The day before school started up again we went to the grocery store to get items for lunch. It used to be simple. There would be a run of Uncrustables, and then a run of salami, then a run of something else that she would stop eating without telling me because there wasn't anything new in the food-idea pipeline. A few years ago I stopped making her lunches, because she was old enough to make her own, but I provided the basics. It was part of the Sunday routine to stock a certain shelf with breakfast bars, packets of nuts, dried fruits, water boxes. A great sense of satisfaction and contentment attended the provisioning. All was set and ready. It's my goal to never run out: when someone wants something, it's there, because I stocked up and thought ahead. Wife and daughter are utterly spoiled. It's a hilarious inversion of the old archetype: when my wife comes home from a hard day at the office I am cooking dinner, and since my phone gives an alert when she pulls in the driveway, I have time to get a beer out of the fridge and pop the cap and hand it to her as she walks in the kitchen. Rough day, dear? Here, sit down and have a refreshing beer.
So we got in the car on the last day of summer.
"For me," she said. "Not for adults. We have to go to school but it's still warm and it's still summer for you."
True: the week when school starts is still summer, since Labor Day is a week away. But psychologically it's done. I turned on the radio: Bohemian Rhapsody, so of course we had to sing along and metal-thrash our heads at the particular spot, and at the end I had to hit the gong, because it's always cracked me up that the song - not exactly the model of restraint - ends with a fargin' gong.
We went to CUFB, or Consumers United for Bargains, colloquially known as CUB FOODS, and got what was needed. Checkout was amusing, since the self-checkout machine was slightly broken, and would only scan using the vertical beam. It couldn't handle coupons at all, and the codes had to be entered manually, and of course they were nineteen digits each. Merriment ensued as Dad's checkout and bagging abilities were tested like never before. Back in the car and back on the highway for the last summer song in the car on the fast wide road.
Nothing on the 70s or 80s or New Wave channels. The 40s channel had "The Sunny Side of the Street." Okay, that'll do. Jo Stafford version, big wide trumpet solo.
"The old radio show I listen to in the morning," I said, "is from the 40s, and has a middle aged man who thinks this kind of music is moronic compared to what he listened to as a young man."
"Well all old people think the new music is bad."
"Yes. But sometimes it is."
When it was done I found a good New Order song we both knew and we listened to it until we got home. Walked inside with the bags, and she went upstairs to get ready for the first day.
And that was summer.
It was a good one; did I mention that? June was beautiful, July was the amazing and unforgettable trip, and the rest of July was a blur and August was as long, in retrospect, as August should be. All too fast in retrospect, and I didn't do a few things I needed to do. But it was grand. She's ready for the routines to return. I'm not. There are things to finish before the leaves turn. The Great Scouring continues, with closets cleaned and reorganized, bushels of detritus hauled out, provisions laid in for the cold season.
In other words, I am building a bulwark against the unlikely as a means to distract me from the probable. The new larder downstairs isn't just stocked for future meals, it's an emergency food reserve. All of the batteries and water purifiers and last-ditch cooking fuels (propane! single-use charcoal! Sterno!) and wind-up radios and rechargers, everything finally in one place. Just in case. Because it gives you a simulacrum of safety and security. I'm prepared and we will be okay, you think, and in the back of your head is one of those little machines that makes a mocking laugh when you push the button and it tells you it's not going to be that it'll never be that your Amazon order for 30 freeze-dried meals will arrive and you'll feel on top of things and then you will feel bad and when you google it it's pancreatic cancer and bingo bongo whoosh, there you go
No, that's ridiculous. This is the problem with being a hypochondriac. But as ever hypochondriac knows, eventually you're right. Even if you're wrong. Really, sometimes it seems like I'm tempting fate to lay out the website so deep into 2016. Don't you know that when you presume, you make a Pres out of U and Me?
I did get out the old box of Emergency Supplies, the bug-out box I assembled after 9/11 when I thought it would be prudent to prepare in case we had to light out for Fargo. (What's in Fargo? Relatives, land, big underground tanks of petrochemicals in our possession, and guns.) I am here to tell you that the shelf-life of a container of Folger's Crystals is not 15 years. I don't know what the stuff turned into. Grey shrunken coffee mass. Pretty sure all the moist toilettes have dried up. Was amused to find a bag of liquor miniatures, the kind you get on airplanes, and I knew exactly why I put those away: currency. That was the October 2001 mindset.
Looked at the box, and thought: I'll have to restock. Thought: the worst thing, it didn't happen here. Nothing even remotely close. I would have been relieved when I did this to know how useless my efforts turned out to be.
And then I went inside and stocked the new supplies in the pantry closet.
You never know. Daughter was running on the treadmill.
"Remember, don't leave the house tomorrow before I get a picture for the first day of school."
"It's a tradition."
At least I didn't drag you to the Rose Garden to stand in front of the sundial that says Count Only the Sunny Days, I thought. It's been years since we did that. The last day of summer, we would go to the garden, go in the thickets, roll down the hill, take a picture by the sundial. I was probably bothered and worried about something then, too. Don't remember Didn't matter. In the end it never does.
The sign on the onion rings stand.
Think about it.
These are spokescreature quislings of the worst sort, but the one on the right is crying, because even though he's forced into these expressions of joy on behalf of his oppressors, he cannot keep a tear of sadness from trickling from his eye.
Since it's State Fair week, let's have some State Fair product. Seed bags.
Obviously based on Millet's "The Sower." The only classical painting allusion in the collection.
I mean, I don't think this is based on the works of Fragonard:
Producer for Select Growers by Associated Producers? You can't get more specific than that!
Seldon Watts Seeds might be something a parrot would say if it had a cold:
There's no Indiana Avenue in St. Paul. Odd.
The crystal ball to symbolize the dark arcane arts, in case you're one of those farmers who doesn't believe in modern seed technology:
Ramy wanted to be known as progressive and up to date, apparently. That required the most modern of modern seed bags:
We end with AGSCO, which just might incorporate the words Agriculture and Company in it. Wonder what that empty space is above - probably a place for the resellers' name.
That's about 1/200th of the guy's collection.
That will do; see you hither and thither. Also perhaps yon.