My Life With Gracie…Bessie’s Self-Portrait

Bessie's Self-Portrait

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

For some of you, it may be a stretch to believe chickens really can dance ballet. Then you realize dancing is nothing more than making movements to music, and it seems quite possible. Even so, it may be more difficult to believe chickens really can prepare delicious recipes in the kitchen…or draw recipe pictures afterwards.

Remember though, love makes a great number of unbelievable things quite believable.

This is why it was a real treat to watch Bessie and Gracie working together on their recipe drawing. You may remember Bessie wanted her recipes to have drawings anyone, even a child, could follow.

They worked very well together on this project. As an observer of the baking adventure, Gracie was able to divide everything into the “big parts,” and then as a chef, Bessie was able to add the details or the “little parts.”

Even Pearl, who is usually very rambunctious, watched with calm curiosity by Bessie’s side, not wanting “steal the show” as she so often is inclined to do. Yes, love makes a great number of unbelievable things quite believable!

They used the stiff gray cardboard from the back of an old sketch pad of mine and an assortment of leftover stubby pencils. The cardboard held up much better than paper would have, and the shorter pencils where easier to hold in their beaks.

They outlined, sometimes heavy, sometimes light. They made different sizes of specks for shading, sometimes big, sometimes small. (Chickens love specks. Even as little chicks, they will peck at any speck they find.) They did quite well for two chickens who had never drawn before, and they also never asked for an eraser.

My favorite part was the self-portrait Bessie drew. It showed how she used her feet to spread out her first bowl of ingredients into the pan. (Bessie did want me to let everyone know if they don’t have a chicken at home to help with this step, people can probably use their fingers, but it may not be as fun.)

It wasn’t my favorite part because of that though. It was my favorite part of the whole drawing because she drew herself happy, and I was so glad to know that was how she felt.

Often I worry about my chickens and whether they are happy or not. I wonder if they have a good enough life and if they have any regrets. I want them to have a life worth living. It’s just what all of us should have.

It was interesting how she drew her comb like Gracie’s comb with everything pointing upward. You see, that is not the way her comb looks. The back half of it is crooked and flops over from where she defended everyone against a predator. It happened one day when I was away at work. I have written about it before. It was when I learned to never to think of any chickens as “just chickens.”

Her comb never stood upright completely any more afterwards because of the way her head was attacked. Bessie will always be my bravest girl ever, but she has never been quite the same after that day. Though sometimes I do get glimpses of her the way she used to be….like when she was cooking…or drawing herself cooking.

Neither Gracie nor I said anything about the drawing of her comb not being exactly correct. I guess it’s just that way when you love someone.

Bessie let me add a few embellishments to her recipe drawing with crayons and watercolors.

I didn’t think she would because she had been so insistent about how she would be the one to do the recipe drawings. But I guess it’s just that way when someone loves you back.

My Life With Gracie let me see how love makes a great number of unbelievable things quite believable.

I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated! Watch for Bessie’s illustrated recipe later this week and just in time for your own holiday baking adventure!

Bessie's Self-Portrait

My Life With Gracie…Endless Wonder

Endless Wonder

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

It was definitely way past Bessie’s bedtime, but sometimes there are more important things than getting tucked in for the night on schedule. This was one of those times.

Bessie had been shedding feathers everywhere over the previous few days, and that morning as I headed off to work, she was looking and feeling miserable. With so many feathers missing, it was turning out to be an especially tough molting season for her.

So in the evening, I helped her on with her apron and chef’s cap and said, “Come on, Sweetheart. Come, follow me.”

She was hesitant at first, partly because of it being close to bedtime, and partly because chickens like to stick with their bedtime roosting friends in the evening hours.

She had not been inside my house since she was a very young chick, and even then it had only been in the sunroom brooder box at the back of the house. Although there had been a few close calls with baby chicks wanting to do a little too much exploring, none had ever been anywhere else in the house.

As we went into the sunroom, Bessie shared a few dim memories. “Oh, yes. I remember that spot. Lefty flew there the time he got out when you were cleaning the brooder box. You were flapping like a baby chick yourself when he did that!”

She also shared some of her clearer memories which I had almost forgotten. “And there’s where you had the television set that kept us up way past our bedtime…when you didn’t understand why we were peeping in such a loud annoying way during all of your favorite shows! We wanted to go to sleep!” Bessie and I both chuckled.

All of my chickens get chatty like this when they are excited, but Bessie became silent as she stood on the threshold between the sunroom and the kitchen.

I honestly don’t know how to draw that moment when all of her dreams and imaginings were coming true right before her eyes. It was all more beautiful than she could have ever imagined. It was her moment, hers and hers alone.

For me, it was just a kitchen, just the room where I prepare food for myself and my chickens. For Bessie, it was a world filled with endless wonder.

Isn’t it strange how something plain, everyday, and totally ordinary to us can be so special to someone else? But it’s that way more times than we may realize.

Bessie wanted to see and do and know everything all at once. We didn’t stop until we were both yawning much too much.

We ended our tour and first tutorial with some words from Julia Child. “What makes a great chef? Well, training and technique, of course, plus a great love of food, a generous personality, and the ability to invent.”

Bessie asked me with such great concern in her voice, almost afraid to hear the answer but willing to risk it, “Do I have those things?”

“Oh, yes, you do. You definitely do,” I said. “We just need to work a little on the training and technique part since this was your first time visiting a real kitchen. Everyone knows what a generous personality you have and how everything you do is done from your heart. What matters more than anything is your generous heart.”

I heard her whispering breathlessly to the others after getting tucked in for the night, “You just won’t believe it. You just will not believe it all.” For me, the endless wonder I felt came from sharing this delightful evening with Bessie.

My Life With Gracie (and especially Bessie) filled me with endless wonder.

I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated! You may want to skip to the next post about Bessie’s dream of being a master chef.

Endless Wonder

My Life With Gracie…A Season For Hands

A Season For Hands

This illustration is based on a previous “My Life With Gracie” drawing which has a blank neutral background. Each gives a different perspective.

Chickens love to be up high, and it is still a bit of a thrill for me to see one of them fly up to a perch above the others. Everyone has their favorite spot for perching. Bessie’s is my chair!

This love of heights all started when they are actually just chicks. They want to be on top of something, anything really, and look down. They feel safe. They feel accomplished. The entire world is just a hop and a flap away…or so they believe!

Children are like that too, at least at first, believing anything is possible for them.

But there are some cold hard realities in our world. For some, “anything is possible” becomes “something is possible” becomes “nothing is possible.”

Inside each homeless person you see on the street, inside each of us actually, is a child who at one time wanted so much to believe anything was possible for them.

Perhaps what scares us about someone less fortunate is we don’t want to face the possibility we could have been born as them. Maybe that is why we keep our distance, push them away, or don’t help when we could.

Unlike people, chickens don’t have the ability to help each other to do much of anything. Without hands, they can’t nudge or push or lift up each other. They only have wings to flap.

As baby chicks, Bessie was more advanced than Gracie. Bessie wanted to help, but all she was able to do was flap her wings and “peep” encouragement until her hatch-mate reached their new higher perch. She would hop and flap up, hop down. Hop and flap up, hop down. All the time peeping as if to say, “Do this! Just do this!”

If that didn’t work, she would try again later, and again and again if needed, until they were able to sit and admire the view from their higher perch together, side-by-side as friends. Bessie did the best she could without any hands to help Gracie who was much more timid and afraid. This was because of her hatching defects which made thing like this difficult.

Bessie never abandoned Gracie. I do believe she would have given up the wings she loves so much for a pair of hands if she could have used them to help Gracie get up to the highest possible perch alongside her.

Chicken world is not people world. But too often people world is not what people world could be and should be.

We can just stand on the sidelines “flapping and peeping” by offering only thoughts, prayers, and encouraging words…or we can instead use our hands, even if they get a little dirty and calloused, to help lift up someone who struggles to be where we are.

Regardless of our faith traditions, we can make a difference during this season of holidays.

My Life With Gracie made me appreciate being able to use my hands to lift up others.

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

A Season For Hands