Little Bonnie Lass – Celebration of a Life

BonniejpgThough we know the end of her life is near, we share our love with her every single day. She has good days and bad days, but she is always the little trooper with an attitude who came to live with us fourteen years ago when she was just two years old.

Her hearing is gone, but she has adapted well to hand signals. She is my constant companion throughout each day. And, in the evening when my husband is at home, she is his devoted sidekick. She shares her affection equally between us, though secretly she loves him just a little bit better than she does me. But that’s okay, because she is who she is and came to us with attachments already formed with her former owners, an elderly couple who loved her, but couldn’t keep her.

Norm and Millie…I remember the day we met them and the little tyrant who would become part of our family.

“I named her Bonnie Lass…you know, like My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean,” Norm said. He was smiling from ear-to-ear, while the little pooch barked wildly and circled the room as fast as she could.

“Our neighbors won’t even talk to us anymore, because of all the barking.” Millie, his wife was not laughing.

“She’s a good girl,” Norm insisted. “But this cancer is getting the best of me and we have to find a good home for her.”

“We’ll give her a good home.” I said, against my better judgment…but she was so darned cute…the tiniest sable and white sheltie I’d ever seen. I couldn’t seem to stop myself, even though it was clear the little kid was going to be a handful.

“Does she sleep in a crate?” I asked.

“Oh. sure…sure…” Norm answered. And though I wanted to believe him, I was pretty sure he was fibbing. Yet, I couldn’t bring myself to question him further.

I probably should have. The first night home, as expected, little Bonnie Lass whined in her crate. Everything was new to her, so we forgave her.

But, after two weeks with no change and the other two shelties were walking around the house with long faces and droopy eyes, I began to think I’d made a huge mistake. I was exhausted. And when my easy-going husband, began to sound like a man on the brink of exasperation, I knew what I had to do.

I called my friend Carol who’d just lost her fourteen-year-old dog and told her my dilemma…did she want Bonnie? No. But she had a friend, Mary, who already had a sheltie and might be interested.

So Mary, bless her sheltie-loving heart, came to our home, took one look, and smiled. Bonnie was on her way to her new home in minutes.

“What a relief!” Jim said, and I knew I’d done the right thing.

But two days later I called Mary to see how she and Bonnie were getting along.

“She’s a doll!” Mary said.

“What about nighttimes?” I asked.

“Oh, she sleeps like a log.”

“In a crate?”

“Oh no, on my bed…I think that’s what she’s been used to.”

Two more days went by and I just had to call again.

“How’s she doing?” I asked.

“Just great!” Mary said. “She’s a wonderful dog!”

Yes, I knew she was. But now she was gone. Jim and I were watching some silly episode of Dr. Phil when the tears started creeping out of my eyes. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stop them.

“You’re not crying about this show, are you?” Jim asked.

“No, of course not!” I couldn’t talk about it right then.

But next day, I called Mary again.

“How’s she doing?”

“Coralie,” Mary said, “I think we both know what needs to happen here.

“I’m so sorry, Mary.” I felt like a traitor.

“It’s okay. I totally understand. I’ll bring her by tomorrow.”

Mary walked in, unhooked Bonnie’s leash, and she was off and running…right across the living room and into Jim’s lap. Mary just laughed. “I guess we know who she really belongs to, don’t we?”

I didn’t care who Bonnie thought she belonged to! She was mine and she was home!

It didn’t take her long at all to train us. No crate; no problem. Simple as that.

We’re going to miss her terribly, when the time comes, but for now, she just keeps on barking and circling and keeping our home in a joyful state of laughter and love.

The Red Dress Diaries Is Here!

RDD Book Cover Front

* The new book is now available for purchase! Go to http://wildwoodpress.org/order-books/ above to buy using Paypal.
… or
* To pay using a check or money order, please contact Coralie Johnson through email: cjohnson@umich.edu.

RDD Book Cover Back

A Revelation and Enlightening Journey

Sacrificial Offerings back cover            Sacrificial Offerings was a revelation, and an enlightening journey through history featuring strong, independent, and faith driven women. For example there is Bridget Bishop, betrayed by her husband, she is hanged for witchcraft in 1692, Gladys Aylward, who interceded on behalf of the Chinese women and the archaic practice of binding the feet of female children in the 1930 s, or Kateri Tekakwitha who entered a convent to become a nun but even then was not fully allowed to participate in the sisterhood of God because of her Mohawk background. These women defied their families, their faith, even the threat of death to do what they believed was right.
            Ms. Johnson introduces these women by giving us their essence in a play of monologues representing these strong characters; she also delves into the different religions and the place of women in each. From the Spiritual Heritage of the Lakota’s to Witchcraft, Santeria, and early Christianity, she discusses the pure beliefs of its followers. And with all religion, it is in the truest form where the beauty exists not the corrupt interpretations of nonbelievers.
            I enjoyed the journey that Ms. Johnson took me on, and especially learning of the faith of the women she highlighted. Her discussion on the stigma of original sin and its use to discredit women through history will put you in the discussion. What do you feel about a woman’s subservience to man? Is second place in society all a woman can hope for? Is it truly engrained in history, religion, and society?
             Ms. Johnson will have you considering all these questions but the one thing that will make the biggest impact is the strength and perseverance of these women to overcome, transcend, and achieve. And I promise, this book will give pause, but truly inspire any reader, male, and female alike.
             I highly recommend Sacrificial Offerings, and so will you.
By Yolanda Renee, Author & Reviewer
Author Photo Official MD

A Dramatic Gathering of Women

Coralie Cederna Johnson’s Sacrificial Offerings is an honest and inspirational glimpse into one woman’s search for meaning.  Cederna Johnson invites the reader on her personal journey, bringing to life various women throughout history who sought leadership in their religion or simply to practice their religious or spiritual beliefs.  She provides these female figures voice, absent as they are from the pages of most history books.  It is through this dramatic gathering of women, primarily of the Christian tradition, that Cederna Johnson ignites a feminist questioning of the patriarchal religious tradition that has relegated women to the private sphere and left them entirely out of preaching, teaching, and interpretation of religious tenets.

After revealing tales of female religious iconoclasts, pioneers, and martyrs through vignette in the play “Sacrificial Offerings,” in the second half of the book, Cederna Johnson then shares reflections on various religious traditions, revealing her personal questions in the areas of religious faith, spirituality, and spaces for women within both.  She asks ontological and ethical questions and examines the nature of religious authority and the conception of the divine.

The book ends with the heart-breaking story, “Healing the Heart,” which, although inspired by a personal tragedy, Cederna Johnson ends the tale and her text with hope: that which can be found through spiritual faith.

Dr. Jennifer L. Martin, The University of Mount Union

Jennifer

 

New Book: SACRIFICIAL OFFERINGS!

 

Sacrificial Offerings Front cover

Sacrificial Offerings tells the riveting stories of twenty-four remarkable women in history. As their monologues come to life through staged performances or silent reading, we learn how they changed the world through religious leadership, acts of courage, and martyrdom. We witness their boundless capacity for love, faith, and hope. And we encounter the profound strength and amazing spirit of women through time.

Visionaries who heard a higher calling and answered by pioneering pathways for other women to follow and choose religious freedom.

Victims who were unfairly charged with crimes such as witchcraft or persecuted for holding tenaciously to their strong religious beliefs.

Victors who defied physical danger, challenged patriarchal boundaries, and dedicated their lives to their powerful beliefs in personal missions.

Sacrificial Offerings back cover

 

The RED DRESS DIARIES Cast & Director!

The Red Dress Diaries Cast & Director!

The cast gathered on March 16, 2013 for the first performance of my new play THE RED DRESS DIARIES. Here they are warming up, under the direction of Carrie Jay Sayer.

Ojibwa Indian Burial Grounds in the Upper Peninsula

Ojibwa Burial Grounds in Upper Peninsula

A few days ago I received a postcard from my dear friend Jeanne whom I’ve known since Kindergarten. We shared the same homerooms throughout our years in grade and high school in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, attended the same church and were active Thespians throughout high school. We attended each others birthday parties when we were kids and corresponded through the years as adults.

The post card I received said to watch for a surprise in the mail and have a camera on hand to take photos. So that is what I did. And what a wonderful & exciting surprise it was to discover a beautiful original oil painting of the Pentoga Park Ojibwa Burial Grounds (located a few miles from where we grew up) by my friend Jeanne. Her note said, “There is only one place this could go…It isn’t the exact shot as the picture in your book A Tree Grows in Trout Creek but it’s the same spot.”

I was deeply touched and thrilled to be the recipient of this memorable oil painting by Jeanne. It’s lovely to see every day this wonderful tribute to the area in which we came of age. But more important, it is the friendship of the many years our lives have been entwined that I cherish.

 

You can find more cultural information about Ojibwa/Chippewa Indians in my books: The Wishing Years and A Tree Grows in Trout Creek, both are collections of stories of growing up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Wishing in the Wilds

Everyone has their wishing years—years filled with the wonders of growing up, the trials and tribulations of being a kid in a grown-up’s world, and the unquestionable certainty that coming of age is only a distant dream that will probably never ever really come true.

Mine were spent in Michigan’s wild, rugged, and somewhat isolated Upper Peninsula, in a small iron mining community called Dober Location just down the hill from the rusty shafts of the Hiawatha Mine where Dad worked.

Our area’s claim to fame—besides iron ore produc­tion—was the hundreds of clear blue lakes and streams team­ing with trout, bass, and bluegills; the pine forests thick with deer, bear, and partridge; and the remains of abandoned Ojibway villages and burial grounds where it was rumored Indian spirits still stomped around in the woods. But, believe me, while this wonderful world of wildlife was a Paul Bunyan paradise for the male portion of the population, a girl could easily feel lost in the maze of woods, water, and world his­tory.

Spread-eagled in a patch of sweet purple clover sur­rounding our potato field near a steep gravel pit, I would stare, for hours, upward into space. Wishing. The sky was the limit. I could go anywhere, do anything, be anyone I wanted. I wished I were a gorgeous, silver screen, movie queen like Lana Turner. I wished I could assume a new identity and call myself by my dreamy, made-up name, Lynette Swan. I wished I knew how to drive. I wished I were old enough to get a job scooping ice cream at Lenny’s Soda Bar or taking tickets at the Perfect Theater in Stambaugh. I wished I were a bird and could fly away.

Rolling over with the stealth of a spy, I would flatten myself like a snake, slither silently to the sunburned grass on the edge of the pit and watch bug-eyed grasshoppers flex their lanky green legs, then jump and spit. I wished I could live with such abandon. I wished I could take off and go rabbit hunting like Dad and my brother John whenever I felt the urge and not have to be faced with a future of fussy female things like ironing ruffled blouses, shaving legs, and plucking eyebrows into perfectly shaped arches.

Yet, prowling the aisles of Newberry’s Five and Dime in Iron River with Mom, I hunted not for rabbits but for any hint of glamour that would take me away from the pines, the birchbark, and the fungi of the northwoods. Standing in fas­cination over the midnight blue, imitation velvet display of fake sapphires and diamonds, I became a woman of the world, a Bohemian artist, a concert pianist on world tour, not just a wide-eyed, curly-haired, broomstick-skirted girl born to the Great Lakes’ wilderness.

Wherever I was, I longed for adventure. I wished Mom and Dad would loosen up the apron strings. Sometimes, I wished I lived in Chicago with my grown up sister Corinne. Other times, I wished I could just be one of the guys and hang out with my brother John and his pals in their secret club­house hidden somewhere down by the iron ore piles, near Old Nick’s, the hermit’s, shack.

I didn’t exactly want my Guardian Angel to take a hike, but I wanted to experience danger, mystery, chance. I wished that, by some miracle, life in Dober Location, in Iron County, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan—practically the middle of nowhere—could somehow be exciting, daring, memorable. And, as it turned out, it was. Sometimes we laughed. Sometimes we cried . . . 

A Christmas Memory

 

Winter Pals: Judy Coralie & Nancy

Two weeks before Christmas, my pal Judy Sporer and I bundled up in our warmest coats, wound our scarves around our necks and faces, and trudged two miles in our Stadium Boots to Iron River to do our Christmas shopping. We each had a whopping $5 in our pockets.

At Newberry’s Five and Dime, for $.39, I found a deck of miniature playing cards for my sister Connie who had recently developed a mania for playing Solitaire. Then, I spotted a pink donkey planter for Mom for $.89 which I knew she would absolutely love. But I couldn’t see a thing for Dad, or my brother John.

We slipped on down the snow-covered sidewalk to Johnny’s Men Store. The place was loaded with shirts and ties, tie tacks, and—cuff links! A high school senior, my brother wore his only pair to every special event at school. Excited, I turned the little brown box over, but nearly fainted when I saw the price—$2!

Judy and I fled up the street to Schafer’s where the scents of pipes, tobacco, and shaving lotion tickled our chilly noses. Judy bought pretty bottles of cologne for her sisters and mom and some Old Spice aftershave for her brother and her dad. I was about to follow suit when I spotted something that made my heart leap—a reindeer poised in a pretty blue globe filled with water which, when turned upside down, caused “snow” to magically spin, sweep, and swirl lazily down on the winter scene. $1.50—and worth every penny.

With $2.22 left, I figured I could buy my brother’s gift and still have enough for a malted milk at Walgreen’s. I could already taste it!

We scoured the aisles at Monkey Wards, but found nothing. At Kromm’s Department Store, we poured over the men’s socks, ties, and hankies, but I knew nothing anywhere could compare to those classy cuff links at Johnny’s. I counted my money again, hoping I’d made a mistake the first time, but I hadn’t. I looked enviously at Judy, who’d made all her purchases and still had $.50 left, but I knew what I had to do.

Johnny wrapped the little brown box in tissue paper and put it and the receipt in a small brown bag, slipped my $2 into the cash register, and smiled. I knew I’d made the right decision.

At Walgreen’s, I got a little jittery watching Judy sip her malt but my 10 cent cherry coke wasn’t bad and I was happy as a lark imagining the look of disbelief in my brother’s eyes when he opened his gift on Christmas morning.

And he didn’t disappoint me. He beamed as he opened his box, complimented me on my discriminating choice of gifts, and said he’d wear the cuff links to his Hi-Y banquet coming up soon.  I’d was absolutely thrilled.

I shall always remember that shopping day as one on which Judy and I discovered the true meaning of Christmas. Our joy was found in doing something special for those we loved. As we sunk our Stadium Boots back into the snowy drifts that covered the sidewalks, and set off for home in Dober Location, we smiled and hummed our favorite Christmas Carol, “Joy to the World.” We’d never felt so proud, so grown up, or so peaceful in all our eleven years. Knowing we had found presents that would surprise and please our families was the best Christmas gift of all.

 

A Little Snowfall in the U.P.

 

This is how our backyard looked a few years back in the U.P. A little snowfall…nothing big, just a few flakes. Then the sun came out to celebrate. Don’t you love the Upper Peninsula of Michigan’s weather? If not, wait five minutes and it will change! Never a dull moment!