My Life With Gracie…Sunday Surprises!

This weekend, my chickens and I have been enjoying the strong beautiful fragrance of the sweet osmanthus (tea olive) tree which is now taller than me even though I planted it only a few years ago. We have also be enjoying the beautiful color of the beauty berry bush’s fruit.

Most of these berries will be eaten by the songbirds, but a few will sprout and expand their territory just a bit farther out into the shady parts of the yard. You can probably see where an insect has already been eating the beauty berry’s leaves here and there, but that’s just part of life in the garden.

A soft rain overnight gives everything a wet shine, and I think the raindrops hitting the osmanthus blossoms release even more of its sweet indescribably perfume into the garden. At times I can even smell it from inside the house!

I hope you will find your own Sunday Surprises to delight your senses and give your heart a bit of rest.

A huge amount of appreciation goes out to my volunteer test readers! This option is now closed while I prepare the files.

Rethinking, Revising, And Rewriting…But Hopefully For A Better Story

I must admit, I thought the story would not be as good after such a huge revision, but it is actually much better than before. It is much more focused with fewer things to explain and with a much faster pace.

As Pearl would surely say, “I have probably had more failed plans than anyone, but a failed plan simply means you are closer to the solution.” And so I remained as persistent as Pearl and treated each day of rewriting as a new opportunity.

The character called The Bottle Cap Lady has been completely rewritten. She is no longer a shadowy and possibly scary character, and she now only collects soda pop bottle caps. She is more like a human version of Pearl because they both like collecting things, wearing hats, and doing silly things. They have both always felt like they were never quite loved and accepted like others. Most importantly, they both have felt the loss of someone they loved very much.

There are still happy things and sad things because a chicken’s life (and a person’s life) can be that way. Blanche still becomes sick and dies on Easter Sunday in this version because that is what happened in real life.

But her illness and death bring into sharper focus The Promise of Easter, the promise that Love makes all things new.  Then rest of the book is built more on The Promise of Christmas, the promise that Love gives its very best even to those who have nothing to give in return. These reinforce Blanche’s original message about laying an egg. “Laying an egg is all about giving. Light and Life and Love are all about giving too.”

What was once a 40,000 novel with an undetermined audience has become an 8,000 chapter book with a 3rd grade reading level. This seems to be where it belongs best. There is also a happier ending with Pearl and The Bottle Cap Lady becoming friends with the possibility of future adventures together.

Honestly, I could really use some test readers to make sure the story works as it should and also remains true to how sweet and wonderful Pearl truly is. As I tell her each day, “No chicken has ever had a better heart than yours.”

A huge amount of appreciation goes out to my volunteer test readers! This option is now closed while I prepare the files.

Starting Over

“Sometimes we learn a little from our goofs,” said Pearl. “Sometimes we learn a lot from them. I should know. I have had more goofs than any chicken here.”

“Thank you for helping me to cheer up. So what do you think we should do with the story about you and Blanche and The Bottle Cap Lady?”

“I think we should start over again with the pictures. The ones you made. The ones I made. The ones we made together.”

She went over to her stash of drawings and pulled out a few.

“Remember when I told you these are my heart and my life?”

She spread her drawings carefully in front of me.

“If a story is good like a life is good, then you should be able to tell all of the important parts just in pictures.”

She looked up at me, and gave me a little hop up into the air for no special reason other than because she is Pearl.

“Pictures that show action, that is. Love is action. You told me that yourself.”

She rearranged her pictures so they were in the proper order to show me the story they told about her life.

“Then you can add some words. The words all depend on who gets the gift of your story.”

“The gift of my story?” I repeated back to her. “I never thought about a story as a gift.”

“Well, maybe you should. Blanche gave me gifts I never realized were gifts at the time. It is something to think about.”

Pearl seemed a little surprised at her own insights (or perhaps at my lack of them).

“Pearl, what is the most important thing about your story?”

“Blanche was my best friend ever,” she said. “Blanche tried to teach me about giving, but I did not begin to really understand until after Blanche left us that Easter Sunday. I wanted to be a light in the Bottle Cap Lady’s life, just like Blanche had been for me, so I gave a Christmas gift to her. It meant not getting my own gift because I was not in my own home and asleep when Santa Claus came. But I got an even better gift than I could have imagined.”

I was silent and just smiled at her.

“That’s it. That’s all. That is what you should tell people with the words,” she said and waited for me to say something. “That is my heart. That is my life.”

“And such a sweet and beautiful heart and life you have, Pearl.”

She gave me another a little hop up into the air for no special reason.

“Don’t you want to say something about how Gracie had said ‘silliness never saved a chicken’s life’ but you saved everyone from the opossum by being silly and scaring it off?”

“Not really. But you can if you want.”

“Don’t you want to say something about how The Bottle Cap Lady drank all of those soda pops and ate all of those candy bars?”

“Not really. But you can if you want.”

“Or how she lost her job at The Chicken Place because she kept falling asleep at work? And why she kept falling asleep at work?”

“Not really. But you can if you want.”

“Or how she roamed around the neighborhood saying strange things or doing strange things even in the middle of the night? Or how she stole eggs right from under you?”

“Not really. I don’t want to tell any of those things. But you can if you want.”

“Why is that, Pearl?”

“You know already. You told me yourself. Love fills emptiness. Love covers imperfection.

“I loved The Bottle Cap Lady when nobody else loved her. Even when she could not love me back and had nothing to give me, I still loved her. That is what Christmas is about. That is what Easter is all about too.

“Light and life and love are all about giving, just like Blanche said. People need to know that part most of all. Tell them whatever will help them understand that part.”

She gave me another a little hop up into the air, but this time for the very special reason that she had just shared some of her light with me.

“You are such a pearl, my little Pearl.”

Pearl and I put our heads together and made a personal inspiration video that uses the illustrations for “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” along with a song that seems to fit. You can get to it through our “My Life With Gracie” Facebook page or directly on our Vimeo page. You do not need a Facebook account or Vimeo account.

We are going to try to be more conscientious and always have something special pinned to the top of our “My Life With Gracie” Facebook page just for all of our fans!