Adventures

Hero’s journey.

Vehicular Homicide Pt 2

On Christmas day at 6:30 am some nutso domestic terrorist detonated a car bomb in downtown Nashville. An RV bomb is more accurate. The RV is the cover photo for this post. There were three injuries and no loss of life (bomber doesn’t count) but millions of dollars in damages and probably a total loss of some historic properties that won’t be replaced. A terrible event that could have been much worse. 

I mention this event for posterity and also to contrast and compare with the events I’m about to share so that in hindsight they will seem not-so-bad and even comical. 

So a few stories back we established the fact that Papaw is an immortal anomaly who haunts the dreams of OSHA inspectors every night. (Occupational Safety and Health Administration for my overseas friends) OSHA makes the recommendations to not stand above a certain height on a ladder or to wear safety glasses. Those kinds of things. Things that are too cumbersome for a man on Papaw’s schedule. 

No sir. This board has to be cut on this table saw immediately. Who has time for safety glasses or hearing protection or even proper wiring. Not Papaw. Safety third. 

The other day I had a very Papaw-esque encounter and I just found it too fun not to share. 

Papaw: (calling on the cell phone) Hey can you give me a ride home from work?

UD: Sure, what’s up?

Papaw: Ahhh, my truck’s got a flat tire and I had to park it and Mamaw had to bring me to work.

UD: Okay. No problem. I can be there in just a little bit. Say, I thought you had an air tank that you carried on the truck?

Papaw: Well… the tire is pretty damaged. And I lost the spare. And my extra gas can. 

UD: Hmmm. That sounds like one hell of a flat tire. Did it explode or something?

Papaw: Yeah, I hit something and tore my tire all to pieces and I it knocked some stuff off the truck.

UD: Oh wow. What did you hit? A deer?

Papaw: I don’t know. I ran off the road a little and hit something hard but I didn’t see anything.

UD: Did you stop.

Papaw: No, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal but then my tire went flat.

UD: Did you look at the truck once you got stopped?

Papaw: Yeah something red on the bumper and down the right side.

UD: Jesus. Was it blood? Did you hit a person? Am I an accomplice to a crime?

Papaw: No, no, its paint from something.

UD: Something?! That could be anything! Was it a kid named Timmy in a little red wagon? (It was nearly midnight so this option was doubtful but I was concerned.)

Papaw: I don’t know son. *exasperated sigh* I’ll have to go and see after work.

UD: How did you not see something? Did you fall asleep?

Papaw: My window was frosted.

UD: Did you not wait for it to defrost?

Papaw: Well I did but the wipers don’t work on the left side (driver’s side) so it was blurry and I just ran off the road a little because I couldn’t tell where the edge was. It was just a mailbox or something.

UD: Okay. But you know that could’ve been little Timmy in a red wagon.

Papaw: But it wasn’t.

UD: But… it wasn’t. 

Y’all. 

This is peak Papaw. 

A chain of preventable events that are sacrificed on the altar of getting something done. In this case, it was “not being late to work so the other guy doesn’t have to work longer.” Epic self-sacrifice to avoid creating inconvenience. If he was in the military he would have been the guy jumping on the grenade or fending off an attack after getting shot thirty times. This is the core of his being and I love it about him but sometimes it manifests in hilarious ways. 

So fast forward and I’ve picked him up from work and carried him home. We passed the scene of the events and there wasn’t much to see. Some scattered debris and a couple of posts where mailboxes and something else used to stand proud at the edge of the road. 

I dropped him off and started back home but slowed down on this pass to get a better look. 

That is when I see the entire grill off the front of the truck, a crumpled light pole with a red cast iron base sheared out of a concrete footing, and two innocent mailboxes scattered into the forest. Someone had stopped and snagged the gas can. The giant spare tire is laying in the grass about twenty feet past the truck grill. 

It looks like the Roswell crash site. I can only imagine the explosive force required to dismantle all of these things and to further imagine that he drove three miles before thinking “that tire feels a little flat, better not drive on it” just makes my day. 

This is a smart man. A strategic man. A thoughtful man. But as a mechanic, he has the idea that cars are disposable and anything mechanical can be stitched back together with enough bailing wire and curse words. 

And he isn’t wrong but damn. My candy ass hits a pothole too hard and I’m sick to my stomach over a disrupted wheel alignment and uneven tire wear. I have a lot to learn.

For those of you wondering. He did go back and replace the mailboxes because he is a stand-up guy. He kept the light pole base because childhood poverty taught him that hoarding is necessary for survival. It will live in the pile of old truck toolboxes until the price of scrap metal rises or he passes it to his children in his will. The victimized truck will live to threaten more mailboxes. I guess its just another ongoing case of vehicular homicide. You’re welcome. And Happy NEW YEAR!

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

If you missed the original Vehicular Homicide or Papaw Stories like The Normalcy Bias or Coon Whisperer click on the link.

Copcakes

Lady Bug was playing in the front yard and came running around to find us with a worried look on her face.

 

Lady Bug: Mom. Mom! There is a cop in the driveway! (very concerned)

Supermom: What?

Prima: The cops are here! Go in the house!

Supermom: Cops?! (looks in the driveway) Hang on guys. Why are you freaking out? And let’s say officer.

 

Upon further inspection, there was an officer who was making the rounds to distribute lollipops to neighborhood kids and do some outreach into the community. We assured the kids that they could have the treats and to be sure and thank the officer. It seems our talks about the horrible stories in the news made our kids nervous about authority.

So… we had a talk to put some context around all of our adult discussions around race, riots, and abuse of authority. We explained that there are thousands of officers across the US that have big hearts, strong morals, and good intentions. That officers aren’t some separate group from everyone else. They are citizens like everyone else. They put themselves on the line to defend citizens, to check for intruders, to look out for drunk drivers, and to help generally keep the public safe. In fact, we have lots of people who dedicate their lives to make others safe. There are fire fighters that are ready to respond and help in life threatening situations beyond fire like rescues and searches. Both professions have men and women who are totally committed to the public welfare and to honorable service.

The anger and fear around policing are relevant but the spotlight cases are a magnification of the giant web of public safety that is happening all around at any one time. We have family in law enforcement and we worry for their safety every day. I want them to stay safe and to make it home to their families each night. I want them also to always be sure that they respect the people that they come across in the line of duty. I hope they hold respect as a high standard among their coworkers. Set the bar high and keep it. We can support our officers and demand the law is applied fairly when lines are crossed.

 

So after we had this talk with the girls, Lady Bug looked thoughtful for a moment and said, “I want to give my cupcakes to some cops.”

“What cupcakes?”

“My birthday cupcakes. They gave me a lollipop and I want to say thank you with cupcakes.”

“Okay, Sure. Who said you have birthday cupcakes?”

 

Fast forward. Supermom made fifty something cupcakes of all different variety and they were delicious since she is a semi-pro baker. We loaded the cupcakes up the next day and drove down to the police station. We went into the front doors and met two officers who were initially skeptical of six people storming the lobby but were quickly calmed with the site of the bakery boxes. The officers introduced themselves and talked with the girls for a few minutes and gave them sticker badges, coloring books, and crayons. They were very happy for a kind gesture and doubly impressed that Lady Bug had decided to share her birthday cupcakes with them.

Copcakes

The other box was full. I had to test the flavors. Don’t judge me. 

We had also talked about fire men and women who provide a critical community service so we took our last box of cupcakes and headed over to the local fire station that serves our neighborhood. It was a quiet Friday at the fire house so the three men on duty we excited to see us. Our gift of cupcakes was accepted and we were invited to take a full tour of the station. We saw the kitchen, lounge, garage, trucks, pumps, lights, and a fully suited up fireman. We got the extended tour and I had more questions than the kids. It was awesome.

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Willaims and Hanson giving us the 411 on 911. 

I think it did the girls well to put some faces and names with the ideas of these services. They shared some stories of how they have served and we talked about things outside of anyone’s job. Meeting people always goes a long way to show that we are really all the same. We wake up and have a job to do that may have hard days or may not always carry the respect of those we serve but the job is still important.

We need to have discussions about what we can improve. We need to be aware and honest about the flaws of our system and the bias that we all carry towards something or someone. We need to call out evil quickly and with a loud voice. But we cannot afford to paint with a brush that is so broad that our strokes blur the picture. There are good officers and righteous protesters. There are those who seek to cause problems and paint their opponents with a single wide brush; Thugs. Cops. Murders. Looters. Paid Organizers. Fascist. Anti-fascists. Kneelers. Birthers. Truthers. Republicans. Democrats. Conservatives. Liberals. Christians. Muslims. Pastafarians. Blonde. Bald. Tall. Short. These are all just simple labels that are stereotypes. They allow the user to make assumptions about someone and save them from the torture of having to think about people on a case by case basis. Your ears should perk up whenever you hear these qualifiers in a headline.

Don’t get drawn into the all or nothing debates. Don’t use labels. People are people. Your complaints are most likely directed at toxic culture or flaws in the system. Or maybe they are directed at the terrible people who seem to bubble up daily. Judging them is fine by me as long as they have done the deeds to deserve it. Setting up straw-villains just widens the gap of misunderstanding and prevents the reasonable discussions that need to take place.

If you like cupcakes, this post is for you. You’re welcome. We could all use a more cupcakes between friends these days. I’m just pissed the girls gave them all away before I could levee my dad-tax of one cupcake as a taste test, which I think is somewhere in the Constitution.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Ps section:

  1. I know there is an unspoken (or spoken) competition for who is actually cooler between the folks in red and the folks in blue. As it sits right now, the fire boys got y’all beat. I’m going to need to see some spike strips or something to even things up. Thank you to Officer Ferguson and J. Williams on Pump Truck and C. Hanson on Ladder Truck. You guys made a little girls day!

Coon Whisperer

Well folks… when I’m wrong I say I’m wrong and until you prove it I will simply say I was mistaken.

I need to print a retraction from a previous story. It seems that in my last post when I suggested that Papaw’s little brother ended up in the hospital from getting run over by a tractor, being kicked by a mule, and by swallowing a whole bottle of Tylenol; one of those was not entirely true. Turns out, he didn’t bust his stomach from being kicked by a mule. He ruptured it from falling out of a tree and then Papaw carted him back to humanity on the back of a pony. My memory just adjusted some of the facts. His brother also did not go to the hospital after being run over by a tractor. His parents inspected the wounds made by steel blades that churn the earth and determined they were probably superficial. He did get his cuts treated with “blue medicine”. I will also assume that he got a standard issue “ass whipping”. Whiskey is the only other country treatment known to man that is three times more prescribed and fifty percent as effective as an all-purpose Ass-Whipping.

I’m glad I got that error corrected. While I am at it, I have some new additions. While we were discussing the facts around childhood injuries I got more depth for this already colorful history.

Fun fact: The pony that saved Papaws brother by providing medical transport also saved Papaw at a different time and in much the same way.

Papaw had a little red pony that he rode everywhere. He grew up in the early seventies and loved watching westerns. What is better for a child who loves westerns than his very own trick pony? Papaw regaled us with his agile adventures that border on parkour. For instance, he told us about trying to leap from a galloping pony into an open bedroom window. This was how Papaw learned about Newtons First and Third Laws of Motion.

Newton’s First Law: Object in motion tends to stay in motion…

Newton’s Third Law: Each action (force) has an equal and opposite reaction.

Papaw’s Second Law: If it doesn’t kill you, you’ll be better in a second.

The girls laughed and laughed at that story. He also added, “You know when they ride a horse through a glass window in the movies? That doesn’t work.” We all laughed at that too.

Then he told us about the pony saving his life. Apparently, he wanted a pet squirrel. One day while running around and not breaking his ribs on jumping through windows he rode his pony to the edge of the woods. A squirrel scampered up a tree. Papaw tied the pony to the tree and commenced to climbing the tree. You might ask, “What will he do if he catches the squirrel?”. I would reply, “Wait for the racoon story.” After about forty feet up the tree a limb broke and sent Papaw flailing to the ground. Luckily his head broke his fall and after a few moments of being unconscious he woke up and crawled to his pony. He managed to drape himself across the back of the pony and tied the rope. The pony walked him to the front door of his house where his mother scooped him up and carried him inside. What really speaks volumes to me is the fact that his mother didn’t question how or what or even if he was going to live. This was such a regular occurrence that she would simply lay these boys in the bed until their bodies healed enough for them to go run headlong into another injury.

The racoon story.

Papaw finally got a wild animal pet. A female racoon with a sunny disposition. He said she was tame “most of the time”. I asked how he tamed her and he said, “I just got in the pen with her and let her bite me until she got tired of being so mean.” I verified that his method for befriending a wild racoon was just sitting still and letting it attack until it was exhausted. He nodded. While I understand the reasoning I cannot match the will power and tolerance for pain. What reference do you have to possess for pain to think a raccoon attack is just something to be tolerated for the one-way affection that you will enjoy on the other side?

Sweet Baby Jesus shine your loving light on this leathery soul.

Most rough and tumble boys would have stories about fist fights in the school parking lot. But I can’t imagine the suicidal playground bully who would hear his stories of self-inflicted pain and think, “Hey I’ll fight that kid.”

He sounds like he lived the perfect action hero backstory. The brave tales of Swifty McTwotoes and his trusty coon sidekick. They rode the high plains fighting crime on the back of a blood red steed.

So if you have more time to sit around and share family legends, this post is for you. Tell all the stories and whatever you do, write them down. And for my daughters who are ready this… this is why women live longer. Nothing in a woman makes her yearn to climb trees after squirrels or leap from moving animals into unmovable structures.

Underdaddy to the rescue.

Fun and Games

Day five hundred of my captivity…

I have taken a total leave of absence from writing for what is probably a year. And people still stop by the site and see if something new is rolling off the press. Thank you guys. It feels good.

I’ve been busy and my will to write anything at all has been missing in action. I got to the point where I don’t feel like I have anything to share and now that the girls are getting older some of my previous story styles are no longer mine to tell. Tales of toddlers taking mystery shits on the furniture is fun and games but teenagers with technology will probably not be as understanding. I even thought about pulling site down and archiving for some future generation.

But not to worry, COVID-19 has entered our lives and I don’t have much sanity left. I need the therapy that only blog-style bitching can provide. A unity through misery.

So here is a feeble attempt to document our craziness.

The strangest thing so far is dealing with the ominous slow crawling feeling of disaster and vacation all rolled into one. We started our distancing on the kid’s spring break so when school got cancelled (they call it postponed but we know better) it just felt like the world’s longest weekend. If you watch the news then the world is ending and if I look outside the magnolia tree is blooming. My black car is yellow from pollen and people are walking their dogs more than I remember. Select shelves are empty in the stores but the shoppers meander around smile at each other, making small talk about COVID-19 and the lack of toilet paper. Milk, water, and bread have recovered from the initial rush but paper products may never recover.

Work life is much the same. For the first week it felt like we were trying something new. The second week we all unplugged our hardware from the office and logged in from our living rooms to get emails and take conference calls where kids played in the background. We try to move things forward but this second week was marked by the depression of knowing that we are just getting started in our new normal and lots of wondering if there is a point to trying to work or teach the kids about fractions. The third week may be the charm. The week that we get the groove and settle in to fight this thing off. I hope it is.

I tell my kids to take note. To keep a journal.

I remember an ice storm in the early nineties. We lived in the country and power networks were decimated. I think it was around two weeks before power was reconnected for our area. We cooked on a wood burning stove in the basement. We stayed warm and managed to get a generator to hook up a few essential items like our well. It was a time I remember as fun and interesting. We were toughing it out and surviving and there is something fulfilling about that even when it isn’t easy. I hope my kids remember this time in the same light. For me it is different because we have all the luxury we could want for a quarantine. We have Netflix and Disney and Prime. We have tablets and phones and a schedule that hasn’t been this free since college. It doesn’t require any work or effort. It doesn’t feel like surviving and I assume that is why it also doesn’t feel fulfilling as much as it feels depressing.

Prima, our second daughter, came into our room a few days ago with the complaint of a fever and a headache. We checked and it was 102.5. Fantaaaaastic. Two weeks of distancing and it arrives anyway. The next morning the fever is gone but a slight cough has joined the party. By the end of the day the fever is back. We treat with Tylenol and go to bed feeling like the wave is about to start crashing around us. Then she woke up this morning with no fever, no cough, and a pep in her step. Like it never happened. She probably had one of a hundred colds and some spring allergies but when every sniffle feels like Ebola has taken root it is exhausting.

I think we are developing some sort of quarantine PTSD or cabin fever. That can lead to impulsive and irrational behavior. Which reminds me, we got a baby wallaby. Her name is Stevie.

Corona5

We also dressed up in fancy clothes and Mardi Gras masks to have our picture taken by a neighborhood photographer. She arranged to walk around and take photos of people on their porch. Three weeks ago that would have been a strange proposal but today we thought “Oh cool! Let’s dress weird and stand in the yard.”.

Corona3

Everyone is shoving stuffed animals in the windows to give people a fun game of I Spy.

I think recorded history will have a new milestone. I propose B.C. (before corona) and A.D. (after distancing).

There have been upsides. We have been forced to slow down and exist around each other more than usual. We don’t have the pressures of early mornings and things to do at night. I sat with Jane and shared music for five hours yesterday. We went through notable hits from the eighties and the highlights of the millennial playlist. The we watched The Matrix. It was interrupted by a tornado warning and everyone huddling in the laundry room. We weren’t sure if we would rather die by tornado or suffocation from Judy Cornbread farting.

Corona2

There were terrible tornadoes in Tennessee a few weeks earlier and last night a bad one hit Jonesboro, Arkansas.

Corona4

Houses are sliding into the Tennessee River from flooding and an overly wet spring. Whoever is playing Jumanji needs to buckle up and finish the damn game because all this chaos is wearing thin. And we’ve all but forgotten that this is an election year. Once this virus clears they will be spending all that political ad money in a compressed window of time before the election.

Silver linings. Something to look forward to.

Anyway… good to talk to you and hopefully I will make a successful return to the keyboard.

If you are sheltering in place and trying to treat the virus from the inside out, with whiskey, this post is for you.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Thumbs Up

My documentation of life has been lax lately. I haven’t felt the writing bug or even the ability to remember much.

We’ve had weekend trips and baby goats and all kinds of excitement. Donna Threeto got glasses (see below). We had a flood. Then another flood. I got to see Washington DC. I’ll share some good flood photos in another post. Maybe. Sometime.

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Yay! Baby goats!

Anyway. Work life has escalated. In a good way but a busy way as well. I have been traveling a little more and anytime I am out of town life seems to make trouble for me back home.

This week, trouble was in the form of a broken thumb. Who else but Prima, our graceful low calcium princess. She was struck with a dodgeball and immediately had swelling and bruising in her thumb. I assumed that she had stubbed it. Her teacher texted me a picture and I suggested the dad approach of rubbing a little dirt on it and proceeding with life. After all, who the hell breaks a bone in dodgeball? Maybe an ankle but to snap a thumb at the growth plate?

IMG_5326

Made you look. 

Supermom sent me the picture after a fun trip to the doctor’s office at 7:00 at night. She took all four children because all of our babysitting options were out of town. In fact, I was at another hospital in another town visiting one of the grandparents. I got a series of texts that let me know the bone was broken and that she is going to a specialist the next day.

The next day I got a text that I should cancel my schedule the next day because the doctor was going to place her under anesthesia and re-break the thumb to set it correctly. Fun. And they wanted her to check in at the hospital at 6:00 am. More fun.

We did have a fun pre-op experience though.

It is important to remember that Prima is our worry-wart child. She once cried for an hour because poison berries existed and she was afraid that one day she may not be able to stop her hand from making her mouth eat them. True story. She also decided she was afraid of bugs and would barely leave the living room for a week or so. She has done a lot of self-therapy and is much improved but still has a panic from time to time.

So… our pensive princess is sitting in the prep-room and the nurse hands her a gown. She is given the instructions to remove all of her clothes and put on the gown.

Prima asks, “Can I leave my panties on?”

The nurse responds flatly, “The doctor doesn’t like to leave anything that can catch on fire…”

Her eyes widen to the size of dinner plates. I can only imagine the images that she was putting together in her head. Supermom saw the problem immediately and assured her that she was not at risk of burning to death while getting her thumb fixed. Prima was allowed to wear her undergarment without further question.

She was nervous until the IV of Versed convinced her that nothing really matters and life is a warm pool of happy.

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Procedure went good. Recovery was slow. I think the medicine was rough on her. She passed out after trying to get up too quickly. Eventually she got to head home after a little Sprite and some vomiting.

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In about five weeks everything should be good to go. Just in time for swimming and summer.

If you have been injured in a game of dodgeball this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.