#010 - THE RIGHT TO DIE, STUPIDLY, PART DEUX
First, there's anything to do with a horse. Let's face it, just being around a 1400 lb animal is dangerous, even if it is an herbivore. If you're on the ground, a lot of horses don't understand that you don't weigh the same as them, and you can't take the same punishment. Like, when they stand on your foot. Like, when they kick or bite you. Ok, this doesn't happen to me a lot - having gained at least some wisdom in my last 10 years with horses - but it does happen. Then there's getting on the horse, which can break you, even if you aren't moving fast. Like when my new joust horses crushed a vertebrae of mine by bucking me off at a standstill.
Next, there's the specific things I do on a horse. Fox hunting (that is, galloping a horse over an open field while drinking) is usually considered the safest. Jousting (that is, intentially running your horse at another horse, both riders pointing lances at each other) is usually considered the most dangerous.
Before I had horses, there was what is now trendily called Western European Martial Arts. That's a fancy way of saying hacking at each other with great heavy swords. Then there's fencing, or rapier combat. That's a fancy way of saying hacking at each other with much prettier and lighter swords.
Getting away from horses and fighting, there's the whole new scuba thing. This is the hobby where you can drown. Then there's bungee jumping and rappelling. Ok, these aren't "hobbies", per se, but I have done them both, more than once.
So what's the most dangerous thing I do?
The renovations I'm doing in the barn involve power tools. Now, I know how to use a lance competently. I've never seriously hurt myself or anyone else with a lance. (A young man named Pieter might disagree, but that wasn't my fault.) I haven't really done the scuba thing for long, but I've never come even remotely close to losing consciousness (even when holding my breathe for as long as they said it would take to pass out), let alone drowning. Everything I do, I seem to be properly trained in, or inherently understand the dangers that lie therein. Or perhaps I'm just really really lucky.
Except with power tools.
I have a sign that was tacked up in my old workshop.
It hasn't been up since I moved to the farm two years ago.
It's time for it to go up.
The sign says:
"Tie your hair back, Stupid.
I have long hair. Kinda goes with the whole "knight in shining armour thing". A few years back, I was working on a wire wheel attached to a bench grinder. Leaned over. Yeah, you can guess what happens next. (Hey, I'm not here to create complex plot twists.) The hair catches, wraps around the spindle, and lifts the grinder up into my head, and jams against my face. Well, at least the off switch was conveniently resting right in front of my nose.
Something about the way I whimpered loudly, so as to be heard upstairs, "Stephanie, could you give me some help down here?" instilled panic in my partner. Perhaps it was the fact that I had never ever asked for help before in my entire life, even when I should have. Well, I survived the injury, Stephanie survived the trauma (after all, she did most of the extraction work), and the grinder survived to inflict yet another injury.
Don't stick your finger in the grinder. Yes, you may have turned it off, but it's still moving quickly, and when you touch it (especially in just the right place) it pulls your finger into the guard. Then it stops quite quickly, but it uses most of the skin from you finger to do it.
That brings us up to date, until this past weekend. In my defence, I was wearing a hat. After all, it's an extraordinarily cold fall in southern Ontario this year. I assumed that the "tie your hair back" would be covered off by the wearing of a hat. I was, as often happens, woefully wrong.
I hit a nail while drilling a hole. That in itself was annoying, but not dangerous. What was dangerous was the fact that it dulled the drill bit so much, that I had to lean my body into drilling the next hole to any significant headway. I had to really lean. Really, really lean. In retrospect, lean perilously close to the drill bit.
Seeing (and feeling) the drill come to rest on my face was a surreal bit of "deja vu". Stephanie, however, was off the hook this time. After all, I am smart enough to have the key for the drill chuck attached to the drill. Calmly pull on the cord until you can reach the extension cord and unplug the behemoth. Calmly take the key and remove the drill from the drill bit that is stuck securely in the wall. Calmly unwind the hair from the aforementioned stuck-in-the-wall drill bit. Calmly, you realize you are free. Absolutely free and clear, with no help whatsover. And no one the wiser. Well, except for the blood everywhere.
There's a really good jousting story going around right now, to explain the massive abrasions and fat lip I have today.
After all, who'd believe the truth?
14 October 2009