Friday, March 8, 2013

Day 8: So Begins the Withdrawal

Day 8: It's Over / It's Not Over

Quote of the Day
"Dammit, who took my breathing machine?! Idiots."
- Hank Highfill

The whole groups (sans CSCHabitat staff)

First, happy birthday to Habitat-er Rachel Glick! This was her first trip with RC Habitat, and we hoped she loved it as much as we did.

Second, today marked our return to the Roanoke campus. We left the camp at 7:00 (okay, 7:05, but that's only because I firmly believe in showering and thereby not smelling like crap before traveling), drove a few hours, hit up McDonald's for breakfast*, and then drove the remainder of the way. We were back on campus by 1:00.
* As our future Habitat trips are being planned, I insist that every tradition remain the same except our McDonald's breakfasts and Wendy's lunches. Every time, we have them. And usually they're not... good. (Especially after a week of delicious food.)

And so ends our spring break Habitat trip. The pictures are slowly making their way to Facebook. Liesl has shared a small sampling of hilarious quotes from the week (also on Facebook). Those of us that save our nametags have added them to our wall-bound collections (including, for me at least, an honorary "Thingamadoohikey" tag that stands for the nametag theme that we never used). Showers have (hopefully) been taken (though that darn concrete is still not coming off). Laundry is being washed and stripped of the smells of sweat and sawdust.

As the physical reminders of this week get brushed to the side, it's important not to forget the real reason behind what we do. While we were returning today, the house that Roanoke College sponsored for our fall break build as well as its neighboring house which we also worked on were dedicated. They're now in the hands of their homeowners, the adorable Andrise and Sheila. We all wish we could've been there (though with the amount of tears that have been shed this trip, I don't know if our tear ducts could've handled it). This makes for a wonderful reminder of the real reasoning behind Habitat: to provide housing, community, and hope for those in need. We didn't physically build a house this trip, but I hope we all remember that we've been a part of this mission. Andrise and Sheila are living proof of that.

And so begins the Habitat withdrawal.

But before we go about the business of everyday life, some things to remember:
  • In 14 days, on March 23rd, the R-House from orientation 2012 will be dedicated.
  • In approx. 168 days, in late August, we will begin construction on our eighth R-House.
  • In 217 days, in mid-October, fall break hits again. (Columbia, beware.)
 (If anyone would like to officially keep the countdown for number of days until these begin, let me know. Usually I would but I'll be spending 70some-odd of those days in Zambia and would likely lose count. Alas.)

Thank you, once again, to our CSCHabitat family for a wonderful week.

Andrew Dittmar
RC Serve blogger
[Mollie took tonight off, too, but she still sends her love.]

P.S. This will be the last blog post in here for awhile, but if you're still interested in reading my musings, I operate another blog which I would gladly share with you if you ask. :)

Bloggers & friends (R-L): Andrew Dittmar, Katie Larrivee, Mollie Gleason, Haley Toresdahl

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Day 7: It's About People

Day 7: It's About People

Quotes of the Day
"Farts & Freckles: That should be a poem!"
- Kashif Malik

"Why are those old men taking our shirts...?"
- Haley Toresdahl

"Nicotine grabs you by the balls!"
- Jennifer Henrickson
 (she doesn't want credit for that)

Today's blog post is going to run a little bit differently, because as it's the last day of work, it's also the day I become the most personally reflective.

Today began a little bit later than usual (Steve, Matt, and Talisha met at Rockgate around 7:30, which... urghdglzgkjskgllksjfk), so by the time we reached our worksite it was about 10:30. For the second day in a row, our sights were on the rehabilitation of a home for a handicapped WWII widow. We were tagging along on a project that was being headed by a coalition of military men (who, quite frankly, were in a little over their heads).

A lot can (and has) been said about the organization of this site, but, honestly, everything we did over the last two days was a series of guesses-and-checks on basically everyone's end. 

Due to an underestimated amount of concrete being delivered to work on the driveway, we started off our morning by trying to pad the remaining sections of driveway pre-concrete with dirt. (The goal was for the concrete to run about 3.5-4 inches deep. At different points, to keep the drive level, we would have needed somewhere in the vicinity of 8 inches.) We anticipated a concrete delivery around 11, so we tried to high-tail some dirt in those crevices ASAP.


11:30 rolled around. Nothing.

We called the delivery place.

Turns out they were planning on 12:30 arrival? Miscommunication on many ends here.

To pass the time, a bunch of sod had been delivered to lay out the yard, so we started on that. Sod became a drifting project - when we had nothing to do, we drifted toward the sod.

Also during this time, Jill discovered a rope swing in a tree in the center of the driveway. (The driveway is circular, with a small island in the middle.) She attempted to climb the tree but ultimately it was Nathan that pulled the rope down. That rope led to literally hours of enjoyment - spinning, seeing how close we could get to the tree without crashing, going higher and higher, trying not the break the [somewhat sketchy] branch it was hanging from. By the end of the day, just about everyone (including Rev. Paul's wife Jen) had had a turn.

For lunch today, we had hotdogs and (for some reason) Bojangles' biscuits. Virginia Commonwealth came to the site to join us, where they remained for the remainder of the day. (They spent their morning painting with Talisha. After lunch, Talisha took a small group of RoCo-ers back to touch up and clean up.)

Okay, so the concrete finally arrived at around 1:30. And while we weren't quite a well-oiled machine, I think the combined efforts of RoCo-ers and some of the bolder VCU-ers made solid work. Our first concrete truck carried enough to cover all but about a quarter of the remaining space (our dirt cover-up worked surprisingly well to maximize the yards of concrete). A little later, a second truck arrived to deliver the rest of the concrete. Enough was left to pave the the sidewalk leading to the house.

For the record, concrete hurts. I fell in it, cut my knee on the rocks it contains, and then got a stinging sensation that hasn't yet subsided. Concrete isn't that hard, but it can be painful if not done properly. Love, someone learning the hard way.

We closed up shop at around 4:30, and said our goodbyes to Matt and Steve. As they said, they'll be there at R-House whether or not they're invited. (Goodbye is always difficult, but it never means for very long.)

Two minutes after departing the site, Hank's van realized he had rolled over a screw and had a flight tire. CALL IN THE EL DIABLO TEAM! The gentlemen who were forced to give up on the dilapidated old truck were able to show their true capabilities by rescuing Hank's van and changing the tire. As a result: All missions for the week? Complete.

After dinner at the camp, we all gathered around for a Habitat tradition: toasts. We all sit around and toast one another. Each person is assigned a toastee (based on random selection) in the morning and toasts them that evening. Everyone gets a chance, and then we all get the opportunity to toast each other open season. Tonight's toasts included: multiple poems, a song, some awkward stories, a really bad craft project, and a whole slew of gratitude and love towards each other. There were some wonderful toasts. And sitting around the toasting tables is always an awesome way to remember your own personal worth as a part of this team, this family, the family that is RC Habitat.

Paul was the undisputed center of toasting: for his various involvements in all of our lives, for the number of times he's ventured with students with Habitat, for the way he takes us all under his wing, meets us where we are, and helps us move along. And then he spoke. He spoke about how, for him, it's all about people. It's not about personal gratification, it's about trying to connect with people. And we are all his people - Habitat is just how he's connecting with us.

Now, I'm not good at public speaking, particularly when it comes to something so personal and poignant as this. So here's me trying to write something down. (For the record, there is absolutely no lip-service here. This is truth. All of it.)

There is a marker board in my dorm that sits right about my bed. In the beginning, it was to be used as a weekly planner. That plan blew up in my face, because, the more I realized it, the more I realized that my own anal-retentive over-planning was causing me to lose sight of bigger pictures. So I scrapped the big marker planning board and instead put two big questions on the board:

1. Why are you here?
2. Who are you heroes? Why?

If you don't know me all that well, you should know that I've struggled with that first question a lot. I'm still not sure what I'm majoring in, let alone sure in what I want to do with my life. The way I see my life is basically as a giant question mark. And that seriously scares the crap out of me.... but enough of that.

I use that second one as a gauge. Who do I look up to? Why do I look up to them? I listed them on the board. Whose on this list? Well, my parents, a few of my high school teachers, one pastor I encountered... all of those have had their moments where I laid out and shared exactly what they mean to me. And then there's a handful of others, who I guess are going to get my first attempt at laying out exactly what they've meant to me to end up on that list.

Matt & Steve: I've mentioned earlier in the week that, in our Habitat family, Matt is the cool older brother and Steve is the father. I use those terms because, in my own head, that's how I think of them: Matt as an older brother and Steve as a second father. These two are some of the best examples of how to turn a skill into a passion, and use that passion to change people's lives. They have this remarkable zest for what they do and the people they encounter. I'm nowhere near the most technically skilled RC Habitat-er, nor am I the most dynamic personality of our group. And yet, whenever I'm here, I feel like I belong here. Matt and Steve go out of their ways to make sure that we get the best experience we can, and in doing so, I always feel like there is a place for me here. And the zest they have for what they do is so infectious. Before my first Habitat trip, I didn't think of construction as a way to make dreams come true. And yet, when you work side-by-side with these men and hear their stories - the people who have never been able to have something to call home who get just that - it's an amazing feeling to know that, for even just a week, we're apart of these dreams. And however much hoopla we give ourselves about what we do, we're really just the supporting act for these two. They exemplify what servant leadership is through what they do every day. 

And on a completely different level, their zest for people continues when they work with us. Steve is unarguably one of the youngest fifty-five-year-olds I've ever met, and between him and Matt, we play games, tell jokes, make blatant fun of one another (all in good fun), and basically turn a construction site into a glorified playground. Matt and Steve have helped me redefine exactly what how I view what it is to be a man. It's not about who you are; it's about what you make of the world around you. It's not about sacrificing fun, it's about making what you do your passion, and making your passion what you love doing. In a college environment, I think we get these static views about what exactly is the definition of success. When I'm around Matt and Steve, I see success as be able to utilize your passions to make a difference in people's lives.

It's amazing to think that, if we speak in terms of numbers, I've known Matt and Steve for...five weeks. That's the amount of time I've spent on worksites with the two of them. And yet, when I think of them, I think of a whole lifetime's worth of lessons that I feel privileged to be able to experience. I'm so blessed to count these two as friends (or, if we get more specific, as an older brother and a second father). 

And that's why they're listed on my marker board under "My Heroes".

...and the rest of  my Habitat family: It's pretty typical, I think, to say how much you love your friends, but on a Habitat trip, friendship goes so much deeper. And I'm not going to limit this to the people on this trip (because, honestly, I didn't know half of the people here when I wrote that marker board). But to Aaron, Brandon, Brendan, Bridget, Dasha, Dylan, Elizabeth, Emily, Haley, Jill, Kadie, Kashif, Katie, Kelsey, Laura, Liesl, Marc, Mollie, Nathan, Phillip, Rachel, Roxanne, Sam, Sarah, Shannon, and Ted, who all made this trip the personality fest that it was, I'm so thankful to have been here with you. To Marc, specifically, as the only senior whose said goodbye this trip, you really are a "Beast"-ly bad-ass. I wish you nothing but the best. To Brendan and Katie, six trips in a row with no end in sight - I'm so glad to have had you two with me every step of the way. To Hank (who was described by his toast-er tonight as "bad-ass") and Jen (Mama Habitat), who bore the impossible task of accompanying us on this trip, I'm so glad I've been able to get to know you. To Talisha and Emily, I'm pretty sure you guys are the glue that holds CSCHabitat together and help to make every trip go successfully. (Talisha, you were one of the first people I met at Roanoke and I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that, without you, I don't think I would've been exposed to any of this and I'm so glad you're sticking with service.) And to those I've been able to share time with on past trips - people like Talisha, Jennie, Alyssa, Tim, Kayla, Ryan, Daniel, Charlie, Kelli, Kris, Amanda, Danielle, Graham, Kim, Kaitlin, Sarah... this list continues for awhile - you all have been integral in making every part of my Habitat journey thus far what it has been.

I'm blessed to call those in my Habitat family some of my closest friends, and I'm so grateful to have shared these experiences with them.

And that's why they're listed on my marker board under "My Heroes".

and last but most certainly not least...  
Rev. Paul: (I never actually call him that, so from here on out, he's Paul.) I'm not going to lie and try and eloquently sum up the effect that Paul has had on my experience at Roanoke College, so instead, here is some random sputterings that I'm probably going to need all of his last two months to try and put together into something coherent: Paul is unarguably one of the most genuine people that I've ever met. He's willing to share so much of himself with you, regardless of how well he knows you, or frankly how much you're willing to receive him. He'll make fun of you and laugh with you but he's not scared to ask the hard questions, the ones that challenge you and make you think about what you stand for and why you stand for it.

I wouldn't hesitate to say that Paul knows me better than I know myself sometimes. One of his weekly programs is called Discernment Group (or D-Group) and the purpose is trying to decipher your God-given call from what you plan to do with your life. (As someone who doesn't know what he's doing with his life... well, I need this.) Paul asks the tough questions - from "Why are you here?" and "When are you most alive?" to "How would you rate your faithfulness?" These aren't simple questions. And yet, whenever he asks me these, I know he's got a response to them in mind. Sometimes I have to think about what he tells me. And yet I think he's basically always right. (That last question, about rating your faithfulness, sticks out in my mind specifically.) In a certain sense, Paul can hit nerves like no one else I know. But however uncomfortable those nerves might be, it's like a shot: you need it, even if you don't want it.

Paul's key focus, like he said tonight, is people. It doesn't matter how well he knows you, he'll still high-five you. It doesn't matter how much you adhere to religious life, he still wants to know you. And he reaches out in so many ways. One of these ways has been Habitat.

I've encountered Paul on many lines - everything from funerals to meals to to ATV riding to Bible study programs three times a week to skeet shooting to canoeing. My experiences with him have been a mixed bag of lifetime experience. And regardless, he's a rock. He stands firm. He never loses his personality. And he'll never say no because something sounds impossible. He really is a rock, to me, and to everyone else that comes into contact with him.

I know a lot of us are still looking for the silver lining in regards to his impending retirement. But all I can say is that I'm blessed to call him friend, and I'm blessed to have had him as an instrumental part of my college experience. I also fully intend on borderline-stalking his house next year. (That sounds creepier than I mean.)

And that's why he's listed on my marker board under "My Heroes".

I really don't know how else to end this blog, other than be reiterating one thing: I'm blessed. I'm blessed to have been here. I'm blessed to have known these people. I'm blessed to have encountered all of these people in a matter of a week. And I'm blessed that I still have two more years of trips and experiences and memories to make. (Because all y'all be assured - if we have to pile everyone in my two-door Ford Focus and camp next to the road, we WILL be here for fall break.)

So, until next time, thank you Central South Carolina Habitat for an amazing experience, from all of us at Roanoke.

Andrew Dittmar

RC Serve blogger
[Mollie took the night off. She sends her love, too.]

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Day 6: I Want You and Your Beautiful Soul

Day 6: Your Beautiful Soul, or, The Perks of Being Anal

Quote of the Day
"Come bask in the glow of friendship with us."
- Phillip Barbolla
The title of today's blog post has two origins. The first of these is Jesse McCartney's song "Beautiful Soul" (the significance of which will be discussed later). The second of these is the fact that StevEarl once referred to one of your bloggers as "the most anal person I hope to God I ever have to deal with". Why that was said, I really don't know, but, well, our trip took a different turn today... and your blogger's acute analness may have been sorely missed. (That is to say, his analness would never allow such disorganization to happen. But I'm getting a head of myself.)

A few days ago StevEarl received a phone call from his boss - CSCHabitat's head honcho, Roy - about a project in a different part of Columbia. An organization is currently in the process of rehabilitating a house for a WWII widow who is a recent double-leg amputee. The project had fallen behind considerably, and the rehabilitators reached out to Habitat for some help. StevEarl, Hank, and Rev. Paul ventured to the site to see exactly what was up, to find a site that was in somewhat disarray. But even still, plans were made for us to head out today to see what we could do.

Well, okay. "Embrace the awkward." We'll go with it.

We get to the worksite (a 30-minute drive from Rockgate) to discover that, well... the caliber of organization was not up to Habitat's standards. (Some more colorful language was used to describe this lack of organization. But if I learned one thing from George Carlin...) Our duty was to lay down the concrete for the driveway for this lady. didn't have tools (or, frankly, a clue).

Concrete laying isn't hard, per se, but there are a handful of things that make it simpler. 
  1. Tools. (We had those, fortunately. Matt and Steve planned ahead.)
  2. A boundary for the concrete to be laid in. (One of the guys in charge drove a truck over it. We had to repair that.)
  3. Concrete that isn't too watery. (Our first batch was.)
  4. Concrete that isn't too dry. (We had to keep pouring water on it to keep moving it around.)
  5. A semi-accurate count of how many yards of concrete will be needed. (Two loads were ordered, covering maybe a third of the space of the driveway. More will becoming tomorrow)
So yeah. Working conditions were, all in all, kind of awkward. And the fact that almost the entirety of the RoCo Habitat crew was there to help probably didn't make things less awkward. (The El Diablo crew abandoned their efforts to come help.) But all in all, concrete laying is pretty cool, really messy, and very different from anything that we had been anticipating during our week.

We packed up and left at around 3 to head to a gentleman named Sam's house.

Sam is, simply put, a long-term friend of Roanoke College. Back in 2006, Sam and Roy (Roy is the current executive director of CSCHabitat, and before that held StevEarl's job as construction manager) were the ones responsible on Habitat's end to make our R-House project happen. That project has evolved over time, but Sam's love of Roanoke College students hasn't. As he and his wife told us tonight, two of the highlights of their calendar year are Roanoke's fall and spring break visits. This has become a tradition that we always look forward to.

Sam's house has a giant backyard with a fire area, volleyball court, swing set, cornhole, horseshoes, and baseball. He and his wife also have chickens, among other livestock, and an adorable five-year-old son named DR (who is quite literally a miracle child, but that's another story).

The result usually escalates into full-throttle volleyball. Volleyball this time around was kind of loose, and turned into "Steve is going to hold his drink in his hand and yell at us if we spill it SO TRY AND SMACK THE BALL AT HIM" (okay, so that may have been just me). Both baseball and cornhole had shots of intensity - Matt's team was able to win a match come back from a 10 point deficit at one point during a cornhole match. Oh, and the swing set ended up completely toppling over and falling apart at one point (congratulations Nathan Sliwa and Rachel Glick).

(During this time, it should be noted, a crew arrived with a special surprise for Rev. Paul arrived. They would start setting up fairly discreetly throughout the evening.)

And then food was served. Now, something that everyone should note: Sam's barbecue skills are literally second to none (and he's got the trophies to prove it). RC Habitat should (and if we could, totally would) finance a restaurant featuring Sam's barbecue in Salem that we could eat at 24/7. Sam's mac'n'cheese and ribs = heaven on a plate. So good that Steve actually at some when it fell onto Sam's porch steps (violating the five-second rule by... a lot). And we didn't judge him.

After dinner was served and we all had eaten ourselves silly, we headed over to a big stack of firewood/dead tree limbs/brush. (Like, really big. Really big.) Sam blowtorch-ed the pile and ignited a giant fire (that at times almost appeared out-of-control). Not only did that light up the night with frightening intensity, it provided wonderful heat. (Today wasn't the warmest of days.) We enjoyed the fire, toasted marshmallows, smoked cigars (well, those that wanted to), and enjoyed each other's company. We were joined by our whole crew, Matt, Steve, Emily, Talisha, Roy, Sam, DR, and a handful of Sam's extended family. (At one point, Shannon and one of your bloggers united for our mandatory American Gothic painting remake with Sam's pitchfork. Ours is cooler, though, because there is a giant fire blazing in the background.)

During this time, Elizabeth, Bridget, and Mollie revealed something they had secretly been working on all week. This threesome worked on a new cornhole set for CSCHabitat, but, in the process, had made some commemorative cornhole boards for Rev. Paul. One is adorned with the RoCo logo and "Rev. Paul" in really large letters. The other is adorned with an R-House logo, with messages written on it by all of us on the trip. I've mentioned before the finality that this trip has towards Habitat as we know it. This presentation marked phase one in our own personal finale.

Phase two was just around the corner. After awhile, the time came for that surprise for Paul I mentioned. Sam had warned us all earlier, and prefaced it with the fact that he and his family had planned it several years ago, but Paul had had a family emergency. And then we got fireworks. A really cool, long (like, really long) fireworks display. It was honestly pretty crazy. Sam's house is situated maybe twenty or so yards away from a small lake. The fireworks were shot off from the bank of the creek. This was an incredible showing of the meaning that Rev. Paul has had on Sam's family over the years.*
*It's worth noting that the only person who didn't particularly enjoy the display was one of your bloggers, who suffers from a mortal fear of fireworks and spent most of the display cuddled in the fetal position on a bench behind the fire.

 Just so I don't forget this:
 Dear Sam, Tammy, and DR,

Thank you so much for the generosity and hospitality that you showed us. Everything about this night was perfect - from the games to the food to the fire to the fireworks. Thank you for allowing us to share in your gift to Paul on his last trip, and thank you for sharing your home and yourselves with us tonight.

We always look forward to time with you - and we all hope that will continue well beyond this spring break.

Lots of love,
Roanoke College Habitat for Humanity

So yeah. If that wasn't enough, then Rev. Paul got up to speak. He told us that there are two things that he wants everyone to remember: first, to believe in something that you're willing to follow through to see how it goes (recounting how in spring 1987, he never would have imagined that his first trip would evolve into whatever we are now); and second, to surround yourself with people like Roy, Sam, and Steve, and Matt with friendships that are so deep that, no matter how long you're away from them, you can always pick back up where you started. (Hearing this really makes me wish I knew Roy better - we always meet him in passing, but I wish I knew him better as an individual.)

And that's when waterworks started. I think we'd all been blinking back tears for some time, but... yeah. Of course, Paul had to go make it worse by going to play with DR and another young relative of his immediately afterward, because, as Mollie, one of your bloggers said, "He touches literally everyone that he meets."

A lot can and will be said over the next two months leading up to Paul's official retirement but something needs to be said here and now: he has touched all of our lives in such profound ways; he established something with Habitat that has touched all of our lives in such profound ways; he's basically and inspiration and a personal hero; and we're all blessed to have known him. God only knows what's going to happen tomorrow, on his last day on a Habitat worksite (in this capacity). We have to finish the concrete... and we might all be crying (and I do mean all)... 

Jesse McCartney's song "Beautiful Soul" has absolutely nothing to do with really anything, but as I sat around the fire, blinking back tears, being grateful for where I was and who I was with, I started thinking:

Here's to the beautiful souls who have come together during this Habitat trip:

Steve, Matt, Talisha, Emily, Roy, and the rest of Habitat's crew 
who put up with us for the week

The Davises, Sam, Tammy, DR, and the Griffins,
who've shown us incredible hospitality throughout the week.

Ned & William,
who joined us at different points for this week 

Hank & Jen,
who took an excessive gamble by accompanying a rowdy group of college students on spring break and lived to tell

That group of twenty-seven college students who gave up the traditional spring break to work/"work"

and lastly to Rev. Paul, who has changed our lives for the better in so many ways.

You all mean so much more to us than you'll ever know.

But we've got one day left.

So, until tomorrow, when we might actually be crying too hard to successfully blog with coherency,

Andrew Dittmar and Mollie Gleason
Bloggers extraordinaire

P.S. We tried to have a nametag theme of "Thingama-"something but didn't have good nametag tape, alas. Perhaps tomorrow. And our lunch was pizza.

This is a meme about the truth behind RC Habitat. Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Day 5: Make Every Day Awkward

Day 5: Over the Hump and Over the Top

Quote of the Day
"Please put your legs together..."
- Haley Toresdahl

Today marked our fourth day of work, which means two things: One, that the trip is starting to wind down (we're over the hump day) and "real" life is starting to come into play again. Two, that we're really starting to smell... Okay, I do admit I usually come on these trips with the intent of wearing the same work clothes all week and showering intensely, but that might not be feasible right now.

Anyway, so we got off to another later start, thanks to one Hank Highfill. Hank slept through our wake-up call, two alarms, and one of your bloggers shouting at him "HANK GET UP!" So yeah. That happened. But we got up and we got there.

As we drove to Rockgate, though, our fears surrounding the weather forecast were slightly realized with the advent of some small rain drops. We would spend much of today battling between the overcast skies and occasionally blinding sunlight. But even still, today was probably the warmest it has been all week.

We were greeted at Rockgate by a group of students from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. As we got to know them, we got to see some of the stark contrasts between Roanoke College Habitat and other schools' Habitat organizations. VCU has nine different alternative spring break trips traveling all up and down the eastern portion of the United States, and each has their own specific mission. This was this group's first trip to Columbia (and for many of them, their first trip with Habitat). Also, their trip was completely student-led. Which is really cool, but honestly, RoCo Habitat would be significantly lessened without Rev. Paul and Jen and Hank.

So, one might think that with a group of now 43 participants, we would get serious work done.


Cornhole and four square were popular staples for much of the day (more in the afternoon) and produced a lot of bonding time with VCU-ers and each other.

To get away from that, here's a listing of the projects that were worked on:

Rev. Paul and two VCU-ers continued the process of organizing the storage trailers. (Rev. Paul got very territorial about this.)

Work continued on El Diablo. We think they made progress today. The El Diablo crew is still holding hope that, by Thursday, they will have a functioning car. Please pray for them. (They'll need it.)

Despite/because of our temperature fluctuations, our large fire from yesterday was a continual focal point of work and maintenance. Due to some interesting and creative fueling mechanisms, smoke eventually took over the entire work site. (You think I'm joking.)

The fire did provide a nice way to deal with briar and rubbish collections that occurred all around Rockgate today, though. The briars and thorn bushes and roots collected in the garden box area were a great fuel for the morning. (And after those were removed, the dirt that had been compacted into the garden boxes was
One of your bloggers took a whack at the No Man's Land that is the small space in between the two large tool containers situated next to the office trailer. The result was a pile of briars, five small (but not discountable) trees, and a piece of wood that was all but liquified.  I conquered it. (At least, I think I did.)
Later in the afternoon, a coalition of VCU-ers, Noke-ers, and Matt attacked a pile of tires that had been sitting behind these containers for years. They were surrounded by briars and thorns and full of water and leaves and quite possibly spider colonies. And there were a lot of them. We all got really dirty (contributing to our aforementioned smell). But, hey, everything is stacked (fairly neatly). And the briars gave way to even MORE things to burn.

Oh, and speaking of things to burn (if you haven't had enough of that yet) another group commandeered StevEarl's truck (driven, remarkably, by Katie, in an almost-frightening showcase of StevEarl's ability to forgive and forget?*) and drove to another site, where they did similar weed-whacking, producing another large quantity of burn-able things. That same group also went out this afternoon on a garbage run around Rockgate.

*For those that don't remember, Katie was driving StevEarl's truck two days ago when she and Shannon ended up wayyyyyy off course. Yesterday morning, Steve presented them both with "If found..." sweatshirts while showing them on a map exactly how far they were off-course.
With all those things to burn, the fire took on many forms, from actual flame to blinding smoke to even a bizarre-looking green smoke (where on earth that came from, I do not know).
As the day drew to a close, a group of both Noke-ers and VCU-ers did Zumba in the middle of the street in front of the trailer-office. This led to a ten-minute "EVERYONE LISTEN TO BRITNEY SPEARS" marathon. And then we left. (Not immediately. But basically.)

All in all today, was a showcase for RoCo Habitat's philosophy life: make every day awkward.

After our day at the site (I'm hesitant to call it a work day), we said goodbye to our new VCU friends and then headed back toward Camp Kinard. Back at camp, we had a roughly-three-hour block of time to clean-up and relax.

This time led one of your bloggers to, for the first time in four trips to Camp Kinard, actually explore the grounds. Camp Kinard is situated on a hill, so that cabins are in a downward slope, eventually giving way to a trail that takes you to a small lake, with a nice dock. There I read for a while, and enjoyed the weather (no rain!). The lake always looks a little bit different, with water levels varying from dock-level to there being dry ground under the dock. Today was the latter, which led to some ill-advised (actually, no-advised) adventuring onto said dry ground. That ground gave way to what felt like quicksand.

After quickly recovering from my proverbial "Help I'm stuck in quicksand and can't get out!" moment, I then ventured around the trail that circles the lake, and then leads to another lake. The whole thing was very serene: a spring-like day, wandering around a lake, and thinking to myself how lucky I am to be here. And I wasn't alone: I encountered six other walkers and three exercisers, all enjoying the serenity of the day, and while I don't know if they all got as contemplative as I did, I'm sure those same thoughts crossed their minds.

I know I go on about family and how thematic a role that plays in my understanding of a Habitat trip, but I think today was more about the role of: this is a break. It's a productive break, but it's a break. And with a break comes the chance to reevaluate your life, decisions, attitudes, and actions. We're lucky enough to be doing that while serving a greater purpose. (And once again, we are darn lucky to be able to do it here, with the people that have become like family.)

After this time of serenity, we took to a restaurant called Shealy's. Shealy's is a Habitat tradition: an all-you-can-eat buffet of barbecue and chicken and all kinds of good things.

A few things about Shealy's:
  • This place is atrocious for anyone who counts calories. Simply put, you're going to eat more. Accept it sooner and you'll be a lot happier. (And fuller. Without guilt.)
  • Usually they put us in our own separate room. They didn't this evening. The result? An exasperated waiter, and likely some exasperated fellow customers.
  • What happens at Shealy's stays at Shealy's. (Not really. But do you really want to imagine thirty hungry college students stuffing their faces as fast as they can. No? I didn't think so. So, just like with the overeating: accept it sooner and you'll be a lot happier.)
In all honesty, though, Shealy's is just a warm-up act for our food tomorrow evening.

So, until tomorrow, when we're currently set to help with concrete (oh, dear, something we can get massively stuck in...) at another site away from Rockbridge, we bid you, dear reader, a good night.

OH! Before we forget, lunch was delicious grilled cheese sandwiches, chili, and guacamole, courtesy of Habitat's Emily! (Thank you Emily!) And our nametags were stripper themed: First pet, first street you lived on. Tomorrow's is yet to be determined.

Okay, that actually is all.

Andrew Dittmar and Mollie Gleason
Bloggers extraordinaire

Monday, March 4, 2013

Day 4: It Warmed Up. Let's Build a Fire!

Day 4: I've Seen Fire and I've Heard Some Really Obnoxious Music (But That's Okay, It Was Still Awesome)

Today marked our third day on the job site. We returned again to the Rockgate community, where we continued to work on taking down the offices that have been set up there for quite a long time. Today's projects were basically a continuation of projects started over the course of our first two days of work.

FIRST THINGS FIRST: Anyone that has been on a RoCo Habitat trip knows the importance of nametags. Every day we all wear name tags with different themes. On our first day, it was first names. Yesterday, due to the nature of the day, we skipped the nametags. TODAY the theme was redneck names. Examples: Jed Clampett, Jenny Jo, Ricky Bobby, etc. And for the discerning/experienced reader, we had burgers for lunch. StevEarl had to venture to Food Lion to find some veggie-friendly burgers for the three vegetarians on our trip. When he couldn't find them (they're stored in the breakfast food section), he asked one of the Food Lion employees where to look. Apparently, the employee gave him that look: "Oh, you're one of those..."

OKAY. Back to our work day.

The largest group of workers spent some solid time in between two old trailer-containers that sit behind the Habitat trailer offices. Over the years, pricker bushes have commandeered the land between and underneath the containers as there own, rendering the land basically impenetrable. With some sturdy gloves, saws, and a variety of other tools, a group spent some time whacking away at the unwanted vegetation. They ALL have battle scars to show for it. (Prickers hurt.)

The stuff that was pulled out from these in-between grounds was used to build a massive fire on the work site. The fire was maintained for literally the whole day. (For much of the day, it was tended by William Greer, director of church relations for RoCo, who came to work with us for a couple of days.) This didn't totally make sense... today was easily the warmest day we've had working, and it just got warmer as the day went on. (Today we got legitimate sunburn.)

A small coalition of gentlemen continued working on El Diablo, the dilapidated truck that's been parked behind the Habitat office trailer for two years. After de-installing the truck's starter, they replaced it today. They freed the fly wheel, replaced spark plug wires, and put a fuel stablizer in the fuel tank. (Readers should be aware that this information is all coming from the mouths of those gentlemen. Whether or not they actually DID any of this, remains to be seen.) Towards the end of the work day, they managed to cause some sparking [nearly setting one of their number on fire in the process]. As they put it, the have made PROGRESS. (Progress, is, of course, a very subjective term... but regardless, we're considering it a move forward.) It is also worthy of note that during one of their handful of trips to find equipment for the truck, they discovered a Cadillac hood ornament. StevEarl has referred to an old-but-still-functioning wheelbarrow as his Cadillac. As a result, the hood ornament was bestowed on the wheelbarrow (which is now the ritziest thing I've ever seen. Except  for, like, everything else. (Just kidding. I concede, it looks coolish.)) It's worth noting that the large box van has been determined "lost cause".

Another large group continued the work on old garden boxes positioned next to the office. They had made substantial progress on these boxes and as of today, all of the physical boxes themselves have been removed. The dirt that sat inside of them was used to fill some holes around the site.

One group has taken it upon themselves to build and decorate a new cornhole set for CSCHabitat. CSCHabitat has  been using a set built by Matt Henrickson for as long as we can remember, which function fine, but lack the RoCo glamorization that this new set is sure to provide. (That was only slightly sarcastic.) (This led to a trip to Lowe's to pick up some paint, which ended with everyone returning to Rockgate successfully and no one getting lost. Unlike yesterday.

Another smaller group worked on the demolition of the truck porch. This was a somewhat sentimental demolition: this particular porch was where Matt had interviewed for his current job, and at the foot of the porch, when the concrete was laid, StevEarl and his dog, son, and other coworkers had written their names. This showcases the finality of this trip for the first time... it's Rev. Paul's final trip as the RC Chaplain and it's also marking the beginning of the end of the era of Rockgate. After the group completed the demolition of the porch, the cinder block wall that served as the trailer's semi-permanent foundation was demolished. (Seriously, if you ever want to de-stress, try knocking down a wall. It works wonders. Note: this is not a recommendation to go start knocking down walls.)

In addition to the special appearance by William Greer, RoCo was treated to two other visits.

The first of these was a visit from the director of the community service office that pre-dated both William Greer and his still-current predecessor Jesse Griffin, a man named Ned. Ned's wife ws a part of the first group that ever ventured to CSCHabitat with Rev. Paul back in spring 1987, and Ned himself went on eight Habitat trips from 1990 to 1997. He shared stories about his times on Habitat trips, and the never-changing wittiness of Rev. Paul.

The second of these was from a current Habitat homeowner naemd Sarah, who brought her dog to pick up her children from the school bus. Because the families in the area are all there partially because of volunteers like us, they usually are very receptive to volunteers (at least in our experience), so the idea of them coming to visit isn't weird. But there's always something striking about watching the interactions between Habitat's staff and the people who are on the receiving end. She hugged both Matt and StevEarl, and they got updates from all of the children that were with her (both her's and neighbors'). It really gives an interesting picture at how invested Habitat can be in the lives of the individuals that it works with. And it also shows how easy it is to take for granted the power of the word "HOME". Home isn't just a house. It's where you live, love, share, and learn. It quite literally is where the heart is. Being around a grateful homeowner is an incredibly poignant reminder that what we're doing, even if it seems so far removed from construction as to become moot, matters. It matters a lot.

After we closed up our work day, we headed back to camp to refresh ourselves before heading to the Griffin household.

The Griffins are the parents of Jesse Griffin, director of RoCo's community service office [currently building latrines in Nicaragua with another group of RoCo alt. break-ers]. They've had a longstanding relationship with Roanoke College and particularly with Rev. Paul. (Jesse tells a story that the first time he encountered Roanoke College was when he was fifteen years old, driving a truck to the camp where the RoCo-ers were staying. Incidentally, this would've been a trip that was co-led by both Paul and Ned, whom we'd met earlier in the day and who came to the Griffins with us.) The result of this has been an annual visit to the Griffin household, where we enjoy dinner and playing music as a group. This time around, we were actually joined by some additional Griffins: Charlyn, Jesse's wife, and Sawyer, the couple's six-month-old son.

The dinner was, as per usual, a delicious chicken-rice blend with every variety of hot source you can imagine, with green beans, coleslaw, rolls, and Coca-Cola cake, and homemade lemonade and tea. We congregated in various places in and around the Griffin household.

After we finished eating, we all gathered together in the Griffin living room to play music. Now for those who've never experienced music at the Griffins, it all starts with a melody, played on guitar by Rev. Paul, with the rest of us taking one of a boxful of instruments - clappers, maracas, basically anything that might be also found in a preschool music class' musical arsenal. The result? Just about the most fun we have as a group during our trip. We all get really obnoxious, playing our instruments with pride during brief solos throughout, dancing like fools, and laughing hysterically. Breaking walls might be a fantastic stress reliever, but this kind of fun is perhaps better.

After we finished our music section, the Griffins commemorated Paul's final trip with a gift bag full of instruments to begin his own musical collection. These included nose whistles, a harmonica, and a homemade bass. (This bass is part of the arsenal we get to play with during music time. It consists of a large tub and some specifically positioned rods and rope. When played properly, it produces this really cool sound.) As we've said before, this kind of thing reminded us of the finality that seems to be going alongside with this trip. Tonight, I think it really hit home, for both Rev. Paul and for all of us.

We did this for the Davises last night, and because it's beyond appropriate (and just good manners),

Dear Griffin family,

Thank you for sharing a delicious dinner, wonderful music, and wonderful times at your house. We always feel so welcome at your house, and we always appreciate everything that you share with us. Thank you for making this a wonderful part of our trip, and one we always look forward to.

Lots of love,
Roanoke College Habitat for Humanity

One thing that has been continuously striking us this week is this concept of family. As we sat around screaming and banging instruments with the musical finesse of a broken car alarm, we got a chance to sit around and just look at where we were. I think, sitting in that room, we all felt something: a reassurance that this is where we're meant to be. Right here, right now, this would be a moment we'd cherish forever. And that feeling has made me incredibly weepy tonight.

But it's tears of joy. It's all tears of joy.

So until tomorrow, when a group from Virginia Commonwealth will be coming to join us for the work day [Godspeed to them] and we face a fairly strong possibility for rain,

Andrew Dittmar and Mollie Gleason
Bloggers extraordinaire.

P.S. I promise you'll get to see pictures. Eventually. When we figure out how to put them on here...?

P.P.S. Today's quote of the day is an extended joke by Rev. Paul about Nathan Sliwa. Ask either of them to repeat it for you.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Day 3: So Show Me Family

Day 3: Some People Used Sledgehammers Today 
For those who frequent our blog, we apologize for the absence of a "Quote of the Day" section

So today marked our second work day, and the first major division of our group amongst projects.

We began our morning a bit later than our usual, thanks to a combination of late-night snack that devoured half of our breakfasts and some individuals' showering tendencies. ("I shower like a diva." This was offered as defense. My butt. Oh, wait. It was me that said that...)

We then headed towards Rockgate, the community of Habitat homes that we worked in yesterday. There we were greeted by StevEarl, the previously-identified patriarch of the RoCo/CSCHabitat coalition [who was absent from yesterday's proceedings], as well as Matt, the cool big brother of said coalition. After some hugs and reunitements, we divided into two groups, hereby referred to as Group 1 and Group 2. (For those unfamiliar with our family assessment of Habitat, see yesterday's post.)

Group 1 consisted of ten individuals, led by StevEarl and Hank. (This group included one of your trusty bloggers, Andrew.) We headed to a completely different community in another part of the city, where we were helping on the rehabilitation of a home for a partner family.

The inner-workings of Habitat are considerably more complex than what will be explained here, but to put it simply: families have to apply for housing, which can take a couple of forms--either construction or rehabilitation. Construction homes are built from the ground up for the partner family. Rehabilitated homes are homes from either previous Habitat families or outside families that are donated or sold to Habitat for usage. This was a rehab house, being given to a woman that had previously been with the Habitat program but had had to drop. When StevEarl was able to tell her that Habitat was able to secure this particular house for her to live in, she cried because she had grown up in this exact neighborhood. (Cue "It's a Small World, After All".) Not only that, but she had family and friends that still lived in the area. Not only was Habitat providing a house for her, she was getting a community, too. This kind of story is so cool because it speaks to the heart of Habitat and the people that work with Habitat - providing not just houses but HOMES. (Cue Phillip Phillips.) She also cried because the plans for her new house involved a first-floor laundry room, something she had never had before.

Group 1's projects centered around two projects: sheetrock and windows. Sheetrock bears a stunning resemblance to drywall, and between the measuring/remeasuring/reremeasuring/cutting/recutting required to sheetrock the laundry room (where you have to take into account the piping and outlets that pepper a laundry room wall) and the less-complicated task of sheetrocking and caulking other parts of the house, some screams were exchanged and some blood was spilled.  For the window project, windows had to be replaced and caulked around. This involved a good deal of broken glass. (Which can be scary.) Again, screams were exchanged and some blood may or may not have been spilled. BUT WE GOT THE JOB DONE. YEAH!

Groups 1 and 2 reunited midday for a lunch provided by Habitat, consisting of pizza. After the pizza, a small group of Habitat-ers attempted to burn calories by Zumba-ing. For one particular song, Rihanna's "S&M", Group 1 was frightened/delighted to discover that there was a chain at the Rockgate site. A long chain. Which coincides frighteningly well with "S&M"'s lyrics. Group 2-er Bridget utilized the chain to the fullest for the rest of the afternoon. Another song, "Get Buck in Here", features some suggestive choreography that involves hip thrusts and slapping the ground with your butt in the air. It just so happened that while one Zumba-er (blogger Andrew) was doing the main part of "Buck in Here", a woman living in the Rockgate community drove by and said, "D***!". Andrew's butt happened to be in the air. It may or may not have made his entire 2013 thus far.

After lunch, Group 1 returned to their site. (Three people rode in the bed of StevEarl's truck. This involved some time on the highway, which was a bit frightening.) They then went back to work, to finish sheetrock-ing and cleaning up the storage container where many of the tools are stored. Some of the equipment had to go back to Rockgate, so Shannon and Katie piled into StevEarl's truck to take it there, about twenty-five minutes before we left. They then preceded to get very lost... more on that later.

Group 2 consisted of the rest of the individuals (including another of your bloggers, Mollie), led by Matt and Rev. Paul. Work in Rockgate consisted of demolition: taking down fences and knocking down some cinder block foundation. (They got to use sledgehammers. Group 1 was extremely jealous.) Progress was also made on El Diablo, a dilapidated truck that hasn't ran in two years that's parked behind Habitat's Rockgate offices. Brendan, Dylan, and a rotating group of testosterone-infused Habitat-ers worked both today and yesterday at trying to mobilize El Diablo as well as a large (unnamed as of yet*) box van. Both of these were accompanied by a lot of cornhole, photography, racing in wheelbarrows, and a lot other shenanigans. A handful of people gathered atop for a dance party on top of one of the tool containers for various parts of the day, as well. (It's worth noting that this trip hasn't been the non-stop dance party that usually makes up a good portion of our work week.)

* We're currently taking nominations for names. The only viable candidates thus far are Foxy Boxy and Kristen Stewart. Clearly we need help.

We closed up shop and gathered back together at around 3:30, expecting to then depart to StevEarl's house. Group 1 departed roughly twenty-five minutes after they had sent Shannon and Katie to Rockbridge to unload equipment. When the whole group gathered together, though, Shannon and Katie were nowhere to be found. After some time spent calling and tracking them down, we realized that they had gotten lost. Wayyyyyyy lost.

So after waiting for an excessively long period of time, we gave up and headed to StevEarl's house. (After figuring out where they were and what they were doing, Shannon and Katie showed up twenty or so minutes after we got there.) At Steve's house, we enjoyed a wonderful dinner of tacos, courtesy of Steve's wife Julie. We also got to spend time with other members of our Habitat family - Matt, of course, and Talisha and Emily.

I'm always amazed at the Davis family's ballsiness at letting a grubby group of [wannabe] construction workers into their really really nice house. But not only do they do it, they do it willingly, and try to turn it into a temporary home for us. They let us watch TV, eat delicious food, play with their dog Oggie, and take advantage of their hammock, man-cave-back-porch, and horseshoe range. I don't know if there's ever any type of official thank you distributed to the people who let us invade their homes while we're in South Carolina, but hopefully that ends here:

 Dear Steve, Julie, and Oggie,

Thank you so much for the generosity you showed tonight. Julie, the food was absolutely delicious, as it always is. Steve, well, there are plenty of words, but half of them can't be said in a thank-you note, so we'll just leave it with an over-arching thank you. Oggie, we're sorry if we scared the crap at our you at the beginning of the night, but hope you enjoyed some additional attention.

We always look forward to time with you all, so thank you for opening up your house tonight.

Lots of love,
Roanoke College Habitat for Humanity

P.S. We apologize if you need to have your carpets cleaned from our shoes... just charge it to Paul. :)

After leaving the Davis household, we returned back to our camp. We looked at some pictures (Group 2 was vastly more well-represented in the photography department). And now we're all going to sleeping, getting ready to embark on the adventure that is day three of a RoCo Habitat work week.

On a general level, South Carolina is the coldest its been since anyone currently on the trip [sans Paul and Hank] can remember. This means that volleyball, which is our usual Habitat tradition, is sort of not being played at the minute. [Unfortunately.] With some luck, Habitat-ers might grow some cold-resistant balls and head to volleyball court tomorrow. Without it, well... we always have our four-square ball with us.

And on a personal level: something always strikes us about nights like tonight, and it might become a bit redundant throughout the week: how much RoCo/CSCHabitat truly does operate like a family. Between Steve, Paul, and Hank, we have three father figures/role models to look up to (no matter how much they may try to deny knowing us whenever they're able to). Between Jennifer and Julie, we have two saints/mother figures/role models to look up two (they're married to Paul and Steve, respectively, which elevates them beyond their already-saintly status). With Matt, Talisha, Emily, and whoever else tags along, we have older brothers and sisters. And with the rest of us, we're a Yours, Mine, and Ours-esque hodgepodge of students. 

And to us students, Habitat provides us a chance to leave behind the college life for a little while.  No matter who we are at school, no matter where we come from [this trip's participants come from everywhere from Alaska to California to Pakistan], no matter our personality, interests, gifts, or limitations, we're all here for a reason, and we're all blessed by being here.

There's a Lumineers song that just about anyone who listens to the radio knows by now that goes, "So show me family / All the blood that I would bleed". Well, Lumineers songwriter (whoever you happen to be...), here is family.

And we're so glad to be here.

So until tomorrow, where there's a stronger possibility for rain that we'd like to admit, and we will be joined by William Greer, RoCo's director of church relations,

Andrew Dittmar and Mollie Gleason
Alternative break bloggers extraordinaire

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Day 2: The Blessing that is Sidewalk Chalk

Day 2: Working on Working on Working. [Ish.]

Quote of the Day
- Everyone

Today the Maroons began their work week in Columbia!

To begin with, one might need to start at the beginning. Roanoke College has had a relationship with Central South Carolina Habitat for Humanity since 1986, when still-Chaplain Paul Henrickson first ventured with a smallish group to Columbia to attempt...something. In the intermediary twenty-seven years, Roanoke College has formed an established and trusting relationship with CSC and we are currently reaping the benefits of that relationship.

To be honest, RC/CSC coalition forms a family unit. The patriarch of the CSC portion of our unit is one Steve Davis [aka StevEarl, Habitat's construction manager. Not only does patriarch Steve oversee our various construction projects, many of us who consistently return to South Carolina see him as a second father figure. [Steve unfortunately didn't make an appearance today.] At his side is Matt Henrickson, son of Rev. Paul and Habitat's project foreman. He serves the role of "cool older brother" - he's really not much older than us, but the same admiration we have for Steve we also for him.  The remainder of the CSC family  - Emily, Laura, Talisha [Beha, RoCo '12], and a slew of others all take on various other vital roles to the family unit that we've developed - the brothers, sisters, cousins, etc. that make our world go around. (We all come because we love the work we do. But between Steve, Matt, Talisha, Emily, and everyone else, it's really the people that keep us coming back.)

(To add to this whole family thing, the CSC coalition has made trips to Roanoke every year to help with the freshman R-House build. If you're reading this blog and you're a student of Roanoke College, you've most assuredly met Steve, probably Matt, and possibly an array of other figures. Yeah. We know them personally. BE JEALOUS. You really should be.)

And then there's the Roanoke College side of the RC/CSC brigatde. Headed by Rev. Paul, his childhood best friend Hank, and this time around Rev. Paul's wife Jennifer, we resemble what would happen if you mixed together the Brady Bunch, the Von Trapp family, and just enough of the Manson family so that you're just a little bit afraid all of the time. It's always a good time [but watch your back].

Combined, RoCo/CSC is an unstoppable combination. [That may be a lie. Unfortunate? Unconquerable...? Those are probably more accurate.]

Today, we started off our week at a place called Rockgate. Basically the entire Rockgate community is basically made up of Habitat homes. Nowadays, the community is at a point where the only remaining construction lots are where the Habitat Rockgate offices are. As a result, our projects are at least beginning with the preparation of the office and material holding areas for transport. [They're trailers. This isn't as weird as it sounds.]

Today we did the following things:
  • Beginning the taking apart of the fences that surround the Habitat property
  • Clearing out containers full of equipment, reorganizing the equipment and putting the equipment back in the containers
  • Bagging insulation
  • Dealing with and taking apart garden beds
  • Enjoyed a delicious lunch of sandwiches, cookies, chips, and fruit cookies.
  • Picking up garbage
  • Hacking the built-up brush around around the Habitat offices
  • Sorting lots and lots of nails 
  • Determining what things were of high-enough quality to be sold at the ReStore
 This kind of work doesn't necessarily entail the excitement that comes with straight construction, but at the same time this represents how strong the bond between CSC and RC really is - they trust us to make fun the the somewhat monotonous tasks of this kind of prep work.

And we most certainly did.

In New Orleans over winter break, RoCo discovered a childhood game called four-square and turned it into something of a New Orleans phenomenon. It was all kinds of intense.

We brought that down to SC with us. Armed with a kickball and some sidewalk chalk, we successfully blocked off the street during our lunch for an overly-intense game of street four-square. And then during every break. And even when we probably should have been working.

In NOLA, we also instituted our now-tradition of a "Stand by Me" sing-along. We all gather together and belt it out to the chagrin of half of the people around us. In NOLA it happened on our last day. Here it happened on our first. Expect more reports of comparable group sing-alongs as the week progresses.

We cut our day off at 3:00 and departed back to the college. Napping, running, and watching of Beverly Hills 90210 went until about 6, when we gathered around for one of two dinners at Camp Kinard. Chicken and rice and green beans - all very good, though just a warm-up for the next four days of delightful eating. After dinner, Mollie, Phillip, Andrew, and Bridget headed to the basement of the dining hall, where utilizing the same sidewalk chalk and kickball we engaged in a spirited game of four-square [again]. This time we tried various alternatives to traditional four-square na- right-handed, left-handed, no-handed, etc. It didn't really work... the fact that we didn't break something is basically a miracle. But that's all right. [We have the edge over our competition tomorrow. Muhahahahaha.]

At 8, we  gathered around for our nightly gathering. We sang songs while Rev. Paul plays the guitar from a camp-style songbook. We reflect on our day. And then we watch a slideshow of the various pictures taken through the day. They range from funny to inappropriate to actual showcases of productivity. [We will most definitely be sharing these on our Facebook page in time, though right now we're still dealing with sketchy WiFi connections.] Following this, we ended our day with a spirited game of Apples to Apples, accompanied by an unfortunate concoction of coffee mixed with orange juice and some PopTarts.

Tomorrow, StevEarl is scheduled to make his first appearance and take a group of us to a home that currently being rehabilitated. This is sure to make for some interesting tales. After our work day we'll then head to his house to enjoy the delicious cooking of his wife, Julie, and the company of the whole of the Davis family [and hopefully the rest of our CSC family].

So until then, we's all goin' to bed. Y'all do y'all, peeps, and have a good night.

Andrew Dittmar & Mollie Gleason
Bloggers extraordinaire.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Day 1: Traveling Blues

Day 1: The Maroons Have Landed

Quote of the Day
- Mollie Gleason, on cars [we were playing four-square in a rest stop parking lot]


Okay, so we're not Orson Welles. And we're not Martians. (Most of us, at least.) But that's okay. 'Cuz we're awesome. Yeah.

So five-hour car rides are delish. Not really. Today's were fairly uneventful. (God knows midterms were a certain type of dog this week.) So we slept. And watched Beverly Hills, 90210 (maybe that was just me). And enjoyed cookies, courtesy of RoCo Habitat chaperone (? I really don't know how to assess his position within our little Habitat family) Hank's wife. We arrived at about 11 PM.

Tomorrow begins our work week. And, speaking as someone who has been here before (versus the excitingly large number of first-timers on this particular trip), y'all don't know what's coming.
We will actually not be constructing a house, but rather doing various home rehabilitation projects. What that means, exactly, is still to be determined. But whatever it is, it's sure to be an exciting challenge.

So until tomorrow, when we do work,
Andrew Dittmar & Phillip Barbolla,
RoCo Serve/Habitat bloggers. Extraordinaire.