Ties that Bind

Detroit Working Writers second Saturday morning critique group
Front center clockwise: Angela, Roberta, Iris, Laura, Lauren, Weam, Pam
I met Angela two years ago through Detroit Working Writers. A new member and dynamo, she dove headfirst into DWW’s monthly critique group. This new face in a pint-sized body came to hear what fellow writers had to say about her work.
I then connected Angela Rochon to her memoir titled Fatherless, and suspected I’d met another kindred spirit.
Like my dad, Angela’s father had earned his living barbering. The strong cord of our devotion to preserve our family history bonded us. Above all, I heard the voice of an overcomer—a loving daughter who praises the healing power of reconciliation.
Angela is now polishing her query letter and proposal for Fatherless. She’s prepared to cast her bread onto the rough waters of the traditional publishing industry. I hope and pray some agent and house have heart and smarts enough to say “yes” to her story.
Meanwhile, Angela drives from Algonac to Troy the second Saturday of the month. There, she listens to her fellows’ point of view in regard to what she’s created and how to pitch it.
“I need this,” she’s said. “I’m so very thankful.”
A retired teacher, Angela’s come to know the solitude and discipline of the writing life. She’s learned the necessity of mentorship into new and oftentimes unfriendly territory. Her writing folk show up and support what matters most: tell and sell a beautiful and compelling story.
Angela’s passion to preserve history has expanded into her hometown of Algonac. She and husband Louis are lifers in this charming neighborhood of canals and docks. 
This is where they grew up and raised three children. And this is where they plan to spend the remainder of their days volunteering for the Algonac/Clay Historical Society and Maritime Museum.
It’s remarkable to see what the group’s number of forty-some retirees has accomplished. Larry took my husband and me on a tour of the museum where a 1949 Chris-Craft runabout is displayed. That boat is my age, and in better shape.
“There is great value in the process of writing a memoir, or reminiscing with family and friends. I hope my father’s story is incentive for others to write or call to mind their own family stories before they’re lost.”
So, dear Reader, have you begun to recall and write your family history? Don’t know where to start?
Think Christmas. Family ties, traditions, and turning points. When you no longer believed in Santa, for instance.
Write as if stories depend upon you to give them life, for they do. Don’t fret over grammar and spelling or what your family (or anyone else) will think.
Write down the bones. Muscle, vessels, and flesh will grow as you move the pen on paper or your fingers on the keyboard.
I promise you will be surprised at the memories that swim up to surface and gulp fresh air. The most marvelous gift to offer those you love.
Christmas. God with us. Our Comforter.
Blessed be the ties that bind.      


Best Seat on the Farm

Twelve o'clock around the circle: Blondie, Silver, Goldie, Blackie, Brownie peck their oatmeal
“Hur-ry!” hollered Blondie from her dust bath under the henhouse. “The sun is at the top of the pine cove!”

Lickety-split, Silver, Blackie, Goldie, and Brownie left their pecking and scratching and rushed to Blondie’s side.

The five hens huddled and gazed upward, their beaks apart in awe of the red, sinking sun.

Brownie couldn’t contain her absolute pleasure. “Errrrrr,” she trilled. “Red is my favorite color.”

The sisters sang their humming song, for every hen is fond of red. “All is well on the farm.”

The sun slid behind the pines and set them afire. Clouds the colors of Lee’s heirloom tomatoes streaked the sky.

“What a doozy!” Goldie whispered.

“Magnificent!” Blackie agreed.

Goldie and Silver drink from their pen water dish
“This is the best seat under the house for the day’s grand finale,” Silver said.

“Bock,” agreed Goldie.

“There’s no other place I prefer,” said Blackie.

Brownie pointed a wing westward. “There she goooes!”

The sun vanished and provoked long leg stretches amongst the clutch. Goldie led the way up the ramp and through the chute. They took one last drink of water and flew up to roost.

“Thank you, Blondie,” said Blackie. “We would’ve missed the show without your alert.”

Blondie didn’t answer. Matter of fact, she wasn’t in her usual spot on the top pole. And she faced the wall instead of the window! Clearly, Blondie was not her usual bossy self.

Blackie turned around on the post and caught the gleam of a tear in Blondie’s eye.  “What’s wrong, Blondie? You look saaad.”

Blondie nodded. “Lee pulled up her red geraniums today from her black cauldron in the pine cove.”

The hens heard Blondie’s tear fall onto the straw. With a great deal of toe and wing maneuvering, Brownie, Silver, and Goldie also turned to face the wall. 

“We all miss Lee’s red geraniums, Blondie,” said Silver. “They were beauuutiful this summer, weren’t they?”

“Buuuook,” Blondie said with a sniffle. “And it’s going to be a looong winter. I feel it in my toes.  We’ll be all cooped up for months! No dust baths under the house!”

Just then, they heard Lem’s voice and the house door opened. “Hello Girls! Getting down to thirty degrees tonight, so I’m turning on your heat lamp.”

Lem furrowed his brows when he saw the hens facing the wall. “What’s up? Don’t you girls know you have the best seat on the farm to watch the sunrise?” Lem glanced at their water and grain and closed the door. 

“See what I mean!” Blondie blurted.

Her sisters shrugged their wings in exasperation.

“Please, Blondie,” Blackie said. “Compose yourself and tell us what you mean.”

The hens waited patiently without a scratch here and there.

“Well, remember when Lem and Lee went on vacation?” Blondie asked.

Her sisters nodded.

Blondie took a deep breath. “Remember how nice our critter sitters were, and I said ‘Let’s give Lem and Lee the cooold shoulder when they return?’”

Silver, Blackie, Goldie, and Brownie blushed.

Blondie hung her head. “We were unkind. Lem and Lee thank us for every egg we lay. They bring us oatmeal almost every day. I feel aaawful we turned our backs on them.”

“I feel aaawful, too,” said Brownie.

“So do I,” chimed Silver, Blackie, and Goldie.

The weight of shame lifted from Blondie’s breast.

Next morning, the hens cracked their eyes open to the first sunbeam and jumped down from the roost. They pecked and waited for Lem at the pen door.

“All is well on the farm,” they squawked a happy song as Lem walked down the hill.