Saturday, September 29, 2007

I'm done famous, ya'll

Proof that not only does the Blond Duck exist in a world besides her own head, but that other people find her funny.

Yes, Invisible Friends, it's true. Emma Sanders thinks I'm a hoot. So there. (Read her books. Read Pam's books. Read my....dang

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ode to my new writing desk- and how I love thee

I had longed for it.

I had yearned for it.

I had dreamed of it.

I had searched for it.

After pictures and pictures, websites and magazines, I was ready to give up. Was it really so hard to find a writing desk? A classic desk that didn't look like crap and didn't have a keyboard drawer? A writing desk that didn't cost $1000?

I had enlisted my mother and friends on my search for the perfect writing desk. I dragged my poor mother to countless furniture shops and pleaded with my husband to e-mail Craiglist sellers in the late hours of the night. The search consumed and overwhelmed me. With every shop, I thought I found the perfect desk. For that moment, it was just right. But in my heart, I knew it wasn't. I was simply settling to end the vile search that was haunting my dreams.

The worst part of the matter is I despise looking for furniture. Once I find it, I'm thrilled. It's the searching that's so irritating. I get this vision in my head of what I want, and struggle to find it realized. All the desks I saw were ok, alright, boring or cheap. I couldn't find it.

"I need a desk worthy of inspiration," I told Ben. A desk I could write at, dream at, pretend I was Jane Austen at. Hey, it's my desk, not yours. I needed something puppies could run into and children could bump. I needed something that could last for years.

And one lazy Sunday afternoon, I found it. It was hidden in a corner of a consignment shop on the opposite side of town, this gorgeous cherry wood writing desk with 3 drawers. Brand new, it was only $400. I was smitten instantly. I was enthralled. I had to have it.

Calling my Mom, I was thrilled when she graciously offered to buy it for my birthday. I waited and waited until we finally drove to get it yesterday. Not only did she purchase the desk for me, she hauled it back to my house! We hauled it in piece by piece (the legs were taken off for transportation) and it was done.

When I got home from a book signing (Emma Sanders, check her out!), I was thrilled to see that the desk was standing proudly in the center of my office, gleaming with polish! A beaming Ben had put it together and polished it for me while I was gone. I touched the edges in glee. It was mine, it was really mine.

So, I have to thank my parents for buying me this gorgeous desk. And I have to thank Ben for spending his night putting it together after a long day at work. It means the world to me.

For it is a desk worthy of inspiration.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Wrinkle In Time

I've always flocked to authors who are known for being different and have an element of fantasy in their work: Bruce Coville, Roald Dahl, E. Konigsburg and Madeline L'Engle. It's not often I talk about writing as a craft or discuss literature of other authors. I tend to devour books more than I discuss them, absorbing the imagery and knowledge before moving on to the next. If I could, I would do nothing but read and write all day.

When Madeline L'Engle passed away last week, I immediately felt a pang of shock. Then I felt the urge to write about her. Nah, I thought to myself. It's arrogant to presume you knew this woman better than her friends. There are countless obituaries about her, dozens of writers on children's literature blogs are wailing, there's no need for you to join them.

But the thought has been stewing in my mind for days, and I spent a good part of my lunch break vicariously reading through dozens of articles and interviews with L'Engle. The more I read, the more I felt like not only did I like this woman--I felt like I understood her. It was seconded by Libby, who claimed in an e-mail: "I think this is your future. You will be this woman! Brilliant, strong minded, and fabulously crude!! I love it!"

At first, I shrugged it off. But the more I read, the more I began to believe. It seemed that we both share a quirky sense of humor and wit.

"So what?" the Invisible Friends sigh. "We all think like that. Get over it. Where's the lizards, the addicted birds, the puppies?"

It was this statement where L'Engle discusses how she gets her ideas in an interview that finally hit home:

"Why, when I get up in the morning, it’s all I can do not to trip over them.” And that’s how ideas are; they’re just everywhere."

As Libby pointed out, that is exactly how I am.

I still remember the day I picked up my first copy of A Wrinkle in Time. I was in the bookstore, running my fingers over the gold Newberry Winner stamp and examining the cover art carefully. Years later, my beloved ballet teacher, who was friends with L'Engle, would give me an autographed copy. The statement read simply: To Miranda. Tesser well.

Unlike many, I have read many of L'Engle's books--including the novels following A Wrinkle in Time, as well as the ones featuring Vicky Austin and Polly, Meg's daughter. I've even read some of her early work, such as And both were young. And I loved it. Each book spoke to me at a different time in my youth. Early in the morning before I hit the gym, it's very likely you'll find me searching for one of her novels. L'Engle makes you think about the important and grander aspects in life without being too heavy or presumptuous. Each of her novels is strangely comforting, like reading on a porch warmed step in a cool wind. The subject matter shouldn't be so comfortable, so soothing--but it is.

At the same time, I can't be like L'Engle. L'Engle deals with heavy theology and philosophy and weaves science into her fantasies. I rely on whimsical concepts, zany humor and cheesy emotion.

It's easy to say that I am simply trying to point out the similarities between L'Engle and myself because I aspire to be like her, to be as great as her. While I would love to say I am that self-involved, it's not entirely true. Everyone aspires to be like someone they like and admire. However, the real point of this entry is that L'Engle made thousands of children feel that way. She had a way of making children feel they could trust her, understand her. Adults think children's literature should be simple and dull, that children can't handle intelligent conversation or understand the hard things in life. Children are all too aware of the darkness, or evil, that exists in life. They're simply better at dealing with it than adults are.

L'Engle was a great author whose imagination and style will never be matched. While I can aspire to be as prolific as she was and touch a fraction of the lives she did, it would truly be an honor to have anyone ever tell me my writing reminded them of hers. For like dozens of writers have said, she truly has left A Wrinkle in Time.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Thank you

After celebrating my spectacular birthday all weekend long, I realized how lucky I was to have such a great set of family and friends. Though I don't usually get too mushy about my personal life, a lot of people did a lot for me and it made a lot to me. It gave me that warm gooey feeling that chick flicks give me. And yes, it made me tear up. So instead of continuing to celebrate me (I think we all had enough of that this weekend) I thought I'd dedicate this entry to the people who I'm thrilled to have in my life. (Note: this entry mainly discusses this weekend. If you're not in here, that doesn't mean you're not important to me.)

First, I'd like to thank Libby for transforming my dull cubicle to a pink wonderland. It has made long work days instantly more cheerful and peppy! Why kill ad people when you can stare at pink streamers and dream of ponies? It started my birthday off with a wonderful treat.

A pink paradise

Doesn't that just make you happy just looking at it? And confetti on the floor too! How thoughtful! (I left up most of the streamers. I gave some to Libby. I like to share my pink happiness with the world.)

Next, I'd like to thank my dear husband Ben. After working two night releases in a row, the man That's right, he went shopping for ME. In a mall. On a Friday afternoon. In a women's clothing store. He is the epitome of every male hero in every good romance novel or chick flick. And he's mine! After buying me two gorgeous tops, he bought me The Holiday and Stranger Than Fiction. As if that wasn't enough, he bought me bellydancing lessons and even belly danced with me that night!

He shops and dances!

Just to clear up any confusion, I celebrated my birthday by going to a small local Greek restaurant with our friends. They have a belly dancer on Friday nights. The best part was that by the time she invited us up to dance, the entire restaurant had cleared out. First the girls just wiggled around, then the boys jumped in! Everyone was laughing, the owners were cheering and sprinkling dollar bills on our heads and Ben kept telling jokes. It was out of a movie, I swear. It was a dream come true.

I don't think we're quite getting it.

Next, I'd like to thank my sister. She sent a gorgeous bouquet of flowers, brought me another one (with a My Little Pony Balloon!) and spoiled me rotten. Isn't she cute?

Of course, who could forget Bryan and Candace? They're so cute and generous! Both of them were natural belly dancers. They could make a killing as a husband-wife bellydancing team. I just love them.

And as I wrap up my birthday gratitude speech, I can't leave out the people who gave me a birthday in the first place: my parents. Thanks for everything. It means the world to me.

***Don't worry Mama K, I haven't forgotten about ya'll! You mean everything to me as well! I just wish ya'll weren't so far away. Same for you, Lana and Corney!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Because it's all about me

Because it's all about me--I'm 23!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Bursting out of building, I ran out the door. My chest was tight, my stomach in knots. My heart was beating faster than a bird's beating wings. The thoughts swirled in my mind, the words shouted in my head. I was exhilarated. I was exhausted. I needed to talk. I needed to hide. My feet propelled me on the familiar path I trace at least five times a day.

A familiar pair of tiny feet landed on my hand. I smiled.

"You're always there when I need you." The butterfly stood regally on my hand, preening as it slowly opened and closed it's wings.

"Of course. It is what we do." The butterfly delicately floated to my shoulder and nestled in my hair.

"Things are just so complicated today," I mummered, sweating as the sun beat down on my shoulders and back. "I'm so excited, but I'm so confused. What if she's not for real? What if this is all a game?"

"There are no easy choices," the soft voice whispered wisely. "There's only easy regrets."

"How do I know what to do?" I asked as the butterfly burrowed deeper into my hair. "How do I know who to choose? It's all very confusing."

"Wait and see," the butterfly advised. "You're making much ado about nothing."

"You can't quote Shakespeare at me and tell me that it's not a big deal," I snapped. "You know it is. You know it's what I've been dreaming of."

"And you're using logic to navigate a dream." The butterfly walked down my arm. "Dreams are based on hope, faith and feelings. You're using logic and reason. There's a fine line between using your head too much and being a romantic, impulsive fool."

"I am a romantic, impulsive fool," I smiled. "Sometimes."

"At times," he agreed. "While this is about business, it's much more personal than that. This is a dream, an aspiration, the tantalizing tip of success. It must not be rushed. It must not be ignored. Most of all, it must not be fully logical."

I looked at the butterfly questioningly.

"If you were logical," he explained. "You wouldn't write at all. You most certainly wouldn't keep trying to rescue things!"

We laughed. "I rescued you," I teased.

"Or did I rescue you?" he replied in return.

We continued to walk as the end of my path neared. My heart had calmed, my breathing had slowed. The rapid storm of words and ideas in my head had calmed to a few waves. My eyelids still felt heavy, but I didn't feel the need to curl up and sleep for a hundred years.

"How will I know what to do?" I asked.

"How did you know to get married?" the butterfly asked, his wings fluttering. "Was it this heart wrenching decision you had to agonize over?"

"No," I said, confused. How was this anything like marriage? "It was the easiest decision of my life."

"Why?" the butterfly asked.

"It was just natural," I shrugged. "It fit right."

With a smile, the butterfly nodded his head. Suddenly, I understood. I saw his tiny face look toward the tree, and I raised my hand in the air.

"When will you be back?" I asked, knowing what the answer will be.

"Soon," the wind replied. "Always soon."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A birthday and Ben

It's Mama K's birthday today, and I thought I'd write a blog to honor her. At first, I thought about doing a mushy blog. Nah, I thought. We've had enough mushiness, bring on the comedy. Then I thought of doing a story about every one's favorite, Chihuahua, Ace.

Ace the Chihuahua

Then, I thought to myself, no, she'd rather have a story about Ben.

A flash of inspiration struck me, and all the sudden it seemed to clear. What could be more perfect than a story about Ben and Ace?

Ta Da! It took a lot of thinking, but I finally dug up my favorite Ace and Ben memory. This is the story of Ben, Ace and a jar of peanut butter. I love peanut butter. But for once in my life, it's not about me.

Ace loves food. He loves every kind of food except bananas. Even if it's not edible or tasty, there's a good chance he'll eat it. Ben's favorite thing to do is torment Ace. You can see the disaster unfolding.

One day, I was munching on a snack when Ben grabs a jar of peanut butter and begins to eat spoonfuls out of it. Ace, terrified of missing out on a smackeral of peanut butter, hops around his feet like a jackrabbit.

"Please give me some peanut butter!" Ace pleaded silently, springing up into the air over and over. "Please give me some tasty tasty peanut butter!"

"Yum, yum, yum," Ben hummed to himself, happily scooping out more peanut butter. He grinned as Ace began to throw his tiny body in the air.

"If I twirl around, they'll give me some peanut butter!" he thought to himself. "Twirl! Spin! Twirl!"

"Let's give Ace some peanut butter," Ben says, grinning wickedly at me. I roll my eyes. This could only lead to trouble.

"Oh God yes!" Ace flips over happily on his belly. "Finally, some peanut butter!"

Ace pranced happily as Ben dug out an enormous spoonful of peanut butter.

"Do you think he should eat all that?" I stare at the glob of peanut butter that's the size of a small planet.

"Yea," Ben grins. "He'll like it." He reaches down and shoves the entire spoonful of peanut butter into Ace's mouth. Ace's eyes bulge like a frog, and he gags as he tries to chew the peanut butter. Making small choking sounds, he smacks his jaw open and closed like an alligator wrapped in duck tape.

"He's choking!" I squeal, swooping to save the dog. Ben holds me back. "No, look at him!" Ben's voice is in awe. He only wishes he could chew that much peanut butter.

Ace wipes the mass of peanut butter on his paw. From there, he begins to lick it off.

"Look at his tongue!" Ben cackles, holding his stomach in glee. "Look at it go!"

Ace begins to frantically lick the peanut butter off his foot like it may jump off and slink away. Ben only giggles harder as Ace's tongue whips in and out of his mouth faster than a snake. Finally, with one good lick, the peanut butter is gone. Ace is stuffed, Ben is happy and my eyes have permanently rolled to the back of my head.

Yet, every time we go back, Ace begs for peanut butter. And Ben always gives it to him.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Buff Beetle

Seven in the morning is early for anyone, especially a beetle. However, the beetle at the women's gym emerged from his home in the crack of the wall promptly at 7:03 a.m. It was dove season, and he had to get buff.

"I can't even scurry on the sidewalk without a bird pecking at me!" he griped to himself as he scuttled across the thick red carpet. "All those dumb country birds hiding in the city until November. It's terrible, I tell you, just terrible! A fellow has to be in shape to survive dove season."

"Everyone always feels bad for the birds during bird season," he sneered as he hurried to the floor exercise space. "Well, what about us bugs? We deserve not to be hunted like vermin too!"

Huffing to himself, he crawled his way to the enormous rubber balls. He looked up at the ball--it looked like a planet.

"EW!" a girl screeched as she scooted away from the bug. "A beetle!"

"Not listen here," the beetle snarled, "I have every right to work out here too!"

The girl wrinkled her nose and went to do crunches on the aerobics floor. The beetle, giving up on the planet of a ball, walked over to another woman who was sweating as she tried to hold a plank.

"Would you help me stretch?" the beetle asked politely, waving all his arms and legs. "I'm not quite sure how to get started. I don't work out much, you see. Just during dove season."

"Disgusting," she blanched as she got up and quickly walked away. Undeterred, the beetle scuttled over to another woman. "Would you help me stretch?" The woman slammed down her magazine towards him. He quickly ran and hid under a box of stretchy ropes as she continued to smack the ground.

"You don't have to be so rude!" the beetle bellowed fearfully as he crawled against the wall, desperately searching for a crack. "If you didn't want to help me stretch, no would have been just fine!" Finally, the woman and her magazine left. The beetle carefully crawled out. He saw a blond girl doing sit-ups on the carpet. Silently, he scuttled over to her head. When she finally turned and saw him, her eyes widened in fear.

"Excuse me," the beetle asked politely, "Can you help me stretch?"

"Help you stretch?" the girl asked, looking dubiously at all his arms and legs. "I'm not sure how to do that."

"Oh," the beetle said, disappointed. Since the girl hadn't screamed, run away or tried to hit him, he decided to push his luck.

"Why are all the girls running away from me?" his beetle pinchers clicked at her a few times. "Am I that scary of a beetle?"

The girl shook her head. "They're not scared of you." She turned to do sit-ups on her side. The beetle scurried around her head so he was in her vision again.

"Grossed out?" The beetle sighed. It wasn't his fault he was black and shiny with a hard shell. He knew he wasn't as cute as butterflies or ladybugs. At least people liked him in Egypt.

"Nope," the girl said, flipping over to the other side. The beetle sighed and scurried around to the other side so he was in her vision again. He was very tired. This was turning out to be a very good work out.

"Then what is it?" he whined.

"They don't want to work out with a boy," the girl said, standing up and grabbing her bag. "After all, it's a women's gym." The beetle stared at her as she walked out, flabbergasted. As more women came towards him, he quickly scurried back into his crack in the wall.

"That's enough working out for one day," he told himself, confident he was fast enough the birds wouldn't get him. Even though he was disappointed the other ladies wouldn't work out with him, he knew he'd still get in a work out. After all--there was a Mexican restaurant two doors down. They had never discriminated before against beetles of any kind.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Oops--he did it again

You guessed it. He's back in rehab.

On one of my daily walks, I walked by the propane tank cabinet and glanced at it causally. Guess who I saw hopping frantically at the top of the tank?

"Worms!" Bird called happily when he saw me. "Oh, please tell me you're a worm!"

"Nope, no worms here," I replied as he hopped from tank to tank. "So you're back in, huh?"

"It's not my fault," he sobbed as he threw himself against the cage. "I just need worms. Worms! I know they're not that good for me, but they're soooo good." He looked hungrily at my fingers, which I pulled away from the cage.

"Please let me out," he pleaded. "I think I see some tasty worms." He was staring at my feet.

"Those are my toes," I said, taking a few steps back. "And I didn't put you in. You can get out the exact same way you got in."

"Worms!" the bird cried frantically as a truck drove by. "Worms worms worms worms worms worms!" I looked at him warily.

"You should stay in there," I said, as I started to walk away. "You really do have a problem."

"It's not me," he sobbed. "It's my genetics. Won't you help me? The other one wanted to help me."

"And you tried to eat her fingers," I reminded him. "Imagine what you'll do to mine." I could see his tiny bird brain trying to process this information. "Worms?" he asked again hopefully. Laughing, I strolled away.

When I returned later, the tiny confused bird had once again found his way out of rehab and was hopping along the ground with a- you guessed it- worm in his tiny beak.

"Worm!" he cried happily, his beak falling open to show me his prize. The worm flipped out and began to crawl along the ground desperately. "Worm!" he cried frantically, hopping away to scoop it up. "Worm worm worm worm worm!"

I expect he'll be back in rehab by Monday.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


There she was. The tiny spider giggled to himself in glee. For days, weeks, months, he had watched the golden hair girl traipse up and down the long cement sidewalk. For an eternity her hair had fascinated him. A mass of spun gold and sunlight, the strands shimmered and glowed in the breeze as she passed.

Sometimes, the girl wore her hair straight and smooth, like waves of sun-bleached wheat blowing in the wind.

Sometimes, the girl wore her hair in golden curls. The spider imagined sliding down one of the curls, sliding and twisting and turning forever.

Sometimes her hair was in a ponytail, bouncing invitingly with each step. If only he could leap onto her silky tail and swing from strand to strand like an eight-legged Tarzan in a follicle jungle!

“If only I was blond!” the spider had lamented for months. “If only I had a golden mass of hair on my head! I too, would be happy and could take long walks in the sunlight, my hair beaming like a bronzed statue!”

The spider watched wistfully each days, as the girl with the golden hair would walk by him. He’d reach out gently, hoping to catch a wayward strand as it floated in the breeze. But the strands always eluded him, floating out of his grasp. They must go to heaven, he imagined. To heaven to string a lute of an angel, a violin of saints. Only hair like that could make it into heaven.

So the spider had watched, and he had waited. And now it was time.

The girl was walking by, and the breeze was perfect, just as he imagined. He took a deep breath, and he leapt. He leapt into the air and let the breeze carry him along. At the exact right moment, he threw a clear thread into the air. Just as he imagined, it caught the girl’s hair. Startled, she bent down. The spider beamed. This was the moment he’d been waiting for his entire life.

“Ew!” the girl screamed. “A spider!” The spider ran up the delicate silver strand and into the girl’s hair. He closed his eyes in joy when he rushed into the golden locks he’d admired for so long. Happily he placed them on his own head. “I’m blond!” he cried. “I’m finally blond!” The girl batted at her hair in a frenzied motion and was jumping up and down in panic. “Oh God!” she screamed. “There’s a spider in my hair!”

All the jumping caused the spider to fall, down, down from the beautiful strands. He caught his silver rope and swung back up into the other side of the hair. The girl screamed as he crawled up her hair towards her ear.

“I’m blond!” he cried ecstatically. “I’m blonde and beautiful! Look at my golden mane, my silky white locks.” He gathered the strands to his nose and breathed deeply as the girl shook her head frantically and raked her hands through her hair. Finally, her finger dragged the spider down the ground. As he stared up at the withering mass of gold, he beamed and hugged the strand he still clutched in his hand. The girl’s running footsteps faded in the distance as he hugged the strand and beamed. “I’m still blond,” he grinned.

Monday, September 10, 2007

They tried to make me go to rehab

L and I were taking our morning walk when we passed by two birds trapped in a steel holding cabinet for silver tanks. The cabinet was essentially long steel rods surrounded by steel mesh on the top and sides with a door on the front side locked by a combination lock. The bottom of the cabinet was open, which is how the birds flew in there.

We looked at the birds, who had worked themselves into quite a frenzy.

"You there!" one of the birds squeaked as he hopped from tank to tank. "Release us from this vile prison!"

"Just fly down!" I said pointedly, rolling my eyes.

"That's what you want us to think," the small brown bird said, staring at me through the mesh. The other bird was flapping hysterically at the top of the cabinet.

"I'll never get out! I'll never get out!" he screamed. "I'll never get out!" The first bird slapped the second with his wing as he too fluttered around the top. "Stop panicking!" he chirped. I rolled my eyes. Meanwhile, L and her bleeding heart had decided to go rescue the birds.

"Oh birdies!" she cried in anguish, clasping her hands together. She grasped the top of the cage and spoke to them emphatically. "Fly babies! Fly! Fly to the bottom! You can be free!"

"Worms! Worms!" cried the second bird, stabbing his beak through the mesh towards her fingers. "Worms! Tasty tasty worms!" L gasped and jerked her hands back just in time to avoid the curious little beak. "Worms!" the bird howled in anguish, anxiously fluttering in the corner of the cabinet.

"Whadda want for my freedom?" the first bird sneered at me. "An acorn? A locus?"

"I don't want anything," I snapped in exasperation. "I just want you to shut up so L and I can finish the walk." L was now cooing to the second bird who was convinced he was having a drug-induced hallucination and that worms were dancing around him.

"Everyone's got a price," he smirked as he hopped around. I shook my head and looked at L.

"L, come on. They'll figure it out."

"But they're sad!!!" she wailed, trying to push leaves through the vents to the bird. The second bird burst into a new bout of hysterical fluttering. "The worms! The worms!" I sighed and watched her try to flush the birds out of the steel box.

"Doesn't he ever shut up?" The first bird looked at me, insulted at my lack of sympathy. "He's addicted to worms!" he snapped. "Show some compassion. He's detoxing!"

"Detoxing from worms," I shook my head. "Right. And what are you here for?"

"It wasn't mine," he snapped defensively. "I never saw it before." I nodded sarcastically, and he flapped his wings at me and continued to fly around the cabinet. He was hopping around on the tanks, muttering to himself. L cocked her head and looked at the side of the box.

"I know!" she beamed, skipping to it's left side. "I'll just"-- As she walked to the box, the first bird hopped off the last row of tanks and swooped out from under the box into the open air. L squealed and hopped away as his feathers passed within an inch of his face.

"I'm free!" he cackled as he flew by me. "They'll never catch me, those silver birds! They can't get me now!" He laughed as he flew into a nearby tree. The second bird, now doubly terrified because he was alone, flopped anxiously in the box.

"Worms!" he shrieked. "Where are my worms? Worms!"

"Dumb birds," I muttered, as I dragged away a wailing L who was now trying to overturn the cabinet to rescue the second bird. The second bird was now shrieking and calling to the first bird, who chirped comfortably from a tree. "Dumb, dumb bird. "

"He's not dumb," L said defensively. "He's just, he's just"--

"What?" I said pointedly, knowing there was no way she could defend the idiotic birds.

"He's in rehab," she said decisively. Despite myself, I laughed.

Three hours later, the bird was still in the box throwing himself against steel mesh repeatedly. L, even now more concerned by the suspiciously retarded bird, rushed over to save the bird. The bird suddenly dove head first into the ground and swooped back up and under the cabinet into the open air like his friend. Excited he was now free from the dreaded box he'd been imprisoned in, he landed on the grass near the propane cabinet.

"Worms!" he cried happily, pecking at the ground. "Worms, worms, worms!"

Looking at L, I said dryly, "I don't think rehab worked."

"Worms, worms, worms," the second bird sang happily, shivering to himself in delight. When we passed the area later in the afternoon, we saw a tiny handwritten sign stuck into the ground.

"Hello, my name is Bird. And I'm addicted to worms."

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Hot puppy breath

My fate as a dog owner has been sealed. Forget the Yorkies, the masses of terriers, the golden retrievers. Forget the German Shepards, the Siberian Huskies and the cocker spaniels.

I have fallen in love with the Chihuahua. As soon as that tiny white puppy was placed into my arms and I looked into his tiny brown eyes, I was hooked. Finished, finito, done. Never to venture out into the world of dabbling dog breeds again. While I still have a list of dogs I'd love to own, my first puppy purchase has been decided--the Chihuahua.

It all started at work yesterday when everyone was fluttering around in high spirits because of a going-away breakfast we were having for one of the employees. Their arms filled with cinnamon rolls, strudels, muffins and fruit, the cynical journalists were on a sugar high and actually pleasant for once. One of the new girls brought up her dog and asked about local dog parks, and that lead me to my most favorite subject besides food: puppies. As I babbled away about my love for puppies, she interrupted me.

"There's a store over on The Road that sells puppies," she informed me as I clasped my hands in delight. "You can take them out and play with them and hold them. And on weekends, they have adoption days."
While my liberal colleagues began to all try to one-up each other on how many dogs they'd rescued and whose dogs had the most problems, therefore making it the most compassionate rescue, I was too busy looking up the puppy store. When I found the website, I squealed in excitement. For the rest of the day, adrenaline pumped through my veins. The only thing I could think or speak was, "Puppiespuppiespuppiespuppiespuppiespuppiespuppiespuppies."
Puppies consumed my thoughts for the entire day. As Libby and I perused, I dreamed of what kind of puppies I might pet. I fantasized about their delicate skin, their soft fur, their tiny little tongues. I couldn't wait to feel a squirming mass of fluff in my arms and the delicious heat of puppy breath on my cheek. I desperately needed to hold a puppy. Ever the causal one, I informed Ben of this on the way home.

"BABY!" I screeched into the phone. "There's a store on the Road and they have PUPPPIES! And you can pet them and hold them and love them and snuggle them and cuddle them and oh my God they have puppies! Puppies puppies puppies puppies puppies! Do you know how long it's been since I've seen a puppy? Do you? I need a puppy! I need hot puppy breath on my face, kisses on my nose! I need to pet a furry fuzzball!"

Ben, to his credit, wisely stayed silent.

As soon as I got home, I demanded that we go to the puppy store (again, and immediately). Scarfing down dinner (I do have my priorities) I bounced impatiently until we got in the car to drive over there. The drive seemed to take an eternity, with Ben taking an extraordinary long time to dawdle with unnecessary things like stopping at red lights and trying to find a parking space. Rushing into the store, I stared in horror at the mass of chaos before me. Apparently, I wasn't the only one who wanted to pet a puppy. I was going to have to tackle twenty children and their idiotic parents to pet a puppy. Obviously, I was the most important person here. Priorities, people.

Flinging myself against the plastic cage windows, I ignored the tentacles of doubt curling in my tummy. Several puppies looked sad as they stared out of their wire and plastic prisons. Several were asleep. Several were energetically bouncing around and eager to come out and play. I scanned the windows, noting poodles, labs, shiz tzus, an abundant amount of Yorkies...but where were the Chihuahuas? They had promised me a Chihuahua.

"There he is!" Ben pointed to a tiny white Chihuahua nestled in a little girl's arms. "Why don't you ask her if you want to pet it?"

"I'll wait," I demurred, eyeing the little twit who was holding the only Chihuahua in the store. I am ashamed to say visions of tackling her or ripping the puppy out of her arms did occur to me. Instead, I distracted myself by cooing at a Alaskan snow dogs and envying his beautiful blue eyes.

"Look, honey!" Ben cried, knocking an elbow into my side. "The keeper's got the dog now! Go ask if you can hold it!" I made a beeline for the keeper, who handed over the tiny dog. And that's when it happened.

As soon as she handed me the tiny white Chihuahua, I felt a sense of peace come over me. The dog, no bigger than my palm, looked up at me adoringly. I held him to my chest, right underneath my collarbone, and he immediately snuggled into me. As I looked down at him in awe, his tiny head swiveled around and looked up at me.

"Hi baby," I cooed, ignoring the chaos swirling around me. "You're just as sweet as you can be, aren't you?"

The dog delicately reached up and licked my lips, once, twice, three times. Satisfied, he burrowed into my clasped hands and promptly fell asleep. As I stroked his tiny back, shivering as he sighed in happiness, I knew at that moment there was no other dog for me. This tiny creature had just cemented my fate to a lifetime of tiny Napoleonic dogs who would be forever mistaken by my father as an overgrown rat.

While my childhood dog of a Pug would always be dear to my heart (and I'll own one, don't worry about that) and my dream of a cocker spaniel like in Lady of the Tramp may never be realized, I knew that Chihuahuas would be prancing in my life and heart for many years. While Princess and Rascal have brought me great joy, love and delight, this minute canine stole my heart as no dog ever has as he lay breathing softly against it.

I suppose it only appropriate to thank the original white Chihuahua who won us over, Ace the Chihuahua. For although I had to give back the tiny sleeping dog, I know that I at least have one every time I go to Shreveport. Until then, I'll continue to ignore the now hollow feeling on my chest, and the lack of warm puppy breath against my cheek.

It won't be long until I have two Chihuahuas of my own.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Victory

Cookies stared at the pink glasses that lay perched on a table before him.

"The magical rose colored glasses!"he whispered in awe. "We found them! And before Pumble and Hairy did!" He grinned smugly. The seals scowled and barked disapprovingly.

"Yes, yes, I know it's not nice," Cookies said impatiently. "You're right, we should quit dawdling and go get the glasses." Cookies began to walk towards the giant chair that sat in front of the table, but suddenly a large shadow crossed his path.

"Who goes there?" a loud voice boomed.

"I do," Cookies said in irritation. "Now get out of my way, you over sized pony!" A large stick horse wearing a golden crown stood in front of Cookies and the seals. The seals stared at him adoringly while Cookies glared and poked a wing into his long nose.

"Listen, pony," Cookies said, oblivious to the stick horse's growing irritation. "I need those rose-colored glasses, and I need them now. Now move."

"No," the stick horse said simply.

"Why not?" Cookies sighed heavily. He began to peek around the stick horse, hoping to find alternate routes to the desk. Unfortunately, the barren room left him with little options. He would simply have to convince the stick horse to let him through.

"Because I am the owner of the Rose Colored Glasses," the stick horse said, his voice full of importance. "They have been in my family for hundreds of years. Why should I give them to you, a total stranger?"

Cookies opened his mouth, then closed it. He turned and snapped at the excitedly chatting seals. "Shut up! I do too have a good reason!" He tapped a feather on his head as he tried to think.

"You jerk!" Hearing Pumble's squeal, Cookies sighed and turned around. "Won't you supposed to meet us in the middle of the hallway?"

"Well, we ran into a few unfriendly folks and decided to head this way," Pumble said, popping cereal into his mouth.

"Pumble made a bunch of the residents of the Other Side mad," Hairy said. "They tried to attack us, so we had to lock them in."

"They are friendly!" the stick horse protested. "We only attack if provoked. You must have frightened them."

Hairy looked at Pumble pointedly, who rolled his eyes. He turned to Cookies and said, "So what's going on?"

"This over-sized pony won't let me pass and get the glasses," Cookies scowled. Hairy turned and looked over his shoulder. "The glasses!" he cried. "They really exist!"

"All this for a pair of sunglasses?" Pumble muttered, rolling his eyes and popping more cereal in his mouth.

"These aren't just any sunglasses," the stick horse said. "These are ancient sunglasses that have been in my family for 10 generations. Why do you want the Rose glasses?"

"That's a lot of over sized ponies," Cookies muttered before saying loudly, "We are on a quest and we need these glasses."

"A quest? Really?" the stick horse looked impressed. "No one has gone on a quest in awhile."

"Well, we did," Pumble mumbled. "Can you give him the glasses now so we can go home? I'm starving."

The stick horse thought a moment, and then he smiled. "I tell you what," he said, grinning broadly. "I will let you"--he pointed to Cookies, "look through the glasses. If you like what you see, you can take them with you."

"Finally," Cookies huffed, flapping his wings and flying up to the table. He picked up the sacred Rose glasses and peered through them.

"Why does he get to wear the glasses?" Pumble griped. Ignoring him, Hairy and the seals watched Cookies eagerly. "What do you see?" Hairy called. After a few moments, Cookies sat the glasses down on the table and floated down to the ground. He walked up to the stick horse and stood before him. Instead of being snide, he shook patted him on the neck gravely.

"Thank you," he said. The stick horse nodded majestically and watched as Cookies began to walk out of the room. The others looked at each other, shrugged and followed.

"Wait!" Pumble panted, running after him in such a frenzy his cereal scattered all over the floor. "Why didn't you take the glasses?" Cookies shrugged and looked a bit embarrassed.

"What did you see?" Hairy asked him as he caught up to him. The seals listened eagerly.

"I saw"-- Cookies bit his lip before continuing. "I saw generations of elves, fairies, stick horses and enchanted toys of all kinds growing up. I saw them playing, eating, laughing. I saw words that floated through the air and music that made flowers appear out of nowhere. And I saw the stick horse, and how his life was dedicated to protecting those glasses. After that, it seemed like no quest was important enough to take that kind of magic from the Other Side."

Pumble looked impressed, and Hairy beamed with pride. "Cookies, I'm so"--

"But I could've if I wanted to," Cookies snapped, irritation back in his voice. "And that's what's important. Get the ducks and lets go home." Hairy rolled his eyes in amusement, exchanging knowing looks with the seals. Cookies wasn't as tough as he let on.

"Where are the ducks?" Cookies asked again. Hairy and Pumble looked around. "There!" Pumble shouted. They walked to the edge of the bathroom to see the three ducks from the spa arguing with three new ducks.

"Mine!" the first duck from the spa cried.
"Go away!" the second duck from the spa cried.
"Can't we all just get along?" the third duck from the spa asked tiredly.

"Mine! Mine! Mine!" the three new ducks quacked over and over again. As the quacks echoed in the bathroom, Hairy grinned.

"There's no place like home," he said, laughing.

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Quest continued...

At dawn, the animals in the Land of the Flowered Bed stood lined up at the dresser. Each had filled a small pillowcase with what they considered the absolute necessities. For the seals, that included cans of tuna and salmon and two water guns to keep themselves amused on the journey. For Pumble, his knapsack was stuffed with granola bars, gummy bears, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and mints for fresh breath. As Cookies inspected the rest of their knapsacks, he rolled his eyes but said nothing.

"We march!" Cookies bellowed as he waved a ruler he had duck-taped a broken eyeglass from a pair of sunglasses to.

"What is that?" Hairy asked in curiosity.

"This is my scepter with it's magical seeing eye," Cookies said, fluffing his chest up in importance.

"Right,"Pumble snorted. That's why it's got rhinestones across the eyepiece." The seals giggled, and Cookies narrowed his eyes at Pumble. He opened his mouth to retort when something else distracted him.

"What are you doing here?" he bellowed to the three ducks, who had left the Spa to come on the adventure.

"We're coming too!" the first duck said proudly, sticking out his feathered chest.

"How dare you leave us behind!" the second duck scolded with his bill in the air.

"Arrrrr maties!"the third pirate brandished a wire hanger at Cookies. When Cookies simply stared at him, he grinned sheepishly. "I know it's a bit feeble for a sword, but beggars can't be choosers mate." The seals pulled out their water guns and nodded in agreement.

The group set out down the Hallway of Despair. "Now, be careful," Cookies whispered as the crept down the Hallway. "The Hallway of Despair is right by the washer and dryer, so it is littered with dust bunnies."

"What could possibly be bad about dust bunnies?" Pumble asked, tearing open a bag of gummy bears as he walked. Ten minutes into the journey, and he was already hungry.

"Dust bunnies are the most wicked of creatures," Cookies said. "They will come and bounce on your nose, their fluffy tails sending dust flying in the air that settles on you. This dust is magical in that it can never be cleaned, so you sneeze for eternity. You essentially have a cold forever, and you must always carry a box of tissues with you because your nose and sinuses perpetually leak snot."

The seals, who had been excited about making friends with dust bunnies, decided to quietly follow behind the group. Soon they were out of the Hallway of Despair and into the Great Open Room. They all breathed a sigh of relief.

"What do we have to watch for here?" Hairy asked nervously as he waddled along. He had swaddled up his feet with socks to protect his sensitive toenails, and now looked liked a penguin when he walked.

"Nothing," Cookies said authoritatively. "Nothing can survive here. The land is all carpet and little dust. Nothing can grow or eat." Pumble reached down and grabbed a handful of carpet fuzz and popped it in his mouth. He grimaced and spit it out on one of the ducks, who quacked in protest.

"Ew!" the first duck squealed.
"Gross!" the second duck made a face.
"What did it taste like?" the third duck asked curiously.

"Sand," Pumble said, munching on a peanut butter sandwich.

"You really should conserve your rations," Hairy said gently. "You'll be hungry before we finish the quest."

"I'm sure there's some kind of grocery store around here," Pumble said confidently. "We're in the Land of the Flowered Bed, after all!"

"They don't have anything," Cookies said over his shoulder. "Save your food." Hairy looked at Pumble sympathetically, who shoved the rest of the sandwich in his mouth defensively. He stuck his jelly covered tongue out at Cookies and continued shuffling behind the group.

After they left the Great Open, they hopped across a rainbow that crossed the Brown Stone River that took them across to the Other Side safely. The seals wanted to play in the river, but Hairy held them tightly in his arms so they couldn't wiggle away. The seals were not happy.

Finally, the reached the bank of the other side and stood in awe. Three different rooms and three different paths lay before them.

"Which way do we go?" Hairy asked.

"The way where there's food," Pumble grumbled.

"This is how we're going to do it," Cookies bellowed bossily. "The ducks from the spa will go check out the middle path. Hairy and Pumble will check out the left path. The seals and I will check out the right path. Then we'll all meet back here and talk about which way to go. Deal?"

"Deal," they all chorused. They all split up in different directions and hopped off to their chosen room.

"This room is boring," Pumble grumbled as he and Hairy crept to an open doorway. "We should name it the Boring Room and we'll give it a grey flag, for the national symbol of dullness."

"I'm sure there's nice things in here," Hairy said kindly as they crept inside. He smacked Pumble in his robust chest and pointed. "Look at that giant red thing over there! That must be a volcano!"

"And those boxes must be a space center of some kind," Pumble said excitedly. "They have a launch pad and everything!"

Hairy gasped and clutched Pumble's arm. "Pumble look!" Pumble turned the direction Hairy was pointing and gasped. "Aliens!" A furry stuffed dog and three strange looking ladies were staring at them and waving their arms. Hairy couldn't tell if they were saying hello or telling them to go away.

"Excuse me," Pumble called, "Do you have any food?" Suddenly, the creatures began to run toward Pumble and Hairy.

"Well, how rude," Pumble griped as Hairy jerked his arm. "Run!" They took off running out of the room, slamming the door shut behind them.

Meanwhile, the ducks had headed off down the middle path. When they reached the doorway, they gasped in delight.

"A new pond!" the first one cried.
"Just for us!" the second one cheered.
"I don't think they think so," the third one warned, pointing to three ducks who were peering down at them from the edge of the bathtub.

"Let's get them!" the first duck said, running into the bathroom.
"We shall overtake the strange pond!" the second duck cried, following after him.
The third duck shrugged. "Why not?" he thought. He ran after his two friends.

While the ducks battled it out with the Other ducks, Cookies and the seals had reached the doorway of the third room.

"Someone needs to learn the term decorating," Cookies said snarled as he surveyed the barren landscape behind him. "And wall color." The seals began to squeal and point as they hopped up and down.

"What is your problem?" Cookies snapped as he tried to see what they were pointing at. "Is it true? Could it be?"

Cookies took a few steps closer and gasped. "It is true!" he cried happily. "We've found the Rose glasses!"

To be continued..............