The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild
Published 9:39 am Thursday, September 28, 2017
By Julie Terry Cartner
Every evening about 5:30, we would hear Mom call to us, “Okay girls, time to set the table.” And so we would go downstairs, get the napkins, silverware, and plates and prepare the table for dinner. Then we would put ice in the glasses and pour the tea. I was always hungry by that time because Mom was an amazing cook and the scents of dinner would waft through the house for quite some time before the actual meal. The food wasn’t fancy or expensive, just good.
Then Dad would come in from outdoors, wash up, and we would sit down to eat in the manner that some restaurants call family style. For a few minutes, the only sounds would be of serving bowls being passed and food put on plates. The unspoken rule was to take what you would eat and not waste food. During the meal, if we wanted something, not within our reach, we would say, “Please pass the …” This sounds so simple, but I later realized how important those skills and lessons were to being comfortable in a mealtime setting.
During the meal, the conversation would flow as we each told about our days interposed with other snippets of conversation. Mom and Dad, strong environmentalists, would talk about local environmental issues and other subjects that they had read or heard from the news. But beyond that, what I remember most was the laughter. Dad loved puns. Loved them. So whenever he could, he’d throw one into the conversation. Mom would pretend to be disgusted, and my siblings and I would laugh, probably whether or not we “got” it, because Dad was so smart and so well versed in literature and current events that his puns sometimes went right over our heads.
He loved to combine a pun opportunity with Shakespeare. A bee in the house led to “To be or not to be, that is the question.” Trying to recall a new acquaintance’s name became, “What’s in a name?” And he didn’t stop there; he could recite entire soliloquies.
We were a family of six, but often, very often there were eight, nine or ten people around the table since friends were always welcome. Whoever was there was treated as part of the family and got to join in the fun. Guests who were able to match wits with my family were always appreciated.
Looking back, I thought that was the way all families were. I didn’t know that some families had no regular meal times or that meals were spent in front of the television. I certainly didn’t know that not all dads could recite Shakespeare. In our household, dinnertime was almost sacred. Woe be to someone who called on the telephone during dinner! Dinner was not just food; it was part of our family’s dynamics. Our parents used the opportunity to make sure that they connected with us on a daily basis, and often as an opportunity to teach us something if only the art of conversation or good table manners.
When we became parents, my husband and I continued the tradition of family dinnertime. Each meal began with the “How was your day?” question to each child and the conversation proceeded from there. If the phone would ring during that time, I’d complain, just like my dad did, about people calling during the dinner hour, to which my children would inform me that we were the ONLY old-fashioned family that had a dinner hour! That may have been true, but if so, how very sad. It’s not always easy; soccer, football, cheerleading, band, chorus, drama…our kids are engaged in many activities, but many things that are worthwhile take an extra effort. It’s worth it. The rewards will far outweigh the challenge. We must make time to have real conversations with our children. We must make time to ensure that they know that we, their parents, are interested in their lives. We must be sure that they are comfortable with social graces such as dining and conversational skills. What better way to let them know that they are loved? What better way to show them that they are important and what they have to say is important? What better time than the family meal time at the end of the day? Now that our children are all grown and have moved away, I miss that camaraderie but cherish the times when they come home and the tradition continues.
By N. R. Tucker
The sunrise hike was short on sun,
But that would never spoil my fun.
The morning mist cooled the trail impressive
A welcome change from heat oppressive.
The mist became a drizzle
And that only made me giggle
Till raindrops grew in mass and number
And I hid under my poncho, encumbered.
The drizzle turned to sheets of rain,
And that was the real start of my pain.
The trail turned to mud underneath my feet.
Wet hair dripping in my face was no treat.
Boots caked in mud, sliding on the trail
I wondered if this would turn out well.
Walking sticks caught in the mud,
I grabbed tree limbs against the flood.
I stopped on an outcrop to catch my breath
While the rain continued to plan my death.
As quickly as the deluge started, it stopped
The skies turned blue and out the sun popped
Sitting on the rock chewing on jerky
I saw a sight that made me perky
A double rainbow was my reward
Paid in full, faith in nature restored.
“PeeBee and Skunk”
By Sandra Vance
Here I am again. I have been busy at my home so my mama could not write for me, but now I am not so busy. The reason for my being so busy is this … a skunk! Yes, a skunk! I have said about raccoons and possums coming to my food and eating it all up. Then daddy would catch them and take them to another place and set them free, and they would eat somebody else’s food. Well, a little while ago, this critter (what my mama calls it) came to our house in the night and ate my food. At first, I thought it was a black cat with a white stripe, but then I found out it was not a cat! It did not run away when I tried to chase it! It just looked at me and kept eating. I barked at it, and then my mama came to the door and saw it and said, PeeBee! Get back in this house! So, I thought she had a snack for me, so I got back in that house. But she didn’t have a snack, she just shut the door quick! She said do not mess with that skunk! I did not know then what a skunk could do, but the next time I went outside, I found out what a skunk can do. No, it did not spray me (whatever that is), but it had left a smell in our yard and WOW was it bad! And, I guess when I went out to sleep in the sun, I slept in that smell, too. My daddy said, PeeBee, you have an odor about you. And he went away and came back with some red stuff he called tomato juice and he GAVEMEABATHINIT!! I just stood there. Then, he gave me another regular bath, and I just stood there. So I was very clean, but the smell was still in our yard, so I guess I am just going to smell bad for a while unless my daddy gives me a bath every day! YIKES! He said he would not do that. The smell is mostly gone now, and I am happy about that. I have not seen the skunk for a while now. I hope it does not go to my friend Izzy’s house. She does not need to have a bath in tomato juice, I think. Maybe it will wander away to someplace without people and dogs. So, my mama says that today is the first day of autumn. I just know it is sunny and no rain and I am sleepy. So I am going to lay here in the sun and sleep. My mama just came out of our house. I think she is going somewhere. Yep, I am on my lead now, but I can still sleep in the sun, and maybe she will bring me a TREAT when she comes back home. I hope so. Well, zzzzzzzzzzzz. So sayth, PeeBee the Dog.
By Linda Barnette
Autumn portends the winter season.
The leaves change and become many-colored,
Red, yellow, and orange.
We all drive to the mountains to marvel at their beauty.
We celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving and other family times.
Soon come the cold winter winds, short days, open fires, and snow,
Christmas and another new year.
Then one day the world awakens, and spring
Appears in all its loveliness.
People and animals thrive, play, swim, and look forward to summer vacations.
I think it is the changing of the seasons that makes us realize
That the world goes on and on
And we all have many seasons either here or in another place
Where we will celebrate with loved ones for all time and space.
By Stephanie Williams Dean
Invisible the wind, now cool,
Blowing ever gently, the trees sway,
Signs of change, a fall day.
Orange tip leaves, now crisp,
Signal the birds, a message sent,
Earth’s quiet, a season’s end.
Birds flock, now turn south,
Beckon to escape, that what dies,
Wings flap, winter has arrived.
Barren ground, now turns hard,
Whispers of death, all dust dries,
Seed’s asleep, all nature sighs.