Sabbatical Day 26 – Drywall

My company, Red Gate software, has given me a 6 week sabbatical. I’m documenting the time with all the posts under a tag if you want to follow along.

It was another build day for me with Habitat. In the past week, this is my 4th volunteer day and I’ve done it all. A critical home repair, a shift in the store, a deconstruction, and today a construction.

I arrived back in Globeville, just north of downtown Denver. This is a few blocks from my critical repair, and it’s a townhouse complex of 2 and 3 unit buildings that are being built on a large square of land. The last set of buildings is being done now, with our volunteers working on a 2 unit and 3 unit complex. There are already 20-30 buildings done, and then there’s a last 3 unit building that’s a few weeks behind the two we were working on.

This was an all single volunteer day, with no companies participating. We only had 3 young Americorps workers getting us set up, with supervisors for Habitat already working with professional contractors when we arrived. They said we’d mostly be painting, which I don’t like, but there were three spots for drywall in basements. I volunteered right away for that.

It wasn’t much work, and I thought we’d easily be done when I saw the first basement. We were only doing the spots around the stairs and HVAC stuff. With the interior of the section under the stairs done, we only had to cut around 80sq ft of drywall to fit around doorways and existing walls with OSB where water heaters were mounted.

The three of us worked with the Americorps guy and finished basement 1 by 10:30. With relatively straight cuts to make, we fell into a rhythm of measuring, cutting, and screwing things in. As the other two started to screw the last piece in, I carried equipment to the second basement.

This one was a mess. Probably only 40sq ft to do, but around lots of pipes. I called the Americorps guy and he said to skip this one for now. We went to the third basement, which was like the first, but more pipes in the way. We got halfway done before breaking for lunch.

It was cool in the basement, but I was glad to get out. I haven’t ever hung new drywall, so this was an adventure. I asked questions and learned how to match up pieces, putting the seams where I wouldn’t expect it. I learned how to cut it, and how to cut out electrical boxes, which wasn’t what I expected. I also learned it creates a ton of dust, which bothered me at times and I needed to walk to a window well and breath outside air a few times.

We managed to get two basements done and we’d gotten the large parts of the third one done, but not much around the pipes. I bet the next day’s crew takes all day to get that one done.

It felt good to help with that house and it was neat to see another way that Habitat is helping people. This site also had the names of the families on a sign in front of each house.

That’s it for my volunteer efforts this sabbatical time, but I’ll be looking to go to more in the future, probably taking some days off when I can.

About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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2 Responses to Sabbatical Day 26 – Drywall

  1. Steve, I’ve been following your progress through your sabbatical via your blog, and I find your journey quite fascinating. I know you have older children, and work full-time for RedGate. My question is, removing the new activities associated with your sabbatical, the college course, the flag pole project and your volunteering for Habitat. What does a normal day in the life of Steve Jones consist of? Do you do regularly do wood-working type stuff? Do you do other volunteer tasks around town? Are you a normal Pilates participant?

    My kids are small (nearly 2 and 4) and while I assume they are not nearly as activity laden as older kids might be, I find it hard to commit to any one of those things on a regular basis. How do you do it all?


    • way0utwest says:


      My apologies for the delay in responding. I haven’t been checking email or doing much beyond posting.

      A normal day, probably worthy of a blog, but really it’s like this. Weekdays: Wake up, check email, wake up kids, start breakfast, answering some emails while I do this as most of my contacts are in the UK. Drive kids to school and then back at my desk around 8:15. I could have calls with Red Gate, but mostly I spend 3-4 hours working. That’s editing, creating content, answering posts, etc. At lunch I may work out, but sometimes I work through until 4. Pick up kids, get them started on homework some days and go back to work, or drive them to sports, where I sometimes pick up another hour of work with the laptop. Dinner, and often a last check with work or relaxing at home. I have Scouts one night a week with my son, volleyball two nights with my daughter, and then user groups or something else once or twice a month.

      Weekends are often up early Sat for some kid-related reason and tackling chores around the house. I haven’t gotten much woodworking done most weeks because it’s hard to get in the swing of things, or slip it into short periods of time. The sabbatical gave me some time to clean out the shop a bit, so I can start something and leave it for a week. The woodworking class has also given me a bit more organization into how I can handle things in small steps. The weekends also get filled with baseball in the summers, volleyball in the winter spring, or Scout trips. I also travel to about 10 SQL Saturdays a year, so I lose a fair number of weekends.

      I have volunteered for Scouting events and the local food bank, but I’m kicking myself for not doing Habitat sooner. It’s a long day, but it’s an easy commitment to just slip in there once every other month. I’ll do more.

      I have been doing Pilates once a week for about a year. I like the change from other activity. I was doing yoga once a week prior to surgery, but have been off for a few months. I’ll go back in a few weeks. I also am getting back to swimming and running here shortly.

      It’s a crazy, busy life, on top of which I read a lot and I have to find time for my marriage. We end up running around a lot as a family, though often 2-3 of us doing things and more rarely getting together more than once a week with all of us, but lots of time with a few of us.

      My kids are 22, 15, and 13. They manage themselves, and they can do chores or help out. Any of them can go feed horses or cut grass without supervision, so that makes a different. Plus the 22yr old helps out with driving. However…

      When my the little ones came, life slowed down. I didn’t ski or do much more than have some evening runs (or lunchtime workouts) for years while the kids were infants and toddlers. There just wasn’t time in having to manage them while still keeping interested with the 6/7/8 yr old. When my youngest was 5 (Kindergarten), I started playing baseball and skiing more in the winter, as well as doing more Scout stuff. It’s a time and place thing, and I’d say that you only get a short time with the little kids, so enjoy it and don’t try to do more. As they age, they’ll get more independent and you can do more.


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