This Old Sardine Can

I hope you’re enjoying your three-day weekend! Unless you’re reading this in a country that doesn’t celebrate Memorial Day. In which case…happy just-Monday.

It’s been a busy few days. Knowing we were tackling a major project, I wanted to ease into the weekend, so I settled in Friday night with a movie: Das Boot. Contrary to the title, it’s got nothing to do with footwear but is, instead, an epic tale of a German submarine crew prowling the seas during World War II. It’s a great movie if you can get past the fact that it’s nearly four hours long and in German. Hey, that’s why they invented subtitles, right? Normally I’m not keen on reading movies, but this one is so entertaining it’s worth paying attention to.

It’s funny, though: submarine movies are chock-full of cliches. Doesn’t matter if you’re watching Das Boot or Crimson Tide or U-571 or The Hunt for Red October—they’re all basically the same movie. There’s always a scene early on where a newcomer (either a fresh recruit or civilian guest) asks about the Fathometer, aka the depth gauge. It’s got a series of numbers from 0-260 meters and is color-coded; safe depths are marked by green, but then the color graduates to various shades of yellow and orange and red to indicate when The Situation is Grave.™ By the way, those colors are a Hollywood invention no doubt used to ratchet up the tension; I looked at Fathometers online and they are all just simple black and white gauges. The captain will then explain that there’s no reason to worry, the sub will never drop below 90 meters because, otherwise, “the water pressure will crush us and we’ll die a horrible death.” A little less bluntly than that, because there’s always some crew member who will give in to claustrophobia and terror and snap (only to redeem himself later by performing some heroic act). Here’s the Fathometer scene in Das Boot.

A little while later the submarine will come under attack, and in an effort to avoid the depth charges—which are always close enough to knock things off shelves while the crew braces themselves—the captain will order the boat lower and lower. Beads of sweat will break out on the crew members’ faces as they watch the needle drop into the danger zone, while the captain ominously recites their current depth every ten meters, pausing for dramatic effect after each readout. “140 meters. [LONG PAUSE]. 150 meters. [LONG PAUSE]. 160 meters.” By the time the sub reaches 180 meters, twice the safety threshold, the whole thing is creaking and groaning and everybody looks like they’re about to shit their pants. But the captain insists they continue to drop. At 200 meters, bolts and screws are popping loose, whizzing through the air like bullets, inevitably injuring some poor sap. Eventually, the needle reaches the very end of the numerical scale and they continue to drop to unknown depths, off the chart.

But of course, everybody survives. “This old sardine can (an affectionate moniker that appears in all these movies) held up better than anybody expected!” the captain will exclaim as cheers erupt from the crew once they realize they aren’t going to succumb to a grisly fate after all. Part of me wishes just once the sub actually would end up crushed by the pressure once it dropped below 90 meters, but what a depressing film that would be.

Hooray for Hollywood.

Saturday the weather was pretty stormy, so I decided to hop in my car and do a little storm chasing. Weather geek that I am, I love the adrenaline rush that accompanies a good thunderstorm. The radar was lighting up like crazy to the north and east, so I drove north, and then east. I ended up going down this little two-lane country road in the middle of the prairie straight into the heart of a supercell. The sky looked more ominous with each passing mile, and before long, there were jagged streaks of lightning and constant, rumbling thunder.

My heart racing wildly, I continued east. It started raining, which was fine. But then it started hailing, which was not fine. My poor car is still pockmarked with dents and dings from the hailstorm that welcomed us to South Dakota two years ago. The hail around here is no joke, so I turned around at that point.

The interstate wasn’t much better. More hail forced me to the side of the road beneath the safety of an overpass at one point. That’s one of the tricks we learned from the locals: people are quick to take cover beneath bridges once it starts hailing.

I eventually made it home unscathed. Tara and I watched a few episodes of Ozark season three before turning in. We needed our rest for Sunday.

The big project we’d planned for this weekend involved digging up a section of the yard and transforming it into a garden so Tara could finally plant her starts. This took seven hours and a lot of work, but the promise of tequila later was a pretty good motivator. Needless to say, my muscles are sore and achey this morning…not surprising when you look at just how much sod I removed, all of it by hand. Well, hand + shovel.

In the end though, it was well worth the effort.

The fence and wooden posts are our half-assed attempt at deer-proofing the garden. We didn’t bother with cement because this first year is a test. Providing the garden delivers the goods as hoped, next year we might actually install something more permanent. But this will work for now.

Gotta mow the lawn today, and then later I’m making homemade bbq sauce and we are grilling baby back ribs and corn on the cob.

It won’t be an entirely relaxing day, but at least it won’t be as tiring as yesterday.

23 thoughts on “This Old Sardine Can

  1. Andy and I dig up and re-sodded our yard once. Once. I’m pretty fit; I think I collapsed and sobbed in the dirt more than once. It took us two days. I sympathize with your aches.

    I recommend a dog for keeping the wildlife out. Or borrowing someone’s dog to pee around your property. Deer do not like that.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I saw the movie, “Das Boot” many years ago and really enjoyed it! And I didn’t mind the subtitles at all. After a while, it just becomes second nature. You can watch whats going on in the scene and read the subtitles simultaneously. I love how the movie gave you the sense of how small a space a submarine is.

    Wonderful captures of the stormy sky, Mark! I love a stormy-looking sky. We’ve had some rain here as well. However, today it’s been gorgeous. Sunny, clear sky, and in the high 60’s. Perrr-fect! Although, the next couple of days are going to be much warmer.

    Enjoying the progress of your garden. It’s looks very professional!

    Happy Memorial Day to you and Tara!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right about the subtitles, actually. I almost prefer them, because it seems there are always parts of movies where I misunderstand what they are saying on occasion. I trust my eyes more than my ears!

      We too will be warming up. Next weekend is supposed to reach 90. I guess summer is finally here on the Great Plains. Happy Memorial Day to you too, Ron! I hope yours was more relaxing than mine.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It might have been an even better movie if there actually were a boot scene. Maybe a female captain (damn the times! I’m all for equality!) wearing thigh-high boots or something (so much for equality).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Um, I’m beginning to think you and the husband were separated at birth. First it was the VW camper bus, but then: he loves (and owns, I think) Das Boot, he’s a big weather geek as well (he even taught meteorology one semester), and we have a jar of HIS homemade BBQ sauce in the refrigerator!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We spent the past two weeks laying mulch that a dump truck delivered. We try to only do it every other year, because it’s not a fun job. Here’s hoping your garden is successful in that spot and that the deer keep out. We have a good fencing system that keeps out deer, but more issues with chipmunks digging up the plants or eating seeds.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really? Chipmunks? I always associate them with tall mountains! There is a large rabbit population in Rapid City, but oddly enough, I’ve never seen them in our neighborhood. They were all over the place at our apartment complex. Good…they can stay out there. No fence would keep a rabbit out!


  5. Creating a large planting bed is work beyond what you think it’ll be. In my experience, like painting the exterior of your house, you do it once then pay someone else to do it when you need it done again. Perhaps I am lazy, but I’m just saying…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow–the garden plot looks great! Sounds like an eventful weekend. I can’t remember if I’ve ever seen Das Boot–probably, cuz we watch a lot of foreign “films.” Right now we’re watching the 1980s Polish series, Dekalog, which is interesting. No depth-meter danger zone stuff tho. And now I have “highway to the danger zone,” in my head, which is what I’d be singing if it was raining hail. Best of luck with the garden!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Mark, Last weekend was our three day weekend, “Victoria Day.” Yet, Memorial Day is significant around the world. I have heard great things about “Das Boot” yet it has not been in my radar until now. I get it, on the “Sardine Can.” I would not do well, at all.

    Great photos of the road and the storm. We had a bizarre, uncommon weather situation last week a few kilometres from our home. A rare tornado passed through a neighbourhood and launched a trampoline high into the sky. It was recorded on a resident’s front door camera. Supposedly, first tornado on the Island in over 50 years.

    A huge project for you and Tara and it looks like you are making great progress.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OMG…when the trampoline landed, did it bounce right back into the air?!

      I’m pretty sure climate change is responsible for a lot of so-called “rare” weather events. Here in Rapid City, something like 5 out of the 10 wettest years have occurred since 2000. I’m no meteorologist, but that doesn’t seem coincidental to me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The trampoline did not fair well. I am not too sure how far away it landed. A security camera caught the footage and a video is online (our area is called either Victoria or Saanich). I am also pretty sure climate change is responsible for some of the rare, unique weather events.

        Liked by 1 person

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