Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fire Pit of Reasons....#8-10

By now I'm sure you've read parts 1-4 & 5-7 in my previous two posts, so I'm not going to repeat my disclaimer/warning...

This next portion involves more 'chores' I was commissioned by my father or papa to do, as opposed to just reckless childhood things. See, my Dad was deathly afraid of heights, there was a tree incident that I mentioned here. Then there was another incident involving a radio tower that I don't remember all the details about, so I can't tell that story, I just remember something about a metal radio tower & him & it being one of his reasons he wouldn't willingly climb a ladder. I'm sure your imagination can figure something out. It's because of his passing that I even started blogging. I cherished the stories my dad would tell about his life and it saddens me that I can't remember all the stories or all the details of the stories and doubly saddens me that he's not around to retell the stories to my kids or even help me tell some of my own stories.

My PaPa (dad's dad) was an over the road truck driver so was often gone for weeks at a time. My Granny, whom we moved in with when I was 12, was diabetic and had her right leg amputated when I was about 10 years old. They lived out on a 10 acre farm, in Oklahoma, we would travel out there every other weekend to help out - it was a 2 hour drive one way - but after my dad's brother got married and moved closer to where he worked there was no one right there to help Granny out in case she needed anything. My folks made the decision to move out there, my mom & Granny didn't get greatly along, but it was better than my mom's relationship with her mom & brother who lived on the same dirt road that we did in Arkansas.

I HATED living there! Not because of being on Granny & PaPa's farm but because of the school & 'town' that we lived near. See, in Arkansas we lived outside of the WalMart capital of the world, there was 500 students in my elementary school alone & there were (then) around 10 elementary schools. Plus I was going to be moving up into Junior High & taking advanced courses, it was all mapped out that by my senior year of high school I was going to be taking most, if not all of my college freshman courses. In Oklahoma I don't think there was 500 people in the whole one cop town. There was 14 students in my 7th & 8th grade classes and you had to travel into the next town, 20 miles away, to go to high school, where there was only 64 students in my graduating class. SIXTY FOUR! Where had we not moved I would have been a part of my cousin's graduating class that consisted of 2400 some odd students. I'm not terribly keen on being in the city, we didn't live in the city in Arkansas, we lived in outskirts, in the woods, but there was a variety of PEOPLE. I'm not keen on feeling pigeonholed to have to like just a certain set of people - I have to have a variety of people to mingle with. I like being surrounded by people who have differences in everything. It helps give me options & at least learning capabilities.

To say the least I didn't have a big social life. I went to church, school, and later to work after I got my license to drive. Plus, we lived on a farm, chores are a big part of living on a farm. Chores made easier by the fact that here at Granny & Papa's they had plumbing & running water. I mentioned being dirt poor previously, but didn't mention the fact that part of that included the fact that because of where our house sat we lived too far out to have city water - Grandma had it at the top of the hill, but that was all the further it went...and between being on the side of a hill that was rock and Mom & Dad not having the money to hire someone to dig a well on our property we made due. We had a spring fed pond that was used to water the garden & the animals, we took baths on a regular basis at Grandma's house, and my folks also had a mountain of 5 gallon buckets in the dining room that were filled with water every week. Our house was kept clean, we always had clean clothes to wear, outside of the lack of faucets & the way the bathroom facilities were set up for use it wasn't all that obvious that we didn't have a normal working household. The folks that bought our house after we moved to Oklahoma went to put a well in & it was discovered that the house sits on a huge natural gas pocket, so a water well would not have been an option afterall...the city put in a huge water tower at the top of the hill, in the field across from Grandma's house & they ran water to all the houses out there, (by this time MANY houses & small neighborhoods had started popping up out there as some of the older folks were moved to nursing homes or passed away and the younger generations didn't want the farm lands anymore) at no charge, in exchange for the rights to the natural gas...

Soooo....yea, this post is supposed to be a continuation of reasons why I don't do heights, but I've ventured off course, kinda...I don't know, I think some/most of that information is pertinent to know because this next section isn't necessarily things that any 'normal' kid would be exposed to, but it was part of my teenagehood.

Stick #8....
I was about 14 years old & the barn was needing to be tarred & sealed. My dad, being the type to not do heights, gave us (my brother & I) instructions on how to go about painting on the tar...every nail had to be recovered as well as any holes we found. By this time puberty has taken full hold of me, hormones & my weight do not work well together, & I was TALL...I was about 5'8" and weighed about 180 lbs, give or take some. But I'm mostly legs. Even now, at a 6ft tall adult my legs account for over 1/2 my height, my inseam for pants that actually cover my socks with shoes on is 38", this is the reason I mostly wear boots or heels with my jeans, it's not as obvious that my pants are too short for me.

So, when climbing a ladder to get onto something, such as the barn roof, my feet can be 5 or 6 rungs from the actual top of the ladder and still be able to put stuff on the roof. The tricky part comes into play when I try to actually get all of my body (legs included) onto said roof. Especially when it's a pitched tin roof. Getting off of said roof, via ladder, is 900 times trickier, especially when you're still just as graceful as you have ever been and not terribly fond of being up in the air on 100 year old tin, 30 feet in the air at the peak, painting on tar. See, tar is sticky and thick and the only way to clean it off of anything is to use gasoline, so just wiping your hands off on your pants does absolutely no good, just smears it across your hands even more. However, because the tar is sticky it becomes a bit easier to maneuver back & forth across the pitched tin roof without sliding too terribly far & having to work your way back up to the top, fighting gravity. I was an absolute pro at doing the tarring. I didn't dump my bucket over the edge like my brother 'on accident', I didn't make a complete mess of myself either. I didn't wear glasses before that day, because I had perfect vision, so there was no tar smudges all over my face & hair from pushing them up on my face, like there would be now, but with paint, because I can't seem to think to put the paint brush down before I push my glasses back up my nose...

After a few hours the barn roof was no longer in the shade of the trees & it was lunch hot tin roof + tar + quitting time meant get down off the roof, will start back again in the evening & finish the next morning. Nothing to it. Just use the slant of the roof as a slide, you're not going to go too terribly quickly because your shoes have tar globs on the bottom of them & your hands are tarred as well, so it was a safe enough descent. You dismount from a roof opposite of the way you get on the roof...body first going up, feet first going down...but also the same way as you came up, belly towards the roof. Coming down from the roof your belly is up because you're basically crab walking when you get close to the ladder you have to flip over and crawl the rest of the way down, backwards.

Daniel made it down before me because he's like a freaking spider monkey when it comes to climbing. Back then he was also about 5' tall, even though he was 13, and scrawny. He also wasn't fighting with a freaking bucket of tar because he'd 'dropped' his. My fear of falling was well established so I had a healthy respect for being that high up. I was also prone to freaking minor panic attacks under various circumstances. Daniel is also a freaking practical joker.

He gets down the ladder without issue and starts his taunt of me. The adults are all somewhere besides right there, so there's no one to hold the ladder besides Daniel...and well, he was more interested in taunting than doing anything to reassure me of where the ladder was exactly. I finally am able to get my first foot on the ladder and because of my angle looking down I miscalculated where to put my second foot...I'd gotten it on the outer edge of the ladder, on a hook, instead of between the edges of the ladder. Now, I had to go down at least 4 rungs of the ladder before I could actually hold onto the ladder itself. Thinking that I had both my feet on the same rung I move my first foot down to the second rung. I had relaxed a bit because I was finally on the ladder, making my descent. And then it happened. The rung, that was actually part of a hook, tore through the edge of the tin, and there I was with no feet on the ladder...

I landed on the trailer of hay bales that was sitting there waiting to be packed into the barn, so I didn't fall that whole 15 feet to the ground, only about 8 of it, onto hay bales. Slightly more give to them than the ground would have been, but not by much, but also, because of the way I fell my body was able to get enough reaction in to help prepare for the fall. Over the course of my life at that point I'd learned how to fall 'gracefully'...There was no apparent injury and I wasn't made to finish the tarring, but there was an adult out there at all times after that, keeping an eye on Daniel finish it up. I think my Granny had a bit of say in that tidbit.

Within a few weeks though it was noticed that I wasn't able to see as well and had severe migraine like headaches quite often, so Mom took me in to have my eyes checked right before my Freshman year of high school & I ended up walking out with my lovely prescription eye glasses that I've had ever since. I can not sit here at my laptop and see anything written on the screen.

Lesson learned: ALWAYS have a responsible spotter standing at the bottom of the ladder who is able to hold the ladder in case it should slip. Also? NEVER get on a freaking ladder again, they're just not agreeable to giraffe legs!

Stick #9 & 10
I'm 19 now & living with my cousins' grandma, helping care for her & her 5 indoor cats....

I have since then only been on a ladder twice in the last 15 years. Once because my grandma's cat got outside through an upstairs window and was yowling from the very peak of her roof. Her full two story house. This feat, since she was about 70 at the time, involved me having to take a ladder to the upstairs room, work it out the window & onto the roof of the porch. I then I had to lay that ladder up the peak of the roof, towards the cat....use the ladder to climb up the peak, where it still stopped about 8 feet short of where the beloved cat was sitting, yowling. I didn't make it past the point of positioning the ladder before I was puking from panic. Thankfully my 13 year old cousin was there and I was able to move & hold the ladder further up the roof so he could be as close as possible to the cat, directed him on how to safely climb up there then grab the cat, then make his way back down the ladder & into the window. Stupid fracking indoor cat!

A few weeks later that cat tried to reward me by attempting to kill me. See, I worked three different jobs back then. I did some freelance work as an HTML writer for a few companies, so I had an old 1998 model of a laptop, a few notebooks, & the like - so the laptop bag was heavy. I also worked as a waitress at Ruby Tuesday, so I was carrying my work clothes because I had a shift this day, after work. It was also Sunday, so I had church that morning. Despite being quite tall I've always been greatly fond of heels & the pair I was wearing this particular day was of very nice height, I was also wearing a straight pencil skirt. It was cold & snowy outside, so I had my big heavy winter coat on. I had another change of clothes to change into after I finished my shift at the restaurant to wear to a friends' house. Because I'm running a touch late I arrange all of this stuff, including two extra pairs of shoes, my church bag that had my song book & Bible in it, my drawing pad, and a few miscellaneous things. I also had my purse.

I was living in the upstairs portion of my grandmother's 200 year old house....where the staircase was STEEP. Fourteen total steps from the top to the bottom, but from the top I could potentially reach out to paint the wall portion that was above the door to the bottom of the stairs with a broom handle extension to the roller without issue.

Because I'm carrying all this stuff down the stairs in one trip my hands are too full for me to hold onto the rail, besides I'd lived here for a few months and had tons of practice going up and down these stairs. There's another portion of this story that I won't mention just yet because it deserves it's own post, I'll link it back in when I get it written. Just know that there was another big factor into this bit.**

But, remember that cat, that I had just saved from the peak of the roof? He decides after that day that he likes to be upstairs because he can see more of the world. Prior to me moving in he'd not been allowed upstairs. Also, since the roof incident I made sure to keep my door closed since I liked to have a window open from time to time and there were no screens on the windows upstairs.

I get down on the first step and turn just slightly enough to grab the door to close it. Smacking the cat with the door, which in turns causes him to shriek out, which startles me because I have no clue that the cat was even there.

I go to take the next step down this flight of stairs and that's when that blasted cat runs between my feet & I land at the bottom of the staircase. My aunt Deb came out to take me to the ER because it HURT to stand, BADLY. That hospital x-rayed my leg, where the scrape was, said it wasn't broken, sent me on my way...I went to work later that evening. I never wore heels down a flight of stairs again and I ALWAYS hold onto the railing. If I'm unable to hold the rail then I'm often on the very edge of a panic attack. I have to count my breaths, the steps, and have a clear sight of the stairs. Going down stairs is 900 times worse than going up stairs, but it's still not great. What sucks now is I have a house where the kids' play room is upstairs and my washer & dryer are downstairs....and folks wonder why I don't do laundry on a daily basis!

**That missing bit is included in this blog post.

1 comment:

  1. BUUUUUUUUH!!! You need to live in a one story house with no stairs and no cats. But keep the high heels because they are awesome with giraffe spots.

    Can't wait for the missing bit!