Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Soured Out

Soured Out

One Saturday I was out at a friend’s ranch out here in west Texas in a town named Knickerbocker. I was with my buddy Terry and his 12 yr old son Clay and my 16 year old daughter, Erin. Terry is one of those master naturalist guys. If you see a weed, he knows the common name, kingdom, phylum/division, class, order, family, genus and species. He won’t only tell you if it’s edible or not, he’ll tell you how to prepare it and which animals eat it and what it tastes like. There is nothing growing in, on or above the west Texas landscape that the man doesn’t know.

So as we’re driving around we see an area with some small plants in it. I don’t remember the name of the plant so I’ll just refer to it as “sour patch”. Terry points it out and tells me that it has a mildly sour taste. So he picks one of the chutes and hands it to me. I took a bite and it tasted like blackberries that you pick while they’re green or red. Pleasantly sour with a taste that makes your mouth water like Niagara Falls. As we drove around the ranch we’d stop every time we saw a patch of those plants so that I could pick a handful.

I munched on them most of the day and before we left I picked a handful more to take home. When I got home I gave one to my wife who gave me that, “I don’t trust you” look and had me promise to sacrifice my life if I was pulling some sort of trick on her. Well, she tried it and while she didn’t find it the most thrilling experience in the world at least she didn’t jump out of the chair and try to strangle me with her sewing thread.

About a week and a half later, on a Tuesday, I was on my way to work one morning when I noticed I had left a couple of those chutes in my center console. They were somewhat wilted but they weren’t gnarly and discolored. Being slightly portly is a testament to my "fear no food" approach.

Sometimes, being as I’ve lived to middle age, I take it as a sign that I’ve made good decisions my entire life.

Then there are times that remind me that I’ve only made it this far in life due mostly to dumb luck and divine intervention.

I put the innocent yet slightly withered looking plant in my mouth and immediately remembered how I was told, as a child, that the longer a watermelon sat the sweeter it got as it ripened. Evidently the longer that little plant sat the more sour it got. And it tasted like it had been sitting and souring since FDR was in office! I was driving on the highway and immediately my vision went to tunnel vision as my face contorted like something that contorts really bad when it’s eaten something really sour that it never should have eaten in the first place. My lips puckered until I could see them stretching over the steering wheel towards the windshield. They were trying to escape from my face. Suddenly I couldn’t breathe through my nose and my mouth wouldn’t open. I would have given anything, including my wife and children, to be able to have taken one little breath of fresh air.

I was somehow able to maintain control of the truck but I had clenched my fists so tight around the steering wheel that I could hear it popping and cracking. I rolled my window down to try and get some air flow. My pursed lips felt the air and immediately tried to escape out of the window. Tears started streaming down my face and blinded me as my truck slowed from a mighty 65 mph to a dawdling 30 mph. I got into the emergency lane, still unable to breathe and felt a pain start at the base of my skull and course through my brain. As my truck steadily and slowly thudded over those little plastic bumps in the emergency lane I thought to myself, “That’s it. I’m going to die of a brain aneurysm brought on by rotten, super soured vegetation…if I don’t die of asphyxiation first."

I saw a child in the passenger seat of a car with his face plastered to the window and staring at me as he passed by. I’m sure he was wondering why a grown man was driving in the emergency lane, crying and apparently trying to rip his steering wheel out of his truck with his lips hanging 3 feet out of his window. I wonder how his mother explained that one to him.

About that time, my face relaxed due, I’m sure, to lack of blood flow. My face had been puckered so intensely that not a drop of blood could flow through whatever it is that blood flows through in your face. I was able to open my mouth slightly and inhale a deep, wonderful, refreshing, sour fume cleansing breath. I grabbed my bottle of water from the center console and swished it around my mouth to clean out any remnants of the vegetation and spit it out with such force that it cleared 8 lanes of the highway. I finished my drive to work and drank several cups of everything in the office to clean away the remnants of the evidence.

Copyright 2012 Bill Hancock

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Windsock Incident

A buddy of mine recently took a large piece of his thumb off when he tried to trim his thumbnail with a router.. I had great fun with that one. Now, I think that I'm going to think twice the next time I want to make fun of someone over an injury, such as a router thumbnail injury......

The Windsock Incident

So, I got up at 5:30 a.m. this morning to go hit the dove fields... A cool front had come in over night and the temp was 68 degrees so I was excited to get out there in temps NOT over 100 degrees.. :lol: :lol:

I kept the bedroom light off since it had been a long week and my wife's mother died yesterday afternoon. I was doing my best not to disturb her so she could sleep in...

I started to sit down in my bedroom desk chair to tie on my boots and that is when the clown show began..

We have hard wood floors in our bedroom so my desk chair, being on casters, rolls nice and easy... The room was pitch black but I had laid out everything last night so I could get ready quickly and silently, like a ninja. I'm not usually ninja-like being as I'm 6' 230 lbs and about the same body fat percentage as an Iowa livestock show pig.... I had even gone to the extent of putting my socks on the night before so that I could just get up and slip into my ninja dove hunting outfit.

I got up as silently as a fart in an elevator and glided like a Disney ghost over the bedroom floor to the desk.. I slipped into my hunting shirt and britches without a sound. My wife was snoring peacefully and never moved a muscle. Excellent. All is going according to plan. The day before I had promised not to wake her... I gently rolled the chair from the desk and went to sit in it to tie on my boots. Right as I bent my knees to sit, my ninja socks failed me on the slick ninja hating hardwood and I started slipping. I grabbed the arm of the chair and felt it start to fall over. I was off balance and in a half sitting position with the chair beginning to fall, my socked feet slipping and then the entire world stopped. For about 1/1000th of a second my feet stopped slipping and the chair stopped mid-tilt. I had tensed every muscle in my body and thought for that brief amount of time while everything was stopped that I had conquered a would-be dangerous situation.

But then reality bitch slapped me across the face and my socks started slipping on the floor and the chair decided that my lithe 230 ninja pounds was more than it could bear. It crashed on it's side with a thud, my socked feet went about 3' in the air and I landed on the arm of the chair on my right side. The arm of the chair caught me behind my shoulder and about 8" below it, in what at one time during my younger years would have been my latissimus muscle. This also happens to be the area where a couple of my favorite ribs are located. I laid there trying to cry quietly hoping that the crashing sound of my body had failed to wake my wife, who also happens to be a nurse. Suddenly her nightstand lamp was turned on and all I heard was, "Are you ok? What the hell did you do?"... I couldn't talk at this point due to having no wind in my lungs and a roaring pain encompassing my entire right upper body and back. I looked down at my feet and thought about the decision I had made to put my socks on before I went to bed last night. I was so proud of that idea that as I had drifted off to sleep I had congratulated myself chuckling silently and arrogantly on my ingenuity.

It suddenly didn't seem like it was that great of an idea.

I noticed, in a somewhat delayed fashion, that the sock that had been on my right foot had somehow come off. That is no small feat (pun intended). I wear a size 13 boot and being as I'm middle aged, I wear those white knee high tube socks. I saw the white sock hanging like an airport windsock from the foot board of the bed. I couldn't figure out how in the world it got there. As I'm lying there on the floor I see my wife's head peaking over the foot board. She immediately assessed the situation. Sock hanging from foot board, me lying in agony on the ground, chair toppled over, boots thrown across the floor (I owe this to my athletic ability while falling, hitting the ground, kicking a sock and yet still being able to throw my boots across the room) and my face wrenched in agony.

When you're young and you do something like this that involves some type of injury, you tend to just shake it off. Even if you have a compound fracture, you just ignore it and go on about your business. During middle age, you think the worst about any injury. I laid there thinking I had a collapsed lung, embolism or some kind of medical emergency that involved the word "Stat". I don't even know what an embolism is but as I said, my wife is a nurse and I had heard he word enough times to give flight to my exaggerated injury imagination.

In this case, I did what any man several years younger would do. I stood up, got my boots and proceeded to put them on without a word. This was not because I was trying to be tough (which I was), but because I still didn't have any air in my lungs and that whole "embolism" thought was coursing through my brain at light speed. My wife then says, "You're bleeding from a big scrape and laceration your back and you have a nasty looking bruise forming."...

"It's ok babe. Just tripped a bit."...

"How did you trip "a bit"?"

"Don't worry about it, I'm going hunting."

I told her to turn her lamp off and go back to sleep. Not because I was concerned with her sleep but mainly because I didn't want her to see my ninja face of pain.... I casually walked out the bedroom door carrying one sock, 2 boots and absolutely no pride.

And now it's been diagnosed as a laceration, deep muscle contusion and bruised ribs.

I did go hunting. I didn't get any dove because I'm right handed and the first time I put the shotgun to my shoulder and pulled the trigger as a suicidal dove flew right at me, it felt like another ninja had snuck up beside me and stuck his hand through my body and ribcage while trying to rip out my lung. I stayed out walking the hunting area for another 2 hours just for good measure before I had to wander back to my truck.

copyright Bill Hancock 2012