Archive for June, 2017

Two saves, one assist

No, these are not baseball statistics. They are SON statistics!

This is Andrew’s second summer working as a lifeguard at White Water, our local water theme park. All the guards receive extensive initial training (which they pay for) and then weekly on-going training that includes practice in rescuing people and dealing with all kinds of emergencies. Last year, Andrew worked all summer without having to personally handle any crisis situations.

One month into this summer, it’s been a different story.

First of all, he got the highest possible grade on his Ellis audit. Ellis is the organization that trains and certifies the White Water lifeguards, and they show up occasionally (incognito) and audit a guard. That is, they watch him carefully to see how he’s doing his job, and sometimes they do or create some situation to see how the guard responds. Generally, guards don’t know who is being audited; they only find out after the fact when they are told by their supervisor what grade they got.

Andrew is certified as an LG2 (he began his lifeguarding “career” as an LG1 last summer), which means he can work the wave pool in addition to all the other rides and slides. The wave pool is huge and six feet deep at one end. It’s the setting in which more serious incidents are more likely to occur, so some additional training and experience is required for those guards. I think there are four to six guards on the wave pool at a time.

One day a few weeks ago, Andrew was working the wave pool, when a male guest hollered at him, “This lady’s having a seizure!” Andrew immediately stopped the wave machine and jumped in. The woman was quite large (350+ pounds), on an inner tube, and completely unconscious. Andrew got her to the side of the pool, and then it took some six guards and/or guests working together to get her out of the pool and onto a backboard. An ambulance was called, and she was beginning to come around by the time the EMTs arrived.

Andrew was taken into the office and told he could go home, but he didn’t want to. The management questioned him to make sure he was OK emotionally and able to continue doing his job, and he was fine. But I will say that when he got home that night and shared what had happened, he was a pretty somber fellow. I think the fragility of life really hit him.

Then just a day or two later, he was not working and went to White Water as a guest to hang out with friends. As he was walking by the wave pool, there was an emergency. A female guard had jumped in to save a kid who was drowning. She had followed protocol;  first turning off the wave machine and notifying the office of the emergency, which should have brought immediate assistance. She had jumped in and – alone – gotten him out of the pool. Now she was working on the kid alone, performing CPR with a crowd of guests around, but STILL no help had arrived, and Andrew was appalled. He stepped up, took charge, ordered the crowd to back away and give them space, and maintained control of the situation till more help arrived. He was obviously not in uniform, and when a belligerent guest asked him who he thought he was, Andrew said (very firmly), “An off-duty guard. Get over it.” The guest dropped his ‘tude, the boy recovered, and management commended Andrew for his stepping in to assist as he did.

White Water guards wear lanyards with their whistles on them, and when they save someone in some way, they are issued a bead to display on their lanyard. Andrew received a bead for his rescue of the woman who had the seizure.

A couple weeks ago, he was again on stand at the wave pool in the afternoon. He’d been treated rudely by some guests, and he was pretty fed up with the antics of a group of young people who obviously couldn’t swim and were clowning around, pretending that they were drowning and hollering at him. I’m sure it’s difficult to stay calm when you’re being provoked like that, you can’t retaliate, and you have to discern who is and who isn’t really in danger. The guards at the wave pool have to scan their assigned area every ten seconds, and on one of Andrew’s scans, he saw a young lady (who clearly couldn’t swim) fall out of her tube and begin to go down. It was like the boy who cried wolf. The guy with her was trying to save her, but he was actually drowning both of them, so Andrew and another guard, Haley, both jumped in and did a two-man rescue. Both guests were OK.

Andrew later asked his head boss about a bead for that “save,” and John told him he’d take care of it “tonight.” Afterwards, Andrew felt bad about having asked about it, and he texted John. Here’s a copy of their conversation:

A: Hey John, I’m sorry about asking for the bead so soon after everything happened. That was selfish of me. If you choose not to give me one, I understand.

J: Ha! It wasn’t selfish at all. Well deserved my friend. The only reason I said “tonight” was because I figured you’d jump at the chance to go home. I’m super proud of you. You have handled yourself so incredibly well in some very pressure-filled situations. You’ll get it tomorrow if you’re here.  = )

A: Okay, haha. Thank you! I just didn’t want you thinking that a bead was my main motivation for saving someone.  = {

J: Andrew… You’re one of my favorites and one of the best and most exceptional kids I know. You’re an incredible lifeguard, but you’re a better young man. I know beads don’t motivate you to save people. Maybe free food, but not beads.  = )

A: I’m not going to say that I cried, but I came pretty close [referring to when he read John’s comment previous comment]. That means a whole heck of a lot to me and I appreciate you and everything you do for us lifeguards probably more than you’ll ever know. Thanks for making me look forward to coming into work every day.  = )

Wow! How’s that for an atta-boy?!? I’m so proud of our exceptional, incredible son that if I were wearing a dress shirt, my buttons would pop!


It comes of not having a dishwasher, or, more accurately, of having a dishwasher full of light bulbs.

I was working in the kitchen and rinsing something or the other, when I noticed that the rinse sink was filling with water. A bit odd, but I know that I should run the disposal at least once a day, and sometimes I forget, so I flipped it on, thinking that that would clear it out and suck out the accumulating standing water. Well! You probably can’t imagine the horrid grinding noise that ensued. Within two seconds, I had shut off the disposal, and I stood there, wondering (a), what was wrong and (b), what to do about it.

We’ve had disposal issues before. To say the least. Stories could be told. The sound had been something akin to the sound when a peach stone got down in there. It was a terrific noise, so I was sure that whatever was down there was an item of, well, substance. Now, I’ve never relished reaching down into the disposal. I’m of the firm conviction that dealing with disposal contents is much like dealing with backed up septic systems, Personally, I think that full disposals fall into the same category as backed-up septic systems, clogged bathtub drain, snakes in the cellar, or evidence of in-house visits by any members of the order Rodentia. That is, a MAN should deal with them! Problem was that my man was out of the house for a little while; maybe 30 minutes.

I decided to be brave the potential slime and reach down in there. And what to my wondering eyes should appear? Well, I actually felt it before I saw it. (It’s hard to see much of anything in a disposal.) Something hard. Very hard. And smooth. Very smooth. At which point I pulled my hand out – and it was NOT slimy, whew! – and looked down in there and saw something clear… a juice glass!!! Of course! No problem. We’ve done this before. And we know that the very best was to get broken glass out of one’s disposal is to use the shop vac. But wait. I reached back in very carefully. This particular juice glass didn’t seem to be broken. Juice glasses are, you know, the perfect size to slide down into the disposal, and when they are not broken (and therefore not candidates for the tried-and-true SVEP, shop vac evacuation procedure), the trick is to spend way too much time trying to grasp the wet, slippery little glass and pull it up and out. The usual method is to eventually give up on trying to grab the rim of the glass (which can’t be done) and resort instead to a process of putting one’s hand IN the glass and trying to press out with enough force to prevent slippage while simultaneously pulling up and thereby completing the extrication. This latter was my intended plan of attack, but sadly it proved absolutely impossible because this particular juice glass had managed to position itself – are you ready? – on its side down in the disposal.

Oh, my.

In the spirit of loving my lips, I immediately realized that “This [was] more serious than I thought.”

The problems with it being on its side were that (a), it could not be righted, and (b), it could not be pulled out until it was.

At which point, I gave up but tried not to cry. And waited for Scott, who arrived home in a few minutes to a somewhat frazzled wife, who apologized profusely while explaining the situation. Scott is a problem solver extraordinaire, so I was sure that in a few minutes he would have the juice glass out of the disposal and all would be well, but one beach towel, one flashlight, one screwdriver, a few other tools, and a few minutes later, while he had indeed loosened the disposal enough that it would twist around a bit in the sink, he had removed neither the disposal from the sink nor the offending juice glass from the disposal. And he said, “I think the wisest thing to do is call Mr. Bill.”

Please do not, Dear Reader, construe that statement to mean that Scott was planning to call Mr. Bill. Oh, no. It simply means that I then had permission to call Mr. Bill. Which I did.  = )  He happened to be home (that’s nice; only .1 mile away), and said that yes, he’d be willing to look at it for me, but that he and LaShell had a guest coming for dinner (this was about 5:30 PM on a Friday), he didn’t know if the guest was there because he was just getting out of the shower, and could I give him about ten minutes. Yes, of course!

As it turned out, Mr. Bill arrived in ten minutes with his plumber’s tool bag in hand (but without his reading glasses – boo hiss), and in just a very few minutes he had the disposal out of the sink. And then came the real challenge: how to get that pesky juice glass out? He played around with it for a bit and suddenly the juice glass twisted itself enough for him to lift it straight out. Voila! He instructed Scott on how to put it all back together – minus the juice glass, of course – and returned home to his dinner and guest; the guest who, by the way, had been at their home when Mr. Bill departed for our house. Scott reassembled everything, found a minor leak that needed some play-dough-like putty stuff, applied that, and all is well. The juice glass has been very well washed and is no worse for the wear.

Those who have drunk juice at our house in the past may recall that we have two sizes/styles of juice glasses: the shorter, squattier and the taller, thinner. Had this guy been short and squatty, I could have manipulated him (think turning a breech baby from the outside) into an upright position, but as he was tall and thin, that was not possible. He was too tall to turn and stand up, which makes Mr. Bill’s success even more amazing.

Moral of the story: If your dishwasher is full of light bulbs because you like the taste of your hard water, and if you therefore wash your dishes by hand, and if for that reason you have a dish drainer on the counter that is nearly always full of elaborately stacked and precariously balanced dry and/or drip-drying dishes, and if said incredibly full dish drainer happens to also sport a collection of juice glasses upended on its plastic draining prongs on one side, and if that side of the dish drainer is toward the sink so as to allow the draining water to flow into the sink rather than onto the floor, then you simply must ensure that your dish drainer doesn’t hang so far over the sink that when your husband starts to put away the dry dishes (to bless you; acts of service, you know) it becomes unbalanced, slides sideways, and sends all its remaining contents (including the aforementioned dangling juice glasses) crashing into the sink, thereby inserting one juice glass feet first into the disposal. Furthermore, if you fail to ensure such an eminently stable dish drainer placement, and if you then innocently turn on the disposal, you may rest assured that the water you are running into the sink to cool the disposal, combined with the suction generated by its ancient and wheezing motor will yea and verily cause the upright (intrinsically moral) juice glass to cave to pressure, lie down on its side in sin, roll over and play dead.

And you do NOT ever want a juice glass sideways in your disposal!

In no particular order…

I now share the following items of interest (although they may not be of general interest).

On April 29, 2017, our fair unincorporated area experienced a flood of unprecedented and terrifying proportions. The creek rose higher than it ever has in anyone’s memory, and some folks have lived around here for a long time and can remember a lot. It came to within five feet of the bridge and was some 15 feet deep. Our house was fine – we had only four inches of water in the cellar – but the devastation throughout the county was almost unimaginable.

I was quite ill for seven weeks with the most intense and insane poison ivy reaction imaginable, and two weeks into The Untreatable Itch, my physical and emotional health was further compromised by An Acute Asian Stomach Virus, about which all I will say is that it’s a good thing I like our most patriotic room. We are beginning to receive the bills for my medical care, and while they are substantial, the God who is healing my body and soul is also providing all we need.

Scott’s mom came for a visit, and for the ten days she was here, she washed ALL the dishes – voluntarily and without a word of complaint. We played crazy amounts of three-handed bridge and a new and highly addictive card game called “Minus Five.” We also saw “Moses” at Sight and Sound, which we all enjoyed, although I thought the ending was too religious and hokey. For me personally, “Noah” still trumps them all.

Scott planned and many dear friends helped execute a Crossover Celebration to mark Andrew’s transition from boyhood to manhood in conjunction with his 18th birthday. Judy Daniel and Scott put together a truly wonderful keepsake book of letters written for the occasion, and I think it’s accurate to say something along the lines of “I laughed, I cried, it moved me, Bob.”

Scott took a group of guys and and their kids on a massive float trip on the Buffalo on the day before Father’s Day. I say massive because the planning, the promoting, the preparing, the procuring (of canoes and kayaks and paddles and life jackets and a canoe trailer and hitches and trailer locks), the labeling, the loading, and the leading of the whole excursion… well, “massive” is just the best word for all that Scott did. And I’m pretty sure a good time was had by all. Note for the future: sunscreen is always indicated when floating – even on cool, cloudy days. They floated Woolum to Baker Ford and were gone for quite a while. A small prize will be awarded to the person who comes closest to guessing the total number of hours involved (from departure from home to arrival back at home).

Josiah moved from his 3rd floor two-bedroom apartment in one complex in Springfield (which he had initially been sharing with two roommates, but then with only one roommate, and most recently with zero roommates) to a different 3rd floor studio apartment in another complex, also in Springfield. Housekeeping has never been Jo’s strong suit – actually, I think he may have a void in that suit – so he wisely hired his brother, a professional cleaner with five years experience, to thoroughly clean his extremely dirty apartment. (Actually, it may not have been cleaned in a year. When Andrew asked him what cleaning supplies and products he had, Josiah said he had a mop and a dishcloth. And that was the literal truth!) It turned out to be a mutually beneficial arrangement: Andrew earned money, and Jo got an apartment clean enough to hopefully recoup his deposit. Ah, brotherly affection – or at least appreciation!

Andrew has moved now into Katie’s room. Well, it was Katie’s room; now it’s Andrew’s! We wanted to give him some privacy and a bigger space, so while I was so very sick, Scott single-handedly boxed up and moved all Katie’s stuff out of there and surprised Andrew by “giving” him the third floor as an 18th birthday gift. Andrew is now planning how he wants his room and the attic bathroom painted. We have a friend at church whom we may hire to remove that peeling bathroom wallpaper and do the painting. Now it’s time for me to get used to calling, “Annnn-DREW!” like I used to call “Kayyyy-TIE!” (They both use the same pitch, so it brings back warm memories.)

And thus ends today’s reminiscences of “interesting things.”



I saw something wonderful this evening when I was spraying the garden.

No, I don’t do the organic thing. Every few weeks I toss handfuls of cheap-o, dry, chemical tomato fertilizer around the base of my plants and water it in to make them dark green and lovely, and when I see lacy leaves, I spray them with another wonderful chemical product that fights fungal infections and keeps insects from eating them. I was doing the latter this evening when I spied something orange among the lush, healthy-looking tomato plants in the pot labeled “Oaxacan Jewel.”

Each of my pots has two plants this year because I was too wimpy to cull the seedlings, and even after I gave a few plants away, I still had way too many – so I planted all of them. The Oaxacan Jewels are yellow tomatoes that grow huge, heavy, and hideous-looking, cracking long before they’re ripe, but I planted them again this year because they have absolutely The. Very. Best. Flavor. Imaginable.

My goal is always to get a ripe tomato by the 4th of July, but even though I usually start my seeds around Valentine’s Day, that never happens. I always pick for the first time in the second or third week of July. And this year I started them around Scott’s birthday, which made for only one month of tending before planting instead of two, and I punted the peat pellets, which made for much less work during that one month. Having started them so much later than usual, I figured it would be late July before I could pick anything.

But it seems that while one of the plants in the Oaxacan Jewel pot is indeed a Oaxacan Jewel, and the other plant must’ve come from a stray grape tomato seed that found its way into the Oaxacan Jewel seed packet. And sure enough, today I picked one lone grape tomato! And it, as well as all the other still-green grape tomatoes on that plant, has blossom end rot, but the good news is that my Early Girl, First Prize, Better Bush, Big Beef, and Oaxacan Jewel plants all have lots of nice, green, growing fruit, none of which is plagued by blossom end rot. I worked some more egg shells (calcium) into the soil of the affected plant, so although the current grape tomatoes may not be edible, hopefully subsequently-formed ones will be. No great loss, as I wasn’t expecting any grape tomatoes anyway.

I’m just very glad to see something getting ripe out there!

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