Saturday, February 26, 2005


Buddy creates another masterpiece.

Copyright 2005 Janice Price

I told my new canine friend Murphy I would vote for him if he’s nominated for the Scruffy Award next year. (See “Mr. Buddy’s Scruffy Award” and “Mr. Buddy Wins the Scruffy Award.”) The competition is stiff and it isn’t easy to win, so I thought I would offer Murphy some advice on how to outshine the competition. That is, if he doesn’t mind advice from someone younger than he is.

Even though I already won this year’s Scruffy Award, I have been working hard to perfect this talent. This way, if Jan decides not to keep me, I can become self-employed and support myself. I hear it’s always a good idea to have a career to fall back on when the chips are down.

Speaking of chips, I wonder if Jan left any crumbs in the kitchen? I’ll be right back.

No, nothing on the floor except dust. She should leave a trail of crumbs on the floor more often and Merci and I would wash the floor for her.

Murphy, my advice to you is if you want to be nominated for next year’s Scruffy Award, you have to practice, practice, practice, nap and eat. Not in that order, of course. Eating should be first on the list. You’ll know when you have it down pat by Mr. Jimmy’s reaction. He’ll be speechless!

And if he has a camera, he’ll take your picture next to your neatly made bed and post it on his web site for everyone to see how proud he is of you. See, Jan has posted the new picture of me sitting next to what’s left of my bed after she made a mess of it.

Jan wasn’t thinking straight. She got a dustpan and broom and started to pick up my neatly arranged bedding, but then the light bulb went on somewhere in her head and she fetched the camera instead. Good choice. If I start my own company, I’ll have to have pictures so others will know how good I am at my job and ask me to teach them to make their beds neatly too.

Merci is in the background trying to appear disinterested, but she’s jealous of all the attention I’m getting because I did such a good job today. I took her pillow apart to find where she hides her stash of snacks but she must have found a new hiding place.

Jan has never won an award because she can’t make a proper bed. She tucks the blankets at the foot of the bed, pulls them over her pillow and tugs out all the wrinkles. The wrinkles are the most attractive part of an award winning bed. She should make her bed the same way I make mine. I pull the blankets into a ball, stomp them by circling round and round on them, toss in some of the cats’ shoelaces (No, they don’t wear shoelaces; they play with them), tuck a half-eaten rawhide bone in the pile, and add some well-chewed toys for color and confusion.

If Jan keeps me – and I think I’ve convinced her she can’t keep this household running smoothly without me – I might teach bed making on a volunteer basis instead of charging for the lessons. Murphy, you don’t live too far away. You could commute for the lessons. I’m sure Mr. Jimmy would lend you his car.

I’m sorry. I’ve digressed. What I want to tell you, Murphy, is that you can’t make an award winning bed unless you’re versatile. You have to have an eye for detail and know how to add color, and don’t ever be afraid to be flamboyant with your style. Always remember, if you don’t catch the judge’s eye right away with a striking design, you will never win the competition. I’ve become an expert at making a bed that catches Jan’s eye right away.

If Mr. Jimmy doesn’t notice your creativity instantly, either you are doing something wrong or Mr. Jimmy needs glasses. It doesn’t matter what you use to fill his glasses (I would suggest water), just keep them handy in case he needs them, although why he would need more than one glass at a time is beyond me. Fortunately, Jan doesn’t need glasses to notice my fancy bed. Perhaps that’s because she’s a klutz and drinks from plastic cups instead.

Murphy, practice until you can make a bed in your sleep. If you have any questions before your first lesson, you can email me at our new funny farm email address.

This is Mr. Buddy, Journalist and Expert Bed Maker, signing off.

Saturday, February 19, 2005


Merci and Buddy at the scene of the crime

Copyright 2005 Janice Price

Crystal is miffed. He plunks his orange body on the washing machine and asks, “Does anyone remember that I am the President of the Funny Farm Writing Club and I am the one who should be scheduling the meetings?”

“This isn’t a writing club meeting,” Merci explains. “Jan has an appointment this afternoon and we need to have an important meeting while she’s out of the house. Didn’t you get the memo Percy typed and handed out yesterday?”

“No. Buddy ate it before I had a chance to read it.”

“I didn’t get one,” Buddy complains, walking into the kitchen where the rest of the club is gathered. “Why did everyone get a memo except me?”

Merci continues. “Because this meeting is about you, Buddy. We’re here to discuss what to do about you. We’re going to decide how to punish you for your crime.”

“What crime?”

“Attempted murder,” Percy says, with fervor. “Merci says you tried to kill Jan the other day.”

“Attempted murder? I never tried to kill anyone, especially not Jan. Whatever Merci says, I didn’t do it!”

Cameron joins the discussion. “Don’t believe Buddy. He speaks with forked tail.”

“Forked tail?” Cotton asks, from her seat on the washing machine with the other cats. “Don’t you mean forked tongue?”

“No, I mean forked tail. Is his tongue forked too?”

All the club members move to where each can get a better view of Buddy’s tail. Buddy twists his body so he can see his tail too. “My tail isn’t forked. Neither is my tongue.” He sticks out his tongue so everyone can see his tongue isn’t forked.

“Yes, your tail definitely is forked,” Cyndi says, “but just the hair that grows past the tip.”

Cameron is excited. “See, forked tail, forked tongue, what’s the difference? We shouldn’t believe anything from a dog who wears a fork.”

“It’s just hair,” Buddy complains. “That doesn’t mean I’m a criminal. What, exactly, am I accused of doing to try to kill Jan?”

Percy leaps onto the kitchen table where everyone has a clear view of the photograph he is holding. “Jan tied you outside the other day for some fresh air. You wrapped your lead around the bushes and cried until Jan came outside to help you. When she started down the steps, you leaped forward, pulling the lead taut and tripping her.”

“I was a witness,” Merci claims. “Jan tied us both to the railing for a short time so we could enjoy the beautiful day. I saw you trip her. She flew!” Merci’s eyes grow wide at the memory. “I didn’t know she could fly, but she flew right past me and landed on the sidewalk.”

“This photo proves your guilt,” Percy continues, holding the photograph in one front paw and pointing with the other. “Here, I added the letters so everyone can see the enormity of your crime. You tripped her and she became airborne at point ‘A.’ ‘F’ is her flight pattern and ‘C’ is where she crashed.”

“That photo doesn’t prove anything. It’s a picture of the porch steps and sidewalk. Where’s Jan?”

“Taking the picture,” Cyndi says.

“See, she isn’t dead.”

Percy is exasperated. “Buddy, are you daft? You are accused of attempted murder. You didn’t succeed. If you had, we would all be homeless now.”

“Or dead,” Cotton adds. “We would be taken to the county animal shelter and no one would adopt any of us. Since we all live together, we would all be guilty by association. Everyone would be afraid of us because you killed our servant Jan.”

“But it was an accident,” Buddy protests. “Merci and I rushed over to see if she was all right.”

“Aha!” Merci exclaims. “There’s proof from his own lips. He was just pretending to be tangled in the bushes. Let’s call animal control and have this conniving monster hauled away.”

Buddy is growing increasingly agitated. “But I was tangled in the bushes. When Jan landed on the sidewalk, I was scared, and suddenly I was free. I don’t know how I got free, but I rushed right over to lick Jan’s face. Merci,” Buddy pleads, “you know I wouldn’t deliberately hurt Jan. Tell them that. I don’t want to go to the animal shelter. I want to stay here with you guys. You’re my friends.”

“Do you mind if I say something?” Jenny asks from her bed on top of the clothes dryer.

All heads turn toward Jenny, the oldest and wisest cat in residence. She is blind but her hearing is acute and she has been listening intently to the accusations and denials.

“I think all of you are getting carried away. Buddy is a puppy. He’s too young to plot to kill Jan and too affectionate to be intentionally mean to anyone. He made a mistake.”

“He is always making mistakes,” Cotton interrupts.

“And you haven’t, Cotton? Or you Percy? Or you - You get the idea. You‘re all guilty of making mistakes, some more serious than others. Merci, you tripped Jan a year or so ago while you were walking. She could barely get around for several weeks because of her injuries. No one tried to oust you for your mistake. Buddy’s your pal. Why are you threatening to call Animal Control to have him taken away?” Jenny raises a paw and shakes it in the direction she heard Merci’s voice last. “You should be ashamed of yourself! All of you should be ashamed of yourselves!”

Merci lowers her head. “You’re right, Jenny. We got carried away. Buddy is my friend and he’s messy, but he’s not mean.” She turns to Buddy. “I’m sorry, Buddy. Will you forgive me? Are we still friends?”

“I’m sorry too,” the others say in unison.

Buddy is relieved. “That’s okay. You’re still my friends. Thank you for defending me, Jenny.”

Percy claws the photograph, folds it in half and tosses it in the general direction of the trash can. None of them is paying attention to anything other than the meeting, and all are caught by surprise as Jan returns home and suddenly appears in the kitchen doorway, yelling, “Percy, get off that table! And stop throwing trash on the floor for Buddy to eat.”

Merci leaps into the air, yelping, “Run!” She races for her den in Jan’s bedroom.

Percy jumps down from the table and all the animals scatter, as Cameron cries after them, “When are you guys going to pay your club dues?” He follows the rest of the club through the bedroom door and trips over Crystal’s outstretched paw.

“How many times do I have to tell you to stop harassing us about dues, Cameron?” Crystal asks.

Then Crystal and Cameron join the other cats under Jan’s bed, as she enters the bedroom, demanding, “Which one of you criminals destroyed my photograph?”

Secretary of the Funny Farm Writing Club

Saturday, February 12, 2005


Jenny, honorary member of the Funny Farm Writing Club


Crystal calls for the other members of the club. “Pssst. Come here, quickly. Jan is reading our story on the computer.”

Felines and canines scramble to peer intently from the kitchen doorway as Jan discovers the story the Funny Farm Writing Club finished earlier in the morning, using the word list for her writers group meeting. Her back stiffens and her eyes widen with shock as she reads the strange story.

The animals watch and listen intently, leaning hard to the right, so they don’t miss anything going on in the living room.

“Get out of my way,” Cameron, the smallest of the group, complains. “I can’t see through you and I can’t see around you. I know, I’ll just see from on top of you.” He leaps lightly onto Buddy’s back. “There, this is better.”

“She’s shaking her head,” Merci says.

“Shhhh. Keep your voice down, Merci. We don’t want her to know we’re here,” Cyndi says softly.

Jenny joins them. “Why don’t we want her to know we’re here?”

“That’s right,” Percy explains, “you aren’t aware we have been writing a fiction story for Jan. We didn’t invite you to join our writing club because we meet in the bathtub at four in the morning. We didn’t think you would be able to climb into the tub or sit in the cold through the meetings. You know, you being sixteen years old and blind.”

Jenny lowers her head. “One day you might be sixteen and you’ll find out how lonely it can be to be left out of everything by the young.”

Cyndi tries to lift Jenny’s spirits. “Why don’t we make Jenny an honorary member of the club?”

“I second it,” Merci says.

Crystal stomps his foot lightly, in lieu of a gavel. “Motion passed. Jenny is an honorary member of the club. We can keep her informed of what goes on in the meetings and perhaps she can help us.”

“She’ll have to pay dues,” Cameron exclaims.

Crystal stretches to his full height, in order to tap Cameron on the head with a paw. “Jenny does not have to pay dues. She is an honorary member. You’re just an ornery member. Enough about dues!”

“Jan’s crying,” Cotton interjects. “I knew that crock of bull story would send her over the edge.”

All eyes turn to watch Jan’s shoulders heave as she finishes the story.

“What in the world?” Jan mutters, as she leans back in her chair and stares at the monitor screen. “This has my name on it but I don’t remember writing it. If I didn’t know better, I would think this story came from the fertile imagination of my pets. Only, that isn’t possible. I wonder when I wrote this? And why?”

“She’s not crying, Cotton. She’s laughing,” Cyndi says.

“She likes it.” Merci laughs.

Cotton is dumbfounded. “She likes it?”

“She likes it,” Buddy exclaims, leaping high into the air with youthful abandon, bucking Cameron off his back and under the table. “Yieeeeee!”

“Run,” Merci yelps.

Cameron calls after the retreating club members, “But I haven’t collected the dues yet.”

Secretary to the Funny Farm Writing Club

Saturday, February 05, 2005


Cotton, member of the Funny Farm Writing Club

Copyright 2005 Janice Price

“I’m glad you could all attend this meeting on such short notice,” President Crystal tells the felines assembled in the bathtub and the two canines sitting on the bathroom floor with their heads hanging over the side of the tub. “It has taken longer than we thought it would to put together a fiction story for Jan. It’s due today, so we need to vote on it now, before Jan wakes up and reads the copy Percy typed onto her computer. It’s getting late, nearly five in the morning instead of our usual time of four a.m., but Percy’s paws were cold and he couldn’t type as fast as he normally can.

Crystal stomps his foot, in lieu of a gavel. “I hereby call this meeting to order.”

“Let’s get right to the final draft,” Vice president Cyndi encourages. “I like what we wrote as a team. Go ahead and read it, Percy.”

“Okay, Cyndi, but first let me remind everyone of the word list: church, acorn, undertaker, flight attendant, Goshen, cloudy, meekly and hope.”

Mr. Doug, the only undertaker in Goshen, was meekly digging a small grave in the hard clay of his cemetery.

“Wait a minute,” Merci interrupts. “Mr. Doug doesn’t live in Goshen. He lives in the county.”

“I told you in a previous meeting we’re writing fiction so we can move Goshen anywhere we want it to be,” Crystal explains. “Do you have a better idea of how to use the word Goshen?”


“Then let Percy finish. Percy, go ahead with the story.”

Mr. Doug, the only undertaker in Goshen, was meekly digging a small grave in the hard clay of his cemetery.

“You already read that part,” Cotton complains.

Crystal glares at her and Percy resumes the story.

Mr. Doug, the only undertaker in Goshen, was meekly digging a small grave in the hard clay of his cemetery. On a nearby tree limb sat Miss Mother Bird and her young family. They watched him intently, barely noticing the cotton balls rolling across the cloudy sky. Tears coursed down each beak.

“I’m going to miss him,” Miss Mother Bird cried. “I never had to worry about any of you children falling behind or getting lost when Harry was our flight attendant. He flew right into a rawhide bone hanging in the tree. If only we had stopped for a quick acorn or two at the hors d’oeuvres tree when he mentioned he was feeling a bit weak from hunger.”

“Hmm, acorns.” Buddy licks his chops. “One of my favorite hors d’oeuvres.”

Percy clears his throat.

Mr. Doug, the only undertaker in Goshen –

Treasurer Cameron groans. “Not again.”

Crystal stomps his foot. “Everyone be quiet! Percy is almost finished. Go ahead, Percy, but we’re in a hurry. Please pick up where you left off.”

“If only we had stopped for a quick acorn or two at the hors d’oeuvres tree when he mentioned he was feeling a bit weak from hunger.”

One of the baby birds asked, “Why didn’t we hope harder that he would die when he hit his head and fell to the ground, Mama?”

“Yes, then he would have survived,” piped up another baby bird.

“It’s time to go, children,” Miss Mother Bird told them through her tears. “But watch me carefully so you don’t get lost or fall behind and be quiet so I can hear if one of you has a problem. I don’t know how I’m going to safely teach all of you to fly at one time without a flight attendant.”

Mr. Doug, unaware of Miss Mother Bird’s crisis, finished covering her flight attendant’s grave and walked slowly back into his church house.

The club members are elated. “I like that. We did a great job.”

“I make a motion we adjourn now so we can all rest,” Buddy says, thinking of the warm blanket on his bed.

Cameron seconds it. “I want to be there to watch Jan’s face when she reads this story. It’s so good she’ll probably think she wrote it herself.”

“I want to be there to see your faces when Jan reads it,” Cotton says, standing up and leaping gracefully over the tub.

“Hey, come back here and pay your dues,” Cameron demands.

Crystal stomps his foot, in lieu of a gavel. “Cameron, you and your dues are a pain! Meeting adjourned.”

Secretary of the Funny Farm Writing Club