Independance Day

The day had not started well.  There was too much to do in too little time.

Even weeks earlier, the day was not going as planned.  Due to the elevated fire danger, the fireworks had been cancelled  (even though they are launched over the water of the reservoir) and I was not allowed to use my charcoal grill.   It’s been tradition to grill buffalo burgers on July 4th.

I had invited more than a dozen people over for food and fun and was now considering calling the whole thing off.  Even up to the day before I was scrambling to find a propane grill (which was allowed).  When that didn’t work out, I was racking my brain trying to think of something I wanted to cook in the kitchen.

I finally settled on a big pot of chili.  Normally I save this meal for the fall.   So first thing in the morning on the fourth, I drive down to the city and load up on supplies to make chili.  I haul it all back up here and start unloading it.  The plan was to start the chili cooking, then make waffles for breakfast.

The phone rings.  It’s a work related associate requiring my urgent response down in the city to restart a HVAC chiller that cools an entire complex of condominiums, 160 units.  It was going to be a hot day.

“Why didn’t you call me a half-hour ago when I was down there?”, I complained.

Back down the canyon into the city, the holiday traffic was heavier now.  I repaired two of the problems,  but the third was going to take about 3 hours.  I told him I couldn’t do it, that I had a bunch of people coming over and I needed to get back to cook.

So back up the canyon I go.  Chili needs time to cook and I was running out of time.  There were a lot of other preparations that didn’t involve cooking that needed to be done, too, such as cleaning the bathroom, putting the leaf in the dining table, etc.  I was feeling pretty stressed.

I don’t like the texture of onions.  At this point the chili was just sauteed onions and tomato sauce.  So I decided get out the immersion blender, run it through the sauce and make those onion bits unnoticeable.   I was successful.  I got all of the other ingredients into the pot and began simmering it.

Cleaning up, I moved the blender to the kitchen sink.  I filled a bowl with warm soapy water and dunked the blender in it, and turned it on.

After about 15 seconds I turned it off.  It was clean except for a piece of tomato skin stuck to the side of it. Somehow in the process of cleaning it off, my thumb slips on the switch while the fingers of my other hand were down at the blade end.  The two blades grind into my index finger.

Before I felt anything, my brain registered “this is not good.”  Blood started to drip into the bowl with the soapy water.  I grab a paper towel putting direct pressure on my finger and headed into the bathroom to see what I had in first aid supplies.  I peeled back the paper towel to take a look at the size of the cut, but blood quickly obscured it.

I sat for a few more minutes with just the paper towel, waiting for the blood to clot.  Just then the first guests pull up.  Fortunately one is a physician’s assistant.   Susan looks at, but again as soon as the paper towel is removed, the blood obscured a good view of it.  She says it will need a few stitches.

We called the local doctor and he wasn’t in due to the holiday.  There was really no choice but to go back down to the city.  Owen drove while Dave, Susan and Joel stayed behind.  We stopped at the local fire station in the off chance a paramedic would be there and could perhaps fix the problem.  Nope. They say I need to go down to urgent care.

It was about an hour later, finally in to see a doctor, and she peeled back the paper towel and it starts bleeding again.  She says I’ve cut off the front of my finger and that there is nothing to stitch together.  I didn’t believe her.  It seemed to me that it was all there.  She injected it with something that would numb it and constrict the blood vessels to stop the bleeding.  It was then that I got a good look. And yes, there were two or three small cuts and a piece of skin missing.  She applied some kind of chemically treated mesh that would bond with the wound.  She wrapped it up and sent me on my way.

Arriving back home was surreal.

There was a sun shade erected in the front yard and 4 or 5 people were playing a board game underneath it. A half-dozen others were sitting in lawn chairs eating.  Inside Dave was mixing drinks and Rori was cooking corn.  Dave had needed sugar and couldn’t find it, so he improvised with maple syrup.  The table was piled high with food, most of it half gone.  I was the last to arrive at my own party.

I felt a little out of control as I looked around.  I was supposed to be the host and most of the things on my to-do list hadn’t been completed yet.  But my friends had accomplished whatever they needed to do and seemed to be enjoying themselves. I realized I would just have to let go of the disastrous day, grab a bowl of chili, a beer, and try to relax.

The chili was surprisingly good.

4 thoughts on “Independance Day

  1. I won’t go into the proper ways of cleaning dangerous kitchen tools that are capable of chopping off body parts, because really, you already know them. Right…??

    Glad you were able to end a totally crap day with good friends, delicious food…and all ten digits! A good day, then.

  2. From experience, I know stress and the kitchen are not good bedfellows!

    Your friends sound like a good group, lovely to come back and everyone just getting on with the party.:)

    Hope your finger heals well and quickly.


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