Pinestraw, the drainage hole, the ER and the broken Cookie


So I’m sure you recall my postings of how I’ve been so like the busy little bee this Spring–right? The sun comes out, the weather warms up and off I go like a mad woman in 50 different directions all at once. Of course those who know me will tell you that is nothing new or unusual. “Julie always is running around like a chicken with her head cut off.”

There is so much to do ridding ourselves of this lingering winter dirge. And now with the pollen having blanketed our world in a dusty unrelenting yellow haze, there is even that to wash away. Maybe it’s because this is my first “retired” Spring where I am actually on the outside verses standing on the inside only wishing I were outside. Maybe it’s just because I tend to be a bit type A personality when it comes to chores…can’t let the sun set without doing it all right now, today!!!

You should know that I love trees. What? What does that have to do with Spring Cleaning? Trust me. I’m not certain as to why I love them— I just find them to be majestic, beautiful and strong. Sounds like something from a dating site, but I digress. My husband, on the other hand, sees them as trouble. They fall on houses and power lines during storms, they need to be pruned, sawed and hacked. And then there are the leaves. The leaves, in his opinion, wreck havoc, on not only that freshly mowed lawn of his, but the gutters as well.

Gutters you say? Yes, the things that help route the rushing rain water off the roof during a storm, down and away from the house. Without such one could face a terrible a time of leaking water into foundations, basements not to mention the onslaught of local ground flooding. Leaves have a tendency to accumulate in gutters and clog them up. Hence why my husband hates trees. Makes perfect sense, right? I suppose it does to other men with gutters.

Each year we haul out the big bertha of ladders from the basement. We, yes we, as it takes two to finagle this behemoth, precariously pushing it up against the side of the house. I stand at the base; bracing the ladder and hopefully holding it steady as my husband ascends to the heavens, or in this case, the gutters. One slip and I need to catch him…hummmm…maybe rather, step aside as he lands.

He usually can’t climb high enough to look down into the gutters as the ladder barely reaches the gutters. This means he must blindly reach his hand down into the wet, yucky unknown, pulling out the “goop” of decaying leaves, bugs and slime, throwing it down below. Do you recall who is standing, down below, at the base? Many times wet smelly black gunk seems to plop down on my head. Do you know how bad rotting wet decaying leaves, straw and bugs smell?

I don’t know why he won’t let me do the climbing while he does the holding. I’m lighter, seemingly more agile, more spider monkeyish, whereas he is the stronger more stable base type. However I always hear the same thing… “Heck no you’re not climbing up here, you’ll fall.” But who is it that pulls out the 10ft freestanding ladder and cuts limbs while he’s at work… that will just be our little secret ok?

Just recently we’ve noticed that there is some leaking, no doubt the result of clogged gutters. Which all goes back to “those damn trees”—his words, not mine. There are a couple of drainage pipes he’s routed from the gutters, diverting the rushing rain water down in the yard away form the house. Those openings will often clog up as well with leaves and debris. This past week he dug out two of the openings of these underground pipes to ensure that the waters do not back up and can freely drain.

Now lets remember who’s been out working in the yard like a crazy woman. 125 bails of pinestraw has to be spread out—all around the bushes and plants, up around my beautifully strong and majestic trees. I do this every year. It’s how I get my lovely pinestraw tan—others call it a farmer’s tan, I like to think of it as the pinestraw tan.

Yesterday I started my outdoor work at 10AM. By 3PM I was tired and thought I needed to wrap it up for the day. I had strewn straw, cut limbs (remember, that’s our secret) and had been attacked by the hordes of fire ants that the South is so infamous for….oh how I hate them!! There you are just standing on ground, in the grass, minding your own business, who knew you’d just stepped on an ant mound—by the time you feel the first bite, its’ too late—you’re covered. Looking down your foot and leg are both a brown teaming swarm of moving pain.

All southerners know of the fire ant dance. You fling off you shoe(s), sometimes your pants as well—of which I am not ashamed to say I have done, right there in the yard, before God and everyone. Hopping up and down swatting at your extremities. Some people are quite allergic to their bite. They have been known to quickly kill a newborn calf, or any other poor creature, that finds its unsuspecting way on a mound. So needless to say, I had had my share of bites for the day. Plus there was that blasted scorpion that was hiding in the pinestraw bail—just waiting to sting me on the wrist. I hate those little brown devil things as well!

Not that I keep up with such, but I am a “Scorpio” so you’d think that they would leave kinfolk alone but noooo. There I was, minding my own business, cutting the latest bail and spreading out the mass of straw when, BAM, right on my wrist. So between stings and bites, I pretty much figured I needed to call it quits before I fell into some sort of anaphylactic shock. All I needed to do was to put up the ladder, move the Four Wheeler and trailer that I had loaded with the remaining bails of straw which I would unload the following morning. It was Popsicle time!!

Yes, I did say Popsicle. No that is not code. Whenever I’m hot, sweaty and filthy from working in the yard, I always end with a refreshingly cold lime Popsicle. It’s my little incentive. I had already moved my phone and gloves to the front yard lawn chairs, simply leaving me to walk down the bank to the back yard so I could move the Four Wheeler.

Remember the drainage hole? Yes, I knew it was there. I purposely made certain to miss the hole with the Four Wheeler. So down the bank I come when suddenly one leg seems shorter than the other, POP and down I go withering in pain. The damn drainage hole!! How in God’s name had I not spotted it? Popsicle on the brain I suppose.

There I lay, on the ground, Four Wheeler loaded with straw, motor running, cell phone up in the front of the house. “Oh God, please don’t let me be on a fire ant mound!!” I wailed out loud. And then there was my worry of the hot muffler from the Four Wheeler and the endless exhaust. But the pain, oh God the pain!! Great—here I am with a broken leg and I’m actually going to die from fire ants and exhaust fumes.

Panic sets in over the ants as I think I’m about to pass out or throw-up as my ankle is hurting so badly. “You’ve rolled it, just rolled it…you’re ok,” I keep telling myself. “Get up before they bite you!!” I sit up making certain there’s no mound, no ants, and no scorpions. I need to move the Four Wheeler. It’s loaded with straw. I force myself up on the Four Wheeler and drive it under the tree (you’d think it would make sense to drive myself up to the house but no, that would be too easy). I hobble back up the bank thinking I’m still going to throw up. By now my ankle is looking like a grapefruit.

“The Popsicle, go get the Popsicle, it will make you feel better. You’ve just rolled it, you’re ok”, hobbling I go in to get the Popsicle, not the phone mind you but the all important Popsicle. Now you must know that I’m looking like a filthy cowhand. I’m covered in straw, dust, pollen, and sweat. I’m wearing a black sports tank, black running shorts, a ballcap and my trusty Chaco’s. I make my way to the lawn chair and call my husband from my cell phone. I tell him I stepped in the drainage hole. “Didn’t you see it?” he asks rather incredulously. As he hears the pain in my voice he backs off the “stupid you” questions-“–had I seen it, why would I have stepped in it had I seen it?” (say this in your head with a real sarcastic tone)—what kind of question is that!!

I tell him I’m going to go in to take a shower, it should make me feel better…all the while knowing this is more than a rolled ankle. I make it to the shower with the cats following me…they are meowing with that yelling type of meow. I know it’s because “mommy is back in the house and she is here to feed all the hungry children” but I think perhaps they sense mommy is in real pain.

I quickly decide that if I have to go to the ER, I was not going to look like, as my grandmother would say, white trash—no offense to anyone, just her way of telling me to always look my best when going out—dying or not. So cleanse my filth I must, pain or no pain.

In agony I try taking off my clothes, which mind you, are full of pinestraw. So I just stand in the shower trying to pull everything off. I sit down on the floor of the shower, which is now covered in straw, attempting to scrub my blackened feet—can’t go to the ER with blackened feet. I attempt washing my hair. “Am I about the throw up again?” I wonder. “Oh dear Lord, I can’t pass out in the shower with the water running, do you know what the water bill would be?!”

I drag my dripping self out of the shower grabbing a towel and make for the bed. “Lie down, yes, that will help” I reassuringly mumble to myself. One of the cats jumps on the bed and immediately lies down beside me with his paw on my back. Does he sense I’m dying or simply pondering if he should make me his meal once I’m gone? Cats I fear are a little selfish that way.

“My hair, my hair, I’ve got to dry it and get the straightening iron, I can’t let it air dry!” Thinking I must always go out in public, say, as I would if going out to dinner. I drag myself back to the bathroom. By now I can’t put weight on my foot. I’ve started crying. “Finish your damn hair, a little make-up will help.” Doesn’t make-up help everything?

I call my dear friend whose daughter is a nurse at the hospital. Hopefully she’s working. My friend has her daughter call me. I tell her what’s going on; she says it sounds as if it could be broken. She will call the ER to tell them I’m on my way…driving myself. The other phone is ringing. It’s my future daughter-n-law calling me to tell me about her first job interview. I listen to her in one ear, “nurse Betty” in the other ear—“am I about to throw up again?” Politely I thank my nurse and tell my dear daughter-n-law to be that I’m proud of her but I must be hanging up now as I’m about to drive myself to the ER. Suddenly I think I’m about to pass out…

My husband pulls into the driveway in the nick of time…. off we go to the ER.

It is still before 5PM; hopefully the ER won’t be too crowded. The hospital has just completed a multimillion-dollar renovation and I now get to see it all up close and personal. The staff comes to help as they’ve been forewarned I’d be alone. I think they were a little disappointed seeing my husband. I’m wheeled in and checked-in in a jiffy. I tell my husband to go move his truck, better yet, go back to work; I’ll most likely be a while. When I’m really hurting and in these crisis type situations, I tend to handle it better alone.

Very reluctantly he leaves. “Is he perhaps feeling guilty for digging holes in the yard, knowing I would eventually step in one,” I muse silently in my pain racked mind. I’m in a wheelchair over by the window. The television is on to the Atlanta news. The story is of Boston. I am thinking about how the hospital I sit in is quiet, bathed in the warm afternoon sun—it is calm—a far cry form the hospitals in Boston the day before where chaos and a state of emergency reigned supreme. Here I was sitting with a broken ankle— but at least I had my ankle, my leg, my life. There were now many other people hurting, not only physically but emotionally as well. My thoughts turn to the little 8 year old boy and his sister……….

The nurse comes to get me. She wheels me into a nice new ER room. No curtains here but rather a state of the art room. They wheel in a portable x-ray machine. How cool is that?! I can just sit there and x-ray now comes to me! The x-ray is a little “suspect” but we must wait for the radiologist to read it. By now my friend, “nurse betty’s” mom and my husband arrive.

The PA comes in to tell me that the end of the long outside bone is fractured. Of course she uses big words but I like the simple version. The violent pulling of the tendon just ripped off that part of the bone. A lovely little fracture with some damaged tendons and ligaments no doubt. It’s what I get for having skinny ankles (my thighs make up for that however)—not enough meat for protection.

She moulds a cast to both sides of my leg and wraps them in place. This is temporary as she tells me I must go see the Orthopedic doctor tomorrow. She tries giving me a pain pill. “No!!” I practically scream. Now anyone who knows me will tell you I am not one to turn down a free pain pill, but I had not eaten and was getting really hungry. All I needed was a pain pill on an empty stomach and I’d be throwing up all over the place. I can’t have multiple miseries at once—one crisis at a time please.

And just as quickly as we came, we depart. It was off for crutches and a prescription for pain pills plus a pick up of a take out order from Longhorn’s. Steak—-I need protein I rationalized.

The lesson here is to be careful where you step, don’t let the thought of popsicles sidetrack you—and always keep your gutters clean! And never trust your husband with a shovel!!