Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dam Breaking: Walk Softly and Carry a Big Stick

And then get the *fuck* out of the way!

It all started innocently enough. Late last week Raj and I were waddling around in snow shoes after getting about a foot in the last storm.  Raj dug paths from the Coal Room to two of The Bahn stalls while I worked on getting the trash and recycling cans out from under a snow pile nearly as tall as I am.  The sun was out and while there was no Magic in the air, there was plenty on the ground - and the roof.  Raj went around back to dig out the French Room doors and I picked up the Roof Scraper and marched over to the front of The Fahm to deal with the dams and ice pickles and bergs and whatnot.
The Fahm, last winter: no damn dams.
The Roof Scraper - custom made by Frank Polch - is a very, very long branch with a hoe head fastened to the branch with wire.  To think of it as unwieldy is to give it way too much credit; it is downright floppy which added a note of impending disaster to the experience. Hoisting the tool above my head, I maneuvered it uncertainly toward the roof.  Like so many things here at The Fahm, scraping the roof is really, really hard don't make me do it again but I floundered boldly ahead, triceps screaming.

I managed a half-assed job of snow scrapery before turning my attention to ice cycle removal. Raising my wobbly stick overhead, I tapped gently on the largest berg, testing it. Nothing.  Tap.  Tap.  Tap. With a great roar and a deafening crash, the monster fell with surprising speed and force.  I slowly worked my way across the front of The Fahm thusly, tap tap tapping until disaster struck.

One minute I was innocently tap tap tapping and the next thing I knew I was was under attack.
Hoth asteroid field
I had dislodged a huge ice cycle, easily two feet wide at the top and about four feet long from which many other smaller cycles sprung, and I got hit by a softball-sized chunk on the rebound.  Ice doesn't bounce per se but it sure does fly - and it did, right into my jaw.  I was stunned by the violence, followed by the immediate certainty that Mike Tyson couldn't hit me in the face any harder than that iceteroid new word had. At first I thought my jaw was broken, then that fear subsided into 'knowing' that only a couple of teeth were loose.  

The iceberg struck so quickly that apparently my only defensive maneuver was to turn my head ever so slightly to the right, and lift my chin.  "Are you OKAY?" shouted Raj from across the yard; "I got HURT," I said, indignantly.  Then my face *really* started to ache and sting, so I dropped the roof scraper and stumbled toward the Coal Room where Raj caught up with me, and checked the damage.  "I don't LIKE this," I howled, before plopping down in the snow and bursting into tears.  "Is it BLEEDING?"

Raj helped me into the Coal Room, gently removing my snowshoes and untying my boots before helping me up the stairs into the kitchen.  "Is it BLEEDING?" I asked again, "Does it need STITCHES?" "Is it BLEEDING?" Raj wasn't sure how to tell if the cut needed stitches so I asked him if the cut made him sick to look at. "No," he answered uncertainly.  "Well, if it doesn't make you sick to look at, I probably don't need stitches," was my expert conclusion.

By this time it was well-established that the largest of the gashes was indeed bleeding so I put a paper towel over an ice pack and slumped in my chair, sniffling at my sad, sad plight.  "I don't think I'll knock those ice cycles around again," I whimpered. "Or if I do, I am going to stand far, far away..."  The kitchen grew quiet except for the crackling of the fire and my sniffles and gulps.  "I took one for the team, huh?" I asked Raj a moment later, "Just like Big Baby does for the Celtics, huh?" Raj laughed and said in perfect commiseration "You sure DID!"

In the end, no jaw was broken, no teeth were loosened, no stitches were required.  I have only a few gashes on my chin and some bruises. As my physical therapist noted, "It could have been worse - it hit you awfully close to the jugular!" "Yeah!  You could have been IMPALED!" added someone else. 

Note to self: Ice moves fast and hits hard. Walk softly, carry a big stick, and then get the *fuck* out of the way.