Monday, December 19, 2011

On Seeing Stars

Everyone knows that growing up is difficult even for the most well adjusted people. Anyone who knew me as a child, knows even before I start that I was a lot of things but well adjusted was not one of those things. Being the youngest of four boys I struggled with finding who and what I was from a very early age. The fourth boy in a line of four boys is not an enviable position to be in. It requires actions of an extreme nature even to get noticed. After all someone has all ready done any and everything you can think of. Well, for the most part this is true.

The title of this story comes from a great deal of time watching cartoons as a child. Not feeling that I exactly fit in with my family I spent a lot of time doing things that did not put me into direct contact with my brothers and parents too much. Not that I didn’t love them, I did. I loved my mother desperately and it always seemed to amuse her that I was so committed. She was not really a hugger or a kisser. When you tried to give her a peck on the cheek or a hug, she looked as though you were shoving a skunk at her. Television became popular when I was in the fifth grade and I loved it. The cartoons were a great source of entertainment for me even though our reception was very poor. Everything appeared to be happening in a snow storm. This did not deter me at all. I watched it regardless of the reception. The Mickey Mouse club came to us broadcast from Montgomery and was so snowy you  could only occasionally  see the Micky Mouse ears floating across the screen in a field of black and white snow. It was totally worth it at the time.

The thing about seeing stars has to do with cartoons and what happened when a cartoon character was wounded in some way or hit in the head. It was so cool to see the stars circling the toon’s head after some sort of mishap. It never happened to me but I was always pretty careful not to get hit anywhere, much less in the head. One afternoon I was out in the back yard playing on the slide with a neighbor friend when I had a terrific idea. If coming down the slide was so much fun while you were sitting on it just think how much fun it would be to come down the underside holding on with your hands and feet. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

When I got approximately half way down I lost my grip and fell a number of feet to the ground landing directly on my back. It knocked the breath out of me. If this has ever happened to you, you know how terrible it feels; you can’t breathe. You lay there desperately trying to suck air into your lungs and it just will not come in. It was as close to death (at least I thought it was) as I had ever come at that point in my life. Later on I got much closer. After a period of what seemed like an eternity I finally began to breathe normally again. It was a wonderful feeling but there were no stars. Not anywhere, not even one, much less a ring of them circling around my head. Perhaps I had briefly blacked out and had missed the stars. It was a mystery because it had really hurt and yet, no stars.

Water skiing one time at Phillip’s Inlet at Panama City beach I skied over a sand bar that was just barely under the water, maybe a half an inch or so. My ski struck the sand and practically stopped. I however continued on across the shallow water and sand at an alarming rate, doing flips and something akin to cartwheels eating a great deal of sand and sucking a lot of water into my lungs. Somehow in the tumbling one of the skis struck the side of my head and knocked a rather large gash in my temple. It really did not hurt all that much but there was an incredible amount or blood covering my neck and chest, clotting in my hair and surrounding me in the salty water staining it a dark pink color. My friends in the boat all leaped at once into the water and made their way to me as I sat dazed in an half inch of water. They thought I was done for. All this trauma and not one star.

Much later when I was working in Mississippi I was involved in a car wreck. It was not actually my fault but I got the blame anyway. There was a girl in the car with me at the time and she was injured pretty seriously. I too was injured but no bones were broken, at least not mine. My head however did bang against the driver’s side window so hard that it shattered the glass altogether. Still no stars! The phenomenon of stars was obviously something that I was incapable of experiencing, sad.

After we had been married a number of years Linda and I bought a cabin up in the north Georgia mountains. One of the reasons we bought it was because I was used to having a second home (a cabin my parents bought at Panama City Florida) and thought it was what we should do after receiving part of an inheritance from my parents. Buying the mountain cabin turned out to be one of the best things we ever did. It has been a source of a great deal of joy and pleasure.

Muscadine vine I wanted to plant. The post hole diggers amounted to two wooden poles with a rounded half circular shovel like metal piece on each end, attached together near the bottom with a hinge. When you squeezed the tops of the poles together the shovel bottom of the apparatus opened wide and you stabbed it into the ground. When you pulled the poles apart the metal tines gripped the dirt in the bottom of the hole and you lifted it up out and dumped it to one side. Repeat over and over and sooner or later you would have a hole. It is an ingenious devise.

There are a couple of problems you might encounter in rocky ground. The main problem is of course rocks. Especially rocks that are too large to fit in the jaws of the post hole digger. Your only option is to position the digger to where you can sort of feel the shovel end gripping the edges of the oversize rock. Then you pull apart the top of the devise until you have a grip on the obstruction. It helps if you kind of wedge your chest down between the two poles. You then push your right fist, gripping the right pole and push forward. At the same time gripping the left pole with your left fist, pull it towards you. This creates a torque like situation and hopefully will unscrew the rock and dislodge it deep in the dirt. Pushing my chin down between the two poles I twisted it with all my might. I could feel the rock beginning to move in the hole. Suddenly and without warning, as the rock came loose, the pole in my right fist shot forward in a counter clock wise motion and struck the right side of my chin with my fist, carrying with it a great deal of force. Everything began to turn black and I had to quickly sit down in the warm dirt before I went unconscious. As I sat there I became aware that there were a great number of iridescent stars circling my head. Actually it was all quite beautiful and although I was pretty dazed and had a really large bruise on my chin I finally knew two things; stars actually do circle your head in real life under certain circumstances, not only in cartoons and I obviously have a glass jaw..


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