Happy Hatchday, Gracie and Bessie!

April 25th is Hatchday for Gracie and Bessie, and we want to celebrate! They are both four years old today. If you are counting the way chickens count, that’s one foot and one toe!

This morning, we launched The Gracie Press Newsletter! The content will be much like what you will find here at MyLifeWithGracie.com but it will be viewable in the safety of an email. That’s good for children and chickens and maybe grown-ups too!

As a special bonus, we will be giving away a copy of our most recent book, A Most Wondrous Place, to three randomly selected subscribers to our newsletter.

Anyone who signs up for our newsletter between April 25th and May 25th will be eligible!

Delivery will be through Amazon to any address that can receive Amazon packages. (This can be your delivery address or the address of someone else who might appreciate this special gift.)

To subscribe, just go to newsletter.GraciePress.com and provide your email address. You will get an email with a “Confirm subscription now” button. Select that, and you’re all set! Gracie and Bessie and all the others in our little flock will be heading for your email box about once a week with our latest news, stories, illustrations, special offers, and free gifts!

We are getting close to the three-year anniversary of “My Life With Gracie,” and we will likely end our posting through WordPress at that time.

I am looking to cut down on expenses (like the WordPress annual fee) and make the sharing process less complicated and outside of social media.

The newsletter will be through Revue. Their composing tools are much easier to use than what is currently available through WordPress, and Revue is free! As an added bonus, when you go to newsletter.GraciePress.com, you can view all “Previous Issues” in a simple one-page layout. Why not check it out now?!?

Emily, Our Living Treasure

Emily with her drawing titled “Amelia And Emily Flying Together”

This week’s post about Emily pairs with last week’s post about Amelia. They tell of the same journey across a speckless blue sky. This is a revision of a post shared almost two years ago. The way I am using “living treasure” in a slightly different from how the Japanese people use it, but I could find no better phrase to describe Emily in this post.

“I want to learn to draw,” Emily repeated more emphatically. She seemed startled at her own boldness. “You will teach me, won’t you?”

“There is nothing I would rather do,” I said.

Just like that, Emily’s Summer Drawing Camp began. We used white chalk from the workbench and some brown grocery bags for practicing with everything spread out across the garage floor. As her skills grew, she began to use small pieces of colorful pastels for her special drawings of flowers. She had always loved the garden plants.

Then one day before our lesson, Emily asked, “Is it true what you said about drawing? Does drawing really let you do things you would never be able to do any other way? You did say that.”

“Yes, that’s true. At least, I believe it’s true. Not everything is true just because you believe it, but there are some things that are true whether you believe them or not.”

She thought this over then went to where we had a stack of colored pastel papers. We saved these only for special drawing, not practice drawings. She tapped a sky-blue piece of paper with her beak and said, “I want to make a drawing of Amelia and me flying together.”

I pulled out the sheet for her. She began drawing carefully from memory without saying a word. Her concentration was intense. Her lines were sure and confident with no sketchiness in them. They began definitively, travelled across the paper definitively, and ended most definitively as well. Everything she had ever learned about drawing was in each line, and each line spoke to my heart just as surely as if it had been made of words for a poem, a poem of love.

Finally she said, “I’m ready.”

This was not what I had expected to hear, not yet. She had only drawn Amelia flying. She had not drawn herself. This was not a drawing of Amelia and Emily flying together.

What if she was too embarrassed to tell me she wasn’t sure how to draw herself because she didn’t know how she looked?

“Do you need anything else? Like maybe a mirror?” I asked.

“No the drawing part is finished. You just need to write the words of the picture for me.”

“What words would you like?”

“Make the words say ‘Amelia And Emily Flying Together’ because that is what this drawing is about.”

And so, I did. Even though it was only a drawing of Amelia flying, I wrote what she asked.

“I’m ready now,” she said. “Let’s prop it up against the workbench like we always do.”

As soon as her drawing was in place for us to look at, she stood beside it, closed her eyes, and then she opened them again. She closed her eyes for a bit longer, and then she opened them again. The third time, she closed her eyes and kept them closed.

Slowly she stretch her wings until they were fully extended. Then she spread her tail feathers.

She trembled with excitement.

Her eyes opened wide, but she wasn’t seeing the garage or me. It was as if all she saw was sky and Amelia beside her with the fields and forests and rivers below them.

She swayed from side to side as if being carried along like a kite by winds high into the sky above. She dipped. She drifted from side to side. She opened her mouth wide as if she was tasting the air in some far off place.

She looked to her right, then she began opening and closing her beak. No sound or words came out, but I knew she was calling to Amelia. She looked down towards the concrete floor of the garage and pointed to something with a wingtip. Then she looked towards her drawing and laughed aloud.

She would stand on one foot and then the other. Occasionally, she would flap her wings for balance while standing on her toe tips. She looked as if she might fall at any moment, but I was hesitant to steady her. My touch might interrupt whatever was happening. To end this magical moment seemed worse than allowing her to take a tumble.

It seemed as if Emily was in two places at the same time, but how could that be? She was in the garage with me, but she was also somewhere else far away and up high.

I am unsure how long I sat there on the garage floor watching her, but I didn’t dare speak or move. Even if had known for sure she was imagining it all, I would not have tried to stop her. She had not been so happy for the longest time. Nor had I.

Suddenly, Emily did several strong, fast wing flaps as if she was landing. She blinked her eyes, tucked her wings close to her sides, and looked at me.

“I was flying with Amelia,” she said. “Just like you said would happen.”

This was not what I had meant when I had told her drawing lets us do things we can never do any other way, but it didn’t matter.

“I know you were, Sweetie. I know. That’s why you said you were ready. That’s why you didn’t draw yourself with chalk like you drew Amelia, isn’t it?”

“It was all so beautiful, and seeing Amelia was the most beautiful part of all.” She hopped into my lap and sat down.

“But it’s good to be back home,” she said as she rested her head against me.

“It’s good to have you back home.”

I was unsure what had happened there in the garage. I only knew it would be best not to tell Emily it was not what normally happened with drawings. What if our two hearts had wanted to be close to Amelia so much we had simply imagined it all?

If only I could discover what had happened with Amelia so many miles away at this same moment in time, then I would know for sure. But I wouldn’t know until Amelia came back and if she ever came back.

You may remember a mention of Amelia being aware of a gift inside Emily but not knowing what it was in “Amelia On The Wild River.” This post explores that gift which comes from love and faith. I hope this was believable enough to carry your imagination along with Emily. Thank you for reading.

Into The Speckless Sky

Amelia’s View As She Soared Over The Cornwall Coast

With “A Most Wondrous Place” finally published, this is another item I’ve been eager to draw and write.

As you may know, chickens can fly, just not particularly well. When Amelia was in her first year, she could fly 6 to 8 feet above the ground and for a distance of about 30 feet. But I have always wanted to give her “a grand adventure flight.” I imagine this as a sequence of full page illustrations from around the world with fast-paced captions.

My hope is that if you can believe, even if only for a moment, that Amelia can fly like this, then you will believe you can accomplish the remarkable as well.

Our morning sky had been speckless, just as speckless as the day Amelia set off on her grand adventure. In truth, she did not feel it was a grand adventure at all. It was simply something she had to do. She had no choice.

While the others played and scratched and pecked, Amelia came and sat at my feet. She had always been more like a person than a chicken.

“Did you see the speckless sky this morning, Amelia?”

“I study the sky each morning. It tells me what to expect for the day.”

“I remember another spring morning with a speckless sky like we had today. It was the morning you flew away to see if you could be lost and not afraid.”

We both looked up and examined the few wispy clouds that had moved in since morning, just as Amelia knew they would.

“Tell me again about the speckless sky, Amelia. I want to feel like I am flying with you. I want to see it the way you did.”

I closed my eyes, and she began the same way she always did.

“The sky was as speckless as an empty sheet of paper. An empty, crystalline, pure blue sheet of paper. But it was still an empty sheet, waiting to be drawn or written upon.

“Only that sheet was endless, and it belonged to me. I could do whatever I wanted with it or nothing at all. And then the lines of the longitudes and latitudes began calling me to see what I could see.”

“But you could not fly the way you had hoped to fly that day, could you?”

“No, not that day. Not until you taught Emily to draw. She did not understand things like how she could see the moon from our garden but someone on the moon could not see the flowers blooming here.

“But she believed what you had told her. She believed drawing lets you do things you could never do any other way. For us, believing is better than understanding, especially when you want to fly.”

“Tell me about flying with your Map Of The World,” I said.

Even though I did not open my eyes to check and see, I knew she had closed her eyes as well. And so, she began to tell me as she had done many times before.

“I soared along the dotted lines and plunged down on the double lines.

“I banked into the solid lines and climbed upward to the dashy lines,

“Then way up high beyond the earth to where there simply were no lines at all.”

She said all this with a rhythm that moved and pressed onward just as she must have.

“And then what, Amelia?”

“I rushed past the global winds and cried out for all the world to hear, ‘This is happiness!’

“Oyster boats and fishing piers, peanut fields and cotton fields, then fields and fields and fields with corn as far as any eyes could see,

“Along the rugged, ragged coast, up to the Arctic tundra bare, to where the snowy owls hunt, traveling on and on and on.

“I felt that love was carrying me to trace the rivers to the sea, to plunge into the fiords deep, to make a mark for all to see there on that sheet of speckless blue.

“Then onward to the islands broad, above their mountains topped with snow, and down below the only speck, an eagle wishing he was me.”

“And what else, Amelia?”

“I may have wing-flapped once or twice, but that was only just to steer.

“And finally at last I found the places that no one else had been.”

“And your Map Of The World?”

“I flew beyond my treasured map, the special map that I had made, beyond its borders, off the page, no longer sure of where I was.

“Beyond the line and markings there, I soared without a single care, and felt at last that I was lost, as simply lost as lost could be.”

“But you weren’t afraid, were you?”

”Fear had no place within my heart,” she said, and I felt our journey gliding back to earth.

”And tell me why, Amelia.”

“It does not matter where or how far away I go, as long as I am loved, I am never truly lost,” she said. “As long as I am loved, I will always know where I am. I will be in your heart and in Emily’s heart, just as we, all of us, are in the heart of Forever.”

We both sat silently until, at last, her memories and my imaginings landed together.

“Thank you, Amelia.”

Almost two years ago, I wrote and illustrated a set of four posts titled “Emily’s Summer Drawing Camp” in which we discover Emily has a remarkable gift. Because she has so much love in her heart for Amelia and because she truly believes “Drawing lets you do things you would never be able to do any other way,” remarkable things happen when Emily draws. More next time!