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!"

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Wiggly Puppy Fuzz

I thought I had managed to escape it. I thought I had buried my feelings down into the depths of my soul, far away from the reaches of happy puppies prancing on the sidewalk and the pets-of-the-week at work. I thought I had overcome the need, the aching within my heart whenever I thought of enthusiastic tiny tongues and the sound of tiny feet tap-dancing against my head.

Ha. Right.

This Saturday, as we prepared to go to lunch with our friends Bryan and Candace, Ben spoke the words dearest to my heart: "Do you want to go to the puppy store?"

Did I? Did I!!! I was leaping in enthusiasm and bobbing my head faster than a broken bobble head. You bet I did!

All through lunch, my foot twitched impatiently. While our friends cooed over babies, I cooed over a small dog barking in a car. While Candace waxed poetic about her friend's babies, I smiled as I thought of the empty space under my chin that would be filled with a warm squirming mass of puppy.

Soon, I thought, soon.

Finally, we arrived at those heavenly doors. I was ecstatic to see the store was nearly twit-free in the puppy section, and bolted for the cages. I passed yipping yorkies, squirming dachshunds and a St. Bernard who looked more like a fuzzy cannonball than a puppy. But where were my Chihuahuas? My heart sank. Not even Ben's offer of a session holding a golden cocker spaniel with the most delicate ears I'd ever seen cheered me. Distressed, I felt my heart sink into the depths of my toes. There would be no hot puppy breath against my cheek today.

"Excuse me?" Ben asked one of the puppy guardians. "Do you have a Chihuahua?"

"Oh yes," the puppy guardian nodded vigorously.

"Where?" I cried, rushing towards the cages and plastering myself to the plastic windows. "I don't see one!"

"It's a long haired Chihuahua," the puppy guardian said, pointing to a curled mass of white fuzz. "This little boy right here. I'll get him for you." For what seemed like the rest of my life, she walked five feet behind a door and opened up the cage. She extracted the white fuzzball and came back out. As I clutched the squirming mass of fur, two black eyes peered up at me with a familiar smile.

Oh My God. It was a Chihuahua in a fuzzy coat. This dog had all the personality and charisma of my beloved breed and was wrapped in a furry shell that would make a poodle puppy envious. This dog was the most perfect of dogs. It was THE dog. There was no way a Chihuahua could get better.

And just like our beloved Ace, this dog had personality. He nibbled my wrist, delicately chewed my necklace and kissed me decidedly several times. His hot breath blew across my cheek as he tried to attack the swinging golden vines hanging from my head. I entwined my fingers into the curling masses of fuzz that surrounded him. The void under my chin had been filled, a perfect size of warmth against my collarbone. I was home again.

With the first Chihuahua, he had promptly fallen asleep in my cupped hands. I felt the need to keep him warm as he shivered delicately and my fingers wrapped around him as a flesh cocoon. Not only was this puppy spirited and determined to chew my necklace, no matter how many times I threw it around my neck, he had gorgeous white curls. It was like scrunching your fingers through a baby's ringlets. No amount of shampoo imaginable could create fuzz as soft as what covered the wiggly puppy in my arms. He was a superior puppy.

Just as my chest had began to warm, the time had come. The puppy was efficiently plucked from my arms and returned to his plastic prison, where he promptly began to torment his roommate. My chin has grown cold, my cheek unattended. For the rest of the day, I continued to touch the void the wiggly ball of sweet puppy fuzz had left. When I woke up this morning, the wisps of a dream left the memory of his warmth on my collarbone.

As we drove home, I told Ben, "It's decided then."

"What is?" he asked.

"We'll get two white Chihuahuas," I said. "A short-haired one for you, and a long-haired one for me."

Ben thought for a moment, nodding to himself. "He was a cute puppy, wasn't he?"

"He was," I said. "Why didn't you hold him?"

"I didn't trust myself," he said seriously. "I can't wait until we get puppies."

"I can't either," I said. As we drove home, the echo of puppy lingered under my chin and in my heart. Until then, puppies. Until then.

Ask and you shall recieve

Dear Bananas at the grocery store,



The Delighted Blonde Duck

Friday, November 16, 2007

Bananas in Pajamas

Dear Bananas at the Grocery Store,

I do hate to whine and be a bother, but I have a favor to ask you. As you're being shipped from your warm homeland in the Amazon or wherever you come from, please ask the overzealous banana pluckers to pluck you when you are green. While I do love your buttery yellow coat, it tends to show wear and tear quickly as you ripen. If I'm able to purchase a batch of your green friends, I only have to do so once. If not, I'm forced to run into the grocery store and buy another batch so Ben can have his bananas for breakfast.

Please don't mis-understand me! I know this is not your fault. It is the pluckers fault and the distribution people's fault. Personally, I have a theory that behind every grocery store is a hidden orchard where all sorts of fruit is grown. The people who work at the orchard are simply so in love with their own green bananas they can't bear to share them with the world. They have to hoard them to themselves, admiring their bright green coats. It's the same thing with avocados and cantaloupes. They're either too ripe or under ripe because the greedy orchard workers want to keep the best fruit to themselves.

I know, I know. This is one of those anal requests that makes you want to shake someone. I should have more important things to do than ask a favor of bananas. And I shouldn't whine about stopping at the grocery store for ten minutes. There's people dying out there from cancer and horrible diseases, and I'm fussing about bananas.

But this is the Pond, and in the Pond, we have green bananas. So if you ever talk to your cousins who are still hanging on the tree, could you ask them to come a bit sooner? We do so love bananas. Thank you.


The Embarrassed Blonde Duck

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Picking up my vibrating phone, I rushed outside to answer my sister's call regarding Christmas presents. When I hung up, I rushed back inside, eager to start lunch. At 11:30 a.m., I had decided I could not go on with life until I ate again.

Scurrying to the bathroom to wash my hands, I idly glanced up in the mirror and back down again. Then, I took a closer look at my reflection. The squirming black speck in my hair was not a figment of my imagination. It was a bug. A black bug desperately trying to blend into the white-blond wisps of my pulled-back hair.

"What are you doing?" I asked the bug, continuing to soap up my hands. The bug didn't respond. He simply froze in the middle of my hair, clinging on for dead life.

"I can see you, you know," I told the bug. "Why are you in my hair?"

"Because," the bug whispered, clinging tighter to my hair.

"Because what?" I asked, rinsing off my hands and drying them with paper towels.

"I'm hiding!" the bug informed me, twitching his antennae at me. "Shhh!"

Trying not to laugh, I decided to introduce the bug to Libby. I just knew she would be thrilled to meet him. Prancing over to her desk, I tapped her on the shoulder. She didn't look at me.

"Libby," I whispered.

"What?" she responded, not looking up.

"Libby," I whispered, nudging her in the arm. The bug began to shiver in my hair.

"Please," the bug pleaded. "Please, let's go back outside."

"What?" she hissed, moving her mouse around.

"Libby!" I poked her harder in the arm. This time, she looked up at me. Her scowling expression quickly merged into one of terror.

"OHMYGOD!" she squealed, covering her mouth with her lips. "There's a bug in your hair!"

"Oh my God, she found me!!!" the bug yelled, waving his arms in excitement. "It's your turn now!"

"Ew ew ew ew ew!" Libby shrieked, slapping a paper on my head. "Get it off get it off get it off!"

"Ahhhhh!" the bug yelled, flinging himself in a desperate attempt to escape the paper onto the desk. "Ok, ok, I'll be it again!"

"Now it's on my desk!" Libby gasped, horrified. She danced around on her toes and pointed to the offending bug, who was scurrying quickly for the safety of the phone cord. "Ew ew ew! Get it off, get it off!"

"You're the one that wanted me to hide here," the bug sniffed as I scooped him back in my hand. As Libby fanned herself in relief, I took the bug back outside.

"Can I go back in your hair?" the bug asked, eyeing the chunks of hair that had escaped from my hair style hopefully. "It smells like turnips there. It's quite nice."

"Nope," I said, setting him on a leaf. "You can stay here."

"Are you going to hide now?" the bug asked. Playing along, I nodded. "I'll go hide now." Once inside, I promptly forgot about the bug until I headed home after work. When I opened the door, I heard a tiny squeal of triumph.

"I see you!" the bug cried. "It's my turn now!" Without another word, he promptly turned and flew away into the darkening sky.

I still haven't found him. However, I'm hoping the itching sensation on my scalp isn't his newest hiding place.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Tuna Time

The other weekend, we headed up to Austin to go to the newest of the "Tuna" plays in Austin to celebrate my Dad's birthday. The play was hilarious and great, and the pound of brisket and pecan pie we inhaled afterwards just made the night. I'm a little late with the pictures, but I have an excuse. I was sick. I had "minor complications."

Ben is plotting his escape from the camera.

Does my dad look like he wants to run away to you?

Well, Ben liked me until I kept making him take pictures. Hold still!

Monday, November 12, 2007

The sound of a whisper

There is a scene in "A Knight's Tale" where one of the characters is introducing Heath Ledger before a jousting competition in a long, inflated monologue. He says that Heath Ledger "spent a year on a mountain in a Italian monastery just to understand the sound of a whisper".....

Well, I know exactly what a whisper sounds like. Because I can't talk.

That's right. I'm sick. I'm sick, miserable and whiny all at once. And Ben won't let me work out, so add cranky to that list. The Blond Duck is not amused.

At first, my voice just sounded like it had been roughed up with sandpaper. Then it simply decided to go on hiatus, leaving me with a croak and inability to whine.

When you're sick, there is nothing worse than the inability to whine. So I decided to whine to my Invisible Friends, who are most likely wondering when I'll start talking about Henry the Lizard or Fuzzy the Spider.

However, when you don't talk much for a few days, you learn the importance of non-verbal body language.

For instance, say I want to communicate that even if I can't talk, I'm still perfectly able to work out. I simply mimic punching and kicking motions and add a pleading face with a extended lower lip. If that doesn't work, I collapse on the ground in a fit of despair mournfully howling. Except that instead of actually howling, I have to hold up a piece of paper that says, "I am mournfully howling."

If I'm hungry, I simply point to my stomach, point to my mouth and point to the kitchen. Adding big glassy eyes and flopping over on the couch like I can't survive another second without a morsel of substance helps too.

If I want to express my displeasure at being stuck on the couch for hours at a time, I simply run frantically for the door and hold on tightly as Ben tries to peel me off and put me back on said couch. It helps to re-use the "mournfully howling" sign.

When my fever goes back up and I start feeling tired and generally "gross", heavy sighs, pouting and general miserable looks go a long way to stirring up pity. And pity generally gets you pancakes. I like pancakes.

While other sick people might be content to roll over and accept defeat, I refer to my ailments of fever, coughing, inability to breathe due to the snot content in my sinuses and sore throat as "minor complications." In order to maintain my ability to work out and prance about the world, I made Ben several nice handwritten cards about how nice he was to me. When the cards didn't work, I again resorted to the "mournfully howling" sign.

Until then, the sound of a whisper is not nearly mysterious and profound as one may think. It is merely the wheezing of my breath through my overly clogged sinuses.

Friday, November 09, 2007

When Angels Sing and Pigs Fly

At 4:53 in the morning, one doesn't expect to see a heard of pigs in their kitchen. Flipping on the light, I stifled a yell as I looked at the serene pink faces of the pigs, who had apparently been waiting patiently for quite some time.

"Hello," one of the pigs greeted me politely. "Good morning."

"Good morning," I said, looking at the pigs suspiciously. "There's no grass in the house. But you can have all the tasty grass you like outside." I gestured to the patio door. The pigs looked at the backyard, and looked back at me. Apparently, they didn't want my grass.

"I do hate to criticize," a small pig said primly, "But your grass is not tasty. It is quite crunchy."

"But all the grass is crunchy!" a third pig added quickly. "Not just yours."

"What do you want then?" I asked, confused.

"May we have your bananas?" a pig asked, looking longingly at the fruit basket on the hutch.

"The bananas look very tasty," the second pig agreed.

"Quite ripe," the third pig smiled.

"Sure," I said, dumbfounded. I put the basket on the floor. The pigs looked at the bananas, then looked at me.

"Oh," I said, after a moment. I picked up the basket and took out the bananas. I cut the bananas into small slices and put a few slices on each plate, then scattered the plates on the floor. The pigs quickly dove into the bananas and chewed happily.

"Yum," the first pig cooed.

"Delicious," the second pig agreed.

"Thank you very much," the third pig added politely. After they had finished eating, they very politely nudged their plates into a pile on the floor with their snouts.

"Thank you for breakfast," the pigs said happily.

"I'm sorry I didn't have more bananas," I apologized.

"May we ask one more favor?" the first pig asked.

'Sure," I said.

"Will you open the door for us, please?"

"Sure," I said again, not bothering to wonder how the pigs had gotten in the house. I had learned that there were just some things one shouldn't think about. I opened the screen door and the pigs quietly clomped their way onto the patio. With a final smile and twitch of their little curled tails, they flew away into the morning light. I shook the head and shut the door, watching them fade into the distance. When I turned back to the kitchen table, a tiny Christmas ornament lay on the place mat. It was of a pig with wings, dressed as an angel. I wasn't sure if she might want bananas, too.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Loliday

"I know what we'll do!" Hairy cried, brimming with creative brilliance. "We'll have a Loliday!"

"What is a Loliday?" Cookies raised an eyebrow.

"It's a mix of all the holidays with everything you've ever wanted to celebrate that's not thrown in," Hairy said triumphantly. "It's an in-between holiday of sorts!"

The seals clapped their hands in delight and barked in excitement. They had decided to wear green hats and drag stockings around asking for salmon.

"This is brilliant!" Pumble cried joyfully. "I'm going to wear a crown of pickles and drink honey and eat cookies all day long!"

"Pickles? Hairy questioned, looking at him strangely.

"Hey," Pumble pointed his finger at Hairy defensively. "Haven't you ever wanted to celebrate pickles before?"

"Meanwhile, while all you imbeciles are being moronic, I'm going to be the height of culture," Cookies said haughtily.

"Oh yeah?" Pumble challenged. "What are you going to do?"

"I'm going to roast mice and leaves in a Divine Brine," Cookies smirked. "Then, I'm going to wear a dramatic black cape, search for squash and eat pumpkin pie!"

Pumble and the seals thought this was quite hilarious, and fell to the ground laughing.

"What are you going to do, ducks?" Hairy asked, poking his head into the spa.

"I'm going to dance with the Easter Bunny," the first duck exclaimed.

"I'm going to count down the minutes until 3 p.m. and shout 'Happy Afternoon!" the second duck chirped.

"I'm going to go ice skating in the freezer wearing pink and red pajamas," the third duck added dreamily. The other ducks looked at him in disbelief.

"We should invite everyone!" Cookies suggested, getting excited in spite of himself. "We should invite the flying pigs, Ladybug, the GLUG, Ernie the Earthworm, Bella the dancing flying pig, Henry the Lizard, the Munny, Ace the Dog, the argumentative birds, the Noisy Cricket, the Water Cooler Ants and the butterflies."

"But not the Howling Toddlers!" Pumble cried in terror. "The Howling Toddlers will ruin everything if they come. You must not invite them!"

The seals nodded gravely in agreement. Thrilled to have something to excite them, the animals swirled into action. Invitations were sent out, outfits were made. A party like no one has ever seen occurred on Wednesday, Nov.7 at 1 p.m.

Henry the Lizard came wearing tiny cowboy boots and a hat, and spent the afternoon trying to rope Ernie the Earthworm, who had made a special hat for the occasion. The Noisy Cricket was not pleased by the noise.

"Quiet down!" he would shout loudly at the ducks in the Spa, who were trying to turn the bathtub into a glowing green hot tub. "I'm trying to learn the "12 days to Christmas!"

"It's not 12 days to Christmas!" one of the birds argued.

"It's 10 days to Christmas," another affirmed.

"Or is it 30 days?" another bird pondered.

"You dummy, it's 12," another bird snapped. "30 days would be a month!"

"I'm not a dummy," the first bird snapped. "You're a dummy!"

"Are those french fries?" the third bird asked, licking his lips.

Hairy smiled as the butterflies fluttered around him and Pumble and Ladybug held a swing dancing contest on the floor. He was wearing a fruit basket on his head and Christmas socks on his feet and eating chicken fried steak and apple pie.

"I think the Loliday was a success," he told the butterflies as they landed softly on his arms.

"We do, too," they replied. Then they floated away to dine on tea and biscuits with the seals, who were floating in a sea of honey.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Giver

***Don't worry Invisible Friends--part 2 of the animals in the Land of the Flowered Bed will be continued tomorrow. But first, a new tale....

She worked tirelessly for days, her eyes critiquing the smallest detail, the tiniest feature. It was almost her favorite time of the year, Christmas. For this one day, she prepared the whole year. While Santa had an army of elves to help, she only had her two hands.

Christmas had always been her favorite time of the year. She loved the bustle of the season, the spring in people's steps, the kindness in the air. However, over the years, she had been fighting a feeling that kept creeping up in the back of her mind. As celebrations turned from family to gifts and the bustle turned into a forced march, she wondered if anyone understood the true purpose to gifts at Christmas.

"It's beauty, you see," she had explained to some passing butterflies one time. "It's the fact that you cared, the fact that you thought to get them something they might enjoy."

"What if it's not the perfect gift?" the butterfly inquired, opening and closing his wings patiently.

"There is no perfect gift," she said forcefully. "That's the point. Every gift, even if thought in a flash of brilliance at the last possible moment, is a great gift."

The butterflies were reluctant. "That's not what we see," the butterflies said, pointing to a bustling shopping center below. "That woman there, for instance? She's furious her daughter didn't get her a painting she wanted for Christmas. She got her a cheap lamp instead."

"It's not about the cost," the other butterfly said quietly. "Her daughter worked hard to find that lamp."

The girl said nothing, tearing into a new pile of gifts. There was always work to be done, always gifts to be made. She worked through the night until her eyes felt like sandpaper and her mind felt like mud. Then she collapsed into a pile of gifts, dreaming of new gifts to make.

When the day came, she arranged the gifts carefully. She had created thousands and thousands of sunbeams, wrapping them in shreds of clouds and the sighs of the wind. She directed her cloud over a particularly stormy city, and began to happily drop her sunbeams down to the sky below. Sticking her head through the soft cloud, she eagerly watched the people's reactions.

To her dismay, many ignored the sunbeams filtering through the clouds like small explosions of light. While a few merely glanced up, others walked by as if nothing had happened at all. A few clapped their hands in delight, only only one or two shouted in excitement.

The girl was crushed.

"It's happened," she said hollowly, clutching her chest. "The butterflies were right. They don't care. People don't know what true gifts are anymore. All they want is store-bought...crap!"

Broken-hearted, the girl crawled into a pile of sunbeams and cried herself to sleep. She lay there for days, staring hollowly at the sunbeams around her. Down below, the town's sky turned darker and darker. Rain poured for days, and the harsh wind whipped around buildings and people. The butterflies watched in despair as the town began to become a desolate landscape of ice and bleak landscape.

"They need you," the butterflies whispered as they fluttered around the girl who was still buried in the pile of the sunbeams. "They need your gifts. They need a cheery Christmas."

"They don't care," the girl's voice was empty. "Like you said, it's not the perfect gift."

"But a few people loved it!" the butterflies argued, touching her cheek gently with their wings. "Several enjoyed it!"

"Why should I work all year when only a few people care?" the girl spoke bitterly. "Only a few people understand the true meaning of a gift. They all think they do, but they don't. Only a few understand the beauty, the glory in it."

"Then show them," the second butterfly whispered, landing on her nose. "Give them the gift of knowledge of the beauty you can share. Teach them."

The girl sat up, knowing the butterflies were right. She gently sent the pile of sunbeams into the wind, watching them float down to Earth. To her amazement, a miracle occurred.

"They're smiling!" she said, astonished. "They're laughing and cheering! They are enjoying the sun!"'

The butterflies smiled and landed on the girl's shoulders as they watched the town erupt in celebration. This year, it seemed, the town gave the Giver a gift.

Friday, November 02, 2007


Pumble sighed and flopped over, his enormous belly heaving as he stretched on the ground. He groaned and looked mournfully at the bowl of candy corn laying a few feet away. Squeezing his face in concentration, he flopped his arm over and strained to reach for the candy. His fingers wiggled as he ached to stretch across the few inches. Sighing, he let his arm drop and panted, his belly rising up and down quickly.

"You're pathetic," Cookies observed from the bed. "Have you eaten that gigantic bag of candy corn already?"

"I'm so sick," Pumble moaned, rubbing his bloated stomach. "But it's so good."

"I had a good time trick-or-treating," Hairy said brightly. "It's a shame it's over."

The seals shook their heads in disagreement. They wanted it to be winter so they could turn the bathroom, or Spa, into an ice park. They were also hoping Santa would bring them some fish.

"Listen, it's very simple," Pumble lectured from his spot on the floor. "Think of Christmas as the marathon of all eating. Halloween is the starting point, and Thanksgiving is the big stretch. I have to be able to eat an entire feast in two days!" He dropped his head down to the floor, staring at the ceiling wearily. "I'm exhausted just thinking about it." The seals cocked their heads at him curiously.

"You need a life," Cookies rolled his eyes. "I can not believe you are spending this much time eating. If Ladybug was here, she'd make you walk."

"Good thing she's not," Pumble commented. "I can't walk. I need that time for eating."

The ducks in the spa were not amused by this. They were already miffed that their three mice costumes for Halloween didn't turn out the way they wanted, and had been cranky for days.

"You're a pig!" the first duck sneered.
"You're disgusting!" the second duck sniffed.
"Are you going to eat that?" the third duck peered hungrily around the corner. "It looks good."
Pumble moaned in response. His golden hue was beginning to turn green.

"What should we do?" Hairy asked, tapping his chin thoughtfully. "It's too early to start decorating for Christmas, and there's nothing we can do to get ready for Thanksgiving."

"We can eat," Pumble suggested.
"You're going to explode like a neutron star!" Cookies informed him. "Boom!"
The seals sighed and looked out the window. They were bored.

"Everything is just in-between," Hairy murmured."It's like we're just...waiting."

"We could go swimming!" the first duck cried.
"We could go visit the other Spa!" the second duck bellowed.
"What about making some Christmas stockings?" the third duck suggested. Pumble burped, and the seals wrinkled their noses.

"Classy," Cookies sniffed.

"I know!" Hairy cried. "I have a brilliant idea!"

To be continued.....