Monday, April 12, 2010

I Fought The Squirrel (And The Squirrel Won)

The problem with your life flashing before your eyes is usually the duration of the movie.  For example, if you jump out of an airplane at say, 10,000 feet up, and, your chute and reserve chute doesn't open, you have a minute or two to experience a short film about your life.  When you fall off a ladder from about 8 feet up you barely get to see the opening credits.

This is how most people picture squirrels, cute and furry.

The title of this short film of my life could be: "Gravity: It Still Hurts."  I'm thinking it's an Oscar worthy performance.

Now, there are two stories going around about my little fall last Saturday.  One full of truth, one full of perception.  Mine has the truth, my wife's has the perception of truth.  I'm not saying she's wrong, I'm just saying that perception is different from truth.

This story also has a disclaimer.  I have been known to and have taught to my children and grandchildren, the power of deception, or "faking it".  I can fake being asleep, tripping, falling down stairs, and I can even fake interest when you are talking to me.  You know that glazed over look that you get when your children are talking to you about something, and it goes on, and on, and on, and... well, you know the look.  I can fake it so well that I don't have that look.  They still think I'm listening.  Perception is the key to faking it.  Faking it is also closely associated with "crying wolf".

Saturday morning, I had just finished an assignment cleaning the Church building.  I rode my bike into the driveway and thought that I should deal with a little unfinished business on the house.

It is true that had I finished my rebuilding of the porch completely that none of this would have happened.  I freely admit that my putting off, finishing closing off, the eves of the rebuilt porch might have been a mistake.  And I also confess that had I finished off the eves a really big squirrel would not have taken up residence in our roof.  I confess!

But I didn't.  Besides, I'm a man, it's springtime, and I had a ladder.  Now, I've been climbing ladders since about 1968.  My stepdad was a roofer by trade, I learned to climb ladders and move around freely on a roof with ease.  Prior to Saturday I've never fallen off a roof or a ladder my entire life.  

I placed my ladder on the side of the house, raised it to the proper height, moved it to just the right position and angle so as to secure it properly and ensure my safety.  I had the materials that I needed to close off the access holes.  What else did I need (besides insurance)?

I needed defensive armor.  As I went up the ladder the first time it occured to me that the little rodent might be home.  It occured to me that if there was a confrontation with the squirrel that I was defenseless and I would lose.  I pictured myself running around the yard trying to tear a squirrel off of my face as it clawed and chewed it's way to my brain.

I went back down the ladder and gathered my weapons.  A five foot long wooden pole and a garbage can lid from a galvanized can.  The pole I would use to prode the openings, think of it as a doorbell for the squirrel, the garbage can lid to protect my face and body if it turned out to be a flying squirrel or one with rabies.

This is the point where I'm pretty sure that any neighbor that was looking into my yard was running for their video camera and having their wife sign into YouTube.  None of my actions to this point looked safe or sane.  Only bad could happen.  I was oblivious.  Kind of like the time my son and his buddy decided to pour kerosene down a pipe and light it.  When it didn't light, or so they assumed, they blew down the pipe like they were blowing out the candles on a birthday cake.  We didn't know they were playing with kerosene until later when we asked why their eyebrows, eyelashes, and hair were singed or gone.

Fully prepared to evict our little, but good sized, friend, I climbed the ladder.  Balancing myself on the ladder I raised the sheild in my left hand to a defensive position, with the pole I started to probe the access hole on the right.  Nothing.  I moved to the access hole on the left.  Nothing.  The likelyhood of the squirrel being in the middle of the eves was slim.  It was a small hole and I could see the wood that I had installed as a fire block.  I thought it prudent to check anyway.

Now I don't know what goes through the mind of a squirrel when they get startled awake but I do know what I was thinking just a nano second prior to probing his little hiney with the pole.  No one's home.  Having not found him in the two previous openings I was totally surprised when he came out of the third one.  And to say that he was a little angry might be an understatement.

This is what I saw, not so cute and furry!  They are evil!

Did I mention that I had balanced myself on the ladder?  Now when I say balance I mean I was standing on it.  You may remember two paragraphs up that in my left hand I held a garbage can lid and in my right a pole.  My hands were a little busy when that squirrel got angry, and, that is when God reminded me about gravity.

I did a little dance on the steps of the ladder, still trying to put my sheild up, dropped the pole, and let gravity do the rest.  I only fell about eight feet but luckily I met the backyard fence at about four feet above the ground.  Unluckily I met the top of the fence with the side of my body.  Luckily, I had only another four feet to fall.  Unluckily, the ground was landscaped with river rock.

Who's da squirrel!  I'm sure my squirrel was dancing with delight.

I don't recall what happened to the squirrel.  I do recall getting up off the ground in a lot of pain and limping to the front door of the house.  The last thing that I wanted to do was have the chainsaw carrying psycho who lives next door try and jump my fence and think I needed mouth to mouth resuscitation.

In the seventy feet to my front door I was also thinking of having a good cry.  I was hurting.

I opened the door to the house and kind of fell in, past the wife (who wanted to know what the noise was all about), down the stairs and into the family room, where I fell onto the floor into a fetal position.  I remember telling my wife that I had fallen off the ladder. 

And this is where truth meets perception.  Based on my earlier confession of "faking it" a few times in my life, she assumed that I might have been joking about falling off the ladder.  She said, and this was her peception, that I kind of had a half smile on my face.  And she might have been right.  During my seventy foot walk back inside the house I did have a moment to think about how this was going to play out in the tabloids.  "Man Get's His A** Kicked By Squirrel", film at eleven.

My arm hurt, my side hurt, my back hurt.  The wife asks what broke my fall.  I told her I was lucky, the fence and the ground broke my fall.  My right wrist was already starting to swell, I had a nice fence rash on my right bicep.  She asked me if I hurt anywhere else, I said I think so and raised my shirt to show the start of the bruising on my right side.  She encouraged me to go to emergency care which I declined.

I recovered enough to go back out and finish the job I'd started.  The squirrel, who I'm sure is going to have nightmares about this, was gone.  I boarded up his temporary residence and put everything away.

Within an hour I was limited on what I could actually do.  While my arm and my side were only slightly bruised my wrist continued to swell.  I was going on injured reserve for the day.

There is a positive ending to this story.  The sprain of my wrist caused me a great amount of pain whenever I put pressure on it.  A little later in the day I shared the story of my squirrel encounter with my youngest (22 year old) son, who hates squirrels.  I asked him to mow the lawn since it was hard for me to push the mower and he agreed to immediately.  Couple of hours later, with no prodding, he came outside and mowed the lawn.

Next week I'm thinking about spraining my ankle.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bumbles Bounce, But So Do Grandchildren

I feel that I need to set the record straight regarding an event that took place over seven years ago. Different versions of the event have been bantered about by some parties and I think that I should tell the story behind the event as it really happened. Once and for all the truth, as truth does, will come out.

I did not "throw" my grandson out the second floor window of our house on the morning of Sunday, July 14th, 2002, as has been told in various venues and pulpits.

Okay, he did drop out of the window and fall twelve feet. But it wasn't my fault.

Here is the story behind the lies that have been told regarding this incident.

On July 13, 2002, one of my four granddaughter's was born. The "Girlie". Sugar and spice, everything nice. Since Mom was still in the hospital and Grandma chose to stay the night with her, I was asked to tend to the needs of my 21-month old grandson, the "Chanman". All boy, with a bit of slugs and snails, and puppy dog tails. We had a sleepover.

The other characters in this little play were my three sons, ages 19, 16, and 14. For most of this event they were asleep. Not that unusual, they were always sleeping.

Many of you have had the same type of morning that I had on July 14th. Lazy Sunday, coming off of a very natural high, the birth of a child. I got to cut the cord. First time, big thrill. A little girl to spoil.

The Chanman and I were having the only kind of fun that a Papa and his grandson could have. We slept in, woke up and watched cartoons, goofing off, there was tickling involved, lots of laughter. There was a point when everyone, that is, everyone that was awake, got hungry. I informed the Chanman that I was going to the kitchen to fix us some breakfast. Later in the day we were going to the hospital to see the Girlie, after that we were going to my companies picnic at Wild Waves, the local water park.

I went to the kitchen, started working on something to eat that the kid would eat. After a few minutes I heard him calling my name. Since I was at a point that I could break away from cooking I went in to see what he wanted. He was hiding. Well, at least that is what I thought he was doing. His voice was faint, he must be in the closet?


Under the bed?


That is when I noticed that the window screen was gone. Our bed was situated next to the window.

There is a moment in time, the moment in a good or a bad situation, where you suddenly "get it". For some it's the moment between the proposal and the realization that it's a proposal. For others, the glow in her face, the moment that realize that you're going to be a father.

For me, it was the moment that I realized that he'd gone out the window, from 12' up. And he was calling my name. "Papa, Papa!"

It is just a theory but I'm betting that you have never in your life seen a man move so fast and scream so loud, simultaneously in your lifetime. I screamed so loud that I woke up the three boys who were sleeping. I flew down the stairs, ripped open the front door and bolted out of the house into the front yard. I rushed into the side yard and there he was, toddling toward me, wearing only a diaper, crying, holding out his arms to me. I grabbed him, held him close and brought him into the house.

I don't know how long I held him, comforting him. I do know this. I had never before, and never since, felt as bad as I did at that moment.

We had plans to go up and meet his little sister. I left the Chanman in the care of his uncles while I went to take a shower. After all, it was a miracle. He had some dirt on his diaper, he completely missed the lava rock landscaping that I had installed to keep the weeds away. The best I could figure was that the screen had dropped down, set at an angle, and then he bounced off of it into the grass.

It was while I was in the shower that I had another moment.

Internal injuries.

I moved quickly from the shower to getting dressed and took him to the hospital. I called my wife in advance and explained what was going on. I was taking him to the emergency room, he appeared fine, I wanted to be sure. I can only imagine her trying to explain this to my daughter, that I had nearly killed her firstborn.

After we went to the emergency room and found that he was fine and needed no medical attention, I needed plenty, we went up to the maternity ward and the Chanman met his new sister. My daughter asked if I wanted to hold my new granddaughter.

I suggested that I needed to tell her a little story first and then see if she still wanted me to hold the Girlie.

The Chanman says that angels saved him. I've never discouraged him from thinking that. It was a miracle. And I didn't kill him, even by accident

But I know never to tempt fate.

I moved the bed from the window the same day.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Contest? Why Not.

I am not big on contests. But then again, I'm not that big anymore.

Someone suggested that I have a contest regarding how much weight I've lost since October 3rd of last year.

Why not. It might be a silly contest but I'm willing to sponsor silly.

Whoever can guess my weight on April 19th (my next doctor's appointment), to the nearest 10th of a pound, wins. In the event of a tie, you also need to provide a guess the number for my A1C. The range is from 4.0 to 6.0.

For the winner? An autographed copy of my book "The Gospel According To Daniel: As Far As I'm Translated Correctly", a paperback first edition, that is a collection of my first 39 blogs (a Christmas gift from my family, edited by and the idea for the book provided by my son Tristan). And since some of you will think that that is not reason enough to enter the contest, I'll throw in a $20 Subway gift card.

There's going to have to be some rules. Some of you know me personally, some of you know how much weight I've lost. It wouldn't be fair to let you guess, since, well, you know, you know. Therefore, if you know, don't let me disqualify you. And another rule. If you do know, don't share in comments or e-mail with someone else. I'm not a violent person but if you ruin the one and only contest that I will ever sponsor, well, let's just say that I'm going to hunt you down and give you a nuclear noogie.

Send your guess to my e-mail to:

Deadline for submission: Midnight, April 11th.

Good Luck!