Turns Out, A Tool Actually Is a Toy—Except This Once

I’d lost count of how many times Pops had said, “A tool is not a toy.”

Turns out, I’ve used that same one-liner with my own kids, though rarely. You see, their tools are things like sketching pencils, watercolors, pastels, and all sorts of assorted technological gadgetry.

Entering Pops’ workshop was a privilege, one obtained by permission only. Only, we rarely received any such privilege. I can recollect only a handful of times Pops and I stepped foot into that shop.

The times I most often recall were when I’d sneaked in on just my own two stealthy feet, keeping a watchful eye and ear out for other intruders. We kids were always up to no good something.

Most of the time, this something was just plain old-fashioned play. Kids are no different today.

Like any underprivileged kid in a similar situation, I acquired many a toy straight from the gifts of Mother Nature herself—dirt, rocks, sticks, leaves, and water (nature’s strongest solvent as well as binding agent). Old discarded man-made items came in handy too—scrap wood, metal, and cloth. And these extra parts weren’t found in any junk drawer, they were salvaged from a junk pile.

But the tools toys I cherished most were Pops’. I just couldn’t help myself—he had everything I needed wanted—so I just sort of helped myself to them. The risk was always worth it.

Except this once.

The memory of this one exception in the taking borrowing of Pops’ tools is forever etched in my mind, most likely because of the remaining scar that’s etched on my foot, not to mention I was caught red-handed and bloody-footed.

We kids were creating a metropolis from the depths of a pit we’d dug. It was a monumental undertaking. And we’d spent probably the better half of a summertime morning on it, so far.

With the excavation complete, the roads were ready to be cut. But how? What we needed was a bulldozer. And then it hit me, an axe blade I’d seen lying on the workbench. Tool-turned-toy-joy!

It looked something like this, only a little rustier.

It looked something like this, only a little more rusty.

Off I ran to Pops’ shop, which, for obvious reasons, was locked. So my little feet just ran around to the back to shimmy on up to the window, which, for some unknown reason, was never locked.

And just like the Secret Agent Man on my school lunchbox, I was in and out of there, Spidey-speedy-quick-like too, with that old axe blade tucked carefully into the crook of my arm.



And boy! did that little bulldozer bull-doze that dirt. I was a big, hard-hat operator now, with my little fingers clutching onto that axe blade, cutting sharp and deep, dirt just melting away at the wayside.

By the time I was finished, I was melting away too. It was the hottest summer afternoon by this time, and the sweaty little palms of my hands (I [too] am not a crook!) just couldn’t take it any more.

So I took it on the foot, literally. That slippery little bulldozer nearly took my right big toe right off.

All I remember was that it wasn’t in my little five-year-old fingers anymore, and my big brother was carrying me, running me up to the house.

Then my mother started hollering, like usual. But these shouts were not like her usual hysterics. These screams somehow seemed real.

And then I looked where everyone else was looking, at my little bloody foot with its big toe hanging by the skinny-skin-skin of it.

Turns out, a tool actually is a toy—except this once.

Post loosely tied to The Daily Post writing prompt: “Toy Story”

Fathers—Ours for Just a Lifetime

Fathers—I’ve known a good few.

Naturally, Pops came along first, already a well-seasoned father by the time I emerged into the family fold. Ol’ Timer was a Depression-era young man who carried on believing that a hard day’s work was what made a man, and his litter of children. I remember him napping in the late afternoons, just trying to get some winks in between shifts, while we kids did our chores.

‘Course, there were the times when he wasn’t working or napping, wide awake times when he lost more than his temper, when his quick Irish wit just wouldn’t do, when anger turned to rage, and violence. And, as in many an old-fashioned (dysfunctional) family life, there were times of such tenderness too, like the time Pops and I were privy to the birth of six small kittens.

Die Andacht des Grossvaters, 1893 Albert Anker (1831-1910)

Die Andacht des Grossvaters, 1893
Albert Anker (1831-1910)

And these many years later, I can still see him napping in the late afternoons, a warm blanket covering his frail little body, its dementia-riddled mind asking, “How tall do you think that tree is?” again and again. Later on asking, “Who are you?” to which I retold a brief history of the man I’d come to know as Pops. Puzzled expression, he always seemed happy to accept his story.

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Whole Being Eating

Simply put, food was once fuel,
such sustenance wolfed down,
to re-energize this little being,
betwixt its busy bouts with play.


Then somehow it transformed,
into an evil double-edged entity,
tasting sweet, bringing comfort,
yet packed with such prohibition.

An enemy, whether full or empty,
no, not this, but that, or nothing,
hungry for life, imagined, not real,
starving the body, its whole being.

A silent, almost imperceptible aha! 
knowing it was never the foodstuff,
but all of the other stuffs, the junk,
hidden in plain sight, its dull aching.

Will, not in power, but as allowance,
acceptance, assent, and appreciation,
for nourishment of body and being,
sustaining and empowering this life.

Intuiting its needs, even its desires,
nibbling on its freedom from the fear,
understanding what truly nourishes,
appreciation of this body, just as it is.

Whole being eating, with joy. Yum!

photo credit: Apple hin Apple her … via photopin (license)

Just What Makes Those Little Wins Epic

What’s that behind me? In an instant, my non-visual senses pick up on it. But my Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum amygdalae just gape at one another, offering up that mere fawn response between fight and flight—I’m frozen. Cuss! Then it slowly comes into my peripheral view. Phew! It’s just a deer grazing through the woodland.

And she reminds me, maybe even inspires me. The teen love and I, after a 3-mile hike around our neck of the woods yesterday, talked about taking our show on the road, much more hilly trails that is, tomorrow.

Tomorrow is now today. And I’ve come to an understanding of the idiom talk is cheap, again.

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This Ain’t No Fender-Bender Beer-Bottle Tailgate Party

The teen love is a happily busy little being, which means she’s in need of safe transport, time and again, day or night. Last night was one of those times. And I was happy to be her late-night cabby.

So happy. No worries. Not now.

You see, earlier in the morning, I’d received a telephone call from her teacher, letting me know that they’d been in an auto accident, and that everyone was all right. The show would go on. Bravo!

Now I kept in close text contact.

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