Monday, December 31, 2007

It sucks

The spider was minding his own business when the rude blond girl with the loud vacuum hose interrupted his lunch. He was dining on Fly a' la Mode when he found himself flying off the ground. Flinging webs from his hands like a demented superhero, he hung on to his corner behind the Large Brown Pot.

"Pardon me!" he bellowed indignantly to the blond girl. She was gazing off into the distance, mindlessly vacuuming behind the Large Brown Pot. His Large Brown Pot. His home.

"Excuse me!" he yelled, raising his tone. He clutched tighter to his webs, gritting his teeth as the suction from the vacuum wavered slightly, than pulled him harder. The blond girl was in a daze, mindlessly moving the attachment back and forth. The spider was exhausted from trying to hold on.

"Look here!" the spider yelled as loudly as he could. "I'm trying to enjoy my lunch, and you've rudely come in here and vacated me from my home. I've been living here for months without any problems. I find this quite annoying and rude!"

The blond girl looked down and gasped. "Ew!" she cried. "A spider!" She moved the vacuum attachment closer to the spider. The spider grunted and shot out for more spider webs, holding on for dear life.

"I'm-not-moving!" he bellowed. "I just want to eat! What would you do if I just sucked up your food? You'd be furious! Well, I'm MAD!"

"Ew ew ew ew ew!" the girl squeaked, holding the vacuum to the spider's head. The spider was jerked into the vacuum, the webs torn from his fingers. Cursing her name, he was sucked down into a dark tube and into a paper prison. He could barely see. Scuttling about, all he could see in the dim light was dust and dirt.

"God, how much hair is in here?" he grunted, picking a long blond hair that had wrapped around his leg. He flung it to the side and crawled away, grumbling to himself. "Stupid girl sucked up my lunch. I'll never find it in here."

The spider crawled along the fuzzy graveyard, grimacing at all the dead insects. He sniffed at a few, than withdrew. They were no good to him. Strands of blond and black hair hung from the bag like old party streamers. Every step he took sent a puff of dust and lint floating in the air. The spider peered off into the distance. Was that.... Could it be? He hurried forward. It was! It was his lunch! The spider sat happily and finished his lunch, listening to the dull roar of the vacuum around him.

Another insect came flying down the tube and landed a few feet from the spider. He sat dazed for a moment, than sat up.

"Excuse me?" the insect asked politely. "Have you seen my lunch?"

The spider swallowed the rest of his and shook his head. "Nope," he answered. "I'm sure it'll turn up. I eventually found mine."

The other insect nodded and looked around. "So I guess we're stuck here, huh?" he said gloomily. "That sucks."

"Literally," the spider joked. The insect laughed. He and the spider looked at each other and smiled. They wondered off into the fuzzy distance, looking for other bugs to eat. After all, if you have to be stuck in a vacuum bag, at least you should have a friend, the spider reasoned.

And if all else fails, he thought to himself, there's always lunch.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Back again

The small girl with the wispy blond hair pouted as she stared at the monitor in front of her. Smiling, her dark-haired friend with pig tails pranced up to her.

"What's wrong with you?" she asked cheerfully.

"I'm bored," the girl with the white ringlets sulked. She pushed away the papers in front of her and folded her arms. "This is all stupid."

"Why don't you do something else?" the dark-haired girl asked.

"I have to do this," the blond girl said. She stuck out her lower lip and narrowed her eyes at the computer.

"Want to take a nap with me?" the dark-haired girl asked, perching cheerfully on her desk.


"Want to go to the front and look at the papers?"

"No," the blond girl's eyes had narrowed to annoyed slits.

"Want to go outside?"

Looking thoughtful, the blond girl tapped her chin and nodded. "Yes."

Grabbing their coats, they scampered outside. In the bright sunshine and cool wind, the little blond girl's frown melted away. They chased dancing leaves, they stomped broken highlighters and they played soccer in the street with pebbles. The little dark-haired girl's cheeks were pink with joy and the chilly weather. The blond girl beamed as she skipped happily, dragging her friend behind her.

"You know what?" she sang cheerfully.

"What?" the dark-haired girl asked, yawning. She'd love a nap.

"I'm glad we went outside," the girl with white ringlets beamed, twirling in the pale winter sunlight. "It's much nicer out here. And I'm not bored anymore."

The dark-haired girl beamed. "I thought so." She lead her friend around the building, where they pranced through the leaves. Plucking a acorn from the wisps framing her face, the blond girl hugged her friend.

"I'm glad to be back again," she said cheerfully.

"And I'm glad you're back," the dark-haired girl replied in a serious tone. With that settled, they set off to track down the puppy hidden in the building, their giggles echoing off the walls.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The GLUG stops by for Christmas

Tired and hungry, Ben hopped into his car on Christmas Eve. He was going to his Dad's restaurant for some breakfast. He turned the ignition and began to back down the driveway. Suddenly, a green speck smacked the windshield with the force of a tennis ball. Ben slammed on his brakes in panic.

"HELLO!!" a familiar voice bellowed. "Did you miss me?" Ben stared angrily at the beaming GLUG on his windshield.

"What are you doing here?" Ben snapped. "Don't you live in San Antonio? Why'd you follow me to Shreveport?"

"Who says it's all about you?" the GLUG said airily. Ben looked at him wryly.

"Well, fine, it's about you," the GLUG admitted. "You see, I'm here to make sure you have a good Christmas."

"I'd have a much better one if you would go away,"Ben muttered. "I'm hungry. You're holding up my breakfast."

"See, that's your problem," the GLUG said. He wandered down to the windshield wipers and plucked some pine needles out of them. Shoving them into his mouth, he pointed to his cheeks and bellowed, "These are really good!"

"I'm glad to hear it," Ben sighed. "So what's my problem?"

"Your problem--," the GLUG bellowed through a mouth full, pounding the window with his leg. "--is that you have no Christmas spirit!"

"I have plenty of Christmas spirit!" Ben snapped. "Ho ho ho!"

"See," the GLUG chided, plucking leaves from the mirror. "That's it right there. That's what's wrong with you."

"And how are you supposed to fix it?" Ben asked. The GLUG poofed out his chest proudly and beamed, pine needle fragments sticking out from his tiny green mouth. "Because," he shouted proudly. "I'm the Christmas Spirit Bug!"

"Oh God," Ben muttered, smacking his head to his forehead. The GLUG slammed his face against the window and bellowed, "And I'm here to make sure you have a good Christmas!"

"How are you going to do that?" Ben cradled his head in his hands. The GLUG danced excitedly on the windshield. "By following you around and singing Christmas carols of course! Now roll down that window!"

Ben's eyes widened in fear. He threw his car in reverse and shrieked down the driveway. Tearing down the street, he rushed to his dad's restaurant. The GLUG wound his arms around the windshield wipers and sang in a off-key voice, "Deck the halls with boughs of hallway, fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la!"

As soon as Ben got out of the car, the GLUG attached himself to his sleeve. "HARK the herald, angels sing, glory to the new born KING!"

The GLUG continued to serenade Ben through breakfast and the ride home. As Ben continued about his day, the GLUG hoarsely screeched into his ear, "SILEEEEENNNNTTT NIGGHHHTTTT! HOOOLLLLLYYY NIIIGGGGHHHTT!"

At first, Ben was pretty irratated, as he should have been. But after hours of off-key singing from a beaming GLUG, he began to feel a bit of Christmas cheer. He visited with old friends, hung out with his family and spoiled Ace the Dog rotten. After awhile, he realized the GLUG was no longer singing in his ear. In fact, the GLUG was nowhere to be seen at all. Ben rushed out to his windshield, where the GLUG was lying across the windshield. He wearily lifted a leaf to his lips, chewing slowly.

"You stopped singing,"Ben said. The GLUG squeaked in reply. "I didn't need to anymore. Besides, I lost my voice."

Ben beamed down at the obnoxious green bug on his windshield. "Thanks, GLUG. I appreciate you trying. You really made me feel the Christmas spirit."

"But of course," the GLUG said arrogantly, sitting up straight. "After all, I'm the GLUG! The Ginourmous Unusual Lime-Green Gnat!" And with that, he flew into the night sky. Ben just smiled, humming to himself as the GLUG continued to screech his favorite song from the starry sky.

"Silent, night, holy night...."

Saturday, December 22, 2007

It's strangely warm in here..

(Earlier today, somewhere outside of Waco)

The Blonde Duck: It's hot in here.

Ben: Roll down the window.

The Blonde Duck: (Rolls down the window and leans her head against it, trying to cool down.) I feel kinda nauseous. I think I'm car sick.

Ben: Look! (points to window, grinning widely) Look, cows!

The Blonde Duck: Cows! (dutifully admires the cows.) You know, I thought it was going to be a lot colder.

Ben: Look, more cows! Aren't they cute? Cows!

The Blonde Duck: (dutifully looks at the cows.) Cows!!!

Ben: ( a few moments later, points out the window again.) Cows!! Cows!!!!

The Blonde Duck: Cows! (whirls around to see Ben grinning maniacally. His fingers are leaving the air conditioning control.) Why are you grinning like that? Are you messing with my air conditioning? Don't put the heat on your feet again! It's hot in here!

Ben: Cows! I'm grinning because of the cows!

The Blonde Duck: What were you doing to the AC?

Ben: Nothing! I wasn't doing anything! I swear!

The Blonde Duck: (eyes him suspiciously and turns back to the window)

Ben: ( a few moments later) Cows! Cows!

The Blonde Duck: (admires the cows, then gazes out the windshield. Her eyes pass over the butt warmer clicker. It's set to 4. She whirls around to see a cackling Ben.) You jerk! That's why I was hot! You set the butt warmers on! That's not cool!

Ben: (cackles wildly and grins)

The Blonde Duck: You distracted me with the cows! I knew you were up to something! You had that goofy grin!

Ben: (howls playfully) Coooowwwwwsss!

Friday, December 21, 2007


Sitting in a tree on the North East side of the Pond, Nubby the squirrel watches his surroundings carefully. There are a few squirrels to his right, a few birds to his left and a very large nut in front of him. A large black bird is also eyeing the nut.

Nubby shakes his shoulders, drums up some confidence and throws his tail over his frail body so it envelops him like a blanket. Stealthily, he darts forward and steals the nut, returning quickly to his branch. The black bird squawks in confusion, blinking rapidly.

"Who stole my nut?" he bellowed, looking around in confusion. "That was my nut! Who took it?"

Nubby giggled silently under his tail. He quietly ate his nut, savoring the rich flavor.

"What is that?" the black bird croaked, his eye popping out slightly as he looked around.

Nubby crunched his nut louder, trying not to laugh. The black bird began to hop around indignantly.

"Whose eating my nut?" he bellowed angrily. "Someone's eating my nut!"

Nubby continued to munch on the nut.

"When I find out who you are," the black bird threatened, looking around with narrowed eyes, "I'm going to report you to the Forest King! He doesn't take lightly to thieves! Especially during the winter!"

Nubby giggled and happily popped the last bit of the nut in his mouth. The bird squawked and flew away. From the window, Beverly watched the squirrel prance around triumphantly on the tree branch.

"Dear, that's so sad," she said. "That squirrel doesn't have a tail!"

Her husband narrowed his eyes and peered through the window. "Doesn't seem to bother him," he grunted. "He's still twitching it and acting as though it was there."

They watched Nubby swing from limb to limb without a problem.

"What a remarkable squirrel," Beverley said.

"He's pretty cool, isn't he?" her husband grinned.

"I still feel sorry for him," Beverley pouted, wondering how hard it would be to take the squirrel home. "It must be horrible not to have a tail."

But, it's even more wonderful to have an invisible tail, Nubby thought, listening to their conversation. Wonderful, indeed.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Indignant Letter to Santa from Ace the Dog

Dear Santa,

I realize this is my second letter to you this season. While I appreciate you giving me the brother I asked for in my previous letter, especially before Christmas, I think there may have been a mistake in delivery. See, I asked for a brown Chihuahua puppy for a baby brother. What I received was some monstrous bumbling thing with paws the size of my head.

Mama K says he's going to get up to 100 lbs. This has to be some mistake. I wanted a brother I could dominate and boss around. I'm 7 lbs. He probably weighs that now, and he's a baby. This doesn't look good for my plans of puppy domination. So, if you get a chance, could you exchange the huge brown puppy for a Chihuahua? Preferably the runt? Thanks.

I also thought I'd take the opportunity to add a few more things to my list, if you don't mind. The first thing I'd like is for Ben and the Blonde Duck to come down. They haven't been here in awhile, and the rest of the family won't treat me in the manner that I deserve.

The Blonde Duck lets me sit in her lap during meals and feeds me scraps while she's eating. They won't do that. The Blonde Duck carries me from room to room in her arms like a newborn infant so my tired little feet never touch the ground. I'm lucky if they offer me a lap. The Blonde Duck takes me on walks, plays dozens of games of fetch and lets me sleep with her. They expect me to pick up my own toys! As you can see, it's imperative Ben and the Blonde Duck come down for Christmas.

Additionally, I'd also like to request the following items:

  • A catapult placed in front of my house so when people walk on the sidewalk, they're flung further down the street where I can't see them. It's exhausting to bark all day at them.

  • Several new birds and squirrels to chase when I'm let outside in the yard to do my business.

  • A time-freezing device that would let me chase squirrels for hours and Mama K would be none the wiser.

  • Steak every night.

  • New "babies" to chew on.

  • For the family to finally realize I dominate and control the Koerner household.

  • A trampoline. I'm not sure what it does, but it looks quite tasty.

Thank you so much, and Merry Christmas! I look forward to receiving all my requests. (After all, why wouldn't I?)


Ace the Dog

Monday, December 17, 2007

Classic movie star

"Excuse me!" a perturbed reindeer snapped. "Excuse me!"

I stopped on my path from Ben's office to the kitchen and stared. Rudolph, the classic star from the Christmas stop-animation movie, was glaring at me angrily.

"Yes?" I asked warily, trying to figure out why a reindeer was on my couch. And not just any reindeer--a movie star reindeer.

"Do you know who I am?" the reindeer snarled. "Do you know who I am?"

"You're Rudolph," I replied cheerfully.

"Right," Rudolph sneered. "So why am I receiving such dreadful service?"

"Aren't you supposed to be all good and helpful?" I asked. "Shouldn't you be at the North Pole?"

"Listen, sugar, I only work one day a year," Rudolph sniffed, shining his red nose at me. "With a nose like this, I'll strain myself if I work more."

"Right," I said, rolling my eyes. I continued on into the kitchen and began straightening up. I looked up to see Rudolph gaping at me.

"What?" I asked in exasperation. "What is it?"

"Am I invisible?" Rudolph snapped. "Are you blind?"

"Are you annoying?" I mimicked under my breath. "What's your problem?"

"My problem is I've been here two days and no one has brought me hot cocoa," Rudolph whined, his red nose glowing. "I haven't had cocoa and cookies in days!"

"You never asked for cocoa and cookies," I pointed out.

"Oh," Rudolph said thoughtfully, his nose dimming. "I suppose I didn't."

I looked at him expectantly. Sighing, he rolled his eyes. "May I please have some hot cocoa and cookies?"

"I don't have cookies," I said, trying not to lose patience with the TV character on my couch. "What else would you want?"

"What do you have?" Rudolph replied sulkily.

"Biscuits, dinner rolls, tortillas, toaster strudels..." I listed off my fingers.

"I'll take some biscuits please," Rudolph replied haughtily. Trying not to smile, I heated up some cocoa and biscuits and gave them to Rudolph on a plate. He ate them delicately, his red nose glowing with happiness.

"Thank you," he replied as he picked up his plate. "I'll require some more in two hours."

"Two hours?" I turned around in shock. "How can you eat so much?"

Rudolph looked at me arrogantly. "I have to fly to every house in the world in one night," he said, settling on the couch and looking pointedly at the remote. "I must use my nose to light Santa's path in rain, sleet and snow. I must lead a team of reindeer through tough winds, foggy conditions and over oceans that never end. I need energy."

Rolling my eyes, I handed him the remote where he began watching the ABC Family network.

"You know, the Grinch really isn't that bad," he said as I fluttered around doing chores. "Jack Frost is the mean one."

As he sucked down enough cocoa to float to England and emptied my fridge of biscuits, a red glow filled my home. For the next nine days, Rudolph will be a permanent fixture on my couch. Let's hope the grocery store stocked up on biscuits.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Party on, Wayne! Party on, Garth!

Being a anti-social creature, I stepped way out of my comfort zone by attending three different parties on Friday. Being the anti-social social butterfly that I am, I somehow found myself planning a office retirement luncheon for a co-worker and a holiday afternoon staff party on the same day. After weeks of planning and hours of decorating, it had finally come down to the day! The snowflakes were hung, the streamers were draped and the presents were wrapped. For your pleasure, a photo montage of the day.

My work buddies and me. (Doesn't Libby look fabulous?)

After stuffing ourselves on chips and Mexican food, we dragged ourselves back for the office. Three hours later, we were dining on Libby's delicious peanut pie, cookies and homemade eggrolls. (I'm so special, Libby made Ben and me our own peanut butter mini-pies. Mine were non-chocolate, since I'm allergic.)

I've eaten so much sugar I'm probaly diabetic after this weekend.

After eating more sugar than any person should in one day, I drug my bloated self home and attended our neighbor's graduation party. Then I went on a cleaning and dancing spree around the house before passing out. The next morning, we woke up around 5 a.m. and drove to my parent's house for an early Christmas celebration. We opened presents, attended a performance of the nutcracker and played rook. I got some wonderful gifts, and was thrilled to see my family liked everything we got them. My mom cooked an awesome dinner, and I stuffed myself with Swiss chicken, stuffing, corn, rolls and pecan and apple pie. Eventually, Ben drug my dazed happy little butt home.

It was a wonderful weekend. Ben wants to tell ya'll Merry Christmas too.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Novice writers are always told that the most important aspect of writing is to be a storyteller. No matter how good your prose is, how extravagant your vocabulary or how important the point you want to drive across is, no one will pay attention to it if it's not told well.

I've never paid much attention to the process of writing. I don't bother myself with identifying "story layers," conflict points, character charts or identifying which character does what aspect to the story. I don't try to create hidden meanings or obsess over grammar. All I do is write. I tell stories.

When someone first called me a good storyteller, I beamed. While I ignored every other label about writing, the only thing I cared about was being a good storyteller. Once someone bestowed that label on me, I was ecstatic. Ever the realist, I convinced myself it was just a fluke. Until another person called me a good story teller. Then my husband told a crowd of people I was a storyteller in a speech. Then another mentioned it. And another. Soon, my pride was about to burst out of my fingertips and shine all over everyone and everything. I was a storyteller!

My pride swelled again today when a buddy of mine at work called me a storyteller. I was blabbering on about my high-school best friends dogs and how Libby resembled them perfectly, recounting their habits and waving my arms about in enthusiasm.

At first she burst into giggles and I grinned, pleased someone besides me thought I was funny. Then she exclaimed, "You're such a good storyteller! I love how you tell stories! You say all these words like they clicked along and nom-nom-nom and I know exactly what you meant! It's so funny!" She and Libby burst into hysterics as my face turned bright red. I laughed along with them, realizing that if I probably ever stopped to listen to myself, I'd think I was a moron. I'm just glad they found me funny.

Exhilarated and beaming sunbeams, I drove to The Old Pond to review a store for work. After I finished, I picked up a sandwich for Mrs. McGill and popped over to her house. She carefully arranged the sandwiches on the plates as if they were an elegant meal prepared by the finest chef and gestured for me to sit down.

"Now," she said brightly, clapping her withered hands on her pants. "Did I ever tell you the story about my ex-sister-in-law?"

Enthralled, I listened eagerly for over and hour as she told me story after story, pausing only to take a bite of my sandwich.

After all--the best storytellers know that other people always have the best stories. And she did. She did indeed.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Tales from the puppy rescue

If I come home with 12 dogs in my car, it's not my fault.

It's Libby's fault.

It's all her fault.

Since I work in media, we often get animal shelters sending us clips and photos of puppies and kitties who need to be adopted. I avoid looking at these because I know I'll try to rescue the dogs. And everytime I try to rescue the dogs, Ben gets mad, I get depressed, I eat too much ice cream, Ben takes me to the puppy store, I try to steal a dog and talk my way out of's just best if we avoid it entirely.

However, Libby saw a English bulldog that stole her heart.

"I have to have this!" she squealed to me.

"Get him!" I replied enthusiastically. "Call Mike and see if you can see him today!" I was already plotting ways of playing with her dog in my head. She popped by my desk later with a pitiful expression.

"He can't go," she pouted, her lower lip quivering. "Maybe I shouldn't get the dog after all. Maybe it's not meant to be...."

"That's ridiculous!" I scoffed, desperate for someone to have a puppy. "I'll go with you. We'll see him during lunch."

Libby's eyes lit up and she began to hop around excitedly. "You'll go with me?"

"Sure!" I said cheerfully. "After I eat," I added a moment later. "I have to eat. I need food."

Libby squirmed and wiggled until we finally took off for the animal rescue, which was conveniently right by work. After a brief detour, we found the place and hurried to the cages. Libby squinted into the distance as we walked up to the kennels.

"Is that Fred?" she asked uncertainly. "From advertising?"

"I can't see that far," I replied, trying to stare at the blue blob in the foggy distance. The blob began to wave. "Guess so."

Fred greeted us warmly and asked what we were doing. When we replied we were there to look at the English bulldog, his face contorted into a snarl. So was he. Shoving Libby toward the cage, we hurried toward the bulldog's kennel. I was prepared to fight to the death if Libby wanted this dog. I wasn't scared of Fred the ad person.

While Libby and Fred cooed competitively at the bulldog, I talked to the other dogs.

"How are you doing?" I asked one with pleading eyes.

"How's it going?" I asked a frenzied mutt.

"Oh hell, I don't know what to do with you," I muttered, staring into a set of forlorn brown eyes.

The English Bulldog, who must have been stupid, snarled and lunged at both Libby and Fred. Libby fled to visit friendlier dogs, while Fred led a snarling dog out of the kennel. The dog tried to attack the other dogs at every cage out the door.

"Look at this one!" Libby squealed. "Isn't he cute!" I looked at the bloodhound in the cage who mournfully looked up at me.

"Sure," I replied, ready to save any dog at this point. "Let's walk him!" As we walked the bloodhound, who was more interested in peeing on all the trees than us, I watched all the other dogs. They flung themselves up on the fences and barked frantically as we passed. Some eyes begged, others pleaded, some warned and a few were hopeless.

One dog in particular broke my heart. We went to see the smaller dogs, watching their tiny tails wag as they hopped up to the fences hopefully. Their eager snouts poked through fences, desperate for a whiff of our scent or a brief brush of our hand. I ignored the signs that bellowed, "Don't put hands near the cage!" and let my fingers linger in front of the metal mesh. Small tongues licked my hands in desperation and I scratched their noses lightly, forcing myself to continue on.

Then, she saw me. A small two-year old terrier who had recently given birth, her teats still dangling as she threw herself against the fence. Her eyes met mine and she whimpered shrilly.

"Please," she begged, whining as she pawed the fence that separated us. "Please, please take me."

I watched the dog, unable to tear myself apart from her as Libby scratched and petted the dog next door.

"I'm sorry," I whispered over and over. "I'm sorry." I watched the hope slide from her eyes as she gently sat on the cold pavement. Looking up at me, she continued to whimper. Each time, her cries grew softer and shorter.

As we drove back in the car, I giggled and laughed with Libby. But every time I looked out the window, I saw the dog on the sidewalk looking at me. And I could hear her whimpering in my mind.

One of these days, Ben and I will start our own rescue shelter. Then when a dog whimpers, I know I can help.

Until then, all I can do is hope that the dogs at the rescue shelter don't lose hope.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Blond Duck Gets Dressed Up

After spending days staring at the gorgeous black dress in my closet, Saturday night had finally arrived. The day began with a hair cut and highlight session (totally coincidental, but very convenient). After I'd been perfumed and freshly coiffed, I pranced back home and piddled around the house doing various chores and counting down the hours until I could slip on my dress. Wiggling excitedly, I put on my makeup and slipped my dress up.

Meanwhile, while I was bouncing around the house in delight, Ben had spent the day hiding. When he wasn't curled up in bed hiding under pillows, he was hiding in his lair.

"Are you excited about the party?" I teased him, bouncing up and down.

I received a scowl and grunt.

"Baby, it'll be fun! We get to dress up!"

He immediately dove under the covers and snarled at me.

"Honey, you've got to get dressed. It's 5:30 p.m.!"
He whimpered and burrowed deeper under my covers.

Eventually, I coaxed him to take photographic evidence that we actually do get dressed up once in awhile.

Isn't the black dress cute? Don't we look stunning?
Snarl free, we climbed into the car and drove to Ben's Work. Once we stepped out of the car, the night turned into a disaster. After waiting on some friends for 20 minutes, we gave up and got in line for the bus that was taking party-goers downtown to the event. Even though we discovered our friends while we were in line, they moved to the back so we weren't able to talk to them.

When we got to the party, we discovered the wonderful food we had been dreaming of for days had herds of people flocking to every line. Hoards of people hovered around each buffet location, clutching plates of food and salivating as they waited for more. We stared at the scene before us in amazement and dismay. My stomach grumbled pathetically and I had no way to reassure it.

"Let's get a table," Ben said. We wove through the event and finally found a few spots. Our friends went to get their food, and Ben and I decided to take pictures. I love pictures. While I was disturbed at the idea of not eating, I was too excited about my little black dress to care much.

Little black dress, little black dress....

While we waited, Ben and I came to the conclusion we would die before we ever got food. Even though we had only been at the party for half and hour, we decided to leave. We promptly bid goodbye to our disappointed friends, scurried out of the party and hopped on a bus back. I coaxed one last picture out of Ben.
As I fixed our dinner at 10 p.m., I stared at my black dress hanging nearby. Beaming, I said, "You know what was my favorite part about tonight?"

"Wearing the black dress?" Ben gave a long suffering sigh. I had talked about how happy I was in my dress all night.

"Well being with you," I smiled sweetly. Ben smiled and switched on the television.

"And wearing my black dress. I love my black dress."
Next year, instead of attending a party, we'll just go out to dinner. And I'll wear my dress.

(Thanks Mom and Dad for the black dress! Merry Christmas!)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Book Club

"This was a dumb idea," Pumble grumbled as he sat awkwardly on the floor, clutching a book to his chest. "Who really reads, anyway?"

"I read!" one of the ducks protested from the Spa.

"You're dumb if you don't read!" the second duck jeered.

"Perhaps you should try a different genre?" the third duck suggested kindly.

Hairy waited until the seals had carried their book over and Cookies had settled down. "Thank you for coming to the Book Club," he announced formally. "I hope everyone has brought their book."

Everyone nodded. The ducks quacked from the bathtub.

"I thought we'd start out by everyone showing what book they brought," Hairy beamed. He did love reading. He was so excited they had agreed to have a book club. "Who wants to start?"

Everyone stared at him blankly. "Ok, I'll start," Hairy said brightly, picking up his book. "I began reading The Golden Compass."

"You just did that because of the movie," Cookies sneered. "That's not a real book."

"Well, it's true I didn't know about it until the movie was advertised," Cookies admitted. "But it's a wonderful book. It reminds me of Madeline L'Engle's work! It's brilliant, it really is. Very well-written."

"Well, I brought War and Peace," Cookies crowed arrogantly, straining to hold up his large book. "A classic for those of us who are truly educated."

"I know for a fact that book is used to hold up your roost, you bloated fake," Pumble accused him.

"And what did you bring?" Cookies snarled. "Something about food, I'm sure. You can't go without talking about food for two minutes."

"For your information, I brought Betty Crocker's Cookbook," Pumble sniffed, clutching the well-worn tomb to his chest. "I read it every day. I've just now made it to the cookie section without drooling."

"Cookbooks don't count!" Cookies argued.

"They do so!" Pumble shot back. "Do you know how many glorious new recipes I've tried just from reading this book?"

"I can see for myself," Cookies eyed Pumble's amble girth. Sensing a fight, the seals chattered loudly as they waved their book in the air.

"Everybody Poops," Hairy repeated, trying not to smile. "That's a wonderful choice. And what did you like about it? Oh, that everybody poops. Well, that's true. There's no seal poop in there? Or salmon poop? Well, perhaps you could write a letter to the author and point out his mistake."

"I just lost my appetite," Pumble muttered.

"I don't poop," Owl announced. "I regurgitate owl pellets."

"Yes, well, that was a lovely meeting," Hairy interrupted hastily. He could see Pumble's eye twitching and didn't know what he was going to say. He didn't want to know.

"You forgot about us!" the first duck yelled from the spa.

"You can't forget us!" the second duck, cried, indignant.

"We'd like to speak, if that's all right," the third duck asked meekly.

"I'm so sorry!" Hairy cried, rushing to the Spa doorway. "Please, let's see your books!"

"I have Moby Dick," the first duck said smugly.

"You can't even read," Cookies sneered.

"I'm reading The Yellow Duck," the second duck boasted.

"That's a blog!" Cookies protested. "That doesn't count."

"Does so!" the second duck retorted.

"Does not!" Cookies argued.

"And what is your book?" Hairy asked the third duck, praying he'd answer quickly.

"I'm reading Ponies," the third duck beamed. The other two ducks turned to stare at him.

"Ponies?" they asked. "Why are you reading about ponies?"

"It's a good book!" the third duck protested. As Pumble began to argue with Cookies and the seals rushed to the bathroom to see if ducks pooped, Hairy sat down with a sigh. His book club had turned to chaos. He looked to his side and saw The Golden Compass laying beside him. With a smile, he picked it up and began to read. Who needed a book club anyway?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


The Pond was warm and sunny in the middle of December--too warm, I thought to myself as I walked. I spent my nights watching Christmas movies while the days reached 80 degrees.

Walking on my usual path, I felt the familiar tiny feet on my arm. I looked down to see a delicate butterfly gently treading on my forearm.

"You're back," I smiled.

"Of course," the butterfly opened and closed his wings slowly. "Why do you always seem so surprised to see us? We always tell you we will return."

"I guess after all this time, I'm always surprised you come when I need you," I said thoughtfully, chewing on my lip.

I slowed my steps, letting the butterfly relax on my arm as I held it stiffly in front of me. "I had a lot of trouble the other week, you know," I began conversationally. "Why didn't you come then?"

"It was too cold," the butterfly said. I nodded my head. "It was in the 50s that week."

"The weather was not of concern," the butterfly slowly moved up to my shoulder. "There were other things that were too cold."

It took me a moment to process what he said. "I was too cold?" I gasped. The butterfly fluttered his wings gently. "What do you mean? I was upset, sure. But who wouldn't have been upset over that news. I was really hoping..." I trailed off and looked into the bright blue sky above me.

"I didn't say you didn't have a reason," the butterfly whispered gently, settling into my hair. "I merely said you were too cold. You had things to think about before we could see you. If we come too soon, we bring false comfort. You wouldn't have made the right choice."

"There were other signs to tell me I was making the right decision," I pointed out defensively. "Elle Woods was on T.V. Every time Elle is on, I know I'm going the right way."

"Precisely," the butterfly hummed softly to himself as he entwined thin strands of my hair around his tiny feet. "That's why I am here now."

"Oh." I couldn't think of a response.

"You're too concerned about your brilliant ideas," the butterfly said, languidly braiding strands of my hair. "You're too concerned about always being creative, always producing massive amounts. You're frustrated because you know you're sacrificing quality for quantity. You're desperate for that affirmation that you're still brilliant. You think without several new stories a day you're failing, and that worries you. And you, my dear, don't do well under stress."

"I know," I said glumly. "I just get so scared if I don't keep thinking of great things that they'll quit coming to me."

"Has it stopped before?" the butterfly asked practically.

"No," I admitted.

"Well, then," the butterfly twittered his wings. "Creativity is a gift that can not be forced. You're letting your frustration and daily boredom wear on you. You need to focus on your ideas and feed your inspiration. Once you do that, the creativity and your "brilliant ideas" will come. They might come slowly at first, but they will come. Besides, it gives you more time to write down your other brilliant ideas."

"I'm worried the holidays will derail me," I said. "I'm worried all this party planning I have to do and gift crap is sucking the creativity out of me."

"Your creativity comes from you," the butterfly reminded me. "You must remember: there are times to live, and time to reflect. Right now, it's a time to live. Think of all the ideas you'll have later on."

"Very true," I sighed. I held out my finger, and the butterfly kissed it gravely. "Why can't you be here always?" I whispered. "If you were around, I wouldn't always lose my faith. I wouldn't doubt myself. My hope wouldn't waver and my thoughts wouldn't consume me."

"Because," the butterfly said, and I could hear the smile in his voice. "I am here to inspire." With that, he floated gently into the breeze toward a field of flowers. Smiling behind him, I nodded in agreement.

"And you do," I whispered to myself. "You do."

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


"Ben!" I hissed. "Ben!" We were standing in line at Jason's Deli for a Sunday lunch date. Half-hidden behind a wall meant to separate the line from the dining room, I was peering over at an older woman. She was tiny and stooped over, wearing a trench coat, white blouse, blue skirt and thick brown boots. Her black and grey hair was drawn tightly in a bun, and she had a sweet smile as she peered at her middle-aged son through coke-bottle glasses. Her tiny hands plucked at her trench coat as she struggled to take it off.

"What?" he hissed back.

"Look at that old lady!" He turned around and watched as she succeeded in peeling one arm out of the coat.

"What about her?" The old lady had decided that the restaurant was too cold and was now sliding her arm back into the coat.

"I need to adopt her!" Ben stared at me as if I was insane. Peering around the wall, I watched as she delicately sat down.

"What do you mean you need to adopt her?"

"I need to rescue her!" I squeaked, peering around the other side of the wall as the line moved forward. Ben turned and looked at the old woman. He turned and looked back at me, raising his eyebrow.

"She's fine," he said patiently. "Look, she's with her son. He's taking her to lunch!"

"I need to rescue her," I said decisively, watching as she hunched over. She slowly lifted a trembling spoon to her withering lips, sipping her soup silently.

"No, you don't need to rescue her," Ben said, trying to steer me away from the wall as the line moved forward. "We don't have a place to put her."

I stared at him in horror. "She's not a dog!" I said indignantly. "You can't talk like that."

Rolling his eyes, Ben said quietly, "I know that, dear. You're the one wanting to rescue her!"

"She's so cute!" I whispered, straining to see as the line moved forward and I lost sight of her. "She probably smells like meatballs and mothballs! She could live in our guest room honey and make us Italian food every night and mumble in a foreign language and smile a lot and kiss our cheeks!"

Ben said nothing. He merely held his hand up to my head to see if I had a fever.

"I don't think you can rescue her," he said, nudging me as I continued to gape at her. I had found a space in the wall that allowed me to stare. "I don't think she needs to be rescued."

"Everyone needs to be rescued," I said, pouting as he pointed to a table. As I went to save the table, he kissed my cheek and said, "Then rescue me. I'm hungry."

"That's not nearly as interesting," I mumbled to myself as I plopped down at a table where I could openly gape at her. As I watched her slowly eat her soup, I saw how content she and her son were together. I wondered if they came every Sunday. I wondered if he was nice to her, and if she dressed up to go to church or just to run errands. When I saw him smile and pat her hand and she beamed back at him, I realized I was right. I didn't need to rescue her after all.

Ben brought our number and sat down at the table.

"Thank you for lunch, honey," I said, letting my gaze wonder around the restaurant.

"You're welcome," he said, sipping his coke. Suddenly, I spotted an old man. He was hunched over a table, a old wrinkled jacket spread across his back. He ate a sandwich, reading a menu and keeping his eyes down.

"Ben!" I hissed in excitement, stabbing him in the arm. "Look at that old man!"

He turned and looked. "Yes?" he said warily.

"I need to rescue him!"

Monday, December 03, 2007

Little black dress, little black dress

When I was growing up in Austin, I loved reading the comics every morning. Of course, my favorite comic was "Mutts", a comic that featured a sweet dog and Mooch the cat. Mooch was in love with a little pink sock and spent many strips singing "Little pink sock, little pink sock, little pink sock" as he twirled it about on his paws. You can see him singing here:

Leave it to me to serenade a little black dress.

Friday afternoon, I met my mom at the mall in the Pond so she could buy me some shoes for Christmas. As a cheap and resourceful duck, I had worn my work shoes to the point where the sole was coming off in large chunks, threads were sticking out crazily among the sides and one pair had fallen apart even after being hot glued and duck taped.

Normally, you'd have to promise me peanut butter ice cream before I would even set foot in the mall. Unless it's a weekday morning, the idea of going to a mall makes me want to pluck out my eyeballs and throw them at all the shoppers. Lured by the promise of hole-less shoes, I met my mother on the gray and drizzling afternoon. After actually finding some adorable shoes that didn't cost $300, we set off on a quest for a little black dress. For years, I haven't owned a single black dress in my closet. I have sundresses, nice dresses and dresses for work. No black dresses, no cocktail dresses. However, something told me this day would be different.

As drizzle fell from the sky, we bustled past the trees wrapped in Christmas lights and the rich landscaping. Ignoring the people who scurried about buying Christmas presents, I stuck my head in a few stores. My hopes began to sink as I perused through dozens of unappetizing dresses. Too cheap-looking, too-revealing, too-trendy,too-tacky...honestly, does anyone wear gaudy gold zippers anymore?

Frustrated, I drug mom into White House, Black Market. And that's when I saw it:

I had admired the dress from the Web site. I had stared at it, thought about it. Ever the realist, I had talked myself out of it before I ever set foot in the store. "You'll never look good in a draped neckline," I told myself. "You're too busty for that dress. It's too trendy, it won't hold up."

I was wrong.

The gently slope of the neckline highlighted my bust without making me look like a Playboy Bunny. It hugged my waist and hips without making me look pregnant. The draping on the waist and slight slit made my hips want to wiggle and dance to the salsa beats pounding in my head.

It was a dress worthy of inspiration. A dress that could charm at evening functions, dance all night in a tiny club in some small town no one had heard of or simply stand on it's own, elegant in it's delicate simplicity. The moment I slipped the straps over my shoulders, I knew I had been inspired.

Many dresses are simply a dress. There are a few dresses in one's lifetime that for a evening transform the wearer into something more. This was one of those dresses.

The dress excited me in a way none had since my wedding dress. I felt gorgeous, elegant and worthy of envy. I could wiggle my hips, twirl and dance in heels. Thoughts poured through my brain as I imagined the possibilities of wearing a dress like this, the adventures one could have.

That night, I stared at the dress, running my fingers down the buttons on the side. By the next morning, I had three new ideas for books. The entire weekend, I would sneak into my closet and stare at it.

"Little black dress, little black dress," I would sing under my breath. "Little black dress, little black dress."

The dress sat in it's black bag quietly, waiting patiently until I'm able to slide it on Saturday for the holiday party at Ben's office.

For it is a dress worthy of inspiration and delight, like Mooch's little pink sock.

"Little black dress, little black dress".....

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Confessions of a Christmas Ornament

For months, I sat in the darkened attic smothered in tissue paper. I was crammed into a stuffy box with other ornaments, also wrapped in tissue paper like mummies. For most of the year, we sleep and dream of Christmas. We dream of the moment the bright light hits our faces, the fresh air stirs around us and it's once again our turn to shine.

You have no idea what life is like as a Christmas tree ornament. Particularly when you are not a normal ornament. As a fuzzy duck, I am not a "common" ornament. I'm not a reindeer, I'm not made from Styrofoam that's supposed to be snow and I don't chant "Ho ho ho!" I'm not red, I'm not shiny and instead of glitter, I have fuzz. Lots of fuzz. Actually, I'm not quite sure if I'm meant to be an ornament at all.

There's no hook on my back, no ribbon draped around my feet. Instead of hanging gently from a branch, I perch with my webbed feet. I am a Christmas duck.

However, last week the moment I waited for all year came. After I was discovered in the mound of wrapping paper I was placed on the front of the tree. The front of the tree! Near the top of the branches, right underneath the angel. A prime spot, indeed! There were other ducks on the tree, but no one was as high as I was. A sense of pride and accomplishment washed over me as I perched on my branch and peered down at my surroundings.

After awhile however, the joy wore off. As the white lights twinkled around me, I realized I was the only ornament that didn't glow! I didn't have a speck of glitter, a shred of shininess or a hint of twinkle! All I had was.....fuzz.

Depressed, I sadly perched on my branch. How was I worthy to sit under the angel? All the other ornaments glowed and shimmered in the soft flow of the lights. I looked like a wad of hair from a brush entangled on a branch. Sighing, I didn't even bother to preen when Ben picked me up.

"Hey," Ben called to the Blonde Duck as he delicately held me in his hand. "Check this out. This is the duck, right?"

Oh good God, I thought to myself in horror. What is he going to do to me? Is he going to cover me in glitter or make me dance in the mid-air, pretending to quack? This is sooo humiliating.

"This is the duck normally, right?" Ben repeated as the Blonde Duck looked on. I squinted my eyes in horror, terrified to look. "This is the duck skiing." He puffed out his cheeks and blew a stream of air, forcing all my fuzz to go flying behind me.

Once the blowing stopped, I cautiously opened my eyes. Ben and the Blonde Duck were cackling in delight.

"That's so cute!" the Blonde Duck squealed, coming over and gently stroking my head. "He has so much fuzz!"

"Isn't he cute?" Ben said as he jiggled me in his hand.

I'm cute! I thought to myself in delight. Even though I'm not glittery or shiny, they still like me! Hooray!

"Do it again!" the Blonde squealed. "Make him go skiing again!"

Oh no, I thought in dismay, wishing I could shake my head. Don't do it again. Don't go skiing again.

We went skiing again.

And again. And again. And again.

And finally, we went skiing again.

Mussed and windblown, I was returned to my perch on tree. This time, I stood tall and proud.

For I was the fuzzy Christmas duck.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Execution of the Thanksgiving Feast

When Pumble returned from shopping, it was quite clear that he had brought the entire cabinet with him.

"Are the boy and the girl going to have enough food?" Hairy asked in horror. "There must be nothing left!"

Pumble rolled his eyes and set about preparing a feast. "She goes to the store every week. She'll just think the boy ate everything."

The seals sniffed about curiously and barked to Pumble.

"We're having salmon, cranberry sauce, roasted crickets, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, corn, rolls, pumpkin bread, biscuits, turnips, various baked leaves, ice cream, pumpkin pie, apple pie, chocolate cake, honey, pecan pie and cheesecake."

"We're eating all that?" Cookies asked in shock. "You're going to be so fat you won't be able to fly through the bloody door!"

Pumble expressed his displeasure by sticking his tongue out at Cookies. "Go away," he snapped. "I need to create! I need to prepare the best Thanksgiving feast that the Land of the Flowered Bed has ever seen!"

"We haven't ever had a Thanksgiving feast," Hairy pointed out.

"Exactly," Pumble looked at him like he was an idiot. "Shoo." The seals lingered, sniffing hopefully at the salmon. At Pumble's look, they slowly crept away, looking longingly at the fish laying on the counter behind them.

While Pumble "created," Hairy dressed in his finest velvet coat. He had a sneaking suspicion Pumble had invited more people than he let on, and as Mayor of the Land of the Flowered Bed, it was his job to make sure the visitors had a good time.

"Dinner is at 3!" Pumble bellowed.

"You don't eat dinner at 3!" Cookies argued.

"You do on Thanksgiving!" Pumble said defensively.

"That's moronic!" Cookies spat.

"You're a moron!" Pumble bellowed. "And I'm cooking! Go away!" Delicious smells began wafting from the makeshift kitchen outside the spa. There was a knock at the door. Straightening his jacket, Hairy stepped forward to answer it.

"Hello," he beamed as the door swung open slowly. "I'm Hairy, Mayor of the--oh my, there's certainly a lot of you, aren't there?"

"EXCUSE Me?" the GLUG bellowed, sticking his eager green face inches away from Hairy's. "I heard there were leaves. Are there any leaves? I'd love some leaves!" He went madly running through the Land of the Flowered Bed, only to be followed by a herd of flying pigs who were politely calling, "May we have some grass? We'd love some tasty grass!"

"Dinner won't be ready until 3!" Pumble snapped. The pigs sat politely while the GLUG flopped over dramatically. "I shall perish!" Cookies rolled his eyes. The seals looked suspiciously at the flying pigs and scuttled over to the Spa to join the ducks.

Hairy had barely had time to straighten his jacket when animals began pouring through the door. Henry saw Ladybug, Henry the Lizard and Ace the Chihuahua. The butterflies floated lightly above the Water Cooler Ants and Noisy Cricket. Then, Henry found himself face to face with the very creatures he dreaded.

"Is this the Land of the Flowered Bed?" one of the argumentative birds demanded.

"It is," Hairy smiled politely. "Welcome! Please come in!"

"Are we eating French Fries?" another bird demanded.

"I believe we have sweet and mashed potatoes," Hairy smiled.

"That's basically French Fries," a third bird observed.

"Is not!" the first bird cried.

"Is too!" the third bird cried. Hairy directed them toward the spa, where they continued to argue over the orgin of French Fries.

Finally, it was time for the Thanksgiving feast. The floor was populated with dozens of animals in all shapes and sizes. Pumble was beaming as the animals passed around plates laden with salmon, sweet potatoes, stuffing and rolls in every shape and size and much more. The seals wiggled their tales in excitement and the ducks chattered happily.

"It looks delicious!" the first duck gushed.

"It tastes fantastic!" the second duck approved.

"I do love pie," the third duck smacked happily, having gone straight for desert.

Hairy lowered his head in thanks and snuck a look at Cookies and Pumble. They smiled back at him, for once forgetting to argue or snap at each other. For one brief moment, the table was awash in love, happiness and a grateful bliss. The animals all stared at each other in wonderment, letting the moment settle into their souls.

"EXCUSE ME!" the GLUG bellowed. "I'm hungry! May I finally eat my tasty leaves?"

Hairy, Pumble and Cookies laughed along with the seals. With that, they dug into their plates. It was a wonderful Thanksgiving Feast. It was, in fact, the finest feast the Land of the Flowered Bed had ever seen.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Christmas at the Pond

Over the holiday weekend, Ben and I decorated the house for Christmas. Along with chubby Santas and Snowmen scattered among random surfaces, we put up the tree and hung the wreath on the door. So, for your viewing pleasure, here is Christmas at the Pond.

The tree!

That's right--a handmade $5 wreath from Michaels. I am beyond excited. We have the prettiest wreath in the pond.

Ben managed to set up a tree without electrocuting himself or putting out an eye! Hooray!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Reflections on Thanksgiving

I wrote this editorial for work and a lot of the papers used it. Hope you enjoy it. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

There is nothing more complex in this world than the holidays. Just the mention of the word “holiday” is enough to stir up emotion in anyone.
From Thanksgiving to Hanukkah to Christmas to New Year’s Eve, the holidays hold a special place in everyone’s heart. For some, the holidays are full of joy and frivolity. For others, they are bittersweet and tinged with sorrow. No matter whether you eagerly anticipate or dread the holidays throughout the year, one day in particular deserves reflection: Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is the forgotten child of the holidays. The child that is overshadowed by the promise of Christmas, the distraction of football and the lure of Black Friday deals. Sure, pre-school classes make handprint turkeys and elementary children dutifully write down a list of things they are grateful for, but what does Thanksgiving really mean?

Cynics will point to Thanksgiving as the beginning of cruelty to Native American tribes or say it’s just a day for Americans to overeat and gorge themselves. Romantics will emphasize the blessings of family and how we should be gracious for our well-being. But let’s be honest with ourselves: Most people only appreciate the good in their life when everything goes wrong. So obviously, that’s not the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

Perhaps that’s the beauty of Thanksgiving. Since it is not a holiday steeped in religion and holds its roots in tradition, Thanksgiving is the one holiday that can mean something different for everyone. For one family, Thanksgiving could be defined by the pies made once a year. For another, perhaps it’s just the fact that, for a few days each year, everyone is in one place. For one day, excuses about jobs and spouses and kid obligations are dropped and everyone simply gathers to be together.

Thanksgiving isn’t like Christmas. You can’t simply mail a card or have your secretary mail a box of months-old cocoa from some warehouse. You have to show up and be there.
You have to make the effort to try your mother’s casserole and listen to your Aunt Eva’s traditional excuse as to why the turkey looks more like roadkill than anything resembling poultry. As much as it may pain you, you have to gather.

But as you gather to dine with your family this year, maybe the good things in your life might cross your mind. Maybe instead of being angry that you can’t afford the newest gadget, you can appreciate the fact that you could afford a plane ticket to take your seat at your grandmother’s table. Even if you hate your in-laws, maybe you can appreciate the fact that they treat your children like the little angels you wish they were.

Or, if it comes down to it, just stuff yourself with pie and appreciate the fact you packed elastic pants in your suitcase. Perhaps to you, the true meaning of Thanksgiving is a bottle of Tums and a bloated belly. Whatever you choose to gather for, happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Thanksgiving Feast

"I refuse to eat a turkey," Cookies crossed his wings and scowled at Pumble. Pumble shoved the chef's hat over his eyes and scowled back.

"It's Thanksgiving!" Pumble bellowed. "You eat turkey at Thanksgiving! You're not a turkey, so what's your problem?"

"It's a fellow feathered friend!" Cookies snapped back. "I refuse to eat one of my own."

Pumble hissed between his teeth. "You eat chicken all the time!"

"That's different," Cookies said defensively.

"How?" Hairy asked curiously.

"I don't like chickens," Cookies sniffed. "They're so.....common. A bunch of degenerates, if you ask me."

"You're so weird," Pumble muttered, crossing out turkey on the menu he was making. "So what are we going to eat instead of turkey?"

"Chicken?" Cookies suggested.

"We eat chicken all the time," Pumble sulked. "It's a holiday! We need something different."

"Ham?" Hairy suggested.

"Right," Cookies snorted sarcastically. "The Flying Pigs are going to love digging into ham."

"Oh, right," Hairy said, blush tinging his cheeks. He thought for a moment. "What about fish?"

"What kind of fish?" Pumble asked immediately. "Salmon's expensive, and Cookies is so cheap I'm surprised we can eat at all."

"We could eat tuna," Hairy suggested. He was interrupted by howling from the seals. The seals flopped on the floor in agony, desperately pounding their flippers against the ground. They wanted salmon, not tuna. They never got salmon. All they got to eat was tuna.

"Do you know how expensive salmon is?" Cookies asked in shock. "It's $7 a pound! The two of you will eat at least a pound each!"

Tears spilled from the seals eyes as they wailed loudly.

"We agree!" the first duck yelled from the Spa. He had been eavesdropping and was quite concerned about missing the opportunity to dine on salmon. The ducks liked salmon.

"We want salmon!" the second duck agreed loudly.

"It is rather tasty," the third duck said bashfully. The seals howled mournfully in agreement. Pumble and Hairy looked at Cookies. Sighing, Cookies stomped his foot on the ground.

"Fine," he grunted, pouting. "We'll have salmon." The seals and ducks cheered happily.

"That's settled," Pumble said, looking at his list. "We'll have salmon, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, rolls, pumpkin bread, biscuits, turnips, various leaves, ice cream, pumpkin pie, apple pie, chocolate cake, honey, pecan pie and cheesecake." He looked over his list again. "Did we leave anything out?"

"That's a lot of food," Hairy said gently. "Are you sure you're not overdoing it a bit?" Pumble looked at Hairy witheringly.

"Hairy," Pumble arched his eyebrows. "I have been preparing for this feast for enough. I won't rest until I'm so full I can't even walk. Flying is completely out of the question."

"Ok," Hairy sang, shaking his head. "I think you'll be sorry." Pumble rolled his eyes as he gathered up his shopping list and menu and began to waddle away.

"Where are you going?" Hairy asked. Cookies had flown the the bed and was sulking, refusing to look at anyone. The seals were eagerly looking up salmon recipes. The ducks were quacking to themselves about how tasty the salmon would be.

"Duh!" Pumble rolled his eyes. "I'm going shopping!"