A Travel Bag For Amelia

A Travel Bag For Amelia

This is part of a series I’ve shared from time to time about Amelia and how she wants to be the first chicken to fly to the moon and back. Here is the most recent posting if you are a new reader or just want a refresher before reading today’s story.

“Amelia, I’ve made a bag of sunflower kernels for you, just in case you decide it’s time to travel far away when I’m not here.”

Amelia studied it carefully.

“There’s a sturdy loop of red yarn you can put your head through. It will be easier for you to carry around your neck, and you won’t lose it by accident.”

She looked at me the way she so often does, trying to figure out what it all meant.

So I explained, “This doesn’t mean I want you to go. It just means if you do go, I want you to be able to make your journey safely.”

She nodded to show she understood.

“And Amelia, there is just one more thing I put in there. It’s a little book for you with some drawings I made when I was just in the first grade.”

“What is first grade?” she asked.

“First grade is sort of like when you are just starting to learn what you need to learn in life. It’s like the first time you ever went outside to play on your own and to discover the world.”

I paused.

“Or sort of like what you might be doing now.”

“It sounds important. Don’t you want to keep it for yourself?”

“No. I’d rather you have it. I folded it up small so it won’t get in your way when you are flying. And I think it might help you if you want to come back home, but can’t.”

“Thank you.”

“I just want you to promise me you will read it only if you find that you are lost and want to get back home but can’t. It won’t mean much of anything to you otherwise.

“I know you’re worried about that. I don’t want your worrying to keep you from doing something you need to do.

“It’s not like any of the other stories I tell you and the others because it is to help you find your way home, but only if you want to come home and can’t.”

Amelia looked at the bag with its sturdy red yard and then back at me.

“Yes. I promise. I’m not sure I will be able to read any of the words.”

“It’s okay if you don’t know the words. I wrote it when I didn’t know very many words at all myself. So the pictures will tell the story for you…if you find you need them.”

“Does your story have a name?”

“Not really. But if you think it needs one after you read it, if you need to read it, you can give it one. Then you can tell me what it is.”

“Sometimes, like right now, I don’t understand you.”

“It’s fine when you do. It is fine when you don’t. I love you whether you understand me or not.”

“It’s like you know I will come back to tell you the names of the story…if I leave, I mean.”

“Maybe you aren’t the only one who wants to know if you can travel far away and not be afraid. Maybe I do too.”

Amelia looked surprised, but didn’t say anything.

“Maybe you aren’t the only one who wants to make sure you can get back home if your heart desires but can’t without help.“

“You must love me very much.”

“I do, Amelia. Indeed I do.”

“Would you teach me to read and write words. I might like to write a book about my travels one day. And it would help me read your book better if I ever needed it.”

“Yes, I will. We can get started right away. I have a feeling there is a great deal already in you that is worth writing down.”

I hung her homemade travel bag with its loop of red yarn where she could get to it. All she would need to do would be to fly up and out of the top of the doorway. The loose loop would fit over her head as she flew out and away. It would carry the only gifts I could give her for her journey. There were sunflower kernels for her body and a book for her heart.

And so Amelia began to learn to read and write. I didn’t need to teach her how to draw. She had watched me enough and had a natural talent for making marks, as all chickens do.

She learned a dozen words, the words I thought might be most important for her to know. Then there was no more time.

My Life With Gracie (and especially Amelia) taught me sometimes there is more to a gift than what is seen.

It looks like this may be my next writing project tentatively titled “Conversations With Amelia.” In my mind, it is shaping up to be more like a novel than a collection of stories like “Seasons Of Friendship.” This would mean, I think, fewer illustrations and no “chicken wisdom” at the end of each chapter.

If you’re thinking the small folded-up book in Amelia’s travel bag will be important, you just may be right! And if you are guessing the small folded-up book is based on something I actually made in first grade and still have, you just may be right again!

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

Family Photo Friday!

Last Saturday, I set up what you might call “The Smallest Book Promotion Booth In The World” at out church’s annual Flower Festival. (All royalties from the book until December 31st of this year will go to support the mission of St. John’s Church.)

The little wooden stepladder was the one my chickens used when they first moved into their new coop. The dishcloth with the white chickens was a personal reminder of Blanche. The ceramic cookie jar to hold the bookmarks was one I had picked up at an antique mall as a Christmas gift to myself the first year I had my own chickens.

It was a great day to pass out free bookmarks with a description of “Seasons Of Friendship” as well as a link and QR code to direct anyone interested to the Barnes & Noble website. I also brought along some hard boiled eggs to give away as free samples!

I learned a great deal from this opportunity. In fact, I probably learned more about potential readers than they learned about me! There were also a lot of great questions about chickens and how they make eggs. The questions about the book itself really helped me to better understand what potential readers are looking for when selecting a book for themselves or as a gift.

Bessie’s cupcakes were very popular in the sidewalk Bake Sale Shop. She is working on the recipe to share with you soon!

Please consider leaving a rating or review on the Barnes & Noble page if you’ve read “Seasons Of Friendship” through a free download here or as a purchase there. I’ve heard ratings and reviews are very helpful with getting a book noticed! Thanks!

Visit the “Seasons Of Friendship” eBook page on the Barnes & Noble website.

Hopefully this will soon be available in paperback if all goes well.
A “proof” paperback copy should arrive in my mailbox on Monday!

Omelettes Or Cupcakes?

It was early morning. The ground was spongy from all of the rain the day before. It was perfect for finding earthworms close to the surface and for transplanting green growing things into new garden beds.

“So how did people like our book?” asked Gracie.

This surprised me because I had thought her mind would be focused on hunting for earthworms.

“Everyone who has read it has liked it a tremendous amount.”

“Then why do you look sort of sad?” she asked.

“Because the world needs more goodness in it than I think we will ever be able to give it. Now without Blanche, we are just five chickens and one old man. We can’t lay enough eggs or write enough books for the amount of goodness the world needs.”

Bessie had been listening in and got that serious look of hers. It’s the look she always gets when she has something very important to say. She hopped up onto my shoes. This is also what she does when she has something very important to say.

“So how many eggs in an omelet?” asked Bessie.

“Three.”

“And how many people will eat that omelet?”

“Usually one.”

“That’s a lot of chicken work to make one person happy,” she said. Gracie nodded with serious agreement.

There wasn’t much of anything I could say. Bessie and Gracie were right, but I didn’t understand what they were trying to tell me.

“So how many eggs in cupcakes?” asked Bessie.

“Three,” I said.

Also three,” she said, almost as if she was correcting me. Obviously the “also” was important. “And how many cupcakes will those three eggs make?”

“Twenty-four.”

“That’s a lot better. More people will be happy for the same amount of chicken work.”

“You’re right, Bessie. And your fresh eggs make the best cupcakes.”

“So I guess it’s pretty obvious what you need to do now,” said Gracie.

“Well, no. Not really.” I started to feel like they were tag-team wrestling me into a logical conclusion. I just had no idea what it was. “Maybe you can help me to understand a little better?”

“It’s really simple chicken math,” explained Bessie. “With three eggs, we chickens are going to do the same amount of work whether those eggs get turned in to one omelette for one person or twenty four cupcakes for twenty-four people.”

“It’s more up to the person who gets the eggs as to what they do with them,” added Gracie. “They can make an omelette for just themselves or twenty four cupcakes for themselves and the people they know.”

“So it’s like there are ‘Omelette People’ and ‘Cupcake People’ in the world,” I suggested, still trying to grasp what seemed elementary to them. “But you can’t choose who gets your eggs. You can only choose to make the best eggs possible?”

“Exactly!” they clucked.

“That’s a different way of looking at things.”

“It’s the chicken way of looking at things,” they said together.

“If you are a writer, you make your best writings. If you are a drawer, you make your best drawings. Then you hope what you do will go to someone who will do the most good with it.

“Some people will make omelettes with it for only themselves. Some people will make cupcakes with it for their family and friends. You can only do what you can do. The rest is up to them.”

I tilted my head and looked at them while I thought this over. Then I realized I was doing exactly what they do when they are thinking over things I’ve explained to them. How amusing!

“So you think of your eggs as creative contributions to make the world a better place?”

“Yes. But the rest is up to people and what they do with what we have made for them.”

They stood looking up at me with all of the innocence of two just-hatched chicks and all of the wisdom of two well-aged hens.

“You know, I can’t imagine any two chickens more special than the two of you. Let’s go make some cupcakes…after we hunt for worms!”

My Life With Gracie made me hope more cupcakes than omelettes would come from our creative work.

Visit the “Seasons Of Friendship” eBook page on the Barnes & Noble website.

Hopefully this will soon be available in paperback if all goes well!

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