Pickin’ and Grinnin’ in the Bluegrass State

After what could have gone down in the books as a frustrating day…we went pickin’ and grinning” and boy am I glad that we did!
Our job is continually getting more and more complicated with each board that we tear out, with each blasted nail that gets pulled. We think we’re ready to start building and find that more demolition needs to be done. I imagine that if we’d thought that our entire week was going to be about demolition then we might have settled in to it and been fine. As it was, we thought we were taking out a few floor joist, replacing the joist, laying some flooring, and finally…insulation. What a nice and tidy plan – right…the plan that WASN’T! It’s okay – we’ve made huge amounts of progress and our family (I love how we claim them as ours) gets closer and closer each day. It’s like to start with, they smiled from a distance – behind the curtains inside. As the hours and days wear on, I believe they realize that we aren’t there in judgment. We simply want to be there to help and so, they are venturing out from behind the curtains. Our eight year old little one is a busy, vivacious, talkative, helper, full of spunk little boy. He’s really had no trouble hanging out with us but the rest of the family has been a little slower to warm up.
So, we end the day dirty and weary of our tedious yet necessary jobs. We come back to bathe in the glorious showers (another post all together). I must say that I will obviously do that which I think I cannot when I am dirty enough.  Anyway…after dinner we all (42 of us) load up to travel for Culture Night. My understanding is that on culture night, it is the ASP staff’s responsibility to find the volunteers (us) something to do that relates to the community. Last year we went to a saw mill in the area. This year….we went to a community center about thirty minutes away for some pickin’ and grinnin’. The only image I had in my mind, with regards to pickin’ and grinnin’ was the Saturday night show from the 1970’s – “Hee Haw”. Can’t say that after the day I’d had, that this adventure was anything I was looking forward to. But…alas…it was awesome!! We had a little difficulty finding the sangin’ and walked in on a Gideon meeting and interrupted a group of people grilling out for dinner. FINALLY – we found what we’d come for…some good ole down home bluegrass music! The room was semi full until we arrived and then of course, it was standing room only. Mamaw was on the mandolin and singin’. Pawpaw was on the guitar and Uncle Fred was on another mandolin. He chimed in (I think) every so often on a chorus or two. Oh, and Cousin Bubba was on the banjo. They were havin’ a hoopti good time – and so were we! Before long, Tex saddled up to one of our girls and asked her to dance. She said yes, and off they went to two-stepping around the floor. That song ended and Tex found another of our girls, and another, and another…Ol Tex had quite the happy feet. The dancin’ was contagious and little by little we filled the dance floor with some Alabama happiness. We all slow danced and several even attempted another two step with Tex. We brought more than dancin’ feet to this pickin’ and grinnin’ – we had talent to boot. Two of our sweet Alabama beauties took the stage to sing (and had the whole place singin’ with her) and the other picked up the fiddle and brought the house down with her tunes. TOO TOO TOO MUCH FUN! The frustrating day melted away and the laughter reminded me of why I love ASP so much.

“Maybe Monday?”

The actual workday is over and we’re back at the ASP center. The high anticipation, anxious, worry is over. We’ve all met our families and been to their homes. Before this morning, all we knew was a rough estimate of the job we’d be doing. I wasn’t really concerned so much with the “job” but rather the surroundings in which I’d be doing said job. Our team gathered last night to hear that our family has a 14 year old boy and an 8 year old son. Both mom and dad are together at our site – all day. We understood that we were going to be working on reflooring a room, adding insulation, working on the outside of the trailer, etc. No big surprise there. So after talking about the mechanics of what we had to do today, we all went our separate ways to…..fret. I fretted over the conditions that we were going to be in and all of the smells and visuals that went along with it. Our new youth fretted over whether or not they could be helpful – and the conditions. Our sweet team leader fretted over the monumental task of organizing the room “re-do” from literally the ground (muddy ground) up.
We left this morning all packed with tools and snacks and lunch. Like last year, we hopped right back out of the car less than 2 miles down the road for ice and more drinks. Luckily and unlike some of our other teams, our work site is only about ten minutes away. After the store stop, we had a short but spectacular drive to our family. I’m absolutely in awe of the beauty in these hills. The green trees growing on the mountains against the backdrop of blue, clear skies makes me simply say, “thank you Lord for the blessings we receive in your handiwork”.
We arrive at our home site and meet the family. We’re very fortunate to have our family home and even more fortunate that we have two youngsters there to keep things interesting. Our little 8 year old jumped right in to help….talking ninety to nothing the entire time! Our girls on the team along with GF were great sports to the little guy listening, smiling, and laughing at all the right times.
The first half of our day was truly spent simply getting acquainted with what we needed to do, plan out a course of action, and begin to implement that plan. So, it was slow go for a bit but then everything started coming together. Our two male team leaders were so awesome with our youth making certain they understood what and why we were proceeding in the direction chosen. They also taught the youth how to use some of the tools and of course, about safety with POWER TOOLS!
As great as our production day was going, I was getting a little ancy about not spending anytime with our mom. The little 8 year old had no trouble hanging with us but the rest of the family was inside – away from us. But….but…as our day came to an end, I went to talk to mom about the picnic at the end of the week – to invite her. Well, she’s just as sweet as can be and had been spending the day cleaning out closets and reorganizing her trailer! DON’T I UNDERSTAND THAT!!! We talked for about 15 minutes about “mom stuff” and how the house needs so much work. Dad has worked on this and that but never finishes….uh hum…..must be universal. Anyway – I’m really excited about tomorrow! I’m looking forward to getting back to my new friend and sharing more during our short time here together.

Maybe more later – if there’s time.

Red Roof Inn & Bowling

As tradition goes, we pulled in to the Red Roof Inn last night around 5:45, settled in to twelve rooms, assigned teams and loaded BACK in to the vans to go to eat. The Outback Steakhouse loves to see all of FUMC vans pull in to the parking lot and quickly take up half of the restaurant – right…. Dinner was fun and delicious; all the better because we know it’s the last “real” meal until next week. You know…that’s not completely fair. The food last year at ASP was actually quite good…in a childlike, elementary sort of way. 🙂
Our tables were split in to groups of four or six. It’s really neat how simply by challenging yourself to move out of your comfort zone and away from your friends that you always hang with, we meet new friends! I love new friends. 🙂 My dinner companions last night were Mickey, Will, Robert, Richie, and Paxton. Quite a mixture at our table! We were the last to be seated but because of Adam Hatmaker, the Outback waiter/magician, we were first to get our food (well, at least close to the first). Adam Hatmaker was awesome and had talents to share as well. As we finished eating, shy little Richie asked for a card trick or two. Adam Hatmaker let us know that he wouldn’t mind traveling to Alabama to put on a show for us there – and I have his business card (a 7 of spades playing card).

On to bowling…shoes, balls, and lane chosen, we are ready. Unlike last year where the losing team had to purchase the ice cream one night for the winning team. “Someone” (Helen) came up with the bright idea to change the stakes. Now the losing team has to perform one night of chores for the winning team. Can’t imagine what chore THAT will be – hello potty scrubbing. Every team has hopes and dreams of winning. It’s always possible – the dream is alive, right up until the first four frames end and we only have twelve points. Things weren’t looking up for Team Mickey (Oh, Mickey is our Team Captain). One game down and were were dead last. That’s okay – that’s okay….there’s always game #2 and we’re only behind by 20 pins. We can catch up – miracles do happen – I just know it. For a brief few frames, things were looking up. Then the kids started getting tired and gutter ball after gutter ball gurgled down the lane. An extra night of potty scrubbing was looking more and more like a reality we should accept. No worries! We’ll own our LOSS and be the bestest Losers ever! (I R E A L L Y do not like to lose!) Oh well….back to the Red Roof….

The beloved Red Roof Inn (where they leave the light on for ya – and a few creepy men out to greet you) awaited us back down the road. After a trip to the office to request more towels and a midnight change of sheets by the office lady, we were all snuggled in for a much needed night of rest.

And…that brings us to this morning. We’re up, showered, dressed in BRIGHT YELLOW shirts, ready to take on whatever Lotts Creek has to throw at us. We’re all excited and nervous at the same time. We’ll leave shortly for breakfast and be back on the road after that. Next stop….Lotts Creek, KY.

Blessings!
T