Ladder Day Saints

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This is the time of year when every homeowner gets to unleash his inner Griswold. Some of our neighbors wait all year to string light strand after light strand from every conceivable gutter and gable.  The rest either hire someone to do it, or skip the whole exterior lighting escapade.

I fall into that category. 


Lemme 'splain. Ladders and I still aren't on speaking terms. Sure, I still own one, but we haven't gotten along since Sept. 25, 2005.

When Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse.

National Lampoons Christmas Vacation-600.jpg

That was the day I extended my 12' aluminum ladder as far as it would go and PROPPED IT UP ON A BENCH to reach even HIGHER. No, I wasn't getting an early jump (make that, fall) on putting up my Christmas lights. I was doing a little home improvement project that would "only take a minute".

That minute took me two years, two surgeries, 12 titanium screws, three titanium plates, assorted wire and two bone grafts to overcome. 

You're in real trouble when the morphine drip doesn't cut the pain.

Hey, you know I'm not the handiest handyman. It's just that I can't help proving it to everyone from emergency room doctors to orthopedic surgeons.

If I lean just a little to the left I can get it...aaaaahhhhh!

Hanging Christmas Lights-600.jpg It wasn't like this was an accident. Well, yeah it was, but I had plenty of warning before my luck ran out. I've spent years cleaning gutters and installing the occasional Christmas lights with plenty of near-misses. A slip here...a tip of the ladder there...nothing I couldn't recover from by grabbing on to a window sill or gutter to avoid total disaster. It was just on that warm, sunny day in September that my luck ran out. 

As I stood there perched at the top of a 12' foot ladder, poorly braced and balanced to achieve an additional height of about 14', I realized I'd made a horrible mistake. That realization came as the ladder slid out from under me, leaving me to hang (briefly) from an exterior window shutter.  

That's when I learned three very important lessons: 

1. Gravity is a bitch. 

2. Falling doesn't hurt. It's the landing that gets you. 

3. You're in real trouble when the morphine drip doesn't cut the pain.

You're holding the ladder aren't you Marge...Marge?!


I dropped 13' down to wood deck and put the full force of the impact on my left foot. The fall shattered my heel and ankle and broke the little finger on my left hand. Charlotte heard my THUD and found me lying on the deck. 

The emergency room doctors and nurses were efficient and did their best to make me comfortable.  They'd paged the on-call ortho doctor and he'd be there soon, I was told. All I could think about was getting something ANYTHING to ease the pain. 

My entire foot felt as if someone was holding a blowtorch to it.  It never let up and the heat/pain grew with each passing moment. A male nurse entered the room and I asked if I could get something for the pain.  He said he'd get a morphine drip started and I'd be feeling better in no time.

A half-hour went by. No ortho doctor. The pain now felt like my entire leg was being slowly fed into a blast furnace. I was blacking out periodically and when I came to I asked when they were going to start the morphine drip. 

"We started it an hour ago," he said. 

Internets, that's when I knew I was totally screwed. When morphine doesn't take your ass out, you're in real trouble. 

Somewhere in there they knocked me out and put my foot and leg in a temporary cast. A week later I was out of the hospital and starting round-after-round of surgeries (3 so far) and months of physical therapy.

So that's my cautionary holiday tale.

When you fall off a ladder like I did, you may be lucky enough to survive.

You could also be paralyzed or wind up with an injury that looks like this: 

Bob's Foot-350.jpg

One thing is certain. 

No matter how funny Chevy Chase makes it look in Christmas Vacation, or Wylie Coyote makes it seem in all those Roadrunner cartoons, it has the potential of introducing you to a new group of friends. Trust me, you don't want to meet them.

They're the ones you'll see standing around the Pearly Gates. The ones I call the "Ladder Day Saints." 

Note:  I wouldn't be walking today if it wasn't for two truly wonderful surgeons,  Dr. Cory Collinge and Dr. Keith Heier. You guys are the best. Merry Christmas! 


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Taking Off: Traveling with Tots Too

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Remember how hectic holidaying with the kids was when they were very young? And now that your children have little ones of their own, you wait for that awkward moment each year when they ask you to take them off their hands so they can jet away for a week of relaxing.  

Well, next time, you can have a chuckle to yourself and say: "Nice try guys, but if you book with a holiday company like Tots Too you can have fun, family vacation with no stress. They plan each small detail out for you and ensure every aspect is child friendly." 

If your grownup children scoff, just show them the infographic below to put things into perspective and warn them that if they don't book a child-friendly holiday they might just have to leave the kids at the kennels with the dogs. That should get them moving, leaving you to enjoy your freedom and a luxury holiday of your own. Heck, you might even join their party!

Provided by

Comfort Corner: One-Pot Chicken Chili Macaroni

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After a relaxing Thanksgiving break, Bob and I returned home to a ton of to-dos. Work, bills and bank statements had piled up while we were out of town. Christmas cards, shopping and wrapping had to be juggled with all my regular chores. And I was scrambling because my sweet mother was about to have back surgery and I might be needed in east Texas anytime.

I was tempted to forget cooking until I stumbled on this quick-and-easy Chicken Chili Macaroni recipe in Rose Murray's 125 Best Chicken Recipes (Robert Rose Inc., Feb. 28, 2014, $19.95). Got half an hour? That's seriously all you need to get this one-pot delight on the table.

A gem on busy nights, this 30-minute skillet meal features ground chicken, pasta and green beans in a mildly spicy tomato sauce topped with plenty of cheese.

Chicken Chili Macaroni Ready to Eat-600.jpgYou just brown ground chicken and garlic in a skillet. Drain any liquid. Then stir in stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, Mexican spices, macaroni, and fresh or frozen green beans. I couldn't find Mexican stewed tomatoes as recommended so I substituted Hot Mexican Chili Powder for the regular version and added 2 tablespoons green chilies to up the heat factor.

There's no chopping involved other than dicing the canned tomatoes. Plus, everything cooks in one big pot so cleanup is simple. Make that super simple if you pull out something non-stick like Kyocera's Kyo Glaze Ceramic Fry Pan. With this sleek skillet (thanks for the free tester Kyocera!), you can use metal utensils without fear of scratching the interior and food slides right off. It works both on top of the stove and in the oven (up to 400o F) and has a great stainless steel handle. Hand washing is recommended but that's no biggie because even Bob, who wants to put everything in the dishwasher, noticed how easy this slick pan cleans up. (12" fry pan $64.95 at

Kyocera's versatile Kyo Glaze skillet has an advanced ceramic interior that resists scratching and keeps food from sticking.Skillet=600.jpg
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