Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tricky Tuesday morning

Are you superstitious? How would you approach an obviously sinister threat, directly outside your door?
Our fluffy, Golden attack-chicken would like to know.

Human visitors are easy.  She will BARK loudly and be THERE.  (Preferably ON THEM.)  But what if the threat is more sinister?  What if you were to look out and see the tall grass swaying in front of the corn fields, only to see a black cat taking her time, poking around the outside of your fence?  Bark!  Right?    Yet one bark caused the cat to turn and look this way.  Looking into the direction of the rising sun, her eyes were glowing.

Golden chicken looked back at me, to be sure she had human back-up, before proceeding half-way out the door, barking and wagging her tail, simultaneously.  She cautiously made it all the way out on the deck,  bark-bark-barking until the cat stopped.  Sat.  Stared.

Golden chicken came back inside.  It's better to protect the home from the inside.  When the cat was ready to move on, gc did go back outside to bark the dog equivalent of "that's right, you'd BETTER go!" until the cat finally sashayed to the next yard.  Our fierce, fluffy protector then felt empowered enough to venture out into the actual yard (ever so slowly) for one last bark ("yeah!") before running back into the house to make sure I was okay.

She's chewing on her security blanket, now.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Jack, the Butterfly

I wish I were smart enough to be able to craft children's books.  Admittedly, it irritates me when my husband says I should write for children. He offers it as a suggestion because children's books are short.  (I am eternally "almost finished" with my current draft.)

I spend much of my day with children.  Every evening, I read to at least one child.  Thus, my husband believes that I KNOW children's literature.  When I have time of my own to write, however, I want to create something that I would want to read.  I wouldn't even know where to get inspiration for picture books.

There were very few "slow" or "boring" days this summer but on one of those rare days, my youngest was bored and had no one to play with.  I found him in the garage, talking to a small caterpillar.  He showed me his new friend, and I asked if he had a name.  He looked at the little green guy and said, "Jack."

I suggested we relocate Jack to the garden as he would starve in the garage.  My son was a little worried he would lose him in the garden but didn't want him to die in the garage so we scooped him up and moved him. My son stood, put his hand over his 5-year-old heart and said, "So long, Jack.  I will keep you in my heart, forever."

He will, too.  Five-year-olds, especially mine, do not forget.  Just in case, though, he did draw Jack's portrait so he would always remember him!  (The creature flying above Jack in this portrait is a bird.  My son began talking to a bird in the grass after he drew Jack's portrait but the bird quickly flew away.  Josh added him to this picture of all the friends he made and lost, all in one afternoon.)

My children, unlike myself, are artistic.  Another reason I do not consider writing children's books is the number of illustrations!  How would I find an illustrator?

All three kids are finally in school full-time, so on the four days that I am not going into the school as volunteer librarian (to read more picture books to more children) I fantasize about using those hours to craft grown-up, full-length sagas.  I keep meaning to get to those drafts right after I throw the kids' clothes into the washing machine, wipe toothpaste from the bathroom counters and empty trash cans that have been decorated with basketballs or zebra stripes.

After taking the dog for a long walk recently, I decided to clean up the backyard.  I paced the yard, thinking about the next chapter I really am trying to work out in a current draft.  While I searched the yard for piles of dog poop and thought about escaped slaves in Florida, one lone, beautiful butterfly kept following me.  By that time, I smelled.  A sweaty human who had played with a dirty, smelly dog and was holding a bag of excrement cannot possibly smell like ANY type of flower this butterfly might be trying to find. He kept flitting in my face, darting back and forth.  He would not get out of my face. I stopped thinking about Civil War battles, thinking instead that the butterfly looked like so many butterflies in so many children's picture books.  He circled my head again until I stopped, smiled and said "Hi, Jack."  He did a little spin in my face and flew away.

(This butterfly was not drawn by my son.  This is a close-up of part of a picture my daughter drew years ago.  It now hangs on a wall in our library/den/office so I have something to look at when I can't think of what to write next.)