Hello I am simply known as the house by the members of my domain. In general, our kind do not have names like your kind. Oh of course we have an address but that’s not really a name is it? I have existed for many years now and in my realm I have seen many events happen and from these events I have created stories with lessons that you might find useful. My master has lived in me for so many years he has learned how to communicate with me and has been kind enough to write down the stories of my domain so that other masters and mistresses may be amused or learn from my experience.
1. The Egg in the Refrigerator
The egg in the refrigerator was very unhappy. The refrigerator was so cold and dark. One by one his egg brothers were taken out of the refrigerator and he thought, “They are so lucky! The refrigerator told the egg that he should be happy with his situation but the egg didn’t see how that was possible. They are going out of the cold refrigerator into the warm world filled with light.” Finally the egg was all alone. The egg thought, “Surely my turn is next. I can’t wait”. The door of the refrigerator opened and the egg saw the light and was so happy. The egg was cracked against the side of the frying pan and thrown in. Then just before hitting the frying pan the egg wished he had appreciated his life in the refrigerator.
“A cold world is better than a cruel one”
2. The Dish Wonders about His Home
The dish was moved back and forth from the cupboard in the kitchen to the table in the living room. The dish didn’t mind since the move was a bit of an adventure but after awhile the dish wondered if his home was the table or the cupboard. The table was much older and therefore wiser than any of the dishes and the dish decided to ask the table. The table pondered the question and said, “The master leaves home to work and comes back home to rest. I have heard him say as much at the table and he is the wisest of all so what he says must be true. When you are on the table you are working and when you are in the cupboard you are resting so your home must be the cupboard”
The cupboard was even older than the table and was therefore considered even wiser than the table. The cupboard told the dish, “I have been here since the beginning. The table you have asked the question of is the seventh I have known. I have even seen masters and mistresses come and go. I have seen dishes without number come and go. Your stay in my cupboard is brief and in truth you have no home”
The dish felt very sad after hearing the words of the cupboard and decided the table must be right not the cupboard and felt much better. The dish fell to the floor shortly afterwards and was smashed into a thousand pieces.
“A greater truth is not always a happier truth”.
3. The Notebook and the Desktop Computer
There are two types of personal computers. A notebook computer is small and portable and designed for the master to take with him. The desktop computer is much larger and designed to stay put on the desk of the master.
The notebook computer told his computer brother the desktop about his latest trip with the master. She said “Paris is an incredible city”. The master took me to this wonderful café. The café was like one in the US but different. I easily connected to the wireless connection even though I was in foreign country. The coffee smelt different than the coffee in the US. The desktop computer was so jealous. He had never ever been outside the study in the master’s house.
The master was moving to a new house. All the objects in the house were excited. Most of them had only known the house they lived in. The desktop computer was especially excited. Now he would have a trip just like the notebook computer. It wouldn’t be Paris but it would be something!
The moving van was dark. The ride was terrible. Every bump made the desktop cringe with fear. The desktop knew he was more delicate than the other objects in the van. “My poor little circuits.” , He thought. What about my monitor. I am not built for travel at all. The sofa thought the trip was great. The sofa bounced up and down and laughed and laughed but the desktop feared every bump of the ride. Normally the desktop looked down on the sofa for not being very smart but during the ride the desktop wished he was built as sturdily as the sofa. Finally they arrived in the new office in the new home. The desktop hoped the master never moved again because he decided there and then he hated travel no matter what the notebook said.
“There is no place like home”
4. The Vacuum Cleaner and the Hair Dryer
The hair dryer loved drying the hair of the mistress. She loved the way the hair bended to her hot air. She loved the way the mistress expertly moved her. Most of all she loved the loud sound she made when drying hair. The hair dryer was very proud of being the loudest object in the house. One day the mistress bought a new vacuum cleaner. The old one had been small and humble. The new one was gigantic and roared and roared when the mistress used the vacuum cleaner to clean the carpet. The vacuum cleaner roared over and over again in the special language only other house objects knew “I am the loudest in the house”.
The next time the mistress used the hair dryer the hair dryer yelled as loud as she could “I am the loudest one in the house and louder than any stupid vacuum cleaner”. This contest went on and on. The mistress complained to the master that the hair dryer was much too loud and must be broken. The hair dryer found itself in the garbage can the very next day.
“Nobody likes a loud mouth”
5. The Scissors that Lied
As is often the case in many houses, the office appliances and the kitchen appliances hated each other. The office appliances wished the master would be with them always and would become angry when he spent time in the kitchen cooking. The kitchen appliances in turn would be angry when the master spent time in the office.
Sometimes the master needed to cut something open like a bag of frozen peas and take the scissors from the office to the kitchen and sometimes forget to bring the scissors back to the office for a day or two. When the scissors was in the kitchen the kitchen objects would ask him if he belonged to the office or the kitchen. The scissors would answer “I am loyal to the kitchen” in his clicking voice. When returning from the kitchen the office objects would ask them what he talked to the kitchen objects about and he answered “I told them I was proud to be an office object and that office objects were far superior to kitchen objects”.
One day the master brought a ham and cheese sandwich to the office on a plate. The plate snubbed the office objects in general all except the scissors to which she said “hello” to in a friendly manner. The scissors tried to ignore the plate but finally said hello back. The office objects asked the plate why she was so friendly to the scissors and she said “Oh don’t you know the scissors is one of us?” The office objects were shocked at this evidence of betrayal and told the plate that the scissors told them that he belonged to the office not the kitchen. The plate was returned to the kitchen after the sandwich was finished and told the other kitchen objects about what she had discovered. In the future the office objects and the kitchen objects refused to talk to the scissors and the scissors were very lonely indeed.
“Those who practice deceit must expect to be shunned.”
6. The Thumbtacks and the Staplers
The thumbtacks thought their situation the worst in the world. They were constantly being pushed into the bulletin board and then pulled out rudely. Once when complaining to the other objects in the office, the staplers told them they were mistaken about their situation. The staplers said “We are put into the stapler and twisted and mangled. Then later we are torn from the paper we are stapled to and thrown away never to be seen again. The thumbtacks had to agree that the situation of the staples was much worse than their own.
“Life could be worse.”
7. The Fire Alarm
The fire alarm smelled smoke and warned the master as was his job. The master yelled at the poor little fire alarm. “It’s just burnt eggs you dumb machine”. The fire alarm felt terrible. How was he supposed to know if the smoke was serious or not? His job was to smell smoke and yell. The master took the batteries out of the fire alarm. A month later a kitchen fire spread throughout the house. The fire alarm smiled as the flames burnt him. His finals thoughts were that the master would finally appreciate him.
“Don’t silence the messenger of bad news.”
8. The Penny and the Silver Dollar
The penny shared a coin box with silver dollars. The silver dollars would often make fun of the penny. “We are bigger, shiny and silver”, the silver dollars would chant together. The poor little penny would feel so sad and worthless. The poor penny would cry himself to sleep making a barely audible clinking sound.
One day the box was opened and the master pulled out the penny and left the box open. The master showed the penny to his friend and said, “This is the most valuable coin in my collection, far more valuable than the silver dollars”. The friend of the master asked why the penny was so valuable. The master said, “You see this little letter here? In most pennies of this year the letter is X but on this penny the letter is Y so that makes the penny very rare and valuable. The friend said but the silver dollars look more valuable. The master said, “Oh, these are common silver dollars and there are literally thousands and thousands like them. I collected them when I was young and didn’t know much about coins.” The silver dollars stopped teasing the penny after that event.
“Appearances are deceiving”
9. A Tale of Two Dolls
The two dolls had been sisters in the toy store together. They had waited together and watched as little girl after little girl had walked by. The mistress bought both of them and gave them a home. They were very happy that the same girl had bought both of them so they could stay together but this would not be the case. One of the dolls was a “collector’s edition” and the mother of the mistress had taken her from the mistress and put her in a closet. The doll in the closet felt lonely and envied her sister who would get to play with the mistress every day. After what seemed an eternity, the doll in the closet was taken out of the closet and given to the mistress to look at. The doll from the closet saw her sister and was horrified.
One of her sister’s legs was missing and her hair was torn and raggedy. Her beautiful dress was stained and worn. The doll was put back in the closet after a quick viewing and the doll felt grateful for her situation.
“No situation is perfect”
10. The Spices
The different spice argued as to who was the best. The aniseed said, “I come from India and having traveled the farthest am the best. The saffron said, but I am the most expensive. Finally, the salt said “Without salt the master would die but can live without the rest of you”.
“Health is more important than luxury.”
11. The Football
There were many different balls in the garage. There was the acknowledged big brother, the basketball. He was the biggest and most used. There was his second in command the baseball who had not been used in a while but was once the master’s closest companion. There were scads of golf balls, small and disposable but still part of the gang. Even the ping pong balls were proud to be part of the gang even if the other guys made fun of them now and then. Then there was the football.
The football was the weirdo of the bunch. Why couldn’t the football be round the way a ball was supposed to be? The football didn’t seem to mind being different as though he had a private secret. One day the master had a giant party and all the balls were taken out of the garage. Children played ping-pong. Teenagers played basketball. The adults putted the golf balls. The baseball was thrown by a parent and his son. Finally, the master took out the football and threw the football to a friend. The football flew so far and so straight. The other balls were amazed. After that even the snobbish basketball wanted to be friends with the football.
“The world needs all types”
12. The Dog in the House
One day the master brought a strange creature home. The creature barked at the vacuum cleaner. The creature did something unspeakable to the carpet. The household items were sure this strange creature would be thrown into the garbage like any other broken object. Instead the master would play with the creature and let him sit on his lap while watching TV. The items in the household were very confused.
“Usefulness is in the eye of the beholder”
13. The Woman in the House
The master had gotten married! The household objects didn’t exactly understand what that meant but the all knowing house had told them that meant many objects from another house would be joining them. The objects of the house were very scared. What if the objects of the other house were mean or different? For a long time there had been peace in the house. Even the rivalry between the office objects and kitchen objects had died down after both agreed that the scissors was a traitor to both their rooms. The first arrivals were the clothes and shoes of the mistress. The shoes of the master noticed that the shoes of the mistress were smaller and so, so many colors and strange shapes that made no sense. “How could you walk anywhere in those strange shoes” wondered the master’s sneakers. The clothes of the master also noticed that clothes of the mistress were smaller and so, so colorful!
The kitchen objects were absolutely amazed they saw pots and pans of sizes and shapes they could never have imagined. There were so many spoons and plates and tools and the kitchen was soon filled with objects of the mistress. The mistress brought a new computer to the office and the computers shared stories only computers could understand or want to understand. Throughout the house the objects of the mistress and the master made new friendships.
“A bigger world is a better world”
14. The Shoes
The masters shoes could not believe how many shoes the mistress had. The shoes of the master soon found themselves outnumbered ten to one. The shoes of the master felt inferior but when they talked to shoes of the mistress they realized many of them had been worn only once and seen almost nothing of the larger world. The shoes of the mistress marveled at the boots of the master who had stories of far off lands.
“More is always better”
15. The Two Clocks
The alarm clock and the wall clock often argued as to which clock was superior. The wall clock was bigger but the alarm clock said, “You may be bigger but I can ring an alarm and you can’t make any noise”. The wall clock could not believe the puny alarm clock had the gall to think it was superior. The wall clock said, “You might be right, maybe the master prefers you to me because of your alarm. You really should ring as often as possible to make him happier”. The alarm clock woke up the master at two in the morning and was promptly in the garbage the very next day.
“Again, nobody likes a loud mouth.”
16. The Boots and the Sneakers
A pair of boots and sneakers belonging to the master of the house argued about who was superior.
“I am tougher” said the boots.
“I am faster” said the sneakers.
The dress shoes of the mistress of the house cooed, “I am the best because I am prettier”
The boots and the sneakers were both quiet since the real cause of their argument was a desire by both the sneakers and the boots to impress the mistresses dress shoes.
“The true cause of an argument is the key to ending an argument”
17. The Old Lady and the Blinds
Every day an old lady raised the blinds. The blinds complained, “Oh my poor body every day she raises the blinds and every night she lowers the blinds. Why can’t she just leave me alone?” When the lady died the blinds felt very lonely in the dark room.
“We don’t know the value of what we have until we lose it.”
18. The Stapler and the Hole-Puncher
The stapler and the hole-puncher were good friends. Both took puny pieces of paper and put them together into useful reports for the master. The stapler and hole-puncher tried again and again to explain to the pieces of paper that put together they served a larger purpose than they ever could as single sheets. The pieces of paper, on the other hand, hated the mutilation of their bodies caused by the stapler and the hole puncher and therefore hated the stapler and hole puncher.
“Only a leader can truly understand another leader”
19. The Old Golf Club and the Hockey Stick
There was an old golf club that had been with the master longer than any other golf club. The old golf club had learned a lot about the different types of golf club and when a new club was added to the golf bag the old golf club could tell the new one how he would be used on the golf course. In a way the golf club could tell the future of the young golf club. He could tell a putter how he would be used as opposed to an iron.
One day the master put a hockey stick in the garage next to the golf bag filled with golf balls. The golf balls tried to talk to the hockey stick but all he said was “Je ne sai pa anglais”. The young golf clubs asked the old golf club to explain the purpose of the hockey stick. After much pondering the old golf club said, “This wooden golf club must be designed to be used near lakes and rivers. I have seen many a metal golf club sink to the bottom and this wooden club will float”.
“Narrow experience leads to narrow wisdom”
20. Toys in Council
The toys decided to have a meeting about the terrible dog. The toy soldier was the first to speak “I have been a brave soldier my whole life but have to admit when the dog chewed my leg off I felt fear”. One by one the toys told their sad story of how the dog had chewed off one part or another part of their bodies. The toys that had not been chewed felt it was only a matter of time before the dog found them.
The toys had noticed the master put a muzzle on the dog when he took it on a walk and the dog could not bite or chew when this muzzle was put on. The toys resolved to put a muzzle on the dog while it was indoors. The toy soldier asked, “Who will put the muzzle on the dog?” All the toys were silent and the council of the toys was ended without another word being spoken.
“It’s one thing to conceive of a good idea and another to execute it.”
21. The Beautiful Mirror
The dresses in the closest argued which one was the most beautiful. The mirror thought “The mistress only looks as a different dress every day briefly before putting it on. The mistress stares at me every night for a long time. “I must be more beautiful than the dresses.” Thought the mirror.
“The reason people stare at you may not be the reason you think”
22. The Kitchen Knife and the Cheese
The kitchen knife was about to cut up a piece of cheese and told the cheese I will cut you up because you have insulted me. The cheese said “I have never met you before so how can I insult you?” The kitchen knife said “What you say is true but I am going to cut you anyway”
“The tyrant will always find a pretext for his tyranny.”
23. The Computer and the TV
The computer bragged “I have a hundred ways to entertain the master”
The TV responded “I only have one way to entertain the master but he uses me more than you”
“One good way is better than many bad ways”
24. The Vegetable and the Flowers
The vegetables and the flowers argued about who was superior. The vegetables agreed they were not pretty but were useful since they could be eaten. The dog ate some of the flowers. The vegetables conceded that flowers were better since they were pretty and also can be eaten. The flowers responded, “If this is victory then we prefer defeat”
“Victory is relative.”
25. The Corn and the Other Vegetables
The corn was very lucky. The warm sun and the rich soil had caused him to grow taller than the other corn stalks. One day he grew so tall he could see over the fence. He saw another yard with a lawn and flowers. Most of all he saw yet another fence at the end of this yard. The tall corn thought perhaps there is a yard past that fence and on and on and in some of these yards there are other stalks of corn. The tall corn told the other stalks his idea and they all agreed he was quite mad probably due to being so tall and not being able to get nutrients and water to the top of his stalk.
“A greater truth is not always understood.”
26. The Flower and the Weed
The flower argued with the weed that her situation was better since she was cared for by the master. The weed retorted that the master would eventually cut her and use her body to adorn his table. The flower said but at least my death is quick and clean while you will be ripped up by your roots by the master. The weed said, “Yes but at least my existence irritates my executioner rather than giving him pleasure”.
“We all die. How we live is what matters.”
27. The Rake and the Leaves
The master took the rake out of the garage and together they raked the leaves. The rake enjoyed his time with the master but as soon as he was put back into the garage he could see more leaves were falling. The rake wondered, “What is use of my efforts for as soon as I finish the leaves come back.”
“Our purpose is not always clear.”
28. The Portrait of the Mistress
The mistress had a portrait of her done when she was a young lady. The painting envied the mistress and thought “The mistress could move around and see the world.” The mistress slowly became older and older and would often look at the painting remembering younger days. In the end the portrait often wondered if she or the mistress were luckier.
“Life is a series of trade-offs.”
29. The Humming Bird and the Orchid
The orchid loved being an orchid. “No one is more beautiful than I” thought the orchid that is until the orchid saw a hummingbird. The hummingbird delicately took the pollen from the flowers until finally it was the orchids turn. The orchid had never been touched like this before. The orchid had felt the warm caress of the wind. Ugly bees would crawl all over it and occasionally a leaf would touch the orchid but the touch of the humming bird was different. The humming was so gentle as it slowly gathered the pollen. The orchid felt something it had never felt before. The orchid never saw the humming bird again but as it petals slowly withered its last thought was of the humming bird.
“One more time with feeling, love can be cruel.”
30. The Crayons and the Coloring Box
The colors in the crayon box constantly argued which was the best. The red said, the small master needs me for sunsets. The black crayon argued that he was the most important because he was needed for the outlines that were later colored in by the other colors. The crayon book became tired with the discussion and told the colors all were needed for a picture.
“Many colors are needed to make a proper picture.”
31. The Fish in the Fish Bowl
The fish wondered about the world outside. He thought, “my fishbowl is so small and the world outside is so big and interesting. I must explore this larger world.” The fish practiced jumping into the air again and again until finally he was able to jump out of the fishbowl. He fell on the carpet and could not breathe and his final wish was that he had been content in his fish bowl as he gasped for breath.
“Some mysteries are best left unsolved.”
32. The Worm and the Rain
The worm burrowed through the soil. The worm loved doing this. The feel and the smell of the Earth was wonderful. Sometimes he would rest near the surface and the grass would tell him what a great job he was doing. The grass knew that the work of the worm made the soil better for its roots. That night it rained and rained. The worm almost drowned in one of his tunnels and had to come to the surface which he hated. On the surface he was so vulnerable. Someone could step on him. He could get lost since he didn’t the feel and smell of the earth to guide him. He could even end up on the pavement and die slowly. The grass loved the rain and was singing. The grass couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t love the rain.
“What is good for you is not always good for your friend.”
33. The Worm and the Snail
The snail envied the other creatures in the yard. The snail felt he was by far the slowest. Even the slowest caterpillar could crawl past him. And the grasshoppers! They leaped over him in an instant. The snail slinked around the yard wearily. The bumble said “Hi” and all the snail could think was how wonderful it would be to fly. Then one day he met a worm. The worm looked like a snail without a shell. “Poor thing” thought the snail, at least I have a shell to protect me. The snail felt much better. The worm looked at the snail and looked at the cumbersome shell and thought I am so lucky not to have that shell. If I had that shell I couldn’t burrow under the ground were its so safe and snug but instead would be trapped over ground. The worm pitied the over ground creatures that had to live with danger every moment. A human could step on you. A bird could swoop down and eat you in an instant. The snail pitied the worm and felt happier. The worm pitied the snail and felt happier.
“Happiness is relative”
About the Artist
“Honey” Natthanicha (น้ำผึ้ง มะนาว) did the pictures for Household Fables as a work for hire artist for me. I think she did an excellent job. Honey is currently a college student in Thailand.
Copyright (2010) by Hugh Fox III (author)