When was the most recent time that the magic and wonder of this special season truly sparkled into reality right in front of you? Such a magical and wondrous moment happened to me this past October when a photographer and I spoke over the phone for the first time to decide that a Christmas collaboration (my book with her superb photo) was being tied with a perfect bow.
During the month of November of both last year and this year, I concentrated on gratitude. Although today is the seventh of December, I must add one more heartfelt thank-you to Chris Kantak for finding on the internet the perfect photo for the cover of my book, The Christmas Carriage and Other Writings of the Holiday Season, and to photographer Cindy Kennedy-Lesky for taking this magnificent photograph.
For more information about Cindy Kennedy-Lesky Photography, please visit: http://www.cindylesky.com
After hunting on the internet and making some phone calls, I was not having any luck in finding a photo to match the title story of my collection—"The Christmas Carriage." I decided to extend my search for the cover photo by asking a friend if he knew a photographer who might have a photo of a horse-drawn carriage in the snow, preferably in Milwaukee. Even though Chris could not think of any person who could be of help, he, a couple of hours later, e-mailed to me the perfect photo—not just of a horse-drawn carriage in a Milwaukee snow, but a carriage drawn by a black horse with a white star blaze on its forehead—precisely as described in my short story "The Christmas Carriage." With this find in my e-mail box, I was quite excited! Also, I was very grateful to Chris for taking the time to find such a photo for my still then "secret" project.
Next, we tried to determine if this perfect photo were in the public domain or if it were copyrighted. Answering this question took more searching and more time. Finally, Chris told me that the picture might be connected with Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward. So, I telephoned the Historic Third Ward and spoke with its executive director Nancy O'Keefe, who luckily thought she knew exactly which photo was the one about which I was inquiring. Thankfully, Ms. O'Keefe said that she would do some checking and later return my call.
Two hours later, the photographer herself called me and was delighted to agree to having her photo on the cover of my little (101-page) holiday book. Our Christmas collaboration—as well as a new friendship—began. During the past several weeks, phone calls and e-mails have kept us connected and have brought forth the realization of some coincidences in our lives.
A couple of days later, when I had stopped at the curb of an intersection with my Leader Dog Willow, Cindy drove through the same intersection and noticed my black Labrador Retriever and me. Soon after, during a phone conversation, Cindy told me that she thought she had seen Willow and me: the photographer said that I was wearing a dark green coat with a pink scarf, and she was right. What a coincidence in October!
Then, a few days before Thanksgiving, when Willow and I were shopping at our local Metro Market, a voice came near me and asked, "Are you Alice Massa?" I thought the voice was familiar and immediately tried to match the voice with a former student of mine. No, not a student! The friendly person who introduced herself and gave me a hug was the photographer Cindy Lesky. How wonderful to meet her even before our arranged day to meet! We both think that we were meant to be brought together on my book project: I like to think of this chance meeting as part of the magic and wonder surrounding my book cover.
After more phone calls, more e-mails, and more discoveries of what we have in common, two shipments of my print copies of The Christmas Carriage and Other Writings of the Holiday Season arrived. More excitement! Even disbelief! "Can this box of books really be mine?" I kept wondering.
A few additional e-mails and a phone call later, Cindy Lesky came to my townhouse today (December 7) so that I could present to her an autographed copy of my book, as well as extra copies for her family and friends. Willow and I were so happy to welcome Cindy at our home and were especially delighted to show her the book cover, copyright page, and Acknowledgements page. What a special and memorable moment for us! Sharing my book with Cindy today was a highlight of my book project.
As you may read on this author's page and in my book, the beautiful cover design of my book is by David Dvorkin.
My heart is still filled with gratitude for all who helped make my book dream come true.
PAW-SCRIPT: Sometimes, I have felt twinges of sadness that Willow is my only Leader Dog who was not at my side during my teaching years at Milwaukee Area Technical College; however, Willow is the only one of my four Leader Dogs to be at my side while I wrote my holiday collection and had my book published. Thanks to Willow, too!
Alice and Leader Dog Willow
POST-SCRIPT: On this December 7, a display advertisement about my book, The Christmas Carriage and Other Writings of the Holiday Season, appeared in The Daily Clintonian (Clinton, Indiana), the newspaper that has long served my hometown area in Indiana.
December 7, 2016, Wednesday