The Dreaded Many-Eyed Watcha-ma-tingle! (A “Wee Turtles” Adventure)

With its many arms, how can you run away?
With its many eyes, where will you find to hide?
You’ll know it by its– its– I cannot say;
“Indescribable!” Further adjectives defied.

Jonah was three and Justin four when Jonah was invited to Morgan’s birthday party. This was close to Halloween, so naturally the children were to come in costume.

“What would you like to go as?” I asked little Jonah.
“A ‘Watcha-ma-tingle!” cried out an excited Jonah.

(Oh, terrific. What the heck…?)

“Honey, Mommy isn’t sure she knows what a Watcha-ma-tingle is.”
“It’s a Watcha-ma-tingle!”.

(Of course it is. Stupid Mommy.)

Terrifyin', Ain't It?

Terrifyin’, Ain’t It?

“What does one look like?”
“Like a Watcha-ma-tingle.”

(inner head slap)

Demonstrating my Asperger’s, I turn to Jonah’s big brother:

“Justin, do YOU know what a Watcha-ma-tingle looks like?”
“Yes, Mommy. It looks like a Watcha-ma-tingle.”

NCIS Head Slap

I’m Literally Feeling One of the Joys of Parenting

I finally wise up. After learning the boys have no pictures of this mysterious creature in any of their books, nor at any at their preschool, I ask for details about its appearance. These come in a rapid stream, with both little boys jumping up and down excitedly, shouting them out:

“It has lots of arms!”
“Lots and LOTS of arms!”
“They stick out all over!”
“And lots of eyes!”
“All over its head!”
“They stick out too!”
“It looks really silly!”

OOhh-kay, then. I guess I have enough to go on. Six pair of black pantyhose later, I have constructed a sort of cape of octopus-like “arms”, stuffed with fiberfill.

Black Pantyhose Octopus Costume

A Bit Like This, But I Would NEVER Do That Embarrassing Center “Leg”


A sad flattened kickball with a slow leak is sacrificed.


A Happy Pre-Leak Kickball

I cut it in half. Applying a black magic marker, several white ping-pong balls are transformed into eyeballs, and applied with hot glue to the half-kickball. Jonah’s eyeball-hat is ready.

It is now two days before Morgan’s party. I call Jonah, and Justin, over for the trying-on. I tie on the arm-cape, place the eyeball-hat, and position Jonah before the full-length mirror.

“Is that what a Watcha-ma-tingle looks like?”
“YES! That’s a Watcha-ma-tingle, Mommy!” both boys gleefully shout out.

Best Mom Award from

royalty-free image from

I am so proud. Jonah and Justin take joyful turns playing at being the Watcha-ma-tingle. Afterward, I put the costume away until party day.


We must leave at 11:00. It takes only ten minutes to drive to Morgan’s. It is 10:30.

{{ominous music}}

I call Jonah over and put on his costume.
He bursts into tears.

“What on earth is wrong?!”
“THIS isn’t a Watcha-ma-tingle!” he sobs.

Of course it isn’t.

Yet, I foolishly try to convince my weeping three-year-old otherwise:

“But it has lots of arms, sticking out! And lots of eyes sticking out! And you and Justin SAID it looked like a Watcha-ma-tingle!”

Justin pipes up:

“Mommy, that doesn’t look ANYTHING like a Watcha-ma-tingle”.

The traitor.

(Just you wait ’til you want that second helping of mashed bananas tonight, buddy…)

NOW what? It’s not like I was going to force my toddler to wear a costume he hated in order to teach him a lesson. He was too young to understand it.

I took off Jonah’s tingly bits and tossed them in a corner. I dried his eyes and told him everything would be all right—because that’s what good mommies and daddies do.

I went into the boys’ bedroom and found the oldest plain sleeveless shirt he owned (we live in L.A.—it was a beautiful warm day ) which happened to be a “muscle shirt”.

I quickly used fluorescent green iron-on letters to spell out “POWER MAN” across its front.

I grabbed a pair of the coolest mirrored Ray-Bans I could find.

I came out to where Jonah sat and said
“How’d you like to go to Morgan’s party as the coolest super-hero EVER? You’re going as ‘POWER MAN’!”

Then I showed him the coolest shirt and glasses ever.

Both kids bought it! Jonah couldn’t have been more excited. He couldn’t wait to get that shirt on. His costume was a hit at the party, and a good time was had by all.

Power Man Lego

I was SO Freakin’ Ahead of My Time. Now, There Really IS a Power Man Super-Hero!!

Score one for Mommy.

Take THAT, Watcha-ma-tingle!

Two Wee Turtles

Watcha-ma-tingle Slayers:
Two Wee Turtles (a bit older)


(ew–that sounds a little bit dirty, thanks to St. Augustine)

Weeks later, I’m sitting with the boys, watching one of the Winnie-the-Pooh videos I’ve recorded for them off the TV (I didn’t allow them to watch television because of the ads), when suddenly they start shouting and jumping around on the bed:

“There it is, Mommy—Look, look! THERE’S the Watcha-ma-tingle!!”

Winnie-the-Pooh is coming over the crest of a hill with all sorts of debris stuck all over him. Piglet, not recognizing Pooh within the mess, thinks he’s spotted a new type of monster: A ‘Watcha-ma-tingle’.

Jonah and Justin are right: The costume I made looked nothing like a debris-adorned Winnie-the-Pooh.

If only we’d had Google Translate back then to help out in little clarifying discussions between Adult Aspies and Wee Turtles.

The Dreaded Many-Eyed Watch-a-ma-tingle--In the Flesh!!

The Dreaded Many-Eyed Watch-a-ma-tingle–
In the Flesh!!

One Sweet Boy (Happy New Year, Y’All!)

Sitting on the front stoop of the first house I own, just a-starin’ out at our new street, on the first day I move in. A five-year-old boy comes walking down the street alone. Where’s his mom or dad?

He walks right up my front walkway, up my front stairs, plops himself down on the stoop right next to me, and puts his hand up on my knee. Friendly-like.

“My name is Sean”, he says. “I’m five.” Then he just sits there, staring, just like I’ve been doing. But he adds a great big sigh. Way too big for his five-year-old boy’s body.

“It sounds like something’s wrong.” I say.
“It is.” says Sean. “We’re movin’ away today.”

I’ve fallen instantly in love with this small blond boy who trusts a total stranger. I’m sad too, now, to hear I’m to lose him already.

“All my friends are here,” Sean laments. “I won’t know anybody where we’re goin’.”
“Yes. That’s true.”, I say. “It will sure be hard leaving all your friends behind.”


We sit a little bit longer.

“Did you know any of your friends when you first moved here?”
“What d’you mean?”

“Well, when you moved to this street, did you know any of these kids here?”

“And now they’re your friends, right?”

“So, maybe the same thing will happen at your new house.”

I stay quiet, letting him think about that.

“Yeeahh…you could be right.”

A little more think time. Then I ask:

“Do you want a cookie? I just baked some.” (Happy day!!)

We sit and eat some cookies.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
“Well, I’d better go back home now.”
(Noooo! So soon?)

“Okay. It was nice meeting you. Good luck in your new place.”
“Thanks. Bye.”
Sean was the first neighbor I met on my new street, and the first one to leave.
Two years later, I gave birth to my first son.

Anyone want to guess his name?

A certain son is referred to by Justin in other posts on this blog. Just roll with it.

My comments on Grandmalin’s Just Jazzy post may or may not be pertinent.


A Chicago Childhood, Aspie-Style

This post is long? Too many words? Good bet your pals aren’t Aspie nerds!

When I am almost three, we move to Chicago, to a cozy brick house on a corner with a front stoop, and back wooden stairs.

Brick Stoop

In the summer, the tall hedge between our back yard and the neighbors’ looks like a fairyland. It is covered in lightning bugs lighting up and turning off their rear ends. It’s very, very pretty to see every summer night.

Coke Bottle Fireflies Animated Gif

Our Hedge Had This Many, All Over It

I am sitting out on the front stoop one day when a bird lands next to me. I have never seen such a bird before! It is a very bright red, and it has the most unusual head I have ever seen. I am so excited, I run inside to tell my mommy about it:

“Mommy! There’s a red bird outside, and it has a point on its head!”

Smiling Cardinal on Berry Branch

See him grin at how photogenic he is?

She says that it is a “cardinal”. From then on, I always like to see cardinals. They have very cute pointy heads, and I will forever think they are special.

Our back yard has violets that grow among the grass. They’re beautiful and if you pick them, they smell nice.


Dime-Sized or Smaller Blooms

There are also some pea plants growing in the grass. That is because we enjoy having big pea-shooter wars with the boys who live down the street. We duck under the back wooden stairs to shoot our peas from a safe place.

The hard dried peas really sting when they hit you, but the wars are fun. It costs a nickel to buy a shooting straw with a small paper bag of peas.

Pea Shooter and Peas


The boys we war with are Stewie and Howie. They’re the same boys who put on puppet shows on some Saturdays. All the kids go to them. They are pretty good. A lot of times, they make us laugh.

The shows are free, but the bags of popcorn cost a nickel. Since everyone buys popcorn, I guess Stewie and Howie do all right for themselves.

My best friend Sharon lives kitty-corner [diagonally] from us. Her big sister is my big sister Joe’s best friend, so that is nice.

Some wild kids live next to Sharon’s house. They are all boys, and there are a lot of them. Sometimes, they take things that don’t belong to them. One day, one of them takes my Blue Fairy book and runs into his house with it. I am really sad and mad. It is my favorite book, and I want it back.

I tell my daddy, and he tells the boys’ daddy. The boys’ daddy goes into their house and comes out with a book he thinks is the right one. He gives it to me. It is not the Blue Fairy book. It is the Green Fairy book. I want my own book back, but I’m too embarrassed to tell him that he got the wrong book. At least the Green Fairy book is a good book, too.

Next door to our house is Jimmy Nothnagel. Jimmy is the luckiest kid ever, because he has a real set of playground monkey bars in his own back yard. They’re the kind that are shaped like a standing-up tube with the bars rounding off at the top.

That is our perfect rocket ship when we play Rocky Jones. Jimmy plays Rocky, and Joe always gets to play Rocky’s girlfriend, Venus*. It isn’t fair. I want to be Venus sometimes.

Rocky Jones and Vena

Dang, Venus! 😮 Good Thing There’s No Wind in Space!

Joe and I watch Rocky Jones and Buck Rogers and Commando Cody on television, and we also watch some Westerns. One day, while we are watching Wyatt Earp**, the phone rings and I answer it. The man asks to talk to our mommy.

I ask him who he is, because I have been taught how to answer a phone the right way. He says his name is Wyatt Earp! I tell Joe, and we both go running into the kitchen.

“Mommy! Wyatt Earp is on the phone!! He’s calling us!!”

It is pretty disappointing when our mommy tells us later that it wasn’t the real Wyatt Earp. It was just an insurance salesman who had Wyatt Earp’s name.

Do you think he tried to call people during that show’s time on purpose, so they would talk to him because they thought it was the TV man?

Joe and I go to the bakery by ourselves when our mommy needs a loaf of bread. It is safe for little girls to walk by themselves through the city and go to the bakery.

Every time we go to buy the bread, the baker gives us a big bag of broken cookie pieces, and we get to eat some on the way home. We love going to the bakery.

Whenever it rains outside, we get very excited, and run to our mommy. She gives us our bathing suits, and a bar of soap. We go outside in our bathing suits and have a soapy shower in the rain. It’s a lot of fun.

Sometimes, we sail our soap boats down the river that the rain makes on the side of the road.

Ivory Snow Soap Boats

One day, we’re playing in that river. We’re making a dam of leaves and pieces of wood stuck in the sewer opening, so that the river starts to turn into a lake. When the cars drive through it, very slowly, they make big waves.

A grown-up comes outside and tells us that we’d better not do that, because the sewers are very important to take the rain water away, and if we dam them up, and other kids do that, the city will flood!

We get very worried, and take apart our dam. We never make that bad thing again.

One summer night, my mommy and daddy are going to have a backyard party. My mommy makes some special food for the party. One plate has little flowers on it that you can eat! Mommy says they are “radish roses”. She lets me taste one, and it is delicious.

Mommy goes inside to make more special food. When she comes back outside, the flower plate is empty. I ate all the roses. Every one of them was just as delicious.

During the party, I watch the lightning bugs decorate the twinkling hedge all night.

On Saturdays, we can go to school if we want to. I can go, too, even before I’m old enough yet for school. Saturdays they have play time at the school.

One time, when Joe takes me, they are playing the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff. The children make a line, and take turns being the goats, and climb over a school desk—that is the bridge. I get my turn to be the troll underneath.

I am sitting under the desk, and the first little billy goat comes trip-trap trip-trap over the bridge. As she trip-traps across the desk, her little goat leg comes hanging down in front of the mean troll. The tender goat flesh looks delicious, and I am a mean troll who is going to eat her.

After I bite her hard on the calf, the teacher won’t let me be the troll any more, even though I thought I was doing a very good job.

It's Called ACTing, Lady.

It’s Called ACTing, Lady.

Sometimes, a tired man comes up our backyard wooden steps and knocks on our back kitchen door. It’s a different man every time, but he always has old clothes on. My mommy makes a big meat sandwich for him and gives him something to drink. I know this is my mommy being nice.

One day, my daddy is outside. He is feeding peanuts to the squirrels, because he likes to do that. When he comes inside this time, his thumb is bleeding a lot. The squirrel thought his thumb was a peanut, and he bit it.

Apology Squirrel

One time, my daddy is gone for a long time. When he comes home, I don’t remember him. A big man with shiny teeth and shiny glasses tries to bend over and hug me, and I am scared of him. It takes me a long time to remember my daddy again.

Joe and I have a lot of fun inside our house, not just outside. We do two things that are fun:

We can stand up on the big padded rocker and hold onto the back, facing it, and rock really hard. Sometimes, the rocker tips over. That is scary, but the next time we still rock on it again.

Another thing we do is on the stairs. The stairs to the upstairs have blue carpet on them. We sit on a mattress and slide on it down the stairs all the way to the bottom, like we’re riding a sled. We do it over and over.

One time at night, I am very sick. I can’t get any breath, and I am feeling scared. My mommy takes me out of bed and carries me downstairs, and rocks me and rocks me in that big padded rocker until we see the sun rise.

She sings “Turra-Lurra-Lurra” to me. I like that song.

One day, I am out on the front sidewalk, riding my red tricycle.
I am leaning low over the handlebars, peddling and peddling as hard as I can. I want to see how fast I can go. I am happy. I can go very fast!

Happy Child on Red Tricycle

Look At ME!!!

The tricycle hits a bump, and I tip over forward. My chin hits the sidewalk.

It happens in front of the Nothnagels’ house, and that is where my mommy is. I go up their stairs and into their living room. Blood is coming out of my chin.

My mommy is sitting talking with Mrs. Nothnagel, and she is also sewing some red corduroy overalls that are small. Maybe they are for my little brother. When she sees me come in, she takes the needle out and pushes the red pants onto my red chin. I think that is pretty interesting.

I don’t remember hurting. I have a nice scar now.

Another time I get cut is when I am chasing my big sister. She is escaping, and I don’t want her to. She runs out the kitchen door.

I put my hand out to push it open and chase after her. My hand goes through the door glass.

I remember sitting in the kitchen chair afterward with the sun shining in the window and my mommy doing something with a cloth. After that, we are at the doctor.

I get to see the inside of my wrist before he sews it shut. I like to see what the inside looks like. I didn’t know it looked like that!

One thing I really like about Chicago is getting to go to the fires.

Whenever there is an old, run-down house, the firefighters drive around the neighborhood and pick us kids up. We get to ride on their big firetruck and watch them burn the house down!

There is nothing better than that, I think!

Happy Girl At House Fire



* Venus’s correct name was Vena, but we thought it was Venus. Our name makes more sense for a space-explorer.

** Wyatt Earp was a real person

Mimsy and Babs: The Case of the Cloche Contretemps

Of the famous inseparable pair, meet Mimsy–or I believe this is she, judging by the helplessly overbalanced elegant tilt of her head, and how her smile looms large (something certainly does) beneath that adorable feathered cloche.

Mimsy the Floozy and Her Cloche

Mimsy and a Very… Stylish Cloche She Obtained Somewhere

These letters first appeared as comments and replies on Elizabeth Turner’s blog Dot Knows.

I didn’t know Liz at all at the time, but when I saw the picture below on her blog, I went out on a limb by posting, just because, the first letter to “Mimsy”, supposedly from “Babs”.

ElleTurner Mimsy & Babs Moths On Clover

‘Six Spot’ Burnet Moths Demonstrating Their Addition Skills (photo by ©Elizabeth Turner/elleturner4)

Liz delighted me by out-Wodehouse-ing me: She responded with her first reply as Mimsy, and a letter love-match was formed.

Dearest Mimsy, (I wrote Liz)

I spotted two moths today today on a clover, and do you know, rather than gasping and hurriedly backing away, I actually dropped down for a closer look!

Honestly, Mimsy, I know you’ll find this beyond belief, but their tails were touching, and the two together made a really rather attractive picture! No–  truly!

They had these lovely little spotted wings–  What color?  Oh, orange on black–  and their little thingies–  you know, their antenna-thingies–  were poking out in opposite directions quite like those marvelous ebony feathers jutting out on that cloche Yvette wore the other night–You know the one!

Mimsy, these simple creatures made me feel altogether blessed, if you will, as if they were designed purposely to make me feel utter delight. The oddest thing.

But then they separated, and the horrid things flew right toward me! Naturally, I screamed bloody murder. Raymond, thank Gawd, killed the bloody things instantly.

Thank the Lord for strapping young men, eh, Mimsy?

Yours fondly, as always,



So Babs (wrote back Liz)…if I may be as bold!,

I lay this at your feet…

The carnage and horror that was unveiled to your little Mimsy is more than she can bear…

For hours now Mimsy has lain silent and traumatised from the wicked terrors that she beheld in the usually pleasant field behind her house. Spotted wings draped over pretty grasses, delicate antennae stuck in spider webs, and that final horror of what you describe as ‘marvellous ebony feathers’ now looking nothing like dear Yvette’s cloche…

You know how much your Mimsy wanted a cloche of that nature. How could you allow such wanton destruction of what you call ‘horrid things’!

Damn that fine strapping young man… Forgive my harsh words, but that is what you, Babs, have driven me to!

I, your little Mimsy, am distraught and need something for my nerves…  perhaps a little tipple. I am away now to recover.

Think long and hard, my once-dear Babs, about the course of action you set that strapping young man onto, and look for forgiveness.

I finish now having come to the end!

Yours, once fondly,



Mimsy! My dear!

Had I but known you had taken up an interest in Naturalism (how perfectly apropos, given your rather rural and, let us say, less-than-fashionable location), I would have ended my tale at its penultimate reflections, rather than reveal the final outcome.

Please forgive me, my soft-hearted darling!

How you can feel any fondness for creatures that literally fly in the face of reason…  Well, it literally flies in the face of reason, m’dear!

However, out of my deepest regard for you and our long friendship, I will order Raymond to practice the same catch-and-release mode with critters that creep and leap as he does now with those that swim in the deep.

Will you forgive me, Mimsy? Do come over to dinner so that you can show that you do.

We’re having a lovely steak tartare, preceded by a stellar paté, accompanied by the most amazing blood soup you have ever feasted upon. And Raymond has added a special treat for the tartare: Andean condor eggs! Imagine!


Your Friend,



Dear Babs…  Just a little dearer than you were yesterday what with the note of conciliation in your message,

I feel I must conform to the correct way of doing things and apologise for this response’s tardiness…

You see, here in the less-than-fashionable location that I find myself in–namely Old Blighty–we have to sleep at different times to you. Thus, the delay.

No matter; I am here now; rest your heaving breast!

I can feel forgiveness forming, though it is not yet fully complete, and I fear I must take a little while to steady myself.

Though even now the thought of Raymond and Andean Condor eggs served on a platter quite makes my saliva glands tremble!

Thus I believe that, dear little six spot burnet’s slaughter notwithstanding, I shall come to a place where I will be able to accept your offer though there are, of course, many a thing to organise for the coming days in order for the transition from here to there to be fulfilled.

Stellar pate sounds extraordinary and I look forward to the experience.

I must beg you, my once favourite dewdrop, to tell that chap Raymond that it is his utmost duty to perfect the Catch and Release system popularised by the Victorians with high haste and when I arrive I shall expect a demonstration.

Now, what with the rurality and less than fashionality that I live having been plunged into darkness, I must away to my fluffy feathered place to enjoy a full night of rejuvenating kip.

I look forward to a swift response from your dear-ish self.

With a little affection and possibly a wink,



Oh, Mimsy,

The warmth of your response is truly.

All is being made ready for your arrival: Raymond is catching all possible creeping creatures, and shall release them into your quarters the moment your dainty foot crosses the threshold. A Naturalist’s dream, surely!

I am so glad your generosity of spirit has allowed us to put this ugly incident behind us.



Your friend,



Dear Babs,

Yes, the ugly incident is behind and we must plough forward.

Raymond, the dear little pickled egg (has he received treatment yet?), sounds a dream but:

could I please have some grasses for my sleeping quarters so that the dear little insects may have a home of their own as well, and not just have to hunker down on the drapes and hangings that I am sure will be in place for my stay?

I must make haste now for it is imbibing time on a Friday night, and I cannot use a computer during these times.
Preparations are coming on nicely.

I will let you know of any other requirements for my stay and also furnish you with my itinerary.

Much moderate feeling to you my pal, buddy and cheap hostelry owner,

Yours Mimsy


Dearest Mimsy,

With my fulsome laughter at your Raymond line still sounding, I cede victory, and hereby doff my cloche to you.


Yours In War,

Yours In Abject Surrender,

And Looking Quite Spiffy All In White


Dear Spiffy in White one…

I, in turn, must say that I have cried tears of laughter whilst trying to read what you have written to my partner who could make no sense of me at these times!

Bravo Babs…..a fun fight and a darned good duel

Yours in purple and Blue!


PS…cloche accepted.


Dear Mimsy,

It WAS fun!! A most-worthy opponent–I was well o’er-matched (and minded only a little– tsk!).

Yours in Precious Purity,


P.S. Never in my dreams did I expect you would accept the cloche (esp., m’dear, given that darling boffo but beefy noggin of yours–

you MUST know a cloche will appear on it much as would a pearl balanced on an egg?).

Now what shall I wear with my silk sheath to Raymond’s wife’s funeral next week?

(At least, we’re shooting for next week. Oh! Oh, Mimsy! Did you hear that–what I just said? Ha ha ha! Rather precious, that one, what?! Ha ha ha!)



PS…Of course I would accept the cloche–but how could you mention my boffo and beefy noggin? And the painting of the picture of the egg and pearl?

NO-ONE, I repeat NO-ONE knows of these incapacities as I have used photos of other people on my profile and now it is all over the blogosphere! Mimsy is unmasked and I fear we are back where we started to boot!

I have contacted Raymond’s wife.

I will leave now with cloche all a quiver!




I fear you have trod that one step beyond from which there is no turning back. (Give me a moment please, to fan myself for dramatic grammatic pause–that opening sentence rather wrung it out of me.)

To contact Raymond’s wife, Mimsy: Really! When I said never a word to Lady Agatha and Llewellyn Smythe-Dudley-Brown either about the other–

nor mentioned to them besides someone’s regretful two-bags-full “wool-gathering” incident in the barn.

Small wonder your cloche is quivering. I would not but be surprised the shudders of shame would take several months until achieving a state of quietus.

Thanks to your unforgivable action, it appears this missive will form my half of our final goodbye.

I would add that it is with tears of sadness that I type these words, but in truth it is tears of laughter that roll down my face,

for I have posted a faithful rendition of the egg/pearl painting on Imgur, with a few appropriate starting captions, your name included.

I am confident that the new google revenge porn quashing algorithms will fail to recognize that monstrously-oversized ovoid as any portion of an actual human.

Farewell Forever, Friend No More!


P.S. You left your pink cashmere sweater here last week. I donated it to a thrift store, assuming you left it because you couldn’t possibly have wanted to wear it again with the neck all stretched out the way it was–

YOU know why.



My recollection is that you were in the room (holding the scarab and the kookaburra) with Lady Agatha, Llewellyn Smythe-Dudley-Brown and myself

(Raymond was busying himself with his wife I believe) and you were in full control of your faculties when you said

“Ok my hearties, just one more time!”

I would have left, had you not beguiled me into that fateful “one more time”.

So don’t you talk to me about not mentioning anything to them and pretending you yourself were not there, Babsy-baggage!

You can hurt me no longer with threats and promises of posting things I no longer am able to control.

That sweater was yours (HA!);

I purloined it just after the kookaburra expired and you were at your weakest, with your snivelling and whining and your back being turned!

So, rub that into your temples and consider that Babs! Consider that!

You will never more know my name which I shall change by deed poll forthwith.

Once your affectionate friend but no darned longer,


The Duchess of Whimsy


My forever thanks to Liz for being the most fantastic persnickety partner of whom one could ever dream. Thank you, Liz!

1920s Cloche With Feathers

What Yvette’s Cloche Really Looked Like


The Home I Used To Have, The Me I Used To Be

“I am very happy, but I am acting sad…”
I am living in a small white wooden house in Oak Lawn, Illinois.
I am sitting across the street from that house, on the grass in the sunshine on a beautiful day. Three other children are sitting in a small circle around me. I am very happy, but I am acting sad while I rub my eyes and the children sing. They are singing about me:
“Little Sally Sau-cer,
Sitting in the wa-ter,
Cry, Sally, cry…
Cry out your eyes…”
I stand up, eyes closed, one arm out straight with finger pointing, and turn slowly, pivoting back and forth while they finish singing:
“Turn to the East,
And turn to the West,
And turn to the one
That you love best!”
I stop, and open my eyes. The child I point at will take my place in the circle.
I am two years old.
I love that happy memory.
We have a large weeping willow on the front lawn. Its long, trailing branches reach down to the ground all around. I can go inside this curtain and sit on the soft grass floor underneath. I’m surrounded by green, and no one can see me. I spend a lot of time inside this friendly tree.
Inside a Weeping Willow
I remember the day my sister Joe’s friend, an older boy, set our roof on fire. (Some of you better know Joe now as Macy Girl.)
Joe’s friend was playing with a firecracker, and threw it up there. The fire was burning almost over the front door. Joe went inside our house. I stayed outside and watched the fire burn. It was very interesting, to see our house on fire! I sat down on the grass to watch some more. My daddy came outside in a hurry with a big metal bucket, and told me to move back. He threw water on the roof to put out the fire. He hit it with the water the very first time, and the whole fire went out, just like that. It left a burned-looking spot.
I’m glad I got to see that.
I have one memory when I was a tiny bit sad and another one when I was mad.
I am still two years old, and I have pneumonia. My mommy won’t let me go outside to play. I remember not breathing well, but I don’t remember thinking I was sick. I’m standing by the front screen door, looking out at the outside and the other kids playing, and I want to go outside, too. I’m wearing my footsie pajamas, which are nice and cuddly, but I wish I could go outside in them!
The mad time is when I see my daddy way up the big, big, wide stairs that go to the attic. He is very far away, and he is looking down at me through a square hole. His head looks little, and his smiling teeth and his glasses are shining. Joe is up there looking at me, too. I hate to see them looking down at me. My daddy won’t let me come up. I say “How come Joe gets to go up?” He says “You’re too little.”
That makes me mad.
My most exciting Oak Lawn memory is about a bug.
Joe and I are in the living room. I’m sitting on the floor next to the fireplace. I’m watching a narrow brown bug crawling across the bricks on the hearth. All of a sudden, its rear end lights up!
“Joe! Joe! This bug has a light!”
She comes running over. We both watch the bug walking. Its rear end lights up, and then turns off, and then lights up again. What an amazing bug that is! I am so very happy to see a bug like that!
Firefly on Finger
I learned to how to read in Oak Lawn. I could already read, but I didn’t know how to read.
One day, I am sitting in the back seat of the car. (It is a black-and-white De Soto the same age that I am.)
1956 Black and White De Soto
We are waiting to go somewhere, and the car is nice and warm, and I am reading my favorite book. It is a board book, and it is about Mrs. Squirrel. I like the story, and I like the pictures a lot. They show real squirrels with clothes on. (They might not be really real, but the pictures are photographs, not drawings, and Mrs. Squirrel has fur, and shiny eyes.)

In one part of the story, a friend of Mrs. Squirrel’s compliments her new hat. I can see why. It is a lovely straw hat with a wide brim and colored flowers. The friend says to Mrs. Squirrel:

“That is a be-a-u-ti-ful hat!”

That is when I learn how to read. I can hear the voice of Mrs. Squirrel’s friend, and now I understand that bigger words have pieces. You can read them by reading all the pieces.

Today, every time I write the word beautiful, I always remember that discovery. In my head, I still hear each word piece, and I see again Mrs. Squirrel wearing her nice new hat.
She looks very pretty!

A Lovely Hat But Not Mrs Squirrel

Not My Mrs. Squirrel, But Another Lovely Hat/Squirrel Combination

Revisiting the Oak Lawn house when older, I learn that the wide, wide attic stairs are a tiny pull-down ladder barely a foot wide, with each step only four inches deep. To a two-year-old, objects may be bigger than they appear in later life.
Attempting to revisit the Oak Lawn house when even older, I fail. A tornado has left the houses on either side untouched, but removed all evidence of my home. The front-yard well that provided water to the family of my early memories is now an empty dry hole.

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