articulate - adjective
1. having parts connected by joints, as in "articulated"
2. made up of distinct words joined together in such a way as to convey meaning
3. able to express oneself clearly and distinctly
4. well formulated, clearly presented

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Colorful Mystery

Don't you love those fun little surprising moments that brighten your life in unexpected ways? You can be sailing along on your normal routine, and all of the sudden, POP! up jumps a funny little bump in the road. It doesn't have to be life-changing. It can be as inconsequential as most of life itself. But with its unexpected arrival comes a bright little ray of sunshine into your day.

Now that the snow is melting more, it's funny to drive down the road and see all of the neighbors' mailboxes lying at strange angles along the side of their driveways. Spring is definitely a time of renewal around here! First, finding the crushed or dented mailbox under the mountain of snow, digging out all of the pieces of the splintered post, designing new plans for a mailbox that's CERTAIN to outwit the town snow plows, and finally crafting it. John's current project features two mailboxes - one larger than the other, with the smaller one inside the larger one and the space between them filled with concrete! I'm not sure what the post will be like, but he's working on plans! Meanwhile, we're still picking up mail at the PO a couple of times per week.

Back to the surprise, though. Recently, a package arrived in the mail. My daughter came in carrying several days' worth of letters, flyers, and junk mail, and handed over a box with a puzzled, "Were you expecting a package?"

No, I wasn't. I turned it over in my hands. It was a small package, about 4"x5"x1.5"... just a plain brown box fashioned from a piece of non-corrugate cardboard, slit and folded and taped shut. My name and address were printed - computer-style - on a plain white mailing label and "Frigo" was stamped in the return-address section.

"Who's Frigo?" asked one of the kids.

I had no idea. Since I was in the middle of fixing a meal, I let it sit on the table till I could get to it. A family friend was visiting, and in the course of chit-chatting, setting the table, and eating, I forgot all about it until the meal was over and Bethie handed it to me again. "Aren't you going to see what's inside?"

Oh yeah. I felt in my pocket for my pocketknife, but I had forgotten it that day. Immediately, three other hands slapped pockets with the same results. Finally someone grabbed a knife Dave had made in welding class and slit the packing tape for me.

Released from its bindings, the cardboard relaxed open, revealing a few papers... coupons. I set them aside without really looking at them, and looked under them to find...

a box of 64 Crayola crayons.

What in the world???

There was nothing else in the box.

No packing material. No note. No clue as to the identity of the sender, no reason for the package.


We discussed all the possibilities we could think of... a prank gift, a sales gimmick, a rebate I might have sent in 10 years ago and forgotten about, a freebie I might have received since I am an educator... and shrugged it off. No matter, we now have a NEW box of crayons!

What could be more fun than looking into a new box of Crayola crayons? (Sorry, RoseArt fans; we've never liked anything as well as Crayola.) With great anticipation, everyone - even the boys! - watched while I gently slit open the perforation around the front and two sides and folded back the top. Simultaneously everyone sniffed... the waxy aroma of new crayons filled the air. At once, everyone leaned in, focusing on 64 fresh, sharp points of color poking up at us. What fun!

Bethie was the first to notice the birthday cake on the front of the box, advertising that, in celebration of the 50th birthday of the 64-crayon Crayola box, this box featured 8 new Kids' Choice colors. Oooooo, another mystery! What is a "kids' choice" color?

Politely restraining her enthusiasm, Bethie held out her hand and asked, "May I take a look?" and I reluctantly handed over my new box of treasures.

She soon discovered that each of the Kids' Choice crayons sports an off-white label, which made them easier to locate. Pulling out a bright orange one, she read the label aloud.

"Kids' Choice Colors, trademark, inc. By Kids - About Kids. Fun in the sun. Diversion bajo el sol. Aventure au soleil."

Ignoring her attempts at the foreign pronunciations, we considered. What? No "Burnt Sienna"? No "Orange Red" or "Red Orange"? Not even "Macaroni-and-Cheese?" Just "Fun in the Sun." Bright orange. Fun in the sun. Yeah, it works. Find another, Bethie.

I'm pretty sure that the next crayon she pulled out was fuschia; at least it was a shade of hot pink. But what will the "Kids' Choice" name be? Bethie rolled the crayon in her fingers till she found it. "Famous," she said aloud.


Okay. Looked like fuschia to me. But I suppose "fuschia" didn't make it to the Top 10 list of Kids' Choice labels nowadays. It's probably not even in their vocabulary. "Famous." Right. Try another, Bethie.

She pulled out a dark gray. "Pewter," my mind informed me. "Bear hug," my daughter corrected.

We burst out laughing. Bear hug????

The others quickly followed as Bethie lifted each crayon tip, gave it an expert twist, and read the title aloud:
"Best friends" (lilac),
"Giving tree" (dark neon green),
"Super happy" (neon yellow),
"Awesome" (red-orange),
and "Happy ever after" (teal).

Quiet descended as we mentally tried out the names. I pictured myself as a happy little 8-year-old, coloring in a big book on the kitchen table, and asking my cousin to pass "giving tree."

Okay. Whatever! It was time to clear the table.

I stood up and started gathering plates, only to realize that Bethie, my 17-year-old college student, and Jeremiah, our 18-year-old visiting friend, had become involved in a tug-of-war over the crayon box. Bethie thought the crayons ought to be reorganized into horizontal rows of similar hues - dark blue, medium blue, light blue, etc., lined up side-by-side like soldiers, while Miah thought the colors ought to be sorted into sections - blues in this area, greens in that group, reds over there, etc., like flower garden plots.

I laughed. These kids, great friends since birth (does that make them sort of lilac-colored?), were having a super happy moment (yeah, I guess bright yellow works for that), as they worked on their awesome (red-orange? okay) reorganization project. I'm not sure anyone became fuschia-ly famous, but an unexpected package in the mail sparked a fun (bright orange) moment, and we ended Miah's visit with bear hugs. (They weren't pewter-colored bear hugs, but even kids can't get it right all the time!)

So, whatever the source of the mystery, we were glad to have our unexpected surprise. And it brings with it the potential of lots more fun.

Come to think of it, didn't everyone say this was the one night this week we'd all be home together? I'm thinking it's time to dig out the old coloring books and break those new, sharp points in.

"Happy ever after," anyone?


  1. It's a good thing these were "Kids' Choice" and not "Disillusioned Adults' Choice" crayons. I'm imagining such colors as Gray="Layoff", muddy brown="flat tire", white with yellow spots in it="dentures", and dull insipid pea-green="Reflections on Politics."

  2. I thought you might find this interesting.... I was looking for some color palette information for a work project when I ran across this site. Check out the names of the colors in the left column. At the time of this comment they include "City Smog", "Child's Play", "Information", and "Bogota."

  3. Great stuff, Rich! Unfortunately, my "reflections on politics" would be the same dismal shade as "layoff"... gray. Dark, dark, gray.

    It would be interesting to poll people in different age ranges to find out what they chose as names, wouldn't it? :)