I have described Melody Peña, the artistic creator of all things Windstone, as a naturalist to the imaginary world. But she does amazingly well in the real world too. Proof of this came to me in the rotund form of a guinea pig.

I took my 11-year-old daughter, Tam, on a cross-town pilgrimage to Windstone to introduce her to John Alberti and Melody and to show her their wonderful creations. Melody, a gracious hostess, offered my daughter her choice of any of the fanciful creatures that line the shelves in her upstairs studio. I was surprised and a bit concerned by the offer. What if Tam should choose a $300 emperor dragon? Or a limited edition Pegasus? I hoped she would be attracted to something more modest and affordable, like a mama dragon incubating an egg or a cuddly, cute flap cat.

She considered the shelf before us. I had no idea what she would choose.

“Can I have the guinea pig?” she asked, pointing across the room to a low shelf where a portly guinea pig sat.

I was surprised by her selection, but shouldn’t have been. She has a pair of guinea pigs and attends the monthly 4-H Club for “cavies” – the official name for guinea pigs. So home we went with a pudgy plaster “pigger” tucked in a padded bag swinging gently under the handlebars of our bicycle for two.

I was as eager as my daughter to show off her new Windstone mascot, so we took it to the next 4-H gathering. And there, side-by-side and nose-to-nose with the real thing, I saw just how realistic – how lifelike – Melody’s works of art are.

Live or Memorex?
Back in the days before iPods and digital music, the Memorex company touted the quality of its audio tape with the challenge, “Is it live? Or is it Memorex?” Now, to tout the realism of Windstone’s creations, I issue you the same challenge. Take a look at this photo and tell me which is live, and which is Melody’s. (Despite their amazing similarity, the live guinea pig was not the model for the Windstone. The convergent colors are a creative coincidence — yet another of Melody’s marvels.)

Corvallis, Oregon