Some pictures of various things and people

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Here are the crowds at Choice Books on Wednesday, busily being sociable and labeling a few books.

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Here are a few of the names I’ve mentioned. The guy sitting on the cart is Grant, and the guy in the gray tee shirt with the hair is Kyle. It’s not a very flattering picture of anybody, but that’s what happens when you try to sneak pictures.

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Josh had a birthday yesterday, so his mom brought these cupcakes for the class. Aren’t they hilarious?

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This is a picture Ryan colored in school which I thought perfectly described his personality. As you will notice, the dog’s head and under the fishing pole are not colored, because they aren’t specifically marked what color to do them. But the rest of the picture is very neat. Funny child.

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My sky. ❤️

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Selfish you. (Thanks Rhoda. 🙂 )

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And I’ll finish with my little post-Sunday school rant. Hah.

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16 things you may or may not wish to know

1. I can cook! It’s rather surprising to find out I’m actually a pretty good cook once I get started. I’ve done the most cooking so far, I’d say, and the results have been quite nice. 🙂

2. Apparently the north doesn’t believe in AC for their schools, or at least not this part of the north. So this week two days school closed 1.5 hours early because of the heat. That was rawther amusing to me. I decided if they can laugh at us southerners for closing school for an inch of snow, I certainly have the right to laugh at closing school for the heat. It really did get quite muggy in the classrooms with all those sweaty little bodies and high humidity, so I certainly didn’t complain about closing early.

3. It is very easy to draw maps of this place, since all the roads (almost) are straight and in 1 mile squares. Also, they are numbered by how far they are from the county line, north and east, and then your address is how many meters or something you are from the corner of the road. So if you know someone’s address, you can pretty much find their house.

4. Even this far in the north, people know about zipper peas and okra. I think Lois Ulrich is somewhat to blame, since she’s from Florida, so she naturally plants some southern delicacies.

5. This church is extremely hospitable, as I think I’ve mentioned, and also very helpful, as I suspected. For school cleaning, lots of people showed up and diligently scrubbed walls and lockers and grates and things. It’s neat.

6. Tricia drives an automatic TDI, which is the oddest thing. I don’t think I’ve ever ridden in an automatic diesel, and it feels so wrong to hear it sound like a tractor, and to not shift manually.

7. I just stood up to move to a different location in Mika’s, and dropped my almost full glass of iced coffee and spilled it way across the floor and down my skirt. Wow. just wow. And of course, there are lots of people here. How embarrassing. I just laughed and laughed, because what else could I do?! I guess there’s a first time for everything.

8. Tomorrow some of the youth group is going to Saint Louis for the day. I’m so excited, especially since you all are at youth retreat, and I’m really bummed to miss that, except for the mandatory softball game. That, not so much. So the plan is to get up ridiculously early, and go first to The Arch, and then some people are going to a Cardinals’ baseball game and the rest of us are going to the zoo, unless something else strikes our fancy more. I love cities! and I love socializing! and I love Saturdays!!

9. This was quite the week at school. My school kids are so interesting, but they wear me out! I’m already tired of keeping them in at recess, but from the looks of it I’ll be doing it plenty. I intend to be a very strict teacher, but hopefully to not be like Wanda who can’t take a joke. The other day after school I took a big drink of my water, and lo…. some dear child had put a nice big squirt of hand sanitizer into it. In case you wondered, that really is not a tasty way to get drunk. I was glad the kids had already exited the room, so they couldn’t see my reaction. It amuses me so much! Really, it is a pretty good prank. I am ignoring it, in hopes that the lack of reaction discourages more of the same though, since I prefer my water without 90% alcohol.(Update: apparently this was accidental. Still pretty funny though.)

10. Ryan and Josh continue to say such interesting things. The other day Ryan came out of the gym and said in an exasperated voice, “The gym is polluted!” “With what?” asked Tricia. “With people!” he exclaimed as he made his escape. Also this week (I think, time is hard to keep track of) Josh was gazing at Kari, his cousin, and when I tried to turn his attention to me, he said in a dreamy voice, “I can’t take my eyes off of this beautiful girl!” Ryan keeps popping up with big and surprising words, kind of like I imagine Brandon will do in a few years.

11. Next weekend the youth group is going camping by a lake or something. I really want to go, at least for part of it, but we’ll see how school is going at that point. I still have to see what kind of social life I can maintain while still doing a good job at school. I did kind of come here to teach, so I need to do an excellent job.

12. This weekend both of the previous teachers will be here, so we are hosting company, and I can ask Des my questions about school. So it promises to be a busy time. I am so glad Monday is a holiday, partly so Destiny won’t have as much time to possibly sit in my classroom, which makes me deeply nervous.

13. Considering how comfortable my housemates and I are with each other already, I have no idea how we’ll be at the end of the year! I hope we still like each other! We do now, which is good. 🙂

14. On Wednesday night the youth activity was book labeling at Choice Books. Apparently they treat it more as a ministry here than we do at home. It was kind of fun to fly through the stacks of labeling and impress people. HA. When I was getting my plate of food afterward, someone asked what drink I wanted, and it was Allen Penney’s voice! I was so startled. It turned out to be a guy named Luke, and not Allen, disappointingly. However, Luke was nice too, as I discovered in my conversation with him. He is a young kid who sometimes comes to church here with his sister. I had talked to his sister before, but hadn’t happened to hear his astonishing voice. 🙂

15. On Sunday evening I went with Tricia to a birthday party/family gathering for a bunch of North Linn people that Norma, our neighbor, had invited us to. The North Linn church is a split from this one, or vice versa, many many years ago. They have somehow developed their own very interesting culture, complete with odd accents, and weird customs, which I guess is the result of years of being ingrown. It felt slightly like going to the Old Colony Mennonite church in Mexico, actually. The song they sang for their prayer was so intriguing. It started fast, and LOUD, then suddenly, bang, it was waaaay slower. Then everybody got quiet at the same spot too, at the end. It was an experience.

16. Well, that’s all you get this time. Ciao.

The day before school, aka, the calm before the storm

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Forgive me if my sky pictures get redundant. It’s just, there is so much sky out here, and it changes all the time, and there are so many cool old barns here, and I’m so enthralled with B&W sky pictures right now!

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Ok, it’s time for you to see my classroom now. Most of these awesome things Rosie created. I am forever indebted. If you have kids ever, Rosie, I can come and decorate their rooms in Dr. Seuss for you.

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My door is one of my latest additions. I love how it takes my theme outside of the classroom, and makes the kids curious what is inside.

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The portraits are compliments of Rosie. The fish in the bag is Stacie’s new mascot, Alfred the Greatest, on his way to his new scholarly home. These are taken right outside my house, so you see, I really do live on a farm!

The next pictures are from a surprise farewell party thrown for Wendell Kennell who is leaving for IGo today. There was a grossest food contest, which turned out super creative.

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Bandaids

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Jello earthworms and butterscotch Q-tips

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A mouse drowned in pudding

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And my personal favorite, punch from a creek into which Lucky Charms dumps their refuse. I hope the sign is legible enough to get the gist of what it said. It was pretty clever, and complete with a can for donations.

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And last but not least, my puking pumpkin which won the prize for the grossest, even though I didn’t think it was! So now I am equipped with a large plastic prize grasshopper to play pranks with.

And that’s all you get this time.

P.S. Now accepting comments on all posts.

Random facts in no particular order

Linn lost the softball game on Tuesday night, so that was the end of them being in the tournament. Sad, because I wanted to watch them play some more.

My stairs have one step that creaks on the way up, and two that creak on the way down. Can anyone explain that?

There is an Indian man in church here, married to an American, and the food that comes out of their house is amazing. I think I should make friends with them.

I ate funeral food on my birthday, but it wasn’t all bad, because somebody had brought curried quinoa which was so good that Rosie talked to Lois (Ulrich) and she gave us all the leftovers. Sneaky!

Our fridge is so stuffed with food that we have barely had to cook yet. One day when we arrived at school we found a huge stash of food from Tammy, who is a former teacher. So huge that we’ve been eating off it for days, and still haven’t finished it all. Things like lasagna ready to bake, and chocolates, and mac n cheese and other delectable items.

Stacie is a MORNING PERSON, and Tricia and I are NOT. So she doesn’t talk much to us in the mornings, and we don’t ask her questions when she’s sleepy in the evenings. So we have this small window of time when nobody is sleepy that we can communicate. Ha.

Tonight the church is cleaning the school, with the promise of root beer floats to follow. So I shall get to see how people show up for this kind of event. I have discovered that they are definitely more friendly than our church, now I shall see if they are also more helpful. I have a sneaking suspicion they are.

Yesterday I talked to Kyle Burkholder, who is a young guy that moved here to work as an airplane mechanic. He mentioned something about the Juniata River, which of course piqued my interest, as it would have any good Mennonite’s. So I asked him, and sure enough, he is from Juniata county, and his family regularly buys shoes at Uncle Aden’s shoe store. We were both fairly surprised to find that connection.

There is a rooster outside our house which has no concept of night and day. It’s good we don’t have a shotgun, or Stacie would likely have seen to it that there would be no more rooster. He belongs to our neighbors, and crows loudly into Stacie’s window at any hour of the night that he pleases. Perhaps I shall have to gift her a pair of earplugs for her birthday.

On my birthday we stopped at Walmart to buy yet Another phone charger for me (I go through those like water), and so I bought pickles and olives and popcorn, to make me happy. Tricia bought four pounds of twizzlers, which is her favorite food in the world, apparently, although you wouldn’t know it to look at her skinny little (tall) self. Anyhow, now when I’m lonely I can pull out my jar of crunchy little pickles and console myself.

Last night the youth had a surprise farewell party for Wendell, who is leaving for IGo in just a few days. Everybody was supposed to bring a food that looked gross, but was edible, then they gave prizes for the grossest looking, and the best tasting. People were terribly creative, bringing things like dirty Q-tips, and deer guts, and pudding with a mouse drowning in it. My puking pumpkin won the grossest prize, although I thought there were plenty things that looked worse. I’ll post pictures later of a few of the worst things. It was rather fun. After dinner they played Ultimate Frisbee in the dark with a glowing frisbee, and way too many people on a tiny field. After they had worn themselves out, they sat on the porch and Bradley played guitar and we sang. That did my heart good. 🙂

I’m working on exploring the local coffee shops. So far I’ve been to Mika’s in Eureka, and The Blend in Washington, which we went to on my birthday. The Blend is the classy kind, with leather couches and booths and lovely big band songs playing, and Mika’s is more eclectic and collegey. Mika’s is my favorite so far, which is nice, since it’s also the closest, and also right across the road from a little thrift store with very cheap stuff.

Saturday night I took my mopey self to the Kennell’s house and used internet while Stacey was on a date and Tricia was shopping with her siblings. Lynette FaceTimed me, and the four girls that went to the beach together sang me a birthday spoof of the Jungle from Lion King, which made me laugh till I cried. They’d been practicing it for hours, and actually sounded really good! That’s why all their beach pictures online have been hashtagged #wimowehs.

Here’s the thing: the airport in Peoria is ideal to fly out of alone. It is pretty much as tiny as an international airport could be, and there is no way you could get lost in it unless you had a bag over your head. You can park for free right by the front door, and if you don’t feel like walking the fifty yards into the airport, there is a shuttle that can take you to the door. Ha. The only bad thing about it is that there is no Starbucks in it. What is an airport without Starbucks? Rosie and I sat and languished without coffee for a long time, then finally she went into the bar/restaurant which is the only thing outside of security, and came out with a little styrofoam cup of black coffee. So that works if one is desperate.

My computer is so old that it doesn’t recognize words like Starbucks and FaceTimed and hashtag. It’s quite amusing.

I should go and eat breakfast and pack myself a healthy lunch and hie myself to school like a good girl. I decided there was no hurry to go this morning, since I will be there late, cleaning school and eating (drinking? eanking.) rootbeer floats. I still have to make a chore chart for cleaning on Fridays, and a behavior chart of sorts. Ideas anyone????!!!

May the odds be ever in your favor.

I SAID I’d post pictures!

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First, a bored travel selfie, because what are teenagers without selfies?

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Flemingsburg, anyone?

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My favorite sight on the whole trip. Cincinnati got creative!

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We made it!

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And thanks to Rosie, unpacked my room the same night. Isn’t it just the loveliest place? I’m afraid I’ll want to bring it home with me.

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The night we went to the Ulrichs, we stood and admired their black-faced sheep for a while. They were very interested in us too.

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Ah, the chaos of the classroom.

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This is especially for mom, to show her that we actually eat better than just ramen noodles all the time! I thought this wasn’t too shabby for our first cooked meal. 🙂

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This sky here… I can’t get enough!

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And here’s a corn field selfie to finish it off. We decided that we were camping in the cornfield. I know, that was low. 🙂

Epistle Number One

Well then, here I am! And guess what I have out here. A SKY! A lovely, massive, midwestern sky full of interesting clouds and wind and warm sunshine. The weather has been simply lovely since I arrived. Warm and sunny, although not hot, with a rainstorm last night which cooled it down even further.

 

The other thing I love about here is my house. It simply delights my antique-loving soul. The steep stairs are creaky, and there is a loose board in the floor in my bedroom doorway, and the wallpaper is ancient, with faded carpets to match, and there is an attic. A real, dusty, slanty attic with old stuff stored in it that makes me wish I were ten again.

 

Rosie and I arrived Saturday evening at about 6:30 or 7, after a fairly uneventful trip. The most exciting things that happened were watching two cops pull people over, and seeing a massive bespectacled yellow duck on top of a building in Cincinnati. We also stopped at Starbucks and drank a venti free birthday coffee that I had in an effort to be too late to accept the Kennells’ kind invitation for dinner. Like I said, it was very kind, but we were so shy. Alas, we weren’t quite successful, but we still didn’t go, since we were travel worn and weary and had my mountain of stuff to unpack besides.

 

Sunday Rosie got to experience my Mennonite church of the next nine months, complete with Sunday school and a warm welcome to the teachers from the pulpit. I’m still not sure how the pastor knew my name. We then lunched at the Kennells since they were not to be deterred from their hospitable intentions. Taco salad and a very funny conversations about how soybeans and corn are like women and men. Apparently soybeans are very unpredictable, and you never know what kind of crop you’ll have until you actually harvest, whereas corn you can tell once it has ears. I’ll let you decide which crop is like which gender, supposedly. 🙂

After Sunday afternoon naps, Stacie, Rosie and I went to Steve Ulrichs for a youth meeting. We admired their black faced sheep, and their very LARGE dog who thinks she is a lap dog, then sat on their lovely northern grass by the campfire. They fried their special “campfire donuts” for the occasion, and Rosie and I were properly interrogated about our family by Steve. Steve is one of the pastors here, and also Rhoda Wenger’s first cousin. The Ulrichs are a very warm and funny family, full of jokes and teasing. Our best quote of the evening was as follows.

Rosie: “Where do you guys go camping anyhow? In a cornfield?!”

Grant (Ulrich): “That’s low.”

So now if one of us says something particularly derogatory about Illinois, we can just follow it up with, “That’s low.”

 

Monday we got up bright and early, like 8:00, and headed to school after our slippery coffee. Here’s the thing: the water out here is dreadful. Awful. Horrid. Especially from some of the pipes in my house, where it actually sometimes comes out complete with little rust flakes. But from the newer bathroom downstairs, it’s tolerable, although it tastes, weirdly enough, like grass. However, it still has that slippery, softened taste, which makes for slippery coffee. Anyhow. Off that rabbit trail. We went to school and dove into decorating. Have I mentioned that I’m glad I brought Rosie? Her help has been quite invaluable. She dug out a projector from the depths of the office, and made a darling set of Dr. Seuss children, and a crooked house for my bulletin boards. The Dr. Seuss theme is complete with quotes, truffula trees, and hot air balloons. I’ll show you pictures once it’s all finished. We worked hard, and got quite a lot done!

Last night was supposed to be a softball game, part of a tournament, but it got rained out, so that was postponed till tonight. I can’t wait to go, because I love watching softball, and these guys are pretty good at it, which makes it more fun. So since it was postponed, we took a walk instead in the bright evening sunshine. We were being all touristy, and taking pictures of the sky and the cornfields, and acting all innocent whenever a truck went by. On our way back, we stopped at our next door neighbor’s house, since Stacie knew her previously. Her name is Norma, and she is in her fifties, unmarried. She lives alone right beside our house, and keeps her yard and her garden and our yard immaculate. She told us about her work of making orthopedic casts and inserts for shoes, and about their trip out west when she was twenty, which was about the last time she has traveled, and about driving the combine in the fields, and about her bout with cancer last year. I think she was glad for our company, and I was glad to meet her. She’s an adorable rolly polly little thing.

 

This morning at 12:30 Tricia flew in from Ecuador, and Stacie and her boyfriend Bradley picked her up in Chicago. So Rosie got to meet her at last over our slippery coffee this morning. After that, we went to school and worked some MORE on our decorating, and now we are in town in search of curtains for my fake window in my classroom, and onions so we can actually cook.

 

I will post pictures in a separate post so you can see my lovely sky here.

 

P.S. If you comment lots on my posts, you may feel slightly less guilty about not writing. Amen.