Monday, July 28, 2014

Words in a Jam

 July 28, 1965
Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. You remember those blackberries I talked about picking last week. Well, they're in a jam now. (Ha. Ha.) Wes says I'm getting to be a regular comedian. I tell him that's only because I hang around with him so much. He laughs about that. Says a Jupiterian has to have a sense of humor if he's going to come check out things down here on Earth. He claims he had to take a humor test before he could get on the Jupiter spaceship to make sure he could laugh at the dumbest things. 

I guess he's meaning he runs into a lot of dumb things to laugh about down here. And boy, can he in Hollyhill. But anyway, I love making plays on words. Like those blackberries in a jam! After all, if I'm going to be a writer, I better know all about how to use words for whatever I want to use them for. Dad says that's real important in a newspaper story. That one word left out or in the wrong place can change the whole meaning of a piece in the paper and get us into trouble with readers. Like what if we were writing about a trial verdict and left out not and reported the defendant was found guilty when they were not guilty. Big time mistake. One we can't afford to make.

He says the same thing is true when he's preaching. That he needs to be even more careful with his words. He has to make sure the words he picks are the ones the Lord wants him to say. Words have power. For good. For fun. For entertainment. But they can also hurt. Who was it that said the pen is mightier than the sword? I'll have to look that up sometime. Meanwhile, I'm still trying to learn a new word every day. When I have time.

I didn't have much time last week with the berry picking and the jam making. Dad said I had to stay in the kitchen with Aunt Love to make sure she didn't wander off and forget she had jam on the stove. So I did and she did. Then I was in a JAM. I had to stir the stuff so it wouldn't boil over.
Did you know that stuff spits bubbles at you while it cooks? Hot bubbles. The stove had purple spots and so did my shirt, but I kept stirring until thank goodness, Aunt Love came back and said it was ready to put in the jars. We did have those ready and she let me fill them up. But she screwed on the lids. You should have heard the lids popping when they sealed. 

After she went out on the porch to cool off, I headed up to my room to finish another few pages of Bailey's Bug. Here it is. The whole story is on a link up at the top of this report. Whatever a link is. I think that must be one of those words from the future. Links are just part of a chain or how something connects, aren't they? But sometimes it's better to just not ask about those futuristic things.

Bailey's Bug by Jocie Brooke - Chapter 2

       Lucinda stopped washing her face when Bailey asked her if she wanted to go with him. “Go beyond the fence?” She stared at him, her green eyes wide and dark. “Have you lost what little mind you have?”
            Bailey held his head high. “I’m going to find Reid.”
            Lucinda’s lip stretched in a little smile. Then she began licking her paw again for another swipe across her face. “You can’t even find your bones if they scoot under a chair.”
            “I can find Reid.”
            “You don’t say. I didn’t know you were a bloodhound.” Lucinda sounded bored.
       Bailey held his head to the side and thought about that. “Maybe I am,” he said after a moment. “Mrs. Alexander used to say I must be a mix of a dozen dogs. One of them could have been a bloodhound.”
            “It could have been, but it wasn’t.” Lucinda swatted at him. “You’d best get this nonsense out of your head and learn to like it here.”
            “I am going to find Reid. And that’s that.” When Lucinda gave him that look, he told her about the hum inside his head. “That’s Reid calling me.”
            “Don't be silly. It’s just a bug that’s crawled in your ear.”
      Bailey almost lifted his foot to scratch his ear, but instead he pressed his foot hard against the floor and sat up as tall as he could. “So you won’t go with me?” 
     “I’m not going anywhere.” Lucinda moved to the edge of the window seat to stare down directly into Bailey’s eyes. “And neither are you. Heaven only knows, you’re a worrisome sort even for a dog, but I can’t be letting you go off who knows where. You have no idea what’s out there.”
          “You don't either.” Bailey met her eyes and didn’t back down.
          “But I do. I knew this cat once who told me all about it. Poor old Sanders.”
     “What did he tell you?” Bailey was curious in spite of himself.
          “Lots of things.” Lucinda’s green eyes narrowed on Bailey. “He said cars mashed poor animals like you and there were men who put dogs in cages. Worst of all, he said there are all sorts of cats and dogs out there who care nothing about the rules of civilization. If tough old Sanders had a hard time out beyond the fence, a dog like you wouldn't last an hour.”
            Bailey pulled his tongue all the way into his mouth and shut his jaws together tightly. He thought about the monster cars and strange dogs beyond the fence and a tremble ran through him. But the hum was still there, steady, unchanged by Lucinda’s fearsome words. So he said, “I’m going.”
            “What will you do if it storms? It will, you know. You won’t have any place to get in out of the rain, nowhere to hide from the thunder.”
            The tremble got stronger inside him. He did hate the way thunder banged against his ears. Just the thought of it was enough to make him look around for something to hide under.
    “Just as I thought.” Lucinda sat back. “You’re not going anywhere.”    
        Bailey’s ears drooped, and his tail dragged on the floor as he crept off to the bedroom where the cat couldn't see him. He got down on his belly and crawled under the bed, stirring up bits of dust that tickled his nose.            

That's all so far. Do you like Bailey? I do.

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?