Words in a Jam

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, Heart of Hollyhill

 July 28, 1965
Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. You remember those blackberries I talked about picking last week. Well, they’re in a jam now. (Ha. Ha.) Wes says I’m getting to be a regular comedian. I tell him that’s only because I hang around with him so much. He laughs about that. Says a Jupiterian has to have a sense of humor if he’s going to come check out things down here on Earth. He claims he had to take a humor test before he could get on the Jupiter spaceship to make sure he could laugh at the dumbest things. 
I guess he’s meaning he runs into a lot of dumb things to laugh about down here. And boy, can he in Hollyhill. But anyway, I love making plays on words. Like those blackberries in a jam! After all, if I’m going to be a writer, I better know all about how to use words for whatever I want to use them for. Dad says that’s real important in a newspaper story. That one word left out or in the wrong place can change the whole meaning of a piece in the paper and get us into trouble with readers. Like what if we were writing about a trial verdict and left out not and reported the defendant was found guilty when they were not guilty. Big time mistake. One we can’t afford to make.
He says the same thing is true when he’s preaching. That he needs to be even more careful with his words. He has to make sure the words he picks are the ones the Lord wants him to say. Words have power. For good. For fun. For entertainment. But they can also hurt. Who was it that said the pen is mightier than the sword? I’ll have to look that up sometime. Meanwhile, I’m still trying to learn a new word every day. When I have time.
I didn’t have much time last week with the berry picking and the jam making. Dad said I had to stay in the kitchen with Aunt Love to make sure she didn’t wander off and forget she had jam on the stove. So I did and she did. Then I was in a JAM. I had to stir the stuff so it wouldn’t boil over.
Did you know that stuff spits bubbles at you while it cooks? Hot bubbles. The stove had purple spots and so did my shirt, but I kept stirring until thank goodness, Aunt Love came back and said it was ready to put in the jars. We did have those ready and she let me fill them up. But she screwed on the lids. You should have heard the lids popping when they sealed. 
After she went out on the porch to cool off, I headed up to my room to finish another few pages of Bailey’s Bug. Here it is. The whole story is on a link up at the top of this report. Whatever a link is. I think that must be one of those words from the future. Links are just part of a chain or how something connects, aren’t they? But sometimes it’s better to just not ask about those futuristic things.
Bailey’s Bug by Jocie Brooke – Chapter

stopped washing her face when Bailey asked her if she wanted to go with him. “Go
beyond the fence?” She stared at him, her green eyes wide and dark. “Have you
lost what little mind you have?”
            Bailey held his head high. “I’m
going to find Reid.”

            Lucinda’s lip stretched in a little
smile. Then she began licking her paw again for another swipe across her face. “You
can’t even find your bones if they scoot under a chair.”
            “I can find Reid.”

            “You don’t say. I didn’t know you
were a bloodhound.” Lucinda sounded bored.
       Bailey held his head to the side and
thought about that. “Maybe I am,” he said after a moment. “Mrs. Alexander used
to say I must be a mix of a dozen dogs. One of them could have been a bloodhound.”

            “It could have been, but it wasn’t.”
Lucinda swatted at him. “You’d best get this nonsense out of your head and
learn to like it here.”

            “I am going to find Reid. And that’s
that.” When Lucinda gave him that look, he told her about the hum inside his
head. “That’s Reid calling me.”

            “Don’t be silly. It’s just a bug that’s
crawled in your ear.”

      Bailey almost lifted his foot to
scratch his ear, but instead he pressed his foot hard against the floor and sat
up as tall as he could. “So you won’t go with me?” 
     “I’m not going anywhere.” Lucinda
moved to the edge of the window seat to stare down directly into Bailey’s eyes.
“And neither are you. Heaven only knows, you’re a worrisome sort even
for a dog, but I can’t be letting you go off who knows where. You have no idea
what’s out there.”

          “You don’t either.” Bailey met her
eyes and didn’t back down.
          “But I do. I knew this cat once who
told me all about it. Poor old Sanders.”

     “What did he tell you?” Bailey was
curious in spite of himself.

          “Lots of things.” Lucinda’s green
eyes narrowed on Bailey. “He said cars mashed poor animals like you and there
were men who put dogs in cages. Worst of all, he said there are all sorts of
cats and dogs out there who care nothing about the rules of civilization. If
tough old Sanders had a hard time out beyond the fence, a dog like you wouldn’t
last an hour.”
            Bailey pulled his tongue all the way
into his mouth and shut his jaws together tightly. He thought about the monster
cars and strange dogs beyond the fence and a tremble ran through him. But the
hum was still there, steady, unchanged by Lucinda’s fearsome words. So he said,
“I’m going.”
            “What will you do if it storms? It
will, you know. You won’t have any place to get in out of the rain, nowhere to
hide from the thunder.”
            The tremble got stronger inside him.
He did hate the way thunder banged against his ears. Just the thought of it was
enough to make him look around for something to hide under.
    “Just as I thought.” Lucinda sat
back. “You’re not going anywhere.”    
        Bailey’s ears drooped, and his tail
dragged on the floor as he crept off to the bedroom where the cat couldn’t see
him. He got down on his belly and crawled under the bed, stirring up bits of dust
that tickled his nose.            

That’s all so far. Do you like Bailey? I do.