Monthly Archives: March 2016

MBA members fix 92-year-old widow’s home


About two dozen volunteers recently converged on Nita Aemmer’s home in the Bitter Lake area of Seattle to spruce up the rundown abode.

The group from the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties and partner group Green Canopy Homes was taking part in Rebuilding Together Seattle — a program that repairs homes for those in need.



Nita is a 92-year-old widow of a World War II veteran who lives with her granddaughter, Danielle, and two great-grandchildren. Before he passed away, Nita’s husband maintained the home well — even added an extension and did all the landscaping and gardening.

After he died, Nita could not maintain the home, so Danielle moved in to help. But Danielle suffers from chronic Lyme disease, often leaving her unable to make repairs, and the condition of the house drastically declined over the years.

The volunteers patched walls, painted, improved exterior drainage, replaced bathroom flooring, repaired siding, deep-cleaned, and made other accessibility and safety improvements.

Way to go guys!


Ah, the smell of concrete in the morning

Westlake wrkrs with blurred rebarI was out recently on a construction site, doing a little photographic work, when I had another one of those blast-from-the-past moments in which we all, I assume, occasionally find ourselves suddenly immersed. In this case, as best as I could determine, it was instantly sparked by the smell of dust and concrete, with notes (I borrowed that term from a wine label) of something metallic. That had to be it — the unique blend of those elements, in just the right blend, that we apparently only take in on an active construction site.

As it has many times, that scent alone instantly took me back to when I was a little guy, fifty years ago (good lord, did I just say that?), occasionally visiting jobsites with my dad, who ran the Richland, Washington branch of Lord Electric (does anyone remember them?). He was The Boss, of course, which was quite cool, but I also really enjoyed those visits because I got to wear the hardhat and see stuff I sure didn’t see elsewhere: big pieces of construction equipment; the bone structure of halfway-built buildings; lots of different tools, fixtures and materials, and lots of people bustling around. Lots of pickup trucks, conduit, extension cords and cool lunch boxes too, as I recall.

This all made me think about what has, and what has not, changed on a construction site in half a century. For the most part, they still look very similar, but of course the materials, tools, techniques and practices – and certainly the pickup trucks and lunch boxes – have evolved quite a bit. In some ways, the people have changed, too, but in others, they have not; people have always, and will always, simply love to build things. That has to bring about a kind of satisfaction and pride that you don’t often find elsewhere.

And all those thoughts went through my head in a matter of moments.

Somewhere out there today, I’m sure there’s a superintendent or foreman or project manager on a jobsite with a son or daughter tagging along, taking in the sights and smells of all that’s going on around them. And likely creating little snippets of memories that will last — well, as we know now — at least half a century.

        – Sean Lewis