Archive for June, 2008

A rousing good time

With the water so high yesterday (Sunday), Scott could not resist the urge to canoe.  With some coaxing, Josiah was persuaded to accompany him, and 5/6 of us headed out in two vehicles.  Katie was watching the Cardinals game.

It was like this.  We canoe Bull Creek a lot, because at three to six miles away, the put-ins are very convenient.  The take-out is even more so; it’s basically right at our house, and you can’t beat that.  However, there are numerous other float streams in the area, some of which are ONLY navigable during a flood.

Swan Creek is not exactly in that category.  It empties into Bull Shoals Lake at Forsyth, and the lowest part of it is probably floatable most of the time.  We just don’t go there much because it’s ten or twelve miles from the house, and I guess we’re lazy.  With the flood raging, however, Scott wanted to hit Swan Creek.  He did a bit of research and found that there was a put-in at Dickens Road, some eight miles up from the mouth.  Then there was a take-out about three miles up from the mouth at road that was not labeled on our map, but which we assumed was Casey Road.

We had had a couple meetings to attend right after church, so by the time we got home, got the guys packed and headed out, it was 4:00 PM.  But the water would be fast and a five-mile float should be about right, in order to be off the water well before dark.

The canoe was loaded onto the van, which Scott drove, with me as an observer (photo shoot opportunity, you know) and Josiah as his canoeing compatriot.  Jessica drove the 95 Toyota, with Andrew along for the heck of it.  We had to have two cars because we planned to all drive up to the Dickens Road put-in and drop off Scott, Josiah, and the canoe.  Then I would drive the van, with Jessica following in the Toyota, down to the take-out point.  We’d lock the van and leave it there for the guys, and we three would go on home in the Toyota.  Scott tied a van key inside his swimsuit.

So we headed to Forsyth and turned down Casey Road only to find (well, I already knew and told Scott, but living in the Show-Me state, we looked anyway) that Casey Road is under construction and “closed to local traffic.”  Figuring that Walnut Shade is local to Forsyth, we drove past the sign (Jessica following) and continued cautiously on gravel till we came to some good old boys who looked like construction workers.  I’m not sure why they would have been there on a Sunday afternoon right after the biggest flood in fifteen years, but we asked one guy if Casey Road went down to Swan Creek.

“I have no idea,” was his offhand, but polite response.

We tooled a bit further down the road and passed a man walking.  He had on a dirty T-shirt, his hair was stringy, and most of his teeth were missing.  The remaining ones were mounted sideways, yellow, and rotting.  I rolled down my  window.

“Hey, does this road go down to Swan Creek?”

“Try no bridge,” he hollered back.

“Try no bridge?”  I was confused.  If there’s no bridge how do you try it?  We need to park the van near the water, but surely not on a bridge.  And if we’re taking a canoe out of the water, why would we need a bridge anyway?  Canoes generally run on water, not bridges.

“TRY NO BRIDGE, I SAID!  Why do you think there was a sign back there saying Casey Road detour?!?!?”

“Oh.  Well, thanks.”

We inched a little further along and the road literally ended.  Well, so much for being able to take the canoe out at the Casey Road bridge.

I asked Scott about the man’s odd response, “try no bridge.”

“He was insulting you, and you were too naive to realize it!”  Well, I guess that’s nice.

We turned around and tried to explain to Jessica what was going on, then we went back out to the highway and went on down to Shadow Rock park, which is where Swan Creek runs into Bull Shoals Lake.  What I saw there was totally astounding.

Shadow Rock is a big park, with camping areas, a playground, a ball field, a concession stand, several pavilions, etc.  It was all under water.  The only things visible were the tops of some electric light poles and the roofs of the pavilions.  The light poles only stuck up maybe six feet out of the water, and the supports for the pavilions were completely hidden.

There’s an old bridge across the mouth of Swan Creek that Scott and the kids jumped off several years ago.  It runs right next to the new bridge; or, more accurately, the new bridge runs next to it.  I guess Highway 160 initially went across that old bridge.

Anyway, the under-support arch of the old bridge (which is where they jumped from) is about 25 feet above the water, the deck (road surface) is probably ten feet above that, and the concrete “rail” along the sidewalk of the bridge is at least three feet above that.

If we hadn’t already known that that the old bridge existed, we would have had to assume that the existing (new) bridge was the only bridge over Swan Creek.  There was absolutely no sign of ANYTHING related to the old bridge.  That entire huge structure was under water.

We drove across Swan Creek (on the newer, higher 160 bridge) and began looking for a take-out point where we could leave the van.  We turned down the road that runs along the creek, and were stopped cold in fifty feet.  The road went straight down into the water.  Hmmm…  ?

There was a restaurant on the corner there that goes in out out of business with some regularity, and on its porch sat a man in a rocker.  We asked if he lived around here and turns out he did.

Scott asked if he knew where we could put it and take out to float the creek.

“Well,” he said, “Most of ’em been parkin’ and takin’ out right here.”

“But where do they put in?”

“Oh, you’ve got to go up around through Taneyville and take a road off the left called Dickens”

We knew about Dickens Road.

“Okay,” said Scott.  “Can we put in there?”

“Cain’t get there now.  Road’s under water both sides of the bridge.”

“Hmmm. . . well right here it just looks like a lake.  How far upstream do you think this is backed up?”

The man paused and thought a moment.

“I’d say near about three mile.”

“Three miles!!!!  So you mean even after we floated the creek, we’d have to paddle across a lake for three MILES just to get back here.”

“That’s right.  That’s what most of ’em been doin’.”

Well, I can tell you that Scott is not “most of ’em,” and he was not ABOUT to paddle any three miles on a lake!  Especially into the wind.  So we left Forsyth and headed home, but instead of good old Bull Creek, Scott wanted to try Bear.

Bear Creek starts in western Taney County, crosses under Highway 65 a couple miles north of 160, crosses under 160 less than a mile from our house, runs behind the cemetery, and flows into Bull Creek just below our house.  Even a fairly heavy rain is not normally enough to make Bear Creek floatable.  It takes a flood, and this we had.

We drove up Bear Creek Road a couple of miles and put them in at the very lovely low water crossing at Reno Springs Road – a dirt road that is crying out to be investigated by my camera.  Another day (sigh).

The water on the upstream side of the bridge was exactly level with the concrete pad, and there was about an inch flowing over it.  However, on the downstream side, there was a HUGE drop-down and the “waves” were several feet high.  It was raging.  Scott wanted to run that part, but Josiah wanted to walk the canoe down past that, which they did.  And they were off.

We headed home.  There was no need to leave a vehicle anywhere, because they’d just get out behind the barn across the road and walk home.  In fact, Scott said that if Andrew wanted to, he and Josiah could switch out at the house, and he (Scott) would float with Andrew on down to Bull Creek Village (where F Highway crosses Bull Creek; Bull Creek Village having been half flooded the day before).

As Jessica and I drove our two vehicles back down Bear Creek Road, we could see the creek through the trees from time to time.  Just a quarter mile downstream, we saw color through the trees; the T-shirts of our men.  They were standing in water near the bank, hanging onto the canoe.  What had happened?  It seems that Scott had jumped out of the canoe to keep it from tipping, and it tipped and filled with water.  They were dragging it to the shore to dump it.  Males consider this fun.  They urged us to stop on the creek road bridge up (downstream) ahead just a bit and get pictures of them at the bridge.

This was a good idea.  Being the resident canoe transporter and photographer, all my shots of canoers are usually of their backs as they head off down the stream.  The bridge was great because it let me get a couple shots of them from the front.  Canoers with faces – what a concept.

So home we went, and I cooked supper, and at 6:15 PM, Scott showed up across the road.  The boys switched out, and Scott and Andrew left about 6:30 PM to head to Bull Creek Village.  I calculated that it would take them about 1.25 hours to get there, so I planned to drop Josiah (to help Scott lift the canoe) and the van there at 7:30 PM.  However, at 7:00 PM, the phone rang, and Jessica hollered to me that they were ready to be picked up.  It turns out that they did that whole run in about 20 minutes!  Then they walked to a house to use a phone.

There were evidently some pretty scary moments, and I’m very glad I required Andrew to wear a life jacket.  They didn’t actually tip, but they bounced a lot, with the front end up in the air several times.  The waves came over the front almost up to Andrew’s head!

Scott also had a really tough time beaching the canoe at Bull Creek Village.  The current there was tremendous, and there was a tree sticking out into the creek that he had to negotiate as he tried to get to the shore.  He overshot the mark and ended up having to walk/push the canoe back UPSTREAM a ways – with Andrew in the canoe and the raging water pit-deep on Scott – but they made it.  Scott has a couple parallel cut on an amply bruised shin to show for it, and his right hand is kind of achy, but all is well.

Suffice it to say that the guys made a memory (Scott’s goal), we will always remember the day they floated Bear Creek in a flood, and survey says they had a rousing good time while doing it.

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Yet ANOTHER flood!

It rained hard beginning in the wee hours of Saturday morning, and by 9:00 AM, the creek was up more than six feet. By Saturday afternoon, it was about 12 feet higher than normal and the horse pasture across the road was again under water. I drove around taking pictures of flooded places and things, and when I was able to put out of my mind all the suffering of those whose homes were flooded, it was actually kind of exciting.

Western Taney County Fire and Rescue was out in force, as was the sherrif’s department; within five miles of our home there was a jeep on fire (four sheriff cars and two fire/rescue trucks – one large, one small), a road under water (two sheriff cars), half a village under water (two fire trucks, one water rescue truck-and-boat combo, and innumerable firemen in hip waders), and a backhoe submerged (no one and nothing around, but it was making a horrific noise.

I am working on getting pictures downloaded and into Flickr. Then, I have to figure out how to get them from Flickr into WordPress. . . and I’m thinking WordPress (which is free) has a limit on pictures or megabytes or bandwidth or something, so I guess I need to figure that out, too, before I try to post pictures. Since I have many other things to do, I’d better make that a project for another day. I mostly wanted to get a post up so my mom won’t be sad. = )

My goal is to post daily, but some days I can’t think of anything interesting to say, and other days I am just too busy to justify sitting at my desk and typing.

Fun shopping

I do not like to shop.  Generally, I don’t even “go shopping.”  I go buying.  I make a list, go to the store, do my best to get what’s on the list as quickly as possible, and go home.  I fear this pattern may be changing.

Branson has a brand-new Wal-Mart.

For six months, we’ve done all our Wal-Marting in Ozark, generally on the way home from church.  We’re always tired and ready to get home, so we rush through the store, grab what we need and hit the road for those last twenty minutes home.

Our new Wal-Mart is only 8 miles (11 minutes) from home.  It is ENORMOUS.  I don’t even know how to describe how big it is.  I am pretty sure that walking from one side to the other is equivalent to walking from our house to Bill and LaShell’s at least.

. . . I was right!!!  I went online and found that the new Wal-Mart encompasses 203,710 square feet.  (You can get all the details here. ) The square root of that number is ~ 451, so if the store were square, it would be roughly 451 feet by 451 feet.  However, I think it’s wider than it is deep, so we could say it’s about 500 feet across and 400 feet deep.  In which case walking from one side to the other would be a jaunt of about 1/10 of a mile; the approximate distance from our house to Bill and LaShell’s.

This store is not only big; it’s clean, and the aisles are wide.  In fact, even with lots of shoppers in there, it still seems kind of empty – until you go to check out.  I was in there at 8:15 this morning, and it was great.  I even found myself buying things that weren’t on my list – a fairly scary thought.

The only downside of our new Wal-Mart (so far) is their lack of paper bags.  I HATE buying groceries in those obnoxious plastic bags, but I guess that is one inconvenience that I will just have to get over.

Gainful employment

Josiah is staying with Jim and Sherry tonight, and Monday night, and Tuesday night.  This is the second time for him to work for Jim for three days (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday).  We handed him off at church this morning, and we’ll get him back Wednesday night at church.

This is really a blessing of a deal.  Jim lays brick and stone for a living and he has several guys working for him.  He OFFERED to let Josiah work for him and OFFERED for him to stay with them for several days to do it!  Jim and Sherry live about an hour from us (less as the crow flies, but the roads that go like crows are really curvy and slow), and that way Josiah can just go to work with Jim each day.

Josiah did this a couple weeks ago and earned minimum wage for three full days.  He mostly hauled bricks and did other go-fer stuff for the guys who were actually laying the brick.  It was hot and boring, and it wore him out – all good things, if you ask me.

So Josiah is gone, and that has both good and not-so-good ramifications.  Good in that he and Andrew can’t fight very efficiently.  Not-so-good in that others of us have to do his chores.  = )  Mostly I think it’s great that Josiah has an opportunity to do real, physical work – for pay – at age fourteen, and for a man of impeccable integrity whom we know well.

Josiah is one blessed young man!

Heard in my office this evening

Josiah: Mom, I have a problem.

Me: Only one?

Josiah: Well, I have several problems, but I need to tell you about this one in particular.

Me: Yes???

Josiah: I got a toilet plunger stuck in the top of a tree!

Yes, you read that correctly. It seems that Jessica was babysitting next door, and they needed a toilet plunged but had not a plunger. She telephoned Josiah-the-Plumber to come help, and he did. On the way back home, as he walked across the neighbor’s yard, he wondered if he could throw the plunger up over the power line. (I think the logic is something like, “Why does a boy throw a plunger over a power line? Because it’s THERE!”) He tried a firm underhand throw, the plunger spun end over end in a really neat arc, and it did indeed clear the power line. Nice!

With this success under his belt, he wondered if he could also throw it over the row of trees at our property line. He tried the same action, but this time his toss was not straight and the plunger came to rest some thirty feet up in a tree, right along Coffee Road.

These are the kinds of things that fourteen-year-old boys in semi-rural areas do in the summer. . . (sigh)

We did have a good laugh over it, though, and tomorrow, I’ll see if it’s still out there and try to take a picture. How many folks do YOU know who have a toilet plunger stuck in their tree?

Pole saw is man’s best friend

It is in the nature of the male of our species to conquer, to smash, to subjugate, and in general to exert power over his environment.  This possibly explains why some men deliberately smash into each other on a grassy field as they attempt to move an odd-shaped ball from Point A to Point B.  And why others rip phone books in half or shatter cinder blocks with their bare feet.  And in our case, why my husband, a man of great intelligence, creativity, AND strength decided to attack our trees with his pole saw.

It all came about because of my worry box.  During one Sunday sermon, our pastor mentioned in passing someone else who tends to worry about things.  That person made a worry box, and every time he was worried about something, he wrote it down, put it in the box, and forgot it.  Every Wednesday, he would open the box, read the items, and either throw them out (if they no longer applied), deal with them, or put them back in the box.

I tend to worry a lot, and I told Scott, jokingly, that I need a worry box too!  So, we made one, and he told me that if I was worried about something, I should put it on a card in the box, and HE would go through the box each Wednesday.  Now this is quite a good deal for me!!!

I had put a card in the Wednesday Worry Box last week that said I was worried about the branches that lay on our roof.  Our trees are large and overhang the house in places.  This makes for good shade, but somewhere in my past, I had picked up the concept that branches should not lay on the roof.  Several huge ones of ours did.  I had requested the removal of said branches several times over the past few years, but they had not yet jumped off the roof.  Since I had put my Trees On Roof worry in the box, I promptly forgot all about it.

Yesterday afternoon, Josiah came to get me and told me he needed me to hold a rope and pull it.  Hmmm…  We got outside and looked up.  Scott was on the roof of the playroom.  The ladder was also up on the playroom roof, and it was leaning against the main part of the house.  Scott had his trusty weedeater-with-pole-saw-attachment as he climbed the ladder.  Josiah tossed down to me a rope that was looped around the rather substantial main branch of a walnut tree that had been resting comfortably on our roof for some time.  I was instructed that “when it starts to break, pull hard!”

Yes, I would have the sole responsibility for making sure that the brawny branch (it was probably twelve feet long and three or four inches in diameter, with many branches and their associated leafiness also attached) did not fall on Scott’s head or Josiah’s.  No pressure.

I did manage to take a number of pictures, mostly because no one would believe the paces Scott put that pole saw through and the altitude from which he operated.  I did successfully heave-ho the monster branch at the right moment, no one was injured and the pole saw was still functional.  It’s a good thing because that first tree established Scott’s momentum as a bona fide tree trimmer.  He scurried all over the front and side yards, whacking off everything from dead twigs to the entire (dead) half of our two-trunk paper birch.

Nothing leafless was safe.  It reminded me of Jesus’ story about the fruitless tree:  “there’s no fruit on this tree, so whack it down!”  Once most of the offending branches had succumbed to gravity, Scott went to work making firewood.  Basically, he used the pole saw to trim the branches down to hauling size.  At that point, those of us with less testosterone hauled them to the burn pile.  Meanwhile, Scott pole sawed their trunks into fireplace-sized logs.  Actually, the girls and I suspect that several of them are a lot shorter than necessary – just because the pole saw makes it so fun to slice and dice timber.  It’s a guy thing.

This afternoon, Scott was hard at it again.  There was still the massive branch (even bigger than the aforementioned walnut tree branch) on the back of the roof, the little bit of walnut tree still dangling against the chimney, AND the truly significant limb and accoutrements laying (or is it lying?  I never remember that one) on the smokehouse roof.

With Jessica holding the ladder, he managed to lop off the back roof problem, but I ended up holding the ladder for a fairly scary one.  While I watched the preparations being made, I was really hoping it wouldn’t end up like those cartoons where the guy climbs a tree, runs out on a limb, and triumphantly saws off the branch he’s standing on.  Let’s just saw that he had the ladder up one two stacks of two cinder blocks, it was almost fully extended, and it was leaning against the branch he was sawing off.  It all worked out okay, but when the pole saw got pinched in the groove as the branch began to break, I confess that I had visions of Scott hanging onto his beloved pole saw and being pulled down with the ensuing avalanche of limbs.

The final giant to conquer was a set of fairly lacy limbs (walnut tree again) brushing against the chimney.  Now, the chimney is stone and probably wouldn’t be harmed by having branches leaning against it – in fact, they may help hold it up. . . hmmmm. . . – but with ALL the other visually offensive leafy detritus gone, one simply COULDN’T leave those few branches there.

Back up onto the playroom roof went My Hero, pulling his ladder and pole saw up after him.  He parked the ladder next to the house and leaned it (again almost fully extended) against the chimney.  That would be the chimney that has been steadily removing itself from the house for a couple of years.  He then started the pole saw and ascended the ladder, held firmly by Josiah – under my penalty of death.

Scott then let go of the ladder completely, in order to swing the pole saw up toward its intended victim.  I should get points for keeping my eyes open while I prayed.  The pole saw is a weedeater with a mini-chainsaw attachment that can be substituted for the regular weedeater thing.  It also has an extension that makes the handle longer.  The whole outfit is maybe six feet (?) long.

I watched in disbelief as Scott gripped the ladder with his left hand, held the near end of the pole saw with right hand, and swung the apparatus up over his head and out to the right at a 45 degree angle, trying to get it to lay (lie?) against the base of his intended victim.  It took a few tries to get it to bounce/land where he wanted it.  Then he commenced a sawing motion, and that’s when I really needed a card for my Worry Box! Here he was, sawing determinedly, with the saw resting on top of this branch.  What would happen when he sawed it through?!?  Obviously, the pole saw would come crashing down (with no branch to support it), and as it swung down, would it hit Josiah?  or Scott?  or knock Scott off balance and off the ladder?

I STILL kept my eyes open while I prayed.

No problem.  He sawed off offending branch #27, flicked the pole saw off, and carefully lowered it to Josiah.  Just like he trimmed trees without ropes, belts, or harnesses from precarious perches for a living!

Now there are absolutely NO branches touching our roof or the smokehouse roof, we have an incredible amount of brush to burn, and we have a litle stack of sticks for the fireplace.

And Scott said over and over how glad he is that my folks gave him his pole saw.

Prism, anyone?

This struck me as funny. Last night, I stayed up a little late, vegging online, while Scott was playing basketball. Jessica and Josiah were already in bed and Katie – who had gone with a friend to see “Noah the Musical” at Sight and Sound (free tickets) – was expected home in about 30 minutes.

It was 10:20 PM, and I was just about to go to bed when the phone rang. It was T, a lady I know from church, and she had a question. Had I been asleep? Well, no, but Jessica had been, and the phone rings in her room. When awake, Jessica is our family receptionist, which works well, because she gets more phone calls than anyone else in the family. She was not too thrilled at being awakened, especially when she heard what T needed.

It seems that T was doing school with her five (six?) year old. Yes, after 10:00 PM. She said she likes him to get to play with kids during the day, so they have been doing school at night.

That timing is admittedly a little unusual, but flexibility is one of the many perks of homeschooling. I once knew of a family whose dad worked nights. In order to have some family time, the whole family slept days and worked/played/schooled in the middle of the night! Yes, they actually were out in the yard at 3:00 AM, playing by the light of the streetlamps!

Anyway, T called at 10:20 PM to ask me if I had a prism. Huh? Do what? I yawned and told her I would check tomorrow (today) and let her know. She didn’t know where to buy one and just needed it briefly to show her son how it worked.

Now, I somewhere along life’s way, I internalized the concept that one generally shouldn’t telephone someone else after about 9:00 PM, except in an emergency. Prisms are not emergencies. (However, this may be only an American custom. My husband occasionally works overseas, and in the country he frequents, people call each other well after 11:00 PM all the time.) I’m in the U.S. and while I didn’t mind the prism request, the timing of the call was a bit on the late side.

This afternoon, I went on a prism search and yes, we did have a small right angle one. I called her back to let her know I had located it and would bring it to church with me on Sunday.

It sounded like I had woken her up. = )


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