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The Big Gallery

Variable Tilings

The Adventures of Lulu Lizard and Bubba Bat

Bats and Lizards

Busy Beetles

Penrose Gallery



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Chapter 2

In Which Lulu Explores High Places

Lulu liked to say that she and her mother and father, (and, of course, all her pesky younger brothers), lived in a fine house in an old established neighborhood. “Established” was her father’s word, and Lulu suspected that it just meant that the neighborhood had been there on the edge of town for a long time without anything changing very much.

The Lizard family really did not live in the house, but under it in the cool and pleasantly earth-smelling sandy place that human people called the “crawl space”. But for the Lizard family it was much more than just a crawl space. For the Lizards, since they were small, it was a high-ceilinged and roomy palace, always pleasant, dry, and perfectly comfortable. In every direction there were lovely views, through the enclosing lattice-work, of summer greenery, sunny lawn, birds, flowers, and shady shrubbery where they could find lots of the yummy bugs that lizards live on. All the colors outside seemed to be especially lively and intense for being viewed from deep cool shade.

Usually the Lizard family felt quite safe when they ventured out on “their” lawn to bask in the sun or to snack on an unwary bug. And indeed they usually were safe because the yard and the house were protected all around by a sturdy white picket fence. Their house was quiet and seemed to belong entirely to them, for the human people who used to live in it had moved out several years ago when Lulu was just a baby, and no-one else had moved in. For Lulu and her brothers it was just a wonderful place in which to grow up.

When she was still very small, Lulu had explored every nook and cranny of the Lizard family’s sandy-floored home. She had even explored down along the house-supporting concrete piers in the cave-like crevices where the Lizard family went to sleep away the coldest days of winter.

Lulu’s younger brothers had explored it all too, and treated all of it as though it was their very own playground. They loved to play tag and chase around endlessly, often darting out into the sun and then waiting to be found and chased again. Sometimes one or another would watch his pursuers from a vantage point, bobbing his head up and down occasionally in order to judge the distance to various objects of interest. Or one of them might race around the house to dart back in at another point and surprise the others. They made the whole yard and the underhouse their own king-sized combined sandbox and playpen for every sort of game.

Often they would pounce on Lulu and try to get her to join in their run-around games. And sometimes Lulu did. But most of the time Lulu liked to go off by herself to find a patch of sand which was not, at the moment, being raced over by her brothers. She would then smooth it over so that she could draw on it with a twig or just with a toe. Sometimes she drew landscapes, or trees, or her family.

Other times she drew geometric designs. She particularly liked her part-design, part-picture drawings of the outside world as seen through the square and not-so-square holes made by the criss-crossed wood of the latticework. Squares and those similar but not-square shapes called rhombuses were very important in her artwork. They seemed to be involved in all her imaginings, so of course they were included in most of her drawings. Lulu liked drawing, but seldom worried about saving the drawings she made. That was probably a good thing, because sooner or later a few of her brothers would chase thoughtlessly across her sand drawings. When that happened, Lulu would smooth out the sand again and go on to draw something else.

But time and time again Lulu yearned for some little place where she could just be herself, and maybe make drawings that would last a little longer. She thought a room of her own would be very nice. Sadly, she felt almost certain that she had looked everywhere, and she had seen nothing like that.

She had looked everywhere on ground level, that is.

High and dim over her head were the floor joists, or sturdy planks set on edge so as to support the house floor, and under them were the few big wooden beams that in turn supported the floor joists. Along the beams were fastened different sorts of pipes and conduits for wires that were, now that Lulu thought about it, just about as wide as a little girl lizard.

“If I could get up on those pipes,” she said to herself, “I might be able to follow them and find a nice wide beam or board that would be like having my own little room.”

Lulu didn’t worry about falling, for even though the beams seemed rather high up, she and the other lizards were of quite small size, so that falls of two or three feet did not really bother them much.

“I’ve never looked for a way to get up there”, she thought. “I guess I will just have to explore some more.”

And explore she did. There were quite a few sturdy posts on concrete footings that rose up into the dimness overhead, but they were too smooth-sided for Lulu to climb. Lulu knew about her cousins, the Geckos, who lived in the tropics. They could climb any surface,--even glass. They could even run around on a ceiling. As Lulu found smooth post after smooth post, she wished for a moment that she had special toes like the toes of her Gecko cousins.

“But if I had toes like that,” she then thought, “I suppose my brothers would have climb-anywhere toes too, and there would NEVER be any place for just me!”

So Lulu kept on looking. There were lots of places where the Lizard’s outer wall of lattice-work went up as far as the floor joists and the sills, or heavy beams at the edge of the house. But Lulu knew that if she climbed the slanting diagonal strips of wood that formed the lattice-work, her brothers would surely see her. And then they would see where she was going. And then they would follow her.

“No,” thought Lulu, “ I want a place that’s just for me, with no little zip-around brothers allowed!”

And so Lulu kept on looking.

Finally, after going all around the house several times, Lulu noticed a length of flexible conduit of the old-fashioned spirally wound sort fastened to one of the support posts in the darkest corner of the underhouse.

“Why, I can climb that ribbed surface!” Lulu thought. And she did just that, saying to herself: “I wonderwhy I never noticed it before!”

But Lulu didn't waste much time on wondering. She found that, just as she had hoped, there were branching paths along pipes and conduits leading to every part of the underside of the house! The pipes and conduits made fine elevated pathways where Lulu could move unseen by her brothers, for they never thought to look up. There were paths to vantage points directly above every one of her brothers’ favorite play areas.

“I could jump down right spang in the middle of them,” she thought, “and wouldn't THAT surprise them!” But that would give away her secret, so on second thought she wasn’t really tempted to do it.

Lulu discovered whole long series of “rooms”, one after another, down the lengths of beams. Each one was separated from its neighbors by a floor-joist plank set atop the beam, and each one was quite small even for a small lizard such as Lulu.

But she soon became quite daring and skilled in ducking under the joists at the beam’s edge in order to get from one of her little beam-top rooms to the next. All for the sake of following and spying on her unsuspecting brothers down below.

For several days Lulu thoroughly enjoyed her overhead rooms and pathways. She particularly liked to lie quietly watching her brothers from above as they unconsciously creating fine patterns of footprints and tail streaks in the powdery tan earth and never once looking up to see Lulu spying down on them! It was fun knowing that they didn't even suspect the existence of her “upstairs” world!

One day, as her brothers played the same silly-seeming games for the hundredth time far below one of her “spy rooms”, Lulu decided that having one’s own secret area wasn’t all that satisfying if one didn’t have anyone to share it with.

“But I surely don’t want to share it with any of my brothers, even though I like them all as individuals,” she thought, “ because sooner or later the whole lot of them would follow and ruin it. Oh well, maybe if I keep looking, I’ll find something really worthwhile.”

And so, always cheerful despite her occasional wistfulness, she set off to really explore all of the cool and dim spaces high up under the floor of the old empty house.

The very next day, far at the back of the house where it was darkest because that part of the house was against the garage, Lulu found another piece of the same old-fashioned spiral-wound flexible conduit hanging down from the darkness above the heavy beam called a sill at the outer border of the house. Lulu jumped over to it from the water supply pipe she was on, and slowly climbed up, up, into the darkness.

“Gee!” she thought, straining her eyes upward into the darkness, “I must surely have climbed higher than where the floor is!”

But seeing some light above, she kept on climbing. Then she saw the door! At least it looked like a door, and a lizard-sized one,too! It opened in a direction Lulu felt sure did not lead to the outside or to the garage. Instead, it led back into the house. Lulu kept climbing and at last was able to step to the plasteredge of the “door” and look out into a room that was more toweringly spacious than she had imagined a room could be. It was the living room of the house, and it was empty of furniture, without even a rug on it’s polished , but rather dusty, wooden floor.

“Wowie!” cried Lulu in delight, and jumped down from her “doorway” to race across the vast smooth floor and make a marvelously long sliding stop at the far wall.

She could hardly believe it! A real place of her own that no one else knew about!


On to Chapter 3!

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