Cousin Eddie and I had been making tremendous progress de-disgustinating a clear path to Freddie's Pond of Fanciness, so I was very excited about continuing that task. We could very soon be all the way to the pond's edge, and make a plan to remove the thick layer of scum that rest upon it, and had buried the magical lily pads that make video game noises when one steps upon them. But I digress too soon. No, today we would do no de-disgustinating at all, for there was a more urgent task at hand: namely our special surprise for my lovely gatekeeper, Raven.
See, this was the day we would give Raven's favorite tree house a fresh coat of paint, along with some personal touches. It had to be done that day so as not to spoil the surprise. You see, that day was also Robert Plant's birthday, and I knew that she'd be busy for much of the day working on her fabulous digital art to honor it. And, of course, she'd have her relaxing birdbath time. This would surely allow us the time we needed to complete the project without Raven sneaking up on us and ruining the surprise.
I made my way to the garden gate, and greeted my lovely gatekeeper and Edwin. Of course Edwin mumbled something unintelligible (as He often does) and rested His eyes once more. I could feel Raven wanting to know how things went the other day with Madeleine at the county clerk's office, but I didn't feel like going into it just then. So I simply told my lovely gatekeeper I would fill her in on things later on, and that I had more pressing matters today. I was focused on the secret task at hand.
Next, I went over to Cousin Eddie's beer can garage and confirmed we had all the supplies we needed to complete our surprise. I instructed Cousin Eddie to coax Edwin out of His little lotus flower, and for both of them to meet me on the Persian rug in 10 minutes. I really didn't want to involve Edwin in the process, for He has a way of making simple things very complicated without even saying much; but I knew we'd have to clue Him in on the plan in the unlikely event Raven were to leave her post at the garden gate and head to her favorite tree house. Edwin would be our last line of defense. Cousin Eddie winked and nodded and told me him and Edwin would be there in 10 minutes sharp. I thanked him, and returned to the Persian rug.
I was sure my lovely gatekeeper was already suspicious due to my different behavior at the garden gate (she's a very clever Raven, you know!), so I thought I'd put on a record album and turn the volume up a bit...which I was hoping would imply I was getting ready to work on de-disgustinating more paths in my sacred garden. I chose a Van Halen record to play, as I thought it might ease even more suspicion, since Raven knew well that those were Cousin Eddie's favorite records, and would imply that he would be joining me in my labors. How to explain Edwin the Bee leaving His lotus flower and following Cousin Eddie to the Persian rug, I had no choice but to leave up to Cousin Eddie. He is very clever, too (I believe their entire Raven family are clever), and I trusted he'd find a way to do it so as to evoke as little suspicion as possible.
After the 10 minutes had passed since I departed the garden gate, Cousin Eddie arrived at the Persian rug in the remote control patrol jeep with Edwin sitting in the passengers' seat. I was so grateful to learn that Cousin Eddie had already done much of my work in discussing our plan with Edwin. Edwin arrived fully informed of the situation, thankfully. (You likely have NO idea just how much trouble and inner angst that spared me!) To my surprise, Edwin was completely on board with the plan, and assured us He would make certain Raven wouldn't come anywhere near the tree house until our work was completed. I was so happy and comforted by this, then I realized Edwin's plan was probably to return to His lotus flower and tell Raven that we're painting her tree house as a surprise for her, and to suggest to her that she go nowhere near it until we were finished. I almost asked Edwin about this, then decided against it. I realized I didn't want to know. I realized Cousin Eddie and I didn't have a choice anyway but to leave it to Edwin.
Next thing I know, Edwin was over by the stereo, flipping through record albums, and pulled out a Led Zeppelin record. Without asking permission, Edwin stopped the turntable, flung the Van Halen record onto the Persian rug, and put on the Led Zeppelin album. Then He buzzed over to me, pushed up His little bee glasses, and said, "If you're going to do it right, do it right." Cousin Eddie hastened to retrieve the Van Halen record from the Persian rug and returned it safely to its sleeve. I wondered whether the 3-second rule applied to record albums too. With that, Edwin the Bee buzzed off toward His little lotus flower, and was not to be heard from until much later. Shortly after, Cousin Eddie hopped into the remote control patrol jeep and zipped off to collect our supplies and would shortly thereafter meet me at Raven's favorite tree house.
I had arrived at the tree house before Cousin Eddie and the patrol jeep, and had a few moments to reminisce. I hadn't been to this part of my sacred garden since my return, and it was a hard place to re-enter. You see, just a few feet from the tree house rested the Royal Bed that Princess Mydnite and I used to sleep in. Had it not been for the disgusting overgrowth, I was certain I would have seen impressions on the ground where the Royal Bed used to lie. My mind turned to the conversation Edwin and I had recently, and how He had instructed me to learn to love myself as a spouse rather than a mistress. Perhaps this tied in somehow. Then I looked up and saw the large branch that Oread the mountain lion used to sleep upon, reaching out just over and above the Royal Bed. Oh how Oread's gentle snore used to comfort me on the darkest of nights. She was the only exception ever to the "no-cats-in-the-sacred-garden" rule. That exception was made because Oread was the reincarnation of a dear friend's cat, and only companion, that had crossed over to the other side. I am stubborn, but I never lack mercy. I learned that from Edwin the Bee, I believe.
It was good that Cousin Eddie arrived in the remote control patrol jeep when he did--cart of surprise supplies and all--for I was about to become solemn and a bit weepy. Any chance of weeping was immediately destroyed when Cousin Eddie tripped while getting out of the patrol jeep, and launched a shower of canned beer into the air, and eventually onto himself, as he lie upon the ground looking straight up at the sky. There was only fun and laughter after that.
We got to work right away. There were seven boards nailed to the tree that led up to the tree house, and we decided to paint them gold, dubbing them the "Stairway to Heaven." That didn't take long at all! Next we painted the exterior of the 4 walls in gloss black. We had time to slug down a couple of beers while we waited for the paint to dry, and Cousin Eddie and I started planning the finer details. We both knew, of course, that we'd be painting the symbols for each Led Zeppelin member on the outside walls--one on each wall--and Jimmy Page's 'Zoso' would be on the eastern wall. And those would be painted in white, dead center of each wall. And yes, we would measure to be sure they were centered. The north-facing wall had a door on it, which would complicate the band member symbol, we realized, but we would still make it work--and be perfectly centered! But we also decided that the door itself should have "The Out Door" painted on it...the letters red, fading into shades of orange, and eventually yellow. With a grey outline.
One peculiar thing about my lovely gatekeeper's favorite tree house is that it has a pole through the interior of it--not a tree trunk, but an actual wooden pole that had been made in ancient Xanaduvian times--that goes up through the roof and beyond. At its top, the pole blossoms out into a crow's nest, as is often seen atop pirate ships. This crow's nest, I believe, is where Raven prefers to perch, as she can see several miles, in all directions, of our beloved Xanadu Forest from there. Cousin Eddie and I decided we would paint the pole above the roof, leading up to the crow's nest, in vertical rainbow colors--for my lovely gatekeeper feels in colors (please don't tell her I told you, it's a beautiful sacred garden secret). The crow's nest blossom, we both agreed, must be painted in the whitest of whites.
Many canned beers later, Cousin Eddie and I had managed to complete all the details we agreed upon, and I must say, it looked fabulous. I must also say, Cousin Eddie painted the band member symbols on the four walls (not of Raiford--inside joke, lol!) because he was doing much better at it than I was. I did honestly try...his lines were just much better than mine, so we both agreed it was best he do that part of it. I did just fine painting "The Out Door," however, because I was using a stencil and spray paint. Just for the record.
Cousin Eddie and I were mostly satisfied with the work we had done, and were certain that my lovely gatekeeper would love it and be so happy. We could have been finished. But we weren't. See, we had managed to slug down many beers as we worked, and I convinced both of us that it was lacking a little "something." Cousin Eddie and I looked over the tree house again, arms/wings crossed, and said "Hmm..." a few times. Then it hit me! Physical Graffiti--we needed some physical graffiti! Though we both knew what graffiti was, we weren't quite sure what "physical" graffiti was. We slugged another beer each, and decided that just plain graffiti would be adequate. Cousin Eddie retrieved several cans of spray paint out of the cart behind the remote control patrol jeep, and we started making "physical" graffiti on the outer walls of the tree house.
On the west-facing outer wall, I painted a tangerine, and a lemon. And a random smiley face. Then what I thought was a very fancy "KeV" just beneath. On the ease-facing wall, Cousin Eddie had painted a carousel (which I thought was particularly clever) and a couple of cubes with ribbons and bows. Those confused me, so I asked him what those were about. Full of pride, Cousin Eddie said, "Those, my friend, are presents!"
I looked over his paintings again, then at him, and said, "But the album is 'Presence,' not 'Presents.'"
Eddie grinned, and passed me another can of beer. "Right you are, my friend," he said, "but I don't know how to paint 'Presence'...that is what we simply are. Since it's Robert Plant's birthday, I thought 'presents' would be most appropriate."
I said nothing in return, but simply smiled at Cousin Eddie, and we toasted: "Happy birthday, Mr. Plant!"
It was such a happy and magical moment. Cousin Eddie and I were fairly buzzed by then, so I can't be sure, but I do believe we hugged each other, and said "I love you." We loaded the rest of the supplies back into the cart behind the patrol jeep, as well as a large collection of empty beer cans. I smiled a sort of ethereal smile as I watched Cousin Eddie swerve and shrink in size, inside the remote control patrol jeep, hoping he wouldn't crash into my lovely gatekeeper's birdbath on his way to the garage.
Everyone bees happy.
Thank you for all your hard work and magical friendship, Cousin Eddie.
Thank you for always being there, O loveliest of lovely gatekeepers.
Thank you for always guiding me, and saving me from myself, my dearest Edwin.
Goodnight, lovelies. All lovelies.