Time For Vacation!

Time For Vacation!

In the last year, we have posted 150 times! And 100 of those have been story posts! (The others have been just general information and special posts like our “Family Photo Friday” and “Gracie’s Summer Reading List.”) That is a lot of posts!

The girls and I will be taking a short vacation for a week or two. It will be their first vacation ever, and they are all particularly excited. We may end up at the beach, but then again, we may just stay home and play in a backyard wading pool! You seriously will not believe how difficult it is to find inflatable beach toys small enough for chickens! Flip flops are easy. Pool toys, not so easy. Then there is the whole issue of swimsuits for the beach! (That backyard plastic pool is looking a lot easier!)

We will be back from time to time, particularly with “Gracie’s Summer Reading List” posts. Poolside reading while dipping our feet and toes in the water sounds like a perfect kind of vacation.

I will also be working on our next book which I hope will be ready by late fall. It’s an expanded version of “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens.” The time away on vacation will give me an opportunity to really work on the story and the illustrations.

You may remember how one of the key characters, The Bottle Cap Lady, has a yard full of Christmas decorations which she has collected over the years. We are talking about a lot of Christmas decorations, and that will be a lot of drawing! I really do enjoy drawing Pearl. She lets me use bright and outrageous colors and props and costumes. While she may often be silly, she truly has a heart of gold.

If you’ve started following “My Life With Gracie” after those posts were shared last December, you can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here. Pearl will still be the main character along with The Bottle Cap Lady, and you can be sure Pearl will still be her own unique self as she has always been.

Those two posts were two of the most read and most liked from all of last year. At the time, several people had told me, “John, you need to turn this into a book.” It wasn’t until Pearl died in the spring of this year, that things began to come together for this book. Because Pearl felt such great heartbreak, I knew that she would be the only one who would be able to reach The Bottle Cap Lady and help others who have had to deal with tragedy and loss.

Not to give to much of the plot away though, but here is a brief summary of this book which I’m hoping will be an inspiration to many people.

“How To Explain Christmas To Chickens”

Pearl loves being a chicken, and she loves being a comedian. Her natural curiosity leads her to explore her neighborhood. When she secretly visits The Bottle Cap Lady, she learns about Christmas in a most unusual and unforgettable way. Pearl discovers there is a Christmas gift that only she can give, but will she?

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

My Life With Gracie…Closer Than Ever

Closer Than Ever

Sometimes I wonder how my chickens view the world and their place in it. The holiday season can feel somewhat surreal to me. All of the normal things can be there, like people and food and smiles and hugs. But sometimes these ordinary things can feel as if they are combined in a strange way you would not normally expect, like in a dream.

For some people, the holiday time can feel as if advertisements are trying to control their lives. There are so many unrealistic (and expensive) images of what is required to have Peace, Joy, and Love. Fortunately, my chickens don’t watch television. As far as I know, they don’t subscribe to any glossy print magazines. (Although I am at work when the mail is delivered, so I wonder…?)

Chickens don’t celebrate holidays, and so they don’t understand “holiday time.” But they do sense something is different. During the holiday season, quiet peace can become precious. People rush around to do busy things, and it can be really confusing. The nights often don’t seem very silent.

My chickens feel it because their routine is broken by my own holiday events, and they don’t understand why. Chickens love their routine and the familiar. So mine find their best friends and perch together for a while and wait for the season to be over and for me to be back again on their routine.

This weekend we will have our time together, and things will begin returning to normal, especially since I have nothing special planned for New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. Some people might call this weekend “quality time,” but I can’t.

You see, chickens not only lack understanding of “holiday time,” they also lack understanding of “quality time.” They only know when they feel loved, and that is most often with a friend by their side.

I’m unsure who created the term “quality time,” but it doesn’t work with chickens, and I’m doubtful it works with most people.

You can plan all you want, but the quality moment you are expecting will seldom happen at your appointed time or in your appointed way. Those moments just happen on their own by simply being and by being together.

Life makes those moments happen, not us.

Life seldom moves at the exciting speed of a thirty-second television advertisement or looks as euphorically perfect as a glossy magazine spread. Life seldom dances merrily along with the ideal choreography we imagine.

But life also seldom looks like a surreal nonsensical dream, at least not when it becomes about letting others know they are loved.

My Life With Gracie taught me the world can be a confusing place without a friend by your side.

I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

Closer Than Ever