After a disappointing perusal of seemingly more abundant-than-usual manufactured kitsch that had me feeling transported to a unique sort of Etsy Hell (such as the vendor who papers old maps and atlases over light-switch plates, I guess homey hardware featuring microscopic detail of backroads and small towns from each of the fifty states) downunder in what doubles as parking garage the rest of the week, the boys and I spotted a vintage, Super-Flex Smokey Bear and I was torn for a little project I’m assembling except his dirty polyvinyl armpits and neck were liquefying into sticky goo in the Sunday morning sun and the price was just not right. The irony was not lost, come to roost as it were, this awfully desiccated Pacific Northwest summer upon that iconic, lovable stooge of the United States Forest Service. In summers to come, many thousands more acres will burn for old Smokey. At any rate, proprietor was ornery cap gun guy who was in a far cheerier mood than usual and later we crossed paths with him while looking amongst the sterling silver for Oliver, who lost his beloved peace ring at the dock on South Manitou Island in Lake Michigan country earlier this summer.
We made our rounds in the antique mall where the boys smirk at the vintage Playboy magazines next to hideous Starter team jackets (for the few remaining ironic hipsters in Seattle?) but Adam begged us to go back to the market so he could get the Venus fly trap he had his eye on. He insisted on paying for it with his own money: Venus fly trap was delicately transported home in the back seat on his lap, Adam was like those nervous parents relieved-yet-terrified to be out of the hospital with baby. Except when they’re yelling and screaming bloody murder in concert with their little brother each time they spot a lime-green, orange or pineapple-yellow bicycle. Adam was up 32-15-3 (I wasn’t really trying) before I invoked the bequeathment clause for Oliver’s sake and snagged a half dozen bikes between the hospital and the football stadium but this raised Adam’s competitive ire and he would spot the usual trio of bikes parked in front of Montlake Market and Oliver basically gave up and we spent the rest of the ride home peacefully thinking up names for numerous Venus fly trap children (little brother and I each got the honor of naming one). I don’t know who exactly this is featured above but it’s clear she has a refined palate when it comes to fruit flies of which there are billions in the house at this time flying scared.
So it was with dutiful tenderness tonight that Adam played Oliver Fern to sleep with Mr. Brahms’ Famous Lullaby and A Minuet for Mr. Bach’s Children. Lately, the boys and I’ve been on our own quite a lot as their dear mother is highly sought-after in the Boring People who Frame their College Diplomas community for advice-giving, inside of which she occasionally must endeavor teaching adults how to act like big kids and will utilize downhomey, impossibly-true stories (corny) regarding gentle cows named Betsy, red snowsuits and deranged roosters (you can’t take the country out of the girl which is one of the things I’ve always loved about her). Before dinner, Adam and I played catch in the driveway. The baseball ricocheted dustily several times off the barbecue grill and once went rolling a block down the hill where it came to a halt next to the green fire hydrant. While the driveway is not an ideal place to play baseball, one could hope the narrow passing lane and spectre of neighbors’ broken windows eventually will translate into pinpointy Madduxish control.
Oliver Fern rode his bike sans training wheels for just the second time last Friday night and before we knew it he’d made it around Green Lake. Also, he is reading now. I mean really reading. He and I’ve worked hard together on it. Adam has been methodically guiding me through a chess match and I’ve been introducing him to David Bowie, the Japandroids and Camper Van Beethoven. About WordPress: I miss it a lot (still faithfully reading behind-the-scenes that output by my handful of dear compatriots). I’ve been replenishing the birdbath, reading (Francisco Goldman’s Say Her Name and The Interior Circuit: A Mexico City Chronicle followed by some insufferable Didion) and indexing copious notes, among the most writerly things a writer does without actually writing. This post is mostly a scribbled-message on recycled envelope tucked in the jamb of the front door. You didn’t see the note until you’d shimmied your way in……… one of the grocery sacks was slipping through the crook of your arm.
postscript: I thought about trying to pass this evening’s entry off as today but the truth’s somewhere in between. After one of the longest days of the year, the night on which I returned to this was clear and breezy in the city. The boys and I’ve still mostly been on our own. Little brother was already asleep when I sent Adam up the hill to 19th Avenue East for a couple of local weeklies (in the hopes of a good feature but usually to see which bands are in town) and I waited outside for him, trimming head-high fennel and lanky Shasta Daisies away from the neverendingly-prescient Black Lives Matter sign in the hellstrip.
Last Saturday afternoon, Adam’s bat finally made in-game contact with the baseball: A blazing, gravity-defying rocket emitting the most satisfying aluminum ping I may have ever heard in my life. Later in the game, he caught a few innings behind home-plate and got the ball back to the pitcher.…most of the time. During one agonizingly long inning of the game in which the casual observer could have completed several chapters of a more difficult Tolstoy work, I stretched my legs with a walk to the Columbia City Bakery for a box of ludicrous brownies (immensely high in price as well as taste) and on the way back down the grassy hill, having decided even a lightning-quick visit to the library en route was a tad self-indulgent, observed the diamond below and duly noted the issuance of another bases-loaded walk- but superb timing insofar as the opportunity next inning to cheer for Adam’s upcoming at-bat. Calling it cheering would be a stretch. Mainly, I nod. Adam generally disapproves of outward public displays of parental boosterism and would rather we keep quiet.
The boys were tuckered out in the evening- the three of us attended the rowing races and boat parade earlier that morning. The University of Washington’s best boats (ladies as well as gents) notched course records in utter demolishments of the jet-lagged, smog-choked visitors from China. The parade started on-time this year but to be honest we found it a little dull, Oliver observed the proceedings at certain times with that certain detachment of the bus rider. The best part was (and always has been) when the police and fire boats putt-putted up the Ship Canal with their water-sprayers on full blast.
A shortish walk was taken Sunday to the top of Index Town Wall. The boys were alternately fascinated, revolted and amused by the foil doo-doo bags (instructions included) provided trailside for sporty rock climbers who can’t hold it. The path to the top is steep for a pair of four year old legs but Oliver Fern made easy work of it. We had the main ledge to ourselves for all of an hour and this was good because my favorite regular cranny was off-limits due to winter windfall. Sixty minutes is plenty long enough for divvying milk chocolate Easter bunnies and watching clouds drift past, it was a glorious afternoon with my family.
At the conclusion of Friday night’s little league practice, Adam and I scrammed straight out of town for the following morning’s long walk through sagebrush and tickly ticks: Throughoverdown the Cascades, eventually backupalittle onto the desert plateau- that portion which doesn’t get watered for potatoes, corn and timothy hay and shelves neatly above the neutered Columbia. It’s olive green country right now with pretty speckles of flowers but that will be changing soon enough with a scorching summer on the way.
By lunchtime, the bluebird morning had turned into a watery sun and pretty soon the sky was a drab, dentedmetal gray (if I hear another florid description of a gloomy day including the goddarn word gunmetal I’m gonna go bonkers) afternoon sky portending Saturday night’s weather. Later in the day, we got outta the coulee and wandered a sprawling rim for a long time. I took pictures while Adam collected shotgun shells in a variety of colors, so many of them you will find.