Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Never Stick Your Tongue on a Frozen Flag Pole

No, I've never done that. Thank you I do have a few cells of common sense. Just a few though mind.

*Thought of this because it's like 100 F in DC right now. Ugh.

In addition to living in the middle of nowhere surrounded by nothing but trees and more trees, my parents also have a semi natural pond that my dad has enlarged. There's a hill (which is basically all the sand dug out of the pond) that makes for great sledding in the winter and if the pond froze quickly enough it was good ice skating. Mostly though it didn't freeze quickly enough so the surface wasn't smooth. It would semi freeze and then all the millions of trees would drop the last vestigages of leaves at which point the pond would totally freeze...leaving (ha ha) leaf bumps all over the place. A couple times my dad tried to flood it after it froze to create a smooth surface. But then it would snow again. He also tried, just once or twice I think, to clear the surface with the snowblower. Like our very own zamboni.

He stopped doing that when the snow blower fell through the ice.

Despite these issues we did a fair amount of ice skating as kids. At night my mom would even drive the car back into the woods and run down her battery shining the high beams on the pond for light. Much as with any sport, my sister was always better at skating than both my brother and I were.

I thought I was pretty hot stuff when I learned how to skate backwards. Slowly and very wobbly. Bernadette could cross her feet (and later skated around thusly on roller blades) while Brian and I satisfied ourselves with less fancy footwork. I tried the cross over once. And fell on my face. One time I fell down and just did not feel like getting back up. I'd fallen one too many times that day and just wanted a time out. So after I rolled off my face I lay there for a while contemplating why it was I bothered to bother, while Bernadette zoomed around me showing off her triple lutz.

Ok so maybe she couldn't do a triple lux. It could have been a double axel. Whatever it was it just rubbed salt in the wound after my mom told me that I could not be both a professional ice skater and a nun (one of my choldhood goals). I still think she might have been lying. In any case, I did lay there a good while contemplating my ice skating failures. And then I tired to get up.

And promptly slammed my head into the ice when my curly hair bounced back. Small problem; I was frozen to the ice. I had not considered this possibility during my quiet contemplation. So I solved this problem the same way I solved many problems back then; I yelled for my mom.

After she stopped laughing at me did offer a solution that did not involve cutting off all my hair; that was Dad's solution. She brought over a thermos and pour hot chocolate all over my head.

While I was happy to be free I was less than thrilled to be drenched on hot chocolate. It's really sticky. And my the time I'd trekked back to the house I had frozen, sticky hot chocolate all over my head. Awesome.

So the moral here is the same as with flag poles. If something is frozen, do not allow any part of your body to rest on it for a period of more than about 3 Mississippis.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Time my Dad Tore off my Thumb*

A million years ago there was this water park in Michigan called Pleasure Island. Unlike the water parks you have visited though there were no overly chlorinated pools. This place was all natural and the water was brown. I think my most vivid memory of the place is a slightly snotty (and shockingly not on my end; I was very taken aback) encounter with a girl who would later turn out to be one of my best friends and eventually a cousin by marriage.

But that has nothing to do with this post.

One of the rides at Pleasure Island involved a sort of zip line swing that went over the water. So you hang from the bar, speed down an incline, and let go to cannonball into the brown pondy thing. We must have praised this things awesomeness when we got home because my dad promptly built one. Not over water though. This one was stretched between two trees by the barns and extended over the driveway adjacent. We climbed up a ladder to a little stand he built around a tree, sit on the bottom bar of the swing and ZOOM!
 Requisite red farm barns. The yellow thingy is the chicken coop/rabbit holder place.

It was fun. All our friends we mad jealous.

We had the thing for I don't know how long and, as things that are left out to the elements do, it got a little broken down. I think that the bottom sit on bar of the swing broke? We solved that by just swinging like we did at the park, gripping tight with our hands and hanging down with no support what so ever. And that was fine.

Until it wasn't fine.

I had a friend over one day and we were zooming and zipping along on the thing. During one of my turns the swing finally gave up the ghost and died. The hold onto bar broke and I took one (of many over the course of not quite 32 years) face dives into the gravel. Side note to clarify that not all my face dives are into gravel. Sometimes it's asphalt or concrete or dirt.

More embarrassed than anything I got up to dust myself off. That's when I notice that my dusting off was rather ineffectual as I was smearing blood down my front. I looked at my right hand and noticed that it was dripping blood and MY THUMB WAS HANGING BY A THREAD!!!

Not really but that's more dramatic, no? There was a big nasty gash though and it was bleeding rather profusely.

On the way to the emergency room we had to make a side trip to drop off my friend and I could hear my mom's internal monologue thanking the Good Lord that it was her daughter's thumb nearly ripped off and not the friend's. The emergency room is cheaper than a law suit.

We finally got the emergency room and the blood soaked/dripping towel wrapped around my hand got us seen pretty quickly. I had some nice drugs and remember only wondering why emergency room rooms need to be that awful green color. The doctors had my hand splayed open to flush the gaping wound and my mom was hanging over their shoulders exclaiming how 'cool' it all was. Until they started picking out all the bits of gravel and dirt and probably the clover that grows in the driveway. Then I totally lost my supportive parent as she had to go away before she got sick.

That is now one of the many scars I have. There are a couple on my knees from the falling down, one on a knuckle from a scythe (yes, I was scything things), one that goes from my lip up into my right nostril, and this one.There might be one on my pinky finger too from the time my brother slammed the sliding van door on my finger and then my mom locked the door while I was frantically tugging and wailing trying to get it out.

That's a different story.

*Re the title...obviously dad built the swing thing so it's his fault. The swing isn't there anymore but the line still is. My dad's dog's leash is tied to it and he runs up and down and up and down and all you hear is zzzzzzhhhhhhh with the occasional bark.

Also he thought maybe it would work better the second time around and built another one. This time actually over the pond. I don't see how this will work out better but me and my thumbs are staying far away from it.