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Mirror, Mirror

19 Jun

Why your legs are so fat?

~One of my kindergarteners to me, looking up my skirt whilst I bent over her written work last term.

Is your nose usually that bulbous or is it water retention?

~My doctor to me, a few days ago.

That’s right. Pile it on. It’s a good thing I was born with the vanity gene missing.

After the Splash

4 May

paddle pool_cp

Credits: OJ and her Panasonic Lumix LS 80. Auto mode, no flash, no filters.

Taken after the last reluctant child was hauled out of the paddle pool, leaving his water balloons behind.

Wisdom Wears Soggy Diapers

5 Mar

At school one day, matching “things that go together”:

Little C: Sokks and sooos.

Little H: Bat and boll.

Little Z: Bread and butt.

You bet, kiddo. Bread and butt, they’re bloody inseparable. Sigh.

Jeremy the Crow, Part III

8 Feb

[Continued from here.]

Each box was numbered and Jeremy knew from watching the children that you were supposed to go from one number to the next. Gingerly, he hopped onto square 1. Square 2 was right beside it. “How can it hurt to try?” he thought, and before he knew it, he had number 2 under his feet. “This is fun!” he said to himself, as he quickly hopped to 3.

4, 5 and 6 later, he had only two squares left. 7 and 8 were a piece of cake, and soon he was hopping back in full gusto, pebble in his beak like he had seen the children hold. So thrilled was he at his achievement that he almost swallowed the pebble and remembered to spit it out only just in time. He bounced all the way home, brimming over with news for Mamacita, who listened with a kind smile on her face.

After that evening, there was no stopping Jeremy. Each day, he’d wait for the children to disperse and hop onto his territory to claim his squares. On some days, he’d hop backward for fun. On others, he’d close his eyes. Even though he did it twenty times each evening, Jeremy never tired of this delightful game that he called Hopparoo. It was on precisely one such evening that Jeremy was hopping along the squares, this time backwards and with his eyes closed, that he heard a commotion.

Opening his eyes with mild irritation, he realized he was surrounded by children, all gaping and pointing and smiling wonderingly at him. “The crow plays hopscotch!” they were saying to each other in amazement. The shy bird watched as if in a dream. He, Jeremy, wasn’t being mocked or laughed at. On the contrary, he could see delight and respect on the children’s faces and he wasn’t afraid of them. Showing off a little, he hurtled from one square to another, doing a pirouette at the end and blushing at the resounding applause.

From that day on, the children would look out for Jeremy and ask him to join in their games. He rode on the back of bicycles and brought back their marbles in his beak, but his favorite sport remained Hopparoo. Mamacita was so proud of him and he now had many friends. He was bolder, happier and had the best legs ever seen on a crow. And so it came to be that Jeremy M. Hoppola became the neighborhood hopscotch champion, loved and feted by the residents of Glen Gate Street. He learned that it’s okay to be different, as long as you’re happy and not hurting anybody. And that being all the same isn’t that much fun anyway. So if you see a crow with the shiniest black feathers, bright raisin eyes and a lopsided gait hopping up to you, you’ll know who it is, won’t you?

~The End~

Jeremy the Crow, Part II

6 Feb

[Continued from here.]

*******

“Oh Jeremy,” wailed Mamacita, “Crows can’t forget to fly!” as she bandaged his swollen leg and tattered wing with velvety catnip leaves. The little fellow hung his head in shame and feared he’d never see the outside world again. His leg throbbed painfully, but he put up a brave front and lay quietly in bed as Mamacita went about her chores. The days passed. With his siblings gone, the nest was quieter and Jeremy lay watching racing clouds during the day and colorful kites in the evenings. He felt much better, but his leg wasn’t any stronger. Every time he tried to stand up, it would give way and he would tilt lopsidedly on his good leg. His right wing wouldn’t open out fully and he’d eventually give up after hours of trying. “Look, Mamacita!” he’d say in those early days, when he still believed he could fly, but soon the disappointment in his mother’s eyes became more painful than his battered body and he gave up.

Mamacita, in her defense, was a practical crow. She knew she wouldn’t be around forever and that Jeremy needed to make the best of the situation and learn to look after himself. And so, with much goading and prodding, she taught him how to half-climb, half-tumble out of their home and hop along the ledge that ran below it. Soon, Jeremy was confidently making forays into the neighborhood dustbins, feasting on leftover meat and scraps of Chinese takeaway. He grew into a handsome bird with glossy, inky feathers, shiny, alert eyes and a face wiser than his years. He was happy with his own company and would spend hours watching children at play and cars trundling past the barricade on Glen Gate Street.

One particular game intrigued Jeremy. The children threw a pebble onto a square on the ground, raised a leg and hopped over to that square, whipping around and hopping back to pick up the pebble. They reminded Jeremy of himself, and he edged nearer to the park to see them. He was usually careful not to get too close, because he couldn’t fly away like other crows, and he preferred to watch from behind the safety of a bush. Today, however, there were fewer children in the play area, as most of them were attending D Baby’s birthday party, and Jeremy felt bolder. After quickly checking that no one was looking, he hopped onto the fake turf with its chalk pattern.

(concluding part coming up…..)

Jeremy the Crow, Part I

4 Feb

[Written as a birthday present for a very precious little boy, this is the first of a three-part story.]

*****

“Screeeeeeech!” went the car tyres angrily, as they were forced to halt. “Silly crow!” glared the lady inside, her eyes sparking behind the wheel. Jeremy hopped to the pavement as briskly as he could, and stood there, head cocked to one side. The dust from the retreating tyres tickled his nose and tears pricked his deep black eyes. Brushing them away with one feathery wing, he busied himself with some berries on the ground and tried not to think about the sad feeling in his heart.

 

 

Jeremy had been born in the perfect curve of a dish antenna, a squawking, ragged bundle among his brothers and sisters. His early days were perfect: warm, wet and milky, as he huddled close to his Mamacita and slept soundly. As time rolled by, like the big construction trucks that often passed their nest, Jeremy’s siblings began to stretch their wings. First, just a little. Then, some more. More, more, a little further, until they were ready to attempt their first flight. Taking their positions, they steadied their gangly feet, craned their necks, stretched out their wings and looked eye-poppingly eager. “Now!” said Mamacita, waving a leaf to signal “go”, and one by one, they cleared the rim of the satellite dish and found themselves flapping furiously in mid-air. Jeremy waited in line patiently, a little nervous about the prospect of leaving home.

 

 

Finally, when it was his turn, Mamacita looked over at him, smiled and said “Now!” He swallowed hard and spread his wings. His scrawny legs wobbled as he stood on tip-toe and craned his neck as far out as he could. He strained his eyes some more in the hope that he’d see beyond the curved grey of the dish. It was no use. He was confronted by a formidable wall of steel and would have to fly higher than its rim. Flapping tentatively, he levitated about mid-way. Gaining momentum, he worked hard to move skyward and finally, the rim fell below his eyes.

 

 

The world parted its curtains for Jeremy. In that one instant, he saw great white towers and shiny cars with wheels as dark as his body and children chasing a striped ball and trees waving green flags, telling him he could do it. Sunshine patted his thin little neck and far away he could hear a flute singing.  Jeremy couldn’t believe his bulging eyes. Oh to think he almost didn’t leave Mamacita’s home! As time stood still, so did his wings. And the next thing Jeremy knew, he had crashed back into the dish, his leg twisted at a strange angle, a sharp pain searing through it.

 

(to be continued…….)

Message in a Bottle: Condi Saves the Night

10 Dec

[While I figure out some picture transfer issues on my camera, here’s a tall tale. It was written as a Children’s Day present for WJ‘s Imp. With some simplification, it works decently with 3-5 year olds.]


You may remember the story of Sascha and her jostling bathroom friends who bumped off poor Hair Oil into the toilet bowl. Not much has changed since, and the bottles continue to live bickeringly and gossipingly on the window ledge, still a little resentful of Hair Oil for enjoying a plum position on Sascha’s dressing table. All except for Condi. Ever since he played a part in pushing Hair Oil off the ledge, Condi had been feeling rather ashamed. He had a kind heart and was, in retrospect, truly sorry that his action had caused his neighbor so much fear and worry. But he was afraid the other bottles would laugh at him if he shared his regrets and so he held his tongue and said nothing.

One day, the house was in a great bustle. Bags were brought out from closets, clothes and toys packed into them, and Nanny came into the bathroom, clicking her heels busily. A brisk scan later, she picked up all the bottles from the ledge and carried them off to the vanity case, leaving only Condi behind because he was too tall to fit. They were all going on a holiday! “To the beach!” said Baby Powder, sneaking a peek into the mirror (for she was as vain as ever). “Or maybe to the water park,” hoped Shampoo, knowing he’d have to work extra hard at cleaning sand from Sascha’s hair. “On a train, a real train!” shouted Soap, sliding around in excitement. “The hills would be pleasant too,” yawned Suntan Lotion, who was hoping to get a little rest himself. In all their chatter and anticipation, the bottles quite forgot poor Condi, who was left standing alone, feeling bereft and miserable. Windows were shut, doors slammed, keys turned in locks and Sascha’s family was off, off, off! Condi leaned against a corner, trying to get used to the silence and let slip an occasional sigh. Pigeons cooed in the alcove outside, the tap dripped out a watery tune, and Sheroo the neighborhood dog barked indignantly at the postman. With the ledge all to himself, Condi sprawled in a cool, sunless spot and decided to take a little nap.

When he awoke, it was dark. The sun had set some hours earlier and he shivered a little in the night breeze. Cricket and his family were crackling outside, saying grace before their evening meal. The birds had flown home, all the cars were parked for the night and the sounds and lights of television shows filtered through the louvres of Condi’s bathroom window. His eyes adjusted to the semi-darkness and he found himself enjoying his newfound solitude. “Quite the lord and master of the house,” he thought smugly to himself, strutting down the length of the sill and striking a pose. He amused himself for a while by peering into the cabinet and rifling through the contents of the first-aid box. “The scissors look so shiny and sharp,” he thought, and reached out for them, when suddenly he heard a low click and then the sound of the heavy front door creaking open. Frozen into place, still clutching the first aid box, Condi heard stealthy footsteps echoing down the hallway, coming closer….and closer…. and closer.

A man in scruffy clothes and an old sack tread carefully past the open bathroom door, onward to the dining room. It was a burglar, Condi realized, and tried not to scream in panic. His plastic heart was thumping against his tall, slender frame and he was certain the man could hear it. From his perch by the cabinet, he could see the burglar filling his sack with Sascha’s mummy’s precious china plates. Oh no! She would be so very upset when she returned! Looking around wildly, Condi hit upon an idea. With all the strength he could muster, he pushed the first aid box off its shelf. Crash-landing on the tiles below, its contents shattered noisily. The thief started and hurried out of the apartment, leaving the sack and its contents behind. But the force of the momentum had been too great. Condi went flying into the air after the box and had a wet landing in the pot below. Splash! Thankfully, he was a tall bottle and the toilet bowl was rather shallow, so there was no real fear of drowning. There he lay, soaked but thrilled at having scared away the nasty thief.

Sascha’s family returned the next morning. Oh what a to-do there was when they found the front door open and the sack with the plates lying on the floor! Condi was fished out of the water, cleaned and pushed to the back of the ledge, where he proudly recounted his tale of heroism to his open-mouthed friends and pointed to the wreckage on the floor as proof. Bai cleaned the mess grumblingly, but was thankful the house was safe. Sascha’s parents had stronger locks put into the front door and Sascha herself was just glad that her beloved computer wasn’t stolen. How else would she read OJ’s blog everyday?

And so ends the story of tall, brave Condi, who risked life and plastic limb to save the day. Nobody but the bottles knows about the part he played, but he doesn’t mind. He’s just glad he could do something good for a change.