Thursday, July 4, 2013

Broken Homes

I wish.
The kids are spending a month at Camp Grandma in Florida for the second consecutive year.

I have some plans to execute during their absence. Fortunately, these plans do not include painting, a chore that almost resulted in my corpse rotting in an empty house for several days.

The wife took a one-day trip to visit her old camp upstate, so I had the house to myself. Instead of getting drunk on the couch while running over GTA IV pedestrians in a car that I would never be able to afford in real life, I chose to knock off a couple of items from the to-do list.

The first job was to disassemble and then drag to the curb select pieces from our eclectic collection of backyard playground amusements.

When the kids were small, we considered buying one of those envy-of-neighborhood triple-decker swingsets, but we hemmed and hawed (mostly hemmed) and instead we acquired a few individual pieces of molded plastic and metal framework — donated to us by neighbors whose own kids outgrew the stuff — that provided a decent number of pleasant afternoons for the kids and their friends. The pieces included...

This house:

That castle:

Children not included.
These things:

Note the grass/weeds poking through like
the Snoats brothers escaping prison in Raising Arizona.

And that thing:

The slide is supposed to be attached. And I think there once was a roof.
We chose a small area in a back corner of the yard where some tall evergreens were recently removed. After we covered the area with landscape fabric, which amateur landscapers like myself can't locate at Home Depot and have to explain to an employee by describing as "that black sheet that comes on a roll and like you put it on the ground so grass doesn't grow," I had a truckload of red mulch dumped in my driveway, and it took all day to transport it to the back of my yard via wheelbarrow and rake it flat.

After a few years of general neglect, grass and several ugly weeds started to poke through the withered fabric and desiccated mulch. I'd pull a weed here and there, but eventually they began to take over the area, and I was too lazy to add more fabric and mulch.

With my kids turning 9 and 7, and the fact that they're tall enough that they have to hunch over in the playhouse like Kareem Abdul-Jabaar visiting Verne Troyer, the wife and I decided it was time to prune the playground.

After about an hour of pulling and tugging and unscrewing and kicking — as well as fighting off the yellow jackets that liked to nest in the house — I finally broke apart the house and the castle-shaped structure and dumped the remains into a pile in front of my house:

The Big Bad Wolf was here.
I felt a little guilty about throwing out several pounds of plastic without researching where I could properly recycle the materials, but when I left for work the following and saw that all the pieces were gone but my garbage can was untouched, I concluded that the Guy Who Drives Around In A Rickety Truck Looking For One Man's Garbage That Is Potentially Another Man's Treasure dropped by and took it all.

So maybe down the road, while I'm teaching my son how to drive, I'll spot a familiar pile of plastic walls and roofs and be hit with a wave of nostalgia...right before my son hits a parked car.

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