Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A College Visit

Ever since I arrived at back home (and I arrived in a tornado warning, no less) my maker and her family has been very busy. They have been getting ready for a 4th of July parade and I've been helping. I will show you those photos after the parade is done, which will be on Saturday, July 3. I am not sure why they call it a 4th of July parade if it's on July 3rd, but so it is.
Anyway, I was SO happy to see Abbot that he about knocked me over, running full speed into me the moment I came through the door. Then he jumped on top of me, as a child would jump on a bed. No, it didn't hurt, as Abbot is such a dear soul that the things he does only hurt when he means them to. He was excited, and so was I, and we clasped hands and danced in circles while my maker just smiled at our reunion. Abbot showed me his friend Stanley, who now resides in his pocket at all times, "a false cocker roocsh" as he interpreted our maker's pronunciation of "cockroach". Abbot also showed me the splendid necklace he now wears, the necklace April helped me make for him while I was in Little Rock. Abbot had so much to share he couldn't stop talking. And every now and then he would gargle for no good reason, just gargle, because he COULD now, he told me, because now I am home.
After a few days of catching up with each other, my maker, Abbot and I worked on the 4th of July parade surprise, and then it was time for a little adventure. We got in the car with my maker and her family and headed south into central Illinois. My maker's son was at a music camp at The University of Illinois and we needed to go pick him up and bring him home. When we got there my maker let Abbot and I run around a bit, stretch our legs, because it was another long ride home. Below are some of the interesting things we saw.
Not that it wasn't exciting enough to be on a real college campus, we got to walk around and look at some of the buildings. Most of them were very old. But very beautiful. I felt smarter just walking around on the campus. I wished I had on a snappy hat and held a book about philosophy, and I wished people would stop and ask me what I thought of Aristotle, Plato, or Socrates. This photo, above, was taken in the quadrangle (rather, the "quad" to those in the know), and Abbot and I raced down to that building, The Auditorium, to see who could climb the stairs and touch the door first. Abbot won, and he snickered about that all afternoon. It was VERY hot, also, and it reminded me of the heat in Little Rock, and I thought of April, and Henry, Martha and Jane. I wondered what they might be doing.
Just off of the quad was a giant statue called the Alma Mater, which translates from Latin as Nourishing Mother, and refers to the school in which one once attended. Most campuses have an alma mater statue as a statement to future generations, that they will grow in knowledge while attending school. My maker then told me that University of Illinois is HER alma mater, as she attended this university as an art major. "When?" I asked her. "Caruthers," she said, "It was quite a few years ago." I wondered what my maker would have been like in college. I wondered if she thought about making ME while she was in college. It's strange, isn't it, that humans have these long lives, and so much happens to them. The experiences that make them who they are. Because, when I think hard about it, my maker never would have made me had she not become the person she is. And all that happened in her life made her the way she is. She's kind of like MY alma mater.
Abbot squiggled his way around the pedestal of the statue, posing unobtrusively on the side of it. I climbed up onto the chair and hoped that big bronze woman would not decide to sit down.

We sat on the old steps of this building, Altgeld Hall, once a law building, now used for mathematics. It's old stones have been in place a long time, one can tell by looking. As I sat I could feel history just seeping through my being. How I would like to go to college and learn everything there is to know about the world. I wondered if there was any one human being that knows everything. My maker must have heard me because she said, "Caruthers, I don't believe anyone could possibly know everything there is to know in the world. It is just too vast. Sometimes we have to be happy just knowing the things we know, and enjoy doing the things we're good at. One can always strive to know more, and that's honorable, but to want to know everything can make a person crazy." CRAZY, I thought. That's not for me. As for now I'll be thankful I know Abbot and my maker, her family and friends, and I'll be happy knowing all the tiny things I know.

It was very hot so we stopped at this fountain to cool ourselves. My maker made sure Abbot and I stayed far from the splashing of the water, but it cooled us just the same. We enjoyed looking at the pair of gargoyles perched in the water. My maker said they looked just like Abbot and I. I looked, but didn't see any resemblance. I think she was joking.
We brought the son home from camp, and what little paraphernalia he dragged along to spend a week from home. I had to scoff at that, having spent time away from my home. Where were his pirate hats, light sabres, and toys? Where were his chocolates (rather, chocolate wrappers), special blankets and night vision goggles? Some people just don't know HOW to pack for a trip.
Until next time.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Going Gnome.....A Going Away Party

I knew my time with April was coming to a close. I heard her speak in a somber tone that I was to be going home soon. She wanted to do something special for me, make a special mark in my heart, so that I would not forget my time with if that would ever happen. I've had the most wonderful time in Little Rock, and Martha, Jane and Henry have become extra special friends. I must admit I was excited to be going home, but so sad to be leaving. I am still not sure I understand the feelings of bitter sweetness, nor do I particularly like it. How can one be happy and sad at the same time? It feels like a hole that's half way full.

To commemorate my leaving I was told by April that a party was in order. She wanted me to go home with a BANG, no gun intended. So April arranged a meeting with the local gnome colony. She thought a tea party was in order before sending me home. April then bought some red felt and gave us buttons, glue, chocolates and beads to create something we wouldn't soon forget. She pre-cut and sewed together a funny shape from the felt and then told us to glue to the red felt shape anything we liked from the collection of trinkets. I ate some chocolates, as did the others, and we had a great time gluing our crafty item.

April, in the meantime, cut some artificial beards and moustaches from white fabric, and as we worked, she secured the beards around our necks and taped the moustaches onto our faces. Earlier in the week we had made some cookies, rolling out dough, and cutting the dough into shapes of gnomes. Then it hit me.....we were making gnome hats because the gnomes had accepted April's request to have a tea party! That's what the cookies were for, and now we would have hats and beards just like our friend William, who was the head gnome of his colony. With new fervor I completed my hat and helped Martha with hers because, no matter how she tried, she could not get the glue to squirt out of the bottle. Henry was a different story...he could not get the glue to STOP coming out of the bottle!

On this warm summer afternoon, we arrived at the gnome village. I was so impressed by it's tidiness and tininess. The gnomes were larger than some of the small wooden houses I saw. Inquiring my thought to William, he told me that sometimes the fairies came for a visit when they were passing through on their way to make-believe lands. William and his colony had to make sure the fairies were well cared for, as everyone knows that fairies are the carriers of light and peace in the world. I peeked inside the windows, hoping to see a fairy, but alas, there were none. With our red felt hats atop our heads and surrounded by the friendly gnomes, we all sat and drank some jingleberry tea, ate some fru fru plunes, and of course, nibbled on our gnome cookies. Fru fru plunes tasted a little like strawberries, of which we all were very fond. William told stories of the fairies who have visited. Even the Queen of Trestlewood graced them with her presence every now and again. I didn't know who that was, but I imagined she must be a very important and special fairy. William said The Queen of Trestlewood was indeed a very important fairy. She is the Queen of all the Fairy Lands, keeper of all flowers seeds and small creatures. What an honor it would be to see her, I thought. William then said we could read some stories about the heritage of gnomes, and handed me a book, so that I could read aloud to all who were present.
Coursin, the mouse, sat perched on the pages as I read, making sure I wouldn't leave out any of the good parts. We read about the orgin of gnomes and how they came to be creatures of the garden, creatures of the wood, who watch over the trees and earth, and dance in the moonlight all summer long. We learned about their beards and what they eat, where they sleep, and why they dress the way they do. Oh, I won't spoil it for you! Everyone should read about gnomes!
As we finished the stories (the crowd was captivated!) William announced he had a surprise for all of us who were new to the group. Martha and Jane's eyes were as round as saucers when I finished reading, and Henry was so excited he almost barked. I knew if Abbot were here he'd be gargling. I was pretty giddy myself, maybe from all that jingleberry tea. I would have to take some of that home for my maker and Abbot to try.
William, being leader of the colony, made a grand speech about how good it was that we were with them on that afternoon, and how he had never met any beings quite like us in all his 946 years. (Gnomes live a LONG time) He bellowed about the Beginning of the Time of Gnomes, and how, for thousands of years they have taken their oath to care for the gardens and lands very seriously. He passed on his knowledge about being stewards of the forests, for without forests the world would be a vast and disparaging desert. He told us always to dance when the moon is full, and never, ever forget the beauty that lives in all creatures, great and small. He then presented us with honorary necklaces that prove we are now keepers of the colonies of the gnomes that inhabit all the world. By accepting the necklace we promise to protect gnomes and fairies and the special spaces in which they live.
William and the others helped us tie the spotted mushroom necklaces around our necks. I bowed my head in loyalty when presented with mine, while Martha and Jane turned toward each other and touched each others' mushrooms while ooooohing and aaaahhhing. It was absolutely magical and I will never forget it. I will never forget the kindness that was shown to me here with the gnomes.
As a tear fell from my eye, I noticed a glimmer of light coming toward me. A very small, glistening and winged creature appraoched, carrying what appeared to me to be a snow-white feather. There was some commotion among the gnomes, some reverent mumbling, if there is such a thing. The feather brushed under my eye, softas a breeze, and scooped up my tear. It was then that I noticed the winged creature was a fairy. And the fairy wore a crown with thousands of sparkling water drops that stayed right in place. Rays of sunlight bounced off the droplets making the crown more dazzling than all the diamonds in the world. She wore a white dress that floated like milkweed down in the calm air. Could it be the Queen of Trestlewood? She took my tear, then, and sprinkled it onto the tree, announcing that my sadness wasn't for naught....that tears, though wrought from emotion, were for cleansing, healing, and sometimes happiness. MY tear would nurture that tree, help quench its thirst, make it stronger. This filled me with such wonder, for I had never thought of tears in that way.We were all so proud of our necklaces, but more than that, we were proud to be honorary members of the Colony of Gnomes.
There was much dancing after that. More fairies arrived and they brought their tiny flutes and violins. The sounds were very high pitched, which really made Henry howl at times. He tried to be on his best behavior, but sometimes a dog is just a dog.
It was an exhausting day, but in a good way. New friends and old friends that were still pretty new, as I haven't been in existence very long myself. As Martha, Jane, Henry and I all lay tucked into our bed that night I couldn't help but think. I was thinking of all the fun I've had, and how kind everyone has been to me since I arrived in Little Rock. I thought of April, mostly, and how I would miss her. I've never known anyone like her. My maker is a nice person, and I love her, but April's soul emanates from her wherever she goes. If a human could glow like a firefly, it would be her. As I thought about her I wanted to see her. I knew it was the middle of the night, but I scurried into her room and woke her up. Without even asking she got up and took my hand. We went into the kitchen and she sat me in front of the window with a gnome cookie. She had a cookie too, and we sat in silence but deep in thought. I smiled at her and I think she saw.

Until next time. When I'll be home again.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

And Now A Word From Abbot

Last week I made Abbot a special trinket because I was missing him so badly. April mailed it off for me and Abbot received it in the mail this week. My maker took some photos as he opened the package, to document his expression so I may see it when I return home. However, Abbot was so excited that he wanted to e-mail me the photos and write in his own words how he felt when he opened the package. This is what he said:
"Helllllooo, Caruthers I miss you verry mush I wish you were home with me I have benn looking for fun things to do but nothing is fun without you. when are you comming home? I misss you very mush. Our maker has benn lissening to funny music agen. sometimes she singss to mee but mostly i plug my earrs. she lets me eat carmels in the sewing room, tho, and lets me keeeep things in my pocketts. my nose wass bleeding after I bumped it on the ironing bord leg becuz I ran too fast and triped on the rugg. it was OK becuz the the blud didn't stain my self at all. but then i went in the bathroom and fell into the tubb becuz I wanted to swing on the curtain bar then the curtain fell on me and i wuz trapped for hors. The boy in this house found me and tossed me onto a pile of fabric and I cride until i stopped. then your box came and i smiled so our maker let me opin it and i did and inside was a funny looking bug with tickly legs i named him Stanley and put him in my pocket. then I saw there were bugs all over the box just like the one in my pocket. our maker said it was a cocker ruch or something like that.
"Stanley is a nice bug i like him and he likes me he told me. he didn't like the box ride to our house tho he said there was too much space in the box he prefers smaller spaces. Anyway I liked the round box with your picture on it. I rolled it on the floor i thought that this was my present so I plaid with it until our maker sed that the present was inside the round thing. I thawt what could be better then this round box and then i opined the box and even Stanley liked what wuz inside.
"Our maker tied it to me immediately around my neck a cuple times it was a long string so it went around my boddy a couple times. I was so happpy to see your picture again and see your face and your arms and legs it made me happy and i almost cride becuz i was sooo happpy. my toes tinkled rite off my feet and i thawt they wuld come unsewed. but they dident. but i luve the necklace and i want to keeep it on my hart for ever until i cant smile enymore or am put in a box or sumthing.
"Stanley likes my pocket too he tickles me when i asleeep and then crawls back in my pocket. i feed him carmels and cheerios and he likes food the best better than he likes swimming in the sink i tride that with him and he dident like that much he coffed and sneezed a little bit and i asked our maker to take him to the veterarian but she said no that bugs dont go to veterarians. thats all i have too say Will you come home pleese becuz i miss you a lot more then that. i miss you like spagetti misses meetballs or like a soccer ball misses a foot. that iz a lot if you dident no. ok goodbye."
Oh that Abbot. He is a kindred soul.
Until next time.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Missing Home

I have another week or so to spend here in Little Rock with April, and Jane, Martha and Henry. I've been feeling a little melancholy, however, because Abbot has called more than a few times whimpering, wanting me to come home. I promised him I would bring him something from my adventures here. It got me thinking a little about what to bring home. April already let me do so much, taking me shopping and to the museum, fishing, swimming, and just living in her home has been a treat. Snuggling with my new friends at night and telling ghost stories, spying on the dogs, sneaking out of the house, lounging in the sun....there have been some good times. Smiling and laughing has been wonderful for me, but thinking of Abbot's smile has set my heart longing for home. Jane tapped my shoulder while I was deep in thought, sitting on the bed with a caramel in my hand. She said she was missing her special friend, Heart, who was at her home waiting for her. With long faces we approached April. Jane explained our disposition and April immediately set us up at her craft table with stinky glue, colored paper, shiny beads and scissors. She tied bibs around us so that we could not drip glue on ourselves, and after Jane and I began to cut shapes that expressed our desire for our homes, April came back to the table with photos of our friends that she had printed off the computer.

Just seeing Abbot's silly smile made me smile and tear up all at once. It has been so long since I have seen him. Jane cut out her photo of Heart, and I cut out my photo of Abbot. Jane and I worked silently, both of us immersed in our thoughts and feelings. Every now and then Jane would giggle, remembering something humorous that Heart said. I laughed too, not knowing why, but I reasoned that no one should ever have to laugh alone. Laughing begets laughing, as smiles beget smiles. I hoped Abbot would enjoy the photo I made for him, a photo of the two of us creating memories of happiness. I miss you, Abbot. But, I'll be home soon. Sooner than you can gargle louder than your cousins; sooner than you can mime the ABC's; sooner than you can sneak out the door with a piece of cherry licorice dangling from your mouth; sooner than the moon will fill up into a nice round ball, that one day we WILL kick around in the sky. I promise.
Until next time.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Museums, Mummies, and Mischief

So far Little Rock has been one adventure after another. I am almost dizzy with all the activities we've been doing. April took Martha, Jane, Henry and I to the Capitol Building in Little Rock (the capitol of Arkansas) for a Memorial Day celebration, and then to the Arkansas Arts Center. I had never had so much fun in one day in my "life"! When we arrived at the Arts Center the first thing we saw was a beautiful fountain. The water was spurting sky high, and as we charged forward April had to remind us that water was only for looking and not touching, and especially not for falling into. Martha and Jane immediately climbed up on the ledge, not waiting for April, and started teasing each other about who touched the ledge first. They sure can be silly. What did it matter who touched the ledge first? Eventually we all got there and enjoyed the breeze coming over the water from the fountain. April gave us each a penny and told us to toss it into the water. She told us to make a wish on that penny. "And don't tell anyone your wish," she said, "or it won't come true." I made a BIG wish, but I'm not telling what it is. I watched as Jane and Henry lay down on their bellies to see all the money in the fountain. Jane's eyes became glassed over and she started reaching for the coins. There were actually some quarters and silver dollars at the bottom of the fountain. I decided that maybe sometimes a penny must not be enough for some wishes and hoped mine would come true anyway. Just then Jane started to slip into the water. Henry and I were there, though, and we each grabbed a leg just in time. I am not sure if April saw that. She was talking to a man who looked like a police officer. Later she told me he was a security guard. He was there to make sure no one got hurt or damaged any of the displays.
Inside the museum were giant marble hallways that echoed as we walked across the floor. It was clean and white and there were paintings and sculptures towering over us. April had to lift us up to see many of them. I enjoyed the colors. Some of the paintings felt like being inside some one's dream. I closed my eyes and imagined what the artist was feeling when he or she held the brush in their hand. I wondered what the paint smelled like and how it felt to draw a brush of paint across a canvas. I thought it would feel like eating chocolate.
We entered a room in the museum that had paintings of Egyptians and mummies. I have read about mummies, at least I thought I had, until April had to remind me that mummies were not the same as zombies, as I cowered between her legs. Still, mummies were a little creepy, and I know they have chased Scooby Doo in at least 5 episodes. The one painting of Egyptians (above) I liked the best, because it looked like my maker when she was scolding Abbot. Then I thought of Abbot and sighed.
In the same room was a painting that had the face cut out. This was so children could put their own face in that space and take a picture. I'm not a child, but I'm not an adult. I asked April if I could put my face in the space and she said yes. I was glad that my teeth were showing. That's the only way it really looks like me!
The train room was the most exciting part of our day. We sat with our noses glued to the glass that surrounded the most charming train set I've ever seen (actually, the ONLY train set I've ever seen). There were tiny houses and tiny cars and tiny cows and tiny dogs, and tiny trains that zoomed around on a tiny track. I wanted so badly to get inside the glass so I could touch the cows and houses. I could pretend I was the giant, like Jack and the Beanstalk, except I wouldn't be mean. Oh, to be a giant in a tiny world. In the world which I exist, I am the tiny one. Martha and Jane talked about riding on a train and they wanted to pet the tiny cows so badly. Martha looked at April, who agreed to let her get a little closer look. April lifted Martha over the top of the glass walls and let her peek down inside. Since there was no glass on the top of the display Martha could hang her head down inside. She reached with her fingers to touch one of the cows just at the same time April had told her, "No, Martha! You may only LOOK at the cows, not touch!" But it was too late. Martha squealed with delight almost touching a cow, that she twisted herself so that April lost her grip on her. Down Martha went into the display, toppling a few cows and almost getting run over by the speeding train. April reached inside as fast as she could and yanked poor Martha out by her knee, just in time! All our hearts were racing, especially April's. We all sat catching our breath, and Martha cried and cried, even though it was no one's fault. She was so traumatized that she didn't notice her candy bracelet was missing until we had left the room. Then she cried again. April told her it was OK. She would get another candy bracelet, and that the cows were enjoying it for a snack. "How nice of you to share with them, Martha," April consoled. As we scurried from the train room, embarrassed and scared about how much worse our story could have been, the security guard came around the corner. He must have noticed we were a bit panicked because he asked if we were OK. We all nodded in unison, like we had rehearsed it. But we didn't.
We loved the museum, but it was a relief to get back outside were we couldn't get into any real trouble. We saw some interesting geese by another fountain and we sat down to watch them. April told us we could only watch them because they get frightened easily. We sat very still until they came closer to us. They were beautiful! Their feathers looked so soft, almost like fur. It was then that Henry let out the biggest sneeze I've ever heard. It was so loud that the geese flapped their wings and took off away from us. Not only that, all the birds resting in the trees above our heads took flight too. The ruckus was deafening for a moment, and so loud that the security guard came out to see what had happened. "One of them sneezed," April explained, with a nervous smile. She quickly took our hands (I'm still not sure why she was in such a hurry) and off we went, back to the car, where we slept like mummies until we got home.
Until next time.