Sunday, April 15, 2018


 eerie dawn on Sunday

I've done a helluva lot of stupid things in my time - more than I'd ever want to divulge to an innocent and unsuspecting public. Sometimes I've done insanely stupid things. Occasionally I do beyond insanely stupid things.

Tonight (actually last night) I had one of my beyond insane moments. My stupidity even baffled myself.

First of all, rural Tennessee had fantastic weather for the past two days. Thursday and Friday were near perfect: sunny, low humidity, in the 70's (that's Fahrenheit, for those of you in Antwerp). I savored every moment because I knew it wouldn't last. I'd be pressing my luck to the limit if I thought we'd ever get three good days.

Sure enough, the rain began on Friday night and continued all day Saturday without letup. As usual, everything immediately got sopped, soggy, and incredibly muddy.

I was worried about getting my mail.
That's right. My mail.

I think I've already explained (in a previous post) that my mailbox is infuriatingly far away from my house. You need pack mules and hiking gear to get there.

But the hike isn't the problem. The problem is that the latch on my mailbox doesn't work properly, so the door always falls open and all my mail inevitably gets completely drenched. The other day I got some letters that were so soaked I could hardly read them. I tried to salvage them with a hairdryer.

So why don't you fix the latch, Jon?

I tried fixing it, but nothing worked.
I attempted to buy a new one but the latch I found at the hardware store was nearly $30 and didn't look like it would fit.

Hey, for thirty bucks I could eat for three weeks. Or buy a year's supply of clothing at Walmart.

Don't laugh. It ain't funny being poor.

Why don't you buy a new mailbox, Jon?

I will, Kemosabe, as soon as I win the lottery. Now keep your damn suggestions to yourself. You're ruining my good story.

The rain continued after dark. It poured until long after midnight.
Then - - -
for a few blessedly glorious and intensely rare moments the rain let up.
It showered. Then drizzled. Then stopped.

In a hasty and hysterical moment of profoundly irrational judgement I said to myself:

"Holy shit, Jon - if you hurry like hell you might be able to make it to the mailbox before the rain resumes!"

I didn't care if it was after midnight. I was ready to go!
I put on my boots and hat, grabbed a flashlight, and zoomed out the door.

Well, it wasn't exactly a "zoom". I just threw that in for cheap literary effect.

I wasn't about to walk there. This place can scare the jeeters out of you even in the daylight. I had to take the car.

To make a long story short (which at this point is a complete impossibility),
I safely reached the mailbox. Of course, it was wide open. And all my mail was thoroughly drenched.

As I plopped the pasty layers of postal pulp down on the seat next to me, it started pouring rain again.

I could hardly see to drive back, and as I tried to make my way up the steep hill that leads to my house the inevitable happened: I got stuck in the mud.

It's happened to me many times before but I always managed to get out. This time I was really stuck and every maneuver was futile.

 This is the good, safe part of the trail up by my house. I got stuck in the mud way down in the dark part (photo taken with camera flash)

  I remembered hearing (somewhere) that if your car is ever stuck in the mud
1. don't panic
2. don't press your foot down on the accelerator.

I panicked. I pressed the living hell out of the accelerator - while the wheels screeched and spun and the car was enshrouded in billowing clouds of smoke and splattered with mud.

In exasperation I opened the door and got out. As I sunk into mud nearly up to my knees, the car started rolling backwards down the hill! I stopped it just in time and frantically turned the steering wheel to steady the roving tires.
I could go in reverse but not forward.

I decided that I only had two alternatives:
1. Leave the car there until it stopped raining and things dried out (which probably wouldn't happen until some time in late August)
2. Get some traction.

What could I use? Cat litter?
Naw, the cats need it more than the car.

Then I thought of cardboard. There was plenty of it in the garage.

I slipped and slid my way through the mud back to the house in the torrential rain. Got cardboard from the garage. Trudged back to the car and placed it in front of the tires.

 Remnants of the soaked cardboard afterwards

After a few more frantic moments of muddy immobility I finally achieved SUCCESS!!! 
I was able (with difficulty) to get the car back to the house! Or nearly back to the house.

There's more to this after-midnight nightmare - -
like the large owl that was continually harassing me from a nearby tree while I was stuck in the mud...
.....and how I slipped all the way down an embankment on my way to the garage.....

but I've supplied you with enough information to envision my miserable plight.

The only thing I'll add is that it's now Sunday afternoon as I write this - -
and still pouring rain.


  1. Hi Jon: On a risk assessment basis, that was pretty hairy. It could only be bettered, if beer had been consumed before attempting it! Say nothing that would incriminate yourself. Try to stay safe. MaggieB

    1. My intuition told me to stay home and forget about the mail. My renegade side told me to go for it. Unfortunately, I always enjoy taking a risk....

      Safe?? I haven't felt safe since I left California. Texas and Tennessee have nearly killed me.

  2. I would have said screw it, came back in the house and had a gin and tonic.

    Same goes for snow when you stuck. People here will spin there wheels and hit the gas in panic instead of letting up on the gas. The gas petal that is.

    1. I have an incredible knack for doing foolish things. It's a gift (and it has gotten me into trouble thousands of times...)

      Next time I get stuck in the mud I'll utilize traction instead of panic (I hope).

  3. glad the cardboard and your own ingenuity helped your dilema. the only thing that would have been worse than mud would have been sand. i once got stuck in it and had to wait for the kindness of strangers to get me out.

    1. If it wasn't for the cardboard, I think my car would still be stuck there. I've never been stuck in sand before, but that sounds even worse than mud.

  4. Were you born on Friday 13th? What can I say Jon you have more bad luck then anyone I know.

    1. I always jokingly say that I was cursed - but I'm beginning to think it's true.
      I WAS born on the 13th, but it was on a Thursday, not a Friday.

  5. Oh Jon, I commiserate but only to a daylight degree. 30 years ago, Norma was driving the kids to school and got stuck crossing a bit of property that someone --I'm not naming names here-- failed to spread with gravel. I pried and pushed but finally called AAA to send a tow-truck out with a wench. Problem solved. Then I headed off to work, where a forklift was setting up a grandstand but stuck up to its axles when I arrived. I went to my fieldhouse and emerged with a 1958 Ford tractor and the heftiest chain I had. Pulled that giant out of the quicksand our athletic field became in the rain. Ok, can't recall what it was I was getting at but...Karma, some damn thing about Karma.

    1. Karma is a bitch, Geo, and it comes when we least expect it. You had me laughing when I read this, because I could visualize the whole thing. But it diminishes the potency of my cardboard story....

  6. Thank you for reminding us why we don't want to live in the country

    1. Country living ain't for sissies. I can testify to that.

  7. Jon, well I done some insane and stupid things in my life but you are doing better than me and I feel slightly jealous. Take care mate .

    1. This particular stupid thing is only one of thousands that I've done. I could write a book on the subject.

  8. How ironic, your opener! I was pondering another "Water Cooler Wednesday" poser and considered asking, "What's the stupidest thing ...?"
    ANNNNYway. In your position I don't know if I'd have been more annoyed or frightened. I used to adore the darkness; now, not so much.

    Your idea of putting down cardboard was genius! Once, while in Abilene, I couldn't maneuver my Vette up the incline leading to our office building. Leaving it on the curb, I let myself into the office and to the kitchenette ..... grabbed a big can of coffee and began sprinkling.

    PS - Suppose snowshoes would work on mud?

    1. If I had to choose the most stupid thing I've ever done, it would be a complete impossibility - since I've done so many.

      I never thought of using coffee, but I did consider cat litter. The cardboard worked surprisingly well, however. I'm not sure if snowshoes would do any good in this infuriating Tennessee mud.

    2. By the way, I have always loved the darkness - even though it's extremely creepy here. It's part of my nature to court danger and I enjoy being scared (although there are some limits...).

  9. I want a firm promise from you that you will take better care of yourself. Also, you have probably thought of it already but, can you not put some sort of cover or hood over the mail box ?

    1. I have long given up on trying to take better care of myself, but I'll give it a try.
      A cover isn't a bad idea but it would probably annoy the mail carrier. I'll probably get a new mail box. Eventually.

  10. Have you tried clipping a note to the mailbox with a big ziplock bag or plastic bag and begging him or her to put your mail inside of it to protect it from the rain? That's what I would do. I'm not proud. I'd explain to the mailman that I can't afford a new clip or mailbox but hope to in the future...and I'd say I know they are so busy and I would be grateful for the extra effort and time it would take for them to save my mail.

    What happened to the clip? What does it look like? Send me or post a picture, please. There might be a way to jerryrig it somehow.

    Smart idea to use the cardboard boxes, BTW. :)

    1. Using a big plastic bag is a good idea but it would probably annoy the mail carrier. I went to town today and saw some fairly cheap mailboxes in Walmart. I think I'll buy one the next time I go there. It'll be the easiest thing to do (I hope).

      I REALLY miss having a mailbox right by my front door, like I did in Texas. Here in the wilderness, all the mailboxes are infuriatingly far away.

  11. I hope the mail was worth it! I usually get bills and the like.
    It does sound nightmarish. it wouldn't have been much fun in daytime either I guess but at least the owl might have been asleep!

  12. I usually get bills, too, but sometimes I get letters - which I especially appreciate, since most people rely on the ease of email.

    I was a fool to go out in the middle of the night, but at least it enhanced my adventure.