Monday, February 12, 2007

Go Fly a Kite

Watch Our For Powerlines! ZzzzzapIn a comment on another post, Dawn asked me how the kite flying with the kids went.

It went well.

I took the kids to West gate Library, which has a huge field next to it. I used to go to that library and it's attached playground and field when I was their age. We recently stopped visiting it because a newer, closer library opened up just down the road from us. Also, the kids are getting older (9½ and 13) and no longer play like they used to.

Gone are the care-free romps and scampers across the steel and molded plastic playset.

They never played in it like they should, either. To them, it was more fun to slide down the top of the tube slides than inside them. The slide pole wasn't as fun simply slipping down it like a fireman when you could launch yourself from the five foot high platform, grab the pole as you hurtled by, and spin wildly around it like some deranged exotic dancer. And swings ... They couldn't just see who could go higher. They have to see who could go higher AND farther when they leaped from the apex of their swings.

Fortunately, the whole things squats in the middle of a fairly deep sand field. The tumbles and falls invariably suffered were cushioned by the forgiving softness of good ol' Florida sugar sand. My main worry were the things which might be lurking under the rippled, sandy surface.: Sand fleas (we call 'em chiggers), mole crickets, buried twigs, broken glass from beer bottles drunk teenagers late at night, or even the occasional canine landmine.

Actually, the glass problem has gotten much better, of late, as the police have cracked down on people at the little park after dark. The puppy presents are still a problem. I'm sure some are left by strays, but I've more than once seen an owner walking their poopy pooch and allowing them to drop their loads in the sand while kids are playing a few feet away. And then NOT pick it up!

Last year, a rather well dressed man was walking his large dog (some Irish Setter breed or mix) in the library park. Instead of letting it defecate in the grassy area on the other side of the sidewalk abutting the sandy play area where it wanted to, he dragged his dog directly into the sand. One mother yelled at him to "get the dog out of there, kids played here." The guy ignored her and walked away without picking up the mess.

I had had enough. Gathering some discarded plastic from inside one of the trashcans, I collected some of the still warm and slightly viscous load of dog crap. I was careful to avoid getting it on myself, as well as to make sure it was mostly hidden in my cupped hand. I walked hurriedly after the rude man, calling out "Sir, excuse me, you dropped something."

The man turned around a little, and reached towards his back pocket like he was checking for his wallet. I don't know if it was in his pocket or not, but as I got up close to him, holding out my little surprise payload, he stuck his hand out to accept what he must have assumed was something he did drop.

He was quite surprised to suddenly be holding a warm load of dog crap in his outstretched hand. Then Brainiac hurriedly dropped it and wiped his hand across his nice, clean slacks a few times before realizing what he was doing. I would have been laughing so hard had I not been trying to back away in case he went ballistic. But he didn't attack me. He just started yelling and screaming and cussing me out while the few other women there with their kids were howling with laughter as they realized what had just occurred.

The guy left in a rush, still screaming and calling me names which would have blistered paint. I waited until he was no longer in sight and gathered up my two miscreants and got the hell out of Dodge in case poopy pants came back for revenge.

The kids were laughing, and I had to tell them what I did wasn't really nice or appropriate, not to mention dangerous, al lthe while holding back my own chortles and smirks.

Hmmm, I was supposed to be talking about kite flying, wasn't I?

The kites were just cheap things. A dollar store special with two in a single pack, plus 250 feet of nylon string each. You can't beat a two-fer.

I fully expected the kites to be pure junk, to disintegrate as soon as they were airborne, if not while I put them together; made from a cheap, yet brightly colored plastic, with thin wood dowels slipped into hard plastic housings for the frame. And a long, black tail that looked like it was made from left over Hefty bags. The string was nice, a nylon type with 3 twisted strands.

I didn't know how to attach the string to the kite; there were no instructions, and nothing was obvious other than a separate length of similar string threaded through a small, plastic circle. I jury-rigged that piece on the front of the kite, threading the ends through two holes I made, then tying them together on the back after wrapping them around the wooden frame a few times. The 250 length was tied to the plastic loop and a kite was born.

They were surprisingly sturdy, withstanding both the kids' rough handling and several dive-bombing plummets to the ground. I was sure the string would have sawed through the thin plastic of the kite, but it held firm, barely even stretching the holes.

Eventually we got both kites up and near to the end of their provided 250 foot strings. It was breezy, and they flew well. Being the normal diamond shaped kites (sometimes called flat kites) there was a lot of looping and dropping as wind speed changed or updrafts struck them. The Hefty bag tails helped a lot to keep them stable.

I showed them how to manage the string to control the kite, and what to do when those errant winds flicked them around in the sky. The listened like usual, forcing me to explain things a half dozen times. Eventually they got the hang of it and did a pretty decent job. They never even got close to tangling their lines together, which was my biggest fear.

It was fun for a little while, until the kids lost interest. Then came the hard part. Reeling the buggers back in.

Of course, I was asked to do it for them because it was "too hard." And, of course, I laughed and said no. It took them the better part of of a half hour to wind the thin nylon cord onto the plastic grip handle, bringing their winging toys groundward at last. I relaxed under the canopy of a picnic pavilion, sipping my Dasani and mentally chuckling at their groans of frustration and the occasional slip which unravelled a few dozen of feet of tediously wrapped string back into the sky.

We packed up the kites in the back of the car and headed off to a welcome treat of Taco Bell. Mmmmmmm ... Ranchero Chicken Soft Tacos ...

Today's Penny Doubled Daily Cumulative Amount for 43 days is:


No comments: