Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Their Hands

Their Hands
Annie Louise Twitchell

The dirt crumbles
through her thin pale fingers
staining them
a warm comforting brown
as she covers over the seeds
and lets them lie in sun-soaked
earth to swell and bud.

Sweat rolls down his arms
as he raises the axe high
and swings the shining metal head
down – force, thud – through
the ash log and splits cleanly in two
then quarters
then eighths.

Warm water running in the sink,
she stands to wash the dirt away.
He pins her between cool counter
and his own warm chest and cups
her hands in his, pouring the water
over them and washing clean,
soap suds fragrant and white,
water warm and soothing.

I love gardening. I have a little corner of the yard where nobody ever goes but me, and in this corner, I have a twenty five foot tall apple tree that grew wild and I found and adopted. The apples she gives are large, and very juicy, although when pressed their juice is somewhat weak. The best cider is from the neighbor's apple tree, which has smaller and somewhat drier apples, mixed with the cider from my tree. Then there is a good deal of sweet, slightly tart cider. It's amazing. 

Also with my apple tree, I have lilies of the valley, irises, Jack in the Pulpit, a lovely tangle of wild roses, dandelions, and a few other wild plants. I tried to plant violets there but this particular kind of violet, anyway, seems to thrive best in really poor soil. Because this corner of the yard was never really touched until I got around to it, years and years of leaf mold and rotten apples, along with earth worms and other creatures, have worked their magic and the soil is very rich and moist and dark. So the violets don't grow some well. 

Anyway, I came up with the above poem last week (or maybe it was the week before) on the way home from the dentist. There's some really cool rock formations on the way to Rangeley, and while driving along them on the S-curves, I had an image just pop into my head. Then when I got home I went and threw some glitter around and came up with the poem. Titling it was awkward and I'm still not sure what I think of it, but, I can't come up with anything better at the moment. Probably in six months I'll just randomly yell out sometimes in the middle of dinner and that will be the title. 

Copyright 2016 by Annie Louise Twitchell

Monday, May 23, 2016

Dusting Books

This one time, I overheard my mother telling my older brother as he unloaded the car, "There are books in the cooler."


In the lunch cooler.

I would be surprised if it had been anyone but my mother who said that. My mother can find all kinds of things to collect books in to bring them home. I am somewhat more mild of a bookaholic, although I must say that books seem much more useful to collect than, for example, shoes. Why on earth I would need a closet full of shoes (especially when I could put books in that space instead) is quite beyond me. I have almost a dozen pairs of shoes (excluding flip-flops which don't count) and that is a nice enough range for me - I have hiking boots and high heels, which the boys don't want me to wear because they're afraid I'll fall down, and Mary Janes, and sneakers, and snow boots, and sneakers, and mud boots, and some more sneakers. I need many pairs of sneakers for my many sneaky purposes, you know.

Whenever my brothers find something I've randomly stashed somewhere, I just tell them it's for a top secret mission. That way I don't have to remember why the fifth Anne of Green Gables book is in the fridge next to the cottage cheese.

Some of my own old books...

My mother has a top shelf in the upstairs hall (the upstairs hall, you must understand, is lined floor to ceiling in bookshelves) for her old books. She has some Louisa May Alcott, some Rudyard Kipling, some Henty, a couple ancient math books from my Twitchell relations, and others.

We were never allowed to read them - a bunch of kids under the age of fifteen, and hundred-year-old books. Mkay, not such a great combination. But I loved the smell of old books, and the feel of the thick, worn pages, and the ornate artwork, and the embossed covers...

So cute little ten year old me would go, every month or three, and dust them. I would dust their spines, all lined up in a row on the shelf, and I would take down a few of my favourites and dust them a little more carefully. I would tuck the dust rag in my pocket and open the book open, ever so slowly... I would study the cover page and the copyright date, and just inhale the scent of the old, slightly musty, and very comfortable books. I adored them. (Hint: I still do.)

Some of my mother's old books...

Copyright 2016 by Annie Louise Twitchell

Monday, May 16, 2016

A Sheep's Adventure

This short story I wrote when I was twelve. I submitted it in a Christmas Short Story contest and I won first place, which I was some excited about. The funny thing is, I wrote it before my family got sheep, and then I was reading it over after we'd had the sheep for a year or so - gosh, I'm good. In the story, Alexandria behaves just about like my Peanut Butter, who is staring out of the photograph below. (She wanted to know if I was going to put away my camera and give her some sweet feed.)

The adventures of Alexandra,

As told to Bartholomew the owl.

Hello. My name is Alexandra. My shepherd boy calls me Woolly. Can you imagine? I mean, there are at least six other sheep in the flock that are named Woolly! But anyway, where was I? Ah, yes! I was going to tell you about my adventure. My adventure, you say. What, didn’t you know that sheep can have adventures too? That is what I am going to tell you about.

Well, it was night and my shepherd and his boy were lying on their backs, watching a huge star. They were suddenly, well, I am not sure how to describe it. One moment all was peace and calm and quiet, then the sky exploded with light! 

There was this huge man with wings that were white like a dove’s, but bigger than an eagle’s. 

And the man said, “Fear not, for I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior named Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you, you will find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” Then there was a lot more of these huge people, men and women, all with wings. They were singing “Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace good will toward men.”

Then they, well, disappeared. One moment they were there singing and then they were gone. Just gone! Then all the shepherds from the whole field came up and said, 

“Did you see that?” 

“WHAT were they?”

“Well, do we go to Bethlehem?” This last question came from my shepherd.

“I think we should, if this is the Savior we have waited for so long , as I think likely, seeing that angels of God Most High heralded his birth.” This was an old woman, whom everyone called Grandmother. (She was only my shepherd’s grandmother, but acted as everyone’s).

“But I think that it is strange that he did not come as a warrior.” This was Matthew, the oldest man present.

“Ah, but do you not know what Isaiah said over 6 hundred years ago, ‘A virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and will call his name Immanuel’? ”.

“Yes, Grandmother, but how do we know?”

“Well, I would think that when angels tell you, you might credit it. I will go to Bethlehem. Who will come with me?” 
“I will, Grandmother.” 

“And I!” The shepherds were all in agreement. All except Matthew, that is.

“But what of your flocks? You cannot expect to take them, surely.” 

“Ah, why not? If Messiah is lying in a manger, you can’t expect him to mind a few sheep.” This was Grandmother. 

“A few! A few! Grandmother, do you realize that there are 3 flocks here?”

“Yes Matthew, but I don’t think we should let this chance go by. I don’t think a manger is to be found but in a stable, and most stables will have a yard. We can put the sheep there. But we must hurry if we are going. Matthew, will you come?” 

“Yes, I guess.” 

“Good! No time to lose! We must go now.”

It was not far to Bethlehem, and we made good time on the roads. When we got to Bethlehem, we quickly found the stable. It was not hard to find: a wide beam of light from the star fell across the roof. Inside was dark except for the light of a single candle and a soft glow from the back wall of the stable. A soft voice sang a lullaby, and we heard the gentle sounds of animals bedded down for the night. Grandmother knocked on the door. 
“ I am coming, just a moment.” A big man opened the door. “What? Who are you?” I took this opportunity to introduce myself. I pushed forward and rubbed my head against his knee. 

“Oh! You are shepherds! Come in, if you can, we are a little crowded,” he said, scratching behind my ears. “Are you Jews?” 

“Yes, I am Matthew, of Bethlehem.”

“Joseph, of Nazareth, a carpenter. Whose sheep is this?”

My shepherd come up, “She’s mine, I hope she has not been a bother.”

“ No. What brings you here?”

“We have seen angels, and they told us to go to Bethlehem, where we would find a babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger”, said Grandmother.

“Yes, that would be here. Come in!” said Joseph. We went in, and saw a baby lying in the manger. The voice we had heard was that of his mother, Mary, who stood and lifted him out of the manger. 

She said “This is Immanuel, God with us. When you leave, tell all you meet, ‘ I have seen the Messiah! He was indeed born of a virgin, as God through Isaiah said.’ ” 

“We will, you may be sure of that!” said Grandmother “But you will want rest, and our sheep want tending. We will bid you farewell now!” 

“Goodbye!” said Mary and Joseph. “God be with you!”

Copyright 2016 by Annie Louise Twitchell

Monday, May 9, 2016

Love Lines, Part Three

Hello, tis I, a friendly and sociable Annie!

Hello, tis I, an armed and dangerous Annie!

Hello, tis I, a filthy and ravenously hungry Annie!

This is how I greeted my parents for two solid months, everyday, when they got home from work.

Well, today I've had breakfast, I've gotten cleaned up from doing chores, I'm not feeling particularly wistful or melancholy, and I am currently not wearing a dagger or other weaponry, so I think I'm a friendly and sociable Annie. And that was all completely pointless information that none of you really needed to know, which is pretty much how three quarters of my everyday conversation goes, so...

Quote is from A Promise Rose.

I knew I was falling in love with you when...

Copyright 2016 by Annie Louise Twitchell  

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Importance of Tigers, Camp NaNo April 2016

Hello. This is why I haven't done much blogging in the month of April. I try for a post every week, but I almost didn't get one up last week because of this:

So back in the middle of March, one of my writing friends emailed me and asked if I was going to do Camp NaNo with her again this year. I'd done the July session with her cabin last year and enjoyed it - I really liked being able to set my own word count goals, and my understanding of the November NaNoWriMo session is that you're locked in to the 50,000. (If that's not correct, someone tell me, please.)

I decided that yes, I would do it again this year and do another short story. Enter Nathan. 

Nathan is probably the most difficult character I've written in a while, and mostly because he is so young and helpless. He's a very broken kid but he wants to trust people, he wants to be loved and protected and helped. He wants that so badly... and until he meets Sabrina Anderson and her mixed-up family, he never gets any of it. I found it difficult to write, and I'm not entirely sure where the whole idea came from. 

I'm not going to share much because this is a very, very rough draft, and it needs to just sit for a while and simmer on a back burner in my head. But here is my favorite quote from the story:

"All of my children have taught me something. Abbi first taught me how to be a mother. Theo taught me that sometimes your own worst enemy is yourself. Vivi taught me how to see beauty in broken things. Sonya taught me that being wild is okay. Jason taught me that sometimes being angry is a good thing. And Nathan... Nathan taught me the importance of tigers."

'The Importance of Tigers' - pencil and Sharpie sketch, ALT

Also, I got sick in the middle of the month and didn't touch my stories for a week. I got bored of watching Gilligan's Island one afternoon and decided to draw something instead, and came out with this beastie. I am absurdly pleased with my tiger, especially since I was so stuffy and fuzzy in my head at the time. I like to sit and stare at my tiger. I find it quite mesmerizing and I'm not entirely sure why, just that I'm weird. 

Anyway, I wrote my 12,000 words that I wanted to write for the month, and I am shifting back to editing and revising my Spinner of Secrets, draft seven. I'll probably be talking about that this next month or two, so if you're in conversation with me and I suddenly yell something about Aleya and Kyle, and violently scribble things on a sticky note, please just quietly roll your eyes and wait until I finished scribbling before you continue talking.

Copyright 2016 by Annie Louise Twitchell
Artwork Copyright 2016 by Annie Louise Twitchell