Sunday, May 13, 2018

Bumpkin goes to the city

A short one this week.

I was down in the Twin Cities for a few days this week to accompany my brother while he had some surgery done on his parathyroid gland. They removed a little something (adenoma) which used to be a three day stay. Now when someone has it done they go in in the morning and come out in the afternoon.

About sixty years ago, when I was six or seven years old, I was showing my brother how to use a grass whip when he walked behind me as I swung it. I cut his throat, missing his jugular vein by about a quarter of an inch.  I didn't stop crying until he came home and I could be sure he wasn't dead. He still has a scar. The deadly tool looks like like this.

 I asked if the surgeon was going to finish the job I had started all those years ago. It turns out they have to cut lower by the base of his neck. So now he has an additional scar on his neck. The good thing is that they fixed the problem and didn't accidentally cut the nerves to his vocal chords which would have left him speechless. Literally. I guess it's about a one in fifty chance or a one in three hundred chance depending on who you ask. While those are not the kind of odds good for gambling they are a little worrisome in this case.
When I left him he still had a sore throat, but was feeling good otherwise. 
I did get away for a few hours and went around to some local music stores to pick up some strings and supplies for one of my habits. When one proprietor asked if he could help me I asked about that old Gibson J-45 hanging on the wall. "Would you like to play it?" "Sure!" So I did. It was a 1947 model that had been stained reddish back in the 60s, but also looked like Willie Nelson had played it for a while. In other words it was well used. It had been maintained and was in good playing order, however, despite a few pinholes in the top and some repairs. It was actually a delight to play and sounded wonderful. Had it been in nicer condition it would have been valued at about twice what it was which was about $5000. Here is what a pristine version looks like.
Image result for vintage gibson j 45 image 
So that was the week that was. My brother is well and I am back on the farm with the wife (The Cooker), the roommate (Stitch), the horses, the cats, the chickens and whatever else wanders in.


  1. All my guitars put together are worth less than half that one!

  2. Holy moly, your brother's guardian angel was working overtime that day you were using the grass whip! We had a grass whip when I was a kid too, but only my father was allowed to use it.

  3. I am so glad that your brother is ok - and that you were able to have a delightful musical interlude. MUCH better than pacing the streets worrying (which is not to say that you didn't worry).

  4. my father had one of those tools; only he was allowed to use it. medicine has greatly advanced in 60 years; e.g., the cancer that killed my uncle in 1968 is now treatable and people survive.

    has spring come to your part of the earth yet?

  5. Professor, I think ALL my musical equipment (a lifetime of accumulation) wouldn't be worth that much, either.

    magiceye, Indeed!

    Debra, I was "helping" my father at the time and I think it was a while before I wanted to use it again.

    Elephant's Child, I did worry, but everything was pretty much a textbook case. Now his calcium levels will be normal and he will feel much better in a couple of weeks.

    anne marie, A hundred years ago we would have been exceptions to have lived this long. Now most of us make it well past retirement. Of course we now get all these things that we wouldn't have lived long enough to get a century ago.

  6. Sometimes there is such a thin line between OK and tragedy. I did a couple of things when I was younger (once as a child and once as an adult) that make me break out in a cold sweat now just thinking about them. Best wishes for a speedy recovery for your brother.

  7. The number of scars match the number of stories, and my brother is involved in some of mine too. Most I managed on my own however, still scared him though! Do I know your brother, have you told stories about him? Btw, reading Encounters on the Great Plains about Norwegian homesteaders on Dakota Indian land by Karen Hansen. Look it up, very interesting.

  8. How frightening for you and your brother! I've never seen or heard of a grass whip before. I take it they are quite sharp. Is it kind of like a scythe?


  9. That grass whip - yikes! What a terrifying experience for you (and undoubtedly your brother). We had a grass whip, too - highly effective if you were up for some major exertion in our 3-foot-tall crabgrass. Fortunately no blood was ever shed with ours (unless you count broken blisters). Lawn darts were the attempted-murder weapon of choice for me. I still shudder over how close I came to killing my sister.

    Wishing your brother a speedy recovery and some free drinks/dinners while he recounts the history of his various scars. ;-)

  10. Oh My Goodness I do not know what the Grass Whip is but I am glad you all survived.
    Speedy recovery to your Brother.

    cheers, parsnip

  11. I know all about that parathyroid stuff, I have had the same surgery. Apparently we are all provided with 4 of these tiny things, but now I have only 3. One night in hospital, and now, 3 years later, no scar on my throat at all. No idea about a grass whip, but my dad used to cut all our grass with a scythe.
    I thought you were going to say you succumbed to the delights of the guitar and bought it and took it home.

  12. jenny_o, I think quite a few of us have had some near misses. It sometimes takes more than one incident to wake up to one's own mortality. I am thankful that many of us survived this far.

    Onevikinggirl, Those near-miss adventures make for some good stories, don't they? I probably haven't talked much about my younger, smarter, and better-looking brother very much, but he and I are the only members of our family on this side of the Big Pond. I'll look for that book. Thanks!

    Janie, They are very sharp, often serrated, and are a smaller version of a scythe, but feel a bit like a golf club when swinging.

    Diane, Lawn darts did actually kill someone in this country at one time so they were banned. Imagine that.

    angryparsnip, You may see grass whips in your local lawn and garden store and like most tools they demand some respect. My brother is recovering well, thanks.

    Shammickite, I had to do a little reading to refresh and learn more about the parathyroid. I am glad you got yours fixed. Had I been born wealthy, instead of smart and good-looking, I would have that guitar in my possession and the end of the story would have been different.

  13. That's quite a story about your brother! I'm glad he's doing well!

  14. Don't worry about it. I have a scar above my right eye, courtesy of my sister and a swing. It's one of the hazards of having a sibling.

  15. Rain, Yeah, he gets beaten down once in a while, but he is very resilient.

    Tom, I have one above my right eye, too! Actually it is a part in my eyebrow from an accidentally self-inflicted wound when I was about 10 years old. Like they say, it's all fun and games until someone puts an eye out.

  16. Mine is below my right eye! I was two and ‘helping’ to build a house - until I almost took my eye out. Your brother and I seem to have a lot in common ;)

  17. Onevikinggirl, Scars are just the history of an interesting life.

  18. Wow - that's a heck of a story about you, your brother, and the grass whip.

    I'm convinced we'll have drive-through surgeries in a few years. Just pull up your car to a contraption that a surgeon will operate remotely from Thailand, you'll take some anesthesia in pill form (don't forget to bring a bottle of water from home), and once you wake up, your trusted family member can drive you right home.

  19. Holy Cow! The story about your brother made me jump! I'm glad it came out ok.