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Dog paddling through the dog days of summer

By Mark Stinson
Posted Monday, August 8, 2005

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I have heard its the dog days of summer. Im not sure why these hot humid days got named that and I hope someone will be nice enough to explain it to me sometime. In any event they are here and its soooo muggy you dont even need to lick stamps to stick them. The heat has put everything in perspective I need to get done and from that new perspective, It ain't getting done till it gets cooler and I can handle being outside more than 10 minutes at a time.

When faced with the sink or swim situation, it's not how well you swim, or the style, as long as you SWIM!

This week has been a physically draining week and I wanted to do something for the kids. I managed to get my daughter to help me clean out the little pool we have for Drew. I figured he could splash around and be occupied for a little while so I could enjoy my porch swing and fan. We have a 4 month old cross breed between a cocker spaniel, basset hound and peiki pom . He's is a perfect little puppy named Snoopy. It aparently amused him to see the two boys playing in the pool and to my surprise he jumped right in and suddenly realized the water was deeper than his little legs were long. To my further amazement the little fella went right to swimming doing what I call a perfect dog paddle. I always wondered why they named swimming like that the dog paddle. Now I know. I watched through the sides of the clear plastic pool as the little dog swam around in circles like a little motor boat in perfect state of tune. The kids were hysterical and asked me when I taught the dog how to swim. I told them I had done no such thing that it must come natural and when the dog was faced with lifes most common predicament, "sink or swim", he swam.

I woke this morning to another hot day and set out to stretch my monthly check out and pay as many bills as possible. I started by choaking over another $60 water bill then moved to other less offensive payments till I nearly exhausted the $600 that is suposed to care for me and three kids for an entire month. With me being so sick money melted faster and we got further behind. We used mama's overdraft months back as instructed by the bank to catch up. Her retirement check pays the draft off every month and the automatic house payment draft knocks it back into the red. We had been adding $50 a month to the outstanding balance so we go that much less into the draft until we were back in the black. The bank told us that this was fine and since she paid it off entirely every month with her direct deposit it was a proper use of the draft.

Mama went to the bank to draw out enough for her meds before the house payment hit that kicks it back into the hole several hundred dollars today and was informed that Fidelity Bank had suspended everyone's overdraft protection. They took her check and paid off the overdraft and left us with nothing and an automatic house payment draft that is to come out Friday (one day notice). Mama got no other type of notice that they were suspending overdrafts. This made my day and I was not a happy camper by mid-afternoon when I went by to drop the water bill off. I overheard what I took to be the beginnings of a major Chatham County revolt. The $15 administration fee the County water department adds to our water bill may be increased to $27.50 soon plus the water usage.

I for one have had it with the crappy water we get and to be honest I can't afford to buy county water anymore. I was livid when I left there. Then the thunderstorm hit Pittsboro and I took one of my headaches I get during bad weather. We dropped the little one off for his appointment and the last, and I mean absolute last, straw broke - my cruise control died on the van and no sooner than that happened and my watch band broke. That band has held three of the watches that lightning melted on me when I was hit. I just wanted to go home and hide.

I ran into a friend on the way home that asked me if I still had my go cart. I got all excited and said "yes" and he said he would come over to drive it and if it ran ok he would take it. Wahooo! I came back home filled it up with gas and fired it up to take it for a spin to make sure it didnt have a bent axel, blown engine, or some other imaginary aliment to keep it from going away from here. It ran perfect, idled smooth and when I returned to the shop, it died. I couldnt get the darn thing to idle and to my surprise, the idle screw simply fell out and he didnt show up. Ok, that's it, time to quit. Every button I have had been pushed and I simply just wanted to give up .

I was sitting there on the ground looking at the go cart carburator in total dismay and Snoopy with his floppy ears came up out of no where and licked me square in the mouth. That dog was so happy to see me (bear in mind I am not a dog person) and he totally broke my train of thought. I sat and remembered how hard I laughed at him doing the dog paddle in the pool and it occured to me it was my time to sink or swim. He reminded me of the one thing I know to be true - everything will work out. We may not like how it works out but it will work out.

I decided to come in and play around on the computer till it crashed. Then in my first act of defiance I gave it an attitude adjustment. I then proceeded to remove an idle screw from a carburator off a 69 chevrolet and with a little modification it replaced the missing idle screw on the go cart and it runs fine now. I took a 70 mph test spin then returned it to the shed till I can sell it. I came in, dug through all of my stuff till I found the box my lightning fried timex watches are stored in and just as I had remembered there was a spare watch band link. I thought, ok, I'm not sinking now I'm barely treading water.

I remembered the Dragon Fly incident from a few days ago and popped the hood to see I hadn't snapped the retaining clip back on the cruise control cable when I dug the fried fly out of my tps sensor. I took the van for a spin and yes I have cruise control again. I'm DOG PADDLING NOW!

I'm not sure how I'm going to deal with the house payment yet, but the stainless steel submersible pump sitting in the corner of my shop I retrieved from the dump will soon find its way back into my well and the county will have one less paying water customer - me! It helped me to sit down tonight and write this rather long post but the point is - when faced with the sink or swim situation, it's not how well you swim, or the style, as long as you SWIM!

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