My Life With Gracie…Magic Pictures

Magic Pictures

“Amelia and I are going to be writers,” Emily said.

“Yes, I know. Amelia told me. I have to find a typewriter. Didn’t she tell you?”

“No. Yes. Well, you don’t understand. She wants to write the words. I want to paint the words.”

“That sounds like a very interesting combination for making words. We definitely have to work to make this happen then.”

She seemed relieved and chittered happily as she flew up to her favorite perch so we would be more eye-to-eye. Her confidence and faith in me warmed my heart.

“You know, I’ve been having dreams about you and Amelia and your new typewriter.”

“You have? Really you have? We have been having dreams about a typewriter too because we don’t know what one looks like. We imagine all sorts of things.”

“I’m sure you do, and especially since you have such excellent imaginations.”

Gracie had been listening in to all of this and called up to Emily, “Tell him about your letters you have been painting.”

Emily looked a little embarrassed, though I wasn’t sure why. She draws and paints very well.

“I already know some alphabet letters,” she said. “I remember them from when you were writing out some of Pearl’s jokes into Chicken. Do you remember?”

“Yes, I remember. That was fun. All of you did a nice job of helping me to make an alphabet for writing words in Chicken.”

“Do you remember everyone’s favorite letter?”

“Yes, I do. It is the Ÿ because it looks like a chicken who is eating an earthworm. It’s source is an ancient greeting between two chickens which means ‘I wish you many earthworms.’ But that isn’t a letter on American typewriters.”

“That is why I want to paint the letters and the words.”

“Will you show me the letters you have been painting?”

“I’d rather not. Only because I’m not sure they will be like the ones the typewriter will make.”

“I see. I have a feeling your painted letters will add more meaning to the words that the typewriter makes. So in the meantime, you want me to imagine your painted letters and words, just like I want you to imagine my typewritten letters and words. At least for now.”

“That’s right.”

“That seems only fair. And I’m sure what you have done is quite wonderful in it’s own way.”

Gracie had still been listening from below. “Ask him how to make the letters into words.”

“Words are like magic pictures,” she said. “So I need to know how to turn letters into words. But there are some secret words I want to know how to spell so that I can paint the letters that make the words.”

“So you already have words you want to make and you won’t tell me what they are because they are secret?”

“Yes. That’s right.”

“And you want me to spell them for you anyway? Without knowing what they are? That seems impossible.”

“I know,” she said, rocking back and forth quite happily. “I have secret words.”

“If I’m not able to make it work out with the typewriter, if that turns out to be impossible too, will you still love me?”

“What kind of question is that?” she asked.

“Well sometimes people are that way. When you can’t give them what they want, they don’t love you any more.”

“People are very confusing.”

“I know.”

“That’s not the way chickens are. If we love someone, we love someone. Forever.”

“That is a nice word. ‘Forever.’ I like that word.”

“It is one of the words I want to paint.” Then she realized she had let one of her secret words slip out.

“I am sure it is. Just like ‘Amelia’ and ‘Friend’ are special to you. Will you tell me a little more about ‘Forever’?”

“Not now. It will be in Amelia’s poem and in my painting.”

“That’s fine. Words really are like magical pictures, and anticipation can be so much fun.”

Emily blushed.

“Wait! That’s one of your secret words too, isn’t it? Anticipation!”

She flew down from her perch giving me her happiest chittering ever.

Magic Pictures

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated! This particular post has gone through several revisions for story and illustration, even after posting. Thanks for reading!

Conversations With Amelia…The Words She Will Make

“Can I see those new drawings?” asked Amelia.

“Sure. What do you think?”

Amelia studied them carefully.

“They look very poetic.”

“You think so?”

“The colors are calmer and more contemplative. The lines are lighter and more meandersome.”

“Meandersome? Is that a real word?”

“It is if I make it one.”

“And how do you make it one?”

“By writing it,” she said. Then she paused to give more time for me to consider her words. “We need to be able to write.”

She had thought a great deal about this, just as she does with all important things.

“Of course,” I said. “Can you tell me a little more?”

“We need to be able to write.”

“I think I see now,” I said even though I really didn’t.

“I want to be a writer. And Emily does too.”

“What about if you tell me your stories, and I will write them down? I will put your names on them, not mine.”

“I want to make the words. They don’t have to be story words. It doesn’t matter whose name is on the writing.

“It doesn’t matter whether or not people say, ‘Oh, look at those clever chickens. Aren’t they just the most clever chickens ever?’ In fact, I would be happier if people didn’t even know.

“I want to be a writer. I want to make the words myself.”

“What exactly does ‘make the words’ mean?”

“I want to write poetry.”

“I see. That’s a fine thing to write. And it suits you.”

“You really think so?”

“I know so. There’s no better poet than a traveler like you. More importantly, you have seen the real world not only with your eyes, but with your heart as well.”

“That’s true. I never knew I could see with my heart until I flew to the moon and back. I would have never made it home again if I hadn’t been able to see with my heart. Is that what will make me a good poet?”

“Most definitely. Poets say a great deal with only a few words. You are quite good at that too.”

“I have always been a chicken of few words. Everyone says so.” Amelia’s comb blushed a little.

“Yes, and you choose your words very carefully. Still I do wonder how we will work it out so the two of you can write.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I mean you can’t really hold a pencil or a pen very well.”

“I’m not worried. You will help us.”

“And there is a whole alphabet of letters to learn and then a whole dictionary of words to learn.”

“I’m not worried. You will help us.”

It was pointless to mention any more of the challenges ahead of us. She had won me over, and she knew it.

“Yes, Amelia. I will help you.”

Amelia had believed all along that I would, but she did not take my love for granted. She had faith in me to help her, and so I had faith in her to be a writer, a very special kind of writer, a poet.

“We will find a typewriter for you.”

“Is that a real thing? Not a word you made?”

“It is a real thing. Many great writers of both stories and poems have used a typewriter.”

“How do you use this thing called a typewriter?”

“You do something called ‘hunt and peck.’ That’s all there is to it.”

All of the excitement that Amelia had been holding back, finally exploded with a joyful trill as she leapt into the air.

“I have always been a chicken who is good at both of those things!”

“Then you will be a most excellent poet indeed.”

I looked at the feathers scattered around. They would soon be blown away by the autumn winds, and with them will disappear so many memories of the lives which have given me such joy.

But my Amelia, the poet, will leave me her words, the words she will make.

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

This story was inspired by several intersecting coincidences. I had been working on a different style of illustrations which would hopefully be lighter and feel more transient and reflect how I have been feeling about life in general.

Along with that, two of my favorite writers of poetry returned to posting their words on WordPress. Thank you, Will and Roxi and all of the other poets here on WordPress, for giving us more of your words.

My Life With Gracie…Revealing Reflections

Revealing Reflections

“That really doesn’t look so much like me,” said Emily in her most polite yet most matter-of-fact way.

“How can you be so sure? What I mean is, have you ever seen yourself?”

I had expected her to walk away and simply ponder these questions for a while and then forget all about the newest drawing I had made of her. At most, she might ask me to get a mirror so she really could see herself and maybe make her own self-portrait.

But she didn’t do any of those things. She had a ready answer.

“Yes, I have seen myself,” she said with complete certainty.

“Yes?”

“Yes, I see myself everyday when I look at my reflection in Amelia’s eyes. It happens when we are smiling at each other.”

This was a perfect answer because Amelia is Emily’s best friend. Her words had taken me by surprise and warmed my heart at the same time.

“I understand now. Without a doubt, that really is the best way to see yourself. In the eyes of your best friend. I like that.”

Emily smiled. She often smiles when we teach each other something new. She was definitely the teacher this time.

“If that’s how you see me, then I’m fine with it,” she said. “You did a nice job with the background. I look really well camouflaged, just like in real life.”

She was being so careful to keep my artist’s ego intact.

“Just one thing. Please?”

“Of course.”

“Would you work a little more on drawing iridescence?” she said. Her smile reassured me she was not at all bothered by her portrait.

“I will, Emily. I promise. But you know, I was trying to draw you more grown up. You changed a lot over the summer when you started making drawings for yourself. You’re more confident now, but still such a sweet little lady.”

She smiled again in her most charmingly playful way.

You may ask, and rightly so, how do chickens smile? This is a fair question. Anyone who has ever examined a chicken closely knows their beaks are hard and don’t bend or move the way our mouths do when we smile.

I can only recommend spending time with chickens, and then you will learn to recognize their smiles. This may take lots of time, but that is the way it is with most things of value. Eventually you will begin to recognize their smiles and they will recognize yours.

You will also learn the best way to see an image of yourself is just as Emily had said. Your truest portrait is not found in a drawing or painting or even a photograph. It is found in the reflection you will find in the eyes of someone who has called you their friend. No mirror is needed.

There are many things that someone can call you, but I believe “my friend” may be my most favorite one.

My Life With Gracie (and especially Emily) taught me the best way to see myself.

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated! The reference to iridescence in today’s post is from our most popular post so far this year titled “True Iridescence.”

The biggest “not like Emily” things in this drawing are the feathers around her eyes. That’s not how face feathers grow on a chicken. But I like how drawing them this way emphasizes Emily’s eyes. She does have the biggest and most wide-open eyes of all my chickens. She sees everything! And although drawn incorrectly, they do echo the fall chrysanthemum blossoms in the background.