This bag is not a toy

img_6296Dawn’s cell phone alarm goes off in bed but she lies there listening to the rain thinking about work and I lie there doing the same, thinking about acquiring some. The rain collects in a corner outside, it’s probably something I should fix. Sweater weather now, just in time for school: I cooked a batch of chili, set it to simmer an hour, settled into the den as the rain started and I opened the windows to smell it, got out my book but the spine split down the middle and the dried glue along the seams was the color of chicken fat. Bunches of orange berries from the Mountain Ash soon to be ravaged by the birds outside, the gray look of things waiting for what happens next, getting up to stir the stew then settle back in with the ticking of the clock. Ground beef in a tube, the first time I bought it like that, packed in like a piñata, weird squeezing it out like that. Lily has trouble with her locker combination — like me, gets confused by simple things, tripped up by left versus right, thinks about it so hard the two coalesce into one. Thinking I should get up to write and once I think that, I do.

I put together two loft beds for the kids, one from IKEA with several boxes, some with their own instruction book many pages long: no words, only pictures, stick figures smiling with implied noses above eye level insisting you should do the job with someone else. I ask Lily if she wants to help: Lily, with all the patience and optimism of her mom and me only muscle, whatever I’ve got is going.

Lily’s quick to offer reason and rational thinking when it’s needed most and right every time. The painstaking act of turning an allen wrench without enough clearance, all of Abbey Road in about 15 minutes. Lily was born to that record and we wonder if that’s part of the reason she likes it, but there’s no time for sentiment.

Gregg and I go to the gym in the morning but I walk around outside of it rather than in; it’s not so much a sun break as it is just not raining for a bit. The ground damp, the air good; I pass structures meant to keep the mailboxes dry, wooden huts with moss so thick the roofs are wearing a pelt, one with a plastic tampon shell shoved inside of it poking out, a long time ago someone painted God Bless America there, but it’s now faded. I think about inspiration, how I go outside scrounging around for it, and when I worked that’s all I could think about, was work. The Christmas we went to Germany in 2012 and finally my senses reopened, a reboot. Waking at three in the morning our first day there jet lagged, going for a walk in the dark to watch the sun come up, what little there was in mid-December, finding the slot for the Himmelsleiter as a train came down the valley, the sound of the metal brakes and rust as it slowed, the doors opening with a hiss — a whistle in the damp morning air and it was off like that to the next stop, a wake of birds and silence. Thinking then our vacation had just started, a day with no plans.

A door came down and hit me on the head in my garage and because I was on all fours, it really had momentum by the time it landed, and I shouted Jesus Christ and then hit my head again on an iron stove we bought on the Oregon coast, an antique we never do anything with, basically a $500 candle holder wedged under the stairs by the door for the crawl space, a place you would never go unless there’s a problem.

Keeping the kids up later than we should on a Wednesday to watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail because Lily got it out of the library and now it’s overdue and I wanted to get our money’s worth, to see the castle at the end we saw when we were in Scotland, on the drive down to Oban. We went right past it and Dawn made me stop and turn around to take a picture, and when we looked it up later she was right.

'England, 932 AD' (actually Scotland)

‘England, 932 AD’ (actually Scotland)

The cat’s missing a canine tooth now and has a limp but settles back into the pace of the season. The dog smacks her lips and waits for me to get up but seems to be in no rush. I went out to the hammock because summer came around again and it’s hard to tell how long it will stay, tried to snooze but couldn’t, remembered what it was like when I got it and couldn’t find the time to use it, how it hung there empty collecting pine needles like so many other things I’ve bought as a lifestyle I imagined for myself, and now I’m not sure what to do with.

Categories: musings, parenting, travel, writing

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

24 replies

  1. Lucky Lily, to have been born to Abbey Road. Could do worse, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t mind AR playing as I check out (side 2 anyway), but that could be hard to arrange …


    • Yes, oh man whose name is sorrow! You have to roll with that, I think it’s good. But then I’m like that. Oh, to feel.


      • Make sure you take her to the new Ron Howard directed Beatles documentary. It’s gotten great notices in the UK. And see it in a theater. Don’t wait for the DVD.


      • God I love Ron Howard. Who know, growing up with that kid he would become all this. What a cool dude, and a cool sounding project. Thanks for the tip. Man, those Beatles…have you ever gotten to see Paul by any chance? That’s one of my regrets, missing a recent show he did here. I heard he played like 4 hours and just killed it. I’m not surprised. That’s one I’d pay big bucks for and not feel cheated I’m sure.


  2. I was worried that was your head blood on that bag. Protect the coconut, my friend. (Coconuts. Holy Grail. It’s all connected.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. it’s not over yet, don’t put your hammock out to pasture – you’ve got a lot of life left to live

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The life you’re living banging up against the life you bought. Living the metaphor. Nice.


  5. Fun title. It’s hard sometimes to know which bags to give the kids play with. Cool castle pic and story too. Glad your kids like Monty Python, always a sign you’re raising them right. I enjoyed the details and changing scenes in this one.


  6. Please post a video of ground beef coming out of a tube. I want to use it as an appetite suppressant. And if you can manage a video of your head impacts, that might be useful, too. Thanks.

    So that’s you in front of the Castle Aggh?! Is that true?! It’s like seeing a celebrity.


    • That is me, a bit thick around the jawline from the Scottish food and the Scottish Scotch of course. Yes, aptly named title for the castle, nice one buddy…that was really neat to see. Dawn was convinced it was the same one but I didn’t believe it and then we looked it up, and she was right. No fanfare or signs really to speak of, either. Just there off the side of the road. Had it been foggier I’m sure we would have gone right past. Neat times. Thanks for reading Mark. Bill


  7. Going on a blog reading binge today…this is a good start to my morning. You always capture atmosphere so well. The color of chicken fat…I never considered that but now I will never see old glue the same way. Cheers on a Friday.


    • Hey, well happy Friday Jon and happy to be a part of your binge. Nice to hear from you, and appreciate the comments. Sick, that chicken fat + dried glue thing, weird. Glad you can relate, I guess! Enjoy the day, looks like a winner out there.

      Liked by 1 person

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