Saturday, March 28, 2020

Forts, studies, hide-outs and covid-19

I didn’t like going places long before I couldn’t.  My situation seems ordained.  I made walking sticks years before the accident. . . well, I was actually intending to make hiking sticks, but if I ended up having to shorten certain sticks because of defects in the wood, I finished them anyway, calling them walking sticks and saying, 'who knows.  One day they may come in handy.'  My orthopedic surgeon was impressed with them.  He spent more time looking at my sticks than at my knee. 

I was looking forward to the weather clearing so I could take the dogs hiking, but it still hasn’t cleared and now it’s moot.  I wonder how the homeless people living on the river are dealing with covid-19. 

And, ever since I was a little boy I liked the idea of having a “fort,” and built several.  We lived alongside a huge vacant lot and in those days forts had to be dug into the ground, which I enjoyed doing.  Neighborhood boys used to pelt us with grass clods and we would pelt them back.  After we moved, I built a fort up in a tree out front.  It was fairly well built.  A friend and I used to go up there and make Japanese money.  We’d cut up blank paper into the size of money and then make Japanese-like scribbles on it -- can't remember why, but I was probably 12 at the time.  There was an oil-well next door and something attached to the top of the oil-truck collided with my fort – which was stronger.  The oil company made me tear it down.  

It was from inside another fort, one I built out beside the garage to wait for the end of the world which Dr. Clem Davies on the radio convinced my mother was going to happen on one Saturday when I was 13.  It was a good sturdy fort.  It withstood that particular Saturday quite well.  After I went into the Marine Corps, my stepfather tore it down.  He said it was a lot harder to tear down than he imagined. 

After I was working at Douglas for a couple of years, Karen, my first wife complained about not having a house of our own; so I bought one in Torrance, making sure it already had a fort – out behind the garage with lots of sliding glass doors.  It wasn’t built to code and so wasn’t included in the price of the house, but none of my previous forts were built to code either; so I didn’t mind.  Functionally, it became a study, and the houses I owned since that one needed to have studies, not forts, but since I am now officially sequestered I’ve been thinking of my study, from which I can see the mountains over the trees through the large window next to my desk, along the lines of my forts of old – not that any of them were forts in the medieval sense.  They couldn’t withstand an attack that came with anything more potent than grass-clods.  “Hideouts” didn’t exactly describe them either, because everyone knew about our “forts” and it was easy to know when we were in them.  And so, yes, the one I’m in now is a traditional study.  It has the desk, books shelves, lots of books and computer gear, but it is also on the second floor, away from the front part of the house, and I can always look to my right and see the mountains.  Since covid-19 it has seemed more like a fort than a study.  Any intruder larger than a virus would have a difficult time entering the house and coming up the stairs.  He would be confronted by a fiercely barking Jessica, who would be joined by Ben (who joins her if she is barking at something he is interested in like cats and strange dogs) and finally Duffy.  And if they were all barking at something, I would get up to check. . . the last time that happened I went downstairs and saw a Yorkie-sized dog sniffing around on our front lawn.    So perhaps “hideout” works better than “fort” under the current circumstances.  Hiding out is sort of like sequestering oneself.  But it is sort of like what I was already doing before covid-19. . . and I found myself looking out my study window and imagining what I would have thought if I knew I would ever have a “fort” like the one I spend most of my time in.  I would have thought it would be very good to live as long as I needed to, to get here. 

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