Gracie’s Special Reading List…“Frugal Seeds Christmas Edition” by Charlie Lee Austin

Gracie’s Special Reading List

“Gracie’s Special Reading List” shares self-published or independently published books, often by authors who have sites here at WordPress. This is to promote other indie writers with something valuable to contribute.

Unlike our other book posts, this one by Charlie Lee Austin is the first non-fiction eBook. This is a change for my chickens and I, but it is a good change because this book is filled with inexpensive ideas for celebrating Christmas.

You might think of this book as a collection of shiny Christmas ornaments all in a big box which someone has collected over the years. You can examine them and choose the ones which seem right and best for you depending on your particular needs. Keep in mind, the eBook is 892 pages long, and so it would be nearly impossible to do everything! But there are sparkling ideas to try.

One of our favorite ideas, a giving kind of idea, came at the end of the book. My chickens and I enjoyed this because we live in the Tidewater area of Virginia which is home to many of our active and retired service members from all branches. (Our home city of Portsmouth is designated as an “Official Coast Guard City” and is also home of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.)

“Frugal Seeds Christmas Edition” is free if you have Kindle Unlimited (which I don’t), but it is also available as a purchased eBook or paperback through Amazon.

Charlie blogs at Simply Chronically Ill and provides inspirational posts for a large number of readers affected by a wide variety of conditions. Charlie’s posts are always positive and encouraging.

Just so you know, “My Life With Gracie” isn’t getting anything from sharing any of these books with you. We don’t collect anything if you click the Amazon links here. Some websites work that way, but for us, it’s about supporting independent writers even when it’s not what we write!

My Life With Gracie…“We Are Not Sparrows”

We Are Not Sparrows

It was an unexpectedly warm November afternoon. In response, the trees were filled with bird activity, and the air was filled with their songs of delight.

“The birds sure are enjoying the weather today,” I commented.

“Yes, we are,” replied Gracie.

There was something in her tone which I did not quite understand. Had I said something wrong and offensive to chickens?

“We are ‘the birds’ too,” she said.

“I’m sorry, Gracie. I didn’t mean to leave you out. It’s just…I know you so well, I don’t think of you as birds.”

“What do you think of us as being?” she asked. There was no hurt or indignation in her voice. She just wanted to see herself through my eyes.

“More than anything else, you are my friends.”

She stood looking into my eyes the way only she can as I tried to put my thoughts and feelings into words.

“But you are also birds,” I added because I did not know what else to say.

“I understand,” she said, as if to coach me along. “We are birds. But we are not sparrows. Or wrens or songbirds either.”

“That’s right. Those birds will always be in this neighborhood and in this yard. The ones I see this year may not be the ones I saw last year or the year before. But they will always be here, a constant presence. They are not individuals like you. They are not friends like you.”

I knew what I wanted to say next, but the words hung in my throat.

“You will not always be here,” I finally said.

I wondered if this was what was on her mind too.

She brushed her beak clean on my shoes and playfully pulled at my shoestrings, the ones that look like worms. Then she let me pretend to chase and catch her so I could hold her close.

Sparrows and wrens and songbirds do not do things like this. Gracie only does things like this because of the time we have invested in each other. We are friends, even though I am not a chicken, or even a bird.

There was a time when she was such a little ball of fluffy feathers. She was afraid to give her heart to anything or anyone, except maybe Bessie, but even then only timidly so.

All lives and all hearts cry out to be valued, but too often those cries are silent and desperate. It seems impossible someone would give their all and more to the un-perfect, the un-desired, the un-beautiful. For someone to expect nothing in return seems even more impossible. But it is what real love requires.

You and I, we are not sparrows either. We are worth far more. But do we realize it?

My Life With Gracie taught me all lives and hearts have the value which is invested in them.

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

At church recently, someone asked me what I will do with my stories and illustrations when Gracie dies. This post is a reflection on that. It is also a response to this past Sunday which was the first Sunday of Advent, a season of remembering the great gift and investment made in all lives and hearts.

My Life With Gracie…A Song You Can Taste

This post is next in a sequence which began with a previous post about Bessie that you may want to read as well.

What could be simpler than posting a recipe with Bessie’s name on it? Bessie would be happy. I would be happy. Hopefully our readers would be happy. Things do not always work out the way we expect. Bessie’s first baking adventure turned out to be a marathon!

Fortunately Gracie came along for moral support and out of curiosity as well. She had seen Bessie doing her “spatula twirling practice.”

As you may have figured out already, chickens are excitable, very excitable. So when I told Bessie that her first bake would be cookies for the annual Flute and Harp Concert at our church, a flood of questions followed.

“What kind of cookie will we make? What is a flute? What is a harp? What is a concert? What if nobody eats my cookies?” And, of course, “Will there be any chickens there?” You really do have to love Bessie.

So while I took out all of the equipment and ingredients, we discussed flutes and harps and music and concerts.

“Flutes make sounds like those little trilling musical notes you chickens make when you are very happy in the morning or at the end of the day. Those sounds let everyone know how joyful you are.”

Bessie and Gracie did a little trill for me.

Harps were a bit more difficult to explain. “Harps make sounds like the rustling of chicken feathers when you spread them out or when you are dancing. Those let everyone know how light and carefree you are.”

Bessie and Gracie rustled some feathers for me even though some of Bessie’s new wing feathers were still growing in because it was her time to molt.

They were so proud to learn the first songs ever heard on earth were probably sung by birds.

“So why do people need harps and flutes and musical instruments?” they asked in unison. “Why doesn’t your church just let birds and chickens come in and make a concert for you?”

With my most thoughtful and solemn expression, I replied, “I believe it has to do with fire codes.” That seemed to satisfy them, at least for the time.

Both were very excited when I brought out two mixing bowls which had belonged to my grandmother. These were decorated with what looked like a raised feather pattern and were therefore perfect for Bessie’s big baking adventure.

Gracie found a nice place to perch on top of the flour canister so she could observe but not be in the way.

Bessie was eager to begin working with real ingredients like pecans and cream cheese. She watched. She helped. She chopped. She mixed. She got cookie dough on her beak and tasted. She looked in the pantry and suggested adding coconut because “Julia Child said a great chef needs to be inventive.”

She trilled with happiness. She danced as an expression of how light and carefree her heart felt. She gave me her own kind of concert without ever knowing it. Bessie baked from her heart.

We were all convinced her recipe would be an absolute success.

When I got home from the concert and went to tuck them in for the night, everyone was still wide awake. All six chickens wanted to know what everyone thought of Bessie’s Best Ever Nesting Box Brownies.

My chickens were delighted to hear their intensely bright egg yolks had made Bessie’s culinary invention come out so yellow some people thought they were actually lemon bars, not pecan and coconut bars!

They also wanted to know how I enjoyed the concert, and I let them know in all truthfulness how a chicken or two would have made it perhaps the most memorable concert ever. They nodded unanimous agreement and trilled a few bars for me with feather ruffling.

My Life With Gracie taught me good cooking is like a song you can taste.

I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated! Watch for Bessie’s recipe later this week which she will be illustrating!This is the first post from a series. You may want to skip to the next post about Bessie’s dream of being a master chef.