Summer

Kevin’s Ultra Hip (Hella Sick) Summer Book Club

Recently, I made a pact with my brain. That over summer I would spend more time reading than Netflixing. Netflix, my best fake friend, is a great tool for relaxing, especially after a 23 credit semester, say, by me. And, oh, I wanted to veg-out on Netflix more than my hipster neighbor wanted rollerblades. But I made a pact, and pacts are serious.

Previous post-semester breaks have included many veg-out TV series marathons (8 seasons of 24 and 9 seasons of How I Met Your Mother come to mind). To be Frank, I’ve still been enjoying Netflix in moderate occasions: a Sherlock episode here, a Comedy Bang-Bang there. But moderate is where I’m trying to keep it.  It’s time to take a break from marathon Netflix summers and, instead, marathon some books.

And the readings have been excellent so far.

If you are looking for some great books to read, then please, read these. We can talk about them together and start a cool kid reading club. Maybe you’ve read a few. Maybe you’ll have a little catching up to do. Maybe you can pick and choose. Either way, join my club. It will be ultra hip and hella sick. We’ll watch The Pagemaster together at the end of summer, and it will be fun.

Kevin’s Ultra Hip (Hella Sick) Summer Book Club

 The_Stand_cover1. The Stand by Stephen King – Completed

I just finished this one the other night, and I had never felt so accomplished. 1200 breathtaking pages. Technically though, it’s sort of cheating. I started the book back in December. The Stand is super long, and I had to wait till my semester was over to read most of it. But it was worth it! Also, Hollywood making a big budget movie. You could be ahead of the curve! (more…)

Advertisements

Relook: The Perils of Landscaping (Kevin Claud Van Damn it!)

You know that awesome, cliché action-movie sequence where the hero jumps out of a car right before it shoots off a cliff? I’m sure you know what I mean.

I’ve always wanted to do that!

Today was going to be an easy day. You know… day off from my main job at the market, do a little side-job yard-work, get a little sunshine. I didn’t realize I’d be jumping off a riding lawnmower as it plunged downhill.

I should explain.

On Wednesdays, I landscape for a really nice lady named Lois. She lives outside of Coeur d’Alene in the “fancy home overlooking the lake on a hill” district. Every summer she rents her house (or yard I should say) for weddings.

She has a nice riding mow, and I genuinely love the job. It’s outside and beautiful and even fun. That said, every landscaper who works a riding mow will mention a turn that makes their teeth grind. My “turn,” happens to have a hill next to it that dramatically declines into wilderness. No problem.

Today, the grass was wet.

Moments

It’s funny how time seems to slow down in radical moments. Looking back, I felt like I could’ve prepped a tuna salad sandwich with the time I had before the fall, which was really only two or three seconds.

I better Titanic off of this thing!

I jumped and hit the ground, soon hearing the mower make a ‘crunch’ sound. I stood up, as slowly as I could muster, and turned my head towards the direction of the renegade-riding mower. God, I didn’t want to look.

“Oh my goodness,” I said. “It’s fine!”

There, downhill, the mower rested in a safe net of bushes. In fact, it couldn’t have had a softer landing. Laughing, I ran down the hill and jumped on the dusty mower and started the engine. I threw the gear in reverse but it wouldn’t go. It tried, I tried, the wheels turned and all, but it wouldn’t go. After a good ten minutes of this back and forth gear shifting, manually lifting the mower, and pushing and pulling in ridiculous helplessness, I rested.

Prayer

I thought about calling some friends, but everyone I knew lived roughly twenty-hours away in California. Lois was gone for a few hours, the only good thing.

“Lord,” I pleaded, “You gotta get me out of this, you gotta send me somebody!”

The hill looks bigger in person, okay?

During the summer, Lois turns her guest room into a bed and breakfast. I thought the house was empty, but I forgot about the B&B guests! Suddenly, I heard a door open.

“Hey! Hey!” I rushed up the hill to the guest’s door with my arms waving. Flustered and bewildered, the man stepped back and threw his fists into a fighting stance (protecting his wife).

“Do you… I… well…” I was out of breathe and apparently lost my vocabulary on the fall. It wasn’t helping my case that the stranger thought me a lunatic. Thankfully, his eyes looked down and saw the green on my clothes and (eventually) the mower in the bushes.

“Did you ride that down the hill?” He asked.

“No… It rolled down by itself.”

His eyes widened and he made the hand gesture of a rolling car. “It rolled?”

“Well no, it roooollllled.” I made the gesture of a smooth downward drift with my hand. I must’ve looked insane. Crazy or not, this answered prayer of a man helped me pull, push, and lift the mower out of the bushes.

It turned out this guy was a saint.

Fin.

Getting out of the bushes was only half the battle, but I will spare you the rest of that crazy story (it included ‘off roading’ further down). All in all, the mower was fine. I even got it back in the yard and finished mowing before Lois came home. I wasn’t sure how to bring it up. “Hey, I took your expensive (brand new) riding mow on a joy ride to the lake.”

I didn’t say that.

My conscious got the best of me, and I did tell her. She took it great and actually laughed when I gave her the story. She felt bad for me, could you believe that?

Epilogue

What’s the moral to this tale? Hmmmmm…

Watch out for wet grass?

Don’t cut too close to the edge?

God answers prayer?

Before I left, I took one more glance at the spot where it all went down. The soft breeze was blowing and the sun was finally shining. Down the hill, the bushes were tromped and a freshly made ‘mower size’ trail existed, showing my fateful path. I stood and looked, both triumphant and stupid, gazing with astonishment, and thinking only “Man, that was bad ass.”

[NOTE: This blog post came from 7/28/2011. It has been slightly edited and reworked. I hope to get back on track next week and share some new thoughts. Until then, I hope you enjoy some of my older (odder) tales.]

Fly Fishing: The First Outing

I went fly fishing today, my first time—accomplished fly fishermen are potentially already laughing. In my defense, I’m currently taking a Summer course at the college. I’ve been practicing.

We cast on the soccer field, people walk by and snicker. It’s mildly humiliating.

So I finally ventured out today on my own with a tackle-box full of brand-new flies, tippets and leader lines. I caught so much stuff!

First, I caught my hat. Then after catching the bushes behind me a few times, I lost my fly in the water. After replacing the fly, I caught the tree above my head and lost yet another fly.

After twenty minutes of this business, a fisherman trolled by and asked how I was doing. I tried to play it off fancy, but my reel popped off the rod and dropped in the water (still don’t know how this happened). Red in the face, I picked up the reel and hurriedly tightened it back on, only to immediately get stuck in the tree again after my next cast.

“Fine…”, I said.

Later, as I was deciding a better name for “fly fishing” would be “snag stupid,” a family rolled up next to me and began to fish. Within a minute of the grandpa’s first cast, he caught a very keepable, beautiful long fish. He laughed, the family applauded and took pictures. It really was a joyous time. “After only one cast,” he kept saying!

I could’ve pushed the old man into the lake.

Fiddlesticks

So what was the total catch for the day?

8 bushes, 6 trees, 2 hats, and almost 1 lost reel. Fly-fishing is just a blast.

Truth be told, I actually caught 4 baby trout. By the time I reeled in my first fish, I was so proud I almost cried. After all the work and patience, all the trees and bushes, all the snags and dropped reels, I realized what fly fishing was all about: an amplified sense of accomplishment when anything good happens.

Yes, even if the “Good” is the size of an index finger.

Here is my monster