Is History Reliable?

Recently, I posted a story about a bat encounter that set off some subconscious memories of my childhood  https://themiddlegeneration.wordpress.com/2015/08/22/too-close-encounters . The responses I received from my parents both reinforced my memories and questioned the accuracy of the details.

“You never mentioned your terrible night. This is almost unbelievable. Better to read than experience! One correction: when chasing bats, which always seemed to appear the first day of the racing season rental, I carried a clothes basket and a tennis racket. After gently knocking the bat to ground, I popped the basket over it, then slid a newspaper under it to keep it in until I could get it to the door and release it. The bat could not crawl through the small holes in the clothes basket.
love Dad”
“Dear Laura,
I had the benefit of hearing your story before you wrote it and your memories of the bat adventures are close to mine. I think bat adventures near racing season are partly true and had more urgency about them because of our tenant situation. However in my recollection, bat appearances could occur any time of year. Also Dad and I experimented with many methods and at one time we did use brooms ; tennis rackets became a later method. I think choice of method was determined by efficiency and consequence of harm to bat. We definitely put clothes baskets over our heads . They did double duty of self-protection and container. However a stunned bat often regained full function and would fly out of clothes basket.
Xo mom”
“It is funny how we each remember things in different ways. Is that how history changes? If you and I each tell a different story, a generation from now we could have different followers who would dispute the truth. How would one ever know which side of the story to believe? 
Laura”
“Your question about reliability of memory and history is a critical one.
That is probably why it is important to collect as many versions of an event as possible.”

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This exchange definitely had me thinking about the accuracy of history even if it is as short-lived as a current trial lawyer calling eyewitnesses to the stand. How do we know what is really true versus what is perceived to have happened or has been distorted due to outside influences of time and hearsay? I think the reminder to explore as many versions of the story is valid.
I tried an experiment on my own family. Over dinner one night, I asked my kids and husband about an event we all were of the age to remember- a trip to Disneyworld. My son came home with a trophy stuffed animal he won at an arcade game. The question was- how did he manage to win the prize? The discrepancies that came up were about how many other players there were at the table, whether his dad let him win, or whether he won legitimately. At this age, my son was willing to acknowledge that the game had been thrown, but until a few years ago, he had always insisted he won fair and square. My daughter never had any doubts about the situation, but there were differences in how many competitors were in the game.
Here is my suggestion to all my followers reading this blog, talk to your family about any meaningful event in your life and get as many sides of the story as possible. It could be an eye-opening conversation starter and bring some clarity to past events in your life- however trivial.
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Lazy Days of Summer

We haven’t had too many days this summer that classify as lazy; but at least we managed to take a short break from our electronic devices and disconnect from the buzz of today’s busy lifestyle. My family managed to do this by reserving a spot at a campground on the remote end of a popular lake two hours from our home.

We brought our tents, sleeping bags, camp chairs, cooking accessories and two coolers full of food and beverages. We also brought our motor boat for water sports and were excited that the dogs were even able to join us.

With two teenagers, putting up the tents and getting set up was a snap.

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Within an hour we were organized enough to go on the boat for a spin. The kids tubed and we all swam in the refreshingly clean lake water- a great treat compared to the chlorine pool we have been doing our laps in all summer.

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By the time we got back to our site, we were hungry and ready to start our dinner. Luckily the local vendor with fire wood and ice came by at the right time.

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That morning my husband and I had done all the prep work for a real surprise meal on a camping trip- Fondue! We spent at least an hour dipping shrimp. pork tenderloin, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes and cremini into the pot. This was accompanied by a pre-made fried rice dish that was reheated in a cast iron skillet over the fire. Who could imagine camping food could be so gourmet delicious?

After dinner, we lounged around the campfire and played charades while we digested.

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We haven’t played this game in years so we were a little rusty, but we certainly got some good laughs out of it. Afterwards we roasted marshmallows for our mandatory camping specialty- S’mores! You can’t say you have camped without putting a marshmallow on a stick over the coals, roasting it until it is dark or golden brown on the outside, yet soft and squishy inside. Then you must pair it with a piece of chocolate and smoosh them together between two graham crackers, letting the warm , mushy substance ooze over the melting chocolate as you crunch the sweet cracker sandwich in your mouth! Divine! ( see the link below if you don’t believe me)

http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7o9X/hersheys-smores#spotLink

By the time we crashed on our air mattresses at the end of the day, we felt like we had experienced everything a camping expedition required.

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Each one of these activities slowed us down from our normal busy pace and gave us time to enjoy the experience of the moment and the joy of being together with no distractions.

Even though it only lasted 24 hours,  it was a great way to unwind and truly appreciate the lazy days that summer is supposed to bring.

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(Too) Close Encounters

Recently, my family had some (mostly) unwelcome visitors to our house. It started with an unfamiliar chirp coming from the mud room. It was neither the smoke detector signaling us to change batteries nor a reminder from my washing machine to switch the load. Somehow a cicada had entered the house and was making a desperate call to try to escape. We thought that was a strange occurence; but little did we know this was only the beginning of our close encounters that night.

An hour later, we were eating dessert in the family room when something flew around the room and out again. At first I thought it was a bird; but when it came zooming back into the room at eye level, I realized it was a bat! I have not had such encounters with bats since my childhood. Even though I am a grown woman now and should be able to handle such an intrusion calmly, something triggered my inner child and sent me ducking to the floor and covering my face.http://www.clipartlord.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/bat1.png

While my husband searched for his fishing nets to chase the bat out, I remained paralyzed on the floor while visions of my own parents chasing bats came back to me. I remembered my sisters and I huddling together in the corner while my brave mom and dad tried to shoo the bat out. They would throw laundry baskets over their heads for protection and wield broomsticks to corral the bat and sweep it out of the house.

By the time my husband returned, I had thankfully regained my senses and was able to assist him by waving my net and  chasing the bat into his net so he could release it outside. Needless to say, I was relieved to return to my bowl of ice cream after that stressful flashback. Unfortunately, our close encounters of the night were not finished.

Half an hour later, when we had calmed down and were heading to bed, we let the dogs out for their final run of the night. That is when disaster struck! Ebony had a face-on encounter with a skunk! Ebony is 12 1/2 years old and she had never had such a terrible experience. She didn’t know what hit her straight in the face!

 

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Obviously, instead of going to bed, we had to deal with the situation. This time, I jumped right into action while my teenage children had the privilege of fleeing to the relative safety of their bedrooms- although the smell was so potent that it wouldn’t be long before it infiltrated the house.

If you have ever experienced such a stinky encounter, you probably know all the myths and home remedies. We tried everything: tomato juice, hydrogen peroxide mixed with baking soda, shampoo, candles, Febreze and Lysol- for about an hour. Then, exhausted, we crawled into bed after laying down extra blankets and towels so Ebony, who was so bewildered she needed to sleep with us, wouldn’t bleed the oils into our bedding.

It had been an increasingly stressful and disastrous night of (too ) close encounters. They say bad luck comes in threes, so I am hoping this means we have this one behind us.

*Note: By the time I got around to posting this story, almost two weeks have passed. There have been no more close encounters, thankfully. But Ebony still has a very strong presence when she is in the room. At least it has reached the level of tolerance. It has definitely been a demonstration of unconditional love for our pets.