Picture of the Day
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December 11, 2002

arne moves from room to room. my grandmother, towards the end of her life, liked to quote Tomas Masaryk, president of the first independent Czechoslovak Republic (1918-1938): "Death? What is death but moving from one room to another?"

we've been pulling up hardwood floorboards, prying them up with steel bars, they shriek and strain, refusing to let go at first, then yielding with a pop. then we pull the nails, the old kind, square heads, soft, each one driven by hand long ago during the first phase of seattle homebuilding. i save them in a paper bag.

we knock down a closet wall sturdy enough to stop a car, lath and plaster, each thin slat and its small nails, i think of the motion of the oldtimers' hands, the jokes they told, the laughter and tapping, thousands of tiny finishing nails fed out of full calloused fists. the timbers old growth, dark, stronger than bone, probably 500 years old, i take the scraps home and burn them in the fireplace, they go slow and hot, like the sun coming out.

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