by Don Schmidt
How the COVID-19 Restrictions Almost Killed Me was first published on GreatFamilies.net on May 1, 2020
Okay. So the title of this post is a bit overdramatic. And not exactly true. But indulge me for a moment while I tell you about our homemade rocket.
Like most of you my wife, Darlene, and I have been functioning under the COVID-19 restrictions that require us to shelter at home. And like you we’ve experienced the somewhat minor (and the not-so-minor) disruptions to our normal routines.
And like many of you, we’ve had more time to work on those projects that we keep putting off … like cleaning the shelves in our garage so that our kids won’t inherit boxes of stuff that they have no interest in.
And that’s when it started.
On one of those shelves we found a box containing left over parts from when my son and I built model rockets. There were no rocket bodies or parachutes, just a couple of engines, a launch switch, and the launch tower. That brought back some fun memories from 15 or 20 years ago.
My son may be headed towards 30 and no longer interested in model rockets, but now I have a grandson who is six. I thought it would be great fun to introduce him to the world of model rockets. But what can you do with a couple of rocket engines and no rocket bodies?
Well, you improvise; you make your own, right?
So I decided to build a couple of makeshift model rockets for my grandson. Who would throw away two seemingly good rocket engines without trying to shoot them off.
I started with a piece of aluminum pipe I found in the garage. I think it may have been from an old shower curtain rod. I cut that to what looked like a good length for a rocket. Then I took a paper plate with a Halloween pattern on it and twisted that into a nosecone. And I used another plate to cut the tail fins. The carved pumpkin faces staring at me were more ominous than I realized at the time. This was followed by some newspaper packing to hold the rocket engines in place.
Look at that, I just built two model rockets ready for launching.
I also found three igniters for my two engines. That's a good thing. If those 20 year old ignitors didn’t work I was already beginning to plan how I would improvise a rocket engine ignitor out of crushed-up match heads and a paper towel.
Then the day arrived. My grandson spent the night. I showed him all the things that I had created. We waited for the rain to stop. I wasn’t sure this was going to work, but we were going to try.
My grandson inserted the safety key into the ignitor switch. Darlene got her cell phone ready to video the action. My grandson pushed the launch button. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but we were excited.
These rocket engines are designed to go 550 feet, straight up. The problem is, my rockets were not engineered to fly in a straight line. They were much more acrobatic. The first one made it about 10 feet off the ground before it did a series of loops, headed into one of our trees, did another series of loops and then came directly towards where we were standing on the deck. The rocked landed in front of us just before the final explosion designed to expel the (non-existent) recovery parachute.
Thankfully our grandson had run into the kitchen and was watching from behind a glass door. But I was still on the deck trying to film the experience oblivious to the fact that I could have been drilled in the face by an aluminum missile gone rogue.
Not to be deterred, we still had one more rocket. We set that one on the launch pad, armed the launch switch, readied our cameras, and counted down to 0. This time our neighbors came out to see what the commotion was about and stood on their deck to watch. They thought 40 feet was a safe distance.
This rocket must have known the neighbors were there. This rocket went about 20 feet in the air, turned straight for where they were standing, then did several more loops before turning again to shoot between our two houses in search of the parked cars out front. Thankfully a large tree ended that flight before there was any destruction to life or property.
So did the COVID-19 Shelter at Home injunction almost kill me? Or am I simply wanting to blame someone else for what may appear as some foolish decisions on my part? I’ll let you decide that. But the next day I this thought came to my mind.
I began to wonder how others are being creative during these COVID-19 days.
All of us are creative though not all of us are creative in the same way. I hate playing Pictionary. I hate it when my wife asks me which color we should paint a wall. (I have learned to just pick an option knowing that we're going to go with her preference anyway.) But when it comes to turning an old rocket engine into a 5-second adrenaline rush, I can do that.
You are probably creative in different ways. Maybe you are relationally creative, and you have a story about making a connection with a neighbor you hadn’t met before. Maybe you can sew, so you are making masks for your friends. Maybe you can create crafts or other works of art.
If you have found some way to let who you were created to be bless those around you, please add a comment to the end of this post and tell us your story. Your story may not be so foolish as mine, but I would love to read it and I'm sure the others would love to read your stories also.
Don Schmidt is a husband, father, grandfather, pastor, counselor and friend. He currently serves as the Pastor for Family Ministries at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. He also serves as the Executive Director for Great Families of the Triad.