If you came here looking for a way to help out the Linden Family,
you are now a member of Annabelle's Circle.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Day 8

"We need more time!"
is the recurring mantra of late. Even as I type this, the other Sean is pacing the office, pressing me to abandon the blog so we can get down there and get back to work on the official final day.

So I leave you with this:

Friday, May 30, 2008

Day 7

As a contractor I've often had my phone ring while standing in line at the Home Depot. "Where are you?!" the customer demands to know. You have to politely explain that just because you're not at their house doesn't mean you're not working on it. It is an interminable experience, construction purchasing. The products can get pretty technical so you can't just send anyone, and oftentimes you have to have an employee pull it for you with a fork lift or otherwise. It takes forever. Driving to Lowes to track down and buy a 3/4" drip line hose pinch takes about an hour and a half longer than it does to install it, which takes all of 3 seconds.

So when the two Seans returned, there was an energetic push to get done what we had set out to accomplish that morning, and we pushed on till midnight. There were a few of us still hustling after the sun went down. Everyone seems to belong to a project, which they've taken ownership over (or it, them.) And when that happens you'll stop at nothing to beat the clock, lest it try and beat you. Can you paint a house or work on your front yard in the dark? Evidently you can. I went out back to get a tool and noticed my two-year old daughter sitting on a cardboard box watching one of those handy little dvd-screens. She seemed happy as can be, though I wonder what she makes of all this. Probably nothing at all. "It's just wherever my parents drag me," would be the look on her face if you attempted too ask.

We are all somewhat frustrated by this or that not being finished, and we have no good reason for it, as we have worked as hard and fast as skills and available tools have allowed. It will all get done eventually, and certainly before August, so I'm not worried. These commitments of friendship are set in stone, and any wasted sacrifice is too painful a thing to bear, so it's obvious that it will all be seen through to its rightful conclusion. Taking a look around the property, I noticed how much work it is to just repair things. Little was actually replaced on the house, and the work was almost all just plain old dumb repair. Tallying up all the loads to the dump, we spent over $400 and dropped off over 8 tons of debris (so far). Our thanks to the kind neighbor who had a hydraulic dump trailer handy. "I'll just leave it in front of the house. You kids fill it up and I'll haul it off for you and send you the receipt," he said. A godsend.

And then all the money that has just come in, seemingly out of nowhere. Just when you think you don't have $100 for those screws and post brackets, an email pops up with some distant friend or relative letting you know they just put another hundred in Annabelle's account. It's just amazing. When you watch the Extreme Home Makeover TV show, you see the teams of hundreds of people and the back hoes and heavy equipment. And then there's the "gifts" of appliances and such -which is just a corporate product placement, a tax ride-off. And then there's those hosts, who take ownership over it all like they give so much of their personal time (most of it spent in makeup and wardrobe.)

But this is real life with real people doing the real thing. There aren't any cameras and there aren't any corporate sponsors. It's friends taking care of business, giving what they can to help someone out, because help is needed. These folks give their own money and their own time and they do it eagerly and enthusiastically and ask nothing in return. They do it out of love and they do it with a smile on, and, amazingly, they're all happy to be there.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Day 6

Well, it was a day of good news and bad news, and a Day of Reckoning, to be honest. We all seemed to have individually worked backwards out of our corners, meeting in the middle, elbowing for space. However well-intentioned, the bright idea of doing some work on all the floors landed the crew and their tools square on our butts for the weekend, kicked out of the house! So there we'll be outside, finishing off the exterior for the next few days, while the floors dry. The bad news is that none of us will be able to use the bathroom this weekend. The good news is that it didn't work anyway.

It's still clogged and backing up. Deron arrived with a snake and went at it, with only nominal success, but he'll be back. Though everything is swimming right along, that nagging, bit-off-more-than-you-can-chew feeling might be getting the best of us astride the lack of sleep and general full-body soreness. A half-framed, half-drywalled, half-stucco'd Family Room was not a goal of ours for Sunday, and unfortunately there will be a certain amount of unfinished-ness to the place when the Lindens return, but there will also be a considerable amount of progress, and that and the fellowship of friends and family lifts the spirit altogether.

A highlight of the day was when Lynne arrived with a carload of plants and unloaded them onto the driveway. It got a grin and a sigh out of me just to seem them sitting there, and I thought what a wonder God is to give us simple flowers. You can build and hammer all you want while God grows the plants out back and out of sight. Those plants are the pointers, and for every road block we build for ourselves, God's small, but hardly insignificant, gifts direct us around.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Day Five

Well, you think you're tired. That's us at the end of the hump day. Matt and Holly really wanted to get together with whoever was working on the place and we wouldn't allow them to come over, so we went out and met at a restaurant at around 9:00. They wanted to meet up at about five but we all just laughed: "We're too busy!" These are the diehards of the crew, the ones who just won't give up. Okay, wait, I take it back. Dave Adey isn't in the shot because he was still back at 2016 Dayton mixing thinset and cutting kitchen tile. I think I saw him shaking his head as we left the place, muttering under his breath, "wimps."

The man's a powerhouse.

If you're wondering why Matt is out cold in that first pic, it's not because of those empty glasses on the table, rather, it's because of this. He told me he was up all night praying, and when I heard that I just wanted to cry. I realized then that I was pretty tired myself, and drove home with my brother singing at full volume in the car just to stay awake. The song was: come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together try to love one another right now... It was pretty funny.

We started off strong, in spite of the troubling news about Holly and the downswing of morale from the previous day. We didn't quite accomplish what we set out to, but progress was made, slowly but surely. There's a team of women who have taken to sanding some of the floors in the house and they have the gusto of Olympians. Those flecks in the photos are the dust of 60 years of life at 2016 Dayton. We had it in every pore, every fold of skin, and one little backed up sink to wash off in. We went to the restaurant really just to wash up.

Today the last of the donated monies will be spent. More is needed, of course, but if anyone has access to free drywall, lumber, and landscaping supplies, we'll take it! Thanks be to all who have given so freely of their time and treasure. Don't forget: Sunday afternoon everyone is invited over to see the progress and welcome Matt and Holly back home.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Day Four

Well, it happens in every construction gig -and I predicted it for this one. About midway through the project, progress seems to feather out. On that first day there are so many old friends and new faces. Everyone is pulling the old ugliness out and tossing it curbside. There's a lot of laughing and loud music, and we're all building a House of Hope!

But then that day comes in the middle of the week. The day where you realize the ambition has overtaken the budget, and good ideas need to be scaled back. The day where most people have to disappear to their real life jobs and families, and the optimistic weekend volunteerism is just that -suited for the weekend. And then there is the interminable sanding. Sanding, sanding, sanding. Everything is covered with dust, tools are everywhere, your ears are ringing from the ever-present buzzing of the machines, and that pile of debris in the driveway only gets bigger and just won't go away on its own, like you've been praying for. I woke up sore (again) this morning and was going to complain about it, but everyone else already was.

A low point was when we had a volunteer plumber replacing the cleanout on the laundry drain. He left to get a part after a lunch, right about when all twenty of us used the bathroom. Sewage backed up onto the Family Room floor, and it was nearly impossible not to walk through it and track it onto the newly sanded Dining Room floor. It was nobody's fault. The neighbor told me that the sewer lines on the whole block are aged and root-bound, and need to be power-snaked once a year, if not altogether excavated and replaced. It wouldn't have been so bad but there's been about 4 inches of brownish, hepatitis-ridden gookhh in the bathtub, rising and falling with the tide of people helping out. It's pretty funny actually, but this will be filed under "Unanticipated Costs".

I'd post a picture of it, but this is a family web site, and it's really just too nasty to gaze upon. Our sympathies go out to Sean Day, who spent the night there. (Please send sterilization/sanitation supplies and antibiotics to his home address.)

I stayed late yesterday to clean up and sat on the tools with Sean (the other Sean, 2nd in Command, hardest worker on the property) and we came to the conclusion that tomorrow is the day to push through a single room until we could see the light at the end of the tunnel. When you see that light, you reach for it, pull along everyone within reach, and take care of business all the way.

Help is still needed! There will be A LOT to clean this weekend, as well as all manner of gardening/landscaping projects, and needless to say, more money is desired. Some heavy tools had to be rented for longer periods and garbage dump costs have skyrocketed.

For a more inspiring blog: Please see Matt's assessment of Monday!

For more inspiration altogether: Please come by 2016 Dayton in Lemon Grove and lend a hand, lend your spare change, lend us borrow your 150' Power Grinding Drain Snake!

Thanks again, everyone, and we'll see you tomorrow!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Day Three

This one shot of video pretty much says it all.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Day Two
(As Seen in the Following Blog Pics)

Friends arrived with bottles of wine for the Baja Winery Cellar and plants for the nicely landscaped vineyard, as promised. Steve went to town on the house with the pressure sprayer, prepping it for a new look. The two Seans took their sweet time on the slider, wanting it to be just perfect (which it was.) And then the guys had some serious debate about soil amendments -thankfully, it didn't come to blows. Corey wrangled the stucco paper, and Kevin wrangled the ceiling insulation. Kristi modeled the tool belts for us all, and the first piece of drywall was set into the ceiling as Mr. Linden worked the barbeque to serve us all a nice Memorial Eve chicken buffet. It was a solid day of work. All the stories and memories wouldn't fit on this blogspace, but Matt reminded us all as we headed to bed: "This good night's rest brought to you by the Linden Family!"

Not sure who to thank on that one.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Day One

It was a great first day! As the sun poked out from behind the clouds, ten or fifteen of us showed up for a clinic on proper hammer swinging and we had a successful time converting the Family Room back into the garage it once was (just kidding). Drywall was ripped from the ceiling, paneling was ripped from the house, and the impractical facade of ugliness was stripped away to reveal its hidden potential. We're tired! No one was inordinately hurt and we were all thankful for it (best not to ruin yourself on the first day -save that for the end of the week!) Some of us were even inspired to take on entirely new projects, like Dave Adey deciding he would re-tile the kitchen counters! Fantastic! Hey Dave, you rip that tile out with this feral claw hammer while I stand over here looking for new tile in the budget!

Seriously, tremendous thanks to everyone who gave so much. It is really coming together and we are truly looking forward to another day at it.

And just check out these choice pics:

Today's the Day!

Woke up crestfallen this morning to some healthy spring rain, the bane of the SoCal contractor. Had to remind myself that the sun was in my eyes, which, on a rainy day, means that the rainbow is overhead.

See you at 2016 Dayton!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Annabelle's Circle -Update

Greetings, friends of Annabelle!

The Linden Home Makeover Weekend is upon us (already!) and we have been eagerly anticipating it. Matt and Holly have been busy "prepping" the house for our arrival, though I keep reminding them we're really just going to make a lot of dust and quite a mess of the place from day one.

First off, I want to mention how impressive the outpouring of support has been. Many of you have given money and committed time (or both!) and it is nothing more than a blessing and an inspiration. Wild thanks go out to all of you! Some of you are coming long distances and some are bringing their youth group and it is really a fantastic gesture of kindness.

A short schedule of events: Everyone is welcome to arrive anytime on Saturday after 9AM. The first day is going to be a lot of greeting and hugs, touring of the property, allocating of materials, and delegating of tasks. There will be a lot of basic hauling, some tree trimming, ditch-digging, and so forth, with some beginning prep work on the house. The plan is to paint the exterior of the house on Monday, so this weekend will be spent scraping, patching, and priming. I'm hoping we can get the drywall and insulation up on that first day, so following days will entail sanding, priming, and painting on the inside. There are all manner of minor projects, plenty to go around, and all manner of "big" projects -also, plenty to go around. If you have a particular fancy for painting, carpentry, plumbing, electrical, tile work, (or anything else) let it be known how long you are going to be available and you will be put to good use.

We have begun picking up some of the materials, and more will be acquired as the week goes on. The following Saturday (May 31st) will be a pick-up and clean day, so plenty of assistance will be needed that weekend, as well. On Sunday, June 1st, Matt and Holly are going to be invited back into their home for a "big reveal" where we will stand with our fingers crossed, hoping they appreciate the effort! We'll expect them back sometime in the afternoon on that Sunday, so come by to check on the handiwork of Annabelle's Circle and pat Matt on the back as we put him to work on the barbeque! If you can't work, for any reason, but would like to see Matt and Holly during this event, the first Saturday or final Sunday will be the best time to stop by. (The Lindens are clearing out of the place for the week.)

We are still raising funds for the project! All dollars that have been collected so far have been pinned to the budget and anything else donated will still be well-utilized for the Linden Family. If you would like to donate construction materials of any sort, you may Email me at "sean4annabelle@mac.com" for the complete purchasing list. Since many people have been so generous to offer "stuff", I will not be buying every item at once, but am parceling it out so we don't double up on supplies. Many people have also offered to bring tools, and though we have a goodly many, I have been encouraging people to bring their own tools for whatever project they feel most comfortable working on. Seriously folks: gardening, digging, plumbing -there is some of everything for everyone!

Here's the address:

The Lindens
2016 Dayton Drive
Lemon Grove, CA 91945

(Click for Mapquest)

Again, feel free to Email me or Marci if you have further questions. We have been very busy at Hawkins Construction this past week, but we're doing our best to coordinate the efforts of everyone so that the maximum benefit can be achieved.

We're looking forward to a productive (and hopefully fun) week!

Sean Hawkins

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Linden Makeover: Dirt & Pink Concrete

Again, with apologies...

There's an old question in the real estate business: Would you rather live in a nice house, or across the street from one? It's a question that defines you for the agent.

Now, I'm not sure the Lindens were asked this question when they were house-hunting, but a cheerful "Welcome home Mr. Linden!" never seems to echo from the neighbor across the street.

We are, of course, going to have to do something about all the dirt. I'm not sure why everyone makes such a big deal about dirt. I mean, everyone in the neighborhood has about an equal amount of it. It's just that the Lindens seem to flaunt it. We probably should sequester the riches beneath some attractive shrubbery. (With irrigation.)

To the left of the tree, that's not a second tree. That's a branch from the one tree actually growing downward, no doubt depressed from the lack of irrigation. Someone bring a chainsaw.

The cactus is nice...

It stays. Holly loves it. Plus: the value of a good cactus cannot be understated. If the utilities ever get shut off, why, we'll need it for water! A few supplemental dry-weather fountain grasses, some compressed granite, and it'll be a nice Xeriscape. (Also note: one set too many of house addresses.)

But there's a little too much Xeri in this Xeriscape:

Matt wants to grow a grapevine fence along these steel posts. This sounds like a wonderful idea! It may take a hundred years, but in the end it will be a thing of beauty and the envy of all Lemon Grove. Let's help him get started on that project. Pruning and training the vines will be a nice distraction for the man, keeping his mind off of...


It's everywhere. It has to go. I'll say it again: Marsupial's bowels. I'm not sure who invented pink concrete or why, but his place in the nether world is assured. The heavy stuff is trucked in a ton at a time, the workmen snickering to themselves, and then abandoned. I believe it actually gets pinker with age, but it surely doesn't get any prettier. Nowadays you see concrete tinted in nice earth tones like "tan" and "brown" -this I can understand. But pink? If we all work together, we can have it buried at the bottom of the landfill by nightfall.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Linden Makeover: Stucco

With apologies...

Stucco. The name itself just doesn't instill the visions of dignity and grace that other building materials provide, like, say, plaster. Nicely plastered walls in a turn-of-the-century California bungalow have an aged charm. Mid-twentieth century stucco? You'll find it in an architectural toss-off in a sub-heading alongside rayon, formica, and naugahyde.

But though we lament, stucco is here to stay. It's quick, it's cheap, it's everywhere. Paint over it if you don't like the color, or, in the case of the Linden's house, add some old splintery siding!

We're not sure whose idea it was to just nail four or five pieces of siding over the gaping maw that was at one time the garage door, but we're sure they've put him to work in the asylum with a nice rubber hammer. The siding has done its time holding up the rotted and termite-infested frame of the front of the house. It has to go. Bring back stucco!

Let's go around back...

Yes, there are two electrical boxes and two electrical meters -one set clearly from this century. Perhaps we should remove the archaic ones and get a quote on their worth from Antiques Roadshow. I'm sure it will fetch a princely sum when paired with the old wire hookup above it (jutting out on the right)...

While you're up there, take care of that rotted fascia board, would you? Don't lean your ladder against it, you may fall through.

And then there's this crawlspace door. Abandon all hope ye who enter here.

I show this picture as it is a good collection of projects to tackle in one shot. There's the minor stucco patching, oft repeated 'round the abode. There's the warped wood and crackled paint that Hollywood art directors spend a lifetime perfecting. And there's the discolored pinkish pavers, a color not found in nature outside of a marsupial's bowels.

But I think there's something we could do about this... I think there's hope. I think, with a few of us clever friends of goodwill, a few tools, some proper chemicals... why... I think a change could be had! Not to worry, Lindens! A relaxed countenance, a lifted burden... it's all on the other end of a well-placed mallet-swing!

(And we're gonna have to do something about that color scheme, too.)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Today is Matt's Birthday!

Wish him a good one.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Kind Words for Matt and Holly

It's really been a touching experience being on this end of the Internet, receiving kind words and offers of help for the Lindens from so many people; family, friends, and strangers, and from all over the country. I thought I'd pass on a few of those thoughts here, and want to encourage you, too, to send a kind note to Matt & Holly to lift them up and brighten their day.

"I completely admire their faith and am humbled by their website and words. I like to think that we help God pick our parents, and even though I don't really know the Lindens, I know they will be wonderful parents. Annabelle will be so blessed to have them, just as they will be so blessed to have her."

"It can be tough to read some of Matt's blog entries. It's quite a powerless feeling when you can't be there to help a friend, but the covering of prayer is vital."

"They are such wonderful people and really deserve everything that they can get."

"I would so like to do something. I have never met Holly or Matt... Our son Luke has spina bifida and so all of this has been a bit like reliving my own experience. I feel such sadness and such hope for these two... It's just something you can't fully understand unless you've lived it. Please do let me know where I could send something. This is a lovely thing you are doing. It's very moving to see how people are coming together in support -it makes such a huge difference, truly."

"Though I don't know the Lindens well, I have very fond memories of them both from Camp Fox, and appreciate the opportunity to support them in a difficult time as they, along with the entire Fox family, supported me through very crucial years of becoming the adult out in the world I am today."

"I LOVE ALL OF YOU GUYS!!! Matt was the one who let me in to Camp Fox my first year... Matt let me into camp, gave me my first new testament Bible and told me to keep it untill I was ready. Well, ten years later he was right. Because of Matt, camp, and all of the very special people that I've since met, MY LIFE HAS TOTALLY CHANGED! Thank you, Matt!"