches of vinyl siding all over the place slapped on top of who knows what.”
At a double across the street, Everson says, repair activity is equally quirky.
“The owners come by every now and then and work on it. The owner must be pushing 90, and his wife comes with him. They do a few little things, then get back in their car and then we don’t see them again for weeks. They are making progress but it is very slow.”
Even if the 200 block of North Salcedo Street isn’t buzzing, Everson said there’s been a noticeable uptick recently in home repair work in his area of Mid-City.
“We knew that the portion of Mid-City from City Park Avenue to Broad Street was coming along pretty well and repopulating,” he said. “But from Broad toward North Claiborne, not so much. Now we’re seeing a fresh coat of paint here and there, and other people working on houses. I think our area is still probably less than 50 percent occupied, but it isn’t nearly as deserted as it was even a few months ago.”
If Everson and his colleagues in the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization have their way, the rate of activity will increase even more.
“We got a grant from Mercy Corps recently that will help us with outreach,” he said. “Even though our neighborhood meetings are pretty well-attended already, we know we aren’t reaching everyone.
“So we made a bilingual flier, in Spanish and English, and we’re delivering it to every house in the neighborhood. It invites everyone to join us for a free barbecue at Grace Church on Monday night, July 2. We thought the barbecue would be a good way to get people out and introduced to the group.
“We want them to have such a good time at the barbecue that they’ll come back the first Monday of August for our next monthly meeting, even if it is hamburger-free.”
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For information about MCNO’s free barbecue, go to www.mcno.org.
Stephanie Bruno can be reached at email@example.com.