Columns

Weak back, weak paper 2015.09.10

By DAVID GREEN

What would happen if I were to leave town for the weekend and never write a single word the entire time I was gone? Let me add one more thing: and just before we're ready to leave for the trip home, I move the wrong way and mess up my back—something that occurs from time to time.

I'm not sure what will happen, but I'm about to find out. Finally, on the drive back north, I got out the iPad and started writing these words.

Colleen really wanted to get away for the Labor Day weekend and Lexington, Ky., was the clear choice. Back before grandchildren we might have gone north and west for Lake Michigan. In fact, Colleen mentioned how long it's been since we've looked at its wonderful blueness.

For me, a weekend away generally means a weak newspaper will follow as I desperately try to put something together before our deadline. I really feel desperate today as we head home. I've done practically nothing and I'm not sure how I will fill even 12 pages. 

Will my back allow me to hobble around at the bridge walk for photos? Take a drive over to Waldron for their town festival? There will be no feature story—an Observer staple—and there won't be much room for sports. Someone is going to get cheated there. I wasn't even at Day 2 of the football game. The halftime suspension of the game wasn't figured into our travel plans. I still have coaches to speak with. 

Somebody recently asked me if I was the only one around here who does both the photography and the writing at sports events. I said that's what all of the little weekly papers do, but then when I thought about it, I realized that's not always the case. Even a lot of the "little guys" have someone writing sports stories or taking photos for them.

What I seem to be saying here is that I can't do it every week, but I think most issues of the Observer are a pretty good package.

Instead of writing news, I read a lot of kids books and I did my share of coloring. I even used my scissoring skills to cut out a paper doll witch. A sister-in-law bought a book of cut-out witches recently for granddaughter Caroline and I worked on an evil one that annoyed King Arthur.

Anatomy of a back injury: I recalled later how it evolved. The shower was narrower than ours at home. I lifted my right foot into a different position to wash it and felt a small twinge of a familiar feeling in my lower back. By mid-morning, I was carrying 4-year-old Caroline up a hill on a hike. She should have been on my back instead of my front.

Through the course of the next two days—Legos, playground tour, lots of driving around, serving as play doctor, crawling around on the floor, etc.—all I needed was the finishing touch.

That occurred an hour before the six-hour drive home. I was sitting on a step and taking off a sandal to remove small pebbles that were inserted by someone at an outdoor restaurant. That's when a spasm of pain ripped through. I laid back flat on the floor, prompting two kids to climb on me. 

There's some sort of magnetism involved in that state, apparently. My son-in-law, Taylor, said that when he was in recovery mode a few weeks ago, he just couldn't keep the kids off him. They detect a vulnerable state so easily, and they know what to do.

I'm back at home now finishing this off. I can plainly see little Ellie in her common state: two fingers in the mouth, the other hand stretching out hair, or the alternate, one finger in nose and playing with hair.

I'm remembering some of the books I read and how I was forbidden to sing them or to insert fake names into stories. "Just read them right." For me, it's a challenge to sneak in Bedelia Amelia or maybe just A.B. instead of the real thing. Over and over.

Wait…I just recalled another back detail. It was less than two weeks ago. I spit toothpaste into the bathroom sink. I bent over at the waist. Maybe I should have bent my knees. That’s when I felt the first twinge.

So you, dear reader, are getting a weaker weekly paper this week, but here's what I got: "I love you, grandpa."