Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Sound

We hear a sound.

Sounds in the kitchen mean food. It means delicious treats for us. We must proceed quickly.

Is it a delicious chunk of beef from a previous dinner? Oh, we love beef. Especially barbecue beef.

No, it's not beef. Baroo. Le Sigh.

Perhaps it is in the treat box.

Maybe, if it's in the treat box, we'll get a cardboard paper towel tube! We love those! We love to chew them and mash them into the carpet and rip them to shreds.

Oh wait. We had one of those already. Whoops.

Maybe it's a chip! A potato or tortilla chip! Oh please say it's a chip! We love chips! They're so crunchy and salty and num num num......

No, no chips.

Wait a minute, Bear. Do you smell what I smell?

Could it be peanut butter?

Oh, if it only was peanut butter! That creamy, salty and sweet paste that haunts our puppy dreams. We crave it, we want it, we need it!

It is, it is peanut butter! Hooray! Oh, she's dipping the knife in. Look at that chunk. Look at that glob. Oh I can hardly wait!

As the Queen, Bitty demands first lick, much to Bear's dismay. Wuffle.

Num num num. Excuse him. He's in a peanut butter daze.


Hold on.

Everyone freeze.

We hear another sound.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Miss Pickles likes to fire kids up

To read the tale before this, go here.

Mason stared at the flame headed pixies that landed in front of him. Up close, the beauty of the Fireflies was even more terrifying. With incandescent skin and scarlet glowing eyes, they looked as though they had been sculpted of glass. The heat from their blazing heads made sweat run down his face in thick droplets, sizzling the second it dropped from his face into the air.

"They're hot," Ralph commented, edging his backpack away from them protectively.

Beatrice snorted. "Just like a boy," she muttered, glaring at the Fireflies.

"I didn't mean it like that," Ralph stuttered, continuing to push his bursting backpack as far from the Fireflies as he could. "I meant they were hot. The chocolate is melting inside my backpack, see?" He pointed to the large brown stain on the top of his bag.

Don rolled his eyes. Jasper sidled up to one of the dragons and fingered one of the thick green scales with this scythe-like hands. "Remarkable," he breathed. "As hard as glass and as malleable as leather, depending on how you move it." He tapped his foot against the dragon's toe, ignoring the dragon's irritated grumble. "And claws as thick as stone but as sharp as a sword." He stared at his reflection in the dragon's jade scales, gaping as tiny clicks filled the air as the dragon exhaled. "Fascinating! The scales move like dominoes but remain as thick as chain mail!"

"Yes," a voice boomed from behind them. "They are wonderful creatures. A pity they no longer visit your world."

Mason whirled around and felt his heart jump into his throat. A enormous lantern lay on top of glass stairs. Floating in the center was the most remarkable Firefly of them all. Her flame was pure blue, so intense the tips were white edged with pink. She wore a blood-red dress that sizzled at the bottom of her feet. Steam curled from her ears and fire burned in her eyes.

"Why, Smoky, is that you?"

The Fireflies gasped. Whoever this person was, she was apparently very important. The dragons snarled and smoke streamed from their nostrils.

"Who dare use my childhood nickname?" the Firefly ordered as flame erupted from the top of the lantern. "Who indeed? I am the Empress of Flame, the Ruler of Fire, the Queen of Blaze. Who dare speak to me in such a insolent tone?"

Miss Pickles giggled as she landed next to Mason. Folding her pink parasol, she pointed the tip at the Firefly. "Now don't tell me you've forgotten?"

"Oh, Miss Pickles," the Firefly's voice filled with amusement. "I should have known you wouldn't have forgotten."

"I never forget anything, duckie," Miss Pickles said jauntily, twirling her parasol in the air. "How's the husband?"

"Traveling to the center of the Earth," the Firefly scorned. "Again. Sometimes I get so mad at him--I wish we had an ocean nearby. I would dunk him into it."

"Well, some are good, some are not," Miss Pickles grinned with a shrug.

"Miss Pickles," Mason whispered, tugging at her sleeve. "Miss Pickles..."
"Oh, right." Sweeping her arm out, Miss Pickles pointed to the huddled group of children.

"Smoky, let me introduce you to the class of Ordinary Elementary. We went on an adventure and I fear I got a little too carried away. Any way you might be able to help us back?"

The grand Firefly tapped her chin, sending sparks chiming in the lantern. "The next volcano is scheduled to erupt in a few hours," she mused. "But it's in Hawaii.

You'd have to find someone to fly you back. What time do the children have to be back?"

"By three," Miss Pickles said.

"Well, that's a bit of a problem," the Firefly murmured. She tapped her chin and furrowed her brow. "I can't think of anything," she said finally. "I'm afraid we can't do anything."

Miss Pickles smiled, but Mason could tell she was getting worried. "That's all right duckie," she said. "Maybe next time."

"But your Flame, they have chocolate!" a tiny Firefly cried, running towards Smoky. The adult Fireflies gasped in fear and clutched at her, trying to silence her. "They have chocolate, ma'am!" she cried. "I've seen it with that boy there!"

She pointed at Ralph. Ralph squeaked and draped himself over his backpack.

"Chocolate?" Smoky licked her red lips. Greed filled her eyes. "Really? This changes things."

"That fat boy there has it!" the little Firefly called as Ralph howled in agony. "I've seen it."

"Bring it to me." The Firefly was drooling, the drops bursting into smoke as soon as they dropped from her lips.

"NOOO!" Ralph bellowed, clutching onto his backpack. "Not my pies! Not my candy! Not my eclairs!"

"Get up and show them the chocolate," Don muttered nudging Ralph.

"You idiot, we can go home," Beatrice snapped, kicking at his backside. "It's not like you can never see another pie again."

Ralph shook his head back and forth, clamping his lips so tightly his cheeks turned purple.

"Don't worry, duckie, we'll get you another pie," Miss Pickles said. "Would you mind sharing?"

"MINE!" Ralph howled. "They are my pies! My mother made them for me!" He looked desperately at Mason. "Tell them!"

Mason shook his head. "That's your pies, not mine," he pointed out. "It's your

"It's for the adventure," Miss Pickles added encouragingly.

Ralph stared at Mason and whimpered. He looked at Don, then Beatrice, then the rest of the children. He gave Jasper a pleading look, then fixed his watery eyes on Miss Pickles.

"You'll buy me more pie?" he asked accusingly.

"All the pie you can eat, duckie," she assured him.

"You'll go broke," Don muttered.

"And you'll buy me some chocolate bars," Ralph asked, his voice quivering. He ignored Don's exaggerated sigh. "And some cookies too, perhaps? Maybe some chocolate ice cream?"

"We'll have a sugarfest," Miss Pickles promised. "You have my word." Ralph stared at her with his reddened eyes, tears streaming down his face. He cast one last look towards his backpack.

"Ok," he murmured, climbing off his backpack. "You can have it." A giant chocolate stain remained on his shirt, and he held it to his face and licked it mournfully.

The Fireflies descended on his backpack, ripping it in shreds as they each grabbed handfuls of sweets. The chocolate cream pie was taken to Smoky, who devoured it in one bite.

"Mmm," the Firefly breathed, licking her fingers. "I love chocolate."
Ralph chocked back a sob, watching as she licked each finger slowly.

"Now," she said, fixing her eyes on Miss Pickles. Her mouth curved into a smile. "There may be something I can do..."

Picture by Marie Rayner

Sunday, September 28, 2008

It's a wonderful life

I don't know about ya'll, but I'm in the mood for the holidays already.

It may be because I'm tired of it being 100 degrees.

It may be because I work three months ahead being a magazine editor. When you write articles about the Nutcracker and get e-mails for events about wassailing, you get in the mood for Christmas songs.

And it may be just because I love Christmas. It's one of my favorite times of the year. There's some brand new decorations in the back of my guest room closet and I'm itching to display them.

As I started on my Christmas shopping this weekend (ya'll know I'm crazy), I started thinking about how wonderful life was. Sure, the economy is failing. Sure, folks are losing their jobs left and right. Sure, I might never get a book published.

But there's so much good in my life.

Even though they chewed out of their fence earlier this week, proceeded to rip a box needed for shipping apart and sprinkled the remnants on the carpet, then peed and puked on the carpet, sending my husband into a crazed, Cajun-accent speaking frenzy; the Babies really light up my life.

Ever since that night in February that I blew off my neighbor's lingerie party and raced across town to get them in the dark of night, they've held my heart in their little paws.

I can still remember how tiny they were and how I could barely believe they were mine. Really mine.

Even though he hates all things glittery, pink and leopard print, has to be coerced to dance and doesn't share my obsession for meat and pie; Ben is one of the best things in my life.

He supports my writing, is patient with the puppies, still makes my eyes twinkle with glee and makes me laugh out loud.

We caught snowmen! Ha ha ha!

If that wasn't enough, I have a two great families, wonderful friends and a cute house.

But after a week where you spend every day panicking, obsessing and plotting new options; you don't think of these things. You fret and you worry and you scream every time you pick up a newspaper or turn on the radio.

Like George Bailey, I realized there were more important things. I can't control entire industries. I can't control my future. And I can't control how other people respond to me.

But, I can appreciate the things I have and be thankful for them.

Excuse me. I've got to go watch A Muppet Christmas Carol now.

First, I want to hear what's wonderful in your life, Invisible Friends. Whoever comes up with the best comment will get something wonderful!

I'm waiting....

**Stay tuned this week for exciting adventures in the Pond! We've got Miss Pickles tomorrow, the end of our Land of the Flowered Bed saga, tuna croquettes coming up, another installment of our dancehall romance and more fun!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pumble suffers from a sweet tooth

*For more about the Land of the Flowered Bed, go here.

Pumble hadn't left his bed in three days. He lay tangled in his sheets, moaning and clutching his stomach. The other animals were terrified. They stood in play kitchen normally filled with cupcakes, pies, cookies and cream eclairs. Now, all that remained was a single banana.

"What are we going to do?" Hairy fretted, pacing around the empty kitchen.
"It's been three days!"

"Did you call the doctor?" Cookies asked. For once, there was sarcasm missing from his tone.

"The doctor!" Hairy smacked his hand to his forehead. "Of course! Someone call the doctor immediately!"

The ducks in the Spa began thrashing about. They loved a good drama, being addicted to the soaps.

"Call the doctor!" the first duck cried.

"Pumble is in desperate need of a doctor!" the second seal cried.

"Would you mind running and getting him?" the third duck said kindly, pointing to the seals. Nodding, they hopped on their bellies as fast as they could to where the doctor lived. Deep in a corner past the trunk at the foot of the Blond Duck's bed, tucked away so high that not even the dust mites could reach it, lived the Doctor in his enormous web.

By the time the seals had reached him and brought the tiny doctor back riding on their backs as fast as they could belly surf across the carpet, Pumble's skin had faded from a pale gold to the faintest yellow.

"Oh Doctor!" Hairy cried, rushing towards him. "You have to hurry! Something is terribly wrong with Pumble!"

When Cookies refrained from making a snide remark, the seals whimpered and trembled. The doctor scuttled over the Pumble's bedside, his eight legs fluttering across the carpet. He reached into his tiny black bag and pulled out a stethoscope he used to listen to Pumble's chest. Keeping his face completely neutral, he checked Pumble's mouth, peeled open his eyelids and looked in his antennae.

"Well, Doctor?" Pumble asked faintly. "How am I?"

The Doctor plastered a smile on his face and patted his shoulder. "Don't you worry, Pumble!" he murmured. "I'll take the others outside and give them your medicine schedule."

"Can I have pie?" Pumble asked, a dreamy look coming over his face. "I've been begging for pie, but they won't let me have any." He scowled.

"We'll see," the Doctor said, smiling when Pumble's scowl grew deeper. He scurried into the kitchen with Hairy, Cookies, the seals and Miss Moose McKinley right behind him.

"So how is he?" Miss Moose McKinley asked.

"What's wrong with him?" Hairy asked at the same time.

"Is he dying?" the first duck shouted, so eager to hear the diagnosis he was hanging to the edge of the bathtub by his webbed toes.

"Is he going to the loony bin?" the second duck shouted, peering around the edge of the door.

"I'm sorry for the interruption," the third duck apologized, herding her brothers into the bathtub.

The Doctor shook his head and blinked his large eyes. "I'm afraid your friend has been attacked by a Sweet Tooth."

The animals stared at him in confusion.

"Of course he's got a sweet tooth!" Cookies bellowed. "He's enormous! He's the size of the Taj Mahal. All the bee does is eat pie and cookies. You went to medical school and that's all you can figure out?"

The seals looked annoyed. They had carpet burn for nothing.

"No, no, no," the Doctor said, shaking his head. "You misunderstand me. A Sweet Tooth is an actual creature. He has bitten Pumble, who is now suffering from a sugar delirium. All he wants is sugar. All his body wants is sugar. Without sugar, he will die. But with too much sugar, he will die as well since his body can't process it."

The seals whimpered and curled into small balls. This wasn't worth carpet burn either.

"What does a Sweet Tooth look like?" Miss Moose McKinley said, looking around nervously. "And how does one get bit?"

"They're nasty little creatures," the Doctor said, rubbing all eight lenses of his glasses. "But they look quite cute. They're very tiny, about the size of a small chocolate chip. They are coated in white sugary fur that is so gentle it looks like spun cotton candy. Sweet Tooths are very round and dense and bounce along large feet made of cookie dough. They have tiny little black eyes, but extremely large front teeth. If you didn't know any better, you'd think they were a big fat deformed rabbit."

"They sound adorable," Miss Moose McKinley cooed, clapping her hooves together. Cookies rolled his eyes and clapped his forehead to his head.

"They may sound adorable," the Doctor said sternly, placing his glasses back on his tiny face, "But they're not. They hide in cakes and pies and cookies--anything sweet. They like to roll themselves up in sprinkles and swim in icing. When the unsuspecting person takes a bite out of the sweet they're on, they hop into his mouth and bite his tongue. After that moment, all the person wants is sugar. It's all they can think about or eat."

"That's terrible," Hairy said. The seals nodded, vowing never to eat another cupcake again.

"That's terrifying!" the first duck shouted, ducking under the water.

"That's horrifying!" the second duck shouted, hiding under the bathroom rug.

"For once, I must agree with my brothers," the third duck admitted.

"Of all diseases for that hedonistic bee to get, this one is perfect," Cookies mumbled.

"So what do we do now?" Hairy asked the Doctor.

"You have to find the Sweet Tooth and capture it," the Doctor said. "Once captured, all the Sweet Tooth has to do is drop a single drop of their magic elixir on the patients tongue. But they're very tricky to find. They can fly and they hide in the kitchens.

Everyone turned and looked at Pumble's empty play kitchen. Hairy gulped.

"Let's go find a Sweet Tooth," he said.

To be continued...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Artichoke cheese dip and a little pink dress

Before we start talking about the goodness of cheesy artichoke dip, I have an announcement to make.
Ya'll remember my friend Libby, don't you?

My dear, sweet, favorite buddy Libby who loves sweets and barbecue as much as I do? Well, Libby has a blog now!

And this isn't any blog. It's a blog about a pink dress, a ladies' bet and heading down the road to fabulousness. It's really fun, I promise. I know you'll love her as much as I do!

So go visit her at www.fabulouslittlepinkdress.blogspot.com !

Now, let's talk artichokes. And cheese.

Normally I'm not a fan of artichokes. The whole ripping leaves and dipping in butter to scrape stuff off on your teeth just doesn't appeal to me. If I'm going to go to all that work ripping and scraping, you can bet it will be a barbecued beef rib.

However, I do like artichoke hearts when they are mixed into tasty dishes like this one. I wouldn't eat them straight out of the can, but I love them in a dip.

I know what you're thinking. "Excuse me, Blond Duck, this looks like a big pile of yellow goo. It looks like paste for the side of the house or something."

Looks can be deceiving. This dip is so tasty that I'll use it as a spread on sandwiches or toast. It's dangerously delicious. I ate so much of it on Saturday I thought artichokes would dangle from my ears.

The original recipe is different than the one I used (of course), so I'll add my modifications in pink. It contains spinach and Libby was bringing spinach dip, so I didn't want to double up. The original also includes Romano cheese, which I was too lazy to figure out how to get it out of it's little packaging and grate without a greater.

I never said I was a culinary artist. I just like food.

Without further ado....

Hot artichoke cheese (and spinach) dip

1 (8 oz.) package of cream cheese
1/4 cup of mayo (I dumped in probably half a cup of fat free mayo.)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (Shredded and 1/2 of a Kraft bag of it.)
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese (No grater + lazy Blond Duck+ complicated packaging= no Romano cheese)
1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced (I used garlic powder.)
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
salt and pepper to taste
1 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (Since I wasn't using spinach, I added an additional 7 oz. can. I might do this even if you use the spinach. I also swirled these up in a blender.)
1/2 cup of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I probably used half a bag of the shredded Kraft stuff. I love cheese.)

1)Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a small baking dish.

2) In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, Romano cheese, mozzarella cheese, garlic salt, pepper. Stir in artichoke hearts and spinach.

3) Top mixture with more mozzarella cheese after transferring to baking dish. (I forgot to top it.) Bake for 25 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned.

(Original recipe from allrecipes.com.)

Enjoy ya'll. And go see Libby!

Tomorrow--a new Land of the Flowered Bed!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


The old dancehall was empty and dark for the middle of the afternoon. She pushed the creaky wooden door open, sunlight glaring across the worn floorboards.

"Hello?" she called in a timid voice, stepping across the threshold. She couldn't help but smile at how ridiculous her sneakers and tights looked next to a saloon bar. There was even a bullet slug in the counter. And she was standing here in a leotard and ballet skirt, her hair twisted in a bun.

"Hello?" she called again, creeping closer to the stage. She knew she shouldn't be here. She should be driving home, filling out college applications and doing her chemistry homework.

But the dancehall looked so sad, empty after all the summer tourists had piled back into their trucks and driven back down the highway. While she fluttered across wooden floors in toe shoes on hot summer nights, she had watched the lights at the dance hall flicker and wink at her. Everyone always looked happy going in, and people always stumbled out laughing. Sometimes they left the door open, and she could sneak a peek inside as she did her plies at the bar. While her every step was measured and controlled, the girls at the dancehall did fun kicks and shuffled across the floor in the arms of cowboys wearing tight Wranglers with skoal rings. They wore mini skirts and boots and sang loudly to bad country songs.

Deciding the dancehall was closed on Mondays, she set down her dance bag. Walking to the center of the floor, she held up her arms to an imaginary partner.

"One, two, three, four," she counted, shuffling her sneakers across the floor like she had seen the dancers do. "Five, six, seven, eight." She held up her hand and let her pretend partner twirl her, then bent her spine back in a dip. As she lowered her head, she saw a pair of scuffed up boots.

"You're doing it wrong."

Snapping upright, she whirled around. Deep in the shadows of the bar stood a boy her age, wearing faded jeans and worn brown boots. Lines crinkled around his eyes and his lips were curled in a smile.

"I'm sorry," she blurted out. "I know I shouldn't be in here. I just watched from my dance class and just wanted to--I'm sorry. I'll leave." She fled to her bag, her cheeks erupting in red flames.

"Just wanted to what?" His voice was quiet and amused.

Clutching her black bag to her thin leotard, she looked down and murmured, "I just wanted to learn how to dance."

"Seems like you know how to dance," he said, nodding to her leotard and tights. "Probably better than we do."

She shook her head, a few wisps of hair escaping from her tight bun. "No, I mean really dance," she said. He stayed quiet. The words poured out of her in a rush.

"You see, I've been doing ballet all my life," she burst out. "All I've done is pirouette and leap and arabesque. I mean sure, it's great, and sure I've got offerings from a dance company. But I've watched you all summer, and the people that dance here have more fun than I've ever had on stage. You all seem so happy--so free. You shuffle and you kick and you--well, you twirl! I want to twirl!" As soon as the words left her mouth, she clapped her hand over it. "I'm so sorry," she gasped. "I don't know what's wrong with me." She rushed across the room, her pink ballet skirt fluttering in the dark wooden room.

"Can you be here tomorrow at eight?"

In the old doorway, she turned. "Tomorrow? Eight?"

He nodded, his blue eyes twinkling. "I'll see you here then. My name's Wade. And oh, darling?" he added as she turned to flee.

"Yes?" She froze, clutching the doorway so hard splinters stabbed her skin.

"If you want to dance right, you need some boots and jeans," he said, one side of his lips stretching into a grin. "You got any of those?"

Her head bobbed up and down. She tried to breathe.

"See you tomorrow," he said, turning back to the bar. She rushed across the street, leaping to her car in the dance studio parking lot.

It wasn't until she was almost home she realized she had never told him her name.

The next night, she slipped out of ballet class early and exchanged her tights for her jeans. Sneaking out of the back door, she pulled a black tight shirt over her leotard and shook her curls free from the bun.

The dancehall was busy tonight. Cars stuffed the parking lot and people loitered in the doorway and parking lot with beers. She ducked her head as she hurried inside. The room smelled of tobacco and fried chicken. A woman at the bar with two pigtails and a hoop through her nose shouted, "Honey, who are you here with?"

She had barely cracked her mouth open when Wade appeared next to her. "I got it, Helen," he called. The woman shrugged and turned back to her customers. The next thing she knew, Wade had taken her hand and was pulling her through the tables to the dancehall.

"I forgot to tell you," she shouted over the music. "My name is Vivi."

He just smiled. Tossing her dance bag to another man, he pulled her onto the crowded floor. They were immediately swept into the continuous swirl of dancers circling the floor. Some couples shuffled, some two stepped, other waltzed. Vivi tried to watch as Wade took her right hand in his and placed a warm hand on her back.

"This is all very different," she murmured to Wade as they hopped and stepped in a grapevine pattern. "I have no idea what I'm doing."

"That's the point," Wade said with a grin. "Just have fun." The slow song turned quick, and the dancers whooped with glee. Vivi found herself swirling around the dance floor in Wade's strong arms. She laughed as he lifted her in the air and expertly guided her with his quick steps. Her legs were racing across the floor and her chest was so full of joy she thought she could burst.

"Ready?" he asked. Without letting her answer, he pulled her hand up and twirled her around and around and around. She twirled and twirled and twirled.

All she ever had wanted to do was twirl.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A new season

They were everywhere. They floated over the highway and danced in the clouds. They fluttered in the trees and floated over the sidewalk. They were in the Walgreen's parking lot and sunbathing on the flowers in my front yard. No matter where I went or where I looked, all I saw was butterflies for days.

As I walked down the sidewalk, a familiar friend brushed against my cheek.

"Where did they all come from?" I asked immediately.

"We could ask the same about you," he teased, clutching onto the strands of my pale hair. He wove the strands around his tiny hands, fluttering his wings gently.

"Why are they here?" I tried again.

"It is fall." His voice was warm and full of joy. His bright orange and gold wings fluttered against the soft gold of my hair; his fall next to my summer. "It is a new season, a time for new beginnings. You're fresh on a new beginning yourself."

How did you know?" My mouth dropped open.

"We always know,"
he reminded me. "But this beginning will be different than all the others."

"Because I only have a year?" I let the words tumble over my tongue. For the first time, I really tasted them. I had a year. Only a year to achieve the goals I set for myself at 19. One tiny year.

The butterfly fluttered his wings as if he sensed my thoughts. "A year is a long time," he said gently. "But it also is only an instant."

Tell me about it," I muttered, the fear and uncertainty beginning to freeze my thoughts. "It's just so frustrating," I murmured, letting him slide down my hair and nestle on my neck. "No many how many hours I have, I never can quite get everything done."

"And you never will," the butterfly replied, his voice pure honestly. There were no excuses, no whines or whimpers in his words. "But that is not what is different about this beginning. You're what is different."

"How so?" I asked. I had only been a year older for a day now.

"You are not afraid," he whispered, the words grazing my ear like a silky ribbon. "Even while facing nothing but uncertainty, you know what will happen. You are confident in yourself and your abilities. You are no longer depending on anyone for comfort."

I don't know if I'd go that far," I grinned. "I'm still pretty crazy."

The butterfly's antennae twitched. "That will never change," he replied dryly. I giggled, my shoulders bouncing as the butterfly leaped to my neck in alarm.

"So what does it mean?" I asked as we rounded the corner.

"You know what it means," the butterfly said, his tone stern. "It means you're open to options, for possibilities. You no longer have the comfort of never ending stability."

And that's bad," I said sharply. "I don't like change. I don't like the idea that everything will be upside down. I don't like the idea of not knowing."

"But that's what makes it so grand," the butterfly whispered, his wings tickling my cheek. "That's what makes this beginning so different."

I don't understand." My voice haltered. The butterfly flew to the tip of my nose. His wings opened and closed slowly as he stared into my eyes.

"When one doesn't know the road ahead, one can go anywhere," he replied simply. "And you will. You have the strength to trust yourself now. You have the heart to do it." And with that, he fluttered into the breeze. His orange wings blended in with the dozens of other butterflies, flapping in the bright sky until I could no longer see him. Smiling, I brushed a tree as I passed toward the door. A few leaves tumbled on my shoulder and I caught them in my palm.

It was a new season.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Taking care of buisness

I've been so busy lavishing in my sweet birthday wishes and love, I've neglected to give back to you, my dear Invisible Friends. And you deserve it. After all, you come back day after day to read my crazy tales and give me sweet comment after comment. For a writer who spent years pouring words into the dark world of the Internet, having your support and encouragement is irreplaceable. You all inspire me every day, and I thank you for that.

So now, a sussy for you!

My dear buddy Marie at A Year of Oak Cottage gave me this great award last week! Now, it's my honor to pass it on to some of my favorite Autumn friends:

3) Emma
4) Grace

6) Tater tots and Jello
7) Marjie
8) Maria at Two Peas in their Pod
9) Katherine
10)Noble Pig

In addition, I was also tagged by Cynthia at Diary of a Glad Housewife . Instead of giving you six quirky things about me (because to be frank, I'm tired of me), I'm giving you six quirky things about the Land of the Flowered Bed! (Want to know what the Land of the Flowered Bed is? Read last Tuesday's post.)

Six Quirky things about the Land of the Flowered Bed:

1) As a exceedingly large bumblebee, Pumble loves nectar and honey. He is however, allergic to flowers, particularly daisies.

2) Cookies, when no one is watching, giggles at cuteoverload.com and watches TLC's Wedding and Baby Stories. If someone is watching, he snarls at kittens and bashes any sweet show as "sentimental dribble."

3) Before Hairy became the mayor of the Land of the Flowered Bed, he wanted to be a cowboy.

4) The seals are identical twins--a boy and a girl. They are the only twins they know.

5) The ducks in the Spa secretly pretend to look for buried treasure on the bottom of the bathtub when the other members of the Land of the Flowered Bed are sleeping. The girl duck pretends she's a mermaid while the two boy ducks pretend they are pirates.

6) Miss Moose McKinley is perpetually confused. She attributes this to her tendencies as a natural blond moose. Her fur is brown due to the poor sunlight in Alaska.

Be sure to stop by throughout the week! I'll post my artichoke cheese dip, a new Miss Pickles and several more fun whimsical tales!

Thanks again for all the birthday love. You all mean a lot to me.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

For 24 years, it's been all about me

I'm 24 years old today. And I have never felt more loved in my life. I could blather on about how I'm blessed with wonderful friends, family, wonderful mother, sister and mother in law and the sweetest husband alive, but I won't.

Instead, I'll show you.

After getting a wonderful kick off from Prudence Pennywise with a delicious chicken salad recipe, I then got spoiled rotten at my in-laws in Shreveport. I got all sorts of goodies, including this fabulous cookbook.

Then, on Friday, dear Libby turned the boring grey world of work into this:

There were streamers everywhere, a crepe paper wrapped monitor and a doorway of pink streamers I christened the "Doorway of Happiness."

Not only that, but I got to prance around in this all day.

Then, Libby and a few of my favorite co-workers took me to lunch at this delicious diner. One of my co-workers even wore a pink shirt because he knew it's my favorite color! And he gave me a large jar of peanut butter, even noting my favorite brand. Peanut butter and pink--the best combination of the world.

When I got home, I had a gift from my friend Marie. She gave me a darling dessert cookbook and this darling pie plate and blackbird!

Oh boy. I better get on the treadmill.

I feel a story idea coming on.

In fact, the little blackbird has been talking to my measuring cup ducks non-stop. I think they both had too much pie.

"And then I told the Blond Duck, "Bake me? Bake you!"

Saturday, I spent the day cleaning for my Princess Pie party that night. That's right ya'll. I'm 24 and I had a princess and pie party. I invited my favorite princesses, and they each brought a pie. My mom and sister came over early to help me set everything up.

We made little peanut butter and jelly and peanut butter, cream cheese and strawberry jelly sandwiches and I made an artichoke cheese dip. With chips. Lots of chips. (Don't worry, I'll post the dip later this week!)

My mom made punch and an apple pie.

She also brought up these cute little crystal plates with matching tea cups she inherited from her mother. Before paper plates, women would use these at bridal showers and parties to add a little special zing to the occasion. I thought they were darling.

My poor sister got stuck on dog duty.

We also made sandwich fixings with wheat rolls. Now Prudy, you'll have to forgive me for not using your chicken salad recipe. But I have a reason. My mother in law is coming down in a month and I need something to knock her socks off with. Being a good Southern woman, she's a chicken salad connoisseur. And as I always say, you never play your full hand. So it will be used! I promise. I just wanted to save it for a great occasion.

After awhile, my dear buddy Candace showed up and brought fresh fruit (she attempted to make us healthy) and a pecan pie (not so healthy.) Sarah and Libby trickled in, each bringing goodies and more pie. Libby brought a spinach dip that was DIVINE!

And then we had this to greet us. Excuse me. I need to get on the treadmill again.

We were happy. We were delighted. We were stuffed to the gills. We needed to burp.

But then it was time for pie.

Being one of great restraint and of a conservative nature, I limited myself to three out of the four pies. Pecan pie, homemade apple crumble pie and coconut cream pie. Let me tell you, I was in heaven. A sugar-coma heaven that made me want to leap through the stars and sing the praises of these glorious pies to the heavens.

Have I mentioned I really liked pie?

After we stuffed ourselves stupid, we waddled to the living room where I opened gifts. Sarah gave me some wonderful glitter spray and a coloring book (I'm really five), Libby gave me a glorious cookbook and a wonderful piece of art.

Sniff, sniff. She knows me so well. I love meat. I love Libby. I love brisket and ribs and steak and hamburgers and bacon and....Oh, sweet heavens. I need to get on the treadmill again.

Then she gave me my favorite of Marie's prints, the little girl leading the chicken. Go to her Etsy shop to see more of her work!

My dear mom, sister, Libby Lou, Marie, fellow princesses, family and Invisible Friends, thank you for making me feel so loved and appreciated. I would have never dreamed at 24 that I would know so many wonderful people that made my toes tingle with happiness and makes me want to dance with joy. Thank you so much, and I hope to make you feel the same on your birthday.

The only person who wasn't having fun was Bitty. She pouted the whole time she wore her crown. But that's no surprise.

She's just mad there's another princess in town.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Love letter to a dolphin

Oh Dolphin. How I love you.

From your squishy tail to your large blue belly, I love every fiber of you.

You've always been there for me, Dolphin. Every night, I drag you out of the toy basket and drag you along by the tail as we frolic in the Pond. We run to the kitchen to the Blond Duck's office, with the air conditioning running through our fur (even if you won't admit it, I know you have fur, it's blue.) Even when we were in Shreveport and the evil white Chihuahua Ace kidnapped you, you were not tempted. You did not let him chew on your tail. Because you are mine. And I am yours.

It's true. He loves that dolphin.

We've made it through some rough times, dolphin o'mine. But even when I tore your mouth open and flung your stitching around the living room, you forgave me. You knew I was young and stupid. Now your smile is even prettier.

When we're together, I'm fall into a daze of happiness. My eyes glaze over, my jaw clamps snugly around your tail and sometimes, I even fall to sleep curled in the crook of your blue back.

The thing I love best about you, Dolphin? You don't judge me. You love my wuffles, think my pooch is adorable and giggle at my terrible gas. When Bitty lets out her famous banshee screams in the middle of the night, you are always there to comfort me. You love me for who I am, wuffles and all.

Oh Dolphin. How I love thee. I wuffle only for you.