Sunday, February 24, 2008

Amish Snow Tires

We've had plenty of "wintery mix" recently in suburban Washington, DC. Nearly two weeks ago, all three routes to our house were blocked by police cruisers with flashing lights because of accidents on the overpasses. I was trying to drive our grandson home from school, but kept having to turn around. I thought we'd never get there, until I found a route that went under, rather than over, the railroad.

We have a cabin in Knox County, Ohio. Increasing numbers of Amish are moving into Knox County. In fact, our cabin was built by Amish labor about three years ago. According to a local history buff, who is also our neighbor and good friend, Holmes County, which is adjacent to Knox, has a larger Amish population than Lancaster County, PA. So I asked him how the Amish cope with icy conditions when traveling by horse and buggy.

Our friend responded that tungsten carbide particles embedded in the horseshoe provide traction on icy roads. However, tungsten carbide is an abrasive, which wears ruts in the middle of the lane, ruts that do not fit the "track" (inter-tire width) of the cars driven by the "English." These ruts cause cars to swerve when the roads are wet. People complain that the Amish " don't pay gasoline taxes, but they're ruining our roads." In defense of the old-order Amish, our friend pointed out that they DO pay real-estate taxes. Although a large percentage of their income goes for real estate taxes, the Amish operate their own schools.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Keepin' 'Em in Stitches

"What a coincidence!"

My husband-the-mathematician is still marveling at it. Whatever.

Last Saturday, we had three dogs at our house: ours and two visitors. We had Arlo, our elderly, but fiercely territorial beagle; Violet, a sweet, somewhat timid dog that belongs to our older daughter's family; and Ramsey, the pit bull that belongs to our younger daughter and her husband. The pack leader, aka my husband, was on the porch. The dogs were lovingly watching his every move through the glass storm door. The mailman arrived, setting off a flurry of fearsome barking, scuffling, snapping, and snarling. Husband to the rescue. He came in and dived at the dogs. He didn't know who was attacking whom as he tried to separate the battling beasts. Somehow he slipped on the tile floor and banged his head on a sharp corner. Blood everywhere! He was sure that one dog had bitten another until I noticed blood gushing from a wound on top of his head. So it was off to the walk-in clinic, with me driving, him pressing one of his gym towels to his bleeding head. Wouldn't you know it? We ended up behind a real slow poke during the 4-mile drive. We also had to stop while some guy in an enormous pick-up made several attempts to back his monster into a tiny driveway. Finally, the clinic!

Guess who was there already. Our grandson, Andrew, and his dad! Andrew, the one who had opened up a gash on the back of his head at school 10 days before.

Andrew had come to get his stitches out the very same day, the very same time, that Grandpa came to get his put in. Grandpa thought that was such a cool coincidence! After a nurse exchanged his blood-soaked towel for a wad of sterile gauze, we settled down for a two-hour wait in a room full of flu cases. Andrew's dad brought in milkshakes from the Chick-Fil-A next door.

In due time, they put Grandpa in a cubicle and stitched him up. Seven stitches. Andrew had gotten only three. They put a dressing on the top of his head and held it in place with a stretchy band. He looked a little like an Islamic fundamentalist except for for a wild tuft of hair sticking straight up from the improvised cap. He got more than a few grins as we left the clinic.

Friday, February 8, 2008

True Confessions

Our five-year-old grandson fell backwards at school on Monday, opening a gash on the back of his head. My son-in-law took him to a walk-in clinic, thinking things would move faster than at the emergency room. They said, "Two hours." So Son-in-Law asked me to bring some books and toys. By the time I arrived, Andrew was already in a cubicle, screaming as two nurses tried to snip away some hair. He calmed down as soon as they left. An hour or so later, the doctor came in to stitch up the wound. Two nurses and one father were needed to hold the kicking and crying patient still. The nurse said soothingly, "You're being so brave."

Andrew set her straight. "No, no! I am NOT brave!" he wailed.