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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Our Elf Billy (or is it Fred?)

Our elf hid in the downstairs bathroom, so my daughter made sure to use only the upstairs bathroom for the rest of the day.

     This is our visiting elf. His name is Frederick William but we call him Billy. Actually, my daughter calls him Billy; my son calls him Fred. To settle the argument, my daughter wrote Billy a note asking if his name was Billy or Fred. He wrote back that the girls call him Billy and the boys call him Fred. He's nice that way.

     We first heard about the Elf On The Shelf a few years ago, from a friend of my daughter's. That night while we were seated at the dinner table, the kids and I called out to Santa to "please send us an Elf On The Shelf." A few days later the doorbell rang. When my kids ran to answer it they saw the elf sitting on a shelf just inside our front door! On the doorstep was a brown paper package addressed to our family; it was stamped and postmarked from the North Pole! Inside the package was a book all about the Elf On The Shelf.

    These days you can buy the Elf On The Shelf from a store because as Amazon explains, " . . after much urging, Santa has allowed his biggest secret to be revealed in The Elf on the Shelf." But my daughter feels that ours is more authentic because he arrived in the mail from Santa himself.

     I can't tell you how much joy Billy (Fred) has brought to our house. He hides in his doll form in a different place each day and is the first thing my daughter looks for when she wakes up in the morning. Her brother, being older, has other things on his mind, but he always welcomes the morning updates from his sister. 
    At night, after we are all in bed, Billy magically transforms back into his elf self and flies back to the North Pole to report on the kids' behavior. A lot of times he carries a verbal message from my daughter back to Santa; this usually involves a special gift request - one that her parent's aren't likely to buy so hopefully Santa will instead.

     My daughter often writes a note to Billy asking him questions about himself and he always writes back. Sometimes it's hard to read his writing because it's small, messy and full of misspellings. He has a lot of trouble with his "S's."  
     Through these notes we have learned that Billy is "very old and very young too;" his favorite color is red; there are 25 girl elves (at last count); some toys the elves make and others Santa gets from the store; and when it's not Christmas, he studies math, writing and magic.

     The Elf On The Shelf, like Santa Claus, only comes to families who believe, so parents - keep believing and your children will learn all about the spirit and magic of Christmas.

Merry Christmas everyone! May you always remain young at heart.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Song Of The Seashell

Grandma has a shell.  It's big and white and opens out like a wave on the beach.  The inside of it is pink and smooth.  She says I can pick it up as long as I use both hands. I like to hold it from the inside; my fingers curve underneath into a hidden chamber.  If I could shrink down and slip inside, I bet I'd slide round and round like on a spiral slide.
     I love to hold the shell to my ear and listen to the ocean roar.  Some adults say it is only the noise outside your head, echoing inside the shell.  Grandma says, don't listen to them. They may be grown up but they still are not old and wise enough to understand.  Grandma says, keep believing and if you listen very hard and are very lucky, you might hear the mermaids sing.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Sand Dollars - Coins Of The Sea

copyright Karen Gough Nov 12, 2012

Mermaids are forever losing their coins, and if you ask them what they are shopping for, they cannot tell you. They only know that it is what human girls do and so they must do it too. They are quite silly creatures at heart.
    And so they grab their jellyfish bags, grasping them by the tentacles, and fill them with coins harvested from sand dollar beds. Then off they go.
    They make so much noise, giggling and gossiping as they swim along, they cannot help but attract attention. It is the seals who notice them first and cannot resist this call to mischief; they are not called the "clowns of the sea" for nothing. As the mermaids begin their ascent, the seals strike, zooming through the gaggle of girls, tumbling them head over tail and freeing their purses, which slowly undulate away.
     The mermaids give chase - the shopping forgotten - while their coins drift down to the floor.  Some are carried by the tide and swept up to shore, there to be found by a lucky child, collecting treasures from the sea.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Nosferatu Walks

 Nosferatu - the "Disease Bearer" - walks.  He has always walked, bringing plague . . .

Well, I was going to continue writing along those (dramatic) lines, but after doing a bit of research on the epidemics that have ravaged entire populations over the millennium, I got so freaked out that I couldn't continue!
     Why is disease on my mind?  Because in late June I was struck by the Norovirus - a gastrointestinal illness - that could have killed me.  Luckily my family and I were in the United States (The Grand Tetons of Wyoming to be exact) and not in a 3rd world country where treatment can be too slow or non-existent. 
     My husband and I were unaware that there had been a break out of the Norovirus in Yellowstone; where we'd stayed before arriving in the Grand Tetons,  so when I started throwing up after breakfast,  I thought it must be food poisoning.  Wanting to sleep and be sick in peace, I asked my husband to go ahead with plans to take the kids kayaking, leaving me alone in our little cabin.  But while they were gone, things quickly deteriorated. I made so many trips to the bathroom that I could barely walk.  In fact, I crawled back on the last trip.  Sparing you all the nasty details, I lost so many bodily fluids that I quickly became majorly dehydrated and extremely cold.
     I realized I needed help and fast.  With my cell phone pocketed away somewhere, my only choice was to reach for the bedside phone.  I pulled it toward me and the cord fell out.  Great.  Sliding out of bed, I looked for the cord.  It must have fallen into the morass of wires behind the bed stand.  I couldn't find it and I felt like I was about to collapse.  So back into bed I crawled.
     By now my teeth were chattering and my whole body was shaking uncontrollably.  My mouth was as dry as a wool blanket.  As I lay there, I thought about my choices: do nothing (out of the question); crawl to the front door and try to wave someone down; look for the phone cord again.  I got up - and thank god - found the cord.
     A few minutes later a security guard arrived and drove me to the medical clinic that was luckily right there on the grounds of the Jackson Lake Lodge.  It was a very small clinic with only one doctor and one nurse on duty.  The doctor immediately peeled off my jacket, which I was fighting to keep on, gave me a shot to stop the vomiting, set up an oxygen flow, hooked me up to a warm IV and wrapped me in blankets.  While this was going on, the nurse asked me to tell her my name, the date, if I knew where I was, etc.  I knew all the answers (yay!) but had a hard time answering because I was so frigging freezing and exhausted and - do you know how hard it is to speak when you have zero moisture in your mouth?
     The doctor tried to take my temperature, "Hmmm, having trouble getting a reading," then on the second attempt said, "A little chilly."  Later, when I was more coherent, I asked him what my temperature had been.  92.6 F  No kidding.  He said I was as cold as an avalanche victim who's been trapped in the snow for half an hour.  "I told you I was cold!" I said.
     During this time my cell phone (in my jacket pocket) rang.  I knew it must be my husband, calling to check on me.  The nurse got my phone and called him back.  This is what my husband said he heard: "Hello, this is the nurse from the Jackson Lodge Medical Clinic.  We've got your wife's GI tract stabilized now and she's doing much better."
"What?  Where is she and what's a GI tract?"
     An hour later my poor husband came in and saw me - wrapped head to toe in blankets,  hooked up to O2 and an IV and barely able to open my eyes. "Hi Honey - surprise." After a bit he brought the kids in, - poor kids, having to see their mom like that!  By the way, my children and husband did not catch the virus.  They stayed healthy - thank God.
     Anyway, a few hours later I was stabilized and able to go back to the cabin.  The next morning I felt great, by afternoon I was exhausted.  And that's pretty much how it's been ever since.  This Norovirus has wrung the energy out of me.  It turns out I have a weak immune system (mild lymphocytopenia) and it takes "people like me" a heck of a long time to get over the lasting fatigue of the Norovirus.  Some days I feel almost normal, with energy to do lots of things, other days I am back on the couch, too tired to even read.  It all depends on whether or not I've "done too much."  A lot of the time I feel like a vampire has drained half my blood, hence the thoughts of Nosferatu.
     But it could be worse.  I'm sure I'll get over this in time as I have other things in life.  For now, I must try and think of it as another damn lesson in patience.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Hostile Hostel

The hostel in Plankenfels Germany was not haunted, but it should have been.  Our family had been drawn to this little Bavarian town because of photos we'd seen of the nearby castle - Schloss Rabenstein.  The castle was perched on a cliff, looked properly imposing and had a working falconry.

Being so small (pop 865 in 2010),  Plankenfels didn't have many choices of accommodation.  This hostel - Factory 41 - had decent reviews and was cheap, so we decided to give it a try.
     I had called the owner to make sure there would be room for us and told him of our arrival date.  He assured us we'd be okay; but when we arrived late in the afternoon, there was no one there.  In fact, Factory 41- at the end of a quiet street - looked empty.  Luckily, there was a man nearby who was just getting out of his car.  I went over to him and spoke in my limited German.  He said, I could find the owner of the hostel in the restaurant up the street.  "Which restaurant?" I asked.  He laughed and said there was only one. 
     We walked two blocks to the restaurant and went inside.  There was a wedding reception taking place and the staff was busy; but someone kindly showed us into the kitchen and pointed out an older woman who was making pastries on a large table.  She gave us a key to Factory 41 and told us (in German) to pick any room we wanted and she'd be there later to get us settled in.  The hostel was currently empty; in fact we'd have the whole thing to ourselves because she and her husband didn't stay there either.  "Uh oh," I thought.
     Factory 41 used to be a large ceramics factory.  The building was white stucco, with door and window frames painted blue.  It was three stories tall and had many large rooms that had been converted into dormitories.  The hostel was advertised as having, "a lounge with a fun and cozy atmosphere shared by people from all over the world."  Their website also said, "We serve our area's famous Bavarian beer from our favorite small local breweries."  I had imagined a lounge and bar filled with happy people drinking flavorful beer, lots of laughter and talking.  But it was September and summer was over, I guess they'd all gone home.

     My husband inserted the key and opened the front door.  We stepped inside.  The lounge was very large, with a linoleum floor, paned windows, orange vinyl couches and faux wood tables.  The floor was littered with crumbs, the tables needed wiping and dirty ashtrays were strewn about on tables and window sills.  At the far end of the room was the open kitchen.  We could already see it hadn't been cleaned.  Walking over we saw the sink filled with dirty dishes, counters that needed clearing and scrubbing and again, crumbs all over the floor.  Two thoughts went through my head.  #1 - "We're staying here??"  and #2 - "The owners must be awfully busy catering that wedding!"
     Our children, ages 9 and 7, exclaimed loudly about the mess and wondered what the rest of the place looked like.  So we went to see the bedrooms.  The bedrooms were on the second floor, up metal stairs that were too steep and widely spaced ("watch your step!").  It seemed like a maze of hallways and dorm rooms, some large, some small.  The bathroom had exposed stone walls with a few showers and stalled toilets.  It was noticeably cold.
    We had our pick of any room, so we decided to pick one near the front of the house.  Our room had about 8 cots, some pushed together to form a large bed.  It also had a couple of particle board desks and a window that opened onto grass and an outbuilding.  The carpet was old and brown, which was probably good because that way we couldn't see the dirt.  There were no sheets or blankets and no curtains on the window.
     Our kids thought it was great.  They immediately started running around, exploring the hallways and empty rooms, playing hide and seek and jumping from cot to cot.  "It's fun now," I said to my husband, "but wait till tonight."  Despite it's major drawbacks we decided to stay.  It was late in the day and no one wanted to drive to another town; besides, we really wanted to experience Plankenfels.     The proprietress came in a bit later to apologize for the mess and give us clean (thank god) sheets and blankets.  She told us that not all the lights were working and the hallway ones were automatic - movement sensors.  Then she asked what we wanted for breakfast the next morning and wished us a good night.  We were free to explore the town.

     We came back at dusk. The lounge didn't have a working light and who wanted to hang out in that mess anyway, so we quickly went up the stairs and made an immediate left to our room.  We turned on the light and made up our beds.  Then some of us had to go to the bathroom.  The hallway was getting dark and the only working light was the automatic sensor one in the ceiling.  It had wires hanging from it and we had to jump and clap a lot before it would finally turn on.  The bathroom was freezing and the only working lights were in the stalls.  They seemed very bright compared to the rest of the dark room.
The kids weren't playing hide and seek now.  Their biggest concern was finding a night light as the building got darker and darker.  Besides the ceiling light, our room had a few tiny reading lights installed in the walls, but if you dared to turn them on or off, you got a mild shock.  After we'd all been shocked once, no one would touch them except for my husband.  Most of the rooms didn't have working lights but the kids and I found one room that did. The light streaming through the open door provided just enough light to keep us from tumbling down the stairs in the middle of the night.  Now we were ready for bed.
     My husband was out like a light (ha!) but the rest of us lay there wide awake.  The hostel wasn't  fun anymore.  It was huge and dark and empty.  The only sound was my husband gently snoring.  All I could think of was Jack Nicholson in The Shining lurching down the hallway with an axe.  I believe I was more scared than my kids!  To top it off, my chest had been bothering me and tonight it hurt pretty badly (I'd actually pulled a muscle, but didn't know it at the time).  So I wasn't just worried about 'Jack,' I also worried that maybe I had an unknown heart condition.  Luckily it wasn't windy or stormy outside or I would have really been scared!
     The kids did end up falling asleep and I was left alone with my scary thoughts.  "This is ridiculous," I had to keep reminding myself.  "We're in a gentle, German town with friendly people surrounded by fields and farmland.  There is nothing dangerous here!"  But then my daughter awoke and told me she had to go to - The Bathroom.  I had to also, but I'd been putting it off.

     Okay.  I took her hand and we went left, not right, or we'd fall down the stairs, and slowly we walked down the long hallway.  There were rooms to the left and right of us; we tried to ignore their dark interiors, who knew what lurked inside?  In the ceiling above us was the motion sensor light but it hadn't sensed us yet.  Beyond it lay the bathrooms but we couldn't see them because the remainder of the hallway was pitch black.  My daughter stopped dead in her tracks and waited while I clapped and waved, trying to get the light to come on.  Finally!  I took her hand again and we ventured on and into the bathrooms.  The stone stalls were even colder than before and very creepy.  We took care of business fast, then ran back to our room and jumped into bed.
     Why is it when you have trouble sleeping that you have to keep going to the bathroom?  Later - when my husband got up and said he had to go, both our kids sat up and said they had to go too.  So did I.  Obviously, we'd all been waiting for Daddy to wake up and escort us!
     Finally it was morning.  The proprietress came and made us a nice breakfast in her messy kitchen.  She asked if we planned on staying another night.  "No thanks," I said in German.  "It's too big and too dark.  The kids were scared." (That's right, blame it on the kids!) She seemed to sympathize and wished us a "gute Reise" (good trip).  Goodbye Factory 41!
     Now, I'm sure in-season, Factory 41 is clean and well run and a good place to stay.  We just happened to get there on a bad day (okay, bad week ).  And the town of Plankenfels was definitely fun to visit.  Will we go there again?  Probably not; but The "Hostile Hostel" (as my son called it), will always remain one of our favorite stories.  After all, how often does a family get to brag about staying in an un-haunted house?

Do you have a favorite haunted (or not) travel story to share?  Please comment below.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

To Be Still

Imagine what it would be like to have a quiet mind and not jump from worry to worry, anticipating all manner of dire situations.

Imagine what it would be like to have faith in your abilities and to know you will succeed.

Imagine what it would be like to feel pure joy, untempered by fear.

Imagine what it would be like to Just. Be. Still.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Point of View

Banana Slugs

    A child discovers some banana slugs and three adults come over to see . .

The Child's Point Of View

Look what I found Mom!  Aren't these cool?  They're green and squishy.  Look, here's some more! They're under this log!  I can hold all these in my hand.  Ooh, they're slimy.  Do you want to touch one? They're soft.  Look how they move.  This one's crawling up my arm!  Take a picture!  Hey, their eyes go in different directions!  Awesome.  Are you sure you don't want to hold one?  Well I don't think they're "gross."  You won't even touch one? That's a fail, Mom.

The Mother's Point Of View

Oh look what you found.  Those are Banana Slugs.  Eww, you're picking them up.  They're slimy.  You'll have to wash your hands afterward.  That's alright, I can see them from here.  No thanks, I don't want to hold one.  Yes, they're cool.   Okay, I'll take a picture.  No, I really don't want to touch one. Be sure to put them back exactly where you found them.  No, you can't take one home.

The Biologist's Point Of View

Banana Slugs, very interesting.  Do you know why they have so much mucus coating their bodies?  It's to keep them moist, otherwise they would dry out. The slime also provides traction, helping them move.  Do you see the two pairs of tentacles here?  What do you think those are used for?  For seeing, that's right. These big ones on top are the "eyestalks." The slug uses them to sense light and movement.  The lower pair here detects chemicals - they use them to smell.  If you want to know more about Banana Slugs you can google them.

The Environmentalist's Point Of View

Oh don't pick them up!  Well, try not to touch them too much.  You don't want to dry out their skin.    Did you know that Banana slugs eat dead plant material and recycle that into natural compost?  They are an important part of the ecosystem. Be sure you put them back under the log where you found them and try to position the log exactly where it was. Really you shouldn't be playing around here at all; you could be disturbing the habitat of many hidden creatures.  In fact everyone should get back on the path.  Actually they shouldn't even have a path here. It would be better to close this area off and keep people out.  Hmm, I better write up an environmental impact report.


Would anyone like to add their point of view?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Variations On A Nightmare

     It's been many years since my last piano recital but I still get variations on the same nightmare . .

I have to play a senior recital but I realize I've forgotten to practice - for the last year!  There's one more chance for me to practice so I sit down at the piano, but I can't remember any of my pieces.   Maybe if I get out the music.  Yes, good idea!  But I can't read the notes, they're all blurry and they won't stay still.  Then the sheet music falls off the stand.  I look over and see my professor and some students sitting on stadium style benches in a dark room.  My professor has a bemused expression on his face.  I look back at the music, still can't read it.  I look down at my hands, what keys are they on?  Then I realize I'm wearing a long shirt that's tucked under my rear.  I hope it covers me because I'm not wearing any pants!
Ahhggg!  Wake up!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Trick or Treating Aliens

     No story this time, just sharing an idea for homemade Halloween decor.

My lawn has always showcased homemade witches and clothed skeletons for Halloween, but last year I added something different - aliens!  Here's the 'how to.'

I bought styrofoam heads from a party store called, Diddams.  They used them to display wigs.
 I bought some craft tools and from each head, carved out larger eyes, removed the nose and lips and flattened some of the protruding chin.

Using paper mache, I smoothed out the face and built up the skull.
I discovered I'd need about a hundred layers of paper mache to build up the skull the way I wanted it; so I got smart and built up the skull with clay, then added the paper mache.
 Then I brushed on a layer of protective coating made just for styrofoam (sorry, forgot the product's name).  This would make it easier for paint to adhere to the styrofoam.

I painted black eyes and spray painted several layers of green over all.  I even added glow-in-the-dark paint for the final layer; which I discovered was really cool in a dark room, but didn't work outside with all the ambient light.

I made a t-frame out of PVC pipe, bought some alien looking silver fabric, and sewed a simple (and sloppy) long sleeve t-shirt outfit for each alien (since you are creating an illusion, your sewing does not have to be great - thank goodness!).

Then I sank the pipe into the lawn, dressed the frame, attached stuffed latex gloves for the hands (attached with rubberbands and safety pins), and finally added the heads.  Luckily the styrofoam heads came with a hole in the bottom that made them fit perfectly on the PVC pipe.

Target was selling green Jack-O-Lanterns!  How lucky can you get!

My aliens needed a space ship.  I bought a large Chinese paper lantern and painted it.  Then I got a strobe light and hung it inside the lantern so it would flash at night.

That's it.  The trick or treating aliens were a huge hit.

One day it rained. . .

But Halloween night was cool and dry, so the hats and umbrella came off.

Hope you enjoyed the tutorial and may your Halloween be out of this world!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Valley

This realization helped me when I was grieving the death of my baby boy many years ago. . .

    Now I know what the Valley Of The Shadow Of Death is. But I am more comfortable in the valley then out in the world where everything is moving so fast and people talk too loudly and the lights are harsh and bright.  They want you to engage and converse and try hard to pull you in.  You have to buy groceries and make choices and try to function even though you've become an alien in an uncompromising world.
    I'd rather be in the valley, where it's quiet and I can breathe and cry and scream without scaring anyone but myself; then feel comforted by the darkness settling over me and possibly the loving touch of my angel son.
    I will stay in the valley until I am ready to come out; but I would be glad of a friend to come down and spend a little time with me.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wrap And Bite

 Wrap And Bite 
                                                 Silky web and venomous fangs
                                                 From a hidden orb it waits.
                                                 Sensing a vibration it races downward.
                                                 Wrap to subdue
                                                 Bite to paralyze
                                                 Liquify and devour
                                                 Spider, who is your victim tonight?

Note to readers:  I actually love spiders. They are fascinating and do a great service by keeping unwanted insects in check.  Please don't kill them unnecessarily.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Tadpole Princess

Photo and story by Karen Gough (c)2013

Perhaps the princess was right when she flung the frog to the wall and cried, "Get away from me you odious toad!" But as every Brother's Grimm reader knows, instead of going "splat!" the frog turned into a prince. And he didn’t turn into any old prince - oh no - he had to turn into a handsome, caring, forgiving prince that caused the princess to fall head over heels in love, and when they got old enough (I like to add that part), they married. As if that weren’t reward enough, they also inherited a kingdom and were subsequently crowned king and queen.
          Did they live happily ever after? Not quite. Unfortunately for both of them, the king carried over some latent DNA and the queen gave birth to a tadpole. I'm sure at that point she would have loved to throw the king against the wall again, but she was too tired and he was too tall.
They named the tadpole Hope, which seemed like an appropriate name until the queen's mother-in-law began referring to her as "Hopeless." Nevertheless, Hope lived a peaceful life in the royal pond, protected night and day by the king's royal guards.  Each morning the queen perched on a tree stump and sang to her royal offspring.  Each evening the king knelt down and told her stories of his time as a bewitched frog. The tadpole princess seemed to appreciate their efforts, swimming in lazy circles at their feet.
    Months went by and Hope grew slowly. Each day the royal veterinarian peered through his magnifying glass, hoping to see a tadpole’s tiny leg, but none came forth. Still the royal couple had high hopes. Surely this meant their little princess was no ordinary tadpole! One day she'd become a frog; then they would invite the most eligible bachelors from all the land to come and kiss their little darling. They hoped true love would set her free and she could become the princess she was meant to be.
    In the meantime they must educate her. A royal tutor was hired. At first he crouched over the tadpole princess, lecturing at length about nouns and pronouns, but Hope just drifted away. Then the royal tutor submerged a tapestry embroidered with multiplication and division tables, but after one look Hope just slipped away. Finally, while the princess swam alongside, the royal tutor strolled around the pond narrating folk tales and fairy tales. After that he never lost sight of Hope. 
   The years went by and Hope matured. Her legs emerged, her tail shrank, her lungs developed, etcetera, etcetera. Finally the day came that they'd all been waiting for, the tadpole princess became a frog. The king and queen were overjoyed.  Immediately they sent forth a herald to spread the good news. Then the king issued a proclamation inviting all unmarried men of noble birth to come and kiss the frog princess. If true love answered and she became human, the lucky man would marry her and inherit half the kingdom. Only the bravest, most handsome and worthiest need apply.
    Eligible males came from miles around. The frog princess sat on a golden throne and waited patiently for each suitor to kneel and kiss her.  About every ten kisses she took a breather to splash around the pond. This continued for some time.
Then one day there came a gentle fool who seemed to love the frog princess for
her merits alone. He stroked her green skin and praised her bulging eyes. He said he would wed her even if she remained a frog. He would not give up Hope. Then he kissed her and true love spoke. The princess croaked and became human.    
          The king and queen whooped with joy; the entire kingdom cheered, and the
princess blushed a lovely color that complimented her emerald green gown. She curtsied prettily to the gentle fool and embraced her parents for the first time.
         After taking a moment to clear her throat, Princess Hope faced the kingdom and spoke of her time as a tadpole. The queen was comforted to know the princess had loved life in the pond. The king was relieved to learn that hiring a royal tutor had been money well spent. Everyone was happy, everyone content.
Three weeks later a royal wedding was held on the palace grounds. The king beamed as he walked his beautiful daughter down the ivory runner to the marble gazebo. Hope took her place next to the gentle fool and the ceremony began. They had just gotten to the part where the priest says, “. . speak now or else forever hold your peace,” when they heard a booming croak. The princess jerked her head up and everyone gaped to see a huge bullfrog come jumping down the aisle.
“Charlie!” called the princess. Hitching up her gown, Hope flew down the aisle and scooped the frog up in her hands. “You came for me, oh Charlie!” she cried. “Mother, this is my own true love.  He courted me each night, singing his beautiful song!”
The queen hurried over, “But Hope, the gentle fool is your true love; his kiss hath set you free!”  
“But dear mother, no one asked whom I loved! It is true the gentle fool loves me truly, but I love Charlie and he loves me!” and with that, Hope kissed the bullfrog.
          Poof! The congregation stood in shock for now there were two frogs on the ivory runner, one of them wearing a little white veil.
“Noooooo!” yelled the king, and
“Ohhhhhh!” shrieked the queen, and
“Rib-bit!” bellowed the frogs.
Then with her tiny veil fluttering in the breeze, Hope and her one true love leaped back down the aisle and plopped into the pond.
And they lived happily ever after.



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Close Encounter

"Hey dude!  You're all wound up.  Sup?"
"Uh, hello.  How are you?"
"I'm livin' the dream, bro.  WYN?"
"Excuse me?"
"What's your name?  Mine's Mingus Christian Wilder III."
"Oh.  My name's Bob, just - Bob."
"Awesome.  I'm lovin' your retro getup Dude.  SWAG."
"LOL.  That's an epic look.  Seriously."
"Epic?  What's epic?"
"Whatever.  You seem kind of uptight, just sayin'."
"Of course I'm uptight; I'm a ball of rubber bands."
"My bad."
"Your bad what?"
"I'm sorry, I just don't know what you're saying."
"Epic fail.  Look Bro - I'm not chirping you."
"It's Bob!  Just - Bob."
"Awkward.  Look, it isn't rocket science.  I was sayin' I liked your style."
"Oh!  Thank you Mingus."
"No problem.  Well bless up my friend."
"Uh - goodbye?"
"Absolutely.  And Dude, remember to moss.  YOLO!"

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Retold

One Sunday morning, the warm sun came up and POP! - out of the egg came a tiny and very hungry caterpillar.

He started to look for some food.  On Monday he ate through one apple,
But he was still hungry.

On Tuesday, he ate through two pears,
But he was still hungry.

On Wednesday, he ate through three plums,
But he was still hungry.

On Thursday, he ate through 4 strawberries,
But he was still hungry.

On Friday, he ate through five oranges,
But he was still hungry.

On Saturday, he was caught and thrust down the gullet of a baby bluebird,
And she was still hungry...

Thank you Eric Carle - the original author of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar."

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Poison Hemlock Masquerade

Note:  Poison Hemlock is often mistaken for Queen Anne's Lace. One way to tell the difference is to crush the leaves and smell them. Hemlock smells very bad but Queen Anne's Lace smells like carrots.
Needless to say, one is highly poisonous, the other is not...

Funny how those dried twigs and brittle flowers lured me in.
I brushed my thumb against their soft spikiness and tilted my face toward the breeze that blew in from the bay.  Heaven lay beyond, in the blue sky and grey clouds.  I felt like I could melt my spirit into the wind.

A sneeze from my dog brought me back to reality.  "Poor dog,"  I laughed.  "Maybe you shouldn't sniff so hard."   I envied him his sense of smell.  For some reason mine had always been weak.

I looked back at the plant again.  Queen Anne's Lace - I'd heard the roots were good to eat.  "I'll come back in the Spring and dig some up," I thought.  "Maybe make a Wild Carrot Cake - that would be a nice surprise for my friends."

My dog barked impatiently and tugged at his leash.  "Alright boy, I'm coming!"
Before leaving, I gazed back at the sky one more time and relished the wind on my face.
Heaven seemed closer than ever.


He stared out at his victim.  The female was crying and yelping in disbelief, clutching her bleeding ankle while hopping around on one foot.
He was sick of them, sick of them all.  Every morning they came running by, pounding and panting, disturbing his morning meal.  It seemed they came earlier each day - even the dawn was no longer his own!  And the smell!  The sweaty, sickly sweet smell as they ran by, perspiration flinging off their brow and dripping down their legs!

The ones in groups enraged him the most, talking and laughing in that deafening way of theirs.  He couldn't stand it.  He'd tried attacking the groups with a quick streak in front, hoping to trip them up, but all that got him was high pitched chirps and endearments, pointing fingers and giggles.  Disgusting.

He finally determined the best attack was to assault the lone runners. They never saw it coming.  A sudden blur of grey, leap and attach, teeth piercing the yielding flesh, all four paws wrapped around the ankle like a burr.  He'd hang on and bite while they hopped and screamed and tried to shake him off.  And when they invariably did, he'd retreat to the tall grass and watch while they stared at the blood in disbelief.  Then he'd attack again!  Side assault, back assault, full frontal assault!  He came at them from every direction until they ran screaming from his territory.

The taste of blood was beginning to grow on him.  He had a talent for this.

They would come and they would disturb his peace, and though one small rabbit might not be enough to stop them, he knew one thing for sure.  As long as they were running, he'd be there - waiting for them.