Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Father, Son, and Holy Spider

I swear, spiders are after me. They've heard of my eternal vendetta against them and have massed armies of minions to stalk me for all of eternity.  And maybe God's mad at me too, since spiders are His creation--though I sometimes question the motivations of making something so terrifying.

And maybe it was just a coincidence that I was accosted in church last Wednesday by an eight-legged fiend.  But I doubt it.

I thought that maybe I had made my peace with spiders, but this latest assault proves otherwise.  I guess one grudging friendship isn't enough to wipe clean a lifetime of squished arachnids.

Last Wednesday there was a worker from a local crisis pregnancy clinic speaking at a church nearby.  My family went, but I had decided not to go because the weather was stormy. Due to unforeseeable events, my mother--who is a diabetic--forgot to bring her insulin with her to the big meal of Brunswick stew the church provided beforehand.  And I was the only one still at home.

So, naturally, I braved the wind and the rain on my desperate quest to bring the insulin to my mom.

I was then roped into attending the service by food-related bribery. Delicious hot soup is irresistible to a cold, rain-soaked traveler, and it's just not cool to eat and run.  So I sat and listened with polite interest as the lady told the story of how her clinic was changing lives for the better.

Suddenly, my mom pointed at the back of the pew in front of us.  And that's when I saw it. 

It was a brown eight-legged demon, crawling towards me at a breakneck pace. I immediately gasped and slid about four feet down the pew.  It was all I could do not to run shrieking from the church.

 My dad whispered to just let it run on by, but I stared at him in disbelief. Sure, let the big, gigantic (about two inches, counting the legs) spider just waltz on by.  I'm sure he only wants to tell me how glad he was that I came to the Wednesday night service.

I mean, seriously?  It's a spider.  Like all it's brethren, it wants to do horrid, unspeakable things to me.  It knows of my vendetta, and it will be well compensated for my demise.

Luckily, my mother said no.  She handed dad one of her shoes, and he promptly squashed the ugly brute.

If that spider had come even another inch closer, I was going to have run from that church while screaming bloody murder and all the gossips in the county would have had something more interesting to talk about than the hyperactive lady from the crisis pregnancy center.

 I'm relatively sure the gossips would have decided I was possessed and I would have wound up on all the prayer chains in the state, all because a spider decided it wanted to attend church.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Pumphouse Spider

I sometimes like to run in the woods behind our house.  There's a nice dirt road back there that the paving company next door made so they could have room to store spare dirt and gravel.  I'm not trespassing, though. My great-uncle owns the company, and he lets his family roam all over his land.  I've gotten lost in those woods more times than I care to remember, with all sorts of people. 

But lately I haven't been getting myself lost.  I've stuck to the well-defined paths instead, in an attempt to reclaim some fitness into my life.  And for a few weeks I had myself a friend and cheerleader who never discouraged me and who was always waiting for me to return home.

I noticed a garden spider hanging out on the pumphouse one day as I was setting out.  I loathe spiders.  They terrify me.  There is nothing on earth more frightening than a spider, at least to me.  No matter how big or small they are, I am sure they have evil intentions and are out to murder me brutally in my sleep. Apparently, I am not the only one who feels this way. 

But for whatever reason, I took pity on the spider that day.  Maybe because it's pathetic little web was only a foot off the ground, or because the cold wind was tossing it back and forth.  Or maybe because it was so freaking huge that I was too afraid of it to try to kill it.  I don't know.  

What I do know is that it became my silent, mostly unmoving running partner. 

I found myself looking for my spider companion every day, just to see if it was still there.  This may be because I was nervous about letting it live, and wanted to be sure it hadn't left it's spot, for fear that it would come after me inside the house. 

But each time I set out for a run, and each time I came back, I always checked for the spider. 

After a few days we started playing games together.  I would drop a small leaf on it's web and it would chase it.  I called it "Spider Fetch," but I'm not sure the spider liked being tricked like that.  I'm sure it expected a big juicy bug.  But you know what?  If spiders became vegetarians, I might like them more.  I'm sure they could learn to enjoy a nice green leafy diet if they really tried. 

I haven't seen the spider since the great pumphouse wreck of '11.  Believe me, I've looked.  I'm certain it holds a grudge about the incident.  The only question is where it has relocated to...and if it will visit us indoors before it gets too cold for it to live.   

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mr. Fix It vs. The Broken Pumphouse

My dad can fix anything.  Eventually.

He's a firm believer in the do-it-yourself approach, mainly because it is so much more expensive to have someone else do things for you.  But the do-it-yourself approach sometimes comes with drawbacks.  Costly mistakes that a pro would have avoided, like what happened a few weeks ago with my brake shoes.

Because nobody in my family is financially secure enough to own brand-new cars, most of our vehicles have their own special quirks.  So dad's usually fixing one of our cars on any given Saturday.  Once, when he was installing new brake shoes in my car, he accidentally put a piece in backwards. My car was instantly transformed from a semi-reliable transportation device into a bucking bronco with a hornet in it's ear.  Nearly every time I mashed the brakes, my car would make horrid groaning noises and shake back and forth.

Ultimately, after complete brake failure and the purchase of a new set of brake shoes, the car was fixed properly.  But even though sometimes he makes mistakes, my dad is still the best fix-it man I know.  In his defense, he hadn't ever put brake shoes on that car before...and the manual was long gone (yay, used cars!), so he didn't have any help.  

He is also one of the most determined individuals I have ever met.

I don't know much about what exactly happened to the pumphouse after I left for work that day.  I do know that it was a miserable wreck after it's unfortunate accident and that it was decidedly broken.

Dad missed work that day entirely.  He spent all day working on that dratted pumphouse, trying to get running water back for us all.  Take a moment to think about how much water you use each day.  Most of us take running water for granted.  We get clean, drinkable water at the push of a button or turn of a tap.  We don't even realize how dependent we are on water until it's taken away--even temporarily.

For the course of that day we could take no showers.  We couldn't cook dinner.  We couldn't pour ourselves a glass of water or make tea.  We couldn't flush our toilets.  It was not a fun time for any of us.

I called home at lunch, just to see how everyone was.  I knew that my parents had not been very happy the last time I saw them--but a floating, spewing pumphouse is enough to make anyone a bit upset, I wager--so I wanted to see if there was anything I could do to help.  I was in town, and I figured I could maybe bring home some supplies or new pipes or something.

I found out that every pipe in the pumphouse had been severed in at least one place.  Some pipes were broken in two or more places.   The entire pumphouse was off of it's foundation.  The pumping mechanism had been smashed.  And no, there wasn't anything I could do.  Dad had already gone to get the supplies, including a new pump. Those things apparently don't come cheap.  Yowza. 

When I got back home that afternoon, around sunset, dad was putting the final pipes in place.  The vinyl siding on the corner and sides of the pumphouse frame had cracks running everywhere.   I got the honor of being the first to turn on the tap, and let me tell you, watching the water pour out all over my hands was a beautiful, beautiful sight.

I couldn't bear to close out this post without a link to some friends over at causelife, a charity that provides good clean water to people who otherwise wouldn't have access to it.  I first heard of this charity and how they change people's lives my freshman year of college.  I promise they're legit, and I promise they do make a world of difference in people's lives.

If you've got even the slightest idea how much water means to everyone, then I want you to check them out.  Poke around and see what they're all about and donate if you feel like you should.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why I Will Never Have a Nice Car

My cars are doomed from the start.  They really, really are. 

I have never once owned a brand new car.  Never.  And I probably never will.  It's not what you're thinking.  I know new cars lose like a third of their value when you drive them off the lot.  It's a sad fact of life that I'm sure will enrage car buyers for all of time.  But that's not my problem.  My problem is that no matter what I do, my cars always wreck.  

I should have known from the very beginning of my driving career that I would have terrible luck with cars.  On my very first day of driving during my Driver's Education class, I ran over a concrete block in front of a parking space. 

The rest of that day we drove around without a front bumper.  I'm surprised the teacher let me behind the wheel a second time.

Whether by my fault or not, every car I've driven on a regular basis has been plowed into something. My first car had been wrecked before I even owned it.  I then proceeded to wreck it three more times before it finally gave up and went to the big sputtering parking garage in the sky.  And now it's been pulled out of retirement by the very capable hands of my father--who has spent much of the past five years patiently fixing my poor lemon--only to face imminent doom in the teenage grip of my younger brother. 

The car I drive now was also wrecked before I owned it, and I suspect it may have been drowned as well because nothing electronic in it ever works properly for more than a month.  And maybe also set on fire, as it sometimes spews smoky-smelling air from the air conditioner vents.

 I have wrecked it twice since I got it. 

Both times have involved stoplights and my inability to properly pay attention to anything for more than a few seconds.  Luckily, the front bumper has always popped right back into place like nothing ever happened.  I have a good little car. 

But I can't hide the evidence of what happened this morning. 

Ever since I started my new job, I've been taking my brother to school most mornings since it's on my way and I like being helpful.  My brother has his learner's permit, so I let him drive us to school and then I drive myself to work.  It's been foggy in the morning lately, and the mirrors and windows of my car fog up too out of spite. 

My brother has a reckless streak.  He loves loud cars and driving fast.  He is also--like the rest of my family, including me--perpetually late for things.  This morning was no exception.  We were running late like usual, and he was juggling a notebook, coffee mug, and a pair of waffles wrapped in a paper towel as he flopped into the driver's seat of my car.  I, of course, wound up holding all these things. 

I was also holding my own pair of waffles, making sad faces, and pathetically trying to maneuver the delicious waffles to my mouth while holding all the other things.  I am sure he only wanted to alleviate my distress by trying to take back his waffles while backing up the car and trying to see out of the fogged-up windows.  Instead, his noble intentions backfired when the car was stopped by a loud crashing sound.  I, with my recent bad luck with my brakes, immediately thought it was brake failure.

 Oh, if only. 

The loud noise was in fact the trunk of my car colliding with the pumphouse.  For those of you with city water, let me explain: 

A pumphouse is a device modern rural folk use to draw and filter their own water from the aquifers below the earth's surface.  It's well water for us country bumpkins too far away from cities and towns for the town to supply our water.  An added benefit of this is that we know what chemicals and cleaning agents we put in our water, and are less likely to be unknowingly drinking a gallon of chlorine a week. 

Our well was dug around the same time our house was being built--about 14 years ago.  My family built our house themselves, save for a few things (like putting the roof on, getting the wiring done, etc.) that they hired other, more competent people to do.  Our pumphouse is made of wood (albeit covered with vinyl siding) that has been sitting outside in the elements for nearly 14 years. 

It is not used to disturbances of any kind.  

So when it was violently attacked by the rear-end of a car, the wood foundation gave way completely and it was hoisted into the air. 

When I realized that the car had hit the pumphouse, I lept out to access the damage.  I saw the pumphouse elevated by unknown means about a foot off the ground, pipes severed, water spewing everywhere.

 I immediately ran inside to get the master fix-it handyman of the house with a frightened cry of "DADDY THE PUMPHOUSE IS BROKEN WATER'S EVERYWHERE FIX IT." 

My brother was still in the driver's seat, gripping the wheel, staring unhappily into space, determinedly ignoring the gushing, floating pumphouse behind him.

After realizing there was nothing I could do, but that my brother still needed to get to school, I made him switch places with me--he was in no shape to drive--and I took him to school.  He didn't say a word the entire trip, just stared out his window. 

When he left, his pair of waffles, snug and secure in their paper towel, lay uneaten on the dashboard. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Starting Fresh

To those of you who have followed me from elsewhere, welcome!  This blog may not be what you're used to seeing from me.  This is a good thing.  Trust me.

Those of you just joining the party are welcome too.  In fact, I'm really excited that you're here.  Why? Because it's fun to meet new people, that's why. 

This is the first post in a new blog.  There are about a billiongazillion possibilities to what I could do here.  Fortunately, I've already decided.

This blog will be a storytelling blog. 

I'm super excited about it.  I'm going to try to tell you about my life through stories (often illustrated) that will have a positive or humorous spin.  I will be using a manual pottery wheel to spin the stories, so they may not always come out perfectly...I fully expect a few misshapen tales. 

I still have a lot of work to do--the site itself needs some TLC--but I plan on investing a good bit of time into getting this blog ship-shape. 

So hang on to your hats, people!  This place is about to be amazing.