Monday, March 31, 2008

Random Act of Kindness

My mood was as foul as the weather. Angry thoughts swirled in my pounding head as I tried to figure out where I was. Being a creature of the Pond, I do not like downtown of the Big Pond. After searching for over an hour as I wondered the streets in a haze of confusion and misty weather, I finally found the place I needed to be. I was to visit the new store of an artist in a large hotel. Pulling into the hotel entrance, a gentleman opened my door.

"Hello," I said, plastering a smile on my face. I tried to ignore my throbbing head and growling stomach. "I'm here as a journalist to interview the Artist at her new store. She told me I could park for free. Where should I go?"

The smile dropped from the gentleman's face. He droned, "Parking is $7 at the garage, $14 for valet."

I batted my eyes and stretched my cheeks. "But I'm here to do a story! And I don't have any cash."

The man turned away to welcome the next car. "There's an ATM in the lobby," he called over his shoulder.

"But I've only had the debit card for a very short time and don't know my pin..." My voice trailed off weakly. The man was shooing me out of the hotel entrance as he gestured for another car to drive up.

Growling, I circled the block and crept up into the giant parking garage. I hurried down the parking garage stairs, into the hotel and down the shops. When I inquired for the Artist, I was informed she was not coming in that day. When I explained I had an appointment with the artist for a magazine story, the girl's face brightened.

"You're a writer? Oh, I want to be a writer! I write these short films at the local college and let me tell you about my latest piece--" She launched into a great story as my stomach roared at me. The rain began to pour harder outside and my head began to feel as though it was being squeezed in a vice. I gave the girl my card and ducked into a local shop. I tried to use my debit card to get cash back, but realized it needed a pin number. Sighing, I ducked outside and called Ben.

"You have to have cash?" Ben's voice had an edge of panic. I could just picture visions of me getting mugged or captured by the Parking Garage Police dancing in his head. "You can't buy something and return for cash? You can't write them a nice story or give them a flower? What about a pie? Could you buy them a pie? You like pie. Don't they like pie?"

"It'll be all right," I said, forcing my voice to be cheerful. "Don't worry." The rain began to pour, streaming down my back as I rushed across the street to the parking garage. I ran up to the attendant's window and groaned. The same valet who had first greeted me was now sitting in the garage window.

"Hello, we spoke before," I said, desperately wishing I could pound my head into the little box he sat in. "Listen, I've only got $1 to my name and my ATM card is not working. I didn't realize I had to pay for parking because I was told it would be free. Could I sign a credit card voucher? Will that work?"

The man nodded and rolled his eyes, smiling as if I was a ridiculous child trying to buy candy with shoelaces. Sighing with relief, I rushed up to my car and inched my way back down to the parking garage. By now my stomach was howling in agony, my head felt as though knives were being driven through it and I still had to stop at a restaurant closer to the bar for a second story. The rain was sprinkling on my windshield, making it impossible to see. My windows fogged up from the humidity.

I rolled down my window and hung my credit card out the window. I gave the man my parking ticket and waited.

"It'll be $4," he said. I nodded and held out my credit card. He looked at the card, narrowed his eyes and looked at me. "You said you had a $1?"

"Yes," I said, opening my wallet and handing him my dollar. I wiggled my credit card at him with the other hand. He opened up his wallet, took out $3 and put it into the cash register.

"Don't worry about it," he said, waving away my wiggling hand. "I took care of it."

My mouth dropped open. "Are you sure?" I asked, positive I hadn't heard him correctly. It felt like a troupe of fairies were clogging on my skull. "That's very kind of you, but I don't mind paying."

"It's my good deed for the day," the man said, gently waving my hand back into the car. "Have a good day, now." Thanking him several times, I drove away and promptly returned to winding downtown in a state of permanent lostness. As I wondered past buildings and one-way streets, I thought about the man. I had been convinced he was the rudest man in the world, yet he helped me for no reason. Just a random act of kindness.

Driving back up to the Pond, my headache eased, the rain cleared and my stomach stopped screaming at me. The sun began to shine as I drove home, and I noticed the grass along the road was a brilliant green dotted with cheerful wildflowers.

Feeling a tad bit better, I pulled into the garage and opened the door. Two white bellies were wiggling at the kitchen gate as two tails whipped back and forth. I broke into a brilliant smile and sat down as two little furry creatures hopped all over me. As I scratched their little ears and let their little tongues wash over my arms and hands, I beamed.

For a random act of kindness helped me get to a warm, sunny kitchen with bouncing puppies.

*Don't worry friends! Brand-new Land of the Flowered Bed Wednesday! I know Marie is dying for one!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Someone in England loves me!

When Marie at told me I won her Easter contest a few weeks ago, I was thrilled. For weeks I've been peering in the mailbox, waiting for my sussy from England. Finally, it came today.

The babies were delighted. Even though the package had my name on it, they had decided it must be for them. As arrogant little babies, they think everything that is mine is theirs to chew, munch, nibble or at the very least, sniff.

When I opened the box, I was even more excited. I've never gotten an international package before. However, the babies demanded they should get to peek in first.

They decided they would like a closer sniff.

Ben came home and immediately zeroed in on the chocolate. "These are my favorite," he said, scouring the cabinets and kitchen to find where I had put them. "I love these chocolates," he mumbled, ripping open the package and stuffing them in his mouth.

He really likes the chocolates.

Dear Marie, we here at the Pond really appreciate your generosity. It was very kind of you to ship us a package all the way from Oak Cottage. Ben is beyond excited to munch on his favorite chocolates.

However, I want everyone to know that the package Marie sent said "royal mail" on it, so you know what that means...

Just like I always thought.

I'll just sit here in the buttercups and wait for someone to build me a castle with horses, a few friendly peasants, a dragon and a moat to keep the black night at bay. Bitty and Bear request a royal bedchamber with plenty of bones. Ben just wants to finish Marie's chocolate. (Ignore the weird bunching of my shirt in this photo.)

Thanks again Marie!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I skipped outside, leaving a world of crazy cubicle psychos, bad lighting and beige walls behind me. Taking a deep breath, I beamed up at the bright blue sky.

"Gorgeous day, isn't it?" A fluttering of wings whispered in my ear and two tiny feet landed on my shoulder.

"Hello!" I joyfully exclaimed. "I haven't seen you in awhile."

The wings opened and closed. "It was time for us to return."

We walked in companionable silence, the butterfly opening and closing his wings slowly.

"You seem much more at peace than the last time we spoke."

"I feel much more at peace," I said truthfully. "It seemed like when we got the puppies and I returned my focus to children's books, everything clicked into place. I know it sounds cheesy, but it feels right."

"Things that are described as 'cheesy' are normally the only correct things," the butterfly whispered. His wings tickled my arm as it brushed by.

"It came at the right time," I said, shaking my blond hair back from my face. "I had started to think I was a horrible writer. I felt like I couldn't write a story or that my plots were messed up and my characters week. I started to think maybe I was only good at writing short stories, and that I would never be published. But the second I wrote some short children's stories, I instantly felt better. It's like the pressure when you have a headache and it lifts suddenly, giving you such a free feeling."

"Perhaps it was not all a mistake," the butterfly said, delicately resting on the top of my hand.

"What do you mean?" I said.

"Perhaps you needed to write those stories," the butterfly murmured. "Perhaps you needed that rejection, that experience. For while some think stories of animals and fairies are simple, they are often much more than they appear."

"That's true," I nodded. "It just comes so natural for me. I never try to think of a higher meaning or deep reason. It is what it is."

"Which is why they bring you joy," the butterfly continued. "You can not force meaning or try to seek it out like a jewel. Meaning is exposed and revealed through acts of beauty and art. For you, children's stories gave you a truth. You were trying to change an audience to suit your work. Instead, if your work goes to the correct audience, they will naturally be changed. You were fighting a battle with the wrong ammunition."

"I never understood women anyway," I grumbled. "I've only ever had a few girl friends."

"You understand more than you think," the butterfly said, tickling my fingers with its wings. "You simply refuse to engage of matters of meritocracy. You prefer the unseen. The reality that most have forgotten in their quest for fine wine and fancy shoes."

"That's a really nice way to put it," I said, blushing.

"With happiness comes success." The butterfly landed on my nose, its antennae gently kissing my cheek. "I have a good feeling."

With that he was gone, floating off into a sky the color of a robins' eggs. I smiled after him and touched my cheek.

I had a good feeling too.

Monday, March 24, 2008


All the tiny hummingbird wanted to do was rest. His tiny eyelids felt like cement sliding down his face. He had been flying for almost an hour and still had not seen anything close to red. He had seen grey roofs, yellowed grass and bare trees. But no red flowers.

His beak quivered at the thought of liquid sugar pouring down his tiny throat. He was so very thirsty, and so very tired.

He whipped over the Pond, his small wings fluttering blurs as he scanned the ground. Yellow grass, bleak trees, red flower...wait, red flower!

The hummingbird dove down to the porch and gasped with delight. A red flower! A huge red flower! He began to drink the nectar, his wings fluttering with delight. He was so intent on sipping from the red flower he didn't notice the man inside waving his arms like a fanatic.

"Look!" Ben hissed, smacking me in the ribs. We were hanging around the kitchen table, talking to my dad. "It's a hummingbird!"

"Awww!" I cooed. "Look at him go! He's thirsty!"

We watched as the hummingbird drank down the nectar, his bright blue feathers glinting in the sunlight. He looked up from the feeder and saw us staring at him.

"Oh," he said, clearly startled. "Well-er-excuse me." With a slight pink tinge to his feathers, he fluttered away.

"Do you think he'll come back?" I asked, peering out the window. "He looked embarrassed."

"Sure he will," Ben said confidently. "He knows where the food is."

The hummingbird fluttered over a few houses down, perching on a fence.

"I can't believe I pigged out like that in front of those people," he thought to himself, cringing. His wings twittered in embarrassment. His stomach growled and his head turned back to the red flower.

"Perhaps just a few more drops...."

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Babies Search for the Easter Bunny

After hearing about the festival in the Land of the Flowered Bed where the Easter Bunny made a appearance, the babies were determined to find him.

Bitty looked in the flower pot.

She tried tasting the flowers. You know, just in case it tasted like rabbits. Alas, she found nothing.

Bear looked in the buttercups. It just made him sneeze.

Bitty tried another clump of buttercups. Nothing.

Bear examined an empty flower pot. No bunny, but he found a tasty worm.

The babies decided the Easter bunny must still be inside. Bitty checked the Blonde Duck's purse. Nothing.

Bear looked in the Blonde Duck's tennis shoe. Nothing.

Bitty examined the couch. She was so tired from searching, she decided to sit for a minute.

Wait a minute, what's in that basket? It's the Easter Bunny!

Satisfied they had discovered the Easter Bunny, the babies returned to their favorite task.

Happy Easter to all my Invisible Friends!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter at the Land of the Flowered Bed

After 102 eggs, Hairy was really tired of Easter.

"There!" he sighed, shoving the last egg behind the night stand. "That should do it for the Easter egg hunt tomorrow."

"Who exactly do you think is going to hunt down all those eggs?" Cookies asked, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "102 eggs is a lot for the Land of the Flowered Bed."

"Well, let's see," Hairy mused, tapping off names on his fingers. "There's the seals, Pumble, the ducks at the Spa, the flying pigs, the GLUG, Ladybug, the babies..."

"Which babies?" Cookies demanded. "The Pond babies or Austin babies?"

"The Pond babies," Hairy answered. He held up his hands as Cookies glared at them. "What?!? They live in the kitchen. Pumble's been baking for three days. You think they didn't figure out something was going on?"

"They eat their own poop!" Cookies bellowed. "And chase their tails and chew on their paws! They don't know what Easter is! They probably think Pumble is a flying chew toy. Well, not that he can fly with that enormous"--

"Now, be nice," Hairy admonished. "I invited Ace and Arthur, but they won't be down for awhile. Ace said something about a monstrous dog named Charlie..."

Cookies sighed and crossed his wings over his chest. "I still think an Easter egg hunt is a stupid idea."

"It's not a stupid idea!" Pumble interrupted, the seals trailing behind him. "It's brilliant! This is the one-time of year my culinary expertise shines! Just look at these cookies, these honey candies, the caramelized flies. Look at the bunny cake. Am I not brilliant? The ratings on my show skyrocketed this week I had so many viewers!" The seals looked hopefully at the cookies.

"In his mind," Cookies muttered. Hairy elbowed him in the ribs and shot him a warning look.

"Just in time," Hairy said, smoothing his front. "The guests are just arriving." The door burst open and dozens of critters trotted into the Land of the Flowered Bed. Henry the lizard made a beeline for a spider clutching a blond strand of hair, while the birds argued among themselves about whether those were french fries on the table. The flying pigs politely waited by the Spa for some fresh grass to nibble on and Ladybug chatted to Pumble. The ducks waddled out of the spa and gasped.

"Where's the Easter Bunny?" the first duck demanded.

"Are you telling me there's an Easter Egg hunt without a bunny?" the second duck shrieked.

"I'll be a bunny," the third duck offered.

Before poor Hairy could react, a booming voice behind him caused everyone to turn.

"HELLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" The GLUG stood in the doorway, a pair of pantyhose on his head and a cotton ball taped to his behind.

"What is that?" Cookies asked, his eyes bugged out.

"I'm the Easter Bunny!" the GLUG announced. "Now the Egg Hunt can began!"

"I was supposed to announce that," Hairy mumbled.

Everyone cheered and rushed for a basket. The Land of the Flowered Bed exploded into chaos as all the animals searched for eggs. The seals crawled along on their bellies, clutching the baskets in their mouth as they searched the floor for eggs. Pumble ran about wildly, stuffing as many eggs as he could into his basket. The butterflies landed on the eggs, opening and closing their wings slowly. The flying pigs merely looked at the eggs, then proceeded to eat the grass around them.

The GLUG proceeded to trot around the party, his pantyhose swinging around his ears and his tail drooping so the tape on his behind was exposed. He hopped about the floor, wiggling his nose and handing out eggs to various animals. Hairy and Cookies watched in amusement by the refreshments table.

"Where in the world did he get pantyhose that small?" Cookies muttered, watching the GLUG bellow and run frantically around the room.

"A fairy?" Hairy suggested. Their giggles were interrupted by the seals squealing and clapping their fins together.

"What happened?" Hairy cried, rushing forward. He broke through the crowd that had gathered around them. "What did you find?" He looked down and gasped in awe. Two golden eggs lay on the floor.

"I didn't hide those," Hairy whispered, shaking his head in disbelief. "Who could have put those here?" He looked at Cookies, who shook his head. He looked at the GLUG.

"As much as I would like to take credit, it wasn't me," the GLUG said, sulking.

The seals hopped up and down and chattered loudly, pointing their tails toward the door. Everyone looked to see a small white fluffy tail disappearing past the door.

"The Easter Bunny!" Pumble cried. "He came after all!"

"That's amazing," Hairy murmured, his mouth open in awe.

"That's illogical," Cookies corrected, frowning.

"That's annoying," the GLUG grumbled, jerking the pantyhose off his head. "I can't compete with the real thing. I am the real thing! I am the Ginormous Lime Green Unusual Gnat!"

"Do you know what that means?" Pumble asked, looking around in excitement. "That means the Easter bunny came to our hunt!" Everyone cheered and proceeded to continue looking for eggs. The party was filled with wonderful food and music. Everyone danced and smiled as they broke open their eggs to claim the prizes inside, placing them carefully in their baskets. It was a wonderful festival. Even the ducks at the Spa thought so.

"What a wonderful party!" the first duck beamed.

"I got 20 eggs!" the second duck beamed.

"Would anyone like to dance?" the third duck inquired.

Hairy glanced at the door and saw two thin ears and a small pink nose, twitching happily. Before he could say a word, the white face had disappeared out of sight. Hairy smiled and touched his own nose. "Happy Easter, Easter Bunny," he whispered. Beaming, he rejoined the celebration--102 eggs and all.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Dear Babies,

I know that you often shred your puppy pad so I can pick up the pieces that you've thoughtfully scattered over the kitchen for me when I get come from work.

I know that you sometimes confuse the carpet for the pee pad.

I know that Bear sometimes bites too hard and Bitty wiggles into places she doesn't belong in.

I know that you have a fascination with chewing the edges of my pants, the table, my shirt, Ben's shirt, the blanket, the couch--really, whatever is handy.


I know that your little tails nearly fall off every morning with excitement when you see me at the baby gate.

I know that Bear trails me across the house, always one step behind mine.

I know Bitty curls her head in the crook of my elbow and sighs softly.

I know that Bear sits on my feet while I cook, staring up at me adoringly.

I know that Bitty only gets really excited when Ben walks in the room. Her eyes never leave him.

I know that you both love to pounce on leaves outside and carry them proudly in your mouths.

I know that you curl up in my lap every morning during breakfast and sit on my stomach while I'm trying to do situps.

I know that at work I count the hours until I can come home and see your hopeful little faces.

And I know that no matter how much you might chew, pee or break my heart when you cry when I walk out of the room...

That I am utterly devoted to you furry little fuzzballs. So is Ben. He just doesn't admit it as fast.

Love Nibbles

Her hands kneaded the dough, flour embedding in the cracks of her skin. With a smile on her face, she lovingly patted the dough into a ball only to punch it down again. Wiping her cheek with her arm, a smear of flour on her cheek can't hide her flush of pleasure.

Two eyes watched as she slides the pan into the oven and turns to the second ball of dough. The little girl peeked over the counter, watching as the roller gently flattened the cookie dough into a thick blob. It was like a book of sugary secrets, delights waiting to be sampled.

The woman's eyes twinkled as she handed the little girl two cookie cutters. The little girl carefully pressed the cutters into the dough, peeling the thin shapes off the tea towel and lying them on the pan. After the pan was filled and all that remained of the dough was tiny bits, the little girl went to slide the pan into the oven.

"Wait!" her grandmother cried, guiding the little girl gently back to the table. "We're not done." She indicated the small bits of dough left on the towel.

"But grandma, those are just crumbs," the little girl said, cocking her head in confusion. "It won't make a whole cookie. The grandmother's eyes crinkled at the edges in a smile as she poured sugar and brown sugar into a bowl. She rolled a chunk of dough into a ball and batted it around the sugar mixture. She carefully sprinkled the tiny sugar drops between the cookies on the pan. The little girl watched with interest as the crumbs turned into minute treats with a brief touch of her grandmother's fingers.

"Baking is an act of love," her grandmother murmured, sliding the pan in the oven. The little girl stared through the glass at the specks of dough on the pan. "The cookies are hugs and kisses. And the tiny little specks of dough? Why, those are love nibbles."

From that day on, the little girl never discounted a cookie shattered into pieces, a muffin reduced to crumbs or a few leftover scrapes in the mixing bowl. For they were love nibbles, the sweetest type of love.

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick's Lizard

I was watching the Babies prance about the backyard when a green lizard plopped onto the patio table.

"Good day, lassie!" he greeted me in a syrupy thick Irish accent. "Is it not a bonny morning?"

I raised my eyebrows. "A bonny morning?"

"Aye!" the lizard replied cheerfully, swinging a tiny mug my way. "Tis it not a wonderful day to celebrate St. Patrick, patron saint of us Irish Lizards, savior of"--

"Irish Lizards?" I repeated, trying to keep the giggle from my voice. The Babies heard me and came bouncing up to the porch. The lizard looked at them nervously, clutching his mug.

"Aye!" he replied, carefully stepping to the center of the table. "Could you call off ye hounds, please? They make a lad nervous."

I looked at the Babies and their frantic wagging tails as their noses sniffed the air. The lizard cleared his throat and tried to regain the shreds of his dignity.

"Anyway, lass, I was wondering if you could tell me where Sir Dan is," he continued, his accent becoming thicker with every word.

"Sir Dan?" I asked. "You mean my father?"

"Sir Dan, Prince of the Irish Lizards," the lizard clarified. "Surely, you've heard of him. Scaly green skin, bright yellow eyes, a tail longer than four cities."

"I'm afraid not," I said, scooping up the Babies and setting them in my lap. "I've never heard of a lizard named Sir Dan." The lizard back to the edge of the table, eyeing them as they licked the edge of the table.

"Can I pinch them?" he asked, eyeing their soft fuzzy paws. "They're not wearing green."

"No!" I scowled, drawing them closer to me. "Why do you need Sir Dan?"

"So I can be a true Irish lizard," the lizard said glumly. "I've always wanted to be an Irish Lizard. The legend says that only on St. Patrick's Day can a lizard be an Irish Lizard if he hears the magic words from Sir Dan."

"Ah," I said, my attention on wrangling the babies. "Why is being an Irish lizard better than a regular lizard?"

The lizard looked at me as if I was stupid. "Because they're Irish."

"Right," I said, still confused.

"Now I'll never be Irish," the lizard sighed, flopping over on the table. "I'm doomed to a life of boring accents and bugs instead of Shepard's pie."

"You could be a leprechaun," I suggested, letting Bitty gnaw the edge of my shirt. "You just need a little hat for that. And a pot of gold." The lizard sat up, his face beaming.

"Really?" he asked, his thin tail twitching in delight. "You think I could be a leprechaun?"

"Sure," I said, shrugging. "Why not? There's even a rainbow." I pointed to the faint colors in the sky. The lizard beamed and twirled on the table, holding his arms out. He plopped a green leaf on his head and scurried down the table leg, jumping off the porch and across the grass.

"I'm off to find my Lucky Flies!" he cried, scuttling into the distance. Rolling my eyes, I looked up at the rainbow in the distance. I almost expected to see a giant lizard hanging off of it.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Guardians of the Refrigerator

The other night, Ben had a headache. A terrible headache that made it impossible to sleep but impossible to keep his eyes open. After he took a shower to alleviate the pain, he decided he was hungry. He looked at the Blonde Duck, who was drooling and snoring. Obviously, she wouldn't want to join him.

Ben started down the hallway, rubbing his eyes and cursing his pounding head. He climbed over the baby gate and stumbled to the refrigerator, not bothering to turn out the light. As he scratched his arm pits and yawned, he reached for the door handle.

And saw four little eyes staring at him. The whimpers assaulted his ears and little paws scraped against his shins.

"No, no, no!" he hissed, clutching his skull. "Go back to sleep! I'm just going to eat real quick and go back to bed. It's not time to get up!"

The whimpers grew louder as two tails thumped against the refrigerator door.

"Fine," Ben huffed. He flipped on the light and closed the refrigerator door. Bending down, he gave each dog a quick pat. After they had licked and nipped him to their satisfaction, he set them back down and returned to the fridge. He took out a bag of shredded cheese and got some crackers from the pantry. As he turned to get a plate, he saw this face peering up at him.

"What?" he said, self conscious about the crackers and cheese in his hands. "I'm hungry."

A tiny wuffle and sigh came from the small black nose. The puppy cast his eyes downward, a forlorn expression on his face.

"What?" Ben said, exasperation creeping into his voice. "It's just cheese and crackers! I'm only going to have a few!"

15 crackers and a glass of milk later, Ben still felt hungry. He moseyed over to the pantry and pulled out a loaf of bread and jar of peanut butter. He turned to grab a knife and saw a tiny white head cocked upwards at him.

"What?" he cried. "I'm still hungry."

The tiny white head cocked to the other side, nearly twisted around. Indigently, Ben slammed the knife drawer and slapped a large glob of peanut butter on a slice of bread. He folded it in half and bit into it, frowning as four brown little eyes never left his move. After downing another glass of milk, he scowled and put his dishes in the sink. Little paws followed him as he hurried across the kitchen floor. He patted the dogs and placed them back in the bed. Flipping off the light, he was halfway over the baby gate in the kitchen doorway when the cries began again. Ben began to retreat down the hallway back to his bedroom as fast as he could.

"I give up!" he cried, diving back into bed. "I give up! I'll never eat at night again!"

The little ears strained, listening to his words. Satisfied by his speech, they stopped crying and curled up into bed. For they were the guardians of the refrigerator.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Six Things

Marie from Marie's Muses and A Year From Oak Cottage ( tagged me yesterday to write a six things meme. As instructed, I have to post the rules and tag six people. Invisible Friends, if you thought I was crazy before--you have no idea.

Here are the Rules:
1. Link to the person that tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
4. Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs. ( I don't know six random people)
5. Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.

Here goes!

1) When I was five and in kindergarten, we had to dress up for career day as what we aspired to be. I wore my prettiest pink dress with the most ruffles and lace I could find and told everyone I wanted to be a Hawaiian Lady. I didn't know what a Hawaiian lady did, I just knew I didn't want to be a teacher, a nurse, a doctor or anything they had told us we should be. It wasn't until I hit fourth grade I realized I wanted to be an author and illustrator. The author part is progress...

2) I've seen ghosts twice. The first time, I was at my grandmother's home in Oklahoma. She lived in a ex-private hospital because my mother had four sisters and a brother. It was a house, but you could still see where curtains between rooms had been hung and medical things had been. We had to sleep in the library, which used to be the operating room. The only people in the house were me, my sister, my mother and my male 10-year-old cousin. I heard two men's voices talking over me in the middle of the night, waking me up. At first, I thought it was the television. Then I realized they were directly over me and speaking medical terms that a 12-year-old (me) wouldn't have known. I told the ghosts to go away and went back to sleep. There was also the ghost of a small boy who would ride his tricycle up and down the hall, and I would hear the wheels squeaking. One of my cousins actually saw him.

I'll save the other time for another story. It involves a Ouija board and a sleepover. But it's true, and it'll terrify you.

3) When I was in first grade, my friends and I were trying to dig a hole to China in the sandbox. We spent a month digging until we hit clay. Then the kindergartners came and filled up our hole. We were not pleased, but we started over. We never made it to China, but we found plenty of Earthworms. Ernie was not there.

4) The other day I realized my eyes had changed from a deep blue to the blue-green my father has. I then realized I was starting to get up at 6 a.m. on weekends and go to bed at nine, just like I used to make fun of him for.

I am terrified.

5) Before we got the babies, I worried if the original babies in Austin would get their feelings hurt. It literally kept me awake at night for weeks. Instead of worrying about cancer, politics or war, I worry about dogs' feelings and whether I have enough eggs in the fridge to make both omelets and pancakes because stopping at the store is a crisis.

I never said I wasn't crazy.

6) I can't figure out if I dream in color. It's very strange. I also tend to think in a narrators voice like there's a screen words running across it and pictures. If you say apple, I think of the word apple and then a picture in my mind. Everyone else I've asked sees things in pictures. I don't know why I see things in words first.

I hope you enjoyed it! I tag....well, you'll just have to be surprised!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A new spring hat, a garden and maybe a song too

As I strolled on one of my daily walks, I saw my old friend Ernie the Earthworm. He was peeking out from a tuft of grass and glaring at the abundant sunshine and clear blue skies.

"Hello, Ernie!" I greeted him. "Gorgeous day, isn't it?"

"For you, maybe!" He turned his glare on me. "Personally, I find it obnoxious!"

"There's a cool wind, sunshine and pretty blue skies!" I argued. "What's obnoxious about that?"

"Because I have very tender fragile skin!" Ernie whined, letting only a sliver of the sunlight skim across his pale pink body. "Do you know what SPF I have to use? Plus, I can barely see it anyway. My eyes are accustomed to darkness. "

I rolled my eyes. Ernie hadn't changed much since I last saw him.

"So, Ernie, what can I do for you?" I asked cheerfully. "I'm afraid I can't move the sun or shut out the lights for you."

"I'd like a new spring hat," he said, perking up immediately. His beady eyes peered up at me. "One with flowers perhaps or some nice grass."

"All right," I said, trying not to smile. "What else?"

"A garden," Ernie said, his little pink face breaking into a smile. "I'd like a nice garden with fresh dirt I could visit. I rarely get to enjoy gardens. Normally, I just see the roots of things."

I raised my eyebrow as he continued, so excited he was wiggling back and forth under his leaf umbrella.

"And I'd love a song," Ernie continued dreamily.

"A song?" I was completely confused. "What do you mean, a song?"

"Well, I've always heard of songs or read about them in the newspapers in compost piles," Ernie said, "But I've never heard a song. I'd love to hear a real song."

"All right," I said, chewing on my lower lip.

"Is that too much?" Ernie looked at the ground. "I don't mean to be a bother..."

"Anything for you, Ernie," I said, breaking into a smile. Delighted, Ernie dived back into his hole and I finished my walk. As I walked, I contemplated the tasks he had asked for. Making a hat was easy. But a garden he could see? A song? Considering Ernie was nearly blind, as most earthworms were, this was going to be hard.

Finally, it came to me. Later that afternoon, I wondered back out. Ernie's little pink tail was tapping impatiently as I walked up.

"Well?" he asked eagerly.

"First, here's your hat," I said. I had folded a pink post it, fraying the edges with scissors and placing a large sticker of a flower on it.

"Oh, it's perfect!" he cried, admiring his reflection on a ice cube from a fallen Coke. "How lovely!"

"Next, here's your garden," I said. I placed a dandelion by his face.

"That's not a garden!" he cried. "That's a flower."

"Blow on it," I said. He did, and tiny flicks of white fuzz drifted across the lawn.

"Ohhh!" he said, his eyes lighting up with understanding. "I get it now."

"And here's your song," I said, holding my I-Pod headphones to his ears. "Libby picked it out."

He slid deeper into the ground, pressing his pink head to one of the headphones. "Oh, it's lovely!" he cried, beaming. "I love it!" He began to wiggle and bob to the music, swaying from one side to the other.

"Now you're dancing," I informed him, beaming at his joyful smile as he wiggled along the grass.

"Dance with me!" he shouted. "Let's celebrate the glorious notes of this wonderful song!"

As the faint notes filled the air, I stood on the curb and danced and wiggled along with Ernie. His tiny pink head bobbed in his Post-It hat among scattered dandelion seeds as he wiggled with all his might. His tail bounced along the ground, his middle twirled and writhed with ecstasy. After the song was over, all I could see of his small face was a brilliant smile.

"That was a lovely song," he smiled, pushing my headphones back to me with his nose. "That's a lovely way to start spring." With that, he retreated back into the Earth with his tail still wiggling.

Monday, March 10, 2008

First Bath

After their first week in the Pond, Bitty and Bear (aka the Babies) have become quite comfortable. They spend their days eating, napping and playing.

Of course, their favorite spot to snuggle to sleep is on Ben. The Babies are quite intent of staking their claim.

We know we are cute.
On Sunday, Bitty and Bear had just finished lunch and were settling into their bed for a nice afternoon nap.

Just let us sleep. Please. We are very tired.

All of the sudden, Ben swiped Bear out of the comfortable bed. Before Bear knew what was going on, he had been dunked in the sink and was being held down under a stream of warm water. Shampoo was drizzled onto his back and he was rubbed, scrubbed and rinsed. Then he was unceremoniously dumped into a towel and rubbed dry by the Blonde Duck. Even a treat couldn't soothe his fragile ego. Bitty was not amused when it became her turn.

Bitty's going to pee on the carpet out of spite.

Even a snuggle session in the Blonde Duck's lap did nothing to restore their good humor. It was going to take more than a couple treats for Bitty and Bear to cheer up again.

Bitty is not amused.

After an hour of playing with Ben and the Blonde Duck and getting two new puppy teething chew sticks, the Babies decided to forgive Ben and the Blonde Duck for giving them a bath.

Bitty is only slightly amused. She is still planning on peeing on the carpet.

They became delighted with the Blonde Duck's mother and sister came over bearing more gifts and offering hugs and kisses. Bitty and Bear decided Ben and the Blonde Duck needed training on how to properly treat puppies. In the Babies' minds, all puppies should be showered with love, gifts and affection everyday.

Bear is quite amused.

After all, that's how the Blonde Duck's mom treated them.

Bear and Bitty thank Lana and Corney and Paula and Frank for all the wonderful gifts!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Pink cupcakes

The girl with wispy white ringlets stuck out her tounge as she squeezed the tube of icing. A huge clump of icing exploded onto cupcake, splattering her arms with tiny pink specks.

"Opps." She smiled and turned to the small container of pink icing next to her. Dipping her knife into the creamy icing, she swirled it around and dumped another dollop of icing onto another cupcake.

She worked for an hour, carefully pressing the knife to the top of the iced cupcakes and turning the base slowly. The flat blade smoothed the thick surface, giving it a gentle swirl.

After the cupcakes were iced, she gently placed the cupcakes into a tray. After she wiped the sticky remnants from her fingers, she carefully carried the tray to her friend's house down the way.

"Happy birthday!" she cried when her friend opened the door. The girl with black pigtails gasped, her cheeks flushing with joy.

"For me?" her friend asked, a delighted smile on her face. "You didn't have to do that!"

"For you," her friend affirmed, her own cheeks pink. The girl with black pigtails led her friend to the kitchen, where they set the cupcakes down gently on the table. They sat down and looked at each other.

"Aren't you going to have one?" the girl with black pigtails inquired.

"It's your birthday!" the other girl said.

"True." Beaming, the girl with black pigtails carefully peeled the wrapper off the cupcake. Taking a gentle bite, bliss bloomed across her face.

"Do you like it?" the girl with white ringlets asked anxiously. Her brow was furrowed in concern.

"It's wonderful," her friend affirmed. "They're delicious!"

"Good." The other girl exhaled a sigh of relief. "I was worried. I'm glad they're all right."

"They're more than all right," her friend said, starting on a second cupcake. "They're perfect."

The girl with white ringlets beamed, and her friend smiled back at her. They were perfect.

Happy birthday Libby!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Happy Birthday Ben!

It's a happy day at the Pond today--my dear husband's birthday! Unlike normal people, my husband is shy when it comes to his birthday. He adores presents, but hates asking for them. He is appreciative of friends and family's well-wishes, but won't seek it out on his own. He won't let me make a cake, decorate the house, plan a party or do anything festive at all. That's what I have Libby for, he said. If Ben had his way, today would pass with a few heartwarming phone calls, a plate full of oatmeal cookies and a quiet evening at home.

Obviously, he doesn't know me well.

So in honor of Ben's birthday, I have created a birthday ode complete with photographs. Enjoy, Puddle. I love you!

Ode to Ben's Birthday (You're no longer 23!)

Your birthday has flummoxed me in many ways,
as I tried desperately to figure out how to celebrate.
I could write you a touching sonnet, a gushy letter,
Perhaps even draw you a picture.

But as the patriarch of the Pond,
the master of chaos,
I decided instead,
to honor you with the Pond award of Greatness.

As a patient man,
you've put up with a lot in the name of love.
For example, how many men would don a crown at a restaurant,
And wear it proudly while tearing into a plate of lasagna?

Not only are you willing to be silly for a joke,
You care about the safety of our family.
It's easy to tell you're the caring and compassionate sort,
As you learned how to draw a lighter at a moment's notice.
Just in case there was ever a draw, of course.
(I guess you could say you put my heart aflame. Get it?)

When I'm down, you always pick me up,
No matter whether I'm depressed about work or writing troubles.
You always listen and give advice,
offering a shoulder and plenty of support.

Not only does Ben help out around the house,
he knows when it's time to take me out.
Sometimes I can coax him out of his sandals and black socks,
And when he gets all decked out, he looks pretty hot.

Although he used to be a holiday miser,
Ben's actually learning to enjoy holidays, which is wonderful news to me.
Instead of grumbling about commercialism and greed,
He just pretends he's an elf. (Or tries to sleep through it. I can't tell.)

Of course, the real reason Ben deserves all the attention,
Is actually two.
For he gave me the two cutest little fur balls,
that the Pond has ever seen.

Happy Birthday Ben! I love you! (Bitty and Bear love your shoes. Just don't let them see your new boots.)

Monday, March 03, 2008

Chaos in the Land of the Flowered Bed

As of midnight on Friday night, all hell had broken loose in the Land of the Flowered Bed. As mayor, Hairy had dearly hoped for some peace. Alas, Hairy's hopes were in vain. Two tiny, yet adorable, creatures had invaded the Land of the Flowered Bed and taken over the premises.

"There's RATS! There's RATS in our SPA!" the first duck screamed, flapping his wings and terrifying all the animals. They were hiding in the closet, praying one of the tiny creatures wouldn't find them.

"They're everywhere!" the second duck shouted, hunkering down in the bathtub. "Save us! Save us!"

"I heard they can rip a toilet paper roll to shreds," the third duck whispered, lying as flat as he could to the bottom of the tub. The other two ducks continued to flap their wings in a panicked frenzy.

"Is that true?" Pumble asked Hairy, his eyes wide. "Can they really rip us to shreds?"

"Of course they can't," Cookies responded automatically. When he saw Pumble exhale with relief, he gave him a wicked grin and added, "They simply chew you to death with tiny teeth that stab you like a million needles."

Pumble shoveled chips into his mouth, his head daring around nervously. "They can't get in here, right?"

"Right now," Cookies said with a evil smile. "But overnight, their teeth grow so they're six inches long with three rows. When that happens, they can bite through this door like a cracker." Pumble shrieked and began to pour the box of chips down his throat. The seals squealed in terror and huddled under puddle, covering their heads with their flippers and shivering.

"Oh for God's sakes," Hairy said, rolling his eyes. "Cookies, quit making stuff up. They're dogs. Not man eating-door-crushing demons."

"That's how much you know," Cookies muttered with a sly grin at Pumble. The seals quivered as Pumble bit into a cinnamon roll.

Hairy rolled his eyes and walked to the door.

"Where are you going?" Pumble squealed. "You can't go out there!"

"I want to see what all the fuss is about," Hairy said. "As mayor, it's my job to keep peace in this town."

"You'll die!" Pumble howled. "You'll die and Cookies will be mayor and we'll all go crazy because he's bossy and mean!"

"Hey!" Cookies scowled. "I am not!"

"I'll be right back," Hairy promised. He slid out the door and shut it firmly behind him before they could protest. With a lump in his throat, Hairy crept towards the closed bathroom door. He listened at the edge. Nothing. Taking a deep breath, he gently pushed the door open and squeezed his eyes shut in anticipation of the rabid howls and sharp fangs.

Instead, he heard two tiny feet patter towards him. Cracking one eye open, he reached out his hand and felt two tiny tongues licking his hand. Two of the smallest and cutest puppies were licking his hands, tails wagging a million miles an hour. Hairy began to giggle. The ducks in the spa heard him, and one popped his head over to investigate the noise.

"What are you laughing about?" he demanded.

"What is your deal?" the second duck demanded. "This is an emergency situation!"

"They really are kind of cute, aren't they?" the third duck murmured. The other two ducks glared at him.

"This is what you were afraid of?" Hairy asked, petting the two wiggling creatures. "These are just puppies!"

"With long fangs!" he heard Cookies shout behind the doorway. Hairy just rolled his eyes and cracked open the door. The seals were delighted to see the puppies and hopped over to them, rolling all over the floor with them. Pumble was licked from head to toe, giggling the entire time. Cookies received a polite but disinterested sniff.

"So should we make them citizens?" Hairy asked as he rubbed Bitty's belly.

"I think it's only right," Pumble replied as Bear gently chewed on his sock. The seals clapped their fins and chortles, the ducks from the Spa yelled their assent. Cookies rolled his eyes.

"Whatever," he muttered. "They were a lot cooler when they could eat a door with their fangs."

Hairy grinned and rubbed Bear's head. Perhaps for awhile, there would be peace.

Then again, this was the Land of the Flowered Bed.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Meet the newest additions to the Pond

Friday night at 10 p.m., two fuzzy sets of paws strolled (well, were carried) into the Pond.

Meet Bitty (short for Itty Bitty) and Bear. The two spunkiest, cutest Chihuahuas to ever grace this Earth. We didn't expect them so early, but well, you can see their little faces. How can you resist?

Originally, we were supposed to see three to four different breeders Saturday. One in the Pond, one 2 hours north of the pond, one 40 minutes south of the Pond and one two hours south of the pond. As we planned our day and made annoying phone calls to breeders, we found out we could visit the one in the Pond Friday night. Would we like to come then, instead of Saturday morning, asked the breeder?

We nearly threw the dishes in the sink in our haste to get to the car. I dashed next door, stayed for five minutes at the lingerie party I was supposed to attend and hopped in the car. As we flew down the road, we tried to convince ourselves we were being reasonable.

"Now we may not get them," Ben cautioned me. "I don't want you to be disappointed."

"Of course," I repeated. I sounded reasonable. I sounded like a logical, sound person. But my heart was racing, my stomach was churning in excited knots and it was all I could do not to scream as we flew down the road. We pulled into the driveway, Ben pointing out every flaw in an effort to be neutral. It was all in vain. After we walked in and I saw four tiny bodies scampering toward me, I lost it.

Originally, we wanted two white chihuahuas. There were four puppies in the litter: one black long-haired, two white and the brown and black one (Bear.) I immediately fell in love with Bear, because he bolted for my shoe, ears flapping and tongue wagging. The little girl (Bitty) wasn't far behind.

After playing with them for awhile, I got an uneasy feeling about the white one. He threw up, sneezed and pooped. That was somewhat normal. But he didn't make eye contact, didn't seem interested in our attempts to play and was more intrigued by an old shoe than us. Meanwhile, the little girl crawled all over my leg and Bear chewed on my arm.

"What do you want to do?" Ben asked. We were talking on the porch, leaving the breeder to wrangle the puppies.

"I'm in love with the little girl," I said. "I want her. But I really like that little boy dog for you. The little brown one. I know he's not white like we wanted, but he's got such a cute personality. He's so spunky. What do you think? Is it ok that he's not white?"

A wide grin spread across Ben's face. "If that's what you want, that's what I want," he said. We looked at each other. Butterflies fluttered in my tummy.

So are we doing this?" Ben asked. "Is this what you want?"

I nodded. I was as sure as the puppies as I was on my wedding dress and prom dress. It felt right.

"We're getting babies!" I squealed. "Honey, we're getting babies!"

We filled out the paperwork, collected our puppies and headed home. The breeder gave us a bag of food, and we fed them in the kitchen as we called our family. We piled up some towels for them to sleep in. They slept all night.

After a trip to Petco this morning, Bitty and Bear are the proud owners of a new bed, toys, pee pads and a sock they stole from me. Bear is the more affectionate one of the two. He cries if I put him down for more then ten minutes. He spends his time following me around the kitchen, plopping on my foot and pawing my leg to be picked up. Bitty, on the other hand, loves to crawl through the maze of our kitchen chairs. She is the runt and is expected only to get to 2 pounds. So far, she loves to eat, sleep and bite her brother and act like he started it.

But I know you don't want to hear me talk. You want to see this:

I am ecstatic.