Due to my other blog, G.W.’s Good Grub, I haven’t put anything new here for you. Today, I will correct that.
After my tour of duty was up as a sailor with the U.S. Navy, we moved to Spokane, Washington, in a little place called Moab Junction. Munchkin1 was four years old, while munchkin2 had reached the ripe, old age of two. We lived well outside of town, on ten acres of wooded land, in a two story house, with a barn, and a chicken coop. Our water came ice cold, bubbling up from a spring. To get to our home, you had to drive a two-track (that means unimproved dirt road) a mile back from the nearest paved road. We had three neighbors, none of them living within throwing distance. The setting was ideal for me, with no lawn to mow. And I loved the forest.
Work was scarce in the area however, as there was a major recession going on. A great many people were struggling to find work. I took minor construction jobs, worked as a janitor in a cardboard box factory, fixed answering machines, and did whatever I could find to do. I even cut cordwood with one of my neighbors (yeh, I got to split all of the wood with a ten pound splitting mall while he operated the chain saw.). But we survived. We had a warm house, heated by a wood burning air-tight stove, and enough food to eat.
The munchkins loved going to the hen house with me to gather chicken eggs. There was one very ornery rooster in the chicken coop that loved to chase and harass them. But still they came. One day, that rooster pecked munchkin1 one too many times and I decided it was time for a chicken dinner. Now I could have walked over, grabbed him by the neck, and gave it a quick twist, thus disposing of the hateful critter. But I had a score to settle with this feathered beast.
I went into the house and got my seventy-five pound pull compound bow, three or four good aluminum arrows, and the blunt tips that screwed onto the ends of them. I was out for blood! I walked into the chicken coop and the rooster knew something was up. He hightailed it to the far end of the coop. But with the fence nailed to the barn walls, he had nowhere to run. The distance between me and the bird was about forty feet. My bow shot arrows at a blistering speed. I knocked an arrow to the bowstring, and set the shaft onto the arrow rest. I drew the string back to my cheek, centered the sight on the rooster’s neck, and let the arrow fly. The arrow flew fast and true, and hit exactly where I had aimed it. Unfortunately, the rooster had snapped its neck back and the arrow just grazed a couple of feathers. It did punch a neat little round hole clean through the barn wall. I was in shock. I would have never believed that any animal could move so fast. So I placed another arrow on the string, placed the arrow onto the rest, aimed, and again shot at the neck. Again, the rooster dodged the arrow. I just shook my head. I knocked a third arrow, and was determined that this rooster was going down. I drew the bowstring back to my cheek, aimed just behind the rooster’s neck, and let the arrow fly. The rooster snapped his head back and he was mine.
I don’t know if you have ever seen a rooster get his head chopped off. I’ve seen it done. The headless bird runs around squawking and carrying on for close to a minute, completely headless. Finally, it realizes that it’s dead and falls over. The rooster I shot was just gone when the arrow connected with its neck. It didn’t squawk, or run, or anything. It was just no longer living, instantly. He sure tasted great fried up and served with mashed potatoes. And my munchkins enjoyed gathering eggs with me much more than they had before.
One day, the munchkins were left with a friend as D.W. and I had to go back into the woods and collect wood for the upcoming winter. We had at our disposal, a flatbed Willy’s Jeep to place the wood on. It was about mid day and we decided to take a break. I had with me a new, little, purebred Labrador Retriever. He was a beautiful little puppy, as smart as a whip and almost as cute as the munchkins. D.W. was sitting on the jeep’s bed, eating a sandwich. I was picking up some more wood from a pile, and neatly stacking it onto the flat bed. The puppy was exploring every little stick and leaf on the ground, not four feet from D.W. Suddenly, seemingly from out of nowhere, a very large red-tailed hawk came from the sky, diving at the puppy. It’s outstretched talons grazed D.W.’s hair. I yelled at it and raced toward the dog. The bird pulled up and missed my puppy. I was a happy man and my wife was still touching her head, thankful that she had a head full of hair and was untouched by the bird. She still remembers the day that her hair almost entangled a red-tailed hawk.
Did you know that four and two year old munchkins have even fewer smarts than teenage munchkins? I know, it’s hard to believe. But it’s absolutely true, but not by much. Our Washington home was built into the side of a hill so that the back door was on the ground and led into the living room, on the 2nd floor. The first floor had all of the bedrooms in it and a door, again on the ground level. One day, I came home from work and D.W. was in a state of near panic. “We have to take munchkin2 to the hospital, right now!” she said emphatically as I walked into the door.
“Why?” was my simple question.
“He fell out of the 2nd story window. Let’s go.”
So I loaded everyone into our 1969 Doge Van and headed to town and the hospital. To our relief, there was nothing wrong with the boy. He was in perfect health, but with the slightest of red marks in the middle of his forehead. He also had a few abrasions on his forearms. The doctor said it looked like he broke his fall with his forearms.
About a month or so, previous to his fall, I started teaching the two munchkins falling techniques that I had learned in Judo. One particular technique, the front fall, was absorbed by munchkin2 like he was born to do it. He was a natural. D.W. used to tell me I was crazy to try and teach the kids these techniques, arguing that they were too young. But I knew differently. I saw munchkin2 run across the room one day, trip, and go flying toward what I thought was going to be a classic face-plant. I was instantly afraid for the boy. But my fear was unfounded. As he fell, his little arms went into the correct position, his head turned sideways, and he spread himself out in mid air to land on his forearms, chest, belly, and legs. The falling technique was perfect. He got up and continued running to his destination. That same technique probably saved his life when he went out the 2nd story window.
Now you might be asking how the little guy ended up falling from that window. Well, there was a chair parked in front of it, and the window was open, albeit with a screen on the outside. When his mother was busy, he climbed onto the chair, and onto its back, which he had been told not to do a thousand times. But he could see the chickens from that window, and the temptation was just to great for him. So standing on the back of the chair, he leaned against the screen. It popped out, and down he went. All I can say is, thank goodness for Judo training.
A few months later, when snow covered the ground, we made a toboggan trail from the back door to the drive way, along one side of the house. Munchkin one would climb onto the back of the plastic toboggan and sit her little brother in front of her. She would hang on to him, to keep him from falling out during the short run down the gentle slope. I thought this would be a safe and wholesome activity for the munchkins. But I forgot, munchkins are not yet familiar enough with the world to avoid injury, on the safest runs. The two had been sliding down that slope all day, without mishap as I worked in the yard nearby. The perfect day was to come to an end, however.
As the two slid merrily down the slope, laughing and having a grand time, somehow, munchkin1 shifter her weight, causing the plastic vehicle of destruction to veer to the right. Now, at the end of their ride, they weren’t destined to come to a gentle stop. Instead, they headed straight for the side of the Willy’s Jeep! Of course I was too far away to save them. I watched in horror as they ran straight into the jeep, which was too low for them to slide safely under, but not low enough to keep them from sliding under. Poor munchkin2 took the initial hit. He ran his shoulders and chest square into the side of that immovable hunk of metal, which knocked him onto his back and out of the way of further injury. His sister on the other hand, was next in line for pain. She too hit the jeep. She too was knocked backward to lay down as they both slid to the other side, out from under, and came to a stop. My munchkins were crying as I sprinted to their rescue and aid. Fortunately, munchkins are tuff little critters. Neither was seriously hurt, just a couple of fat lips and a bruise or two. Me, I was a wreck, sure that my favorite people were dead, or paralyzed. You can understand my relief as I held my little ones close and wiped away the tears before they froze on the little munchkin cheeks.
During the Christmas season, that same year, D.W., the munchkins, and I trekked back into the woods, on our ten acres. and found the perfect Christmas tree. D.W. and I set it up in our living room, taking care to find suitable anchor points to tie it off to. We had a two year old munchkin in the house and were taking no chances. After all, trees are heavy, and prickly, and have hot lights on them. We didn’t want munchkin2 to pull our beautiful tree down on top of himself. That just wouldn’t be a good thing. You know what, even with our precautions, one day, he managed to do just that. Now I believe in God, as the Supreme Being, and as my Heavenly Father. And I think he has a special mission for munchkin2, as the boy seemed either incredibly lucky, or somehow protected from serious harm. There was nary a scratch on him. Nor was there any burn marks. It was a miracle.
Did you know that dad’s will do almost anything, bear any pain, and become superhuman when need be to make a munchkins life easier? Here’s proof. To get to our house, as I said at the beginning of this episode, you had to drive a mile back into the forest on a two track. What I didn’t tell you was that after the first hundred feet or so, the meager road made a quick left turn and went up a hill. The turn prevented you from getting a running start at the hill, which became rather icy in the winter. Now some of the neighbors had suggested that I purchase tire chains for my van. But hey, I grew up in a place where snow banks were usually taller than I was, and where temperatures frequently dipped into the sub-zero range. I learned to drive in the stuff. Why, we used to take our cars, as teenagers, and drive them into open fields to see who could get the furthest without getting stuck in the snow. We drove on lake ice that was three to four feet thick, and did doughnuts for fun. We raced on ice tracks on that same frozen water, with chunks of snow to mark the corners. By golly, you learned to control a skid with that kind of driving. On snow and ice, I considered myself and expert, and was. But you know, just maybe, I should have listened to the locals.
On night, it was just me and the munchkins coming home from a nearby convenience store (about 5 miles away after you got to the main road). I had never failed to navigate that turn and make it up the hill, until that night. When I was about half way up, carefully feathering the throttle to keep from spinning the tires, while still providing enough power to get up the hill, if finally happened. The rear wheels broke loose (spun on the ice). I knew I wasn’t going to make it the rest of the way up. So I carefully backed down the ice hill, and tried to get as much of a running start as I could. But again, half way up, the tires spun. Again I carefully backed down the hill and parked the van. I would get chains on the next day.
There were no such things as cell phones back in 1982. and I didn’t have a CB radio with which to call my wife. So I put munckin1 on my shoulders, and carried munchkin2 in front of me. I began to walk. I noticed that the sky was beautiful, with stars filling the night with light so that I could see where I was going. For the first few minutes, we sang glad songs to keep the munchkins occupied, for I thought they would become bored with the walk. The munchkins, however, had a plan of their own. Dressed in warm clothes, with mittens on their hands, and warm boots on their feet, and secure with their dad (that would be me) they fell quickly asleep. Munchkin1 used the top of my knit hat (we call them chukes or tuks up here in Yooper land) for a pillow, while munchkin2 nuzzled into my coat. In spite of the long walk, carrying two munchkins a full mile, somehow, I felt privileged that night. But that’s the way it is with munchkins you know.
Have a wonderful evening with your own munchkins, and your D.W., or D.H. Good night.
There is no success outside the home that justifies failure within the home.