The desert is a hot, dry place and sand and sunshine are everywhere.
And the desert is the best place to get dessert, all kinds of sweets can be found there.
You’ll find Cactus Cakes, Tumbleweed Twists, Melted Ice Cream, Butter-brickle Brambles, and Dusty Cup Cakes.
And no one made better Dusty Cup Cakes than ol’ Toothless Jeb of the Okie Dokey Corral.

“Toothless” was a bit of a misnomer. You see, Jeb had plenty of teeth but when you’re an alligator like Jeb, 43 teeth doesn’t seem like a lot.
Each morning Toothless Jeb would set out his daily batch of Cup Cakes on the window sill of his store and open the window to let the wind sprinkle them with the sugar dust that blew in across the Pixie Dust Prairie.
Well, one morning wouldn’t you know it, along came A Cupcake Thief who called himself Cowboy X and Cowboy X stole those Cup Cakes and took off screaming “Cowboy X Yeee Haaw!”

A few miles down the road, Cowboy X came across what looked to be a mound of rags on the side of the trail. But it began to move! And low and behold it stood up and it was a person! A Cowgirl named Barstow Barbara, a wallaby.
“Well, howdy partner.” Barb said. “I’m Barstow Barbara. Or, that’s the name I go by. My name is Magill, I call myself Lill, but everyone knows me as Nancy. Nevertheless, the name I go by is Barstow Barbara.”
“Well, that’s clear as mud.” Said Cowboy X. “All around town my name is Mudd. But I go by the name of Cowboy X. You can call me X.”
“Well, X, I’ve been out on this here trail for a mighty long time. It seems since early this morning anyway, and I sure could use a nice refreshing Cup Cake. Could you borrow me a Cup Cake there partner? Whattya say?”
“Well, you mean will I LOAN you a cupcake.”
“I’m pretty sure what I meant,” said Barbara, “and I guess you got the gist of what I meant but what’s the difference?”
“Well I would do the loaning and you’d do the borrowing.” Said X.
“That’s great! Thanks.” Said Barbara.
“Now hold on a right darn rootin’ tootin’ New York Minute there, Ms. Magill Call Yourself Lill Everyone Knows You As Nancy and Goes By Barstow Barbara! I didn’t agree to any sort of loaning agreement by any means or terms between myself or any such party.”
“Look here X, I never did once celebrate anything nor have I partook in any party in my life. Not even one of my birthdays of which there have been several. All I wanted was for me to BORROW and you to LOAN me a Cup Cake. And that’s the end of that. Whattya say?”
Cowboy X scratched at his scruffy beard.
“Well, Barbara. I wish I could. I do. But the way I see it, for me to loan you a Cup Cake would require you to then give me back that same aforementioned Cup Cake. The self same and identical Cup Cake. Being the case that you would like to eat the Cake in question,”
“The Cup Cake, yes.” She interrupted.
“That is correct. The Cup Cake. Being that you would like to eat the Cup Cake. I don’t see how any lending would be possible in this here instance. Good day.” And Cowboy X walked away.

A short distance later, Barstow Barbara ran up alongside X.
“Sir, if I might borrow a moment of your time.” She said.
He glared at her.
“I’m sorry, X. I mean: if I could have a moment of your time…..”
“It is granted. Speak.” He stopped.
“How about we find a middle ground. A compromise as it were.”
“I’m listening.”
“How about if we agreed for you to GIVE me a Cup Cake.”
Cowboy X considered for a moment then said,
“That would lessen my number of Cup Cakes by one.” He said, doing some math in his head.
“Your number would decrease, X, yes. This I do not debate. However, the total amount of Cup Cakes in general would remain the same.” said Barbara.
“The logic is sound.” Said X, “yet still my access to that particular Cup Cake would certainly diminish to the point of absolute zero as you ate that Cup Cake!” He said feeling quite satisfied.
“But, dear sir, you would still have all of your remaining Cup Cakes. From your perspective you would have 100% of the Cup Cakes and as I finished my Cup Cake not only would I have none of your Cup Cakes, I wouldn’t even have any of my ONE Cup Cake any longer. I would have no Cup Cakes and you would have them all.” She cleared her throat. “The bottom line Mr. X, is that in this scenario you would come out on top and in the end I would again have nothing but the rags on my back.” She folded her arms feeling quite accomplished.
Mr. X stood silent deep in thought.
“Aha! I’ve got it! We’ve been so bogged down in the specifics of who gets what and whatnot that we’ve completely overlooked the idea of you buying a Cup Cake from me.”
Mr. X exclaimed.
“Well, how much would a Cup Cake cost?”
“Actually, they’re not for sale. Sorry. It was just an idea. No harm in sharing ideas!” He said.
“Absolutely. No bad ideas in a brainstorm, that’s what Lill always says.” She said.
“Who’s Lill?” Cowboy X asked.
“Me. I call myself Lill.”
“That’s right. I’d forgotten that. Strange that everyone knows you as Nancy.” He stared off into the distance.
“Oh, that’s just because I look like my twin brother Nancy.” Barbara said.
“Nancy huh? And what does he go by?”
“He doesn’t. He’s largely unknown. He’s a struggling artist, writes anonymously, is often misquoted, dresses in disguises, is largely forgettable, and his cooking is terrible. All in all, Nancy is hardly a Nancy or any other name at all.”
“I see.” Said X. “Well, nice to have met you. Good day.” And he walked away.

A short distance down the road Barstow Barbara ran up alongside Cowboy X.
“Pardon me, X, but you said your Cup Cakes weren’t for sale.”
“That is correct Ma’am.”
“Well, how about trading?” She asked.
Cowboy X stopped. “A trade you say?”
“Yes. A trade. Fair and square. I’ll trade you a dollar for a Cup Cake.”
“Trade me a dollar for a Cup Cake huh? That sounds a lot like a retail transaction. Are you speaking of a purchase per chance?”
“I suppose you could look at it that way.” She said. “But that would only be if you wanted to use the dollar as a dollar. If you just wanted a piece of paper to turn into a paper airplane, a dollar bill would suffice and no ‘money’ would have exchanged hands. Suffice it to say, money that is not used as money is just a thing. A thing you could trade.”
“So,” X stopped walking, “If I wanted something shiny to look at and you gave me four quarters for a Cup Cake that would be a trade?”
“Absolutely.” She said.
“Okay. Let’s do it!” X said and held out his hand. He loved shiny things.
“Actually, I don’t have four quarters. I just have this dollar bill.” She held out her stiff crisp new dollar bill, just ready to be made into a paper airplane. “Do you have change for a dollar?” She asked.
“No!” He exclaimed. “I’ve only got my one quarter. It’s the last one I got!”
“Wow.” said Barbara staring at the quarter. “That is pretty shiny.” She liked shiny things too.
“Now, if you don’t mind…I’ve got to get moving along Barbara. You see, I’ve only recently stolen these Cup Cakes and I need to high tail it along the dusty trail before the sheriff comes looking for me.” Cowboy X turned to leave. “Oh, Barbara, before I leave: why do you call yourself Lill?”
“It works whether I’m talking to myself or talking to myself in the mirror.” She said.
“Because Lill is Llil backwards.”
“That’s right!” She said beaming.
“I think I’m beginning to understand you, Barbara. Good day.” And Cowboy X walked away.

Finally Barstow Barbara caught up with him again.
“You again!?” X said quite exasperated. “Why don’t you just leave me alone?”
“Because I am really very hungry! I haven’t eaten all morning!”
X looked at his watch. “It’s only 9 O’Clock!”
“Yes, but it’s late afternoon in France.”
“But we’re not in France!” Yelled X.
“Very convenient for you, isn’t it?” Barbara said flatly and crossed her arms.
“You’re full of nonsense!” Cowboy X grumbled and pulled his cowboy hat over his ears.
“My empty stomach stands in direct contradiction!” She answered and was so pleased with herself that she shook her rags and did a deep curtsy before finishing with a pirouette.
“I will not loan, sell, or trade you any of these Cup Cakes! Not one, not some….and not all!…I know you’d ask.” X hitched up his overalls and spat on the sugary ground for emphasis.
“How about a bet?” Barbara offered.
“Hmmm. What do I get if I win?”
“All of your Cup Cakes.”
“What if you win?”
“I get one of your Cup Cakes.”
“I like those terms. What’s the wager?”
“That you can’t guess what day my birthday is on.”
“Well, let’s see here. There’s 365 days in a year and one of those days would have to be your birthday….I like those odds. Okay.”
Cowboy X set down his Cup Cakes and they shook on the bet.
“Well,” X said. “Using logic, I may be able to figure this out. Let’s see: you’ve already told me that you don’t celebrate your birthday and you don’t seem to be celebrating. However, subconsciously you may secretly want to somehow recognize that it’s your birthday…perhaps by eating a Cup Cake…and you certainly have been showing interest in my Cup Cakes today. And you seem to be the sneaky kind of wallaby that would choose a bet like this on her birthday just as a joke to herself…So…Using logic, reason, the power of deduction and insight and powered by intuition and my knowledge of you…I’m going to guess that your birthday is today.”
Barbara raised her eyebrows. “Cowboy X…It is indeed my birthday…BUT! But the question was ‘what day was my birthday?’ so what day is it today?”
“Uhhhh. Wednesday.”
“Nope. Today is Tuesday.”
Cowboy X threw his hat on the ground. “Dagnabbit!” He yelled. “This week has been going by so slow!”
Barbara laughed and laughed and held out her hand, very satisfied with herself.
Cowboy X thought quickly. “But! Wait! What about we go double or nothing. If you win, you get two of my Cup Cakes and if I win, I get to keep all of my Cup Cakes.”
“I like the terms.” Said Barbara. “What’s the bet?”
“That you can’t guess any day of the year that is NOT my birthday.” Said Cowboy X.
“Well, there’s 365 days in a year and most people I know, wallabies or not, are born only on one day…So…I like my odds! You’ve got a bet!” And Barbara shook X’s hand.
“I will guess that your birthday is not today.”
“Sorry.” Said Cowboy X. He yanked the Cup Cake back from Barbara and walked away.

A short distance later, Barbara ran up to X.
“Okay, X: you won’t lend, sell, trade a cup cake. And I’ve tried my best at betting you for one. How about I EARN a cup cake?”
“Well, that would depend on what you would do to earn a Cup Cake.”
“I could teach you how to climb a cactus!” She said.
“Well, that would be a very valuable skill to acquire. For, high atop the lofty cactus I would be able to espy the afar Sheriff on yonder and then turn and high tail it in the opposite direction, thus putting space and hence time between us. Bottom line is: I hire you for the wage of ONE CUP CAKE and by extension buy myself freedom AND the rest of my Cup Cakes.” Cowboy X tugged at his beard in thought. “Okay. You’ve got it Barbara. Teach away. I am your pliant and willing disciple.”
Barbara walked X to the base of the tallest cactus in the Dessert Desert, just West of the Pixie Dust Prairie.
“This here cactus will serve as our classroom.” She said and took out a small notebook and a big pencil. “What you will want to do is grab your arms around the cactus and slowly shimmy up it until you get to the very tippy top and then sit down.”
“By the sounds of it, that will be very difficult, Barbara.”
“I never promised you a rose garden, X. Now get going. Class starts now!”
And Cowboy X grabbed onto the cactus “Ouch!” and started climbing “OUCH!” and kept climbing “Ouchyouchyouchyouchyouchy!” until he got to the tippy top and sat down.
“Very good, X! You get an A Plus!” Barbara yelled up and grabbed her Cup Cake.
Before she could take a bite, X called down: “How do I get down?!”
But he was VERY HIGH UP and it was hard to hear what he said.
“WHAT?” Barbara yelled back up to him.
“HOW DO I GET DOWN FROM HERE?” He yelled very loudly.
Barbara yelled back very very loudly: “YOU JUMP!”
And Barbara laughed and laughed and laughed. She was about to take a bite of her delicious Cup Cake when all of a sudden: SPLAT!
Cowboy X jumped down from the tippy top and landed on all of his other Cup Cakes which broke his fall quite nicely because there were a lot of Cup Cakes and they all had a lot of very fluffy frosting on them.
Barbara was a bit surprised. “X, you look very happy!”
“Of course I am happy!” He said. “I got to see the most amazing thing ever. It was just amazing……”
Barbara was silent for a while and was about to take a bite out of her Cup Cake when curiosity got the best of her.
“What was it?”
“Well, I can’t really describe it. You’d have to see it yourself.”
“Well show me it!” She said excitedly. She hoped it was shiny. Barbara really liked shiny things.
“I wish I could. But you can’t see it from here. I could only see it from up there.” Cowboy X pointed up.
“Up there?” Barbara questioned questioningly.
“Yup. I could only see it from up there. And it was pretty amazing. Really.You may never have seen it yourself it all your life.” Cowboy X said as he brushed off the fluffy frosting from his coveralls.
“Well I want to see it!” Barbara exclaimed.
“Well get on up there then!” Cowboy X encouraged.
“Will you hold my Cup Cake?” She asked.
“You won’t eat it will you?”
“Not even a little bit.”
“It’s just that I earned this Cup Cake. I earned it fair and square through work, okay? It’s mine. This Cup Cake is my wage. I don’t want to have a labor dispute with you. I like you Cowboy X, I do. You’re professional, you’re a natural leader. I wouldn’t say you’re a friend per se, but as much as you were my student you were my boss. And I think that we had a good rapport as a supervisor and employee.”
“I agree, Barbara. I totally agree.”
“So please. Don’t sour this experience for me okay? I’ve wanted a Cup Cake all morning and this solitary and singular Cup Cake is all I want in life right now. It’s the only thing I’ve got going for myself. Look at me. I’m covered in rags! And this notebook and pencil are really just props. The notebook doesn’t have any paper in it and the pencil is really dull–they’re just for show, you know…To make me look the part of a teacher for when I teach people how to climb cacti. You know. So please. Cowboy X….don’t…just…please don’t eat my Cup Cake.”
“Sure thing Barbara now climb up that cactus.”
She handed X the Cup Cake and started climbing.
It hurt. It hurt really bad.
And as an aside, just me to you: don’t ever try to climb a cactus. It is horrifically painful and possibly life threatening.
When Barbara got to the tippy top and sat down she looked around.
“Cowboy X? What was it? What was it that you saw up here? That I had never seen before and you could only see from up here?”
“The top of your head!”
And Cowboy X laughed and laughed and laughed through a mouthful of Cup Cake.
“Cowboy X! Yeeeee Haaaw!”
And Cowboy X ran away across the Dessert Desert.

After a couple of hours Barbara saw two figures coming from a long distance away, their shadows laying long ahead of them. In a couple more hours, the Sheriff and Toothless Jeb stood at the foot of the cactus.
“Who’s up there?” Toothless Jeb yelled up.
“It’s me! Barstow Barbara!” She yelled down.
“Oh. That’s the girl named Magill who calls herself Lill but everyone knows her as Nancy.”
Said the Sheriff.
“Whatcha doing at the tippy top of that cactus?” The Sheriff asked.
“Don’t ask!” She called back down.
Thankfully Toothless Jeb had brought a basket of Cup Cakes that he laid down so that Barbara could jump down into them. They were very shock absorbent.
“What are you two doing way out here in the Dessert Desert anyway?” Barbara asked thinking she was pretty lucky they came along.
“Oh, we’ve been looking for a Cup Cake Thief.” The Sheriff said and he pulled out a Wanted Poster with a picture of Cowboy X on it. “His name is Nancy, he calls himself X, and all around town his name is Mudd.”
Barbara scratched her head. “Not a bad looking guy, is he?”
“Meh. His looks are pretty forgettable.” said Jeb.
“Yeah,” said the Sheriff “and his cooking is terrible.”


There once was a tree, a tree, a tree
as big as any tree could be.
It had bark and roots and leaves and leaves
and all around flew big bright bees.
Buzz buzz
the honeybees buzzed
and that was all because because
the tree was happy and jolly and lovely
and the sun shone down from above-y above-y.

The tree was oak, okey doke
and it could always tell you a funny joke!
Like: “What’s the difference between me and yew?
Not mulch!”
The tree told jokes, not necessarily good ones.

From that oak there fell two acorns.
Two wonderful acorns named Tammi and Sammi.
And they were friends.
Tammi loved Sammi and Sammi loved Tammi and they loved
love and loved a lot. They were acorns.

Tammi said to Sammi:
“I like your brown-ness, your roundness, your all around mound-ness.
You’re beautiful Sammi, and I am your friend.”
And Sammi said to Tammi:
“I like your ability to soundly express
your political views with ease and kindness.
You’re beautiful Tammi, and I am your friend.”

They sat next to one another on that sunny hillside
and to one another they each would confide
their secrets and things that would made themselves cry
and their dreams and their longings and made their hearts fly.
Sammi and Tammi were acorns and were friendly.
Tammi and Sammi were acorns and lovely.

Then, one night, one stormy night a storm
appeared and did perform
a sight to see! that scared the acorns.
A BOOM and a flash
And lightning crashed
And rain came pouring down.
A storm in the night
and a shivering fright
and scary lights and sounds.

And in the morning Tammi was gone.
Sammi looked everywhere and asked the neighboring flowers
but no one had seen Tammi.

And Sammi was sad.
For Sammi it seemed that rainclouds hung over her everyday.
Sammi learned that she would feel better when she swept the side of the hill.
She would use a little broom to sweep all the blades of grass into a pretty little pattern and she would feel better. For a little while.
Then she asked her friend Chippy The Chipmunk to help her brush all the flowers’ stems into pretty little rows and she felt better. For a little while.
Then Chippy brought over more Chipmunk chums to help Sammi along and she felt better. For a little while.
Then Chippy The Chipmunk tied a broom to a kite
and Sammi sailed it high to the highest height
and wouldn’t you know it that by and by
that broom-kite swept the clouds from the sky!
And Sammi felt better.
Guess for how long….A little while.

And then one night a big storm started brewing
and the crows stopped cawing and the pigeons stopped cooing.
And the lightning started with a BOOM and a CRACK
and Sammi thought: ‘would you look at that?’
To her, the lightning looked different.
Like pretty, like special, like magic.
And Sammi sighed.
And Sammi whispered:
“Tammi, I love you and always had loved you. Wherever you are, I love you.”
and Sammi took root.

This is a story. A story about Crooked Bill.
If, as the story goes along, you find yourself uninterested by it you are welcome to change the names of the characters and the actions they undertake until you find it more pleasing.
That’s a little trick that you can use the next time some one begins to tell you “how their day was.” The minute you begin to feel bored just replace “Me and Tim” with “A Dragon and a Robot” and replace “went to eat tacos” with “went to Jupiter to investigate a newly discovered species of penguin.”
But back to Crooked Bill.
It’s a story that’s never been heard before and I know that for certain because it’s never been told before so if it seems familiar it may just be that you had the same dream that I did which inspired the story. But don’t worry! Although you and I may have shared the same dream we may have awoke at different times during the dream so your ‘ending’ might be different than mine.
So anyway, The Story of Crooked Bill.
Are you getting tired yet? It looks like it. Did I just see you yawn? Hmmm.
Can you yawn? How big can you yawn? Wow. That was a big yawn. It was such a great yawn in fact I’m about to yawn myself! Yaaaaaawwwwnn! Whew. That felt good.
Crooked Bill got mistaken for Ethan Hawke a lot. It wasn’t so much that they looked alike as it was that they shared the same smile. Or I should say, “type of smile.”
It would be very troublesome for someone to have to come over to your house, knock on the door, and say “Sorry to bother you, but I just heard a great joke and need to smile. May I borrow yours?” “Well, certainly you may borrow it. But I will need it back tomorrow morning because I plan on looking at the birds.”
And the story of Crooked Bill gets mistaken for a lot of other stories.
Some think it is about a Toucan (because toucans are birds with big crooked bills, you see). Some think it is about an Albatross who lived in the Land Of Black Hole Potholes where time fluctuated like a roller coaster and the days were as crooked as the day is long.
But, no! This is the Story of Crooked Bill and Bill was a Chickadee.
When he was little, he was very little. He was little even compared to other Chickadees and was so small that he was about the size of a Bumblebee.
Buzzz! Buzz!
In fact some of the other Chickadees were not very nice and would say that Bill was more a Chicka-Bee than a Chickadee. Bill didn’t like it when others said unkind things and he would feel sad when they teased him.
Then Bill met Hush.
Hush was a Scarecrow who was very nice. He had a very pleasant smile painted on his face and although he never said a single word, he always had his arms opened wide to give the whole corn field a big hug.
Bill told Hush about all his favorite things.
What are some of your favorite things?
Every person has different favorite things and Chickadees are no different.
Bill’s favorite things were: seeds, insects, and berries.
As the summers and winters went by, Bill wondered where all the Autumns and Springs had gone to, but he realized that time had a way of slipping away like that and soon enough even his Tuesdays and Afternoons in general disappeared.
He matured, grew, learned, failed, tried again, became stronger, made mistakes, got teased more, became wiser, made bad decisions, made new goals, and on and on.
He tried ballet dancing, painting, biochemistry, palm-reading, farming, piloting, shoe repair, hair styling, and rodeo clowning until he finally he found himself playing guitar at a coffee shop.
And then, one Wednesday (which had crept up on him–golly his weeks seemed to zip right by) he discovered the blues.
Blues music is a type of music that even though it sounds like someone’s heart is breaking you feel better by the end of the song.
Bill traveled the countryside playing blues on his guitar and came up with the name Crooked Bill to perform under.
He chose Crooked Bill because of the winding path he took in life before he discovered the blues.
He became very famous in Topeka and Omaha and almost famous in Oklahoma City.
Crooked Bill loved to hear the sound of the audience’s applause.
“Yay! Crooked Bill! Go go go!” “We love Crooked Bill!” “Yippee! Hip hip hooray!”
The audiences would say.
And Bill became older, as all Chickadees do as time goes by and the people who came to see his concerts became older, quieter, and fewer.
One night after a show, Bill got on the last train out of town.
“Choo! Choo!” Said the train as it closed it’s doors.
“Chugga Chugga” It said as it started slowly down the tracks.
The next day Bill hopped off the train and walked down a quiet old highway past the crossroads. There he stopped and pulled his guitar from its case and began singin’
and a strummin’:
“Don’t need me no money
Sure don’t pay no rent
Cuz underneath stars honey
Is where I lay head.
Don’t need me no money
Got nuthin’ to call my own
Cuz underneath stars honey
A bird can feel at home.”

The corn stalks clapped against each other in the wind
and Hush had a big ol’ smile.

Anywho, that’s how my dream about Bill ended.

To find a Cookoo Clock bird you don’t look in a zoo
They live in clocks and can sing and only one could play kazoo too.
His name was Tic Toc the Cookoo Clock Cookoo Kazooist
And his name was on every year’s Top Ten Kazoo list.
Music hop scotched moonbeams from the parlor to the stairs.
Everything hopped in the rhythm that was traveling through the air.
It was a twelve o’clock kazoo-ing to say hello to the pale blue moon.
And Tic Toc the Cookoo Kazooist played to an empty room.
The ears of the Cookoo were hot, red and ouchy
Because the Clock Chicken Ted had yelled and been grouchy.

“My goodness,” thought Tic Toc, “When Ted yells and is grouchy, it really hurts my ears.”
Aside from every Cookoo clock having a Cookoo Bird, they also have a Cookoo Clock Chicken.
Cookoo Clock Chickens are typically very soft and fluffy.
They live in a cozy little apartment below the Cookoo’s nest and it is their job to tell the Cookoo when to sing.
(Or in the case of Tic Toc when to play his kazoo.)
Every hour, Ted came up from his room and stood next to Tic Toc’s nest and said: “Three, Two, One, Blast Off!”
And that was the signal for Tic Toc to burst from the clock and play his kazoo. A
nd everything had been just fine until last week when Ted started getting grouchy
and instead of saying “Three, Two, One, Blast Off!” in a nice tone of voice, Ted started saying it really loud and grouchy.

So one morning, Ted looked at his watch and saw that it was eight fifty seven, time for Ted to go upstairs and say “Three, Two, One, Blast Off!” to Tic Toc.

Ted got up from his big brown comfy couch and walked slowly up the stairs, grumbling all the way up.
“Grumble Grumble Harrumpf.” He said.
Ted stood next to Tic Toc’s nest and looked at his watch it was eight fifty nine and he counted down inside his head until finally: “Three, Two, One, Blast Off!” And nothing happened.
Where was Tic Toc The Cookoo Kazooist?
It was Nine O’Clock and he wasn’t here to mark the hour! Gulp!
Well, Tic Toc the Cookoo Kazooist was walking across the clock to find a nicer place to play Kazoo where he wouldn’t hear yelling grouchy voices.
He strolled along gears and stepped along sprockets
He had nothing but a kazoo and two empty pockets.
He played as he went a happy little tune
But without him marking time, he threw off the moon!
Time was all a jumble without his Cookoo Kazooing
And minutes stopped and started and time trouble started brewing!

And Tic Toc met a minute (small) Clock Monkey sitting on some gears. The Monkey was very wise and listened to Tic Toc’s trouble. “So this Ted Clock Chicken has burst your bubble, with his loud outside voice and his grouchy grumble grumble.” Hmmm. Monkey saw this was a very difficult situation. He stroked at his long white beard. “I’ve got an idea.”
Ideas are like friends–they’re good to have. And ideas that include friends to help each other are the best kind of ideas!

The next day Ted The Cookoo Clock Chicken woke up to find that he was a Cookoo! He was in the clock’s Cookoo nest!
He looked in the mirror and saw that he had been transformed during the night! Wow!
And he looked at his watch and saw that it was Ten Fifty Seven!
Suddenly there appeared a Cookoo Clock Chicken by his nest!
Ted thought to himself that he hoped the Cookoo Clock Chicken would be nice to him and use a friendly tone of voice.
And then, the Cookoo Clock Chicken looked at his watch and it was time to say the signal.
Do you remember what the signal was?–How the Cookoo Clock Chicken counts down?
“Three, Two, One, Blast Off!”
He said that alright, but he said it with love and friendliness in his voice–full of positivity and kindness. Just like this:
“Three, Two, One, Blast Off!”

And Ted jumped out from the clock and Cookoo-ed a loud Chickenlike Cookoo. (And he did very well indeed for his first try.)

When he came back in, there was Tic Toc was there getting out of a chicken costume!
And Clock Monkey was there too!

Clock Monkey explained that they had dressed Ted in a Cookoo costume during the night!
Ted said that he was surprised to find that he was a Cookoo when he woke up but that it was
very nice that Tic Toc used a friendly tone of voice when he said
“Three, Two, One Blast Off!”

“I feel ouchy when your voice gets grouchy.” Said Tic Toc. “I like friendly voice.”
“I’m sorry I used a grouchy voice.” Said Ted.

And Ted and Tic Toc hugged and danced and said how nice it was to have time together as friends.
And time started running smoothly again.

There once was a morning that was very quiet. The big bright sun was shining and the flowers were dancing with the butterflies but the birdy birds were not chirping. The birds weren’t singing, tweeting, warbling, cawing, hooting, screeching, clucking, or even cock a doodle dooing.
It was very quiet and very still.
Birdy Chirp Chirp was sitting in her nest, knitting a cozy wool sweater for her friend Oscar the Ostrich when she heard something: nothing!
“Why it is so quiet and I can’t even hear myself think!” Birdy Chirp Chirp whispered to herself.
She opened up her window and craned her neck out to see that the morning looked very normal but it sounded very unusual. It was unusually quiet.
There wasn’t even the sound of the baby chickens saying ‘peep peep’ or the snoring of the Barn Owl who had just gone to sleep.
Birdy Chirp Chirp put on her traveling hat and her walking boots and set out to see what the source of all the silence was.
She looked for bird songs everywhere: the zoo, the museum, the playground, the elementary school, the beach, everywhere! She didn’t hear a single bird singing.
Birdy Chirp Chirp sat down and began to think.
“If I cannot hear any birds singing maybe it is because my ears cannot hear bird songs today.” She said to herself.
“I shall try an experiment! I will sing a bird song and see if I can hear it.” And she sang ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ and Birdy Chirp Chirp could hear it!
“Well,” She said. “If I can hear myself, it might stand to reason that I would hear other birds singing–if they were singing. I shall conduct a survey! I will ask birds if they are singing and collect their answers!”
And she did so and when she was done she looked at her results: and she found that no birds were singing!
“Well, I shall conduct another survey to find out why they are not singing! And it probably would have saved me time to ask this the first time around!” So she flew around the world again and asked every bird why they were not singing.
Every bird that she talked to, the emus, the penguins, the parrots, the buzzards, the chickadees, the turkeys, everyone said the same thing: “What difference does it make? I’m just one little bird. What does it matter what I do or don’t do? Grump!”
It seemed that all the birds in the world had got a case of the Grumps. The Grumps come and go and are quite common and natural but never before had all the birds in the world got the Grumps at once!
Birdy Chirp Chirp spoke with her good friend Crow. Crow as usual had an idea:
“We could tell a joke and get all the birds laughing!”
And Crow flew around the world telling jokes. It helped a bit, and some birds whistled and chirped but again everything went quiet.
Then Birdy Chirp Chirp spoke with her friend Eagle and Eagle as usual had an idea:
“We could give every bird a trophy for each time they sang!”
And Eagle went around the world and gave trophies to the birds who would sing.
And it helped a bit and some birds sang very loud to get Eagle’s trophies but soon enough everything went quiet again.
Then Birdy Chirp Chirp, Crow, and Eagle went to the very wise Miss Cluck Edie Cluck Ba-Kaw, the smartest Chicken they knew.
“Hello Birdy Chirp Chirp, Crow, and Eagle!” She said and gave them all big hugs. Her feathers were warm and a little tickley.
“All the birds of the world have got a case of the Grumps, Miss Cluck Edie Cluck Ba-Kaw, and we can’t figure out how to get those birds all singing again!” Birdy said.
“Well, Grumps are normal and natural but never have I heard of all the birds in the world getting Grumps at once! Hmmm.” Miss Cluck Edie Cluck Ba-Kaw said then thought quietly.
“Birdy,” She finally said, “I know that you sing very well and you also like to knit sweaters quietly. And Crow can caw very loudly and crow can collect shiny things very quietly. And I know Eagle can screech nicely and Eagle can also soar quietly on the wind. Loud or quiet, every bird is unique. Nobody can be a bird just like you Birdy Chirp Chirp.” Said Miss Cluck Edie Cluck Ba-Kaw.
And Birdy Chirp Chirp understood and started to sing and dance in her own special way–like no other bird could. And Crow understood and started to hop in her own special way–like no other bird could.
And Eagle understood and soared in her own special way–like no other bird could.
And soon the other birds saw how much fun they were having being themselves that they began to understand.
“I’m not just any ol’ bird, I’m an ostrich and I like math!” Said Oscar the Ostrich.
“I’m not just any ol’ bird, I’m a pelican and I like to roller skate!” Said Mike the Pelican.
The next morning, when Birdy Chirp Chirp awoke, the big bright sun was shining and the flowers were dancing with the butterflies and the birds of the world were busy being themselves: Each one being a bird like no other bird could.
And Birdy knit a sweater. It was a very nice morning. It was a very birdy morning.

There once was a tailor.
He was a tiny tailor who lived in a small room in the attic of a bee barn. His name was Tootoot LePetite, and he specialized in making sweaters for the honey bees that lived below him. Every night the Bee Keeper would say goodnight to the bees and then bring Tootoot a cup of sleeping tea with a spoon of honey in it.
“Buzzzzz Buzzzzz!” The thousands of bees would say in unison to Tootoot before they fell asleep.
“Goodnight Honey Bees!” Tootoot would say and then he would hear them begin to snore:
And then it would be Tootoot’s favorite time of day. He would sip on his sleepy tea with a touch of honey in it and look out his window at his tiny town. He would see the gentle grey smoke reaching up from chimneys and candles being lit inside the cottages. He could see the people saying goodnight to friends on the sidewalks and hear the lullabies being sung to good little children being tucked into bed.
Then the very best part: Tootoot would look up into the sky and say:
“Goodnight my friend!”
And his friend the Star Friend would twinkle back.
“Twinkle Twinkle!”
Tootoot had to look carefully for his Star Friend because every night he would appear somewhere new in the night sky. One night Star Friend would hide by the Big Dipper, then the next by Leo, then Orion, Libra next, and so on with a new hiding place each night but Tootoot always found him.
“Twinkle Twinkle.” He would always say.

One day when Tootoot was handing out sweaters to the Honey Bees the Bee Keeper came into the Bee Barn and told Tootoot that she and the Honey Bees were moving to to a new town.
“There is a new field of clovers over the hill and we’re going to buzz on over there. Thank you for keeping the Honey Bees so warm all these years Tootoot. The Honey Bees wanted to give you a gift before they go.”
And at once all the Honey Bees flew up and landed all over Tootoot and tickled him with their tiny little hands.
Tootoot sang:
“Ha ha ha and hee hee hee
I’ve been tickled by a barn full of bees!
They make me laugh from my head to my feet
their tiny tickles are honey sweet.
Ha ha ha and hee hee hee
I’ve been tickled by a barn full of bees!”
Then the Bees all gave one big flutter of their wings and lifted together and Tootoot felt his
feet leave the ground and soon the Honey Bees swung him to and fro near the ceiling.
Tootoot was flying!
They set him safely back on the ground and then zipped away out the barn and over the hill.
Tootoot waved until the very last Bee went out of sight.
That night Tootoot looked out his window drinking his sleepy tea without any honey.
He looked up to the sky and said “Goodnight Star Friend!”
Suddenly instead of a twinkle he saw the Star Friend zip down out of the sky like a falling star down down down towards the dark fields.
“Oh no!” said Tootoot. Tootoot gathered up all of his needles and all this thread and put on his traveling coat and headed towards the dark fields where he saw Star Friend fall.
Tootoot traveled many long days and many dark and cold nights. Everyone he met said that they hadn’t seen any stars fall to the ground so Tootoot kept walking.
One day he met a tiny spider named Ocho hanging from some Spanish Moss.
“Have you seen a star fall to the ground?” Asked Tootoot.
“No, I have not. Lo siento. (Which is how Spanish Spiders say ‘I am sorry.’) But I may have just not seen it. You see, my eyes are often filled with tears because I am so sad and I might have mistaken a falling star for just another tear drop.”
“Why are you so sad Ocho?” Asked Tootoot.
“Because all the other spiders tease me. They tease me because I don’t make webs. I don’t like to make webs. I like to count. I like to count the numbers one through eight over and over.”
“I see. Well, if you’d like to help me look for Star Friend you’re welcome to join me.” Said Tootoot.
“Si, si!” Said Ocho (which is the way some Spanish Spiders say ‘yes’).
So the two set off together, with Ocho riding on Tootoot’s shoulder and Ocho would count each step Tootoot took until he reached eight and then he would start over again.
At the end of each day, Tootoot would ask Ocho how far they had gone.
“Well I counted to 8 224 times today.”
And then Ocho would tell Tootoot a bedtime story and they would say goodnight.

One day as they walked along, they met a Firefly sitting on a Volkswagen Beetle named
“Have you seen a star fall to the ground?” Tootoot asked.
“Nein (Which is how German Fireflies say no).” He said. “But that doesn’t mean one didn’t. For you see, I am often so angry that I shoot sparks out of my tushy and I may have mistaken a falling star for just another of my tushy sparks.”
“Why are you so angry Heinrich?” Tootoot asked.
“Because all the other fireflies tease me because I don’t like to light up at night. I like to describe every thing I see using only the color blue.” Heinrich said.
“Well, if you would like to help us look for Star Friend you’re welcome to join us.”
“Ja ja!” Said Heinrich (Which is how German Fireflies say yes)

So they walked on and on and each day Heinrich would ride on Tootoot’s shoulder and would describe the scenery:
“That tree over there is a rich blue green and the sky is a wispy azure and the fence is a light Alice Blue and the reeds by the river are a bold Prussian Blue.” and so on like that.
At the end of the day Ocho would add up how far they went.
“Today I counted to 8 397 times.”
And they would tell each other stories at bedtime and fall asleep.

One day they met an old turtle sitting by a pond named Turtle Monk.
“Have you seen a star fall to the ground?” Asked Tootoot.
“I did not see it fall, but I saw where it landed.” Turtle Monk said.
Tootoot, Ocho, and Heinrich gasped: “Where!?”
“Right there in your eyes!” And Turtle Monk pointed at their tiny little eyes.
They bent down and looked in the pond and yes! They could see in each of their eyes there was a Twinkle! They had been looking for so long and the Star Friend had been twinkling right in their eyes the whole time!
They laughed and hugged each other.
Together they moved to the Big City Ant Hill where Tootoot would make sweaters for all the ants and Ocho would count Tootoot’s stitches up to eight over and over and Heinrich would describe the sun to the little ants who were to young to play outside: “It is a big round ball of bright Periwinkle” he would say.
And each night Tootoot would sing to them this lullabye:
“Twinkle twinkle little eyes
My love for you can fill the skies
I love you for who you are
and always will whether near or far
twinkle twinkle little eyes
my love for you can fill the skies.”

There once was an lagoon. It was a deep blue ocean and it was clear and clean.
Octopi gave each other big, complex sailor-knot hugs, and squid raced each other in figure eights.
Everything was very nice and calm. Until one day when Bumpy the Grump showed up.
Everyday Bumpy The Big Ol’ Grump would lounge in the lagoon and splash the manatees. He would wiggle his nose at the herons and would crawl around on the beach and make faces at the seals.
Bumpy would kick sand at the clams, and do silly dances behind the Sandpiper’s backs. Bumpy was a Big Ol’ Grump.
One day all the animals came to Monkey to ask him to do something about Bumpy.
“Have you asked him politely to stop?” Monkey asked.
“Many times, Monkey.” Said Mr. Walrus and everyone nodded except the Sea Cucumbers who just wobbled a bit.
Monkey got a plan to make banana smoothies for Bumpy everyday so that Bumpy’s Grumpies would go away and he would smile more and not be a Grump.
So the next day Monkey climbed up a tree to get bananas for Bumpy’s smoothie.
Oops! Monkey dropped the bunch of bananas and they fell down down down right on top of Bumpy’s head!
“Ouch!” Said Bumpy.
Monkey was so embarrassed and sorry! He felt really bad and chattered his teeth and scrambled down the tree to apologize and say “I’m Sorry Bumpy.”
But when Monkey got to the bottom of the tree Bumpy was talking to a Kelp.
“Wow! I just got hit on the head by the Sun!” Bumpy was saying.
The Bananas had squished on his head and now his eyes were covered up by banana peels.
“The whole world is now dark because the Sun fell down and hit me on the head!” Bumpy was getting really upset and even when Monkey tried to calm him down, Bumpy wouldn’t listen.
Suddenly, Bumpy got an idea.
“I’ve got the bestest mostest perfect idea in the whole big entire world! Bestest idea in the solar system! Even bigger! The Universe! The Multiverse!”
Monkey thought to himself, “This must be a pretty good idea by the sounds of it.”
Monkey watched as Bumpy proceeded to get onto his hands, kick his feet into the air and begin walking around the beach on his hands.
“Aha! Now the Sun will never hit my head again!” He proudly announced as he hand-walked away along the lagoon.
Bumpy seemed happy enough to walk every where on his hands so Monkey and the other animals let him enjoy himself.
And things returned to normal again. For a while.
Then one day Bumpy hand-walked over to a Pelican and made silly noises at her and wiggled his toes like a Big Ol’ Grump.
Soon he was right back into his old ways of bothering all the other animals, the only difference now is that he was on his hands. Monkey thought to himself: “Tonight I will make Bumpy a Banana Smoothie and he will be happy and not a Big Ol’ Grump.”
So that night Monkey climbed a tree to get some bananas.
Oops! Monkey dropped the bunch of bananas and they fell down down down right on top of Bumpy’s butt!
“Ouch!” Bumpy said. “The moon has just fell down on my butt!”
Bumpy became real upset and wouldn’t listen to Monkey when he tried to tell him:
“It was bananas. Not the moon!”
Bumpy did a hand spring into the water and hid hear the rocks.
“I’ll be very very very safe in the water between these rocks!” Bumpy said.
Monkey called out to Bumpy, “Bumpy! It was bananas! Not the moon!”
Bumpy stayed in the water.
He stayed there so long in fact that his feet turned into a big fishy fin and in three days he turned into a Mermaid!
Through the years, Bumpy the Mermaid would convince other animals in the lagoon that the sky was falling and they too would hide between the rocks with him and he would tell them for hours and hours about the time the Sun and the Moon fell down on him.
And it made Monkey and all the other animals happy to see that Bumpy was no longer a Big Ol’ Grump.

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