The logic of the bells

Planning our 90 day tour of the UK

15th century doorframe, UK planning map

I turn like a rotisserie chicken every quarter hour in bed, with a window angled open toward the church up the street and the bells tolling every 15 minutes, and I wonder if they’re live bells or triggered by some mechanism, or by some deformed guy who lives by himself.

Charlotte brings me a piece of chia toast in the shower with local honey on it, and we continue our UK planning with a map hung off the Schrank: Eberhard gestures dismissively at the Orkney Islands, says Why you want to go up there what is it you think you’ll see? — and he’s not waiting for an answer, he seems to know already.

I crack my head on the 15th century framework, the doorway entering the main eating area next to where they kept the barn animals, hit it so hard I feel it in the base of my neck, the vertebrae vibrating, and have to sit. Was just moving some beers from the laundry area to the Küche, the kitchen refrigerator, the Kühlschrank.

Mom’s gay friend Wolfgang, who owns an antique shop with his partner and mom calls Wolfy, came by to size up a couple Schranks we’re trying to give away to see if he would take them, says with disgust how her house is too cluttered, struggles for the English to express this, says she should paint the exposed framework in the eating area to lighten it up but she never will, and mom looks at me and makes a point that if we sell the house some day never let anyone paint the exposed framework, period.

Wolfgang’s coming back tomorrow night to cook the local Maultaschen, which translates to mouthpocket, devised by monks as a way to hide meat on Fridays, like if the meat was folded inside the pasta it could be concealed from the eyes of God.

Climbed the Himmelsleiter back up to the top of the vineyards, the tufts of nettles coming in thicker between the stone steps, geckos flickering by, thought I might collapse by the ache in my head and wondered vaguely if I was concussed, if anyone would find me out here, how it feels to lose yourself or find yourself, about the same.

Mom’s nervous about me grilling and what the neighbours might think, if I’ll make them nervous about my abilities since everything’s on fire and smoking, and Eberhard mentions the neighbours might complain about the smoke, and they’re all sitting down watching me as they say this and I ask for the phrase for something really profane in German in response, something about licking or sucking me —

And we decide to start at the northernmost point of Scotland and work our way south in a zig-zag sawing motion, cutting the country in sections like something we’ll consume, points of interest with long names of rock formations they’re all superstitious about and afraid to touch or mess with, which I understand.

And I cracked my head on the 15th century entryway off the side of the house by the laundry area, this time on stone but a different part of my head, just above my eyebrows, the part that governs reason perhaps, and notice while I’m in bed turning, counting backwards in my calming exercises that now I count the German way, “four and ninety, three and ninety, two and ninety…,” some phrase about folding birds into a pie before baking them, a pocket full of rye. They sent for the king’s doctor who sewed it on again; he sewed it on so neatly the seam was never seen.

Categories: humor

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24 replies

  1. Those head bangs certainly shook a lot of stuff free – in a good way of course – geckoes, nettles, hiding meat inside pasta, and I love this word: Kühlschrank. Also like the way you carry the background story (Mom, Eberhard, Wolfgang) along with your own story. It brings the reader into the room with you as you focus on the pieces of a new life. It’s like looking down a kaleidoscope, that’s it makes me think of. Hope your head is OK though.


    • That’s beautiful Tish – thanks for those observations. Yes, my stinking head has been aching for more than a week and odd dreams we’re having. All kinds of dreams seeming odd, but fantastical too. Thanks for the well wishes and the kaleidoscope image, I like that. Enjoy the day. Nice light outside, for people who have cameras and know how to use them.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wolfgang is a great name for a gay friend. German or otherwise.
    It sounds like your planning a military-style invasion. Would love to be the designated Sherpa.


  3. I’ve often had that image of rotisserie chicken when I’m flipping in bed — last night, in fact! It’s hot, and Deb insisted last night on the fan at Speed 2, which is as irritating as the film of the same name. Through the night I kept getting it mixed in with my dreams and my own personal buzz in my ears. And I don’t like the breeze on my skin. So I flipped.
    But enough about me. Sorry about your head. And that Eberhard. I know you love him, but I can see you at some point blurting, “For Chrissake, Eberhard…!” Ha!


    • The fan speed aggravates my tinnitus, but there you go, I sound like an old man complaining about his feet. I should be thankful I still have both. Eberhard is awesome and more of a character than I’ll ever be. There’s a picture of him featured on the image carousel I have under “People’s Poet”: he’s got orange and red rays shooting out of his head. Was taken a few years ago, I think. Maybe more.


  4. Did they complain about the smoke? The Danes would (and do). Our grilling interrupts their enjoyment of their balcony for the 5 minutes it takes to grill a piece of medium rare steak. It’s one of those small, niggly cultural things you’re never sure of–who’s got the right of way??


    • Yeah, here’s where my ugly Americanism comes out that wants to say shut the F up, or say it even worse, with grease splattered on my beard as I spit it out. I have to get in the queue I guess, and fit in.


      • It’s a fine line for sure–one I toe a lot with raising kids outside their own ‘home’ culture. When in Rome only gets you so far ;-).


      • Yes, lines are to be toed when visiting foreign countries. Funny, what part of you that feels American comes out, and at times with such an attitude, like it’s my RIGHT to grill even if it casts smoke in the air. Funny.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. you need the alert from the bells every 15, to make sure you wake up from your concussed state.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Northern Scotland? Bring rain gear…


    • No shit. I’m from the Pacific Northwest but kind of freaked out, still. Sort of into the thought of Scotch, fires, wool. Some poetry. We’ll see.


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