Can you top this?

Some of you may have read the earlier post about making gingerbread houses at Sudbury Valley during this season. Even if you missed it, you can find a delightful video of the activity on our website and tons of pictures of gingerbread activity on our Facebook page.

Well, the six days of gingerbread construction in the year 2013 have passed, and, as usual, we have had our full measure of beautifully decorated houses and highly imaginative structures. Perhaps the most unusual creation was a gingerbread excavator, which was certainly one of  the most difficult and complex construction we have ever encountered and succeeded in making.


There is a back story to this. Two years ago, the same gingerbread engineer had distinguished herself by deciding to build a gingerbread dump truck. (To top it, in 2012, she built the Eiffel Tower!) Neither of these was easy. Every time the design had to be perfected and approved by Mimsy, the doyen of gingerbread. Then, cardboard templates had to be made for each component, so that the dough, when rolled out, could be cut accurately before being baked. Although there was some skepticism about the successful completion of the projects, in the end they turned out as planned, and the designer won wide acclaim for her achievement.

That same year, one of the school’s skilled vendors, the outfit that built our septic system, our parking lot, and has rendered other similar services, sent us a holiday card, with a photo of an excavator on the cover. It arrived in the mail just after the truck had been completed, and I somewhat casually joked that, now that she had managed the complexities of making a truck, perhaps she should turn her attention to making a gingerbread excavator. I took it as a joking way to deliver a compliment.

Imagine my amazement when, this year, she approached Mimsy with the plans for just such a machine!

Now, that would be a story worthy of the title of this blog post. But that isn’t what I had in mind. Rather, it was something that happened on the last of the six days of house-building.

You see, the activity takes many hours, from rolling the dough to baking to decorating to assembling to cleanup. The groups range from six to eight in size, and by the time everything has been completed, you can count on over six hours of hard and focused work.

That’s the reason one of the strict rules of the activity is that every participant must arrive promptly at 9:00AM on the day they are scheduled, or they cannot make a house that day. Exceptions are few and far between. If a person is late and still wants to make a house, they must have an excuse for lateness that qualifies as an unavoidable emergency.

So on the day in question, when work was slated to begin at 9:00, lo and behold one of the eight scheduled people was nowhere to be seen. Everyone was commencing the work of the day when suddenly the missing member showed up.

Here was her excuse for being late:

“My neighbor’s goat got out of its pen, and I had to catch it and bring it back.”

We’ve all heard of the “my dog ate my homework” category of excuse. But a goat??!!!  Where did that tall tale come from? She had to chase down a goat, catch it, and drag it back to its pen?!

Can you top this as an excuse?

We all laughed and laughed. The more she insisted it was true, the more we laughed. After all, when was the last time any of you heard of a runaway goat in suburbia causing someone to arrive late to an activity?

Of course, she was allowed to join the group. Even if there was no goat, she had to be rewarded for the pure originality of the excuse!

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