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I’ve Decided Which of You I’m Going to Eat First

It’s happening.


Yesterday it was pasty green, just like the others.  And then last night while I was sleeping: blue.  After weeks of weeding, watering and watching, nature has given me something for a change.  I gasped when I saw it through the kitchen window and rushed around back for a closer look.  I smiled for the first time in days.  I’ll be honest, that one berry made me happier than many more meaningful moments in my life should have.  I did this.

I was soon back inside, however, as I had a boring job to hurry to and a boring 9:30 meeting to prepare for.  The scenario boys from across the hall whipped up some new money projections for me and I had to dig out some of my old textbooks to figure out what the hell they were talking about.  I halfheartedly leafed through a few chapters on fixed income security valuation before sliding the books aside and looking at the picture of my blueberry for ten minutes.

Maybe I’ll put you in a pancake.

I packed a rainbow lunch today and wondered, while eating the blueberries, which sort of blueberry my new berry would be.  There are tart ones, smushy ones, … tart ones.  My store bought berries actually weren’t that bad today, but I knew my berry would be better.  You’ll trump them all, I whispered aloud.

I ran around back when I got home and as I popped my berry off the bush, noticed that another had blued up during the day.  I grabbed that one, too, and hurried inside.  “Mrs. B!” I shouted, “Look!  Blueberries!!”

I handed her one and she dampened the mood.  “Baby, this one is a little green on the bottom.  Are you sure these are ready?  Did you research when to pick blueberries?”

There was no turning back now.

“Did you wash these?”


It was delightful.  Quite possibly the best blueberry I’ve ever had.  I took the time to chew it slowly, to savor it, to imagine it inside a muffin or a cobbler or other fancy things within which you’d put the perfect berry.  I must have closed my eyes because I heard, but did not see, Mrs. B spitting hers into the sink.

Not a little green on the bottom: check.  This is going to be the best summer ever.

How to Get a Bird Out of Your Chimney in 12 Simple Steps

1. Mow lawn
You’ll have hardly started before your nine year-old son will burst through the back door like a scrawny locomotive and scream at the top of his indoor lungs, “Ahhhhhhh! Dad! A bird, Dad! There’s a bird! It’s in the chimney!!”

2. Finish mowing lawn
Go inside to investigate. Yup, you can hear it. A goddamn bird in the chimney. What the fuck.

3. Give uninformed assurances
“It will find its way out. It found its way in!” Try to walk away.
“No,” your wife will say, looking up from Google, “A bird isn’t a helicopter. It can’t fly straight up.”
<flap flap flap flap flap flap … thunk … flap flap flap flap flap>
“Well how did it get there?” Accusingly.
“It must have fallen in.”
<flap … flap … bonk … flap flap flap flap flap flap flap flap flap chirp bonk>
“We can let it die, I guess.” Say this quietly, your kids are right there!
“Baby.” She’ll look at you sternly. Keep your resolve! Your kids heard everything. “It will smell terrible.”

4. Get exasperated, leave for a 90 minute run
Stew. How can this possibly be your problem? Consider your lot in life. Consider running forever. Turn around and go home.

5. Is the bird still in there?

6. Poke around
What exactly are you dealing with? Invite your cautious son to look up into the chimney with you. Be a father, ease his fears, “It’s totally fine, the flue is shut. Look – the bird can’t get out.”


When he really gets in there with you, scream. “AHHHHHHH!” Laugh when your son falls over himself trying to get away. “I’m just kidding! It was a joke, everything’s okay. I’m messing with you.” Stop laughing. Smile.

“It’s not funny!” It’s not.

7. Reel him back in; you need his help now. Shoot. You should have thought of that.
He needs to hold the flashlight while your wife takes pictures and you figure out how big of a box you’ll need.


The plan is simple. Put a box in there and open the flue. The bird, covered – and I mean absolutely covered – in soot will fall into the box. Slide a piece of cardboard over the top of the box and bring it all outside. What could go wrong?

8. Take every precaution
Put on long sleeves and jeans. I know, it’s August and it’s hot, and that sucks. But there are several possible outcomes, many of which involve a liberated bird and your bare skin.


The colander is half silly, half honest-to-goodness if that bird touches my face I’m going to go batshit bananas. Your wife might offer a fantastically implausible scenario in which the bird winds up in the space between the colander and your face. She’s fucking with you. Still, take it off; you never know.

9. Shelter/containment


10. Brass tacks
There’s never a good time to box a chimney bird, so just go for it.


Wedge the box in there good and tight; no gaps. Nothing would make that bird happier than to flap around your living room and wriggle itself between two sofa cushions.

Take a deep breath. Relax your shoulders. Hesitate. Open the flue.


Oh! It’s in there! You felt it! You felt it fall into the box.

Gag a little.

11. Bedlam
Slide the piece of cardboard over the box and jiggle it from the fireplace. Carefully stand up and look at your handiwork. Is there a gap somewhere around the edge of the box where the top isn’t quite covering the opening? Yes, there is. And the bird can smell freedom through it.

The fall through the flue renewed the bird’s will to live and it’s starting to hop around and assess its surroundings. Jostle the box and try to shimmy the top over the gap. Tilt the box at an extreme angle to get a better grip.

Now the bird will really be going bonkers and, oh God, you just felt it brush against your hand through the box. Its teeny talons make a hair-raising sound as they scrape against the cardboard and you consider dropping the box and running out the door, which your wife has been holding open this whole time, watching in dumbfounded amazement as you stand still and clumsily juggle a box containing a bird which is caked with creosote and more pissed off than you can possibly imagine.

“What are you waiting for?? Bring it outside!”

When you get close enough, you’ll be tempted to just heave the box out the open door. As far as I’m concerned, go for it; I won’t judge you. You’ve been through so much. If your kids are watching, however, bring the box outside and put it on the driveway. Knock the cardboard top aside and dart back into the house.


12. Huzzah
Father of the year.


Glory is forever.


You Ate Before You Came to the Factory!

I was out back picking the cucumber beetles off my cucumber plant last weekend when I noticed that the holes in my vegetable garden fence were a little more “gaping” than they’d been a few days earlier. The plastic fencing is depressingly old and brittle – I’ve had the same roll for a few summers, now – and I tore it quite a bit while putting it up a couple months ago. I should have just stopped and bought a new roll of fence then, but instead I got frustrated and manhandled it, forcing it onto the metal stakes and ripping critter-sized holes into the fragile webbing.

Remorse set in immediately after the job was done. “Well that’s no good,” I assessed. “I should not have done that.”

Several days later I saw an adolescent rabbit on the inside of the fence and rushed outside to chase him away, yelling mother-f-bombs and brandishing whatever I held in my hand at the time. (It was a soup spoon.) The rabbit panicked and raced back and forth shitting his pants within the confines of the garden before finally dashing out a hole in the fence big enough for… well, a baby rabbit.

I returned to the house, satisfied.

I decided to stop worrying about the fence. I knew it was a problem but I really, and I can’t stress this enough, didn’t feel like going to the hardware store for a new roll. It’s kind of a headache to put up and I’d only ever seen that one rabbit in there. Also, to be honest, I had my hands full with the cucumber beetles and my curiosity in suburban farming simply would not endure pest wars on multiple fronts. As it was I was one more goddamn beetle away from letting the whole thing go to weeds.

I walked over to examine the gaping holes and my gaze drifted to my bean plant:


A rabbit, presumably the same punk rabbit from a few weeks ago, had eaten just about every leaf off my plant. I felt violated and impotent, but mostly just sad. Sad and furious.

So with my head low, shoulders slumped and blood boiling, I drove the four miles to the hardware store and bought a new package of plastic fencing. I was back at the house no more than twenty minutes later tearing down the old one. I also weeded and put down some fancy mulch before stringing up the new fence.


Do you like my panoramic picture? I just learned how to do that! Also, can you see the bean plant? No, you can’t.

It took a while to thoroughly weed the entire bed and then mulch and put up the new fence, and I’d pretty much cooled down by then. So the rabbit ate my plant. He didn’t get every leaf; it might bounce back. Furthermore, the joke’s on him – the leaves taste awful; the beans are the real prize.

The last thing I did before clipping on the new fence was pop off the beans. After all that farming, I deserved a bean feast.


A bean feast, I don’t need to remind any of you, is on Veruca Salt’s litany of demands prior to her Bad Egg demise in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.  It was her wish, apparently, to toil in the dirt for a couple hours in the hot July, Philadelphia sun and then snack on a handful of raw beans.  Oh, one of those!


(Please, do not tell me what a bean feast actually is; the truth will ruin the entire movie for me.)


It’s only been a few days, but the bean plant already has some new leaves and more beans are beginning! In a cruel, Gift of the Magi twist, however, the new fence is too high for me to reach down and pick them. In the olden days, I could have just stuck my arm through a hole in the fence, not that there would have been any beans to pick. Such is the life of a suburban farmer…

Literally All I’ve Got Going On Right Now: It’s Science

I got caught out in the rain a few days ago toward the end of an easy eight, the sort of rain that indicates the end of days. It started to sprinkle at mile five and by six was the hardest rain I’d ever been outside in. Then it rained harder. Streets quickly began taking on water and for the last couple miles I was running in ankle-deep puddles as often as not. It was kind of fun until I nearly got hit by a car, after which I sobered up and just focused on Getting Home.

I slogged into the driveway with heavy shoes and water pouring off my body, and paused at the door, unsure of my next move. I couldn’t possibly walk into the house like this; I was a walking waterfall. I looked around a couple times and saw no neighbors and no cars… The Bacon family wasn’t home… I quickly stripped off my clothes on the front stoop and darted inside to get a towel.

I was back at the front door a minute later to retrieve my gear and thought, as I reached outside and gathered it all up, “Man, I’ll bet this stuff weighs five pounds.”


I carried the dripping mess into the kitchen and grabbed Mrs. B’s scale out of the cabinet.  The scale went onto the table and everything in my arms went onto the scale.


Yes, it was hard to balance everything on that little scale. Yes, this is the same scale Mrs. B uses to measure ingredients and food. No, no one has ever put dirty shoes on there before. No, I don’t think I will be in trouble. Mrs. B is a scientist; she loves stuff like this.

It’s tough to see the readout so you’ll have to take my word for it: 55.48 oz. Okay, so not five pounds. (I may be in trouble for not using metric units.)

Running Warehouse lists my shoe – Mizuno Sayonara, size 9 – as weighing 7.9 oz., which, presumably, is the bone-dry weight. I cannot describe to you how excited I was to see how much it weighed dripping wet:


Whoa baby! That’s… not nearly as dramatic as I’d hoped.

– 24 hours later –

The next step, of course, was to see how much everything weighed dry. How much extra weight was I carrying in the rain? At the time, soaking wet, splashing through the rivers on the sides of the roads and leaping onto someone’s lawn to avoid a Jeep Cherokee, it felt unfathomably onerous.


Unfathomable onerousness = 55.48 oz. – 26.45 oz. = 29.03 oz. About 1.8 pounds.

You’re probably thinking, “Okay… is that good?” Well, weight is a tricky thing to get a handle on. For example, a 1.8 pound turkey is too small for Thanksgiving and probably too weird to eat, whereas an extra 1.8 pounds of running gear feels like the end of the world. So, allow me to offer you some perspective:

1.8 pounds (29 ounces) of extra running gear weighs:


far less than a small watermelon, but


more than an MXR phase 100 pedal, which may be the best pedal ever made. This one is older than I am. I found it in a pile of junk when I worked at an electrical engineer’s shop in college and he said if I could fix it, I could have it. The rest is psychedelic history.

It weighs:


less than a LEGO Volkswagen bus, which Mrs. B bought me for my birthday and was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received, but


more than a smaller LEGO Volkswagen bus.

It weighs:


pretty much the exact same as 29 ounces of artisanal coffee, which may or may not have been roasted exclusively with solar power.

So there you go. Be sure to think of this the next time it rains.

More Than Enough

Okay, now I can stop playing this game:


I’ll admit it; it didn’t really feel like the end last time. And this time I know I’m done because I took this picture a month ago and haven’t played the game since.

32,768 would be nuts. It would be insane to even try. It would take forever. Mrs. Bacon would kill me.