Archive for July, 2008

Three cheers for Jessica!

In honor of my toe and cold/asthma situation, Jessica went above and beyond to help me today.  In addition to frequently saying things like, “Is there anything I can do to help you, Mom?” she

1.  Took Andrew to piano lessons

2.  Dropped a pair of dress pants at the cleaners

3.  Did (with Andrew’s help) our grocery shopping at Country Mart

4.  (with Andrew) Brought the groceries in and put them away

5.  Collected library books to be returned

6.  (with me) Removed the back seat from the van

7.  Did the Wal-Mart shopping in Ozark

8.  (with Andrew) Did the Sam’s shopping in less than 20 minutes, start to finish, including loading it all into coolers in the van

9.  (with Andrew) Did the Aldi’s shopping

Then, after church, she helped unload the van of all the Sam’s and Aldi’s and helped put it all away.  She probably did other things, too, that I just haven’t discovered yet.  THANK YOU, Jessica!

Fashion statement

There’s a reason I haven’t posted in a few days, and it’s not for lack of desire.

For one thing, I have been battling a pretty intense cold that has given me a raw throat, some asthma problems, and possible fever – or maybe that’s just the hot flashes.  Then, added to that, I slipped on the bathroom floor Saturday morning and slammed my foot into the edge of the door.  The door is harder than my foot, and my foot lost the encounter, or, more precisely, the fourth toe on my right foot lost.

It hurt like crazy and when I looked down, I noticed that the toes on my right foot seemed to be doing a Vulcan greeting.  In slo-mo, I thought to myself, “Now I’m quite sure that toes are not supposed to look like that.”  I reached down and shoved them back the way they ought to be, and was relieved that their appearance was instantly much more satisfying.  Unfortunately, the pain was just cranking up.

I had to leave in negative five minutes to pick up Josiah, so I hobbled with extreme discomfort into the bedroom and got dressed.  I decided that whether I had sprained my toe or broken it, it would do best with some support, so I put on my tennis shoe.  That was a very big mistake.  With the shoe on, I was not even able to set my foot on the floor!  Off came the shoes, on slid my sandals, and out to the car I hopped.  Barefoot, I was able to drive with my right heel, so I successfully retrieved Josiah.  Back at home, I told him that I thought I had broken my toe and would he please help me into the house.  Which of course he did.

Scott and I talked about the prognosis.  The pain was quite extreme whenever I tried to put any weight on it, and considering the angle of dislocation at the time of impact, I was fairly certain it was broken.  But what do you DO for a broken toe?  Scott said you can tape it to the toe next to it, but since I know I am allergic to latex we’d have to use paper tape.  Do we have any?  And wouldn’t it rub raw between the toes?  And wouldn’t the skin die under it if it had to stay taped till the bone heals?  I just didn’t have enough information.

I called our local Skaggs Urgent Care, and they said it sounded like it needed to be seen.  The ALWAYS say that.  If I called Urgent Care with a runny nose, they’d say it needs to be seen.  I asked what they could do for a toe that was broken.  Well, it would depend on where it was broken and how it was broken.  That didn’t help much.  Then they told me that they were really busy, they had only one doctor there, and they’d be closing about 2:00 PM.  It was about 11:15 AM at the time.

So I started calling around.  I called St John’s Urgent Care in Branson and they said they didn’t have x-ray capability that day.  Our doctor in Ozark is open on Saturday mornings, so I called them, but they were just about to close.  They told me that the nearest Urgent Care to them was St. John’s in Nixa, and that they could x-ray it and would be open till 7:00 PM.  That sounded much more promising, so off I went to Nixa.

The clinic there is brand new and was quite empty, but I still had to wait almost two hours.  At least it was a nice place to wait. After declining two offers of a wheelchair at the sign in desk, once I was in a room and the x-ray lady came to take me to x-ray, I gave in and took the wheelchair.  That was a good choice, because if I hadn’t she and I might STILL be inching down the the three halls it took to get there.  She took three lovely foot photos, none of which I was allowed to bring home.

The doctor was a cheerful fellow that I liked and respected immediately.  He showed me the fracture in my right fourth proximal phalanx and explained that I really did it up well – no boring old straight break for me!  I managed to slice the bone at a very neat 45 degree angle (hence the Vulcan greeting) and had effectively “set” the break when I pushed the 4th toe back into line.  The toe would heal on its own, given time, and my task would be to make myself as comfortable as possible while it did its thing.

Doc said I should stay off it, keep it elevated, and ice it frequently for fifteen-minute intervals.  Ibuprofen for pain would be also be a nice touch.  All those things sound fine in theory, but how often in YOUR day is it possible for you to sit around with your foot in the air on ice?  While I could certainly minimize my walking, it simply would not be possible to entirely refrain from walking, or at least hopping!

Doc told me that the sandals I was wearing would never do.  Of course, that was already obvious.  I needed something very hard and flat with no flex to the sole; in fact, he said the best thing would be something like a piece of a board with Velcro straps to hold it onto my foot.  As he thought about that, we both saw a distinct light bulb come on above his head.  “A surgical boot is what you need!” he said, and off he went to find one.

Doc returned with a sporty “boot” in a lovely shade of navy with matching Vecro straps.  Patty now models the unisex size medium version on her right foot only, while her nifty white Hanes crew sock nicely compliments the boot’s snow-white sole.  Of course, the sock also hides the patriotic bruises now covering most of her toes – the bruises that Andrew insists are “GROSS!”

So now I am perfectly shod, making a true fashion statement as I hobble/shuffle/thump from the recliner (where I have perfected the technique of rubber-banding the ice pack around the maximally elevated toes) to the table (where I can put my foot on Scott’s lap while we eat) to the piano (where I am learning to sit at a 45 degree angle, prop my right foot on a dining room chair and pedal with the left), up to the desk (where I keep an extra folding chair handy for right-foot-propping; although it’s also proven an effective stumbling block to other family members), to the bed (where I am heading now, and where I still wear the sock and boot so as to prevent unwanted movement – and painful yelps – in the night).

The silly toe just swells and throbs too much when it is down for extended times, but if I raise and ice it before and after, I can lower it for limited periods of time.  In fact, this evening I was able to go out into the yard and water the flowers and veggies for a while.  They were gasping and glad to see me again, and I’m sure every one of them took note of my new fashion footwear.

Proper motivation

I just walked into Josiah’s room and was hit with a tidal wave of shock.

Josiah has a very large shelf unit into which he alternately shoves, tosses, or kicks his stuff. This stuff includes but is not limited to clothing (socks and underwear that theoretically won’t fit into his drawers), toys (which he never uses and which mean little, if anything, to him), souvenirs (probably ditto), Boy Scout stuff (hat? scarf? book? badges? sash? etc.) money in both its paper and metal forms (sometimes in a wallet or zipper bag, but most often not), school books, papers, notebooks, and workbooks (to his mother’s unending frustration), library books (some of which I have probably paid for as they were deemed “lost”), pieces and parts of miscellaneous items (could be electronic, broken, or and/or misplaced), lego creations from his childhood (which will evidently not be dismantled till his wife gets a hold of them), and approximately 2 gross of scattered pencils of various lengths (which explains why he and Andrew each have to get a brand new pencil and sharpen it every two days).

I used to do things like periodically wade in there with Josiah and sort all the junk, and put it in plastic bins, and label the bins and shelves so that everything had a place and the shelf could stay neat. Sometimes, Jessica and I would do it when Josiah was gone and then make him pay us for our time. We’d even take before and after pictures, and Josiah (who freely admits to being severely organizationally challenged) would laugh at himself and thank us.

But for the past year or so, I have given up on Josiah’s room. Dr. Dobson taught me that I must choose my battles and win decisively, and the goal of Josiah’s room ever being neat for more than 36 hours is a battle I simply cannot win. I have chosen to spend my time and effort where I have at least a minute possibility chance of success.

So, you can imagine what I was thinking when I opened Josiah’s closed bedroom door a few minutes ago and saw him and Andrew in there, with almost everything off the shelf and scattered on the floor. And they both looked happy! What did that mean?!?!? I told Josiah that I was shocked. He grinned at me. I asked if his dad had told him to clean it up. He said no and kept on grinning.

Then he reminded me that he had a deal. With Ms. Sherry. And then my light bulb of a brain finally turned on. Sherry is Jim’s wife. Jim for whom Josiah has been working part time. Jim and Sherry in whose home Josiah has been living for three nights every other week. On his last tour of duty there, Josiah was using Ms. Sherry’s computer. I won’t mention that he changed some settings on it that messed her up, or that I told him he should NEVER mess with someone else’s computer – even though he tries to mess with mine and messes with his own so often that it rarely works. (Some people have a hard time leaving well enough alone.) And not only did he mess with her computer, the guy had enough nerve to tell her – the lady who is at no charge and of her own volition feeding and housing him! – that she really needed to clean up her desk! Good night, Josiah! I really thought we’d raised him better than THAT!

So Sherry, being nobody’s fool, told him that if he’d clean up his room, she’d clean up her desk.

Now it’s 48 hours until Josiah goes back to their house, and I guess he knows she’s going to confront him, so ENTIRELY ON HIS OWN, the young man is cleaning is room, ON HIS OFF DAY!!!!

It’s a sure thing that God still does miracles. Or at least Ms. Sherry does.

The Creek, Chapter 11: The Neighbors

As anticipated, some 19 neighbors (including Yours Truly) plus the Sheriff, the Prosecuting Attorney, and the Presiding Commissioner met at 6:00 PM at Carol S’s home to discuss the whole issue yet again.  This meeting was initiated by Carol O, who decided the commission wasn’t going to do anything, and so it was time for the neighbors to unite and start prosecuting the trespassers.

Among those in attendance were local residents who own six different tracts of creek-front property, two outsiders who each own creek-front property but who live elsewhere, and four local residents who don’t own creek-front property but who are concerned about the situation, (or who just want to be allowed to swim it in the creek, for crying out loud).  I suppose you can guess that I was the only attendee in the final category.

I did take notes, but I will spare our readers that particular tedium and just hit the high points here.

I was duly impressed by the sheriff.  He is built like a sheriff, he sounds like a sheriff, he’s very calm, he’s very well-spoken, he’s very experienced, and you would NOT want to meet him in a dark alley (or up a dead-end creek road).  He patiently explained for the umpteenth time what the landowners need to do (post their property, either with no trespassing signs and/or purple paint, and then call him when there there are violations), and what his department can and can’t – or will and won’t – do.  It was all very logical, and who can argue with good logic?  Well, I for one.

A mere three minutes into the meeting, when the sheriff explained that he and his deputies would be forcing all trespassers to leave, I raised my hand and asked if those who had received permission from the landowner to swim there would be told to leave.  Yes, they would, because there’s no way for a deputy to know to whom the landowner has given such permission.  I then extended to him my sample letter and asked if a person confronted on the property in question produced such a letter for the deputy, would it suffice to allow the person to stay there and swim?  He read over the letter and said, yes, it would.


For me, the rest of the meeting was gravy, my primary goal thence becoming to request Mr. Local D to sign a letter for me, with auxiliary goals of having as many other owners as possible also sign them, so that if anyone with our last name were to inadvertently edge a toenail onto posted property, s/he would not risk ending up in jail.

I heard numerous passionate pleas in the next hour and forty-five minutes.  Several of the owners went back to beat the dead horse of why on EARTH can’t the road be CLOSED?!?!?  Closing it would save the county all the hassle of patrolling it, all the cost of maintaining it, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseum.

Mr. Presiding Commissioner (our friend Chuck Pennel) calmly explained that there were properties at the end of the road for which that road was the only public access, and besides, it frankly just didn’t sit well with him to close a county road.  “Harry”, one of those owners, was present and also said he did not want it closed.

There was extensive talk about gating it.  The neighbors suggested that the gate could be closed all the time, or the sheriff could close it at 8:00 PM after chasing all the trespassers out, and then re-open it every morning.  Chuck reminded us that if that were done, and he really did not like that idea either, not only would all the landowners have to have keys, all the county maintenance workers would need keys (because it’s still a county road), and all the county emergency workers would need keys.

The idea of putting up a sign to say that there was no public access to the creek via Blansit Road was presented.  Of course that would not actually be  true, because the low water bridge at the end of the road IS a public access.  The sheriff said that anybody could put whatever sign he wanted on his own private property.

The sheriff also strongly encouraged each land owner to post his property, either with signs (for which, if and when trespassers are caught stealing them, they can be charged, prosecuted and forced to pay restitution – though it could take months) or with purple paint “blaze” marks on trees.  Evidently purple paint is universally known and accepted to mean “private property, trespassers will be prosecuted.”  I did not know this, but with all the hot air in that room I was not about to admit my ignorance.

Our friendly prosecuting attorney, in shirtsleeves and loosened tie, also came across well, explaining procedures clearly and helping all of us learn exactly what happens legally when people trespass others’ property.  I was favorably impressed, and although both he and the sheriff are running unopposed, I plan to vote for them.

The resident landowners clearly want substantial county action NOW (or last month), but because many people have been swimming and partying at Big Rock for at least 50 years (for the most part, without a clue that they’ve been trespassing) – and some of those present admitted that as teens they had personally done things like racing up and down the creek road, getting drunk at Big Rock, and going parking under the bridge – it’s highly unlikely that things will change significantly before weekend.  Today is Thursday, and weekends do seem to occur on a fairly regular basis.

There were other fireworks on the side – the family whose well is probably not in compliance with DNR’s (Department of Natural Resources) requirements is claiming that the asphalt fill that the county used to build up a small section of Blansit Road after the last flood will leak oil into their well, and then, Chuck, who will pay for my well?    Oh, give me a BREAK!

Another member of that family – at least I think he’s married to the family member he’s living with –  stuck his head in the room to holler at the sheriff, prosecuting attorney, and presiding commissioner the following direct quote, “I JUST HAVE ONE THING TO SAY.  YOU GUYS AREN’T GOING TO DO A D*MN THING FOR US TILL ONE OF US GETS KILLED!” and then stomped our of the room; a fact for which I, at least, was thankful. I believe his reference was to a recent killing in Arkansas over a trespassing situation.

Then we had comments about the state highway patrol officer who somebody claimed to have seen sitting in an unmarked car down the creek road on personal property with a lady who had long brown hair. . . and the speaker guessed they had a right to do whatever they wanted but she sure didn’t want them doing it on her property.

One resident owner complained that if they put up a sign saying that the creek road property was private, then they’d have people knocking on their door (they happen to live closest to the Highway 160 bridge) all the time asking for permission.  To which the sheriff replied, “Sir, that’s just part of owning creek-side property.”  Good for you, Mr. Sheriff!

Someone else (Carol O, I believe) complained of all the noise, trespassing property damage, drugs, drinking, etc.  The sheriff said, “Ma’am, drugs and these other problems are EVERYWHERE in this county, not just up this creek road.”  And I could have clapped for “Harry” (who owns a half mile of creek frontage and does not want the road closed ) when he added, “I live in BRANSON!  And I have people walking through my yard, leaving litter, shooting fireworks at all hours, drunk, and doing drugs everywhere all the time.”  Amen, “Harry,” and get a life, Carol.

Finally, and most disturbing to me, were comments from two different families about the fact that they would NEVER allow THEIR kids to go to Big Rock, how they had seen our kids going down there, and how horrible it would be if something happened to one of them; the clear and pressing implication being that no one in his right mind would want to swim there because of the nasty people who go there.  These comments did manage to unhinge me for a few hours after the fact, to tell the truth, but to their faces I simply said, “I hear you.  I understand your concerns.  I respect your viewpoint.”

With extreme restraint I managed to refrain from telling them that each person has a right to raise his own children as he sees fit, and that neither they, nor the sheriff, nor either of the Messrs. D would be held responsible if something happened to my child.  Good night alive.  Do these guys really think that after 18 + 16 + 14 + 9 = 57 parent/years of life I don’t give a rip about my kids?!?!?  Come ON!

In the end, two owners turned down my request for a signed letter of permission to access the creek via their land, but the one who mattered the most, Mr. Local D, said that he and his brother, Mr. Out of State D (who owns the land at Big Rock), were fine for us to swim there.  He said if I sent him a letter he’d sign it.  I mailed it off this morning, so hopefully in a few days we’ll be able to beat this heat in the cool waters of Bull Creek at Big Rock.

And this afternoon, Andrew and I bought a length of PVC pipe and two caps, so now whoever goes to Big Rock will have a nifty “baton” in which to carry his permission slip.

The Creek, Chapter 10: The Blue Truck

Under the 160 bridge, on public property, there’s a little gravel turnoff from Blansit Road, where, if were so inclined, you could drive in the loose gravel up under the bridge. However, a number of years ago – perhaps about five years ago when the new bridge was built? – the highway department installed some enormous boulders so as to prohibit one from driving down the turnoff and into the creek. The boulders are positioned so that it is absolutely and completely impossible to get around them.

Now, when you turn off Blansit Road at that point, you can only go about 25 feet before meeting the boulders. There’s room there for maybe six cars in the remaining “parking area” if you sandwich them in tightly.

A few mornings ago, I was walking back and forth across the bridge as I always do, and I saw a blue pickup parked down there. It was about 7:00 AM, and there was no one in or near the truck. The amazing thing is that it was parked on the other side of the boulders; the creek side. It was facing the boulders with its tail toward the creek.

How it got there is a one mystery, and how it will get out is a bigger mystery! While I walked and sweated, I had plenty of time to hypothesize about both. Because the far side of the creek is very steep (60 degrees?) and very high (20+ feet?), it could not possibly have come down that way. It clearly did not vault the boulders from the near side either. The only other options were that it rose up from the center of the earth or that it was dropped from a helicopter.

If the former, its bed would have been full of mud and rocks, but the bed showed only a toolbox and some crushed soda cans. That left the latter, and I can see it now: You know those truck commercials where the truck is sitting on a mesa in the middle of the Grand Canyon (or somewhere similar – as if there is any place similar to the Grand Canyon), and there’s no way on God’s green earth that it could have gotten there?  Well, I am thinking that some wealthy Branson entrepreneur was bored and decided he could have fun by using his personal helicopter to lower the blue truck down beside the creek.  Either that, or he lowered from the bridge with his personal crane, swinging it out a bit to position it where it now sits. . .

. . . Or sat.  I started this post after the neighborhood meeting Wednesday night, during which the blue truck was discussed at some length.  In fact, the sheriff said he’d go check out the truck as soon as he left the meeting.  However, when I walked across the bridge this morning, the blue truck was GONE!!!  Helicopter?  Crane?  There are four indentations in the gravel where its tires were, but aside from that no tracks or signs of scraping or pulling or driving or anything else.  Maybe the earth swallowed it up a la Korah.

Us four and no more

Well, it’s finally come to this: I don’t find myself cooking for six as much as I used to. = ( Between AIM activities for the Big Three, Scouts for Josiah, Katie’s internship, Jessica’s sitting, and Andrew’s gymnastics, it is the odd night that all six of us are here for supper.

Take this past weekend for example. First, on Thursday Katie flew out to Virginia where she helped lead an AIM training camp. She was gone Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday night.

Second, on Thursday Andrew had gymnastics till 7:30 PM (which equals “eat on your own afterwards”).

Third, Josiah had a Boy Scout camp out Friday evening at 5:30 through Sunday afternoon. He ate whatever he could find before he left.

Fourth, an AIM friend of Jessica’s (Claire) was coming into town to help at AIM HQ, but due to scheduling conflicts needed a place to stay Saturday evening through Sunday evening. We were very honored to have here for about 24 hours.

Fifth, when Katie arrived home from her Virginia jaunt, she immediately took Andrew and drove to North Little Rock to take him to a Go Fish concert. This trip was her birthday gift to him, and he had, “the most fun I’ve ever had in my life, Mom!” Two more points for Katie on creative gift-giving!

So, when all was said and done, for our supper meals recently, we had:

Thursday: 4 (S, P, J, Jo)

Friday: 4 (S, P, J, A)

Saturday: 4 (S, P, J, A)

Sunday: 5 (S, P, J, Jo, Claire)

Last night, Monday, we were all six together again, but looking at the calendar, that won’t happen again till Saturday, at the earliest. This is part of my preparation for Katie’s launch to college in a mere 27 days! I’m really glad God is giving me time to adjust gradually. I’d rather avoid change completely, but when it must be confronted, S-L-O-W-L-Y is definitely my preference.

The Creek, Chapter 9: The Carols (O and S)

Having been told sequentially by Carol S, Mr. Local D, and Presiding Commissioner Chuck Pennel that a neighborhood meeting was in the works and that Carol O was the force behind it, I dug out a number for Ms. O and left her a message. A few days later, she returned my call and was quite friendly about the whole matter.

Now, since I don’t own any creek-front property and am not as directly impacted as those who do, and since Ms. O is in latter category, I chose to listen much and speak little. That ended up being a wise choice, as I could not have gotten many words in edgewise. Once Ms. O began talking, she more or less continued for about 20 minutes.

She told me of all the awful things she has witnessed firsthand, including “70 people on the gravel bar the Wednesday before 4th of July.” She said there were three or four tents down there at 5:00 PM, a huge awning, lots and lots of people, vehicles everywhere – both on the road, beside the road (on her property), and on the gravel bar – and lots of coolers. These folks were preparing for a long July 4th weekend.

In another instance she was accompanied by one of the commissioners who is up for re-election to put up some No Trespassing signs on the creek road side of her land. They met some folks who were trespassing, and when that gentleman told them it was private property and they’d have to leave, they (more or less) told him where he could put it. He then called the sheriff, and evidently these people had the nerve to smart off to the sheriff! That’s a lot of nerve.

She went on and on about her fence torn down and her property defaced and all the noise and gunshots and fireworks and so on. I listened.

She told of the various times she and friends have gone down in the back of her property and sat in lawn chairs just to watch and document what goes on. I listened.

She reiterated that the commission evidently wasn’t going to do anything, so it was time for the neighbors to take action. I listened.

She then invited me to the infamous neighborhood meeting, and gave me the time and place. Wednesday at 6:00 PM (a church night!!!) in Carol S’s yard. It had to be then, because the prosecuting attorney and the sheriff had conflicts on other nights, and she didn’t want to wait too long to get something done. I thanked her.

When she had slowed down a bit, I asked her if any of the commissioners were going to come to the neighborhood meeting. “NO!” she replied in a shocked and guarded tone. “The commission just doesn’t seem to want to do anything about it, so the neighbors are going to have to band together to get something done.” I told her I would be at the meeting, but I honestly didn’t have the nerve to ask her if it was all right for me to invite Chuck Pennel, the presiding commissioner. I guess I was a chicken.

The next day, Carol S came by with a flyer about the meeting to be held at her home. She went on about all the drugs down there and how her grandson had found a pipe. She said we just didn’t need all that drug stuff in our neighborhood. I chose not to mention (her home’s extremely close proximity to) the one house in the neighborhood where I am fairly certain drugs have been used and/or sold for years. I thanked her for coming by and told her I would be at the meeting. And once again, I chickened out on telling a Carol that I’d like to invite Chuck.

As Carol S was walking back to her car, Scott said, “Did she say it was okay for Chuck to come?” I told him I had not asked her, and he ran after Carol. He told her he’d like Chuck to be there, that he was our friend, etc. She said she didn’t care, so we took that as a go-ahead. I later called Chuck and invited him. = )

The Bull Creek/Big Rock problems didn’t start yesterday, and they didn’t start last year or whenever Carol O bought her land. They have gotten steadily worse through the years. Ms. O is just a nice lady who has been hit in the face (or, more accurately, in her backyard) with it this summer, and she’s determined to rectify the situation.

I can respect a woman who takes action on such a thing. I still remember my one-woman crusade some 16 years ago to rid our suburban Little Rock neighborhood of a massage parlor where more than shoulders were being massaged. Three doors from my house, this woman was “practicing” every hour on the hour, and without exception her only “patients” were men. We were eventually successful in driving her out of town and getting her “massage” license revoked, but it took months of daily observation, pages and pages of documentation, and untold hours of sitting and waiting to speak in meetings of the Planning and Zoning commission.

I truly hope this creek situation can be resolved more easily, but I rather suspect it will take some long-term effort. I just want to work with my neighbors, and not against them, because when the party-ers go home on Sunday evenings, we neighbors all still live here! I wonder what (if anything) will be decided at the neighborhood meeting tomorrow night, and I wonder what the “climate” around the creek will be after the August 5 primary election.

The Creek, Chapter 8: Mr. Presiding Commissioner

Shortly after I hung up from talking with Mr. Local D, the phone rang again. I heard, “Patty, this is Chuck Pennel, and I just want you to know that if it weren’t for your great help in the election, I wouldn’t have NEARLY so many problems to deal with!!!” Thankfully, he was laughing. The last thing I want is to be a stench in the nostrils of our favorite commissioner.

I related to Chuck what had transpired, told him whet Mr. Local D had just told me, and added that while I wanted the trash (both litter and human), noise, drugs, partying, alcohol, etc. out of Big Rock just as much as my neighbors do, MY property doesn’t adjoin the creek, and my greatest desire is simply for my family to be able swim there!

He sighed and agreed. He said Mr Local D was right and that the whole thing was politically charged because of the other two commissioners being up for re-election. He told me he has to deal with people trashing his own property out where he lives, too (on the other side of the county). He said we live in a fallen world and people do stupid things. Don’t I know that! He said he couldn’t vote to close the road because it’s a county road and the person who owns the property at the far end of the road, across the creek (I don’t know who that is) has to be able to access his property. (Blansit Road is the only access in to that property, although I guess one could helicopter in. . . )

He also told me that although Carol O (who owns the section of creek-front property adjacent to Mr. Out of State D’s) seems to think that “all the property owners want the road closed,” that ain’t necessarily so. He knows of at least two people who own creek-front land who DON’T want the road closed, although they would very much like the party-ers to leave.

So we chatted a while and came up with no true solutions, but we agreed to inform each other if/when either of us received concrete information on the neighborhood meeting. What a nice guy.

The Creek, Chapter 7: Mr. D (or, Never Delete a Phone Number)

While I was waiting for our friendly presiding commissioner to call back, I mentally reviewed what I’d been told about the owner of the actual gravel bar where the swimming hole is located.  Because I do not know him well or have his permission to blog about him, I won’t mention his last name here, except to say that it starts with D and is unusual.  I kept thinking, “D-, D -, that name D- sounds SO familiar.”  I went to my trusty 1997 edition Lotus Organizer and found that, lo and behold, I had a listing and phone number from about 10 years ago for a Mr D, with a note that read “brother of man who owns road to Big Rock.”

Pleased and slightly nervous, I dialed his number, and Mr. D. answered!  I explained our current unable-to-swim situation and asked if perhaps he could direct me to his brother, assuming the brother still owned the pertinent property.  (Which he does.)  Mr. D was both delighted and disturbed to hear from me.  Delighted in that he was very glad a local family wanted to swim at Big Rock and was asking permission, and disturbed because someone (the deputy) was preventing that use.

We had quite a nice conversation.  Mr. Local D actually keeps an eye on the property for his brother, Mr. Out of State D, who owns it.  Mr. Local D is a junior high biology teacher at one of our local schools, and he is an anti-computer, anti-video games, Last Child in the Woods kind of guy, who thinks that all people and especially families benefit most by being able to enjoy the great outdoors.  He is a father and grandfather who likes to take his own family swimming at Swan Creek.  His exact quote to me was, “Your family is not only welcome, but invited to swim down there, and I’m SURE my brother will say the same thing.  If anybody has a problem with it, you tell them to call me!”

So I told him that our two children had just been told by the deputy that they could not swim there, and Mr. Local D was deeply concerned.  He said that he was aware the commissioners’ meeting and all the politics around the whole thing.  He also shared some real horror stories about the trashy stuff that has gone on down there and how rude some of the trespassers had been.  (Entirely unbelievable and too crude to print here.)  He told me of an upcoming neighborhood meeting to try to get these issues resolved, although he didn’t know exactly when or where it would occur.

Mr. Local D also told me that he would call Mr. Out of State D that evening and get back with me.

All in all, I was GREATLY encouraged and at least had hope that we’d someday swim at Big Rock again.

The Creek, Chapter 6: The Deputy

It turns out that our local officer of the law was not actually the sheriff (there’s only one of those, you know), but a deputy (of which I assume there are several). I explained to him that we lived only 1/2 mile away, that we’d been swimming there for 12 years, and that we had permission from the local property owners to swim there. I then asked whether my children could swim there or not. The short answer was no. The long answer was that even if the property owners had given us permission to swim there, it was impossible for law enforcement to keep up with which property owner had given permission to whom and when. Therefore, either everyone could be there, or no one could be there, and (according to Mr. Deputy) the property owners had (in the Monday meeting) said, “no one,” and for that reason, we would have to leave. If we wanted to swim, we would have to go back to the public access area under the 160 bridge. (Right now, there’s only about six inches of water under the bridge.)

I knew that a sheriff (or deputy?) had been present at the commissioner meeting on Monday, so I asked the deputy he had been there. No, he had not. If he had, I think he would have been a bit more understanding, because he would have heard Katie read my letter, but that was not the case.

The deputy continued on to explain that since Blansit Road is public, we were welcome to be on the road. However, if we got out of a car and stepped off the road to either side, we would be trespassing, and therefore we would be told to leave. As he was reiterating that the only public access to this stretch of Bull Creek was at the highway bridge, a man drove up with his family.

The man parked and walked over to us at the deputy’s car.

Man: “Hello. Can we swim here?”

Deputy: “No, it’s private property.”

Man: “Oh. Did someone else buy it?”

Deputy: “No. It’s always been private property, but now we’re enforcing it.”

Man: “Has there been some trouble or something?”

Deputy: “The property owners have said they don’t want anyone on their property. If you want to swim you’ll need to go back to the bridge.”

Man: “I know state law, and I know you can swim or canoe or fish in a stream that runs 12 months of the year.”

Deputy: “But you can’t get out of the water on private property, and all the land on both sides of this creek here is private property.”

Man: “Well, state law doesn’t say they own the water in the creek.”

Deputy: “They own the land out to the middle of the creek.”

Man: “So, technically, I could get in the water at the bridge and walk up the middle of the creek and swim at Big Rock.”

Deputy: “You can float on the creek, but you can’t beach your canoe or walk on private property.”

Man: “I’m not saying I’m going to DO it; I’m just trying to clarify what the rules are.”

At this point, I had heard enough to understand that we couldn’t legally swim there, so, very discouraged, I told Jessica and Andrew to get on their bikes and go home. I left the deputy there to deal with the high centered truck, and I inched the van back up the road.

Just where the rocks gave way to mud, I saw my neighbor, Carol S. (whose property backs down to the creek in the mud section). She had seen me heading down and I had told her then that I was going to check on my kids swimming at Big Rock and see if there was a problem with the deputy. Now she asked if the deputy had let them stay there and swim. “No, they have to leave, and Carol, right now NOBODY can swim there. I don’t even think YOU can swim there right now. Even you and your grandson would be kicked out!”

Carol told me that there was going to be a meeting of the neighbors with the sheriff and prosecuting attorney sometime very soon. She would call and let me know when the meeting would occur. I thanked her and drove home.

The kids came in a few minutes later, and they were sad and angry. So was I! I realized now that Big Rock was private property, but we caused NO problems down there, and after 12 years of enjoying the swimming hole, I was very disappointed to see it end. In fact, I was struggling not to cry. I tried to call Scott, but he couldn’t talk. My next choice was to let our friendly presiding commissioner, Chuck Pennel, know what had happened.
I called his office and left a message.

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