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.

clip_image002

(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.

Advertisements

“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?

Let me introduce a character in my life.

The Poppy Master
Lancaster, CA 2010 Poppy Fields

This is Sparky.  I call him the “The Poppy Field Master”.    Sparky is such a beautiful dog. He looks so regal.  His black fur glistens from the refection off the golden poppies. He is quite a character.  He follows me around during the day occasionally stopping me dead in my tracts.  He will not move until I say, “Excuse me”.  I am on a short lease, so to speak.  He is in control; I am not.  All he has to do is step on the leash (the oxygen cord) and I am toast!  Being stubborn does not help, I must speak on his command–or die because when he steps on the cord, the air stops too!  He is too big to pick up and move.  If I try, he just looks up like Eeyore (Poo’s donkey friend) as if to say with his expression, “Do I have to?”  It is so much easier to just relent and say, “Excuse Me!”  He moves and only then.  You just got to love him.

I dreamt of vine ripe tomatoes, so I planted a pot garden this year.

A Tomato Plant
The Pot Garden

I love tomatoes and so does Sparky.  Perhaps, Sparky loves them a little too much.  As soon as the tomatoes start to turn red, it is a fight to get them before he does.  It is my fault he loves them so much.  I give them to him in exchange for tricks, a trick for treat.   On taller vines, I thought, “I will succeed.”  That was until a big black crow dove down and plucked a tomato from the vine.  Sparky let him do it! Dogs are watch dogs.  Right?  Sparky is literally a watch dog.  He watched.  He didn’t even bark!  Each of us has our fears.  I think Sparky fears those crows, because he goes the other way when they coame near.