Thursday, April 30, 2009

Frightening Bird and Play-Doh

The kids at school (8th graders) probably lose cell phones on a regular basis, misplace their iPods, leave MANY coats and jackets in places they can't remember, but if I have a tiny can of Play-Doh to give as a prize they'll do ALMOST anything to get it. I don't understand this. One day, for Writers Workshop, I gave each of them a little can of this hot commodity to play with and they were THRILLED when I said they could keep it. And they think they are so cool! It reaffirms to me that we never tire of the small joys of life. Bubbles are fun, too. Silly String makes people mad, but it is VERY fun! All kinds of goo are irrestible until they get hairy. Bubble gum is delicious and blowing bubbles is a real talent. In my active Pom Pom the Clown days, I made big buckets of bubbles with Karo syrup and Dawn dish soap. I used toy store jumbo wands and we made lovely, wiggly bubbles and gooped up peoples' patios and front porches. Ooops! And then there are those moments of wonder when we see something astounding like a field of horses (they are so big and pretty and seeing so many at once feels like a treat!) Or, a huge sack of gummy worms - now that is lovely! I huge sack of gummy worms only costs 7 dollars! They are so moist and friendly when you open the bag! One time, I found a HUGE green worm (a real one!) in the garden. I have never seen one since, but I had a shivery feeling of discovery as I looked at it. Fields of tulips in Washington State are another "WOW!" sight. We saw a big whale in Hawaii and even though I was seasick, I felt as if someone had told me an amazing secret when I looked at it, there in the Pacific, taking up so much space! The other morning, I went into the kitchen to get a coffee fill-up and just beyond the patio, there was a red fox sitting up straight, staring at our cat. The cat was sitting by his food dish, staring back! We see foxes frequently, and it is still thrilling. Big birds are fun, too. Jeff took the picture of this ugly African bird. They are like vultures that fly around eating dead things. It's not a "happy" joy but it's a bit of a thrill to see those long legs hanging behind the giant inflight bird. Snow cones are delicious and red licorice is one of the best tastes in the world and worth the stomach discomfort that always accompanies my overindulgence. Book stores are perfume-y paradises and stacks of stickers make me feel happy. School buses are perfect looking and I'm thinking about drawing and painting one in honor of how much I love looking at them, even though I know they can be nasty environments for bus drivers! Kids don't just sit there are stare out the window! One of my students picked up the broom in the back and threw it out the window. He was not welcome on the school bus for the rest of the year. Anyway, a fleet of buses, all lined up together is a gorgeous sight! Another nice feeling is when you drive by a car that is the exact same make and model AND color as YOURS! It feels like you have found your long lost twin! Well, maybe that's a stretch. Small wonders, free and simple joys, they aren't going any where! I hope you have a long stretch of fun VERY soon! Here's a recipe for homemade Play-Doh:
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
4 tsp. cream of tarter
2 tbsp. oil
2 cups water
a few drops of food coloring (you choose a robust color!)
Stir all this over medium heat until it pulls away from the pan. Cool. Knead it. Have a great time!

We should all do what in the long run gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry. ~ E.B. White

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