Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Day at the Fair

Recently my maker took Abbot and I to a fair. An art fair. I didn't know what to expect. Everything I've ever heard or read about fairs involved food, carnival rides and tummy aches. I must say both Abbot and I were excited about the "fair" aspect. About the "art fair" aspect, we weren't so certain. So, in the car we went, for a very long drive. In fact, the longest drive I've been on to date. We were headed to Ohio for The Country Living Fair. The day we arrived was chaotic, to say the least. Artists and their helpers turned a field of grass into a mecca of tents and booths that rivaled any shopping area I've ever seen. Abbot and I were given clear instructions to stay put beneath a table so that we would not be lost, damaged, stolen, boxed up, or mailed to Helsinki. My maker unboxed a few friends with whom we could converse and play while the activity went on. Bozo and Clem , the paper Frankensteins, weren't much for small talk. Mostly they wished they had clothes that weren't painted to their bodies. The other creatures took some time to warm up to Abbot and I, but proved to be downright charming fellows.
Despite all the conversation and merry making beneath the table, Abbot and I were anxious for some adventure. "Tomorrow, Caruthers," my maker assured me.
After a quiet night in a bed and breakfast in the country (it was as if I never left home.....roosters crowing, rustling grasses, and corn fields) I was ready for adventure. When we arrived at the fairgrounds we were astonished at the transformations that had taken place since we had left the day before. My maker held Abbot and I in her arm as she walked along, and I marveled at the wonderful things I saw. Oh yes, the arts and crafts were interesting, and the crowds of people were suffocating, but the lemonade stand, the french fries stand, the fried dough stand, the taco stand, the hamburger stand, the hot dog get the picture......are the things I wanted to see the most. I stayed right by my maker's side the entire day, and held Abbot by his hand so that he would not wander away. Even though I longed for adventure, the crowds at the fair were a little daunting. I knew my maker would take me to look at the attractions, and patience was what I needed to exhibit. Abbot wasn't so easygoing, however, and oftentimes I'd find him trying to sneak away to the food area. He claimed he just wanted to smell it, but as he jingled when he walked, I knew there was some loose change in his pocket. I wasn't sure where he got it either.
After spending just a little too much money, my maker took Abbot and I around and placed us in the settings of people's artwork. All the artists we met were very gracious and were excited to show us what they create. First my maker set us in a scene of paintings by Laurie Messerole. I liked the little girls faces. They were colorful and happy. Abbot liked how the colors matched his eye.
We are a little harder to find in this scene. We were standing amidst the work of Cheryl Kuhn. Cheryl uses old photographs in her work, and each piece tells a story. I was mesmerized when I looked inside the pieces. They were like being transformed to another world. I forgot where I was, and wished I could have known what the people in the photos were thinking. Most of them looked so sour or pained. I wondered if their life was hard. "Life is always hard, Caruthers," my maker said. "The century in which you live doesn't change the fact that many problems and worries remain the same. And some are very different. But we have to remember to focus on what is right, and do our best to make the world a better place. I'm sure those people in the photos felt the same way."
Letty Worley's work was not as serious, but just as enchanting nonetheless. In fact, Abbot and I made a few friends. They were dressed to go to a fancy ball or a party and we had a nice time chatting about cotillions and dances. One of the bears, Jeannette, offered to show us how to dance, but we would have to wait until night came, and no one was around. She told me that most toys don't come alive until the night when all the children are asleep. I was shocked because Abbot and I are pretty much alive all the time. When I queried my maker about this point she smiled and said, "Caruthers, you and Abbot are special because you have a home. I think the reason you are alive all the time is because I have you in my life and I want you to be alive. When Jeannette finds her home she will also be alive in the same way. Having a home is a wonderful thing. You and Abbot are lucky to be loved and wanted." I was starting to miss my home, even though I knew wherever my maker was, so also was my home.
Next was Melody Doyel. She kissed me and squeezed me and I liked her a lot. I didn't scare her one bit. That's always a plus in my book. My maker loved everything she makes. The way my maker carried on about Melody I was a little worried I might be traded for a pair of earrings. And Abbot for a coat. But I know she'd never do that. I think.
Abbot and I had a much better time fitting in with the creatures in Judi Young's creations. The colors and the animals! Oh, how we wished to be immortalized in one of these pictures! I think we fit in so well in this booth we stayed for a while to stare at the pictures, and no one even noticed!
The weather was quite lovely, our bellies were full, and we were exhausted by day's end. I rested my head on a pumpkin and Abbot lay in the sunshine. Both of us dreamed of home, because we were happy to have one. We wondered where all the creations that were bought and sold that day would end up? Would they be happy? And would they finally have the chance to be alive....always? We hoped so. Because every work of art deserves a home, and every object that is handmade from some one's heart and hard work deserves a chance to be admired. I'm glad I'm one of them.
Until next time.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hide and Seek, Pumpkin Peek

It was a brilliant morning. I couldn't believe the chill in the air. Especially since the summer had been so hot and humid. It had completely turned around. It felt like the summer had finished its bath and put a towel around its waist, dried off, and what was left was a cleaner and drier summer. Because it was still going to be a warm day, just not a hot day. I have become a barometer of sorts, able to predict the weather just by looking at the changes I see. Plus, the windows of the house had been opened for a week or more, and in the mornings the house was very cool. So maybe I'm only a window barometer, but it works for me. Anyway, Abbot and I were in the mood to run around outdoors. And since my maker was out in the yard doing some gardening she decided to let us wander. It didn't take Abbot and I long to stumble upon the pumpkin patch. At first we didn't know what it was. The leaves were large atop very tall, hollow stems. They were scratchy too, with tiny prickles grabbing at my wool like Abbot does to me when he wants my attention. The leaves and stems got my attention alright, and as I pulled them away from my wool, I discovered these orange orbs beneath. They were HUGE! Like heavy balloons just lying on the ground. Like giant orange slugs, too full to move. Abbot and I marveled at what would become, we hoped, our Halloween pumpkins.
After twisting and twining our way through the patch I thought maybe we could play a quick game of hide and seek. We have played hide and seek in the house many times, often with Abbot in some location in which he shouldn't be hiding, such as the washing machine while it's running, or my maker's underwear drawer. This would be fun, though, because Abbot wouldn't be able to get into trouble. Abbot counted first. He climbed on top of one of the giant pumpkins, laid on his back and started naming colors. He said when he got to the color orange he'd be done counting. I told him it didn't work that way because I had no idea when the color orange would come, thus not knowing how much time I had to hide. Abbot looked at me matter-of-factly and said in his woolie monster voice, "Caruthers, I memorized the box of 64 crayons. Didn't you? Orange comes after dusty rose, which comes after bubble pink, which comes after kinda red, which comes after almost red, which comes after....." He went on with the colors and I had to interrupt him. "OK, Abbot," I said. "Just turn over onto your belly so you can't see where I'm hiding." Abbot answered, "Au contraire, Caruthers. I will see you less if I stay on my back, for I am looking only at the sky right now." What could I say? When you're right, you're right.

I wondered where I should hide. Even in this field of tall, leafy vegetation, I still towered above everything in the patch. I had to find the biggest pumpkin. As I scurried along, pulling myself away from the prickles, I heard Abbot say, "ORANGE!" in about the loudest voice he could muster. It was too late. He was off his color-counting pumpkin and on his feet in a heartbeat. He saw me immediately and started gargling. He gargled so hard that he toppled over onto the ground and got stuck under the prickles. His gargling stopped then and I heard him start sobbing. I let out a lengthy sigh and walked back over to yank him up. Sheepishly, he looked at me and said a quiet thank you. I just smiled. Only Abbot could get away with that. "My turn!" Abbot announced.
I'm a lot of things, but I am not a cheater. I told Abbot I would face the soybean field and count, in numbers, up to twelve, and then I would come to find him. "Is 'twelve' yellow-orange or gold?" he asked me. I wasn't sure, of course, not having memorized the 64 box of crayons. "It comes after eleven," I said. And I should have known what was coming next,"Is 'eleven' turquoise blue or indigo blue?" I counted to twelve, and Abbot hid.
Abbot, though quite a bit shorter than I, dashed away to the first large orb he spotted. But he must have realized his ears would give him away. Later he told me he tried to hold them down with his arms, but, alas, they kept boinging right back up. He just had to find a larger pumpkin, or lay down on the ground and feel the wrath of the prickles again.
It took me a while to find him. He did a good job hiding, even his ears. I approached and stood almost beside him, not able to see him at all. His green face blended with the green leaves so well that I did not even notice him. Although I could not see him, he could see me, and that was his downfall. Try as he might, his gargling erupted, quietly at first, from his belly. And as it grew in volume the leaves began to shake, and the crunchy ground debris rustled under his feet. I turned my body right then to face the sound, and had to pull aside a leaf or two to uncover his face.
"There you are!" I said to Abbot, just in time for him to topple over once again in gargling laughter. I couldn't blame him. It was a bit amusing to think I was standing beside him and couldn't even see him.
I helped him off the ground....again....and out of the prickles....again.
Together we explored the rest of the patch until we came upon a pumpkin so large and so round and so orange and so perfect, we decided then and there that this would be OUR Halloween pumpkin. We imagined the spooky face we'd carve, and the cold autumn night when the wind would howl, and the witches that would fly through the air, with their green faces and pointy hats. We got a chill just thinking about it. It was then that Abbot gave me a quizzical look. He didn't have to speak either, because I knew what he was thinking. I just answered, "I don't know, Abbot. I don't know HOW we will carry it to the house. In the meantime, it makes a very comfortable table, does it not? Perfect for a milk and cookies party? ......and yes, Abbot, you can bring the chocolates."
Until next time.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Doin' the Dirty Work

My maker has been quite busy. She has been making creatures in the Creature Factory (where I was made) for so many weeks that I cannot begin to tell you how bored Abbot and I have become. We have stared out the windows, watching summer pass gloriously past our noses, wishing so badly to sneak out and romp in the green grass. My maker assured us it has been so very hot and humid outside that our woolly bodies would not enjoy such weather. We did get an opportunity or two to venture out, I suppose, but mostly we've had to entertain ourselves in other housebound ways. This doesn't always yield an ethical activity, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
One afternoon Abbot and I lay on the floor like slugs, poking each other like 4-year olds do. Abbot's gargling soon turned to sobbing as I may have poked a little too hard. My maker, with her eyes downward, focusing on a mouth or a nose she was sewing into place, said to us, "Caruthers and Abbot, you two are starting to annoy me. Please find something useful to do." I looked at Abbot, and he at me. First of all I wondered, how does she DO that? See us without LOOKING at us? Second, I thought, USEFUL. I'm not sure I've ever done anything useful. I had, however, recently overheard my maker as she mumbled to herself, about having a hard time keeping up with the housework. That gave me an idea. I quickly exited the room, dug through some things in my maker's drawer, and emerged with two squares of fabric. Bandannas, she had called them once. One puts one on one's head when they're going to do housework. I really don't know why. But tie them on, we did.
As if that wasn't enough to make Abbot roll on the floor gargling, we looked at ourselves in a mirror and, both of us hysterical with laughter, decided we should wear bandannas more often.
Thankfully the closet that houses the vacuum cleaner was open. Abbot and I scooted the monstrous machine out onto the carpet. We would quickly vacuum the carpets and floors in such a jiffy, no one would be the wiser as to how it got done. I pulled on the cord and plugged it into an outlet in the wall. I had seen my maker vacuum so many times, and I so badly wanted to try it. I flipped the lever and the glorious noise erupted from the machine. It didn't just LOOK like a monster, it SOUNDED like one too! With Abbot's help we pushed the cleaning attachment all around the carpet. Abbot wanted to try it alone, so naturally I let him. I didn't tell him about me riding on the back.

After we had finished the floors we made a trip up the stairs and to the bedrooms to make the beds. We stopped in the pink room and fluffed up the pillows. Abbot, the scalawag that he is, decided that jumping on the bed was more fun than fluffing pillows, so I captured him mid-flight and smooshed him down under the butterfly pillow. He says he was not happy, but I could see him smiling from under there.
Abbot was really enjoying his work. We made our way into the kitchen and Abbot climbed atop the counter to wash some dishes. I scurried about the kitchen collecting all the dirty dishes and hoisting them up and over, into the sink. Abbot was very careful to use a dry sponge and no water. He's getting smarter.
Cleaning is exhausting work. After about 15 minutes of hard manual labor, we thought it was time for a 4 hour break. We went back to the pink room and pulled numerous books from the shelves. We read Frog and Toad, looked at an atlas of the world, read some books on philosophy and composers (those last two made us a little sleepy), and next thing we knew we were rubbing our eyes, awakening after having fallen asleep. There was one more chore to complete. And as much as we didn't like the idea of it, we knew it had to be done. Abbot wasn't afraid. At least he wasn't after I told him I'd give him a whole pocketful of chocolates if he completed this last chore by himself.
Abbot IS a smart little guy, but sometimes he's not the brightest candle in the box. I didn't know how he would complete the task of cleaning a toilet and I didn't ask what his thoughts were. Of course, after I saw this scene I knew his idea had faltered. I grabbed him by his toe and yanked him from the toilet bowl, chiding him, saying that if he wanted to go swimming he should have asked our maker to take him to a pool. Silly Abbot.

Until next time.