Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In Times of War

Have you ever had an argument? A real bad one? An argument so bad that there was really no way to solve it? An argument that leaves everyone involved feeling hostile and angry, like there is no way to ever be friends again? Abbot and I have had arguments. Like the time when he squeezed his toothpaste in my ear, or when he told my maker that I was the one who plowed into the table and left a chocolaty mark, or when he stole my blankets in the night because I had not laughed at his joke about pickles and tarantulas. We've had some arguments, but somehow we always say we're sorry and move forward. I have learned, however, that sometimes people just aren't sorry, and sometimes even if people are sorry, it's not enough. Sometimes I've been sorry about something only to procure that I was the one for whom the apology should bestow.
Conflicts are complicated. Sometimes so complicated that anger festers. Some people think they're right and they get a group of others to follow along, so soon, they ALL think they're right. And sometimes these ones who believe they are right will do anything to press their view on others. If the others DON'T believe the cause of the group who thinks they're right, then sometimes violence erupts. As my maker explained all of this to me, I made her stop and tell me about violence. Violence is a concept with which I am not familiar. I've heard about it, and I know it exists, because I hear my maker discussing war and murder and abuse and beatings. I guess I just hoped if I did not ask my maker about violence, then I would not have to know about it. How could any living human or creature hurt another human or creature? I asked my maker that and she said that first, all creatures have a built in defense mechanism. This helps them to defend themselves if they feel threatened. She must have heard what I was thinking because she said, "Caruthers, sometimes creatures get scared, like they might be hurt, or killed, so they try to protect themselves in any way they can. This is an innate quality most creatures are born with. Back in time, millions of years ago, when creatures were being made, this innate sense of fear was the key to survival. If creatures couldn't defend themselves, they wouldn't live long enough to reproduce." It was then I remembered the talk about the seeds. I wondered if plants had fear instilled in them also, or was it just for animal creatures? I suppose this all made sense, if one was going to be eaten by a swarm of blackbirds, or smashed by Bigfoot's foot, or trampled by a herd of dinosaurs. But, self-inflicted, human violence is a different type of violence, isn't it?
I asked my maker about war. She gave me some history, but soon realized my distaste for the subject when I tried to plug my ears. I didn't want to hear any more about it after a while. She DID say, there were always 2 sides.....at LEAST....to these very complicated conflicts. One side believes their truths, and the other side believes their truths. Not only that, but depending on which side one is on, the other side is automatically wrong. Some wars are fought for good reason, my maker said, and others not so much. "Of course," she added, "what I believe is good reason and what others believe is good reason, aren't always the same. Everyone has their own opinion. It makes the world an exciting place because we can learn from each other, but it also makes people upset when their opinion is not the most popular. This can lead to conflicts, and sometimes, violence." I asked my maker why some people think it is appropriate to inflict violence on others, for which she had no answer....or rather, too many opinions to share.
Abbot and I had the opportunity to meet 2 Civil War generals one evening. They looked very rugged and handsome in their uniforms, but almost too formidable for me to feel comfortable. General Hancock and General Grant held us nobly in their arms for the photo, then told us what it was like to be a general in the Civil War. The Civil War is an infamous U.S. war in which our nation fought against itself, just because 2 groups of people had different opinions on what was right. The stories the generals told me were horrific and I could barely listen. My maker was there and she cuddled Abbot and I and told us both we did not have to listen to any more if that is what we chose. The generals had bayonets and guns, and other weapons that reminded me of the days Abbot and I played Pirates. I did not think I was creating violence when playing Pirates, but I suppose I was. After a couple more stories I could no longer listen to the atrocities that occurred during that war. It was too much for me. Abbot and I thanked the generals for their time and their stories, and secretly, we later decided, we felt sorry for them for having to endure that ordeal. They were very brave men, fighting for what they believed (I agreed with their side, as did Abbot, believing all humans should be free, no matter their color) and they deserve our praise and gratitude, now and always. The same is true for our soldiers today. They have an unspeakable job, yet they do it because of what they believe in. However, the other side will always believe they are right as well. Where does it end? My maker must have heard me, as I slumped into my chair, and said, "Unfortunately, Caruthers, it doesn't end. And it won't end until we all believe the same things. That probably will never happen." That made me very sad. She saw my foreboding expression then, and little water droplets fell from my eyes. Then she said, "But, you know what Caruthers? YOU make the world a better place, just because you care.....because you have love and show love, it makes all the difference to everyone who knows you. How can we make the world stop fighting? One giver at a time, one lover at a time, one tolerance at a time. That's the only way I know."
My maker kissed my nose and Abbot handed me a dirty tissue from his pocket and placed his arm around me. In his hand was a slightly used caramel. I smiled. I knew I would be OK.

Until next time.

Friday, April 23, 2010

My Bleeding Hearts

My maker has been hunkered down in her Creature Factory sewing more monsters like me. She spends a lot of time there while Abbot and I have no choice but to sit and watch or roam the house. A few times we have taken to playing hide and seek, but, fearing the anguish of The Bucket, we try to really behave ourselves. We have taken out the dress up clothes numerous times and had many great adventures, but we have also plastered our noses to the windows wishing to be out of doors. My maker returned from her job at the candy store one day to find nose smudges on all the windows, as that was Abbot's great accomplishment, to smear his chocolaty nose on all the windows of the house. He was almost given The Bucket, but my maker changed her mind when he agreed to wash the smudges off all by himself. I laughed wildly when my maker said to him, "Better to USE the bucket, than be IN the bucket, right, Abbot?" Abbot did not appreciate my giggles, so I decided to help him. After his task was completed, a number of hours later (only because Abbot kept wrapping himself in paper towels and pretending he was a mummy), Abbot and I were sanctioned back to the Creature Factory. We were given a firm lecture, an apple, and a pat on the behind.
Our desire to leave the house was growing, like the grass and flowers in the yard. We decided one sunny afternoon that we just HAD to escape from the house. My maker was at work and we figured what she didn't know wouldn't hurt anything. Abbot grabbed the camera and we planned our liberation. First we had to get out the door. This is always a problem when one is only 2 feet tall. The doorknob is about 3 feet high. Even with my long arms I could not maneuver that feat. Abbot thought that if he stood on my head that together we would be tall enough. So, he climbed on a chair, onto my head, and I balanced him there as I walked to the door. Abbot grabbed the knob and twisted it to the right. The door sprung open, but we had both tumbled down onto the floor, rubbing the stuffing in our heads. It occurred to us later that we could have used the chair to get high enough to reach the door knob, but this way was more adventurous. Once out the door we had to pass the dog, who rarely barks. He didn't bark, but he kept his eyes on us, like we were squirrels in the park. Abbot and I saw some lovely flowers blooming in the yard and thought we'd like a photo by them. But since my maker wasn't there to take the photo we had to think of another way to do it, since we both wanted to be in the picture. Abbot had another brilliant idea. He called the dog over, who was still watching us like we were chickens, and asked him to help. All we needed was for the dog to stand still while we balanced the camera on his back and set the timer. It took a lot of tries to get a photo that wasn't all blurry. I mentioned to Abbot that maybe the dog could actually TAKE the picture, but Abbot said no. The dog has no pose able thumbs. I just let that one pass. We snuck behind the bleeding hearts, these lovely plants with drooping pink flowers that were heart shaped. The dog sort of snickered because he knew what would happen if we trampled those flowers. He'd been in trouble MANY times. We managed not to ruin anything, and brushed out footprints away with our hands, which made us leave hand prints once we went in the house, but......that's a story for another day.

We had to take another photo without hiding, just for fun. Then we went about our business of running, jumping, skipping, hopping until we were spent. We were quite filthy when we thought we should get back in the house and clean ourselves up before my maker returned from work. We made a bit of a mess in the bathroom, but I made sure Abbot's ears were clean and he checked mine as well. When my maker later saw the dirty towels and floor, she gave a puzzled look to no one in particular. "Hmmm," was all she said. I sure hope she's not reading this blog post right now. If she is, well, I'll take a book along with me to read when Abbot and I end up in The Bucket.
Until next time!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Fun with a Farm

I thought riding in a car was a lot of fun......until I got to ride in a tractor. My maker took Abbot and I out into a farm field where a large red tractor was parked. The hood of the tractor was open and Abbot and I were eager to see what was happening. My maker's husband is a farmer. He grew up on a farm and pretty much has farmed his whole life. My maker said he has raised cows, cattle, and chickens, as well as corn, soybeans and wheat. It was all very interesting hearing about crops and how they're planted, with these monsterous machines. Abbot and I posed inside the tire rims one evening, while the smell of fertilizer consumed the air. It wasn't a pretty smell, but we were told that nitrogen is an important nutrient the soil needs in order for plants to grow. I didn't see any plants, though. Nothing was growing in that field. My maker must have heard me because she said, "Caruthers, the fertilizer prepares the soil for plants to grow. In much the same way a child needs to eat certain foods to grow. A field of soil needs to "eat" certain nutrients to grow strong, healthy plants. The corn seeds will be planted soon." I was feeling very excited to see these corn plants grow.
Abbot and I jumped out from the tire rims, both of us landing on our faces. We had some dirt, rather, SOIL, on us that my maker quickly brushed away. We were both so wriggly and squirmy as she held us close in order to clean us up, that we tumbled from her arms, and again, onto our faces. This time we didn't allow her to catch us. We climbed up onto the tractor where the hood was open. Abbot was in fine form, getting his toe stuck in some crevice in which a toe should not be. He whimpered loudly and I got a hold of his leg and yanked him out. He rubbed his toe with abandon, and then continued to explore the inner workings of the red monster. There sure were a lot of switches and cables and things we pulled that we probably shouldn't have. And it probably didn't help that Abbot left behind a caramel and a dirty tissue that were in his pockets stuffed between a pipe and a thing that looked like a fan. Later I found out that my maker's husband wasn't all to happy when he discovered the melted caramel fused to the dirty tissue fused to the thing that looked like a fan. I wondered if we'd get The Bucket for that.

My maker said that this tractor is top of the line, newfangled, high-tech. Now, I am not sure what those words mean or how they pertain to a tractor, but she said that this tractor was so fabulous that even I could drive it. "It's a 'hands-free' tractor," my maker said. "It is steered by a satellite way out in space." She pointed to the sky when she said that and I looked up into the sky and pointed also, incredulously. "Yes, Caruthers. Way out there where it's black as night all the time." Abbot wasn't nearly as intrigued. Abbot's lip just pouted out because he wanted to be able to drive it too. My maker, noticing Abbot was not also pointing to the sky, but rather had his head tipped toward the ground, kicking a rock with his sore toe, then said, "Yes, Abbot, YOU can drive it too." Abbot gargled until I thought he'd jiggle right out of his suit. I sat in the driver's seat first, then Abbot got a turn. We didn't go far because of the aforementioned tissue and caramel debacle, but we revved it up for sure. It was loud. It indeed sounded like a monster. A scary monster, not a ME monster.
My maker promised us a chance to see the seeds that will go in the ground. She said that the seeds that go into the ground will grow into leafy, green plants that will create more seeds just like the ones being planted. This did not make a lot of sense to me. If there are already seeds then why does one need to grow plants to make more seeds? I guess it's another question I have, and a concept I'll have to try to understand. My maker said most of the seeds get eaten as food. People and animals eat corn and soybeans and wheat, and these crops are also used to make many of the products we live with everyday. My maker said all living things make seeds, even without a farmer's help. This allows them to create more of themselves, to duplicate themselves, which makes life go on. Without seeds from living creatures and plants and bugs, life would end....all life. I started thinking about whether I had seeds. I know I have a heart because I feel pain and happiness and shame and doubt and guilt....and love....and a whole bunch more. But seeds. How I want seeds. My heart will wish for seeds.
Until next time.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Yo Ho Ho and a Basket of Fun!

My maker says that April showers bring May flowers. I am not sure what that means, but she said this to me when I complained about the rain. I am fairly a new being to this world and this is my first Springtime, and I am quite certain that there are other humans and creatures alike who are not happy about all the rain. It seems that ever since I tasted that hint of warm weather, the desire to be outside has left me with a feeling of longing.
In any case, as the rain came from the sky so heavily that I could not step even my toe out of doors, Abbot and I scurried about the floor playing Tag, and Hide and Seek. My maker was not too thrilled when her legs became a fortress for not being tagged, and her undershirt a suitable hiding place. It was then she dragged out a large basket from her son's room. Abbot and I did not know what to think. Was she going to put us away into the basket until we calmed down? Poor Abbot had already experienced the shame of The Bucket. Was it my turn now? However, when she opened the basket Abbot and I were both surprised at what we saw. We looked at each other, then looked at my maker. She must have known what I was thinking because she said, "Caruthers, when my children were younger and they were running around at my feet on a rainy day, this is what they did for fun." She started pulling things out from the basket. Belts, hats, capes, skirts (ewwww), helmets, swords (that's more like it) and all kinds of other stuff. "Have at it," she said to us. "Dress up and create an adventure!" Our first attempts were feeble, as one can see.
But then it started getting fun. My maker threw a blanket over the table and Abbot and I collected the throw pillows from off of the couch. We strung up some lights and hoisted a flag. Abbot dug into the basket until he found a pirate hat and an eye patch, which sealed the beginning of our adventure.

The evil Mr. Hyde and his scalawags came sailing on a tiny ship across the sea. Abbot viewed their arrival through his monocular (a plastic cup),across waves (lumpy carpet) which were tossing us about on our own ship. Our ship, dubbed The Rainy Day, was much larger than theirs, and we were cramped with all of our gear. Abbot and I did not know how the enemy ship was staying afloat. They must have had 12 creatures along! There was Batman, Robot Rangers, The Gnome from Home, and Sweaterman, who looked incredibly warm. Mr. Hyde himself was as menacing as they come, with his snide smile and bloodshot eyes. He kept calling to us, "We're coming for YOU!!" Then he would let out a battle cry like, "Bwaaa Haaa Haaa...." Abbot was a little frightened, even though he looked very convincing in his pirate uniform. My maker had taken his sword away after he decapitated one of the house plants. He was feeling a little vulnerable without it.
When the enemy approached our ship, they all hopped aboard, causing our boat to rock side to side. It was then that Abbot warned the intruders that if they did not stop jumping and rocking, that these unwelcome guests would soon be wearing his lunch. This made me laugh, despite the danger we were apparently up to our elbows in, if we had elbows.
Mr. Hyde and his posse were a loud and rude lot. They continued to shake and wiggle and dance, and whatever else they could to keep our boat from stabilizing on the waves. Abbot and I did not care for their bad behavior or lack of manners. I then did my best to explain to them that they would have been welcome on our ship had they just asked to board. There was no need to make haste and push their way onto our ship. All the while the intruders kept up their wriggling ways. Some began to cry and moan. Others crossed their legs and jumped around. I was quite sure it would be the end of Abbot and I. Abbot tried his best to speak, but could not in his frightened state. All he could manage was to whimper. I, however, shouted in my most authoritative voice, above the restless din of our intruders, "PLEASE, Men! Please, quiet down and tell us for what reason you have stormed our ship!" It was then that Mr. Hyde told us the meaning behind his rude intrusion.
"I am so sorry to do this to you," he announced in his British accent. "But, we have NO CHOICE!"
"Yes?" I asked. "What is it, Mr. Hyde, scary man of literature, and now also of our ocean? Please tell us what it is you want and be on your way!" The noise of Mr. Hyde's crew was most deafening. The crying, the moaning, the foot stomping. I must admit, I had never been wanting my maker to protect me so much than I did at that moment. Just then Mr. Hyde approached me, got extremely close to my face, looked me in the eye, and then proceeded to whisper his request into my ear.
"Of course," I answered. "Why didn't you just say so?" I mused. Mr. Hyde didn't appreciate my chuckling, so I stopped and said, "The bathroom is on the lower deck. Please help yourself."
After Mr. Hyde's crew was....ummmm...relieved, most of them went back to their tiny ship to sunbathe or some such nonsense. Mr. Hyde, his pet iguana head, and The Gnome from Home, stayed aboard our ship for a spot of tea. Mr. Hyde told us of his adventures on the high seas as Abbot and I listened intently. There was talk of Sea Monsters, Sea Serpents, and Sea Water.
When it came time for them all to leave, and for us to sail on to our own adventures, we all shook hands and said cheerful goodbyes. It wasn't terribly sad. We knew they'd be back, as soon as they needed the bathroom again.
Until next time.