Riders on the Storm

About a month ago my dad soaked the inside of his car when he left the windows open in the rain. My parents had left the house and when they returned, my dad saw his car window open and immediately thought someone had broken his window. I love that his first reaction was that someone else must have damaged his car, not that he left his own windows down. What is most comical about this is that my dad never has the windows up while driving, so him leaving the windows down while parked is not all that unusual. It can be sweater weather and he has at least the moonroof open. Once he saw the open window, he walked out to his car to find all of his windows down and the moonroof wide open. It had been pouring rain for an hour, so needless to say, his seats were a little waterlogged. I’m not going to lie, that car needed a good detailing anyway.

Since my mom told us this story, my child has double checked the Old Man’s windows every time a cloud passes over. She has asked about the status of his windows at least a dozen times and takes every available opportunity to give him a hard time about it. I understand this though, because the man does not learn. A few weeks after he drenched his car, he left me sitting in the same car while he returned to the house to get something. The windows were all open, including the moonroof and within 10 seconds of him walking away, the rain started to pour in on me. He turned around and laughed instead of throwing the keys back to me. Typical. I am now thoroughly convinced that an actual dark cloud is following him.

One would think that maybe the third time is a charm, but one would be mistaken. Yesterday he picked me up to go retrieve one of the wave runners that was being serviced. Rain was expected, but we went anyway. As we were driving to the dealership I mentioned that I did not have a life jacket and we would need to stop at the lake house to grab one. He proceeded to drive right by our turn off and when I told him he responded “you can swim, right?” I agreed that a life jacket was not really necessary and we continued along, with the clouds following. When we got to the dealership, he immediately got out of the car and took the keys, leaving me sitting with the windows down and no radio. When he returned a few minutes later it had already started to sprinkle. He sat in the car talking to me for a full minute before I could prompt him to close the moonroof. He was just carrying on about the Olympics, while we got a shower until I finally said “you might want to close this….” while sticking my hand through the open roof.

As we headed back to the boat launch, the rain started to come down a little harder, and by the time we got to the dock it was the kind of rain that required an umbrella. I would like to say we turned around and headed to a garage until the rain subsided, but we are no quitters. And we are not all that bright either. I got on the wave runner and started it up right about the time a full on monsoon started. But by that time, there was no turning back. I took off and was halfway around the bend before my dad even left the boat launch, where he probably immediately opened the moon roof. I wanted to make sure everything was in working order but I couldn’t bring myself to drive more than 33 mph since the rain felt like pins going into my face. Although I usually like being the only vehicle on the lake, it was not an ideal time since I was not wearing a life jacket, it felt like pebbles were being thrown at me from the sky and a few neighbors were actually pointing and laughing. I managed to make it back to the dock in about 10 minutes. After getting the wave runner up on the lift, covering it and returning the key to the house, I finally grabbed a towel and headed to the garage as the rain completely stopped. I found my dad holding a leaf blower, cleaning the garage floor before backing in the trailer. Although he didn’t mention I looked like a drowned rat my mom later told me she saw me on the doorbell cam and that was exactly what I looked like. We moved the trailer into the garage and when I jumped back into the car I was shocked to see that all of the windows were actually closed for once, and the only sopping wet thing in the car was me.

**I just noticed I haven’t posted anything in over a month. It’s because I have been listening to new music (new to me at least) like this little gem.

Die, Die My Darling

While boating the other day, I told my dad we were trying to kill him. An hour later my husband and dad almost killed me. Karma sometimes acts pretty quickly. Seriously karma, I was just kidding! Not that my husband trying to kill me is anything new. In fact, I’m pretty sure he has been working on a plan since the day we were married based on the amount of “accidents” I have had in the last 16 years. I am going to ignore the fact that I am accident prone here.

Let me start by saying that my kid and I are daredevils. When it comes to dangerous activities, we are all in. So needless to say, when we go rafting, we are the ones screaming “faster” as we bounce along the water. Saturday was no exception. My dad spent the better part of his afternoon pulling me and mini me around the lake on a raft. My mom spent the better part of her afternoon having a panic attack and covering her eyes. At one point we were almost completely sideways on the raft. I looked down and I was literally on top of my kid as we bounced over a wave. On the same trip around the lake my dad nearly plowed us into a family of ducks as he turned and we flew out to the side of the boat. Luckily it was not a family of swans or they would have popped our raft and pecked our faces off.

After an hour of my mom glaring at my dad he took her to shore. The thrill seekers were still up for more rafting so we took one of the wave runners out dragging the little two person bouncer behind. Everyone took a turn riding and driving. I didn’t drive since I drive one speed no matter if I am alone or dragging bodies behind me. I have been told that 55 is too fast for rafting. But I learned that you can injure yourself at any speed. My husband was going only 9 mph when he almost killed me. After the old man and mini me took a trip around the water she decided she wanted me back there with her so my dad took over the spotter duty while my husband drove. We were just getting ready to head back in when the men decided it would be fun to whip us around in a circle so my husband proceeded to spin around at single digit speeds while we circled. We had gone around twice when all of a sudden we were air born. A wave came out of nowhere and we hit it like a ski jump.

Both passengers were able to hold on with one hand, but we came down fast and hard. I landed on my side and was immediately pummeled in my ribs. I was clinging to the raft wondering who threw a bowling ball at me when I heard crying from above. My daughter was sitting on my rib cage right under my armpit holding her mouth and crying. She had apparently bitten her tongue. I eased her off me and tried to see inside her mouth while not moving. I felt like a baby holding it’s breath right before an enormous scream comes out, but no scream came, just small gasps. When we finally got back to shore, I slid off the raft and walked onto the beach still gasping for breath. I have had the wind knocked out of me on many occasions so I knew it would take a minute or two to catch my breath, but when five minutes went by and I still couldn’t suck in any substantial amount of air I was getting a little nervous. It didn’t help that three people were in my face asking if I was okay. I couldn’t get enough air to talk which was the scariest part. Not being able to talk for 10 seconds is torture for me. I would rather be water boarded than not be able to spew every thought in my head for five minutes. Since I couldn’t argue, being unable to speak and all, I was at the mercy of my family when they insisted that I go to urgent care to get an X-ray.

Luckily, I managed to worm my way out of actually seeing a doctor. One urgent care was closed and the other one didn’t have an X-ray machine (seriously!) so we headed home where I splayed my body on the couch with a bell while my family waited on me. I argued that even if I had fractured ribs there was nothing they could do anyway. I guess my husband figured if I was well enough to argue with him, I was well enough to carry on. I’m guessing I’ll discover some abnormality six months from now while getting a massage, which is the same way I found out I had a rib in my back that managed to flip over the wrong way and stick out under my arm. Until then, as long as I can get enough breath to keep ordering my family around, all is well.

**I wrote this while listening to the Beastie Boys takeover of XMU which is the best station to have on while driving around to urgent care centers!

Adventures on the High Seas (or something like that…)

It’s been awhile since I have written about our lake experiences. This isn’t because we haven’t had any, I have just been giving my dad a little break from the abuse I dish out when it comes to boat stories. But alas, there are too many stories to share about the captain and his high seas adventures, so my hiatus is over. If you are reading this, Old Man, just turn off the computer now and go back to watching ESPN or Sherlock Holmes, or anything else. Just avert your eyes from the screen if you can’t figure out how to turn off the computer. For future reference, you can just close the lid and this will all go away.

The first time I saw the boat this past summer it was being towed in by the neighbors. The same neighbors who come to the rescue every time we experience water related ineptness were pulling my dad’s boat as he sat on the bow. When they got close to shore the boat was cut loose and smoke billowed out behind it as my dad cranked on the engine to pull into the boat slip. The best part of this was that the lift sits too high in the water so he has to pull the boat in kind of fast or it doesn’t make it far enough onto the lift. It’s always an awkward maneuver the first few times each year and the smoking engine did not help matters. It literally looked like he was trying to jump the boat right over the dock as he pulled in. It was like a giant smoking cannon ball headed toward shore.

After the boat was successfully docked we realized that the company that had stored it all winter had either left it outside uncovered or had been allowing homeless people to sleep in it because the interior was filthy. Apparently “Skipper Bud” was smoking a lot of bud while caring for my dad’s boat. We had been informed that we couldn’t pick it up the week prior because they hadn’t done a final check on it yet. I guess they never got around to the final check or an initial check for that matter. Or maybe they were just too stoned to notice the smoke pouring out of the engine. It’s possible that they left the boat parked right in their driveway where we left it last fall, cashed my Dad’s check and immediately closed for the winter. Needless to say, we were all pretty annoyed as well as perplexed.

It took a few weeks to get someone to repair the boat properly and get us back on the water. But we finally did get back on the water, and every time out I looked forward to pulling back in to shore. This is because during every ride my jokes about my dad’s parking skills got better. I would like to say his parking skills got better as well, but they still remain questionable. Some of my better comments included:

“Maybe the 8 year old should give it a try. She can’t be much worse.”
“At least you didn’t hit the neighbors dock!”
“Maybe we should just leave it out here and swim back.”
“Your eyes are closed, aren’t they?”

It should be obvious to me by now why he tortures me with the work he asks for help with. I guess I would do the same if some little asshole kept terrorizing me. The difference is I would let that person know I was torturing them. He keeps trying to pass off all the work we do at the lake as bonding time. He says things like “if we didn’t have all this work to do, when would we spend this kind of time together?” I remind him that I’ll visit him plenty in the nursing home.

We took the boat back out of the water a few weeks ago along with the wave runners, the dock and the lifts. It was a two weekend process as usual and after doing the math, my husband and I discovered that we actually spent more time getting the boat in and out of the water than we did on the water this summer. This is not including the many joyous minutes of parking time spent drafting new material to poke at the Old Man. I would complain more but, but what can I say, I enjoy the bonding time.

I wrote this while listening to one of my all time favs!

One Track Heart

I love my father, but man is that Old Man stubborn. In his mind he is a young man and his body should be able to do what he wants it to do. But he is getting older and he really shouldn’t be doing a lot of the things he wants to keep doing by himself. He owns two homes and maintains two properties, cutting the grass every week at his house and at the lake house, bagging leaves at two houses in the fall, and caring for all of the other little things that come up. His motto is don’t pay someone else to do something you can do yourself. The problem is, he thinks he can do everything. A few weeks ago we took the boat out of the water and his brother helped, which was great. The problem is when you get these two brothers together, somehow the process of everything we are doing becomes twice as long. It’s like the two of them together creates a space time contingency where everything slows down.

We would normally have taken the dock apart and gotten the boat lift out of the water on the same day, but my mother-in-law was in town and we didn’t want to keep her waiting. Ironically, as soon as my husband and I walked into the house our daughter was mad that we returned so early because she wanted to play with Grandma alone. The weather was warm and it was a great day to be outside, so they spent the day playing in the yard.

The following weekend was not so nice. It was cold and windy, so naturally that was the best time to get the dock out of the water. My dad has three sets of waders just for this job. Two pair are more rubber and less fitted and one is like a scuba suit. I immediately grabbed the scuba suit and headed for the water. I’m no fool. My husband and dad were left with the rubber pants. I had worn these same rubber pants in the spring when we put the dock in the water, so I knew they were great for keeping you dry, but not very good at keeping you warm. Since my husband had only ever worn the scuba suit, he walked out barefoot in his bathing suit only to find the rubber booted waders waiting for him. Instead of putting his jeans and shoes back on, he threw the waders on and headed for the water where my dad was already trying to dismantle the dock by himself since he’s clearly a young, strong man who needs no help. 

We spent the next three hours hauling the dock and boat lift out of the water, where anything that could have gone wrong did. My husband was freezing and forming blisters on his feet, my scuba suit feet were flopping around in the water in front of me as I walked because the suit was made for someone at least a foot taller than me, and my dad was bleeding on his forearms after having the dock scrape him. At some point we also disrupted a bee hive between the rocks on the beach so we were being attacked by angry bees as we carried the dock out of the water. My mom was running around trying to bandage up my dad, kill the bees before we walked in with another piece of dock, and make sure that my dad was not over exerting himself. At one point she was even trying to help us pull the boat lift out of the water with the lawn mower, but she was nervous about giving it too much gas and knocking one of us down or pulling the lift into the wave runner lifts which were also lying on the beach. Putting a nervous older woman behind the wheel of anything is never a great idea. It’s an even worse idea when you have three idiots in rubber pants standing behind her yelling.

By the end of the day both my mom and my husband were looking up companies who could come out to take care of all of this work next year. Between the two of them I’ll be surprised if my dad doesn’t wake up one morning in the spring to find his dock and the lifts in the water, having been put there by people who actually know how to do this stuff.

It was a good thing that my mom was occupied on the third weekend we went out to finish up our lake winterization project. She probably would have had a heart attack watching my dad climb around on the boat lift like a monkey removing the canopy. My husband did his best to stay ahead of the old man with the ladders and tools, but peter pan moves pretty quickly and was standing on top of a ladder pulling at bungy chords and pushing the canopy off the side of the frame in no time. I was beginning to see why my mom is on high blood pressure medicine after that day.

My husband added up all the hours that we spent and decided that it was well worth the cost to pay someone else to do this next year. He told me all about it but I wasn’t really listening because I had been preoccupied for the last week and a half trying to get the videos on my phone onto my computer. I’m not great with technology, so things like this take me hours upon hours to resolve. When I was finally frustrated enough to throw my phone out the window, I asked my husband for help with tears in my eyes. He said “no problem Pat Jr. You realize I fix these types of problems at work for people all week right?” Oh crap. Just when I thought my biggest fear was turning into my mother, it’s not. It’s turning into my father and I already have.

Lake Life

The view is worth the work

My parents bought a house on a lake seven years ago. Each year we seem to spend a little more time out there and each year my dad somehow acquires more toys for the water. He started out with a couple of wave runners and started adding rafts he could pull behind the wave runners as my daughter got a little older. Then he finally bought himself a boat. And of course he had to buy a bigger raft to pull behind the boat. My mom acquires her own water toys yearly, mostly of the floating pineapple and alligator variety. It now takes about three hours to get all of the water toys ready for us to use for an hour. My dad actually pulls a cart behind his riding lawnmower stacked 6′ high with every type of flotation device imaginable. But we love it.

My dad and the seven year old are the only ones who drive the boat. My dad is the only one who parks the boat because getting it pulled onto the boat lift can be challenging. Sometimes it takes my dad a few efforts to get there. Because of this he usually loads up the boat with enough people and provisions to stay out on the lake for awhile.

The other day my parents had a party for the Fourth of July. All of my cousins and their kids were there and most of them wanted to go rafting. We jumped in the boat and took a bunch of the littles for a ride around the lake. We went around and around, trading places on the four person bouncing couch until I had a permanent kink in my neck and the youngest was ready to head to shore. When we pulled back in we pulled the boat up onto the lift but didn’t raise it, since we would be heading back out. It had been hard to push the boat off and the front end was far enough out of the water that it wasn’t going anywhere. Or so we thought… 

My dad and husband headed into the house for some food as all of the other adults hung around on the deck and in the yard. The kids all took off to play some lawn games and take a rest from being in the water. Ten minutes later I heard someone yelling “you’re losing your boat! Your boat is floating away!” I looked down to the water to see my dad’s boat bobbing in the water about fifteen feet from the dock. It was in between two docks headed right for a bunch of women and children floating around on their little blow up unicorns and flamingos. Luckily my parents’ neighbor and one of his friends were right there and were quickly pushing my dad’s boat back toward the lift. On a side note – I’m fairly convinced that my parents’ neighbor likes our family so much because we are always ready to turn him into the hero of the day. He is fairly consistently bailing us out of some lake dilemma.

Of course this happened when the two people who would know what to do were nowhere to be found. All of the other guys were not even wearing bathing suits and nobody who was outside could be of much help. So, it was apparently going to be up to me to get the boat back with the help of the neighbors. I ran into the water and started pulling the front of the boat onto the lift as the neighbor pushed from the back. Luckily the boat had just started floating away when they caught it so there wasn’t far to go, but we still had to get it back onto the lift.

Luckily the big guns were there. My family has been calling me “the big guns” for a year. I got the name when three guys were trying to push the boat onto the lift last year with little luck. I walked up and said “get out of the way and let the big guns get it” as they all laughed at me. They shut up a minute later when I successfully pulled the boat onto the lift from the front. Truth be told, my ass did most of the work. I pulled on the front of the boat while sitting down into the water. It just sounds a lot better to be called “big guns” than “big ass”.

On this day, we were pretty much in the same position as the day I got my nickname. And I got myself in the same position as before and pulled as I sat back into the water. My ass once again did the work and my arms got the credit. Sorry ass, that’s the way it goes. I was at the tail end of pulling the boat onto the lift when my dad walked out onto the dock after someone had told him what was going on outside. He got in the boat after we had it in position and raised it out of the water a little bit so it would stay secured.

When the littles came running back to the beach to go for another ride my dad suggested we take the wave runners and pull the smaller rafts. I thought it was a pretty good idea considering my guns were done for the day. The kids like the small rafts even more anyway since they fly all over the place and fall off. I opted not to drive for this round of rafting since I had already run into the neighbors’ dock the day before after not being able to find reverse. I have very much secured my position of brawn and not brains in this operation.

You would think that after seven years of part-time lake living we would all be a little better at it. To date we have almost sunk a boat, almost lost a boat, got a boat stuck on the lift, been unable to get a boat on the lift and I have crashed into two docks and run over my dad with a wave runner. Every time I am at the lake I feel a little bit like Eva Gabor in Green Acres, but somehow that water keeps luring me back.

In honor of my big Irish Catholic family I of course wrote this while listening to Dropkick Murphys