Winter is Coming with a Body Slam

signThe winter had been pretty mild.  We’ve had a fair share of freezing my butt of cold days and nights, and some days my eyes froze.  But, nothing severe like 2-3 feet of snow in 12 hours or a sudden avalanche from the nearby mountain.

Deep inside my rather shallow body, I had a suspecion that we would get absolutely creamed and dumped on.  We couldn’t just get a mild winter with a few inches of snow.  I needed to use my snow blower, and at least 100 lbs of road salt (from my 1000lbs stash), to proudly be able to say “winter is coming!“.

When they decided to consult with a rodent, the annual groundhog day, I was not surprised when the furry critter predicted another six weeks of winter.  He too knew winter was coming.  I must admit, asking a small furry dude to predict the weather is rather odd, but hey, stranger things happens.

It was rather pleasant when we had a 62F winter day, and I could drive with the windows down.  Little did I know that winter was indeed coming.  The weather guys did warn the population, but when you sit in a t-shirt, listening to Shakira, you can’t really take them seriously.  Surely winter is over!

Later that evening, snow did cover the night sky, and temperature dropped.  By 4.30am we received a call from the school, saying school would be closed – followed by a number of emails and text messages.  All stating “winter is coming!“.

dayaftertomorrowEarly morning and first light, showed how busy Mother Nature had been.  Everything was covered in a thick layer of snow, and it did not look like stopping.  It just kept coming and coming.  As if Mother Nature wanted to make a point “it ain’t over until I say so”.

Mid afternoon the snow finally stopped, although a rather brisk breeze kept blowing snow around.  Winds were howling and my eyeballs got frostbites when I peeked out the door.

I knew I had to deal with it.  I prefer not to engage in cardio exercises when it is this cold, but when you have a 200 feet driveway, and it is not electrical heated, someone has to clear it.  AND, that someone is obviously me.

All three kids had “sudden” symptoms of fever or coughing, and informed me they were unavailable for child labour.  My wife had to work (new job and trying to impress the boss) and my loyal brown Labrador was pretending to be paralysed.  All in all, a sorry bunch of heroes.

I dressed up for my arctic experience and started my 30″ snow blower.  This beast could take on anything; jaw crunching snow eaters and strong caterpillar track.  We were going to conquer this together.

clarkThe size of the task became apparent when I opened the garage door in best Clark Griswold style.  The snow was about a foot deep, and had completely erased my landscaped garden and driveway.  It was there somewhere.  I just had to find it. … mission accepted!

Snow was flying all over as my snow monster was eating through all the snow, trying to find the surface.  We were in this together.  The red paint was gradually being covered with snow and icicles, and so was my beard.

2 hours later and I had cleared the driveway.  Well, there was still a thin layer of snow on the tarmac, which at this point was starting to freeze.  A few times I almost lost my footing, but mostly recovered while letting out a few yelps.  It was manly yelps in case you wondered.

As I was preparing for one final turn, a small pivot with my snow blower, my legs literally disappeared underneath me.  It was like watching a movie in slow motion, and felt even slower.

I made a few graceful attempts to recover the inevitable, only to suddenly lift off the ground and body slam into the ground.  Not a hope of bracing the fall with my arms, as I for some reason decided to hold on to the bloody snow blower.

The wind was knocked out of my chest, and as I laid there looking at the tarmac, I melted the ice with my breath.  I couldn’t even call out in pain and was stuck for several seconds.  It was pretty clear that body slamming 200lbs of Scandinavian bacon does some impact, and the pain quickly shared that observation as I could feel a shooting pain in my chest.

I’m not a doctor or expert, but it was obvious that I had fractured or bruised a rib or two.  But, in true manly spirit, I got up, and continued my work … at least for a further 23 seconds.

At that point I did what all men does.  I walked to the porch, sat down and waiting for anybody in my family to notice me and give me some sympathy.  That failed, and after 12 minutes of self indulged suffering, I went back to spray salt on the fecking ice.  That’s how you deal with it.  You spray salt on that shit.

Now I’m praying and hoping that winter is truly over.  I’ve had enough of this white stuff.  Winter did come! Mother Nature kicked my arse, and big boys do cry.

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Kung Fu Panda not included

pandaThe joys of being a house owner, amongst many cool and not-so-cool duties, is that we get to decide how wild the garden should be.  Are we going for the ‘garden of the year’ award or do we take a more relaxed attitude, believing in reinstating the natural ecosystem.

I’m probably torn between the two choices, and the only in-between option is called concrete. An option, but not a fan of concrete. My choice is unfortunately natural ecosystem, with some sprinkles of garden award.  Probably a fair 97-3 split.

However, on one of my gardening adventures, I decided to kill what to some is known as garden cancer.  It spreads like an evil network of underground roots, tightly intertwined with roots and tiles.  Literally impossible to get rid.  It also happens to be the favourite dish for the overly obese and cuddly panda bear.

Yes, you guessed it.  It is the fecking bamboo. It looks great at times, but a pain in the behind to prune or remove.

My bamboo bush had taken over parts of the garden and was slowly moving across the garden pathway, finding little openings between the tiles and slowly expanding.  So began the battle of the bamboo.

Only minor problems.  I do not have access to koala bears, pandas or sloths.  And, it was close to 95F/35C during the past summer.  It was a battle I was destined to lose.

There are a few ways to kill or get rid of bamboo.  They mostly require a lot of patience, plenty of time and interesting chemicals.  None of which I poses.

But, I discovered the best trick in the book, which came to me in a dream.  A dream that involved my old biology teacher, who was laughing through his Santa beard.  Freaky I know.  It was basic schoolboy knowledge that proved to be the trick to break the neck of the overly enthusiastic bamboo bush.

What was it?  Well, I will give you this DIY trick for free, and also share that you will lose weight while killing your friendly neighborhood bamboo bush.  It is simply photosynthesis!

Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to convert light energy, normally from the Sun, into chemical energy that can be later released to fuel the organisms’ activities (energy transformation).

Bamboo bushes uses all it’s leaves to regenerate and expand.  You can cut away at the edges, pull up roots, but you will lose unless you remove the opportunity for generating photosynthesis.

The trick is, which reminds of the old Metallica song ‘fight fire with fire’.  You have to fight photosynthesis with photosynthesis.  It’s simple my friends.

Step by step instructions in your photosynthesis battle.  Something that Syn Tzu forgot to mention in his ‘Art of War’.

  1. Find your garden handsaw
  2. Put on work gloves
  3. Put on long-sleeved shirt
  4. With one hand, grab a bundles of bamboo, and cut it about 5 inches from the soil
  5. Repeat step 4 until you have eradicated the bamboo bush
  6. Inspect the bamboo patch for ridiculous amount of sprouts
  7. Remove all small bamboo sprouts and leaves you find
  8. Repeat step 7 every other day for two weeks
  9. Take a shovel and start to dig up roots

Step 9 is a very tiresome exercise, which is excellent cardio and fat burning.  I spent several hours a day, over the course of three weeks, and honestly believe I lost 6-7lbs.

I’m sure you can use chemicals to do the killing faster, but I do not like to pollute my garden, and is a strong supporter of hard labour – except when I have to do the work!

In the end, it was my awesome and creepy biology teacher who in my dream taught me to fight photosynthesis with my knowledge in biology :-).  Sometimes you can actually achieve a lot with stuff you learned in school.

Other options include inventing recipes for eating bamboo, building a bamboo raft, build a bamboo shed, design cool pens with bamboo casings, weave baskets, create matts, design furniture … the options are endless.  Only your imagination sets the limitation, and of course your ability to do it.

(btw, my old biology teacher was actually a pretty alright dude, and he did not do anything to freak me out)

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Nowhere Near-Death Experince

Backyard BBQ 2The joys of being a house owner comes hundred fold when sitting on the back porch smelling the BBQ aroma of frying meats and having a glass of home (almost) brewed moonshine. All while the kids are playing yard games, wife is standing in the sunbeams gloving of utter gorgeousness and Mumford & Sons‘ tunes are streaming from the bluetooth speaker.  Weather is of course fantastic, warm, but not flesh scorching.

To be absolutely honest, being a home owner can certainly suck at times.  There’s always something that has to be fixed and staff in the local Home Depot are becoming your only social life.  Water leakage, door handles sticking, shower head breaking off, toilet clogged due to excessive toilet paper usage by 5-year-old, shower door dropping off ledge and not to forget the outdoor areas.

You know you are in trouble socially when Home Depot staff are befriending you on Facebook, and greeting you at the local ShopRite.

The latter can be an adventure, especially if you own a small forest like we do.  We never know what we might find and if it is from an unsolved crime scene.

A few days ago I decided to put on my responsible house owner and father hats on, and do some manly stuff around the house – literally around the house, as I needed to cut the grass, blow some leaves, pull some weeds and pick up dog poop.

Two dogs equals a large amount of natural fertilizer kids step in!

The cool thing about this was that I got to play with all my man toys; lawn mower, weed wacker and backpack blower … all my favorite power tools that makes me feel masculine.

sweatingThis was the first time I was attempting to cut our lawn, and something that had not been done since last fall, when the previous owner vacated the premises.  It had grown a little wild to say the least, to a point where I had to empty the grass cutting collector after 2-3 runs.  The grass for thick and moist, blocking the flow at times, and it was physical labor my body was not use to, and I was sweating profoundly.

Suffering from acute dehydration, I knew I had to stay hydrated and emptied a few gallons of cold water, but it was still very hot out.

After my lawn adventures, I moved on to weed trimming, followed by clearing leaves and grass cuttings with my power backpack blower.

It was an awesome 3 hours of solid work, enjoying the great outdoors, and I was proud of my achievements as I sat on my deck look (and smelling) the newly cut lawn.

However, something was slightly off.  My body was tingling and I was a little dizzy.  It was a very strange feeling and something I haven’t felt since Shaun T hammered my body to smithereens.  Not a very pleasant feeling.

But, I got a deserved shower and we headed off for dinner out with the family.  Thankfully my wife insisted on driving and as we went on driving my poor body started to show further signs of exhaustion.

heatstrokeIt was probably a combination of exhaustion, dehydration and lack of food that caused my body to react this way.  Or, just the fact that I’m getting older and perhaps this was a near-death experience.  I was seeking comfort in my family, but at the same time attempting to hold up a strong appearance for my kids.  Dad is doing just fine!!

Knowing my body fairly well, which I should after 40+ years, I simply needed to replenish my batteries.  What better way than eating spicy Mexican food, flushing it down with full blown non-diet Coke?

Gradually my body was recovering, although it took much longer than anticipated and I have come to the realization that I’m not a a young man anymore.  It was pretty obvious that I had a nowhere near-death experience.  Any man in my age would suffer from 3 hours of heavy gardening work, despite a good friend of mine completed the Spartan Race as #10 in his (our) age group, which is a lot more demanding than gardening.

Gotta go!  Shaun T is calling me on my cell!

Broken Bones

The day had unfolded like so many school days.  The evening rituals were dictated by the homework, folding clothes and of course the family dinner.  Just a normal midweek evening, in a normal family setting.

Kids were busy arguing about which colour the dog’s collar was, and from what I overheard, they were discussing the shades of pink.  My son was sitting between the girls and as the discussion got more heated he anxiously starred at me as if asking to either step in or help him.  I opted for the latter much to his relief, and I sensed a strange man-hug forming between us – an awkward fast paced wrapping of arms and then a gentle pad on the back.

My lovely wife had recently started to attend a women club at the local church, meeting up with women from our parish, hanging out with Father Ted and chatting with the man upstairs.  All-in-all a very innocent evening with friends.

It had been raining a fair bit and my wife decided to wear her awesome cowgirl boots, while driving her oversized SUV.  The next few paragraphs are hearsay, so would not stand up in court as the actual event, but it’s based on an expert witness testimony (my wife’s).

She had been gone for less then 45 minutes, when she suddenly stumbled in through the front door.  At first I thought she was completely hammered, after dipping too many times into the alter wine, and that she had broken several traffic laws on her way home.  I was certain the house would be surrounded by a SWAT team and media crews pulling into our driveway.

BUT, from the tears that were rolling down her chin I figured it was something else.  I’m rather clever at times!  It’s a 15th sense I have.

With the tears rolling down, she collapsed on the sofa and asked me to remove her awesome cowgirl boot from her left foot.  She had slipped at church and felt her ankle snap.  As soon as the boot was removed her ankle doubled in size.  I know it was a classic schoolboy error to remove the pressure and support provided by the boot, but I could not face that a 22 year old doctor would cut into the goat skin shitkickers.

It was pretty clear that this injury would not be healed with a simple ice pack, so I rushed over to the neighbours, persuaded them to baby sit the kids for a few hours while I headed to ER / A&E … whatever it’s called these days.  Perhaps money milking machine is more appropriate?!

As she was sitting in the wheel chair waiting for the 19 year old nurse, I suddenly realised that she was like Kim Jong-Un – short, black hair and a bad ankle.  No offence to the North Korean leader of course.  And my wife had fantastic sparkling pink nail polish on her toes – looking awesome for any occasion.

We spent the next 2 hours in the local ER, with my wife eating drugs and I taking selfies.  The doctors were somewhat surprised by our reaction, especially when I gave the doctor high-five while proclaiming this was the first broken bone in the family history.  It was a new event on the Facebook timeline and I of course had to check-in as well as post cool selfies on Instagram.

I guess dancing was out of the question for the next weeks.  She had to wear a not-so-sexy supportive boot, and apply little pressure while the ankle was healing.

Zombie Killer

zombie-slayerAs taking out of the awesome TV series “Walking Dead” my 4-year-old daughter walks around in the house with her Nerf bow over her back, ready to fight off intruders and other evil things that might appear in her sight.  She is just as skill full with her bow as the Walking Dead character Daryl.

She does have a motor cycle (battery driven) a flower-power vest, a cool bow and overconfident attitude as she strolls through the house aiming her bow at anything considers moving.

The other day I decided to ask her what she was fighting, to which she calmly answered “Zombies, dad!”.  I’m not a doom days prepare, but it is an important skill to know how to take down zombies, as with all the recent World epidemics and flu vaccine side effects, we (humans) will soon be responsible for a real zombie infection.  You can easily say I’m a loony, but I’m proud that my daughter is taking up this admirable trade.

I continued exploring my daughters hobby, and asked her where she played this zombie hunter game.  I should’ve known the answer, as it was pretty obvious.  She rolled her eyes and uttered “in school dad! With my hunter friends!”.  Not too sure how to react to that.

She continued “and some of the guys are vampire hunters, but I don’t really like vampires. They have bad teeth and hiss”.  Well, now I know what games they play in school, in pre-K, so I’m expecting a call from her teacher and principal any day now.

My only concern at the moment is that she aims her bow at people, which is a safety concern.  I’ve decided to teach her how to properly hold her weapon and how to aim … and not to aim at people only zombies.

zom,bie killerWhile sitting on my son’s bed, getting the kids ready for bed, my daughter suddenly aimed her bow at me and shouted “duck!”.  I was terrified and crashed to the floor in foetal position, while she let out a war scream and killed a zombie that apparently was right be hind me.  I was “saved” by 4-year-old daughter.

Perhaps we need to look at increasing her arsenal of weapons, just like “Supernatural” boys, with a large trunk of weird weapons for any occasion?

Happy (and safe) hunting my dear!