My Life With Gracie…A Most Unfortunate Chicken

A Most Unfortunate Chicken

Today’s illustration has been provided by Emily. You may remember some of her previous artwork from the series titled “Emily’s Summer Drawing Camp.” This is the story behind her drawing for today.

“I really do admire all of you chickens,” I said to Gracie. “I would make a lousy chicken. Probably the lousiest chicken in the whole history of lousy chickens.”

“Chickens do not keep history the way people do. There are no lousiest chickens.”

“You know what I mean, Gracie. If I was a chicken, I wouldn’t have sense enough to come in out of the rain.”

“Yes, you would. We would make sure of it.”

“I know you would, Gracie, because you are so kind. But that’s not quite what I mean.”

We looked at each other, not sure who should speak next.

There was a gust of winter wind, and the others trotted over to where Gracie and I were standing. They gathered around her, and everyone turned slightly to face into the wind as it shifted a little more from the west.

“You see, that’s exactly what I mean!”

They all looked up quizzically. Only Gracie had an idea of what I was getting at because the others hadn’t been listening.

“He is telling about why he would make a lousy chicken,” she quickly explained.

“There are no lousy chickens,” said Bessie. “There has never been a lousy chicken in the whole history of chickens.”

“Chickens don’t keep history,” reminded Gracie.

“All the more reason why there has never been a lousy chicken,” said Bessie, confident that her point had been unmistakably proven.

The wind gusted again, and five beaks and bodies moved to point into its slightly changed direction. I kept my back to the wind and pulled the collar of my jacket up higher on my neck.

“See! There you go again!” I said.

Their confused expressions returned.

“You face into the cold wind, no matter how hard it blows. If I was a chicken, I would turn my back to the cold wind and wait for it to die down.”

“No, you wouldn’t,” said Gracie with utmost confidence. “Well, maybe only once or twice.”

“Why is that? Because you would teach me and make sure I didn’t?”

“That is a lesson you would learn for yourself the first time that an icy cold wind got up into your tail feathers!”

Everyone thought this was hilarious as they imagined me as a chicken with a beard in front and tail feathers in back. I had to chuckle some myself.

“You would not be a lousy chicken,” said Gracie, “But you would be a most unfortunate chicken until you figured it out for yourself.”

Then I realized there is a reason my chickens face into the wind. They are streamlined that way. The wind may be cold when it hits their faces, but the rest of them remains warm and protected. The wind can’t get up into their feathers.

Another cold gust of wind came at us from a slightly different direction and all of the chickens adjusted a bit to face more directly into it. This time I faced into the wind with them.

“Foofity boofity bottomy feathers!” Pearl began to say over and over until the words turned into a song. “Foofity boofity, boofity foofity, bottomy feathers for you, for you!” Her silliness made everyone laugh and soon the cold didn’t feel as cold any more.

My Life With Gracie taught me to face into the winds of hardships rather than turning my back to them.

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

This brief story was inspired not only by the cold winds we have been having this week, but also by some of the hardships that you, our readers, have had recently. (You know who you are.) Your ability to face those hardships head-on is an inspiration to us all.

A Brief Retrospective Look At December 2019

December 2019 Favorites

The beginning of a new year seems to be a good time to look back on the old and look forward to the new, and so some type of retrospective of our illustration and story posts also seems appropriate.

(These are shown above from left to right. Links to the full illustrations and posts follow.)

First “Most Popular” Post December 2019

“Christmas Eve Wisdom And Wishes” You can read it in full here if you’d like. (Not only was this the “Most Popular” for the month of December, it was also the “Most Popular” for all of 2019!)

Second “Most Popular” Post December 2019

“Immersed In The Joys Of Life read it in full here if you’d like. (This was one of my favorite posts for the year, not so much for the illustration, but more for what it said about life and love.)

Third “Most Popular” Post December 2019

“The Most Perfect Plan Ever!” You can read it in full here if you’d like. (The illustration for this post shows Pearl’s imagination at work as she wonders what it will be like when Santa Claus reads her Christmas list. I love her innocent hopefulness that all of life’s problems could be solved with a simple letter to Santa Claus.)

Well, my friends, we made it through the entire 12-month retrospective! Thanks for joining me. I have enjoyed this chance to look back and see what you as readers enjoyed the most!

I can’t help but close with one more “Most Popular,” and it’s the “Most Popular Family Photo Friday” picture for all of 2019. I was pleased to see that it was of Gracie who I seldom photograph just by herself. That’s just the kind of modest girl she is and one more reason why she will always be “My Best Girl Ever.”

Family Photo Friday

We appreciate the time you have spent reading our stories and leaving “likes” and “comments” to encourage us when we got things right. We also appreciate the times you have made us think about how we can do better. All of your “hearts” and reposts, all of your award nominations and mentions, all of your kind words, all of it…is so tremendously appreciated.

We hope very much that we have returned to you some small part of the great joy you have given to us.

John, Gracie, Bessie, Pearl, Blanche (who we still hold in our hearts), Amelia, and Emily

 

A Brief Retrospective Look At November 2019


November 2019 Favorites

The beginning of a new year seems to be a good time to look back on the old and look forward to the new, and so some type of retrospective of our illustration and story posts also seems appropriate.

(These are shown above from left to right. Links to the full illustrations and posts follow.)

First “Most Popular” Post November 2019

“A Chicken’s Life Is Not So Bad” You can read it in full here if you’d like. (All of my girls were thrilled that this post was the most popular for November. It concluded their big story series for October when they put a great deal of work into their Halloween costumes! They learned a lot from this experience particularly that “treats are not always better on the other side of the fence.”)

Second “Most Popular” Post November 2019

“Pearl, My Girl, You Sure Have Changed! read it in full here if you’d like. (This post shares an excerpt from “How To Explain Christmas To Chicken.” It also looks at how drawing styles here have changed due to printing needs and software needs. Hopefully the changes have all been for the better.)

Third “Most Popular” Post November 2019

“Bessie’s Best Ever Sweet Onion and Walnut Mini Muffins” You can read it in full here if you’d like. (Bessie was thrilled that one of her recipes made it into the “Top Three.” These great muffins were featured in Our own Christmas meal.)

Thanks for joining me on this retrospective of our illustration and story posts. I have enjoyed this chance to look back and see what you as readers enjoyed the most!

A Brief Retrospective Look At October 2019

October 2019 Favorites

The beginning of a new year seems to be a good time to look back on the old and look forward to the new, and so some type of retrospective of our illustration and story posts also seems appropriate.

(These are shown above from left to right. Links to the full illustrations and posts follow.)

First “Most Popular” Post October 2019

“The Scariest Halloween Costume Contest” You can read it in full here if you’d like. (All of my girls were thrilled that this post was the most popular for October. They put a great deal of work into their Halloween costumes!)

Second “Most Popular” Post October 2019

“Freak Show Chickens read it in full here if you’d like. (This post is a chapter from “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens.” It is a somewhat scary chapter, at least for Pearl and Blanche. Later in the novel, Pearl will have a truly scary dream about being in The Bottle Cap Lady’s Chicken Freak Show. Don’t worry because it’s only a dream and points out how we can often let our imagination get the best of us. Her dream will allow her to learn something important about herself.)

Third “Most Popular” Post October 2019

“Magic Pictures” You can read it in full here if you’d like. (This post features Amelia and Emily with their desire to be writers because words make “magic pictures.” They have never seen a typewriter, and the illustration reflects how they imagine a typewriter to work.)

Thanks for joining me on this retrospective of our illustration and story posts. I have enjoyed this chance to look back and see what you as readers enjoyed the most!

A Brief Retrospective Look At September 2019

September 2019 Favorites

The beginning of a new year seems to be a good time to look back on the old and look forward to the new, and so some type of retrospective of our illustration and story posts also seems appropriate.

(These are shown above from left to right. Links to the full illustrations and posts follow.)

First “Most Popular” Post September 2019

“The Gift Of Listening” You can read it in full here if you’d like. (The real message of this post is perhaps found in this brief excerpt: “I write this because it seems at times people have lost their connection to the earth beneath their feet and the animals with which we share it. From there, it is a quick step to losing our connection with other people.” I’m still bothered by the divisions and hostilities between groups I see on the news each day.)

Second “Most Popular” Post September 2019

“More Alike Than We Realize read it in full here if you’d like. (This post could be considered a follow-up to “The Gift Of Listening” because it is a reminder that we as people are more alike than we realize even though there are divisions and conflicts all around us.)

Third “Most Popular” Post September 2019

“There’s More Than One Kind Of Dancing In Paris!” You can read it in full here if you’d like. (This post features Pearl dancing in a famous poster by Toulouse Lautrec. It is part of the novel we hope to have published soon titled “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens.”)

Thanks for joining me on this retrospective of our illustration and story posts. I have enjoyed this chance to look back and see what you as readers enjoyed the most!

A Brief Retrospective Look At August 2019

August 2019 Favorites

The beginning of a new year seems to be a good time to look back on the old and look forward to the new, and so some type of retrospective of our illustration and story posts also seems appropriate.

(These are shown above from left to right. Links to the full illustrations and posts follow.)

First “Most Popular” Post August 2019

“Time For Vacation” You can read it in full here if you’d like. (To be 100% totally honest, this is just about my favorite drawing of Pearl ever. It always makes me smile because it shows how much she enjoys life!)

Second “Most Popular” Post August 2019

“Themes And Conflicts And Character Flaws (Oh My!) read it in full here if you’d like. (This is the first post to share an early draft of the first chapter of “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens.” It took me a while to get used to the idea that in a novel, your main character has to suffer in order to change.)

Third “Most Popular” Post August 2019

“More Than We Are Right Now” You can read it in full here if you’d like. (This post explores what makes Gracie so special to me. I have promised her that one day I will write a book just about the two of us and her ballet dancing. My heart hopes that will be many years from now. We still have more stories to write and more dances to dance.)

Thanks for joining me on this retrospective of our illustration and story posts. I have enjoyed this chance to look back and see what you as readers enjoyed the most!

A Brief Retrospective Look At July 2019

July 2019 Favorites

The beginning of a new year seems to be a good time to look back on the old and look forward to the new, and so some type of retrospective of our illustration and story posts also seems appropriate.

(These are shown above from left to right. Links to the full illustrations and posts follow.)

First “Most Popular” Post July 2019

“The Kindness Of Giving Rest” You can read it in full here if you’d like. (This post was already high on my list of “favorites” because of its sweetness, and so I’m glad that it made it to the top spot for its month. Each time I read this, I’m reminded to be grateful to the people who selflessly give rest to others, particularly in these difficult times. Sometimes the gift of rest is the most valuable gift you can give to someone.)

Second “Most Popular” Post July 2019

“The Best Kind Of Love read it in full here if you’d like. (This is one of my favorite posts featuring Pearl. This is one of the few illustrations which tells something not found in the story words. Pearl was trying to show she loved the fireflies by telling them her best jokes which they didn’t understand. The fireflies were trying to show Pearl they loved her by using their own special skill which she didn’t understand. Did you find their message?)

Third “Most Popular” Post July 2019

“Feed The Chickens Card Game” You can read it in full here if you’d like. (This post features the conversation that took place as my chickens and I planned our 1-Year Anniversary gift to our readers.)

Thanks for joining me on this retrospective of our illustration and story posts. I have enjoyed this chance to look back and see what you as readers enjoyed the most!

A Brief Retrospective Look At June 2019

June 2019 Favorites

The beginning of a new year seems to be a good time to look back on the old and look forward to the new, and so some type of retrospective of our illustration and story posts also seems appropriate.

For me, it’s a chance to see what was successful (or not). If something resonates with readers, then I have a better feeling of being on the right track. For new readers, it’s a chance to catch up with some of the most popular posts here. For those of you who have been reading for a while, there may be something you missed or might like to revisit.

After employing a rather complicated mathematical formula along with the very reliable and soon-to-be-patented “Chicken Peck Selector,” these are the most popular posts from June 2019. (These are shown above from left to right. Links to the full illustrations and posts follow.)

First “Most Popular” Post June 2019

“Just Farm Animals (Part 2)” You can read it in full here if you’d like. (This illustration is one of my favorites because of the way it expresses fear from a little chicken’s perspective. In the story, the crows are allegorical characters representing people and things in the world which may influence us to think that we are not good enough and that others have it better than we do. This story is about those times when we feel “if I only had…” or “if I could only do…” Ravens, relatives of American crows, will actually turn out to play a helpful role in this story later on.)

Second “Most Popular” Post May 2019

“Emily’s Summer Drawing Camp (Part 3) read it in full here if you’d like. (This post was another favorite from Summer Drawing Camp series. I like how it shows Emily’s growing self-confidence which is often an outcome for any artistic or creative activity…for chickens or for children.)

Third “Most Popular” Post May 2019

“My Inventive Miss Bessie” You can read it in full here if you’d like. (This post is one of my favorites because of the dialog with Bessie. I love how she takes everything so seriously and, as in this post, so literally when it comes to the word “popsicle.” It just goes to show you…put a chicken in a chef’s hat and apron, and there’s no telling what will happen! While this was one of the shortest story posts ever, I was glad to see it was so popular, and this was likely due to Bessie’s strong and lovable personality.)

Thanks for joining me on this retrospective of our illustration and story posts. I have enjoyed this chance to look back and see what you as readers enjoyed the most!

A Brief Retrospective Look At May 2019

May 2019 Favorites

The beginning of a new year seems to be a good time to look back on the old and look forward to the new, and so some type of retrospective of our illustration and story posts also seems appropriate.

For me, it’s a chance to see what was successful (or not). If something resonates with readers, then I have a better feeling of being on the right track. For new readers, it’s a chance to catch up with some of the most popular posts here. For those of you who have been reading for a while, there may be something you missed or might like to revisit.

After employing a rather complicated mathematical formula along with the very reliable and soon-to-be-patented “Chicken Peck Selector,” these are the most popular posts from May 2019. (These are shown above from left to right. Links to the full illustrations and posts follow.)

First “Most Popular” Post May 2019

“Things Chickens Won’t Tell You” You can read it in full here if you’d like. (This story tells about Pearl’s very real grief after Blanche passed away. Pearl’s heartbreak and Old Chicken language became parts of “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens.”.)

Second “Most Popular” Post May 2019

“Emily’s Summer Drawing Camp (Part 2) read it in full here if you’d like. (This post was a real pleasure to write because it just seemed to develop on its own simply by asking myself, “And then what happened?” It is about what is possible when we truly believe in the power of love. Emily’s special ability to travel where drawing and love take her may end up as an important element when writing what I believe will be my next novel, “Conversations With Amelia.”)

Third “Most Popular” Post May 2019

“A Travel Bag For Amelia” You can read it in full here if you’d like. (This post is one of my favorites as far as conversations between Amelia and myself. She and I often spend time together “trying to figure each other out,” and this post is a good example of that.)

Thanks for joining me on this retrospective of our illustration and story posts. I have enjoyed this chance to look back and see what you as readers enjoyed the most!