Wednesday, July 07, 2010


Not sure what my fingers will say today. I've been very focused on getting ready for Synod Youth Workshop. I leave early Friday morning and there are a lot of details to get tied up before than. My job this year is to lead the service projects. I finally confirmed the last project yesterday. I needed around 20 projects for 26 small groups. I agreed to do this two or three years ago when I was the worksite manager at a Katrina recovery camp. When you are supervising 60 volunteers for five days it doesn't seem different from supervising 300 volunteers for six hours. Both jobs taught me the hardest part of the job was finding someone to help even while you knew there are so many people in need of help.

So that's where the imaginative lobe of my brain has been this week. However, I'll sit here with my coffee and think of something interesting that's happened lately.

Oh, yes, we almost blew up our grandchildren in the Fourth of July fireworks.

However, let me say It Was Not My Fault. One of my daughters decided we needed a small fire out in the field so we could roast marshmallows while we set off the fireworks. Then one of those same daughters, personally raised by myself to be an intelligent thinkers decided to be TIDY and burn the trash as we went along in the evening. I take great pride in how tidy my daughters can be when the mood strikes them.

What never occurred to any of us, intelligent though we may be, was that it wasn't a good idea to combine the two. Never burn your trash when you're setting off fireworks.

We have become budding experts in fireworks. Far beyond the smoke bombs, sparklers, firecrackers, and poppers that the city wimps light up out there in suburbia, we have more powerful fireworks out here in the country where there are no rules. Where our fireworks stands share a parking lot with Joe Bob's gas station.

We have graduated to the kind of fireworks people in the country are able to pull off. We're in the artillery shells category out here. Those are like Roman Candles on steroids. Sometimes there are two different names for the same firework, depending on where you buy it: Lady Bug and Crop Circles both make a loud screeching noise and go around in circles terrorizing anyone nearby. Mostly because you don't know where it's going. By far, though, our favorite firework of the evening was the "KGB" and it combined all elements of fireworks into one array lit by a single fuse. It sent balls of sparks into the sky, it emitted smoke, it shrieked, it glowed, it made a popping noise and sent balls of fire sideways. And we only bought one. For the rest of the night we kept wishing for something to equal KGB. The Green Goblin, purchased with a different credit card at a different stand, was almost as good. But in our family's newest favorite phrase, "It was no KGB."

When whichever blissfully unidentified tidy person put the "empty" cardboard casing for the Green Goblin into the fire it set the stage for a small tragedy. Minutes later while we were marveling at about our 28th artillery shell in the air, this one blue, which is extremely rare, the fire reached one unexploded shell.

It sent sparks sideways and into the air. It shrieked and popped. We didn't know how long it would last nor where it might go next. And both granddaughters were standing right by the fire while it did this. I grabbed Sarah and someone grabbed Essie but we didn't know which direction to go. Sparks were flying everywhere.

It was terrifying. But we all lived through it. Emily took them inside where she could see and went over the girls with a fine-toothed comb. Essie had one tiny little dot of a burn mark on her leg. But it could have been much worse. And,for that, we are grateful and wiser.

You could say that we've learned our lesson, which we certainly have. But it made me remember the children in Iraq and Afghanistan for whom the noise and explosions are so much more real and unpredictable. For whom there is no end in sight. Their mothers would be grateful for only one small dot of burn at the end of the evening with 364 days until the next opportunity for explosions.

On that happy note I will leave you today. My next posting will be from Tulsa, Oklahoma where I will have more interesting things to share than you could imagine.

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