Meet Mrs. Penfire

When my two daughters were young, I read to them every night. When they were very young they loved Richard Scarry’s Big Book of Nursery Tales.

They each requested different stories on different nights.

Over the years, my own favorite became the story of the Little Red Hen. I realized why, of course. The Little Red Hen is me: constantly bustling around, compulsively fixing things, continuously dreaming up projects and, for the most part insisting “I will do it myself!!” Because nobody else ever moved fast enough, as far as I was concerned.

In pondering my compulsion to write essays, I recognize that much of my motivation comes from my innate passion for fixing things… whether it’s family problems or the unsolvable issues that are at the root of human misery and warfare, or simply the challenge of building and maintaining fruitful friendships, a happy home life, and a satisfying, fulfilling routine day in and day out.

One day by chance, I happened upon a web site (for a diner) that was introduced by a comical little animation that followed an egg from the moment it was laid by the happy chicken… to the box where it was one of a dozen… to the frying pan… and then to the plate of the delighted patron who would be consuming it along with juice, bacon toast and coffee.

In that moment I began dreaming of my own animation … or at least some artwork that had a lot of energy.

Some mornings as I read the paper and think that I really should dash to my computer and take the time to write an analysis of the dilemma, injustice, or lunacy posed by the story I’ve just read… I can see my chicken (who somewhere along the way has acquired the name of Mrs. Penfire) jumping up and down on the computer keyboard with such ire and energy that there are flames… or at least smoke coming up from amongst the keys. She may or may not be holding a little steno pad in her hands and writing with a pencil (or pen) as she records her oh-so-cogent observations, ideas, and solutions. Ah, Mrs. Penfire. She wants to save the entire world. Nothing less. But she is old and wise enough, of course, to know that she cannot!