Water Up The Nose

Ever been swimming and gotten water up your nose?

Of course, anyone who is an adult remembers getting water from a swimming pool up their nose as a kid.  Man, that burns, doesn’t it?!  And you don’t know it’s coming until it’s too late…then the tears start flowing.  Remember trying to talk after that?

“Jimmy, you ok?  That slide off of the diving board with a one-and-a-half somersault with the splits was impressive!  How long you been working on that?”

“Yeah, I’b find.  I habn’t worked od id for very log.  Glad you liked id.  Dow help be wid by leg.  Id’s wrapped aroud by head.”

I also remember swimming in Lake Michigan as a kid (which is only about ten miles from Paradise Lake).  We had about five innertubes my Dad would load up in our trailer to take out there–a huge one that was probably over six feet tall when stood up vertically, one that was around five vertical feet with a third that was a little smaller than that and two other smaller ones (about three vertical feet each) that were kept in the cabin’s boathouse for everyone to use.  My brother and I would take all five out onto Lake Michigan to chest-deep water and stack them up like a pyramid.  Then we’d attempt to climb it and try to get to the top without it collapsing or the waves toppling the whole thing over.  If we made it to the top, we’d attempt to stand up on the top innertube and ride the waves for as long as we could balance up there.  Usually Lake Michigan would tolerate our fun for only so long before she would send forth a larger wave than the others that would send us toppling six or seven feet into the water below.  It was a blast!  But sometimes the water-up-the-nose thing would happen and we’d come out of the water sputtering and holding our nose, waiting for the burning sensation to go away (although it wasn’t nearly as bad as what a chlorinated pool feels) “add souding like a sudded cold had cub upod us.”

So have you ever put water up your nose intentionally?  And have it not hurt?  We do it all the time now–with a sinus rinse kit that we each have.  It took us a while to psyche up to the idea of intentionally flooding our sinuses with water, but it didn’t take us long at all to get used to.  Why?  The salt packets that come in the kit neutralize the water, which takes the sting away; and secondly, you’re in control of the water flow, so you know it’s coming (unlike a pool or lake where you suddenly realize too late the violation that has been committed against your sinus cavities).

I’ll tell you this:  Any physical inconvenience this has caused is so minor in comparison to what it has done for my health!  It was inevitable that at some point every winter I would get a sinus infection.  We’ve been using these sinus rinse kits for well over six years now (all four of us, so that means our kids have been doing it, too).  And for the last six years, I haven’t had a sinus infection.  We don’t fight dry sinus cavities, either, which is a huge problem for me in the winter with all of the dry air I breathe from the furnace being on.

So, just some “FYI” for you.  We get ours at Wal-Mart, but they’re also available online at www.neilmed.com.  (By the way, this isn’t a commercial for them.  It’s simply something that we found works for us.)

The Gravel Truck

It’s hot out here, isn’t it?!  Reminds me of how some of the summers could be where I grew up….

Remember that gravel pit that I told you about?  The one right next to our house on Drumheller Road?  Yes, the one with the barn fire.  You got it.  Over the years that we lived there, some summers would see visitors to the gravel pit:  those big double-hauling gravel semi-trucks.  We could always count on some point in mid-summer as being the infestation time (“You know, Myrtle, if them thar metal monsters is gonna show their ugly carcasses around these here parts, now’s the time they’s agonna shows up.”)  We would watch them pass by in a cloud of dust and pull into the gravel pit next to us.  They would disappear back into the gravel pit, the sound of metal banging against metal as the gravel trailers hit every pothole in the gravel pit drive.  I-69 eventually cut off the back corner of our property and a good portion of that gravel pit when it went in, so at that point these trucks went a mile further down our road to another smaller gravel pit.  And that’s where these memories really kick in.

Let me remind you that Drumheller was a dirt road, as straight as it was long.  It was an old road, built on logs in some places, which meant that usually from mid-summer on it got dry, dusty and as bumpy as a washboard, especially a mile or so down towards the fire department (which is the direction these trucks would come from).  This usually meant that we could hear these gravel semi-trucks long before we saw them.  Those trailers would bang so loud that we could hear them almost a mile away–and to a kid, it sounded like a huge monster coming for you!  (Remember as a kid watching that Sesame Street episode about “Go/Stop” where you hear someone say “Go” and watch something in the center of the TV screen that is really small and quiet get bigger and louder as it’s coming towards you and you realize in the center is a guy on a motorcycle with a bunch of other things making noise and they’re all coming right at you getting bigger and louder until you can almost see the whites of the eyes of the guy on the motorcycle until finally someone yells “STOP” and they all freeze just before they come out of the TV screen and into your living room and all you can see is the guy on the motorcycle and how close he came to getting you ??  Yeah, I know, that one always scared me too.  Still does.)

Being summer, we’d usually be playing outside in forts or on bikes or something to do with ninjas and spies and soldiers and stuff like that.  Suddenly, one of us would shush everyone else…and then we all heard it…..the distant banging of a gravel semi heading towards us, it’s metal jaws limbering up for the tasty meal it was anticipating!  We’d run down to the end of the driveway and look down the road towards the fire department.  There was a small hill in that same direction where the road descended about 1/4 mile from our house, so all we would see is the cloud of dust being raised and hear the horrendous noise the gravel trailers would make as the trucks flew over the washboard-like dirt road down there.    Seeing and hearing that, it was certain what was coming!  We’d scurry into our fort across the street (which was nothing more than a small grove of bushes on the top of a small hillside) or up into a tree we climbed at the end of our driveway.  Or sometimes we just ran for all we were worth out into our big side yard and would dive behind one of any number of big pine trees that were out there.  We’d flatten ourselves against the ground, our surroundings becoming our camouflage–or becoming as one with the branches of the tree we were in–seemingly invisible to the huge metal monster that was bearing down upon us.

If we felt particularly daring and audacious , we’d wait at the end of the driveway until we saw the front of the truck appear at the top of the hill as it came hurtling and banging towards us.   Then, pumped with adrenaline and about ready to poop our pants,  we’d run to our hiding place before the semi would pass our property.  And always–always–we would be left in a huge dust cloud that descended upon everything around us.  (If the wind was just right, my Mom would find layers of dust in the house, no matter how much she cleaned.)  Coughing and squinting through the dust, we’d look triumphantly down the road, confident that the evil truck driver had not seen the boys that were so strategically hidden around him as he passed by.  With our ninja-like senses and reflexes heightened, we would wait for the return of the metal monster known as The Gravel Truck.  Those were the days!



When I was growing up, my Dad would occasionally smoke a pipe.  It usually happened when he was really beginning to relax–so my brother and I didn’t see him smoke it that often.  When he did, though, he used tobacco that he got from a pipe shop downtown called Campbell’s Smoke Shop.  I loved going in there with him and taking in the smell of all kinds of scented tobaccos!  But there was also the slight aroma of wooden matches wafting through the air in that place.  Put it all together and it made for a very fond memory.

That was the start of my matchbook collecting.  Not your normal collecting of matchbook covers though; that never interested me.  It’s always been full, complete and unused matchbooks that have been in my collection.  So it progressed from a handful of matchbooks from Austin’s as a 12 year-old kid to matchbooks from other local businesses as I got older.  Once into my high school years, I really started to get my hands on some matchbooks from other states, due to my parents having some friends who did a lot of traveling.  And that got me thinking…

What would be a really unique way to collect these?  And it came to me in a vision, an angel with a trumpet proclaiming from the mountaintops:  “Thou shalt obtain from hither and yon a matchbook from every state in the United States of America!”  What, you don’t think that happened?  Ok.  Not really.  But that was the idea that came to mind.  So I ran with it.  And then forgot all about it once I reached my mid-twenties.

It re-sparked a few years ago, and I realized that I really needed to focus on getting this goal accomplished.  Now, thanks to a variety of people who have traveled here and there–and especially to a few Facebook friends who also collect–it is complete!!  Not only do I have at least one full, complete and unused matchbook from every state in the U.S., but I also have matchbooks from numerous countries as well as unique types of matchbooks from different places.

Matchbook Display
Matchbook Display

It has been a project-in-the-making for well over 30 years.  Not to mention how much more difficult it has been to come by matchbooks since all of the changes regarding smoking in public places has taken place.  But what a monumental achievement!  To start with matches and memories from Campbell’s to displaying a prized collection of full and unused matchbooks from every state….God is good!

Almost Back

Well I’m almost back to the main trail, but since I’m not quite there, I thought I would share a recent story that took place not far from where I currently am right now:

You’ve heard about Major already. Quite a character. But so was an English Springer we had whose name was Max (not the English Springer from the camping story–this is well after that incident).

We got Max somewhere around my Freshman/Sophomore years of high school. My Dad and I drove down to South Carolina where a family friend had bred his English Springer and had a puppy for us to get. I held him in my lap all the way back up to Michigan. We grew quite attached on that drive back. So how does such a cute, submissive little puppy grow into….Max?

The older Max got, the more stubborn he became. We lived in the country (as you already know), so when he had to go outside, we just let him out the door and came back to let him in around 10 minutes later. And that’s where his stubbornness really showed. Especially in the winter! I’d be standing there in my pajamas, holding the door open for him to come in, my extremities turning white from frostbite, and he’d just stand there looking at me, suddenly unable to comprehend the English language. And if I started out the door after him, he’d just romp out into the yard a little further and turn around to see what I’m going to do about what he just did. Since I could no longer feel my fingers or toes anyway, I would sometimes try to coax him in with a treat….or a stern voice….or sobbing….fact is, he came in when he was good and ready to and as far as he was concerned, I wasn’t about to change that.

I must say, though, that I thoroughly enjoyed a game he liked to play in the house with my younger brother. We’d be wrestling (this got Max riled up sufficiently) which would inevitably end up with my brother pinned to the living room floor, arms defenseless at his sides, while I poked my finger through the gap between his neck and the carpet. This got Max’s attention fast, which always resulted in a slobbery effort on Max’s part to get that wiggling finger, no matter how much tickling and barking he had to do at my brother’s neck, regardless of which direction my brother would turn his head. It was a fun time! Until my brother got to be big enough and tall enough that I couldn’t pin him to the living room floor anymore. Ruined everything at that point…

But my fondest memory of Max is at the family cabin at Paradise Lake. We were up with my Aunt & Uncle’s family, all of us (but Max) down by the beach. The cabins on that stretch of the lake are up on a bluff that overlooks that beautiful place. It requires a pretty long staircase for most of those cabins for a way to get down to the shoreline. But what dog likes to take steps when he can launch himself down the hill with no barrier between him and the water?

So my brother goes up to the cabin for something and calls down to my Dad, asking if Max can come down. We all turn around to watch as my Dad gives the ok, because we all know Max’s aversion to the staircase. (Watching a dog barreling down a hillside, barely able to control his speed as he jets toward the water, is always worth watching.) Well this time, there were more of us sprawled out along the beachfront than he was used to. His normal line of trajectory was suddenly compromised, but it was too late to change it. The point of impact of least resistance was going to be a 10-inch gap between my lawn chair and the one next to me that my Uncle was in. The realization of all of this is flashing acrossed Max’s face as he nears the bottom of the hill at full speed. As he realizes his predicament, his eyes get real big, and then they become mere slits as he readies and commits himself to that gap between our chairs (all this happening in a matter of seconds). He was a white and brown streak as he flew right between our lawn chairs, the lake suddenly becoming his parachute as he hits the water in an explosion of spray. He’s frolicking around in the water, grateful to still be alive, a huge smile on his face as he laps at the water. Quite a few moments passed before anyone could say anything because it took that long to catch a breath from all of us laughing so hard.

Many years have come and gone since then, but we all still remember the day that Max went through the “eye of the needle” and lived to tell about it.