“I don’t know, Martha…” “You’ll get used to it, Bear.”

Setting up the yard is kind of like playing Tetris right now. At one point in 1993, I had the five highest scores on a Tetris arcade game in the long-gone Hard-Rock Cafe in Zürich. It was not a Hard-Rock Cafe as we know it in the states, no fancy schmancy restaurant/bar/show place, but a somewhat dingy teen-ager bar in the Niederdorft when young Swiss, boys mostly, drank Hurlimann Beer and tried to score weed. Sordid tales from my misspent “youth.”

But I have tried out the new deck and it works as planned. I was even able to get Bear to come up on it although she is NOT impressed. 🙂


Any of you who’ve had kids and grandkids probably know what it’s like to watch a little kid learn how to read. Until yesterday I had not had the experience.

When they arrived to set up the deck, Connor told me he was Hobbes and Michelle was Calvin. I said, “How come you get to be the tiger?”

“We played for it and I lost.”

Personally, I think it’s better to be a tiger, but that’s just me.

Lots of stuff happened in kid time while the project went on. At one point,
Michelle sat in front of me with a well-read Calvin and Hobbes comic book. She read slowly, not totally getting the essence of what the words said, but pointing at the words and sounding them out old-school.

One of the new words was “garden.” I commenced the Socratic method almost instinctively. “Where do flowers grow?”


After a couple failures (this is not university) her mom said, “Sound it out, honey.”

“Gar-den.” She jumped up in delight! “GARDEN!!!”

Then she said down and kept reading to me. I had tears in my eyes at the beauty of this. I looked over at her mom who was kind of teary, too. In my mind I saw the WHOLE WORLD OPEN for Michelle.

P.S. Obviously I’m not a stickler for writing to the prompt.



I’ve been wondering all this time how this was going to happen. How were they — two people with their own physical disabilities — going to bring a pre-made deck down the alley to my house. They would take it apart, sure, but how much?

When they arrived, the base of the deck — a giant, heavy 8′ x 10′ structure — was balanced on a wagon just like this one.

The rest of it was in the back of their Chevy SUV.

Getting that giant frame into the yard was the first challenge, but we (and I actually helped) did it. We all cracked up thinking that three disabled people were actually doing this thing and actually do everything.

It fit perfectly in the space. Then we placed the boards and George started screwing down the 3 inch deck screws. The little boy set up all the screws. He’s 7. The little girl badly wanted to see the dogs, but…

I would say that we all just had a really good time. Lots of hearty laughter, lots of discussions about all the cats I’ve had. I listened to both kids read aloud from Calvin and Hobbes, noticing, for the first time, the level of vocabulary used in that comic strip. 11th grade. The little girl calmly struggled to sound out new words. We talked about home-schooling. I said, “So these guys are with you 24/7.”

Their mom said yes. I have honestly never seen two more responsive kids, two kids more curious about things, more receptive to new information or more willing to try things. Naturally, they show off to me. “You really like them, don’t you?” I asked Mom. She grinned and nodded. Their dad, too. They work from home. They are all together all the time. At one point dad had to check the little boy. “No,” he said in the same voice I use with my dogs. The little boy instantly stopped.

We talked about how now so many people are stuck homeschooling their kids when that wasn’t their plan ever. “Yeah, my friend has four kids suddenly she’s supposed to be teaching them all. I just told her, ‘Just keep them alive’.”

The thing was done in an hour and change. Sadly, in these times, there was no grilling burgers on the new deck or anything like that.

As for the deck. It’s awesome. I hate the color I picked out. Next time I’m going to mix up a color I like and take it to the store and have them mix THAT rather than looking at paint chips.