The group of New Jersey children Mom and I were doing house-building stuff with is leaving tomorrow. That kid never spoke inappropriately intimate French to me a second time, but I did have a conversation with a girl who was really bewildered by our outlandish Kentuckian customs, like having bite-sized graveyards. There are three small graveyards in the area around where we were putting a house together, and apparently the New Jerseyans all found this excessively macabre. This girl was particularly struck by the fact that a lot of the graves were decorated (the stuff was left over from Memorial Day), including some really old ones.
I told her that they were privately-owned plots that got kept in the family because, you know, you can’t exactly sell a graveyard that easily around here, when there’s all this less coffin-ridden land available for the few people who actually want it. And if you own an old graveyard, you might as well bury your new dead people in it, too, right?
But she missed the financial bit and just sat there being floored by the idea of Private Family Graveyards, and I said, yeah, we’re very spiritually close to our dead and all that stuff, us Kentuckians.
She took this suggestion seriously.
She was also concerned by the by straight pipes; by the fact that some roads that clearly should have been one-way were not so marked (HAHAHAHA); and by the fact that some of the houses they’d worked on had had piles of garbage around. She was kind of stunned when I told her that there wasn’t garbage pickup up all the hollers (they all had trouble with “holler”), and sometimes people had to haul stuff off themselves, or even wait until someone who has a car can do it for them – she had just barely accepted that no one recycled, but I think she assumed it to be a character flaw, rather than lack of opportunity. She was extremely nice, but had some pretty specific Ideas Of What Constitutes Civilization.
The organizers were telling Mom that the New Jerseyans were one of the better volunteer groups to show up recently, which I can see – they were all pretty frighteningly energetic and cheerful. Apparently there was a youth-group from the midwest whose minister had told the kids that the people they’d be dealing with all lived in houses with dirt floors and no plumbing. He felt extremely personally betrayed to find that this was not so. He had been prepared to bring civilization to the savages, and so was unready to take advice from any of the organizers, who all had more experience in construction than he did. Thus, it took this group two weeks to build a shed. I am not sure how the minister felt about the proximity of the Wal-Mart.
There were a lot of kitties running around the place today. This became very interesting whenever anyone wanted to sit down.