Monday, August 17, 2009

Two Murders, One Mouse and an Escapee

Just raising my head above water for a moment to say hello. The pile of preparatory work is nearly done to send wee kidlette off to school. Shopping is complete and packing has begun. My wee hovel of a home has been invaded with organisational piles in every corner which on the outside seems quite unorganised. But kidlette assures me there is a thought to her process of packing.

On top of all of my other responsibilities which have come glaringly to light most recently as Ive surveyed the state of my pitiful finances and the sorry circumstances of my organisational skills, is the discovery that I will be tending to the elderly needs of our most silent, freakishly devilish, assassin of a house pet that Id nearly forgotten about. (yes run-on sentences are my specialty) She's a mouse who currently lives upstairs with my daughter. Three years ago we bought three mice. Ive kept rodents as pets in the past, rats mainly but a few hamsters too. I gladly said yes to my daughters request to have mice, not only because I enjoy their squeaky little selves but also quite secretly I liked the thought that they only live a couple of years and soon Id be done with them.

They settled quite nicely in an aquarium, decked out in a style that would have had most mice reeling with jealousy repleat with little straw houses, pink bedding, a Cinderella coach etc...(Yes I do tend to indulge my kid way too much) Things went well with the mice for a few months but one curious little mouse displayed symptoms much like a creature with Asperger Syndrome or some other sort of Autistic disorder. Round and round she went like a whirling dervish, seldom sitting or grooming, just nervously circling for the most part but seeming healthy in every other way.

They say that "absence makes the heart grow fonder" but I am from the other camp generally. "Out of sight, out of mind" is often my motto which most certainly applied to the mice. (I take exception from the motto with humans.) We went happily along til one day my daughter rushed downstairs quite distressed and in tears. Apparently Asperger mouse had committed a cold blooded murder while we slept in our beds. She had strategically bitten right through her crib mates spinal cord just behind the ear. I was horrified! And not for the reasons you might think. Who knows what drives a mad mouse to murder and far be it from me to judge a wee creature who isn't even my own species. Perhaps she was provoked, I'll never know. No, I was horrified because I had remembered clearly what happened to our New Zealand rats, kidlette's first real pets. They died, one from a stroke and was put "to sleep" by the vet and the other squeaker of old age. Untimely and quite unfortunately so after the knowledge that we would be moving back to the USA. Unfortunate because kidlette couldn't bear the thought of leaving their little bodies buried in the garden on the other side of the world like proper little house pets but would have me cremate them much to the delight of the Vet and put the ashes in tiny cedar boxes with their cute names carved on the side. The then Mr. Lane, would smuggle them through international customs...thats a whole nother kettle of fish for another time. Much to my relief, little murdered mouse found a final resting spot in a hand folded origami box in our garden here. The funeral was attended by a variety of teenage girls bearing flowers, wearing dark and somber dress and sunglasses. Words were said, songs sung and a little lunch after.

A few months later the other mouse companion, a lovely little red headed rodent was found with her throat munched and her haunch chomped by the gleeful and ever twirling Asperger mouse. I offered to help Red out of her misery but kidlette would have nothing of it. She died the next day from her injuries and is buried next to her wee partner in what is now the family pet plot out by the garage under the hedge.

Its been three years now that the the murderous mouse has been living and twirling, a year longer than nature has prescribed for a creature of her sort. After the gruesome deaths of her bunk mates, lone mouse has had somewhat a change of attitude, become calmer and sweet, enjoying a cuddle from time to time, a scratch behind the ear or sitting happily in her Cinderella coach. Mouse will now be in my charge as kidlette goes off to Uni. Ive looked into her glistening little eyes and wondered, trying not to judge what might have happened between her and her other companions which is quite difficult as the act of judging and condemning seems to be endemic among my particular species.

Ive entertained (but not seriously) the idea of twisting her little neck after my kid heads off to school but I couldn't live with the wrongness of that act. Poor little murderous dear. I'm certainly not for the human death-penalty for any reason and it's certainly not my place to have any say in the life and death of another fellow planet dweller. Besides, the wee mousy may have extenuating circumstances that will never come to light for my own lack of mouse language or any living witnesses to testify in her behalf. I will instead take my duties as mouse-guardian seriously making her last days on the planet a comfortable pleasure...I could perhaps feed her to death, a slow silent snuffage from too many fatty and sugary treats. Just a thought.

Mr Lane himself escaped my clutches several years ago before my saucy and evil plot was discovered...a sure and certain death by butter and gravy. It is perhaps best if I offer no more on the subject. Suffice to report that we both are a bit lighter these days and living on opposite ends of the globe.

For posterity and so I don't forget or misplace

Some time ago I did an interview for Steve Rack for his inspiring blogginess along with a give-away of one of my Jacabobs as a promotion for both of us. Here's his link although it might move as he's redoing his site at the moment.

I was quite pleased to be asked but am a bit shy about writing. I resolved this morning while I was walking the dog to save my ill crafted verbiage anyway, to keep the bit and pieces, so that one day I might actually cobble together a story for tiny humans, maybe some big ones too. So here:

What are Jacabunnies?

A not so short but most delicately put answer…

Winters are long on the tundra and often times folks including myself are in their hovels and wigwams days and days at a time hunkered down in semi-hibernation against the inhospitable and dangerous climate here in the cultural wasteland of West Central Minnesota. The same is true for the woodland creatures who inhabit the trees and fields beyond my weedy patch I call home. Poor dears. Jacabobs and bunnies nestled snugly, one on top of the other in their burrows while swirly white snow storms rage outside dumping blankets of heavy fluffage that muffle the sounds of the world. Jacabobs, being a rather friendly and gregarious lot and bunnies who are quite accommodating in nature, coupled with spotty TV reception and the pure boredom of living indoors for 9 months of the year inspired the wee creatures to create a bit of their own fun. The result a few spring times ago was unsurprisingly the birth of the Jacabunnies who look much like both sides of the family with the sweet smiles of Jacabobs and upward ears of the Bunnies.

I’d love to know more about where they live!

It’s a bustling summer in the garden where the woolly creatures spend their days. The Jacabobs, Bunnies and Nurbletts have awoken from their long snugly snow blanketed winter naps and are busying themselves tending their new giggling progeny. The green nomadic Pods have arrived from the South and are occupied doing what Pods do. They skitter about in the warm twilight, weary from their journey North in the sweltering heat of summer and foraging for the best places to take root for the season.

I too am occupied doing what my species does and knowing for the most part that the creatures on this side of the river often do quite well without my meddling in their affairs. I, on occasion, peek out the window of my wee abode mostly to make sure that Larry the Goat from the pasture across the glen hasn’t wandered in for a munch, a most dangerous situation for the Jacabobs and Pods, especially the green ones. Even more mortifying for Larry but I’ll leave that story for another day.

Bernice, Evelynn and Clarice the sheep sisters who contribute most of their wool to my cause are shaved naked and out to a much deserved vacation on the grassy hills just down the lane. They scamper like school girls with the rest of their ilk, a nudist colony of four legged pink beasties.

I was sipping coffee clad in my bathrobe with my hair standing sideways in a frazzled mess from the secret night-coiffure in front of the magic white slotted box braced for the startling moment when it would fling out two hot pieces of toasty bread in a direction that never can be calculated with any accuracy. I glanced out the window while I waited and saw an unusual movement at the end of the path. Squinting a bit more than my common morning squint, I looked again to observe a growing gathering of small creatures out in the garden who seemed to be organizing themselves into a cheerful mob. Collecting my toast, one slice from the dish drainer and the other from the far edge of the counter, I slipped into my Wellies (the ones that match my bathrobe as I’m awake by now) and headed out the back door and down the path to get a closer look.

Generally I avoid gatherings like this in the glen for a number of reasons, one being that while I’m rather stumpy for my species, I’m a towering giant among the natives of the wooded garden. The Jacabobs don’t mean to, but often stare, especially the young ones. I’m sure its my height but I’ve heard rumors that it might be the bathrobe or the fact that I get whacked by the ugly-stick every night without fail. I have digressed…

There was a hush over the crowd as everyone took their place along the edge of the path. Then could be heard a tiny melody that wafted in the breeze from downwind. The furry crowd lifted up a cheer. As I turned to see, a wee procession was starting up the path and I knelt to have a better view and listen, careful not to squish a critter with my knees or blanket a smaller one with my billowy robe.

Lumbering woodchucks came first, one by one and groomed to perfection soon followed by the hedgehogs with quills standing out proudly glistening in the morning sun. The Fez-clad golden squirrels like little Shriners did ornate tumbling tricks as they scampered after the hedgehogs much to the great amusement of the baby Jacabobs and Nurblets who stood next to me on the path struggling at times to let go of the hands of their parents in all their excitement. A glorious morning indeed and the tune in the air caught in my ear.

The music got louder as band of Jacabunnies thumped their bunny feet in unison to the melody they played lead by a Feezle all decked out in a top hat twirling a baton. The Jacabunnies played with their noses so they could still smile while tooting Ocarinas fashioned from the hollow tubes of last years dried Rhubarb stalks. The percussionists marched to the beat of thrumming on the lids of fresh plucked mushrooms, sometimes throwing them into the air only to catch them and thrum again in a decorous display of musical agility. The melody was helped along by humming Burbles clutching chubby green caterpillars under their arms, gently squeezling them to the rhythm until they purred. (making a caterpillar purr by gently applying pressure is fine art and lots of them were sadly lost in trying to perfect the technique last spring)

Giant black June Bugs came next marching four wide and ten deep all tethered and harnessed each with their six legs trotting in time with the June Bug next to them. They were the famous Regal Lipizzaner June Bugs known throughout the land for their tidy and tight toe stepping wonders. Their tank-like wings shined like rich black onyx and about their necks were strings of perfect just bloomed puffy yellow dandelions to add to their glory.

Tune in next week for the continuing saga. Does Kit Lane squish a little one by accident under her Wellies? Does she ever fix her toaster? Will the sheep form an anti-tail lopping union? Gripping stuff indeed.

Please describe at least one Jacabunny?

Really? I’m fairly sure you shouldn’t risk giving me licence to prattle on much longer. Suffice to say that the majority of Jacabunnies enjoy dewy fresh mornings, a nice cup of chocolate accompanied by a wee smidgen of jam on a crumpet, the soft glow of a computer monitor and squeezles.

There have been a few who have a penchant for adventure, occasionally bringing home new friends. One early morning there was a kerfuffle at the far end of the garden, about the time the cows come home. Bernice and Evelyn the sheep gave a bleat as they were rudely awoken from a warm woolly snooze by a thumping kerplunk and a fizzle. A glowing orb had plopped into the grass nearby. The ball squeaked open and out wandered a wee green creature of most questionable DNA. He appeared to be quite like the Jacabobs from the woods down the lane both in features and disposition but the ball topped antennas said otherwise. Return of an ancient astronaut? The Jacabunnies found him quite agreeable and brought him home for tea.

The photos of your creations are fantastic and I can imagine them in picture book form. Have you thought about maybe putting a story book together, or perhaps even an animation?

I can’t write for beans, couldn’t scribble my way out of a paper bag. I have entertained the idea though as you are not the first to ask. So I’m currently working on a bit of verbal fluffage that on occasion has to be rescued from the yard after being tossed quite forcefully out the window. We’ll see. An animation would send me right over the moon with joy but alas my skills in that area truly stink.

What inspires you?

Finally, I eek along doing my own thing after years and years of doing someone else’s thing. Autonomy inspires me. I watch too with amazement the great flood of talent coming now from both the “Hand Made” movement and the acceptance by a broader public for Pop Surrealism and Low-Brow. Many who have trudged along in relative obscurity painting and crafting their passions are suddenly thrust into the light. I cheer for them. There are so many to mention that I fear I will leave some out, but it is they who light a fire under my heiney to perhaps someday share more openly some of my less publicly normal “not meant for small children” works.

Where can I buy your creations?

Kit: although often my little shop is quite bare. The little ones go as fast as they come! In July some of my work can be had at in DC for the show “Mortal Plush: I am not your toy.” and also at “Bear and Bird” for the Stitch Wars show. Soo Visual Art Center in Minneapolis has a collection as well as various other galleries here and abroad. The woolly creatures can also be seen at my Flickr.

What do YOU think makes a great character design?

Simplicity, transparency and readily identifiable from the rest.

So, there you have it. A bit of verbiage about the Jacabobbaloos