McCreary House Adventures

I do believe it’s time for some more pictures chronicling the adventures of the McCreary House.

Adventure #1:  Hike to Dogslaughter Falls

It’s rocky.  It’s hot.  It’s snake infested.  It slaughters dogs.  It’s dangerous!

But Kate, David, and I are fearless warriors who will be stopped at nothing.  We hiked to that water fall.  Yeah, there was a point where we almost turned back because we thought we might be lost.  Yeah, I slipped on the stone stairs and pierced my hand with a frightening stick.  Yeah,  we had a terrifying meeting with an unbelievably fiesty snake.  (Well, he never actually moved…but we can pretend).  Yeah, we pondered the meaning of the somewhat gruesome name for the water falls we were headed to (maybe some fox hunting dogs accidentally fell off of it?).  But we did it!

David: “We made it soldier. Kate, I salute you!”
Kate: “Noooo, I salute you!”

Me and David…the angelic boy scout.

Adventure # 2:  Keeneland.

It’s crowded.  (When there’s a race.)  It’s exciting.  (When there’s a race.) It’s spellbinding.  (When there’s a race.) It’s a gamble. (When there’s a race.)

But there was not a race!  But we went to Keeneland anyway to watch the horses practice.  The parking lots were deserted, the stables were empty, the trees were a beautiful green, and the horses were prancing.  And we were leaning up against the rail to watch them.  However, there was some excitement in that we COULD have fallen over the railing and we COULD have been trampled by a horse.  But, we didn’t.  That’s right.  We survived!

The horses that almost…nearly…could have…trampled us.

Yup, that would be me. At Keeneland.

Adventure #3: St. Peter Claver

It’s small.  It’s spiritual.  It’s jolly.  It’s foot tappin’.  It’s St. Peter Claver Catholic Church!

As part of our Lexington trip, we went to Mass at St. Peter Claver.  St. Peter Claver is a church in Lexington with a large African American population and they like their music!  We Catholics are usually pretty quiet and straight-laced.  The congregants at St. Peter Claver, now; they like to spice things up a bit.  It was a fun experience and different from the typical Mass that I’m used to.  I don’t have any pictures, though.  So let’s end this with an Aaaamen!

Adventure #4:  Bible Putt-Putt

It’s engaging.  It’s educational.  It’s heartwarming.  It’s mini-golf of Biblical proportions!

No year in Kentucky could be complete without mini-golfing your way through the Bible.  So we went mini-golfing.  It was a tense game interspersed with confusing Bible verses and Bible-themed obstacles.  The sun beat down upon our brows as we knocked brightly colored golf balls around the synagogue (or a roof with pillars), the Star of Bethlehem, the road to Damascus (decorated with a confusing bear/cat statue), and soooo much more.  We only did the New Testament, but the Old Testament looked just as, if not more, exciting.  In case you’re wondering who won the game…I did!  I am a super awesome mini-golfer!  I am unstoppable!  (Either that…or David won and I kept forgetting how many times I hit the ball because I very seldom mini-golf in this competitive fashion.)  Whichever one of those was true, we were awesome!  And oh-so-Bible-lovin’.

Mini-golfing in the Star of Bethlehem. Oh-so-awe-inspiring.

Me, showing off my sweet golfing skills.

Yep. David just hit that ball. And now it’s headed toward the bushes.

The Lord is our shepherd. And that is why Kate and I tend to/sit on/pet his sheep.

Well, I’m afraid that’s the end of the pictures for now.  And the adventures.  I didn’t have any adventures this weekend. Unless you include filling out job applications. Which I do not.  ‘Cuz they’re no fun.

Singing a Morning Song

I have often said that I don’t think I could survive living in a city.  And oddly enough, I think I have come to realize that even more now that I have been living here.  And, no, I’m not anywhere near a city here.  But I have often found living here, on this piece of community center property, clustered with a few little buildings, and a public playground surrounded by driveway, to be suffocating.  So I guess maybe I should amend my “no cities!” proclamation to a “country wandering space required” proclamation.

I have discovered that this emotional need borders on the physical.

I had a kind of rattling couple of days.   Yesterday I was feeling pretty low.  I had things that I needed to do, but I just didn’t feel like doing them at all.  There was a heavy space inside me that just wouldn’t allow it.  So I laid around most of the day.  But, that, of course did not lighten my weight.

I woke up this morning determined to make up for lost time yesterday.  I ate my breakfast.  And then I realized that I was still hungry.  But not for food.  I was hungry for fresh air and pale morning sunshine.  I was hungry for solitary wandering space not under human domination.

No one else in the house was about.  I grabbed the keys and headed out the door.  That heavy space was already starting to lift.  I drove down the road to my Kentucky retreat, Cumberland Falls State Park.

It was early enough in the morning that most of the tourists hadn’t descended upon it yet.  Just the way I like it.

I walked towards the falls and the newborn day began seeping into my soul.

Then I started to sing my morning song.

My morning song is made up of deep breaths of freshly washed air and lips stretched up to meet the sun.

My morning song is made up of grateful eyes full of green grass, crisp leaves, rushing water, and shimmering rainbows in a watery mist.

My morning song is made up of a joy that bubbles up from inside and spills out and down into my fingertips and toes.

My morning song lifts me up stone steps and weather-worn boulders and carries my feet along dirt paths.

My morning song is instrumental, for the most part.

The only words it has are these:

“Thank you, God, for this beautiful day.  Thank you so much!”

And this is why I need the country and my wandering space.

Because it helps me to find my morning song and sing it at the top of my lungs.

 

Bless Their Hearts (Part 3)

I think it’s time for another blog post full of Kentucky observations!

1.  New Creatures Great and Small

Now that the weather is getting warmer the creatures are starting to emerge.  And by creatures I mean the unpleasant ones like bugs and snakes and lizards.  And they seem to have a much bigger variety of them here.  (Why in the pickle do people want to go south all the time anyway?  Yeah, its warmer.  But you know what else likes warm weather besides (some) humans?  That’s right.  Creatures.  Unpleasant.  Creatures.)  Anyway, I keep finding these bugs with lots of legs and weird appendages that I’ve never seen before.  And I stop and say “Hello bug.  Are you a good bug or a bad bug?  Should I squash you or let you be?” And then I go on my way.

We had some excitement at the McCreary House when a snake got on our porch the other weekend.  We have a screened in porch.  The door to the porch did not latch and it would get blown open all the time so we had just started leaving it propped open.  I guess the snake took this as a sign that he was meant to be a house snake.  I saw the snake once they had already shooed it outside, but I missed most of the excitement.  He was apparently a rather feisty black snake.  Ah, if only I had been there!  It would have made such a lovely story for this post.

But then, I suppose I could write it out the way that I imagine it.  Okay, here goes.

This is what happened:

David headed out to the porch to get the grill ready for our incoming Jackson House visitors.  He lifted up the lid and then “GAH!” he screamed like a little girl as he saw the skinny black snake slither across the floor.  He jumped back.    He peered over at the snake.

“Well Mr. Snake,” David said.  “You’re kind of cute.  But what am I going to do with you?”

Mr. Snake said “Hissssssss.”

So David went to get the broom.  He poked the broom at the snake.  “Out you go, Mr. Snake.”

But Mr. Snake did not comply because Mr. Snake was angry.  He had found a nice warm place to slumber and now he was being harassed.  Mr. Snake lunged at the broom and snapped at it with his teeth.

“Ahhh!”  David jumped on top of the picnic table.  He would have to poke at the snake from there.  After much prodding and some input from other McCreary House folks (not me) involving the use of pots, water, and boards to block pathways back onto the porch, unhappy Mr. Snake wandered back outside.

Yeesh.  Can’t a snake take a nap without being bothered?

2.    Faded Moonbow

Cumberland Falls is home to one of the only moonbows in the world.  It is a rainbow of sorts that appears when the full moon is shining on the waterfall.  Jackson House came over a couple of weekends ago to see it.  We went down there, knowing that the sky was a little hazy but that we would hopefully be able to see the moonbow.  Well, we saw it.  But it was really faint.  Kind of lame, I’m afraid.  I’m sure it looks better on clearer days.  But I can check that off of my Kentucket list at least.

However, I went to Cumberland Falls this morning and I saw a rainbow over the falls.  That now, was not lame.  And was in fact, quite a purty sight!

3. Educational Days, Eh?

This week I found out something rather odd about these here Kentucky schools:  A lot of the kids don’t go to school the last few days of the school year.  I went to the schools this past week to hand out summer camp applications.  When I went to the middle school to talk to the seventh graders, there were practically no kids in the classrooms.  There was probably an average of 7 kids in each room.  And the vast majority of them were not doing any work or engaging in any organized activity.  Apparently they had the final exams the week before, so they had all of their schoolwork done and they don’t really do anything in class the last week of school.  So, a lot of kids just use their “educational days” (which are in theory excused absences that are supposed to be used for things like visiting colleges, but in reality seem to be used as excused skipping school days) and don’t go to school.  Doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense to me.

4.  The Not-so-Golden Corral

It has been brought to my attention before that the locals here really like to eat at the Golden Corral.  I had never been there until Thursday.  And I, quite frankly, never need to go again.  All of the Eagle CFDC staff went there to celebrate the preschool getting a four stars rating (which, by the way, is awesome because they’ve been working really hard getting ready for that), and it was a nice thing for them to take everyone out to dinner.  The food was okay – typical buffet stuff.  The people, however, were problematic.  I spent my whole dinner watching some people doing who-in-the-world-knows-what out in the parking lot (I was sitting facing the window).  Let me just tell you, the people needed to be wearing more clothes and they needed to take their argument or whatever they were doing somewhere else.  Then I used the bathroom which was not clean and smelled.  And while I was in there a lady in one of the stalls yelled out (yes, yelled) “How long do I have to wait for this to come out?!”  At which point I yelled “Ugh!  I need to get out of this bathroom immediately!”  (No, I didn’t really yell that.  I just did it.)

Anyway…yeah, I don’t need to go there ever again.

5.  So Much Junk Food…

My time at CAP has made me realize something:  People can get used to (and even like) eating food that they don’t think tastes very good.  And by people, I guess what I really mean is me.  We get a lot of food from Op-Share.  And a lot of it is junk food – like off-brand animal crackers covered in sprinkles and frosting – and there’s boxes of it.  And I have a sweet tooth.  So  I can’t just let this stuff sit there without eating it.  I don’t even think it tastes very good.  And yet I eat it…Whatever am I going to do with myself?  I even wrote a poem about it…and I think that would be a beautiful way to end this post!  So here it is:

Op – Share Milky Ways

There’s a whole box of them

sitting there nonchalantly

in the community center storage room.

I reach in and grab a handful

and fill my jacket pocket.

This box represents a problem –

a surplus of Milky Ways.

These square chocolate candies

need someone to eat them.

And, luckily, I am here to save the day.

Oh, Kids.

Kids have a lot of creative energy.  But, alas!  They all too often use it on the wrong things.

It was homework/reading time during SPARK the other day.  One of the boys, “Dale”, came into the room where the kids work on their homework.  He had just been in the reading room.  He doesn’t like reading.

“Can I have a piece of paper to practice my math on?”

“Sure.”

I watched him pick up a couple of pieces of large white paper.  This paper, was, naturally, not what I would think of as being appropriate for practicing your math equations, but I let it go.

Then he started folding the paper.

“What are you doing?”

“Making a hat for my sister.”

I took his piece of paper off of the table.

“Making a hat for your sister does not qualify as homework.”

He stared at me with this “Huh?” look.  So I elaborated.

“In other words, if you’re going to be in here, you need to be working on homework.  If you’re not working on homework, then you need to go in the other room and read.”

He just stood there with his shoulders slouched and his brows furrowed.   It was as if the top of his skull had just popped open and I could see the wheelworks turning in his head.  I prepared myself for some b.s.  A lengthy silence ensued in which I stared at him and he stared at me.

“Well,”  he said.  “I have to make a diagram of the solar system for class.  Can I do that?”

“Yes.”  (Personally, I had some doubts about these solar system claims, but I had no way of knowing for sure, and at least it was an educational activity.)

So, he got out a pencil.  And some markers.  And then he looked in his brother’s textbook to see the order of the planets.  And he started drawing the solar system.  Then his dad arrived to pick him up.  And what did he do with his solar system diagram?

If you guessed wadded it up and threw it away, you would be correct.

Oh, that kid.

This past week was my last week in the school.  So, I got to be the recipient of a lot of nice good-bye messages.

“Mondays were my favorite days.”

“Are you coming back next year?”

“Why are you going to Michigan?  What’s there?  You should stay here.”

“I’ll miss you.”

And of course, a lot of “Awwww”s and “Good-bye”s.

But back to those creative energies.  On my last day I gave the kids a post-test of all of the anti-bullying info that I had been teaching them throughout the year just to get an idea of how well everything had stuck in their heads.

I was back at the community center grading them when I stumbled upon one that made me laugh out loud.

I had given the kids a couple of different acronyms to help them remember things that bystanders, bullies, and victims could do.  The letters were on the test for them, but they had to remember what each letter stood for.  One of the letters was a U.  And one of the kids clearly did not remember what that letter stood for.

But did he go the boring, predictable route and leave it blank?

No, siree.

He made up his own suggestion.

“Use yoga techniques.”

Oh, that kid.

Sometimes I think that if I ever get a full-fledged teaching job I might give kids, like, I don’t know, let’s say an  1/8 of a point if their b.s. answers to my test questions amuse me.

Because, after all, I do like to be amused.

And kids are amusing.