This is a story about too much stuff. I thought to call it hoarding, but that's too disagreeable.
We can't find the hammer. It's not in its designated place, which means it is at the last place it was used or near there, or stolen by someone passing by. Not likely, but we don't have time to look for the hammer and it is needed now. It may be easier to buy another.
Now we have two hammers. Both are claw hammers, one with a hickory handle, the other a composite. The first hammer has been missing for some time and so we say it's lost. We look but don't find it. It's a mystery why we don't find it, stumble upon it, run across it. It's not in its designated spot. The second hammer, we say, has been misplaced.
We don't often use a hammer so it's not a big deal when we can't find either hammer—old hickory or the other—and eventually we buy a third hammer, not another claw but a ball peen that looked enticing on the rack .
This losing and replacing happens with other objects: spatulas and books—ordinary stuff, and so we have duplicates of many things, perhaps even most things.
We really should clean and organize, but instead we sit and accumulate. We're getting older and no longer have the energy we did when we were younger. And so we continue to accumulate. We don't call it hoarding because only crazy people hoard and someday, someone, will have to deal with it but probably not us.
We travelled north. The Great Gray Owl travelled south. With the snow too deep at home, he agreed to meet us halfway. He arrived weeks before us but passed as a stranger for a time.
We arrived in daylight, and though our sleeping patterns were at odds with his, we imagined his dreams of voles too few, and occasioned daylight raids were necessary for his survival.
We saw him, his back to us, in a cottonwood tree, resting, perhaps asleep. We longed for him to turn his face of gray and, with his giant yellow eyes, blink a hello, but most of all, we wanted to see the bow tie tucked beneath his beak and take his picture.
But valuing our own sleep and respecting his we made do with a photo of him, back turned, eyes closed; dreaming, waiting for the sound of dinner bells beneath the snow and the plunge he'd make.
We live in a country besieged, my wife and I. We're stressed, we wake during the night, we're tired.
We watch the TV. People are marching in the streets while others complain about the marchers.
Our so-called president tells us we're in danger from the five million so-called immigrants, who all voted for a so-called nasty woman.
A so-called judge says there are more immigrants that want to come and we'll take them. The so-called president protests in an ungentlemanly way.
We hear alternative facts, and of a massacre in Bowling Green, Kentucky that has slipped history's recording.
My wife wants to turn off the TV, pack her belongings and go. I want the so-called president to pack his belongings and go.
But here we are, still at home, right in the middle of a country besieged.
Inspired by “In a House Besieged” by Lydia Davis
We have twelve inches of snow already. I measured, and my weather app says more is on the way. On the way, hell it’s snowing right now.
I thought it was as simple as push-the-button, pull-the-lever or pull-the-lever, push-the-button. But there I stood first pushing and pulling, then pulling and pushing, believing that repeating the same thing over and expecting different results wasn’t futile, but right, or if not that cathartic.
It was only a winter ago that I’d purchased the electric snowblower, counting on the simplicity of it to last more than one year. The gas-powered one had frustrated both me with its fickleness and the environment with its belching of exhaust like a little dragon with indigestion.
But this is about the shiny new electric snowblower with its button and its lever. I was near giving up and returning yet again to the shovel, telling myself that the exercise would do me good and that ultimately it was better for the environment. I went into the house to check the manual for something I may have forgotten when I heard it start and then stop, my son had continued to push and pull some combination which must have been the right one. But when I came back out, it had ceased to work.
I asked him what he’d done differently, but he couldn’t remember. Knowing there was at least some way to start it, we checked and double-checked the plug at both ends and found nothing awry. Then the accident happened again. The truth was discovered: hold the button down, pull the lever, and once it starts, release the button.
A button, a lever, and now the snow is deeper still..
I’ve just published my first book on Amazon. It’s a collection of seventy-two stories written over the past fifteen years. I use the term “stories” as a catchall for what includes creative non-fiction, flash fiction, prose poetry, and memoir. All of the pieces are short, usually just a few hundred words.
I’ve tried to capture the interesting bits and pieces of life as I see it. I find it’s all interesting if you pay attention.
I opened the paper to the editorial page of the Salt Lake Tribune today and watched as a spider, not hairy or scary, ran across Donald Trump’s bare heine. The heine is on Bagley’s cartoon depiction of our emperor’s new clothes.
The spider continued down the page, through the public forum, and vanished while Donald trundled into the future.
My wife pauses at the door of Barnes and Nobles bookstore. A gentleman holds the door for her, she hesitates. He tips his head.
"I'm waiting for my husband," she says and enters.
He continues to hold the door for me, but when I get there, three young women are coming out. I wonder if he is holding the door for them or me.
And politics still on my mind I consider whether he is a Democrat being polite or a Republican feeling guilty. Just a nice guy I decide as I enter the store.
I pick up a copy of Short American Fiction to peruse while enjoying a cup of coffee. I read Erin Somers story "Canine" a contest winner. It features lemons an apt symbol for a marriage gone awry, and a tooth, the meanest tooth, a red lipstick covered canine.