A Birthday Is Like A Hatchday, Well, Sort Of, Almost…

Everyone wanted to know what a birthday is since today is my birthday. “A birthday is like a hatchday, well, sort of, almost…” I said.

“So people do hatch from eggs!” they all said together, partly with amazement at what a big egg I must have come from and partly with satisfaction from finally figuring out the big secret of where people come from.

“Not exactly,” I said, “But that’s kind of close enough. We can discuss it all later, okay? Right now, I have birthday gifts for you.”

“Like what we chickens give to everyone on our hatchday celebrations?”

“Now that is exactly right!”

I was glad to have been able to navigate around the discussion about where people come from. It was tough enough to explain where chickens come from, but I had done the best I could since they never had a Chicken Momma to explain these things to them.

I spread out half of a straw bale into their run for them to enjoy. You may not think of that as much of a gift, but to a chicken, it is a goldmine and treasure hunt all rolled into one wonderful gift. You see, the straw bales from the previous winter have just been sitting in the yard and slowly decomposing. They have also been holding onto moisture. And if there are two things that the tastiest worms and bugs love, it’s decomposing stuff and moisture!

After they had thoroughly examined every bit of straw for delicious treats, Bessie came to me and asked, “So on a birthday, does anyone give you a gift?”

“Usually a birthday cake. It’s like a cupcake only bigger. When I was growing up, my mother and grandmother would always bake my favorite cake for my birthday. It was a strawberry cake with real strawberries in the cake and real strawberries in the icing.”

“I could bake you dozens of strawberry cupcakes or just one really big strawberry cupcake,” she offered. (Bessie loves to bake, and we have shared some of her own recipes here in the past.)

“That would be nice. But it is summer and the kitchen does get really hot when you’re baking in the summertime. Maybe you’d like to learn how to make something else my mother and grandmother made for me called banana pudding.”

The word “banana” caught Gracie’s attention because Gracie does love bananas. They are not an everyday treat because she needs to stay at a good weight for dancing ballet.

The two of them went off into a corner and put their heads together. They were obviously planning something. Whatever they come up with, it will be wonderful. It may be The Biggest Strawberry Cupcake Ever or a Real Meringue-Topped Banana Pudding or something in between. And if what they make doesn’t work out particularly well, there is always ice cream. It is amazing how many baking goofs can be turned into an ice cream topping! And, of course, Pearl may even put on her Let’s Go Bananas Hat and entertain everyone this evening.

All in all, I’m expecting today to be a perfect birthday as I already have five of the most wonderful gifts ever right here with me in my own backyard!

 

 

A Favorite Of My Chickens (And Of Mine Too)

Today’s post is quite different from the usual because it features a video from YouTube rather than a drawing. If you have already read either “The Bottle Cap Lady” or “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens,” then you know this song plays an important part in wrapping up the ending to the story. This version of the song by Lexi Walker is particularly beautiful.

The lyrics of the song are completely in French, which my chickens adore, and that allows the heart to feel what the song is about, especially when one does not understand French. The ears may hear, but the heart feels.

For me, Christmas is something that must be felt with the heart, and this can vary from one person to another as well as from one year to another in the same person’s life. I have tried to write the story not in a way that the ear will hear it, but in a way that the heart will feel it. You might say it is an open-ended story when it comes to what Christmas is all about because it does not include a retelling of the original Christmas story. Hopefully this encourages the question, “What does Christmas mean to me?” or “How would I explain Christmas to chickens?”

Anyway, my chickens have been requesting to watch this video repeatedly, sort of like when I brought out my old record player for them with classical albums from the thrift store. I have a feeling that they have begun working on some ballet choreography to go with this song as a gift to me this Christmas. After all, both books are about giving gifts that can not be wrapped up in paper, and a beautifully choreographed ballet version of this song could not be wrapped up in paper. (Although gift wrap would make a fine backdrop and scenery!)

As you watch, I hope you will close your eyes and imagine a circle of chickens dancing ballet in celebration. They may even be wearing silvery sparkling tutus made from fabric that matches the singer’s dress as well!

If by some chance this does not display in your WordPress reader, you can do a Google search on “Lexi Walker il est ne le divin enfant video” and it should be the first one listed.

Happy 2nd Anniversary, “My Life With Gracie!”

Today, August 1, marks the 2nd Anniversary of “My Life With Gracie,” and so I thought it might be good to do a little reflection. (I have even switched back to our original online theme.) Below is our very first post ever. It started with an illustration. (Because who would want to read a story if it didn’t have an illustration?) It had exactly 121 words. (Because who would want to read much more than than that?) It ended with an illustration. (Because who would want to read all of the way to the end otherwise?)

I was as unsure and uncertain as you see Gracie in the illustration. She was drawn as just one little newly hatched chick in a huge world, and I had no idea we would find friends all over this huge world.

It’s funny how things can change in two years. We have now just published a pair novels (see yesterday’s post), each with 40,000 words, one with illustrations and one without. Imagine that! 40,000 words and not an illustration in sight except for on the cover!

More importantly, we have met so many wonderful readers these past two years who have shared our joys and our sorrows with us. Our readers have shaped “My Life With Gracie” in more ways than I will probably ever know, and so I have a huge amount of gratitude in my heart as a result.

This original post also reminds me of how short life can be for chickens and for people. And I still have a few more books to write before I will feel as if I’ve really said all that needs to be said.

Blanche and Pearl have been at the center of the book pair “The Bottle Cap Lady” and “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens.” I do like the idea of having a pair of books, one illustrated and the other not, and so I am likely to continue the pattern unless I find one version is extremely more popular than the other.

I think the next novel will be about Emily and Amelia and how Amelia was the first chicken ever to fly to the moon and back. (And she was. Emily painted a sign and we posted it in the front yard so everyone would know. Amelia would have never been able to make the trip there and back if it hadn’t been for Emily.)

The third and perhaps final novel will be about Gracie and Bessie and the ballet titled “The Rose Garden Princess.” As I have told Gracie many times, it will be the best book ever and it will be for just the two of us. It is likely to be our last novel because I can’t make up stories. I can’t imagine things that haven’t happened. It’s like now that Blanche has left us, I can’t write an imaginary story that begins “One day Blanche and Pearl…” I just can’t make up stories. So I write what I know and love, but sometimes I do let my imagination get the best of me when filling in the small details.

Although I jokingly write about how the world is clamoring for another great chicken novel, I know we are a very small exceptionality in a huge world. It’s likely most of our huge world is looking for something other than stories about an old man and his backyard chickens, even phenomenally talented chickens who dance ballet and dream the biggest of dreams. But the world is also filled with grace if only you look for it.

An Introduction

People say to be a good writer you should write about what you know and love. For me, that has to be my chickens, and most particularly my Gracie.

She and my other chickens have taught me more about life and about myself than I will ever have time to write. Still I want to put some of it down and share what I can while I still remember most of it.

No story is complete without pictures, and so I will draw those as well. The style is rather simple with a childlike innocence, but hopefully the message will not be.

My Life With Gracie taught me how life itself is filled with grace if you only look for it.

My Life With Gracie...An Introduction