Wednesday, November 5, 2008

From Our Workshop: INARI'S BEADS

By Elizabeth Faber
Age 11, 6th Grade

"Inari's Beads" Cover
Inari gazed at the sky and kicked the smooth, brown dirt beneath her sandals. She raised her arms and pretended to fly around like a super hero.

She jumped into the air, but then plopped down with a thud. She sighed deeply and put her chin in her hands. Inari began to do what she always does – daydream.

She thought about mythical beasts, princes and princesses, like in the stories. “I could be a hero,” she pondered, “… but how?” “Inari!” her mother called, “Dinner!”

While munching on her sweet potatoes, she told her mother about what she had been thinking about. “Mother,” she said, “I was thinking when I was outside. Well …do you believe in magic?”

But her mother scowled and shouted, “Inari! I have told you many times! Stop all this talk about nonsense and magic! I’ve had enough!" “You may be excused,” her father mumbled through his newspaper.

Inari took her dish into the kitchen, and then stomped outside. “AAAAAAAHHH!” She screamed in frustration once she got out. But, what’s this? Instead of her beautiful plains, before her was a gynormous, gold forest! “Fall? In Summer?” she thought.

Now, Inari was confused.

Inari stared at the golden trees. Before she knew it, she was walking into the dark mysterious forest. “Ugh!” she whispered to herself. “Stupid adventurous nature!”

She turned around to go home, but her red hair was tangled in a branch. As she worked on untangling her thick hair, she spotted a light. She started to walk towards it, and her hair came easily untangled. How strange.

Inari kept on walking, and when she came to the source of the light, she saw that there were no more trees. Instead they were replaced by an amazingly bright light and piles of golden leaves, hundreds of piles, in fact.

But she saw something else in the middle of the field. Is it a bead? Inari fought her way through the leaves and took a closer look. It wasn’t just one bead, it was a beaded necklace.

She picked up the necklace and brushed off the leaves. The necklace was beautifully designed with baby blue beads all around it. Each bead had either a tiny “I”, “H”, or “K” on it, written in beautiful calligraphy.

In the middle were three flame shaped pendants. One was white, but had a tiny area on the top that was light red. The second was a brown-orange color with some white on the bottom. The last was a dark blue that got lighter as the color neared the top.

Inari ran over to her neighbor, and also best friend, Taylor’s house. “Taylor, look! Look at what I found. It’s so pretty!” She shouted, as she put the necklace on. After gawking about the amazing details, they both went in search for more.

By the time Inari and Taylor got back to Inari’s house, Taylor was longing for an even better necklace. She was a complainer and always had to be better than Inari. Inari didn’t mind, though. She thought it was healthy to have a little competition in her life on the farm.

Anyway, when they arrived back at Inari’s house, for some reason the trees had disappeared. “Wha? How?” they exclaimed. Suddenly, Inari yelled, “It’s been abducted by aliens!” Taylor screamed, “AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!” and sprinted home. Inari giggled. In the end, she gave up on it and went to bed.

When Inari when woke up and looked on her side table, the beads were gone! She grunted and looked on the floor, but they weren’t there either. Inari yawned. She thought she just wasn’t completely awake yet and went to wash her face.

As she walked back into her room, ready to look for the beads, she screamed! Right in the middle of her carpet was a huge fox-like animal that had at least nine big, fluffy tails! Inari was speechless, but apparently the big red and white fox wasn’t.

“I am Honoo Kitsune, and I desperately need your help.”

“You … your mouth … talking.” Inari stammered.

“I know, I’m talking, but my mouth isn’t moving. It’s called telepathy.” Inari made a sort of Uh-ing noise. Disregarding her stumbling, Honoo explained further. “I am not from your universe. My brother, sister and I are from a place where creatures like us are common. The beads are a portal. When someone finds them, they activate it, and we come here. The activator was you, so you already did that deed for us. Unfortunately, we were split up in the process. I need you to find my brother and sister for me. Will you help?”

Inari always wanted to be a hero, and now was her chance. She accepted. “Very good,” Honoo said with relief. “Now, I only know where my brother might be, but when you find him, he will have more information about our sister. Here is what I know. He will be in some place dark … and probably chaotic. Oh, and please find both before sundown. If you don’t, they will be stuck in a vortex between universes.” Inari’s jaw was almost to the floor. “It’s a family thing,” Honoo added. “Now please hurry!”

Inari nodded and ran out of the house. “Dark and chaotic … hm,” she thought. Suddenly, she got an idea! She rain behind the house. The chicken coop! It had no windows, so it was pretty dark, and it had a bunch of chickens in it, so it had to be a chaotic place! Inari opened the door and walked in. All the chickens were huddled in a corner shivering with fear. Inari looked around, but nothing was to be seen. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a dark figure jumped at her! Mysteriously, the figure went through her, and she fainted.

“Ungh,” Inari said, as she sat up, “what happened?” “I almost took your soul,” a deep voice answered. Inari turned around quickly, and standing there was a big blue fox that looked like a shadow. It was many different shades of blue and had small wings, and a long, skinny tail. “Honoo’s brother!” Inari shouted. “Ah,” the creature said, “you are the activator. I am Kuro Kitsune, but I cannot tell you any more, as you are just a stupid human who wandered into a mysterious forest. Now, take me to my sister!” Inari turned to the door led Kuro to his sister. “What’s his problem?” she thought. When she got to Honoo, Kuro sat beside her. “Where is Itsu?” she asked her brother. Kuro glared at Inari and whispered something in his sister’s ear.

Honoo sighed and said, “Ugh … Kuro, why do you have to be like this?” “Just say it,” Kuro grumbled back.

“He says that Itsu, our little sister, will probably be somewhere peaceful and quiet.” Kuro nudged Honoor. “Oh my gosh! Fine! He also says that he still doesn’t trust you.” Kuro smiled, and Honoo rolled her eyes. But this didn’t bother Inari.

Inari ran out of her house and looked around. “Hm. Some place peaceful and quiet …” she thought. “Yes! I got it!” She said to herself, and ran over to the side of the house and into the horse’s barn. Inari always went there when she needed peace and quiet. She went in and looked at the horses. They looked as calm as always. Inari looked in every stall, but didn’t see anything.

By the time she got to the last stall, she had lost almost all hope. She flung her head over the edge and looked in. She gasped as she saw the small fox-like creature sleeping on a pile of hay. “Itsu?” she whispered. The adorable, white creature had a tiny bit of red on the tip of its poofy tail. She looked up at Inari with big, impossibly cute eyes.

Inari carefully picked up Itsu and left the barn. She looked upa t the sky, and it was almost sundown! She had to hurry! Inari sprinted back to her room. As she was running, she went past Taylor, who looked interested, and to distract her friend, she shouted, “Puppy!”

Inari let Itsu down, and Itsu walked over to her brother and sister. “It hope she wasn’t any trouble,” Hanoo said. “Itsu is just a baby. She can’t talk yet.”

“Oh, it was fine,” Inari replied.

Kuro sniffed Itsu and said, “I guess you’re alright, human. You took good care of my little sister.” He smiled. “Oh, we never got your name,” Honoo said.

Inari smiled.

“I’m Inari. Inari McCoy.”

“You can visit us any time you want,” Honoo said happily. “We will be at the snowy mountain west of here.” Inari nodded and waved goodbye as the three fox-like siblings walked outside. She followed them and watched them go. Then, as she looked around, she saw the old beads lying on the floor. She smiled and put them around her neck.

She, Inari McCoy, was a true hero.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Our Resilience Tree: More Leaves

Like the national debt, the leaves on our resilience tree grow and grow and grow and grow ...

Resilience Tree


... and the red broom is at the ready.

D~

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Post-Halloween


It’s raining today … I mean, really raining for the first time since we moved here in July. It’s kind of nice, too. Everything smells fresh, and the birds were raucous this morning. It gave me a reason to hunker down, get some rest, and even take a nap. Elizabeth has been heavy into her computer, we watched the “Sex in the City” movie (really a two and a half hour episode), and now “Lawrence Welk” is on television. Real cozy, family type stuff and I really needed it.

What a week … on Thursday, I pulled off a wildly successful Halloween event at work. It’s a trade off for what we can’t do on Christmas because we’re so busy honoring religious tolerance. I coordinated a week’s worth of decorating competitions, departments competing against one another with elaborate scary scenes, followed by a gathering and awards, with an office full of trick-or-treating for our children, and tables of children’s crafts projects. We had helium balloons everywhere, so when people arrived at the party, they would know they were some place special. Elizabeth came with one of her girlfriends, too and got more candy there than she did at home on Halloween night. The committee and I decorated everything in sight, casting aside professionalism in favor of fun and merriment. I’m talking about seriously cheesy decorations and tackiness around every corner! I worked for a week on my VooDoo Queen costume, too, determined as I was to dress for success. I hit the nail on the head. I had so much fun.

Ducks

I find it slightly amazing to have a creative outlet like this in the office. People keep asking me if I’m ready to quit because they think its so much work, when the truth is, I’ve hit my stride, and feel at home there. I got personal satisfaction out of helping everyone come together as a team, in the spirit of competition, and then coaxing them into fully participating and having a splendid time of it. It was terrific. It’s been such a serious and uncertain year, everyone needed a dose of silly.

It was satisfying and exhausting.

I approached Friday, Halloween, and a short day in the office, already tired, but there was cleaning up to do. In the elevator, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, and discovered folks from the party committee arrived early and had everything in order! All I had to do was euthanize a bunch of tired balloons and take down the decorations in my work station. It was all I could do not to throw myself at Mary’s feet in thanks. I ended up giving them a bottle of red wine to take home.

The Tunnel of Terror

Speaking of home … there it was another story. The neighborhood barricaded the street for a block party, so of course, we had decorating to do outside. We got the obligatory inflatable skeleton head and all the trimmings, which the little kids couldn’t resist and parents stopped by for photo opportunities. Mother Nature was apprehensive and threw sprinkling rain on us now and again, but for the most part, She kept the worst at bay until today.

I have to admit, it all felt a little strange. Elizabeth went door to door on the block for a little while, but her bag was already full of candy from the office. She was in full costume, an undead convict, and had more fun giving candy to the itty bitties … let’s see, we had witches and skeletons. There was Minnie Mouse and Buzz Lightyear, too. They were adorable, but it was too dark to take decent movies, and so you’ll have to take my word for it.

I’m not sure what Leslie and I expected, but it wasn’t this. Maybe it was the block party people (we stayed at the house), drinking their margaritas and lighting fire crackers down the street, or the young, yuppy parents lit up like Christmas by the time they got to our house. Leslie definitely disliked them, and I found myself tolerating them. I’m unsure if it was the horrible Halloween experiences we had in Connecticut compared to the warm and cozy Halloweens we had on Sunnyside Drive in South City. Maybe we just expect too much, in general. That’s entirely possible.

From this, Leslie has determined that we don’t belong in the peninsula, but rather should be closer to the city, where there is even more diversity (and less tipsy yuppies). I have to agree. It’s very nice here, and I love the birds. Yet the house is very small (besides, we’re only renting it), and we’re living on an anthill. Like I said, we expect so much.

At the end of the night, as the rain got a bit heavier, we left a cauldron of candies outside the door under the easement, and settled into the fresh crab Leslie picked up at Whole Foods. They were fresh and scrumptious and topped a long, busy week off deliciously. Before sleep, I went outside and brought in the decorations I didn’t want ruined by the rain … my ravens, brooms and our mummy … you know, the important stuff.

I’ve spent the day reflecting on all this, the mixed feelings, and ultimately feeling very thankful for the good fortune we have in general. So, with this, I cast all the Halloween spooks back to the land of the dead and with them all the expectations. Next, when they come back, I’ll have more candy.

Maybe I’ll save all this left over for then.

I’ve got to do something with it, don’t you think?
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