My parents have this Jumanji vine consuming a whole side of their house. They planted it back before the war when they were young and dumb and so full of hope and purpose. Now they reserve all three of their annual swearwords for the phone call I receive this time of year in which they put me on speakerphone and scream about how much they hate the vine while begging me to come climb a ladder to chop it back.

I always go because I'm the official Son Of The Year, every year. (And I'm always so gracious when I receive the award and I'm like "I don't deserve this. This really should have gone to Beyoncé." But then I keep it.)

The vine has now grown so high up onto the house that Bob & Cathie have had to buy ladders from NASA previously only used for engineers to climb up to the International Space Station for repairs. We plop the ladder onto the side of the house, I climb up through the clouds, and Bob & Cathie stand below as I chop and drop long pieces of vine onto their heads with reckless abandon. This always feels really disrespectful but I was a pretty well-behaved teenager so I think the karma evens out.

Last week they called me said they had had it with the vine and they were ready to take more drastic measures. Typically we just chop back the new growth. Now they wanted to pull half of it off of the house and then not let it grow above where they can reach "so we don't have to keep calling you" which now that I'm thinking about it, are my parents disowning me?

Anyway, Duncan and I showed up at their house yesterday evening ready for our farm chores. I climbed the ladder and started yanking and pulling and eventually I discovered that the upper part of the vine wasn't really attached very well to the house because suddenly a wall of matted English Ivy started folding off of the house in one solid piece.

I slid down the ladder to try to catch this thing from below. I got underneath it, held up my hands, and stared upward, like I was at a Christian Rock Church getting ready to pray the gay away, and the next thing I knew, all of the dirt and leaves and sticks and bird poop and Queen of Colors that has ever existed in the greater Mountain West area came tumbling directly into my open eyes.

My left eye in particular was basically punctured all the way through to the back of my head. Bob & Cathie helped me wash it out, gave me a good game slap on the butt, and sent me on my way.

Ok, I'm kidding about that last part. They were exceptionally worried and said they felt "terrible" that this had happened. I'm not totally convinced they weren't just nervous I was going to lawyer up and sue them, which I absolutely would do if I knew anything about law.

Anyway, we did pull the vine down. You can see in the below photo the area we uncovered in our Indiana Jones archaeological vertical dig.

By the time I left, my eye was basically sealed shut.

I don't think I've ever scratched my eyeball before. In case you haven't had the pleasure, let me educate you: it hurts worse than giving birth. They should give epidurals for this. Like, if you know you're going to scratch your eyeball, you should be able to go to the hospital and have someone inject something into your head so you don't feel anything. And then other eyeball scratch victims on the internet should be able to comment on your social media posts about how scratching your eyeball is more meaningful if you do it naturally. And you should be able to roll your numb eyes at those people while you unintentionally poop onto a table in front of a room full of strangers and loved ones.

Basically what I'm saying is I fully understand labor pains and the miracle of life now.

I had to drive to Matt's house after I left Bob & Cathie because Matt recently grew the entire Garden of Eden in his backyard and decided he wanted to can his tomatoes but he's never done that before and didn't have any canning supplies. Being the good pioneer woman that I am (who also now knows what it's like to become a mother), I immediately loaded my car with my canner and a handful of other devices.

By the time I got to Matt's house, covered in Earth, unable to see nearly anything to the point that I probably should not have been driving a car, I had a constant stream of puss and tears coming out of my left eye.

Nevertheless he persisted.

We canned tomato sauce for a few hours until I finally decided I just needed to go home and lie down.

Skylar was at the house when I got there. He performed an eye exam on me and then said "take some ibuprofen and call me in the morning" which I guess is what we've paid $497,234.18 for him to learn in the last two years.

I went into the bathroom to take a shower and get ready for bed. I pulled my shirt off and discovered two large black bugs walking across my shoulders, not even remotely looking like they got caught doing something wrong. So confident. So at home. They'd already started having their mail sent there.

I have no idea how I went several hours not realizing there were bugs in my shirt.

I better get nominated for Son of the Decade this time.

[P.S., if you haven't checked out this week's Strangerville yet, please do so below or on Spotify or on your favorite podcast app.]

~It Just Gets Stranger