Practice Time

Back at the farm again we wandered around the corrals to see what was going on.

“Now there’s something interesting,” said Clive.

“What’s going on?”

“Looks like the snow pony’s being a little stubborn.”

“Carrot not good enough?” I asked.

“Um, something like that. Or else he just doesn’t feel like going for a ride today.”

* * *

A Walk in Town

I looked in on Clive a little later. He was asleep, resting his head on his arms, and from the pile of strips I saw littering the table around him he’d been working very hard. The one I saw on top told me that he’d given my earlier suggestion more than a passing thought.

* * *

In the Village

As Muzak plays, here’s a Saturday morning jape.

Back at the Farm

Clive toiled away at the dining room table while I worked in my office.

So he’d do the strips and I’d do the tableaus. Well, that seemed an equitable arrangement, and reasonable too since it was clear that he was better at the strips. I wondered for a moment at the fact that my assigned KerDoodle should also enjoy drawing things. Then I sat down and thought about something I’d seen earlier, back at the farm.

Exercise

Clearly Clive had found a new level of enthusiasm for drawing his friends. I watched him as he sat at the table, working away.

“It’s part fun and part social commentary,” he said, evidently reading my mind.

“It’ll be what it wants to be.” I felt very wise. “I’ve received another commission,” I continued. “Something to do with snow.”

“Best go work on that then,” he said, without looking up.

“Maybe we’ll go for a walk later,” I finished, and, receiving no answer, picked up my pencils and left the room.

* * *

Don’t Rock the Boat

“So how about we go for a walk?” I asked. “Or are you still too tired from shovelling?”

Clive’s face lit up and he put up his hand and pulled pencils and paper out from one of his pockets. I waited quietly, watching him work.

Then, after a few minutes he handed me this:

Strip

After shovelling snow with the other KerDoodles Clive came to me, holding a piece of paper in his hand. He handed it to me with a worried look on his face.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“You inspired me,” he said. “You’ve been drawing us, so I thought maybe I could draw us a few times too.”

“It’s a cartoon!”

“Well, yes. I’m not as good as you, but we KerDoodles do have a sense of humour and I’ve observed a few things over the years that I think would be useful for people to know.”

“Well, okay then,” I said, and I read it through…

“So?” he said. “What do you think?”

“It’s

Rottenvater

The monster is always there. Everybody has a Rottenvater. The question isn’t whether he’s there, but how you deal with him. You can feed him, comfort him, nurture him and help him grow, perhaps even allow him to guide you and run your life. Or you can ignore him and force him to feed himself. You can hate him, fear him, run away from him, or you can try to understand him and so re-shape him to fall within what you think you want from your life.

Or, you can ask the KerDoodles for help with the latest snowfall.

Choices

“And that’s that?” I asked. “He just slips under the bed and we all carry on?”

“Yes, that’s exactly right,” replied Clive. “The Rottenvater is out of sight, definitely, but he’s never completely out of mind. He is always there, niggling at us, worrying us. We are constantly wondering when he will surface again to make our lives miserable. We forever contemplate the extremes he brings us – the fear, the anxiety, the pain. He lives under the bed, yes – he is the monster under the bed – but whether we like it or not, we take him with us everywhere we go.

“Meanwhile, we go about our usual activities – loving, supporting, caring, and interacting with people. The Rottenvater may always be there, but that is no reason to let him control us, or to dictate what we do each day, or how. The Rottenvater has his place in any life, but it is only one place. Unless we allow him to, he does not own us. We should work tirelessly to ensure that it stays that way.”

“Well said. It’s the constant battle within, between good and evil.”

“We have choices,” said Clive, putting on his yellow sweater for a walk with little Jewels. “I choose happy.”

Bells

Clive scurried around and stood beside me and for the longest time we both stood and watched as the Rottenvater hung in the air before us. He looked furious, mixed with enraged, blended into a frothy kind of malevolence, and as we watched we saw his eyes change colour from black to yellow to red and back again repeatedly. I found this most disconcerting.

He looked us both up and down, and in a moment a spindly sort of arm extended from a square disc on his side and stretched out so as to point at me. He leaned in, evidently displeased about something, and shook violently from head to – um, well he shook violently. At the same time he made a most unfriendly sound with his lips as a violent expulsion of foul-smelling air passed across them.

“What’s he saying?” I whispered to Clive.

“How should I know? – I don’t speak Rotten. But I will say that he doesn’t seem very pleased that you can see him.”

Just then the phone rang, and this caused the Rottenvater to quickly cover his ears – or where I assumed his ears were – with his long, spindly hands. By the second ring his chest had puffed up and his eyes shut tight, and by the third he had flown vigorously up toward the ceiling, then shrieked down the hallway toward the bedrooms.

“Come on!” said Clive, and we followed him. We got to my bedroom just in time to see the Rottenvater forcing himself under the bed. His eyes were red by then, a fiery red that I had never seen before, and he was making horrible grunting noises as he kept driving himself further and further out of sight.

* * *

Follow along to learn more about the KerDoodles, and if you like, contact me to find out if you’ve got a KerDoodle of your own.

Something you should know…

“So in general we’re pretty decent creatures,” said Clive. “We defend our assignments, we sympathize, we empathize, and we try to understand – from our limited position – what you human types are going through. We especially love the children because they can see us and because they talk to us, and even though their prattling on is often unintelligible, it’s refreshing for us to be noticed and heard and listened to.”

“That’s really all anybody wants, sent it?”

“Indeed. But there’s another side to KerDoodles. We’re not all sweetness and light. We’re not all kind and caring and loving. Just like people, some of us are exactly the opposite. In fact, there are some KerDoodles that are downright evil.”

“I can’t believe it,” I said. “It’s not possible!”

“Why not? There are different kinds of people, too. There are different motives in play. And besides, where do you think we KerDoodles get our energy from? Good or bad, we get it from you. And there are times when it’s very bad.”

He paused. He seemed to be thinking about something quite serious.

“I’ve had several run-ins of my own with a particularly bad one – an evil KerDoodle we call Rottenvater. He is bad. He is the KerDoodle children run away from. When a child talks about a monster under the bed – that’s who they mean. He’s not only uncaring and unkind, he’s sadistic. He takes delight in the torments he causes, and in the pain that follows him around. He measures himself by how much trouble he causes. And he causes a lot of trouble.”

“Whoa,” I breathed. “I don’t think I want to run into him then.”

And that’s when I looked behind him.

“Um, this Rottenvater,” I said. “What does he look like?”

“Well, he’s big and square and grey. He has a powerful glare from eyes that look like they could cut through steel, and there’s a thin combover of bright red-yellow hair that makes you want to laugh, though you don’t dare. There was something on his chin when I last saw him – like entrails, or the remains of a recent kill, or it might have been rust or something. He floats in the air like a really evil balloon… He’s got powers, too, and he’s quite happy to use them against anyone who he thinks is an enemy. Why do you ask?”

“Well, don’t look now, but I think he’s here.”

* * *

Follow along to learn more about the KerDoodles, and if you like, contact me to find out if you’ve got a KerDoodle of your own.

Work

Dogs walked, we left the farm again and returned home. It was colder at home and the snow there had not turned to rain at all. In fact, it had snowed hard all night and day, so the sight that greeted me – the amount of work to be done – was a depressing thing indeed. I looked at Clive.

“I haven’t got the strength,” I said. “Anything you can do to help?”

“Well, let me see…”

He closed his eyes, gritted his teeth, grunted a couple of times, and about half an hour later this is what I saw.

Now, that’s what I call a treat.

* * *

Follow along to learn more about the KerDoodles, and if you like, contact me to find out if you’ve got a KerDoodle of your own.

Nervous

Overnight, as so often happens in that part of the world, the snow changed to rain and much of the accumulated snow washed away. We took little Rusty for a walk across the water-logged fields and made our way back to the pond where Ell and Jay had so recently gone for a swim. The priest-KerDoodles had long since slogged off to the south, but seeing this next scene proved there was still entertainment to be had.

“Someone’s in trouble.” I said. “Looks like the ice is breaking.”

Clive nodded and smiled.

That’ll teach him to put his outhouse in the middle of the pond,” he said.

“It’s not an outhouse,” I corrected. “It’s a fishing hut.”

* * *

Follow along to learn more about the KerDoodles, and if you like, contact me to find out if you’ve got a KerDoodle of your own.

Echoes

After our walk we returned to the house. We were chilled now, and needed to warm up. So the fire was started, chairs rearranged, and together we sat at the window, hot cups of mulled cider in hand, to watch the snow fall.

After a while, Dee joined us, accompanied, I noted, by a little pink KerDoodle in a red, spotted dress.

“All done?” I asked.

“Yup. They’re all bedded down and ready for the night.”

We sat in satisfied silence, then, just watching the snow accumulate on the lawns. First the grass turned white, then it disappeared. Then the lower shrubs bent and dipped before morphing into great big globes of snow. It was an amazing thing to watch. But even more amazing was what we saw next.

“What’s that?” said Dee, pointing outside.

We watched in awe as four KerDoodles made their way in tandem left-to-right across our view, treading determinedly through the steadily-deepening snow. I looked at Clive.

“I’m no expert,” he said, “but I think it’s an echo of KerDoodles past.”

“Ghosts?” said Dee.

“I suppose you could call them that,” Clive replied. “Did you notice you can see through them?”

“Hey, you’re right!” I hollered. “Dee! You can see right through them!”

“I know! I see! I see!”

That’s when I looked at her.

“You do?”

She smiled. “Yes, I do. I think you’ve woken it up in me. It’s amazing! I never saw them before, but now that I’m looking, I’m seeing.”

We clinked glasses.

“Well, there’s a lesson in that, for life,” I said.

Follow along to learn more about the KerDoodles, and if you like, contact me to find out if you’ve got a KerDoodle of your own.

Wintertime Nighs

By the time we got to the farm we had started to see some real signs of winter. Snowfall sprinkled across the roads and ditches like talcum spilled on a bathroom floor. We pulled in at the barns and I immediately went looking for Dee.

“What’s the problem?” I asked when I found her.

“What problem?”

“You said you needed me.”

“Oh that,” she chuckled. “Would you mind walking the pooches? I’ve got to do some paperwork.”

“That’s it?” I looked at Clive, but he turned away, twisting his toe into the ground and making like he was whistling. I sighed. “Fine,” I said. “Do your paperwork. We need some exercise anyway.”

“Thank you,” she smiled.

So we took hold of the dogs, even as the snow started to fall, and headed out into the forest.

It was very pleasant. Fresh, cool air braced us and we walked through the forest for about an hour as the dogs sniffed and snuffed and snoofed all over the place. They had such a time! Even Rusty, who is usually so calm and quiet on his walkies, seemed to be having an exceptionally good time. Of course anyone else would have wondered why, but to me it was pretty obvious.

Follow along to learn more about the KerDoodles, and if you like, contact me to find out if you’ve got a KerDoodle of your own.

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