Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rambo--A Fleegle Fractured Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, on a typical summer day, I was peacefully carving a voodoo doll of my former employer out of a radish, when Harry blew in the door, scrabbling across the floor so quickly that he left a small sonic boom in his wake. He informed me, in a terrified sqeak, that we had a visitor, and the visitor, was, well, pretty scary. So scary in fact, that Harry scuttled under the refrigerator without his bagpipes, smoking jacket, or box of Lindt truffles.

I carefully parked the paring knife in the radish's midsection, wandered to the front door, and recoiled in horror. Lounging atop a camo duffel bag was a furry white rabbit wearing killer shades and camo fatigues. Leaning against the duffel was a well-used backpack with a bunch of carrots lashed to the side and K-Bar knife dangling from the webbing pocket.

"Hello, ma'am" said this nightmarish vision.

"Erm, hello." I replied. "Can I, um, help you?"

"Looking for a spider named Harry. About so big." The rabbit held his paws about eight inches apart. "Wears sissy clothes and totes a set of bagpipes. You seen him?"

I cleared my throat. "Well, yes. He's currently under my refrigerator. He lives here when he isn't on a karaoke tour or off on one of his Terrorize the Tourist gigs."

"I'll wait."

The rabbit slid off the duffel and opened a side zipper, extracting a lethal-looking weapon and a cleaning kit. He propped the duffel and backpack against the porch rail, made himself comfortable, and proceeded to meticulously disassemble the weapon.

I retreated to the kitchen, fumbled for the phone, and called Roy.

....beep beep boop beeep beep booop beep...

"Hello?" queried the voice of sanity.

"Sweetheart, there's a Force Recon Rabbit named Rambo sitting on the porch cleaning a gun." (I deduced his name and service from the name tag rakishly embroidered on his flak vest).

Roy has lived with me for a long time, so instead of wasting time questioning my sanity or what I had to drink at lunchtime, he merely asked me what sort of  gun was being handled by those fluffy little paws.

"Just a second." I put down the phone and peeped out the door.

"Excuse me," I said. My husband wants to know what kind of gun you have there." I omitted any reference to fluffy little paws.

"M4A1 Close Quarters Battle Weapon (CQBW) with a Special Operations Peculiar Modification (SOPMOD) M4A1 kit."

I picked up the phone and repeated the gobblydegook of acronyms.

"Cool," said Roy. "I'll pick up some parsley nibbles at the grocery store and be right home."

Roy spent most of the afternoon on the porch sharing beers and swapping war stories with Rambo, while I pleaded with Harry to come out from under the refrigerator. He adamantly refused, even when I lovingly assembled a bowl of freshly picked raspberries topped with his favorite organic whipped cream.

When Roy finally wandered in the door (with carrot crumbles and splotches of gun oil on his t-shirt), he explained how we ended up with a ferocious fluff ball reconnoitering the front door.

Apparently Rambo had hopped all the way from Fort Bragg, where he works as a tracking rabbit for Force Recon. Having taken a few vacation days, he opted to spend part of his leave time hunting down the spider who snitched his custom-designed carrot peeler (scrimshaw shaft, glove-leather holster) after stiffing him for $100 in a poker game last year.

 "Uh oh," I said. What do we do now? Call his commanding officer? Call the police? Hire a hit fox?"

Roy thought about it a minute. "Maybe we can just return the peeler and the money and hope he hops on to his vacation destination." Rambo apparently was on his way to compete in a San Shou kickboxing championship.

I peered around the corner and noticed that, although the equipment was still piled up on the porch, there wasn't a single whisker to be seen anywhere in the vicinity.

"Uh oh again," I said to Roy while walking back into the kitchen. "Where did he go?"

Roy pointed to our meager vegetable garden. "He's out there kicking the tomato plants." Cherry tomatoes were popping down into Rambo's outstretched paws. When he had finished stripping the tomatoes, he picked off the miniature eggplants, pulled up a few radishes, and calmly proceeded to wash his paws and face in the pond. He then hopped back to the porch, picked up his weapon, and began perimeter patrol.

I fell on my knees in front of the refrigerator and explained the situation to Harry.

"Harry, you've got to return his peeler. And his hundred dollars. And maybe throw in a bouquet of squash blossoms or something. He's picking our garden clean! And scaring the turtles in the pond!"

A tiny whimper was heard from the sub-fridge.

In the meantime, our usually placid cat, Laptop, spied Rambo marching over our basil plants, and gave herself a quick lick-and-wash. She sashayed over to the rabbit, introduced herself with a small giggle, and offered to show him around the neighborhood. Then she twitched her whiskers in a deplorable display of flirtation, wrapping her tail around Rambo's rather impressive lats. So much for any help from the feline contingent.

Let's summarize the current situation. Harry's incommunicado. Roy's plinking at the dahlias with the M4A1. Laptop's playing fur games with a military lagomorph.

Taking matters firmly into my own hands. I pulled out Harry's drawer apartment and sifted through the contents. Among a vast assortment of items that I won't bother to recount, I found my engagement ring, a skein of quviuk lace yarn, a set of nude black-widow-spider cocktail sticks, two containers of truffled pate, and finally, underneath a rather impressive collection of Chocolate Frog cards, the carrot peeler and a wrinkled hundred-dollar bill.

I pilfered the latter two items (and my ring and yarn) and exited the back door.

"Excuse me," I said to Rambo. "I, erm, found your missing items and would like to return them to you with our heartfelt apologies. Sometimes Harry gets a bit, frisky, and er, forgets himself."

"Thank you, ma'am. I do appreciate your honorable behavior. Rambo gave me a breezy salute by folding over one ear and smartly tapping his forehead.

"If it's not too much to ask, I'd like to camp in your garden this evening. Laptop said she would provide some vegetarian MREs and entertainment. I'll make sure the yard is safe from meercats tonight." He chambered a round and sighted in on the last remaining cherry tomato.

"Right. Good, Hate it when those meercats attack." I mumbled as I cautiously backed away, a bit horrified at the sight of our last cherry tomato splattering over an annoyed-looking petunia plant.

The next morning, Rambo, along with his camouflage equipment, was gone.

Harry crept out from under the refrigerator. Roy pouted. Laptop received suggestive postcards from in-country locations.  I returned to my voodoo doll carving. A year passed.

  Another typical summer's day. The doorbell rang. I stuck a final pin into my He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named-in-This Blog-for-Fear-of-Lawsuits durian-fruit voodoo carving and answered the door. There stood Rambo, resplendent in freshly pressed BDUs, bearing a frothy bouquet of catnip.

"Hello, Ma'am," said Rambo politely. "Laptop around?"

A furry mass shot between my legs and, in a totally unseemly manner, leapt into Rambo's waiting arms. The two of them overbalanced, rolled down the front path in a breathtaking display of revolving whiskers and fur, coming to rest in a patch of outraged day lilies. We didn't see either of them again for several hours.

When the two of them finally emerged from their flowery bower, they carefully groomed each other before wandering into the kitchen, paw in paw. Over a platter of carrot canapes, Rambo related a series of fur-raising escapades from the previous year and then announced that he would be teaching a Wilderness Survival course and Escape and Evasion at the Ranger camp in the next town.

"I must be getting soft," Rambo said bashfully. "I'd sure like a place to stay off-base. Those army-issue burrows are cramped and noisy. And the lettuce/timothy hay MREs leave a lot to be desired."

Laptop gave us her patented Irresistible Pleading Cat Expression That Causes Instant Human Capitulation.

We struck a deal. In exchange for joining the fleegle team here in Georgia, he'll get fresh lettuce, wireless internet, and a custom-built hutch. In return, Rambo has agreed to provide us with companionship, a comprehensive perimeter patrol schedule and, of course, his gorgeous angora fur.

Bet you were wondering if I would ever tie this story into fiber arts, right?

And so we all lived happily ever after, except for Harry, who spends a lot of time under the fridge playing mournful tunes on his bagpipes.


The End

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cool Winter Sweater

Many of you are probably complaining about the weather--killer temperatures, rampant humidity, eyeball-searing sunshine... But let's consider the positive aspects of the heat and humidity.

  • It's no longer necessary for us to bother with cooking vegetables from our garden. We can simply glance outside and watch them being gently steamed in the aftermath of a summer thunderstorm. This natural cooking process has been so successful that we don't bother dragging our healthy groceries into the kitchen anymore. We simply toss them on the back steps, sprinkle them with a little tamari, and sun-roast them. 
    • Should you be the proud owner of a moon rat, fairy bluebird, or capybara, you can rejoice in their comfort--after all, tropical rain forest is their native habitat.
    • And finally, if the study of molds is your specialty, you won't need any expensive laboratory equipment to pursue your interest.

    Alas, it's difficult to get enthused about knitting with wool, but a friend recently had a baby and she requested a warm sweater. The first thing I did was stroll around the Web, looking for superwash wool. I found a veritable mountain of the stuff, all priced at about $10 for 100 yards. A quick calculation revealed that a little sweater for a one-year-old (we're into future growth here) would cost about $50. A bit much for an item of clothing that would be quickly outgrown.

    Instead, I ordered a skein of Henry's Attic superwash DK merino for $14, and dyed it myself in the coolest color scheme I could think of: watermelon.

    A quick peek at my Knitware program produced a seamless, bottom-up pattern. And a day or two later, my needles produced this:

    I used a decorative ribbing on the hem, cuffs, and neckline. This little rib looks wonderful on socks, too.

    This pattern is meant for circular knitting. 
    Cast on any number of stitches divisible by 4.
     Row 1: k2, p2
    Row 2: k1, yo, k1, p2
    Row 3: k3, p2
    Row 4: k3, p2
    Row 5: k3, then pass the first stitch over the other 2 knits and drop it, p2

    And finally, I embroidered some seeds on the yoke.

    Keep cool, everyone. The next blog post will feature a brand-new fleegle fairy tale, so stay tuned!