Saturday, August 16, 2014

Madi P. and the Merry Monkeys

This is a story about a girl named Madilynn and her trusty pal, Granola. Madilynn was five years old and loved adventures; particularly those that involved nature. Granola had been with Madilynn as long as she could remember and made sure to stay close to her side on all of her great adventures. They were a team. Where ever Madilynn went, Granola went, too. If she couldn't, she sat in Madilynn's room, watching out her bedroom window and waiting, rather impatiently, until she returned.

The day had started just like any other Saturday. Granola woke up with the sun and jumped on Madilynn's bed, straddling her shoulders as she promptly made sure there were no cookie crumbs left from the night before. Granola took her morning face licking job very seriously and did not stop until Madilynn gave up with lots of giggles and snorts. “Oh Granola, you silly dog! You slobbered all over my face! Now what am I going to do with you?” She stood up and put one hand on her hip with a smile on her face. “Hmmm…” She tapped the side of her head, thinking very hard. Just then, she heard a noise outside her window. It sounded like a parade. “But who would be playing music at this time?” Madi asked herself. It was only six in the morning. She pulled the curtain from the window as she and Granola looked outside. They couldn't believe their eyes! Marching down the street was a band of monkeys. “MONKEYS!” Madilynn squealed as Granola yelped in excitement. “I can't believe it! Hurry, Granola! Let's see where they're going!”

Madilynn ran around the room, gathering her supplies and tossing them in her back pack as she shouted, “Magnifying glass, CHECK! Butterfly net, CHECK! Tweezers, CHECK! Compass, double CHECK!” Granola bounded around the room in a frenzy, looking in every nook and cranny. She grabbed her ball and dropped it into the backpack. “Oh Granola! You silly dog!” Madilynn giggled as she grabbed her umbrella, just in case. She looked at Granola and said, “You never know when you'll get caught in a rain storm! We want to be prepared for anything and everything.” She winked and nodded as she headed to the kitchen. She came back with a jar of peanut butter, a box of crackers and two bananas; one for her and one for Granola. In no time at all, they were out the door and down the street, following the sound of the music.

Madilynn and Granola quickly noticed that this was no ordinary parade where everyone marched in unison, and these most certainly were not ordinary monkeys. Actually, Madi had never even seen a real live monkey before and thought for a moment that it was a bit peculiar, but was happy that they had come to visit just the same.

There were ten monkeys in all. She counted them, just to be sure, which was quite difficult, because they were running and dancing around, like, well...wild monkeys! Her head bobbed around as she counted each one. “One, Two, Three... Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight... Nine, TEN! Ten monkeys!” she yelled. Madilynn and Granola looked around in amazement as they realized that they not only were singing and dancing, but each monkey played an instrument, too!

They laughed and clapped as one big, fuzzy one was banging on a drum. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! The others tooted their horns, shook tambourines, and squeaked on kazoos. Then they all started to sing a song. It went a little bit like this...


Madilynn and Granola followed the band down the street and were surprised that hardly anybody in town seemed to notice them. Maybe they’re still sleeping, she thought. After all, it was just a little past six in the morning. Most people slept in on the weekend. “Not us!” Madilynn said as she winked at Granola and patted her head. They liked to get a jump on the day and start their adventures as early as possible.

Madilynn and Granola were curious to see where the monkeys were going, so they decided to march behind them down the street. Soon their little parade made its way to the outskirts of town.

Then something caught Madilynn's eye, off in the distance. It was unlike anything they had ever seen before. “Granola, LOOK!” Madilynn yelled as she pointed in the distance. “It's a ZEPPELIN!” As if seeing a band of monkeys marching through town was not enough, it seemed that the universe had provided another great phenomenon for them to behold. They stood there in the street, awestruck. It looked like a cross between a submarine and a hot air balloon. Madilynn had seen a picture of one once in a giant book at the library. Then, it had seemed like make-believe, but now she could see one for real, right in front of her and Granola's eyes! She could hardly contain her excitement. The size was as big as a circus tent, decorated in bright, happy colors of blue, red and yellow. “This must be a dream!” she said to Granola. Suddenly, Madilynn pinched herself and yanked on Granola's tail. Granola yelped. “Sorry, Granola. I was just checking to make sure we weren't dreaming. You know I love you.” Granola's tail wagged, as if to say that she forgave her.

Slowly and carefully the two marched forward, as if in a daze. “Wow, Granola, I never thought I would see a real zeppelin before! Did you?” Madilynn liked to talk to Granola as if she would speak back to her. She knew that she couldn't talk, but somehow she always made her feel safe. Madilynn trusted her and knew she wouldn't steer her wrong. Granola roofed twice as if to say, “Let’s go!” and so they continued to march on.

As they got closer, she could see some colorful tents and a creek nearby. “What a neat little camping spot!” she told Granola. They loved to camp, but hadn't been since the summer before.

She was so busy looking at the scenery that she hadn't noticed that the monkeys had suddenly stopped playing. They were chattering amongst themselves and packing up their instruments. She and Granola looked around and saw that the monkeys came in all different colors, shapes, and sizes. There were fat ones and skinny ones, brown ones and white ones, and even a tiny one that seemed to her to be the most interesting one of all. He was looking at them and talking to the others, and then he started to walk toward them.

Hi! My name's Mango! What's yours?” asked the tiny monkey.

I'm Madilynn Paige, but you can call me Madi P. for short, and this is my pal, Granola! She's a little bit shy at first.” Madilynn patted Granola on the head. “She gets nervous when meeting strangers for the first time,” she explained. Just then, Mango did something that made Madilynn burst with laughter. He smiled and walked right up to Granola, putting her nose in his hands and giving her a great big kiss! It surprise Granola just a little bit, but she loved kisses so much that she promptly licked Mango's face in return. Soon her tail was wagging so hard, you would have thought that they had been friends for years. “Well, for cryin' out loud in the summer time!” Madilynn shouted. “I have never seen Granola act like that to a stranger! You must really be special!” Madilynn was glad that Granola liked Mango. She had good instincts about people; instincts you could trust. Madilynn supposed that her instincts about monkeys were just as good.

Before long, Mango was showing Madilynn and Granola around the camp site like he was their designated tour guide. He explained that they were just visiting the area and would be shoving off in a couple of days. This piqued their curiosity and Madilynn and Granola wondered where they were planning to go next.

The day flew by quickly, as they had fun flying kites, catching butterflies, and telling stories. Soon, they found themselves sitting around the camp fire roasting sausages on sticks.

Mango was a curious monkey and thought that Madilynn seemed very intelligent for a human of her size. “Madi P., I was wondering, just how old are you?” he asked. “You seem so wise, but look very young.” Madilynn laughed.

Today I'm five years old, but tomorrow is my birthday and then I will be six!” she said with excitement. Madilynn always thought that birthdays were so much fun.

Mango then shook both of her hands at once and said to her, “My dear child, tomorrow we must have a birthday party, but today you must first make a wish!” Madilynn smiled and closed her eyes for a moment to concentrate on what to wish for.

Mango broke her concentration by gently tapping her on her shoulder, “Oh Miss Madilynn, you must share your wish with all of us, or you will not receive it.” He motioned for her to stand up in front of the group, smiling to encourage her to share her birthday wish. Madilynn stood up and took a deep breath.

I wish I could have....a ….giant....blueberry as big as my head!” she blurted out. Quickly, she covered her mouth with both hands, her eyes open wide. She couldn't believe she had uttered the words. What an incredibly crazy wish, she thought. Madilynn had never shared her birthday wish before. It had always been a big, fat secret. But this time, Mango told her that she must share, and share she did. Slowly, she let her hands fall to her sides and a smile came to her face as all the monkeys clapped their hands.

Yay! Woohoo!” The monkeys hooped and hollered, as one shook a tambourine, and one banged a drum. Then all at once, they started to sing...


That night, before Madilynn and Granola headed for home, Mango presented her with a special gift. “Dear Miss Madilynn, today we have the pleasure to call you friend and tomorrow we will have a party in your honor! I offer to you a treasure, found on one of my many explorations!” She looked down and saw him holding a beautiful pink seashell. He gently placed it in her hands and said thoughtfully, “You must listen with your heart and you will always find the truth.” Madilynn promised to always treasure the beautiful pink seashell and keep it safe. She thanked Mango and all the monkeys for their hospitality before setting off for home.

Later that night while she lay in her comfy bed, Madilynn thought of all the days' events. It almost seemed like a dream, but she was certain that it was not. She giggled to herself as Granola started to snore at the foot of her bed. Madilynn could hardly wait for the next day to come. She knew that it was going to be the best birthday yet.

Madilynn was awakened by her trusty friend, Granola, washing her face the next morning. She loved that dog so much. Granola had been by her side since the day she was born and they were best friends; always had been and always will be.

Madilynn wiped the slobber from her cheeks and the sleep from her eyes as she yawned. “Boy, was I sleepy,” she said. She stretched and looked around the room. Her eyes rested on the pretty pink sea shell on her bedside table. Suddenly, she woke up from her dreamy fog and remembered the day before more clearly. “What was it the monkey told me yesterday?” she asked out loud, as if Granola would tell her the answer. She closed her eyes to think. “Oh Yeah! I know! He said you must listen with your heart and you will always find the truth. Hmmm....I wonder what that means?” she asked herself, as she tapped her mouth in concentration. She reached for the sea shell and brought it close to her ear, her eyes wide with curiosity. Her eyes got as big as silver dollars. “Oh Granola, you should hear this!” Granola's ears perked up in attention as her tail thumped on the bed in excitement. Madilynn heard the ocean waves whooshing alongside a beach coming from inside the seashell. Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, ever so softly and gently to her ear. Then, she thought she heard a voice. She wasn't sure, thinking that maybe she had imagined it. She put the seashell up to her other ear, to see if she could hear any better out of that one. “Granola! You have GOT to hear this!” She put the sea shell up to Granola's ear for her to hear, and then quickly yanked it back to her own. “It's someone talking! I just know it is! He's asking for our help, Granola! Oh my!” she said worriedly. “He must be stuck in there!” she said. “Oh, Granola, we have to do something before it’s too late!” Granola yelped once, as if to say, “Yes!” and off they went.

With her back pack thrown over one shoulder, still wearing her nightgown and slippers, Madilynn was out the door and down the street as fast as her little feet would take her. Granola scampered by her side, tail wagging and tongue panting in anticipation. Granola wasn't so sure about this expedition, but she knew that she must go just in case Madilynn needed her, and so she followed.

Madilynn began to speak to Granola, as if to explain what all the fuss was about. “Now Granola, I know what you must be thinking, but we have to talk to Mango! We need to tell him that there is someone stuck in that sea shell! Maybe he will know what to do. If anybody knows, he will!” She nodded her head, trying to convince herself as well as Granola that she wasn't crazy. “I'm sure of it, Granola! Don't you worry! Every thing's going to be alright!”

So Madilynn and Granola followed their noses and tried to remember how they got to the monkey camp site the day before. It had all happened so fast and she wasn't really sure where to go. Just then, she saw a tiny, brightly colored flag flying in the distance, waving like a long lost friend. She hadn't noticed it the day before, but now she knew it must be the place. The flag was yellow and red and blue, just like the zeppelin! She patted Granola's head. “See, Granola? There it is! We're getting close! And you thought we were lost! Silly dog! You know I always bring my compass, just in case we need it!” she reassured Granola. Madilynn didn't mention the time when they went hunting for bullfrogs and completely got bamboozled. She was so excited; she could barely contain herself as she pointed to the little flag, “Granola, quick! Let's go!”

They found Mango down by the creek sitting on a stump, fishing for breakfast. “Hi guys!” he said, as he waved to them.

Oh Mango,” Madilynn started. “I'm so glad I found you! Something is wrong! Something is terribly wrong!”

Dear, dear,” he said. “Come sit down and tell me what is troubling you, child.” Mango had a way of making her feel better and she didn't know why. He just had that way about him, she guessed.

Madilynn sat on the ground in front of him and took a deep breath, trying to calm herself. “Mango, I know this might sound crazy, but…well, I heard someone in the seashell you gave me last night. At first I heard the ocean, because, you know that if you listen to a sea shell, you will hear the ocean, and I did.” She paused. “But then, I heard a voice. I heard someone calling for help! Oh, Mango, what can we do?” Madilynn pleaded with Mango to help.

There, there, child. Don't be distraught. This day is a day of celebration. Is it not?” Madilynn thought for a moment, and then remembered that it was her birthday. She had completely forgotten all about it! Then she looked down and realized that she was still wearing her pajamas and was a little bit embarrassed. “Oh my goodness! It is my birthday! I completely forgot,” she said. “I guess I forgot to get dressed, too,” she blushed.

Not a problem, my dear child!” he said, as he patted her hand. “We have a birthday tradition! We will give you a ceremonial birthday dress! Then we will sing and dance and make a big feast!” Mango stood up and quickly clapped his hands twice to summon two more monkeys. In no time at all, they were standing in front of him, bowing in servitude.

At your service, Sir,” they said in unison.

My dear friends, today is a joyful day! It is this dear child's birthday! Please see to it that she is dressed in the ceremonial birthday dress and given her some refreshment! Don't forget her trusty companion, Granola! She will require food and drink as well,” he said cheerfully.

Mango's friends gently took her by the hand and led her and Granola to one of the colorful tents. They gave her a dress to change into made of beautiful silk fabric in colors of red, blue and purple. Madilynn had never seen a dress so pretty and felt very special.

After she had changed, the monkeys gave her a silver goblet of fresh squeezed orange juice to quench her thirst and a bowl of water for Granola. One monkey combed and braided her hair, while the other played music on his ukulele.

Madilynn began to get sleepy and looked around the tent for a spot to rest. She noticed a cot, just her size with a little velvet pillow. It looked so inviting that she thought she might like to lay down for a nap. She realized that in all the excitement, she and Granola had missed their nap-time the day before, and suddenly she could barely keep her eyes open. She thanked the monkeys for being so nice to her and Granola and asked for a little quiet time to rest. Soon Madilynn was curled up on the cot like a sleepy cat. Granola quickly took her cue and crawled underneath the tiny bed and rolled herself up in a ball. In two shakes of a lamb’s ear, they both were snoring like a couple of polar bears.

Madilynn awoke to wet doggy kisses. Granola was licking her face, unmercifully, trying to wake her up. I must have slept a long time, she thought. “Ok, ok, Granola! I'm awake,” she said sleepily. Madilynn tried to remember where she was, when the smell of smoked turkey entered the tent. “Oh, Granola! I'm so hungry! Aren't you?” Granola nodded and wagged her tail in agreement. Granola definitely thought it was time to eat. They got up and shook the sleep from their eyes. “Man, was I tired. I wonder where Mango is?” she asked, looking toward Granola.

In an instant, as if he'd been summoned by a bell, Mango appeared at the entrance of the tent. “Good afternoon, my dears! Did you have a nice rest?”

Yes, thank you, Mango,” she said. “We had a lovely nap. Now could we please talk about the person in the sea shell?” she asked Mango, sweetly. “It sounds like he needs our help, don't you think?”

Oh yes, of course, my dear child,” he said politely. “You see, some riddles take time to be solved and time must pass before they can be answered. Please, let me take a listen to that sea shell and see if I can hear anything that can shed some light on the situation.”

Madilynn took the sea shell out of her backpack and gently handed it to Mango. “Hmm, hmm, mmhmm, very interesting,” he said as he nodded and handed the sea shell back to Madilynn. “Did you hear him? The man? Did he say anything to you?” Madilynn implored. Mango gently put his hand up and waved it side to side.

Dear child, you must calm down. If you let your emotions take control of you, the truth will not be revealed to us so clearly.” He raised a finger, as if to hush her and said, “There is only one thing to do if you want to save the person you hear in the seashell. We must go where the seashell came from and there we will find the voice that beckons you.”

Madilynn looked at Granola and Granola looked back at Madilynn. “Does that mean you will take us?” she asked Mango.

He nodded his head and smiled as he said, “Of course I will! I would love nothing more than to return to that area of the world. The crystal blue waters, delicious fruits, and sandy beaches are like nothing you’ve ever seen before. This truly will be a trip to remember!” he said thoughtfully.

Ok, then! Let's go!” Madilynn shouted.

Yes, dear child. We will go. But not before we feast!” Mango said, laughing a big belly laugh.

Mango led them to the other monkeys, where they were cooking and playing joyful music. Madi had never smelled anything quite so amazing. She could see all of her favorite foods; smoked turkey legs, blueberries, mangoes, and even banana pie! “Banana pie!” She squealed in delight. “My favorite!” She and granola danced around in excitement and could hardly wait to eat. They had worked up quite an appetite. Madilynn was happy to see that Granola was enjoying herself, too. “Yes,” she told Granola, “we will go where the sea shell came from later… but not before we feast!” she giggled.

Before they ate, Mango took Madilynn and Granola around to introduce them to all of his friends and made them feel welcome. It was as if she had known them all for a very long time. She couldn't put her finger on it, but she was sure that Mango was a very special monkey. She was glad to be his friend.

Ding, Ding, Ding! Someone was clanging a spoon on the back of a metal plate to get their attention. She guessed it was something like a dinner bell. They all took a place around a long table. Madilynn had never eaten at a table of this size and thought for a moment that this must be how the nobles felt when they feasted in the grand castles. She imagined herself a princess, feasting with the monkeys and her best pal, Granola.

Mango had even given Granola a turkey leg of her own and let her sit at her feet, just like she did at home. Madilynn, Granola, and all the merry monkeys ate until their bellies were so full that they couldn't even think of taking another bite.

After the meal, Madilynn needed to get up and move around a little bit, or else she knew she would get sleepy. She and Granola danced around and played games with the monkeys until they could dance no more.

Madilynn sat down to rest when she saw the little flag flying on top of the zeppelin in the distance. “Let's take a walk and get a closer look at that zeppelin,” she whispered into Granola's floppy ear. Madilynn was an inquisitive child and this time was no different. She wanted to explore a bit.

While they were eating, Madilynn noticed two colorful birds perched outside the zeppelin. It was almost as if they were guarding it. She thought now was the perfect time to investigate, while everyone was busy singing and dancing. They walked toward the zeppelin and saw that it was tied down like a tent, with ropes. The two colorful birds were parrots, perched at the entrance. They were bobbing their heads up and down, squawking back and forth.

Squawk! Looks like a little girl and her dog,” squawked the one on the right.

Squawwk! Wonder what they want!” squawked the other.

Treasure! Diamonds and gold!” squawked the first again.

We don't have any stinking treasure!” squawked the bird on the left.

Who knows what little girls want?” squawked the right one.

Maybe she's nice, maybe she's not!” squawked the other.

We Shall see!” the birds squawked in unison.

Madilynn and Granola looked at each other in surprise. It sounded as if these birds didn't trust her very much. Who can blame them? she thought. They certainly didn't know her and Granola. “It's only natural to be wary of strangers,” she said out loud. Madilynn decided to try and get to know them and so they headed in that direction. The closer they got, the faster the parrots bobbed up and down.

LOOK, here they come! Look! Here they come!” they squawked together.

Hi, my name is Madilynn and this is my trusty pal, Granola! Don't worry, she likes birds,” Madilynn said sweetly to the parrots. She could tell they were a wee bit nervous about Granola and she understood, somehow. They were birds after all, and Granola was a dog, though a very well-behaved one.

So, why are you two way over here?” Madilynn asked. “Don't you want to sing and eat with the rest of them?”

One of the birds squawked, “Watchin' the ship! Watchin' the ship!”

Keepin' it safe! Keepin' it safe!” squawked the other. They bobbed up and down and said no more. Madilynn and Granola could see that the birds took their job rather seriously and decided to leave them be and head back to join the others.

When they got closer, Mango ran up to her. “Come, come dear! We are ready to sit around the bonfire now! Then I will share our idea.” He winked as he said this and motioned for her and Granola to follow him.

The other monkeys were talking merrily amongst themselves while one played the flute. Mango patted a stump for her to sit on and she sat and listened. The music was mesmerizing and seemed to take her to a faraway place.

From across the bonfire, she saw Mango stand on a stump and clap his hands. He raised his arms up in the air to gather everyone's attention as a quiet hush filled the air.
Mango began to speak.

My dear friends, I would like to share with you a story; A true story that I had almost forgotten, until Madilynn came to visit us today. Long ago there was an island that was said to be more beautiful than any man or beast had ever seen, but it was rumored to have a spell cast upon it. For this reason it remained virtually uninhabited. Well, I was young and very stubborn about some things. I didn't believe in magic and the like so I was unimpressed by these silly rumors. Then there came a time during my many explorations when I grew bored of ordinary places and decided to gather a few of my friends together for a voyage. We all threw caution to the wind and set sail for the lost Isle of Sinaugwa. We all were young and full of hope and promise. We didn’t have a worry in the world and weren’t going to let a few old wives’ tales deter us. We set off for a grand adventure.”

It took us sixteen days to reach her and what we found was a site for sore eyes. The island had the most fertile ground that we had ever seen. The fruits and vegetables grew wild and plentiful; sweeter and even tangier than any we had tasted. The trees were bigger and even the birds' songs were prettier than any we had ever heard.”

Now, my friends, before this particular voyage, I didn't believe in fairy tales and the like. But after seeing the size of the bees and the butterflies there, I knew I had witnessed something not of this world. The bumble bees were the size of your fist! The butterflies even larger! I began to think I was suffering from heat stroke and was beginning to see things. I chalked it up to being over tired and hungry, quickly retiring myself below deck to get some much needed shut eye.”

Sometime during the night, I was awoken by a commotion. The crew was having an argument above deck and had called a meeting. Then someone motioned for a vote. Evidently, someone got spooked and now they were all ready to go home. Long story short, I was out-voted. I never found out what they saw, but from the look of fright in their eyes, I imagined it was no small thing.”

I respected the crew's vote and agreed to set sail in the morning. And that was that. I honestly thought that the oddities about the island were just a geographical phenomenon, and of no danger to us. But, whatever caused everything to grow at a greater size and pace than what we were accustomed had spooked the crew and they had had enough of it. Like I said, I was out-voted, so we planned to set sail for home at first light.”

Now, mind you, it had been a tradition of mine to take something from each of my adventures to share with the family and friends back home and this time was no different. That night before I retired back to my bunk, I saw something glistening by the moonlight in the distance. I decided to take a quick stroll on the beach and find out what was attracting the moon's attention. What I found was a beautiful pink sea shell. It seemed to shine from the inside out. The reflection of the moon seemed magical against its pearly surface. I knew that this would be my treasure from the long lost Isle of Sinaugwa to share with the folks back home. I quickly tossed it in my satchel and headed back to the ship.”

Over the years, I had pretty much forgotten about the sea shell, but kept it around for old time's sake. Then, when I met Madilynn and she told me about her birthday, I searched in my things for a gift. I found it at the bottom of my chest and figured it might give the girl a bit of good luck, so I gave it to her as a birthday present. Well, today she came to me, not in joy, but in fear, telling me that she had heard a voice in it!” Hearing this, the monkeys gasped and grew restless and began murmuring back and forth.

Mango motioned for them to hush and continued. “My dear friends, I speak to you tonight, not only to tell you of this story about a long lost island and its treasures, but to implore you to embark on a very important expedition. Our young friend, Madilynn, has discovered that someone is in need of our help. I believe this someone is on the Isle of Sinaugwa. Now I am asking each and every one of you for your assistance and trust in me to take you to this island and bring you back again in once piece.”

Just then someone yelled from the back, “I motion for a vote! All in favor say Aye!”

In one loud yell the entire band of monkeys and Madilynn yelled, “Aye!” It was unanimous! They were heading for the Island of Sinaugwa and she and Granola were going to help that person, if it was the last thing they did!

The monkeys jumped up and down, singing as they hooped and hollered. Then, just like she and Granola did the day before, everyone began to run around in a fury. They banged pots and pans as they went around filling satchels and crates as fast as they could.

Madilynn could scarcely believe it. They were going on a voyage with a band of monkeys, and riding in a zeppelin, no less! She chuckled to herself. It was almost too much for her to take in. Then she looked down at her trusty companion, Granola, and knew everything was going to be alright. As long as they stuck together, nothing would go wrong. She believed that with all her might. She had to.

Mango found his way back to Madilynn's side and grabbed her hand, patting it. “Don't you worry, my dear! We will find your friend and have him safe and sound in no time, no time at all!” The buzz of the monkeys was so loud, Madilynn could barely hear Mango telling her all about the zeppelin as she boarded it. She heard the parrots squawk, though.

Girl and her dog! Girl and her dog!” they squawked together as the crew passed the threshold.

I can't wait to show you the cabins!” Mango said excitedly. “You and Granola will have one of your own, of course. The zeppelin is a thing of beauty,” he continued proudly, just like he was captain of a ship. “It's a bit like a submarine, except that it flies. You will love it, wait and see!”

Mango showed Madilynn and Granola to their cabin and asked one of the monkeys to give them both a snack and a drink to help them relax before bed. Madilynn looked around her and thought the cabin looked a bit like those in old passenger trains, so perfectly neat and compact. Granola stretched and slid down by her feet, yawning, as Madilynn she sat and patted her head. “Yes, Granola it’s time for bed. And yes, this has been the best birthday ever, hasn't it?” Madilynn felt like the luckiest girl in the world and knew that with Granola by her side, she could do anything she set her mind to.

And so they were off.

Saturday, August 2, 2014


Big sister memories from the little one's point of view....

Matching lavender Easter dresses and sneezy pictures taken by dad.

Cheesy Egg Bake concoction made lovingly by you every Christmas morning

Comedy routines for Gramma after Grampa Gregory died. We all laughed until we cried.

You saying to me, "say, split pea soup ten times fast", and I did.

Sleeping on army cots in red plaid sleeping bags in Idaho. Waking up to chilly mornings and the smell of coffee and bacon on the fire by dad. Us kids sporting black sticky marshmallow faces from the night before.

You hiding your face in a pillow while we bounced up the edge of the mountain in dad's 4-door pink International "pickem up" truck.

Sharing clothes, make-up and Seventeen magazines as we were teenagers.

Me feeling awfully special to be able to learn to play the tenor sax that you bought with your paper route money and you being so nice to let me use it.

Me wanting to grow up to be as funny, smart and talented as my big sister. You were forever fearless.

We were and always will be, best friends. We shared a bedroom for almost 10 years, we shared a home for 18, and we will always share a piece of each other's heart.

I hope this birthday made you feel as special as you are.

May you never forget to dream and always believe that they can come true!

I love you and the person you have grown up to be; strong, loving and kind <3


Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Cabin

Her heart was at the cabin. She longed to feel the cool October air and to smell baked apples in the oven. Sitting on the padded bench near the window, a soft wool scarf wrapped around her shoulders, she let her imagination take her there. Closing her eyes and listening to the crackle of the fireplace, she willed herself to go to the cabin. She could almost taste the apple crisp.

It was October 31st, 1975. They were nestled in a tiny little cabin, just outside the town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Mom and dad had found this place while roaming the countryside on a weekend road trip during the summer. Mom had the nerve to ask dad to knock at the door and ask the folks if they would mind renting their cabin for a long weekend with the kids. The little elderly couple kindly obliged, saying they needed to visit the grand kids anyway. So, in the blink of an eye, a dream was born.
 Mom and dad were city kids who loved country life and did all they could to share their love of the great outdoors with us. This included nature walks, gardening, camping and the occasional story about how things were, back in the "good ol' days". Nothing could compare to the weekend at the cabin. You see, this cabin was all natural, electricity or running water. Being kids, we didn't really think about all the times we turned a light on, used the faucet, or flushed the toilet. Those things had always been there and it was just the way things were. Things were different at the cabin.

I had first been introduced to an outhouse during a camping trip and had pretty much decided that I'd rather piss in the dirt. The thought of any creepy crawly thing just waiting for a nice bite of my behind, was enough to make darn sure I didn't need to go number two for several days. That was during the summer, when we could take a shovel and dig a hole and cover it up. Now, it was October in Wyoming and the dirt was frozen like a rock already. There was no digging holes. I had to get friendly with the outhouse. I decided that, if wild animals didn't like fire, then snakes and bugs probably didn't either. So, I brought myself a candle, nestled in a jar and set it on the ground next to me. Sure enough, the little buggers scattered.

Since there was no electricity, that definitely meant no TV or radio. We were forced to entertain ourselves. Luckily, mom had thought ahead and brought some yarn, a crochet hook, some books, and all of our musical instruments to keep us occupied. My Gramma had taught me how to do the chain stitch, years before and that's as far as it went. I decided to make the world's longest chain. I figured I could string bells on it for a Christmas decoration or something. While I had the yarn and crochet hook in my hands I could almost feel my Gramma next to me. I sure wished I had been more patient and learned more. Maybe I could have made mittens or a hat. There was something therapeutic about working with my hands in front of the fire. I knew this must have been what my Gramma had felt like when she was a kid.

I soon realized that being at the cabin wasn't some form of Chinese torture, but actually kinda nice. I had always loved a fireplace and since we didn't have one at home, it was special. The fire was magical. The warmth, the smell, the crackling sounds and all the colors seemed to warm my entire being and calm me like nothing else had before. I wanted to sit near the fire and look at it for hours.

After a while of creating the worlds longest chain, I began to lose interest and decided to dig through the box of books mom had brought. I found one that I had started, but never finished called, "Little Women". I re-positioned myself in the window seat and wrapped a blanket around myself.
I sat mesmerized by the beauty of what I saw next. There was a deer about 10 yards from the door. She seemed to be looking for food, nuzzling the earth. I had never seen a deer so close before. At this distance, I could clearly see the thick frost on her whiskers and her foggy breath shoot from her nose as she snorted at the air. Oh, how I wished to go out and touch her. But, I knew that the squeak of the door would have scared her off, so I watched quietly from the window.

Then out of nowhere, there was a shot. My head rang like the clanging of a dinner bell. I clasped my ears and closed my eyes, fearing the worst. My brain raced around like a mouse in a maze, lost. Somebody must of broke in, wanting food or money. "Oh poor daddy! I hope he's not hurt!" My eyes saw what had happened, but my heart could not believe it. The beautiful deer that was standing before me, was now laying down in a red snowy blanket. I couldn't believe my eyes. My dad stood over it, shotgun in hand. My mind ran out of control. “I didn't know he could shoot! Where in the world did he get that gun? Why did he have to go and kill her?” I wanted to puke.

I felt my feet running, but my head was somewhere else. Racing to the woods with tears pouring out of my eyes, like an endless faucet, I screamed. "I hate him, I hate him! Why did he have to do that? I'll never eat deer as long as I live! Never, never, never!"

I ran till my legs would no longer take me and I fell on my knees and clasped my face in my hands and sobbed. Nobody I had loved had ever died before and now, in an instant it had happened right before my eyes. I was mortified.

My heart ached and pounded in my chest. Slowly I scooped up some snow and washed my face with it, trying to calm myself. Shaking from the shock and the cold, I looked down and realized that I was barefoot. I wrapped the blanket around my frosty feet and leaned back against a giant pine tree that must have been there for a hundred years. I closed my eyes and inhaled the sweet scent of the pine. Just then, I heard a twig snap close by and opened my eyes. It was a baby deer. It looked at me and snorted, as if to say he was ok. It was beautiful and serene. I wondered if I could give him a hug with my eyes,and if he would understand. In an instant, he bowed his head and turned, skipping up the hill, as fast as he'd appeared. I knew then, that this was the way life was in the wild. Mother Nature shared her bounty with us and we were to be grateful and respect the earth.

I stood up and followed my own footsteps back to the cabin. I knew that daddy would be looking for me and it would be dark very soon. I started to run, like a deer in the woods, scampering over the rocks and the snow, feeling freer than I had ever felt before.

Monday, May 13, 2013


It was six weeks to the day, when Mama Kitty ran off. It had started sprinkling outside and my Darling Love ever so gently, scooped up her box and moved it out of the rain. That did it. She was miffed by all the commotion and took off like a shot in the night. There was much to do and all she wanted was to not be disturbed.

Three days later she showed up, skinny, hungry and thirsty. We were all relieved to see that she had born her babies, but a wee bit concerned as to the whereabouts of them. My Darling Love assured me that nature had run its course and Mama Kitty would share her babies with us, when she saw fit. I waited, not so patiently, day after day, week after week.

Each time a storm would come I would fear the worst. What if she had those babies in the dry creek bed, past the field? They would surely be swept away with the quick current brought on by the rain. We also had owl's in the tree belt out back that would be hankering for a tiny morsel, such as a new born kitten, I'm sure. They weren't too picky. To them a field mouse or a kitten would taste just as sweet. Oh, the things my ever loving mind imagined over the weeks of not seeing or hearing any kittens.

I was sure that they were alive, at least a few, after close inspection of Mama Kitty's underbelly. She had definitely been suckled by at least three, maybe six, muddy babies. That was good news! They were alive! So I waited...and waited.

Then, night before last, my Darling Love said he heard kitties in the darkness. Blame it on too much loud music in my younger years, but Lord, I heard nothing but the hoot of an owl and the makings of a feline love-fest in the distance. As much as I peered out my bedroom window and cocked my head to listen, I heard nothing other than the leaves of the pear tree rustle and those hungry owls in the tree belt. I fell asleep, thinking he was sweet, but crazy.

Yesterday, I had opened the shades to the French doors, like I always do before getting the dog on the leash to go out and do her morning wiggle and romp in the grass. Poochy went crazy, whining, barking and hitting the door with her paws. Oh my Lord! There were three baby kitties sunning themselves next to their mama on the back patio! At least I thought there were. They ran so fast, at the sight of the dog trying to bust the glass to get to them, that it was all such a blur. I screamed, "Kittie's! We've got Kittie's!"

Heaven only knows why it was such a surprise to see three beautiful baby kitties snuggling so sweetly with their mama on my patio. We all knew they would show up, eventually. At least, I had hoped. There was always the possibility that some neighborhood rugrats would get their hands on them first and we wouldn't even get a sight of their cute, little, fuzzy faces. Of course, we had planned to give them all away, except for one. But the truth of the matter was, we weren't sure if we would even get the chance to do that. Lord knows, we don't need another mouth to feed around here. But, my oh my, the site of a kitty sure does bring a smile to one's face!

Here I am, giddy as a school girl, giggling and sneaking up to the window to catch a peek at those cats rolling around and batting at each other's noses. I just can't get enough! Mother Nature is so clever and wise. The way Mama Kitty knows just what to do to take care of her babies is really quite remarkable. After all, it wasn't so long ago that she was just a wee baby herself. Now look at her, all grown up with little ones of her own.

I could sit here and watch them forever and a day and never be bored. Now I understand why people get fed up and move to the country. They've figured out that it's the simple things in life that are so sweet.
Sitting here on this Mother's Day, I have laughed more and smiled much at the joy and wonder of a new Mama Kitty and her three precious babies. Life is good.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Although the day is cold, my heart is warm
Glowing like the embers of a fire, red hot
Burning deep inside, consuming my every thought and breath
My mind spins as I find myself in your arms
Knowing if we are miles apart,  inside my soul, you are with me
Space and time can never part us
Our love roars like a fire
Nothing stands in its way
The universe has never seen a love such as this
Together our hearts are entwined, like a vine
Growing together, stronger than ever
Your gentleness and strength encompass me
In sweet embrace, my heart overflows

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


He sat and stared at the distant window, restlessly looking to and  fro. His crying almost inaudible to human ears. He waited in hopes of catching a glimpse of life from inside. His meal dotted with snow, he huddled over it, trembling, attempting to finish it, not knowing if this was to be his last. His hollow stomach quickly  filled, he continued to gorge himself, knowing survival was all that mattered. He glanced around in haste, perking up his ears at every noise. An owl hooted in the distance, as if to warn him of a nearby thief. Breaking the ice with his frozen hand, he watched the freezing water rush by. His tongue, swollen like a dry, hot sponge  touched the cold, icy wetness, waking him out of his stupor. A stray dog bounded toward him. He knew her well. The neighborhood ruffian, who would leap at the chance to rip a small animal  to shreds. She had the nose of a bloodhound and the heart of a lion. But he was faster, or at least he hoped so. Suddenly, while he lapped at the creek, she stopped in her tracks as his scent hit her nose. His heart skipped a beat as he watched her fur bristle, her low growl starting to resonate through the creek bed. He knew this was it. The time he had been waiting for. The time to run like a gazelle in the wilds of Africa. He gulped a quick breath before racing through the trees, leaving her barking at the wind.

He imagined himself going to a sweet young thing, snuggling in the night. Quickly, he wiped the image from his mind. He had many friends that had been caught in that net and he liked his freedom. He was a wildcat, after all. He really didn't understand what all the fuss was about. Of course, the warmth of a cuddle would make his nights more pleasant. But, was it really all it was cracked up to be? He thought not. Being on his own had its perks. As he shook off the cold damp night, he continued to talk to himself. Going solo he could come and go as he pleased, not answering to anyone. He liked that sort of thing. Being his own boss, so to speak. Maybe someday he would think differently, if the right sort of gal came along. But at this stage of the game, he was the Lone Ranger. Who needs Tanto anyway? He surely didn't. Life was complicated enough, without worrying about a sidekick, anyhow. Food was hard enough to come by. Why worry about splitting it with another hungry beggar? No sirree... Not in your life. Not if he could help it. At least not for now.... maybe someday. He stopped to catch his breath and sit for a spell. He had survived.... again.

In the days and nights that followed, the temperatures rose and fell like the notes in a carousel song. Dreaming of the soon-to-be spring, he slept. In what must have been a week's time, he slowly came to. As if to awaken from a foggy coma, he saw a bright, warm light. He let it shine on him and warm his being. He could see it through the slits of his eyes, so bright, so warm and beautiful. He slowly stretched and opened his eyes to the sound of  baby birds piercing his ears. Spring had finally come, in all her glory.


This camping business wasn't all it was cracked up to be. When she was a kid, she used to  love huddling deep inside that old red sleeping bag and sleeping on a lumpy, old army cot. This was nothing like that. She had made a make-shift tent out of an old bed sheet and a broom handle. Thank God she was crafty. Mom had always said she could make something out of  nothing. That was in the kitchen, not in the woods! In all of her wildest dreams, she never imagined that she would be making her bed on a pile of newspapers, like a bum. Where did she go wrong? 

 It all seemed like a blur. The bills, the marriage, the house....all swirling above her head like a silent tornado. Now she was left holding the pieces of her broken life, with nothing but her beautiful blue-eyed, girl. If it wasn't for her, she didn't know what she would do. She had to be strong  for her, if nothing else. After all, she would always be her baby's mama and nobody could take that from her... nobody. 

 When they had talked about camping out at the park, they didn't have grandiose plans. They just figured, it was free and relatively safe. She had always told her daughter about the fun she had as a kid, camping with her family. She forgot to mention how she buried her head in her pillow as her dad bounded up the mountain in that pink International 4-door pickup, deathly afraid that she would somehow fall off the edge of the cliff. She had been petrified of heights, but that was nothing like this. She tried to put herself back there, reading her Seventeen magazine, without a care in the world. Life was so simple back then. Now all she could think about was, how dark this place was. Didn't they have street lights at the park? Every little snap of a  twig put her on alert. She felt like a soldier on guard duty. She decided that she wouldn't sleep tonight. Instead, she would watch over her little girl and make sure she rested. Looking down at her face, she saw an angel. Her blonde hair glowing in the moonlight, resting peacefully. She was so brave and strong. She knew in her heart that they would make it through this together. This was just a minor setback, a hitch in her get-along.  Everything was gonna be alright. She kept telling herself that. She had to. 

She started to tremble as her mind followed every sound in the night. Trying so hard to not let it break her. She thought about her dad's scrape knuckle breakfasts. Those were the best! Her dad was a great cook and breakfasts were his specialty, with eggs over-easy, hash-browns, bacon and toast. The thought of it made her stomach growl, like a big dog. She began to think of places she could go for a cheap breakfast in the morning, seeing those golden arches glow in her mind's eye. All she wanted was a 10 cent cup of coffee. Did they even have those anymore? She thought of all the places she might be able to find a scrap of food discarded, haphazardly. In her mind, she was a squirrel foraging for food. Not for herself, but for her precious baby. She would never let her go hungry. At least, not for very long. She thought of God and wondered what she had done to deserve this punishment. No, she could not blame him. This sort of  thing happened to a lot of good people. It was the sign of the times. She didn't know exactly what put her here, but she knew she needed to find help. She would set out to go to a church tomorrow and see if there was anyone that could help her find shelter for her and her darling daughter.

In this thought of peace and the hope of promise, she let her eyes and her heart rest, even if just for a little while.