Tag Archives: not safe


The back door to the house I grew up in, swung out onto a set of narrow concrete steps. With no handrail, opening the storm door on a windy March day was like raising full sail in a hurricane. That was the kind of day my Dad called a “Winnie-The-Pooh-Day and the kind of day I called fun.

I'm Telling Mom!

I’m Telling Mom!

After the school bus dropped us off, I would convince one of my younger brothers to open the sail door first. With little brother flapping in midair, clinging to the tiny plastic handle and screaming how he was going to tell on me, I’d casually unlock the house.

After dropping my books on the floor of the hallway, I’d turn around and head back outside.

Slippery Slide

Slippery Slide

An orange rusted swing set stood a few feet from the back steps. The swings had long ago busted and been removed, but the metal slide still survived.Polished to a sheen with Mom’s precious waxed paper, it became a treacherous and savage ride.

Turns out, little brothers are also perfect for experimenting with the trajectory and uncertainty of a safe landing, depending on the number of bricks used to raise the end of the slide.

Now, where did that little brother disappear to?

Now, where did that little brother disappear to?

The frame of the swing-free swing set became my jungle gym. I started out stepping from the crossbar and grabbing the top pipe, then dropping to the ground, but progressed to hanging upside down by my knees. This was much more enjoyable when accompanied by Mom screaming through the kitchen window, ” Teresa Carol, you get down right now before you kill yourself!”

On one particularly daring day, I began to swing back and forth. The aroma of a slow-cooked pot roast wafted through the kitchen window and it guaranteed that it wouldn’t be long before I heard what I wanted.

“If you fall, I’m not taking you to the emergency room,” Mom shouted.

I waved and smiled.

Through the corroded window screen I saw her finger jab to my left, indicating a little boy with a broken arm. “I’ve already been twice this week from your brothers shooting off that slide!”

Not content with the amount of screaming coming from the kitchen window, I took a move from the Summer Olympics and decided to throw myself forward and land on my feet.

To my surprise, that is not what happened.

I fell flat on my back and, with a simultaneous thump and whoosh; all the air left my body. I tasted the tang of blood in my mouth and time slowed unbearably. Like I was underwater I heard Mom’s muffled howl, “Mike, save your sister!”

My older brother’s face appeared above mine.

I made note of the ha-ha-you-look-like-a-wide-mouth-bass-gasping-for-air smile on his face and vowed to pay him back…just as soon as I could get the oxygen to return to my burning lungs.

I should be able to tell you that it was the last time I ever tried that move. But, I’m a slow learner.

A Killer New Home

This new house of mine is trying to kill me, but I’m being stoic about it.

I  kept it together, through weeks and weeks of screaming and fights with my contractor, to turn this:
into this:

(Okay, maybe not I’m not being exactly stoic, as there were a few  tears the day I almost got killed from the broken gas line and yes, maybe I did tell the contractor to get the @#!$ off my property, but the point is, I survived that part.)

And I kept it together through the weeks and weeks it took me to get from this:
to this:

But, the morning after my return from England, this new house tried, once again, to do me in.

I awoke early, put the teakettle on and stepped outside on the deck to let the dog out. Rubbing my arms in the cool air, I took a stroll down the stairs to check out the grass we’d planted before we left.  It only took one step for my feet to fly up in front of me and then I’m doing a Winnie The Pooh down the stairs, bump, bump, bump, on the back of my head.

As I lay on the wet ground, my first thought was, “Uh oh. I hit my head.” My second thought was…well, I don’t think there was a second thought, just tears and sobbing — the big kind, where you can’t catch your breath and snot runs uncontrollably out of your nose and you don’t care. With my head resting on a patch of newly grown grass, I watched my un-Lassie-like dog wander happily around the backyard ignoring my pleas for help. I decided, at that very moment, I hated this new house – every unfinished inch of it.

When the damp ground began to seep through my sweater I thought it was time to assess the damage I’d done. I sat up, patted the back of my head and peaked at my fingers. I let out a sigh of relief when they came away free of blood. Not sure if I could, or  should, stand up, I contemplated my next move. Rubbing at the ache in my posterior I discovered I had my cell phone in the back pocket of my jeans. I dialed our home number (yes, I still have a home phone.) When my husband, John, answered, I burst back into my  hiccupping sobs.

“What? What is it? Where are you? What’s going on?”

“Fell,” I bawled.


“Outside,” I snuffled.

“Front or back?”


I’ve never been so happy to see his half-a-shaving-cream-covered face in my life. He helped me up and we worked our way back inside.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” he asked, stepping away from me to let our happy-go-lucky dog back into the house.

I ran into the guest bathroom and blubbered, “I’m fine,” before slamming the door.

I could go into great gushy details about how my husband coaxed me out and tucked me into bed with a nice hot cup of tea, but I won’t — because that’s not what happened. There is nothing more terrifying to my husband than a crying woman, so he returned to his sink to finish shaving.

A few minutes later, as I sat on the floor of the bathroom unrolling yards of toilet paper to keep up with my blubbering, I heard the whistle of the teakettle. Since I knew John would be protected from the kryptonite of my tears by the door, I continued with my mopping up efforts and the teapot screeched on.

Finally, Husband’s voice. “Teresa?”

Unable to answer, I blew my nose loudly.

A timid knock at the door and then he muttered, “Hey…ummmm…err…”

“Yes?” I asked, looking at the doorknob, willing it to turn.

“The teakettle is whistling.”

I will survive this new house, but right this moment, I’m not sure my husband will survive me.

Butter Gall

Butter Gall

I like to try new things and this week was no exception.

Okay, I really don’t like to try new things and this week was no exception.

My grandson and daughter-in-law invited my husband and I to go bowling.  Now, I’m no slouch at this game.  In fact, I recently beat my brother, Mike.  Did you get that, Mike?  I beat my older brother MIKE (that’s his name) at bowling.

We get our shoes and hurry to the lane.  My 9-year-old grandson is excited to get started and he throws his ball down the alley.

I’m up next.  I pause and align my feet with the appropriate arrows.  I move my ball into the optimal position and step forward.  Here’s where I tried something new.  Instead of just throwing the ball down the lane, I decide to try bowling my entire body.  I release the ball just one second late which causes me to step over the foul line where I instantly become Wile E. Coyote peddling my feet on the highly-buffed hardwood as if I’d just run off the edge of a cliff.

Observers tell me they thought for one moment I was going to save myself, but that was not the case.  SPLAT–I crash down on my tailbone and then fall back, hitting my head on the polished hardwood.  As I slowly glide, spreadeagled down the lane toward the pins, I think I hear my father’s loving voice from my childhood.  “Oh…honey…you know you’re not coordinated enough to play a sport.”

I make it to my hands and knees and crawl back to my seat.  I shake my head in attempt to bring the scoreboard into focus.  I think I see a 1 next to my name so, trying to pull some dignity out of the situation, I say, “Well, at least I didn’t throw a butter gall.”  I look around at the six people staring back at me, blink my eyes until they return to the original three people and say “Ha, ha.  Butter Gall?  I meant to say Butter Gall.  Wait, that’s not right.”  I struggle to figure out what order the letters should go in.

Just as my daughter-in-law suggests an emergency room visit I come up with the right words.  “Gutter Ball!” I shout.  “At least I didn’t throw a gutter ball!”

Unfortunately, I can’t say that for much of rest of the game, ending with a pitiful score somewhere under 50.

The good news is – there’s nothing funnier to a nine-year-old boy than watching an adult slip and fall.  Right now, my grandson thinks I’m hilarious.

Unsafe at Any Speed

At lunch today my husband and I talked about our first cars. His was a 1948 Chevy.

Knowing that he is not all that mechanical, my first question was, “How did you keep it running?”

“It never broke down,” he said.

Now, that’s just not right.

Growing up, I don’t remember a single car we possessed that didn’t break down. My earliest memory is of sitting next to Dad as we careened down a steep hill, all the while he was frantically trying to re-attach the steering wheel to the column.

Dad owned clunkers where the engine literally dropped out on the road as we were driving or overheated at the slightest incline. (One time I watched Dad resolve the problem by pouring a can of cola into the radiator, but that’s another story.) We once spent an entire month camping in the mountains because the car broke down as we pulled in the campground and we had no transportation, or money, to drive down to get a new part.

I remember riding with my older sister in the first car Dad bought for her. We were sitting at a stoplight. People started pointing and shouting and it took us a while to realize the car was on fire. In our defense the car had the engine in the rear, so it wouldn’t have been immediately obvious to us.  I mean, we didn’t have the radio cranked all the way up and we weren’t fighting over the rearview mirror to check our hair and make-up, if that’s what you’re thinking.

So, my first car was a slightly burnt, hand-me-down from my sister (as were all my clothes by the way – I mean they were hand-me-downs, not burnt – that would be weird.)

One problem was the heater. Heat was conveyed to the interior of the car by a system of ducts connected to the cylinder head. I don’t know much about cars, but I do know I often arrived at school slightly dizzy from inhaling exhaust fumes.

There was also no Park. The display read “R-N-D-L”. No “P.” I’m sure that originally the manufacturer installed some sort of system whereby the car stayed where you parked it but by the time it reached me, that portion of the car was no longer working. My only option was to find a level place to park. In my first week of driving I often came out of school to discover the car had rolled across the parking lot, jumped the curb and sat sweetly in the grass.

On a morning drive to school my love/hate meter shot from one side to the other several times.

“I love this car,” I’d say if I was lucky enough to get it started and out the drive. My love continued unabated, until I hit a bump.

“I hate this stupid car,” I’d yell when the motor shut off. As the car rolled onward I screamed and cursed it, until I’d hit another bump, which caused the motor to engage and I’d make my panicked way to school with the needle on my love/hate meter jumping wildly.

My first car?  It was a Corvair. The car declared by Ralph Nader to be”Unsafe at Any Speed.”

I have to agree with Ralph.

LOOK (out for the) FIREWORKS!

Current Safety Checklist for Fourth of July vs. Crazie Town’s Safety Checklist:

1.  Store your fireworks safely, in a closed box, out of the reach of children, until the time they are needed.  Locked away is best.

1.  Store your fireworks in a highly flamable paper bag.  Make certain the sack contains matches and punks for proper ignition.

2.  Buy fireworks from a reputable source.  Always read and follow directions on the label.

2.  Go to cheapest possible firework stand in order to purchase as many off brand firecrackers as possible.  Rip label from package prior to reading.

3.  Use good common sense.  Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.

3.  Throw all caution to the wind.  A couple of sips from your uncle’s beer will help loosen you up.

4.  Young children under the age of 18 are never to be permitted to use fireworks!

4.  Toddlers are permitted to walk around holding lit punks and light smoke bombs.  3-6 year olds are allowed packages of ladyfingers and a book of matches to light their own punks and the toddler’s, as needed.  Anyone over the age of 6 is allowed free reign to discover the power of any explosive.

5.  Never point or throw fireworks at another person.  Remember, an adult is always to be present when fireworks are used.

5.  Toss fireworks at other people, preferrable little sisters.  The best time to start shooting fireworks is when your mother has gone in the house to take a nap.

6.  Never light more than one item at a time.

6.  Gather large quantities of firecrackers into a pile, possibly adding gasoline or some other combustable liquid to increase ignition.

7.  Never experiment with your fireworks by making your own or adding anything to the manufactured ones.

7.  Instruct your little sister to remove the wrapper from as many firecrackers as possible, dumping the gunpowder into a tin can.  Keep a burning punk nearby for ease of use.

8.  High winds will affect the quality of your display and may create a hazard.

8.  Do not allow any adverse weather conditions to prevent the display from occuring.  If high winds cause matches to blow out, borrow your dad’s cigar.  Make certain to puff on cigar between explosions to keep it lit.

9.  Never go back to see a firework once it has been lit.

9.  If, after 1-2 seconds, your firecracker has not exploded, return to see what’s going on.  It is impossible to see if the fuse is burning unless you squat down and observe it closely.

10.  Keep audience at least 100-200 yards back from the larger displays.

10.  Set up large comets, flying saucers and pinwheels within 20 yards of onlookers.  This allows for audience participation as they dive behind trees and bushes to avoid flaming discs headed their way.

ENJOY YOUR FOURTH OF JULY – Safely, of course.


Teresa, Mayor – Crazie Town.