Taking Care of a Friend

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11 x 14  “The Goose With The Broken Wing”

Tales from Mom (1), The Chicken Feathers

By Trudy A. Martinez

As darkness dissipates the rooster crows, Nellie Mae awakes. She raises her head from an overstuffed pillow, one she personally fills with chicken feathers in her earlier years. Ma said when she is only four, “Nellie, you is old enough to do the chores. Get the basket yonder and come with your mama.”

Tagging after Ma, she watches and learns to gather the eggs for the morning meal. Next to an egg, she discovers her first feather. It is different, not a typical chicken feather, consisting of a hard tube like quill; instead, the quill is underdeveloped and soft; and the feathery portion is white, light, and airy. Holding the feathery fluff up to admire its beauty, its shimmer and shine, it dances out of her hand into the cool morning breeze. Quickly, she seizes the airy fluff from its flight and stuffs it in her pinafore pocket, placing it later in her secret place.

Each day’s journey to the chicken pen produces more. Although her chores involve plucking feathers from the dinner chickens, per-snicker- y as she is, she expresses no interest in them; only the little ones she unveils with the eggs catch her fancy. Perhaps the disinterest in the plucked feathers is why it surprises Ma to learn of her collection.

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(Nellie Mae is the light hair little girl standing next to Pa. Pa is sitting holding her younger brother (at that time). Behind Pa is Grandma Ida. Next are Nellie’s older sister and two other brothers. That is Ma sitting in the chair)

Ma is not snooping in Nellie Mae’s things as you might think; she is cleaning when, knocking over a box, feathers suddenly fly all over the room.

Watching Ma reaching to capture the tiny feathers as they take flight above her head and then float downward like snowflakes on a frosty winter morn is quite a sight. The thrust of her hand, like a burst of wind, sends the tiny feathers scurrying in the opposite direction as she attempts to snatch them from midair.

Catching a few, she vies to put them back; unfortunately, each time she raises the lid as many feathers leave as are put in. Ma, growing weary of the process, leaves the room, snatches an empty flour sack, and yells for Nellie’s help; and they both stuff all the feathers into the flower print sack. A piece of that sack survives in a quilt Nellie later makes.

Grama’s Birthday

Posted on October 7, 2007

by Trudy A. Martinez

Today is not my birthday: that day passed weeks ago but here stands Elijah and Charity, wishing me happy birthday, handing me a present, asking me to open it, gleaming with joy from anticipation.

The package they hand me is a work of art:  personality spills from its hand painting design; each stroke tells a story, filling my heart with joy; each color depicts a mood, an emotion springs from it, leaping at my heartstrings.

There is a cake waiting for us to eat so I need to get along with my story.

“I painted this!”  Elijah exclaims, smiling as he points to his design.  “Charity painted this,” he continues as his words spring to life in the ears of his little sister standing next to him, waiting her turn to speak.

“Open it Grama!” her words ring out, sprinkling the air with the soft tones of her voice.

“Do you know what it is?”  Elijah queries.

“No,” I reply, “Can you tell me?”

“Can’t tell. Can’t tell, Grama, Elijah!”  Charity’s reprimanding voice rings out.

“No-O-O-O-O-O.”  Elijah answers, dragging out the one syllable word, lingering it in the air momentarily before he adds, “You need to open it, Grama”.

My fingers already begin to carefully undue the paper from one of the packages.  The paper is unique as it is homemade; the designs are drawings Elijah and Charity make.  The pictures will make a perfect addition to my refrigerator door that houses and adorns such treasures.

My two-prize possessions hang from a loop chain attached to a magnet on that door:  pacifiers, one blue one and one pink one.  The blue one Elijah gave me a few years back.  The pink one Charity reluctantly gave up on her second birthday.  She was not forced to give it up; she did so willingly, but it is a difficult decision for her to make.  I remember.  She stood at a distance from me, covering her eyes.  She knew it is her birthday; she knew she is going to give up her infancy with the passing of her prize possession to my refrigerator door and thereafter, ‘patsy’ will be my prize possession.  My thoughts are suddenly brought back to the present with the sounds of voices:

“Come on, Grama, hurry up–Open it”, Elijah says.

“Open it,” repeats Charity.

“Here,” Elijah adds, reaching for the other end of the package, ripping the paper off quickly.  Charity in the meantime, picks up the other package and quickly opens it for me.

“Here, Grama, here’s your present.”

“Thanks honey that is a pretty cup.  Why, that is my name on it:  Grama.  It’s a Grama cup.”

  Elijah just finishing the unwrapping of the other present proudly holds it up for me to admire. “Do you know what it is, Grama?”

I look it over.  It looks like a milk carton, but windows are cut out of each side.  There are also two small holes in each side.  In addition, it has been painted all over with paint, different colors of paint.  There is a separate stick that goes with it.  On the top of the structure, a rope like twine is attached to it on both sides.  “Hm mm,” I think, “I wonder what this beautiful creation is?”  Elijah and Charity eagerly wait for a reply.  I was taking too long to guess and they are extremely anxious to tell me.

“It’s a bird feeder, Grama!”  Charity exclaims.

“You put seed in here,” Elijah explains“, and then you put the stick through here,” he continues, “And the birds come and eat the seed”.

“They come and eat the seed.”  Charity echoes, smiling.

“It is beautiful”, I say, “I know just the place to hang it.”  We go to the patio, hang the bird feeder, and then, come back inside to watch and wait, but no birds come.

“They’ll come”, Elijah and Charity assure me.  Nevertheless, the birds did not come and Elijah and Charity went home.

A few days later, Kit, my cat, starts jumping, running, and acting real crazy.  She sits at the patio door, swinging her tail back and forth, faster and faster her tail goes back and forth.  She’s trying to get my attention so I will let her outside.  I open the blinds and see there is a bunch of little visitors in my backyard:  birds perch on the bird feeder on the little stick that sticks out from the side.  Birds are walking on the ground, pecking at the seed their friends up above drop on the ground from the pretty bird feeder Elijah and Charity made for me.

I immediately call Elijah and Charity on the telephone to tell them about the little visitors.  They are not home.  I leave a message.  Here is what I say:

“That beautiful bird feeder you gave me for my birthday is bringing joy. There are lots of birds in my backyard where before there was none.  The birds are eating the seed. I keep filling it up with more and more seed because they are very, very, hungry.  Need to go now–just want you to know–love you.

Oh yeah, Kit likes it too. She likes it so much. She jumps, runs, and acts real crazy.  She wants to go outside with the birds.  She wants to catch them, but they fly away when they see she is coming out.  Love you–Bye.”

No Where to Run

Posted on December 4, 2006

By Trudy A. Martinez

Reassuringly, little voices whisper dramatically, “It’s okay, Kit, we’re not going to hurt you.”

Kit, my flame point white Siamese cat, is asleep when the two young children surround her with the intent of making friends.  Normally, she runs at the sight of them.  Now she is unknowingly in a corner surrounded by them with nowhere to run.

When the words, “It’s Okay — we’re not going to hurt you.” are repeated in unison, Kit’s eyes open.  Obviously, she is not sure what to make of them:  Her ears move from their normal stance, when their hands reach out for her, to a stress slick back position.

They pet her, gently.  Kit’s ears remain down.  “It’s okay,” they reassure her.  Their words did nothing to change her countenance.  She is stiff and looking for a way to run.

Perhaps she recalls the day before, being in the corner and her tail pulled.  The perpetrator of that incident is now gently running her hand from the top of Kit’s head slowly over her thick winter fur to the tip of her tail without tugging.  The question now is:  Is Kit going to relax and take advantage of this freely given affection?

The children continue to assure her they mean well with each movement of their hands over her body.  It is a slow process, a persuasive process, a winning process.  Kit’s ears relax, finally relinquishing their stress.

Smiling the children exclaim, “She likes me!  She’s purring,” They add, “She likes me.” With excitement, “She’s purr-r-ring.”

Armed with Feathers

Posted on June 19, 2006

By Trudy A. Martinez

I came up pillow in hand.  Resounding agitations arouse not only me but also my anger.  With a fury, I hurl the pillow in the direction of the origination of the noise.  Kit knows not to scratch the chair; that cat knows better. The racket her nails make, protruding inward, pulling outward, creates a reverberating, irritating, and displeasing noise. The noise awakes not only me but also a demon who seeks her out.

“It’s only 4:00 A.M…” I scream.  “Leave me alone. I want to sleep.”  And then I exclaim with dramatic emphasis, shaking a finger at her while I speak.  “Don’t you dare touch that chair again with your nails?”

Her body stretches out and moves upward while her nails position themselves in the chair ready to scratch.   When the sound of my angry voice reaches her ears, she stops. She glares at me. She tests my patience.

I stare back.  She releases her nails from the upholstery. She then slowly moves away in defeat.  “Now get out of here!” I exclaim as I hurl another pillow as she exits.

“She’ll be back.” I think. “Maybe, just maybe I can grab a few winks before then.”

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Abandoned and Home Alone

Posted on December 4, 2006

By Trudy A. Martinez

She did it again. She left, leaving me here alone again. Why? I do not understand. I’ve been good. Why does she leave me?  When she leaves, she’s missing for days. She locks me in. I can’t get out. I’m left alone. I can’t leave; I can’t reach the door knob; I can’t open it.  I can only sit. I can only look. I can only watch. I can only watch everyone outside living life to the fullest. But what is someone to do when you’re left alone for days on end.

When I am feeling sorry for myself, like I am right now, I mope. I mope around. I sleep. I sleep some more, more than I should.   I guess you might say I’m depressed.  I get lonely.  I tend to get in mischief when I’m lonely and alone.  I think I do it just to get back at her for leaving me.  After all, turn around is fair play.  Isn’t it?

It’s fun to do things you’re not supposed to.  I am feeling down, a little possessive too. I go upstairs to sit and look out the window at everyone playing on the green grass. Then I look for trouble because I can’t play on the green grass. I roam the room instead. When I get to my favorite chair, I find it occupied. Nope, I’m still alone. But to my surprise I am now alone with her stack of papers.

“That’s my chair!” I exclaim.  I quickly throw all the papers on the floor.  But I didn’t stop there.  I am still upset because she left me.  So, I tear the papers into little bits; I shred them!  I even make sure, if she is able to glue them back together, she will never be able to read them.

I poke all the papers full of holes before I shred and tear them.  The ink runs on some of the pieces because I put them in my mouth and get them wet.

Oh is she going to steam when she sees what I did.  I’ll surely get her attention.  She will yell, “My papers!”

Well, they were her papers and she can have them now.  I had my fun.  I’ll bet she’ll think twice before she puts anything on my chair again. I bet she will think again about leaving me alone. It will serve her right. She deserves torment.

What is that noise? I look out the window. The car is home. That means she is home. I turn. There she stood, frozen in time.

  Are those tears in her eyes? She stood glaring at me; she didn’t even blink.  “Hasn’t she learned by now I can out stare her?” I think.  I think, “She’s getting ready. She’s attacking me. No, wait. It’s the look at me when I talk to you time. Just before she attacks, she does this. That’s okay. This time I will not back down.” I keep telling myself, “I will not back down. I will stare back.”

She reaches for me.

I want to run. I just stare. I freeze. I stare. I am frozen in place. I can’t move. “Oh no! Oh, no!”

She scares me. She is so intense.

She is grabs me. I didn’t yell out; I didn’t fight back.  I wasn’t scared.  I did get my motor running though–you know–I start– “Purr, purr, purr, purring.” That always gets her to smile again.  Then, she starts petting me.

She loves me no matter how mischievous I am or what I’ve been into.  I love her too.  But I hate it when she leaves me here alone.

“Sweet Dreams”

Girl looking at cupcakes
Sweet Dreams  by Sandra Bitter

A few years back when my granddaughter (and roommate) first showed an interest in photography, I loaned her my camera so she could take a class.  At that time, the camera (a Canon) was near top of the line; it had all the “wolf’s and whistles” the average person dreams of and nearly all the attachments.  (Of course, that was before digital cameras took over the photography industry.)  Sandra made a promise, “I’ll be careful with it.  Thank you Grama.”  It was thrilling for her just being able to use it.

The camera was my pride and joy.  I loved taking pictures.  I purchased it with award monies I received from work.  I really could not afford to buy a camera like that.  I only did because I believe award monies should be spent on dreams.  The camera was my dream.  Shortly there after, I took that camera on a dream trip to England for five months with the local college (Cerro Coso Community College (CCCC)).  While I was in England, I snapped hundreds of shots and did the same in Paris and in Venice while on Spring Break.

Sandra put her all into that class.  As a result, photography became her passion and her avenue of expression and release, her Art of choice.  Excitement spills out onto to her canvas, so to speak, as each photo she produces emphasizes her love for the art and her subjects.  She chooses wisely.  When she graduated, I gave her my prize possession, the camera, and all its attachments, along with encouragement to continue with her endeavor, her love of The Art of Photography.  Even though she loved photography and did not forsake her passion for it, she was practical and chose a different major.

Years have gone by.  She works in her major field of study in Washington, DC.  Nevertheless, her passionate dream (photography) lurks in the background, seeking a release.  She now has one of those new fangled digital cameras that do everything.  She put it to work at the grand opening of the Alexandria Cupcake in Virginia.  Covering the event ignited that passion again.

An e-mail came exclaiming, “WHOOOTWOOO! . . .  I got my first photography credit!  Check out the pictures on “the icing on the cupcake” blog!  My favorite is the one of a little girl looking in the window at all the yummy cupcakes.  Sandra did not mention giving it a name.  It does not matter.  I gave it one myself.  I call it “Sweet Dreams”.  Isn’t that what the little girl is doing?  She is dreaming of the sweets just beyond her reach behind the window.

The photo is a work of art.  It is reminiscent of Norman Rockwell’s drawings.  What do you think?