During the cold winters we burn a lot of wood in the fireplace.
One of my duties is to scoop the ashes and dump
them into a hole in the far corner
of the back yard.
The other night I think of using the ashes to sculpt figurines,
which even at the time I recognize to be a truly
Nevertheless I don old clothes and plastic gloves and my wife
convinces me to wear a paper facemask,
the kind used by painters to
filter the fumes and by
physicians to stop
We keep a stash of these things in the basement
for the usual reasons that I cannot
I thoroughly mix the wood ash into a matrix of mucilage glue,
and throw in some pencil shavings and dryer lint
and bits of cotton from the ruined dog bed,
for good measure.
I force the slurry into molds I make from popsicle sticks
and duct tape. I enjoy using duct tape
Even after I apply a lacquer coating, the figurines look like
chess pieces suffering severe scoliosis, skin disorders,
and clinical depression.
Despite the protests of my wife,
or perhaps because of them,
the collection is adopted with glee by the seven-year-old,
who arranges them on a shelf in his room
among characters from his favorite
The teenage daughter is off with her teenage boyfriend,
who just earned his driver’s license,
and is taking the two of them either
to a movie or miniature golf,
they said they would decide
on the way.
The boyfriend is perfectly reasonable,
and the daughter is wonderful,
if challenging at times, and
I privately entertain all sorts of nasty fears,
because it is the first time
they have been out together
for a whole evening without
other kids or
My wife, who can read my mind
in such situations,
tells me to
You should know who I am.
Away from home, the inner sanctum, I am a celebrity,
a famous retired athlete and fighter pilot and chef
at his own five-star restaurant, who serves eggs
from his own chickens,
and who fronts occasionally for a rock-and-roll band.
I owe my wealth to the exorbitant speaker’s fees
paid to me by trade organizations
for my opinions and insights.
I also am entertaining
offers to run for