Sunday, July 15, 2012

OBJECT #14: Ignition Chicken

    As I speculated in my last blog entry, I did have to clean up and organize a bit this week.  I tackled the one place in my house that has remained untackled since we moved in ten years ago-- the closet under the basement stairs.  I’ve stashed all kinds of things in the front part of the closet, but the back part of the closet goes way back under the bottom section of the stairs.  The former owners had left some boards and stuff under there but the space never seemed usable enough to make it worth the trouble of digging everything out.

    Can’t say why I woke up one morning and decided to tackle that closet, but in just several hours I had unearthed some REAL junk in my basement.  Not cool science stuff.  Junk.  A mammoth stack of lumber from the 1960s, two pre-1970 wooden baseball bats, and 17 pieces of clay pipe, each a foot long and about 10 pounds in weight.  And an antique wooden ironing board in very bad condition (though I did know about that one before I began cleaning).  That’s the kind of junk no one wants to hear about.  (And, mercifully, is not too hard to get rid of if you use the semi-miraculous phenomenon of craigslist-- a great place to pick up stuffed coyotes and get rid of chunks of pipe.)

    This week I feel compelled to do a memorial tribute to “Ignition Chicken.”  Ignition Chicken was brutally murdered, smashed to tiny bits on the patio.  I was the criminal, though I plead “manslaughter” because I didn’t see how far the end of the door I was carrying extended out into the corner of the gazebo.  I thought I had enough clearance.

    Ignition Chicken got her name from her contents.  I can’t even remember where she came from originally. She sat on the top shelf of my kitchen for a number of years until one day I got her down and decided to give her life meaning and purpose.  She eventually ended up out by the patio full of matches and other flammables. She always looked heavily armed with grill-starter bazookas.  She’s been on duty for about three years now, perched on a little corner ledge under our gazebo.  And never once a close call with falling off, quite amazingly.

    My mistake was working alone.  I was hoisting a full-size door from the patio table (where I had attached hardware to it) over to a place where I could put a coat of varnish on it.  I was having a bit of trouble managing maneuvering the door, and one corner scraped across the patio ledge where poor Ignition Chicken was sitting, no doubt in anticipatory terror as she saw the monstrosity coming and was unable to cluck a warning from her porcelain beak.  She died at her post, patiently waiting for the next bonfire.

    It’s not the first time a member of my family has eulogized a piece of china ware.  As a child, my sister composed a poem about a glass custard cup that had fallen from the dish drain while she and I were doing the dishes. She wanted to inform our mother of the accident in a gracious way.  I still remember the title: “Charles E. Custardcup, RIP, “ and a few of the lines. “Alas, poor Chuckie, too young was he; he ne’er had a crack at his destiny!”

    I don’t have time to compose a poem for Ignition Chicken, but since I happen to have a picture of her (taken on a day when I was photo-cataloging junk in my basement), I thought the least I could do was post her picture as a tribute to her years of faithful guardianship.

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