It was a cat very similar in appearance to pretty Kitty Puddin’ Jam [aka Jammin’ Jim, One-Eyed Jimmy Jones, Jimmy Jam and plain Jimmy] who played the character Strudel in the short A Hard Candy Christmas. The story is beautifully narrated by Julia Gayden Nelson.
Dolly Pardon’s song Hard Candy Christmas played in the background, fueling my imagination as I pecked out the words to the story.
Strudel was actually a stray feral cat who sought refuge with me through one rare snowy winter. Jimmy insists he could play the part and probably win a prestigious theater award. He would also totally love to hang out with Dolly.
by Janna Hill
I run into the rising sun
For hope & truth & good, I run
Through dampened clover kissed by dew
By weeping willows without a clue
O’er hills of heather and dunes of sand
Through paradise and no-man’s land
By babbling brooks and babbling men
Against the grain, against the wind
Snarled lips hiss, “It can’t be done.”
To them I whisper, “That’s why I run.”
Q: Is any of your fiction true? Do you write about real life?
A: Well yes and no. For example a visit to Rockford Illinois for my granddaughter’s graduation inspired the following scene which takes place somewhere in the historical Lake-Peterson House.
Our dog Leia was the inspiration for the physical description of Gus and that is her on the cover.
There is some truth in the fiction I write. I will leave it up to the reader to decide where that truth lies.
Chapter Twenty Five
Mary paced the empty hallway on the third floor of the ancient house. She counted fifteen steps from one lamp to the next and wondered if the people below could hear her. The dark corridor seemed to grow shorter with each lap along with her patience. She considered unlocking her mind so she could tap into the thoughts of those around her but intuition advised against it. Occasionally she paused to listen at the door; each time she found the words indecipherable and returned to pacing until a gentle creak caused her to stop.
“You may go in now.” A flat voice announced as the heavy door gave way. Sunbeams flooded the hallway and Mary squinted at the figure in front of her; at the starched white cap and unwieldy dress which were as outdated as the house.
“Thank you.” Mary stepped forward and warmly squeezed the woman’s shoulders. Her affections were met with a rigid withdrawal but not before she could catch a glimpse of the nurse’s frontal imaginings. As her eyes adjusted to the light she could better see the nurse’s features; her round face as stiff as her attire looked like a plate cemented between the pinned head covering and cinched collar.
“Thank you.” Mary reiterated with less affection as she slid past the nurse and closed the door behind her.
The floorboards groaned as Mary hobbled across the oversized space toward a single bed in the corner. Jim glanced up, forced a smile and promptly turned his attention back to his wife.
“How are y’all?” Mary anxiously inquired as she cast an eye over the new parents.
“We… we’re all fine.” Clara mumbled, straining to open her eyes.
“Where are the babies?” Mary asked, glancing suspiciously around the bare room.
“One of the nurses took them over to the hospital – said they had to be examined – tests and shots – routine stuff.” Jim explained as if trying to assure himself. “They will bring them back as soon as they’re finished… as soon as they make sure they’re both in good health.” His voice trailed as he tenderly bathed Clara’s pale face.
“That makes sense.” Mary tried to sound convincing but the smell of sweat and panic made it difficult. She lifted Clara’s moist flaccid hand and asked, “How are you sweetie?”
“I can’t…” Clara whispered, gasping between words, “can’t … hear… Frieda.”
“Don’t worry love.” Jim paused briefly to blot his own forehead and neck before sweeping the salty cloth across his wife’s.
“Mama?” Clara’s eyes fluttered.
“Something is wrong!” The vision appeared as red paint flowing over a white canvas and Mary yanked the sheet back. Doc! Mary opened the vault of her subconscious, honed her thoughts on the old doctor and yelled. Doc! Hurry! Her brain was inundated with voices and images as the internal walls fell away; the extrasensory chaos proved to be too much and she collapsed on the floor.
When Mary came to she could see the doctor standing over Clara, pressing and massaging her abdomen. A bottle of clear liquid hung at the head of the bed and a pile of blood stained sheets littered the floor around them.
“She’ll be okay now. We just have to let the medicine do its work and keep the fundus firm.” He spoke in a casual manner. “Fetch me another bag of special blend Gus and be careful not to puncture this one.” The white shepherd sprinted to the door, his claws creating a rapid rhythmic tap against the wooden floor as he ran.
“Do you think he will speak to me?” Jim stood in the same spot, still sponging his wife’s face as he spoke but the scent of panic had lessened.
“Maybe.” The doctor replied suppressing any signs of optimism yet Mary could see the previous conversation between Doc and Gus. She grinned as she raised herself to a standing position. The shepherd would soon have a new home.
“I guess the sight of all that blood got to you. Are you okay now?” Jim asked without taking his eyes off of Clara.
“I guess so.” Mary laughed, rubbing the small lump on her head. “Our girl definitely looks a lot better.” She said, running her fingers across Clara’s rosy complexion. “What happened? Why did she bleed so much?”
“That happens sometimes, especially with twins.” Mary accepted the doctor’s verbal response without debate as he knew she would. The truth of the matter would be kept secret between the two of them for the time being. If Jim learned of the attempted murder he would retaliate and that could put Doc and Gus in a dangerous situation. “Good boy!” the doctor took the pint sized plastic container from the dog’s mouth. “You rub the fundus just like I showed you James.” He said as he quickly inserted a fifty milliliter syringe, filled it with the thick crimson liquid and injected it directly into the intravenous line. He repeated the process nine more times until the bag was empty and the bottle overhead was dry.
“When can I have my babies?” An invigorated Clara sprung up and demanded, “I want Fritz and Frieda right now. If they are not here in five minutes I will go and get them myself.”
“Are you sure you are capable of handling them right now?” Doc asked.
“I am more than capable.” Clara took the salty half-damp cloth, snatched the I.V. from her arm and applied pressure. “I believe I am capable of taking this place down and everyone in my path to get to my children.”
“I believe you.” The old doctor smiled.
“What did you give her?” Jim shook his head and laughed, “An hour ago I was afraid I was losing her – now I’m just afraid of her.”
“You have nothing to fear.” The doctor’s face lit up with a shrewd grin, “As long as you are one of the good guys.”
“I’ll tell my nurse to bring the babies now.”
Within minutes a lovely petit woman entered the room with a bundle in each arm.
“I hear the new mommy is anxious to hold her little ones.”
“Oh yes.” Clara cried, extending her arms.
The nurse carefully placed the infants in their mother’s arms. Frieda was nestled on the right and Fritz on the left. The twins instinctively turned their face to Clara’s breasts and began rooting and grunting. She in turn lifted her blouse and guided each mouth to an engorged nipple, welcoming the throbbing and stinging as they gulped.
“I have never seen anything so beautiful.” Jim’s voiced cracked as he spoke. “I have never felt so blessed.” He glanced at the others around him. Mary sniffled and held her hand to her mouth, the old doctor nodded and smiled and the white shepherd pawed at the tears streaming down his snout.
Another Thanksgiving has arrived and another November nears an end which means another revisiting of A Pilgrims Prayer.
A Pilgrim’s Prayer
Once upon a time a long, a long time ago (before Black Friday) Thanksgiving was a celebration of harvest and a time to give thanks.
The early pilgrims did not have the conveniences we enjoy today, yet somehow they survived.
I didn’t really know any of those pilgrims but I did see a John Wayne movie once.
John knew a pilgrim when he saw one.
He seemed to know a lot of pilgrims but that was a long time ago too.
I propose we are all pilgrims, each one of us on a journey of sorts; our own personal pilgrimage.
We are all looking for something. Be it a quest for self-confirmation, truth, a cure, enrichment, enlightenment, comfort, a friend, a lover, a job, a meal, or a place to lay our weary head at the end of another day.
I believe life is a journey, or at least it should be. It would be terrible to think we were just flailing through this experience, killing time on this giant floating gumball, while waiting for the next Black Friday specials.
I believe we all have one destination, though we travel many different roads and I trust that we have choices.
Hopefully we will choose well. On the occasion we take a wrong turn [and we will] I pray we have enough sense and humility to stop and seek direction, to reassess our route and to be considerate in our voyage.
So here’s wishing all of you pilgrims a Happy Thanksgiving and may we all, whatever road we’re on, take time to look ahead, pause, and meditate on the many things we have to be grateful for, put aside our grievances and give thanks.
My personal prayer:
I pray our good seeds of hope, humility, toil and courage produce abundantly; that love and kindness grow wild like the weeds of early spring – fruitful and undeterred. And your harvest be rich with wisdom and discernment.
Understanding & the Interpretation of Words.
English may be the most recognized language worldwide but it is also probably the most confusing.
Even in English speaking countries we have such a vast collection of dialects (or sub-forms of English) that it is not always easy to interpret what is being said. Add to that the accents, grammar arguments, idioms/colloquialisms and hell (pardon my French) – we don’t understand what we are trying to say half the time.
It is no wonder other cultures complain that English is confusing; there are too many words that have so many variable meanings.
For example: In the tiny world where I grew up a cock was a rooster… a male bird. That’s all it was!
Yo! Yo! Yo! Hold the jokes – you are in mixed company here. Besides, there is a point to this.
For me that WORD still summons the image of a rooster, a gamecock to be specific.
That is until something else is implied by accompanying words or a facial expression.
As writer’s all we have are words!
The reader can’t see your face and they are probably not from your neck of the woods.
While you are writing I want you to consider how your audience interprets your words; your story.
Keep it real and reel them into your scenes in such a way they don’t feel like they are struggling through a foreign film.
After all you are writing for the world to read, right?