Abnormal:  Adj.  Deviating from what is normal or usual, typically in a way that is undesirable.

The past two weeks (sorry for neglecting you, blog, but I had my reasons) have been sprinkled with the abnormal.

The first, of course, that is on everyone’s mind, is the weather.  Over the past couple of weeks I have just over and over been having to remind myself “This is March!”  It’s almost like mother nature has decided to skip spring entirely.  Which makes me sad.  Because I love spring.  I think I’m getting gypped.

I traversed out into this abnormal weather for research purposes this week.  For SPARK, we are planning to take all of the kids hiking to Natural Arch next week.  Neither Mike nor I had ever been there before (even though it’s pretty close by) so we went over there to scout out the land.  It was pretty hot.  Very summer-y.  The Natural Arch is very cool and worth the hike.  And, as Mike pointed out, the best part about this trip was that WE WERE AT WORK.  Hiking for work.   Ahh, lovely.  I’m pretty excited about next week.  After the hike, I also had my first ever Ale-8-One which is a type of ginger ale that is made in Kentucky.  And I liked it!

On the morning of that day, I experienced something that is a little out of the ordinary from my personal experience.  My TB test was out-of-date so I was sent to the health department.  Here, though, you don’t need to get a TB test every time you come.  You can just get a TB screening.  A TB screening consisted of a lady asking me if I had any of the symptoms of TB and then BING BANG BOOM she gave me a piece of paper saying that I was TB free.  That wouldn’t cut it in Michigan.  I would also like to make note of the fact that this brief transaction actually took up an hour of my time.

Last weekend was not abnormal, per say, but resulted in a change in the McCreary household.  Our lovely housemate Meghan said good-bye to CAP and headed home.  I spent most of last weekend working on a scrapbook for her and the rest of the weekend our internet at the house died (and is still dead), so that is my excuse for neglecting the old blog.  We’re going to miss her, but such is life in a volunteer house.

The next abnormal happening is that there has been a panther sighting at the preschool!  Gasp!  How exciting!  Of course, the experts say that there is no such thing as black panthers living in Kentucky, but the locals say otherwise.  And this past week some people at the preschool believe that they saw one across from the playground.  I watched an episode of MonsterQuest on this very topic.  This is the first time in my life that I have ever been part of a real life MonsterQuest.  I think I’m going build a large panther catching trap.  Then I will be famous.  And possibly rich if I make my story interesting enough to write a book and get a movie deal.  Oh, the possibilities.



Great Expectations

This week I was doing some writing the old school way – with a pencil and paper – and I noticed something a little bit weird.  I noticed that instead of separating my paragraphs with the usual indentation, I was separating them by skipping a line.

“Why am I doing this?” I thought.

My brain naturally came up with a flattering answer.  “Because it creates more of a pause there in the reading.  You’re being creative.”

But then I noticed that I was doing it the next day when I was writing something different.  And then it hit me.

“Hey, stupid!  You’re not being creative!  You’re just writing the way you have to type when you’re writing in blogdom!”

I had wasted all of those lines of paper, not for creativity, but because I had gotten used to it.

Sigh.  We humans are such creatures of habit.  We set ourselves into our routines and tell ourselves that this is the way they’re going to stay for a while.  We have expectations for the way that things are “supposed to be.”  And when they don’t turn out the way we wanted them to, we sometimes get mad.

Yesterday, like my buddy Charles Dickens, I got to thinking about expectations.  I had great expectations for yesterday.

Yesterday I expected to spend the day in outdoors-y bliss, wandering around the hiking trails at Cumberland Falls.  Instead I found myself laying on the floor of my room, trying to soak up the sun from the window like a cat, wrapped in a blanket, with my head propped up on the sweatshirt I wore yesterday and my face in the carpet.  I could have been laying on my bed, but I couldn’t get myself to make the effort to get up.  I was the miserable catcher of a flu bug.

Sometimes your expectations just don’t line up with reality.

But this can be a good thing.  When I saw the door at the end of my bedroom hallway, I expected to dislike it.  It is a pointless door that leads out to nowhere that no one is ever going to use.  It gave me troubles when I tried to lock it.  It annoyed me.  But now I have discovered a great liking, if not for the door, for the window in the door.  The window looks out to the woods.  And it has turned into an observation deck for me.  I watch busy little squirrels run around and nibble at bits of food.  I watch our family of five deer wander about our backyard.  I watch crows walk around with their halting bird-steps.  I watch a neighborhood cat sun itself.  I watch a pair of dogs trot off into the woods, tails wagging, for a day of adventure (possibly chasing squirrels?).

I love that window that I did not have great expectations for.

My housemate Meghan had her birthday a couple of weekends ago.  We had just watched Rebel Without a Cause and were sitting in the living room, eating funfetti cake.

“You know,” she said.  “If you had asked me what I was going to be doing when I was 25, this wouldn’t have been it.”

I had to agree with her.  I haven’t hit 25, yet, but if you had asked me a few years ago what I would be doing when I was 24, this wouldn’t have been it.  I remember the day that I found out that I wasn’t going to able to finish college in the amount of time that I wanted to.  I just went to my room and cried because I was so sick of college and I just wanted to be done.  Plus, I was angry with myself for not having my life figured out.  Most people (I thought) had things figured out, and I didn’t.  I was also upset with God because I felt like things shouldn’t be the way they were.  I had had great expectations, and they hadn’t panned out.

But sometimes God has expectations that are greater than our own.

This isn’t where Meghan would have chosen to be when she was 25, but she also considers her time at CAP to be the best year of her life so far.

This isn’t where I would have chosen to be when I was 24, but I’m really happy and feeling much more at peace with all of my worries than I have been for a long time.

I still have great expectations for myself.   But I’m okay if God has different ones.

A Hiking We Will Go

I haven’t put any pictures on here in quite awhile.  But never fear!  Because this post was created solely for the purpose of showing you some pictures.  The following are pictures from a fall hike that we went on and the winter hike that we went on that I wrote about in my Saturday adventure post.  Here is how you can tell which pictures are from which hike:  If the people are wearing t-shirts, it is from the fall hike.  If the people are wearing sweatshirts and hats and gloves and coats, it is from the winter hike.  Yeah, it’s that simple.  Note:  I did not take all of these pictures.  I stole some from people.  But that’s okay.

Here goes:

Me in front of Cumberland Falls.

Die, Spider, Die!

Being in Kentucky has introduced me to many new things.

One of them is weather radios.

I never used weather radios at home.  Once, when I was shopping for a new radio for my Dad to put in the milk house, I found one that looked to be about the right size.  But on the box it said that it was also a weather radio.

“Weather radio?  What does that mean?” I said.  “Does it have a special channel for the weather?”

So obviously, my Michigan upbringing had not familiarized me with weather radios.

This past week has been the first time that I have really experienced the weather radio because this past week had two days full of tornado watches and warnings.  This also meant two days of the weather radio beeping and going off every few minutes with announcements about things to watch for in the weather – tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, flood watches, all that good stuff.

Luckily, however, I can say that I made it through those two days without experiencing a new thing that I NEVER want to experience:  a tornado.  We got through with just rain storms.  Some of the volunteer houses on the more eastern side of CAP did not fair so well, though.  A tornado actually hit their area.  But all the volunteers are okay.

Another thing that Kentucky has introduced me to is the fear of discovering a poisonous creature.  There are no poisonous snakes or spiders back home, so I never have to worry about them.  No so here!

Right now, I don’t have to worry so much about snakes (ugh) because it is not the proper season for those creepy creatures.  However, I did find a dead lizard in the school hallway this week.  Which was disgusting.  I had to pick him up by his gross little tail and throw him outside where he belongs.  Mike informed me that I might find snakes in the school in the spring.  Oh, yippee.  Something to look forward to.  (Ugh again).

Spiders, though – I do have to worry about them.  I am not someone who has a natural fear of spiders.  I tolerate them.  And even like certain kinds of them.  I think Daddy Long Legs are rather nice creatures.  I think the kind of spiders that create little hidey holes in their webs are interesting.  I hate the really big fat-bodied spiders.  I hate the really speedy hairy spiders that get into the house sometimes and are often hard to squash.  But for the most part, I can deal with spiders.  And if I see a spider in the house, sometimes I don’t bother squishing it because it doesn’t really bother me that much.

Not so here.  Any spider that I see in the house here must die!  Because there are poisonous spiders here and I do not want to be bitten.  The worst part about these poisonous spiders is that, never having seen them in person, I’m not really 100% sure what they look like.  I mean, I’ve seen pictures of them, but it’s not the same as seeing them in person.  So, if I see a brown spider I think “Is this a brown recluse?  This could be a brown recluse.”  I mean, yes, the brown recluse has a little fiddle on its back that helps you recognize it.  But I’ve got to be pretty darn close to a spider to see whether or not there is a fiddle on its back.  So all brown spiders must die.  Especially now that I just googled brown recluse and saw some really disgusting pictures of people who had been bitten.

So anyway, yesterday I was in the bathroom when I saw a brown spider crawling on my door.  I tried to lean in to get a better look at it.  Did it have a fiddle on its back?  Of course, I couldn’t tell.  I had to squish it!  But it was crawling right along the edge of the door and was not at a proper arachnid squishing position.  So I waited.  But this was a very tricky spider.  And he was behaving in a GASP! reclusive manner!  He crawled into the crevice between the closed door and the wall underneath the hinges.

“All right, Mr. Spider,” I said.  “You think you’re going to escape me?  Well, you are SO WRONG!”

I opened the door.  I couldn’t see him.  Where did that little booger go?!

Then I saw (frightful-ness!) a little baby spider.  I grabbed my spider squashing weapon of choice, the Kleenex box, and whapped him a good one.  (Although, to be honest, he may have escaped, because he was on a web and it was not the best squishing position.  And he was so small that there would not have been any serious carnage as evidence of his death.)

Enough with that minor distraction.  I needed to find my sneaky spider enemy who was somewhere on the door.

Aha!  I spotted him, trying to make a rush to the other side of the door.  I went back into the bathroom and closed the door.  Agh!  Where’d he go?

I looked around the hinges of the door.  And there he was, scrunched up in a little hidey hole, thinking that he had outsmarted me.  And maybe he had.  I could not squish him with my box when he was there.  I needed a new weapon.

I opened the bathroom cupboard, looking for a smaller, skinnier squishing utensil.

Aha!  An emery board.  Good for jagged finger nails and getting into tight spaces. I pulled it out and stuck it into the crevice.  Squash!  I killed my enemy.  I emerged the victor!  YES!

Oh, dear.  I think this place is turning me into a paranoid, spider killing maniac.

A Saturday Adventure

Last Saturday was a very full day.  The day’s excitement began in the quiet observation of two happy squirrels outside my window and ended with me consuming a half pound of meat on a toasted bun at 9:30 pm.  (No, it was not squirrel meat.)

So to start at the beginning.  Squirrels.  Cute, little, bushy tailed squirrels.  They live in the woods just outside our not very useful end of the hall door.  And I saw them this morning.  Nibbling away at some tasty munchies, chasing each other up trees, flicking their tails, being happy woodland animals.  It was going to be a beautiful day.  A day on which I should be outside so that I can be as happy as a squirrel.

So a hike was arranged!  Enlisted to be a part of this hike were:  Kate, the visiting Josh, Tricia, and, of course, me.  First, we traveled down to Cumberland Falls.  Tricia had never seen it before so we stopped, took a looksie, and enjoyed the view.  Then we headed a little bit up the road to our chosen hiking spot: a lovely forest trail that led to a fire tower.  It was a beautiful day.  The path was wide and well traveled, the sun was out, the sky was the perfect shade of blue, the temperature was good, everything was good.  The path to the fire tower eventually broke off to a series of steps that you had to take up the mountain.  So we climbed.  By this point, we realized that there was a large group of tourists behind us.  “Ah, man!” I thought to myself, “It would be nice if we just had this whole trail to ourself without a big group of people to worry about!”  But I was quite mistaken.

We got up to the fire tower and the top of it was closed off so that no one could get in.  But, we took some pictures anyway.  However, by this time, the forest ranger that was guiding the tourists came up with his group and announced that he was going to be opening the tower so we could go up and take a look with the group if we wanted to.  Hurray for tourists!  So we went up in the tower.  It was very neat.  It must have been interesting for the people who stayed up there back in the day.  He explained to us how they would try to pinpoint where the fire was and it was very interesting.  Quite mathematical.  You could see a lot from up there.  Usually when you’re milling about around here, you can’t see very far because of all of the mountains and the trees, but now, on this tower, I could see!  And it was lovely.

Tower sighting complete, we headed back down.  And here our troubles began.  (Which is a Maus reference by the way.  Read it!)

As we were heading down the stone steps, Tricia slipped and fell and hurt her ankle.  Aannnd, she wasn’t sure if she would be able to walk on it.  But as luck would have it, we were fortunate in three ways.  One:  I had brought my Kentucky hiking stick with me.  Good for hiking and good for propping up cripples.  Two:  There was a forest ranger close by.  Three:  One of the last tourists who was passing by (a very nice lady) noticed that Tricia was having troubles and offered to go get the forest ranger for us.

And so, to make a long story short:  Tricia made it down the steps with the help of my trusty walking stick.  The forest ranger called in some people to bring a vehicle down the path so that she wouldn’t have to try to walk the whole way.  The nice tourist lady gave us some peanut butter crackers in case we should be waiting and dying of hunger in the woods.  And then the park rangers came and picked Tricia up and got her back to our car.

So we went home.  But the day was not over yet.  Tricia felt like she needed to go to the ER to get her ankle checked.  We had already made dinner and bookstore plans.  So, we decided to drop her off at the ER, go to the bookstore, come back and pick her up, and then go to dinner.  We were under the (alas, false!) assumption that the ER trip wouldn’t take very long.

Fast forward:  Tricia and Janet are at the ER, Kate, Josh, and I are at a mall bookstore.  Now, about this bookstore.  In my experience, bookstores are usually quiet places.  Like libraries.  They’re very peaceful and pleasant.  Not this one.  The customers in this store apparently don’t mind talking loudly.  About inappropriate things that I don’t need to hear.  I didn’t like those people.  But to get back to the main story.  We had dropped the peoples off at the ER about two hours ago and they still hadn’t called to let us know that they could be picked up.  I had already looked at every single bookshelf in the store, and I was bored.  We decided to just drive over to the ER and see what was going on.

Next happy coincidence of the day!  Right as we drove up, Tricia was being brought to the door!  Perfect.  (She’s okay, by the way, just a fracture.  Although she didn’t know that at the time because the hospital there can take x-rays but they don’t have anyone who can read them.)  Of course, by this time it was almost 9 o’clock and we still had to go to dinner.  So we headed over to a BBQ restaurant that is a fave of Kate and Josh.  And I had a tasty hamburger which was rather large and made it so that I did not feel the need to eat breakfast the next morning.

And so my Saturday adventure ended.  And this, thus, is the end of my tale!