Tuesday, June 29, 2010

At What Price Pond?

Allergy Update: We figured out the cause of Bear's frightening allergic reaction that resulted in a hasty ER trip. There were only two items we'd eaten for dinner that evening that were new foods for her. One was a chicken marinade, and the other was packaged naan (an Indian flatbread).

I was equally certain that I'd checked out both of the labels before buying them, but obviously something had been wonky. Tom dug out the marinade bottle from the trash while Bear and I were at the ER, but the ingredients were fine.

The next afternoon at the grocery store, I went over to the naan display and re-read the label. I read through the ingredient list (fine) and the Potential Allergens line beneath it (wheat, soy, and egg). Nothing. As I was setting the package down, a smaller line of type down below the allergen list caught my eye. In a different, lighter font it read "May contain pieces of tree nuts."

Goddamn. It slipped by on my watch. I felt terrible.

If there is a silver lining to the whole experience, it's that I've learned that I can't be assured safety just by reading through the ingredients and the allergens list. I have to read the whole package. Carefully.

The other good thing to come of this is that Bear is leaving for her first sleep-away camp in two weeks. The freshness of this experience and how frightened she was will help her to remember not to take any chances eating unlabelled foods. I've already spoken with the menu coordinator at the university her camp is at, and special arrangements have been made to accommodate her allergy.

In lighter news: I have a pond!
In darkish news: At the cost of personal injury. Specifically, a sprained or broken foot. The jury's a bit out on which, and I'm being stubborn about going in and having to pay for an x-ray when it's probably (hopefully) just sprained.

It all began on my birthday, when Tom very gamely began to dig the pond that I may have mentioned wanting two or three (thousand) times.

Doesn't he look like he's having fun? I'm pretty sure that when I took this picture, he was thinking I wonder if I'd bought her more jewelry for her birthday if she'd still be making me do this?

The answer is yes, honey. Yes, I would. But more jewelry is always welcome.
When he got done that day ("done" being defined as exhausted, filthy, and more than a little cranky, if we're being perfectly frank), the hole was starting to look something like this. The deeper part is about three and a half feet deep, with an 18" deep ledge around the outside. This is to set plants on.
Now, don't get me wrong: I greatly appreciated his efforts. I thought it was looking great. I just thought that once we lined it and filled it with water, that it was going to look a little bit too much like a jacuzzi filled with questionable water. The shape was too jacuzzi-like, not organic enough. And not as big as I'd pictured, although we were somewhat limited in size by the size of liner I'd ordered. When I mentioned my concerns, he grumbled something about fixing it "next weekend" and disappeared to grab a cold beer from the fridge, saying "For God's sake, don't you try to do it or you'll throw your back out."

The next day, I went out and looked at it again. Jacuzzi. Hmm. I felt bad asking Tom to do any more, so I grabbed a shovel. (That's my official story, and I'm sticking to it. The truth has more to do with the fact that once I've pictured how I want something to look, I have a very difficult time waiting. I need/want it to look that way NOW. This slight personal quirk has led to many instances of personal injury. This proved to be no exception).

The girls were in the pool, as I measured and dug, spreading out the pond liner to be sure I was still within its limits. It was looking great, and I was spreading the liner out one last time before I called it quits for the day. It was ferociously hot and muggy, so as I stepped along the plant ledge, dragging the heavy rubber liner along, I was thinking about what iced beverage I'd like as soon as I was done: diet cherry Pepsi or iced tea?

I tweaked the liner toward me and took one more step backward along the ledge ... except that there was no ledge just where I chose to step. Instead, I fell blindly back into the (three and a half foot deep) hole, landing solely on my right foot, which instantly corkscrewed sideways under my weight.

There was a moment where I was lying on my back on hot black rubber in a dirt hole in my yard, staring up at the blinding sun, sweat plastering my hair down and dripping into my eyes, my ankle a white blaze of pain. A moment where my entire being was thinking, "Oh, SHIT." A moment where I wanted nothing more than some sort of cosmic half-second rewind button.

The moment passed, and was followed by another, equally enjoyable moment, where I realized that not only was I lying on my back at the bottom of a hole in my yard, but that I now wanted to get out of the hole. I just had no idea how to go about doing that. I scrabbled pathetically at the liner and pulled myself to a sitting position. The utter ridiculousness of my predicament began to hit solidly home.

I called for the girls, who were splashing and shouting in the pool, and couldn't hear me. I hollered louder, "Girls! I need your help! GIRLS!" That finally yielded a dripping wet Bug, who peered down over the edge of the hole at me, then very gamely helped to haul me out by one arm.

With Bug's help, I managed to drag/limp my way to the patio, where, looking like one of the Mud People from Woodstock, I collapsed into a chair. Bug trotted inside and returned with a Spongebob ice-pack and some paper towels to clean up with, which was not unlike trying to sop up with oil spill in the Gulf with a Q-Tip.

I sat for a minute to regain my equilibrium. Then I called Tom at work.

"Hi, honey. I've been working on the pond. Good news: I didn't hurt my back!"


quilting grandma said...

Well Honey, I have to confess, "you attack projects just like your mother-in-law, which drives my Tom crazy#*! Do you suppose we are the same in this respect because we are both Gemini's and one of the twins is very impatient and wants projects done now?"

By the way, Daddy Shorthbread looks great!

smalltownmom said...


Meg said...

So glad you didn't hurt your back. Hopefully the pond was worth it!

Lora said...

This totally cracked me up--the second half, not the first half of course.

Violet said...

I will refrain from telling the 2-year, 3-operation saga that started with a mis-diagnosed ankle sprain and just say...


And then enjoy your pond. :)

parnola said...

Any blog entry that involves my sister injuring herself and laying helplessly on her back is a good blog entry ...

Jen on the Edge said...

Whether or not that pond is filled next week, I plan to stand by it and admire it for a loooooooooooong time, as it clearly demands respect.

Go get that foot x-rayed!

Did you do this on purpose so I won't drag you out for a run with me?

Cindy said...

Thanks for the update on the allergy situation. I never feed my niece "new" foods when she is with me. I don't want to have to explain to my sister if something happen on my watch. I'm sending the link to this blog entry to her, so she can read your story of reading ingredients and then seeing a "tree nut" statement elsewhere on the package. It's good you now know what caused the problem, but would have been better if the statement had been adjacent to the ingredient list. Sorry you took this tumble into the pond.

Angela said...

Hi, I'm Cindy's sister, Angela. Totally understand the nut allergy issues. My oldest has tree nut allergies. She's only 7 and she knows to ask if there are nuts in anything she is offered but I still say a prayer everyday when I send her off to school or camp that she's okay. Most of the time she will just refuse what is offered. She doesn't remember the reaction she had when she was just 2 but she doesn't want the Epi Pen brought out and used nor does she want a trip to the ER.

It's so easy to miss something on labels, I bought a bag of dried fruit for her and her sister just a few weeks ago and didn't notice until I opened it this week that it had cashews in it.....My youngest thought I had lost my mind when I ran to the trash can with the bag and was screaming about almost killing my child. I must have been blind the day I bought that as it was plainly printed on the front....CASHEWS...geez...

Hey, sorry about the header into the pond....probably should get the x-ray..;-)