Category Archives: Homes4Families

Go Pro View – October 5th

It’s been a long, hard, exhausting day in many respects. Some of the exhausting parts have been depressing, some have been terribly sad, some have been frustrating, and some have actually been fun.

It’s called “life,” but today the volume might have been turned up to “11.”

Here are some GoPro pictures from the fun part. The non-profit I work for, Homes 4 Families, is having an “Over The Edge” fundraiser this weekend. (I’ve done this once before.) I will mention that if you’re in LA and this looks like fun and you can make a donation, we still have slots available for tomorrow. (www.Homes4Families.org)

This time there were two differences, one major, one minor. The minor one was that I was wearing a GoPro camera which was set to take a still photo every five seconds. The major one was that our son just happened to be in town today and since H4F’s mission is helping military and veteran families and since Steve is active military, we were able to give him a chance to go OTE with me!

Harnessed up, both the primary rope and the safety rope attached, getting final instructions. We’re TWENTY-SIX STORIES up. It was perfect weather.

Starting to lean back, get the feel of the clutch release, practicing feeding the rope up. Something on the order of 280 to 300 feet of that rope is heavy! And that pool looks very, very small.

Over we go! Just lean back, get into a rhythm with the rope and clutch, and walk down the wall.

Looking north into the eastern San Fernando Valley.

Looking north into the Cahuenga Pass and the 101 Freeway passing by behind us.

Who says, “Don’t look down”? That’s the fun part!

With a mirrored building, a lot of the pictures are various visions of me.

Steve got the hang of it and was motoring down – I was either more clumsy and awkward, taking time to enjoy myself a bit, or both. (Both!)

Getting closer.

Almost down by the trees – well, the trees up on the third floor garage outside of the main lobby. But that’s still 22 down and 4 to go!

There’s the plaza and my support team talking me down.

Terra firma! Death defied once again! And paying for it the rest of the day with some nasty cramps in my legs and the soles of my feet.

The other less corporeal exhaustion we’ll deal with tomorrow.

 

 

 

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Filed under Family, Homes4Families, Photography

Wispy Clouds Over Santa Clarita

We had a dedication event this afternoon out at the site where we’re building homes. While I was waiting for a few minutes, I noticed the wispy, high clouds and contrails over the roofs of the houses.

Simple – but not simplistic.

There is joy to be found in tiny, “normal,” beautiful things, such as wispy white clouds in a baby blue sky. Especially when there are so many tiny evils trying to nibble our spirits away in a death by a thousand bites, we can restore ourselves by recognizing the thousand healing bits of beauty around us.

Of course, if it’s incredibly stinking hot & miserable while you’re out there collecting your thousand bits o’ beauty, your mileage may vary!

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Moving Out & Moving On – May 11th

The “adventure” continues.

We’re about 43 days into our 60 day escrow, with the goal of only needing about 45 of those 60 days. We’re not going to hit that somewhat aggressive goal, but we might not be that far off.

As I’ve mentioned, we found a house. There’s a story to tell there – another time. But in almost lightning fashion after weeks of frustration, we found the place, got approved, signed the lease, and started to move in yesterday.

It’s now a two-front war. We still have stuff that has to go to storage – the new house is just a bit over half the size of our old one. That’s why it’s called “downsizing!” So there will need to be more trips to storage, which can be time consuming.

But now we get to start moving into the new house. A couple of loads of little stuff (dishes, clothes, linens, books, DVDs, etc) yesterday, another big load today. The “big move” will come on Sunday when we’ll have the pros in to move all of the furniture that needs two or three guys, none of whom are in their sixties, to move efficiently and quickly.

What that will do is clear out a lot of space and let us focus on what’s left. Some will get hauled to the new house (nearby, quick trips), some to storage (not so quick), and some directly to the trash (bins out at the street, standing by for your deposit!)

It’s been two months and more of prep, setting the stage. This weekend the curtain goes up.

Oh, and I’ve got a work event all day tomorrow, probably close to twelve hours out on the construction site. It’s a great event, one that I’ve written about before (search for “WE Build”) – but the timing could be better so far as getting the move done.

Sleep deprivation – ask for it by name, accept no substitutes!

We will prevail. I just reserve the right to be cranky while prevailing.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Homes4Families

The Abyss & I Wrestle Again

It’s been a long day. The Abyss and I again wrested to a near stalemate. I may be ahead on points today. (I might also be delusional, or it might be a war of attrition that I’m slowly losing.)

I did not get the opportunity to rappel at our event today. I was very, very busy elsewhere. Many, many other people did, like these two very nice people, who may be vaguely familiar. And sixty or seventy more. Plus all of those who went yesterday.

Does the Abyss need sleep too, or does it spend my night time off staring at other victims?

Is there an Abyss union? You know, like mine might be a member of the Fraternal Brotherhood of Abysses Local #6969?

Regardless of the Abyss’ need for sleep, mine is obvious.

Tomorrow we will rejoin the battle.

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Filed under Homes4Families, Paul, Uncategorized

The Abyss Has Bad Breath

And body odor. (Probably something to do with festering or rotting down there somewhere. It’s a guess.)

The Abyss wasn’t loved as a child and was always chosen last when teams were chosen for kickball.

The Abyss is a virgin. Because, you know, “abyss…” Who would want to… Figure it out for yourself.

The Abyss can eat a bag of dicks.

The Abyss might still be ahead on points today. But I am scrappy and I never get up until the clock says 0:00, the whistle blows, and the last out is over.

Tomorrow I think I’ll go over the edge of the roof of a 26-story building. (That woman looks familiar…)

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Filed under Homes4Families, Paul, Uncategorized

“Labby”

I’ve mentioned a few times that I work at the Habitat for Humanity affiliate in northern Los Angeles County. Click on that “search” button for that Category and you’ll see pictures from a number of our events over the past couple of years.

As of today our HFH affiliate merged with a sister non-profit and we’re now officially Homes4Families. In the big picture not a lot has changed – same employees, same jobs, same mission, same projects, same offices, and so on. But the merger allows us to take on projects outside of our local geographic area and expand in other ways to serve our mission of helping low-income veterans not just to own a home but to move up the social ladder into the middle class.

Needless to say, the months of work that have gone into this are one of the reasons that I’ve been just a teeny, tiny bit stressed and short of time recently. Also needless to say, today being the big day of the merger and contacting everyone and making sure that the transition went smoothly and doing a gazillion other things, today was “interesting.”

Which leads us to why I nearly had a public, hysterical meltdown over a computer voice in an elevator.

If you’ve hung around here, you’ve seen this view:

We’re in a twelve-story building on a property which also has a four-story building. That’s the four-story building just outside my window, across the central courtyard.

In our building is a reasonably fast elevator which announces what floor you’re on when the doors open. It’s a female, recorded, vaguely computer-generated-ish voice. “Sixth…….floor.” “Third……floor.” “Ground…..floor.”

Today toward the end of the day I needed to get something to the property management office, which is on the fourth floor of the other building. Seizing the opportunity to get up on my feet and away from my desk for a few blessed minutes, I decided to take it over myself.

Now, in almost two years of working there I’ve never actually had reason to go up into any of the upper floors of this shorter building. There’s a deli in the bottom floor that I go into and I’ve been in another office on the ground floor, but I’ve never used the elevator in that four-story building. Until today.

It’s sloooooooooooooooow. Not even an “I could have climbed the stairs faster” sort of slow. More of an “I could have gone and gotten climbing gear and scaled the outside of the building and that includes the time to go to the store and buy the climbing gear and taking a couple of lessons to learn how to use it” sort of slow.

Whatever. I notice that it’s got the same female voice when I get to the top. “Fourth……floor.” No biggie.

I do my business and get back on the elevator for the descent. This time I’m not alone. A woman from another office is on her way down.

Slooooooooooooooooooooooowly.

And we get to the bottom, the computer voice says, “Laaabbbbbbbyyyyy.”

I’m assuming it meant to say “Lobby,” but I was expecting “Ground……floor.” Worse, it said it in a bizarre and non-identifiable accent that made it sound like it was saying “Labby,” as it would rhyme with “tabby” or “flabby.”

It’s weird what will crack that thin and brittle veneer that we paste over the terror and chaos that we hold inside. I thought I was holding up pretty well with the events of the day. Until the elevator croaked out, “Laaabbbbbbbyyyyy.”

In retrospect, it’s a good thing the woman from the fourth floor was in the elevator with me. When I started to laugh with some borderline hysteria, she gave me a look, trying to decide if I was choking and needed the Heimlich Maneuver or if I was a lunatic and needed to be Maced. That helped me make it look like I had just coughed and make a quick recovery, slapping some metaphysical duct tape over that crack in my cool facade, sort of like Mark Watney putting tape over his cracked spacesuit helmet glass.

But tomorrow, or the next day, or whenever I’m stressed, I’m going to go ride that elevator again, just to hear that that machine say, “Laaabbbbbbbyyyyy.”

I’ve earned it.

(Welcome to Homes4Families. We’re gonna be awesome, by the way!)

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