Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fictwrig/haus3 Kinda Like

Kinda Like…
by Will Wright and Headley Hauser

It’s kinda like this
Imagine a hamster
He spends all day in a converted fish aquarium
He’s left alone
Except for two five-minute periods a day
When some giant says a few meaningless words
Does a few chores
And replaces the water and food pellets

The rest of the day
He’s on his own

Now there’s only one interesting thing in his cage
The running wheel
Not surprisingly, the hamster starts to run

He runs because he likes to run
He runs because there’s nothing else to do
He keeps running
Even when he needs to poop
He runs
It doesn’t matter
The poop falls right through the wheel
And lands on the floor
The hamster keeps running
He poops again
And keeps running

Running, running poop running poop
After a while
He looks down
He thinks
“Hey, that’s kind of interesting
When the poop falls through the wheel
It looks different than regular poop
It’s in an odd pattern
I wonder if I can do this
On purpose”

For the rest of the day
The hamster runs
And poops
With a purpose
Sometimes he moves to one side of the wheel
Sometimes to the other
He tries it while running extra fast
He tries it while walking
The pattern gets more and more interesting
When he has to eat and drink
He’s really careful getting down from the wheel
He doesn’t want to disturb the pattern

Just as the sun goes down
The giant returns
He grunts in human speech
“Gee, you sure made a mess today!”
He takes the paper from the bottom of the cage
And rolls it up carefully
He puts down new paper
And gives the hamster
Water and pellets

The giant leaves
The hamster lies exhausted
He looks at the clean paper
He looks at the food and water
And he finally understands
“He gave me food and water for my pretty pattern
He put down more paper for a new pattern
I must be an artist!

I’m underpaid”

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fictmcfa7 Hazel Part 6 Hazel and the Dragon

Hazel Part Six
Hazel and the Dragon

It took us an hour to get home from the airport. In all, it had been just over five hours since Karl and I left campus. We found a box and shredded some newspaper and settled Hazel in it. She pooped and urinated immediately. The newspaper in the bottom of the knapsack was clean.
I didn’t think a rabbit was capable of such control. My parents were very impressed. I told them about the x-ray and the luggage screener. They didn’t say so but I think they thought I was putting them on.
If Hazel felt uncomfortable with the sudden change of environment, she showed no sign of it. She hopped around my room, exploring. She nibbled a little on the side of my bookcase and would have gone after the wires if I hadn’t stopped her. She was so bright in other ways, why did she want to eat electrical wires?
Mom, Dad and I did some taste testing with foods Mom had in the refrigerator. Hazel had never tried cantaloupe, honeydew or grapefruit before. She liked the melons but didn’t care for the grapefruit.
Her favorite is tomatoes.”
Regular tomatoes or cherry?”
She’s never had cherry tomatoes.”
Let’s find out.”
My Dad was a scientist and I think the experimental aspects of the taste testing especially appealed to him.
When given the choice between a sliced tomato and a whole cherry tomato, Hazel chose the sliced. When we sliced the cherry tomato in half, she had no interest in anything else until she’d eaten both halves.
I guess she has a new favorite.”
I bet I know something she’d like better.” said Mom.
What’s that?”
Mom left the room and returned with a Hershey bar. She broke off a piece of a square and sliced another cherry tomato.
I don’t suppose it’s very good for her,” Mom said.
A little won’t hurt her,” said Dad.
Hazel went back and forth between the cherry tomato and the chocolate several times. She sniffed the chocolate thoroughly and then returned to examine the tomato. She looked genuinely torn.
She chose the chocolate.
And a new winner!”
Mom was very intuitive and a great fan of chocolate herself. It didn’t surprise me that she knew what Hazel would like.
You know, Carol Lynn and Bruce are arriving tomorrow.”
I think they’ll like Hazel.”
They’ll be bringing Grendel.”
Grendel was my sister’s cat. She was a year old but still more like a kitten than a cat. Grendel’s second favorite game was playing fetch with the hoops that came from the caps of plastic gallon milk jugs. Her favorite game was violence and mayhem.
Grendel would lie in wait for people to pass by. Her favorite ambush was on a stairway where she could be at eye level with her prey. When her victim got close enough, Grendel would lash out with claws unsheathed.
If the people around her got wise to her stair attacks, she would hide under chairs and attack the ankles of anyone who sat down.
I suppose that’s what happens when you name a cat after an ancient dragon.
You couldn’t spend a day in the same house with Grendel without a few claw marks to show for it. It wasn’t a big problem. It was even funny most of the time but we were humans.
It might not be so funny for Hazel.
I guess I better make a cage.”
There was no worry about finding materials. If I needed to make Hazel a one bedroom cottage, the only materials I wouldn’t find in Dad’s workshop would be the concrete foundation and the waste pipe to hook up to the town’s sanitation department.
Dad, do you have some chicken wire?”
Yes, but you should use hardware cloth. Grendel’s paws can get through chicken wire.
I didn’t make a fancy cage. We were only there for a week. Dad wondered if we should put hardware cloth on both sides of the supports so Grendel’s claws couldn’t extend and scratch Hazel.
I’ll just keep my door closed while Grendel’s loose anyway.”
It was a smaller cage than Hazel had at school but she didn’t seem to mind. Even in a larger cage, a rabbit can’t get much exercise. She had the run of the room when I was there to watch her.

* * *

Carol Lynn made a great fuss over Hazel. I wasn’t surprised. My sister was a great fan of Christmas, Disney movies and small animals. She agreed that Hazel and Grendel should be kept apart.
Everyone will be here tomorrow for dinner. I’d like to bring Hazel downstairs for a while so she can be a part of it.”
We can put Grendel in a room for a while so Hazel can have some family time.”
My sister Cammy arrived early the next afternoon and my brother Mitch and his wife Robin followed shortly afterward.
Everyone was sitting in the living room waiting for dinner and Carol Lynn grabbed Grendel and closed her into the bedroom she and Bruce were staying in.
I came in and asked Hazel if she was ready to meet some people. She pooped before I lifted her out of her cage. It seemed a wise precaution on her part.
I brought her down to the living room and set her down on the carpet. The family was sitting in a circle around the room. Hazel started moving in a clockwise motion; greeting each person she came to. Hazel took her time and got a good scratch from each person before she’d move on to the next.
My sister in law was talking about some book about rabbits that I wasn’t familiar with. She barely looked at Hazel as she bent over to pet her. Hazel looked curious. She wasn’t used to being ignored.
The last person in the circle was my brother Mitch. He was sitting back in a big cloth chair we’d had as long as I could remember. Hazel started sniffing at his pants leg as he bent over to pet her.
Hello Hazel.”
Hazel leapt up into my brother’s lap and rubbed her head against his stomach. There was something about Mitch that made an immediate connection for her, and she didn’t just want a short scratch behind the ears.
My brother was at first surprised and then looked very pleased. He knew he’d been honored.
Hazel and he were content to sit like that till dinner was ready.
There was some rumbling from my sister’s room and it sounded like Grendel wasn’t happy. Mitch handed me Hazel and I took her back to my room while Carol Lynn went to release the feline dragon.
I plopped Hazel in her cage and ran downstairs to eat. I thought I shut the door but I guess I just pulled it to.
Grendel began the meal in her usual fashion, lurking under the table and attacking any foot that moved. You could gage where Grendel was by the sudden jerking movements of the people around you.
I hadn’t seen any Grendel spasms in some time.
I peeked under the table. She wasn’t there.
Where’s Grendel?”
Mom looked over at me. “Is your door closed?”
I ran up the stairs with Carol Lynn and Mom close behind me. My door was open about four inches, just wide enough for a cat to slip through, or, for that matter, a rabbit to slip out.
I had put Hazel in her cage but I didn’t think I’d put the top down. She could have hopped out at any time or Grendel could have hopped in.
We hadn’t heard any noise. Neither Hazel nor Grendel was more than ten pounds but if there were a struggle, wouldn’t we have heard? Could Grendel have killed Hazel without a struggle? Maybe Grendel was still stalking her. Even if Hazel was unharmed, she had to be terrified.
I didn’t want to open the door but I didn’t dare hesitate.
They were both there. Hazel was in her cage with the top off. Grendel was on the outside looking at Hazel…
And Hazel was nose to nose with her, looking back. Hazel didn’t appear to be the least frightened and Grendel the dragon cat wasn’t acting hostile.
Both heads turned to me as I entered the room as if I was interrupting a conversation.
Carol Lynn entered and swooped Grendel into her arms. There wasn’t anything to scold the cat for; she was being perfectly civil.
Hazel was happy to see me but no more than she ever was. She hopped out of her cage. She didn’t give a thought to the predator only a few feet away. She knew when I was there, she could hop around and that’s what she liked to do.
I was much more frightened for Hazel than she was. It left me with some questions. Was Hazel ignorant of how dangerous cats were? Didn’t all rabbits have an instinct that detected predators? Did my presence in the house give her a false sense of security?
Or was Hazel ever really in danger? Grendel did not seem hostile but a cat will stalk before pouncing. Was Grendel lulling Hazel before her attack or were they actually just have some sort of amiable animal conversation, as they appeared to be having?
Were all rabbits like this?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

fictmcfa9 Hazel Part 5 Bunny With Wings

Hazel Part 5
Bunny With Wings

My parents sent me a plane ticket to come home for spring break. They didn’t know about Hazel. I’d had her a month but I wasn’t very good about writing letters home.
I knew that a week was too long to leave her alone and I already had the ticket so I figured I’d better bring her home with me. I just didn’t know how I was supposed to take a rabbit on a plane.
I didn’t want to chance putting her in a box and checking her. I didn’t know if they pressurized the luggage compartment I’d seen the way the baggage handlers threw things around. I would have to take her as a carry on.
I had a suitcase and two knapsacks. The suitcase was too big for a carry on and I needed it to pack things in but the knapsacks were limp and they’d be confining for Hazel.
I went out to the trash room where most of my best ideas came from. There were several boxes there including a thick walled one that looked about the right size to fit under an airplane seat.
Would they even let me bring a rabbit on board the plane?
They had to, I decided. People travel all the time. A lot of people must bring their pets along. I’d never seen a pet on a flight but I’d only flown four or five times and that included Nana’s funeral when I was only eleven and not paying too much attention.
Still, I wasn’t sure if they’d give me trouble. Maybe they wouldn’t even notice if I could make things less obvious than a box with holes punched in it.
The larger of my knapsacks stretched over the box without any room to spare. It was as if they were made for each other. Hazel’s lucky rabbit feet held great sway over my dorm’s trash room.
I removed a side of the box that matched the mouth of the knapsack. I could close the knapsack with the flap but Hazel would still get air through the canvas.

Al had gotten a new used car but refused to loan it out. I couldn’t really blame him but I needed a ride to the airport.
Karl, whose position as Hazel’s Uncle had improved his social life, was able to borrow a car and volunteered to drive us. I lined the knapsack box heavily with newspaper both to catch her urine and to make it more comfortable for her.
This time there was no rabbit urine on the car seat.
As I walked up to the airline desk, Carl had that same smile on his face that he had the night Miles met Hazel. He thought I was in trouble and I was starting to agree with him. They had to let pets ride on airplanes but would they just let me carry her on?
Good morning sir!”
Good morning.”
I handed the agent my ticket.
Do you have any bags to check?”
Yeah, I have this suit case and I’d like to carry on these two knapsacks.”
Oh, I’m sorry, Sir. We limit you to only one carry on per flight.”
My knapsack hopped.
Sir, is there an animal in there?”
I opened the flap and Hazel peeked out.
Isn’t that an adorable bunny! I’m afraid that’s not an approved animal carrier though. We can rent you one for twenty two dollars or sell you one for fifty.”
I had six bucks.
Karl searched his pockets. “I’ve got eighteen.”
And then, of course, you’ll need a ticket.”
There’s my ticket.”
Yes, but you’ll need a ticket for your pet. Let’s see, you’re going to Logan airport? That’s one hundred twenty seven dollars round trip or eighty three one way.”
Karl stopped smiling. Seeing your friend get in trouble is fun but he liked Hazel almost as much as I did. Besides, his last three dates were with women he got to know with her assistance.
I can take her back to school but I’m leaving for home tomorrow.”
We don’t have enough money,” I told the ticket agent.
Do you have a credit card?”
I’m sorry, sir. I can’t let to take the rabbit into the cabin with you. It’s against regulations.”
I tried to check my smaller knapsack but the ticket agent must have guessed I was going to try to smuggle Hazel aboard and refused. I was stuck with an extra carry on and no way to get Hazel to Massachusetts.
Are you still flying today, sir?”
Yeah, I’m going.”
She looked at me suspiciously. She had reason to. I knew I had to try to smuggle Hazel on and I’ve never had a good poker face.
After she handed me my seat assignment, Karl and I left the counter.
What are you going to do?”
Go outside and let her go,” I said. I said it loud enough to let the ticket agent hear. I didn’t think she’d buy it but if she warned the flight crew, we were sunk.
Oh man!” At least Karl was convincing. He believed me.
When we got back to the car, I began going through my smaller knapsack picking out things I had to have and putting them in my pockets.
Karl, will you take this knapsack back with you.”
Sure, what are you going to do?”
Smuggle Hazel on the plane.”
You can’t do that. You heard the ticket agent. You could get in serious trouble.”
I don’t think they’ll send me to prison for bunny smuggling. Besides, when did you ever worry about me getting in trouble?”
Karl’s smile returned. “I can’t believe you’re doing this.”
I don’t see that I have much choice.”
When I went back into the terminal, there was a different agent at the desk. Was that good news or bad? The agent at the desk had no reason to suspect the knapsack I was carrying but was the other one away because she was reporting me?
Karl looked nervous.
I think I’m going to go.” I guess he didn’t want to really see me get in trouble.
OK, thanks.”
Yeah, good luck.”
I headed for the gate.
There was something new. In the late seventies they started x-raying all the carry-on bags before people got to the departure gates. I looked to see if there was a way around it. There didn’t seem to be.
Maybe, I could walk around on the outside and get in that way.
That would look pretty suspicious and they probably had chain link fences to keep people from doing that. I didn’t see any other options.
Do x-rays hurt rabbits? I’d had x-rays at the dentist office and when I broke my arm. Were these any worse? I hoped not.
I stood in line, holding my knapsack to my chest. There were seven or eight people in front of me.
I mumbled into my knapsack. “Hazel, you’re going to have to stay perfectly still.”
I don’t know if anyone heard me. College kids tend to be a bit strange anyway, maybe they just thought I was talking to myself.
I laid the knapsack carefully, flat side down on the conveyor belt. I should have been scared but I was actually pretty excited. I rushed ahead so I could see the screen as Hazel passed through.
The luggage screener didn’t seem surprised that I was watching the screen so closely. It was a new thing; probably a lot of people ran up to see. The novelty had evidently worn off for her. She looked so bored; I half expected to hear snoring.
Her expression changed when my knapsack came into view. The two bags before had been a mish-mash of confusing images. I’d been able to make out a pair of scissors in one bag but everything else was just non-descript shades of gray.
There was no question about what was in my bag. There was a rabbit clear as a bell and nothing else.
She stopped the belt and I held my breath. She looked over at me and I tried to smile casually. Thankfully, the x-ray didn’t show a beating heart, a skeleton or any interior organs. It was just a bunny and to my eyes at least, there was no way to distinguish Hazel from any stuffed bunny you might find in the toy department. Her pose was the same with her front paws evenly before her chin and her hind legs folded beneath her. Her tail was up and her ears were back. And she wasn’t moving, not an ear twitch, not a whisker, she didn’t even look like she was breathing.
The screener was not at all bored now. The expression on her face was so confused it was hilarious. My adrenaline was running high and every cell of my body wanted to laugh out loud. Hazel was doing her job but I was going to blow it! I bit the insides of my cheeks and tried to breathe normally.
The screener looked at Hazel about twenty seconds though it seemed much longer to me. Other than her shape, she showed no sign of being a live bunny. The screener hit the belt control and Hazel didn’t even jump then. She just placidly rolled to the end of the belt where I picked her up and tried to keep from laughing.
I practically floated to the departure gate. Though I’d feared the flight crew only ten minutes before, after the luggage x-ray, I had complete confidence in Hazel.
I got on the plane and found my seat without the slightest self-consciousness. I had the window seat and I put Hazel’s knapsack on the floor between my legs.
A woman in her thirties sat next to me. It occurred to me that we were pretty tightly packed on the plane. A lot of people are allergic to animal fur. Was I condemning a fellow passenger to a miserable trip?
You’re not allergic to rabbits are you?”
She looked a bit confused by my question. “Not that I know of.”
I had to put Hazel under the seat for take off but pulled her knapsack up into my lap as soon as the seatbelt light went off. Her nose pushed up around the flap of the knapsack. The air couldn’t have been good in there.
Oh my!”
My neighbor saw the nose.
Would you like to meet Hazel?”
You actually brought a rabbit on the plane?”
I was glad she kept her voice down. We were in the air but I could still get in trouble if the flight crew learned of her.
I unfastened the flap but Hazel stayed in the box while we were in flight. My neighbor helped me keep watch for flight attendants and even shared some of her salad. Hazel gratefully accepted the lettuce and even the carrots though I knew they weren’t her favorite. I guess stress will make a bunny hungry.
Mom was waiting at the gate when I arrived.
Is Dad here?”
He’s parking the car.”
I have someone I want you to meet.”
Mom looked around at the people nearby. She must have thought I was bringing a girlfriend home.
My neighbor from the flight smiled and waved. My mother looked concerned. The woman was nearly twice my age.
No Mom.” I walked a few steps away from the gate with all the airline personnel and undid the flap of my knapsack. Hazel popped her head out.
Oh my goodness!”
Mom, meet Hazel.”

Thursday, September 4, 2014

fictmcfa6Hazel Part 4 Big Bunny on Campus

Hazel Part 4
Big Bunny on Campus

Two weeks later, Hazel and I were in a routine. I left her in her cage when I was going to be away for any extended period of time. I had hoped she learned her lesson about electrical cords but they were just too tempting for her to leave them alone. As soon as I returned to the room, I would unfasten the top of her cage and she would hop out and have the run of the room.
Though I gave her a small quantity of rabbit food every day, most of her diet consisted of fruits and vegetables pilfered from the dining commons. She didn't seem to mind. She always ate the cafeteria food before the pellets anyway.
I was also pleased to discover that rabbit urine and feces smell less offensive as a rabbit matures. I was down to cleaning her cage only once a day. If I was late in cleaning her cage, she would remind me by hopping up on my bed and leaving one or two brown balls on my sheet.
In spite of Mile’s request to keep a low profile, Hazel was the worst kept secret on campus. On nice days, when I had an hour free, I would take her out on the lawn with me.
We’d both lie on the grass and she would graze. I pretended to study and watched for pretty co-eds to pass who couldn't resist stopping to pet Hazel.
She always made a bit of a game about going back in. I’m sure she preferred the lawn to her cage but she was never serious about staying away. If she really wanted to get away, I never could have caught her.
There was a lot of anticipation when my dormitory scheduled their open night.
All of the dormitories on campus were single sex and they had strict rules. No woman could go anywhere other than the lobby of a men’s dorm except on open night. Miles drew the line at Hazel spending time in the lobby and most of the women who knew about Hazel had not met her yet.
There were several women who would make a point to visit my room that open night. I set out a vegetable tray but I didn't include a dip. I figured most of my guests would rather feed Hazel than eat veggies themselves.
Open night was to begin at seven. A few minutes before seven, Karl showed up at my door. The point of open night was to socialize – meaning meat girls. He knew where the women would be.
Hazel was frisky. I cleaned her cage a second time that day and she could sense something was going on. I hoped she didn't wear herself out before the guests arrived. She had a reputation as an unusual bunny and it would be disappointing if she were just asleep in her cage.
Open night rules said that the doors must remain open at all times. I considered putting a screen up to keep Hazel in but decided against it. At seven o’clock I opened the door.
Hazel edged out into the hallway and explored, then came right back. A few minutes later there were three women at my door.
Jennifer was one of the prettiest women at the school. I knew she was out of my league but she wanted to see Hazel and so there she was with two of her friends.
I’d found a couple extra chairs and put a blanket over my trunk for seating. Hazel was getting pets and celery sticks from Jennifer and her friends and looked like she was loving every minute of it.
When Jennifer and her friends stood up to leave, Hazel reared back, raced at Jennifer and did her leaping eye stare trick. She was dumbfounded.
Four or five dozen women visited my room that night and Hazel did her trick ten or twelve times. The only women she did her trick for where either good friends of mine or very good-looking.
Paula, a freshman who had been trying to get me to ask her out for the last month made a huge fuss over Hazel. Hazel wasn't rude to her; she was just a lump. She let Paula pet her and nibbled a little celery but did no tricks. She even assumed the glazed over stare I’d seen in hutch rabbits. Paula finally left.
Hazel perked right up after she left. Paula couldn't see why everyone was talking about this rabbit.
I have no idea how Hazel knew which people I wanted her to impress and which ones I didn't but she was right every time. I stopped trying to figure it out.
Jennifer came back at the end of open night and got another leaping eye stare from Hazel. She stayed petting and talking to Hazel till they closed down open night and left still shaking her head in disbelief.
Karl left too and Hazel looked up at me as I closed the door. She hopped into her cage, pooped and urinated a surprising amount, drank quite a bit of water and fell asleep almost immediately.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

CommMcfa2 Ten Sounds that Make Me Smile

Ten Sounds that Make Me Smile
by Stanley McFarland

1) A baby’s laugh. You see a creature so completely innocent and awe-inspiring – then she pours out wisdom she’ll never top in her life. Was I ever so wise?
2) A train whistle. A doorway to imagination – a train can lead to anywhere, from a grisly battle to an animated wonderland.
3) Rain on the roof. Do I smile because there is so great a sea of water above me – or because the roof keeps me dry?
4) The whirring of an automatic can opener. I think of all the cats I’ve known – poised, wishing, dreaming of that sound.
5) A bat hitting a baseball. Do I love baseball for the sights, smells, and sounds – or the game? Which came first…
6) Playing cards clacking in the spokes of a bike. You almost never hear this anymore. As a child it made me wish I was on a motorcycle. As an adult it makes me wish I was a child.
7) Opening theme music from the 1996 animated version of The Tick. Okay, that might just be me.
8) Dixieland Jazz. Satchmo – I miss you dearly.
9) Crickets, peepers, bullfrogs, an owl calling to its mate. The quiet of the night cleans the noise from the world and leaves the beauty.

10) The heartbeat of the one I love – my head resting on her chest. The rest of the world grows dim.

Songhaus2 Amanda

(sung to the tune of My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean)
Lyric by Headley Hauser

I once had a parrot, Amanda
Who did constantly swear, curse, and grouse
I put her out on the veranda
but still hear her through all of the house
Stop that, stop that
Stop that, Amanda, I plead, I plead
Stop that, stop that
Your language is dreadful indeed.
verse 2
I’d yell, but she only got louder
I threw blanket and sheet o’er her cage
But I’d hear, loud and clear, through that shrouder
And that’s when I’d cry in my rage
repeat chorus
verse 3
The vet said I couldn’t use vice locks
I didn’t know what I should do
And so I threw her in the ice box
When I pulled her out, she’d turned blue
modified chorus
Warm up, warm up
Warm up, Amanda, I cry, I cry
Warm up, warm up
If you don’t thaw soon, you will die
instrumental interlude punctuated with Amanda squawking.
verse 4
Said Amanda, I’ll heed your suggestion
And clean up my act, she did coo
But I have just one nagging question

What did the frozen turkey do?