Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fire Pit of Reasons....#5-7

Stories #1-4 can be found here, as well as the reason for this series of posts....

Again I repeat my disclaimer & warning, after all this is a new post...and not everyone reads part 1 before moving onto part 2....

Instead of ending this post with a disclaimer or other such 'you shouldn't pay attention to this tale' I'm going to start with a list of warnings & disclaimer:

* If you are severely scared of heights you probably shouldn't read any further.
* If you have children you may not wish to continue.
* If you have a tendency to take someone else's mishaps and apply them as possibilities in your own life and react accordingly you probably shouldn't proceed either.
* Please advance with caution if you have a heart condition, are pregnant, or other known or unknown health issues that may be direly afflicted by reading these highlights.

All stories you are about to read are the complete truth by my knowledge, my mother can back up at least 75% of these stories, medical records & child services reports can back up almost as many...and the rest, NEVER tell my mother about, she'd KILL me. ((Okay, so if you read my entry that was a Tribute to my Father you'd likely be close to right in your guess that by now my mom likely already knows all these stories, but lets not remind her of them, that would be best for my health.))

Now that that's out of the way I'm hoping you did take me seriously with my warnings...these tales of "Reasons Stephanie Does NOT do Heights" is not for the faint, weak stomached, or otherwise paranoid type persons.

Disclaimer: *I* have never broken a bone, NOR have I ever received a single stitch (outside of ones necessary to deliver my children via cesarean) siblings on the other hand, well....Lets just say I can learn from the mistakes of others.


Stick #5
**stage set** I'm now age 10...siblings aged 8, 7, & was just past my birthday and my birthday is the first one of the year, hence the reason it seems like the ages are a bit off here...Mom & Dad take us to the city park.

Again, this story involves a set of monkey bars, but it's your generic run of the mill metal monkey bars. I'm tall enough by this time that I can pretty much touch the ground and the monkey bars at the same time....pretty much meaning on tippy toes & with the tips of my fingers. So I'm safe from the wrath of monkey bars.

I had also mastered the concept of how to go across the monkey bars without issue. I'm also not quite the toothpick I had been a few years before...thank you stupid hormones. So, when my mom instructed me to help keep an eye on my sister while on the monkey bars it's no big deal. She's almost gotten the hang of it, I just have to help catch her if she slips.

But I'm 10 and the last thing I really want to do is have to hang out and watch my younger sister who was/is the spoiled brat of the litter. But I oblige because I'm the helpful type & I do what I'm told.

So Samantha is going across the monkey bars, falling & crying & whining every time she falls off because she can't make it past the 2nd rung of the bars...and anyone knows that holding someone's legs as they attempt the monkey bars does not do much in the way of actually helping them learn how to do the monkey bars since you need to be able to swing your legs.

After a few rounds of this I decide I'm going to go across the monkey bars WITH her, with my legs wrapped around her torso to help keep her on the bars & give her some room to fall, but while holding onto me.

I'm not terribly sure how many of you are aware of this, but when it's summer & you're going across metal monkey bars the bars are HOT and you naturally develop blisters on your hands if you're not accustomed to swinging across the monkey bars. BAD combination.

So here I am, legs wrapped around my 7 year old sister's chest, swinging across the monkey bars. We make it all the way across successfully the first time. The whiny little brat is insistent on doing it again, despite the fact that both of our hands are blistered & the bars are hot. We get almost halfway across when I decide I'm done, my hands are on FIRE from popped blisters & the hot metal bars.

I inform my sister of my intentions to let go of her and be done. She was NOT okay with this. The spoiled little brat reared her head & let go, with both hands, to grab my legs that were still wrapped around her body. The sudden addition of her 70 pounds of dead weight caused quite the catastrophic fall to the ground. I hit square on my butt, essentially breaking her fall...and her elbow.

For the rest of the summer, since it was my fault she fell & broke her elbow, I was entrusted with the chore of doing everything for her. Yea, because even then I was my sister's biggest fan, now I have to wait on her, hand & foot, for weeks that never wanted to end. Lesson learned: just ignore the whiny brat as much as possible if she wants help, she'll just screw you over in the end anyways...I've relearned this lesson a few dozen times since then. Some folks just never change.

I never did the monkey bars again until I had my own kids, but by then I could hold onto the bars & nearly drag my knees on the ground.

Stick #6
*stage set* Autumn, after my sister's cast is finally off & life has moved on, I'm still 10. We acquired a young pair of Belguim horses. The male, King, is about 18 months old, has never had a saddle put on him, the female, Queenie is about 15 months old, still a few months shy of when my dad wants to start breaking her for riding. See, when my dad was a kid they rode horses, broke horses, and my dad was known, very well, across the area as being a 'horse whisperer'. He had a great knack for breaking even wild horses for riding. This was the main reason we ended up with this pair of horses, the other reason being that the owners, folks my folks had gone to school with, were getting divorced & had to sell the horses & split the cost. I think my dad paid $2 for the horses. His buddy's wife wasn't terribly happy about it from what I remember, but whatever....

Since you've likely already read my post that was a tribute to my father you know that I was a daddy's girl. I wanted to be like my dad in all possible ways...well, all ways that it's possible for a girl to be like her daddy. So it was only natural that I was out with him as he worked this pair of horses. Queenie was EASY. At least in the eyes of my 10 year old self. She was very calm, gentle, no issues, took to having a bareback rider like it was completely natural. Likely the reason my dad let that be the first horse I ever got onto the back of. I was a 'natural' just like my daddy. ♥

I was out there every day with him working with the horses. I only ever got on the back of Queenie the one time to get a 'feel' for being on a horse. He didn't want to stress her too much with having a rider since she was still quite young, but he stood there by my side & walked us around the platform he stood on.

We worked King to the point of he finally being willing to stand there and let me climb on his back. Do keep in mind that my dad does the whole ease the horse into accepting riders with no saddle, then learn them the saddle later. We did have the bit & reigns on him, so I had something to hold onto & guide with.

After about a month of getting him used to me sitting on his back, my dad being right there, able to touch me the whole time, & with a hand on the reign he decided it was time for my first 'real' riding lesson. He gave me both reigns, talked me through MANY different scenarios, not failing to mention the fact that I'd heard maybe EVERY horror story of his & his brothers, including the time a snake spooked my uncle's horse, making it rear back, and the saddle horn embedding into my uncle's thigh. But I'm a chip off my dad's hip, I've got this, I'm a NATURAL....

Except I'm not. Once we got away from the safety of the platform & King realized that my dad had no control of him he BOLTED. He ran me straight to the woods, through the woods, then back again. It was that back again that got me. I was a bit scared & disorientated with the sudden bolt and this being my first time alone on a horse that I didn't react perfectly. I did great on the first run through the woods, I'd remembered my dad's & uncle's stories of such mishaps & knew to keep my body as close to the horse's body as possible & to just hang onto the reigns. Remember, I have no saddle....

King took a hard right, I looked up out of shock as I knew the pond fed stream & a small ravine were in that direction & I wanted to see just where we were headed. Somewhere in that same split second King jumped that ravine (which is only about 2 feet across, about 6 feet deep). So here I was, completely upright due to lifting up to see where we were headed, combined with that whole stupid inertia law of Newton's, and then I stopped suddenly. I was by my waist, hanging from a tree limb, over this ravine.

Belgium horses are not small or even typical sized horses by any stretch of the imagination...they are HUGE. So when one leaps into the air you're guaranteed to be at least 10 feet off the ground. Add in a deep (okay, 6ft deep) ravine below you and you're looking at hanging from a tree limb roughly 20 feet in the air - that's two whole floors of an average office building. Add in a healthy respect for heights and being only 10 years old, unable to catch your breath, and well, a full blown panic attack likely going to be your best friend. Stupid gravity brought me to the ground during that panic attack. I couldn't get my legs to cooperate into wrapping around the limb so I could make a safer descent down the tree.

I did walk away from the incident, I did have a touch of arthritis settle into my hip after that & it gives me fits when the weather isn't perfect, but I didn't break anything. The horses were sold at the auction the following weekend...we never did ever own another horse. Mom just knows the part where the horse ran threw the fence, tearing out a few 4x4 wooden fence posts on his way.

I've since been on a few horses, mainly the carnival type that are hooked to a set of bars that they then walk in a circle. I still haven't mastered dismounting from a saddle & stirrups without getting one foot hung up in the stirrup and landing on my butt, hanging by one foot. I don't have a fear of horses...I have a fear of hanging 20 feet in the air and the gravity induced fall that follows, therefore I no longer get on a horse unless I HAVE to...have to meaning to show my kids that there's nothing wrong with getting on a horse. Riding horseback on the beach, at sunset, is absolutely NOT on my 'bucket list'.

Stick #7
*stage set* I'm 11 now, in 6th grade, and it's winter. What you don't know yet is that since 1st grade and I started school full time (because back then kindergarten was still only a half day) I rode the bus too and from school. You also don't know that because we lived 1/4 of a mile out of city limits, down a steep dirt road hill, the bus did not come down our road, much less stop in front of our house. We had to WALK that 1/4 mile up hill, at 6am, to catch the bus. It did not matter what the weather was like. Mom & Dad both worked from 6am to 4pm, leaving the house around 5:30am, getting home around 4:30pm. I was awakened everyday at 4:30 am to start my chores. I had two goats I had to milk before & after school, chickens, rabbits, dogs, & pigs to feed & water every single day, eggs to also gather after school. I was in 2nd grade when I started milking the goats. So here we are, 6th Arkansas, it snowed. A very DEEP snow (ok, about 2 feet, but we NEVER saw that much snow, EVER) we ended up with a few snow days until the roads the buses took were able to pass without putting kids into too much of harm's way....

Now, remember, we had to walk UP the hill to catch the bus, this meant walking back DOWN the hill to go home. Our road is one of those more or less extended driveways that a few people live down - mainly crotchedly older folks who have no kids living at home and rarely has grandkids that come visit.

Now, the typical thing for any 11 & 10 year old child to want to do under such circumstances is to want to go sledding! There's actually enough snow to be able to do so still on the road, no trees in the road to crash into. Except, when you're 11 you don't take into consideration that the road takes a sharp turn at the bottom of the first crest in the road, where the hill kinda levels out, where the houses curves sharply because if you continue straight you go clear to the bottom of the hill where that spring/pond fed ravine is. This is also a dirt road that about 8 people drive up and down on a daily basis, it's not gotten yet warm enough for the road to be anything but a solid sheet of ice. Walking up the hill with the road that way involved basically walking in the weeds & using the brush along the sides of the road to haul yourself UP the hill.

After being let off the bus my brother Daniel & I got the bright idea to sled down the hill, using our coats and book laden backpacks as the sleds. Remember gravity & inertia? Yea, that thing that says an object in motion will continue to be in motion until an outside force stops it. You gain speed as you go downhill, especially on ice. We think of this fact about the time we get where the road takes a sharp turn...and there's a truck coming UP the hill. Natural reaction says to move, QUICKLY out of the way of this truck that is trying to keep up enough speed to make it both around the curve and then UP the hill in one attempt. We turn our bodies in the direction opposite of the curve. And wind up at the bottom of the hill, at the edge of the ravine.

If you doubly remember there's a creek that runs through this ravine & there are many trees around, so there's ice ...lots of ice. And I'm still a graceful baby giraffe that's learning to walk for the first time on the side of a rocky mountain. It's a good 40 feet from the bottom of this hill back to the road. An hour or so later we still haven't made it back up the hill. The bus dropped us off around 4pm...Mom & Dad get home around 4:30pm. We're also the realllllly super poor kids... To say our folks weren't terribly happy about us using our school books, backpacks, & only winter coats for sleds was an understatement. ((We made it back up the hill by walking the edge of the ravine to the edge of our property line - 10 acres across - where there was a fence, then used the barb wire fence to hold onto to get up the hill.)) Add in the fact we didn't make it to the house until almost 6pm...long story short I still can't go sledding...not just because my folks grounded me for LIFE, but because I've never seen a good sledding hill that doesn't have a road across the bottom of the hill and I know ice plus inertia plus gravity plus moving vehicles just don't go well together.

After that incident (that also involved some police officers) my folks went to the school transportation board & within a week we tore down & rebuilt the fence around our house, cut down a few trees, and the bus started using our driveway to pull into, turn around in, and pick us up/drop us off from school. We then moved to Oklahoma that summer & the bus since hasn't had to go down that road...

I'll conclude this installment for the time being.

The next installment I'll include the instances of my teenagehood where ladders & roofs were involved....

1 comment:

  1. I can't believe you survived that last one. I hope you don't have more than nine of these, cuz you're like a cat with nine lives!

    The horse story is my fave!!!