Frog to Princess

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“I want a frog, not a dog.” Merrilee stamped her foot, shaking her pretty mane like a recalcitrant horse until a crowd gathered around. Her mother turned ten shades of crimson. Some mothers would have marched her out. If her mother had that in her, Merrilee would never have perfected such a performance.

“Sorry, darling, I misheard. A frog, then.”

Merrilee pointed to a princely amphibian. The store clerk readied a cardboard carton with holes on top. As he lowered the frog into the container, Merrilee said, “Stop, I need to kiss him first to confirm that he’s the one.”

Lamp Luck

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Aladdin served sheiks and veiled ladies at Bosphorus Square Lamps.

On slow days, he cleaned the trade-ins. Noting the component materials, he checked for dents, damage, and neglect. He assessed usability: plugs, wires, oil wicks. He cleaned the lamps up and set a price. But none of them was magic. Aladdin could tell.

An elderly gentleman came in with an old fener. “It needs a good home,” he said.

Holding the lamp, Aladdin felt a nervous energy inside. “I’ll keep it for myself,” he said.

“It needs tea and baklava. Four o’clock, without fail.”

Aladdin did a happy dance inside.

Heisenberg Cat and Mouse

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Late as usual, HJ Rabbit sat down at the hookah bar and pulled in smoke, hiccuping and shedding huge tears.

Cheshire Cat materialized. “What took you so long?”

HJ snuffled into a linen handkerchief. “Couldn’t catch the queen.”

One-half of a smile appeared across the mushroom table. “You do know, she’s just a placeholder? Something of a nothing.”

“Really?”

The entire smile emerged. “So she’s easy to find.”

“However will we manage to do that?”

“You speed down x in real time. I’ll pop in and out of the imaginary axis. She never goes anywhere. We’ll meet her at zero.”

A Watch for All Time

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His Excellency, Herman Jay Rabbit, leaned against a case displaying all manner of timepieces, all keeping time at different speeds. Most of Wonderland had learned to live with this.

Rabbit had not. “My good sir, you have perverted time itself,” he said when the shopkeeper arrived from behind a brown curtain.

Fingering a loupe, he said, “I don’t know what you mean, sir.”

“I always seem to be late.”

“For whom,” asked the man.

“Her Majesty.”

The man said, “There’s no watch fast enough to keep up with the Queen.”

“But I must arrive on time.”

“You’ll need a calculator.”

The Prodigal Fleece- An Ad

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No one asks for woolens anymore. No bags full for BaaBaa’s master or his dame, especially none for the trekkers freezing in Nepal waiting to climb to the top of some freaking mountain. Which one? BaaBaa can’t remember, but he knows exactly when wool tanked and fleece took off.

Warm, washable, even woolly if you get the right stuff. And BaaBaa makes the right stuff. He has a reputation to live down as the black sheep of the family- a misspent childhood, years in Nepal’s wild, sacred heights. He’s redeemed himself.

This bad boy kicks the competition. Woolmark, eat your heart out.

Watching from the Window: Revised

Parisian Interior by József Rippl-Rónai 1910
Photo by Monica McHenney

After a day at the easel, Rippl-Rónai relaxes with a view into the Parisian streets. He’s nearly fifty. He’s colored a blue tablecloth red. Seeing the world in patches of paint stiffened textures like corn on canvass. A new facture. Rough like the times. Fractured like a world before war.

Four years later, the Father of Modern Hungarian Art will be interned in a displaced person’s camp. Paris Interior, will be displayed in San Francisco, then lost in America until 1924. Conflict, pandemic flu. His art reflecting unrest, impatient crowds, and French Soldiers Marching. A tired, then hopeful, 1920 seems almost normal.

Watching from the Window

Painting József Rippl-Rónai 1910

Imagine the painter after a day at the easel in a room, now salon not studio. Le dejeuner cleared from the red tablecloth. He looks outside. A foreigner in Paris. Homesick for Hungary. Hopeful for himself, for his talent, and with good reason. He will become the Father of Modern Hungarian Art.

But not before he is tested. He will be interned in a displaced person’s camp as the Great War begins. Paris Interior, on exhibit in San Francisco, will be detained as enemy property, spoils. War, pandemic flu, it will be years before the world rights itself. Have faith.

If Those Three Words Were a Statue, We Could Take it Down.

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“Merciless Indian savage.” The Declaration of Independence contains these hateful words.

I did a double take when I saw the phrase emblazoned on a tee shirt in Southwest Alaska. The dark-haired girl wearing it was laughing with a friend. Her bright eyes and brilliant smile offered a refutation to the offensive words.

Contrast the clutch of fishermen on the ferry who bristled with antipathy as a Native man walked past. I stared at them, a witness. Spoke as an ally when the local clinic turned away a Native who needed emergency treatment. The founding fathers got those three words wrong.

California Winter

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It rained. And then froze. The rain a teaser. Maybe no drought this year. Maybe there’s snow piled into the mountains. Not that we’ll know. Since the electricity stopped working, we haven’t heard from anyone more than a buggy’s ride away.

Try explaining electricity to a five-year old. It always ends up with magic. The same way that putting seeds in the ground and getting peas seems like a miracle. We used to show our daughter how peas grow. How they need water. Used a plastic cup and a paper towel. None of those left. Good thing there’s still miracles.

Freecycle the Election

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Offer: Votes counted, recorded
 Wanted: Respect the process
 Wanted: Respect the poll workers
 Wanted: Respectful governance
 Offer: Divisive grandstanding
 Wanted: Cooperation, infrastructure fixes, progress on climate change, social justice, fair wages and workplace equity, election reform, Covid stimulus, policies informed by science
 Wanted: Problems solved
Offer: Solutions denied
 Taken: by “fake news”
 Offer: More of the same
 Wanted: Critical thinking
 Offer: Knee-jerk opposition  
 Taken: The path of least resistance
 Taken: in by divisive grandstanding
 Given: More of the same
 Offer: Both sides media
 Wanted: Fact based media
 Wanted: Fact based politics
 Wanted: Starting now: communicate, listen, empathize, come together.