To Elaborate

I know what you’re thinking:  “Man, that last post was sooooo lame!”

Never fear, my dear, I am here to elaborate on the stuff and things I’ve been doing.

First off…

Good news, folks!  We’re finally living in the new volunteer house!  Hurray!  Although, it must be admitted, everything isn’t perfect yet.  For example, we have no internet or phone in the house yet.  I had to walk through the rain to get to our internet cafe this morning (yup, that would be the trailer).  We don’t have a dining room table yet, so we’re sitting on folding chairs at a folding table.  We don’t have any bedroom furniture except the bed.  (Yes, this means that I have finally said good-bye to Creaky Bed.  My new bed is much better). The screen door to the porch doesn’t latch so the door swings open and closed in the wind a lot.  One of the local dogs (his name is PJ, and he’s a pretty nice doggy) figured out that he could open the door, so he let himself onto the porch.  However, he also discovered that he could not get back out once he got in, which made him a sad doggy.

I got to celebrate my birthday in the new house.  My lovely housemates made me some yummy hamburgers and a delicious chocolate cake.  They also gave me a nice walking stick for a present.  I will use it to beat on any bears that I may happen to meet while hiking.  They also subjected themselves to the uncomfortableness of wearing a pointed, elastic-banded, party hat. And all for little ole me.

Things have been going well at work.  The fourth graders are a lot of fun.  I really enjoy going to the elementary school.  Family fun night was yesterday.  We had some college students from Notre Dame come to help housing last week and on one of the days they were here they were rained out, so they decorated our haunted house (room) for us.  It turned out pretty good and I think the SPARK kids had a lot of fun scaring people last night.  I didn’t get a chance to walk through the haunted house because I was helping out with the games.  The kids who were trick-or-treating or playing the games received an abundance of Mike and Ikes.  We got two or three big boxes full of them for free from Op Sharing.  We gave out a lot of them…but we still have a ton.  Unfortunately, I do not like Mike and Ikes so I can not be helpful in the task of depleting our Mike and Ikes stock.

Speaking of Op Sharing (long form: Operation Sharing), I don’t think I’ve explained what that is yet.  Op Sharing is a place where a lot of stores donate stuff (yup, I used the word stuff) they can’t sell.  For example:  things (yup, I used the word things) that people brought back, or damaged goods, out-of-date stuff, etc.  All of that stuff is then used by CAP to help participants in their programs or their volunteers.  My housemate Olga and I went for my first big trip to Op Sharing last week.  There are huge boxes just full of stuff.  The most common items were toothpaste and hair spray.  We basically spent our morning digging through big boxes looking for things that we could use at the house or at the preschool or in SPARK.

Unfortunatly, while I was there I cut my finger and started to bleed profusely.  I was getting blood all over all of the free Op Sharing items and I didn’t know what to do.

“Olga!”  I shouted.   “What should I do?  I don’t know what to do!”

“Here,” she said.  She handed me a wad of free Op Sharing Bounty napkins.

I used them to sop up my gaping wound, but they still weren’t enough.  “Where are all of the free huge-o Op Sharing bandages when you need them?!”  I cried.  “I’m starting to feel faint!”

Olga handed me more napkins.

And finally, I stopped bleeding.

My life was saved by Olga and Bounty napkins.  And I am eternally grateful to both of them.

(What did you say?  Something smells?  Are you suggesting that my Op Sharing cut finger story is b.s.?  Well, it might be.  The actual story might be that I scraped my finger on the wall and when it started bleeding I held one napkin to my finger to keep it from getting blood on any of the stuff in the boxes.  But that story is boring and not worthy of being shared in a blog.  So I’m sticking with my other story.  Take that, doubters.)

Stuff and Things!

The words stuff and things are so much fun.

(Highly interesting sample conversation:)

“What are you going to do today?”

“Stuff. ”

“What’s in that box?”

“Things.”

“Sweet.  What an informative answer.”

I think stuff and things are the words you use when you don’t really have an answer for a question…or when you don’t really feel like talking and you want to use the fewest words possible.  Or when you think the person who asked you is being snoopy and you don’t care to give them a real answer.  Or if you’re just feeling really dull and being boring.

So what have I been doing since the last time I posted on this here blog?

Stuff.

And things.

Words are tricky things…

I think today would be a good time to talk about the English language.  It’s made up of so many words and phrases that have specific meanings…ooooor do they?  Let us look at a Michigan/Kentucky translation dictionary and see!

1.  “I don’t care to.”

Michigan translation:  I don’t want to do that.

Kentucky translation:  I don’t mind.

(What’s really confusing is when someone who is not a native Kentuckian uses this.  I know that they know both meanings…but I’m not sure what meaning they mean…Tricky?  Yes.  Yes, indeed.)

2.  “You’uns”

Michigan translation:  It doesn’t mean anything.  I don’t even know how to spell it.  Never heard it.

Kentucky translation:  All of you.

(I’m not really sure what the difference between “you’uns” and “y’all” is…they appear to mean the same thing.  Maybe you’uns is more likely to be used for young people…I’m not really sure.)

3.  “I could just beat his butt off!”

Michigan translation:  I am so angry at that kid!  I’m going to give him a spanking!

Kentucky translation:  That kid is so cute!

(This one is kind of weird.  I guess it’s kind of like “That kid is so cute I just want to pinch his cheeks!” or something like that.  Who knew a butt beating was a sign of affection?)

Honorable mention:  “Bless your heart” (I kind of like this one.  A lot of people use it.  The lady at the bank used it today.  She was blessin’ my heart.  How kind of her.) “Y’all”  (y’all know what this means so I don’t need to translate it for y’all).  Mamaw (I don’t think I’ve heard a single kid say Grandma here.  They all say Mamaw.  A lot of the kids here live with their Mamaw.  It’s pretty sad.)  Umm…that’s all that I can think of right now.

In other wordy news…

I know way more about my some of coworkers and their families than I ever wanted to know.  And it’s not because I’ve been gossiping.  It’s because everybody here tells everybody everything about themselves.  There are times when I feel a leeeeetle uncomfortable.  It’s very different down here sometimes…bless their hearts.

Speaking of words, while I was helping the 4th grade reading class this week, I could not help but notice that a kid across the room was picking at one of my carefully placed “bad” stickers.  That kid is gunna go to hell.

No, no, just kidding.  He just probably read the word hell.  Which is exactly as I predicted!  Haha!

War is hell! I mean bad…

It has occured to me that I haven’t really written much about work.  I suppose I will start with my time with the fourth graders.  I have, unfortunately, not spent a lot of time in the schools yet, but my first week was fun.  When I go into the schools I spend part of the morning helping kids who need extra help with their reading and then I teach a half hour bullying class.  There are four 4th grade classes and I go to one each day.

My first day I spent most of my morning helping two kids whose reading skills were behind the rest of the class.  They were really fun to talk to.  When I told them that I was from Michigan, they asked me what language I spoke up there.  I told them I spoke English.  They said, “Not American?”  They also told me that one of the things that I needed to do while I was in Kentucky was go to McDonald’s.  I told them that I had been to one back home, but they seemed to think that it was important that I go to one while I am here.  Following that suggestion, I immediately pulled out my “Things to do While in Kentucky” list and replaced my number 1 item with “Go to McDonald’s”.  Yeah.  It’s that important.

My second day was fairly amusing, and not because of the kids.  When I got there, the teacher had some catch-up work that she needed to do with the kids, so I couldn’t be of any help with them.  So, she gave me another important task:  Replace all of the cuss words in the book they were about to read with stickers that said a more appropriate word!

The dialogue in the book went something like this:

“War is hell.  Pure hell.”

Once I inserted my little stickers over the offensive “hell” it said this:

“War is bad.  Pure bad.”

There were about four “hells” that I had to replace.  I found the task rather amusing, because a) I think the kids are going to figure it out and b) I really don’t think it’s necessary (especially since I knew some of these kids from SPARK and I didn’t think the word hell was going to upset them.)  Plus, “Pure bad” isn’t really proper English…or should I say American?

Those were the highlights of my fourth grade experience.  In SPARK, we started the exciting task of getting ready for Halloween this past week.  They have a family fun night right before Halloween, so we’re planning on having the kids decorate all the SPARK rooms and have games and some spooky activities for the families to do when they come.  This week the younger kids painted pumpkins (which the family fun night attendees will vote on to decide which is the best) and the older kids made some scarecrows.  It was pretty messy painting with the younger kids.  A couple of the kids accidentally spilled the cup that had the dirty paint water in it all over the table.  So, I gave one of the boys the cup to throw away.  It only had a tiny bit of water left in it, so I thought he could handle it.  Buuuut…nope.  He spilled the little bit of water that was left on the floor.

And paint water on the floor is bad.

Pure bad.

The Big One (and other weekend activities)

Well, I attended the big final mud bog of the season last weekend.  I now understand why the mud bog before it was not “the big one”.

We headed out to go to the mud bog and we were a little thrown off at first because we drove to the place where the mud bog was the weekend before and there was no one there.  So, we drove a little further down the road, where we saw an off-road racing sign.  We weren’t sure if this was where the mud bog was, or if it was something different, but we went in anyway.  It turns out it was the right place…which we were assured of once I saw my boss Brinda there.  The mud bog before had been one mud pit with people lined along it.  The mud bog this time was at a stadium of sorts.  There was no seating, but the hill had been tiered to allow people to have their chairs sit on different levels so that everyone could see.  There were two mud pits so that you could have two trucks going head-to-head and an off-road racing track that went around them.  So, there was racing as well as…mud…bogging…or whatever going through the mud pits is called.

Some people got pretty into it.  There were some screamers standing behind us.  They apparently had a relative in the mud bog.  At one point, he was declared the loser of a mud bog race.  To quote his screaming fan base (you must put this in your head as a SCREAM, because it definitely was a scream):

“WHAT?  Heeeell no!  Heeeell no!  Check the camera!  Check the ****ing camera!”

My housemate Meghan said that she actually knew the screamers and that they were actually a pretty nice family.  They just, apparently, get caught up in the moment sometimes.

They were also giving out prizes during the breaks in between cars getting ready, or broken down cars getting pulled off the track (which happened just about every lap during one race…which made the race not as exciting as it could have been) to whoever had the ticket number that they pulled.  Most of the prizes were things like hats, mugs and t-shirts but the Grand Prize was…brace yourself…a case of oil!  Yeah!  I didn’t win.

One of the most novel moments of the night was when one of the poor off-road racers flipped his car.  This, of course, would not have been a really unusual happening, but he flipped his car over the barrier in between the race track and the mud pit and landed top down in a deep pit of mud.  Don’t worry, he was okay.

In other weekend notes, I went for a hike yesterday to a place called Buzzard Rock (at least, I think that was what it was called) and another place called Yahoo Falls (which is the highest waterfall in Kentucky, but is also a very small waterfall).  It was a bea-u-ti-ful day in a beautiful setting.

Good stuff.

Pictures

I’m not very good at taking pictures.  I always forget to take my camera, and when I do, the pictures aren’t always that great.  Soooo, I haven’t taken very many pictures while I’ve been here.  But here are a few…

The trailer that I live in! Woohoo!

Cumberland Falls. Oh-so-purty.

Some girl sitting on a rock.

Some big rocks. There's lots of those here.

Aaaaand…I’m going to go ahead and call that:  Good enough for now!

Ode to a Creaky Bed

Oh creaky bed, oh creaky bed.

You are the place where I lay my head.

You make a noise everytime I move.

You know, creaky bed….sometimes I wonder when you started to creak.  What ails you?  How many people have slept upon you?  Who was it who broke your spirit and caused you to protest whenever someone comes for a visit?

Was it a fat person?  Or a skinny one with too many angles?

Was it a kid fond of jumping?

Or is it just that your maker produced shoddy work?

You know, creaky bed…I think I’ve gotten used to you.  You’re kind of loud, and you’re a little too short, but I have become accustomed to your imperfections.  After all, you could be worse….

You could be smelly.

You could hurt the back.

You could make me rise in the morning with a scowl.

In short, you could cause me a lot of grief, but ya don’t.

Nevertheless…….

I hope to be rid of you soon.

Bless Their Hearts (Part 2)

Ooooh, Kentucky.  It’s time for another list of the things that I’ve noticed about you.  Avert your eyes if you think it’s going to be too painful.

1.  Kentucky Time:  Okay, I know that I already mentioned this before, but I’ve seen even more of it now and it’s starting to get on my nerves.  People around here are soooooo stinkin’ slow!  We went to the McCreary Fest parade last weekend (which was basically a fall festival for McCreary County, which is the county that I am living in).  It started half an hour later than it was supposed to.  We went to the mud bog.  We arrived 40 minutes late.  We pulled up to the kid at the entrance who was collecting the entrance fee.  We asked him how long ago they started, to which he replied, “They’re just starting.  They just got done with the national anthem.”  (To which I said, “Well, I’m glad we’re late.”)  The new volunteer house is still not done.  Our latest setback?  The inspector who had an appointment to come this week up and decided to go to Florida and he’s the only one around here who does these types of inspections.  Ugh.

2.  Smoke breaks:  This is kind of related to the above issue.  A lot of the people around here smoke.  A lot.  I would love to spend a day following some of these folks around and timing how much of their workday is spent on smoke breaks.  I’m pretty sure it would be a pretty fair chunk of time.  And it’s an unhealthy habit.  And I don’t like smelling it.  And – alright, alright, that’s my last negative comment for this post.  I promise.

3. Mud bog:  As I mentioned above, I went to my first ever mud bog this weekend.  And I liked it!  I think that part of the reason that I liked it was because it kind of reminded me of home.  Not because I’ve ever been to a mud bog at home, but just because it seemed like something people at home would enjoy.  It was basically a race to see who could get through this long mud pit the fastest.  The vehicles would go through the mudpit individually, and whoever had the best time won.   It was fun.  We’re probably going to go again this weekend.  This weekend is supposed to be “THE BIG ONE” (otherwise known as the last mud bog of the season)!

4.   The Schools:  This was my first week of working in the local schools.  Aaaand….I really enjoyed it!  For right now, I’m only working at the local elementary school, where I am helping in the fourth grade classes and teaching a short (half hour) lesson on bullying once a week.  I’m more comfortable in the school setting, and it was nice to get the opportunity to go into the schools and work with the kids there.  Most of the schools that I have seen around here have really beautiful new buildings.  The elementary school building is really impressive.  However, a lot of the schools around here are having academic problems.  Many of them haven’t met AYP in a while.

5.  Rugged Beauty:  When I first came here, I wasn’t so sure about how I felt about the landscape.  Everyone kept saying that it was so beautiful, but I just kept thinking that home is a lot more beautiful.  I still think that…but it might be just becuase the land at home is sewn into the fiber of my being and is more to me than just surroundings.  I also had some reservations about the mountains.  I always thought that I would like to see mountains because they looked so pretty in pictures, but when I actually saw some, they felt more fobidding than beautiful to me.  However, I’m happy to say, I think I’m beginning to appreciate the beauty of this place a little bit more.  It’s fall (my favorite season) and the many, many trees around here are starting to change colors.  I went for a hike along Cumberland Falls again last weekend and all of the rock formations and the falls were impressive. ( I should probably post some pictures on here, sometime.  Hmmmmm….)

Five is a good number.  I think I’ll end my post here.

The.

End.

(Well, for now.)