A degree off from beige

img_4441I don’t know why, but I built a fire out back in the afternoon and stood by it. It got so cold one night a planting pot blew out the side and hung open like a cartoon mouth on a hinge, a puppet’s mouth. I walked in circles around the house, looking for abnormalities like that. Something was blooming back by the sports court like sweet, strong wine. The sunlight hits the tops of the trees though we can’t see when it sets, it’s implied. The house next door still abandoned, lost to auction two years now, the new owners still trying to tear it down and put up two new ones but haven’t started, can’t get it approved. A shed they built (the prior owners) on the edge of the property where the woman Suzie would keep her gardening tools. What wood they had drying along the side got picked over and now it’s gone. I never touched it. The other neighbors let the blackberries and morning glory vines thicken where our lots meet. A dilapidated shed with the roof caved in from a fallen cottonwood branch, probably where the coyotes live. Across the gravel road it’s a pack of guys in their early 30s, all of them with trucks, some with dogs. They rent from investors we only saw once, on the day they closed, slapping each other’s shoulders and smoking cigarettes, pleased with themselves. There’s only a half dozen lots on our street but the developers keep circling, trying to put in sewage lines and sidewalks, cul-de-sacs, all the paint tones on the homes a degree off from beige.

I built the fire and listened to it hiss and crack: not many sounds out here, for now.

Categories: prose

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17 replies

  1. A great sense of well worn houses sunk in their own devices and in tones of off beige (I like that) and the encroaching slickness of predator developers.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I love the smell and sight of fire. I hope the impromptu fire brought you a degree of peace as well.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Mark, and thanks for recently following my blog and commenting here…definitely something that goes WAY back with the fire,no doubt…funny how those primitive associations stick with us. And for the well wishes thanks. Same to you and yours. Bill

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Directly across the street we have bare open field and then a fenced in area with alpacas. My kid asked if anyone could build on the empty lot and I said not as it stands now but you never know. Our realtor said the same thing when I asked 11 years ago, don’t get married to a view.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Love those alpacas, they bring me joy to look upon. Were some like that off route 100 where my mom used to live. All those open fields just asking for something to happen.


      • Our township is known for being all not in my backyard when it comes to developers. We didn’t know that when we were looking but that step back in time look is what attracted us. You sound like you’re hunkered in, protected as much as you can be on the spot you staked out.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This reminds me of how R. Crumb, who used to live in Sonoma County not too far from where I lived there, saw the encroaching development and said, “I’m outta here.” He and Aline headed for France.

    I just wonder why there’s so little variety in what developers put up. It’s like “House Hunters” is another circle of Dante’s Hell.

    Liked by 2 people

    • And wasn’t R. crumb from philly originally? That’s interesting, good on him for moving to France instead. I’d like to, one day. Great boogie band from Detroit who does a version of Seeger’s Little Boxes part inspired this. That’s totally footnote detail, sorry…but you’re a musician (and former hippy?!). Have a good day Kevin.


  5. Best title ever! Do you start with the title before writing?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, thanks Akuokuo! You’re the first who’s asked that and I’ve been dunking around with that for a couple weeks now. I’m just being silly and naming posts after the last line and not really knowing until I get there. Thanks for asking!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. maybe not the coyotes, but actually the developers hiding out in the shed. )

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Little boxes on the hillside,
    Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
    Little boxes on the hillside,
    Little boxes all the same.
    There’s a green one and a pink one
    And a blue one and a yellow one,
    And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
    And they all look just the same.

    And the people in the houses
    All went to the university,
    Where they were put in boxes
    And they came out all the same,
    And there’s doctors and lawyers,
    And business executives,
    And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
    And they all look just the same.

    And they all play on the golf course
    And drink their martinis dry,
    And they all have pretty children
    And the children go to school,
    And the children go to summer camp
    And then to the university,
    Where they are put in boxes
    And they come out all the same.

    And the boys go into business
    And marry and raise a family
    In boxes made of ticky tacky
    And they all look just the same.
    There’s a green one and a pink one
    And a blue one and a yellow one,
    And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
    And they all look just the same.

    “Little Boxes,” Malvina Reynolds, copyright 1962.


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