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Once Upon a Time…

As 2014 drew to a close I sat in the break room at work doing what I usually do on my afternoon break: check my e-mail. I like to think that there is some philanthropic duke somewhere out there just waiting to send me a check for a million dollars “By golly, she’s the one!” So while I hold my breath waiting for that to happen I enter as many competitions that I can afford to in the meantime. One fine day in late December I received an e-mail letting me know that my painting “The Chicken That Saved The Day” was accepted into Incite 3: The Art of Storytelling and I couldn’t help but let out one of my patented high-pitched squeals. I ran around the corner to my boss’s desk and began jumping up and down waving my arms in the air. This was a signal to him to stop whatever he was doing and pay attention to me. Reluctantly he put down his keyboard and leaned back in his chair, “Oh God. What now?” After I jump-yelled-air-punched at him he was able to make out “Chicken…Book…Competition” and gave me a high-five. Now let me describe why this competition was different from any other I had entered…

Once upon a time there was a chicken named Chickey Penny and she lived with 15 other chickens in the backyard of a little house in San Jose. She was an “aracauna” and had brown feathers with willow-green legs. She had ear “tufts” and a beard. She was also the smallest in the flock and the other girls would peck at her. All of Chickey Penny’s feathers on her back and tail were plucked clean except for one which stuck straight up like a little flag. One day a girl and a boy moved into the little house and met the flock. Chickey Penny jumped right up on the fence to say “hello” and it was love at first sight. Every day when the girl got home Chickey Penz would run up to the gate and try to squeeze through the bars to welcome her home. She also knew that there was a brown paper bag inside the house that had the most delightful of snacks so soon Chickers just waltzed into the house to help herself. She quickly learned that the house was a much nicer place to live than in the coop with the other chickens. Instead of being pecked she was petted and got to sit on people’s laps. “I much prefer this flock, this will do quite nicely!”

Eventually the boy and girl moved to San Martin with chickens in tow. Chickey Penny did not ride with the other chickens, she rode to her new home on the girl’s lap while watching the California hills roll by. When the sun would set and bedtime drew near she would walk down the hallway announcing to everyone that it was time to go to sleep “BAAAACK BAK BAK BAK!” She would roost on a towel behind the pillows and wait for the boy and girl to come to bed. As the girl would fall asleep she would stroke Chickey Penny’s feathers and she would stretch her neck across the pillow and purr. Chicks loved the country life and was especially helpful re-dispursing leaf piles throughout the yard. Seasons changed and years passed. Christmases came and went and she even put up with wearing painstakingly made ridiculous holiday outfits. Chickers lived to be 16 years old and was the best friend the boy and girl could have.

One day the girl decided to paint a portrait of her feathered best friend. She wanted this painting to be special, something that really conveyed Chick’s spirit and especially what she meant to her and the boy. She knew even before picking up a brush that this would be her favorite painting. Finally after weeks and weeks, she stepped back from the easel. “She’s done!” The girl knew that she wanted to share this painting with the world. She wanted everybody to know about Chickey Penny so she started entering the painting into book competitions. Years passed and every once in a while Chicks would be in a local art show. She was happy that people were able to get up close and personal with the painting but it wasn’t enough. She kept submitting only to receive, “Dear participant, thank you for your entry but we regret to inform you that…” Until one day in late December with the New Year peeking around the corner…

…”The Chicken That Saved The Day” was accepted into Incite 3: The Art of Storytelling and will be roosting on the world’s bookshelves later this year!

Congratulations Chickey Penny!

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