Monday, July 21, 2014

Have you ever picked blackberries over in the field?

July 21, 1965
Jocie Brooke here reporting from Holly County. Guess what I did last weekend? Right. Went blackberry picking on Miss Sally's farm. She thought it would be too late to find any, but they must have been waiting for the rain and so had to wait a little longer to get ripe. Miss Sally said she'd teach me how to make a blackberry pie. Aunt Love makes cobblers, but the pie sounds better. Besides, Aunt Love hasn't been doing so good. I need to find out how to make the pie so I can help Aunt Love not forget to put in the sugar or whatever makes the pie taste good. 

Did you ever go blackberry picking? I always get bit by chiggers when I go - even when I dab bleach around my ankles. Phew! Smells horrible but not quite a bad as coal oil. That's what Aunt Love says I should have used. But I guess a blackberry pie is worth getting a few itchy places. I'll paint clear nail polish over them. Zella says that smothers the chiggers. Of course, knowing Zella, she might just be telling me that so that I'll be spotted with nail polish.

I asked Wes to go with me, but he said earth blackberries were too wild. He says the berries up on Jupiter are so tame and so sweet that when they see you coming toward their bush with a bucket, the berries jump off the bush. So all you have to do is try to catch them in the bucket. Earth blackberry picking is a little harder than that. I'm always getting a briar stuck on my shirt. Sometimes in the front and back and then there I am, having to choose which side I want to get scratched. Then there are those snakes that are no problem at all imagining right under your feet. And once Miss Sally says Mr. Harvey spotted a snake slithering along on top of the vines. Now that would be really scary - if I was hunting for berries and saw snake eyes instead. Shiver! But that didn't happen. I just found blackberries and those chiggers. 

Have you ever been berry picking? What was the most exciting thing to ever happen to you while picking berries? I guess getting stuck is the most exciting thing to happen to me - if you can call that exciting.

I'm still writing my book, but I don't think many of you are interested in reading it. :( But for those of you who want to see what happens next to Bailey, I'm putting a couple more pages at the end here. That way whoever wants to read it can and the rest of you can talk about blackberry picking with me. I'll try not to scratch too much while you're here.

BAILEY'S BUG - (Check back the last two blogs for the beginning of the story.)

(Bailey just wanted to woof at Lucinda the cat because she keeps saying his boy, Reid isn't coming back.)

   After a long time he went to the door and plopped down on the rug Mrs. Robinson left there for him to wipe his paws when he came in from the backyard. He shut his eyes, but he didn't go to sleep. Instead he thought about the last time he'd been with Reid.
   There had been something different about his boys. His eyes had been all wet and he'd kept hugging Bailey and whispering into his fur things Bailey couldn't quite hear. Funny how Bailey had forgotten that until now.
   Bailey had licked Reid's face and danced aroudn him on stiff legs. That always made Reid laugh, and it had that day too. But it wasn't exactly his regular laugh. Still, he had through Bailey the red toy.
   When Bailey ran the thing down and had it trapped on the ground, Reidd said, "I you want the old thing, you keep it. You don't have to do any silly old tricks."
   Now Bailey got up and fetched the red thing. His teeth marks were all over it. When he lay back down on the rug with his head on the thing, it hummed under his ear.
   It had sometimes hummed like that when he captured it out in the yard only to look at Reid and know he wanted something more. Bailey would hold the think even tighter to keep it from making an escape until Reid yanked on it. Then Reid would send it flying through the air again. As bailey chase after it, he could hear his boy shouting something, but could never quite figure out what it was Reid said. Bailey knew he didn't do the trick right. Lucinda told him that. She said dogs never do anything right. 
    The hum got louder in his ears until it was vibrating through him everything. For some reason it made the bottom of his feet feel real itchy and his nose wanted to twitch.
    Bailey raised his head to look around Maybe Reid was calling him, but he couldn't hear Reid. But he did hear something. He dind't know exactly where it was coming from, but it was steady in hear ears like the sound of a distant siren.
    He got up and walked around the house to see if the hum was louder in one room or antoher, but it stayed the same. He considered waking Lucinda to see if she heard the hum too, but he didn't. Not only because she might scratch his nose if he woke her, but because this humming sound was his. He didn't want her to spoil it by saying he must have a flea in his ear.
    At the big front window, Bailey pressed his nose to the glass and perked up his ears to better hear the hum. All at once, it was almost as if he could see Reid out in the yard calling him. Bailey couldn't keep from jumping against the window and licking the glass. Reid was out there. He had to be.
   Mrs. Robinson yelled, "Bailey!" She grabbed his collar and jerked him back from the window. "You find more ways to mess things up. Now I'm going to have to wash the window."
   Bailey's eyes drooped, and his tail hid between his legs.
   "I don't know what I'm going to do with you." Mrs. Robinson shook her head at him.
   Bailey slunk back to his rug. Lucinda glared at him from the chair back, then jumped down to go rub Mrs. Robinson's legs.
   Bailey didn't want to upset Mrs. Robinson, but he couldn't remember her rules when Reid was calling him. And Reid was calling. He'd heard him. That's what made the hum inside his head.
   Across the room, Lucinda was glaring at him for making Mrs. Robinson cross. She settled on the window seat for yet another nap. But cross as she tried to act, Bailey knew she loved Reid too. Maybe she'd go with him to find Reid. That would be nice. Bailey laid his head down on his paws. The hum was softer now that he wasn't concentrating on hearing it, but it was still humming. 
   Bailey closed his eyes and went to sleep. In his dreams, he and Lucinda crossed grassy yards and parks until they found Reid. Reid laughed when he saw them, and Bailey jumped up and licked Reid's face.  Reid laughed and laughed. 
    Bailey wanted to hear Reid laugh again. He wanted to lick his boy's face again. If only he could figure out which way to go first.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Bailey's Bug - What Happens Next?

July 14, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Do you like my dog friend? I've been taking lots of pictures of dogs to try to find one that looks like Bailey in the book I'm writing. This one isn't right. The one last week was closer. But it's fun taking pictures of all the dogs I meet and I get to see how different they are too. This guy liked the water. He'd just been swimming in a creek. His name was Coffee W. Crutcher, but his owner called him Dub for short. 

Anyway, back to the story. I'm having fun writing it, but Aunt Love is about to break my pencil. She says I can't be hiding out in my room all the time writing, that I need to do my chores. Sigh. I guess she's right, but I did get some more written. Here it is, starting off where we left off last week. If you missed last week, just go back and read the story part from last time. Remember we have Bailey the dog and Lucinda the cat.

     With a small sigh, Lucinda peered down at Bailey from her window seat as if deciding whether there was any use in her trying to explain it all to him, a mere dog. Lucinda was a cat, and as she often told Bailey, cats were just naturally smarter than dogs. Bailey thought black cats like Lucinda must be smartest of all because he knew Lucinda was smart. Lots smarter than he was.
   She knew everything. She knew when it was going to rain. When their supper was going to be late. When the mailman was at the door. When it was Reid's birthday which meant Bailey might get to sneak some cake and there would be lots of boys to pet him while Lucinda watched with narrowed eyes from the highest bookshelf. 
   So Bailey was always careful to listen to what she had to say and to tiptoe past her when she was asleep and to never, no matter how hungry he was, even sniff at the bit of food she left in the corner of her feeding dish. But now he didn't want her to be right. A funny, growly feeling inside him told him she couldn't be right.
   He swallowed twice and asked again, "Why aren't they coming back?" He voice came out squeaky.
   "Dogs!" Lucind raised her eyes to the ceiling. "They never understand anything." With that she circled around a couple of times before settling on the soft cushion with her tail curled around her.
   Bailey laid down too, his head on his paws. Still the feeling inside him didn't go away. Bailey knew his place in the family. He was just a clumsy white dog with a few gray speckles who never got anything right. He didn't even look right or so Reid's mother used to say. His ears were too little for his head, and in between trims, his fur stuck out in a million directions. Mrs. Alexander was always taking him to get it clipped off. And his tail was too long so that when it wagged, it had a way of knocking something over or banging against the wall.
   Reid didn't care about Bailey's tail or ears. Reid loved him anyway. He was always telling him he was perfect or near enough. Bailey knew Reid was perfect and he knew Reid wouldn't have just gone away forever and left him behind no matter what Lucinda said.
   All at once Bailey jumped up and held onto the window seat edge with his front paws until Lucinda opened one of her eyes. 
   "They've just gone for a trip," Bailey said. "They did that before and then they came back and we went home."
   "Don't talk about that horrible week." Lucinda raised her head and shivered. "Those nasty cages with no sunshine for days. At least they found somewhere nice for us this time."
   "Then you think they'll be back."
   "You don't listen." Lucinda rolled her eyes and put her paw over her ear. "They gave us away. Don't you remember all the boxes? They were moving, and they didn't have boxes for us because we're still here and they're gone."
   "Reid would have told me if he was going to leave me." Bailey lost his grip on the window ledge and fell to the floor with a click of his toenails.
   Lucinda sighed. "They probably promised Reid they'd come back for us. He's not much different than you. He'll believe anything."
   The skin tightened around Bailey's eyes. It was one thing to say bad things about him, quite another to talk about his boy. He was ready to let out a big woof right in Lucinda's ear when she jumped off the window seat up onto the back of the recliner where even his loudest woof wouldn't bother her much.
   Still he had to do somthing, so he woofed anyway. Lucinda barely flinched. "Barking at me isn't going to change anything. You're just going to have get used to the Robinsons. It's not so bad here." She stretched out along the top of the recliner. "Not bad at all."
   Bailey sat back on his haunches and stared up at the cat. A new louder woof gathered just behind his tongue, but it stuck there and wouldn't come the rest of the way out. It didn't matter anyway. Even if he could woof loud enough to knock the chair over and send Lucinda sprawling, that wouldn't make Reid be there.

Whew! That's all I got written between doing chores for Aunt Love and helping Dad at the paper. Come back next week to see what Bailey does next. Will he ever see his boy again? Gee, I guess as the writer, I get to decide that, don't I?
  



 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Have You Ever Written a Book?

 July 7, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill or maybe I should say reporting from Imagination Land.
You have to have imagination to write a book, don't you? Page after page of made up stuff. At least that's what I'm guessing you have to have. 

I can't say for sure since I've never written a book. Oh, I've written a few stories and I've written lots of stuff for the Banner. That's Dad's newspaper. But Dad always has to make sure I'm telling the truth in those, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. 

I want to write something where I don't have to tell the truth. I want to make it all up. Throw wide the doors to my imagination and write. Well, I guess I do have to make sure it's decent. I am a preacher's daughter after all and Aunt Love would kill me if I used words she says nobody should use. I don't even know what those words are and I guess that's just as well. 

So here are my characters. I'm writing about a dog and a cat. The dog is a little loopy and this picture isn't exactly right for him. His fur is scruffier, but he'll have to do. Zeb isn't happy that I'm not letting him star in m book, but if he could read he'd understand why. Even dogs have personalities and Zeb and Bailey are nothing alike. Zeb wouldn't put up with Lucinda one minute. 

Lucinda is the black cat. She's very sure of herself, don't you think? Is that a good name for her? Lucinda? I would ask Aunt Love, but then she named her cat Sugar. That creature is white like sugar, but trust me, Jezebel fits her better. She is the cat from well, you know where. In a weak moment, I did ask Zella about a name for the cat I was going to write into my book, but she said I shouldn't be wasting my time writing a story about a cat and that I'd better be thinking about my future. 

I am thinking about my future. What I'm going to name my cat character. Wes didn't have a cat name for me either. He said I should come up with my own names if I'm writing the story. Besides, he said nobody would be able to pronounce a Jupiter name. I asked him if he had a Jupiter name and he said, oh yes, but he could only speak it aloud if he was on Jupiter. When I asked why, he shuddered and said I wouldn't want to know. Of course, I'm not sure if he was shuddering with fear or because he was laughing. Either way, I don't think I'm going to get to hear his Jupiter name.   

But back to Bailey's Bug. That's what I'm calling my story and it's going to star Bailey the scruffy whitish dog and Lucinda, the haughty black cat. Hope you're not like Zella and thinking that it's silly to write a story about a dog and a cat. 

Here's the first page I've typed:

Chapter 1
    At first when Lucinda said the Alexanders weren't coming back, Bailey would just shake his head and scratch his ear as though a worrisome flea had grabbed his full attention. He didn't want to hear what Lucinda was saying. He wanted Reid to be knocking on the Robinsons' door come to fetch him home. Reid was his boy.
    Still the days passed, naps piled on top of naps, and when he got hungry there was no one but Mrs. Robinson to feed him and when he needed to go find a bush, no one but Mr. Robinson to let him out into the fenced-in yard.
    Inside with the Robinsons was nice enough. When Mr. Robinson came home from work, he always asked Bailey how he was in a jolly, booming voice, and Mrs. Robinson scratched Bailey behind the ears when she fed him. Still neither of them scratched Bailey's neck under his collar the way Reid did. They didn't hide doggie treats in their pockets for Bailey to nose out. They didn't throw the red plastic thing for Bailey to chase down. And even if they had done the same things, it still wouldn't have been the same. Bailey missed Reid.
    One day he was trying to explain this to Lucinda when she lifted her nose high and said, "I like the Robinsons. I'm just as glad the Alexanders aren't coming back."
    Bailey lifted his paw to scratch his ear, but then stopped, his paw in midair. For some reason he couldn't pretend he hadn't heard Lucinda this time. "Why aren't they coming back?" he asked. 

That's it so far, but just wait till next week. I'll have more done then. But meanwhile, what do you think? 


Monday, June 30, 2014

What Stories Have You Read that Make You Want to Write?

June 30, 1965

Jocie Brooke reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky on the last day of June. I hate June to end so soon. That means just one more full month before school starts again. Ugh! But Dad says I shouldn't be looking ahead, but enjoying each day that the Lord gives me. The present is like a gift. You know, present - gift. Anyway, each day is a gift to open. And one of the best things about summer is getting to read!!! I love books, don't you?

Not long ago, I read The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford. I think I told you that a couple of weeks ago. Have you read it? It's a story about two dogs and a cat and it's a movie too. Walt Disney made it into a movie about a year ago. They might have shown it on television on Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, but we're always at church during that time. We might get to watch the show when it snows in the winter and they call off night church, but that's the only time. Of course, it won't be in color. We don't have a color television set. 

Besides, church is more important than television. But I wish that show was on Monday nights. That's okay though. I can read the books. And I loved The Incredible Journey. In fact, I liked it so much that it's made me want to write a story like it. A dog and a cat on an incredible journey. Where could they be going and why? It won't be like the story in the book. It will be my very own story. 

If you were writing a story about a dog and cat, what would you name them? Cat and Zeb? Zeb is a great dog, but I don't think I'm going to let him be in my story. This will have to be a different type of dog than Zeb. And Cat, well if I had Cat in my story, everything would go haywire. That might not be so bad. Things need to go haywire in a story. If nothing happens, nobody would want to read it. But my story cat will have to have a name better than Cat. Yeah, I know Cat has another name. Redspot. But Cat is so independent that he just seems to want to be called Cat. Like he's the only one of his kind in the world. 

He was on Zella's desk when I got to the office last week. She wasn't even chasing him off. She pretended not to know he was there. You know what? I think Zella likes him. But one thing sure, she won't like the cat I write into my story. He's going to be one interesting cat. But wonder what I'll name him.

Did you read The Incredible Journey or see the movie when it came out in 1963? Do you remember the cat's and dogs' names? I loved Bodger and Luath. Then there was Tao. My names will be more like something you'd hear here in Hollyhill. But then those names might be something you'd hear in Canada. The author based the animals on pets she'd had there. 

I love books and stories, don't you? What's one of your favorite stories?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Daisy Weather

June 23, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. It's summer and it's hot! This morning Aunt Love called it daisy weather. Now if you know Aunt Love, that probably surprises you. She isn't the type you would ever bring a bunch of daisies to from the field. If I did, she'd just tell me to make sure I checked for ticks after running around out there in the weeds. But then she up and says it's daisy weather. 

My Mama Mae would have loved me picking daisies for her and Miss Sally goes and puts them right in a vase like I just brought them from the flower shop when I bring her in some from the field. But when I think about it, I wonder if I ever picked any daisies for Aunt Love. Or any flowers. 

Aunt Love and I have a prickly relationship. She puts up with me and I put up with her. We love each other. We have to. We're family, but she's never liked me much. She's always quoting Scripture at me to try to make me act the way she thinks a preacher's daughter should act. She must have half the Bible memorized. For sure, she'd be able to quote that one about how the Lord takes care of the flowers of the field and dresses them in beauty. 

Then there are her rosebushes. Dad says she has a green thumb when it comes to roses. Sometimes she cuts a rose or two to give to somebody at church or when Dad is going to visit the sick. And she puts one on the table in the living room now and again, but she says she likes them best growing on the bush brightening up the outdoors. So could be I'm wrong about her and flowers. Maybe it isn't weird at all for her to say something about daisy weather.    

So what is daisy weather? Hot. That's what. It's ninety degrees in the shade today. Hot! Wading in the creek or dumping a bucket of water on your head kind of day. Wilt the sunflowers in the garden kind of day. Zeb digging a dog hole under the lilac bush kind of day. He's figured out if he wants to keep living around here, he better stay out of Aunt Love's rose beds. Riding with Wes on his motorcycle to keep the wind blowing kind of day. 

Dad says it's too early to be this hot, but summer showed up on the calendar a few days ago. We had the longest day of the year. This day's only a few minutes shorter and the sun's going down. Maybe, just maybe I'll go pick a few daisies. A person ought to have daisies in a vase on the table if it's daisy weather. Aunt Love might even think so.

What do you think makes it daisy weather? 

You can read more about Aunt Love and me in the Heart of Hollyhill books. Scent of Lilacs is still a free download, whatever that means. Something from the future I guess. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Widow's Oil - A Miracle of Faith

June 17, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. I love summer, don't you? No school. Time to read. No school. Wading in the creek. No school. Picking raspberries. No school! 

We did just have Bible school, but that's a fun school time. I love Bible school. Dad followed up the idea of learning about the Bible Sunday in his sermon when he asked everybody to think about their favorite Bible story. I think it's impossible to pick just one. You have to think about all the stories about Jesus - him calming the storm and walking on water and feeding the thousands of hungry people and helping the disciples catch nets full of fish, to name a few. Then there are the disciples with the flames of fire over their heads when the spirit came down on them. We don't do any shouting in our church. Folks at Mt. Pleasant think reverent means quiet, but I bet there was some shouting going on when the disciples had that spirit filled meeting. Then they all went out and started talking in other languages. 

But Dad wanted us to think about some of the Old Testament stories. Still, there are so many. I like Gideon and the best friends story of David and Jonathan. David has story on story that could be favorites. Oh, and there's Daniel and lions' den and his friends in the fiery furnace. So many stories I could write about them all day. 

But I pulled out one that might not be the usual VBS story about the Widow and the jar of oil. You see her husband died and she had two boys and no money. She told Elisha her creditors were going to take her sons in payment of her debt and she was distraught. Elisha asked her what she had. That wasn't much. Just one pot of oil. But Elisha, a man of God, knew that if she had faith the Lord would be faithful to help her. He told her to go out and borrow every jar and pot she could and then to go into her house and close all the shades and blinds and start filling those jars from her little pot of oil. So she did and the oil didn't stop pouring out of that pot until the last jar she'd borrowed was full. Then Elisha told her to sell the oil and pay off the people she owed and live on the rest. 

I don't know why I like that story so much. Maybe because it was God using what she had. Maybe because she only got blessed in the amount of her faith when she went out and borrowed those jars. What if she'd only borrowed one jar? What if she'd thought that was too crazy to try? Or maybe it's because the sons were there in the story helping her too, witnessing that miracle of faith. Maybe because it has a happy ending. If you want to read the story yourself look up 2 Kings 4:1-7.

Dad says the Bible has a happy ending for us because Jesus made it that way. 

What's your favorite Old Testament story?


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The B-I-B-L-E, Yes, That's the Book for Me

June 7, 1965
Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Whew! What a week! This was my first year being a Bible School helper instead of a kid. I helped Mrs. Haskins with the Beginner class. We had twelve kids, ages three to five. Let me tell you. There is a lot of difference between a three year old and a five year old. But they were all cute as anything. 

I did go home on Tuesday after we did that handprint project with paint pretty much everywhere. Aunt Love almost had a stroke. But I had on old clothes and paint washes out of your hair after a while. I made my hand print too. I don't have a mama to give it to, but it was still fun making it. I thought about hanging it on the fridge, but decided I'm too old to hang my Bible School art on the refrigerator. But I think most of our little Beginner kids will be seeing their handprints hung up on their refrigerators or maybe even put in a frame. I put mine in my keepsake box so that someday if I get to be a mama, I can show it to my daughter and we can compare hands.

Back to everything last week. Bible school had some pretty wild moments like the one on Wednesday. We were in the church singing songs at the end of the time. You know, songs the little kids know, like "Jesus Loves Me" and "The B-I-B-L-E" and that one about being in God's Army. The kids love that one where they get to march and pretend to ride in the cavalry and even zoom like an airplane. Anyway, we were over in the pews singing along when Miss Janie lets out a shriek and hits the wrong chord on the piano. A mouse ran out of the piano across her foot and then past Mrs. Hearndon who was up front leading our songs. Mrs. Haskins who hadn't been a bit afraid of being in a room full of preschoolers, let out a screech and climbed up on the pew. All the kids must have decided it was part of the song because they climbed up there with her. Behind our pew, the other kids didn't know what was going on, but then somebody shouted, "Mouse." It wasn't me. Honest. 

A couple more girls decided to scream and test out the strength of the old pews. Three of the bigger boys wanted to show how brave they were and came out of the pews mouse hunting. Thank goodness, the mouse picked that moment to disappear through this little hole at the floorboard. Things calmed down then and Mrs. Haskins climbed down from the pew and straightened her skirts with as much grace as she could muster. Mrs. Hearndon decided it would be a good time to sing "If You're Happy and You know It." I think she hoped that stomping would keep the mouse from making a return visit.

Bible School is fun. I love singing those songs with the kids. What's your favorite Bible School song?