This particular waking upon the Persian rug, however, was even more pleasant than most. Firstly, my lovely vivid dreams went on uninterrupted, and were allowed to properly finish their tales before I woke. Secondly, there had been so much activity in our blessed Xanadu Forest of late that I was unable to recall the last time I woke naturally inside my own Sacred Garden. It felt cozy. Felt like home. Felt like MY home...which it is, of course! But it's nice to be reminded of that now and again. Between homework, general canine sense and nonsense (thank you, dear Caesar, T-Yay, and gentle Ptolemy! I love you!) and the arrivals of both Caw Caw Carl the Stellers Jay and Yana the mischievous black bear into our beloved Xanadu Forest, there had just been so much going on seemingly always of late. And there had been so many journeys and adventures lately too! All these events were well, good, and magical, of course, but certainly they had interfered with my rest and relaxation. Those that know me well know well how I cherish and adore my do-absolutely-nothing moments. I was truly missing them. But not THIS sun-greeting, I had decided. No, this sun-greeting was going to be dedicated to doing as close to absolutely nothing as I possibly could. Nothing productive anyway, for sure! And I am particularly stubborn when I've made such a decision within myself, so I knew well there was a very high chance of succeeding.
I decided to play a record album upon my Persian rug as I enjoyed doing nothing, as doing nothing is even better with a soundtrack. I flipped through many of my record albums, and none of them were jumping out at me. I knew what I wanted: something mostly soft--not too dynamic--with a nice gentle groove. Something too dynamic might get my blood flowing too much, I considered, and I could easily fall into the trap of doing something productive. Deep Purple. No. Led Zeppelin. No. Boz Scaggs. Hmm...interesting. It's soft. And I liked the idea of a soundtrack for my doing nothing coming from someone who mostly made a living by writing soundtracks for others [we garden dwellers have long referred to Boz Scaggs as "Soundtrack Boy"] I read through the songs and credits on his Silk Degrees album. Nope. Not in the mood for that. So I kept flipping through records. Bread's Greatest Hits. Almost. But no--I don't want to go back to sleep--I want to actually be awake and do nothing. You get the idea by now, I'm sure. I kept flipping, occasionally stopping to glance at album artwork, song titles, and credits. And then I found it! Christopher Cross' self-titled album from '79. Yes! That's the one! The needle dropped, and it felt wonderful. I kept the volume fairly low so as not to attract attention from Madeleine or Cousin Eddie. Not that I had anything against them, of course. I was just afraid that if I drew their attention, they were likely to significantly decrease my odds of succeeding in doing absolutely nothing.
I sat down peacefully upon my Persian rug while the record played, soaking in the nothingness. It was perfect. I greeted my lovely cousin the Sun, and watched a few puffy clouds form shapes of things like mythical critters and spaceships. And a bratwurst. Or so I imagined with that one. Then I almost opened a book and began to read. But then I reminded myself that reading a book could actually be considered doing something productive, so I abandoned that thought quickly, and even aimed my outstretched palm toward the blameless book defensively, as if it had come to life and wished to destroy my plan of doing absolutely nothing. I apologized to the poor unsuspecting book thereafter, and it accepted my apology. Gratefully for me, graciously for IT. Then it was time to flip the record album and play the other side. And so I did so. Then I heard Cousin Eddie zip through the bushes in his remote control patrol jeep a good distance away from me. He was heading toward the garden gate, it sounded. He was clearly not coming toward me, so my plan of doing absolutely nothing was still quite safe. I sat down peacefully once again upon my lovely Persian rug.
But then my mind began wondering what Cousin Eddie was up to this sun-greeting, and I lacked the self-discipline required to keep myself from wandering a few steps off of my Persian rug, so that I could sneakily peek through the trees and perhaps determine what it was he was doing. And then a few steps more. I still couldn't catch a proper glimpse. A few more steps into the brush. And quite a few more after that. And there he was now, parked in front of his garage he long ago built out of empty beer cans! He hopped out of his little remote control patrol jeep and approached Madeleine who was typing away on her computer at Achilles' Last Stand (the name of the gatekeeper's desk in my Sacred Garden, for readers that are new to these stories). I suddenly realized how much I had been missing Cousin Eddie's company since I'd been away so much. We are soulmates, after all!
Before I knew it, there I was in the presence of my beautiful gatekeeper and Cousin Eddie. I greeted them somewhat sheepishly, and resolved to stick to my plan of doing absolutely nothing. At least nothing productive. Deciding to get out in front of any possible do-absolutely-nothing interferences, I told Madeleine I could not sign off on the Garden Activity Log sheets this sun-greeting since I was committed to doing absolutely nothing. Cousin Eddie shouted, "Here, here, Mr. Kev!" and tossed me a can of beer. Cousin Eddie and I managed to harmonize the opening of our beer cans and chugged them down happily as though we had intentionally synchronized this event.
Surprisingly, Madeleine gave no sort of argument at all. She said to me simply and softly, "Good for you, Mr. Kev. A sun-greeting of untainted respite will be wonderful for you. Just what you need!"
This is precisely when I learned just how good Madeleine had become at manipulating me, for I immediately found myself completely unable to refrain from asking her if anyone significant had stopped by the garden gate. My beautiful gatekeeper, of course, only told me that I would have a very hard time doing absolutely nothing if she told me who had stopped by. Dang it! She always wins! I meant to say that only in my mind, of course, but my mouth produced a spontaneous executive order which made it a public statement somehow.
"That's why I'm a gatekeeper, Mr. Kev. And you're a...well, umm...you're a YOU. Not that there's anything particularly wrong with that usually," she replied. And she slid a bowl in my direction upon her desk, and asked, "Kale chip?" And Cousin Eddie tossed me another can of beer which I particularly enjoyed.
And I replied, "No thank you, Madeleine. Kale is the gateway drug to Yoga, and Yoga is the gateway drug to good health. You know well that's not my thing."
Surprisingly, Madeleine actually laughed at that, and said, "Suit yourself Mr. Kev. I made this batch special. They're seasoned with lemon pepper and dandelion milk." Then Madeleine crunched one and pursed her lips for emphasis, "Mmm. Yummy!"
I would've been lying had I pretended the kale chips didn't sound kind of yummy. And it's never good to lie to one's gatekeeper you know. It never ends well. So I said, "Fine, if you insist. But Cousin Eddie has to try one with me." And I handed Cousin Eddie a lemon pepper dandelion milk kale chip, smiling and thinking myself very clever. "I don't have to do Yoga after eating it, do I?"
Cousin Eddie surprised my by refusing the delicious kale chip, and pushing my hand away with his wing. "No thank you, Mr. Kev. I've been eating these kale chips all sun-greeting, and I'm stuffed! They really are that delicious."
Then Madeleine crunched at me, "No, of course you don't have to do Yoga, silly!" Then my beautiful gatekeeper looked at my waistline just long enough for me to see that she was looking at my waistline, and added, "But it wouldn't hurt." Like I said, somehow she always wins. *sigh* I ate more kale in that one conversation, of course than I've ever eaten throughout my lifetime combined.
Then I grumbled. And then laughed. And then Madeleine and Cousin Eddie laughed too. It was a nice moment. A really nice one I'll not soon forget. *crunch, crunch* *chug, chug* And then I noticed a band around Madeleine's wing that had never been there before--it looked like one of those Casio calculator watches that some kids had back when I was in elementary school. I had to ask her about it, of course!
My beautiful gatekeeper teased me,"You're right, Mr. Kev! Good job! It IS one of those Casio calculator watches...highly modified, of course. Yana stopped by and gave it to me. It's so awesome!"
Were I not moderately buzzed from Cousin Eddie's canned beer and enjoying specially seasoned kale chips I would have been truly livid! And yet I still remained annoyed, "Wait! So Yana came to our garden gate and you didn't page me over the intercom?!!"
Madeleine replied nonchalantly, "I know how much that loudspeaker that makes you feel like you're in a prison yard disturbs you, and Yana convinced me to stop using it. She gave me this modified Casio watch to use instead. Which, of course, implies that she left one for YOU. Which she did...Here!" And Madeleine removed another Casio calculator watch from a small box that was identical to hers, and helped me strap it round my wrist. Truly, a good gatekeeper knows when a gatekeepee is too buzzed to latch their own bracelet! Nice nice. Then Madeleine continued, "Yana left some introductory instructions also, which I have already read through...but you will have to wait for another sun-greeting to read them, lest you break your commitment to doing absolutely nothing productive today." Finally, some verbal mercy from my beautiful gatekeeper! I was truly grateful.
And Cousin Eddie interjected, "I've got the perfect plan for doing nothing productive, Mr. Kev! Stand by! I'll be right back!" Then my awesome soulmate rocker Raven hopped into his remote control patrol jeep and headed for our magical, Zeppelin-themed tree house--complete with a Stairway to Heaven! I plopped down upon the grass next to Achilles' Last Stand and fidgeted with my mysteriously modified Casio calculator watch. Madeleine went back to typing on her computer. I was able to sip down one more can of beer before Cousin Eddie arrived.
When Cousin Eddie did arrive, he looked oh so fabulous! He leaped out of his remote control patrol jeep wearing a lovely black feather boa, and high-heeled boots that went much higher up his Raven's legs than I believed boots were ever intended to.
I understood right away, and I jumped up and shouted, "Yes!!! Brilliant! Stratego-Go! You're a genius, Cousin Eddie! And I see you've got dibs on Marc Bolan. Nice nice!" Cousin Eddie tossed me another can of beer and we chugged away laughing. "Now it's my turn...stand by!" I told both Cousin Eddie and my beautiful gatekeeper, and I ran off to the tree house. I went in through the out door, of course! And I returned in quite a fabulous get-up. Even higher-heeled boots than Cousin Eddie's, of course. Then I announced, "I've got dibs on David Johansen!"
Confused as she was, Madeleine truly seemed to be enjoying this ridiculous ritual. For once--and likely the only time ever--I seemed to have the upper hand on my beautiful gatekeeper *yay* Then again, I likely didn't actually have the upper hand, but it was nice to have a moment where I believed I at least MIGHT have the upper hand. In some sort of way. Madeleine finally spoke, "I don't get it. Stratego-Go?"
I replied (a bit smugly, in all honesty), "You know, Stratego?--the board game. We play Stratego. But we dress up as glam rock legends while we play, and listen to record albums. The winner gets to pick the album we play next, but has to pick an album from the glam rock legend they're dressed up as. And we drink lots of beer. The more rounds we play, the more fun it becomes. It becomes ever less strategic, and ever more fabulous. The loser has to put on more makeup!" And I laughed, and so did my soulmate Cousin Eddie. And Cousin Eddie set up the game board in the grass and began sorting our game pieces.
And Madeleine laughed too. And she hopped down off her desk, and joined us upon the grass, and asked us if she could play too. "I've never played Stratego. How does it work?"
I was about to explain to my beautiful gatekeeper that unfortunately Stratego is only a two-player game, but my soulmate rocker Raven interrupted, "Well, Stratego is sort of like Chess, except that you don't know what your opponent's pieces are. See? They have numbers." And he showed Madeleine some of the game pieces. And he added, "A higher number always beats a lower number, and the lower number becomes captured after a battle, and has to be removed from the board."
Then Madeleine grabbed one of the game pieces and asked, "What's this bomb-looking thingy? It doesn't have a number."
"It's a bomb," I quipped. "Bombs don't have numbers. They just blow up." Then I suggested that Cousin Eddie and I just play a round to demonstrate how it works. I would be lying if I didn't admit that I was trying to keep Madeleine from intruding on my soulmate and I's sacred ritual. Cousin Eddie agreed, though I could feel he wasn't wanting to disclude Madeleine, and we finally arranged our pieces and began our game. I spent the entire moon-greeting listening to T. Rex albums and applying makeup as we played round after round. I didn't win a single round. And, honestly, it wasn't unpleasant. In fact, it was very nice nice.
And not to make excuses, but it didn't help me any that Madeleine kept pointing to my pieces on the board and asking things like, "Now why did you put all your bombs like that in a line? (and actually trace out the line with the tip of her wing)" Or "So that's a 10. A Marshall, you said it's called? Since it's the biggest number, shouldn't you just march it forward?" Truly, my beautiful gatekeeper always wins. *sigh*
Then again, when it comes down to it, we all really won on that particular sun and moon-greeting. In our own ways. "Yes, but I ACTUALLY won," Cousin Eddie seemed to enjoy repeating time and time again.
Life is so beautiful beautiful.
Lovely of lovelies!
Thank you all for your time and presence in my life.
I love you.