What if the Moon really is made of Green Cheese? Let’s Pretend!

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"The Neptunes -- Octoband" acrylic on 11 x 14 panel

“The Neptunes — Octoband” acrylic on 11 x 14 panel

Magical things happen when someone says: “Let’s pretend.” The expectation hangs in the air like droplets of nectar from an enchanted forest. The adult version of this quip is “What if?” We call it “Thinking outside the box.” We’re expert at hiding the real reason our internal child takes the bait. The game takes us out of our constrained conformity and plunges us into the realms of make believe.

What if pigs could fly? Why do salmon remember where to spawn each year and how can we harness that drive? If the Argyroneta aquatica or diving bell spider can live under water, why can’t we?

Children are experts at what ifs and why not’s! They can improvise and make-believe their way out of bad alcoholic parenting, stranger abduction, bondage and hunger. They are not only resilient they are hopeful. There is always a rainbow after every storm. Their hope is eternal.

"The Neptunes -- Trumpeteers" 11 x 14 acrylic on panel

“The Neptunes — Trumpeteers” 11 x 14 acrylic on panel

A looking glass may mirror the ugliness of reality or it can reflect a window that is open wide to the imagination. I spent many hours as a child looking into a mirror that was placed under my nose. In this way, I walked the steep dormer ceiling of my girlhood home creating a make-believe terrain that only I could see.

My own children pumped our player piano and sang at the top of their lungs pretending their way to fame and fortune. Later they discovered that imagining they were playing was much easier than practicing those monotonous scales, memorizing notes, or phrasing properly for a parent or teacher.

“Let’s pretend” gives us a break from the harsh realities of life. We can stand on the fearful brink of decision while imagining several different outcomes or scenarios. By expanding our mind we can contemplate the possibilities that may evolve from any given choice.

"The Neptunes -- Golden Girls" 11 x 14 acrylic on panel

“The Neptunes — Golden Girls” 11 x 14 acrylic on panel

Once when our family T.V. had given up the ghost, we decided to hold off getting it fixed or buying another. What was it like “long ago” before people had television to entertain them? We decided to find out.

We read together more. We got through Treasure Island, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and Jack London’s Call of the Wild. We engaged in conversation. The children learned how to make jello, bread, and cream puffs. We went to the library more often.

They discovered “the play!”  We performed several short ones, each family member taking a part; the older ones helping the younger. And, of course, at Christmas time we performed the “Nativity” reading from Luke 2:1-19. We donned our bathrobes and put towels on our heads. The youngest played baby Jesus.

As an extension to their learning, we took them to plays so they could witness first-hand how professionals made a performance real. In the process, we found something treasured that we had lost: our family. Sadly, once the T.V. was back and their young minds became hypnotized and mesmerized, we lost some of the closeness we once had. But the memories lingered.

Today they still remember when we were all bold enough to say “Let’s pretend,” or to ask “What if?”

"The Perfect Ending" acrylic on canvas

“The Perfect Ending” acrylic on canvas

What is it about those Peeps?

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Yes, I admit it; I’m a Peep freak. I slink around the Easter displays and casually drop a few boxes into my cart hoping no one will notice. I’m embarrassed at the checkout. I hope the clerk will think it’s for my grandchildren. I go through this anxiety every year, but that doesn’t stop me from buying them.

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“First Daffodil” acrylic on canvas

You either love Peeps or you hate them. There’s no in between. It’s an acquired taste. Not everyone likes the soft melt-in-your mouth sweetness of marshmallow, especially if it’s doused in colored sugar. Plus you have to lick the sticky residue on your fingers afterward. Of course, some people dry them out so their chewy and semi-soft, but I can’t wait that long.

After the holiday, prices are slashed on all Easter treats; a sad assortment of chocolate bunnies with broken ears and hard jelly beans gathering dust. I search the display, but don’t see any peeps (and you thought no one liked them!).

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“He Lives” oil on wrapped canvas

I was a young mother before I discovered that Easter was a celebration of Jesus’ atonement and resurrection and not all about chicks and rabbits. Even as a child, my parents only focused on the fun parts of the holiday. I was told that the Easter Bunny went around to all the children and filled their baskets with candy and treats. My mother, playing Easter Bunny, hid the eggs we had colored in the house, and we excitedly combed the cushions in the sofas and under the furniture to find them.

One year, we stayed overnight at my aunt’s farm. The eggs were going to be hidden outside, and my sister and I would compete with our cousins to find them. That night I dreamed that a giant rabbit hopped to my bedside with goodies in his paws. I was terrified! Perhaps the strange bed and the new surroundings had triggered an anxiety attack. I awoke screaming. After that, I was never big on the Easter Bunny. When I had children of my own, I never told them about him for fear they would have nightmares, too.

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“Americana” 16 x 20 acrylic on canvas

My children loved coloring eggs, but they knew that their parents were the hiders and that we provided the goodies, too. The kids seemed fine with that; much better to pretend than to be terrorized by a furry five foot rabbit that hovers over your bed while you’re asleep.

One year we colored two dozen eggs with our six children. Their father and I hid them after they’d gone to bed. I made the mistake of relying on my memory instead of writing down their hiding places. After the hunt, the eggs were dispersed to each basket and some of them were gobbled down for breakfast. I never gave the count a second thought.

Fast forward, eight months later. The faint smell of sulfur still greets my nose each time I enter our family room; but once I’m there, I can no longer pinpoint where the smell is coming from. Christmas is right around the corner, and I want everything to be clean and fresh.

On impulse, I take down two woven baskets that are hanging on the wall filled with greenery. I plan to wash the greenery of dust and put them back. Lo and behold, in the bottom of one basket is a boiled egg which has split open and essentially dried out; so dry that there is barely any sulfur smell remaining. The riddle was solved!

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“Lady in Waiting” 11 x 14 oil on canvas

I will tell you that after that experience, I not only counted the eggs that were hidden, but accounted for them when they were found. I even drew a quick sketch of their hiding places instead of relying on my memory. I chuckle each Easter when I remember that missing rotten egg. The embarrassment of that horrid stink and not being able to locate its source will haunt my Easters forever.