Boxed and ready

Patrick Wilson, Juliet, 2010

Patrick Wilson, Juliet, 2010

He posted calendars. In his office and garage and kitchen  – spent several hours a week updating them to quarter hours, syncing old-school. With sharp colored pencils, he outlines boxes of time.

Fox news fills squared time between 6:30 and 8:30, formerly dinnertime.  Lawn maintenance and church in green numbered boxes. She watches the blue bedtime box inch its way up from 9:30 to 9:00 to 8:30. His outworn hands gripping thin pencils like colorful pickup sticks. She noticed the broken pieces pierce heavy duty trash bags on Tues mornings, even though he double bagged.

“When do you go to the john?” She was there, borrowing his angle grinder.  The grey clink of his fingers rummaged through a Folger’s coffee can, searching out an odd length screw.  The color sharp schedule catches her eye. Rocking back and forth, heel to toe.


“The john!” she says louder and points. He needed a hearing aid. Of course wouldn’t admit it. Old men love their bowel movements.  A daily badge, a gold star sir for gastrointestinal bravery.

“You didn’t schedule your bowel movements, isn’t that the highlight of your day?”

He scowls. A hoarse sound, possible guffaw. Remembers laughter like his last kidney stone.

She’s right, he didn’t schedule in his “constitution.” Takes good half hour or more. Enough to read the front page. Or study the obits for friends.

“guess I’ll have to update it. “

“And get a hearing aid.”

“what?” he deadpanned.  Heel turn. “Not gettin’ a damn hearing aid. Juliet couldn’t make me. Neither can you.”  Coughs. “So go on, here’s the grinder.  Keep the box neat will ya?”

Shoes her out of this neat hen-house garage.  He hunts and pecks for the one screw he found and lost several times. Entirely unnatural. A neat garage I mean. That schedule too.


Keltie Ferris, ¡I! , 2010

Keltie Ferris, ¡I! , 2010

We rented a 14 cubic foot dumpster last weekend, in a grand quest to chuck almost every chuck-able thing in the garage and transform it into a studio. Yes, a studio to paint. Are we talented enough to do this – probably not. Are we trying to recapture some youthful joy of throwing color on paper and letting madness, gravity and some squirrel hair have its way, yes.

Obstacles loomed large. A garage crammed full of 15 years of life detritus. Crap from three houses, three children and rag- tag stacks of DIY furniture from my teens, twenties, thirties, etc. No space to walk to the beer fridge – an American tragedy.

The effort was riddled with cursing and tears. Stuff is hard to throw away. Stuff you will never use again clings to you when you see it. You feel some small comfort, the soft flannel nostalgia of your  former life revisits you. And you can’t throw that part of your life away can you? How ever will you remember?

Sorting through keepsake boxes, mumbling the odyssey of our lives. The aching journals of youth, rampant religious texts, cheap beads from dirty countries. Silk wedding flowers of people now parted. Goodwill got my fifth grade teddy bear collection.

One thing I refused to part with  –  my spray paint. The single most transformative tool – secret weapon of up-cyclers  and street artists everywhere.  I think Keltie Ferris applauded. Her pointer finger transformed the humble spray can into high art.

I love the energy of this painting, the way the spray strokes  fuzz and pop. Layering the sprays atop the other paint creates a plunging sense of depth. Purplenavy past below, present above (a bit amorphous of course but vibrating, full of movement). Downsizing’s gracious reward – the gold shimmer of beginning.