today, i met karie jane at her grandma's, in a little retirement community at the base of burlington hill. jasper greeted me blue eyes wide as i come in, "hey jessie", he says, and begins to tell me all about his toys: a little tool bench with multi-colored pegs that he's been hammering away on, a tiny plastic spider with sharp legs that can fly. jasper loves bugs, and so grandma is careful not to smash spiders anymore, she made that mistake once and only once. grandma's cozy little kitchen is decorated sweetly and neatly with a million roosters. she always has a matching outfit and and perfectly applied eyeliner, always a bowl full of jelly candies, like good grandmas do. i like visiting her, it is there i can get a little grandma fix. we take her clipped coupons with her little orange leather wallet to the supermarket, making sure to get exactly what she asked for: saltines, a roast, cool whip, raisin bran, boxed cake. she and jasper watch cartoons, check the status of the wind by watching the flag outside, eat cheese and crackers, and generally carry on.
after we run errands, me and kj hike up burlington hill for some exercise. there, elaborate mcmansions nestle against the striated rock walls, high enough up so that through their picture windows, even burlington looks like a glamorous view. breathing hard, we crest the top, avoiding dog turds like little land mines, surreal-seeming in such a tidy kept neighborhood. at the top, in a carefully landscaped lawn with a faux waterfall, bark dust and some sparsely placed bushes, a deer. it freezes, so do we. is it going to attack us? karie jane asks in a hushed tone. no, it won't attack says i. we sneak by, close by, the deer stays frozen. mostly frozen, except for its big black eyes, following us, and its mouth, still chewing.