Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lessons of Easter

Easter is another Christian observance, my maker told me today. It is the time when we celebrate the death of the baby that was born on Christmas. I was so confused. Why would anyone celebrate the death of a baby, much less the death of anyone? I guess there was more to the story. My maker said what Christians celebrate is not necessarily the DEATH of Jesus, but how he was raised to new life. I was really having trouble wrapping my mind around that. Plus, wasn't he still a baby? My maker must have heard me because she said, "Caruthers, Christians celebrate the life of Jesus, from a baby to a grown man. He was the most selfless and compassionate person to walk the earth. And not only that, he is believed to be the actual son of God. We celebrate, not his death per se, but his coming back to life after his crucifixion." I didn't understand. There were some new words and concepts I was just not ready for. I will have her explain it to me again. All I know is that when we drove past the houses today on the way to my maker's workplace (the candy store!) there were not the decorations in the yards like the ones I remember seeing at Christmas. My maker said Easter was a more somber holiday in the church, but in the secular realm, it marks the beginning of Spring. Baby bunnies, chicks, ducklings, daffodils and crocuses are all symbols of Easter, of Spring. I surmised on my own that the new life emerging from the earth might be similar to the new life that Jesus had.
It was Abbot's first trip to the candy store. I was worried he would not behave himself. I introduced him to Todd, my maker's boss, and to Debbie, a sweet, wonderful woman who works there too. Abbot was very polite, but I knew better than to take my eyes off of him.
While my maker and Debbie were busy waiting on customers, and Todd making chocolate bunnies, Abbot and I had the run of the place, even though we tried not to run. Most of the running I did was to keep Abbot from running. We jumped up onto one of the counter tops and sat in a couple baskets, like we were candy waiting to be bought. It would have been nice if someone wanted to buy me, but I think I would miss my home. I asked Abbot what he thought about being bought and he kind of whimpered. I think he likes it at my maker's house with me. That made me happy.
So much chocolate at the store! I had to try REALLY hard to hide all the wrappers of the candies I ate. I had to get creative on some hiding places. Todd was handing out some stern looks to Abbot and I as we stuck our hands in some of the jars without using a plastic glove or the candy scoop. I guess we were being bad. We waddled up to Todd to apologize. He smiled and forgave us. But then....

When Todd, Debbie and my maker were eating their lunch, Abbot took to climbing one of the displays. I yelled after him and tried to get him to come down. But just as he was about to jump, his funny feet gave way and he tumbled, head first, right into a vat of jelly beans. I couldn't help but laugh. Abbot seemed to be gargling and whimpering all at the same time. I didn't know how to help him out of there. It reminded my of the time he got stuck hanging upside down from the slide. Except his head and body were wedged in the vat. There was no wiggle room whatsoever. He TRIED not to eat any jelly beans, but there were SO many, he just couldn't help himself. I knew that the fuller his belly got, the harder it would be to get him out of there. I had to tell someone. I didn't want Abbot to be in trouble, but I figured in this case, I was also helping him. He simply couldn't stay in there much longer.



I went to find my maker. If I was a dog, I would have had my tail between my legs. I knew I'd be in trouble for not doing a better job looking after Abbot. I walked up to her and took her hand. "What is it, Caruthers?" she asked. All I had to do was point. When she saw Abbot in the vat of jelly beans she was not happy. I could tell. But then she started laughing. She laughed, then had Todd and Debbie come look at Abbot. They laughed too! There was so much laughter that I started laughing too! We all laughed and laughed, until after a bit, I realized I was the only one still laughing. I felt my throat get sore all of a sudden. Maybe I shouldn't have been laughing? My maker took Abbot by the feet and told him he needed a time out. And since there was no corner to place him in where he wouldn't be a spectacle, she plopped him in a bucket, and there he sat for the rest of the day. I was placed on a box against the wall, and poor Abbot whimpered. I felt bad. I should have done a better job watching him. I asked my maker to let him out and punish me instead. I would take the bucket from Abbot, and set him free. My maker said, "Caruthers, that's what Jesus did for all of us. And that's what Easter is all about."
I'm still not sure I understand it all, but I do know I would do anything for Abbot, and I know he'd do the same for me.
Until next time.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Epilogue

Since Abbot was so kind in accepting my apology I decided to spend the day with him playing games and waiting on his needs. I got him some tea (his favorite...lemon zinger), a soft furry blanket, and some tissues, one of which I stuffed into his pocket. He gargled at that, saying his nose felt stuffed just like his pocket. I also tucked a few sore throat drops in his other pocket for later, after his nap. We played a game of SORRY!, which seemed appropriate, and of course, Abbot won. I'm glad he won. I hope he always wins. Because that is what a good friend does.....he helps when needed, he tries to make things better, he encourages and supports, he sacrifices, and he always hopes for the success of his pals. That's what I plan to do from now on.
My heart feels soft and light again, and it feels like a bandage has been wrapped around it, squeezed it to heal the cuts I made on myself. My maker knew the pain I was feeling, having hurt Abbot. When she saw what I was doing, making restitution she called it, she gave me a smile and said, "Caruthers, all we can do in this life is try. As long as we try, and are sincere in our convictions, we can move forward. It was very big of Abbot to forgive you." I agree.
Until next time.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Frienship Means Forgiveness

Valuable lessons are all around, every day. Like what happened today. This morning my maker returned from her run in a fairly happy mood. She told me the birds were alive and twittering to each other like they all had some winter stories to tell. She thought it would be a good day to be outside for a while after she was done at work. Abbot and I sat in our chair listening to her talk. We are always very attentive. Then something happened....Abbot sneezed. Then he sneezed again. And again. My maker came to him and knelt down to touch his forehead. I looked at her in a strange way and she said to me, "Caruthers, did you notice that Abbot was feeling warmer than usual?" I was confused. Why would Abbot be warmer than usual? He wasn't sitting in the sun. "I think he has a fever," my maker said. "I don't think he can go outside with us today. He's sick." I looked at Abbot, who then looked at me, and I DID see something odd in his eyes. His eyes looked watery, and tired. I felt his forehead then, and yes, he was hot. My maker helped me put Abbot onto her bed. She propped up his head on a nice soft pillow and covered him in a blanket, as he shivered so much that I thought his round buttons would fall off his suit. I knew Abbot couldn't go outside today, but I still wanted to go. I looked at my maker as if to ask her what I should do. She said to me, "Caruthers, that is your choice. You can stay home with your friend or you can still come with me." I was in a quandary. If I don't go, will I let down my maker? And if I go, will I let down Abbot? I decided to go. I gave Abbot a kiss on his ears and went with my maker. Abbot whimpered quite a bit. In fact, I'd never heard him cry before. I didn't know why he was crying. I knew he would feel better after a day of rest all alone.
I sat waiting most of the day until my maker finished work, and then we had such a fun time! I whirled on the merry-go-round until I thought I would throw up all the chocolate I've ever eaten. I slid down the slide again, and swinged on the swing.
Oh, the sun was blooming and the grass was turning green before my eyes! My maker explained why it was turning green, and why the sun was so important for the bringing of spring. She explained that spring was still coming and soon it would be here to stay. I climbed a tree to chase a squirrel. It looked me in the eye and laughed insensibly at me. I wondered why. All the while I was running and playing, I felt a nagging in my stomach, like there was something missing on this beautiful day. I tried to ignore it, but it kept coming around like when I was on the merry-go-round. I felt like I had done something wrong. I felt sour and guilty. I felt like I had pushed someone off of the slide and walked away. My head drooped, my smile faded. I sulked to the car when it was time to leave. "What is it, Caruthers? You feel sad. Why?" It was a rhetorical question. She knew why.

We stopped to look at some cattle. Black Angus they are called. Some kind of Scottish family, I guessed. There were baby ones and big ones and they quietly ate the grass that was growing. When I approached the fence, they backed away, unlike the squirrel. I think they were more afraid of me than I was of them. I tried talking to them. I said, "Hey you cattle? How's your life?" But they didn't answer. Either they were extremely tender, or just too tough. My maker laughed at that observation. She didn't say why.

Next we saw some chickens. I got to go right inside their house and sit near the nests where they lay their eggs. My maker said I was lucky because they never let anyone near their eggs. And the rooster even kept his distance. My maker did not think much of roosters. She said all creatures have a place and a purpose and should be treated with respect, but we should also know when to step away. The chickens were even more shy than the cattle. They skittered away as if running from a hatchet. How is it that chickens are born with an innate sense of fear? All they screeched the entire time I was in there was, "Who's that? Who's that? I'm scared! I'm scared!" They ran around in circles, flapping their wings. Quite frankly, I thought they were a little crazy.

And still, my heart felt heavy. I went on with my outing, trying to see the fun in it, trying to laugh at all the silly things I saw. I tried to find wonder in the blue sky, the sun, the warmth that felt so good on my wool body. All that warmth made me think of Abbot's forehead, and Abbot himself who had been in bed all day, all alone, with no one to talk to, nothing to do. I sat so still on the steps while my maker collected the eggs from the chickens that the family dog, who used to be afraid of me, took pity on me and came to whisper in my ear. "Don't worry," Wiloughby said. "Abbot will forgive you, because that's what friends do when we make a mistake...no matter how bad the mistake is." All of a sudden my face was wet. Wiloughby's nose was close to my face, but I didn't think he drooled on me or anything. My maker approached with her pockets full of beautiful white and brown eggs. She looked at me and her face was somber. "Caruthers," she said, "I believe you have learned a lesson today, haven't you?" I just nodded. All I wanted was to tell Abbot how sorry I was for the pain I caused him. I didn't mean it, I just didn't understand. I hoped he would forgive me for letting him down. I should have been a better friend.
He did.
Until next time.




Monday, March 15, 2010

On the Road Again

I found myself in a car once again. My maker packed up a few articles of clothing and some food, and put Abbot and I into the seat belt once again. Two days in a row! I thought maybe we were going to the park again, but it was taking a lot longer. I looked at Abbot and frowned, then we both looked at my maker as she drove. "For what are you giving me such sour looks, you silly monsters?" she asked. I wanted to know where we were going. "We're going on another road trip, Caruthers," she answered. "We'll be in the car for a while, though, much longer than when we went to Wisconsin." So we drove for quite some time. We stopped at a house in which Abbot and I were able to get out and stretch for a minute. It was my maker's father's and his wife's house. We stopped to switch cars so my maker's father could drive us to our destination. It was wonderful because my maker shared the back seat with us. She lifted us to see out the windows, showed us how to make bunny ears over her father's head (which he didn't care for, by the way) and showed us how to press the button to roll the window down. Abbot took to playing with that button a little too much, and was scolded. I put my arm around him. He just can't help being mischievous sometimes. It's in his blood. I thought I had seen all the farmland in the world simply living at my maker's house, but soon discovered there is a LOT more out there! And all the fields were damp and brown, even though the sky was sunny. My maker brought her pillow and a blanket so we could all snuggle down cozy in the back seat. We put all our heads under the blanket and told scary stories, and she tickled us until Abbot could gargle no more. Every now and then my maker would pop her head out of the blanket and talk with her father and his wife, mostly about things I didn't understand. But he seemed like a kind man and a wise man, and she a very sweet woman. I didn't know that my maker had a father until this day. But where were we going? Were we going to just drive all day? I wouldn't have minded, except that my legs were in such a position that they started to tingle. I kicked them and kicked them to make it stop, managing to kick Abbot accidentally. He forgave me though. My maker then said, "Caruthers and Abbot, welcome to Ohio. It's another state, just like Wisconsin is a state and Illinois is a state." The she added, "You're going to see a very big lake in a little while, one of the Great Lakes."
The car then pulled in to a large parking lot and my maker lifted Abbot and I to see out the window. There were these very large boats sitting on top of the ground. I only knew they were boats because I had seen some in a book I read. They were all covered up in blue tarps to keep the weather out of them, I heard someone say. I was so excited to see the boats, until I saw the LAKE. At least my maker SAID it was a lake. It was clad in snow as far as the eye could see. It did not look like water at all, but a large expanse of snowy terrain. My maker assured me that it was Lake Erie, and we were in Cleveland, Ohio. I wanted to run straight out onto the frozen water, way out there and see what it might be like to be a fish or a boat. I always wanted to be a fish or a boat. My maker set some rules for Abbot and I before she let us out of the car. She knows us all too well. We agreed to stay on the land no matter how tempting it might be to run out onto the ice. My maker gave a stern look to Abbot especially. Abbot bowed his head, fluttering his lashes. He promised to follow the rules.

The sky was gray here near the lake, and the temperature was very chilly. If I had hair I am sure the wind would have rendered it useless. The wind bit my ears a little and I wished for a hat or a muffler or something. We walked out to the lighthouse for fallen boatsmen. I asked my maker what it meant to be "fallen". She said that sometimes the lakes and oceans and seas are not always friendly. That most of the time they give us fish to eat, and offer us a way to have fun, but sometimes people don't return. A storm comes and a boat flips over, or there is an accident on the water. The waters sometimes cause people to drown and that is why it is so important to be careful on the water. I was scared. Would the water reach a huge, frozen hand out onto the land and take me in, making me a fallen monster? My maker must of heard me because she said, "Oh Caruthers, that could not happen. The water does at times seem to be alive but it would not reach a hand out to grab you." Then she said in a deep, scary voice, "Only if you got too close...."
The rest of the weekend we visited with my maker's family. She has sisters, and a MOM too! It was so fun to meet them, however, I am not sure what they made of Abbot and I. Abbot and I spent most of our time looking for food, especially chocolates. The cats in the house showed us around in their silent, creepy manner. We didn't want to play the games that they did, though, and for a time they locked Abbot and I up in their cages. We were trembling when my maker finally found us, worried because she had not seen us in a while. I am not too crazy about cats.
We drove ALL that way home, back to our own house, our own cozy sitting spot on the chair in my maker's bedroom. It was a nice trip, but always so nice to be home.
Until next time.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Like a Day in the Park


Something's been happening the past few days and I don't know what to make of it. I've been watching a transformation from out of the window. The big piles of snow have gone away and have been replaced by large watery puddles! It happened so suddenly that it almost feels like magic! I've been in the same spot every day when my maker gets home, watching the strange movements going on out in the yard. It has gotten noisy with birds! And the grass that blankets most of suburbia is changing colors. I am in awe.

My maker took Abbot and I for a ride in the car today. I hadn't been in the car since the road trip to Wisconsin, and it was fun to be strapped into the seat belt, only this time I was sharing it with Abbot. Abbot was so excited he gargled the whole time. I finally had to pinch him so he'd be quiet, but then he cried and that wasn't much better. I apologized profusely, and kissed the spot where I pinched him. He gargled again. I guess you can't make a monster stop gargling when that is what they want to do. So, we drove along and I watched the poles passing by, because I cannot see high up enough through the car windows. Then the poles stopped passing, and I saw tree tops. Lots of them! When we stopped my maker unbuckled our belt and we jumped up and down on the seat to see where we were. There were trees, alright, and open space, funny looking metal structures (that we found out were swing sets and jungle gyms) and oodles of puddles! My maker opened the car door and Abbot and I bounded from the inside and landed on our faces. My maker laughed. "Oh, Caruthers and Abbot. You two are certainly a pair," she said. "This is what we call a park." Abbot and I looked at each other briefly, and then....we RAN. My legs don't move quite as fast as his, but we ran. Through mushy, smelly grass; through swampy, dirty puddles; until my maker caught us by our ears. She was gentle enough, but it smarted a little. She told us to be careful, because puddles in the spring can be dangerous. She said they can sweep one away, never to be seen again. I was scared. I'd be very careful for sure. But Abbot, he just gargled. We rode on a swing, and something that looked like a giant donut. We climbed the trees, and scrambled across the jungle gyms. The air smelled like wet wood and soil, and the sky was opening it's eyes, my maker said. It became bluer and bluer as the clouds turned from grey to white. The sun broke into rays as it hit tree branches so that sometimes it was shining on me and sometimes it wasn't. There was absolutely no chill in the air. I've never felt the air without being chilly. I did not know what to think. Puzzled, I looked at my maker. She said to me, "Caruthers, this is the beginning of Spring."


We rested on a bench under the willow trees that have gotten a nice trim haircut, and watched a mallard duck and his bride waddle about in the water. My maker said they will be making their nests soon and the female will lay eggs that will hatch into ducklings. Ducklings! I was so absorbed by the ducks that I strayed to the edge of the pond, trying to get them to come to me. They must have been afraid of me because they swam faster in the opposite direction. They made a funny sound too. Abbot mimicked the sound, "Quack, quack..." he said. I must have gotten too close to the ponds' edge that I tripped on the rocks and almost tumbled in. Abbot reached to grab my hand and saved me from being swept away by the current. If I had a heart, it would have been beating in my throat. We stopped to take one last photo at the slide. This slide was particularly scary because it looked like a tunnel. I was not sure if Abbot and I would come out the other end. But we did and it was so thrilling that we did it again......6 times. One time I scraped my leg, and one time Abbot's toe got caught in one of the bolts, but we still liked it a lot. He hung upside down off the end of the slide. My maker and I didn't notice right away. And Abbot doesn't make much noise, except for gargling, so there he dangled until we noticed he was missing. His face was a different color when we finally detached his toe from the bolt, but he was no worse for the wear.

Parks can be really terrifying when you're small, I gathered from all that happened today. A wonderland, for sure, but scary too. My maker said usually there are children on playgrounds but they were all in school still. I begged her to bring me back sometime when the children are there, and the ducklings. "Maybe, Caruthers. There is so much more to see."

Until next time.