Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Truth About the Tooth....

The day Bea arrived  turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg. Everyday at work I noticed the ringing in my ears getting a bit louder.  And every afternoon, I came home to a few more tiny house guests. My theory about Ann Arbor had been confirmed by Bea.  Apparently she spotted me walking on State Street and decided it was time for the fairies to  pay me a visit. What I hadn't figured out yet was why. I had the feeling they would let me know in their own time, so I remained patient and tried not to ask too many questions. I had grown quite fond of my new little friends and didn't want to do anything that might frighten them off.

Besides,  there hadn't really been much time for questions because I was kept quite busy making teeny tiny clothes. As it turns out, Bea isn't a very good seamstress and her little yellow tutu began falling apart in short order.  So of course I made her a new one. Once the other fairies saw it they all wanted new outfits. After all the episodes of the hiccups they'd cured me of in the past 48 years, how could I say no?

 Making clothes for someone the size of a tube of lipstick is a lot harder than you might think, however.  Fortunately, I had plenty of wool felt and ribbon on hand, and once I got a few basic patterns down, it got a bit easier. The problem was that, because there were so many of them, there simply weren't enough hours in the day.  After a few sleepless nights I made the decision to close my pincushion shop for a few weeks and devoted all of my free time to the task. Your probably wondering why they didn't just use some magic and whip up whatever they wanted.  The answer is simple.  Fairies are not allowed to use their magic for purely selfish reasons, and apparently fancy clothes fall into that category.

One afternoon I was stitching away when I noticed Lena hanging around the sewing table. she was the second fairy to arrive in my sewing room, and she and Bea appeared to be very close friends.  She had large red spotted wings that hung down her back and red hair to match. In fact, she looked an awful lot like a ladybug. The minute I laid eyes on Lena I knew there was something special about her. She was so sweet and endearing that I fell in love with her almost instantly.

 I decided to take this opportunity to ask her why it was that, unlike the other fairies, I'd never seen her fly. I knew she wasn't a pixie because she had wings and pixies do not. She hesitated for a minute as if deciding how much she should tell me. Then she took a deep breath and said, "OK, do you want the short answer or the long one?" Intrigued, I put down my sewing needle, settled back in my chair and said, "Give me the short answer first ..... then tell me everything!"  Lena seemed to like that answer. She tipped her head to one side, smiled and said, "The short answer is that I can't fly because I didn't grant the wish made on my penny, so now I"m a Tooth Fairy."  Lena let out a laugh when she saw my jaw drop in response to this news.  "What do you mean your a Tooth fairy? You aren't all dressed in white. And you can't fly. How can you be a Tooth Fairy if you can't fly? And what do you mean you're "a" Tooth Fairy?  Isn't there only one?" She seemed to be thoroughly enjoying this now. "Hold on, hold on," she said holding up her tiny hand,  "Let me get comfortable. This is obviously going to be a long story."    Then she curled up on the pincushion I had just finished making and began her tale.

All Magic Penny Fairies are indeed born with wings.  If they do not grant the wish made on their penny within three days however, they lose their ability to fly forever.  They are capable of granting any wish, but sometimes they choose not to. The reason for this is that not all wishes are good. Sometimes, people make greedy or selfish wishes, they even sometimes wish for bad things to happen to someone they are angry at or jealous of.  This leaves the fairy to decide what is more important to them, being able to fly or following the fairy code to never use magic to do harm, or for selfish reasons.  As you can imagine this is not an easy choice. It doesn't really seem fair either. Why would the fairies who make the difficult choice to do the right thing be punished, while the ones who make the selfish choice are not?  But, as I keep being reminded these past few months, things are not always as they appear.

They don't know it at the time, but fairies born from 'bad wish pennies' as they call them, are being tested. Those who are not selfless and pure of heart enough to do the right thing, obviously cannot be trusted to only do good with magic. Though they don't lose their ability to fly, they are not allowed to ever use fairy dust. This leaves them with very limited power, scrounged up by stray bits of dust that they happen to come across. The penny on their back flips from heads to tails as a way to warn humans that they are not to be trusted.  Actually, this can happen to a Magic Penny Fairy at any time throughout their lives if they break the fairy code. This, of course,  infuriates them and they spend most of their time trying to cause mischief.  That is why you should never pick up a penny that you happen upon if it's tails up. It's most likely a Bad Penny Fairy. In case you hadn't guessed, this is the reason for all those expressions about bad pennies always turning up.

The fairies who make the difficult choice not to grant the bad wish however, unknowingly prove themselves to be pure of heart and completely trustworthy. Therefore, they are the only fairies who are ever allowed to become Tooth Fairies. In the fairy world there is no greater honor. There is a very good reason for this.

We learned from  Bea that small children are the most magical of all beings.  Thanks to Lena, you're about to find out why. If you aren't already, you might want to sit down for this next bit of  news. Are you ready?  All of the magic in the universe is stored in a child's baby teeth. I know, it's very hard to believe but it's true.  So naturally it follows that each time they lose a tooth they lose a bit of their magic. By the time they become teenagers, all their magic is gone and they become regular human beings. That's where Tooth Fairies come in.

In order to keep magic alive in the world,  they made an arrangement with the children to leave them money in exchange for their teeth. They then take the teeth back to their workshops which are strategically  located at the end of  the rainbow.  Using a special technique known only to them, they very carefully grind the teeth into fairy dust and wallah....magic!

If you're like me, at this point in the story you're feeling a bit like we humans have gotten the royal shaft in this whole Tooth Fairy scheme. I mean, if we knew our baby teeth were full of magic we certainly wouldn't spend hours wiggling them and  trying to get them out in exchange for a few lousy quarters now would we?  These sweet little fairies are beginning to sound like they might not be so sweet after all, am I right?  Well, before you gather up your pitchfork and go off in search of the end of the rainbow to demand your teeth back, I suggest you read on.

First off, the fairies are in no way responsible for us losing our teeth.  Furthermore, they don't have the power to stop it from happening.  Even if they left us our teeth, we can no longer access their magic once they fall out, nor do we have the power to turn them into fairy dust to access the magic that way. So, before you get the bright idea to try it you should know that,  unless you are a Tooth Fairy,  you will never be able to grind up a tooth without destroying it's magic. Don't waist your time.  Lastly,  and most importantly, even though the fairies are in no way responsible for our misfortune, and in spite of the fact that we probably would not have given up our teeth to them willingly having known all of this, they remain eternally grateful to us for our first set of pearly whites. That's why they do things like bring us luck, grant us wishes, provide us with fairy godmothers and protect us from bad fairies. But, believe it or not,  there's more.

 Tooth Fairy work shops are not the only things at the end of the rainbow. There is also a huge building that looks a lot like a castle.  Huge by fairy standards that is. Tooth Fairies refer to it as the library.  Like our libraries,  there are shelves from floor to ceiling. But that is where the similarities end. This library's' shelves are filled with tiny glass jars, one for every human who has lost their baby teeth. Each one is a labeled with the their name on it. Inside is the fairy dust made from the two baby teeth that fell from the spot where their eye teeth eventually grow in. These are the most magical of all baby teeth.  The fairies decided it was only fair to make this magic available to us whenever we would like to use it.

 All we have to do to release some magic from the jar is go to the place in our hearts that we lived in as children. Some of us never manage to reach that place once we are adults. Others are able to tap into it quite frequently without even knowing they're doing it.  Have you ever had a day where everything just seemed to go right?  How about  a few hours doing something that made you feel like a kid again?  Or even a brief  moment or two when you felt pure joy just from seeing a sunset or a flower, singing at the top of your lungs in the shower,  or holding a new baby.  If the answer is yes than you've done it.  And who knows, now that you know it's still there,  you might just be able to use that magic more often.

Well,  I don't know about you but all of this has left me exhausted. So, I'm going to leave you with a short recap and  a few more answers to questions that I'm sure would have popped in your head once all of this had a chance to sink in. Here goes:

There are many Tooth Fairies, not just one.

They don't all wear white, nor do they all look like ladybugs. Like all Magic Penny Fairies they are free to choose how they will look. The one thing they all have in common is that their wings sort of droop down their backs instead of sticking out to the sides like the wings of fairies who can fly.

Tooth Fairies  travel like any other pixie which means they usually use a sock,  which happens to be very convenient for transporting teeth and coins.(if this doesn't make sense to you, I suggest reading my post titled Missing Socks, Hiccups, And Other Great Mysteries Of Life. It will clear a lot of things up.)

They get the money they leave under pillows from leprechauns, who are also fairies. Leprechauns do not have red hair and beards, nor do they always wear green. It is true that they are boys, and they do live at the end of the rainbow.  Because there is always a bad fairy lurching about trying to get their hands on some fairy dust, Tooth Fairies never go to retrieve teeth alone. They always bring a leprechaun along just in case.

I think that just about covers it.  If you still have questions feel free to leave a comment and ask. I'm sure Lena will be happy to answer them for you.

Unpublished work © 2011 Laurie Konevich

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Missing Socks, Hiccups, And Other Great Mysteries Of Life...

Since I don't have a lot of time, I'm going to put the story of Bea and the other Magic Penny Fairies on hold for today. I've decided to hold off on the real story of the tooth fairy for today as well. It's such a great story that it's worthy of it's own post. Instead, I'm going to clear up a few things we humans have been pondering since the beginning of time. Or in one case, since the advent of the washer and dryer. What follows is just a small sampling of the many things the fairies were kind enough to explain to me.

One more thing before we get started. There is a bit of terminology you need to know in order to avoid confusion.  Fairy dust and Pixie dust is the same thing. the only difference is that fairies call it fairy dust and pixies call it pixie dust. It's not unlike the spaghetti sauce vs. gravy debate among humans. The battle rages on.

OK, let's start by clearing up one of the biggest mysteries of humankind. Why do so many socks go into the laundry never to be seen again? No matter how many methods we come up with to prevent this, one or two always seem to turn up missing when it's time to sort the socks. Well, my friends, the mystery has been solved. If you've ever had socks disappear from the wash, you have fairies living near by. Well, technically they're pixies.

Regardless of what you may have heard, pixies are a type of fairy that don't have wings. Pointy ears, yes. Wings, no. Therefore, in order to fly they often need a little help from pixie dust. If they're just making a short trip it isn't a problem. They usually just hop on a dragonfly or humming bird. But pixies are a very gregarious breed of fairy. They love to travel in groups. In order to accomplish this efficiently, they often find an object to turn into a magic carpet of sorts. It must be big enough to fit a few pixies comfortably, while also being light enough so as not to have to use up too much pixie dust to get it to fly. A leaf works pretty well but they can be quite delicate, and aren't easy to come by in the winter. Socks however, are a perfect choice, particularly if the pixies have a lot of luggage. They tuck their belongings inside the sock, hop on top, sprinkle a little pixie dust, and off they go. It's really quite brilliant when you think about it.

Now, let's talk about the hiccups. If you've ever looked into this you know that while there are a few explanations offered up by modern medicine, none of them really seem to make much sense. Why do these things only cause hiccups some of the time? And why don't any of the suggested cures work? I'll tell you why, because none of these things actually cause hiccups. It's a little tricky to explain but I'll do my best.

Just as there are bad people in the world, there are also a few bad fairies. These bad fairies are not allowed to have fairy dust,  because they cannot be trusted to use it strictly for good.  Sometimes however, they manage to get their hands on some, and attempt to use it to do not very nice things to humans. In an effort to protect us from these naughty beings, the fairies created hiccups as an alarm system. Here is how it works. If a bad fairy sprinkles fairy dust around a human to create mischief, it causes an allergic reaction when we breathe it in, resulting in a case of the hiccups.  The sound of hiccups to a fairy is like nails on a chalkboard to humans, only a thousand times louder. This serves two purposes. The horrible sound of the hiccups causes the bad fairy to leave in quite a hurry, and a good fairy to come just as quickly in order to make it stop already. The good fairy blows a speck of  "good" fairy dust towards the human. When they breath it in, the hiccups instantly cease. So, the next time you get the hiccups don't bother drinking water,  unless of course you happen to be thirsty. Just be patient. A fairy will be along shortly to take care of it for you. And don't forget to say thank you once you've been cured. The fairies appreciate manners very much.Who knows, it might even result in them getting to you a little faster next time.

While we're on the topic of dust, the dust on your furniture is fairy dust with no magic left in it, which is why it does not sparkle. Contrary to popular belief, if your house is particularly dusty it is not a reflection on your housekeeping abilities or lack there of. It simply means you have a lot of fairies wandering about. Your ears probably ring quite a bit too.

Let's see, what else can I tell you. Ah yes, unicorns are real, though very rare. So are dragons, mermaids and leprechauns. Small children however, are the most magical of all beings in the universe. In fact, the following is a true statement,  "When the first baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies."  ~ James Matthew Barrie

Alright, last one for tonight. Dandelions hold no magic. If you blow on one and make a wish, all that will happen is that more dandelion weeds will appear next spring.  This myth was started hundreds of years ago by a gnome who was angry at a garden fairy because she did not return his affections. Word on the street is he's still bitter.

Unpublished work © 2011 Laurie Konevich

Friday, April 22, 2011

If It Walks Like A Duck, or, The Day I Met Bea (part two)

( Just a quick note before I continue with my story. If you haven't already, I suggest you read the first two blog posts before reading this one. Otherwise it might not make sense. Not that any of this will make sense to most of you anyway, but trust me, it works better if you start from the beginning.)

I sat at my desk trying to concentrate on my work, but my mind kept going back to the mornings events. None of it made any sense. That is, unless you believe in fairies, in which case the pieces all fit together pretty well actually. But I wasn't ready for that yet.

I ran through it all in my mind again. First, the unshakable feeling I was being watched. That could have been anything really. Happens all the time. No big deal. Next, the tiny door that appeared on my wall. I had convinced myself that my husband must have been responsible for that. But, when I called to ask him about it he had no idea what I was talking about. That left only two options. Either he had suddenly become an incredibly good liar overnight, or he had nothing to do with it.  I even toyed briefly with the possibility that someone broke into the house while we were gone, stole nothing,  and installed a tiny door in my sewing room just to mess with my head.  That was even more far fetched than fairies being responsible.

Then there was the small matter of seeing a tiny little bumble bee person standing on my sewing machine. I mean, sure, I haven't gotten much sleep lately but come on, I wasn't that tired. And what about all the fairy stuff going on in Ann Arbor? It's a pretty big coincidence that all of this happened right after we spend four days there. The article showed pictures of the fairy doors that were found and they looked pretty similar to the one in my sewing room. They were passing it off as the work of a local artist, yet nobody had ever seen him actually installing any of them. After the morning I'd had, I could sure understand why he would rather have people think it was him than admit he believes in fairies and has them living in his house. You should google the Ann Arbor fairy door thing when you have a minute by the way. It's a great story. Anyway, it was all to much for me to think about.  I was giving myself a headache.  So, I forced myself to focus on work and managed to make it through the day.

  When I got in my car I turned on the radio in an effort to get my mind off the ringing in my ears.  Just when I thought it was gone it would come back again. It was the worst case I had ever had and it was really driving me nuts. When I got home I made myself a cup of coffee and plopped down on my couch.  I reached in my pocket and took out the penny that I found on my sewing machine. How could I have mistaken that for a miniature bee child wearing a tutu?

  Absentmindedly,  I turned the penny over and over in my hand  and my thoughts turned to a summer day when I was just six years old. It was the end of August and my mother took us to Boston to buy new uniforms for school. After that we walked to the commons for a ride on the swan boats. Somewhere in our travels that day we passed a fountain and she gave us each a penny to make a wish. I remember being very excited because the penny she gave me was so shiny and new. I closed my eyes and wished that my first grade teacher would be nice. I was very worried about that after hearing my sisters tell stories about all the mean nuns at St. Anthonys. I  can still remember the sound the penny made when it hit the water with a loud plop. Actually, it was more of a plunk. It's funny the little things that stick in your mind, isn't it?  This penny sure wasn't shiny and new. In fact it was filthy.

As I walked to the bathroom to wash my hands I looked at the date on it and stopped dead in my tracks. It was 1968.  I was six years old in 1968. I could feel my heart pounding. Why was this freaking me out so much? It was just a coincidence. There are probably zillions of 1968 pennies still floating around out there. I slowly began to become aware of the fact that I wasn't holding the penny anymore. I was holding Bea.

"That was me" she said with a sly smile. I was staring down at my hand in disbelief. Aware that I had temporarily lost my ability to speak, she continued. "I've been trying to tell you this all day. The penny you threw in the fountain was me. Have a look."  She turned around and rolled her shoulders, sticking her tiny wings out at me. At first I wasn't sure what she wanted me to look at. Then I noticed that between her wings was a penny...the penny!  I sank slowly to the floor trying to absorb all of this. And that's when she told me all about the Magic Penny Fairies. "So you're the reason I had Sister John Ann? She was probably the only nice nun that ever taught at that school. You know, I ended up having her for second grade too."  Bea's smile widened. "what can I say" she said, I'm an over achiever."

I had so many questions. I didn't know where to begin. Bea seemed eager to answer them all and we stayed up most of the night talking. I was surprised to find out how much of the human world is intertwined with the world of these amazing, tiny beings, and how well they've managed to convince us that they only exist in fairy tales. 

 I'm going to stop here for now. But, I promise I'll be back to tell you about some of the things I learned from Bea and the rest of the fairies that made their way to my sewing room in the days and weeks that followed. I'll give you a sneak preview.  Ringing in the ears? definitely fairies talking, but you probably figured that one out by now. Let's see, socks that go missing in the laundry? Fairies up to mischief.  The hiccups? Fairies again, and not the good kind.  The Tooth Fairy? Very real, there's more than one, and wait till you hear what they do with our teeth!

Unpublished work © 2011 Laurie Konevich

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Ears Are Ringing, or, The Day I Met Bea (part one)

This is a long story so I'm going to tell it to you in two parts. After all this is supposed to be a blog post not a novel.  Anyway, as promised in my first post, here is part one of how I met the fairies.

It started out like any other day. I woke up before the birds as usual, made some coffee and then headed to my sewing room to work on a few pincushions for my shop before heading off to work. (I'm not sure if I mentioned this but I have a little shop on where I sell handmade pincushions. I also work at a local preschool, but I digress.) When I turned on the light on my sewing table I immediately got the feeling that something wasn't quite right. As I moved around the room I kept having the odd sensation that I was being watched. I tried to shrug it off and concentrate on my work, but the feeling persisted. If that wasn't enough, I kept noticing an annoying ringing in my ears. You know,  that faint high pitched sound that happens every once in a while?  Distracted, I reached for my scissors and knocked over my thread holder. I reached under the table to pick up a stray spool, and that's when I saw it.

 At first I thought I must have been imagining it so I took off my glasses and cleaned them with my pajama top. I  took another sip of coffee and a deep breath and looked again. Much to my surprise, it was still there. On the wall, just above the baseboard was a tiny door. I crawled under the table to get a closer look.  I reached out and tried to open it. It wouldn't budge. My first thought was that someone had decided to surprise me by installing this charming little door for me to discover. I'd seen fairy doors for sale and always thought it would be fun to put one in my house, but just never seemed to get a round to it. I have always loved the idea of fairies and truth be told, secretly held on to the hope that they just might be real.

 I grabbed my computer and googled fairy doors to see if I could find out where it was purchased. Dozens of stores popped up in the results. I of course scanned the list for Etsy shops assuming that since I have a shop there, that's probably where they purchased it.  I noticed that more than one result mentioned Ann Arbor. It caught my eye because my daughter is a student at the University of Michigan, which is located in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor. In fact, we had just returned from a visit with her 2 days before. Curious,  I clicked on one titled "The Wee Fairy Doors of Ann Arbor".  This is what appeared on my screen:

"All across the city, "fairy doors" are popping up. The miniature openings into imagined fairy homes are unsponsored, unauthorized works of public art that have captured the imagination of the city. A six-inch white wooden door with a carved jamb framed by miniature bricks was the first to appear, outside Sweetwaterz Cafe. Since the spring of last year, seven more doors have appeared at businesses around Main Street."

 The article was written in 2006. It went on to say that a local artist was installing the doors around the city in an effort to breathe new life into some of the struggling businesses downtown. That was it! My husband must have heard about this on our latest visit and decided to surprise me with a fairy door of my own. I closed my laptop smiling to myself. I reached out to turn off my sewing machine, and there she was.

 She was leaning against the thread on top of the machine, legs crossed, grinning up at me, waiting for my reaction.  She wasn't any bigger than the spool of thread. She looked part bumble bee, part human. Her wings were so sheer and iridescent I almost didn't notice them at first. She had a huge yellow bow in her short black hair and she was wearing a tiny yellow skirt that looked sort of like a tutu. As if reading my mind she pointed to her skirt and her tiny lips began to move. I couldn't  hear what she was trying to tell me because the ringing in my ears had started again.  I leaned down close to her and concentrated. In a tiny high pitched voice, still pointing to her skirt, she said,   "I made it out of a piece of your ribbon. It turned out great don't you think? I'm Beatrice by the way. You can call me Bea."  This couldn't be happening, could it?  I no sooner finished that thought and, poof, she was gone.  There was Nothing there but a penny. Where the heck did that come from?

Anyway, I must have imagined her. Between the 14 hour car ride home from Michigan and the lack of sleep that followed trying to catch up on my sewing, it was no wonder I was seeing things. But deep down I knew she was real. I began to think about the ringing in my ears and how it was timed perfectly with the movement of her lips. I'd had that ringing thing happen every once in a while ever since I was a kid. It was at this point that I began to realize that I had been hearing fairies pretty much my whole life. I know lots of people who get that ringing in their ears from time to time but nobody's ever really had a good explanation for what causes it. That is, until now.

 I tried to shrug it off and went to get ready for work. Before I left,  I went back into my sewing room and had a look around. The fairy door was still there but there was no sign of Bea. Maybe I really had imagined her. Absentmindedly, I picked up the penny from the top of my sewing machine and put it in my pocket. I was anxious to ask my husband if he was responsible for the fairy door but he was still asleep and I didn't want to wake him. There had to be a reasonable explanation for all of this. As I drove to work that morning I had the feeling that my life was about to change. What I didn't know was  that I was on the brink of discovering that life as I knew it was, how can I put this.......never really life as I knew it.

Well, I'm going to call it a night. It's late and I can barely keep my eyes open. I'll be back with part 2 very soon. By the way,  I'm sure some of you think I have gone and lost my mind.  That's OK. There are always going to be plenty of nonbelievers out there. I do have a quick question for you though. Have you ever had a faint ringing in your ears?

Unpublished work © 2011 Laurie Konevich

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sometimes Wishes Do Have Wings.....

If you've ever tossed a penny into a fountain and made a wish, you know that sometimes your wish comes true and other times it doesn't. Have you ever wondered why that is?  Well, you're about to find out.

Sometimes, on those very special nights when the moon is full and the stars are aligned just right, if a moonbeam shines down on the fountain and hits a penny at the stroke of midnight, something magical happens. The penny transforms into a Fairy.  Yes, you read it right, a fairy.  No, I'm not making this up.

These fairies are the tiniest of all fairy folk, usually less than 3 inches tall. Many of them like to take on the appearance of garden fairies resembling flowers or insects, but don't be fooled.  If you look closely you will see a shiny copper penny at the center of their gossamer wings. These tiny little fairies have a big job to do. Their first act of magic is to grant the wish that was made on the penny. If they can manage that, their ability to fly becomes permanent and they are free to fly about bringing magic and good luck to those who believe.

Because they love to be around people, they will often seek out the home of someone special and stay with them forever. (I sometimes wonder if this is where fairy godmothers come from).  Magic Penny fairies usually will not allow you to see them unless they intend to keep you, so just because you've never seen one,  that doesn't mean you haven't already had an encounter or two.  If you've ever happened upon a penny on the sidewalk, chances are that was no coincidence. You were most likely chosen by a Magic Penny Fairy for a day of good luck. I bet you had no idea when you picked that penny up that you were actually lifting a tiny fairy by the center of it's wings. In fact, you just might be carrying one around in your pocket right now!

By now you're probably wondering where I got such a crazy story. I would love to stay up and fill you in but it's late and I must go to bed. I have a long day ahead of me with my pincushions, my job, and the daunting task of getting The Magic Penny Fairy Relocation Project off the ground. But, I'm getting ahead of myself so I will say good night.  I'll be back when I have some time and tell you all about the day I met my first Fairy.
Unpublished work © 2011 Laurie Konevich