Bugs Prompt Blog Break

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“Wow, I’ve never seen a grownup cry,” Hadley remarked, as I sat sobbing near a mystery leak that dripped with determination on the dining room floor and buckled the ceiling above.

An unidentified plumbing problem isn’t a cry-worthy crisis. But this incident was the final chapter in a series of cumulative, distressing events.

It kicked off last Tuesday when we discovered that the girls had lice. We learned this just as a strong summer storm knocked out the power. No electricity means no water, so we were powerless to wash sheets and treat the girls’ hair. Solution: armed with delousing products, we bunked in a hotel and attacked the problem. It was after midnight when we finally finished, but we’d made progress. Or so we’d thought.

The next day the power was restored but the washing machine broke, stalling efforts to sanitize bedding and clothes. The repairman estimated a seven-day wait for the replacement part. 

Next up? Both trucks broke down and with PigPen in the shop (amassing a $2,400 bill for deer damage repair) — we were squeezed with one vehicle.

And Friday afternoon — yet another day perched on the porch, sweating in the sun as I combed microscopic nits from the girls’ hair (making little progress) — Martin placed a cocktail in front of me. “Drink this,” he said.

I get it… I’ve been picking through their locks, strand by strand, for hours, I thought. And everything has gone wrong. “I’ll drink it when I’m done,” I said, swiping my sweaty bangs and hunching over Hadley’s bowed head.

“Really, take a few sips now,” he said, “because I need to tell you that there’s a leak in the dining room. And I’m going to have to cut open the ceiling to get at it.”

And there you have it: broken cars, broken washer, broken house, insect infested kids. Emotional breakdown.

Fortunately, unabated crying spurs family to action. On Saturday, my mother took the kids to be professionally deloused (yes, such services exist) and Martin secured a part to fix the washing machine and the Big Rig. All this while I played four straight softball games in league tournament. (We advanced to the quarterfinals, but were eliminated the next morning.)

No matter. After last week’s misery I can report today: the kids are fixed, ditto the washing machine and Pig Pen. It’s time to resume the blog and other elements of normalcy.

As for the accompanying tent photo: in an effort to limit lice spread, we booted the kids out of the house to sleep. But when we issued the go-ahead order to return to their room, they refused to vacate the campsite. They’ve slept in the tent for four nights running. The chair also pictured was employed for safety; Sunday evening Martin tethered the tent to the chair during a violent, gusty thunderstorm that threatened to send the camp structure airborne.

Remarkably, the kids opted to sleep in the tent, through the storm. The next morning I met a bed-headed Brynn, pawing through the cereal boxes in the kitchen and I asked her, “Weren’t you scared out there with all that thunder last night?” I asked.

“No,” she mumbled with a shrug. “It was loud but I  just went to sleep.”

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Eating Crow

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In keeping with our family’s long-standing belief that “everything’s a competition,” I like to tout the title of best driver. I’m the fastest (though I prefer the term efficient). And I log many more miles than Martin and still, maintain an untarnished record.

Sure, I’ve amassed some speed camera tickets. And yes, I’ve been pulled over 7 times in 5 years, compared to Martin’s twice.  But he’s the one with the tickets and points. My record? Squeaky clean.

In the words of Charlie Sheen… Winning!!

 

 

But it’s hard to claim you’re winning when your car looks like this:

 

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Behold, Pigpen.

Last Wednesday morning, whilst driving at the posted speed limit, one of our many up-county deer leapt from the thicket and attacked Pigpen. I spied the fleet beast a millisecond before — WHAM — we’d been broadsided.

The whole episode was bizarre, in part due to the road raging, knife-wielding driver also involved in the scene.

Here’s what happened: the buck jumped out and mangled Pigpen, then bounced into the opposing lane and hit another car. Then he lit off into the brush. It took about two seconds.

As I climbed out my window — the door too dented to open — the other driver emerged from her car, leaving her door agape. When a third driver in an unscathed vehicle muttered something as he squeezed by, the woman unleashed a volley of F-bombs at the passing car. F-you!! You F-ing F-er!! she screamed repeatedly. Finally, she grabbed a fistful of gravel and hurled it at the departing car. “I’m getting my knife,” she said, rooting through her backseat.

I just stood there, dazed. A knife? I wondered. Wasn’t the gravel enough?

But the knife wasn’t for the passing guy.

“Will you help me track down the deer?” she asked. “I want to slit its throat. I hate to see deer suffer.”

I sized up Pigpen’s injuries: well, the wheels are still attached….

“I gotta go,” I said, climbing awkwardly through the driver side window. (The Dukes of Hazzard made it look so easy.)

I called Martin on the way home. He expressed concern and sympathy, and met me at the auto shop. And afterward, he didn’t say anything, I just knew.

My “best driver” title was in jeopardy. That buck was the third deer I’ve hit in recent years.

And Postscript: while driving the kids’ friends home a few evenings later — as Hadley regaled them with my recent deer accident — at that very moment, I hit ANOTHER deer! That’s two deer in three days. (Flash was unscathed. The doe couldn’t say the same.)

So I can rail about the burgeoning deer population and the fact that I drive night and day, while Martin rarely averages a few miles. But there’s no denying: I’ve mangled more cars and it’s time to eat crow. Serve it up.

But perhaps it’s also time to consider deer prevention options. Apparently, those car-mounted, deer-repelling whistles are useless. So maybe an Aussie roo bar is the way to go…

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Summertime

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Summer is officially here.

I say this, not because of the heat and humidity. And not because of the summer solstice.

We officially launched the season with our annual tradition: mowing over a garden hose.

Each summer our riding mower claims a few casualties. Most recently, Martin ushered in summer by slashing the hose we use to fill the sheep trough.  

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If previous performance is any indicator, Martin tends to hack up the hoses, the kids’ toys and the dog’s tennis balls. Typically when he mows, you can expect a slew of plastic shrapnel sprayed across the yard.

But I’ve got a rap sheet, too. Not only have I killed a few hoses, but I’ve also mowed over the metal jump cups that hold the horse jumps together. I haphazardly toss the cups on the ground in the riding ring. Once the grass sprouts to calf height, the jump cups are lost in a sea of wavy green… until the mower finds them, and emits a horrible, teeth-rattling screech.

That’s when I raise the blade and make a bee-line for the house. There, I announce to Martin: “Something’s wrong with the lawn mower.”

As if the malfunction is a mystery.

Martin tips the machine on its side and studies the underbelly. “You bent the blade. How did you bend the blade?”

I feign innocence, ignorance, confusion. And later that evening, I sneak down to the ring to retrieve the mangled, metal evidence.

So now you know: Martin hacked a hose to ribbons.That means you can throw some dogs on the grill or head for the pool. It’s summertime.

And you know what else that means?

It’s almost time to put away the sleds, saucers and the Christmas tree stand.

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