Thursday, April 9, 2015

Down the chipmunk hole


Nebraska has many holes, most of which are to be avoided because of the shady characters who dwell therein and have many skinny legs and bad table manners. This is a story about another hole.

 Bunny is a bright young girl I think you would get along with. She lives with her mother who writes clever things for important people, her father who writes clever grants to get lots of money for worthy causes, and two brothers she sometimes gets along with.

One bright Spring morning she skipped out to the backyard under the figment tree that grows in her imagination. Beneath it, there it was: tiny, round, deep, dark and wonderful. In her pocket she always keeps a supply of spickledust. She applied just a bit atop her head and slid quickly down the chipmunk hole into the amble chamber below. It was pleasantly furnished for comfort and convenience. From the ceiling hung a large tulip bulb spangled with dewdrops aglow in the light of the many candles placed around the chamber.

A lovely table had been set out for sunflower tea, a squat teapot in the center, with cups, saucers, and napkins. “Hurry up! Too late. Never enough time. Let’s clean it up,” chattered a mole with a mortarboard on its pointy head, a card in one paw. “We haven’t had tea yet,” Bunny pointed out politely.

“Test first, then tea,” insisted the mole pirouetting twice while holding up the card. “What test is this?” Bunny asked. “To see if you are smart enough to drink tea properly,” was the terse response.

He held up the card upon which were the characters IBEF. “Which of these letters has two symmetrical lines?” he asked. She closed her left eye and wrinkled her forehead to puzzle it through, “If by symmetrical you mean things that look alike the answer would be E because the horizontal lines look alike, at least to me”

“Hooray!” shouted four chipmunks whose home this was, “You got it right. Time for tea.” After everyone was served, the mole scowled. “My cup has less than the others. Everyone up: move one seat to the right.” All stood, moved, sat. Again the mole complained, “This one has too much. Everyone up: move one seat to the left.” They did. The mole drank and asked for more.

In a corner of the chamber a skink reclined on a sleeping toad. The skink was smoking a Mersham pipe, the dusky smoke drifting upward into the hole. Lazily it asked, “Why is a boll weevil like a vortex?”

The mole spent the rest of the morning coming up with 87 possible explanations, to each of which the skink replied, “I don’t think so.” Everyone gave up. Bunny asked, “Why IS a boll weevil like a vortex?” The skink muttered, “I haven’t the vaguest idea,” and promptly nodded off.

Skipper, one of the chipmunks escorted Bunny up the hole. “That was completely confusing,” confessed the young girl. “I’m glad you enjoyed the tea,” smiled Skipper.


IBEF is one of the questions asked of Michigan 11th graders and many don’t have a clue.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Reading “The Daffodils” by William Wordsworth


     I read this poem when I was eleven years old, and was so impressed that I memorized it.
     It still haunts me, so I want to share it with you. However, it must be enunciated and embellished with the correct flourishes to come out right. Further it should be recited to an audience (of at least one) as I did at the Broad River Elementary School in those dear bygone days.
I wandered lonely (Here one looks melancholy for a moment)
as a cloud (Eyes briefly look upward as if avoiding bird droppings)
That floats on high o'er (I know you want to include the V but forget it)
vales and hills, (No, not veils, this is not a damn funeral)
When all at once (Smile wanly — that means sort of melancholy but wistful with just the hint of a tear)
 I saw a crowd, (Here the elbows are held to each side warding off the mob)
A host, of golden (These days that is more likely to be TiN, a combination of titanium and nitrogen, a form of refractory plasmonic ceramics which is much less expensive and lasts longer)
daffodils; (Break into a brief grin)
Beside the lake, beneath the trees, (place arms over head)
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. (Here one skips a bit and wobbles side to side)

Continuous as the stars that shine (Blink the eyes repeatedly)
And twinkle on the milky way, (Make squeezing motions like pulling udders)
They stretched in never-ending line (Draw a circle with your finger)
Along the margin of a bay: (Draw a box with your finger indicating edges)
Ten thousand saw I at a glance, (hold out both hands, fingers wide)
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance. (You know what to do here energetically)

The waves beside them danced; (Twirl twice once left once right) but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: (Broad smile showing teeth)
A poet could not but be gay, (Skip again)
In such a jocund company: (Hop vigorously on one foot)
I gazed—and gazed—(Hold hands over eyes peering left and right)
but little thought (Open mouth wide and slack)
What wealth the show to me had brought: (Lick fingers and count a few “bills”)

For oft, when on my couch I lie (Fold hands to side of face and close eyes)
In vacant or in pensive mood, (Pinch up brow, putting finger to forehead) 
They flash upon that inward eye (Close one eye then the next)
Which is the bliss of solitude; (One more wistful smile)
And then my heart with pleasure fills (Make heart shape with fingers)
And dances with the daffodils. (Dance off stage to applause)