The sub-moronic ramblings of a semi-functioning illiterate

Welcome To The Thunderdome

The town where I live is somewhat touristy, especially now that the leaves are turning and the crisp autumn scent of the upcoming primaries hangs in the air. Because of the season my town puts a lot of effort into making itself visitor friendly, which is why I make a lot of effort to get the hell out of here whenever I can.

One of my favorite places to go is a secluded pond behind where I work. My kids and I used to ride our bikes there during the summer to go fishing and to have cookouts and campfires. And even though the pond is great and the fishing is amazing, what makes this place truly spectacular is what lies beyond the pond. It’s a place I like to call…The Thunderdome.

Junior biking in The Thunderdome

Now, The Thunderdome isn’t for everyone. In fact, I’m fairly certain I’m the only person who hangs out there. Half brush yard, half quarry; The Thunderdome is a vast, open expanse of churned up dirt, rocks and dumped debris from God only knows where. But I love this place with a passion that I can only describe as, “spread my ashes here” will-worthy. For someone as solitary as I am The Thunderdome is a close to Heaven on earth as it gets.

My kids aren't this ghostly, I just have a crappy phone.

Before today the last time I was there was almost two years ago. Out of nowhere I developed problems with my joints that made it almost impossible for me to move, so any activity that wasn’t absolutely necessary to function was abandoned. Without knowing what an ultra active person I am in real life, I don’t think I can adequately describe how devastating this was to me. The one good thing to come out of that time was my book, a project I knew was necessary to keep me from coming mentally unhinged.

As time went on I managed to get some sort of control over my health to the point that now I’m nearly back to normal. Naturally the very first thing I did was head out into The Thunderdome, specifically to the tire pile I walked past for years, and started stacking tires. In the BEFORE picture you’ll see two tire piles; the pile to the right contains tires with rims, the pile to left are rimless. In the AFTER picture you’ll see what I did with the rimless tires. I’d also like you to notice how it looks like there are more tires in the finished pile than what you initially see. That’s because they were buried, people.



I’m going to describe New Hampshire soil in one word. SLOP. It’s a mixture of wet sand and desiccated granite that acts like quick sand when trying to lift a half-sunk hundred pound tire out of it. So remembering everything I could about levers and fulcrums and Archimedes I grabbed some rocks and downed branches and managed to manuever all the tires out of the mire fairly easily. All except for one. Out of the two hours and seven minutes (yes, I timed it) I spent stacking tires, over an hour and forty minutes was dedicated to one tire alone.  I threw everything I could think of at it but it wouldn’t budge. As I stood in the rain (yes, it was raining) staring down at a 12ply, 40 inch tire sunk in the slop, the words I’d said to my kids for years came back to haunt me.

“If you’ve got a job to do, just do it.”

So I gathered my Italian compulsion to conquer, my Irish bull-headedness, borrowed some Greek ingenuity and with German music on my ipod for inspiration I dug down under the tire and finally lifted it straight up to standing. That’s when a HUGE spider crawled across the back of my hand, and remembering something I read about moving rocks and spider bites I freaked out and dropped the tire. On my foot.

Even though my hands are raw and I have bruises everywhere and probably a few broken toes it was the best day ever, because I did a job I set out to do. I was so proud of myself in fact that when I got home I dug out the book my kid Prince Charming keeps to jot down quotes and sayings he hears that influence him to add my two cents worth. As I flipped to the page that had his last quote; a recent one from Theodore Roosevelt, something caught my eye. On the top of the page before my kid had written:

“If you’ve got a job to do, just do it.” – Mom


42 responses

  1. TheIdiotSpeaketh

    Good Job! Now grab a beer and kick back and relax! 🙂

    October 26, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    • Wayyyy ahead of ya’.

      October 26, 2011 at 10:38 pm

  2. There’s something very artistic about that last picture. Who knew tires could be so poetic?

    October 26, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    • That’s Italian design.

      October 26, 2011 at 10:45 pm

  3. WhitneyCarter

    Hey, this place looks like fun!

    October 26, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    • It’s a total blast, I’m telling ya’.

      October 27, 2011 at 11:54 am

  4. Jonathan Borden

    First of all, I totally love your posts–your wit, your pertinent observations, and your tour of your real world life, plus, I love your writing (you’ve got MAD skill!)–but this one struck a chord. My mom has had rheumatoid arthritis for some 20 years(!) now, making raising my brother and I particularly challenging–it arrived, like many shitty ailments seem to do, and like your predicament, out of the damn blue. That has never stopped her, though.

    However, I love your perseverance, too, and the symbolism of your moving those nasty tires. You always strike me as determined and innovative, which is why I follow you(!), so kudos to you and building your own “Field of Dreams”! Ha! Lame reference aside, your chance to escape and prove your strength–mental and physical, as well as being a great mom–really jives with what I’m about. I feel like writing you a poem! Keep up the good work, and don’t let the world, with its mucky soil, bring you down.

    October 26, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    • Thank you so much. You know how much I like what you write, so writing me a poem is a real compliment!

      October 27, 2011 at 11:56 am

  5. Oy Vey- now I can’t stop singing “we don’t need another hero, we don’t need to find the way home, all we want is life bey-ond…. The Thunderdome”.

    My OCD would also separate the Rimless from the Rimmed AND I would have to line them up according to size- smallest to biggest, left to right, by color (lighter hues on the left, darker on the right), evenly spaced, in alphabetical order. I’ll pop an extra Ritalin and fly to NH tomorrow to finish the task- is that on the West Coast or on the East Coast?

    October 26, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    • I know what you mean about the song. I took a chance on dating myself with that reference. And like all good sports teams, NH is on the EAST coast. 🙂

      October 27, 2011 at 11:57 am

  6. *smiling*

    October 27, 2011 at 12:26 am

    • *knowing why*

      October 27, 2011 at 11:58 am

  7. Good job on the tire mired in the slop! I once spent 45 minutes digging up a large palmetto and was determined not to give up and let it get the best of me. It was a great feeling, but your end of the day with Prince Charming’s book of quotes had to have been so much more than simply great!

    I downloaded your book earlier this evening. I’m looking forward to reading it on the plane next week.

    October 27, 2011 at 12:28 am

    • You’ve got me beat by a mile with a palmetto. I’m not sure I’d want to brave the fire ants. Junior fell face first into a pile as a kid and still has the scars. Have a safe trip and thanks for the download!

      October 27, 2011 at 11:59 am

  8. One – Are you sure you do not live in Yorkshire?! Seriously … I know a place just like that … Ok moving on, Two – I love your kids (you already know this) Can I be their big sister?! I am already an adult so just send them my way ahaha especially mini you! and Three – I love tires with white on!! Mmmmm Cars!!

    October 27, 2011 at 3:47 am

    • Absolutely! I’ll send Junior first. He’s seriously getting on my nerves.

      October 27, 2011 at 12:00 pm

      • I actually wonder what he would say if you told him you were sending him to live with an eighteen year old English girl?!? Actually I do not want to know ahaha

        October 27, 2011 at 12:06 pm

  9. What I would like to know is… why are there tires there in the first place?

    October 27, 2011 at 7:15 am

    • I have no idea how they got there or where they came from or why. But it’s like Christmas everyday out there for me. If Santa worked for Waste Management.

      October 27, 2011 at 12:01 pm

  10. You’re certainly one to put your nose to the grindstone. Or Firestone if need be.

    October 27, 2011 at 7:41 am

    • As a matter of fact most of them were Firestones. Most of them were also filled with water, which was not fun at all.

      October 27, 2011 at 12:02 pm

  11. I love that feeling – “I’m going to fix this!” Especially when it’s something like that: physical, order-from-chaos, and a little bit of design thrown in.

    October 27, 2011 at 9:13 am

    • I’m glad you agree. I like to test my mettle everyday somehow. Next step…the kitchen. Yikes!

      October 27, 2011 at 12:04 pm

  12. Not the Broth

    I don’t think we can be friends anymore as you have made my accomplishment for today – digging a french fry out from between the couch cushions – seem like meaningless toil. However, I will point out that I got a crunchy treat out of my sweat… how did those tires taste?

    Where’s my scotch…

    October 27, 2011 at 10:04 am

    • You know what was harder than this? Cleaning someone’s room as a kid so her mother would let her go places with me.

      October 27, 2011 at 12:05 pm

      • Not the Broth

        Speaking of that, her husband would probably let her go on a road trip with you if her house was clean… just sayin’. Course, me? I’ll let her go and then mess the place up more and cry ‘break in’ when she gets back. Good times…

        October 27, 2011 at 12:09 pm

  13. You’re my hero….

    October 27, 2011 at 11:02 am

    • And you’re my Grinder, Sub, Hoagie….

      I don’t know what just happened, but I think I channeled Hotspur there for a moment.

      October 27, 2011 at 12:06 pm

  14. “Because of the season my town puts a lot of effort into making itself visitor friendly, which is why I make a lot of effort to get the hell out of here whenever I can.”

    Loved this. Reminds me of my own favorite, solitary place – by the river underneath an old train bridge, surprisingly not infested by homeless people or trolls. Heavily graffitied of course. Unfortunately, you have to trek two miles on foot to get there, and when you desperately need your escape, it’s usually 90 degrees out. Worth it every time.

    October 27, 2011 at 11:12 am

    • I know what you mean. The Thunderdome is infested with horseflies in the summer, but I still head out there anyway. I think it’s the silence I like.

      October 27, 2011 at 12:07 pm

  15. Wait H.E.–you had a joint condition and the first thing you did after you got better was start stacking tires? My dad the PT is shaking his head.
    But nice pile of tires.
    Question: Do you have a preference for how you’d like people to buy your book? I know Amazon is a gorilla so I was wondering if there’s another way more bene to the author.

    October 27, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    • If I’m not mistaken I’d say paperback is the best way for me, but I’m happy with however it gets bought! And while I agree with your PT dad, I had something major to prove to myself. It’s also why I plan to put myself through the rigorous torture of learning to speak Gaelic over the summer. I’m a glutton for punishment.

      October 27, 2011 at 4:23 pm

  16. Sometimes the fact that no one else goes there is what makes a place so special. Being in an area that, while maybe previously spoiled by someone else before, is all yours now is inviting and comforting.

    Also, cordless drill with large bit = no more water in the tires.

    October 27, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    • I completely agree with the idea of finding that kind of solitude comforting. When you’re out there you can’t hear anything but the forest around you. As far as the drill goes, in my mind it would have been considered “help” and then all the work I did wouldn’t have counted. I can’t really explain how my brain works.

      October 27, 2011 at 7:24 pm

      • Then get one of those hand-cranked drills, Grandma. It’s for water drainage. You used a lever, after all.

        October 27, 2011 at 8:50 pm

        • But it was a tree branch. Still counts in The Thunderdome. Or Amish country.

          October 27, 2011 at 9:25 pm

  17. Great post, great pictures, and I’m glad you’re back to normal. My only concern is: what do you have against “coming mentally unhinged”?

    October 29, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    • My incessant giggling made the voices in my head angry.

      October 30, 2011 at 3:45 am

  18. First off you can’t put Thunderdome in the title and not have stuff like Tina Turner, some bungee cords in an oversized Jungle Gym, some MasterBlaster type dude and a guy who runs Bartertown. As a movie buff that is exciting and ultimately depressing when a real life Thunderdome doesn’t exist.

    Secondly, it looked fun what you all did.

    October 30, 2011 at 11:08 am

    • I considered that when I was trying to come up with a title for the post, but, “Do you remember that episode of Futurama where Fry accidentally gets sent to the future and New York resembles a post-apocalyptic wasteland? Yeah this place looks like that,” didn’t fit in the title box.

      October 30, 2011 at 11:23 am

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