Thursday, July 31, 2008

Confessions of a Wuffler

Hello, my name is Bear. I am a Wuffler.

I've been a Wuffler since I was but a wee puppy. You see, it's just what I do.

I wuffle. I snuffle. I snort, grunt and wuffle some more.

I wuffle in my sleep.

I wuffle while I beg for cashews. Dry roasted only, please. I am a picky wuffler.

I wuffle with Bitty.

I wuffle when I chew on my friend the dolphin.

I wuffle when I itch my ears. And my legs. And my butt. Especially my butt. I love to wuffle during a good butt scratch.

I wuffle during bathtime.

I wuffle during snuggle time.

Oh, I do love to wuffle. I wuffle just thinking about wuffling. It just feels so good. Wuffle, wuffle, wuffle. Why don't you try it too?

He does like to wuffle. It's true.

Ode to wuffling and how I love thee. I would wuffle all the time if people let me. Wuffle, wuffle, wuffles for me!

If you are a chronic wuffler, please call 1(800)-WUF-FFLE. No one should have to wuffle alone.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Oh, Olgas

Many of my Invisible Friends are wonderful cooks. They can bake, they can create sourdough starters and cakes that look like something off the food network.

I can make rice krispie treats and cookies.

Well, to be truthful I cook dinner almost every night. It's just my cooking tends to be "follow the instructions and pray you don't forget anything important" cooking. Sometimes, I can attempt a new recipe and have it come out wonderfully. Otherwise, I'll omit ingredients due to taste, refusal to buy a $13 bottle of something I can't pronounce or sheer forgetfulness. And then the creation that should have been phenomenal is merely edible.

It happens a lot.

So did I just set aside a piggie bank and hope one day it might be filled with enough to hire a personal chef?

Nope. I tried to recreate Olgas, the flat bread from the restaurant I raved about in a earlier entry ( Chaos and hilarity ensued.

Cooking buddies, this is for you.

First, I mixed up all the ingredients. Then I greased a bowl and dumped everything in it. I left it alone for about three hours so it could rise.

Then Ben discovered it. And that's when I lost control.

Deciding the stove would be a perfect workplace, he sprinkled flour all over it. The Babies hovered around his feet anxiously, praying that whatever delicious creation he was working with would drop out of his hands and into their mouths.

Then he decided that instead of the instructed eight olgas, he would make nine. He had the audacity to calm them gyros.

They're not gyros. They're olgas. There's honey in the batter. Gyros don't have honey.

Waving off my offers of assistance, he waited impatiently until I wiped off the stove and set about to cooking them in a skillet. Some time later, we had nine delicious Olgas that tasted just like the original.

It took two or three olgas before Ben felt that he had properly tested them. I piled mine with turkey, bacon and cheese, while he preferred to eat them plain. After his third olga, Ben was forced to retire to bed. The rest were shoved in the freezer for his own safety.
I'm just happy I didn't burn them or destroy them in anyway. And I'm delighted I have my childhood olgas back, safely hidden at the bottom of the freezer behind the ice cream.
( I never said I liked to share.)
Next Sunday: Pocket pies!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

There are puppies three cubicles down

There are puppies in the office.

Yes, you heard me correctly.

Puppies in the grey, joyless cubicle filled place of doom I trudge to every day. Little furry creatures with the softest fur imaginable snuggled up in a tote bag filled with towels and napping next to a humming computer tower.

There are puppies in the office!!!

My co-worker recently got two 8-week old rat terrier puppies. When she told me she was bringing them in yesterday, I didn't believe her. I told everyone I was going to strap the Babies to me with duck tape and never let them go. (Babies, you can thank Ben for escaping that fate.) But lo and behold, she pranced in this morning with two sleepy speckled balls of fur.

And one of them looked so much like Princess when she was a puppy I almost couldn't breathe.

Then she handed me the one that looked like my former baby. This dog at 8 weeks was almost as big as Bitty is, yet she was barely bigger than my palm. I held her up to my chest and cooed, "Hello, little girl. How are you?"

The puppy blinked up at me, one brown streaked eye raising as if to say, "You smell. This place smells like cat pee and self-loathing. I'd like to go home please." Then she decided my watch looked tasty, settled in my lap and proceeded to gnaw my wrist.

I giggled and held her closer to my chest. Libby held the other puppy, both of them blinking furiously to keep their eyes open and not fall asleep in the chair. The puppy whimpered and I handed it to my co-worker, smiling when I saw her eyes crinkle with joy. This tough journalist was baby-talking and cooing two tiny furballs, as she should.

As I stroked their impossibly soft fur, I realized I didn't have that same pull in my chest I once did when I saw a puppy. No longer was I desperately craving hot puppy breath and tiny kisses like I once was before the Babies came into our lives. I could now enjoy a puppy and hand her back without feeling as part of my soul ripped out.

And, I regret to say, I spent the entire time thinking of these puppies and making unfair comparisons.

"Bitty is much more spunky then this puppy," I would think to myself. "Bear would have peed and pooped on my boss's carpet by now."

Watching them sleep in their little bag, their pink bellies rising and falling, I knew one thing was clear. I'll always love rat terriers. I wouldn't mind having a few running around the house. But Chihuahuas have stolen my heart. Specifically, these two Chihuahuas.

Now, if you'll excuse me, there's puppies in the office! I have tiny paws and pink bellies to attend to!

(It may be wrong, but I'm really hoping they pee in a certain person's office.)

Monday, July 28, 2008


When I was little, most of my friends were boys. I always had one or two girl friends, but I was never part of the real girl's group. From my looks, I should have been. I had white ringlets and only wore pink dresses until the fourth grade. I didn't even wear jeans until middle school.

My only two friends were Jackie and Melanie. Jackie lived next door and was popular, tan and athletic. I was skinny, scatter-brained and was convinced that unicorns were hiding in the creek by my house. Melanie and I were inseparable until middle school, when she decided she needed to be popular and moved to California. Years of sleepovers and make-believe were no match for designer clothes and the land of Paris Hilton.

During high school, I met a girl named Ashley. My brain had been taken over by hormones and aliens. I was obsessed with going out, whether it was just to the movies or down to the lake to listen to music. Instead of writing or drawing, I spent my nights running all over town. Ashley was the first girl I had clicked with in years. She simply understood me. She never laughed when I danced all over her house in her pleather pants to her Sailor Moon alarm clock and never judged when I dated a guy I shouldn't. I had a toothbrush at her house and told her dreams I couldn't tell anyone. Then she had to find her own way, and I had to find mine.

College was excruciating. Girls were obsessed with one of two things: 1) God (I went to a private Baptist University) or 2) Marriage. Even though I married two weeks after college, I was obsessed with neither. I wanted to ride horses and play tennis and slide down the slides at the pool. My idea of a fun night was swinging on swings or baking cookies, not reading bridal magazines or going to philosophical discussions about religion. I knew who I wanted to marry and I knew what I believed. It was simply beating a horse to death to expand on either subject.

It was at that point I became convinced I couldn't make real female friends. I had long since learned that male friends were a different animal all together. Frankly, I didn't even want to mess with it. Sure, I went to lunch with girls. But I went through friends like I went through books, getting deeply involved with one and tossing it away at the first sign of conflict. I grew tired of having to explain and defend my relationship with Ben, a rarity at my age.

I got tired of being laughed at for wanting puppies. I didn't want to go out dancing until two, I didn't want to go drink coffee and watching Sex and the City for hours drinking wine was my idea of torture. While I had the love of my life, I couldn't make a single female friend. I have a great mother and a fabulous mother-in-law, but no one that understood my need to twirl in the parking lot. No one got me the way Ashley had, or Melanie before her.

Then I met Libby.

Then I met Emma.

And then I met Mrs. McGill.

And then I met Marie.

(Insert kind loving picture here)

And then I met the princesses from work. And I met all of you. And then I found Ashley again.

And suddenly, just like those single women on those horribly annoying television movies that spend 100 minutes whining about how no man will ever love them and they are too neurotic/ weird/ pretty/ have high standards, I found love in the last 20 minutes. I found not one, but several people that understand me and aren't bound to me by blood or marriage. These people came to me without force or pay. They actually liked me. Opinionated, crazy, pie-eating, dancing, talks to stuffed animals me.

I have never had that in my life.

Now I have a friend like Libby who tries to make me look as fabulous as she does.

I have a friend like Emma who listens to me whine and reads terrible versions of my stories without complaining. And I whine a lot. And I write a lot of crappy stuff. She should be paid, really. When we go on our adventure Saturday, I should buy her all the pie in Fredericksburg.

I have a friend like Mrs. McGill who not only creates stunning works of art at 83, but insists on having lunch once a month. During those lunch, she creates intricate designs of tuna salad, apples, pickles and chips. I know that my visit is the highlight of her week. It is the highlight of my month.

And I have Marie, a dear friend who sent me a postcard and text messages on vacation while she was supposed to be relaxing and enjoying the country side.

Through these wonderful ladies, I have met all of you. You actually like my writing. I'm still confused over that one.

Thank you, dear friends. You mean the world to me.

*Beatrix Potter photo from:

Sunday, July 27, 2008

All hail Queen Bitty

Bitty, as you might have guessed, is the more dominant of our two darling Chihuahuas.

While Bear is content to spend his days chewing, eating, and chewing some more, Bitty is not.

Surveying her domain.

Bitty needs to control something. She needs to be adored, appreciated and treated like the dictator she is.


She has Ben wrapped around her finger.


She has me wrapped around her finger.

If you move another inch closer so help me...

And she's got Bear so whipped into shape that she only has to curl her lip and he runs in terror.

But now, Bitty is bored. Just like the royalty of the medieval times, she needs to conquer something new. She needs an adventure.

Today, she found that adventure. She found the Creatures of the Windowsill.

It may look like an average windowsill. But when one peeks closer, one sees dozens of tiny black dots swirling about on the white paint. These tiny creatures are so small that three could fit on the tip of a pencil.

Can I eat them?

Bitty was intrigued. "Foul peasants, what are you doing on the windowsill?" she barked. The Creatures of the Windowsill ignored her and continued scuttling about. This infuriated Bitty.

"Excuse me!" she bellowed. "I'm speaking to you!"
The creatures continued to ignore her.

"Why aren't you listening to me?" she shouted. "I want to know what you're doing?"

She peered down at the windowsill. The creatures froze, finally aware of her presence.

"That's better," she said with satisfaction. "Now listen, little creatures, I want you to do a dance for me." The minuscule creatures stared up at her and refused to move.

"I want you to dance!" she barked. "Dance! Dance now!"

The tiny black dots didn't even quiver. Bitty was amazed. She could control humans with the twitch of her eye and terrify the Dogs Next Door with a low growl. She was a million times these tiny creatures, yet they dared defy her.

Looking around, Bitty lowered her head and stared at the diminutive critters.
"Please dance," she whispered. "I'd love to see you dance."

And just like that, the black dots swirled along the windowsill. They twirled in complex patterns, leaped from side to side and whirled on the white surface. Bitty beamed with pleasure.

"Thank you," she whispered, backing away from the windowsill. She promptly tore after Bear and chased him around the living room.

I let him put his paw there.

After all, a Queen can never reveal her true nature.
She'll control the Creatures of the Windowsill someday. They'll know who's boss.

As soon as she wakes up from her nap.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ode to Pancakes (and how I love thee)

Ode to Pancakes and how I love thee,
Your mounds of goodness are a sight to be seen.

Fluffy and light,

Tasty and fulfilling,

It's all I can do to save you for an occasional treat.

Morning or afternoon,
Day or night,
Late or early,
Pancakes are always welcome in my belly.

Syrup or butter,
fruit or whipped cream,

Even with yogurt or
Pancakes are a sweet culinary dream.

You can tear them,
You can slather them in syrup,

Or you can cover them in butter,

You can even freeze them for later.

Beware jealous eyes and tongues!

Be wary and aware,

For whoever tries to take my pancakes,

Even a tiny little bite or minuscule crumb,

Will wind up with a fork in their eyeball and syrup in their lungs.

You can make pancakes with blueberries,

pumpkin, apples and cinnamon or even cheesecake,
You can even make wheat pancakes,

though that isn't much fun at all.

Whether you dine on chocolate pancakes,

blueberry, strawberry or just plain,
Pancakes are truly the king of breakfast,
no scone, crepe or biscuit could compare. (Well, maybe a really fluffy biscuit.)

I've had blueberry and pumpkin,

Thick and thin,

Eaten them in cafes, fine restaurants and my own kitchen,

But there is one type of pancake that is ideal, no other can ever compare.

A peanut butter pancake with jelly syrup--
Try it if you dare!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bickering Biddies

"Bill! Bill!" the frumpy brown bird snapped, shaking her already ruffled feathers. "How could you be so clueless?"

"I wasn't the one who made us late obsessing over what worm to eat and how many calories were in those red berries!" a black bird snarled back. His sharp beak opened as the acid words dripped off his tongue. "Besides, you fly so low you could practically ride on a worm!"

The brown bird gasped. "You're such a jerk!" she snarled. "At least I can see my feet! When's the last time you saw yours?"

The black bird stared at his plump middle, his face contorted in an expression of pain. I could practically see the thoughts churning in his head as he rejected them one by one.

"Anyway, it doesn't matter," the brown bird griped. "We're completely lost thanks to you. Really, what kind of bird brain doesn't stop and ask for directions?"

"Margaret, I am a bird!" the black bird bellowed. "I am a creature of nature. I am a fierce being that commands the skies! I don't need directions."

"You need a brain transplant," the brown bird snapped. "What kind of moron goes south for the winter? We're supposed to be north! I could be dining on blueberries and watching a moose frolic right now. Instead, my feet are burning on asphalt and the only hotel available is a cactus."

"Maybe I just wanted to be different," the black bird argued. "Besides, we're not lost. I just took the long way."

"The cross-continental way!" the brown bird screeched. "By the time we get up north, it will be time to go south again."

"I don't need directions!" the black bird bellowed. "Nag, nag, nag, nag, nag. I'm surprised I have any brains left. You've probably eroded them with your tongue."

"Don't blame your stupidness on me," the brown bird hollered. "You know, my mother told me I should have married that bluejay. I bet if I married him I wouldn't be lost in a parking lot somewhere in the middle of nowhere. I wouldn't be hot, tired and hungry."

"Maybe you should have!" the black bird screeched. "Then he could have been pecked to death instead of me."

They glared at each other, their feathers tousled around them and their beaks gleaming in the sunlight.

"Now what?" the brown bird snapped.

"I think I recognize that cloud," the black bird said. "Let's go that way."

"Only if you ask for directions," the brown bird said. As I watched, they glared at each other in the parking lot. Then with a sigh, both birds took to the air and flapped their wings toward a large cloud. As they ascended into the air, I heard a sheepish voice say, "Whoops, guess that wasn't the right cloud after all. Maybe if we try that tree over there..."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Just one bite

"Welcome to the 21st Anniversary of the Spectacular Pie Show," the announcer bellowed into the microphone. I applauded politely with the others, trying to restrain my drool. "The Spectacular Pie show honors pies as a art and a sculptural culinary delicacy," the announcer continued. I narrowed my eyes and peered at him from across the crowded ballroom. He looked suspiciously like that guy off CSI that is obsessed with intertwining his sunglasses with dramatic moments.

"Twenty young hopefuls have spent months creating pies that are not only delicious, but fabulous to look at," the announcer shouted, coercing the sleepy crowd into polite coos of admiration. "The winner of the contest wins $100,000 to start their own bakery, this mixer courtesy of..."

I squirmed impatiently in my seat and rubbed my tongue over my teeth. I did not care about the prizes or the lovely sponsors. I was just here for the pie.
It haunts my dreams.

"Now, without further ado, I present your three judges." The announcer turned and pointed to us. I waved, but my eyes were focused on the apple crumble pie that had been fashioned into some abstract beach house. The cinnamon and sugar shoreline made my stomach rumble. Swallowing my drool, I nudged a fellow judge.

"I claim that one," I murmured. He turned to me, raising his bushy white eyebrows in shock.

"Madame, this contest is about culinary artistry and mastering the fine art of creating a pie! You can not claim a pie!"

"Don't be jealous," I snorted, tossing my hair. "That's my pie." The judge on my right glares at me and I grin. She was obviously not smart enough to claim her favorite pie in advance.

The bakers began to come forward, each bringing some over-the-top creation and babbling on about its meaning and what it stands for. There is a chocolate creme moose, lemon meringue blowfish and blueberry ozone catastrophe. Each pie is fashioned to look like a tragic museum accident, and I pay no attention. Besides the coconut cream blizzard, my lips are reserved for the apple pie. Of course, the apple pie baker is quavering in the back.

Number 19. The bakers drag on and on, their dribble running through my ears and out of my nose. A smile is frozen to my lips, but my tongue longs to scoop up chunks of apple in a sugary cinnamon glaze in a butter crust. I don't care if the moronic baker made the pie to look like my butt--it's apple pie. With crumbles. And golden brown crust. I can smell the cinnamon from across the room. I tap my toes and try to distract myself by singing the alphabet. I get stuck on pie.

Finally, baker 19 strides forward. "I give you," he announces in his best "I'm a real baker voice," "Apple beach cottage. I used gala, pink lady and green apples for the base and a homemade simple pie crust. For the top, I crumbled brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg into fresh butter. It is a masterpiece."

"I'll say," I say, swatting the other judges' away. I glare at the man with disapproving white eyebrows. "Hey, slick, you ate nine pies and half of the lemon meringue. Back off." Falling back, he sets his fork down. I slide my fork through the tender apples and crust, scooping up some of the cinnamon and brown sugar crumbles with my fork. Opening my mouth, I close my eyes in pleasure as the fork reaches my lips....

A banshee scream that sounds like nails scraping against steel jolts me out of bed. My feet are running the second they touch the floor. Flinging the bedroom door open, I rush down the hall and to the gate. Two white bellies are dancing in front of it, with two tails wagging eagerly. There's only one puppy who could make that noise. I look at the tiny white Chihuahua flinging herself against the baby gate.

Bitty rolls over for a belly rub. I check her paws, her eyes, her tail and her tummy for signs of abuse from Bear. She shoves her tongue up my nose.

"You know," I said, leaning over the gate. "I was about to have some apple pie when you woke me up. I was judging an important contest. The crust was tender and flaky, the apples smelled so delicious..." I trail off and close my heavy eyes, the taste fresh on my tongue.

They don't care about my pain.

Something is dripping on my fingers. I look up and see Bear has wiped his dripping nose all over my hand after submerging it in his water bowl. Bitty is chewing on my thumb and has no interest in my dreams of pie.

"You don't care, do you?" I asked. The Babies wiggle and wag their tails. Shaking my head, I stumble back down the hall.

"Just one bite..." I muttered as I crawled back into bed. "I just wanted one bite."

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Land of the Flowered Bed heads North 2

Continued from last week....

As the door creaked open slowly, a snowy mountain sloped downhill to a grey stream. Lush green bushes and pink flowers lay to their left, while a large leafy tree stretched miles above them. Giddy, the seals chattered and leaped onto the snowy mountain. Giggling, they lay on the white surface and traced designs with their tails.

"This is gorgeous," Cookies said, thrusting his head into the bushes. "So lush and green!"

"Is this the cold rivers with clay from the glaciers?" Hairy asked, staring down at the straight grey stream. "It's got so many pebbles!"

"It's ok," Pumble grumbled. He was still sore over missing out on a honey hamburger. "Isn't it supposed to be cold? It's hot out here."

"Well, I think it's wonderful," Hairy said. He took a deep breath of the warm, humid air. "I'm sure we just came during a heat spell." He snuck a look over at Miss Moose McKinley. Her eyes were wide and her mouth gaped open. She looked at the snowy hill and bushes, just shaking her head.

"Where are the moose at?" Cookies pondered, sticking his head in another bush. "All I see are spiders."

The seals squealed and jumped up, dancing on the surface of the snowy mountain.

"Snow can't be hot," Pumble argued, giving them a long suffering sigh. "You've probably got frostbite on your back or something."

"I'm sure we'll find some moose or bears soon," Hairy said confidently, fanning himself as sweat ran down his back. "We just need to"--

"This isn't Alaska!" Miss Moose McKinley cried. She buried her hands in her hooves. "That's not a snowy mountain, it's a driveway. Those bushes are just common shrubs. And you won't find any moose because there's a cactus in the yard with no water nearby! This isn't Alaska. Not even a case of global warming could make it this hot! It's a suburb in the desert!" She burst into tears, her shoulders heaving with sobs. "I'll never get back home!" Wailing at the top of her lungs, she turned and ran through the door. Her hooves clattered as she ran across the brown tile. Pumble sniffed and glared at Hairy.

"I did all this for a non-existent hamburger, and this isn't Alaska?" he said in disbelief. "You better pray someone set up a hamburger stand when we get home. I'm starving."

Sighing, Hairy cast one more look around the North. The sun beat down on his head and he could fill the sweat running beneath his fur.

"Goodbye, Alaska," he whispered. He gathered the seals and pulled Cookies out of the bush. For the rest of the day, they walked home.

There was no hamburger stand, but there was a small butterfly selling honey gumdrops in the hallway. Pumble was reasonably satisfied when he waddled into the Land of the Flowered Bed with the seals, Hairy and Cookies trailing behind him. Though he was prepared to whine, one look at her face stopped him. Cookies started toward them, but Hairy put a hand on his chest. They stood with the seals, watching silently.

Setting his bag gently on the ground, Pumble plopped next to her and offered her a cookie. Miss Moose McKinley shook her head. Taking a bite, Pumble chewed and spewed crumbs as he spoke.

"You can still find Alaska, you know."

"On the television?" Her eyes looked glazed, as if she had cried for so long all the shininess had worn off. "It's not the same."

Pumble shook his head. "No it's not. But you can still go there, if you try."

"You mean on a plane?" Her voice was glum. "I'd have to find someone to take me to the airport, then find my way on a plane, then find someone to get me off a plane. And who's going to believe a talking moose?"

"All you got to do is close your eyes," Pumble said, pulling another cookie out of his bag and tearing off a chunk. "Close your eyes and think about the trees, the cold grey water, your moose friends."

"Use my imagination?" Miss Moose McKinley said with a snort. "It's hardly the same."

"I never said to do that," Pumble said, digging another cookie out of his bag. "I just wanted you to dream." Miss Moose McKinley stared up at him as he got to his feet, his enormous belly swaying from side to side.

"Even if you were to get on a plane and fly home, it wouldn't be the same," Pumble said, popping the last bit of cookie in his mouth. "People would be gone, businesses would change and things would be different. The only way to ever stay the same is to visit in your dreams."

The moose smiled up at him. "Thanks," she whispered. She gazed off into the distance, a smile spreading over her face as if she was already dreaming. "I guess until I return, this will do for now." Pumble smiled and scurried off to his kitchen, dragging his sack of goodies behind him.

Cookies nudged Hairy. "Did I just see what I thought I saw?" he asked. "Was Pumble actually nice to someone? He didn't snarl, didn't put up a fuss...he even offered her part of his cookie!"

Hairy turned to him with a grin. "I can dream, can't I?"

That night, as the animals curled up for bed, only one thing was on their minds. As they lay down to sleep, their minds thought of the lush green forests, the steep white mountains and the cold grey river.

After all, they could see the land in their dreams.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Land of the Flowered Bed goes North

Pumble crossed his arms and narrowed his eyes.

"I'm not going," he announced, plopping on the bag he had packed that morning.

"And why not?" sighed Hairy.

"I've got a million things to do around here!" Pumble objected. "I've got cakes to bake for the Labor Day party"--

"That's in a month," Cookies pointed out.

"I've got all those pies to make for the Flying Pigs"--

"They're still eating the pies you made them last week," Cookies said, pointing to the pigs. They were clutching their bloated bellies and moaning, grass stains still around their lips.

"I promised Ladybug I'd go with her to the cricket concert," Pumble finished triumphantly. "And I've got to buy all new socks."

"You don't wear socks," Hairy reminded him gently, taking his arm. "And the concert is next week."

"I'm far too busy to go North," Pumble argued, grasping onto the wall as Hairy tried to jerk him up. His face turned red as he strained to hold on. "I've got things to do. I'm a busy bee."

"You're a"-- Cookies stopped midsentance, warned by Hairy's glare. "I was just going to say he was fat," he mumbled under his breath.

"Come on, Pumble," Hairy grunted, heaving with all his strength. "The seals and Miss Moose McKinley have already started down the hallway. We've got to catch up with them!"

"I'm BUSY!" Pumble bellowed, digging his fingers into the wall.

"He's too scared," snickered the first duck in the Spa. They were poking their heads out of the bathtub, observing the whole scenario.

"He's a big fat wuss," snickered the second duck.

"If you need more help, I could go with you," the third duck offered.

"That won't be necessary," Hairy smiled. Inside, he was seething. They had a tight travel schedule and Pumble's antics had put them 30 minutes behind. "Pumble, have you had one of the new hamburgers in the hallway?"

"There's no hamburgers in the hallway."

"Sure there is," Cookies piped up, winking at Hairy. "That new place opened up. Their specialty is honey burgers. I'm sure a fellow of your girth could easily down nine or ten at a time."

"Did you say honey burgers?" Drool dripped onto Hairy's arms.

"Any kind of burger you like," Hairy agreed. "And all sorts of tasty fries and biscuits"-- With a shriek of delight, Pumble leaped from the wall, knocking Hairy to the ground. Grabbing his bag, he sprinted out the door.

"Last one there is a rotton egg!" he called as he ran down the hall.

"What are you going to do when he realizes there's no hamburger place?" Cookies muttered.

"Pray that there's one in the Great Open Room," Hairy answered. A howl ahead assured him that Pumble would be pouting once they caught up to them.

A few hours later, they had made it down the hallway, across the living room and were standing at the edge of the Brown Tile River.

"After this, we just have to pass the Front Door and we'll make it onto the Stone Snow Hill," Miss Moose McKinley said dreamily. "And then we'll be in Alaska!"

"Whatever," Pumble grumbled. "Let's just get this over with."

"How are we going to get across?" Hairy asked, staring at the tile. "Is it safe to swim in?"

"This time of year, the river is frozen over," Miss Moose McKinley said. "You can walk across it, see?" She placed a delicate brown hoof on the tile and added her other front foot. Giggling with delight, the seals flew across the river on their bellies. Miss Moose McKinley trotted easily across, while Cookies and Hairy followed slowly behind. Hairy heard a bellow and turned. Pumble was sprawled out on the surface of the brown tile, the contents of his sack scattered across the floor. He glared up at Hairy as he struggled to get to his feet.

"You owe me a hamburger," he snarled. "A honey burger. With biscuits. And fries."

Hairy rolled his eyes.

Finally, they all made it across the tile hallway. Taking a deep breath, Miss Moose McKinley turned to them and smiled.

"Here goes," she whispered. With a turn of her hoof, the Front Door opened slowly. The animals gasped in amazement.

To be continued...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ladies' Lunch

*I know I was supposed to give you a Land of the Flowered Bed tale, but I'm saving it for tomorrow. Never fear! You'll be entertained by "The Land of the Flowered Bed has a Northern Adventure."

In a quaint little building tucked into a corner of the city where the wild oak trees still roamed free, the blond girl waited impatiently. She and her black-haired buddy were older now, long past the days of ringlets and tea parties.

Well, tea parties every day at least and ringlets every other.

But today, her raven haired friend was stuck in the evil land of grey cubicles and beige walls and couldn't escape. Today she was meeting a new friend, one that was not familiar with the joy of escaping to lunch.

After a quick hug, they scurried over the twisted wooden staircases scattered with leaves from the overhanging oak trees. They wove past the shops, pointing at the windows filled with colorful treasures and making a mental note to return. Finally, they stepped into the restaurant. The blond girl sighed with pleasure as her new friend gasped in surprise.

The restaurant was small, with wooden tables and walls covered with white wallpaper checkered with red apples and gingham checks. Cheery tablecloths dotted the small wooden tables as older women with kind smiles and frilly aprons carried plates of cream cheese sandwiches and soups to tables. The entire restaurant was stuffed with women of all ages and sizes. There were little girls lunching with their mothers and older daughters with their friends. There were aunts with their nieces and grandmothers with their daughters and granddaughters. The room was full with friends, neighbors and loved ones, some who were meeting for the first time.

"It's like a tea party!" the friend exclaimed. The blond girl smiled. They took their seats and ordered sandwiches and chips. Over their meals, they chattered about their husbands, dogs, jobs and hobbies. The blond girl smiled as women from other tables asked about their meals or commented on their shoes.

"Don't forget to save room," the blond girl warned.

"For what?" her friend asked, warily staring at her empty plate.

"For that," the blond girl grinned. She pointed at a glass case stuffed with every pie imaginable. There were cookies and cakes and tarts at a smaller case next to it. Her friend stared at the cream and meringue pies, her gaze lingering on a simple apple crumb.

"Oh Lord," she groaned. "Well, I guess calories don't count."

"Of course not," a woman spoke up next to her. She indicated the chocolate cake she was sharing with her young daughter. "Nothing counts at a ladies' lunch."

The blond girl smiled. She couldn't have said it better herself. Leaning back in her chair, she ordered a piece of pie.

After all--it was a ladies' lunch.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

On Writing

It occurred to me yesterday as I was driving home that some of my new Invisible Friends have no idea who I am.

They know I am crazy about Bitty and Bear, the two Chihuahuas that rule my life with a fuzzy iron fist.

They know I adore Ben, though they may not know who he is. (My husband!)

They know that I talk to spiders, consort with ladybugs and have conversations with everyone's favorite obnoxious insect, the Ginormous Lime green Unusual Gnat (GLUG.)

But you don't know why I write, what I write or if I'm simply a lunatic that manages to get ahold of a keyboard with an Internet connection every few days.

Well, I write because I have to. Since 4th grade when I declared I would be a writer and illustrator, that's always been my main goal in life. My day job changed from day to day (ever practical, I knew I would need a day job at the age of 9,) but my overall dream never changed. In fact, let's not call it a dream. Let's call it an inevitable occurrence. Because eventually my nagging query letters will wear down some agent or editor until they are forced to love me and my work and let me run rampant publishing whatever thought comes into my head.

Currently, I write children's fiction--specifically middle grade fiction and young adult. For not literature snobs, that means books for children 8 to 20. I do have a picture book based on a blog entry called "If I was a dog," being submitted to companies. I've gotten a lot of good responses, but with the current economy, companies are skittish about taking on a brand-new author for a picture books. But several agents and editors have expressed interest in further work, so hooray!

I didn't always plan on writing children's fiction. About two years ago, I sent off a ton of imaginative stories to magazines and publishers. I also sent off a women's fiction (for adults) novel called, The Reluctant Bride, which was about a girl fighting a traditional marriage and her bridezilla maid of honor. They were rejected, and I got depressed. I then wrote a women's fiction novel about a couple falling in love from a dog's point of view. It got a lot of attention, but no bites. I'm still holding on to it though. I'm going to revise it so it's even better (e-mail me if you want details), then send it off again.

During my depression over the letdown of my women's fiction novel, I started working on a book for children about a little girl who finds a dolphin in her swimming pool. For the first time in a long time, I was excited about writing again. What started as a short story became a longer story and turned into a 150 page book for kids. Like Missing Wings, I had this intense drive and need to finish it. Currently, it's being revised and then I'll send it out to publishers.

I could do this forever. Write a story, revise, revise some more, revise nine more times, send out letters, get rejected, revise five more times, send out more query letters, etc.

But I've got a new idea. I need your help to write a book.

Yes, your help.

Since most of you voted for trying Missing Wings through, I've got a brilliant idea. I want you to help me shape the book into it's final form. We can brainstorm about plot ideas, talk about cover art, characters, illustrations, scenes, why I'm crazy, whatever you would like. I can post certain sections I'm having trouble with and ya'll could vote and comment.

Excuse me, you're thinking. What's in it for us?

Let me tell you what's in it for YOU, dear Invisible Friends!

This would be the first book ever to be written with input by the blogging community.

Is that not the coolest thing ever? Aren't you tingling with excitement?

Think about it. You can design your shoes, you can design your recipes, you can design your home. Why not have input on a story that entrances you and makes your toes tingle? It'd be like getting a front row seat in a author's brain as she puts a story together.

Now, you won't see the whole book. You'll have to buy it to see what really happens. Because, after all, I am a professional.


So, please, Invisible Friends, spread the word! Tell your friends, your mom, your menopausal boss and your unresponsive son! Tell your other blog friends, bloggers you admire or even your 80-year-old grandmother who keeps trying to take a lighter to your computer because she thinks you're saying "log."

Because, I think this is a marvelous creative adventure for us all. After reading your blogs, I realized there's a caring community of men and women out there who support and cheer on one another. You support each other's Etsy shops, your culinary endeavors and your long days of teaching. Imagine being the forefront of a new kind of literature. Imagine working together to create a book that's better than discovering a hidden journal in the corner of an old attic.

You see, I have other ideas. Great ideas. And if this all works out, we might be able to whip up something every woman needs in her life.

Spread the word, Invisible Friends! We're going to have a literary adventure! Are you with me??

And if you want to know more about why I'm a writer, why I call myself the Blonde Duck or if I'm "special," don't hesitate to e-mail me. Just leave a comment and I'll send you my e-mail.

(Don't worry. Tomorrow there's a new Land of the Flowered Bed and fun stories will resume!)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

And thanks....

For all the kind words and loving thoughts. It's really made me feel better. :)

Bitty is cute

Bitty is cute. She knows she is cute.

In fact, she is so cute that she believes everyone should fall to their knees, open their arms and worship her cuteness with hugs, kisses and chicken-flavored treats. And most of the time, people do just that.

However, Bitty met someone who didn't fall to his knees. In fact, he wouldn't even pick her up. He dared not to acknowledge her presence. It was, in fact, no one other than my own father.

This treatment confounds Bitty. As we celebrated Mom's birthday this weekend, Bitty decided to get to the root of this problem. She was determined to snuggle with my dad.

No pillow could stop Bitty. She tries an alternate route.

No matter! She'll go over the pillow. If she can climb a couch, she can climb a pillow. She is Bitty. Hear her roar.

Bitty is confounded as to how she wound up on the floor. Didn't she blink her big black eyes? Didn't she roll over to show her soft pink belly? She even flattened her ears and wagged her tail with her most pitiful expression. What was wrong with this man? Is he allergic to dogs? Is he scared of Chihuahuas? Is he immune to cuteness? Why doesn't he want to worship her like everyone else? This doesn't make sense.

Danielle adores Bitty.

The Blonde Duck adores Bitty. Bear is merely tolerable. He's not nearly as cute as I am, Bitty thinks to herself.

Ben adores Bitty.

Bitty decides this is too much adoration. She is not amused by the pink bag.

Even the birthday lady adores Bitty. Bitty isn't sure how she'll conquer the Blonde Duck's dad, but she knows she will. She's too cute. Her belly is too pink. Her eyes are too sweet. She's too tiny and delicate to be ignored.
Sooner or later, she'll have him. It's just a matter of time.
Until then, she'll sit right here and think. After all, she's cute.