Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The animals in the Land of the Flowered Bed confront the mysterious box

Continued from Monday

"What do you think is in the box?" Pumble asked, peering over the edge of the bed.

The seals barked and clapped their flippers together.

"That's ridiculous," Cookies snorted. "A mother couldn't fit in a box. Mothers are much bigger than that."

"How do you know?" Pumble asked. "You don't have a mother!"

"Well, neither do you!" Cookies fired back. "Besides, the mothers on TV are tall and graceful and bake cookies..." He began to drool.

"Television isn't real!" Pumble snapped. "Besides, all the mothers on TV. Our mother wouldn't be human."

"Says the one with his own cooking show," Cookies mumbled. Pumble narrowed his eyes and sucked in his breath.

"There's only one way to settle this," Hairy interrupted, stepping between them before they could argue some more. "We'll have to go look at the box." The other animals looked at him as if he was crazy.

"Fine," Hairy sighed, walking to the edge of the bed. "I'll look in the box." The seals barked and hopped along behind him. "The seals and I will look in the box."

They climbed down from the bed and scuttled along the floor. Taking a deep breath, Hairy opened the box. The carrot was gone. A plate of cookies lay on the floor.

"Ooooh, cookies!" Pumble shouted, taking a running jump off the bed. Cookies cocked his head.

"This is very peculiar," he said. "Why would a mother just leave cookies? Why wouldn't she stay herself?"

"Maybe because she's shy," Hairy suggested.

"Maybe she's a weird bee-owl-seal-hedgehog alien with dripping fangs," Pumble suggested, sneaking a gleeful glance at Cookies. The seals shook, crumbs dribbling down their chins.

"Stop it," Hairy hissed. "You're scaring the seals." He sighed and took a bite of his cookie. "We'll wait another night and see what happens. Maybe she was carrying the cookies somewhere and managed to get out of the trap and had to leave the cookies behind."

After setting up the box, the animals placed a carrot with some lettuce underneath it and climbed back onto the bed. This time, they were determined to keep their eyes open for their mother.

"My toes are cold," Pumble whined.

"I'm hungry," Cookies grumbled. "Gimme some of your snacks."

"No," Pumble said, jerking his backpack away. "I need it for energy so I don't freeze to death."

"It's 74 degrees in here!" Cookies snapped.

"That's cold for a bee." Pumble shoved a granola bar in his mouth.

The seals whimpered. They had dropped their flashlights under the bed and were bored. Hairy sighed.

"I know," he sighed. "I'm bored too. I wish I had a good book. But we can do this. We've just got a few more hours."

The next morning, the animals woke up to find the box laying flat on the floor.

"Darn it!" Hairy cried. "We fell asleep again!" While Cookies and Pumble bickered, Hairy and the seals scuttled down to the floor. They ran to the box and gently cracked it open.

"Look!" Hairy cried. A pair of socks, two flashlights, a book of bedtime stories and a basket overflowing with snacks scattered the floor under the box.

"Wow!" Pumble cried. "Our mother must have been listening last night."

The seals barked and clapped their fins together, hopping up and down.

"The box is our mother?" Hairy repeated, scratching his head. "Is that possible?"

"Well, it did take care of us and brought us the things we needed," Pumble said, scuttling over to Cookie's snack basket.

"It did make us cookies," Cookies said, smacking Pumble away from his basket.

"And it's always there when we need it!" Hairy cried, clutching the box to his chest. "I have a mother now! We all do!"

"Mom!" All the animals cried, throwing their arms around the box. "We love you Mom!"

"Tell Mom we want a new pond," the first duck from the Spa cried, butting into the family's happy reunion.

"Tell her we want some gummi worms!" the second duck cried.

"Would she like to go to a movie?" the third duck asked.

"She can do all that later," Hairy beamed, draping his arm around the box. "Right now, we're going to spend the morning with Mom."

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Land of the Flowered Bed makes a stunning discovery

Lying on the Flowered Bed, the animals were watching television. The seals were knitting seaweed with seashell knitting needles, Pumble was eating popcorn and Cookies was reading.

Hairy watched a commercial for Mother's Day play across the screen. Suddenly, he sat up.

"Guys, did you hear that?" he asked.

"What?" Pumble asked through a mouthful of popcorn.

"Mothers day is coming up," Hairy said, his bristles prickling with excitement.

"So?" Pumble said, shoving another handful of popcorn in his mouth.

"I don't have a mother!" Hairy cried, clapping his hands of his face. "I don't have a mother!" He howled mournfully and fell over into the comforter.

"Don't be silly," Cookies said, peering down his beak. "Everyone has a mother. How else do you exist?"

"I don't have a mother," Pumble said, spewing flecks of popcorn at Cookies.

The seals looked at each other and burst into tears. They didn't have a mother either.

"We don't have a mother!" the first duck from the Spa yelled. He had been eavesdropping.

"We don't even have family vacations!" the second duck from the Spa yelled.

"This is really quite distressing," sobbed the third duck.

"Come to think of it, I guess I don't have a mother either," Cookies said thoughtfully. "How can we celebrate Mother's day without a mother?"

"We could bake a cake," Pumble said, licking his lips with anticipation.

The seals barked and held up their seaweed sweater, shaking their tails.

"If we don't have a mother, how do we know she'd like a sweater?" Cookies said, patting the seals heads. "But it's kind of you to offer."

Hairy bit his lip and tapped his head. Suddenly, he sat up straight and beamed. "I know!" He exclaimed. "We'll find a mother!"

"Find a mother?" Pumble repeated. "Where?"

"I don't think you can just find a mother," Cookies said.

"Sure we can!" Hairy said with enthusiasm. "If you can find friends, why couldn't you find a mother?"

The animals couldn't argue with his sound logic.

"But how do we find a mother?" Pumble asked, shaking the remaining popcorn from the bowl into his mouth.

"I guess we could look around," Hairy said slowly. He wasn't entirely sure how to catch a mother. "And while we're searching, we'll set up a mother trap."

"I'll get the carrots, a box and some string," Pumble said, ecstatic for any chance to return to the kitchen.

"Mothers don't like carrots," Cookies argued.

"Sure they do," Pumble said. "Why do they always want you to eat them if they don't like them?"

Cookies sputtered, unable to answer. Hairy shook his head.

"We'll have to put some different things in our Mother Trap," he said, tapping his chin. "Follow me...."

The animals hopped off the bed and scuttled all over the Land of the Flowered Bed. First they propped up a shoebox with a broken clothes hanger. Next, the seals found an old candle and a make up bag in the Blonde Duck's closet. They drug that into the box and placed a Q-tip on the edge.

"What's the Q-tip for?" Cookies asked.

"I don't know," Hairy admitted. "But it seems like something mothers would like. Tonight, we'll see if we trap a mother. If we don't trap one, we'll have to go look for her."

The animals propped themselves up on the bed, hidden by a group of pillows so they could watch the box from above. Unfortunately, they were so comfortable they fell asleep. Hairy woke up to the seals' barking.

"Hey guys, look!" he exclaimed. "Something is in the box!"

To be continued....

Friday, April 25, 2008


The carpet is vacuumed.

The kitchen has been mopped and scrubbed.

The babies have gotten their third round of shots (after shots and the vacuum in one day, they're not too thrilled with me.)

The bathrooms are clean, the laundry is done. Even the blankets the babies had accidents on have been washed.

And the most miraculous thing of all, I was able to go to the grocery store at 8:40 a.m. in the morning after the gym. On a Friday. With nobody there but old ladies and socialites buying for the Fiesta parties. (Fiesta is a two week celebration in San Antonio with parties all over the city and dozens of parades.)

I've got bread baking in the machine, and I've got the greatest gift of all.


Freedom to work on my book stuff and finally send those query letters out.

Freedom to write as many stories as I please.

Freedom to finish my mother's scrapbook and my own.

Freedom to watch a movie, or even two!

Freedom to go on a walk and visit the goats or go to the zoo.

I can go anywhere and do anything. I have no appointments, no dismal co-workers griping and no evil boss snarling behind me.

I could eat ice cream at two in the afternoon. I could stay up until two in the morning.

Well, I couldn't stay up until two in the morning. I get up at six even on weekends. But I could pretend to.

I could twirl in the grass and grill hamburgers out back. I could cook all sorts of cinnamon rolls and cookies and goodies I've always wanted to. Then I could go round up a bunch of neighborhood kids to eat them so I could fit through doorways.

And sure, on Monday I'll have to edit a bunch of stories, decorate for a co-worker's farewell party and bake a cake for said party while wrangling babies and dinner.

But for now, I've got freedom.

Ben and the babies have chosen to celebrate their day off in a different way.

It's amazing how a day off can restore your spirits.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


A tiny baby bird, his grey and white fuzz ruffling around him in the wind, peered at me through a tangle of Texas brush.

"Excuse me?" he chirped. "I'm in a predicament!"

"How's that?" I asked, smiling. This wasn't just a baby bird, it was a really cute baby bird. His big black eyes blinked at me as he peered around.

"I seem to have lost my worm," he said, staring at the mulch below him in confusion. "Have you seen it?"

"Well, what did it look like?" I asked.

"A worm," he said, as if the answer should be completely obvious.

"That doesn't narrow it down much," I said.

The tiny bird sniffled and chirped mournfully. "I was so looking forward to my worm," he sighed. "It would have been my first real one."

I raised an eyebrow. "That I chewed on my own," he added helpfully. I wasn't quite sure what to say to that, so I scanned the ground. Something fast and feathered flew within inches of my scalp. I looked up to see a larger bird dive bombing my head.

"I've got it!" the bird cried, clutching a squirming worm in her mouth. "I've got it! I've got the worm!"

"Hooray!" the baby bird chirped, promptly opening his mouth. The bird swooped around my head a few times before perching on the bush. She leaned down to drop the worm into the baby's mouth.

"Excuse me," she snapped, turning her beady eyes my direction. "This is a private moment between mother and fledgling here. If you please..."

"Oh, sorry," I said, trying not to grin.

"And thank you for trying to help me," the baby bird chirped, returning his beak to it's vacuum-like position.

Turning back, I walked away with a grin on my face. When there's a worm, there's a way.

Monday, April 21, 2008


When I leave the house in the morning, I fight traffic for 40 minutes. Racing down the road, I dodge trucks filled to the brim with rocks and tiny sports cars zipping inches in front of my bumper just to get a few inches ahead.

I trudge across the parking lot to a dimly lit, grey office. People are staring at their computers with sour expressions or snarling into their cell phones. Well, with the exception of Libby. She's fallen asleep in front of the screen, her hand still moving on the mouse as she doses.

The e-mails and phone calls begin, and my mind wonders. In my mind, I'm working on my latest story at home while the babies dose at my feet. Bread is baking in the oven and birds chirp outside.

But there are articles to write and stories to edit.

A few hours later, I take a walk outside after lunch. The sky is grey and the air is sticky with humidity. One of the girls in the office is annoyed by another co-worker; another by the boss. No one wants to be here and the air smells like a mixture of re-heated frozen dinners, fast food and cigarettes. Libby is twirling around as she giggles about something over the weekend.

The next phone interview begins. In my mind, I'm not listening to the presumptuous bar owner on the other end of the phone. In my mind, I'm swinging outside on a playground under a sunny sky. The babies frolic in the grass and I sample a bowl of peanut butter ice cream.

But there is a co-worker's goodbye gift to work on and a party to plan.

After my snack, I take another stroll outside. The air is stifling and sweat runs down my neck. People have quit talking about their weekends and have moved on to bragging about themselves. Everyone is important; everyone is special. Outside, the butterflies dance around flowers and my feet twirl across the ground.

I sneak a story in on my laptop.

The roads are congested and the radio blares bad songs. When I step through the door, the babies scamper among shredded newspaper...among other things. I've got to hurry to get dinner started and charge my camera batteries for work.

But in my mind, I'm still in yesterday. I'm still puttering around the house, working on query letters and stories. I'm still fixing dinner and snuggling with the puppies on the couch. I'm still twirling around the living room.

And as I cook dinner, a sense of that calm comes back. By the time I have danced until my toes tingle and am snuggled up with Ben in the puppies, I am exactly where I want to be.

Until tomorrow, when I'm forced to leave my sanctuary again.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spring at the Pond

Here at the Pond, Spring has officially come.

Ben spent Saturday morning planting flowers in the front and back.

My contributions included going to Lowe's, picking out the flowers and scurrying into the house to work out before Ben could make me help.

I love pink flowers!

Ben didn't get his cactus (yet), but he found some rosemary.

Even the babies got a bath.

Bear is not amused.

This is the face of pitiful.

So with clean, flea-free babies, brand new flowers and a grill prepped for steaks and hamburgers, the Pond is ready to enjoy Spring.

As soon as our nap is over.

In a little while.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Sticking his tongue out with concentration, the tiny toad hobbled down my driveway. As I loaded up my car with my bags for work, I stopped to watch him. Rather than hopping along, he was standing on his two bag legs and awkwardly stepping down my driveway. He merely glanced at me before he continued to hobble along.

"How am I doing?" he asked. He stopped and stuck a piece of grass in his mouth, pulling down a brown crinkly leaf over his forehead.

"With what?" I asked, confused. "Why are you wearing a leaf on your head?"

"It's my cowboy hat," the frog said, obviously offended. He waved his piece of grass at me as he turned to hobble back up the driveway. "Can't you see that? It's a Stetson hat."

"I didn't know Stetson made hats for frogs," I said, trying not to smile as he waddled toward me. "And that's a nice piece of grass you're chewing on."

"I'm not a frog, I'm a toad," the toad scowled up at me.

"Sorry," I said, wondering why a toad was wearing a pretend cowboy hat and waddling about my driveway instead of eating flies.

The toad nodded smugly. "So how am I doing?" he repeated, spinning around on the balls of his feet and staring up at me.

I plastered a smile on my face. "With what?" I asked again.

The toad glared at me and sighed heavily. "With my two-stepping!" he bellowed. "Can't you see I'm practicing for the Pond two-stepping competition?"

"I didn't know there was a Pond two-stepping competition," I said.

"That's because you weren't invited," he smirked.

"Is it only for frogs?" I asked.

"Toads!" he bellowed, hopping up and down and causing his leaf to fall off his head. "Dadgum it, look what you made me do."

"How can a toad two step with four feet?" I asked. "Isn't it why it's called two step?"

The toad answered me with a scathing glare.

"Sorry," I said, trying not to giggle. "So tell me, toad. Why are you wearing a cowboy hat and two-stepping?"

"Isn't it obvious?" the toad asked, giving me a scornful glare. "I'm a cow-toad." With that, he haughtily hopped away into the bushes to finish training for his two-stepping competition. Only his leaf cowboy hat remained behind.

"Good luck," I murmured, getting in my car and backing out. As I closed the garage door, I saw the bushes rustle and a brown leaf bob across the flowerbed. I just grinned. It was two-stepping time again.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Babies take a walk

At first, the Babies were quite excited when the Blonde Duck began scuttling about. When she began to dig in a blue basket in the corner of the kitchen, they got even more excited and began to hop up and down, drooling in anticipation.

Much to their dismay, she pulled out their harnesses.

"RUNNN!" Bitty cried, racing for the door. "Runn!" She scrambled under the couch, leaving only the tip of her nose exposed.

"It's too late!" Bear cried as the harness was jerked over his head and fastened around his chest. "I'm trapped."

"Excuse me," Bitty growled as a pair of hands lifted her from under the couch. "Excuse me! Excuse me!" Ignoring her protests, Bitty pawed at the air as the Blonde Duck shoved her into a pink harness. Then she scooped both puppies up in her arms and trotted outside. Dumping them on the cold cement, she clipped a leash to each harness.

Bitty plopped on the ground, her bottom hovering over the cold cement. "I am not amused," she said stiffly, glaring up at the Blonde Duck.

"Grass is tasty, nom nom nom," Bear replied, munching the lawn as the Blonde Duck tugged gently on his leash.

"Come on babies!" she cried. "Let's go for a walk!"

Bitty plastered herself to the ground, spreading her paws out in warning. "I'm not going anywhere," she growled, snapping at the leash over her head as Ben tugged it.

"She's pancaking," Ben said, trying to pick her up and move her a few feet. Bitty hung like a limp dish rag in his hand as he plopped her down a few feet away. When he tugged on her leash again, she threw herself on the ground with her paws extended out as far as they could go.

"I'm not pancaking," Bitty said, plastering herself to the cement. "I'm protesting." She glanced at Bear, who was snapping at the leash dangling over his head and taking stumbling steps down the driveway.

"They've tied a string to my head!" he cried, grasping the leash between his teeth. "They want to make me a puppet! If I don't eat this string, I'll spend the rest of my life dancing!"

"That's our plan then," Bitty barked as Ben picked her up and set her down on the sidewalk. "I'll protest, you chew. Then we'll break out and go find where she hid those sugar cookies."

"I just wanted one little cookie," Bear mumbled as he gnawed on the leash. "She wouldn't even let me have one!"

For the next five minutes, Bitty threw herself on the ground every few feet as Bear sat down and started chewing on his leash. They had made it ten feet down the sidewalk before they were picked up and carried to the mailbox and back. Once they were taken back inside and their harnesses removed, Bitty shook her fur and raised her head regally.

"I'm ready for my cookie now," she said, pawing at the Blonde Duck's retreating back. Bear cocked his head.

"I don't think she's coming back," he said, watching as the Blonde Duck scurried around the kitchen. "She's really far from the cookies."

"I'll wait," Bitty said, settling on the carpet and daintily folding her paws. "I'm protesting."

Monday, April 14, 2008

The MYRP at the wedding

As the preacher droned on and on, I shifted uncomfortably on my heels. Ben nudged me, keeping his eyes straight ahead. I should have been staring in a haze of romantic awe at the couple before us as they stood under these tall oaks, taking their oaths in front of their family and friends. Instead, I was distracted by the pigeons cooing overhead and scuttling on the wooden boards looking for crumbs and the ache in my heels.

I turned my attention to the bride and groom and smiled politely. After all, I would have been annoyed to hear someone was paying more attention to a bird than me at my wedding.

Then again, my wedding had barbecue, live violinists and a giant snake.

The preacher's words washed over me as I forced my eyes to stay on the wedding party. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I saw a tiny bug fly into my hair. It dangled around my ear, clutching the golden strands for dear life. The bug had a round little yellow body covered with tiny green spots. At least it's not the GLUG, I thought to myself.

"Excuse me," I whispered as quietly as I could. To me, it sounded as light as a breath. To the bug swinging from my hair like Tarzan, I'm sure I was bellowing. "Would you please get out of my hair?"

The bug began sobbing and blew it's tiny nose on my hair. It's antennae twitched as it waved the ends of my hair at my cheek. "I love weddings," the bug sniffed, wiping another batch of snot on my hair. "They always make me cry."

I pawed at my hair, alarmed that this wedding wasn't going any faster. We'd been here 20 minutes and the rings hadn't been exchanged. My hair could be dripping by that point. "Please go somewhere else and do that," I begged, pointing at Ben's head. "His hair is much softer."

The bug didn't even bother to look up at Ben. Instead she swung to the other side of my head, clutching a brand new grasp of hair. "Isn't it romantic?" the bug wailed, sighing as she twirled on my head. "I would love to get married." Her yellow round little body turned bright red and her black beady eyes filled with a fresh round of tears. "But I'll never be a bride!" she whimpered, thrusting her face into my hair and sobbing.

Realizing my hair would be ruined and that things were actually starting to happen at the alter, I gave up and plastered a fake smile on my face as the bug wailed and whimpered above my split ends.

"Why won't you ever be a bride?" I asked through gritted teeth.

"Because I'm a lowly MYRP," she hiccuped through her insect hysterics. "Who would want me?"

"What is a MYRP?" I asked, hoping no one could hear the bug but me. A pigeon cocked his head and began to creep our way, his beady black eyes watching my twitching hair.

"Even you don't know what a MYRP is!" the MYRP sobbed, blowing her nose on my hair. "Why would anyone marry me?"

"I'm not educated in insect acronyms," I muttered. "Why don't you tell me?" The couple at the alter kissed and everyone burst into applause.

"A MYRP," the bug shrieked, apparently enraged her distress was being out staged by a wedding, "is a Minute Yellow-green Rambunctious Pest."

"They got the rambunctious part right," I murmured, ignoring her squeal of protest. "Why are you sad? That isn't a bad name." I plastered a smile on my face and clapped as the couple walked by.

"Because," the MYRP squeaked, "People think I'm a pest!" She burst into a fresh batch of sobbing. The penguin backed away slowly and scuttled after the crowd, looking hopefully at hands clutching programs for bread crumbs.

I didn't tell the MYRP I was inclined to agree. As we followed the crowd inside and her wailing grew louder, I spotted a butterfly.

"Excuse me!" I called, hoping to get the wailing bug out of my hair and sneak out of the crowd. "I have someone I would like you to meet!"

The MYRP peeked through my hair and squeaked. My hair bounced around my shoulders as she rustled about to make herself presentable. The butterfly drifted over politely.

"This is MYRP," I said, swinging my hair so the now beaming MYRP was exposed. "She's new around here and a bit insecure about her name. Perhaps you might introduce her to some people, fly around with her..." Get her out of my hair, I finished silently.

"I would be honored," the butterfly said, bowing his antennae. He floated silently besides my hair and extended a tiny black foot to the MYRP. "Shall we?"

The MYRP waved goodbye as she floated away beaming on the arm of the butterfly. Ben saw the bug fly out of my hair and started.

"What was that all about?" he asked.

"Oh, you know," I said as we walked inside. "You'll never know who you meet at a wedding."

Friday, April 11, 2008

Pretty as a princess

For as long as I can remember, I've always loved storybook princesses. Sleeping Beauty's Princess Aurora was my Halloween costume of choice for years when I was a child. Disney movies constantly rotated through my VCR player. I thought nothing of prancing through the grocery store, mall, school, or movie theater with a tiara on my head and twirling pink voluminous skirts about me.

However, over the years "princess" has either been mocked or scorned. It's related to screaming girls pitching fits and demanding over-the-top expensive gifts or girls that are so snobbish and high-maintenance that movie stars would shake their heads. Or it's mocked by people as being something women are taught to embrace because of our sexist culture and they should learn to rely on themselves and quit dreaming of Prince Charming because all men are evil pigs.

My friends Emma ( and Marie ( have both blogged about the movie Enchanted. Emma was worried at first that her niece would take the wrong message away from it (and relieved to find out the twist ending), while Marie was delighted by a traditional fairy tale full of whimsy and humor.

Yesterday, I went over to my neighbor's with their wedding present. We're attending their wedding Saturday night and I wanted to make sure they had it before chaos ensued. Their three year old daughter was prancing around the living room wearing a tiara and dress featuring the Disney Princesses Belle, Aurora and Cinderella. "Beauty and the Beast" was blaring from the television and she watched in awe as the brave Belle confronted the beast for the first time.

"She loves playing princess," the bride confessed, tearing open their wedding present with glee. "Her favorite is Cinderella, but she's been begging to watch Sleeping Beauty."

Well! She met a kindred spirit in me! As the little girl and I chatted about the movie, which involved her pointing at the television and repeating "The Beast! The Beast! The Beast!, I learned her favorite color was pink and she didn't actually own any princess movies. She rented them.

After we skipped back to my house to visit the puppies, I loaned them the Disney movies in my collection. When she saw the DVD box of "Sleeping Beauty," the little girl beamed and trotted up to me.

"The dragon!" she cried, delicately poking the DVD box. "Bad dragon! Girl scared!"

"That's right," I said. "Sleeping Beauty falls under a spell from Malificient and turns into a dragon to stop Phillip from rescuing him."

She cocked her head at me. "Princess scared," she repeated. "Scared of dragon."

"She's asleep," I corrected her. "He has to come save her."

The little girl beamed and shook her head. "Prince scared," she said. "The princess will stop dragon." With that, she launched herself into my arms for a hug and thanked me profusely. After patting the puppies, she skipped back to her house clutching my DVDs.

I beamed as I twirled around my living room, the puppies around my feet. Princesses, no matter how tiny they may be, know that being a princess isn't about sitting around waiting to be rescued or demanding to be served by others. They are gracious, kind, friendly to all creatures and full of joy and laughter.

It helps to be wearing a cute little skirt set and tiara with tissue paper hanging off of it with bright brown eyes and a baby toothed smile.

Or a just never give up wearing a tiara.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Singing in the Rain

Scurrying down the sidewalk, I huddled under my umbrella and listened to the rain sprinkle against the pavement. As I passed a tree, I heard a dozen voices squeak. Stopping, I cocked my head and listened as peeps and squeaks and twitters poured from the tree.

"Fledglings, fledglings!" a older-sounding bird squawked. "Stop squeaking and squawking! It's time to begin."

The baby birds twittered in protest, their squeaks piercing the sky. The older bird launched into a scolding squall, and they quieted. After a moment of silence, the song began with some tentative squeaking. As their confidence grew, the tiny birds' voices rang loud and clear with the sound of rain softly falling against the pavement in the background.

Their voices rose to a high note as thunder cracked across the sky and dropped back into a whisper as it rumbled from deep beneath the clouds. As the rain poured around me, their song weaved through the rain drops in ribbons of joy and glee.

As soon as it had begun, it was over. The older bird clapped his wings together. "Bravo and brava, young fledglings!" he cried. "I believe that was your best choir practice yet."

"I don't know why we have to sing in the rain," one of the baby birds whined. "The sparrows don't have to sing in the rain. They're all curled up in their nest eating worms."

"I wish we could eat worms," another bird grumbled.

"I wish we could curl up in a nest," a third sighed. The older bird shook his head and waved his arms.

"You've got it all wrong!" he argued, his scratchy voice tearing at my ears. "You should be glad you're out here singing, even if it's raining."

"Why?" all the birds asked in unison.

A smile stretched across the older bird's beak. "Because singing is an act of joy," he said, holding his wings out wide. "You are bringing all the animals around here joy during a bleak and dull day. You are bringing a little sunshine in their life."

"That's why we're singing in the rain!" a baby bird chirped excitedly. The older bird nodded and the little birds burst into song again. I smiled and continued on my walk, their eager voices serving as a cheerful accompaniment.

For every day, no matter whether there was sun or clouds, the baby birds were singing in the rain.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Babies are tired

Dear Mama K and Frank,

Thank you for coming to see us. We appreciate all the fun toys and treats. Besides, we know we're worth it.

While you were frolicking in La Villita and the River Walk with the baby ducks and crawling on giant trees (we would have preferred to be invited, but that's another story) we were playing with the new squeaky toys you brought. We still can't believe the Blond Duck put quarters on her skirt with double stick tape to keep it from blowing over her head. We could have held the skirt down just fine by chewing on it. With our jaw strength, we could have held down her skirt through a hurricane. But it doesn't matter--we were busy playing with our new toys.

Having fun without us. (Sniff)

Ok, fine. We took a little nap...

Chewing is hard work.

We were very happy that we got to prance outside more than normal and had lots of fun sticks to chew on. Because of that, we were tolerant that you went to go see the glassblower on Saturday. We spent the afternoon gnawing on our new bones.

Who needs glass when you have nylabones?

Well, maybe we drifted off a little...

We're may not look like it, but we're plotting to chew the carpet.

Of course, the second you started cooking dinner, we were ready for action. We were ready for our fillet Mignon.

Maybe not.

The next day, we settled into our usual routine.

We appreciate all the lovely treats and fun times you gave us! Until you return, we shall continue on...

We're good at what we do.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Under the Flowered Bed Part 2

"The stories are real!" Pumble repeated, his eyes wide. "Look!" He pointed ahead of him.

A few feet away stood a creature they had never seen before. He had a plump purple body with thin long arms and legs. He had long ears of some kind of woven fur that were almost translucent, like a web woven from silkworms. He blinked, black luminous pools that shone with a curious expression. He had a thin little red mouth, like someone had literally stitched his lips on. His torso, like the dust bunnies, was very fuzzy and looked quite soft. He looked like the underside of a sweatshirt.

"It's Fuzz!" Hairy whispered in awe. "It's Fuzz the Lint Gremlin!" The seals and Cookies gasped. Lint Gremlins, particularly Fuzz, were legendary in the Land of the Flowered Bed. Lint Gremlins lived in clothes dryers and laundry baskets. They spent their days searching for socks to cover their thin ears, which were perpetually cold. If they got too cold, their ears turned a bright blue and glowed. Once their ears were properly covered, Lint Gremlins generally caused mischief around the house and searched for rubber bands and paperclips to eat. Fuzz was famous for being the only Lint Gremlin ever seen by a human...who survived.

"What are you doing down here, Mr. Fuzz?" Hairy asked. "Are you looking for socks?"

Fuzz nodded and a series of squeaks and twitters tumbled out of his thin red mouth. He stroked his ears and looked sadly at the floor. The seals seemed to understand him. They began to hop up and down, barking intently.

"Slow down!" Hairy cried, tilting his head to listen. "I can't understand you." Sticking his tongue between his teeth, he listened carefully. "The seals said that Fuzz and the dust bunnies have been searching for socks for days here, but haven't found any. Fuzz's ears will begin to glow soon if we don't find him some socks."

"What's the problem with glowing ears?" Cookies asked. Fuzz began to squeak and clutched at his throat, sticking out his tongue.

"Oh," Cookies said.

"Well, we must hurry!" Pumble shouted. "We must find him some socks."

"You know, I'm sure there's some socks in the great Laundry Basket," Hairy said, tapping his chin. "In fact, I know I've seen Ben drop his socks there."

Fuzz's eyes widened at the mention of Ben's name, but he stayed silent. The animals quickly rushed out of Under the Land of the Flowered Bed, with Fuzz trailing behind them. The dust bunnies stayed behind, waving bits of fabric softner sheets from behind the bed skirt. As Under the Bed animals, they would not survive in the bright light and clean conditions of the Land of the Flowered Bed.

Pumble rushed to the Laundry Basket and stared up at it as the others crowded behind him. It seemed to reach to the heavens.

"How are we going to get up there?" Hairy asked, biting his lip as he looked up. "That's very far up."

Fuzz squeaked and waved his arms. The seals barked and looked at Hairy. Hairy shook his head. "I'm afraid we don't know any spiders."

"What about the ducks?" Pumble asked. The ducks in the Spa had been eavesdropping, as normal.

"We're taking a nap!" the first duck shouted.

"Don't disturb us!" the second duck shouted.

"Did you have a nice journey?" the third duck asked kindly.

"Miserable, selfish creatures," Cookies mumbled. "Giving a bad name to birds, that's for sure. Won't get up from a nap to help us get socks for that linty-little fellow over there."

Fuzz's ears turned the color of a pale glacier. Hairy widened his eyes as the seals whined and howled. "We must think," he said, tapping his head. "Pumble, can you fly up there?"

"Ha!" Cookies snorted.

"I wish I could," Pumble said, looking regretfully at his large belly. "But I had several sandwiches..."

"Never mind," Hairy said, turning to Cookies. "What about you?" Cookies looked up and shook his head.

"I damaged one of my long feathers going under the bed," he said. "I don't think I could get that high."

"Is there no one that can help us?" Hairy cried. Fuzz's ears were turning a dangerous pale blue, and he had curled up on the carpet.

"We will help!" several voices cried. Hairy turned to see the Flying Pigs.

"You can find the socks for us?" he cried. "You don't mind?"

"We would be happy too," the Flying Pigs said, with a stern look at the ducks cowering in the Spa. "Besides, we've always wondered if there was any tasty grass in the Laundry Basket."

The Flying Pigs galloped a few steps and took flight, diving into the laundry basket. The animals waited with hushed anticipation as they listened to snorts, grunts and general ruffling about.

"Please hurry!" Pumble cried, looking at Fuzz's ears. "They're almost pure blue!"

The Flying Pigs swooped down from the basket, carrying a pair of thick wool socks. They helped Fuzz pull them over his ears. Immediately, Fuzz sat up and beamed. "They were at the very bottom," the first Flying Pig explained. "We had to go through a lot of clothes."

"Was there any grass?" Hairy asked.

"Grass stains, but no tasty grass," the Flying Pig answered. "We'll have to go outside for that."

The animals cheered as Fuzz kissed each pig. "Hooray for the Flying Pigs! Hooray!" they cheered. The seals chortled and clapped their fins in delight. Pumble promised to bake them a grass pie in honor of their service.

At sunset, Fuzz bid the animals goodbye and slipped back under the bed skirt. Pumble munched on his honey pie with a huge grin as Cookies sulked.

"That was a fun adventure," Hairy said. The seals chirped in agreement.

"I guess the only thing left to explore is the closet," Pumble said thoughtfully. All the animals looked at him.

"Another day," they all said in unison. For now, the Land of the Flowered Bed was content in staying where they were.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Under the Land of the Flowered Bed

"Do you realize we've never been under the Flowered Bed?" Pumble said suddenly. The animals were having a picnic on the carpet and munching on peanut butter, strawberry jam and cream cheese sandwiches and homemade rice Krispie treats. Hairy, ever the practical one, had insisted on including fruit salad with their lunch. Pumble, being the whimsical one, had covered his fruit salad with honey, whipped cream and candied almonds.

"We have too," Cookies argued, dropping a piece of pineapple in his beak. "We go under there all the time."

"No we don't," Pumble dismissed. "We sit right behind the bed skirt. We never truly go under the bed."

"What's so exciting under the bed?" Cookies grumbled. "There's probably only dead bugs and dust."

"Who knows?" Hairy said, his voice optimistic. He wiped his fingers on a napkin and picked up a rice krispie treat. "There could be a whole other Pond down there. Perhaps we could meet new friends."

The seals perked up. They loved new friends. Even the ducks in the Spa seemed excited.

"I bet there's nothing under there but dust and dead spiders!" the first duck shouted.

"I bet there's nothing but old shoes and misplaced socks," the second duck shouted.

"It would be lovely if there were some chickens down there," the third duck said wistfully. The other ducks looked at him as though he was crazy. "I've heard chickens are wonderful friends," he said in a defensive tone.

Rolling his eyes, Cookies shook his head. "Dead bugs," he emphasized, dropping some grapes in his beak. "Maybe the Blonde Duck's hairbrush. That's it."

"Wanna make a bet?" Pumble challenged, helping himself to a fifth rice krispie treat. "Let's go under there after our picnic. I bet we'll find something exciting underneath there."

"What are we betting?" Cookies asked.

"Pie," Pumble said without hesitation. "Mouse pie for you, honey pie for me." Cookies licked his beak. He loved mouse pie.

"Deal," Cookies said, extending his feathered wing. "I bet there's nothing under there but dust and dead bugs." He and Pumble shook hands. The seals clapped their fins together and squealed with delight. They loved exploring. Everyone put the leftovers away and grabbed their favorite exploring gear. The ducks in the Spa waved goodbye as they started off on their trek.

"Be careful and don't fall into any caves!" the first duck shouted.

"Be careful not to get bit by a snake!" the second duck shouted.

"Have fun." The third duck smiled and waved his thick white wing. The animals waved as they carefully crept under the bed skirt. Blinking, they took a few steps forward and let their eyes adjust to the dark.

"Ha!" Cookies shouted, clutching his stomach with glee. "There's three dead bugs! And there's a bunch of dust! I told you! Better start baking, bee!"

Pumble's shoulders slumped as Hairy patted his back. "It was a very good idea," he reassured Pumble. "I'm sure it's quite exciting down here."

Suddenly, the seals started squealing and hopping up and down. They pointed their tails toward a small moving object off in the distance.

"What is that?" Pumble asked, squinting his eyes. Suddenly, he jumped up and down with a loud hoot. "I told you there was something under the bed! Look right there! There's dust bunnies."

"Dust bunnies are dust, you moron," Cookies said, automatically turning. "I still win"-- He stopped mid-sentence, his jaw hanging open. Tiny bunnies with dusty grey ears and white tails of the sheerest thread in carpet fibers were hopping toward them. They were fuzzy around the edges, as if an artist had sketched them and smeared the pencil all around them. They blinked their tiny eyes, no bigger than a small button, at the animals.

"It looks like Pumble wins," Hairy said, grinning. The seals were delighted to meet another creature that hopped and immediately made a beeline for the bunnies. As they played, the rest of the animals looked around. An entire landscape of dusty beauty surrounded them. Tiny flowers covered soft mounds and clovers spun from the minute hairs. It was a desert of fluff, with delicate tumbleweeds of golden hairs rolling past paper towel scraps twisted into a paper cactus. Socks formed plateaus for bunnies to hop on and a wayward jewelery box served as a cave for the dander lizards. A threadbare lizard scuttled down one of the cactus while a roadrunner twisted from a silver paperclip rushed past.

"It's a whole other word down here," Hairy whispered, amazed as he looked around them. "It's fascinating."

"Just like I thought," Pumble said, giving Cookies a smug look. A great squeal pierced the air, and the seals covered their ears with their flippers.

"What was that?" Hairy asked, looking around. The seals shrieked as the squeal tore through the air and pointed in front of them. Pumble gasped.

"Oh my God," Pumble whispered in awe. "The stories are true..."

To be continued........

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Babies list their demands

Dear Mama K and Frank,

We, the cutest puppies in the Pond, are very exciting to hear of your visit Thursday. Since the Blonde Duck and Ben mistreat us so, we have a list of demands--er, requests that we would like filled during your visit. After all, we're so very cute. The Blonde Duck and Ben simply don't treat us as our status decrees. They're too focused on the piddle on their carpet to fully embrace how charming and adorable we are. We are certain you won't neglect to notice our cuteness. We are prepared to be spoiled rotten.

Our demands--er, requests:*

  • Puppy chew sticks. We desperately need puppy chew sticks.

  • Ace the Dog. We have heard much about our predecessor and need to size up the competition.

  • Lots of toys. We're bored. And the Blonde Duck won't let us eat the basket our toys are in or the fence. We're really bored.

  • Peanut butter for dogs. The Blonde Duck talks about it so much it must be delicious.

  • A wagon. We're tired of having to walk everywhere. We should get a wagon like the babies in Austin.

  • A personal servant. We would like someone to wait on our every whim.

  • Our own Website. We shall call it

  • Our own commercial. We're much cuter than that yellow lab puppy in the flea commercial.

  • Puppy-sized steaks. Fillet Mignon only, please.

That should do for now. We eagerly await your visit!


The Babies

*All demands are in jest and not to be taken seriously. Just don't tell them that.