Awake, You Sleepers!

Once there were three citizens of a bungalow-kingdom.

There was Lord Delancey, brave and strong and true, who strode forward each day, leaving the bungalow-boundaries. He went forth and slew any pesky dragons he encountered and then he returned, around 5:45, for dinner and a couple of episodes of Twin Peaks before retiring to his reading chair with a thick book of modern wisdom.

Lord D

(Someone once suggested to him that he could be known as the BungaLord, but he said, “No. Lord Delancey will be just fine, thank you.”)

There was Dame Dowenwanna. She’d slewn a few of her own dragons in the day, thank you very much, but, for the most part, she was pretty happy now to be the main bungalow-maintainer. She greased the wheels and stoked the fires and made sure the lamps were lit in the gathering dark.

Dame D

And finally there was young Lord Lyric, who was slowly but firmly, step by tender step, learning the art of dragon-slaying. He ventured out into that noble world just a little, but, every season, a little bit more.

And meantime, he chronicled BungaLife with his clever and witty songs.

Three citizens of Bungalow

All for one to make life go

Swift and smooth and straight and slick

Collaborate to make things tick!

And things hummed along pretty smoothly.

And then the power stopped surging to things here and there.

***********

First it was the garbage disposal. Dame Dowenwanna was preparing a lovely stew, with carrots and potatoes, celery and onion, and she gleefully peeled and diced and rough chopped. And then she sink-dumped the peelings and the scrapings and she pushed them toward the disposal’s metal maw—she pushed with a wooden spoon, turned a strong stream of water on the mushy mess, and hummed while she reached under the sink to flick on the disposal switch.

But, instead of the expected electronic, metallic gnashing, there was silence. No whirring into action. Nothing.

The sodden veggie peels waited, limp and disgusting.

Dame Dowenwanna toggled the switch. She took a break and let it rest and tried again. She kept it up for 15 minutes and then she said, “Something’s wrong.” She went and got a plastic bag and scraped all the veggie residue into it, and she disposed of those leavings by hand.

Scrapings.jpg

When Lord Delancey came home for dinner, she informed him of the issue. He stood at the sink, ran the water, and flicked the switch. And still, nothing happened.

There was a time of quiet, and then, between them, Lord and Dame, they called it.

“The garbage disposal,” they said, sadly, “is dead.”

Oh, we have lost our garbage disposal!

Will it be replaced?

Who knows,

Who knowsal?

Peely scrapey, where’ll you go???

“Why, thank you, Lord Lyric,” said Dame Dowenwanna. And the young Lord bowed and went to sit at the dining table. Disposal or not, dinner must be served.

**********

The next morning, Lord Lyric went to work at his computer. He was humming a merry little lay-about-y tune, brisk and sunny. The tune grew slower, and then it grew less sunny, and then a despondent Lord Lyric stuck his face through the kitchen doorway.

And he said this:

My monitor keeps dying!

“Oh, NO,” said Dame Dowenwanna.

“Perhaps,” said Lord Lyric, “when Lord Delancey comes back, we will call the corporate help desk together. Meanwhile,” and he pulled himself up to his full height, pointed his left index finger at the ceiling, and firmed up his voice, “meanwhile, I have no choice. I will have to type on my laptop.”

Lyric.jpg

Dame Dowenwanna shook her head sadly and went back to stuffing food scrapings into an old Kroger bag. She heard young Lyric singing from his workspace.

Oh, oh, lackaday me!

My monitor’s dark

And I can’t see

The words I’ve typed

Though I’ve squinted and stared

Oh, how long

Till it’s repaired?

***********

She bagged the garbage.

He used his laptop.

And the next night, as darkness spread its inky stain over the world, Lord Delancey opened the dishwasher door, and he stood assessing. Hip cocked, lips pursed, he looked, and then he thought, “Aha!”, and he bent down to act. He rearranged a glass and a plate. He moved a serving dish from top rack to bottom. He rinsed out his ice cream bowl, lodged it securely into the new space he’d created, and stepped back to look once more.

Satisfied, smiling, he drew a dishwasher pod from the cupboard under the sink, and he secured it firmly into the pod-place. And then he turned the dishwasher on.

But nothing happened.

He started over. He checked for obstructions. He insured the machine was plugged in.

And then he closed the door and tried again.

The machine did not respond.

***********

Oh, sang Lord Lyric,

There’s sadness in the land

And all the bungaladishes,

They must be washed by hand.

Those nasty pots a-soaking?

Attack them with a will-oh!

The dishwasher died,

And you’re left with just a

Brillo.

**********

Life went on in the bungalow, but it was just a little more bumpy. Dame Dowenwanna sighed a lot more often, and she clattered dishes when it was time for clean-up, and Lord Delancey found himself elbow-deep in soap suds much more regularly. And young Lyric muttered and grumbled as he pounded the fragile keyboard of his laptop.

Once a day, at least, one of them would mutter, We have to get this fixed!

But time went by, as time is wont to do. Days began and ended, months slipped by, and seasons changed.

Years,–yes, even years--passed.

***************

And then one morning—well, who knows why Dowenwanna did it? There, in the midst of her Saturday morning cleaning, she reverted to old habits, turned on the water, flipped an under-sink switch,—and Dame Dowenwanna began dancing around the kitchen, breakfast dishes be damned.

“Listen!” she caroled, and both the Lords came running—running to hear a raspy metallic chortle.

“The disposal!” she cried “It’s working!”

Lord Delancey grabbed her and they swung around in an elegant waltz, and Lord Lyric sang,

To life!

To life!

Disposal!

…which was the best he could do under such frenetic circumstances.

And Lord Lyric got a thoughtful look, and while Delancey and Dowenwanna danced, he slipped away to his desktop.

The only noise for just a bit was the musical chomping of the disposal and the pounding of four dancing feet,…but then! A triumphant song!

Oh, my monitor:

Happy day!

The lights are on

And I have to say,

A new cord’s

What made it work!

Two years dormant;

Oh, I feel like a jerk!

Ho, de hidey, ho de ho!

*********

And Dame Dowenwanna shooed Lord Delancey out of the kitchen, turned off the disposal and pulled out the mop so she could clean the floor. She swept and she scrubbed. She maneuvered the mop into corners and nooks; she mopped around Lyric’s large sneakered feet when he sidled in, in his joy, to get a snack. She pushed the mop beneath the moribund dishwasher and she hummed as she twiddled the mophead around, pulling out dust and ditties.

And then she swirled around, dancing the mop into the space surrounding the stove.

And Lyric stopped short.

“Dame,” he said.

And when she, humming, didn’t hear him, “DAME,” he said, louder.

And pointed toward the dishwasher.

Which was on.

They shouted in wonder; Delancey came running. They fiddled with buttons, touched spots on the touchscreen. They ran a refreshing rinse cycle.

Because it was true: the dishwasher, too, was working.

**********

Oh, oh, what do you know?

Machines must sleep!

Nap’s over, though.

A turn of events

Precisely stunning:

What once was junk,

Now is running!

Happy happy hey hey hey!

**********

Oh, the happy bungalow hum! Garbage disappeared, a desktop keyboard preened under a long overdue stroking, and three people woke up to gleaming, sanitized dishes.

What a day! What a wonderful day! Who knew that appliances, electronic devices, machines, could heal themselves!

Breakfast was a grand affair, and Delancey garbed himself for his daily foray—dragons were no match for a man with his dishwasher restored—and strode off into the thick of it.

Lyric, words pounding in his head, marched off to pound on his keyboard.

And Dowenwanna, after checking her email and ordering a book or two online, swirled through the house with the dust mop. She vanquished a few stubborn cobwebs, and she swiped a bit of fuzz from the woodwork.

And then she pulled the heavy old vacuum cleaner from the closet, let lose its cord, and plugged it in.

**********

Lyric came running when he heard her wail. He saw her, bent over the lifeless cleaning machine, the vacuum cleaner that refused to suck, and a dirge leapt into his mind. He opened his lips to sing.

But Dowenwanna lifted a hand, palm out.

“Don’t EVEN,” she said, and she wrapped the cord around the prongs and trundled the vacuum, verve vacated, back to its dark and lonely hiding place.

Vac

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A Frable

Framma and Frappa Frantastic had five frabulous children: Freddie, Fralph, Frieda, Frannie, and the baby, Frappucina.

The Frantastic Family
The Frantastic Family

As each child came of age, Framma and Frappa presented him or her with a house. That way, each child learned how to clean and how to cook, and they each had a chance–and a space in which–to develop his or her own skills.

Freddie learned that he loved to work with wood. He made tables and chairs, desks, and picture frames. He taught all his friblings how to measure, saw, and hammer without error.

Fralph found he was a cook. When he simmered his stews, he drew the whole family to his house. He loved having them all around his table. He loved to feed them, and he loved to teach them his culinary secrets.

Frieda decorated! She could make a lovely display out of things she found in the woods, laying on the sidewalk, or in her junk drawer. She had an artistic eye and an imaginative soul. Her family praised her creations, and all of her friblings loved working on special displays with her.

Frannie threw herself into working with plants, indoors and out. She could make a tiny seed shoot up six feet high. She sang to her plants, and she said they sang back to her.

“Teach us those songs!” her friblings begged.

The Frantastic kids had many talents
The Frantastic kids had many talents

When Frappucina came of age, Framma and Frappa presented her with her house. Then they gathered all five children for an announcement.

“Now that you are all grown, and can take care of yourselves,” began Framma…

“…we are taking our long awaited world tour,” finished Frappa.

“It should take us four or five months,” Framma added, helpfully.

The Frantastic children were stunned. Five months? But then they thought, How wonderful. How wonderful for Framma and Frappa. And how wonderful that they know we can take care of ourselves.

The children helped their parents pack, and they waved them off with barely any tearful goodbyes.

It was a little weird at first, living without the tender strong center parents provide, but soon they found they were quite liking the novel sense of autonomy. Every day they worked together, shared their skills, and created new things…furniture or food, decorations, floral displays…

And they were all watching to see what Frappucina’s special skill would be.

So far she seemed to love doing everything, but not to be particularly brilliant at anything.

The days rolled on into weeks. Framma and Frappa sent cards and called every three days. The weather changed, the leaves brightened, and then the leaves fell, and one morning, when they met in the courtyard to plan their day, the Frantastics found fluffy white snow on the ground

They knew what that meant: the Feast of the Fruminaria was fast approaching!

They began to get ready.

Freddie made each of them a wooden frame to put outside their homes. Frieda gathered pine cones and vines and made a very pretty display on hers. She twined twinkle lights throughout, and it was very beautiful.She shared her supplies with the others and they each had fun making a display.

Ralph invited them all over to decorate the cookies he had made. Frieda’s were frilly. Frannie’s looked like flowers. Freddie’s were well-constructed. Fralph’s were delicious to taste, and delicious to behold.

Frappucina’s were, frankly, a little bit odd-looking, but she had so much fun with the frosting and the sprinkles that she made them all laugh, over and over and over again.

It was a good day. They went off to their little houses tired, excited, and happy.

The next day they had a surprise visitor. It was their cousin Drano from Drabulatia.

They all liked Drano, even though he was a little bossy.

They liked Drano despite his bossiness
They liked Drano despite his bossiness

The first thing he did was check out their decorations.

“This is the only GOOD one,” he said when he came to Frieda’s. “Why don’t you let her do all of yours?”

The Frantastic kids looked around. Suddenly they saw their decorations through outsider eyes.

Drano was right. Except for Frieda’s, the decorations were all–well, they were just frappy-looking.

“I’ll be happy to do yours over for you,” Frieda said to all of them. At first she was kind and sweet. Then she got a little crazy. They weren’t all sure they liked the creations she put in front of their houses, but she and Drano insisted they were brilliant.

They had a coffee break and Drano tasted their cookies. He said Freddie’s were clunky, Frieda’s and Frannie’s were too francy, and Frappucina’s were just plain weird. Fralph’s were the only good ones, he said. They looked at each other, then they looked at the cookies they’d thought were so wonderful only the night before.

Each one, when he or she thought no one else was looking, slipped their particular not-quite-right cookies into the garbage. Except for Fralph, of course…Fralph got just a little high and mighty about being the King of Cookies.

Drano decided Freddie had the only comfortable furniture.

He said Frannie was the only one whose landscaping was worth a frit.

And he said it didn’t seem like Frappucina had any special skills at all.

“Too bad,” he said. “I guess there’s one in every family.””

And then he left, whistling and skipping a little, clutching a bag of Fralph’s good cookies.

The friblings sat. They couldn’t think of a single thing to do that might be fun. Before it even got dark, they drifted to their own houses. Each went to bed early, and each tossed and turned discontentedly.

But the next morning brought a wonderful surprise: Framma and Frappa were home—home just in time for the Feast of the Fruminaria!

They had had a wonderful time, and they had stories to tell and gifts to share. Together, Framma and Frappa fixed a big, wonderful breakfast, and as they ate their first meal as a reunited family, the Frantastics all began to cheer up.

The children were anxious to show their parents what they’d done while they were gone. Framma and Frappa admired Freddie’s new chairs,and they asked what the other fribs had made.

They loved Frannie’s planting, and they looked for the plants at the other houses. They liked Frieda’s decorations, but they were puzzled when they looked at the other children’s.

“This just doesn’t feel like it’s yours,” they said to each one.

It was the same with Fralph’s cookies…Framma and Frappa loved them, of course, but they were sad not to see their other children’s creative hands in that fun and tasty project.

“Did we tell you,” asked Freddie, “that Drano was here?”

“Ah,” said Framma to Frappa.

Frappa was quiet for a minute. Then he said, “Let’s open presents!”

What a lovely lot of things Framma and Frappa brought them–fripperies and furbelows, francies, funny faddy things, and frodaciously frumptious frivolities. The Frantastics were ecstatic, and they played together and ate together and laughed together all day.

They had so much fun. It was almost impossible to say who enjoyed it most, BUT–Frappucina had the widest grin and the loudest laugh, and the way she trilled and carried on made them all smile, inside and out.

That was a wonderful day. And, as the sun dropped behind the horizon, each of the Frantastic kids kissed the parents, hugged the friblings, and wandered off to bed—except for Frannie. Right at the end, Frannie had gotten thoughtful; she’d gotten quiet. And she waited.

When her brothers and sisters had all drifted off to their homes to sleep, she went to her parents and asked the question that was fracking her heart.

“Do you think it’s really true,” she asked, “that Frappucina isn’t good at anything?”

“Ah, Frannie,” said Framma, and Frappa gave Frannie a great strong hug.

“Everyone,” said Frappa, “has many, many gifts. Finding them is your life’s work.”

“But,” said Framma, “you are all on your way. Already–

“Freddie is a carpenter; his gift is to shape the wood.

“Fralph is a chef; his gift is to fricassee and fry and to feed us with his lovingly cooked food.

“Frieda is a decorator; she combines elements to make us feel happy and at home.

“YOU are a horticulturist; you coax even the most reluctant plant to grow into glossy beauty.

“Frappucina is going to grow into many wonderful skills and gifts, but right now she has discovered one of the very, very best: she is an enjoyer.”

“An enjoyer,” said Frannie thoughtfully.

“Did you ever notice,” said Frappa, “how Frappucina’s laughter makes us all laugh? How she reminds us how good breakfast tastes or how nice it is to all be together?”

“She does,” said Frannie. “She does do that!”

“Each of you is brilliant at your big thing”, said Framma, “and because of that, we all appreciate those things a little more and a little better. Frappucina’s big thing is enjoyment; she makes us all enjoy EVERYTHING deeper and better.”

That was exactly right, Frannie thought; what Framma and Frappa said was right and true. Frappucina DOES add spice and life to every occasion.

But,– “Why did Drano make us all feel so BAD?” asked Frannie.

“Well,” said Frappa, and he looked at Framma, and he smiled and shrugged. “Drano may be my nephew, Frannie, but when it comes to enjoyment, I’m afraid he’s a little,—a little,— What is it I’m trying to say, my dear?”

“CLOGGED,” said Framma. “When it comes to enjoyment, we’re afraid Drano is a little CLOGGED.”

“Ah,” said Frannie. “I think I see. But if Drano is clogged, do you think he will ever discover his special thing?”

“Let’s hope,” said Framma, “he is lucky enough to spend time with a creator and time with an enjoyer, and to keep his eyes open and his mouth closed. It’s the very best way to get unclogged.”

“I’m glad you’re home,” said Frannie, and she hugged her parents, and she skipped back to her own little house, thinking about the treasures the next day could bring.

Frappucina