The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 10:13 am Thursday, August 30, 2018

“Let the Bells Ring”

By Linda Barnette

Recently I was on a list of people who received an email which stated that the “NC Department of Cultural Resources hopes that all 100 counties will be part of a bell ringing effort on November 11 to remember the hope of peace.”  The idea is for bells to ring 21 times in churches and in government buildings at 11:00 am on that day to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.

Realizing that I did not know a great deal about Armistice Day, I did some research to find that the Armistice was signed in Compiegne, France on November 11, 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. The truce effectively ended all hostilities on land, sea, and air between the United States and its allies and Germany and the other Central Powers.

Although the Armistice was only a truce, the real end of the WWI, known as the “Great War,” came with the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919.

Since that time various allied nations continue to celebrate the end of that war in various ways. In Westminster Abbey in London, for example, there is the grave of the Unknown Warrior, which honors all of those who lost their lives in the war between 1914 and 1918.  This tomb is next to the tomb of Winston Churchill, the valiant leader of the British in WWII.

In Washington, DC, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier stands atop a hill in Arlington National Cemetery.  Inscribed on the tomb are these words:  “Here rests in honored glory an American known only to God.”  The Tomb actually honors all of America’s war dead from the Great War through the Vietnam War.  Guards from the 3rd US Infantry Regiment, known as the Old Guard, keep watch over the memorial at all times.  The sentinals, as they are referred to, are held to the highest standards of behavior of any military personnel.  They do everything in a series of 21, which alludes to the 21-gun-salute which is done at the funerals of all military veterans who so desire it.

This year, Veteran’s Day, the day we honor all military veterans, falls on Sunday, November 11 and will be the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI, the “Great War.”

I hope to hear all kinds of bells ringing in Mockville on that day!!!

“First Meal in a New Country”

By N.R. Tucker

The day the kids and I moved from Colorado Springs, Colorado to join my husband, Ed, in Italy, I was exhausted, and the kids were cranky from the long flights and three-hour-drive. Ed took the kids to a park while I took a nap. According to Ed, I fell asleep with a sandwich in my hand, but I don’t remember that. I do remember being dog-tired.

For dinner, we walked to Piazza Bra and ate at the little pizzeria on his first evening in Italy. It was 2 ½ blocks from the hotel and faced the Verona Arena. The arena is a Roman amphitheater where I would eventually attend a few operas. The pizzeria was the perfect location for people watching and taking in the flavor of our new home.

The nap helped, but my mind was a jumbled mess. I noticed that most tables had three bottles of wine, even if there were only a couple of people at the table. It wasn’t until the waitress brought our drinks that I understood. One bottle was sparkling water, one was regular water (for the kids) and the third at some of the tables was an actual bottle of wine. In my defense, I was still tired, and all three bottles looked like wine bottles.

I quickly developed a love for Italian pizza. Pizzas are sized for the individual, and the toppings are wonderful. The first vegetarian pizza I ordered arrived with a slice of eggplant atop the pie. I like eggplant but wasn’t sure I wanted it on my pizza. One bite and I became a believer. Eggplant is excellent on pizza. Since Ed had lived in Italy for a few months we did not make the newbie mistake of ordering a pepperoni pizza in Italy.  Peperoni (Italians spell it with one p) means peppers, and bell peppers (red, yellow, and green or some combo of the three) will grace a peperoni pizza. There is no equivalent meat topping in Italy to the American version of peperoni pizza. Try a salsiccia piccolino (little sausage) if you must or go wild and try something new.

“A Partnership Begins”

By Julie Terry Cartner

Today was the day! After days and days, hours and hours, patiently earning trust, today I would ride my horse, Miki. For days I had been grooming him, talking to him, my hands sliding down a smooth flank, a shining neck, the white strip on his nose. The roughshod coat was gone, replaced by a healthy, glistening coat, and his white stockings were sparkling white. He would now give me each foot on request, allowing me to carefully clean them. His mane and tail were burr free, tangle free.

No longer did he quiver when I ruffled his forelock, played with his ears or tickled under his belly. He willingly followed me on halter and backed up on demand. I had rubbed a saddle blanket all over him, many times a day. When he was stressed, he’d learned to lower his head and blow hay-scented breath into my face, and we’d stop, lean into each other and just breathe. He’d learned to trust me.

I had been a dreamer, a reader, a book lover. I had consumed every horse story within my grasp. I was sure that I would be the one to tame Fury or The Black Stallion or the myriad of other fictional horses that galloped across my imagination, but the reality of earning this horse’s trust was more – so much more. I would not “break” this horse; I would gentle him and teach him that a partnership was so much better than being a loner.

So here I was, here we were, and it was time. I’d left the saddle and blanket in the arena. Miki had sniffed and pawed and finally accepted them as part of his world. Now I led him to the saddle, lifted the blanket, and slowly placed it on his back. No problem. The saddle was more challenging. I’d tied the stirrups so they wouldn’t fall and spook him. Now I lifted the saddle high and gently placed it on the blanket on his back. I felt him shudder, quiver and twitch his tail but a few soothing words, and he calmed down once again.

Now the hard part. Reaching under his belly, I grasped the girth and quickly looped the leather bindings. When I began tightening the cinch, he began to dance. A dangerous time – the cinch had to be tightened quickly or the saddle could slide, perhaps slip under him. Harm to the horse as well as the saddle and rider could result. Working quickly, but talking quietly, I pulled the cinch tightly and tied it off.  Success!  I led him around the arena, letting him adjust, then released the stirrups so they would swing gently against his sides.

When I felt confident that the saddle was no longer an issue, I removed the halter, put on the bridle, tightened the cinch once again, put my weight in the stirrup and let him feel this new experience. Ears went back but then twitched forward. Next, I lay across the saddle, then finally slipped my leg across and into the stirrup, and sat there, rubbing his neck and telling him how good he was being.

With a squeeze of my legs, I encouraged him to move forward. We spent the next few minutes continuing to forge a partnership. After several minutes, I slid from his back, removed the saddle and rubbed him down, praising him for being so brave.

In the days to follow, we graduated to the other gaits, then left the arena to explore the woods and pastures around us. As we wandered the back roads of the country, splashed through creeks and meandered under the shade of old oak, pine, and cedar trees, we learned about each other. As days and weeks passed, our mutual trust grew to one where woman and horse become one entity, and I looked forward to the many adventures we would have.

“The Value of a Smile”

By Stephanie Williams Dean

I was walking from the parking lot toward the door of Food Lion a few days ago. At the same time, there was a small, elderly woman walking toward the store from another direction. I noticed her and proceeded to walk toward the store. As she came closer, I glanced her way again to see if I knew her. I didn’t.

As we approached the front door, I looked at her one more time and said, “Good Morning.”

“Good morning. Do you know me?” she asked in surprise.

“No, Maam. I don’t think so.”

“Well, I thought you knew me because you spoke to me.”

I smiled at her. “No, I was just saying hello to you.”

At this point, we walked into the store and while smiling, she continued to talk to me. She was truly surprised that I had spoken to her.

“You know I’m having surgery soon.”

“Really? What kind of surgery are you having?” (I’m thinking she must have a secret power and knows I’m a nurse.)

As we talked, she shared all of her medical history with me.  I inquired about her husband and if she had someone to help her. Her husband died in 1977 and left her with 6 children, the youngest of which was only 3 years old at the time. A strong woman I registered in my thoughts.

Before it was over, I had her name and phone number so I could call and check on the outcome of her surgery. I wondered how long it had been since someone paid attention to her. She was a precious soul. Bottom line – the elderly in our communities are often overlooked. They are invisible to many people. Just smile and speak to one, and witness a small miracle unfold.