Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Time, Why Do You Punish Me?
April 1, 2012 No Foolin'

I haven’t written anything in the blog for several months. We did a big remodel on our house and I just couldn’t find anything funny about that. They say time will cure that and that someday I’ll be able to look back and laugh about the remodel experience. We created a new kitchen area by removing a bearing wall, tearing out an old roof, bedroom and bathroom. The new kitchen has been finished for a couple months and it is really nice, but enough time hasn’t passed for me to see any humor in the process at all.

I was out in the back pasture mowing the 3 foot tall weeds that grew last summer and fall due to me neglecting many things around the house while focusing on the remodel project. I marveled at how time has changed me, How my kids were almost all grown up and how I was feeling the aches and pains of age creeping up on me due to my recent back problems. How did I get this way? Two things immediately came to mind. First, I am obsessed with time. I have 3 songs on my IPod named ‘Time’. (Pink Floyd, Alan Parsons, & Hootie & the Blowfish ) plus ‘Time in a Bottle’, Tulsa Time’, ‘100 Years’ , ‘Don’t Blink’ and ‘The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything’. The second thing that came to mind was Bill Schnupp and his emotional experience of selling an insurance product called ‘Time’ and the revealing day he tried to see what a hemorrhoid looked like.

I’ve decided I need to expound on some of my character flaws, or traits that got me to where I’m at this time in life. This new endeavor of mine is going to take up several chapters. I’m going to use my kids as examples of some of the traits they inherited from me, and I’ll mix in a couple of the Bill Schnupp anecdotes to show his kids what they have to look forward to. So here we go.

Chapter 1 - Katie

For some reason I enjoy long brutal hikes, bike rides, hunts, basketball games and such things that would wear me down to utter exhaustion. I wasn’t always like this but I learned to work hard at what I was doing to the point of sometimes wondering what I was doing and why I was doing it. I remember one hunt where Bill and I walked at approximately 32 miles in 3 days
up and down the Smokey Mountains carrying backpacks loaded with tents, sleeping bags, rifles, food, water, and finally an elk, a deer, and a meatball. I was a little leery of passing this trait on to my kids so I had to choose my opportunities carefully.

One late spring day when Katie was about 18, I asked her if she wanted to go on a mountain bike ride. She was still somewhat gullible and asked me where I wanted to go. I expounded about a trail up in the Boise foothills that wound around a big valley and finally came down near the golf course. We grabbed our bikes, helmets and some water and off we went. We parked near the elementary school at the bottom of Bogus Basin Road and pointed our bikes up the paved road. As we rode the 3 miles up the road I could see Katie starting to tire and also starting to wonder what she’d gotten herself into. Uh-oh, I thought to myself, she’s beginning to tire out and she’s starting to question going on this outing with me. I quickly explained that the dirt trail turn off was just ahead of us. She powered up the last of the pavement and seemed a bit relieved for the moment. We reached the dirt and headed out the trail. It took her another few minutes to realize that the dirt trail continued climbing up the mountain and didn’t show any signs of leveling off. I could see her anger build as we kept pedaling up the hill as the sweat poured off of us. Finally, the trail leveled off and wound around a big valley over to a creek running with cold water from the snow melting high above. I hoped the gentle ride around the valley gave her some rest because the trail was about to turn and follow the creek up the canyon, after that we were going to hit the steep part. The ride up the creek bottom was rocky and wet as we got to cross the creek two or three times. Luckily, it was spring and the creek was running high and we got our shoes wet trying to stay upright in the raging current. After a mile or so of pedaling up the creek bottom, I could see the switchback where the trail left the bottom of the canyon and climbed steeply up the canyon wall to where it crossed a pass into the next drainage. “We’re almost to the top”, I cheerily said as she glared at me with disbelief in her eyes after seeing the trail crawling up the canyon wall. After pushing her bike up the last quarter mile of the grade, Katie tossed her bike to side of the trail at the summit. She was sweating profusely and had drunk all the water in sight. She lay in the dirt at the side of the trail, the sand sticking to her sweaty skin. She looked pretty beat with the hot sun glaring on her. I knew I’d better say something quick or she would never want to go on an adventure with me again. She looked at me like I must be crazy but I was breathing so hard I couldn’t speak. After a few minutes curled up on the ground in a fetal position I was able to talk.

“It’s all downhill from here” I lied, hoping that she might
not hate me forever.

Then for a little motivation I added. “Laying here in the
hot sun isn’t gonna get you home”.

Katie stood up, brushed off the sticky sand and got on her bike. I climbed on my bike and we headed down the hill into the next canyon. We rode down some great terrain and through gullies and whoop tee dos. We rounded a ridge and suddenly rode straight into a herd of grazing sheep. There must have been a thousand of them. They were everywhere and we had to slow down and go through them slowly. We saw the sheepherder sitting in the shade of a big sage brush holding a rifle. Katie gave me a look that said, “This better not be private property you’re dragging me through,” after seeing the rifle. We made it through the sheep and past the man with a rifle and headed down the next draw. There was a dribble of water running in it to make things slick. The last stretch was a bit of a rock garden and we zipped down the trail dodging rocks and brush. We made the last stretch wreck free, which is a bit unusual for me, and we popped out on a paved road above the golf course. We zipped down the steep road with the wind drying our sweat and cooling our bodies. We came to the truck and loaded the bikes in and headed for home. I was sweaty, dirty, sunburned, tired, thirsty, and had scratches running up and down my legs. Four hours round trip, almost a record. It had been a good day. I was a bit worried about Katie though. I wondered if she’d ever want to do anything with me again. I’m can’t remember when the last time I’d seen her that mad at me; maybe when I made her go to basketball practice with a broken finger. I taped it up.

As we neared the house she hadn’t said anything to me for a long time. I was relieved when she finally spoke. She said, “I can’t wait to take Lori on that ride”.

That’s my girl.

Chapter 2 - Lindsey

This character trait is not necessarily a good one, but it can be in certain situations. (This isn’t one of them).

Lindsey was about 5 years old when I decided I needed to take the kids fishing for the day. I heard the catfish were biting near the dam on Lake Lowell. We had a couple extra neighborhood kids with us that wanted to go also. It was a hot summer day and we were all wearing shorts and flip flops.

When I was a kid flip flops were referred to as thongs, but time has a way of changing even this. Now, when I tell me kids I’m going to wear my thongs, they refuse to go anywhere with me. I always thought I lookedin thongs.
End of Digression

We parked near the dam and it was a short walk to the reservoir. I had to carry a cooler and fishing poles so the kids had to walk. Brayden was not yet 2 so I also had to stick by him as we walked towards the water. We had to cross a dry weedy area and as I entered it, I could see lots of goat head weeds. They were so thick we couldn’t avoid them and soon our flips flops bottoms were covered with them. They stuck in the soles and wouldn’t come off. We tried dragging out feet to get them off. We made it to the beach and found a good fishing spot and sandy area. We cleaned off the shoes and did some fishing. The kids played in the sand and water. The fishing proved to be decent.
After a few hours, everyone was hot and tired and it was time to go home. We loaded up the cooler and fishing poles and got ready to go. I told Lindsey to put her flip flops on a couple times but she didn’t want to. Her feet were sandy. When we started out for the car she was carrying a flip flop in each hand. I told her to put them on right now, it was time to go. She gave me a look of defiance and said nothing. I recognized a streak of stubbornness in her demeanor. Rather than confront her right then and there, I said she could barefoot until the weeds and then she had to put them on. She gave me her “we’ll see about that” look so I backed down knowing how difficult she could be if I crossed her. We walked a while and approached the weed patch. I said as nicely as I could to her. “OK, it’s time to put your flip flops on Lindsey”. Another look of defiance flashed on her face. What a stubborn kid, I thought to myself. Where’d she get that from. I knew I could take her in a physical altercation (I’d had to do on a few occasions prior to this) and force the flip flops on her feet. It would mean several trips across the weeds for me; once with the cooler and fishing poles, once with Brayden and the other kids, and then once with a screaming, kicking maniac in flip flops. I stood there looking and Lindsey and decided that I wasn’t up to the battle with her that day. I told myself that there are some things in life one learns by doing and maybe this is one of them for Lindsey. I asked if everyone was ready to cross the weeds and we headed out into the patch. Everybody made it across with tons of goat heads stuck to the bottom of their flip flops. Everyone except Lindsey, she was standing almost in the middle of the weeds holding back her tears, and holding a flip flop in each hand. I went out and carefully picked her up and carried her over to the truck. Her feet were bleeding heavily and I pulled several goat heads out of each foot. We then wrapped them in napkins we found in the truck and set her on the seat. The napkins bled through and her blood started dripping on the floor mat. I rewrapped her feet with more napkins and one of the kids held them down tight on her feet until the blood quit dripping. I don’t remember her saying anything or even crying. She just sat there and looked a bit defeated and a bit defiant. We were finally able to leave and we made it home without much being said. During the drive home, I wondered if Lindsey learned anything that day. I wondered if her stubbornness would be lessened by the experience and if she might realize that some of the things she had to do were for her own good. Some people can learn things from the experiences of others and some people have to experience certain for themselves to learn some of life’s lessons. I know she never walked through a patch of goat heads barefoot again, but that daywasn’t the end of the stubborn streak that runs in the family.