My Life With Gracie…The Scariest Halloween Costume Contest

Scariest Halloween Costume Contest

Before I left for work this morning, my chickens showed me how they looked in their Halloween costumes. The neighborhood songbirds had gotten it right when they told them what to do to make the scariest costumes…for chickens.

Even though my chickens did not understand exactly why their costumes were scary, they simply assumed they were the scariest ever, and that was all that mattered to them. There are certain words which I hope they never learn like “nuggets” and “extra crispy,” if you know what I mean. I want them to remain naive and adorably cute for as long as possible.

They also explained all that we will be doing this evening. They have everything planned out for maximum trick-or-treating time.

As soon as I get home this evening, we will announce the winner of our costume contest. (Be sure to vote below.) Then before it gets too late, we will get set up to go trick-or-treating.

I will bring out my gardening wheelbarrow and add some straw in the bottom along with the big pumpkin we have already carved into a Jack-O-Lantern. This will be so Pearl can come along too hidden inside. Don’t worry. She will still be able to look out through the eyes and nose. Because she is molting, she won’t be comfortable wearing a costume, and there is less chance of her getting carried away inside the pumpkin. Pearl can get very carried away when she becomes excited.

Gracie and Emily will hop in with their “Eat Mor Chikin” costume. With Gracie standing on Emily’s back under the ghost shaped sheet, they should sort of look like they really could be a child dressed up for trick-or-treating. Bessie and Amelia will hop in after them with their “Finger Lickin’ Ghoul” costume.

We will add one very large paper bag labeled “Trick Or Treat” for all to share, and then we will be ready to go wheelbarrowing around the neighborhood.

The chickens have been practicing the things they will be saying in English. They want to make sure they sound like little children, not like chickens pretending to be little children. They think this will be the biggest Halloween “trick” of all.

Gracie has warned everyone to stay with the script. No variations allowed. And Pearl has been strictly forbidden from popping out of the pumpkin to say “Trick Or Treat! Smell My Feet.” (If you know Pearl, you know how very likely this is!)

Here is a list of what they have been practicing very carefully to say.

“TRICK OR TREAT!”

“Just corn, please.”

“We are allergic to chocolate.* Worms if you have them, please.”

“No, ma’am, we aren’t in Jennifer’s class. We are homeschooled.”

If they should come to a house that feels particularly welcoming, they are planning to add, “Extra bugs and spiders, if you would be so kind, please.”

If Pearl gets a little restless, they know to say, “Yes, it is strange that there would be feathers sticking out from inside our pumpkin. Thank you for noticing.”

If anyone appears to be fainting because their costumes are so scary, they will be prepared to say, “Would someone please call 911?”

And of course, “BOO!” and “Thank you!”

As you might imagine, I can hardly wait to get home this evening. It should likely be the most memorable trick-or-treating I have ever experienced.

Please  use this poll to vote for a winner of our “Scariest Halloween Costume Contest.” You can vote more than once.

If you don’t see the poll to vote, try this link https://poll.fm/10446166

And as a huge Halloween “Thank You” for humoring an old man and his chickens, here are some free Halloween cards you can download and print out! (Each PDF has two cards. Just print, cut on the solid line, and fold.)

Antique Brown Halloween Cards

Full Color Halloween Cards

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

*Chocolate really can be fatal to chickens, and some other animals too. Watch out for your children and your pets this time of year!

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!

My Life With Gracie…More Alike Than We Realize

More Alike Than We Realize

My time with my chickens in the cool of the evening after work is something I look forward to each day. No matter how difficult the day has been, everything is quickly forgotten.

Even though Amelia is very independent-minded, lately she has been spending more time with me than usual. She will stand and look up at me and speak to me in a very low almost hushed voice. She tells me her secret thoughts.

I will tell her softly, “Amelia, I have good news for you. You and I are more alike than you realize.”

Then she will turn her back on me and hurry off to another place.

Soon, she will return and share more of her secrets.

Again I will tell her softly, “Amelia, you and I are more alike than you realize.”

Then she will turn her back on me and hurry off to another place again, but she will not wait nearly as long to come back and tell more of her secrets.

We will repeat this routine with each of her times away from me getting shorter and shorter, and then finally she will stay.

“Amelia, you and I are more alike than you realize,” I will tell her.

Her heart takes its own time in accepting this as true. Then I tell her some of my secrets, and she does not doubt any longer.

We can do this for days in a row, almost as if it was a game she has made up. Sometimes it feels as if we are starting all over again at a place of doubt. But it doesn’t matter. Eventually I know she will come and stay with me without hurrying off to another place. This is simply her process for understanding love and belonging.

Having been adopted by me six months into her life has something to do with this. She just needs extra assurance this is her forever home.

“I would not give you up for anything,” I tell her.

“Not even for six bags of sunflower kernels?” she asks.

Amelia can only count to six. That is all of the toes that she has. For her, six is the highest number there is. There is no higher number.

“Not even for six and then six more,” I always tell her as if it is one of my own secrets.

She closes her eyes with a quizzical expression whenever I tell her this. She looks as if she is trying to imagine that many, but she can’t. Then she will always smile because she knows however many it is, it is a great amount.

“You are mine and I am yours for as long as you want it to be that way,” I tell her.

Then she will say to me, “Yes, we are more alike than I realize.”

My Life With Gracie (and especially Amelia) reminded me we are more alike than we realize.

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

Lately I have been working on what I hope will be our next book titled “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens.” It continues to be a good yet challenging project. 

I have readers of all faiths and even no faith at all, and so there has to be a message for everyone.

As I think through this, maybe, just maybe, on that very first Christmas Day so long ago, Love was no longer far off, distant, and unknowable. Maybe, just maybe, Love was right here with us in warm, tender, and fragile human flesh.

Then maybe Love could at last say to people, “We are more alike than you realize.”