December 27, 2013

Mick Mouse

Mick Mouse

Here I sit at my kitchen table.  I am recuperating from back surgery.  I had L4/L5 fused together.  The surgery was required due to my back wearing out.  It wasn’t from some childhood injury or a car accident.  It easily could have been from a myriad of bad choices or simply not thinking as a kid and young adult.

This story was prompted by watching an episode of “Ridiculousness” last night with my daughter and wife.  For those of you that don’t know the show, it is a conglomerate of videos from You tube of absolutely idiotic and dangerous things folks have taped and placed on the internet.  Many of the people in the show have to have been seriously injured but the show’s editors chose to leave that out.

My youth was one non-stop episode from this television show.  I was from a family of 6 kids.  Being the only male my mother worried less about me.  My father died when I was 10 years old and I was basically without adult supervision from age 10 until I was 20 years old and went in the Army.

Some of my less than stellar decisions as a kid I blame on stupidity and others I rack up to “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  If there are any kids reading this story please heed my tales of misfortune and don’t try to repeat them.

I am going to begin my wayward trek with just a plain and simple accident.  It was the first day the swimming pool was open in Gays Mills.  I guess June 14th 1968 as the day.  It was a day after my birthday and I was on the way to the pool sporting a new huge bath towel and my blinged out new Green Bay Packers flip flops.  

 The spring floods had shifted the small bridge at the base of the hill just before the pool and there was not a route up the hill without wading across the small creek.   I didn’t want to dirty my new packer flip flops before I could show them off at the pool.  I decided I would crawl up on the rail and balance on it and walk across and jump off the rail at the end to avoid the water.  It all worked out as planned.  I made one mighty jump at the end to clear the water.  I stuck the landing.  I was a little proud of myself for the feat.  

Off I went to the pool. I took one step forward with my left foot and tried an accompanying right step but my right foot wouldn’t move.  It was like it was cemented to the ground.  I knelt forward to examine what was going on. 

 I saw a sharp thing protruding from the center of the top of my right foot.  I tipped my foot to the side and then the pain hit me.  I had jumped off that rail on top of another piece of 2X4 that was about 4 feet long.  The board had a giant nail in it and it was now completely through my entire foot.  My first impulse was to try to pull it off but that wasn’t happening.  No one was at the pool.  I wanted to be first there and was way early. 

 I limped home 12 blocks with that board welded to my foot.  A fast trip to the ER and a tetanus shot I was good to go.  My new flip flops had to be cut off to extract the nail and my new beach towel was a mess due to bleeding all 12 blocks home.  The horror stories keep on rolling throughout my youth.

Fall came quickly and that meant going to the dump to search for treasure with my good friend John.  The treasure hunt was less than stellar that day and we decided to get a 55 gallon drum and fill it with magazines and see what we could melt in there with our raging inferno.  It was amazing at what would melt if we got the fire burning hot enough.  That grew boring quite quickly so we decided to throw in aerosol cans.  We took turns throwing them in and running like crazy to get away from the potential missile or grenade effect. Some of those paint spray cans really rocked the surroundings dump and woods when they exploded; it was like WWII. 

 Our 11 year old brains obviously didn’t register the real danger we were putting ourselves into.   Some of the hair spray cans that were full really shot up high in the air before exploding.  It was my turn and I had found an almost full Aquanet can and I bragged to John that I bet this would be the best yet.

John got extra far away from the burning barrel and hid behind an old junk car.  I tossed the can in and hauled butt to my area of cover.  I did not make it there.  I saw a fireball go directly in front of my eyes and a giant explosion just 20 feet from me.  John ran to me and was frantic and asked me if I was ok?  I didn’t know what all the fuss was about until John told me what he saw.

The Aquanet can came out of the fire almost as fast as I threw it in and came screaming out of the inferno right at my head like a guided missile.  He was certain it had hit me in the head.  We did a check of my head for injuries.  Both of my eyebrows and eye lashes were burnt off.  That missile had missed my head by literally an eye lash.  John and I swore each other to secrecy and moved on with our less than brilliant childhoods. 

Spring came quickly and so did my stupidity.  Another friend of mine and I hung out a lot when we were young.   I am going to leave his name out of the story because it might embarrass him.  We were at the playground in Gays Mills.  The regular playground equipment grew boring really quickly so we moved back towards the river and swamp behind the playground.  All of you know what a telephone pole looks likes.  Some of them have a metal cable that anchors them in place.  It runs from the ground to the top of the pole at an angle and is secured to the ground with a metal spike and to the top of the pole with a loop.  This cable was not tight like typical cables are.  It had some slack in it.  I was the first to swing around on it like “George in the Jungle.”

  That was a popular cartoon during those times.  My friend and I always had a friendly competition going on about almost everything and this was no different so we tried to see who could swing more times around the cable.  I was a really scrawny kid.  My buddy was a little heavier and a little stronger than me and typically won most of our competitions.  I was watching him spin around the cable and he was claiming his championship of the “George of the Jungle” when it happened.

Because he was just a little heavier than I was, he caused the cable to swing wider and the cable touched the 2 leads of the transformer on the top of the pole.  What happened next was surreal.  The cable touching the transformer caused what looked like a lightning bolt of blue and yellow to travel down the cable.  It happened so quickly my friend was unable to let go.  His body straightened out like a board and he was thrown 20 feet. 

 The sparks were flying at the top of the pole and the transformer exploded.  Sparks were raining down on both of us and I was scared for my friend.  I went to see if I could help him.  Before I could get to him he popped up off the ground and ran home at Mach 12.

I later learned that he was not killed because of the giant amount of power that came down that wire caused him to be thrown free instead of locking him in place and him being another statistic. I am very glad that I did not win that George of the Jungle competition that day. 

Then there was the “Mad Bomber” hat.  I saw some older kid have one and I had to have one and begged almost a year for it.   My mom finally gave in and bought one for me Christmas.  It was rabbit fur lined.  It looked kind a like a Russian military hat. You could fold the ear flaps up. It depended on how warm of a day it was.  It was a warm December day so I folded up the ear flaps and clipped them above my head.  Off I went to my favorite fishing place and was casting away.  This is where the story gets a little dicey.  I don’t remember any of it.  From what the doctor told me I gleaned I was a very lucky young man.

A semi-truck had driven by where I was fishing and a rock had squirted out the side of the tire as it ran over it.  The rock catapulted at me.  My back was turned facing the water.   The small rock hit me in the back of the head and knocked me out.  The next driver by saw me in a heap and called for help.  If I had not folded up that cap and gave myself a double layer of protection that day, I would have died from the blow to the head. If I had fished with no hat I would be dead also.  If I had fallen forward not to the side when I was out cold I would have fallen in the Kickapoo River and drown that day.

There have been lots of close calls for me through my life.  Some involved bees.  Other involved being submerged in a full septic tank.  There was a couple throwing bottles at signs incidents that required sutures.  I will leave you with the last less than intelligent choice I can remember.

I was home on leave from the Army.  It was my first leave after basic training.  I was lean and mean and full of myself.  My brother in law Dennis and I went out celebrating.  It was 3am in the morning and I decided I wanted to take a swim at the local dam. I took off my glasses and new Mickey Mouse watch and took my wallet out of my pocket and placed them on the flood gate.  

 Dennis didn’t swim so he watched from above the dam.  Dennis was actually terrified of water so I was messing with him.  The dam in Gays Mills has taken a few lives in its day when the water was high.  This time it was as low as I had ever seen it.  As a young whipper snapper I had slid off the dam many times.  There is a proper way to slide off and then there is the head first way.  Head first usually meant you were knocked out and a dirt nap followed very shortly.

I decided to tease Dennis and hid in an area he couldn’t see me just mess with him.  He yelled for me a couple times and I did not respond.  The neighbors must have been woken up by my yelling and Dennis yelling and me not responding.   The next thing I knew the Sheriff’s Department and Rescue Squad arrived.  I scurried up the flood gate to put my glasses on and retrieve my watch and wallet.  All were gone.  In Dennis’ frantic search for me he had kicked them in the water and they were long gone.  We explained to the police what was going on and later that week I received a huge bill for the police and rescue being called out at 3am.  Before I left to Germany on my first assignment, I stopped at the store and bought another Mick Mouse watch.  I got my new glasses the day before I shipped out.

December 26, 2013

Winter's Grasp

this mighty oak stands dormant awaiting the spring to restore it to its summer splendor.


“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.”

- Marcus Aurelius

Back pain kicked me out of bed today at 3:51am.  Is not where I had surgery.  It is center back between shoulder blades.  Took a couple pain pills and I seem to be ok now.

When you arise in the morning, think of what a
precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think,
to enjoy, to love.
- Marcus Aurelius

December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas To ALL

Woke up this morning from a full 9 hours of sleep.

I have not slept that long in one stretch for 10 years.

Got out bed and my lower back where I had surgery two weeks

ago seemed like it was doing fine.

Got up and wandered a little and I was then reminded that I

have three other degenerative discs in my back.

The one in the middle back obviously didn't like me sleeping so long.

Headed to Grandma's house in a couple hours to see all the little

Harris offspring I haven't seen in a year.  I love seeing how much they have grown.

Dear Santa,

While I am gone in Gays Mills please wrap me up a new left knee and a new disc for the one in my middle back that is obviously worn out too.

PS:  I stepped on the scale this morning to see how my diet is going and it finally stopped saying "OUCH" when I stepped on and it gave me a weight that I haven't seen in over 13 years.  I have lost 30 pounds from since my surgery.  Cutting calories is all I have been doing.  Exercise is not recommended for 6 months until my fusion takes hold. 

December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas To The Real Heroes Out There!

My real heroes are not football stars or the president or some smart guy that invented some computer gadget and will make millions.

My heroes are the soldiers out there keeping our world safe.  They are the firefighters that charge in to a blazing home to save a life.  A hero is that cop that drives around your quiet sleepy town all night keeping that town quiet and sleepy.

I was a cop for 24 years and I don't miss it for a second. I still have nightmares of traffic accidents and domestic situations and having my head used as a drum with a 2 foot long metal mag light and and a 25 pound wooden cribbage board with wooden pegs tooth picks pasted in to it to make it like a medieval club.

I had a bad nightmare last night. I was going to a silent alarm at a residence on back roads. I was not over driving my car and half way there I hit a black ice patch and went backwards going 90 plus miles an hour. Some how the car corrected itself and I was going straight and on the way to the call again. The really odd part of that dream is it was an actual event that happened to me about this time of the year in 1993. I have quite a few of these type of nightmares and most originate from real incidents I was involved in.

I called dispatched and told them I had auto problems and was not going to be able to continue to the call. Three other squads were en route to the call and were much closer so I didn't feel bad sitting there for 5 minutes while my pulse was racing and my heart was about to explode out of my chest. I was just about to call in and say my car problems were fixed and I was back on the call when dispatch informed all the squads to disregard due to an alarm malfunction. This home had a poor alarm system and gave off break in calls at least once a week.

This malfunction was caused by a christmas tree being too close to the window and causing the window to rattle when the forced air heat kicked in and blew the tree against the window and caused the alarm to sound.

Every time I hear the statement: "Where is a cop when you really need them." I grimace and think...."Going 90 miles an hour backwards to a call and by the grace of god they weren't in an accident and wrapped around a tree."

My career choices through life have been poor at best.

I am glad I am still alive.

Being a cop/firefighter/solider are the hardest jobs in the world. They don't get paid near enough and are heroes in my book. I smile and wave at every cop I see and thank my lucky stars I am not one anymore.

Today is my first day back due to back surgery on December 3rd at my very part time job I have had for 5.5 years. The stairs were a little harder to climb this morning at 4am when I check the residents but there were no mag lights or speeding squads involved this morning.

I am a case manager at 2 halfway houses here in Richland Center.

A much easier job than my original career path.

Merry Christmas to all you hard working firefighters/cops/soldiers out there and be safe out there and I respect you for a job well done.

December 22, 2013


The only thing I like about snow is when it starts melting.  That signifies that trout season will soon open or is already open.

This will change in 2015 or 2016.  My sources say season will once again open January 01 and all anglers will be allowed to fish because the live bait restriction will also be removed.