Tuesday, May 5, 2015

no snakes in Paradise

KYLady has been much, much, much too busy lately.  It was a lot of effort to finish up training for the new job while keeping up with my current classes while working the “real job” while dealing with several other important meetings for things I’ve become too involved in.  Sunday afternoon, finally, I found time for a break.  Someone, Gracie, and I headed out to Greenbo Lake State Park which is less than a 30 minute drive and a great place to get away from the world.  We hiked a section of one of my favorite trails.  It’s a lot of uphill and downhill, but you can look out over the lake for much of it.  Right now, the dogwoods that are mostly in shade are still lovely and the redbuds have faded to pink.  Wildflowers are blooming. It’s so lovely to be out in the woods with all that color and a green canopy of leaves overhead on a calm, beautiful sunny day.  One good thing about spring is that leaves are just unfurling and still smaller than usual, so the poison ivy is distinctive and easier to spot.  Best of all, the black locusts are in bloom.  Their scent is thick and heavenly.  Nothing on this planet smells as sweet. 

Black locust tree in bloom

So, let me tell you this story about what happened Sunday afternoon.  Someone, Gracie, and I were walking a mountain-goat trail (i.e. narrow deer path, actually) around the side of a steep hill.  There were lots of fallen leaves on the ground and many old dead trees laying on the ground above and below us.  Someone had the leash; Gracie was pulling him along like she always does.  I was bringing up the rear, walking along and looking down so I wouldn’t trip over a rock or tree root and go tumbling down the hill.  We were single file on the narrow trail.  Someone yelled and I looked up just in time to see a giant snake launch itself off the log to my right, fly across the path in front of me (airborne, no kidding) about thigh-level just within arms-reach.  Thud!  It hit the ground on the other side of the path.  I caught a glimpse of the back half of him as he hit the ground and streaked on down the hill.  I could hear it slithering through the dry leaves for a bit and then silence.  I imagine he took refuge under or inside a log.  Someone said it was at least 5 feet long (I would guess 4 feet), but it was a fat snake so I imagine it has found plenty of ground squirrels to eat.  I really couldn’t guess what kind it was, but Someone said he got a decent look as it came down the hill toward us – he thought it was a black snake.  He saw it coming and he expected it would go under the log and hide, but when he saw it coming over top the log, he freaked.  I’m grateful its eyesight and timing were good enough that it didn’t accidentally plow into me.  Of course, Gracie wanted to go after it but we kept going.

Walking hills in eastern Kentucky

I don’t like close encounters with snakes.  I don’t like snakes. 

It’s finals week for my students and for Emily.  Erin finished finals last week and has moved home for summer.  Emily has a job at the mall starting next week.  Erin is still looking for work.
I’m delighted to report that KYLady has been assigned to teach three courses in the master of IT management program for the new job.  So, just as soon as I wrap up final exams and posting final grades for the current semester at the end of this week, I’ll launch into three new classes on Monday.  I’m excited to have this opportunity and to have a batch (3 batches actually) of new students.  These classes will be 100% online.  I intend to see what it’s like to lay in my hammock with the birds warbling, the squirrels barking, the woodpeckers pecking, and the leaves rustling in the breeze over my head while grading student essays.  It sounds like a dream job.

But oh, there is just so much to do this weekend…in my 2-day break between teaching jobs.  The house has fallen to ruin, it’s time to plant the garden, I promised Erin we would begin looking for a car, and I want to visit Sarah soon…very soon…as soon as she and I can find a time when both of us are free.

Lovely and talented Sarah
and Jack, ever-faithful

 It’s a very long story.   I bought a decent used car in an estate sale – it’s an old car (2002 model) but it only had about 37,000 miles on it when purchased.  It was for the girls to use after they got their driver’s licenses…knowing they would ding it up…which of course, they did.  So now, it’s a few years older and dented/scratched up all over, but it runs good and it has about 47,000 miles on it – still pretty new other than it has some “old car” problems…like electrical things that have gone bad, the interior has faded, etc.  Meanwhile, my old van is still functional but old (2005) with lots of miles (160K), and rusting really bad in places…but I need a van so will keep it until the wheels fall off.  During the girls’ senior year of high school, sharing a car became too much hassle, so I bought another car.  As it turned out, Emily claimed the newer used car while Erin continued to drive the older one.  In August, Erin will be taking a car to college (she didn’t have a car on campus this year) and I want her to have something newer with better safety features.  It’s time to shop for a car…which I hate.

So, by the end of summer, assuming I’m still walking on this Earth, KYLady will have purchased 4 cars and pay insurance on 5 cars (Someone bought his own new car last summer after he totaled his old one).  Sadly, KYLady will be driving the two shittiest ones.  Life is rough like that sometimes (first world problem).  

A new car is nice to drive, but cars are pretty much just a functional thing for me.  As long as it’s reasonably clean, runs reliably and the important things work (such as brakes, wipers, lights, etc.), and the heating and air conditioning work, I’m OK with it, whatever it is.  Even if I became very wealthy, I don’t see myself running out to buy a fancy car (or a fancy house).  If I suddenly had money, I would shop for land – a big chunk of hill land in the middle of nowhere with a nice creek, along a river, or on a big lake.  Somewhere with a cabin or where I could build a small cabin and have a nice orchard.  That would be my paradise.        

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