Groundhog Day Update

This week I haven’t talked much about what we’ve been up to here in central Kentucky, so here’s an update.

First of all, the weather has been, shall we say, interesting. On Tuesday night we got wind gusts up to 40 MPH; in a town west of here they reached 60. And on Thursday I had the experience of walking in a great big slurpee; more about that later.

Last Tuesday I met a young man named Matthew Tanner, who has started attending the same church that I’m going to. Three weeks ago he was hired by the same company I’m working for, after flying into town for an interview; however, he works in a different building, so we’re not likely to run into each other on the job. Originally he came from Panama City, FL, and is currently living about three miles from here in an apartment with Spartan furnishings, while his wife tries to sell the house in Florida. Sound familiar? It ought to! His story is so much like ours, that I felt I was reliving 2006 all over again. Pray that they have an easier time selling the house than we did; from the way the economists are talking, Leive and I got out of Florida just in time.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, a state government agency, wants us to attend ten weeks of classes, if we’re considering adopting or taking in foster care children. I had been to their office once before, last January 10 (see the January 15 entry). This week, on Thursday, we went to the first class. They last a full three hours (6 to 9 PM), but Leive and I found them so interesting we’ll probably attend the rest, whether we need to or not. We also got a notebook binder full of information, and lots of paperwork to fill out, the sooner the better; so what else is new? Last time, the weather made it hard to find the place; this time, I got there all right, because the bad weather was after the class, not before. They called it “freezing rain”; apparently there was some sleet to start with, and when we came out it was just cold rain, but there was also slushy ice all over the parking lot, the cars and the roads. As I rushed out to the car, I felt like I was walking on a giant slurpee; there’s a sensation you’ll never feel in Florida! (If Lindy is reading this, no, the slurpee wasn’t cherry or cola-flavored!)

For any Kentuckians reading this, a slurpee is a flavored drink made of shaved ice, so cold that it’s very likely to give you a brain freeze. Here they go under other names, like Icee, Slush Puppy, or Alligator Ice. Slurpees are sold in 7-11 convenience stores, which are very common in Florida. You can’t go more than a few blocks in any Florida city without seeing a 7-11, they’re that common. I still remember the time in the late 1980s, when a busy intersection on the west side of Orlando got two 7-11 stores, because 7-11 had just bought out a competitor; that’s market saturation for you! When I moved here, I made it a point to bring my 20-oz coffee mug, which had been my trusty companion on trips to 7-11 stores since 2002. However, after I arrived, I learned there are no 7-11s in Kentucky, which made the mug useless; I ended up buying another mug like it from the nearest Speedway. The local store that is the most like 7-11 is Thornton’s, and I find them interesting, because a lot of the products they sell are made in Kentucky.

Speaking of convenience stores, yesterday morning I stopped at one of the remote ones in the country, on the way to work, because I needed to fill up my gas tank. It was 6:45 AM, and the owner of the store arrived a minute after I did, so I had to wait for him to open up the store first. The gas flowed very slowly, too, as if the tank under the pumps was almost empty. Finally, the store owner filled his own mini-van while I was filling my car, and he left the hose running to turn things on in the store; instead of stopping when the tank was full, that hose caused a gas spill. Because of the puddle of gasoline around us, I could not get back in my car without tracking it in with me. The stuff was more slippery than water (fortunately I didn’t take a tumble), and it stank so bad I had to wash my shoes twice at work (with soap), and hose down the floor mat when I got home. Fortunately, that was the biggest adventure I had yesterday, and if I did enough washing and hosing, the gas smell won’t bother us when we go out today.

As I finish this, it’s 7:40. I guess I’ll visit a news site to see if the Pennsylvania groundhog saw his shadow.

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